Arteta to Opt for Strongest Line-Up: Arsenal v Leeds United

Having done a predicted line-up for today’s game in the last post, I now believe Arteta will do it differently, based on discussion on the blog.

Arsenal together

The team had five days rest and will have five days of rest after this game (as AB pointed out in the last post); Arteta will love to build on the performance against OGS’ finest and tweak a few things in the process; momentum is key and a win, or indeed a loss, will have a big impact; and finally, he does not know his ‘second team players’ well enough to  take big risks. In the end, we are the Kings of the FA Cup and would love to win it once more.

So I predict, Arteta will put up a very strong team for the entire football nation to watch (it’s live on BBC):

Big Sok only played once since Christmas, so surely he will be used for his experience and to build further on his fine performance against the odious Mancs (tautology intended). I just think Luiz needs to play again but maybe Holding gets a chance to shake off 2019’s rust and frustration. Saka… who else? A start for Bellerin next to solid Sok seems a possibility, but maybe Mikel prefers in-from AMN to boss the area?!

Midfield.. Xhaka a must and also he only played once since Christmas, so no brainer to me. Who next to him? Ideally, Torreira, but he needs a break, surely? It would be good to give AMN the position, and I feel this may well happen.

Up-front anything is possible but I reckon Arteta will want his experienced players to find their deadly shooting boots again. If Marti is fit we will see him start.

So that is my predicted-11, but is it yours too?

By TotalArsenal.


54 thoughts on “Arteta to Opt for Strongest Line-Up: Arsenal v Leeds United

  • Thanks TA.
    Do get the thinking behind ‘normality’– resting some, giving a match to more youngsters.
    Where Arsenal stand is anything but normal. Further, the club have the youngest lineup on average in the entire PL– even with Papa, Luiz, Auba and Laca in the lineup. Youth is being served.

    As mentioned last post (also in agreeing with AB):
    The team have done well deploying Arteta’s concepts with little training. The last several days since United enough time to actually ingrain those concepts– with a cup match to see them put into play in live action. With 10 days between matches (till CP)? That where the rust oxidizes if you’re a first XI player. Even if only for a half or 60 minutes– there’s value in letting the first XI acquire a bit of muscle memory– putting concepts into motion.

    Let’s also remember– Crystal Palace sit ABOVE us in the table.
    Will pay dividends if we are sharp from the whistle on Saturday.


  • In an effort to stay *positive* about the blog (not to mention the Arsenal–though easier, of course, with it being Ar-te-senal these days…) I’m gonna request that y’all do a little live-blogging for me this evening (today)–or at least give me your thoughts at half-time, etc., etc… This one is only on something called ESPN Play Norte, which I most certainly don’t have the bandwidth to try (and/or buy)… (And, likewise, J-Dub, I shan’t be live-blogging the game at Crystal Palace, even if we’re actually in the same time-zone. At some point this month, I must return to California, but I don’t have a ticket yet…)

    That said, I agree with the sentiments put forth by AB and echoed by JW and now posted up by our fearless leader, TA. Arteta’s “project” is nascent (in the extreme…) and a confirmational 2nd home win is essential. We really don’t want to lose to lower league competition and a draw (plus a replay, in amongst that extra round of Europa Cup replays) would even be worse. Arteta understands about “getting the fans on board” (which is actually a bit of much needed chastisement for our sickly version of support, I think) and only a win (ideally a romping one) satisfies our put out people, those who pay the big money and ride the crowded trains (and have to come up from way deep in the underground, esp. if they use the closest station these days, the one at Holloway Road on the Picadilly line)… And then there’s the fact that it’s going to be widely watched on the telly…though not by me… 😦

    Indeed, this is not your normal 3rd round FA Cup match, where you might hope to rest your best after the loco festive schedule (and maybe even lose the match to focus on the league and/or Euro campaigns). Arsenal are down (way down) and momentum only builds (or fails to build) one match at a time… As such, each “debut” (under the new head coach) matters a lot, a clean slate being just that…

    Thus, a strong team (our strongest?…) is needed though I am hoping to see a bit more about Arteta’s ideas with a few key tweaks. I’m also hopeful that this guy (with whom I often don’t quite agree) is right about the original Pep-ster (Marco Bielsa) needing to prioritize his own club’s efforts at promotion…

    So (live?…) blog on, my friends. I’m not sure what the day holds for me and I’m actually itching to get some projects going around here. The Mexican festive schedule goes on and on, however, with the dia de Tres Magos (Epiphany) being serious business (or another reason to extend the holiday). There are gifts (for the kids, at least, in the shoes–not stockings–of the kings) and then the rosca de reyes cake also holds surprises, including the little baby jesus figure, the finder of which is supposed to host ANOTHER party (on February 2nd, for the Candelaria)… In the meantime, since I failed to say it before, happy holidays and happy new year (and new decade). May the 20-20s bring everyone clear vision… 😀

  • Another focused piece on the Arsenal-Leeds FA Cup history from ‘The Athletic’ (by Phil Hay, a writer I’d not read before)– hit my inbox this morning. This on the 1991 cup tie– and how none of the participants thought it odd or epic at the time.

    An excerpt:
    “Games like the one between Arsenal and Leeds in 1991, the last of the epic FA Cup ties, consume more people than players and managers alone. They clear the diaries of staff, supporters, commentators and police and there is an irony in the fact that so few of the people who took part in a cycle of four matches in 21 days — an initial tie and three replays, prior to the advent of penalty shoot-outs — can recall much about them. Only in hindsight does the competition’s old structure look and sound ridiculous.

    “Those were the rules back then and that’s how it was,” says Howard Wilkinson, the man who put himself through it as Leeds’ boss. “You played games as they were thrown at you, although I suspect I was putting pen to paper and writing to the authorities when it was over. By the time we got to the third replay, I was at the stage with George Graham where we were having a drink before the match rather than after it.”

    In its entirety the tie took seven hours to decide, including two bouts of extra time, and embodied the point made by Motson’s commentary as the first replay kicked off: that Leeds and Arsenal were so similar, so well matched in ability and so naturally competitive that no one was able to call it. Come game four, no one was bothering to try.”

    Paul Merson and Lee Dixon scored to give Arsenal a 2-0 lead which stood up to a late goal by Leeds– winning 2-1. It was the next season in 1992, where the FA instituted the shootout at the end of the first replay.


  • TA … sentiments are similar .. to keep the momentum going. Balancing. That word keeps popping up. Always a thousand and one things to consider. Still I feel strongly that Leno, Luiz, Torreira and Auba wouldn’t be on the starting line up. 5 days front and back are good enough but there’s always injuries to worry about and a little thought would go on keeping the dressing room happy. Of course a bit of testing out some ideas too. Nothing radical but MA has to keep experimenting while fighting.

  • Leeds are not a team that should be taken lightly, they are 1st in the Championship with a record of – W15, D7, L4, GF43, GA21. I consider this game to be nothing more than Mikel’s 4th (5th if you include Everton) game in his education of Arsenal – so he is at the bottom of the learning curve.

    The win against United was a spirit raiser for fans, players and the club but we should not use that as the new measuring stick as old habits can quickly re-appear and the defensive injuries are a serious blow.

    I won’t be blogging along as I have oodles of (medical) paperwork to go through so I will be listening to the game on Arsenal Player.

    Personally I would sacrifice this game to minimize the amount of future games and place the emphasis on Europa League and Premier League which both give us the possibility of CL football in 2020/21.

  • !7HT, don’t you get BBC on your TV in Mexico?

    Thanks for the details around the Mexican festivities and rituals. It sounds colourful and cosy. Are you in any way involved in this/ do you know some Mexicans there already? Have you heard or read anything about the former Dutch Spud who is playing in Mexico now: Vincent Jansen?

  • Okay to revisit (and revise) the view, where good reason calls for it. Now, if the blog finds the need to tinker with earlier held views, just think what it must be for Arteta and the backroom staff. Tough choices. Yes. But, one thing is for sure, some of our players need to be protected and some need playing time to be sharp for the run-in.

    Smart choice will be to have a good mix, believing all the squad are “strong” anyway. In agreement with PE and feel Ozil, Leno, Torreira, AMN, Auba and Luiz may be spared a start in this one; we can have some of them as subs, just to keep a good bench in reserve. One thing we must not do is underestimate Leeds United, though and that means whoever is picked for the job must be on it.

  • If I have to hazard a guess as to the line up, I’d go with:
    Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Saka; Willock, Guendouzi; Pepe, Ceballos, Nelson; Lacazette (who needs to get his shooting/scoring boots back on) or Martinelli.

    Bamford can be a handful for defences and they do have some decent footballers in midfield and the right wing ( Helder Costa) who can trouble any side.

  • Full line-ups…

    Arsenal: Martinez, Sokratis, Luiz, Holding, Nelson, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Pepe, Lacazette. Subs: Leno, Ceballos, Mavropanos, Willock, Martinelli, John-Jules, Saka.

    Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling, Berardi, White, Douglas, Phillips, Alioski, Gotts, Klich, Harrison, Bamford. Subs: Cooper, Casilla, Dallas, Helder Costa, Davis, Stevens, Casey.

    Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

    Interesting–and strong–line-up, but still rests for PEA, Saka, LT11 and AMN…

    I think it’s good to know more about Arteta’s thinking and (as much as we think we can crawl under his helmet and know), only his decisions on the pitch–and what we see there–will give us the info… No sight of Bellerin and PEA–even on the bench… Hmmm…but the Captain’s notes say the latter is committed to the club…

    TV in Mexico, TA?… Like they say (about Ozil vs Zidane…), I don’t think you understand… Things move slowly down here and we’re far from year-rounders so service (let alone a screen) is a ways off…

    OK, into the (ocean) waves, then (maybe, please) some of y’all can communicate what you see from other kind (airwaves)… Thanks in advance…

  • ————–Martinez—————
    ——–Sokr. Luiz. Holding——–
    Nelson. Guendz. Xhaka. Kola

    A good mix. Pepe has less tracking back to do. Guendz and Xhaka being both deep lying are complimented by attack minded wingbacks (Nelson and Kola). Only one player, Holding, coming back from a long lay off starts, is a smart thing to do. But Ceballos and Martinelli on the bench.

  • AMN ….. has suddenly made a giant stride. Bellswhen back to fitness has a battle in his hands. Atm, AMN should be about the most treasured as we have nobody in the right back position with Bells fitness still a bit of a worry.

  • Quite noticeable that ,Mustafi is not even on the bench. Maybe he’d move on this window

  • 4-2-3-1, actually
    sokratis rb; our new head coach has exotic tastes imo, but we’ll see

  • very poor start
    theirr high press is much better than ours, meaningful possession is theirs
    is lucas that important??
    I’d be tempted to answer yes

  • great save by Emi; at least it looks like he’ll have an opportunity to shine, I like reliable soldiers like him
    that’s something, I guess

  • free kick; emi … well, you know the rest
    feel lost in the twilight zone, expecting to see unai on the bench next time the cameras focus on it

  • great positioning by emi; their left-wing player has no option but shooting wide
    wake me up; tell me this was only a bad dream

  • feel like watching the football version of Siegel’s “body snatchers”; these players didn’t bully united five days ago, these are just their dehumanized ersatz

  • fantastic save from emi (their left-wing again, a header – by the way, papa, right-back??)
    emi’s doing a de gea – on his best days
    should have watched black mirror on Netflix

  • ok, I get it now
    this is a dream
    I’ve gone back in time 3 weeks, those skyblues are citizens and we’re actually doing better: nil-nil after 38 minutes

  • mesut has one of those nights when he looks like he couldn’t care less
    he can’t care less – I’ve just checked out

  • 15 shots to our 3 tells the whole story. Don’t know how the trend can be changed. Yes Ozil not in the game. Same Laca and Kola. But I’d first of all substitute Holding but by who. We need the energy of Martinelli.

  • LACA!!!
    free-kick on the crossbar
    gutted for him, a goal would do him so much good
    !!! laca again great save by the young leeds keeper
    f..k black mirror

  • Hey LeGall… Keep the narrative coming (please)… I’ve only got my phone, but I really appreciate it…

  • REISS!!!!
    pépé-laca-pépé, and reiss finally (leeds keeper not great on that one)
    johny rep would have said “a goal scored with the teeth”
    anyway, 1-0 to us, what a wonderful world and all that sort of things
    and delighted for the lad

  • the team talk at ht must have been something like pacino’s in “any given sunday”
    mesut’s woken up, only rob keep walking through a nightmare, but i think mick’s doing well by keeping him on the pitch imo, the lad just has to go through this, and survive

  • clear pen on laca imo (no replay), but the defender didn’t actually use a chainsaw to massacre our CF, so no problem for taylor – anti-arsenal business as usual
    gabe for reiss

  • rob gives the ball away … again
    free kick for LUFC; seems a bit far off for me
    over the bar
    wish rob scored on a corner or any other set piece before the end, to save his night

  • great attempt by gabe
    great save by the young lad between leeds’ posts – very interesting prospect, from what we’ve seen tonight
    joe for mesut – don’t feel lyrical about our genius tonight

  • papa trying to mimick dani alves by leeds’ corner flag
    looks like a buffalo having a go at ballet dancing
    best moment of the night
    WAIT!!! VAR!!!
    what’s taylor going to pull out of this??
    play on …
    well, VAR”s a joke for moments like this

  • bukayo for pépé
    night off for our mercurial (thanks adrian clarke for the adjective) forward
    he’ll do great saturday, mark my word

  • 1-0 to The Arsenal – this was a live Dr Who episode
    who’ll have the guts to say we can’t win ugly now??
    bournemouth, here we come
    that’s all, folks, see you saturday

  • Arteta must have learnt a lot today: Sokratis is a good option at full back, the importance of Torreira to our energy play, and also the importance of Auba.

  • We now have a better understanding of Arteta’s approach.
    And– no way a team of subs wins this match. Leeds play hard. So do we! 😁
    We appeared to be fitter than a team that many boast are just that. Sure, we were the more talented team– but… amazingly? We wore them down from about the 70-minute mark. Pressed them back in their half for much of the last 20+mins.

    Props to Martinelli– who came on for goalscorer Reiss Nelson. His dazzling footwork was the basis for Leeds back line running around like headless chickens. Then we let the men– be men. Papa is a master-practitioner. The Darkartisté. What a bastard he was. Lacazette too. Leeds tried to be physical with our men. Our men would have none of it.

    Give Leeds props today– they were great competitors. Dominated much of the 1st-half in possession– and shots. Arsenal turned the table on ’em in the second.

    Arteta and his men– celebrated. It was a nearly full stadium– think I saw attendance posted at 54,308. The fans loved it. No one acted like this was ‘a cup match’ at any point.

    Onward, and upward Arsenal.


    “The Fun Is Back”™

  • Phew! From the sounds of the posts on the live-blog, it was a scary first half and a proper match-up by the second half. What’s important is that we got the win, in the end (ground that one out, it would seem).

    I couldn’t see the game as I had some last minute shopping and visits to do, as I jet out tomorrow for warmer climes. Maybe, I was better off not watching that for the sake of the old ticker, and seeing the highlights, after the fact.

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