Arsenal v Hammers Preview and Line-up: Xhakelneny or Xhakeballos, Start for Luiz, Willian or Pepster?

Saturday night prime time, Arsenal v West Ham for the world to watch. My partner is not keen on that at all but it is the new way, and I may just about get away with it. The Hammers are coming to THOF and we should be wary of the wily Moyes who has been regularly able to profit from being the underdog against the ‘bigger’ teams. We will be favourite for this one but Arteta has stated clearly, and logically, that he is expecting a very hard match.

Having watched the game v Fulham again yesterday, what impressed me the most was the control, systemic approach and calm we had. The Cottagers had set out to press us deep and used two rows of three players in OUR half to do this. The plan was to give little space to both Xhaka and Elneny and to force us into mistakes. But we stayed calm and Xhaka orchestrated us out of the trap time and again, and Elneny proofed once more to be a very tidy safe pair of hands. Our third goal came from such a Fulham high press – a carbon copy from the one v Pool – and teams will become weary to commit so many players forward against us. It’s this systemic approach and the way we took our chances that is giving us real hope for this season.

The Hammers had a bad start losing ‘at home’ to the Barcodes, but they did manage to beat lower league Charlton in the League Cup this week so may have a bit more confidence in the team. I have a feeling that Moyes will go the opposite way of Fulham and invite us into their own half, with the hope to spring a counter on us, although I am not sure who their ‘fast men’ would be. The likes of Noble, Fabianski and Rice will be well up for this of course, it being a London derby, and I hope we treat it as a cup game – one that we must one – from the start.

The line-up is exciting as Luiz is in full training and may be fit to play today. Many key players are fit and there is competition for places. Just don’t go and injure each other during the warm-up, boys! It would be nice to see a couple of eager youngsters getting a chance at some point in this one. The likes of Saka, Nketiah and Nelson need to feel they are part of the ‘core 18’.

The biggest question is whether to stick with the wall of Xhakelneny or go with the potentially more adventurous Xhakeballos. I would start with the former to keep it tight and solid in midfield, but I know many fellow Gooners would prefer to inject the added invention and forward runs by the loanee from the Los Blancos. That would work for me too, but for now I prefer to keep it solid and count on one of our attackers to make the difference whilst earning a blank sheet: let their net ripple and ours stay tight!

My Preferred Line-up:

By TotalArsenal.

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38 Responses to Arsenal v Hammers Preview and Line-up: Xhakelneny or Xhakeballos, Start for Luiz, Willian or Pepster?

  1. At the moment let’s improve around our midfield by confirming perty and Aour

  2. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    Great PM TA – I think that we will be too much for West Ham today and I’m looking forward to the game – although it’s my 56th wedding anniversary so I may or may not get to see the game.

    Following is an interesting interview on Arteta’s first nine months at Arsenal.

  3. ibrahim umar says:

    arsenal all the way, i beleive that we can make it this season especially when we signed partey

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers guys.

    Does anybody want to do player ratings and or eight conclusions from the game after the match?

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Oh boy it is quiet today. Has the game been cancelled? 😅

  6. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi TA,

    I sent you a test post.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers GN5, I’ll have a look later on.

  8. allezkev says:

    Trae Coyle scored for Gillingham and John Jules netted for Doncaster.

  9. allezkev says:

    Total, I’ll do the player ratings…

  10. LE GALL says:

    tantalizing attacking side, imo

  11. allezkev says:

    Excellent selections…

    United 0-2

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Yes good line up. I would go and watch a game just for Saka, so happy he is playing.

  13. goonereris says:

    With United losing at home to Palace (1-3; and Palace could have scored a couple more, to be honest), we need to get the 3 points from this one but must stay humble. Like the line up. Other than Antonio’s strength and persistent style, I expect us to be on the front foot for most of the
    game; so, no need to have too many defensive players on. Hence, Ceballos on for Elneny and Saka expected to go forward more, rather than assisting Tierney double up on Fornals and Yarmolenko, if he comes on. David Luis is a sub and still no Ozil or Guendouzi.

    Just get the win, lads. Not that we would mind it if we put a gloss on it with some good goals.

    Late injury news: Tierney injured during warm up, replaced by Kolasinac.

  14. goonereris says:

    Early days but we are finding it hard to settle into the game; the high press of the visitors seems to be a problem, for now. If you ask me, something to do with the few changes made and the injury to Tierney.

  15. goonereris says:

    We’ve got the first goal, against the run of play. Laca header, Auba Assist.

  16. LE GALL says:

    well … that was close (the offside check)
    we needed that – it had been unbreathable so far, moyes had done his homework, or so it seems
    auba’s crossed was a sight for sore eyes, and it’s great to have laca scoring a header
    unleash hell now lads!!!

  17. LE GALL says:

    great goal tbh
    i think we all could feel how insecure we seem to be tonight
    come on lads, you’re so much better than that

  18. LE GALL says:

    well … they’re a tough nut to crack, those eastenders, aren’t they?
    they’ve obviously been drilled to stuff up the space within 40 yards of their goal, so that bukayo can’t be as disruptive as Ainsley was last Saturday
    we needed a second goal, but bukayo has lost his innocence, and thinks too much now when in the danger zone- he was bound to go through this phase, he’ll get out of it stronger
    very hard to single out anyone, i liked the physicality of Robriel but antonio overpowered them when it mattered most, so …
    willian doesn’t seem to be sure where to stand (on the wing? behind laca? he’d be more useful on the right imo); laca hasn’t been perfect, but he seems more light-footed to me than he ever was last year – aubalaca might take us out of this

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Here is hoping for a better second half. Good summary, LeG. 👍

  20. goonereris says:

    Was a good equalizer on the break. We were caught cold with our wing backs high up the pitch, leaving the CBs and midfielders to cope with the counter attack.

    A Player like Kolasinac looks low on confidence while Ceballos looks off pace to me. It will be a shame if Arteta is forced to change it at the back so soon (David on; Gabriel shifted to left side CB for Luis to stay central). Holding needs to give Antonio as good as he gets. Arteta has to find a way around Moyes’ tactics and get us to start breaking their lines more frequently. Auba has hardly had a sniff save for the Assist and a couple of flicks.

    This second game may just be about getting the 3 points.

  21. goonereris says:

    Is it me or did I just see Leno limping?

  22. LE GALL says:

    time for 4-2-3-1, maybe?
    something like

  23. LE GALL says:

    will out pépé in
    3-4-3 still on
    a bit harsh on our sambachav – not sure the plan, and his part in it, was clear to him in the first place

  24. LE GALL says:

    cresswell not yellowed on the one (laca)
    oliver, yoyu gotta be kiddin’ me, but i’m not laughin’

  25. LE GALL says:

    laca out eddie in
    my old man always told me you should never take out a scorer who has … scored
    bygone days, i guess

  26. LE GALL says:

    their ukrainian lad’s in
    always thought he was a very good player
    hope he’ll prove me wrong tonight

  27. LE GALL says:

    king of tap-ins – 21st century gerd müller!!!!!
    dani’s assist, fulham warming-up brawl helped them get rid of the bad blood, obviously

  28. LE GALL says:

    hard-fought win
    tremendously important win
    this team has a soul, a beautiful soul

  29. goonereris says:

    Yeah, LeGall. Hard won but a very crucial 3 points that will do the boys’ confidence a world of good, just on account of the graft. West Ham had come to the emirates to give us a game and they did. However, it was always going to be about the win and points for this one. On such form, W/Ham will surprise a few top sides this season.

    On to the League cup game in midweek it is, then.

  30. Jnyc says:

    For me, Saka made both goals. Won’t show an assist or goal, but he deserves credit for both scores.

    Exactly the kind of tough premier league defending I’ve been saying why we need a real midfielder. Ceballos was big in the second half, (attacking and defending) he started slowly, but it was his first start without preseason games.

  31. GunnerN5 says:

    I’ll take a lucky win any day, IMHO the hammers were the better team today but our defense held strong. I agree that West Ham are a better team than their first two results suggest.

    I’m so looking forward to the game against Liverpool.

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    Good comments. The Tierney injury was a blow and we were less strong on the left wing from where we conceded the goal. A draw could have been the right result, but we pressed hard and had the quality to make the difference in the end.

  33. allezkev says:

    Player ratings in the post Total, let me know if you don’t get them again?

    Hard fought London derby, West Ham are a big big team, you have to hang in there, compete with their physicality and take your chances when they arrive and we did just that. A bit more care with that final ball and we were close to a couple more goals whilst Saka blasted one high over the bar that I’d usually expect to see him get on target.

    West Ham cut us open for their equaliser but high balls into the box was their major weapon with Leno not dominating like Martinez would have.

    Now I don’t want to look for things that aren’t there but did anyone else notice that we didn’t seem to pass back as often to Leno as we were doing with Martinez, coincidence or what?

    I also thought that we missed the odd quick long ball pinged down the left wing to Aubameyang from the goalkeeper…

  34. jw1 says:

    WHam in a 5-4-1 was never going to be an easy match.
    As Kev mentioned, they are a big, physical side. I felt our players played the game West Ham dictated. Credit to ’em, they got the style of match they wanted. Moyes boys were organized. Imagine him drilling them keeping their shape for a week straight got their attention.

    Arsenal persevered. Also were fortunate on a pair of occasions where Gabriel and Dani each saved a goal being alert and showing grit. That second half was a game of attrition. Dani Ceballos took charge in midfield– the only place an advantage could be had.

    While Ready Eddie was again in the right place? Dani was doing end-to-end duty– giving value to Saka’s through pass–assisting on the tap-in winner by Nketiah.

    Dani Ceballos MoTM. True grit.


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