Rambo to Feed LacaMeyang but Who Partners the Ninja Warrior in Midfield? Preview/Line-up


The Top-4 trophy was derided by many of us but loved by the man who caressed it for 20 good years without fail. It is in the nature of man not to value that which comes cheap. After only 2 years without it we would give all the sweat in this world for 3 pts at Old Trafford as that would aid our hunt of that Top-4 trophy. Wenger is a very insightful man but maybe he is a little less smart than Sir Alex Ferguson who timed his exit to perfection …. well to perfection in terms of himself but in terms of the fortunes of the club, his timing was utterly miserable.

While Emery has opened the windows of the room vacated by Wenger, Joseph Mourinho seems to have taken over the role of presiding over the demise of Man U’s campaign of this season. As we head to Old Trafford, we smell blood.

Still we have to be wary. All said and done Mourinho is an old fox and Man United have a way of busting back into life when we come calling. They love to halt us on our tracks just as they did to the Invincibles 49 game unbeaten premier league run. If am to guess, Mourinho who hates having buses parked against him, would park a fleet against us, and hope to catch us on the break with his powerful, fleet footed forward men of Lukaku, Rashford and Martial. But never bet on what an old fox can come up with. Maybe it’s better we spend this little precious time talking about ourselves.

Against the Spuds Emery started with a 3:4:2:1 formation. We were on top of the Spuds but found ourselves trailing I-2 at half time after their questionable goals. On resumption, Emery changed to 3:4:1:2 (replacing Mkhi and Iwobi with Laca and Ramsey). This was his first time of playing Auba and Laca together up front. Ramsey at #10 with his Rolls Royce engine was continuously motoring up field between the front duo. The Spuds couldn’t live with it and we equalized. Mustafi  got hurt (replaced by Guendouzi) and Emery changed again to 4:3:1:2. In that midfield three, Torreira became freer to roam providing the team with a more dynamic balance up field as the wing backs reverted to full backs. Again the Spuds couldn’t live with it and we were able to score 2 more goals.

So what should we expect from Emery at Old Trafford? Xhaka is suspended. I expect Goundouzi to take his place and Torreira to play a conservative role shielding the back line. Kolasinac at the moment is un-droppable. He gives so much to our offensive play on the left which is our main attack route. That should mean a three man back line. With the wing backs stretching the field, the Ramsey-in-the-hole behind the Laca-Auba-up-front combo, Torreira and partner marshalling the central midfield, the team Emery has been searching for might just have emerged. Ozil with his back spasm remains a doubt but if he is available its him or Ramsey in the hole.

Expected line up:-






Bench: Cech, Lichstener, M-Niles, Elneny, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan.

The beauty of this line up and formation is that our midfield is not weakened because Laca loves playing from deep while at the same time all three of them up front carry goal threats. I can’t see Mo keeping them away from the net all of 90 minutes. Would he dare open up? Kindly bear with me, am feeling a bit like a conqueror.


By PE.

63 thoughts on “Rambo to Feed LacaMeyang but Who Partners the Ninja Warrior in Midfield? Preview/Line-up

  • Hi PE, once again many thanks for the preview. You are a gent! 🙂

    What a win at the weekend. Had no time to comment and still busy at the moment, but just needed to say how proud I was of the boys turning in round in style in the second half.

    I like your line-up but I reckon that is too much quality in the starting 11. I think we know by now that Unai likes to keep quality on the bench to guarantee a meaningful impact in the second half. So for me, it is Iwobi in and Auba on the bench. Auba and Mkhi to come on after sixty minutes and open up the Mancs like a packet of cheese and onion crisps!

    I take a draw now and still feel we are vulnerable to a beating. Hoping for a strong start with sensible defending and calmness, and then take the game to them in the second half. COYGS.

  • When you consider the physical attributes and experience of the Man Utd midfield (Matic, Pogba, Fellaini, Herrera, Fred, etc), I worry that we cannot have Xhaka for this game. Guendouzi may be an exciting lad but he does have two or three mistakes in him, which for a game like this, could prove costly. For me, a safe bet will be to play Elneny or AM-N alongside Torreira; better still, pair Ramsey with Torreira and play Iwobi in 10. So, a likely midfield will be Torreira, Ramsey and Iwobi.

    I dread the prospects of starting Guendouzi. He can come on later in the game, along with Mkhi, who should have something to prove. Looks like 3 at the back may have come to stay, or I would have proposed a return to 4 at the back just so we can remain solid at the back. Whatever 11 Emery puts out, the key thing is to get the 3 points.

  • TA, many thanks. BK has given me a lot.

    Good idea Auba on the bench. All fine margins. But I feel strongly he would start. There are games and there are games. Auba is already on the private game of ending the season the league’s top scorer and the beauty of it is that it’s in the interest of the team too. Emery has seized on it by urging him to achieve it. Encouraging that little game of his, is a great way of keeping his motivation very high. When on the bench I’d likely be on account of workload.

    Further more the Auba-Laca up front clicked against the Tots and Emery would want to give it a further trial. The process of crystallizing his best elevens is not fully done yet.

  • Eris, I share your worries about the lad Guendouzi. But who else. Elneny is too unadventurous and not at all a tackler. Unfortunately M-Nikes has had little opportunity to gain expousure at that very complex role. But because Ramsey loves going to where the ball is, in the hole he’d be joining the CM when we are without the ball. Our safety net is that Man U is not an intense pressing team, and with space and time on the ball Douzi can be exceptional with his line breaking balls.

    On the question of our back line l hope Emery settles permanently for 3-man CD. The full backs are too critical to his offensive plans that he needs an extra man behind. Emery is very attack minded (very similar there to Wenger). Torreira just said that before every match Emery encourages him to be moving forward and truly he would make a great box2box man. My private dream (sorry am always running faster than my legs) going forward is the exquisite ball playing Holding as holding mid with Torreira in front of him. Torreira is so got that he should not be given a role that is too restrictive.

  • You have a point, RE Guendouzi being likely to have more time on the ball at OT; him getting caught on the ball is a worry for me. That, and misplaced passing. United will punish us on loose balls. If he can do the job, he delights when on the ball.

    One only needs to watch Torreira at the World Cup to see he is a whole lot more than a mere “trouble shooter”, sensing danger and intercepting. He takes most of their set pieces and was trusted with playing the long balls from deep into the path of Cavani or Suarez. I think he took even the senior Uruguay players by surprise as not many had seen him much until then. Love the man and can’t eulogize him enough.

    We’ve got to win that game, one way or another.

  • I have a way of feeling the pulse of the team. I just feel mine. They too must be feeling like conquerors and we would not step out at Old Trafford with the usual negative complex.

    Man U currently are riddled with injuries and low morale. But big teams know how to respond to big occasions which don’t come bigger than Manu v Arse. My only slight worry is that they enjoyed one day extra rest.

  • Very well written PE . I agree with you all the way on this one. Whatever team puts out, Emery has done so little wrong, I will support him all the way. When Dier tried to shh the crowd ( Kev isn’t that your part of the Emirates). Lichsteiner, Guendouzi And Rambo got involved in the Aggro and I loved every minute of it. That’s the sort of passion this team has been missing for years. When you consider the 1st two were summer imports and Rambo is no longer required, it says a lot to me.

    Anyway iMHO dropping Auba will just make him unhappy. Personally I would play two upfront. I would be far more concerned if Torreira was injured (. And given the effort he puts in it’s gonna happen sooner or later). Xhaka seems to be be improving all the time, but let’s face it he’s hardly error free. Guendouzi for me. He deserves it.

    History hasn’t been kind to us in this fixture, but it we get stuck in we can do a lot of damage. A similar start to the Spurs game would be great. “Taxi for Mr Mourinho”


  • Good preview PE. Tonight’s game has historically been a banana peel for us. Out of nowhere in the previous season that they have done well enough to beat us on paper and they did. However, we are now on a feel good run and they are missing players thru injuries and i am 50/50 on a win-draw.

  • Afternoon Chaps…
    Yeah Retsub, that’s where my son and his mates ‘stand’ and where I was, fortunately I was having a leak when Dier scored his offside equaliser so missed all the shenanigans…
    Like you I loved the togetherness and look out for your mate spirit and reaction of our lads.
    We won’t get bullied at OT this time, we can go there with confidence and humility.

    I would go with the line up that started Sunday and the same tactical switch of Lacazette and Ramsey, but this is a new opponent with different threats and different weaknesses so Emery will almost certainly change things around, a back four perhaps? Unai will know that Mourinho will have his own plans to nullify us and exploit our weaknesses, Unai won’t be predictable and I like that.

  • PE, I always look forward to reading your entertaining and insightful match previews, keep up the good work, although I never feel my pulse, I just put the kettle on – it works for me. 😉

  • Retsub, as you alluded to, our record at OT – and Anfield as it goes – is terrible, those two grounds have always been the barometer to me about how good any Arsenal team is because if we can win at those two venues, then we usually have a team capable of competing for and winning the league.

    In Lichtsteiner, Guendouzi, Torrieira, Sokratis and Leno we have 5 players who don’t have bad memories of visiting OT as Arsenal players so will be confident.
    Even Lacazette, Aubameyang, Holding and Kolasinac don’t have a litany of defeats at that Arsenal graveyard to look back over, this squad and it’s coach are on the cusp of writing their own chapter so no ghosts to haunt them…

  • As TA wrote (I think 🤔) I’d go with one striker up front to start with, but who?

    After his stellar performance last Sunday, it would be obvious to go with Aubameyang, he’s on a hot streak, he’s leading the line like TH14, it’s a no brainier, but Emery doesn’t do the obvious.

    Lacazette will be fresh, he’ll provide different problems for a ManU team that’ll probably be ultra defensive in comparison to a Tottenham team looking to attack and destroy us.

    Mourinho won’t want to lose, that’ll be his priority I reckon, he might even park the bus and wait for us to make a mistake then at corners, free kicks, any kind of dead ball situation the Mourinho NBA team will flood our box looking for a touch down.

  • De Gea and Lacazette has the makings of another long running feud as there once was between Schmeichal and Ian Wright, Wrighty only beat him once, in the Charity Shield and last season at the Emirates De Gea reminded me of that past competition as he played like Superman, saving everything Lacazette could throw at him.

  • Yes Kev.. Agree with you about Old Trafford..
    I pretty sure we will not lose tonight.. but will we win..?? That’s like a big Wall to destroyed..

    And as you mention about this new squad and the history.. it’s a very good chance for us to break the myth.. We can win there..
    And if we really win tonight, it will upgrading our spirit.. and you know it mean we will be back in the Champion League this season.. hehehe..

  • Good stuff PE!
    I feel we stick with a 3-back set and stick with Bellerin and Kolasinac as WBs. Not worried about Guendouzi in for Xhaka at all. Saw Southampton’s midfield out-quick and run circles around Pogba/Fellaini/Herrera. Make that trio chase all day.

    Kev mentioned that Mourinho will attempt to nullify our strengths– but he’s the one at a disadvantage IMO, without a full roster to choose from. Stats I’ve seen on ManU are that they don’t like to run. They’ve been outdistanced and out-sprinted in every match to date. We keep the pitch wide– make their lumbering midfield cover distance– and we will not only win– but overwhelm United. The gist I’m getting from several MU comment boards– is just that. While they’ve beaten Bournemouth and Young Boys– they’ve really not played well since beating Juventus (CL) the 3rd-week of October.

    Go Gunners!


  • Fab comments on here, shame seventeenho has started his sabbatical (it seems).

    Like Eris and others, I worry about Guendouzi being played against the Manc midfielders – it really is a recipe for disaster. I would play AMN next to the terrier or even Rambo with discipline screamed into him. So my starting 11 are (assuming Ozil is still unfit):
    Cech (for his experience and hunger)
    Bels – Sok – Hold – Kola
    Mkhi – Laca – Iwobi/Auba

  • Don’t get the anxiety over Guendouzi.
    He’s not cost us a point this season– and I only recall once where his ‘errors’ even cost us a goal. Yeah, he had a brainfart pass that Leno swept-up Neuer-like– but then so did Bellerin. Which Leno saved nicely from Son at center from 18yds.

    Now. No doubt that Emery’s halftime subs/adjustments put Auba/Laca/Ramsey in position to excel. But I’ll also point out that once Guendouzi came on for Mustafi at 71′? We scored at 74′ and 77′.

    So Emery’s got this wrong then?


  • That dog on the goal line meme has been viral for a few days now; with the quiz: so, what will the Ref’s or FIFA’s decision be? A goal or …..? 😂

    If Guendouzi just keeps it simple, he will be fine. The concern is with his penchant for holding onto the ball a bit too long and trying out long balls across field. He can get caught on the ball to dangerous effect; same concern we usually had with Xhaka till he’s simplified his game. Guendouzi does look the obvious pick for Xhaka, though. We’ll see.

  • PE.. sorry for late comment..
    I agree with all the team.. except Guendouzi.. I think he will play better as our subs.. Elneny will be my man..

    And playing with 3 CB is a better choice for us now.. I used to say that Mustafi is a better player in this scheme.. And that apply to Bellerin and Kolasinac also.. both are better as a WB..
    And if Ozil still absen, than 2 strikers will be the best option also..
    So 3-2-3-2 will be great..

  • Agree with Kev, Unai is impossible to predict, but what I like is the feeling that his choices are based on real merit from training. Nobody has a locked in starting role, regardless of history , fame or salary. We have just enough midfielders and attackers to make this rotation work. Defenders, we go with what we have, but creativity in formations is helping get more players minutes.
    TA I’m with you. I’d start your boy, the “new” Iwobi, and Lacazette for some freshness, and we know Auba off the bench can work very well.
    …. we’re on a great run and playing well, but United is in a pretty desperate situation, so will be dangerous. We can have a lot to say about Mourinhos tenure.

  • Guendouzi in the pivot has made us very vulnerable time and again. Play him in the hole by all means but not in the pivot. You either see it or not, jW. And yes I could point you to lots of bad balls by him but I aint got the time. 🙂

  • Odd TA.
    Better part of a year I get hot about the ACTUAL goals and points that Mustafi have cost us. Yet? No worries trotting him out match after match. Paradoxically, several of us here infer Guendouzi COULD cost us (when he hasn’t yet)– ergo he must sit. Guess we’ll see what The New Boss thinks, eh? 😉


  • Line-ups:

    Arsenal XI: Leno, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi, Holding, Bellerin, Torreira, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Iwobi, Aubameyang.

    Subs: Cech, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Lichtsteiner, Maitland-Niles, Nketiah.


    Man United XI: de Gea, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo, Dalot, Matic, Ander Herrera, Darmian, Lingard, Martial, Rashford.

    Subs: Pogba, Mata, Lukaku, Romero, Valencia, Fellaini, McTominay.

  • My bet is Mourinho wants to try to win this from the bench. That’s a very strong bench they’ve lined up there. Only thing is how the decision affects morale of the dropped players (Pogba and Lukaku).

  • Pochettino is a funny one and he must have had his pride dented by how ordinary we made his Chelsea-conquering side look. He didn’t make too much sense (and he is a man whose calm mien I have admired); just appeared like he just needed to say something.

    Kolasinac! The Warrior with his spear! Our twitter handlers have been having a field day with some of these pics too. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

  • Guendouzi is alright, jw1, just don’t trust him playing too deep as he does lose the ball too easily, whether it has always cost us is another thing, altogether. He is growing, though and will get the trust very soon. I’m happy to see Ramsey and Iwobi on too. I feel certain they will have instructions to help crowd the midfield and cover for him, or make options available to him when he has the ball.

  • United have started on the front foot, as is to be expected, but we have gradually started to get into the game. Not been very coordinated by all we need is to get the first goal and we will be on the way. It’s going to be one of those nights we may have to grind this one out.

  • Nice intricate bit of passin* by Ramsey, Guendouzi, Kola and Iwobi to threaten the United goal. Helps the confidence as we continue to probe.

  • We got our goal, now to just contain and pick them off if the opportunities show up.

  • I’ll join you on the commenting Eris after half.
    Just got in front of the telly– and am playing catch-up.
    Great to hear we’ve tallied!

    Go Gunners!


  • Think United have worked out if they kick us off the park, we can’t use Emery’s 2nd half substitutions. Ramsey looks gone to me. One sub left and surely we have to hold fire before making our last substition. United will use Fellaini and Lukaku and lump it in the box. Mustaphi and Socrates will have to work their socks off. Difficult to call this one, but they have five booked, I think we need to wind them up.

  • To be honest, jw1, hard for me to keep up too. Plus, I had to go out for about 15 minutes before the end of the first half.

    Silly by Kola to await the keeper, for their equalizer. It’s on a knife edge now and United have brought on their big men in Lukaku and Fellaini.

  • For me, United were there for the taking but a point at Old Trafford isn’t such a bad thing; plus we dominated them at times in the game. Both goals by them were gifts, really.

    Guendouzi acquitted himself well, in the end but there’s no doubt he was targeted for some rough house tactics. If we had been fresh, we would be winning this. The focus was affected at times as the players went through the motions. Hopefully, we have a couple of players back before Saturday.

  • Saw the highlights. Massive spill by their keeper and we had 2 moments that our defense fell asleep. What was Kola thinking when he tried to play the ball back to his keeper?

    Jw1, you’re right when you mentioned that we are the corner man in the boxing ring. Totally knackered. We need fresher legs and man to get the team going. They surely gave us a hell of a time there.

  • How the hell is our second goal being credited as an own goal?
    Now I might be due for an eye test tomorrow (it’s true) but to me Rojo kicks the ball onto Lacazettes foot and the ball goes forward into the net, not in the direction that Rojo was kicking…
    Who was responsible for that decision, Stevie Wonder?

    4 points from 2 really tough games against top six teams where we suffered 2 off side goals, a dive for a penalty and got kicked quite a lot by both the Spuds and Salford and got rough end of two average refereeing performances.

    20 unbeaten is some record…

    Gutted for Rob Holding, just as he was establishing himself as a regular…
    I’m hoping it’s only strained ligaments, but if it’s an ACL then that’s the end of his flipping season.

    Mkhitarayan really should have scored with that Kolasinac cross he flicked over the bar, it was an easier chance than the off side goal he scored. He’s gotta be putting those in the onion bag or else he’ll eventually find himself marginalised, Emery is giving him plenty of chances but he has to get some goals.

  • Looks like both the second goals are own goals.. but replays show that our second goal is poked in by Laca.. i wonder about the final touch was ricocheted off the defender or Laca.

  • Great win but only managed to see the highlights until now.

    JW, did you see Guendouzi’s poor positioning, lack of awareness and dozy interceptions for both goals? A central midfielder cannot get away with that imo. Cost us two points no doubt.

    Play him further up field because he is an attacker and has no defence awareness.

  • Hi all..
    For me, last night game is two points drop.. We can win.. but just just unlucky.. hehehe..

    Still wondering what happened to our defenders in that seconds after Lacazette goal.. the Lingard goal is so damn easy.. How come it happened..??

    Chelsea lost is an advantage for us.. for the will meet City on Monday.. hope Leicester also steal a point from Spurs..

  • What I saw about our 2nd goal … As Laca was about to kick the ball, Rojo in attempt to tackle got his foot ahead of Laca’s whose foot then kicked Rojo’s pushing Rojo’s to poke the ball lazily into the net. A bit of a tongue twister. Had it not been a goal, it would’ve been a pen.

  • PE, Same way I saw it. It was going to be a penalty had it not gone in. And because Laca was going to hit the ball, the FA would give it as a Laca goal, methinks.

    Pity about Rob Holding; and even Ramsey, who is giving his all despite knowing he is on his way out. It can only be all those years spent at the club developing a real love for it. Torreira was immense again and so were the two centre backs (after Holding left). Sokratis has been an eye opener for me. I take back my misgivings about his (lack of) pace, when I saw a Boreham Wood striker leave him for dead in a foot race in a pre-season game. The Greek god has not allowed anything go past him without a wrestle. Proper defender there.

    It was nice to see our players appear to enjoy themselves at OT, once again.

  • We might have to go with a back four for a few games, unless Emery brings Lichtsteiner in as the right centre back?

    I’m not sure that we can rush a Koscielny back, I think he’s been pencilled in for Qarabag next Thursday, maybe alongside Medley or Jenkinson?

    Mavropanos has had this groin issue for a long long time, I’m not sure he’ll be available until January at the earliest. It’s quite worrying, these injuries hang around like a bad smell and you end up with the player needing an operation…

    Guendouzi needs to learn that he isn’t going to get the kind of fouls he’s used to getting in europe, this is England, English referees, you get kicked, pushed, pulled, but don’t expect a free kick, it’s a joke but it is what it is. And whilst I don’t want to labour the point, but as I’ve said since the summer, no English referees at the World Cup tells you all you need to know about our substandard referees…

    Hoping that Monreal will be back by the end of next week, we might need him in the back three vs Liverpool because that’s going to be a bloody hard battle…

  • Yesterday’s match was tense, overtly physical, and frustrating. As with most draws where you’ve led twice– it was less-than-satisfying in the moment. Though I’m grateful we didn’t lose to another superhuman effort by David DeGea (requiring only a median effort yesterday). So where I ground myself in this current whirlwind– is returning to the mantra that ‘this is a transition season’. Regardless of the heights– or otherwise? That is– what this is.

    At this season’s midpoint, I remain ‘a big-picture fan’. Seeing perhaps– what the Manager is building– is to ascend higher than just this season’s results. I’ve been touting that idea for about a year now– regardless of results.

    So, if playing Guendouzi in this role (as Emery has)– helps Matteo become a better and more complete player– sooner? Finding it hard to quibble– with a man riding a 20-match unbeaten skein.

    Placing responsibility for those goals on Guendouzi TA? That IMO is stretching to complete a narrative. Like tangentially naming Xhaka as culpable. For that needless whack– to Dele Alli’s shin on Sunday. While that 5th, cumulative booking for Granit no doubt was inevitable? I’d have rather seen him miss Huddersfield or Southampton– no?

    So a 2-2 draw. A passing grade for a trip to OT. For the majority of an XI that had never played there together previously. I’m good with that.

    Main concern today– is Rob Holding. Really need him back sooner than later.


  • Just finished the review by Yogi at ACLF. Echoes your points Kev, about the refereeing, nearly to a tee. Some of mine as well and the frustration of this style of draw. I can almost see the advantage of ‘just a draw’ yesterday. As a loss for United might have given Ed Woodward the resolve necessary to hand Mourinho a big check and a GTFO. This way MU continues their death-spiral– which, history reminds us, Jose has never, ever, escaped previously. The longer it lasts– the further United has to climb back to relevancy.


  • neither are you agreeing with him. You just have an opinion, just like me and in my opinion you fail to look at what is right in front of you… but lets leave it there as I am bored already. 😳

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