The Great British Baku Off: Arsenal Line-Up/Preview

bang by Laca

Emery has seen it all before. He knows as well as anybody else that he has to set up his team as if this Baku final is simply another regular competitive match against Chelsea. The point of difference though, is that a promise has been made to Cech. Or has it?

Chelsea is a possession based team, behind only City in the Premiership. One thing we have to be wary of is gifting them the ball. They would make us sweat to win it back. All judgements say play Leno but sentiment says play Cech whose kick out style would more often than not hand the possession back to Chelsea. Can Cech be brave enough to confide to Emery that he should feel free to select the keeper that better suits his game plan? I think Emery’s starting line up would have Cech’s name in it. Or was there not a promise? “Hey Cech, why don’t you stay on the bench to come in as a late substitution if victory is in sight? You would lift up the cup, not from the bench but from the field. The whole stadium, the whole world would applaud you all the way. What a legacy on and off the field”. That would be an event that would live long in the memory of kids. Still the question lingers. Was there a promise made? A promise is a promise.

No promise, however, has been made to Kolasinac whose pass success rate is rather poor. I don’t expect Emery to have Cech and Kolasinac in the same team against Chelsea, at least not in the starting line up, meaning that, as at this moment, I am still battling with the Cech/Leno conundrum.

Talk about Chelsea and it’s a talk about the metronomic passing of Jorginho and the brilliance of Hazard. These are the two high points that must be facing Emery as he formulates his plans. If Emery can get one of his players to pin Hazard to the canvas for all of the 90 minutes, in effect turning the encounter into 10-a-side game that would be genius of him. The debate isn’t the 10-a-side but who between Maitland-Niles and Mustafi should be assigned the job. Perchance, Emery might opt instead to ‘Wenger it’, focusing on his strength and damning whatever is standing between him and his goal.

Rambo will be missed. He was used effectively against Jorginho the last time the two teams met. Our next best bet Mkhi is 2,500 miles away from it all, a victim of something not of his making. Should Ozil be given that task of shutting Jorginho out? Ozil’s game is drifting into spaces away from people for purposes of offense. He wouldn’t fit. Laca on the other hand likes to tangle and him it could be him. He is a striker that is always dropping deep and you can bet that Emery would whispers a certain instruction into his ears. Part of that instruction would be that he should be attentive to Ozil’s movements as he hunts the spaces. We should expect a lot of lateral swapping of positions between him and Ozil.

The central areas are likely going to be manned by Xhaka and Torreira. While the former spreads out the passes long and short, the latter would be busy correcting the gaps.

Rudiger is out of the game for Chelsea and would be replaced by Christensen at central defense. Christensen is not the quickest and Auba as our frontman (5 goals in the last 2 matches) would very much fancy his chances against him. Remember that Mkhi’s spirit is there in each of our players urging them to do it for him.

Expected line up:

submit football lineup

Bench: Leno, Jenkinson, Litchtsteiner, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Elneny, Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Amechi, Nketiah, Welbeck.

We have to salute the about 3,000 Arsenal fans from the UK who braved it to Baku. We also have to recognize the other Arsenal fans from other countries whose travel details we don’t know about. Also cheers to the Azerbaijan Arsenal supporters who hopefully should be in their tens of thousand. We hope they all can make it feel a home fixture for Kos and co.

There is so much at stake for us in this match that nerves can become an issue. No better way to settle those nerves than to take off with our wheels screeching. Prediction 2-1 to the good guys.

COYRRG!!!

By PE

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33 Responses to The Great British Baku Off: Arsenal Line-Up/Preview

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Great work PE and I love that line-up. Busy with preparing moving house so not much time right now, but well done for producing the last match preview of the season. Catch up later my friend. 🙂

  2. njk84sg says:

    As always, great preview, PE.

    Emery have a full squad (minus Mkhi) to work with (maybe Rambo?) and we have to get the result nevertheless. Chavs have qualified so it doesn’t make any difference for them. It matters for us to win it more than them.

    Maybe we will see a 3-5-2 lineup, one that focuses more on attack to start off the game on a front foot. An early 2 goals is what works for us, but the way Chavs play will ensure that we do not sit on our laurels.

  3. Pony Eye says:

    ’84 … agree it means a lot more to us but to win a continental cup is enough motivation for any team. On a personal note Sarri has never won a cup, and his boys will be keen to do it for him. It will be a full blooded encounter.

  4. jw1 says:

    Thanks for the preview PE!
    In my mind there’s too much at stake for sentiment today.
    Leno is the #1 going forward– he starts today.

    Just finished reading a terrific account of Arsenal’s last two victories in European finals over at Arseblog:
    https://arseblog.com/2019/05/can-emery-replicate-european-tactical-success-of-mee-and-graham/
    At Highbury in 1970, (Fairs Cup Final, 2nd leg) against Anderlecht and 1994 vs Parma at Copenhagen (European Cup Winners Cup Final).

    The gist of both wins? Not giving either Anderlecht and Parma any time on the ball. Having rewatched this week our 2-0 win over Chelsea in January– it was much of the same (in a 4-1-2-1-2). With better finishing– it might have been 5-0 in the first half. Auba had two great chances (one a prime cross from Laca inside the six– the other a bicycle wide from 12.)– with Kos heading one point-blank off Kepa’s forehead and over.

    Two players unavailable from that contest. Bellerin, who can be suitably replaced by AMN. The other– Aaron Ramsey. Tough call here. Many would say Ozil is the guy. If we get an aggressive No. 10? It could work. But there’s no room for passivity. I’m teetering on the brink of slotting Alex Iwobi into his role with his national team. A fast, aggressive trio of Auba/Laca/Iwobi up front to chase with Torreira and Guendouzi behind. Xhaka in front of AMN/Papa/Kos/Nacho or Sead. Does it for me.

    This is the one Arsenal must win.
    Go Gunners!

    jw1

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers PE

    I reckon we go with Cech who clearly has the experience of performing well in finals and Leno’s time will come. At the back, I hope it is your back four and there will be the protection of both Xhaka and Tor. Up front it will probably be both Laca and Auba with Ozil and Iwobi as the free agents to deliver something special and support our midfield as much as possible. So yes I am going with your line-up all the way. Bar Hector that is our strongest one in a game like this.

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    The only worry I have is injuries or going to extra time during the game, as the bench is quite weak.

  7. goonereris says:

    Thanks for a fine preview, PE. The day is here and if the fans can feel it, there’s no telling how nerve wracking it must be in the dressing rooms. Hard as it may seem, Cech should start, just in keeping with the unwritten rule and because he is a good keeper who’s earned the right to start tonight. So long as he is well protected, he can be trusted to pick up the scraps.

    As for the line up, I fully expect Emery to come up with a shock entry or formation in the line up, knowing how he likes to keep opposition guessing. I also feel he will want to set up same way he did when we beat Chelsea at the Emirates last time out. For full team predictions, I will stay away from that as Emery is hard to predict.

    Both teams will be up for it but the nerves will be more on us, for obvious reasons- it’s our only route into CL footie next season. Let’s hope we start on the front foot.

  8. goonereris says:

    He did it again, did Emery. Cech starts. And it’s 3 at the back. We get to see Iwobi, Guendouzi, Nketiah or Welbeck late on, depending on how things pan out. Ozil just has to deliver tonight; it’s been a while he has made a goal out of nothing and he has to go all out in this one.

  9. goonereris says:

    Arsenal XI: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

    Subs: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Jenkinson, El Neny, Guenfouzi, Willock, Saka, Amaechi, Iwobi, Nketiah, Welbeck.

    Chelsea XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.

    Subs: Caballero, Cumming, Alonso, Barkley, Higuain, Zappacosta, Willian ,Cahill, Ampadu, Gallagher, McEachran

  10. allezkev says:

    Interesting point about our bench Total, I’m not sure that I’d take too many, if any, of the players on Chelsea’s bench. A mixture of players past their peak or players who aren’t quite up to it…

  11. goonereris says:

    PE, are you able to watch? Try DSTV 723, Canal France (in French).

  12. Pony Eye says:

    It’s a mess.

  13. njk84sg says:

    Sh*t passing and gameplay by Emery.

    Why do you even want to show up if you are going to play like this lads?
    I rather we do not show up. The body language is just wrong from the first minute to the last.

    We had become too easy to break due to the fact that we like to play wide and keep passing to the defenders. The defensive work is only to be done on the wings and defense, leaving the central midfielders to run around with ease.

    I do not agree with the build up to the second goal. That is a clear foul and not given. We did not play as a team today and the defense was horribly exposed.

    If you call this tactics you are playing in the stone age Emery. You have lost it.

  14. goonereris says:

    It’s a sad day to be an Arsenal fan. No way is Chelsea 4-1 better than our team, but our set up just made it easy for them, once they scored first. I think the side that scored first would have taken it. It just had to be Giroud.

    Auba was a bit hasty with his decisions, especially when crossing the ball. Lost count of the number of times he just crossed without awareness of teammates’ positions. Ainsley Maitland-Niles also cost us on a few occasions and may have been responsible for, at least, two of the goals. The summer would be a dreary one and so much gloom around the club.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Oh dear that hurts. A poor, poor second half and we just were not able to bounce back once they scored the first goal. Such a shame we did not capitalise on our strong start. Now we are in a difficult position. The nightmare scenario of losing more good players this summer, not being able to find quality yet affordable players and Emery getting the boot before Christmas is becoming stronger and stronger. I am more than happy with the money the BoD put up for new players but less so with the way the money has been used and the manager they have picked. Emery is not the right man but it is not yet too late to let him go and find a better manager.

  16. Pony Eye says:

    To be candid I don’t think we deserved the 70pts and the 5th position. We had a huge slice of lucķ to thank particularly during that 22 game unbeaten run. If it’s truely only about £40m we’ve got to spend, next season would be awful.

    On Emery my strong opinion of him is that he is too theoretical. Uses it to bamboozle the not very informed. To me he loses his way in too much details. He kept chopping and changing with no clear pattern crystalizing. The way things seem to be shaping up I can’t get myself to look forward to next season.

  17. njk84sg says:

    TA and PE, i agree with you guys that Emery might not be up for the job.

    It is not a big time manager that can save us, rather, one that have a strong leading mentality can save us and the squad is mentally devoid of that at the moment.

    The questions are:

    1. Can we find another strong guy like Rambo that can run at defences and not lose the ball easily?

    2. We need a change in the static play that we were playing right now. Is Emery going to employ dynamic scenarios next season?

    3. After watching Thierry Henry’s videos when he was in Arsenal, everyone around him is either tall or stocky. Nowadays we have shorter players, but while they are faster, they lose the ball easily. Are there any player who is tall like Vieira and can control the midfield?

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    good questions, 84. I will write something once I have moved house.

  19. Pony Eye. says:

    TA, that’s a job tougher than it sounds … moving house. In the interim, if there is any space at all …. ThERE IS A MAIL IN YOUR BOX.

  20. njk84sg says:

    Sad news. The second best left footed striker after van Judas had been killed in a crash.
    RIP Reyes.

  21. Pony Eye says:

    Sad news indeed.

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey fellas… Anybody watching this CL final? It needed a Spurs goal but it went the other way (very early). Spurs are hoofing it a bit and diving and look a bit closer to maybe making a chance. Not a great advert for the English game, I’m afraid. Is Lucas Moura injured? It seems rather harsh to sit him if he isn’t. What did Kane do to get them here? What has he done in this match?…

    Arsenal did get a mention in the pre-game…ahead of the moment of silence for Reyes… (Tragic news of course and I wish all the best to his loved ones. Too young. Very, very sad…)

    I fear that’s as close as Arsenal will be getting to CL football for quite a while…which is a different sort of tragedy entirely… At least we were in the hunt (in two comps even…) In the end, however, the Em(ery)peror looks a bit on the naked side…in my opinion. There’s a good post (and following discussion among the regulars) by Tim from Washington on 7amkickoff… That was my morning reading today…though I continue to await the upcoming posts here…

    OK, Poch takes off Winks in the 65th for Lucas…

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    Danny Rose is quite the diver but outside the box seemed generous enough…and Eriksen’s FK forces a save…

    But that’s as close as they get…with Origi sealing it in the 87th….Congrats to Liverpool…

  24. AB says:

    Hi there HT. long time no post. I will give my thoughts on the season on BK at some point in the summer. For the moment though I’m not as gloomy as you seem to be. I’m mourning the passing of the Wenger era too. But I think the first year of transition could have been far worse for us, even though we may all have wished for better. There’s at least a couple more years of transition to come, if we are lucky. But none of that takes the gloss off the past for me. Rather it brings that period into sharp relief for what it was – a golden era in the history of our club. We should be grateful to have seen it. But also engaged in thinking about how to foster the next such. There will be one, and I hope I’m around to see it. Lots to agree over in your analysis of the current situation HT. but I reckon you will get more pleasure from using that perspective to consider what the solutions might be rather than merely reflecting the current state? Or am I reading you all wrong?

  25. goonereris says:

    Congratulations, Liverpool and Liverpool fans. I think they spared our blushes as far as North London rivalry goes; not that I am too optimistic we will give ourselves a chance to really compete next season, to restore our dominance, anytime soon.

    Sad news about Jose Antonio Reyes. May his soul Rest In Peace.

  26. Pony Eye. says:

    AB, in my own case I quickly let the past go if it hasn’t gone well. It’s easy for me as am always peering into the future. It’s when that future appears dim to me that I really get gloomy. As it is now, I doubt if there is anything that can cheer, but I keep hoping.

  27. goonereris says:

    TA, house moving must be very demanding. So, how’s that going? Hopefully, you’re done in time to post something new here.

    We do need to heal …. or rant. 🤨

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi AB… Sorry to take a couple of days to get back…and I hope all is well… I was rather hoping that a post by TA (or PE–you could just post your post as a comment, you know, to keep the discussion alive…) would show up, but alas, it hasn’t.

    I’ve got a busy week ahead so now’s my chance…plus, ‘Eris (at least) seems open to the idea that we need something. For me it’s healing but I understand if the following gets taken as a rant… 😀

    And, of course, I’ve been holding off, under the idea that if you’ve got nothing nice to say, then mum’s the word. (Speaking of which, it’s a tough day for her–the queen–my apologies, eh…)

    I have say, AB, I might’ve written more (now and again) if you had too… In the end, there were only a few regulars who managed to face down the misery as it unfolded. I applaud them (and their always hopeful outlooks…) I will say, going forward, that I think your (AB’s…) attitude is an extremely healthy one, but, (speaking purely for myself…) I don’t think mine is too bad either…;)

    OK, then, onto the Em(ery)peror…

    Ten months back, I really enjoyed Emery’s introduction and that he chose to do it in English. However, after watching our first bunch of matches, including a whole bunch of those “22 undefeated,” (and this included buying a streaming package for an extra $50…where I could also watch a bunch of less edited Emery English, esp. post match….) it didn’t take much to see that we were hardly protagonists and that, in fact, we were playing the Moo-dern game (after Mourinho, of course…) ponderously playing the ball around the back before either losing it (but, with great discipline, so as to not lose our shape) or playing it back to the keeper who would boot it forward (to whom exactly…) in the classic Route One style. As such, we buffed up our (meaningless) possession stats while being hopeful to give the ball to the opponents, lure them forward and out of their (defensive) positions and then spring on the break if they gave us the ball. Counters (and most of our possession play from the center circle forward) went out wide then back in again, using our attacking FBs, Kolasinac and Bellerin and sometimes, wider mid/attackers like Iwobi and Mkhitaryan and occasionally (out of position) CFs, PEA and Lacazette. By then, Ramsey had had his offer sheet pulled and Ozil sat out many games with Emery-juries, before the manager found the words to say, “dropped.” As I said (repeatedly…sorry…), we seemed to be playing without a midfield… (What a contrast to Wenger and his squad full of #10s…)

    Come the winter we were still alive on two fronts for CL football so who could complain? (And playing just enough youth to go out at home to traditional rivals in the domestic cups seemed wise enough, too, even if I didn’t know how the locals could stomach it…)

    Well, I complained, because for me it’s not all about results. If I’m gonna watch the football, I want to see my team go for the full points, from the opening kickoff, etc., etc…

    What I found is that I could get just about the same “information” (and enjoyment…) about each match by watching the highlights–and I could avoid all that crap that made us “still dominant” in possession against crap teams at home and close to 50-50 in the opposing stadia. This coincided with a bunch of personal travel and bits of skiing (and lots of snow shoveling…) in between. Perfect…for me…

    Match to match, however, trying to respond to folks’ optimism here didn’t seem very kind… As such, long periods of silence seemed best, esp. as our exceptionally woeful run-in unfolded in league play. But then our season got extended by 2.5 weeks and there was always the hope that we could prevail over 90 or 120 mins + pens in Baku… Hope is not a plan, of course, but there didn’t seem much appetite for my idea that being in the CL (next season) wasn’t gonna be much fun even if it did happen.

    In the end, what I think (and/or write) matters very little. With our ownership it’s all about season tickets sold. If there’s a new generation of locals who choose to dispose of their income at the stadium then all is good. CL football likely means an extra player or two (bought or retained with a decent new contract) but it also means ticket prices go up a few quid per seat. A desire to truly compete with Man City–or teams like Pool making an actual run at them or even Totts/ManU/Chavs beating them in a one-off?–I just don’t see that in our future anytime soon.

    So, back to the question of how we might “do something exciting,” “capture lightning in a bottle,” or simply overachieve just a bit? I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure it’s not under the current management. Again, I’ll reference Tim and his comment brigade at 7amkickoff. I’ve read all the stuff post-Ropy League final over there (much of it really well expressed, IMO…) and today he’s got a statistical analysis that I might try and do more than skim at some point. The comments look intriguing too and Bunburyist (and a few others) is (are) definitely urging patience and seeing something good (somewhere).

    Finally, I realize that it’s impossible, but, I’m completely convinced that if Wenger (who, finally, the club is no longer paying…by the way…) had been in charge AND we’d had a fully supportive fan-base (perhaps by announcing that he would not be seeking a new contract) I think we could have finished top 4 (at a canter, given the troubles at Chelsea and the Harry Kane injury up the road on top of the woes at MooU…) AND (at least) given Chavs a game in the Cup final (much as we did in the FA Cup in 2017 after they had won the league). That’s the saddest part, the utter mismanagement of Wenger’s leaving (by the man himself but also by Gazidis, who “listened” to the “supporters” but also then fecked off)…

    Oh well, you can’t rewrite history…which leaves the future. (And a full return to mid-table, i.e., No Euro football at all, might help burnish the Wenger decades…) Still, (surely, I think…) come August, I’ll be a bit interested in the changes made over the summer and a bit excited for the season to come. Unfortunately, I think I’d be a good deal more excited if those changes included a new manager…

    Sorry…

  29. AB says:

    Hi there HT. Great to see you set that out like that – and absolutely no apology needed, on my account at any rate.

    The thing we both share is a deep sense of mourning (NOT Mourning – I’m not sure if anyone suffers much from that any more), about how the Wenger era never managed to end on the high we all wished for. I blame bad luck at times in the last couple of seasons, in key games and with injuries. I also recognise his waning powers – in particular to spot talent and to bring through youth. But for all the unforgettable moments he brought us i will never lose the sense of sadness that it didn’t end the way he deserved it to.

    I’ve reserved judgement on Emery in the main to this point; in part because I cant quite warm to him as he will never live up to what went before him, but also because I think any manager probably needs time to show whether there is any product to be found in their work. The jury is still out for me. Some people observe that we have ‘made progress’ this season, whilst others believe he has shown himself definitively deficient. I can’t quite lineup with either view, so instead here’s a list of my main reflections from the season:

    1. On the plus side, thee team works harder than it did in the last couple of seasons. I don’t know what has delivered this exactly, but players seem fit and willing to do more closing down and support others in pressing in a more organised way.

    2. Our defence is still a mess. This is one of my chief complaints, not least given we bought a ‘keeper, two defenders and two CMs last summer. The expense on our collective back line looks woeful and will take a lot of fixing from here. Given our cash shortages we should perhaps look to our defensive coaching options to get the best out of our younger players (Holding and Chambers) rather than expect some instant bought in solution. Can the current system deliver this?

    3. Sadly this bring me to my second major concern, our back office. This looks a bigger mess than our defence. The villain in my eyes has been Gazidis, not Stan or Wenger, but the CEO who didn’t back our manager when he needed it, pushed him out after bringing in a raft of new back office managers, and then left for a better offer before the transition had been settled in. We’ve now lost our chief talent spotter to boot and have a bunch of rookies running the show. I wouldn’t want Gazidis running my company any more than I’d want Maureen as our manager.

    4. Our attack is a truly potent one. I write this with mixed feelings, as this same attack is the one assembled by Wenger, and would I’m sure have been no less potent under him. But they are playing with genuine threat and look like they enjoy playing together – and even have stayed fit! The manager must take credit for managing that, including some rotations etc. I wish Danny had been able to join this show as I still believe in his utility value. I’m sad to see Danny go.

    5. The midfield conundrum. What as happened here? From too many talented creative types to almost nothing. There has been real mismanagement here to my eyes, but I don’t know exactly who is responsible for it. Why Rambo has gone on a free is a mystery; we should at least have secured his sale value if we wanted him moved on at his prime age. Ozil has been left out, brought back, and seems more damaged than motivated. I fear we may need to sell him if we are to get anything from his asset value – but who will be able to afford him? Yet we struggle now to include him in a line up when there is any challenge in the game. Mkhi likewise. Surely one of them at least has to go this summer.

    6. We have young options to work with in the midfield. Hard to give much credit to a manager here beyond bringing in Tor and Guendi this year, and seeing Xhaka progress a bit. But we have some real potential in the young attacking midfielders available to us. Would Poch be making use of these players in his first team? I think he would. Is Emery a manager who can bring them out and deploy them as key players in our team, not just occasional support? We better hope so, as we wont be buying our way to success next season.

    7. Mental resilience. A favourite Wenger theme – though sadly one that seemed to get weaker in our team the more he talked about it! In the first half of the season I though maybe we had toughened up a bit, and was prepared to concede we might have traded a bit of this in exchange for the loss in style of play. But the way we ended suggests we are right where we left off before – a team that lacks consistency and is prone to implode under pressure. I hate even writing that. But we need to face it. The balance between flair, physicality and determination is one that is some way off at present.

    8. Progress? No I don’t think we have progressed. But we haven’t folded either. And its easy to forget what happens at other clubs when iconic managers move on. This season had to come one day, and I guess it could have been far worse. I don’t want us to change manager every season for the next few years – hast helped Manure any has it. So we will need to be patient.

    So what does that all add up to? A big challenge for us to progress next season and get back into the top 4 whilst playing a better brand of football. I’m prepared to see us take another season of this. We will need to let a few names go I suspect, give youth a chance, back players like Holding, Tor and Xhaka to continue to improve and build up a spine, hope we hang on to our strikers for another year and, who knows, maybe unearth a cheap gem from somewhere. It can be done. Most likely it will be through small steps. The big step, for people like HT and me, is for this year to be past (like a hang-over – or perhaps a caffeine free season) and for us to move on with the post-Wenger era. It wont bring instant gratification most likely, but the pleasure is in exploring options around building and anticipating what is to come; the end of this season should also mark the end of the mourning period for what went before. I’m glad its over, but I’m also genuinely looking forward to the season ahead.

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow…that is scary…a caffeine free season…mind, our kickoffs are quite early over here… 😉

    Great writing and I’m glad you’re excited for the season ahead…I really don’t have too much to add and you nailed a few items really well (Gazidis: couldn’t sack Wenger when he should have–or at least only given him a one year…I can’t be arsed to look it up but it was the season we went out of the CL 10-2 on agg vs Bayern…)

    I think you should look at Tim’s article (not the stats piece but the one right after the final). I still believe the way we play is WITHOUT a midfield…which is a huge reason Emery (I think, very likely) ordered the Ramsey offer to be pulled. Ramsey is the consummate (older style, maybe) mid: too undisciplined to be a defender (or even a DM as all teams now seem to require) but more than willing to run into spaces, esp. if there’s a chance for him to get a shot out of it. I really thought Alexis leaving would give him a real chance to show what he’s got (and maybe it did that final half season–of Wenger’s–or maybe he got hurt, again, my memory and desire to do research are both waning…)

    Ozil also fills the spaces but uses his head when doing so. In a system that allows for no positional indiscipline (in the center of the pitch, at least) he’s lost. And, of course, it doesn’t help that he has frustrated body language and doesn’t want to injure himself on (mostly) pointless tackling.

    With his big contract, he’ll likely be here next season. Before then, I need a new avatar guy as Elneny will (surely) be shipped out. He was already (in my view) like a new Arteta and could’ve been coaxed into being a new (more disciplined) Ramsey. Certainly he can run all day and knows how to show for the ball and keep play ticking over. Others prefer Guendouzi, but I just don’t see the fascination there. Even little Torriera looks like he could be a better player if he had just that bit more freedom to move forward. And, he probably finishes better than the others too…

    Generally I like him and I prefer my Uruguayan players to only cry when things go badly, not cry AND bite… (That reminds me that we had a MF named Suarez, who I actually saw play for a few minutes. I thought he had a nice haircut…)

    But Little Lucas will only make me pine for small Santi, and too a lesser extent, his buddy Mikel Arteta. Those guys were unafraid of tight spaces and filling them to provide an outlet for their mates. Emery’s system demands spacing and booting the ball long distances…After all, if the opponent has it, we’re actually setting up our own scoring chances…or something…

    A final word (before we bury the whole idea of a midfield)… I will say this, once we switched to 3 at the back (not the worst idea trying to keep Mustafi from making mistakes in our box–even smarter if he’s used as a makeshift RB…) the notion that our mids ought to be lunging in on 50-50s really ought to go out the window. (Let the CBs make the tackles and/or give up the pens, or trust your keeper, except, wait, Leno won’t leave his line…) If folks keep wishing for the new Vieira (or even the new Coquelin) we’d need to replace ALL the would-be DMs. (I’m thinking of Xhaka and all those unnecessary penalties…) I didn’t watch a lot of Fulham football, but I don’t think Chambers is our guy, either…

    That doesn’t really address a bunch of your other (fine) points, but it maybe suggests why I don’t think it’s progress. The rigid discipline and new set of responsibilities probably kept us in games we might have lost during the 22 games unbeaten (which likely kept us in the hunt for the top 4 and was also, probably, our “new coach bounce”) BUT, at what price. I DID see that Fulham away game (early season) and that was about the only one that actually felt joyful. (Running) Ramsey’s goal (from a RB position) was probably our goal of the year but that’s only after the game was secured and he came on as a sub. “We’ve got our Arsenal back,” was the song from the traveling support that day…

    Wrong. That was the last gasp of Wenger’s Arsenal…which, indeed we must mourn… I salute those who continue their efforts in finding something good from the next chapter…I just think I’d prefer something which felt respectful–and maybe had some greater sense of continuity with the past. Would Arteta have been so much worse? Well, probably, but what about if he came now?… Or maybe we bring him in with Bergkamp as our attack/midfield coach, (and promote the BFG to defensive coach and bring back Mad Jens to work with the Keepers)… Or something.

    Instead, Edu (maybe…) is gonna find some (sinister, yellow-cards-are-my-badge-of-honor…) Brazilians to play DM… (Hey, that’s not the worst idea, actually…)

    OK gotta run, thanks for the discussion…

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