Chelsea v Arsenal Preview & Line-up: Fab 4 Start, Torreira Holds, Leno or Cecho?


This ied another tough match for Unai Emery. But this time he is facing Maurizio Sarri who is a couple of weeks younger than him in the Premier League and who is also implementing a new philosophy. It’s more of a level playing field.

Maurizio, in his opener, had it easy against Huddersfield with a 3-0 win. That is very good for the morale of his team but he wouldn’t have learned much. Unai’s match against the City machine was the opposite. It was a baptism of fire that must have given him a whole lot of new materials to work with, materials that are as much for him to use in adjusting to his players as they are for the team in adapting to his philosophy. Emery would have learnt, if nothing else, where and how not to play some of his men.

He values Ramsey energetic pressing. But Ramsey at #10 starts a chain reaction that displaces Ozil to the wide right which in turn displaces Mkhi to the wide left displacing Auba to the striker position and Lacazette to the bench. Against City it prove a chain reaction that left the attack ineffective.

Emery would be mulling over new options. A 4:2:3:1/4:3:3 with Ozil back to the hole behind the striker and Ramsey out of the equation as was the case when he was substituted in the 54th minute in the City match, or a 4:1:4:1 which Emery regards as good for pressing and which has a fitted spot for Ramsey.

Sarri is known for favoring intensity and high pressing. Cech looks in the best of shape but one would have thought that matches against high pressing teams would at least have been reserved for Leno.

The public controversy which now surrounds the choice between the two keepers might have turned it into more of a dressing room than a field decision. The choice of Cech against high pressing teams worry me not only because of poor ball ability with his feet, but also because the nervousness it generates does degrades the quality of the other players decisions.

If Ceck starts as is looking very likely but not definitely, Emery should give him and his mates a little extra room for going long with the ball. Agree the team is learning but we need bits and pieces of compromises here and there to help keep pace in the race.

The line up I would like to see (4:2:3:1/4:3:3):-



                TORREIRA.            GUENDOUZI



BENCH:- Cech, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck.
Alternatively, a 4:14:1 formation:-






BENCH:- Cech, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Welbeck.

Of the two formations I expect Emery to settle for the former (4:2:3:1/4:3:3). It’s more of what the team is used to. A bit of evolution in the revolution.

We should take the City encounter as the conclusion of Emery’s pre-season. He must have learned a lot about his team in that one match. Against Chelsea our season starts. What we need in this match is a good performance that would assure us that Emery and his team have hit the tarmac of the new era. We can’t wait to tighten our seat belts.


By PE.

21 thoughts on “Chelsea v Arsenal Preview & Line-up: Fab 4 Start, Torreira Holds, Leno or Cecho?

  • Cheers PE, great stuff and some fine formations but they miss the X-factor. You know who I mean. Started to write a preview but will issue mine tomorrow if time allows.

    Your second formation is too light defensively in a game like this. Your first is more like it but I hope Unai learned his lessons and keeps faith with our most used midfielder last season. No Guendouzi for this encounter, please.


  • Good shouts, PE. I particularly like your 4-1-4-1 set up which strikes me as a bit of a Pep/Wenger hybrid. I think we’ll continue with Ramsey in the lineup but not in his favored #10 position. If Emery continues with him as our centerpiece, I still see Lacazette missing out.

    I think a Torreira-Ramsey pivot could work– which would allow the rest of our attacking unit their favored positions– but might be too soon and as Total mentioned defensively weak. However, i don’t believe putting Xhaka in gives us any added defensive stability so we might as well field players that can play! Hell, I already feel more confident with young Matteo in midfield who at least offers more going forward.

    People are certainly entitled to their opinions but i suppose only time will tell.

  • I get you TA, it was a close fight for me between Guendouzi and Xhaka. The former’s infectious energy tilted the scale in his favour.
    Elneny is actually my best for beating the press but he has just that one gear. Lacks forward balls.

  • Frozen ….. I like your comment. Like the way you marshal arguements in both direction. Poor Emery has to take a decision.

  • Ha ha, just trying to keep it civil. I think I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear regarding our midfield situation and the “X-factor” in particular..


    Bellerin Mustafi Papa Monreal
    Xhaka Torreira
    Mickey Auba Ozil


    Lich Mustafi Papa Monreal
    Torreira Ramsey
    Özil Mickey
    Auba Laca

  • Frozen …. your prediction looks it but I doubt Nacho would start.

    I like your preference except you and I know that Ramsey would play as a 10/9 instead of a 8/10.

  • True.. which is one of the reasons why I really wouldn’t have been be too bothered if we sold him. I fear we will seriously regret not replacing him with Nzonzi this summer. Would have been an ideal CM pairing.

    I’m really optimistic about the development of Torreira and Guendouzi though. For the first time in a while, the future of our midfield is looking bright.

  • Hi there PE. Good thought provoking post ahead of the game. It’s interesting that most of the focus is on whether Auba and Laca can play together, rather than whether we can field both Ozil and Mkhi. My punt is that Mkhi might start on the bench tomorrow. As I think Rambo does play. I think your back 4 seems likely, and also Cech in goal. The midfield is a mystery though. And we will learn a lot about the new manager through the selection tomorrow. Does he favour youth and or consistency? Guendi may start if so. Is he a pragmatist around experience? Xhaka stays if so. Is he a pure tactician? Could be some surprises if so, inc Elneny in the mix. How much of a risk taker is he?

    If he’s really up for shaking things up then Tor and Guendi in the pivot would be radical. My hunch though is Tor and Xhaka as a pragmatic mix. Esp with Rambo running between the midfield and the forward line.

    We have food options. But the best combinations have yet to appear, either to us or the manager I suspect. Chavs away doesn’t feel the time for really radical experimenting. But then who knows what this managers style is really like. It will be fascinating to find out.

  • AB, yeah Emery is under scrutiny, not so much about results but us getting to know him. Wow! Already I’d say he’s a man with a lot of guts ….. that playing out from the back with Cech conducting against City of all teams! I nearly couldn’t keep watching. Again it’s so gutsy conducting all the pressers in English. Again guts starting a 19 year old rookie in his 1st competitive game.

    What we will be peeping to see is if there is smartness behind the guts.

  • Frozen. ….. I can sell anybody as long as I can sell well and buy well. If the price is good I’d sell the whole team and buy (assemble) a better team!

  • That combination of bravery and brains, and judging when to rely more on one than the other is the holy grail we are all after. It pains me to say it, but Ferguson has been the best example of that in the last 30 years. Wenger had both, but sometimes the pragmatic brain got overwhelmed by the idealistic bravery. Or that’s how I’d characterise it anyway. Emery clearly has both too. How he manages that, in particular in adversity, will be fascinating.

  • Alex Ferguson I neve really tried to vision out what made him tick. Must be that combination of bravery and brains … insight maybe ….. guts and confidence. What just popped up in my mind is Sugar Ray Leonard one of the best boxers of all time. He might duck, weave and bob but he never flinched. He eyes were always on his moving target.

    These great fellows, they never flinch. They just keep at it. Am I seeing something of that in Emery? Early days.

  • Nice teaser, PE. Applying both bravery and brains (pragmatism/show of trust/giving 2nd chances), I expect Emery to start with the same team, except starting Torreira for Guendouzi and Lichtsteiner at left back, unless Monreal shows an incredible level of sharpness and fitness. So, it will be something like Frozen’s predicted team that I am going for, to start the game at Stamford Bridge.

    Usually, you want to give the players you picked to start the first game at home, the chance to set things right, after a loss. I figure that’s what Emery will do. Just for his ball skills and ability to dance away from markers, I would have gone with Guendouzi; next to Torreira with Ramsey just in front of them; we just have to wait and see what Emery does. I also think Auba is (or will be) on probation the next 3 games. He doesn’t seem to do well against the big sides, for us. Lacazette fights for the ball, tracks back well and is able to nick the ball back on occasion. However, he will have to make do with sub appearances, for now. Once we get the midfield balance and confidence right, Emery will start to play both Auba and Laca while he rotates between Ozil, Rambo and Mhki, for the players to make way for Laca.

    At this point, very few fans are going to be predicting a win for us, since we are still getting used to how the manager will set up. I feel this could be a score draw. Giroud to get one against us; Ozil to get on the score sheet as well.

  • Oh, and expect Cech to take control of whether to play out of the back every time, or hoof the ball clear, when under pressure. These things take time and seeing how uncomfortable it was against a high press side as City, he’s earned the right to revert to type when it’s best to do so. Let’s not forget playing out the back isn’t really new at Arsenal, only the keeper was not under compulsion to pass out the ball even when under pressure.

  • Eris ….. that’s bravery daring to point in the direction of Auba. I get what you mean but no guts to even contemplate it. However, notwithstanding that Emery needs energy he also needs a few specialists. And there is no better specialist than Auba (am I only displaying my lack of guts?).

    Auba and Laca playing together is inevitable. Laca is a specialist and has energy too. He’s bound to be one of Emery’s favourite. Mkhi looks to me the most likely to drop off from the Fab Four. Though the problem with benching him is that we haven’t a good replacement at wide right position. Ozil should be at the center helping to dictate play.

    And where does all these leave Ramsey? Emery must love his huge engine. But Ramsey hasn’t got the speed for the wide areas, neither the creativity to displace Ozil, nor the positional disciple to play a pivot role. And then there is that other headache for Emery of Welbeck’s terrific pressing skills.

    Today Chelsea’s MF would likely be manned by the world class trio of Jorginho, Kovacic and N’golo Kante. We’d see how Emery responds.

  • I would love to see Guendouzi and Torreira get stuck into Chelsea’s midfield. If it doesnt work out I guess Guendouzi could always slip a Blue Luiz shirt on and. Slam the ball into his own net.

  • Excellent comments and well done PE for responding to all of them. I have done another preview based on a new concept for this season.

    New Post 🙂

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