WEST HAM: A DRESS REHEASAL FOR ATLETICO MADRID AND A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR OUR DEPARTING SERVANT.
Wenger is class. We will immortalize his name. Meanwhile we switch our attention back to West Ham, the job at hand.
Prior to the Newcastle match the vast majority of opinions wanted wholesale changes made to the team. Many even asked that the kids be given a chance as the outcome of the match is irrelevant. To the shock of the observant, when the match was lost, it got everybody reeling and many swung as far as being convinced that Atletico Madrid is going to spank us silly.
There is now an urgent need to re-establish confidence in all before our 1st leg match against Atletico. This is done with a victory against West Ham today. We don’t give a damn anymore about Burnley overtaking us (I privately do and am glad they lost to Chelsea), but we do give a hell of a lot of damn to go into the Atletico match with our confidence intact.
Luckily, Arsenal have four days separating the West Ham encounter with the Atletico one. Nothing stops us from fielding our best available eleven against West Ham particularly after a full week of rest. The risk to injury is more than offset by a regained momentum. Apart from that, it is not desirable to rest the first team players in this match as that would have some of them going a full two weeks without a game. We know how fast the cobwebs can appear.
Mustafi is a curious study. The chorus to yank him off the team has become deafening. Yet the reputable WhoScored rates him our best player and the 12th best in the league. The equally reputable and sophisticated Squawka Perfomance Score Index for those who have played up to 1500 minutes rates him our second best behind Ozil per 90 minutes of play, and the 23rd best in the league. His performance last Sunday suggests that he belongs to that grade of players whose level drop dramatically when fatigued. If all the stress arising from traveling between London to Moscow, playing a match, back to London and then to Newcastle, all within two and half days, can be imagined then we would begin to understand why Cech, Mustafi, Monreal, Lacazette (i.e. those who played in Moscow) performed below par at St James’ Park. Elneny also played in Moscow but his all day street football as he was growing up in Egypt, according to his story, must have made something else of him, which should go a long way in explaining his MOTM performance at Newcastle.
Apart from using the West Ham game to regain our confidence, it makes a lot of sense to use it also as a rehearsal for the Atletico match. Wenger hinted on this. Atletico is a 4:4:2 team who defend compact and transition quickly. In La Liga they have conceded only 18 goals which is the least of any team in the 5 major European Leagues. In comparison we have shipped in 45 goals! We stand no chance against Atletico were we to leak goals against them like we’ve done all season. Something has to be done.
We cannot get away from the fact that our full backs operate as wingbacks. Neither can we pretend that we have a defensive midfielder. Our recipe makes for goal leakages. And because we concede rather easily when the opponent have possession, we take refuge in hoarding the ball when we get it, afraid to lose it. Hence our backwards/sideways passing, so appropriately labelled ‘sterile possession’. In a few words, we leak goals and lack guts or incisiveness in attack.
We need to turn our quasi fullbacks into full fledged wingbacks by employing three central defenders. But that is not all. We need to then show greater courage with the ball. It is better to go down with our guns smoking than in a whimper. This is the least we can do. Anyway, what do I know?
With Ospina back from injury, one wonders whether he’d be returned as the cup goalkeeper at this crucial stage of the competition. It’s a crossroad for me as Cech seems in poor form. Against a counter attacking, ball-over-the-top Atletico team we need a goalkeeper who is quick off his line. He has to act as a sweeper for the team and that’s far from Cech’s cup of tea. Anyway, if Wenger would insist on Ospina as our cup goalkeeper, then there is a need to play him against West Ham to help return him to match fitness.
As for Europa cup-tied Aubameyang, there is a dilemma on whether to play him or not against West Ham. Wenger described this match as more of a preparation for the Atletico game. If it is so, common sense says don’t play him. Across the aisle however, other pressures say that our world-class-most-expensive player’s clock has to be kept ticking. For many, the flame of their long term hope is still flickering because he is in our midst. Another crossroad decision on the table.,
My guess at the line up against West Ham (with an eye on Europa semi) is:
Bench: Cech, Holding, Mailand-Niles, Elneny, Iwobi, Wilshere, Laca. (All things being equal, game time should be given to Lacazette, Wilshere and maybe Elneny).
What a class act it would be were the whole stadium to give a round of applause in appreciation of the departing gentleman and philosopher, the incomparable servant of the club, the one and only Arsene Wenger.
We are on the threshold of a new challenge. COYG!!!
By Pony Eye.
67 thoughts on “Arsenal v West Ham Preview | Line-Up”
Excellent preview, PE. You made all the key considerations, I reckon. The one thing to add is that we need our key older defenders – Nacho and Koz – to be fit and not injured, as that would be disastrous come Thursday. So I would probably rest them even though it means a lack of playing time for them, as you rightly pointed out. I would be tempted to rest Mustafi and Bels as well and play with Chambers – BFG – Holding in a back three with AMN and Kola playing as Wing Backs. Will it happen? Probably not! 😀
Resting Laca and Jack does indeed make sense and they can come on for 20-30 minutes at the end.
Like you, I am expecting a warm applause for Arsene and a committed performance.
Your options are very well considered. It really shows how tough each decision is for the manager. There are always enough reasons to select and not to select the same player. Tough!
I hope as you said that our players do it for him. I expect the atmosphere today to be electric.
PE, are you in the same time zone as the UK i.e. is 10.20 now?
Yes between late March/Sept. Then UK shifts. We stay put.
Hi all.. Nice post PE..
Quick message.. I think that Wenger will play almost his best players..
What we see tonight will mean the players for UEL against ATM.. Hehehe..
I wonder will Emirates full of fans again after Wenger decided to go..
I don’t know what happened to Ozil.. But this all starting eleven + Ozil – Iwobi will be our best starting eleven also for ATM..
Hope Welbeck and Lacazette getting more understanding each other..
Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette.
Subs: Macey, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Aubameyang
Hart, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Rice, Creswell, Masuaku, Kouyate, Noble, Fernandes, Mario, Arnautovic.
Subs: Adrian, Cullen, Evra, Lanzini, Hugill, Carroll, Hernandez
Bel Musti Kosh Monr
Xhaka, Elneny, Rams
Iwobi, Laca, Welb
Subs: Macey, Per, Hold, Chanb. AMN, Nelso, Auba.
Ozil ill, Cech, Kola, Jack not fit.
Is it a 4:1:41 ?
Bel Musti Kosh Nacho
Iwobi Xhaka Ram Welb
? ? ?
Whatever the boys should do it for him … and of course for us too.
Yes 4-3-3 PE.. With Elneny in the middle..
But it may be 4-2-1-3 also with Ramsey in the middle.. Or even Iwobi in the middle.. Hehehe.. We will see..
Apparently Mkhitaryan joined in full training this week…
Interesting line up, a glimpse of the starting XI vs Atletico?
Doesn’t look as if Arsene is countering using a back three on Thursday PE, baring in mind the difference in our defending vs Atletico’s, that’s a bit concerning to me.
I guess we simply cannot play a tight, disciplined game defensively so we’ll just go out, all guns blazing and hope we can score more than them….
Thanks for the preview PE!
I’m a bit conflicted with the perspective on Mustahfi though.
As one who has long looked to stats as the baseline for judging a player? Then adding what my eyes see to come to a measure?
I usually have a final question: How does the player perform under pressure?
To which, anything less than ‘acceptably’? Isn’t going to convince me to either play that player or wish to (sign or) re-sign him.
Per the ‘guns blazing’. Atletico scores 1.5Gpg and gives up 0.5Gpg.
Looks like the boys are a bit amped-up– by looks of some of the first touches.
What’s the story with Ozil anyone know?
PE mentioned ‘Ozil ill’ upthread in the announced lineup. All I’ve seen.
Ah ok. Thanks JW. Ozil will be one who may not be too chuffed with the recent news, having just signed a long contract himself. His reaction is important to us. I’m following on the radio again. Sounding a bit frustrating. Nothing less than a win will suffice today. Nothing. I will feel pretty hacked off with the players if they don’t deliver.
I’d say mostly nerves and adrenaline thus far.
Both Kos and Mustafi have less-than-stellar decisions giving WH chances.
I reckon that a Ozil has his feet up, in preparation for Thursday, Thursday is our season.
My son reckons the crowd is around 50,000, not a full-house?
Stoke 1-0 Burnley, hopefully that score stays in our favour then if we beat West Ham today and Burnley in a couple of weeks, that should cement our 6th place.
Elneny being stretchered from the pitch.
Covering his eyes with his jersey– does not bode well.
Iwobi again. Get Auba in and Lacazette out on the wings.
So many chances but 0 shots on target.
Monreal, our most dependable goal scorer– on the volley from near the spot– from a low corner by Xhaka.
1-nil good guys.
Hart beaten low to near post.
Ramsey played an avarage game in the middle.. Like Wilshere did..
I think with Elneny gone for injured.. Ramsey may back to his post and bring Aubameyang to make our forward more dinamic..
But Wenger already bring Niles in.. Will it mean we playing with five defenders..
Now peppering WH with attempts– most blocked.
But a sight for sore eyes– to see the trigger being pulled without hesitation.
Lanzini and Chicarito on now for WH.
Chicharito’s first touch, a headed cross, goes over the bar– but well-redirected.
Another defensive error? If a good finish by all accounts.
West Ham’s Arnautovic scores, from left of goal– finding the ball at his feet following Ospina’s long punch outside the box– recovered, with a pair of quick passes across the top of the box.
Auba on > Iwobi off.
Expected as much.
Xhaka’s shot from 25yds– low, far post saved by Hart.
Coming on late here. JK, you got your wish and Iwobi is out for Auba. Only likely change if Auba was to come on, in any case. I only hope there won’t be a withering of our tempo and holes in our midfield now, because that’s what Iwobi brings. Supports the midfield and carries the ball forward.
We are making hard work of this game. We need to put a bit more pressure on their defence even as we have to be careful about taking any more injuries into Thursday.
We need to get a couple more goals here to kill them off. We all know they will soon bring on Andy Carrol, so are we prepared for his aggressive style?
Welback’s 18yard curling bolt to far post from left– tipped/saved by Hart.
Aaron Ramsey crosses to Auba slightly high– but draws Hart to Auba– and it curls in far post!
2-1 good guys!
Auba feeds Laca right of the 6– and he drives it past Hart with a slight deflection– inside Hart’s near post!
3-1 good guys!
Chambers on > Welbeck off.
Carroll is on as well.
4-1! Lacazette again, after great work from Rambo.
That’s more like it. Content now. Even if the score line flatters.
Ramsey cleverly sidesteps two defenders and pulls it back to Laca from 10yds — with a right-foot shot which Hart nicks but cannot stop!
4-1 good guys!
In the end, the boys came through, well enough. Now, it’s time to serenade the manager. One Arsène Wenger, the fans sing. Hahaha!
Love to hear One Arsene Wenger Song is singing
Xhaka skies a potential #5.
Xhaka missed a chance to make it 5-1. Leaned back when hitting that shot off a lay off by Laca. Xhaka has been immense today and hardly put a foot wrong. Welbeck grafted hard while Ramsey has been everywhere on the pitch and man of the match has to be between those three. Welbeck, I’d say.
Auba denied one– a one-touch deflection from a cross by Bells– Hart gathers it.
We did much better without Iwobi. So, no Iwobi and play Ozil for the Atletico game.
Aubameyang was like a laxative for the stoppage that was Iwobi.
JK was spot-on earlier.
But I’d have no problem with Ramsey as MoTM!
Pickup a pair of points on Burnley as well– from a 1-1 draw with Stoke.
There was good energy in the game. Let’s take it to Thursday.
Lacazette has had the pump primed to score on Thursday.
AMN was quite impressive. Calm with simple but creative passing.
I predict that Stoke will be out from PL next season.. Their GK Butland will be available.. So let get him.. Hehehe..
‘KingFut’ reports– that Arsenal report– that Mo Eleney’s injury is not considered serious.
Of the eight MF players in the team– only 3 would can considered healthy today. That would be those on the pitch at match-end: Ramsey, Xhaka, AMN.
I’ll accept that bringing on a big striker for a midfielder sends a “laxative” message to the team, no doubt. The thing is JK just won’t see any positives in Iwobi, no matter how well he plays 😂. The man looks low on confidence from the swashbuckling display he was known for when being introduced to the first team (or, was it the fans being more forgiving?).
I do hope that report on Elneny’s injury is correct. He reacted in a manner which appeared to me like his season was over. Maybe, KingFut (an Egyptian outlet) is only interested in how fast he recovers for the World Cup.
PE, I’ve got to agree with you about AM-N. I will like to see him on Thursday with instructions to do a job on Saul Niguez or Koke. It’s on every of his strengths to mark a man out of the game.
WhoScored rated Iwob lowest of all Arsenal players who played the majority of the game.
I give him his due when earned. Today though he didn’t facilitate much in the way of attack. Lost a couple balls out of bounds from lack of focus it appeared.
Yes, jw1. Like I said, he did look so low on confidence, like he wasn’t sure what’s best to do in certain situations, where he used to be direct and decisive. Needs time on the bench for now. I still feel he has a future at the club, though.
Atletico have rested their key players vs Betis, only now bringing on Greizman and Koke, after 60 minutes. Maybe, Joel Campbell to come on and score the winner (not likely though, with one forced change and introduction of Joachim.
Confidence-wise? It seems that with his national club– he’s like Ramsey is with Wales. Maybe when he is in the center of things he’s more assertive? Be interesting to watch him in Russia this summer. Hope he takes a step up.
At 22, he still has a chance to bloom. One of the things that has occurred to me about Iwobi– is how he’s physically matured in size over the past 12-18 months. He’s man-sized now. I’m not certain his mentality or level of physicality has begun to match it.
new post 🙂