O-I-L Behind Auba, Tor-Ka Midfield Beasts, Sokratis to Outsmart weeny Deeney: Preview



That’s six straight wins on the bounce in all competitions, yet we have not started singing Hallulujah. Agreed that the ability to win ugly is the stuff of champions, our song would start only when such wins are not the norm (as they have been) but mere punctuations in a script of commanding wins. Such a script could jolly well be as close as commencing this game week 7 against 4th placed Watford at the Emirate. With Cech back to his best, and the return of our indomitable Greek philosopher, with our diminutive dynamo now manning the command centre and worldies like Auba, Laca and Mesut in the Emery mix, expectations cannot be anything but high. We are the Arsenal and we expect to always win, and win with a swagger.

But first, we need to educate those expectations. Emery is working with basically Wenger’s team. A team that scored 74 goals last season (3rd joint highest in the league), evidence that whatever problem we had has nothing to do with us with the ball.

This fact was well understood by Gazidis and co. who did a brilliant job with their choice of Emery to replace Wenger. They needed a man with the strength of Wenger but without his ‘weakness’. Wenger is a 4:2:3:1 man. So is Emery. Wenger pushes his full backs up the pitch. So does Emery. Both play the defensive high line. Both love to dominate possession and territory. Both are committed to out-scoring their opponents. But without the ball, the two head in opposite directions. Emery wants to win the ball back quickly and therefore begins his defending from the front. That is why he calls for more energy and intensity from the team. Wenger prefers to put his men behind the ball employing the passive defensive strategy instead. Only his central defenders defend on the front foot.

When the team is with the ball, Emeryball is very much like a Wengerball and that is supposed to be a compliment to the new boss. To see Unai’s stamp requires a look at the team when without the ball. Already, his sweat on the team is plain to see. There is now more energy in our play when the opposition is in possession, but it is yet to match the organization and intensity of Klopp’s Liverpool or Pep’s City… and maybe never will until after two or three transfer windows.

Meanwhile Emery has to continue pushing his men to higher levels of energy and intensity and finding the best ‘process’ to get them playing the Emeryball, the Wengerball if you like. For the latter, he has a task in his hands; how and where to fit in his very talented forward men. If he gets it right all these recurring tales of winning ugly ceases. Our DNA is ‘pretty with the ball’ and Emery’s task is to add sweat and thunder when we don’t have it.

One of his conundrum is his attraction to Ozil on the ball and Ramsey off the ball. But it hasn’t worked playing them together. Instead of giving a balance their combo brings disequilibrium. It’s time to stop playing both together. Another for him to sort out is how to play our two world class strikers (Auba and Laca) at the same time without underutilizing one of them. This might require that he thinks outside his box.

My prediction:-

submit football lineup

Bench:- Leno, Holding, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck

A resounding 3-0 to the good guys.


By PE.

16 thoughts on “O-I-L Behind Auba, Tor-Ka Midfield Beasts, Sokratis to Outsmart weeny Deeney: Preview

  • Excellent stuff, PE, and I am almost with you on the starting 11. In fact, I would be happy with yours, even though I prefer Laca in the middle rather than on the wing. Auba is best with space around him and Laca is getting better and better with the Giroud-like, tight-spaces game in the heart of attack. He is a foreign hornet in the Hornets’ nest so to speak, so I keep him central.

    Would be good to see Tor-Ka start but I still fear that Emery starts the Curls in a deeper laying midfield role. I also wonder whether he will give Aaron a start as to not sour things further with him and give him a chance to show us all how good he is. And Mkhi has also been excellent recently, so should he not start ahead of young, quick developing Iwobi?

    The beauty is that we have choice and healthy competition for places. Key is to keep it tight, to try and control the midfield and protect the defence, and to find those gaps to produce chances and take them.

    3-0 is VERY optimistic, first for the high number of goals against a strong team and second for the clean sheet. I am hoping for a win but not counting on it. We are still a work in progress and a bit of bad luck today – or just plain crap defending – could cost us points today. Any win will do today for me – it can come as ugly as it wants. It is about momentum and Watford will make it v hard for us; let there be no doubt about it.

  • TA … please don’t mind am paying you back in kind. Your comment is excellent stuff. Absolutely nothing between choices meaning any name can pop up.

    I like your Tor-Ka coinage. It invokes visions of warriors of days long gone bye liked Attila the Hun. And nothing makes moving parts function better than the O.I.L.

    Your arguement for Laca top is most sound. Auba top for me is just that at this stage Emery needs to keep testing combinations out. It might be Laca deeper that might even be the revelation.

    Deeney’s and co would want to bully us early part of the game. Bet that Emery would play the Greek bloke. Bet also that Tor-Ka would assure Deeney lose his balls.

  • Another good preview PE, thanks for all your work.
    That’s an interesting line up you suggest and with Emery you never really know?
    He’s been erring on the conservative since he’s become boss, I guess he is only too aware at how every defeat is magnified into a crisis thus he is picking as strong a team as possible during this probationary period in his coachship (is that a word?)…

    Monreal is going to need a rest soon, maybe that’ll come in the UEFA Cup next week.
    Holding maybe missed his cue against Brentford otherwise he could have been pushing hard to replace the erratic Mustafi, but experience will probably save our German World Cup winner.
    Like Total, I’d be tended to stick with Lacazette through the middle, but Iwobi is a good call.
    Emery seems to be doing for Alex Iwobi what Guardiolas structured coaching did for Rahim Sterling, another free spirit.

    Guendouzi or Torrieira? Surely it has to be our pocket battleship Total, but then with Unai, who knows?!

    I’ve pretty much given up trying to guess line ups, although from a positive standpoint our opponents will have the same issue, so maybe it’s a ploy?
    3-0 would be excellent PE, but the narrowest of narrow wins for the boys from Dial Square I reckon, 1-0 or 2-1, but I’ll be happy with that.

  • Brilliant article, I have to say.

    My opinion is that there are a few things we need to iron out.

    First, I will NOT complain about our defense because while it is still an area that needs work, Emery is still teaching and drilling the team, with new personnel, into a new system. I have already began seeing how good a defender Sokratis is and if he is partnered by a revitalized Kos, I feel we will be in a very good space.

    My main talking points are in midfield. I know so far Emery has been mixing and matching, trying to figure out his best 11, there are a few things that are becoming clear:
    1. Torriera must start at the base of the midfield (IMO in place of Xhaka). Lucas is just everything we have needed since Vieira left. Xhaka on the other hand is looking more lost under Unai than he did under AW.
    2. IF Ramsey is to start he needs to play deeper, next to Torreira. He is at his best when he is drifting into the box from deep. At number 10 – he is marked more closely, limiting his movement, he doesn’t have the technique and skill that Ozil/Silva have to create chances and as such our strikers have been getting enough service from him.
    3. Further to point 3, Ozil must play at 10. He create waaaay too many chances to be moved wide, especially when Auba and Laca are the players he would be servicing.
    4. I think Miki needs to be given a proper chance to play with Ozil. The two would unlock our strikers. His form has been flakey but he needs his chance. When he signed he created more in the second half of last season than anyone else. Plus Miki is also a goal scorer at his best.

  • Excellent stuff, guys. 🙂

    Personally, I like the team suggested as it offers more width than with usual team that would mean either or both of Mkhitaryan and Ramsey in the starting line-up. OK, I like 10/11 because I’d rather have Steve Bould of today than Mustafi in the central defence.

    We are about to face a really good team that has picked 13 points so far and were unlucky to lose against Maureen United. Our defence has to pay a special attention at Pereyra who has been one of the outstanding performers in the Premier League so far. Also, Watford have won two official games at Emirates since 2016 (FA Cup 2016 & league match 2016-17). Given that, I’d take a scrappy 1-0 victory in a heart-beat. Or 2-1, given our almost non-existing ability to keep a clean sheet. Fortunately, our attack looks good enough to score at least twice.

    I’m very interested in what Iwobi will offer today. He looks sharper and with more purpose in his game.

  • Oh, yes, what Kev said about Laca going through the middle. He looks like more competent of two strikers to receive the ball in the middle against the positioned defence as he can pick a pass or make a move to open space for others.

  • Hey fellas… Happy match-day… I must say that it’s awfully nice to wake up and see Man U down 2 goals early on at West Ham… Is the scoreline reflective of the play?

    I missed out on Friday blogging (TA’s piece on Rambo) but I’m up early today and hope to get more of my moneys-worth when our match comes on with the subscription service I bought. Should I set up a Live-Blog post? Maybe I’ll wait to see how the (next) espresso hits me…

    Regarding this post, PE, I must say this: You write in a style that is all your own AND it (the writing) keeps improving. Your take on things is always strong and positive (very positive) and because it’s so clearly full of those qualities, it’s hard to want to argue too much.

    That said, I personally don’t really agree about the comparisons between Wenger’s and Emery’s desired style of play (based on what I’ve seen) nor on the line-up ideas nor on the predicted scoreline. We did beat Watford (at home–and by your 3-nil predicted scoreline, I think) last season but I remember them beating us in previous games in our stadium, both in the league and the FA cup. They’ll come into this one with no fear and they’ll be keen to keep above us in the table. For some reason, for me, this has got “hard fought (and perhaps a bit lucky) draw” written all over it.

    HT in the Hammers-MooU match… Back in a sec…

  • Hey, good to see Admir around… So far so good with winning all the (league) matches after the opening pair… Personally, I can’t quite believe it, but you don’t check the teeth on the horse that you’ve been given, or something… I’m glad, however, that you’re not taking Watford for granted. We’ll need to play better than we have, I’m pretty sure, to keep the results flowing…

    PE’s preview, however, was focused not so much on the opponent but on stylistic similarities (and differences) between Wenger’s and Emery’s approaches. I gotta say, I’m not quite there with you, my friend…

    The formations may be written similarly AND the possession stats may tilt towards the team with the more skilled players (Arsenal vs the teams we’ve been beating) but that’s where it (the similarities) end for me. Where Arsene wanted the ball, Emery doesn’t, both in terms of general philosophy (walk it into the net vs strike before the opponents can re-set) and parts of the pitch. In our half, Emery clearly wants the keeper as an extra ball-player so that the central defenders and deeper MFs can spread the spaces before passing long (to the forwards and/or wide (to the FBs). It’s very different than Wenger’s tight play (including the FBs and even, at times, the CF) to get the ball into the opponent’s half, then even tighter work to try and get it into their box to make chances. I could go on, but I’m doubtful there’s much interest. We don’t seem to debate tactics all that much here on the BK, perhaps as a function of having watched so much Wengerball down through the ages… Now that there’s a new manager, at least ideas about tactical shifts aren’t purely theoretical… (So, maybe they ARE worthy of some discussion…)

    Finally, the line-up–which should be out in some 15 or 20 minutes. Admir is right, Auba wide (not to mention Ozil…) doesn’t offer any sort of traditional “width.” I’m not really with him (nor PE), however, about him being the better player in a central spot. As long as both guys just keep working for each other and switching positions there’s no reason they can’t play together and good things will (continue to) happen. So too with the other AMs. As much as folks are saying “Wow, look at Iwobi under Emery,” I’d suggest that Alex is benefiting from playing with all these new players. Trying to fit in with more static players like Alexis and Giroud isn’t easy compared to our more mobile new forwards (Auba and Laca) as well as always looking up Mkhi and Ozil. Ramsey, of course, is always also on the move, but it seems we’re talking about that as moving away from Arsenal at the moment.

    So, it’ll be interesting who goes today. Will Rambo get dropped? (I don’t think so). Torreira or Guendouzi? LT11, I think… Same 11 as vs Everton, I’d be betting…

    Rashford pulls one back for ManUre… Still 20 mins to go in this one…

  • Thanks PE–
    The ‘Wenger’s Team’ theme won’t be shed soon. Not in January. Possibly not even after next Summer’s TW. Still my perspective that Emery, Sven and Raul (sans Ivan… Whoa. The new acronym is ESR! Kinda’ spooky no?) have specific acquisitions in mind, needing time to cultivate.
    It was just less than 9 months ago– that few thought AW would be pushed out. Having only, in essence, added Leno, Torreira and Guendouzi (only one of whom has started matches regularly– and surprisingly) So yeah, it’s still Arsene’s bunch.

    As to the starting XI? We’ll get a dose of UE’s philosophy seeing whether continues to use the ‘asset’ that is Ramsey– or buries him to wither by January. Unai was a manager that was painted into a corner by the players in Paris. Don’t think he wants to be the instigator of issues here. This will interesting.

    I can go with Torreira and Xhaka in the middle– but feel UE will revert to norm with Guendouzi. We’ve been bagging nearly 3 goals a game with Laca up front and Auba on the LW. One thing I think I’ve gleaned thus far? Is that Emery is not a tinkerer for the sake of tinkering. Though I would dearly enjoy just the one tink. Holding to start aside Sokratis. As I’ve had several heart-in-throat moments already this week (both personally and professionally). My blood pressure has subsided nicely as of this morning– and could do without the regularly-scheduled-weekend-dose of headless-chicken-central-defending.



  • Quick answer from Arnautovic…taking advantage of zero marking from the United defenders…

    3-1 WHU…

  • And while I’m going to have to search for the ‘dodgy-link method’ of viewing the match this morning? I’ll enjoy making the effort– while I have the NBC-provided majesty of watching Mourinho’s United tenure in full-demise at West Ham. Now at a joyously bubble-obscured scoreline of WHU 3-1 MU.


  • Line-ups are out… Same group as last Sunday… Who’d’ve guessed? Well, I would’ve… 😉

    J-Dub, care to elaborate on your personal troubles. I’ll share my stories of hosting in-laws (“the horror, the horror…) and, even worse, the ghosts haunting my lower back…

    Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Aubameyang, Ozil, Ramsey, Lacazette.

    Subs: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck.

    Watford: Foster, Navarro, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas, Hughes, Capoue, Doucoure, Pereyra, Deeney, Gray.

    Subs: Gomes, Mariappa, Masina, Femenia, Chalobah, Sema, Success.

  • Well, I went ahead and put up a live-blog post. (I hope that’s OK…)

    So, if anybody’s around, let’s move the discussion over to the…


  • Well HT…
    Monday: New VoIP phone system (70+ stations) recently-installed, finally operating properly.
    Tuesday Noon: Without warning network firewall crashes. Hurricane Harvey silver-lining-redux; had a nearly-new version (following last Summer’s disaster), on-hand/almost configured. Internet back on-line in an hour. Phones only 70% restored by 10:30pm.
    Wednesday: (Physically-wiped-out from 18-hour Tues.) Managed new IT clerk (very bright young man) remotely– along with an on-site vendor to resolve smallish standing issues. Not so bad.
    Thursday: Travelled 150mi round-trip to supervise movers in final-closing of one of our firm’s satellite office in town south of Houston. Still wiped-out.
    Friday: Expecting to oversee configuration changes to our local network to smooth over all of the early-week issues. Around noon Mrs jw1 calls and says the expected moment has arrived when Kitty #2 (of four, either 15-16 yrs-old) requires euthanasia — immediately (Kitty #1 departed about 4-5 weeks back). I call a vendor to assist in moving our WiFi router and APs to a separate VLAN to create a new DHCP pool of leased addresses (yeah, thought I’d make it sound dramatic).

    It was a very rough afternoon on Friday (even Mon-Thur notwithstanding).
    The house is now different from how it felt on Thursday.
    Happy that Mrs jw1 has managed to sleep in this morning.


    So. All that said? Blood-pressure level in-mind?
    I’d really like it if Mr Emery would find his way clear to start Young Holding today.
    Or, if not, personally deploy the Jaws-Of-Life® to extract Mr Mustafi’s cranium forcibly from his rectum. Pre-match preferable. 😉


    Are you taking any meds HT? Statins by chance?


  • Whoa J-dub… Very sorry to hear about the cats… The work stuff sounds harder (for me) to relate to… (And, to answer your question, no statins nor any other drug–except Ibuprofen related to the back issues…)

    Maybe Mustafi can score a brace for you–and/or be 100% with his passes, clearances and whatever other stats those defenders have…

    Shall we meet up over on the NEW POST and continue the discussion? I hope so. I’m just about good with my IT issues so I should have the stream up shortly…

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