Xhaka-Willock in the Pivot, ESR to Feed MLS: Arsenal v Guimaraes Preview/ Line-up

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Vitoria v Arsenal – 6 November 2019 Preview & Line-up

After dropping four costly points at home in two PL games, the manager and boys will be happy to be in sunny Guimaraes for  their fourth EL group game. Having said that, there is 70% chance of rain around kick-off time (15.50 BST) so the pitch may well be wet and fast.

The Portuguese gave us a big scare a fortnight ago but we were saved by the bow and arrow of Pepe, who turned a losing position into a winning one with two of the finest bullseye-freekicks.

It was clear that we underestimated the opponent at the home of  football and I am sure the boys will be much better prepared tomorrow. Now we can sit back a bit more and force the Portuguese to come at us, and then we can pick them off on the break. We can put out a  team to be very effective at this; and as I am expecting Xhaka to be returned to the starting-11 for this away fixture, and a few in-form youngsters to be chomping (or champing) at the bit, it should be a good game to watch.

Arsenal Training Session

This would be my preferred line-up (and I don’t think it will be too far of Emery’s either):

I want to see the Luiz/Holding combo in action. Robbo needs to play RCB and Luiz is our best LCB. Kola and Bellerin are no-brainers and Xhaka to get help from Willock in protecting the defence and do the B2B stuff. ESR to play a bit more ahead but helping out in midfield as much as possible too. Up-front we have the mobile beast of Saka, Laca and Martinelli, who can dance the Chulas and all get on the score/assist sheet. Some may argue that Pepe should start, and I would not mind that either, but I feel that he could do with a break and start again after the interlull.

As most agree, the cup games are a breath of fresh air compared to the PL games, and let’s hope Emery doesn’t mess things up with his late and strange substitutions this time.


By TotalArsenal.


61 thoughts on “Xhaka-Willock in the Pivot, ESR to Feed MLS: Arsenal v Guimaraes Preview/ Line-up

  • TA … good preview. I dont mind the Wednesday schedule. It gives Emery a freer hand in selecting his line up. All the same I expect it won’t be far from yours (TA). I don’t see Luiz starting anywsy. The CD would again be Holding and Mustafi. As the post hinted Pepe might be in the line up in place of Saka. That would allow Martinelli to operate from his preferred left wide position with Laca leading the line.

    A win would see us qualify for the next round.

    Wondering about Emery’s emotional state. Despondent? That might prove positive as many of us believe that his problem is thst he tries too hard.

  • Cheers PE, I would also not be surprise if Mustafi and Pepe start tomorrow. Pepe did well against them so why not start him? I just think he needs a bit of a break and start again and reckon that Saka, Laca and Martinelli are in better form at the moment.

  • Hi guys… Can somebody refresh me about the numbers involved in our EL qualifying… We’re looking awfully good for winning the group, I’m guessing…given that our toughest opponent (Frankfurt) will be a home match… That said, maybe it’s actually tougher playing in our home stadium at the moment…

    I don’t think managers go up and down like some fans do, PE…or at least, IMO, they (absolutely) should not… Emery seems quite an even keeled character, maybe easy enough when it’s everybody else’s fault AND (according to his post match) things went pretty well vs Wolves…

    The real question, I think, is who plays in this one and who is rested vs who (is given the bad news that they) will be played at Leicester…IMO they should be different 11s, though, of course, there will have to be some overlap with the bench players. A creative coach might actually try out some combos for an hour (or 15 mins at the end of the game) but that ain’t our guy, I’m pretty sure…

    I think I might be around tomorrow (my midday) and I could maybe try a live-blog for this one. (Let me know what you think, TA, or even send me an e-mail with your thoughts… Like I tried to say, I think the blog may function better when I’m away…) Saturday’s match too, though there could be an interruption type of conflict on that day. As I said on the previous post, I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing, but I do feel inclined to want to watch (the car crash as it unfolds)…

    Win this one in Guimaraes (I knew a Brazilian guy by that name…) and Unai can (probably) stave off, FbF (Freddy by Friday…) I would think…

    Go on then?… 😀

  • Sorry, wrong about the TV tomorrow… OF COURSE, the game is not on–in favor of CL games…

    Nonetheless, I will try and enjoy the Wednesday football (by not watching it)…It could be as close as we come (for quite a bit)… 😦

  • hi, ta
    chelsea 1 ajax 2
    great second goal; what a player that ziyech is – and plays with a freedom our own creative players can only cream of
    please santa, bring us ten hag

  • 3-1 now, the chavs are losing it, literally
    ziyech again – what a set piece: he meant to score, don”t listen to anyone trying to tell you different
    what I like most about this team – and their coach – is they look like the only team talk they have to listen to is: here you go, lads, have fun!

  • Hi TA, is that Martinelli or Martinez in goal, in the well articulated preview? 😜

    I do expect Pepe to start, seeing as he didn’t get any action on Saturday. Already, we know Ozil, Xhaka and Luiz haven’t travelled, so that affirms a defensive pairing of Mustafi and Holding and a midfield without Xhaka. Emery may even field a somewhat weakened midfield as he will have an eye on the weekend game at Leicester.

    It feels to me like we will have attention on that game so it won’t surprise me if we lost in Portugal, much as that will only rack up the doomsday articles in the media.

  • Yeah, LE GALL. Ajax have little respect for reputations. However, Chelsea have been on the front foot from the start of the 2nd half and looking likely. Nothing one more Ajax goal can’t change.

  • chelsea’s second goal offside – 2 red cards one penalty for chavs to score the third; ten hag has even had his first taste of PGMO anti-arsenal refereeing, nothing can stop us bringing him in now

  • That was some match, LeG! Shame for the double double yellows in quick succession, but they were the right decisions. Ajax did in the end escape even though they played the better football until the sending offs. The Amsterdammers let the Chavs dictate the tempo in the second half and did miss the calm of FdJ a lot, but technically there was some very good football on display, especially from the Dutch-Moroccan Ozil. Great game.

  • Okay just saw confirmation re Xhaka being out of the squad (and stripped of the captaincy). Why, AB, if you are still reading, should I support a manager like Emery? If I had a manager like that, I would hand in my notice and tell where to put that armband.

  • It’s a shame how things have turned so quickly for Xhaka. A bit of fan power at play, methinks. This will fuel the feeling in the vocal minority that all they need to force the club’s hand is throw tantrums and hurl insults. Well, we wait to see how it all pans out. Hopefully, positively.

    For all intents and purposes, maybe there was no way back (to the captaincy) for Xhaka and frankly, I don’t think he will give a hoot about losing the arm band. Looks like one who rather values his peace of mind.

  • I thought Chelsea’s second was offside too but the commentator said something about the ball deflecting off an Ajax player. Shame about those red cards; completely turned the advantage to the home side.

  • Its not tally like we didn’t see that coming. Xhaka have to think through his options and if we stick with Emery whether he wants to still play under him.

    A good manager cares about his charges, not blaming his charges. He blames himself for not caring about his charges and caused them to explode. Emery is a firefighter and a yes man to the BoD. Who needs that kind of guy in a team that is facing issues that needs to be resolved rather than left alone?

  • Seconding the motion HT has raised.
    I’ve linked to the piece by Arseblog. Here’s the one to 7amKickoff:

    You might not like the the acidic flavor of Tim’s piece. But. Like myself, he’d come to the same conclusion– the club are many weeks past the time to jettison Unai Emery. Simply, past consideration. There is little point in continuing with this futility.


  • Well said, Eris. The Xhaka saga tells me that what I considered our clubs values may no longer be on the walls and in the hearts of the management team. This situation is being totally mismanaged and it will lead to Granit’s departure sooner or later. That is why those ‘fans’ jeered his substitution and now they got their way albeit in steps. Never reward bullies.

  • RE: Chelsea v Ajax

    Maybe it’s interesting to mention given who our next league opponents are but there was a case when our players got two yellow cards in the same attack after the referee (Atkinson) gave advantage following the first foul. Koscielny tried to break down the Leicester counter-attack so he fouled Mahrez but the ball was picked by Vardy so Atkinson gave advantage. Vardy ran onto Monreal’s foot with his only intention being getting a penalty. Atkinson booked both Kos and Nacho and gave a penalty to Leicester.

    What I don’t get is, what would have happened if Blind had managed to make a decisive defensive action after he had made a second bookable offence? I mean, theoretically, the attack could have panned out in a way Blind cleared the ball off the goal-line or even started a counter-attack for Ajax hypothetical fifth goal.

  • That would have left the ref with a predicament, Admir. I think the second yellow for Veltman was harsh, but other than that the ref managed it correctly. It was a bad combo of decisions and bounces of the ball that went against Ajax, but it made for a spectacular game. Ajax will have to come to terms with the PL’s intensity. The Chavs really stepped up in the second half and made passing of the ball really hard, as a result Ajax struggled to keep its defensive shape and control the tempo of the game. But without those sending offs I think they would have won the game. This CL group with three on seven points is very exciting to watch.

  • Good team we field today



  • Emery has decided to go with weekend tactics.
    Vitoria with 10/3 shots. Arsenal with 2/0.
    An insipid first half.


  • Hi J-Dub…and thanks for the commentary…though I must say that it doesn’t quite sound worth the $2.99… 😀

    I’m following both you and the commentary on the Guardian and it sounds like Martinez (at least) is having a good match. Has the midfield gone missing (again)?…

  • Probably not worth it HT– except for the newsworthy bit:
    Arsenal have not had a shot on goal in over 100 minutes.
    How is this possible?


  • OK, maybe I’ll check that out… There’s a heat map on the Guardian commentary showing all our (pointless) passing… It looks (and sounds) rather mind-numbing…

  • No one wants to run except the 3 CBs and Martinelli.
    Martinelli went 20 minutes without a touch earlier.
    No one wants to receive the ball in midfield.
    No one wants to turn and advance the ball if they have received it.

    There have been several whacks to ankles by Vitoria
    Pepe, Saka, Tierney Willock and Ceballos– all fouled. One FK/YC.

  • I remember eating in a restaurant in Sesimbra, Portugal. One of my mates had a big, fat, black fly in his soup. He complained to the waiter who looked at him like he was a total idiot. A few minutes later, the waiter returned with a new cup of soup. My mate was starving so took no time to start eating only to realise that there were now two flies in his soup. I think Emery is doing something similar to us.

  • Mustafi should have been shown a second YC and RC- on a collision where he planted full-stop in front of an attacker.

  • Torriera on for Willock (who occupied space for 75 minutes).
    Nearly 140 minutes. No shots on goal.

  • lucas in, to hold on to our goalless draw, away at Guimaraes – give me back 10-2 defeats in champions’ league round of 16 – PLEASE

  • shkodran 1-0, very good header; very happy for him. the arsenal fans behind the Vitoria goal should have their statues outside the emirates

  • Martinelli stamped on
    Pepe FK from 35yds. Crosses goal to Mustafo who heads down and back across goal to score.

    1-0 Arsenal.
    Emery’s tactics have worked to perfection.

  • 1 all; ffs: next time you-know-who won’t park a bus, but a whole train
    gutted for emi, who was very good tonight – again

  • Thanks for your updates, JW. I watched the game and wish I hadn’t. There you go 1-1. The boys worked hard enough but boy do we lack a plan, a system, confidence, ability to make more than two passes, etc, etc. The Foxes’ on Saturday we will have to all watch behind JW’s leather sofa. 🙂

  • that’s all folks; well … a Vitoria defeat would have been an insult to the most elementary justice, really
    Leicester must be shaking in their boots …

  • We ended with a team of players that are PL caliber.
    That were drawn by a team of players– who were not so talented, but tried hard.

    The word I used for the first half effort by the team was– insipid.
    Second half– other than Guendouzi’s energy and Martinez’s efforts?: pedestrian.

    Since we can only seemingly score with Auba from open play– it was up to someone being fouled within Pepe’s range (Martinelli to the rescue!). Mustafi should not have even still been on the pitch to receive the FK by Pepe, IMO.

    Other than those singular events and individual efforts?
    It was more of the same-old-same-old.


  • I would now ask Emery to incorporate parking the bus to his tactics.
    Emery, it’s now or bust. If you don’t do that against Leicester (Lester), you are a goner.

  • This one made me chuckle.
    Headline over at Arseblog– MUSTAFI: WE NEED TO BE CALMER

    Any calmer Shkodran?
    I’d have asked the physio to check your collective pulses. 😴💤


  • I agree with Mustafi this time. We need to have a strong head with large shoulders.
    We were too all over the place on the pitch. I haven’t even watched the highlights but it was same old so didn’t bother to do it.

    Be both dynamic in attack and static in defence. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Emery gets both feet out in the morning. Or after the Lester match.

  • The only way we can get a positive result at Leicester with Unai Enemy (not a typo) on the bench is that both of their central defenders get sent off in the opening 10 minutes and we don’t concede a goal by then. Think Watford last season, only with more luck needed.

    We had one pass in the box yesterday – Pepe’s cross for Mustafi’s opener. And that was it. We had six or seven players around six-yard-box when the only Vitoria player close to them scored. That’s mental.

    Seriously, Bergampesque Six (name any six posters at this blog) would do better than Enemy right now.

  • Then we’d be a ‘Board’ — no? 😉

    Ya’ know what?
    if Emery makes changes to somehow get it exactly right at Leicester?
    I may be even more upset with him.


  • I’m not happy for the 5-2-3 formation, but the only positive signs I get from this game is that Willock, Saka and AMN are reserved for cup games. They aren’t PL quality yet, but they need the minutes and experience to get there.

    From our promising young contingent the only player I seriously consider to be either already PL quality or only half a season away is – against all Guendouzi-hype – Reiss Nelson. I feel sorry for him missing the last month and a half, because he could be on the fringe of the first team, replacing or substituting Auba or Pepe on the wings if necessary. ESR, Willock, Saka and Martinelli are also from the finest material, but still rough diamonds at the moment. They have the quality to shine, but lack the consistency to perform at the same level.
    Guendouzi is starting to reach the maturity to constantly perform at the same level, but for me this level is not high enough for a starting spot at the Premier League. His energy and enthusiasm is remarkable, but the example of Jack Wilshere shows that the sheer will is not everything, unless it is supported by high technical and decision making skills.

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