Emery’s First NLD: Let’s Mash the Spuddies! Line-up/Preview

For us, defeat has become a distant memory. 18 games unbeaten, there is no way we’d allow the Spuds to be the spoilers. Instead we are going to put them where they belong which is below us and get ourselves back into the top-4. Our man at the helm of affairs has become infected with the premier league bug and he has shifted into overdrive.

How is Emery going to set up his NLD team? It’s no easy guess for anybody not even for him. Like Bournemouth, the Spuds are a high intensity team. Would it then be the same formation, the same team? Can Ozil be benched again? And what about Lacazette who is expected back?

Kolasinac? What is he? So many questions swirling through the head of poor Emery. At least he knows Kolasinac is not a full back. Even as a wingback, Kola is a bit too one directional as he doesn’t seem to recognize the critical need for tracking back. Yet who, including Emery, isn’t excited about his wing play. He has all the energy in the world driving forward and his ball deliveries into the penalty areas are our best. What’s more, his combination with Iwobi is very exciting and Emery took good notice. He said so.

If Kola plays, Emery is likely to employ a 3-man central defense. If Kola and Iwobi are picked to start, something big somewhere must give way. Or does Emery play Kola as a winger and play a full back behind him? There are questions galore. The only thing am certain about is that Emery would submit his team sheet in time.

With Kola and/or Iwobi dominating all talk on the left side of the field, and with Laca expected back, what to do with Auba becomes an issue. And what again does Emery do about the Spuds’ dynamic midfield or is this a game he has to go Wenger-like and focus on his strength? After all we would he playing with 12 men.

They say Billy the Kid was the best gunslinger of the Wild West era. They say he was the only one, amongst the lot who wore their guns low, that made peace with the fact that his next gun duel could be his last. The result was that he was able to look death straight in the eyes without flinching leaving him at his efficient best each time. I see a lot of him in Emery. Look at how Emery has stood up to the interviews in Englidh without ever batting an eye. Against the Spuds, he has gritted his teeth, steeled his eyes and rolled the dice of winner take all. Emery wants the three points and nothing else is in his books. He is one hell of a tough hombre.

I listened to Alan Shearer after the Bounemouth’s last weekend’s match. He was full of praise for Auba’s center forward positioning. It leaves the defenders in a quandary more so as they know what he can do. His presence alone, without any “activity” is already a lot of activity. Anybody who says he doesn’t do enough is unable to see the subtler aspects of football and wouldn’t recognize a beast of prey crouched, waiting to spring. Meanwhile he has set a new Arsenal record of 20 goals in the 1st 30 games. This man, Auba, should never be faraway from the goalmouth.

But there is Laca to contend with whose style incidentally compliments Auba’s. As strikers, one likes dropping deep, playing with his back to the goal, the other likes playing off the shoulders of defenders.  One pulls back and doesn’t attack the 6yd box, the other is a master of the final touch.

Emery has a thousand and one things to resolve. I dare to predict that against the Spuds, we might see something like this:-



Bellerin~~ Torreira~~Xhaka~~Kolasinac



Bench:- Cech, Koscielny, Lichsteiner, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi.

This is the North London Derby and I predict the MOTM would go to the 12th man!


By PE.

98 thoughts on “Emery’s First NLD: Let’s Mash the Spuddies! Line-up/Preview

  • Racy, breezy, energetic preview, PE and sets the right mood for the game tomorrow. Didn’t even see the gunslinger analogy for Emery coming but, I can relate. 🙂

    I like the predicted line up and won’t be surprised if you get 11/11 (or 18/18, so no place for AM-N and Eddy?). It sure will be nice to see Kos on the bench in the NLD. Hopefully, he isn’t forced to come on; that will be too nervy for his come back game in the first team. Another concern will be what subs to make to bring on Iwobi and Ramsey late on; perhaps Ozil and one of Laca and Auba? Emery’s watchword will be balance, balance balance! We can’t afford to lose shape vs the enemy or we will be punished, big time. Hopefully, Ozil comes with his A-game and we get a lot more work out of him in terms of tracking back say Erickson or Eric Dyer/Winks, while still looking for opportunities to spring Auba.

    As Pochettino is equally a wily coach, this will be quite the tactical (yet, freestyle) match-up. He will be aware that our side top the distance covered charts, indicating increase in our work rate. So, the new ‘love-in’ for Mousa Sisoko is all about work rate and hard running, a characteristic of Pochettino’s teams. Wenger’s teams have always made Sisoko look ordinary though (even as he kept flirting with us in his Newcastle day’s); this has to continue and we have to match his energy or play around him.

    Intriguing game on the horizon and I look forward to it with expectations of a win.


  • Eris … If you missed the gunslinger analogy, am certain you know all about the beast of prey crouching ready to spring!

    I suppose the subs, whatever the line up, would depend on the state of the parties.

    Agreed. Balance is always the key. Balance is pertinent also when trying to adjust to the strength of the opposition as it invariably means moving away from ones comfort zone. Just a little shift to give the right balance. But sometimes it complicates because the other side had also shifted in response to our strength. The real adjustments take place when battle has commenced. You shift and I shift and you shift and I shift … a moving target.

  • Good stuff PE. I hope we see Ozil in tomorrow. He should certainly be motivated. I’d have Iwobi in with him and play a single striker. I’d be relaxed about which – perhaps Auba given Laca coming back from injury. But I think we will need more in our midfield to avoid the striker being isolated. I’m not confident about tomorrow at all sadly. We will need to start strongly for once. And avoid having one of those days where we give stuff away easily at the back.

  • I hear you, PE. Auba is a Hawk-man of a poacher; beast of prey describes him. He has scored with all of his last 8 shots on target. That is hunter standards! Well, let the gunslinging and preying be in full effect on Sunday, I say.

    I would have been worried to see Mike Dean (a certified -evidence shows- Spurs fan Ref, if there was one) will Ref the game. The sheer number of NLDs he gets to Ref is shocking. But, he did give us a few calls which helped us get the win vs Spurs last season at the Emirates. Mustafi’s header looked like he had returned from an offside position, while their Sanchez’s foul on our Alexis may have been overlooked; Mustafi’s goal came from the resultant kick.

    If Iwobi and Kola both have to start, the big thing to give way will have to be playing only one striker- Aubameyang! We probably need Iwobi’s physicality to counter Sisoko’s. We’ll see what Emery comes up with.

  • HenryC, got a chance, via YouTube, to see some more highlights from Thursday and I noticed how many times Nketiah ran into dangerous positions, waiting for the pass, but rarely received the ball. At least he was there and showed a nose for the opportunity, eventually the passes will come and he’ll score, I do like Eddie and hope he gets some more minutes during this hectic period up till New Years Day.

  • Little Bournemouth equalizer against mighty City at the etihad. It was a powerful header by Calum Wilson too. No non-defender has scored against City in open play all season.

  • Nice work PE…

    For me, we have to starve Kane and Son of service, just as we stifled the supply to Salah and Co a few weeks ago. So we have to dominate the midfield and so I’d go with one striker and another body in midfield, probably Iwobi.
    Ozil should have the stage tomorrow to show why Emery shouldn’t have left him out at Bournemouth, he’s had enough rest with no games in some three weeks, a Bayernesque performance would be most welcome.

    U18’s beat Fulham 6-2, Musah and Balogun scored two each…

  • AB,Kev ….. good logic dropping one striker for an extra midfielder. Fine margins.

  • Oh well, City have come back to blow Bournemouth away. United have come back to 2-2 after going down 2-0 to Southampton. Second half should serve up a good show.

  • By popular demand an extra midfielder at the expense of one striker :-


    Auba against Spurs high line.
    Rambo .. box to box as extra goal threat.

    I need a tranquilizer watching this match!

  • Fine. However, I feel Iwobi would start in place of Ramsey, if we go with 3 at the back; he plays in our more demanding games for reasons best known to Wenger and (now) Emery.

    I also think Koscielny won’t be risked on the bench, for now. AM-N to replace him? In a game as this, it will make sense to have a regular CB on the bench (I know Lichsteiner can act as cover, but this is Spurs we are talking about here), so it may be 4 at the back with Holding as a sub. We should revert to 4-2-3-1. So, expect to see Leno – Bells – Mustafi – Sokratis – Kolasinac – Torreira – Xhaka – Ozil – Iwobi – Ramsey/Mkhi – Auba; because Laca’s uncertain state of fitness.

  • Eris … good line up but am just worried about Kola as a full back.

    With 3 CD and non on the bench, say one is hurt the solution would be to change formation to 2 CD. But the way Kos was diving into the U-23 tackles shows that only match fitness is what remains for his full return and possibly psychological rehabilitation too. Sitting on the bench is part of that rehabilitation process.

    I can envisage Holding as a left back. He is a good ball player with good ball intelligence. But he’d be needing a pure winger (Kola) in front of him for stretching the field on the left. You can guess I’ve ceased to see Kola as a full back.

  • Kola is one enigma for me too. I saw him in a few Bundesliga games for Schalke and thought he was a proper modern day full back: strong, quick, loves a tackle and combative. He did a number on Arjen Robbin, Koman and Lahm, all at once, when playing against Bayern and still managed to bomb forward to deadly effect. I had high hopes for him here and am a bit disappointed to see he simply shies away from the defensive side of things. He won’t track back with any urgency, doesn’t spot danger and won’t use his right foot to pass into midfield when in trouble (he seems to be working on that though).

    But here is my thought. If he is told to do a job at left back, surely he will be disciplined enough to stay back and only drive forward on occasion. Make no mistake about it, one of the areas Spurs will be looking to exploit is our full back positions as they overlap. Torreira covers for Bellerin; Xhaka less so, for the left back, which is why it seems to be the favourite route for any side with a decent right winger, playing against the Arsenal at the Emirates. We’ll see what choices Emery makes soon enough.

  • Its heating up!🙀

    Am beginning to worry that we (me at the head of the bunch) are worrying too much about the strength of the Spuds. For crying out loud, this is the Emirate, the onus is on them to solve us. COYRG!!!!!!!!!

  • And no Lacazette in the 11? I really have to disagree with the coach. I would have done exactly the opposite. Lacazette is more of a battler and is more physical against opponents helping more in midfield. That’s what we need in physical matches. And I really wanna crush them, so I like the way Aubamayang comes off the bench against tired legs. Oh well, hopefully the boys are inspired. By the way, nice preview PE, really well written.

  • Yeah, Bournemouth team to start. Well, if it works, why fix it, right? Laca on the bench. No Ozil; back spasm is the reported reason. Now, I am concerned there could be more. The sooner we know the better because Emery will soon run out of diplomatic reasons for not including Ozil in the hard games. Lucas Moura on the bench; one who would be looking to come on to prove a point to his former boss.

    Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Iwobi, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang

    Subs: Cech, Elneny, Ramsey, Lacazette, Lichtsteiner, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi

    Lloris, Aurier, Vertonghen, Foyth, Davies, Dier, Alli, Sissoko, Eriksen, Son, Kane.

    Subs: Rose, Alderweireld, Winks, Walker-Peters, Llorente, Gazzaniga, Lucas Moura

  • 1-0 to the good guys. Auba penalty after Vertoghen inexplicably used his arm to block Mustafi’s headed attempt. We’ve deserved the lead, it must be said as we’ve been on the front foot.

    It’s not over by any stretch as there’s plenty of time yet.

  • And Auba has missed agile edge chance to make it 2, though ball was played a little behind him by Kola.

  • Don’t like the fishwraps (Sunday Express) for facts– but a straight quote from Emery on Ozil:

    (When asked about the German’s absence,) Emery said: “Mesut is struggling with back ache.”


  • Tottenham are yet to get off the bus, it would seem. Their defence at sixes and sevens at the moment, barring a few pop ups in our half. We just have to make the early dominance count with another goal. We look like we can have our first half time lead today.

    Great track bac’ there by Kolasinac to clear a ball from Erickson’s feet.

  • It’s 1-1, Dyer. Glancing header from an Erickson free kick, which Leno should have kept out in all honesty. Now, it’s a penalty conceded by Holding who insists there was no contact.

    Chance for 1-2.

  • Kane puts it away and it would seem I spoke too soon about that first half lead.

  • From a game in which we’d been in such control, to be trailing and at home. Surreal.

  • We have to start all over again then. Mustafi gets a yellow card after a high foot on Son, who has conned the Ref into giving that penalty clearly.

  • Dyer should be off for a bad foul on Torreira and celebrating in front of our fans.. but spuds is spuds.. diving to win free kicks and pens.. f***

  • Not to say that Auba hasn’t shown the danger element– but Laca would be a good choice in a tandem. Need to keep the pressure on the 2 Spurs CBs. Vertonghen has already gifted one– and Foyth in just his 4th app for Spurs. In his first, a month ago, he conceded 2 PENs vs Wolves.


  • Iwobi off Ramsey on. Mkhi off for Lacazette. Kola would miss Iwobi, for sure but needs must. We need to adjust quickly to the subs or we could be caught cold. Spurs will employ every dirty trick in the book to stay in this one now.

  • Bellerin has to be alive to his defensive responsibilities this game. The number of times you find Torreira at right back is becoming concerning.

  • Pressure is back on Spurs now. Plenty of action in their end.
    Mustafi point-blank saved by Lloris– Torreira with a rebound blast high/wide.


  • Bellerin gives Son a free strike from 18– resulting play has Mustafi down.
    Looks hamstring-related. Guendouzi looks to be readying.


  • Hopefully, the defenders are able to make the adjustments seamlessly. A slow motion goal by Laca there. Arsenal 3-2.

  • Bellerin’s vertical passing has been good since half– with Ramsey and Laca chasing them down.

    Laca with a Thierry-like strike from 16!
    3-2 good guys.


  • Guendouzi is capable of the odd mistake now and then. So, needs cover al, the time. Ramsey instrumental again.

  • What a time to get his first goal for Arsenal. It was a beauty too. And he gets a yellow card for taking off his shirt.

  • Moura comes on for Son, who is booed off by the Arsenal fans. All we need to do is keep the ball away from them as often as possible and we win it.

  • Vertoghen fouls Lacazette and he’s off. Mike Dean has put me to shame twice now. Spurs down to 10 and now we can go on to get 5, in keeping with old traditions. 😄

  • Unbelievable these turns of events since about 60 minutes. Our guys have gone both clinically and physically dominant.


  • Can’t wait to hear the ‘clean-up’ by both Robbies and Rebeccawhatshername in-studio post-match.


  • Gunners go top-4. 19 straight unbeaten.
    Spuds take their rightful spot.
    All is right in Arsenal-world 🙂


  • Good win for us in the end, but Iwobi had switched off with Mkhi after the first goal. We know that Rambo does not like link up play with the wing backs, thus Kola had no forward movements. Hope that we can continue the win against manu**

  • OMG.. What a game..
    I love the energy.. Too excited to make a comment.. hehehe..

    What I like from our new Manager that he change the players sooner than I expect.. and he did it with the right man.. again.. Lacazette become our Supersub..
    But Aubameyang is my MotM..

    It will be a night to remember.. in a long time ahead.. Go Gunners..

  • Henry–
    Hard to go against Auba. Though many with heroics that second-half.
    Got to go with Emery as MoTM. All good, timely (if required, with Mustafi going down) moves/changes in strategy. Plus the re-energizing of his squad during half. Almost as if no one remembered the first 45 minutes.


  • When we were dominating the first half, before the mistakes we made, I was loving the quality of our pressing. TA told me earlier in the season to be patient with that aspect of our new team and manager. Right again, T.

  • Great day to be a fan of this great club! North London is red (as if it needed telling). Those pundits who keep telling us how much more quality is in the Spurs side didn’t learn from the 2-0 last season, apparently. Write us off and get thunked.

    Liverpool have gotten lucky against Everton and scored a late late (96th minute) goal at Anfield. Origi, the forgotten man was brought on to earn hero status as Pickford had fumbled a harmless ball, going over his bar, downwards for Origi to bundle in at the dead. Now, to go to Old Trafford and keep this streak going. If it was Fergie in charge, I’d worry as he has a knack for ending streaks or records. With JM in a funk, hope springs eternal…..

  • No doubt. Pickford should have spiked that like a volleyball. He’d had several questionable plays during this match. Final one costing the 3pts. A shame, Everton deserved the point.


  • Saw this Torreira comment on Squawka– worth sharing:

    “Torreira was resplendent in the derby. Charging about midfield in a focused and directed way, he shut down countless Spurs attacks with his tough tackling. Snapping into challenges but also timing them perfectly. He was no hatchet man, he was a ball-winning beast.

    Then, with the score at 3-2, he inexplicably found himself in attack. He turned well and ran away from Eric Dier, receiving a pass from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before steadying himself and thundering home a fourth Arsenal goal.”

    (Read more at http://www.squawka.com/en/news/9-unbelievable-moments-to-leave-anyone-who-missed-arsenal-4-2-spurs-green-with-envy/1071135#uUbjXuLdIfPX6FuO.99)


  • Great credit to the manager and players. A big lift for all the fans and we should consider ourselves real top 4 contenders.

  • Getting my thoughts sorted out, this is my takeaway on the match:

    1. After the first goal and subsequent chances on the shell ahocked spuds, we switched off and were beaten twice by the spud divers.

    2. Torreira was fantastic. Auba had shades to Henry. And he is now the top scorerof the PL with a 1 goal advantage.

    3. Xhaka started well but spluttered and had little impact in midfield as the game wore on. Iwobi had chances in the first half but his positioning let us down. Mkhi too.

    4. With the midfield battle won, spuds had no chance to trouble our defense for long periods.

    5. Douzi had a hairy moment but was saved by Leno, but did well mostly.

  • Sorry guys for the multiple typo errors.
    Point 1 should read as “shell-shocked spuds”.
    Point 2 should read as “Auba had shades of Henry, and he is now the top scorer of the PL with a 1 goal advantage”.

  • Two great online quotes / points noted:

    a. “70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. … The rest is covered by Lucas Torreira” — so there may be your MoTM

    b. If games ended at 45 mins, Arsenal would be 19th place. So, we are strong 2nd halves, but despite coming out all over Spurs, today didnt hold water. Thus, room to improve with defense, despite “a” above being a real and continuous blessing this year (like the first on the team sheet type of blessing).

    cheers from all day meetings — jgc

  • For sure, MOTM has to be between Torreira and Auba (just for how hard he worked; learnt a thing or two from Laca). Still buzzing from the game and hope the players, unlike me, have moved on and switched to Wednesday’s game.

  • Well that was breathless, we ran them ragged, at the end they just couldn’t match our intensity, it certainly makes the League Cup tie, in a couple of weeks, an even more mouthwatering occasion.
    Pocchetino will probably pick a different XI with maybe a tighter approach, Emery will probably do likewise, every game is a new adventure with our animated head coach orchestrating proceedings.

    The atmosphere in the stadium was amazing, the best since we beat Bayern a few seasons back.
    The spirit among the fans is the best it’s been I feel since we moved to the Emirates, it’s really buzzing. Optimism is everywhere…

    Great quote Dr Geoff, I’ll definitely be using that one…

  • Gotta say that as much as I was glued to the pitch, I couldn’t help looking over to the technical areas, Emery is like a dervish, arms waving, living every moment, every tackle, every shot, it’s brilliant… 🙂

  • Interesting data/stat from The Guardian:

    “Aubameyang continued his dead-eyed scoring exploits and Arsenal fought back from 2-1 down to register yet another come-from-behind win. Aubameyang got the equaliser for 2-2 – his second of the game – and he has now scored with his last 10 shots on target in the league.”


  • Yep! He’s equaled an 11 year record in the EPL, held by Benni McCarthy of Blackburn rovers, who achieved same feat, only over two Seasons where Auba has achieved his in about 100 days. That’s top goal poacher quality.

  • “It will be a very big challenge for us on Wednesday and it will confirm our good moment, or whether we need more,” said Emery.
    “It is very difficult to win there because they are a very big team with big players and have a big atmosphere pushing them, but it is an exciting match and my motivation is very big.”

    With all of those ‘bigs’?
    Just an oversight omitting Jose’s ego? 😉


  • Ya’ know Eris– when we were discussing goal tallies at start of this season? I’d predicted 25 for Auba (at 10) and 20 for Laca (at 6). Still do feel that’s realistic. 🙂

    Only good things can come from that– if so!


  • Jw1, you know that Emery’s command of English is not good. Don’t you think that manu** have stocky players? And the team is “huge”, with a “huge” egoistic manager.

  • Against MU we will need a different approach.. We know Mou.. we won’t see an open game like yesterday.. They just ain’t Spurs or Liverpool.. hehehe..

    So I believe that 3 CB will suit us better against Mou defending style.. We must really aware with their counter attack.. for that what they will do to stop us.. even in their own homebase.

    Just hope Bellerin do better than last night, he seem so unconfident in attack, not like he used to.. and somehow he seem more enjoy playing with Lacazette or Iwobi than Mhikitaryan..

    And hope our tiny superman continues his superball.. and score another goal.. hehehe..

  • See your point jk! 😉

    I watched the first half of Soton vs ManU last night and they are a plodding group.
    Banged up too. Matic was playing at LB. Rashford asked to come off late. Alexis is out. Plus Ashley Young is suspended (as is Xhaka) for cumulative YCs. Without much pace anywhere– expect Jesse Lingard inserted as a counter-attacking threat. Really like to see us start– with the lineup we ended with on Sunday.


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