Elneny for Xhaka, but Who to Support Lacazette in Attack? CSKA Preview and Line-Up


If we had 5th columnists in the CSKA camp the report they would secretly file to us would read something like this:

“…………………… CSKA Moscow know that qualifying for the semi-final of the Europa League is an uphill task after their 4-1 loss at the Emirates. But they have not thrown in the towel. They weighed their options and decided that their best bet lies in going all out for it. They plan to attack from the blast of the whistle knowing that 3 goals can do it for them. What Roma did to Barcelona, coming from a 4-1 defeat in the 1st leg to qualify has buoyed the spirit in their camp, no doubt.

They have identified the right side of our pitch as their best route for getting behind our back line. At the Emirates, Ahmed Musa repeatedly left Bellerin for dead. Only wayward finishing by him saved us from conceding some more goals. They are not thinking about our strengths. They are thinking only about our weaknesses ………………”

How do we respond to such a game plan? Go toe to toe with them? Sit back to soak up their pressure and hope to hit them on the counter? Or use possession to control the game while patiently watching out for openings to pick them apart?

A low scoring match of a maximum of 2 goals shared between the two teams in whatever manner qualifies us, and should give the cue to what our game plan should be. Emphasizing possession suits such a game plan and also happens to be very compatible with our playing style.

See the source image

Jack has been poor in his last few games, more so in the area of turnovers. Is his contract situation weighing him down? Turnovers are what we don’t want conceding in this match. It would make good sense if Jack is positioned on the bench to give way to Elneny. A game of possession is a game for Elneny. His red card against Southampton has been rescinded and that should act as an extra fillip to him for the Moscow encounter. Jack, whose poor form coincided with his switch to the #10 role, should then revert to a more central midfield role in our EPL match against Newcastle on Sunday.

A midfield containing Xhaka, Ramsey and Elneny cries out for a 4:3:3 formation which very much would suit our game were we to aim at controlling the match through possession.

(The narrative has changed because Wenger just informed the press on arrival in Moscow that Xhaka is out with a flu. So Wilshere is back in my line up. Would this necessitate a change in tactics? I don’t think so. Maybe a little bit more offensive play to balance Xhaka’s tidiness in possession).

Who replaces injured Mkhitaryan? It’s a straight tussle between Welbeck and Iwobi. A tussle between Welbeck’s hard work and ability to pull apart defenders and Iwobi’s line-breaking-ball-carrying ability. It’s a close call, but for me the scale tilts in favour of Welbeck.

Do we bring in Maitland-Niles in place of Bellerin to counter Ahmed Musa’s pace? Is Maitland-Niles safer in possession? I’d rather play it safe by asking Bellerin to just stick to his man. Anyway, Maitland-Niles is rumoured to be not fully back from injury. And don’t forget that CSKA can pull one on us by switching Musa to their right flank.

I expect our starting eleven to be:






submit football lineup

SUBS: Macey, Chambers, Holding, Kola, Nelson, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Control remains the key. If we succeed in controlling the game, trust CSKA to give us space and time to nick a goal or two.

The semi beckons …………. COYG!!!

By Pony Eye.

188 thoughts on “Elneny for Xhaka, but Who to Support Lacazette in Attack? CSKA Preview and Line-Up

  • Excellent stuff, PE, and many thanks for doing a preview.

    I think you got both the relevant sentiments and line-up spot on. Game is not over at all. We could typically concede a couple of goals in the first twenty minutes or so and then we could lose it all together. Tactically and mentally not an easy game to prepare for: handbrake or full gas forward???

    I go for attack x11.

  • The are several areas of concerns for Arsenal. The major one is Chech, he has gotten worst by the day and his timing is totally off. Ospina should start every game. The next one is Wilshere, who had been horrible out there, let alone to start, he should not be even on the bench. If he was in another team, he will not play at all. Iwobi is another weak performer in the middle, he has the worst pass in the league. Wenger has no idea how to rearrange the center line. Play Welbeck there that is his natural position. He can run post to post and he can stop anyone. Elnany should start every game before Xhaka, wilshire and Ramsey. I realy feel sorry for Jack that he looks like a little kid playing among grown boys. Wenger should sit him out not to embarrass him more. Belarine had a tough time during last outing. He was over-exerting himself to compensate for his errors, he should be given a break.

  • Good stuff PE. I suspect you have it there. I would share your view about Danny over Iwobi to start. A more defensive option, if fitness doesn’t preclude could be AMN inserted instead of Jack. That would be a tough message for Jack, even though his recent form has been mixed. I’m not sure we need both reserve CBs in the bench as well as Kola. But there may not be much more option if illness and fitness have intervened.

    Game still very much alive. We will need to treat accordingly if we are to progress. Going to be some nail biting I suspect unless we can nick an early goal.

  • I predicted Bayern, Barca, RM and Liv to go through, so three out of four. The big surprise was of course in the city where all roads lead to. Good to see that such results are still possible in the CL. I predict the final to be Roma v Bayern (unless they get each other in the draw of course).

  • PE, good preview there. Some of the results of CL games this week are enough warning for Wenger and the boys; tie isn’t over until the final whistle! It doesn’t take much to concede 3 goals in one half (as our team can attest to) so, the approach will be to go for an early goal to upset their plans. If that fails, then sit back and look to pick them off on the break. We also must strive to get periods of keeping possession too.

    It is a fact that Musa plays from both flanks with equal savvy and pace, so our full backs have to be ready from the off. If we can keep them from scoring in the first half, that should knock the stuffing out of them.

  • As for the predicted team, I will say TA has it pretty much right. The only concern is with the paucity of central midfielders on the bench which may result in not starting Jack (for a reliable AM presence on our bench) but bringing him on when things are sorted. But, of course, we all know Wenger will start Jack, right?

  • Nice job PE!

    Past experience the predictor in this one I would hope.
    In matching the effort from the first leg? Welbeck it must be in Mkhi’s place.
    We harrassed CSKA in midfield– winning many balls on hurried passes. In turn giving the front 3 and Ramsey opportunities versus defenders who didn’t track our quickness very well in transition to attack.

    The other bit of history is Ostersunds, second leg. Our defense is not geared to absorb pressure. Would be daft to repeat the mindset that made for 75 minutes of clenched gluteus maximus– to get by another ‘nothing to lose’ opponent. Between the number of (I’ll loosely call them) ‘shots’ by CSKA that appeared propelled by helium– and the number of times Hector bit on Musa’s only move on the flank? Suffice it to say, I’ve run through all my digits and appendages to track the counting on.

    This is a ‘final’. No other way to view it.
    Do a professional’s job Thursday Gunners!


  • Hi all.. PE nice job..

    After losing Mhiki.. Losing Xhaka is Vital.. For I expect him to join Elneny as our double pivot.. considering poor performance of Wilshere..
    And the fact that Bellerin can’t overcome Musa. . I think we rest both of them..

    Iwobi or Nelson.. Not a good choice both.. Hehehe.. But Nelson can defense better than Iwobi.. He can cover Chambers to overcome Musa..

    So I will go for..
    Chambers – Mustafi – Koscielny – Monreal
    Elneny – Ramsey
    Nelson – Ozil – Welbeck

  • Nice work PE, agree with your line up, even if Iwobi played one of his best games in a long time, just a few days ago, Welbeck seems the more pragmatic choice.

    Is it just me, or does our bench look a bit thin, in terms of experience?

    The injuries to AMN and Mkhitaryan plus Aubameyang being cup tied and the early retirement of BFG have eaten into our slim resources, made worse by Xhaka’s illness.

    I’ll take a 2-2 draw.

  • We need a solid back four and a very quick goal.. If it happened then the rest will be just fine.. Hehehe..
    Juventus and Roma show us that win 3 goals can mean nothing.. So be careful..

    Let’s kill them with a speedy counter attack way.. For CSKA will play with all their strikers.. Hehehe..

    And let’s make Golovin impressed.. And decide which club he may go.. Next season.. Hehehe..

  • One thing visible in all the comments is that nobody is taking this game for granted. I believe in the theory that the mentality of the team can be glimpsed from that of the fans. Thanks to Roma and Juv who nearly caused another upset, our boys must have sat up. Mustafi said as much in the presser.

    Roma scored against Barca in the 6min and Juv against Real in the 2min. That’s what we must guard against. Our MF and FB should not be too adventurous the 1st half hour. If we haven’t conceded by then their energy would drop dramatically. Better if we have capitalized on their gung-ho start to nick a goal or two.

    We dare not fail to qualify.

  • Blazor,
    Ospina is injured so Cech starts and by the way Iwobi has a WhoScored 85.6% pass success rate i.e. in the top echelon of premier league good passers. Your stat that he is the worst passer in the Pl is therefore way way of the mark.

  • Chan,

    You showed your worry about Ahmed Musa’s pace. Why then choose Chambers who is so much slower than Bellerin for the RB?

  • Kev,

    That’s our bench. … with Xhaka, Mkhi, Auba, Ospina AMN unavailable, Giroud, Coq, Theo sold, Deb released and Mert retired.

  • I meant to credit PE with the team prediction up there, not TA. My bad.

    I also picked on the choice of Chambers at right back by Henrychan and found it curious. However, if it is for the defensive security and with Elneny providing occasional cover, who knows? Again, Bellerin may just come on to do a job on their winger, whether Musa or someone else, if he plays under strict instructions.

    Xhaka will be a big miss as we shall find out; he was much maligned at the start of the season but grew into the team to become an indispensable part of the team today. When he didn’t start in one of our recent games (Stoke City.) it was obvious we missed his presence and until he came on, we didn’t look composed in midfield. Let’s hope we cope better tonight.

  • PE.. Cause Bellerin is a WB.. He like to go forward more.. Different with Chambers.. He will stay more backward.. Hehehe..

    I just thinking.. In several games.. Mustafi always misunderstood Cech.. Maybe he must rest a while and Monreal play as our CB.. And Kolasinac fill the hole in LB.. Hehehe..

  • Hehehe, you are making the mistake of wanting us to sit back and absorb pressure. We must play our normal game tonight and we need speed on the wingbacks. Chambers is naturally slow so a no goer for tonight’s game (especially in FB position.

  • I am tempted to let Rambo play in the deeper ‘Xhaka’ role tonight, with Elneny and Jack playing ahead of him. But then again, Elneny can do a good Xhaka as well, and this would allow Aaron and Jack to play next to each other and boss the midfield. Key is not to get any more injuries as we need experience in those positions tonight…. a shirt may need to be pulled just at the right time.. 🙂

  • It wouldn’t surprise me if Wilshere (assuming he plays) comes up with the MOTM performance. Even in his poor outings he is able to deliver one or two moments of pure class in such a manner you’d know it’s there with him. You just wonder why not more often or as a matter of fact all of the time.

    Possibly he has a two mechanical gearing system. Gear 2 is the genius who cannot help himself running into all tackles. Gear 1 is the below par player who is consciously holding himself back for fear of being carried off the field on a stretcher. Jack is either in it or out of it. It seems he does not know how to manage his genius without hurting himself. Maybe he needs more transitin time. I just can’t give up on him. Till today I still mourn Diaby.

  • Two good points back-to-back TA. In agreement that we have to attack– and the role of Elneny in Xhaka’s stead. I also think this match should have Danny Welbeck on LW. We need his energy to be disruptive of CSKA’s build-up in midfield.

    Though TA– I’m certain we need to keep Ramsey nearer the front. We need CSKA’s defense to be worried about his runs. I’d really prefer Ozil to drop some to help Jack and Elneny retain the ball. Even Laca at times. Because if those older defenders have to keep their heads on a swivel for Aaron? There will be gaps between midfield and the final third we can exploit.


  • There is no doubt that our strongest recent performances had Jack in a pivotal role, preferably in the hole. With Jack in the hole doing the link up between midfield and attack, Xhaka can sit deeper and control the game from in front of the defence and Rambo can be a proper B2B. It further allows Ozil to play higher up and influence our attacking play in a free role. It frustrates to read how many reckon that Jack has been playing bad in recent games, but I guess that’s why football is a bit like chess: you can get it at different levels. Jack in the hole is a big reason for our recent turnaround, and you better get used to it as Wenger cannot do without him.

  • JW, I think the strength of Rambo is his vertical, diagonal and horizontal running into available spaces with or without the ball. As a proper B2B he can do that, the way Frank Lampard used to do. With Xhaka back and Jack higher up and Ozil (and Mkhi) to link up with as well, he can be totally himself in the current set up. It needs to be a surprise when he arrives in the box and so tonight I would go for:

    Agreed with you that all have to come back deeper to support the rest of the team as we need to play tight and with the right intensity.

  • Yep PE, it’s not a bench that could compete for the EPL for 9 months and the CL if we make it.
    We’ve gotta hope that some of our youngsters like Mavropanos, Willock and Co can take a major stride over the summer, a growth spurt so to speak, because it seems as if the bank account is low on funds.
    Either that or Mislintat has a few interesting ideas up his sleeve?

  • On the same theme, a couple of our loanees could return in the summer to add to the squad, Asano, Reine-Adelaide, Nwakali, and even Perez?

  • We’re losing Ospina, BFG and Cazorla (sadly) in the summer, those gaps in the squad will need attention.

  • Kev–
    Creating quality depth this Summer is crucial. Heightened if we win the EL.
    Certain we’ll be looking to ‘upgrade’ several spots– with some current/some youth filling out the squad. What makes those squad players abilities shine? Being teamed with more talented teammates.

    I’m really quite pleased we didn’t pull the trigger on the Lemar deal last August. We really came away well from the January ‘Alexit’– and the Dortmunder additions.


  • Good job, PE… Keep ’em coming…

    Since I got no love on Tuesday (during the City-Pool match), I’m doubtful I’ll get any today… That said, TA hasn’t banned me (yet!) but it’s likely coming… Because…

    I DISAGREE…on a variety of counts…

    TA doesn’t want to talk about Jack w/me (I meant over a pint or two, perhaps with a wee dram or three on the side, btw… 😦 ) so I’ll leave that to one side. Jack in the hole, for me, seems ideal at a mid-table club… Then again, limping in as we are, that describes us all too well…

    I haven’t seen my friend, JNYC, around these parts lately, but I have to agree with his hindsight about the Alexit… It would have been a PR disaster, but this campaign died while he was still in the team and Lemar, I think, from what little I’ve seen of him, looks a fine movement-oriented #10 who might’ve meshed very well with Ozil and the other MFs (Xhaka and Ramsey). Don’t get fooled by the stats at busted up Monaco, JW…

    Henry, those are some insane line-up changes you’re proposing… On the other hand, Go (get me some) Lovin… 😀

    And, finally PE, “One thing visible in all the comments is that nobody is taking this game for granted. I believe in the theory that the mentality of the team can be glimpsed from that of the fans.” Consider me the exception to this rule. I don’t buy the theory AND I think we’re gonna score early after getting onto the front foot w/possession. As I wrote after the 1st leg, I guarantee it…

    Gotta run…before y’all come at me through my computer… 😀 At least this way, I might get some folks to interact w/me… Maybe?

  • Excellent pre-match Post, PE, and you have covered pretty much everything.

    When we have struggled, it is usually by conceding a goal or two in the first 25 minutes, so hopefully we will take a measured, cautious approach for the first part of the game — and ignore Total’s Dutch flavoured total football until we have settled into the game, and our passing has picked up. [Our passing used to be top notch — nowadays it can be find the opposition player. 😀

  • 17 HT,

    A hard hitting, no holds barred approach to the boss, TA. He’ll love it — but how can you have a beer or two or three with him when you are thousands of miles apart — or is that part of your plan.

    Incidentally, you have made some fine points in the opinion you expressed — not sure about Lemar as he seemed less than sure about us, and seemingly wanted to go to the Scousers over us. But there you go.

    And leave Henry HeHeHe alone — I like his outside the box thinking!! 😀

  • HT–
    Not the stats I’m considering regarding Lemar@Monaco. It was the £92M. Just did not see Lemar as the direct replacement for Sanchez last August.

    And now? that we have Auba and Mkhi? By all means go get him this summer– for a reduced fee. IMHO we need one more slick attacker in the mix. There will be plenty of matches for quality attackers– if we can pull off the EL-to-CL trick.

    We are so much better off that events occurred as they did. Now positioned to add ‘the right player’ to a fairly potent attack.


    I’ll be (quietly) watching with one-eye at work– so only a bit of running commentary likely Seventeenho.


  • JW; 13.42.
    You know what, I was never comfortable with the Lemar deal, it seemed an obscene amount to pay for a player, who why talented wasn’t exactly a world beater, it smacked of panic to me from a club that had dithered through another summer transfer window.
    Yep January was far more business like. The transfer team got the job done, that’s why I’m optimistic about next summer.

  • Hi all.. Hi Eris.. 17ht.. RS..
    Thanks for the comments and support.. Hehehe..
    PE.. You rock man..
    TA only got 11/11 once in a life time.. Hehehe.. Cmiiw..

    Wenger is so predictable isn’t he..??
    Let’s hope the best for Wilshere.. Hehehe..

  • Mustafi is standing right behind Cech in the tunnel.
    He should turn around and YELL AT HIM NOW!


  • Back… Just in time for kick-off… Once we settle this (with a goal…) I may have to take off… 😀 Busy stuff going down for me today…

    RA, TA and I have shared a dram (the pints I’m foggier about) in a little town in the South of Scotland… And…it wasn’t that bad… Truth be told, in person, folks tend to put their footballing differences to one side or the other…

    11 for 11, as thin as our squad often gets, I hate to say it…is still the best you can do so WELL FREAKING DONE, PE…

    Gotcha RA & JW about the Lemar deal… I think the Alexis = big trouble for the team (I don’t like using the term “cancer” too lightly…) has been under-reported. THAT situation, for me, equals addition by subtraction… Lemar is most certainly not like for like… and much more a replacement for Santi Cazorla, another loss we’ve tried to gloss over…

    My big worry for this tournament is that the guy I thought might “replace,” him, my midfield khnitter, Mhkitaryan seems out for ????…

    Xhaka with the flu?… Is that what I got in March or what the double agents got in London? Either way, I hope he’s OK….

    We have kickoff…

  • Oh, come on, Jack. How hurtful can a headed ball to the face be? 😛😜😜

  • I am not carried away by the way it’s started. You still feel this CSKA side have a bit more to show and the game is just 13 minutes in. Good news is we have kept them at bay. Now, time to go for a goal.

  • Something wrong with the Bein.. Thanks God.. The local TV also play Arsenal.. Hehehe..

  • Wowsa… Cancel my afternoon…

    Nacho for the header…positively, Kolasinacesque… Good first save, but Mustafi caught watching (again) will lead to further calls for his head…

    Rambo’s season over?…

    Oh boy…

  • #25 gets a FK (from the corner) but misses high and wide… Are we playing with 10?…

  • I still have no worries…but, we need to play will 11, I would think…

  • Will Jack and Rambo be walking come the second half? Not a lot on the bench if they are both crocked.

  • Honestly, the 10-man defending.was pretty good.
    Except when Mustafi doesn’t tell anyone he’s a spectator.


  • Jack hasn’t looked right for three games now, plus he has taken a knock. Time for a change
    Methinks.. I am sure traveling to Russia isn’t easy, but we always seem to make it difficult for ourselves. I know what I would like in the 2nd half, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we conceded a second late on and were very nervous until the end.


  • Due to the out moves in January, I think Arsenal are just about done trying to improve the team by selling players… That said, a big guy (I miss Giroud and the BFG) at set pieces–not to mention in open play–seems something we’re missing. How much did Van Dijk Cost?… 😮

    Finding a couple of midfielders seems a bit easier… I like the idea that we just kept Lemar on loan (at Monaco) for an extra season, JW… 😉

  • We are just incapable of sitting back and kill a game. Luckily, we just conceded the one goal but we will need to come and play football to get that away goal. Wenger needs to get the mind-set, tactics and energy levels right for the second half.

    Not looking good at the moment.

  • Britcore breakaway *almost* comes good…

    Nacho doing better w/his head…

    Next goal wins?…

  • GO–LOVIN!!!!! (and Cech not holding onto his saves….)

    Now, this is fun!!!

    Next goal (really) wins…

  • Uh oh… Rambo fouls Golovin… He’s got a good right footed FK, as I recall…

  • A bit too far out and Cech turns it around the post… Well done by (both of) the future teammates?…

  • What can you say other than this is so what we are capable of these days? Remainder of the season (and Wenger’s future) hanging in the balance now.

  • Laca and Elneny both well offside… Atleti could use a goal in Lisbon?… Inneresting (but effective) D by Mustafi on Musa…

  • I’m not sure we’ve got the bodies to win this tournament (our January transfers seem unavailable…) so, If Ropy Trophy keeps Wenger in his job it could be a cooked goose either way…

    Me? Still not worried… 😀

    CC21 coming on for ?…

  • Jack not going for that tackle says he’s still carrying a knock? The ref looks a solid defender, however…

    Oooh… Kos can’t get over the shot…so it flies over…

    3 at the back they’re saying…

  • Whoa… Not much of a header from Ozil on Elneny’s clearance… Shot is wrong side of the post, however…

  • I know he hasn’t had much service, but Lacazette has done nothing for me, let’s try Eddie please

  • OK, I’ve got stuff I’m supposed to get done…

    As such, we either need to ride this out (no extra time) or get us a couple… Either way, I’m screwed…

    WELBECK!!!! Elneny with the put-in…

  • Eddie is quite the cult hero… That was one of the games we didn’t get on TV or I was actually working or something… Norwich, right? I still blame him for putting us in City’s path for the Late February sadness…

    Iwobi instead, Welbs goes to CF…Same as in the first leg, I think…

  • We could do with Atletico going out now 😁. We ain’t beating them any time soon on this form. Anyone know if the runner up qualifies if the winner is already qualified through their domestic league?

  • These commentators make me laugh. Now CSKA need two goals just to make extra time. Well guess what if it goes to extra times we probably will get beaten.

  • This feels like a classic Arsenal Wins, Feels like a Loss… Well, at 2-1, it is a loss so…

    More Please… 😀

  • I like this Moscow team… When they make a cross it’s accurate and they’ve got guys in dangerous places… More than just hit and hope, I think…

  • Not sure Rambo is 100%… as he’s late for Ozil’s pull back… We really need all hands on deck…

    I’m mkhissing Mkhi…. 😦

  • So– I started the drive home from work (about 30 minutes) at halftime.
    Whenever stopped I checked my phone.

    I believe I stated in no particular order: Ostersunds, clenched gluteus, and Welbeck.
    Walked in the door and saw indeed– all three aspects came to the fore.
    Gonna have a beer now.


  • That’s why I didn’t put Iwobi in the list.. Hehehe.. Such a great pass from Ozil.. If only Lacazette where there.. Hehehe..

  • Welbs hits the (would-be) equalizer hard but Akinfeev pushes it away…

    RAMBO, no mistake there… And we get a result!!!

    Never worried, too early for beer… :Grrrr face…

  • Don’t look now?
    But both RB Salzburg and Marseille have done a Roma on Lazio and RB Leipzig.


  • Change that headline: Arsenal draw (and, btw, go through to the semis…) feels like a loss… 😦

    Wenger still in… More frownies…

    Two weeks for Mkhi’s Mkhedial ligament to heal itself?…

    Tough trip to Toonies on Sunday… Gulp…

  • I love Iwobi… Just having some fun… (Too clever for my own good, prolly)… Apologies, TA, if you’re down on me there…

    I can do some time in the sin-bin if you’re not ready to full-on ban me…

    Again, just kidding, but (of course) there’s always something behind the humor (humour?)…

  • Atletico scraped through after losing 0-1. There is going to be a nice group in that semi final berth, you know.

    Back to our game. As usual, we made it look harder than it really should be but, that wasn’t unexpected given the way the week has gone with 2nd legs of European ties. We have a couple of players who just won’t put in the work or feign to be doing so when they’d rather not be bothered. Thumbs up to the likes of Elneny, Rambo, Welbeck, Mustafi and Bellerin (to a lesser extent) who never stopped running. Ozil was the luxury player we know he is while Jack just needs to get back into form; dispossessed too many times by opponents who knew he only needed a shove to go down. You’d think the Russian side targeted our right side so, I’ve got to say I was pleased Bellerin didn’t buckle.

    Let’s hope we get a good draw for the next round.

  • Cheers for (drinking my) beer(s), J-Dub…

    Happy Thursday (almost Friday) night, everybody…

  • Happy to see Lazio out. Happy to draw any of them and agree with Kev that it may suit us to play Atletico over two legs rather than in a final. But we need Xhaka and Mkhi back and play the same team – or there about – we played against CSKA at home.

  • Saw the first half.
    Will watch the second half before doling out musings.

    Well, you’re welcome HT!
    And since you prescribe beer(s; plural)– I now must break for a freezing pint glass brimming with a frothy Corona.


  • Agreed Goonereris. In my opinion Jack is either trying to hard or carrying an injury. I imagine Wenger is bowing to pressure from Jack to let him play, so he will get a chance in the World Cup. I don’t think playing him at the moment is doing anyone favours.

    Lacazette just didn’t turn up,tonight and in my opinion both Jack and Lacazette were kept on the field for far to long.

  • Playing three at the back and no longer having three flat midfielders to protect the back four made all the difference. So credit to Wenger for changing the game round with the Jack – Chambers sub and tactical adjustment. Happy for Welbeck to score the all important goal; this may get him a ticket to the country he is currently in this summer.

  • If there is one thing I confirmed today it is that Elneny is an exquisite #10. The timing and weight of his final balls are without equal.

  • High praise indeed, PE. Elneny is an allround player and it suited him to play in 3-4-3 rather than in a flat and withdrawn 4-3-3 midfield. The style of play and instructions did not suit either Jack, Elneny or Rambo.

    Retsub, Eris, Hehehe, I notice that when things do not go well you all like to concentrate on individual players rather than the bigger picture of formation, tactics, etc… Just an observation.

  • P E sorry I disagree about Elneny. The guy works his socks off I and has been great the last 2 games. But he will never make exquisite number 10 iin my book. Ps I hope you are correct and I am wrong,

    Wenger just said “we were surprised by their intensity”. Seems to me we often get sutprised by teams intensity……. why?

  • T A that’s probably because I am not intelligent enough to discuss tactics. I do critisise individuals, but I will also praise them when they do well just me I guess.

  • Yeah retsub– I too have a huge appreciation for Mo.
    Sorry PE, but he’s more mule than show-pony.

    Was preparing to state — had we held CSKA scoreless in the first half?
    That Elneny was responsible for burning about half that 45:00 by himself.
    His value can’t be understated– though his style is.


  • TA.. The tactics need players to make it work.. And We must clear to see it.. Without any preferences for somebody.. Hehehe..

    Try to be honest.. Was Wilshere play a good game tonight?? No..
    Was he played a good game against Soton..?? No.
    Was he played a good game against CSKA before..?? NO..
    Was He played a good game against Stoke..?? The answer remain the same.. NO..

    So can you explain what’s the tactics in putting Wilshere in the center of our attack..??
    We survived not because of the tactics.. Because of the players.. Because we have so much great players.. Who can cover an error of one or two others.. Hehehe..

    If Wenger is a really good in tactics.. We will see a change a lot.. But do we..??
    Wenger didn’t do a lot of tactics.. He did believe in the players.. He give them a lot of trust.. But sometimes it just didn’t work.. Hehehe..

  • Btw.. So happy that Elneny red card is being canceled.. So we will see him against Newcastle on Sunday..
    Just hope this time Wenger put the right man on the right place.. Hehehe..

  • Who predicted that we drew 2-2?

    Mustafi (again!! Can we do something about it?) and Nacho were at fault for being too slow to react after they scored the 2 goals to bring the tie back to 3-4, but Elneny is the man (why play Jacko when he is down at the moment?).

    Good draw at Moscow, and would like to see an easy draw for us.

  • “Retsub, Eris, Hehehe, I notice that when things do not go well you all like to concentrate on individual players rather than the bigger picture of formation, tactics, etc… Just an observation.” – TA

    Not sure how you reached that conclusion since we make an effort to have individual Player ratings after games, on this site. Or, is this about my take on Jack? 😜. Sorry, but dosen’t Wenger taking him off suggest maybe we he wasn’t doing something right and in a tactical tweak, he was dispensable? It’s always great to talk about formation and tactics but sometimes, in the end, it’s the players application that matters; we should be free to make those observations irrespective of how things are going (well or not). I love the team and only want them to do well, performing to the optimum as often as possible.

  • We don’t know why Jack was taken off, Eris. He had a nasty stamp on his Achilles and looked ready to come off is probably what I would go for. We also needed to make a tactical adjustment and as I said above, Wenger made the right one by playing with three at the back and pushing the full backs up. For this, a midfielder had to be sacrificed and Jack was a good call. Nothing more and nothing less.

    The tactics and a shape of the team did not suit many players tonight, but of course it is easier to pick on a couple of players. To me that’s what I read in your post-game comment.

  • I thought that Lacazette was most disappointing, we looked better when Welbeck went up front.
    Wilshere was crocked, but had a stinker, Elneny was my man of da match, perpetual motion.
    Iwobi, he can’t finish for toffee atm, I think he needs a visit to the clubs psychologist.
    Ramsey was battered at the end but what a great finish, he deserved that.
    Our loose defending continues to be a concern, Atletico will make mincemeat of us if we play them and defend as we did tonight.
    Tbh anyone out of Marseilles, Salzburg or Atletico is going to be a nerve wracking 180 minutes.

    I predicted 2-2 btw…. 😎

  • TA, I’m not that hot on tactics either but it seemed to me that we were switching from a 3 to 4 for most of the 2nd 45 before Chambers came on, and he did ok I gotta say.
    Elneny seemed to drop in between Koz and Dozey before switching back to centre-mid depending on the game situation. He has really come on a bundle since the turn of the year, so glad we never sold him, but it’s a shame we sold Paulista.

  • This obsession with passing when in a good position to shoot, in order to find a team mate in a better spot was, I believe, partly to blame for Iwobi finishing that opportunity the way that he did, our players give me the impression that they’re in two minds, their natural instinct is to shoot, but the constant mantra of finding a team mate often sees promising situations totally botched up as our players show a lack of directness.

    Does that make sense TA..?

  • Kev,

    You know as much as I do that we cannot defend for the life of it and we just suffer if we sit back and try to absorb pressure. Our players are not suited for this and not drilled properly; we have seen it time and again. As a result, we see players struggle and then think they are crap or lazy, or both. The tactical adjustment made all the difference and Wenger deservers praise for it. Without it I think we would now be out of the competition.

    Elneny is a good allround player and just the sort of player you need in a top team. His first assist was a work of mobile art. Love the guy.

  • Kev

    Iwobi was cold on and yes you could tell he was caught in two minds: pass or score. The players get told to choose the optimum solution and a pass would have been the best option from what I could see. In the end it was neither a pass nor a clear shot on goal, but especially young players are prone to doing this.

    Iwobi produced two assists and a pre-assist on Sunday, so I thought he deserved a bit of credit anyway.. 🙂

  • Agree on Iwobi, he’s had a difficult season, but he did a sterling job against Southampton, funnily enough, the responsibilities of being our main man in midfield seemed to bring out the best in him last weekend. I think he’ll be the main man at Newcastle this weekend as I expect to see a bit of rotation, Ozil and Ramsey rested whilst Jack will need time to recover from his Achilles getting raked in Russia.

    Great to see Nketiah on the bench, surprised to see 4 defenders on the bench….

  • OK, work be done… Time for my beer… For me, JW, it’s one of those cans o’ stout (Irish…) with the widget for the proper foamy top… 🙂

    Focusing too much on the individual (pointing the finger of blame), I think, is the problem of those who keep their words too few… 😀 😉 In other words, it’s short (and thus easy)… In general I try not to expect folks to write as much as I do… (Though, I promise, I would read each and every last word…) Diplomacy by way of Twitter (or other self-imposed word limits…) is probably NOT the best thing that’s ever happened for discourse…

    Right now, I truly don’t have much more to add to what I said during the match…except this…

    The reffing, in the European matches I saw this week, seemed a LOT more English (i.e., let ’em play…) which (probably?) allows for more goals… Players who rely upon the refs, then, end up on the pitch (complaining) while more and more dangerous play gets rewarded. I’d love to hear from others who watched more of the games… Anyhow, it could be a good thing for the remaining English teams in the two comps. Of the mountains to climb, Pool’s seems higher, but damn, our squad is THIN and I fear for our chances with neither of our January transfers able to play… Best news of the night was Rambo getting back onto the pitch and looking just fine for the equalizer… We’re gonna need Jack as well…Unless Mkhi Mkhakes a Mkhiracle recovery… Anybody (who actually reads my comments) tired of mkhee putting Ks and Hs after all my Ms? Just lemme know and I’ll quit…

    With Jack off the radar the January we bought Elneny, (2016, I think…) I always pictured him as cover for Rambo… A guy with enough skills but really more (of the passion to?…) run-all-day and just-keep-at-it… I’m very pleased to see him getting his due, of course… I thought his offside header was nicely executed too…

    Finally, (just like Kev… 😉 …) I blame Ozil for putting Iwobi in an unwinnable spot… The lefty (Ozil) passed to Iwobi’s left foot… (Just where he would want it himself…) Akinfeev should also get credit for knowing his angles and getting off his line quick enough to make Iwobi (still only 21…) think he only had the one touch… He’s a guy who will only get better and better, I think…

    We’ll moan about the sticky glutes and (probably about Cech and Mustafi) and others will say it’s just Ropy league and Moscow were terrible but I disagree. That was a not-so-poor team and we did it w/o (today at least) some of our best guys (PEA, Xhaka, Mkhi)… I say OK… (And, since I was never worried, no itchy bum for me…

    And–my second–finally–as I finish my stout… For those who know the movie Superbad, between his name and his right foot I say I want me some Golovin… Coolest kid I’ve seen for a WHILE…

  • T A no just honest. When the 2nd half started, the commentator stated that Elneny had dropped into central defence. He believed that the reason they scored their second was that with Elneny dropping back, it allowed Golovin the space ro work his magic. Then Wenger who presumably put Elneny at the back in the first place came up with the tactical masterpiece of bringing Chambers on which allowed Elneny to move forward again . Now you can always lie with stats, but in all the time Elneny has been with team he has scored one goal and hardly created any. A record that puts him in the John Jensen class. I think he just got lucky.

    So once again Wenger is a genius? Not in my book today, he just got lucky. Jack had been slowly improving since returning from the South coast, but the past 3 games he has been giving the ball away in a buy one get one free fashion..personally I wouldn’t have started him last night but that’s another story.. Lacazette made little impression last night and despite his previous record he doesn’t look like a striker to me at the moment. Once again he wouldn’t have seen the 2nd half in my team. I agree about Iwobi , but other than his very good performance at the weekend, he has been poor recently. I think he could do with a little better man management from Wenger.

    What little I have seen of Eddie however convinced me that he is a goal scorer. He plays a lot like Ian Wright from the little I have seen. I would at least give him a chance.

    So in summary I genuinely mean it when I say I am not great on the tactical front and truthfully Arsene Wenger has more knowledge in his little finger than I will ever have, but I believe I would have done a better job than him last night by selecting players who are in form and subbing non performers.

    17HT agree on Golovin he was the best player on the pitch by a mile last night.

    Lastly I haven’t always been a big fan of Zhaka but it does show up when he isn’t around.

    If that doesn’t kill insomnia nothing will..

  • Hi all.. We have our own thoughts about last night game.. Some may be different..
    But I see one is similar.. Gol-ovin or Go-lovin.. Hehehe.. His free kick is even better than Hakan..

    So.. We have Golovin and Meyer in our list.. Hope both will be our soon.. Hehehe..

  • I rooted for Golovin in the summer. Eris too, I remember. At that time the rumour put his value at only £10M.

  • Why is it that Elneny is seen as a defensive midfielder? He doesn’t tackle nor is he great at interception. Closing down is where he excels defensively.

    His biggest attribute is his exceptional understanding of time and space which, with his technical skill, forms the background for his precise passing ability.

    Currently in vogue for offensive teams is defending from the front. That’s high pressing. That is one thing we don’t (can’t) do because we don’t have the right players for it. Wenger tried to move Coquelin up field for it, but its failure was because Coq was not a passer. In Elneny we have a relentless presser and an exquisite passer. What are we waiting for?

    In our last couple of games, Elneny has provided 3 beautifully timed inch perfect assists which had nothing of luck about them. They are repeatable.

    We scored 2 great goals at Moscow from 2 assists from Elneny. The 1st goal might look prettier, but it’s the second goal that was technically more brilliant. Observe how Ramsey and Elneny waited and timed to perfection the pass with the run. It needs two to tango. That perfection in timing cannot be achieved by many pair. I doff my hat to Rambo also.

    We need a central midfield of Xhaka as the deepest, Elneny as furthest up and Rambo motoring up and down. 3 more games standing between us and CL.

  • Freezing cold, a 10:00pm TV start time– away from home.
    With a 2-anything scoreline acceptable– ans getting out of Moscow with a draw?
    Every one of us would have nodded ‘yes’ to that result before Thursday.

    It was an exercise in attrition– and the boys attritted themselves well enough.
    We didn’t get Roma’d like Lazio or Leipzig did (When did dropping 3-goal aggregate leads suddenly become the all-the-rage?). Ugly as things seemed in certain snapshots yesterday? We move on to a new challenge today.

    With 4 weeks left in every team’s 2017-2018 campaigns?
    Arsenal are one of only eight teams– still playing for European silverware.
    Starting with the 2-0 at Milan? Arsenal are unbeaten in 7 straight.
    Aesthetics aside, nearly perfect results.


  • Well Retsub that was the best tactical summary I have read on my blog in the last two days or so. Don’t agree on your player assessments – Laca is fabulous but may have been a bit tired and the SYSTEM of play for 75 minutes or so did not suit him; Elneny is the most all round mid we have but yes the goals (not the assists) are still missing – but that is how you see it and I respect it.

  • Tonight we have a nail biting time to know who our opponents are in the semis.

    Atletico, Marseille and Salzburg are tough teams and we cannot afford to have sleeping defenders for those games.

    If we draw Marseille we have a chance of making the final. And i am not counting on Atletico and Salzburg to be easy opponents either, after seeing Salzburg stunning Lazio.

    More tonight

  • TA. I think I am probably agreeing with you on most bits, but without looking at Elneny stats I would hazard a guess, he probably covers the most ground and is a very accurate passer of the ball. A lot of the great teams have had unassuming water carrier players, Makele springs to mind.

    I really doubt he has claimed many assists though, other than the past few games. With
    Elneny doing his job it frees up others to flourish.

    Anyway he seems one of the good guys and has recently signed a new contract, although
    Wasn’t Wenger looking to unload him recently? More power to the guy

  • Yes Retsub his stats are not showing a lot of assist as yet, but as you say he is not used in advanced positions enough to have great assists stats. Key is he plays very well in deeper midfield positions but offers also an extra weapon when called upon. His first assist was like a golf-stroke: such feeling and precision and speed of thinking. The ball was that good that Welbz could score for once without aid of any other player or fluke of one of his bodyparts. 🙂

  • We got Atletico. Everything come crashing down again.
    This is a real test of our mental toughness and our lack of defense is the most worrying.

    TA, some comments to pick up the mood here?

  • JK.. That’s mean we will win the Cup.. Hehehe.. As someone already said.. Better to meet ATM in two round games than Final.. And I’m agree.. Hehehe..
    If ATM playing like last night.. Then we will break them down.. For sure.. Hehehe..

    26 April and 3 May.. At least Mhiki will be ready for the second leg.. I wish both..

  • Ko Henry, don’t forget that they have Torres and Costa. And although they have a thin squad due to injuries, they are a good team.

  • In a more talented team defensively — Mo Elneny might not be stationed as close to the back-4 as he is with this team. But the frailties of a back-4 that is left exposed regularly, find half it’s regulars sometimes out-of-position, sometimes lacking, and the other half of them aging? Requires a possession skillset in front of them — this season.

    In my time as an Arsenal fan, there’s not been a season with as much figuring-it-out-as-we-go — as in this one. Wenger has been doing what he can– with what he has left. He might have made a detrimental choice in formation yesterday– but realized it, changed direction, and affected the outcome positively.

    What this game confirms? Is how the triumvirate in the backroom might approach filling out the positions in midfield this Summer. Seeing a player like Elneny grow into his abilities and be productive– is another portion of the team’s structure rebuilt. That Mo Elneny is a player who can fulfill roles.


  • JK–
    We also have a blueprint from Sporting– who held Atletico to 2 goals over 180 minutes.


  • Atletico it is! Absolutely fine with the draw. At least we will not underestimate our opponents and it may suit us to be the ‘slight’ underdog. Over two legs we can have them.

  • Mo Elneny was fantastic yesterday, full of running and when some creativity was required, he produced exquisitely in a way that would have had even Ozil green with envy. Man of the match, for me. In trying to understand his best position, there’s need to go back to how he played for Basel and his native country, Egypt. He was always used in a box to box at Basel and as a free moving 2nd DM for Egypt, hence he had been known to pop with some goals and assists for both those sides. I don’t know by how much his play at Arsenal will have influenced his national team manager but, I expect we will see a bit more of him in the free defensive midfield role at the World Cup.

    I don’t quite understand this thing about talking formations and tactics here like I ever told anyone I have been a manager; and yes, when it has been meaningful, I am quite certain I have talked tactics in detail here. I still play the game (Sunday Sunday side, I admit) and I ain’t no spring chicken, but I run a lot and put in a shift always. Is it too much to demand same from well paid professionals? Of course, when I am not effective, I sub myself so why should the manager keep up with mediocrity unless you are a magician like Mesut? It is normal to speak about individual players, whether it’s going well or not, I restate. We praise when we have to and we point out errors when we must. It’s a forum and opinions will defer so any attempts at censorship of views may be detrimental. Nuff said on that.

    Now, to the draws for EL. Frankly, I don’t fear Madrid as much as most do and feel we raise our game when we have a test of our mettle. It’s not as if Mertesacker and Holding didn’t do a job on Costa in that FA cup final vs Chelsea so, why would it be impossible to keep him in check again. Atletico have very dangerous forwards all over, plus midfielders who know how to dart into spaces; we just have to be wary of these and try to hurt them with our own weapons is all. My only concern is with playing the 1st leg at the Emirates and going over their in the second leg. But, we only have to come up with the right plan and name the right players. It will be interesting. I think it will be Arsenal v Marseille for the final to be played in Lyon.

  • Another snag is now, we don’t stand a chance at Old Trafford (I had looked forward to that game, hoping for the win). We cannot ford to play a full strength team against JM’s side and maybe, they will pay us back in the same coin as we did them when they were in a similar situation last season?

  • TA. I think I am probably agreeing with you on most bits, but without looking at Elneny stats I would hazard a guess, he probably covers the most ground and is a very accurate passer of the ball. A lot of the great teams have had unassuming water carrier players, Makele springs to mind. -Retsub1

    Precisely, retsub1. Elneny never stopped working last night. There was this time he kept chasing down Golovin and the twin defender, as they interchanges passes about 4 times; he kept going from one to the other, pressing each one into the obvious decision and preventing a forward run by the winger. What was more worrying was Ozil stood not too far away watching him charge about, doing nothing. Well, he later appeared to make a move forward, when it became obvious he should have been helping……

    Next to Rambo, he has the best engine ever!

  • Oh, and in CL, it is Liverpool V Roma; Bayern Munich V Real Madrid. Looking good for the Scousers, I’ve got to say….

  • Eris–
    Holding was my first thought when I learned of the draw.
    Then thought to look at Costa’s stats since he rejoined Atletico in January.
    18 apps across 3 comps. 6 goals/5 assists.
    Scored only one goal versus a quality opponent (Sevilla on Feb 25).
    Not scored in over a month (Lokomotiv Moskow Mar 8).


  • (Reuters) – “Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa risks missing their Europa League semi-final games against Arsenal after he was diagnosed with a hamstring injury on Friday.”


  • Express is stating– rather, interpreting– Wenger to say that Mkhitaryan will return in time for Atletico 1st leg.


  • Hahaha! Thanks for all of the good news, jw1. I also am aware Costa hasn’t been that great lately, but expect him to be up for this game, old rivalries and all. He is a quick healer and that injury may not keep him out for that long (fingers crossed, he doesn’t play, though 😀). After all, we can’t have Auba.

    TA, you did call that possibility but there’s just something about this Liverpool side that makes me think Klopp can inspire them into believing they can win it. Salah was with Roma and will certainly want to tell them he’s a better player. I would be happier if you were correct, though.

  • Eris–
    Costa does have that Drogba-type of streak in him when he sees us. That’s the concern IMO.

    As for the Express and their thinly-stretched ‘Mkhi returns for 1st leg’ schtick?
    Unless his injury is really not as bad as reported– not very likely. I’ll go as far as surmising it better to be sure– and have Mkhi fit in the 2nd leg. Atletico probably thinking same about Costa.

    A bit of irony too. Could have been Lacazette sitting out until January waiting to play for Atletico.


  • Eris, yes Pool are looking good. My thinking is that it suits them to be the underdog but against Roma they are possibly the favourites. Roma was able to overcome the best attacking team in Europe and Pool are a similar attacking team.

  • Total, you can just imagine how Mourinho is relishing the prospect, he helped to damage Man City in the CL and would simply love to do the same to Wenger, especially if we have a less than successful 1st leg, it’s going to be as much about psychology as football in those 3 games.

    Maybe we need to seriously think about 3 at the back in at least the two away games at Old Trafford and the Calderon, maybe all three?
    It isn’t going to be a goal fest, with our opponents, be they United or Athletico, going for it, it’s going to be very very tactical and that isn’t our strength.

  • Mind you, looking at the Atletico defence, a very good, well drilled defence, I’ve a hunch that the more robust style of Danny Welbeck could unsettle them, especially in the Calderon where we’ll probably be under a lot more sustained pressure.
    Lacazette will have a point to prove, but may enjoy more success at the Emirates, when we visit the Calderon our attack could be feasting on scraps and that not really Alexander’s game imo.

  • I guess the difference is, Kev, that we don’t care about the PL anymore, whereas MC clearly had a lot weighing on that MU game. This time round we just have to put up a team and make the best of it. Our focus needs to be fully on Atletico games.

    I would always play Lacazette ahead of Welbeck. They are pretty similar in style but the Frenchman is much more lethal when he gets a chance. I actually feel that they play best when paired up (and we try to dominate opponents in their own half).

  • He is still a supersub.. Retsub..
    Poor Soton.. 3 goals in 9 minutes..
    I hope it will be draw..

  • retsub–
    Southhampton: 60 minutes of pluckiness undone by 8 minutes of suckiness.
    Giroud scoring while one Soton CB out of position complaining of the awarded FK.

    Giroud must be ticked that Morata starts. Morata has cinder blocks for feet. Giroud far better in the air. Though it must be stated that Morata is a world-class whiner.


  • I’ve got a bit of neutral football going this morning so it’s a good time to catch up on the comments… Palace, like So’ton in the early match, are already on a two goal lead… I think they’re staying up for sure and playing last years 2nd div winners looks easier, whereas So’ton had last season’s PL Champs… Ooops, BHA have gotten one back, so maybe I spoke too soon… Lotsa goals in England…AND Europe this spring… (Burnley already 2 goals up over Leicester, too)… On that note, It was good, kinda, to see Giroud open it all up for the Chelsea comeback in the early game… AND, at least his hair is intact. WTF is Cesc all about with his quiff?…

    Back to Arsenal and the comments here…

    First off, Admir, I was hoping for Atleti in the final (not the semis)… Over two legs and w/o our January additions, I think we are BIG under-dogs… That said, sometimes the underdogs prevail… Simeone is all about defending, of course, but El Nin(y)o, Diego Costa and (mostly) the Ant-mann (Griezmann) can put them in as well, Koke, Gabi, Saul can provide service (and keep the ball well) and won’t miss if Cech can’t handle the ball at set pieces, etc. They some injuries, somebody suggested, I think… I’ve watched just about zero Spanish football this season so others might have to help me out… To me, they seem formidable… Our only real advantage is that we have the superior manager… 😉

    Whoa… Another goal… Zaha on a long ball shapes himself perfectly to head home…

    Back to Ropy league stuff… I really think folks are misguided about our guy (Wenger) and his fate being dependent on winning it. The board gave him a 2 year contract and, like he says, he sees them out. IF we were to win it AND make a solid top 4 finish and not get embarrassed in the CL (next season), y’all might need to worry about him getting ANOTHER contract. The short-term perspective of fans just isn’t the way clubs (real clubs, not oily-garch playthings…) do things, I don’t think… But, who knows, maybe I’m wrong… To me, last winter seemed worse. 1-5, 5-1 in the CL (to Bayern) then losses at WBA and the place on my telly right now (Crystal Palace) seemed the end of the line… And AW was out of contract (!) This year he’s got a full season still on it… Didn’t they announce his new contract even before he (beat those other superior teams and) won the FA Cup?… I can’t quite remember…

    Another goal…this time by Brighton (from Izquierdo, which means left, though he scores with his right…) 5 goals in just over half an hour… I hardly even need the start of the basketball playoffs, where my local team plays…wait for it…a team called Spurs… I’d still love to talk hoops with the guy from Houston (someone who still reads my comments, perhaps…) but he’s yet to bite on that topic…

    Strong team for the trip to Toon-town tomorrow? Maybe rest the Britcore (JW, Rambo, Welbs) but play the rest, I think… Again, what do I know?… Seems to me that (as others suggest) the game at OT will be a sacrifice, but, in the meantime, we need to keep working on things (in competitive situations) to be ready for Atleti…

    No more goals before halftime… 😦

    Over to the smarter folks (you guys)…

  • For me I’d rest, Ozil, Ramsey (recovering from gash on leg), Wilshere (Achilles), Welbeck, Koscielny, Monreal, I’d rest Bellerin as well but for whom if AMN isn’t fit and Lacazette. Would I rest Cech? Yep, but Arsene won’t.

  • Hey Kev…

    I think Ospina and AMN are carrying knocks, possibly of the dreaded Weng-jury variety… Ospina is done at Arsenal, I think, (He’ll look good at the world cup to help up his price–or justify a price already paid…) and I’d expect AMN to reappear for the trip to the Moo-man’s ground…

    I think you’re right, however, about resting the old guys on the left side of our defense, Kos and Nacho. They are barely hanging on, I fear, and Nacho, after all those goals which helped limp us through the January transfer stuff, looks like he’s neither a LB nor a CB. Chambers and Kolasinac need PL game-time to push–and perhaps supplant–these guys, not to mention Holding, who seems adept enough if/when tactics shift in the final half hour. Time waits for no man, not even defenders…

    On the other hand, for me, the Ozil-Lacazette connection is a key element if we’re to have a shot at beating Atleti so I’d play the following group tomorrow, esp. seeing as we (finally) have no Thursday football this coming week… I also fear that we need more time to work on that communication stuff between Cech and Mustafi, our, ahem, anchormen when it comes to keeping balls out of our net… As such, here’s my 11…

    Xhaka (or Elneny if Granit truly has the flu…)

    It’s probably not quite a 4-1-4-1 but (again) I’ll leave that to the smarter people who know their formations/tactics/etc. a bit more than I do…

  • Also (for the cab man…) here are my thoughts on psychology vs football and our trip to Old Trafford…

    Play the kids and we’ve got nothing to lose… Just like the Moo-man did last season…we won that one 2-nil but it was hardly a match. Both managers know about back doors and how to get into the good part of Eu-rope… And that you’ve got to keep your eyes on the (real) prize… For better or worse, it’ll be a non-event up there… Sunshine would be nice, I think…

    For the supporters it’s different, of course, and ANY bad result is a crisis (and another reason Wenger. Must. Go.)… That’s why they make beer… Be kind to yourself (as TA used to say…) and have an extra one (or three) on both the way up AND home from Old Trafford if you choose to make the journey…

  • Can anybody help me?…

    There’s Saturday night football at Wembley tonight but City can’t win the title (at Spurs)…though Moo-U could hand it to them with the right combo of results in their games vs WBA and at Bournemouth tomorrow and during the week. Next weekend it’s Spurs-United while Chavs and So’ton go again in the FA Cup semis with City most likely (to limp into their double and) claim the PL trophy while hosting Swansea?…


  • No goals in the second half of this one… Ends 3-2 so Palace look not so bad for staying up… Only Huddersfield (to me) look set to stop about 25 years of PL teams (WBA, Stoke, So’ton) going down… Lotsa games remain, so maybe some twists down at the bottom…

    The weather in Houston is probably good enough that JW is out and about… Still, I’ve LOVE to talk about strained medial ligaments and coming back from them… For me, HM77 (that Mkhitaryan with his Ropy League shirt number…) and Steph Curry seem equally important to their respective clubs…

  • Hiya 17tino

    For me, the boys got home early hours Friday morning and they can do without a long 600 mile round trip to Northumbria and back.
    I know they’ll fly up there, but all that travelling must take its toll…

    I get what you mean about Ozil & Lacazette, maybe have then on the bench?

  • Totally agree regarding OT trip 17tino, just make it clear what you’re doing and take the sting out of it. Then Mourinho can’t make anything from it if he wins by 4 or 5. To me it’s irrelevant and the more you make that clear the less of a big deal it’ll be..

  • AK,

    We will beat Mourhino at OT,. (NB, He always says he beat club X or club Y – not his team you understand, but he himself beat them – the clown) so therefore we will beat him (personally) too.

    The pillock!!

    Hiya Henry, I saw that ‘RA’ became ‘RS’ and I forgive your computer! HeHeHe

  • Hi 17HT, @ 16:49

    This season has been so disappointing for us that I find it hard to get excited about any other game — shame on me for being so biased, I guess. 🙂

  • HT–
    NBA playoffs are a different animal from the regular season- so I try not to place too much import on a team’s record except the seeding they earn from it. A record of 65-17 places the Houston Rockets in an echelon that could be labelled great– if they follow through and win the championship this June.

    Rockets are a Moneyball team through-and-through. Their GM Daryl Morey has tried his hand at finding the right combo of (2 or 3) stars and a mix-match of moving parts– for the last 10 years. He’s been through 3 good to great coaches in that time– each an improvement in style and best strategy to suit personnel.

    James Harden (almost certain MVP) can be unstoppable. Chris Paul is brilliant. The remaining cast of many are undersized, tenacious defenders. Not uncommon to see a 6’6″ player guarding someone 6’11”, then switch off in the same defensive possession to defend a player 6’2″ that is an outside shooter. For the first time in NBA history– a team shot more 3-pointers than 2-point shots for an entire season. The Rockets average 112+ppg. Harden led the league with 30.4ppg and dished out nearly 9 assists per game too.

    The Western Conference is a minefield of matchups for all eight teams in the playoffs. The ninth-place Denver Nuggets (a Kroenke Sports Entertainment franchise ) finished at 46-36. The best record EVER for a team that DIDN’T make the playoffs. 3rd-place through 8th-place were separated by only 2 games. Any team in that group can beat any other team in a 7-game series. Even the Rockets (who start the playoffs versus 8th-place Minnesota Timberwolves).

    Western Conference Finals:
    Houston Rockets vs Golden State Warriors (dark horse pick: Utah Jazz)

    Eastern Conference Finals:
    Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers (dark horse pick: Cleveland Cavaliers)

    NBA Finals: Houston Rockets vs Philadelphia 76ers

    NBA Champions: Houston Rockets


  • Excellent JW… Dubs up by a dubzen vs Spurs… Other Spurs losing at HT at Wembley…Dubious penalty for City?… I missed it and, where I’m watching, there’s no DVR…

    You’re right about the wild west, I know very little about the east but feel sad for the former Cav, Kyrie Irving going down to injury… I’ve got friends in Boston and the Banter would’ve been fun…

    Warriors over the Cavs (again…) Those playoffs can be boring… Mkhe hopes that those Mkhedial ligament injury’s are called by the coaches…and last just as long as they need to… 😉 That said, I’m FAR more confident about Steph’s that Mkhi’s, I fear… Most definitely worried about a 7th game in Houston and the beard stepping back at the buzzer… Who (or is it whom?…) do you consider Rockets 3rd and 4th players… TA (Trevor Ariza) seems like a (not so) poor man’s KD, but I really don’t watch too much of the neutral hoops…

  • Sorry RA… You need to start taking your pints (and drams) if you think Arsenal are gonna go to OT and give them a game… A gentleman’s 2-nil would be my guess… The days of a two team rivalry died (like a Dodo…) in a bunch of oil and gas, I fear…

  • Kev, when So’ton were up by two goals I was thinking “strong team at Toonies and we’re 1 point back of Chavs.” I still think we can catch them… Conte can only go to the half-time hair-drier so many times… 5th vs 6th means nothing, of course, but I think AW likes his point total to be higher than lower… Both teams, however, (hopefully, for us at least…) might have cup finals for which they might want to keep-it-together…

  • Ws by “only” 16 at halftime… I told my wife I’d run an errand for her if it was a blow-out, so maybe I don’t have to… 😀

    Spurs-City still 1-2… Wow… Sterling, walking it in, fails to lift it over the prone defender… They’re not quite the goal-scoring team without El Kun… Spoke too soon… Lloris down for Jesus’ goal and Sterling roofs it… 1-3…

  • It’s scary the money that City might spend on a striker (and a defender or two) this summer… Is Abramovich done (wasting money)?… Or will the new manager at Chavs be given his half a billion? Cesc back at Arsenal could make us the slowest MF in England? Or do we want Willian? Hazard is still “only” 27… Harry Kane at City (or Chelsea) would improve them, no?… Improved revenues at New Wet Fart means they can (try and) keep him?…


  • Finishes 1-3… Basketball game is comfortable but not quite done, i.e., no errands at this point… 😉

    Glad to see folks are enjoying their Saturday afternoons/evenings… Or at least not letting me bring them down…

  • HT–
    Everyone– on this team is the #3 / #4 guy. Though Eric Gordon was 6th-Man of the Year last season. Of the top 8-9 in the rotation all shoot 3-ptrs at a near 35-40% clip except he center (Clint Capela)– and he shoots over 60% from the field. Many liken his athleticism to Olajuwon.


  • I’m not sure 17tino, that Wenger will be as focused on Chelsea as he might be on Burnley, now what if we finished below them ( not gonna happen btw, we are where we’ll finish)..?
    I think we’ll get (despite all the Newcastle ‘spin’ regarding a long overdue result against the Gunners) a score draw, which I guess would qualify as a result….

    Red, we won’t win at OT, no chance and Mourinho is a sociopath.
    But his children love him.

    Where’s Johnnie?

  • 17tino, I think that Man City could have a clear run at any of the top talent available this summer?
    And maybe beyond.

    Abramovitch is in the midst of planning and funding a huge stadium redevelopment that may take three years, he doesn’t have bottomless pockets – even him…

    Tottenham are going to have to find a lot of dough to retain what they have as they’re gonna be up to their necks in debt for a long time and won’t be able to compete for the top talents.

    Liverpool, Man Utd all have stadium upgrades in the pipeline, so Arsenal could be in a very strong position to take advantage in the transfer market.

    Whether we will is an entirely different subject….

  • Match of the Day has been interesting, the Crystal Palace vs Brighton game was a rip roaring encounter, Wilfred Zaha, with two poachers goals is looking a bit like Ian Wright.

    17tino, regarding your 16.21 my team up at St James’ would be more experimental;

    AMN, Holding, Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac,
    Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi,
    Nelson, Aubameyang.

    Subs: Willock, Nketiah, DaSilva, Lacazette, Keto, Ozil, BFG

    I see that Smith-Rowe is fit again, that kid is gonna be a bit special.

  • Kev, we can put out a strong team for tonight, as we have the coming midweek off.

    So, not such an experimental lineup please, as it will be crazy and Kamikaze to be careful against Benitez’s team.

    So, more fighting spirit from us from the get go, not from the 70th minute onwards.

  • Ok 84, but tbh, I thought my XI was still a strong team, I actually think that Macey is a really good goalkeeper, even though I accept that it’s a long shot and Wenger will almost certainly pick Cech.
    Nelson needs games, so does Holding, AMN trained with the 1st team and is fit, these guys are good players and won’t be tired. 🙂

  • Hi all..
    Will we rest some of our main players..?? I think so.. Wenger won’t gambling with the fitness of Ramsey and others.. For UEL only two and half days ago..

    And RA.. We won’t win the game against MU at OT.. Cause we must face ATM.. Win in OT will mean nothing is we lost UEL.. So let’s give our best for UEL.. Cause we won’t be in the fourth position even if we win against MU.. Hehehe..

    So for tonight.. I’ll go for
    Chambers Monreal Holding
    Nelson Elneny Xhaka Kolasinac
    Willock Iwobi

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