Rumour is Ceballos Starts: Bournemouth v Arsenal Line-Up / Preview

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The importance or non importance of the FA competition is not the issue. Even if it were a mere friendly, which it is far from, Arsenal need a win so as not to jeopardize the good work Arteta is doing. Nobody knows this better than Arteta himself, therefore it is expected that he will field a strong team.

Martinez should start at goal. That’s like a contract signed, sealed, delivered. MA might not want returning Bellerin exposed so soon after the gruelling 10-men heroics of less than a week ago. It will be a decision made easy for him by the fact that Maitland-Niles is a good replacement. Sokratis will be back, likely partnered  by another returning player Holding. Brave and impressive 18 year old Saka might be rested for the Tank. Oh, just learnt the Tank is out, so Saka is in. Come to think of it, at 18 his turnaround maintainable time should be much shorter.

Xhaka usually has the most touches of the ball in the team but somehow at the end of every game the impression is that he has expended the least energy. He must be a jogging. Not so Torreira who uses up every ounce of his energy even before the 90 minutes but somehow is able to dig deep into a special reservoir that leaves him totally exhausted by the final whistle. Arteta might deem it necessary to give him a rest on the bench in place of Guendouzi.

Martinelli starts in spite of the 26 sprints he did against Chelsea, 11 more sprints than any of his mates. Arteta, quick on the uptake already knows Pepe for what he is. An unpolished gem. He knows that not long from now, after forging him in his crucibles, he will be glittering. Pepe is likely to start but feeling the flame of Arteta’s burning eyes fixed on him all of the 90 minutes.

He might rest Ozil and use the opportunity to test out his conviction that Ceballos’ creativity can be very useful in the more forward areas. His playing style is not in any book of tactics and defenders might find that unsettling.

Does Lacazette need a rest? He’s been working his socks off. I don’t think MA would be in the frame to start Nketiah. He’d rather have him come off the bench.

Predicted line up:

Subs: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, Nketiah.

Eddie Howe the Bournemouth manager has even tougher decisions to battle with. He has eight men out. He is in the relegation dog-fight. He is playing in front of the home crowd. What team will he send out? Something tells me he’d be brave. We must expect a tough Monday night.



19 thoughts on “Rumour is Ceballos Starts: Bournemouth v Arsenal Line-Up / Preview

  • Great stuff, PE, thanks a million. 🙂

    Good line-up in most areas but you have gone against one of your own selection rules…. not combining Xhaka and Guendouzi. Who is the best replacement of Torreira, if indeed he is not played? I am with Seventino that Mustafi could be a good option there, but I would also love to see AMN next to Xhaka tomorrow; just to see how that would work out.

    If Nelson is fit I hope he will get a start; I need to check whether he is.

    Now re Ceballos… You can tell he has got talent but it is very raw and he seems to lose his concentration at times. I am hoping Freddie and Mikel have been working hard with him and he will indeed start and have a fab game…. But given that this is an important game for us, I still reckon Mesut will start… and so will Torreira.

  • That’s a fine post PE.

    I like your selection but I would really like to see Eddie Nketiah get a start. There is something amiss with Lacazette as his level of play has seriously subsided, hopefully it’s a short term confidence issue that can be solved with a few goals – if not ?

  • TA … you are right about what I think of the Xhaka/Guendz combo. I suspect MA has been working hard on Guendz about keeping shape which gets internalized only in real matches. Plus Torreira who is so important to us can’t do every game, not with the degree of exhaustion he experiences. There again he could be the1st name on the sheet.

  • N5 …. maybe at this earlier stages of his return it might be better to give Eddie cameo appearances. Yes Laca has not been scoring but the chaos he causes the opposition helps others to steal in and score. Atm, Arteta places premium on sweat. But again Eddie could start.

  • Do know this about Lacazette. If he’s able, he’d play.
    Also must attest that he’s been in one physical battle after another starting as the lone front man since Arteta arrived (save for the first vs Everton). Including the Leeds FA Cup match. He gives as much as he gets from opposing CBs– the toll cumulative. Measured only by his goals tally– he might be questioned. As a tough guy who wilfully draws attention and pays his way in fouls taken– many not called– we don’t have a replacement for him 1-to-1.

    Right now– while we’re seeing the spirit Mikel Arteta has injected into the play of the youngsters we’re starting (and the team as a whole). But he kids haven’t been battle-tested against veteran PL players over a time. We’re getting near the stretch run of the season. Hoping the youngsters can keep it up. A big factor in how successful the team will finish– is how well the spine of the XI can stand against the physicality. Mainly– Laca and LT. But we’re thin at most every spot.

    So– I think I’d like to see Eddie up front on Monday. Maybe Willock and Guendouzi in the MF. We’re locked with Saka at LB– Holding and Papa– with AMN. Xhaka and Marti appear as musts too.

    The first concern is acquiring 8-10 points in the PL as soon as possible. Period. Best plan for that is not grinding our best players to a nub in non-PL matches.


  • Hey fellas, just catching up after a long and exhausting day doing some recreation up here in the mountains (backcountry skiing it’s called)… Being that it was the weekend–and that the snow was “transitional”–it seemed awfully silly…but, it made me (and my canine companion) sleep well, at least…

    I have only one question about the FA Cup match. Why (oh why) can I not get it on my television? ESPN+…?!?!… WTF. Are there any sneaky alternatives?…

    Without being able to view the game I will still take an interest to see how Arteta “rotates” (or doesn’t…) for the game AND if we can sneak a result. I fear we’re in one competition too many (esp. given replays and that pesky round of 32 in the EL)…BUT, we’re also hurting for wins (or, you could say, “the experience of winning,” maybe…) so going out tomorrow night doesn’t seem a good idea. Does Bournemouth fancy a cup run (or even drawing the match and coming up our way for a replay)?… Hard to say, but they are most certainly in a relegation battle, so it depends on whether or not Eddie Howe wants to foster competition for places (and the like) through extra games, etc., etc. Frankly, I fear both managers will be putting out strong teams and going for the win. It’s still only January, after all…

    What about transfer bidness?… Did we just buy a tall defender? Is he any good? Are there any moves that’ll happen before the window closes. The line-ups (including subs, esp. those that don’t make the bench) could signal something…

    For ideas about incoming players…it’s all fine and good to be remembering the good (Giroud) times, but, that’s (IMO) completely disregarding ALL the salient points I tried to make in those posts (that I didn’t want published)… The game has moved backwards and 1) Ollie can’t press (he never could…) and 2) hold up work near the center circle then running ALL the way into the opponent’s box to head home is a pipe dream…and the kind of pipe dream which, for me at least, makes me think about elephants on the gallop. Not pleasant (though, of course, I loved Ollie for all the reasons highlighted in the post and think he took WAY too much stick from the “supporters”)… Instead, give me Santi (who supposedly dreams of playing for Arsenal again…) as a midfield stopgap and my dreams are of beautiful 3v2 rondo passes to break the lines and drive the ball forward (and our opponents back)…and all those little sneak ins while defending and spraying long balls with either foot, etc., etc., etc… Ahhhh, that’s better…

    Back down here on earth, it all points out that there’s no doubt the squad needs some serious re-making and everybody has their preferences (and dreams…) about how it can happen over the next little bit. Folks like PB and the taxi driver (good to have you back, Kev) move the youths forward (as if they’re all gonna be top players), whereas TA (and maybe me) think back to the happier moments of some of our moved on favorites. It’s all good fun but I’ll leave it to Mikel…(who may actually have the ear of upper management/ownership, which Emery didn’t, I believe)… At least we’ve got HIM back….

  • Hey J-Dub (the guy I’m hoping will give me the hot clue as to how to watch the match)… Also, my comment got held up (for 30 mins or so) because the WP refuses to remember (that I’m not TA)… This is another (tiny) glitch, I can’t seem to figure out…

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Lacazette. I haven’t seen all the matches, but he’s being asked to play an essential but very thankless role right now–even more essential (and thankless) as we move away from being “afraid” to possess the ball (per Emery)… The guy(s) getting the fruits of his hold-up work will get the goals and assists, but that doesn’t mean he’s not (very) important…

    Indeed, we need some wins in the PL…or else the EL (and the FA cup, does the winner get an EL spot?)…becomes all critical…

    Gotta run…

  • HT– Normally I go ahead and do ESPN+ ($4.99 per match). Subscribe, pay by the match.

    If I can’t get it there (or B/R Live)– I do my usual ‘dodgy link’ thing at TotalSportek.
    Links are not available until day of. If you Google ‘totalsportek arsenal’ today and go to the link there– it takes you to a recap of the last ARS vs BOU FA Cup match in 2018-19. Will change tomorrow at least an hour in advance of the whistle. Usually? I find a link from a broadcast source I’m paying some fraction of my cable bill to. Keeps the conscience sated.


  • HT– what virus or malware software do you use?
    This is not without risk. My Malwarebytes makes this as risk-free as possible.
    And some of the links are identified to me as unsafe.
    What I can do is try to pick out a safe one for you– in advance.

    (A general FYI– using Malwarebytes ($49) and Windows Defender (built into Win10) is the preferred combo I’ve been using in a business setting for 100+ users for years without fail.)


  • Thanks for the preview, PE.
    Especially the Bournemouth troubles, I wasn’t aware of the extent of Howe’s dilemmas.

    In this light I would go for the (almost) full rotation, and bring 8-9 fresh faces to the starting line-up. I admit this is not the most likely scenario, but that’s what I would do…


    Nelson is unfortunately far from match readiness (he will be available after the international break in early February), and this could be the time to test the single pivot + 2 box-to-box midfield trio.

  • Hi J-Dub…and thanks for answering, though I’d (almost… probably…) rather be discussing the football… 😉

    My kid (who has an appointment for his driver’s license test…and has sent applications to A LOT of colleges…) assessed my ‘puter needs a couple of years back and I now carry (and abuse) a chromebook…Unfortunately, all the info has been rubbed into un-readability because it sits under my right wrist…

    So, I don’t really know about my virus/malware situation, but I’m not completely against the $4.99 per game idea…which is still less than 100 pesos… Still, if you’ve got a free one for me tomorrow (after the line-ups are announced)… Every peso counts, after all… Let’s check in at that time…

    Back to the football. I’m pretty much in the opposite camp from PB and think we should (and Arteta will) start a strong team that can get us to the next round of the tournament. (I guess I will have to research if winning the cup gets you into Europe…)

    The answer is…that it does… And my belief is that Arte-senal will be viewing European Football (of any variety) as a more than legitimate salvaging of this woeful season–of which, IMO, Emery should not have been allowed to be in charge at all. With a full pre-season–and a real transfer window, things might have been different… Ah well, let’s not r(a)u(l) the past…

    So, until we start looking good for a top 6 finish we need to keep moving forward in these cups. With the PL already over, however, other teams will be thinking the same thing too…

    Of course, no Euro football (see Leicester City…) is also a way to improve results in the PL…

    All that said, I’m STILL looking for info (from those who know, have seen them play, etc., etc.) about our CBs of the future, Saliba and Pablo Mari… Or, I guess I can just google their names and get a bunch of opinions from folks I know even less than those who do their blogging here…


  • As Tim at 7am stated yesterday on Pablo Mari:
    Played against Liverpool in the Club World Cup final
    And they only lost 1-0. Flamengo held their own (stats speaking) and kept a clean sheet until the 99th minute. Flamengo also didn’t just sit back and absorb pressure. They attacked Liverpool, getting 14 shots of their own and controlling 52% of the possession.
    In fact his stats line against Liverpool in that match is impressive:
    100 Touches
    81 passes (83% complete)
    11 long balls
    3/4 tackles
    1 interception
    0 fouls committed
    7 clearances (led all players)
    4 aerials won
    1 block
    0 possessions lost (other than his missed passes)

    There’s this YouTube highlights video–
    Which reminds a bit of Mertesacker– with a bit more agility.


  • As this is the only comparative match for Mari versus common opponents?
    Will also add this link to the Club World Cup Final match report:

    Pool played their strongest XI (with the exception of Milner on at 100′).
    Pool were booked 4x to 2x for Flamengo– each team with 2x in extra-time.
    Pablo Mari played 120 minutes. Was the only player aside from the GKs to not commit a foul.


  • A long day, but just catching up.

    I’m with you PE, for Arteta it’s all about positive results at this stage, winning as many games as he can and getting the maximum that he can from this group of players.

    Of course winning the Europa or finishing in the top four would be fantastic and we should aim for that but the FACup is probably our best chance of a trophy and european football for next season although success in that famous old competition will be monumentally difficult given the state of mind of our squad.

    I think that Mikel will pick as near to a full strength team as he can, depending on medical advice following the Chelsea game, with Martinez in goal as our next game is next Sunday, giving our players plenty of recovery time.

    Good post PE…

  • Don’t get me wrong, 17HT, I am for progressing in the cup as anybody.
    I advocate playing the youngsters for 3 reasons:
    1) They are almost as good as the “main man” in their position. While my observation does not necessary apply to Guendouzi and Willock (compared to Xhaka and Torreira), but Saka is not a step back to Kolasinac, AMN is not significantly worse as Bellerin (currently looking for his form), and a sharp Nketiah can be as deadly as a struggling Lacazette. Ceballos cannot be directly compared to Ozil, but his talent is undisputed, and a chance should be awarded to him before drawing the conclusion (on his expensive loan signing was a mistake).
    2) Rotation is not only giving minutes to the youngsters, but also lets our key players recuperate some of their stamina. Maybe it is not that vital now, as the last competitive game was 6 days ago and the next will come in another 6 days, but soon there will be an intense period coming with frequent PL clashes, EL-games and hopefully further cup-ties, so a little rest won’t do any harm.
    3) Finally this seem to be a game where some rotation can be applied. AFC Bournemouth will not come at full strength, partly because some of their key players are unavailable (due to injuries and suspensions), partly because they have to prioritize higher chance of staying up in the PL over a few % to run 1 further round in the FA cup, and partly because other top league teams also let their most promising academy graduates get a sniff at this competition.

    So while I fully agree that we shouldn’t compromise winning, this is an opportunity that is too valuable to miss. If we don’t give Nketiah a chance to start (when Auba is suspended, Laca is in the process to reinvigorate himself – man, I always wanted to use this word at some point in my life 🙂 – and Martinelli is equally good at the wing) the it would be a sin not sending him away for another 5 month on loan, because I don’t see him starting against Olympiacos, Everton or West Ham either.

  • PE, Arteta had said that he would not put Ceballos in the Ozil position. I suspect he will partner Tor or Xhaka in DM, putting him in the Rambo position.

    I will be up tonight to watch the match at 4am local time. Lets make tonight a fruitful night lads! score as much as possible.

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