Laca Plays But Auba Leads the Line: Arsenal v Liverpool Preview


Klopp’s Liverpool come knocking. They are a relentless, dangerous side. They have a £66.9m Brazllian between the sticks. A £75m Dutchman marshaling a back line of stalwarts. They have conceded only 4 goals this season. Milner, Wijnaldum and whoever else from their rich collection of midfielders, form the hardest working midfield in the premier league. Up front they have Salah, Firmino and Mane who last season were the most devastating trio on the break. But don’t be fooled, Klopp has been at it all week wondering how on earth he is going to contain the Arsenal offensive fire power on a record setting 19.5% goal conversion rate. He knows he has 11 men in his team against our 12. Our voices would be unrelenting in our support of the Emery revolution. But the boys must fly off the blocks.

That must be Emery’s opening move: to get the 12th man on board.

What else? First we take stock. Who are available and who are not. Guendouzi is out. By the new FA rules yellow cards are not carried over to a different FA competition but red cards are. We should expect that those who started against Blackpool would not start against Liverpool. So players like Mustafi, Ramsey and Mkhitaryan would have been pencilled not to start, but Guendouzi’s unavailability might bring a slight rethink. Lichsteiner starting and playing the whole 90 minutes gives hope that our crew know Bellerin would be fit for Saturday.

In terms of strategy, do we need to go toe to toe with Liverpool?  They are far ahead of us in the energy game which is not purely a question of stamina (so far this season we are leading the PL in grounds covered).  Therefore Emery’s response might be us inviting their press and frustrating it. That is the reason why Leno should be a must starter, and our better ball players Holding and Torreira as well (unfortunately our master ball circulator, Elneny, misses out on injury). As the tempo of pressing teams invariably drop after the interval, Emery’s 2nd half calls would have that in mind.

Up front Emery might go for Aubameyang leading the line, playing off the shoulders of Liverpool’s inevitable high defensive line. That by itself is already a huge contribution to our play. Bet on Van Dijk and Gomez to be troubled in mind by the presence of our elusive gazelle with acres to run into. Iwobi starts wide left in the position that allows him full expression. Similar to what City did when they tackled Liverpool in a goalless draw, our full backs should be conservative with their forays upfield. Faint signals coming out suggest that both Monreal and Bellerin might be fit to start. We pray so.

Liverpool have a very industrious midfield. Emery is likely to respond to that by instructing #10 Ozil to play deeper, more as our most advanced central midfielder to give a formation hybrid of 4:2:3:1 and 4:3:3.

Would Emery think along these lines? If he does, watch out for a line up such as this:-

submit football lineup

Bench:- Cech, Lichsteiner, Mustafi, AMN, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck.

Body punches 1st half. Sucker punch 2nd half. Arsenal to win 2-1.


By PE.

35 thoughts on “Laca Plays But Auba Leads the Line: Arsenal v Liverpool Preview

  • Great preview and battle cry for tomorrow’s big game, PE. Will comment more tonight, but just for now, I reckon Auba will come on after 60 minutes to make a difference for us. Until then I expect Welbeck, Mesut, Laca and Iwobi to do the hard work in denying the Poolers space and get behind their defence. After 60 minutes Ramsey and Auba to come on and do the damage.

    Totally agreed about the 12th man and we need a good, solid start. Soak up the pressure i.e. let them suffocate us a bit and then spring the rebounds and counterattacks. The brain takes a draw now, the heart wants to go for all three points. These are the two teams that try to get and stay on top the fair way and both deserve success. Mega spenders Manure, the Chavs and Citeh are our joined enemies, but tomorrow it will be about winning the derby of the decent top clubs. Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

  • Lichtsteiner has played many times at left back during his short time at Arsenal and I think that most of us expected him to play left back against Blackpool the other evening with Jenkinson/a n other at right back.
    But he lined up at right back and was arguably our best player over the 90 minutes, so I wonder if that was a deliberate decision by Emery, to get him in the groove in case he is needed tomorrow?

  • Excellent post PE.

    Liverpool are going to exert a lot of pressure on our defence tomorrow, whatever that defence looks like, so we really need Xhaka and Torrieira in front of them and we’ll need outlets, players we can hit to relieve that pressure, so for me both Aubameyang and Lacazette have to play.
    Personally I’d have a Iwobi on the left, he’s just not the same player on the right, I’d also have Aubameyang on the right, he can cut in and devastation from there.
    Lacazette up front to hold onto the ball abd give the rest of the team a breather.

  • Big “work” week (meaning lots of driving and dealing with the elder generation…) wrapping up today, so I *should* be able to host a live blog tomorrow…. It’s really only fun if others participate, so, you know, go on…then…

    I’ll say this about these sorts of games…at least from what I’ve seen this season…

    They’re boring…

    I’m talking about the top two teams traveling to take on their stronger opposition, Pool (and City, of course) are in a different class and Klopp (like Guardiola…) seems to truly believe that his team can win one (if not both) of the big trophies this season. As such, it’s ALL about the defending (for them…) while working the slight (or not so slight) advantage(s) in quality in different parts of the pitch and trying to nick a goal somewhere along the way, forcing the other team to have to come out of their shell even further, leaving bigger gaps..

    This is the same way Emery has been approaching our games–against all these lesser opponents–and how can we complain about 22 from 24 (points in the league), 9 from 9 (in the ropy league) and not bowing out in the CaraCup?…

    Sometimes these games get more exciting if there’s an early goal (for the underdog, Spurs conceding early at Wembley did nothing)…

    Still, I would not expect anything like the barn-burners we sometimes had under the previous regime. In this fixture last season didn’t they get a 2nd goal then boom, boom, boom we scored three only to concede late and drop the full points?…

    That was a wild ride and the result, in the end, was a disappointment. This Pool team, however, is built differently, so going behind is not a good idea. I guess there’s some notion that we start slowly or are a 2nd half team, but that didn’t work so well when we hosted ManCity on opening day. But that was way back when… Our feet (maybe?) are under us now, so it’s a barometer of sorts… If we cannot give a game against the top teams (esp. in our own stadium), it will feel a whole lot less “new and different,” not to mention hopey & changey…

    Those fears to one side, I think PE may have the line-up, which, at times *could* appear the way he’s got it laid out–if Iwobi moves left after a ball or two and Auba and Laca rotate to fill his vacancy…. More likely, Iwobi goes from the right, PEA on the left and Laca as the #9 (though switching from the start as Kev suggests seems a good idea too)… I also think that (my man?) Mustafi might go despite playing on Wednesday. IF the coach (has read the blogs and now) thinks our dropped points at Palace were ALL HIS FAULT(!!!!!) more minutes (rather than fewer) along with, you know, some actual coaching, might be the idea for how he makes his way forward, you know, unless he agrees with the talented idiot gone in January narratives & fecking Wenger never shoulda spent the money stuff… Maybe? Feel free, however, to hit the “What?!? Mustafi!?! What TF is Emery Thinking!?!?!!!!!…panic button when his name is on the teamsheet… (And, if seeing it there helps to mute your expectations…then it’s certainly as good as anything I write…)

    On the other hand, What TF do I know?… Maybe Mustafi sits…and the Emery Out campaign can wait until the full-time whistle… Xhaka, however, did rest in midweek… Uh oh…

    Other topics?… Fullbacks? My kingdom for a (healthy) set of fullbacks?…

    Then there’s our MF, but maybe they let us pass it around the back a little before we boot it forward and WE get the lucky bounce (and then work it into goal) and they have to come out…
    Wash, rinse, repeat and the points are ours… 😀 Happy Friday!!

  • Great preview, PE, deserving of the occasion tomorrow. Make no mistake about it, both sets of players (and managers) will be up for this game. As I stated in the previous thread, maybe it is no shame to be conservative and play a “stifle and shock” game against this highly talented ‘Pool side. But we must be committed and have the right personnel on for the occasion; physical, energetic and willing runners.

    For that reason, I won’t be surprised to see Welbeck, AM-N, Mustafi and Lichtsteiner all starting, despite starting midweek. If our full backs are going to stay back more, why not start with the more defensive man at right back? The fitness state of Monreal, Kola and Bellerin is also a doubt but we will prefer to keep Liverpool guessing, so ignore a bit of what we read till final fitness news is disclosed. If Holding starts, it won’t trouble me, but I’d only hope he stays focused to stop Salah or Firminho, whoever plays from his side of the central defence.

    It won’t be impossible to see Leno, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis, AM-N, Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Welbeck, Laca, Iwobi. Auba, Ramsey and perhaps, Bellerin to come on later in the game, if some game changing is required. So, I agree with “Body punches, first half; sucker punch in the second half”! We are condemned to win this or it is back to the usual nonsense about our mental strength/quality/defence in the media, all over again.

  • The reason I’m not sure we will see either of Monreal or Kola is simply because they’ve not had any match practice since being laid off by injury. AM-N, on the other hand played with the U-23s and against Blackpool on Wednesday and is young enough to take a 3rd game in a week. If we go ahead to play Monreal, trust me, we should hope he will not be all over the place.

    Wing interchange between Welbz and Iwobi, then later, Auba and Laca isn’t out of place. We need to be so fluid as to give the ‘Pool players a lot to worry about.

  • I’ll be working tomorrow 17tino, with my ear glued to the radio and my heart in N5, but I’ll try to join in if you’re about, so have an expresso or two and go to it…

  • One thing is that Liv feared press has undergone changes. Firstly it is no more that frenetic. Secondly they now seem to prefer the mid block, to execute their press in the middle third. The first is a better management of stamina. The second has helped them reduce their vulnerability to counters as their high line also drops when they lose the ball. The sum effect is that they now score less goals but concede considerable less goals also.

  • Klopp has his eyes on City who have taken 3pts at the Emirate. He would want to do the same so might set out in the more attacking 4:2:3:1 that would bring Shaqiri in.

  • Liv like City, dominate territory and that’s exactly why I’d prefer Auba leading the line. Not seeing much of the ball suits his playing personality. He is more of a goal “thief”. Auba has the quickness and the movement and the pace to trouble Liv CD (Dijk and Gomez) who are also very fast. Laca hasn’t got the pace or the movement but he has the intensity that would be useful in a busier deeper position.

  • Some great comments and well deserved respect for PE’s preview. Good man. Don’t agree with you on the need to play Auba from the start but I can see where you are coming from. First goal for Welbz I reckon.

  • I used to look at Wenger’s last team training pics and be able to predict our starting teams, to a fairly good degree of correctness. Still trying to suss Emery’s training pics out but I think Welbeck would start tomorrow. So will Mustafi.

  • Got me pumped PE!
    Do agree PE– on Auba to start. Unless we, ourselves, expect to press? No need for Welbeck to do so. Think we can all agree on the 4-2-X-X part of the equation. Iwobi-Ozil and Auba-Laca are the pairs in that X-X. Whether it is a 2-2 (there’s a thought!) or a 3-1 (or whatever play dictates)– is not so important.

    The ‘2’ in the 4-2 are chiseled with Torreira-Xhaka.
    Back-4 seem to be the roles putting many into a defensive crouch. 😉
    Bellerin and Monreal to start (Lichsteiner in reserve for either).
    Then easily, our best CB pairing: Papa Sokratis and Rob Holding. Young Holding has started the last 6 matches– where Arsenal has allowed just one goal from open play (vs Fulham). Arsenal, playing Sokratis paired with Holding, have conceded no goals since Vorskla (on 9/20).

    Draw? No way. No harm in playing to win this one. Guns blazing? Maybe we do. Win or lose? Still a positive influence on this season. Games like this are meant to pickup those points lost at Palace.

    Surely risk one– for a shot at three?

    (And HT– I’ll chime in on a live blog too.)

  • Great post P E, Really looking forward to tomorrow, I have an old work colleague of mine over from New York dropping by, hopefully supporting the mighty reds (and whites).

    I find it hard to believe that Emery would actually have an action plan where we grind a team down and then mash them in the 2nd half, but as stats never lie or so I am told, We have to believe in it. .I just don’t see that tactic working tomorrow. Auba and Lacazette to start for me. I would love to see Rambo rip them to pieces, but they would only sign him after the match just to P me off.

    Mustaphi is an interesting one, he give this all and is always a danger at set pieces, logic suggest Socrates and Holding though.

    Big game for Ozil tomorrow, I really hope he is up for it.
    17ht I will be watching your live blog, but if I type miss the good bits, so will chime in at half time

  • Hi all.. Hi PE..
    It seem AMN is back.. but still wondering that he played as RW against Blackpool.. hehehe..

    Assuming that unusual starting eleven will mean all of them will drop against Liverpool.. that’s mean you might have 11 / 11 PE.. hehhe..

    But do Monreal is really fit..?? If not why don’t we play with 3 CB.. Maybe our Captain Koscielny back will lift the spirit.. and sure will make our defence better.. And for that we need to sacrifice one of our Winger.. And Lacazette as a RW maybe just too forced to be good.. So let drop it..

    Bellerin is our best RWB and I hope Iwobi can play in LWB also.. But I prefer Niles in LWB position.. and Iwobi or Ramsey can join Ozil as our double AM..

    So I would like :
    Ramsey/Iwobi – Ozil
    Niles/Iwobi – Xhaka – Torriera – Bellerin
    Holding – Sokratis – Koscielny

  • Guys, i will prefer Laca leading the line and Auba supplying him with the crosses. With Rambo and Mkhi we are poor in this aspect. And we need Xhaka and Torreira starting. That’s my ideal core.

  • Interesting mix of responses to a great prompt PE. I worry for our defence I confess, so I’d set up with that in mind. So a couple of controversial suggestions to come. Like TA I think we should start with Laca and keep a strong bench including Auba. My 11 therefore:

    Licht, Holding, Musti, AMN
    Tor, Xhaka
    Iwobi, Ozil, Welbs

    We need pace and work rate in our line up. I don’t fancy Kola at LB with the Pool attack running at him. Licht may struggle for pace but he is a proper defensive RB and his experience should count. I think we need our best shot stopper in goal – and that’s Cech for me, even though Leno has been very promising with his efforts of late.

    Rambo might be a shout on the RM. He would want to put in a show after all. retsub, I hear what you are saying in this, but surely better that he does “rip them to pieces” for us now than just sit on the bench, even if he does end up with them later.

    I won’t get into the CB debate beyond observing that we don’t yet have a top class one (fit) in our squad. Kos is when fit, but otherwise we are a mix of works in progress. We have to fix that by the start of next season, whether by coaching or purchase.

    I’d gladly take a point right now. Gladly. That’s not to doubt the talent in our squad. But we are a work in progress and getting points off the top 5 opponents feels like progress to me.

  • If it’s Kola to play then we need to play a 3-man defence. Why? He’s not a wonderful defender and his playing out of the back would be one route … backwards. As a wingback he’d be less exposed to these aspects of the game.

  • It’s been an unnerving mind games …not knowing the exact state of our walking injured. Klopp doesn’t know the team he would be facing. Or does he? Don’t rule out high powered football espionage at this level.

  • PE, yes the lack of news re our full backs is making this harder for all of us. If all are fit enough, I would go with:
    Cech/Leno (trust both of them to do a good job)
    Bells – Sok – Hold – Nacho
    ——- Tor11 — Xhaka ——

    After sixty-seventy minutes bring in Auba, Ramsey or Micky

    Pool will worry about Bellerin a lot. His runs can crack their suffocating press time and again, and there will be space for him to do so. Nacho and Welbz on the other side is also a worry for them, and Iwobi and Ozil also have the skillset to spring a counterattack any moment. On top of that we the hard-working Laca who will force Pool defender mistakes and Xhaka and Torreira who both can pick a pass instantly. If we play deep enough, but above all v compact when we are defending and know how to launch our attackers in a flash, it could be a good game for us. Just hoping that at least one of Bells and Nacho is fit to play… and they will have to give a hell of a lot.

  • Good job on the possibilities Pony. I hope you’re right about the fullbacks, but it’s really hard to know since we’re given so little info on their status. I think of Guendouzi as an important player for us either as an impact sub or starter, so it’s disappointing not to have him today. I think if we keep it close, Ramsey can have an impact off the bench, or even as a surprise starter.
    Under Wenger, this would have been a game that I approached nervously, now I’m excited to see how we perform. I know our players will be well up for it.

  • Arsenal XI: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

    Substitues: Cech, Ramsey, Lichtsteiner, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Welbeck, Smith-Rowe.

  • Confirmed line up

    Bell and Kola start.

    Bel, Musti, Holdn, Kola
    Torreira, Xhaka
    Mkhi, Ozil, Auba

  • Leno keeps his place, Bells is recovered and so is Kola, and we have an experience attack with speed and guile…. and PE got his way with both Laca and Auba playing. Nice to see Mkhi get a start too and for Smith-Rowe to be on the bench. COYRRGs!!!

  • The team sheet is out and it is Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

    Gentlemen, it looks to me like Emery has chosen to go for it, a la Wenger; that’s my inference when I see Kola and Bellerin at full back and Auba and Laca starting. Maybe, he’s decided to focus on our own strengths and just match them. In my view, we can do it. Kola won’t give Salah room to operate and should be able to ensure Robertson stays cautious about runs into the area behind him. Auba May play as a striker with Laca floating from central to wings, as the game goes on.

  • The subs bench means Monreal and Sokratis May only return after the inter lull; Emery did keep Klopp guessing and that’s good. Throwing Mkhi on alongside Auba is a charge on both to help bury their former manager. Mkhi has to show what stuff he’s made up (though I can’t recall he’s played too well against Liverpool in the past. Still, I like the idea).

  • Hi there TA. Life pretty complicated at the moment, on all fronts. But I’m healthy and so are my kids, so could be far worse. I’m going to call it early as I see it on this team selection rather than make any claim after the event – I don’t feel at all confident with this line up. We look defensively suspect and I’m not confident the front players will get enough of the ball. Hope I’m totally wrong but I will be biting my nails over the first 30 min as they could put a few past us if we aren’t on it. Don’t like being the voice of doom but that’s how it feels at the moment.

  • …in the past, for Arsenal that is. I recall he scored for Dortmund vs Liverpool in the Europa league final.

  • Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson, Salah, Firmino, Mane.

    Subs: Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Mignolet, Shaqiri, Origi, Matip.

  • Think you’ve ciphered it Eris– in seeing Kolasinac signalling UE’s intent. I’ll even go as far as to predict an assist for Kola today — to Auba, on a cutback pass. Odd as it might sound? Kola must be a threat– and produce– for this one to come off favorably.

    I’m seeing ‘guns blazing’– a shootout. 5-4 anyone? 😉


  • Hey fellas… a live-blog post is up… Good comments and a mix of excitement and trepidation, for sure…Please join me over there on the…


  • I think Liv have not been at their stunning best in the last couple of games. I feel they are in the middle of a transition to maybe a more formidable level. Now might be the best time to play against them. However they always raise their game against us

  • Looking at the subs bench. Might it not been prudent to carry Julio Pleguezuelo today? Guessing Lichtsteiner at CB in an emergency? Thought JP played quite well midweek.


  • Did I write… NEW POST…

    Why, yes, yes I did…

    Move it on over, fellas…. Please?…

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