Arsenal v Valencia Preview: Emery to Play to the Strength of the Team – Ozil and Nacho Back


Morale is at a low ebb after three consecutive losses in which we shipped in 9 goals scoring only 3. Yet hope is not completely extinguished because our direct competitors in the Premier League are all stuttering too: Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham. So poor have they also been that despite our miserable run, there is still the remote but distinct possibility of our qualifying for the Champions league via the Premiership. But today it is strictly OGAAT (one game at a time). Qualifying through the Europa Cup is fully in our hands, what with the visiting Valencia also stuttering.

Valencia who are 6th on the La Liga table have lost their last two games and like us they are straining to get into their top 4. Worse for them the team’s below them are so close to be threats to even their Europa League qualification. Therefore they are left with no option than to keep fighting on two fronts. It is fighting on two fronts that seems to have taken a heavy toll on us and on these our direct competitors. Who qualifies between us and Valencia is likely to be decided by the team that is able to dig deeper into its reserves of energy.

Marcelino, the Valencia coach, organizes his team in a 4:4:2 formation similar to Diego Simione of Atletico Madrid. Little wonder that Atletico Madrid is one of only two teams that have conceded less goals than Valencia in the La Liga. We must be ready then to face a team that is compact, space conscious and that attacks via counters.

Emery is ever keen to be reactive to teams but injuries have robbed him of much options. It might be best for him to play to the strength of his team. If he does so, with Ozil and Monreal expected back, we are likely to see this starting line up:


Bench: Leno, Mustafi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Nketiah.

On the Valencia side our own Francis Coquelin is out suspended, but Gabriel Paulista is expected to start. Emirate would welcome him, would also be praying that his defensive line be bridged time and time again.



32 thoughts on “Arsenal v Valencia Preview: Emery to Play to the Strength of the Team – Ozil and Nacho Back

  • Thanks PE, and all agreed there. We need to start strong and I like your line-up a lot. Big role for either Tor or Xhaka to help Mesut in midfield/attack. Come On The Arsenal!

  • Thank you PE!
    No holding back now. Damn the torpedoes.

    OK. Need some help with this. I’ve had this thought rolling around in my mind.
    If Spurs lose their next 3 matches (all comps)– and Arsenal win their next 5 (all comps)?
    We’d qualify for CL for certain in both fashions (top-4 and EL champs). Is there a scenario where only 3 PL teams make CL next season– and omit both Spurs and Chelsea?


    PS to TA: We are all Ajax fans now! 🙂

  • Fine preview, as always, PE. Valencia may be a team on the ebb, as we are, but they play the kind of football that will give Emery some sleepless nights and our defence, reason to be be wary. Of course, in Auba, Laca and Ozil, we will certainly shake them to a good extent; but we need to take our chances and stop the spate of profligacy we have endured for some weeks now.

    They parade a sharp shooting trio in Dani Parejo, Kevin Gameiro and Goncalo Guedes (on loan from PSG). Rodrigo can be a handful too, when he plays, but seems to have lost his scoring touch, though never stops moving about. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Jose Gaya are their midfield men with Frances Coquelin sometimes playing as box to box.

    Being at home, I feel we can impose our game on them (hard to recognize “our game” these days though, it must be said) and get a good win. They can’t handle speedy passing and a good press in midfield; only trouble is whether our boys can give it in good measure. I am hopeful that this game(s) is(are) why we’ve looked like we aren’t playing with enough energy in the league, so expect a good performance. Fingers crossed.

  • Hey, jw1. I’m not sure there’s any scenario where England have only three reps in the CL. That’s because UEFA allows the top 4 from the major leagues (of which EPL is one) to have a go, with only the 4th placed side playing pre-qualification games while the top 3 qualify directly into the group stage; I am even certain that requirement may have even been altered to have all 4 from England qualify direct into the group stage, but not sure now.

    The maximum number of teams UEFA can accommodate into CL from the EPL is five (5), and that will happen in a scenario where a team which fails to place in the top 4 in any certain year, goes on to win the CL or UEFA Europa league in that same year/season. Which means the CL or UEL defending champion is rated higher than the 4th Placed team and will go straight into the group stages, while the 4th placed team plays the CL qualifiers in order to make the groupings.

    This year, for instance, if either of Arsenal or Chelsea placed 5th and won the UEL, the UEL winner will be in the group stage of CL the next season. There was a scenario where the 4th placed team in the English league could lose out completely (Spurs placing 6th and winning CL, while Arsenal /Chelsea place 5th and winning the UEL; both qualify to join top 3 for the maximum of 5 teams allowed, while 4th place drops into the UEL) but with Spurs current 3rd placing and no English side likely to win the CL, that’s been negated.

    Did I make sense, jw1?

  • Eris– you did make sense– and thanks!
    How about this scenario:
    Arsenal finish above Chelsea and Spurs in 3rd.
    Arsenal win EL.
    Liverpool win CL.

    How many spots for PL in CL? Three, 4, 5– six? 🙂


  • Good post PE, for me, our only chance is to keep a clean sheet and take a 2 goal lead to Valencia.
    Arsenal have played at the Mestalla twice and have yet to score, if my memory serves me.

    A tactical and technical 180+ minutes ahead of us with the two referees in both legs having a huge part to play. The playacting and gamesmanship is going to be at its zenith I reckon.

    Neither game is going to be high in entertainment but it’ll be gripping if you like your chess….

  • Say Arsenal come 3rd and Spurs 4th; with Arsenal going on to win the UEL. That will be just 4 places in the CL then, jw1. We can only have 4 teams in the CL, and a maximum of 5, only if a side below top 4 wins either the CL or UEL.

  • Eris, can you give us a context in which Spurs are 4th and fail to qualify for the CL.That would be the sweetest.

  • PE, it would have happened if either Arsenal finished 5th or 6th but won the Europa League
    If Man Utd had finished 5th or 6th but won the Champions League.

    Sadly the Spuds are in it next season…

  • Hehehehe, PE. It’s as Kev has stated, unfortunately. The Spuds will be in it.

    Just reading that Kondogbia is injured and Gaya plays at left full back these days. That means Parejo and maybe, Wass or Soler in the middle.

  • Looks like a 4-2-3-1, or a variant of it.

    Cech; Sokratis, Koscielny, Mustafi; Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang

    Subs: Leno, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Iwobi, Monreal, Nketiah

    Neto, Diakhaby, Garay, Paulista, Roncaglia, Piccini, Carlos Soler, Parejo, Gayà, Rodrigo, Guedes.

    Subs: Domenech, Gameiro, Lato, Wass, Torres, Santi Mina, Ruben Sobrino

    Let’s do this!

  • Not surprised Mustafi is selected. Perhaps, playing against his old club may just bring out the best in him?

    Okay; also see a possibility of 3-4-1-2, if Mustafi isn’t playing at right back, as I thought. It will be a tense affair.

  • I was thinking 220V might be better. But I appreciate your idealism Eris. 😉


  • The last time I mentioned this before a match:
    “I’d really like to see Xhaka, Torreira or Guendouzi fire some shots from range– they all have the artillery.”

    Was when Granit wrong-footed DeGea with that shot from about 30yds that defied physics– for the opening goal vs United. Put the ball on-frame. Good things can happen.


  • Strange. A few minutes to the start and my pulse rate is normal.

  • It wasn’t the start we would have wanted but good thing is we fought back and now lead 2-1 as the 2nd half starts.

  • Seeing the final tally? That is just about perfect.
    Just got home– and can watch it now!


  • Well that is a fine ending. 3-1 will do for now. Still will need to score there at least once but that is a good come back from a poor, poor start.

  • Happy for the win. Hopefully, it helps confidence for the rest of the season.

  • Let’s do the same this weekend lads!

    Good fightback, nice finishing and good for Xhaka to do the crosses.
    We needed the team to click and 3 goals is well taken. Could’ve been more but for me 3 is sufficient.

  • An interesting prediction I’d made prior to the season is close to being achieved by Auba and Laca.
    Stated that Auba would score 25 goals all comps (now at 24 goals, 7 assists (19/5 in PL)) and Laca would net 20 all comps (now at 18 goals, 9 assists (13/8 in PL)).

    Those are brilliant numbers. We are fortunate as fans to witness this pair (and their personal camaraderie) as the club retool post-AW.

    Had Arsenal’s defense been only marginally better? I’m sure most agree we’d be firmly in the CL by way of 3rd place in the PL. And I’d feel much more confident about winning the EL too.

    Nonetheless. Thus far, Unai Emery has been making some pretty good lemonade– from the lemons he found upon arrival.


  • I reckon, JW, that Unai was lucky to inherit Mesut, Auba and Laca, players who should be in a semi-final CL team this season. I am yet to be convinced he has made anything of ‘our fruit in the bowl’; they did it despite him.

  • IDK TA. Realize you have doubts of his tactical style(s)… but.

    Losing Bellerin and Holding. Monreal for a time. Xhaka with his injury issues. To a lesser degree Torreira and Papa. Mustafi giving away points. Ozil paying penance. Suspensions right and left. Now Ramsey.

    To still be in the position that Arsenal stand today? Minor-miracle stuff really.


  • Yeah JW, if you look at the position of the club in the league and EL, I understand why you reckon he has done ok. I look at the lines in our football, tactical decisions, team spirit, quality of our football, etc. And I am not convinced. But let’s give him till at least the end of the year. 🙂

  • I am with TA on this one, JW.
    I had always thought that Wenger had lost it on tactics, but Emery isn’t better tactically either.

    I thought that we had gone a step back in team spirit, and the interchangeability of the attacking players, which we always had the ability to confound the opponents defense. Thus, in the end, it is down to how you man manage.

    And Wenger is much better in that sense.

  • Not a choice between those two JK. It’s a choice between UE and the Next Newman.

    (FWIW? Would have definitely preferred Wenger finish out his contact this season. Should be no surprise to anyone that’s been conversative here.)

    IMO there might have been some stability in the front office had AW stayed this season. A transition might have occurred instead of whatever it is that did happen (‘Sanllehi’s Coup?’). From my perspective? Gazidis had a Plan A and a Plan B. Now both look to have been thrown out with the bathwater. Thanks to incessant, media-driven propaganda– now every Arsenal fan must accept what a vocal minority wouldn’t be patient enough to let play out.

    And here we are. Going into a Summer that ought to have been the one where the club began retooling. With a new front-office foundation set– a year to make a choice of, or make a run-at– a new manager. Shedding old, buying new.

    Instead. Wondering if the guy we hired in a week? Should get a pittance to (marginally) improve the club. Or– do we look for the next temporary Newman?


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