Willock or Ozil, Guendo or Torro, Marti or Laca? Arsenal Preview and Line-up

Arsenal v Olympiacos – 8PM – 27 Feb 2020

Not much time for a full on preview but we know the opponent from last week’s post and game, and we also know we need to put up a strong team to make it through to the next round.

Who will Mikel pick to start? Well that depends on how his squad performed during training, as it should be. The manager will want to give a few ‘fringe’ players a chance to gain some proper match practice but they will have to convince him to be ready. It is a must-win game after all so there is no place for false sentiments. Only the best will be selected.

Furthermore, we are on full view tonight and the EL is a big cup to win, so Mikel will not give players a chance to impress him if he is not sure they are ready to deliver.

So who could start tonight? Hard to guess given the above and that we will be playing (lowely) Portsmouth on Monday, but I will have a try anyway.

Predicted (and desired) Line-Up

Key questions are:

  1. Is Saka fit enough to play? With Kola out and Tierney not ready yet, we may struggle to fill this position. Maybe Bellerin can play LFB tonight?
  2. Will Arteta break up the flowering Luiz-Mus partnership? Don’t think so.
  3. On the right we could see Big Sok starting again. We need him to whisper Greek obsenities into our opponents ears…
  4. Does Arteta select Xhaka again? I think so.
  5. Who will he play next to Xhaka? Probably Curly Guendo, but maybe he feels he needs to give Torro a start again. I hope the latter is the case.
  6. Willock or Ozil in the hole? Gut feeling is it will be Joe. Big game for him if he gets selected.
  7. Is Nelson ready to shine? I feel he is but Pepe is starting to break through and Arteta will want to continue his progress…
  8. Auba is a likely starter, given his form and captaincy.
  9. Up-top it could be either Eddie, Laca or Marti. I feel Laca will get the nod, given that he was also part of the press conference, but Marti is keen is to shine again too. Must be Laca.

By TotalArsenal

24 thoughts on “Willock or Ozil, Guendo or Torro, Marti or Laca? Arsenal Preview and Line-up

  • Good pre match Total, thank you.

    This game will not be a walk in the park, but hopefully the home game will give us the extra advantage. I may be able to pick up the last few minutes, if not I’ll see a recording before my appointment tomorrow.

  • m. might play it safe tonight, with something like:
    and unleash youth monday
    we’ll see (well, not me, actually – family dinner)

  • TA … that’s the picture: questions, questions and at long last answers. Every coach’s headache.

    I think Arteta is going full throttle on EL and I expect to see a full strength team (from top 15 players). From Sunday’s line up he might rest Bels for Sokr and bring in Laca for Nketiah.

    Monday is there for wholesome changes.


  • That’s 10/11 PE.
    The only difference in the confirmed line-up is Bellerin (at the expense of Sokratis).

  • Arsenal
    Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka; Ceballos, Xhaka; Aubameyang, Ozil, Pepe; Lacazette.

    Subs: Martinez, Sokratis, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Guendouzi, Martinelli.

    Good call, bar one, PE.

  • For what it is worth, the line up of the visitors is as follows:

    Sa; Elabdellaoui, Cisse, Ba, Tsimikas; Bouchalakis, Guilherme, Camara; Randjelovic, El-Arabi, Valbuena

    Subs: Karargyris, Masouras, Lovera, Papadopoulos, Torosidis, Bullari, Gaspar

  • well…

    Same old Arsenal (well the Arsenal of the past 15 or so years).

    Took it easy and thought they could waltz through the game given the away goal. Tentative throughout.

    Brilliant Auba goal so we all celebrate.

    Arsenal…well Arsenal themselves by putting themselves under pressure and bottling it. The Xhaka back pass, the first touch and panic by Leno, the leave by Luiz (too scared to head it out at risk of scoring an own goal which is poor from someone so experienced), and then the Auba miss…

    Not good. Extra 30 mins not needed with all the fixtures still to play. Mustafi may have done a hammy. Another dent in our CL hopes. Auba less likely to stay now and who can blame him? Confidence takes a hit when Arteta and the team have tried so hard to rebuild it.

    Olympiakos are well drilled but how can you have a front 3 of Auba, Laca, and Pepe and have 1 shot on target for 90 mins? Game was crying out for a point of difference like a Giroud or Bendtner type (Martinelli added something different and unsurprisingly helped contribute to the Auba goal).

    Onwards and upwards? :/

  • Knocked out (on the Away goal rules) of a cup we saw as one route into CL footie next season. 1-2, at home against an opponent we beat 1-0 away from home and that says a lot for how we set up for the game and with what mindset. We put out a strong side but failed to break their ranks and break them down, when it mattered. At times, we appeared like we wanted to just contain them and get qualification, having the goal advantage from Greece.

    The boys have got to pucker up and face the remainder of the league games manfully, hoping for the best. Tough to take. Auba was literarily in tears when he missed that sitter at the dead.

  • I know some will rightly say the players are to blame but for me Arteta should share the blame for not bringing Gabby on much earlier. No second guessing on my part felt it way earlier and I wondered if he was injured. Auba could have saved us at the end but misses like that happen. Just dont understand why Gabby has fallen out of favor so quickly. I remember the other game he didnt play so well but was on the right wing.

  • Im still very much optimistic about the Arteta revolution and I know this also part of his learning curve. This may turn out to be a blessing as we can focus more on the league. Also Bukayo looks exhausted I really thought he would start on the bench.

  • I’m with you, Makayah, on sharing the responsibility between the team and Arteta.
    Not merely because the late inclusion of Martinelli, but also because the lack of rotation took the toll on the team. Luiz – I believe – played every minutes since Arteta took over, maybe Xhaka did too. Since the 16 of February it was the 4th game (Newcastle, Everton and 2 against Olympiakos). That is 430 minutes (including stoppage time) in 12 days for Auba, Luiz, Mustafi and Xhaka, as well as 410 for Saka. They didn’t play good (apart from Mustafi) – neither did Bellerin, Ozil, Pepe or Lacazette. Willock wasn’t convincing either. I don’t doubt they all wanted to prove themselves, but only Martinelli seemed to have the skills and energy to pull this off.

    Too bad for the lost chance of playing in the CL next year as well as the lost minutes we could still distribute among other squad members.

  • I am out of words guys. I woke up at 6am hoping that we will pull through this round. And at that time the commentary were that we were one down. But in the end it wasn’t to be.

    I will watch the game and comment further.

  • No more Thursday football is the only positive I can take from last evenings offerings.

    I was a bit surprised that we didn’t push Martinelli up to near the halfway line at that last corner.
    A headed clearance and he was free on goal, it may have forced Olympiarkos to drop a couple of players to watch him and ease some of their pressure – would their goalkeeper have gone up, its psychological, but I doubt that we had the courage or confidence to do it..?

  • Arsenal’s shock Europa League heartbreak to Olympiakos comes down to five critical reasons:

    Spoiler alert!
    1. Arteta’s lack of experience
    2. Arsenal defending
    3. Arsenal midfield
    4. Arsenal’s attack
    5. Olympiakos’ resourceful squad

    In my opinion Emery might not have taken all the 3 points from Athens, but he would have qualified for the next round without much effort…

  • No time to write about the game at the moment and my laptop is almost dead…

    Arsenal lacked nothing other than intensity and confidence to not be beaten on the break. Olympiacos had a simple but effective game plan – just like Napoli had v Barcelona this week – and we were simply unlucky to lose that game. So there is just one factor that matters: luck. Defensively we were below par especially from set pieces and Arteta and the team will have to work on this.

    Did I ever believe we could win the EL this season? NO. Does it hurt to be out? A bit but now we can concentrate on league and FA cup and Arteta can build further with the team. I am happy with that.

  • The boys fought and fought and that is something I have seen them do under Emery. It was desperately unlucky to go out, and anything else is naval-gazing!

  • Have read quite a bit including a game timeline. But did not get to see it. Not sure I can.
    We had a chance. That’s all I’d ever ask. The opportunity to advance.
    Hard to lose one in this fashion.

    Arteta has instilled a pride back into the club, the team, the shirt. His players.
    Pleased with what Mikel has put in place– in just two months.
    There’s value in his method. Happily on-board.

    Go Gunners!


  • You do have a point, TA, that any statement on what Emery could or couldn’t have done is just as unfalsifiable as saying ‘I could have defeated Olympiakos with my college friends’. 🙂

    Still I think Emery’s limited superpower, a.k.a. how to analyze opponent’s squad, tactics, and creating our own countermeasures for that (irrespective of our team’s strength and weaknesses) could have come in handy, as Arteta seemed to avoid over-complicating preparations and sent the same XI that played quite well against Everton (apart from a Nketiah-Lacazette swap). His tactics couldn’t have been any more elaborate than ‘I will field my strongest possible team, and they will kick some ass, as they did in the last 3 games including the first leg in Athens’.

    You are right that they were lucky to score, as the Greek team didn’t really pose any serious threat when it came to create chances and build up attacks. But even a weak team can score from a corner, so the ‘let’s not concede’ never was a fool-proof plan. But us not posing serious threats for the majority of the game was not just bad luck. That was an unfortunate combination of overly focusing on the defense (based on the behavior of Ceballos and Xhaka), the lack of energy due to relying on tired players, no tactics tailored to the opponent, and late + illogical substitutions.

    So while conceding goals was indeed bad luck, not scoring enough was rather bad preparations and game management.

  • Never hung my hopes on the EL. Knockout competitions can always be so dicey, full of giant killer tales.

    All the same there is something wrong with our attacking play. We have been consistently poor there. Maybe Arteta has to think a bit more strategically instead of the focus on details. Changing details on same template.

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