Auba, Marti, MO, ESR to Run at Fernandinho/ Otamendi: Arsenal Preview/ Line-up

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At this juncture, City is not my wish but on second thought they have lost four matches this season exactly the same number as us. We would have been identical with them except that we have drawn seven games to their two (pretty smart using the Ds instead of the Ws for comparison). This clash looks set to favour whoever is managing better its crises of confidence. That is saying they must be in the same boat with us.

Pep’s philosophy is possession with winning the ball back quickly. It was a strategy with which he ruled the world. I dare say not anymore. His team still dominates possession but not as much as before because they are now unable to win the ball back as quickly. Since the Pep’s Barcelona days, teams have developed more and more ability to beat the press and once his press is beaten Pep’s soft underbelly is exposed; defending, particularly defending against fast attackers aka Auba, Pepe and Martinelli. But first of all his tiki-taka has to be contained.

City’s dribbling numbers are relatively low for the amount of possession they enjoy. That is how Pep wants it. Dribbling has a high turnover rate and Pep is morbid about turnovers as is made clear in the most informative ‘Pep Confidential’. Only his wide men (Sterling, Bernado Silva or Mahrez) are encouraged to dribble (it’s safer to lose the ball wide). In their encounter last weekend Wan-Bissaka of United (top Premier League tackler after Ndidi of Leicester) completely shut out dangerous Sterling in their duels. Should Freddie give Mustafi that assignment at the right back position seeing that Bellerin is not yet up to speed defensively since his return from injury? Musti gets tastier the further away from his box and borrowing one or two ideas from United might prove a smart thing to do.

At the more central areas of the field, we need, not so much of tackling as having players who know how to protect spaces and unfortunately for us there aren’t many that we have. Protecting space (passive defending) should rule out Guendouzi who is too drawn to the ball. The quick ball passing of City would bemuse him (remember Wenger yanked off Coquelin ‘the tackler’ at half time against Pep’s Bayern). Freddie has to be inventive to find enough of such space specialists for our central areas.

United who beat City last weekend were brave to leave numbers up field. It threw the spanner into Pep’s works as it left him unable to flood men into the opponents half as his team is wont to do. For our team to do same we must come up with a hardworking and competent midfield which is yet another grave task for Freddie. The truth is, against City there are too many blind alleys.

Predicted line up:

I like Smith-Rowe’s rounded play which includes his mentality. This is a game for Torreira. He understands space and has that short tackling bust that are useful when City compresses the field. Luiz in the midfield gives stature and experience. Ozil is for manipulating space and time for our transition from a defensive to an attacking shape. Walker of City would be wary of venturing too far forward with Martinelli lurking. The 18 yr old has worked himself into reckoning. Auba would cherish the City defensive high line manned by Fernandinho and Otamendi, a pair of slow coaches.

Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, AMN, Guendouzi, Willock, Pepe, Lacazette.

A win, even a good performance, would fully kickstart our season. The boys need us more than ever.



By PE.

48 thoughts on “Auba, Marti, MO, ESR to Run at Fernandinho/ Otamendi: Arsenal Preview/ Line-up

  • LeGall’s relevant comment from last post:

    both physiorooms are packed; i think pep has no other choice but picking:
    de bruyne-bsilva-sterling
    as for us; with pépé out, i think freddie has no other option but:
    i’m not sure we’re ready yet; they’re such a well-oiled machine, and of course we have to face them at the worst possible time – after a derby defeat
    i just hope the boys will put up a real fight, auba-laca-gabe can hurt their back four, and bernd might just confirm he’s the best keeper in the league at the moment
    i have to say i feel bitter about the way freddie’s being treated; he’s one of us, he deserves better than being dealt with as though he were a paper towel, and i don’t like – at all – the idea of buying a coach out of a rival club right in the middle of a season: i don’t think those are the values arsène wanted us to preserve after he left
    anyway, the odds are against us, we can only be pleasantly surprised tonight

  • Nice one PE. I quite like that line-up but no Pepe and no Saka, our in-form wingers, does seem unlikely to me. Inclusion of ESR seems unlikely but it does look like a good midfield. Combining Luiz and Torreira is a big shout but given that Xhaka is unavailable, you could be on to something here. Food for thought my friend. 🙂

  • TA …. leaving out Pepe wasn’t easy for me. If there is one team to tweak for, it’s City. Every match they are the protagonist. They control possession and much of the opposition battle is trying to win the ball back and that’s largely under the jurisdiction of the midfield – viz – ESR for Pepe. You know, plotting to fight City is like plotting to fight a dragon. You’d go with a sword alright, but you have to wear an armour because they say the dragon spits fire!

  • I say let’s Pepe-spray that Blue, Oily Dragon, PE, but I get where you are coming from. 😉

    I want people to be able to run behind the high line and take on a defender with speed and skill, so for me it really is at least one of Pepe or Saka.

  • The more I think about it:
    Mustafi – Chambers – Sok – Kola
    ———- Luiz ——- Tor ————–
    Pepe———Ozil ———-Marti/Saka

    I know Auba is faster than Laca but the Frenchman can do a bit of hold up play to then launch Marti/Saka or Pepe into the available space (with the help of Ozil, who has to play deep to help us regain the ball and keep for a few vital seconds every time).

  • Key is of course to play compact as a team and the wingers will have to help the full backs in defence continuously, but together they can spring counter-attacks and beat the suffocating team-press by the Oilers.

  • It is the big battle betwee values and markets, PE, and If Mesut is no longer able to say the things he said then we are all going down the drain sooner or later. Dark days.

  • TA– It’s an unusual situation, myself being a fan of both Arsenal– and the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Over the Summer– our GM Daryl Morey tweeted out a single tweet with a one-line remark in support of the protesters in Hong Kong. China’s official response was unequivocally overwrought and heavy-handed. No more Rockets games broadcast. Merchandise sold. Period. Still.

    Best estimates are that it has cost our team $25M in revenue (and unknown residual losses). For over a decade– the Houston Rockets have been China’s most popular NBA team (following the Hall Of Fame career here of China’s greatest star Yao Ming). The team even had a ‘Chinese-versioned uniform (kit)’ worn for some games that were broadcast as marquee events overseas. At my last knowledge, Tencent, the official broadcast provider in China– who ‘voluntarily’ halted Rockets’ broadcasts– have lost a sizable chunk of their viewership and correlative revenues.

    Our GM has not used Twitter since the event in Summer. There is no dissent allowed for any official China/state actions. This is what Arsenal FC can expect– with no relent.


  • TA– it’s sooo far past any notion of bias.

    On #20 (from last thread):
    “JW, he was suspended for Thursday’s game (confirmation bias?! 😀 )”
    First? I was mistaken. It was Norwich where that fustercluck occurred (how could I forget him trying to bring down Teemu Pukki with both arms from behind! But failing.)

    #20 was suspended from EL comps. Still not on the bench for Brighton, nor West Ham. Norwich is one thing. Would you really start him against City? Yikes! 😀


  • I’d give Ozil the benefit of doubt that he didn’t know that it would hurt the group. Otherwise it’s either to keep quiet for the sake of the group or to quit the group for the sake of one’s conscience.

  • You had me in stitches there, jw1, re:#20. I won’t start him directly against Sterling but not for the fears you hold for him. If I had my way, he will be one of the CBs, but because his powers of recovering from a dribble are less reliable than with AMN, I will trust AMN more, to match Sterling, England lads and all.

    I can recall a number of occasions when Wan-biassaka recovered quickly to win back (or tackle) the ball after initially being beaten. Mustafi goes into tackles full blooded and turns around with greater effort. If AMN chooses to turn up, he will do the job.

    Glad to see some buy into the potential for Luiz to be used in midfield in the absence of Xhaka. Freddie may just have a different view but I won’t trust Luiz to be CB for this one.

    TA, for balance, I think I’d go with PE’s thoughts on having an extra body in midfield. With Pepe’s recent form, it would be strange to see him dropped to the bench, so it may be any other forward to be sacrificed.

  • With all the money coming in from TV and other opportunities for improving on the commercial side, leveraging on markets with the population, values may have to take the back seat, no doubt, when engaging (commenting about) repressive (or appearances of it) governments.

    Poor Ozil. We know how important the Asian markets are for our revenues (which took a hit in the recently released numbers for 2019), so the pressure he must feel is better imagined. I can see him ducking out of the way if Josh Kroenke or Sanllehi were to be in the corridor. This is one situation where the club cannot be slagged off for not “backing the player”.

  • JW, would I start any of the defenders if there was a choice…? As full back I slightly prefer Mustafi’s experience to AMN’s inexperience, even though both are prone to make painful mistakes. I am no big fan of Skodran either.. 🙂

  • Eris, good points. As we will be pushed into our own half a lot, Ozil is for me that extra midfielder today. I also expect the wingers to help out in midfield and even Laca coming back to shore things up (with Pepe going central at times). But I would be happy with three in midfield too.

  • Guendouzi starts next to Torreira. Luiz on the bench. We are light in midfield.

    Leno, AMN, Chambers, Sok, Kola, Gue, Tor, Ozil, Pepe, Auba, Martinelli.

  • I guess you’re right. Freddie is true to type and has always preferred flying wingers. I did post on some other thread that he is “dying to unleash Martinelli and AMN/(Pepe) on defences. It’s a safe place for him and the way Wenger did it, when in doubt.

    Full Team(s) News
    Arsenal XI: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Torreira, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang.

    Subs: Martinez, Luiz, Saka, Smith-Rowe, Willock, Nelson, Lacazette.

    Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Mendy, Rodri, Gundogan, Foden, Sterling, Jesus, De Bruyne.

    Subs: Bravo, Cancelo, Garcia, Zinchenko, Angelino, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez.

  • Guendouzi will be a target of the City press as he dilly dallies on the ball. I do hope Freddie has let him know he has to play it quicker today.

  • It is unexpected to see Torr and Guendo combined under Freddie. Indeed a big gamble but maybe he will go 4-1-2-3 with Torreira in front of defence and Ozil and Guendo pushing up and supporting the attack?!

  • An interesting bit:
    Kevin DeBruyne– to my knowledge, a 1st-time starter at RW for City.
    (Though perhaps– as we might do with Ozil?)


  • Um guys, lack of commentary here?

    Kola had been poor before he got that injury and our defense is just static. Best defender for me up to now: Torreira.

    3-0 at half time is going to get our lads down but will they play better after half time?

  • I see the forum has been quiet and for good reason. We just didn’t need to concede first against this City side. We have players who can’t be relied upon to break a sweat fighting to get the ball back, or defend properly.

    It was going well until Chambers chose to let Gabriel Jesus onto the ball when he could have been ahead of him. Then Kolasinac left Sterling so much space for the second….. basic errors which won’t be made by relegation threatened sides, so why do we make them? Why can’t this team defend? We shouldn’t be losing this game; at least, certainly not by this margin. How to get back into it, I have no clue. If we had 4 players with the heart of Martinelli, we will be so much better off.

  • Very hard to turn this round, Eris. We started with a romantic line up and plan but just cannot defend and needed a bit of luck to get going. Then (k)DB hammered that first one in and after that it just was hard. I hope we go out there and play with a high tempo and try to score, just for the fans…

  • You’ll need to take that up with Mr Dixon TA.
    I was simply transcribing as it seemed to be stated.


  • Our lads don’t have a shoot at all costs mentality. Apparently the game was dead before Kola left the pitch.

    We had a better second half but our passes were just too sloppy.

    ESR provided a few moments of speed to the front but we never really got going up there. And i had a feeling that Auba is not a good leader on the pitch. He seemed too distant to the youngsters and were left all by himself for most of the game.

  • Glad that is over. Very hard to watch. Let’s take a little break and see what happens this week. Sometimes silence is best.

    Victory through Harmony.

  • Not a heckuva’ lot to be upset about TA. We were outmatched and outclassed.
    Feel bad for Freddie– he’s got defenders dropping left and right.
    And some time till possible reinforcement in January.
    We’ve so far to go.


  • We can’t defend and that’s pretty much it.

    Get someone who is a defence specialist as a coach. Get Tony Adams and Martin Keown aboard. If I were on Freddie’s place, someone would have been kicked in the groin at the break for that second goal.

    And, of course, get a real manager ASAP. We were dithering with a new boss when Spuds got themselves Mourinho who restored their attacking verve.

  • I agree with you, JW1. But I see positives from yesterday’s match.

    Let me try the 8 positives (if you allow me to, TA):
    1. The youngsters had a good game against Citeh.
    2. The energy by Saka, Martinelli and AMN is evident, and they did well in attack. Saka did well in LB too and not managing to concede a goal when he was on the pitch.
    3. Ozil tried to create chances and did relatively well prior to him being subbed.
    4. Chambers did well mostly and there is some positives to his play. Tried to do more of a DM and ventured forward to midfield during attacks.
    5. Sok had a good game and did well to stifle the Citeh attack.
    6. Pepe tried and tried, and created a few chances to keep Citeh at bay.
    7. Willock had good moments when he came on, and created some chances for the team.
    8. Lucky number, and what a save from Leno to prevent a fourth goal from De Bruyne.

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