Nelson, Ozil, Iwobi behind Auba | Swiss-Egyptian Masters in Midfield: NU-Arsenal Preview/ Line-Up


Our team from the CSKA match in Moscow got into London about 5am Friday morning, I learnt. A little over 48 hours after their arrival would they have headed north to Newcastle in a match that takes us nowhere. With all our focus on the Europa league, everything points to a massive rotation. But make no mistake about it, we’d all be thirsting as ever for a win, dead rubber game notwithstanding.

We like to win and hate to lose. There is also that little matter of our not wanting Burnley to finish above us. Chelsea is in a poor run of form and who says they can’t be overtaken by us? Spurs lost last night and it’s quite possible they have set up for their seasonal collapse. I want Auba to extend his Arsenal goal scoring record and Cech to add to his 200 clean sheet mark. Indeed there are still plenty to play for and countless “trophies” to win and celebrate.

Wenger, being one of us, hates to lose too. So expect him to assemble a team he believes can give him victory. After Newcastle, there is a whole week till our next match against West Ham. After West Ham we will have the all important 1st leg match against Atletico Madrid. That’s far from a hectic schedule. Therefore, about the only dilemma facing Wenger, as he agonizes over the team selection for the Newcastle match, is the fatigue of those who played in Moscow. Players have to be rested. A capable team must be selected. I can literally see Wenger wipe the sweat off his brow when it gets all resolved.

My guess at his selection is:


Bel Chamb Holding Kola




Subs: Macey, Metersacker, Mustafi, Monreal, Willock, Welbeck, Lacazette.

Newcastle are in form having lost only once in their last eight matches. Now 10th on the table, Benitez’s dream must be expanding and he’d be counting on us fielding a beatable team. When he sees our team sheet he’d know he has a task at hand. Dead rubber, yes, but we play to win for the sake of winning. We are the Arsenal.


By Pony Eye.

81 thoughts on “Nelson, Ozil, Iwobi behind Auba | Swiss-Egyptian Masters in Midfield: NU-Arsenal Preview/ Line-Up

  • Cheers PE 🙂

    Interesting line-up, especially up-front. I think you may not be far off. It appears that Jack is fit so I expect him to play and Nelson to start on bench. Looking forward to this one. More later. 🙂

  • Thanks P E interesting ideas. Personally , I think Holding and Chambers will be good players eventually, but both would benefit from an experienced centre back in there with them. When they have appeared together, I think I am right in saying we have always looked exposed.

    I suspect Wenger will start Jack if fit and in my opinion that would be a mistake. I guess we are running out of midfield options, but I don’t think Iwobi should start either.

    Aubameyang has to start obviously, but I want to see Eddie get some action.

  • My predicted line-up:
    Bel – Chambers – Must – Kola
    ——— Xhaka — Elnenski———

    Depending on Jack’s fitness he may well start ahead of Iwobi… but as the Nigerian had a superb performance last week, I would expect Wenger to start him. Welbeck had a terrific game and must be in the red zone re injury-risk, so I expect him to be on the bench. Wenger will like the thought of seeing the Laca-Auba train paired up once more, I reckon.

    The game is on TV and there are eleven days between today’s game and the next one that really matters for the club and Wenger’s career at the club, so I expect a stronger line up than yours, PE.

    Should be a good game and a great football ground and city. Up the Arse! 🙂

  • TA, I thought Jack had a minor ankle strain but apart from that his current form looks like he needs a little rest.

    The Laca/Auba pairing looks like it’d be of interest to Wenger as he’d want to know before next season whether there is a future for the two together. Laca not staying the 90 min in Moscow qualifies him better as a starter today.

    Yes it’s 7 days plus 4 days before Atletico, but the issue should be fatigue from the Moscow game plus all the traveling time on today’s game.

  • Arsene Wenger:

    “Honestly, it is very difficult…

    “We land [in the UK] at 5am [Friday morning] and we play Sunday morning.

    “The second thing that is very difficult, is that when you play [in the Premier League], everybody else has already played.

    “Not only are you physically very jaded, but also you are under huge pressure each time to win the game, it is maybe mentally tougher than physically.

    “Fatigue is a little bit of a concern because for long periods now, with the League Cup in the middle of the season, it’s a bit difficult.

    “You look at [Man] City [who beat Arsenal in the League Cup final] and they look a bit like that in the second half of games recently.

    “Fortunately, next week [after Newcastle], we can recover.

    “I rotate as much as I can but unfortunately some players have to play all of the games.”

  • Nice post PE, fatigue not only worries me, but when players are tired they are also susceptible to injuries and we really need to avoid those at this stage of another exhausting season.

  • retsub, I agree with you that Chambers and Holding still have some way to go before getting paired as our CD. The facts on ground IMO is that Kos should not be risked and Mustafi’s performance in our last 2 matches looks like he is jaded. He is a high octane player, so when fatigued he might be full of errors. I don’t feel comfortable with Per anymore. He has thrown in the towel.

    Maybe it’s time the pair (Chambers and Holding) are thrown into the deeper end starting with dead rubber games like today’s.

  • Kev, that’s a most important point you made. Without sufficient recovery players are more susceptible to muscular injuries. Even impact injuries are more amongst tired out players because motor coordination is degraded.

  • Line up out.

    Chambers,Musti, Holding, Monreal
    Willock, Xhaka, Elneny
    Iwobi, Auba, Laca

  • PE, I’m quite worried about this game mate, not the result, but how costly it could be for us with Athletico on the horizon.

    Newcastle have had 8 days preparation while Arsenal have played twice since they last played.
    Chambers at right-back, is he being hung out to dry?

  • Wow that’s a shake up. I’m ok with the back 4 here. And with Elneny and Xhaka in front of them there should be some cover. It’s the ability to supply ball to our forwa4s that concerns me here. A big ask of Iwobi and the new boy. Anyone’s guess how this will play out.

  • NEWCASTLE (4-2-3-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Lejeune, Lascelles, Dummett; Shelvey, Diame; Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy; Gayle.

    Subs: Darlow (gk), Clark, Manquillo, Murphy, Hayden, Joselu, Slimani.

    ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Cech; Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka; Willock, Aubameyang, Iwobi; Lacazette.

    Subs: Ospina (gk), Mertesacker, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Nketiah, Welbeck.

  • 6 changes is fair enough. The subs would likely involve those who played in Moscow .

    Subs: Ospina, Per, AMN. Kola, Nelson, Welbeck, Nketiah

  • Thanks again PE!
    Did wonder how AMN might be excluded though?
    Otherwise I’m open to just about any permutation that:
    a) gives the kidz as many minutes as possible.
    b) keeps our injury-proners with their ‘feet up’.

    Seems we all have our thoughts about Mustafi’s focus.
    He does, like Elneny however, have the ability to run all day.
    You can budget rest physically. Another story to recover one you’ve ‘hit the wall’ mentally.

    Go Gunners!


  • When I was a nipper, I always recall my Dad telling me that St James’ Park was a ground where Arsenal never won and I can’t remember an Arsenal win up there until we signed Malcom MacDonald and won up there.
    Strange how things have changed in modern times, apparently Arsenal have won their last 10 goals against the Magpies.

    Could be a lot of high, long balls today.

  • Just joining in and seen about 7 minutes so far. I think Mo Diame will keep bullying our midfielders so we need to watch out for his press. As I type that, Auba tees up Laca for our first goal.

  • Great assists by Auba, it must be said and a well weighted finish by Laca. It will get a bit harder though; Newcastle have some fleet footed players in Kennedy, Gayle and Perez. Chambers must avoid getting sucked into challenges like that one with Kennedy. Auba playing the wings like a boss.

  • Suspicion of handball on that deflection which prevented Auba’s Shot on goal. Should be a penalty by the letter of the law: block on a goal bound ball with the hand.

  • I like their Jamaal Lascelles and will hope our scouts are watching him. A strong determined leader at the back and good in the tackle.

    Nice game for Willock to shine a bit before being taken out of it later. Bold decision by Wenger too and for a man who used to be accused of “not trusting his squad”, Wenger is showing serious trust in some fringe players there and the fact they are acquitting themselves well on a difficult ground is testament to the benefits of deploying fringe players in the Europa league, earlier in the season.

  • Willock soundng like he is making a go of it. Great to hear – though I can’t see sadly.

  • Be nice if we could get the second sooner rather than later here. Lots of good pressure. Let’s convert it boys.

  • Just seen the Arsenal goal, great touch by Aubameyang and cross, good finish by Lacazette.

    Sounds like Mustafi switched off again and Newcastle equalise.

  • Too late. And another error from Mustaphi? Back to square 1. Let’s hope we keep playing like we were.

  • Aubameyang is playing really well from what’s being said on the radio.
    Makes you wonder how our season would have gone if we could have got him last August?

  • 1-1! To be honest, Cech should feel disappointed to have conceded such a goal on his near side. This will give the opposition some confidence to come out more and test our full backs. Need to get back on top.

    Let me just watch some more….as Holding appears to marshal Gayle intelligently.

  • Just seen the Newcastle goal, Mustafi asleep, he really isn’t a back four defender, back three he’s fine but if Wenger wants to persevere with a back four I’m not sure he’s up to it?

  • AB/Kev, indeed, it is a near replica of the last goal we conceded against Southampton, but while Mustafi may have needed to be quicker, Cech shouldn’t be beaten at the near post or his days at the top are over. Fouling us seems to be a ploy by this Newcastle side today.

  • Chambers just missed a chance to double his career goals with Arsenal. Got in on a stretch for a headed cross by Mustafi but didn’t connect well enough.

    Game swinging from end to end with Iwobi tricking himself a corner kick for us. Chambers misses with a free header from Xhaka’s delivery.

  • To Newcastle’ credit the buildup was quick and well executed.
    Monreal was nowhere in the picture wide left. Holding went wide to meet the ball and Mustafi was late filling the gap. Finding himself behind the attacker in an ineffectual position once again.


  • Between Elneny and Laca, we Stole the ball in a good area from Diame and Lacazette bore down on their defence then placed a nice ball for Willock who fluffed his lines. That was another chance for a second goal. We need a bit more composure and assured play in offensive areas. Otherwise, we are playing well between the lines.

  • I seriously don’t understand if the team is playing for a draw or a win. We had chances to maintain the pressure in the dying seconds by pressing forward but instead we passed in our own half.

  • Half time. We should be at least, 3 goals to the good, if we took half of the chances we created. Chambers been solid defensively, along with Holding; the usual from Monreal and Mustafi. Elneny been busy while Xhaka has kept things ticking over. Auba and Iwobi lively, while Laca has been keeping their defenders guessing. Willock has done well for a kid, in the circumstances as well. Sad that Cech has not saved the only real testing shot he’s faced.

    Welbeck can give us some drive and I’ll say it’s worth a punt to bring him on, withdraw Willock and give Iwobi a run in the middle while Welbeck plays on the right side. If we want this, we can win by more than one goal margin.

  • Our youngster.. Willock.. Look a bit nervous.. Hehehe.. I think we might replace him and bring another striker.. Hope it would be Nketiah.. And switch Iwobi to the middle..

  • Very enjoyable first half to watch. Elneny and Xhaka looking strong and front four are playing some good stuff but have of course no telepathic bond as yet, which is reflected in the scoreline (we should be ahead by one or two).

  • The ball stolen then squared by Laca– seemed intended for Auba– as opposed to Willock.
    Auba looked ready to slot that home.


  • Bit of stat from Opta Joe: – Mathieu Debuchy has scored 4 goals in Ligue 1 in 2018, more than any other defender from the Top 5 European leagues. Now, the cry is for his recall to the national team (hardly likely).

    Another bit of (mis-)information to bash Wenger about (“Wenger doesn’t know how to use players”!). Fact is Debuchy had his chances and didn’t take them, or more like never played like he wanted to stay.

  • I am starting to think that Mustafi is playing himself out of next season’s first team squad. It is weird to see him quickly anticipate danger one moment only to see him switch off a moment later with disastrous consequences.
    Iwobi is impressive again and WIllock adds a lot of bite. I am liking this team.

  • We have had some good attacking football, but as usual the defence is weak.

    Mustafi keeps repeating the same mistake of not getting goal side of the attacker and allowing him to get a shot away. Not good.

  • I agree with you, Henry, it would be good to get NKetiah on in the 2nd half as he is a natural goalscorer — could be needed.

  • Hi Totes, 🙂

    The style of football has been really good — but somehow we lose possession for no good reason — just poor passing at a key moment, and then we are in trouble.

  • Little bothers me more than to see Mustafi diddling with the ball at his feet– when a backpass to Cech removes all danger.

    Consider me bothered.


  • Not liking the sense of Toons picking up here. And we don’t seem to be offering much. Some extra help needed in the midfield?

  • Danny comes on for Welbeck, as expected. The hosts have come into the game more this half and now go one up through Ritchie. Our defenders appeared drawn to the right side so that a switch of play to the left found an unmarked Mark Ritchie to beat Cech easily.

  • jw1, quite unnecessarily too, one might add, Mustafi playing around with the ball when he had time and options; good thing, it didn’t end up being costly.

  • Grief. We look more likely to concede than equalise here. I would take a point from here gratefully.

  • If we just apply ourselves a bit more, we should get the win it, but must admit we may start leaving gaps at the back and we hardly have fast defenders.

    Chambers off for Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Hope he has a bit of form. Joselu comes on for Ayoze Perez on the host’s side.

  • Total, I was thinking exactly the same earlier, but as I didn’t wanna seem like a doomer I kept schtum. But yes, there is definitely room for an upgrade on Mustafi, he seems brilliant one minute and having a kip the next. You aren’t going to compete for the EPL with him in our back four.
    I see him more as the guy between two centre-backs, able to push up into the space where we should have a defensive midfielder.

    Seems that Willock has had a good game, not sure why he was taken off?
    Fatigue is kicking in now, we could concede again.

  • Since the turn of the year, Arsenal have lost all our away EPL games, only 4 I know, but it’s poor.

  • I know the league is done and dusted for us. But being overtaken by Burnley would be mighty tough to take. And yet it’s is now looking a serious possibility. We seem to have lost the ability to play away. We couldn’t make the early quality count and we are ridiculously brittle at the back. Even with what looks a pretty solid group.

  • Eris, we will probably will need an upgrade on Cech over the next 18 months, but those two goals, Southampton and today are imo, mainly the fault of Mustafi, they were both avoidable.

  • Until Kev– you consider it’s been Bournemouth, Spuds, Swansea and Brighton.
    Takes on a glaring magnification then.


  • Considering we built our game on speed of passing and quick interchanges, it’s frustrating to see how some of the lads seem to so much time to decide who to pass to. Well, we are now only two points ahead of Burnley (who seem to be winning games away) and still without a point away from home in 2018. Not the best of times for our club on the league front, it must be said.

  • Kev, to think he is the only defender we consistently use (resting Kos, Holding and Chambers, from time to time). Maybe Mustafi is feeling the strain.

  • We might have relied too much on Elneny for another 90 minutes.
    Laca too might have been best served coming off at 60 or so.


  • Even in the last 10sec we were still passing sideways and backwards. Possibly damage limitation measures.

  • Yep JW, Benitez was more proactive with his substitutions, but having watched some highlights from the first half Chambers should have scored twice and Willock showed Welbeck how it’s done.

  • Eris–
    Been musing the same about Mustafi. There’s a small-fraction of reaction time in his decisions he’s missing this season. Think back to all of the early-season, early-game errors– getting dispossessed, errant backpasses– the like. This is seemingly a slightly different manifestation in lack of focus.

    A 24-year old brain doesn’t always recognize when something is off-kilter– much less how to correct it. For all we know it might be something he’s changed in his diet or supplements.

    But it’s been there almost all season.


  • Man Utd, Leicester and Huddersfield away in the EPL to go, but if we win in the Calderon I’d happily lose the lot….
    Tbh, even if we finish below Burnley, the priority is the UEFA Cup, I’d definitely take 7th if we can win in Lyon…

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