Return of the Feisty Frenchman, Nelson and Pepe to Boss the Wings, GLS at the Back: Match Preview and Line-up

We are playing the Foxes ‘away’ tonight and your guess is as good as mine regarding the starting-11. It all depends on how Arteta will approach the game:

  1. A good test for the wider squad
  2. A great opportunity to prepare for our epic battle v Pool on Monday
  3. A showcase for a few players we want to sell this month
  4. An opportunity to try out a different formation/style of footie
  5. A combo of two or more of the above.

I have a feeling Mikel will want to play with at least Luiz and Gabriel in the three at the back; the question is whether he wants to try out Saliba too or stick with Holdingho tonight. Having looked at the training footage on, I reckon Saliba is ready for a start. So I am going for GLS at the back.

The midfield is the conundrum. Xhaka could do with a rest and we need to find out who can replace him if and when the Swiss maestro is absent. My view is that Elneny will be picked but I would also welcome a start for our Uruguayan bull. He looked very keen in training and I hope he will get a chance at some point in this match. I also saw a lot of Guendouzi, and Mikel may just want to give him a chance and show the rest of the world that Guendo is still alive and kicking. Saka could do with another game to shed the rust and we need his silky passing and intelligence. AMN could do with one as well and with Soares still out, I could see him start at right wingback.

Up-front Eddie needs a start, Pepe needs a start, but what to do with the left wing position? I would like to see a start for Nelson, but for the balance of the team and to show everyone we mean business, I could imagine Mikel starting with Auba. I am going for Nelson.

Anyway, here is my stab at the S11:

What do you think will happen/want to happen?

By TotalArsenal.

143 thoughts on “Return of the Feisty Frenchman, Nelson and Pepe to Boss the Wings, GLS at the Back: Match Preview and Line-up

  • Interesting post Total and what with Mikel stating categorically how he is taking this trophy seriously, predicting the starting XI is virtually impossible not least because we have five clear days to recover before facing Liverpool, so it’s actually quite possible for Arteta to safely field a near to full strength team. Leicester alternatively have 24 hours less recovery time and face a tough trip to Man City this Sunday, but they’ll still have four days for R&R and will almost certainly field a strong XI with the League Cup a realistic target for Rodgers to aim for. So I expect both managers to approach this tie with a view to beating a close rival and getting an early psychological advantage whilst progressing in a competition that each club could seriously consider success in…

  • Good comment, Kev. I cannot see us go full strength but also agree that we will take the game seriously. It is quite an ask to go and beat Leicester and than Pool away, so I am sure whether Arteta will push for this one. Yet, he can field a strong team whilst resting a few and, more importantly, avoiding injuries to them so early in the season. All will be revealed in just seven hours my friend!

  • Our midfield really needs sorting. Ozil ,Guendouzi and our Uruguayan all not featuring for various reasons. Leaves our midfield with Xhaka, Ceballos and Elneny. Reinforcements urgently needed. No brained we need Aouar and Partey or equivalent ASAP

  • The injury to Soares is inconvenient as giving Bellerin a break might have been handy so it’s not inconceivable that Bellerin could play this evening and again on Monday – and even if Maitland Niles does start instead of Hector at right wing back or alternatively on the left there’s still a good chance Niles could also still start at Anfield if Arteta sees the the tactical benefit of him doing so.

    Gabriel, Luiz and Holding are our likely starting trio at Anfield so it might make sense to give them a game as a group in this game to prepare, as it is Saliba could still come on from the bench if the game is going well?

    Leicester have a top quality midfield and we’ll be in a real battle with them so I think we’ll need Granit in our starting XI, I get what you say Total about Xhaka needing a rest but I reckon he can cope with two games in five days,

    Torrieira is close to a transfer out so I doubt that he’ll be risked, but Guendouzi off of the bench is a real possibility and as you say Total a little reminder of what he can do, if he’s focused.

  • Sunn, it all depends on whether Arteta wants to play with a nr10 or not. I dont think he wants to anymore, the position is becoming obsolete it seems. If not, then he will need another defending, ball-playing midfielder who is strong positionally, yet can make good runs forward. I guess that is why he wants Partey, an I believe it is either Partey or another players… not two more players.

  • Cheers, TA
    Tonight’s lineup is a something of a conundrum, indeed
    I’ll start with the one I’d like to see picked Monday at Anfield:
    I wish most of these lads were given a rest (actually, no: a good training/drilling session) today, so that given the injury list/list of lads who are already more “out” than “in”; my guess for tonight would be something like:
    I’d rather Luiz didn’t play tonight, for fear he might pick an injury and/or a red, we’ll need him badly Monday
    As for Matteo … I don’t know, really, I’m not his greatest fan, but I find what happens to him harsh, to say the least. Wish we were given more specifics about his and Mesut’s situation at the club (but that won’t happen).
    And if Joe doesn’t play tonight, when will he? Might as well loan him/sell him straight away imo …
    COYG, keep on making us proud/happy fans

  • Up front is easier all round because a front three of Nelson, Nketiah and Pepe looks more than capable of giving Soyuncu and his chums a difficult evenings work, of course if Nelson doesn’t start then it’ll strengthen the rumours I’ve seen that Reiss could be off on loan again?

  • Kev, I really think AMN needs to start in Bels position tonight. He is right footed and with Saliba (or Holding) behind him and Pepe (or Nelson) on front of him, he can make a real difference tonight.

  • Cheers LeG, I am nae keen on that midfield and feel that Luiz needs a game with Gabriel and Holding/Saliba to prepare for the Pool game. Between them they can iron out a lot of stuff during such a game… But not a bad shout re team for tonight.

  • Still lots of time for those who still haven’t to make their selections – all you have to do is copy and paste the teams selected below into a comment and type in H = Home, win A = Away win, or D = Draw beside the game.
    Week 3 of results predictions.
    Lets see your choices.
    Liverpool v Arsenal
    Man City v Leicester
    Crystal Palace v Everton
    W.B.A. v Chelsea
    Spurs v Newcastle
    Inter Milan v Florentina

  • Not having as great a tactical awareness as many of you possess my preference would be to play a large sprinkling of our youngsters supplemented by some senior players. Many of the youngsters need 1st team experience and the League Cup has always been a good competition for them to hone their skills.

    If they are not used in the League Cup then the only chance’s they will get will be minutes in the FAC, Euro or EPL.

  • Wow , David Moyes and two West Ham players have contacted Covid-19 – I hope that does not put any Arsenal players or staff at risk…………..

  • GN5, I think if we were playing a team from the lower divisions then I reckon you’d get your wish of a young team interspersed with a few old heads, but Leicester are a tough nut to crack and we don’t want to get a beating…

  • I get that Kev but if we played them and won it would be a huge step forward from them – and if we lost then it would open up our schedule – which cannot be a bad thing.

  • Thanks for the preview TA.
    Arteta has at his disposal choices at several positions. Which weren’t available in some cases, or hadn’t yet proven themselves ready– since his taking the helm just last December.

    Fairly certain Mikel wants to see Luiz and Gabriel working together in live competition before Pool on Monday. Possibly Holding for the same reasons– then a half with Saliba. Leicester have been pressing opposition– so a good run-up in that sense as well.

    Open to younger players up front. Nelson and Pepe need minutes. Eddie? Perfect for honing his sharpness. Maybe some creativity in MF. Does ESR get a start? What’s his status injury-wise? Last I knew he was out for Fulham. Heard nothing since.

    Difficult to predict much at allArteta wants to win. Everything possible. A manager after my own heart.


  • Eris–
    I now know how Shard felt trying to ‘herd cats’ last-minute to play that WC competition.
    This FPL league differs from the WC one– as those matches were coming every other day. This is much more relaxed. This is my only other fantasy league try in any sport TBH. American sports are just far too involved. That you get just one free transfer per matchweek– means not a lot of time invested. It’s more a curiosity for me week-to-week.

    Sign up anonymously if you like. Email to confirm your registration is it.
    League Code: 2xkb78


  • Shame about ESR. And not so keen on Willock.
    Supposedly Tierney will be ready for Pool on Monday.
    Perhaps Saka (in Ceballos role) with Elneny (in Xhaka’s) in MF?


  • Liverpool v Arsenal A
    Man City v Leicester H
    Crystal Palace v Everton H
    W.B.A. v Chelsea A
    Spurs v Newcastle H
    Inter Milan v Florentina H

  • Your points are valid, TA, and the line-up sound. I agree with almost anything (especially with the wingbacks and leaving Willock on the bench) – including the risk of having Xhaka take a deserved rest and find the midfield duo among those 4 players you highlighted – except from the Elneny-Guendouzi partnership. They are both useful, so I could support either of them pairing Torreira or Ceballos, but they are the clone of each other with regards to their role in transition and midfield passes. So if they team up, we would lose (half) a player from the pitch, which is a luxury against a strong team like Leicester City.
    I didn’t give up hope to see Ozil this season, this could be a good game, even for a shorter appearance.
    I happen to agree with Kev, as no matter how excited about your line-up I am, there is a good chance that Arteta would select Xhaka and Lacazette to have an experienced player with leadership abilities in all areas of the field (Luiz should command the defense, to let Holding rest before Anfield.)

    I might be completely in the wrong, but I still don’t think Raya would (nor should) arrive, and I expect that instead of a #1 vs. #2 competition among our goalkeepers there will be a #2 vs. #3 competition, determining on a weekly basis who should start in cup games as well as who should sit on the bench on PL matches. If that is true then Leno will not be in the game squad tonight, and Macey & Runarsson will share the roles of the starting and back-up goalkeepers. (If the new keeper from Iceland is not ready yet, then Leno could be sitting on the bench.)

  • This just shows how weak our midfield is. It’s just stubbornness not to use Guendouzi. We need reinforcements.

    For today, use Willock AMN, Kola, Reiss, Pepe, Eddie, Saliba. Though against Leicester we could be in trouble, not because of our players quality, but the number of changes overall.

  • Cheers PB, the difference between you and me is that you want difference in the two deeper-laying midfielders and I want similarity: one doing it on the left and the other doing it on the right: solid, defence minded midfielders with good passing ability and excellent reading of the game… and a tendency to defend first and attack second. So IF Guendo and Elneny are instructed to do so by Arteta then I think it can work.

  • As Macey wants out and the new GK will need to complete his induction at Arsenal, I have opted for Leno to start. That way the combo of Leno-Saliba(Holding)-Luiz-Gabriel can also practice before we go to Antsfield.

  • PB, I actually think that Guendouzi and Ceballos are carbon copies of each other (well not the look or skull covering..). Both like to go forward much more than sitting back and keep the shape, both love the touch of the ball and move it on slowly and both just love to pick a killer pass (even when quick triangles is the only options to break through).

  • leno
    saliba not picked – surprising imo
    big day for joe/reiss, might be a turning point in their career
    i, for one believe in them
    come on lads

  • Elneny and Luiz to be the glue guys today– against a team that has been pressing with abandon.


  • i expect to see a “chameleon” side actually, in 3-4-3 (above) when dispossessed, but shifting to a “pep-inspired” 4-1-4-1 in possession:

  • All new XI for Leicester from the weekend.
    James Madisson getting a start on his way back from injury.


  • Saliba is on the bench,
    Subs: Runarrson, Saliba, Bellerin, Xhaka, Willian, Ceballos, Lacazette

    Our midfield duo of Elneny-Willock is not the strongest from the creativity and slick passing point of view, but respect to Leicester who are playing with 2 players from their U23 squad (Thomas, Dewsbury-Hall) in a 4-3-2-1 formation with 3 DMs as Gray and Maddison support the lone striker Iheanacho.
    We should win this tie.

  • mo yellowed ; deservedly so – looks abit under the weather to me
    reiss shining oh so brightly so far; hope he’ll get his name on the scoresheet
    i’d like to see more of joe/ainsly:pépé on the right

  • breat hale end move bukayo-reiss-joe(eddie? not sure); pépé should have done much, much better than that
    very pleasant cup game

  • bukayo show on the left – eddie (would you believe it?) a tad too late for the tap-in
    hale end sparkling – you love to see it

  • Being able to see all the games on TV usually this is a bit of a bummer having to rely on other sources for info. Interesting team, I never saw Kola and Willock starting but there ya go…

  • breather – not much to say
    luiz overusing long balls – wish eddie gave out to him, so he stopped this nonsense, and so I might stop giving out to this screen

  • reiss … wide, after they failed to clear their box on a corner kick
    should definitely have put that one away
    come on boy, this ‘ll be your night anyway

  • their passing’s crisp, they have very skilful players
    this maddison lad is a genuine classic n° 10 – he deserved to score on that one

  • Holding and Luiz are kind of forced to use long balls from the back, as Willock is non-existent in the build-up, and Elneny always makes it safe, preferring short side passes.
    We created some chances, probably all involving some Saka-Nelson slick passes.

    There was a clear fault on Saka – the VAR would have awarded us a penalty – and Leicester had just a shot coming back from the woodwork, so we are not totally unlucky.
    It is an exciting tie, Saka playing great so far, Nelson is good with thinking and passing but fails with the end product. Willock and AMN are disappointing, Kolasinac is a nice surprise. Pepe and Nketiah don’t receive balls, almost none at all.

  • Good half by the sounds of it. Important for this put together team playing away to get through a half of football. Now Arteta has a chance to sharpen things up.

  • Have been able to watch most of the action.
    Could Willock have been any less-effective? Delivered a hospital pass to Eddie. Lifted a short pass to Reiss edge of the box killing one attack. Dozing about leaving spaces on the edge of our box multiple times– with Maddison almost converting on one shot.


  • missed a few things, while i was typing – didn’t see the penalty incident
    the ref blew his whistle for HT right in the middle of an interesting move for us – too bad
    1-1 should have been the score; their passing’s better than ours, but we had flashes of brilliance upfront
    rob, david, ainsley gave the ball away recklessly too often , and pb i find it very harsh to put the blame on joe for this
    bukayo’s my main man so far, he’s class personified, i thought kola did well, maybe thanks to the young genius he has to combine with on the left
    i hope reiss’s already willed away the images of his miss, he’s on a very good day – on the other hand, we should be seeing much more of pépé imo – the lad doesn’t seem to care much about willian’s competition, that’s disappointing

  • Indeed this is an entertaining game.
    The Arsenal side is quite imbalanced.
    About two-third of are play goes on the left (Kolasinac-Saka-Nelson). There is no cooperation between Willock and Nketiah (middle), and AMN is struggling to involve Pepe to the play. In fact our attempts from the right came from Holding to Pepe passes, but Rob is quite wasteful with the long balls.
    Luiz is doing great, Kolasinac is reliable in both defense and attack support. Our midfield is weak, but the same applies to Leicester. Even though it is a fast and energetic game I don’t expect to see many goals. Whoever draws first blood should win by 2:0 with a late counter-attack. So far we look more likely to break the deadlock, but not with a big margin. A Willock-Ceballos substitution could come in handy.

  • Guendouzi is better overall player than Willock or Elneny. Not even close. Foolish pride. By whom? Indications are that it’s Mikel. I’d be more proud of him if he relents.

  • Le Gall, I don’t blame Willock for screwing up our half-chance or giving the ball away at a time. I could have blamed almost every player on that grounds, including Nelson, Luiz, Holding, Pepe and others. My critique on Willock that he added no value to the team in the first half. OK, that is not true, as he made 1 or 2 interceptions when Leicester tried to start a quick counter-attack on the ground. But otherwise his pressing he is not involved in passing, he does not position himself to receive the ball, he is not harassing the defenders or DMs to break their concentration. He is way too invisible for 50% of our midfield, especially when his partner is not a magician with the ball either.

  • “Guendouzi is better overall player than Willock or Elneny.”
    Well said, J. There is no doubt about it.
    He probably have requested the transfer too early, as this could have been a game tailored to his skills. I agree with you on the Mikel reference, too.

    Willock was far more effective as a late sub last season against tired midfielders and defenders.

  • mick has has a few words with our right flank, obviously – we have seen more of them in the past 10 minutes than in the whole first half
    now they have to end up properly what they start brilliantly (pépé, ainsley)

  • 1-0 to The Arsenal!!
    pépé as incisive as you want him to be, even if it’s an own (messy) goal in the end
    come on lads, don’t mess this up now

  • 1-0 to the Good Guys!
    Pepe with a trick-shot OG off of Fuchs.
    Takes a shot that Ward parries back at him at close range– which Pepe then slaps back at Ward– off the keeper’s leg– off the near post– off Fuchs and in the net.


  • We lead with an ugly own goal, after convincing solo play from Pepe.
    AMN and Willock must have read my comments as they both improved and look more alive.
    I hope the goal doesn’t kill the game but makes it more exciting.

  • Praet coming on, he was heavily linked to Arsenal not too long ago, replacing Maddison.

    Nelson off for Willian, Nelson looks unhappy according to the radio.

  • turning sour
    neither team can bring danger into the other’s box anymore
    we’ve sat back too fast, too deep imo – we look like any french team having taken the lead when we do that, and that’s not a compliment

  • Eddie– nearly with a beauty!
    A lob shot that is headed off the line after coaxing the keeper out.


  • vintage eddie, preying on a mistake to lob the keeper – morgan clerars the ball off the line, would have liked to see the goal-line check on that one

  • We almost doubled the lead with a difficult Nketiah-chip that was cleared off the line by Morgan who atoned for his part of the own goal.

  • Obviously I’m not watching the game but I suspect that Arsenal have been wasteful, not for the first time…

  • Perez should have leveled– missing a header wide near post off a FK on a foul by Willian just outside the box.

  • Arsenal have had 7 corners and despite our specialist dead ball coach we’ve not threatened, Leicester have their first corner and it’s mayhem in our box

  • holy …
    perez, just wide, after willian committed a reckless foul on the edge of pour box
    the FK was well-taken, and kola was probably on the bus home already, so perez just had to nod to score, but hit the ball too hard – should just have left the ball skim along his forehead

  • Arsenal pressing in Leicester’s end– keeping them on the back foot trying to burn some clock defensively.

    Savvy stuff Mikel!

  • Hector with some brilliant sleight-of-boot to setup Eddie for the Welbeckian shin-tap-in.

    2-0 to the Good Guys!

  • eddie!!!
    what a wrestler – “scored with teeth” ajax’s (and bastia’s) rep used to say about that kind of goal
    well done lads

  • Just made a nice mug of tea and listened to Bellerin coming on for Saka and then Nketiah scoring the clincher.

    Set him up and he will score!

  • 2-0 to The Arsenal
    as satisfying as any winning streak might be, we lacked control – against what was very much a “B” side (more than ours anyway)
    orbinho wrote somethign about eddie scroring from 5 yards out on average, well that must have been 2 tonight; this lad’s a treasure, he’ll break scoring records sooner than later
    well, ‘Pool now – can’t wait to read Kev’s feelings about that one

  • Another clean sheet, 3 games and one goal conceded, that’s what I like to see from Arsenal teams, make the opponent have to work their nuts off to score, no more free gifts from this squad.

  • I have two very busy days, tomorrow and friday (family dinner too, on top of it, friday night) – I’ve also missed chunks of the game while I was typing, so i’m afraid my assessments could be very easily tampered with
    BUT … if no one’s done it before, i’ll give it a try … saturday (too late??)

  • Hector showed some determination that wasn’t to be seen earlier. He did decide to carve the chance on his own.
    It was a nice game, and valuable minutes for the youngsters and fringe players.
    My MotM nominees are Saka and Luiz. But we all new that they are remarkable players, Kolasinac was a pleasant surprise tonight.

  • Saturday is indeed too late, LeG, but don’t worry about it. I will watch the game tomorrow on Arsenal player if available and do the ratings. 🙂

  • Looks as if Bellerin is staying now, with Barcelona chasing Max Aarons, good luck with that as Norwich want £40m and Barca are skint.

  • A fig roll is very nice as well Total, with a glass of milk, you sound as if you’re a biscuit aficionado.

  • That is good to hear, JW. He really needed 90 minutes before the Pool onslaught.

    The stats show that Nelson had a great game. Best passer and most shots on goal.

  • It will be hard to determine who will go in the end. This TW will have a lot of clubs waiting till the very end to get the best bargains. They know that clubs need to sell and they can afford to wait with so little money being available and the future so uncertain for many a club.

    By the sounds of it AMN did not overperform tonight and that may make Arteta anxious re letting Hector go.

  • Grandad was from Leicester Kev.
    We drank plenty of tea as kids. Two lumps. Took biscuits from a tin.
    Ate more than my share of mince pies too. 😮


  • Watch the reaction of Nketiah to our first goal, initially he was disappointed because it was a tap in and he’s hungry for goals, he did celebrate afterwards but that boy just wants to score and I love that about him….

  • We should keep Bellerin. He has quality well beyond AMN’s – this game clearly showed that.
    Ainsley’s biggest value is his versatility as he can be deployed in several positions. But he is not a clear starter at any.

    TA, there are a few player ratings already published to contrast your version with them. I found the 90min and – surprisingly – the football london the most accurate, but that’s just me.

    Besides the successful and entertaining game, we again ‘managed’ to limit ourselves to 5 key passes whole evening (compared to Leicester’s 13), but the game didn’t show that imbalance at all.

  • Morning all,

    Just saw the highlights and just love the scrappiness of our goals. It showed fight and hunger and that is what is required on a cold, dark September night in the Foxes’ den. Defensively we looked iffy at times especially at the Perez’s chance late on. But Gabriel got a rest which he probably didnt need physically but mentally, after all that chance and upheaval. Glad to hear that Kola had a good game; he needed that.

  • Cheers PB, I tend not to look at commercial sites for player reviews. Re Bellerin… pfff, I just don’t think he has got it but I am hopeful that Soares will come good.

  • Having said that, Hector made a great move for our second goal and Arteta could still turn him into a beast of a wingback. And the guy always gives everything.

    Also reading that Elneny had a good game in Xhaka’s position which is encouraging.

  • I think Holding’s performance was underrated last night.
    Indeed, he not always made the best decisions in defense (but it didn’t let to Leicester chances), and had a few overambitious long passes he was invaluable in Nketiah’s chip (Rob would have claimed the assist if it’s not for Morgan) as well as his pin point long ball to Nketiah before our second. He was sound defensively, and was our 3rd best player according to WhoScored ratings. (Which are by no means infallible, but still mean something.)

  • Great evaluation, Admir.
    Spot on with everything. I would defend Nelson though, as none of his misses seemed like genuine sitters. Sure, he could have scored (Auba probably would have), but I admire that he didn’t just try a huge kick to the ball towards the center of the goal after the corner, but aimed for the far bottom – and he almost managed to score. But that wasn’t a mis-kick, but rather a plan.

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