Arsenal v Dundalk Preview/ Lineup: Ainsley in ideal position, a midfielder in Defence, Eddie CF

Arsenal v Dundalk – October 29, 2020

The Dundalk Great Northern Railway (G.N.R.) Football Club was established in 1885 as a rugby football club.In September 1903 it switched codes to association football, setting in motion its journey to become the modern-day Dundalk Football Club. The new club, known locally as “the Railwaymen”, adopted the Dundalk Athletic Grounds (a facility near the town centre shared by several sporting codes) as its home ground. They played challenge matches at first, then became founder members of the first Dundalk and District League (DDL), formed in 1906. There are no records of the club being active between 1907–08 and 1912–13, but they re-joined the local league in 1913 for what turned out to be the final season before the outbreak of World War I. The DDL was dormant during the war, but the G.N.R. club entered both the Irish Junior Cup and Leinster Junior Cup competitions of 1913–14, 1914–15 and 1916–17.

After exiting the Irish Junior Cup in January 1917, the club appears to have been inactive again for the following two seasons. They re-formed for 1919–20, affiliated with the Leinster Football Association, and joined both the revived DDL, and the Newry and District League. They spent three seasons in the DDL, winning it twice, and also qualified to represent the district in both Junior Cup competitions each season. They reached their first final in 1920, a Leinster Junior Cup Final, losing out to Avonmore in a second replay. Looking to progress, they were elected to the Leinster Senior League for 1922–23 to replace sides that had been promoted to the nascent Free State League.They played four seasons in that division, before being elected to the Free State League on 15 June 1926 to replace Dublin club Pioneers, as the national league looked to spread to the provinces.

On 21 August 1926 they travelled to Cork to face Fordsons for their league debut, eventually finishing eighth in the 1926–27 season. By this stage, the team represented the G.N.R. works in name only, and the club’s management committee decided to make it independent of the company. In December 1927 new colours of white shirts with a crest of the town’s coat of arms were adopted, and by the end of the 1928–29 season the “G.N.R.” moniker had been phased out. With a new manager, Steve Wright, “doing everything except selling the programmes”, they finished as runners-up in both the League and the FAI Cup in 1930–31. Proof that they could compete at a national level gave the management committee confidence to press ahead, and the club was converted to a membership-based company— “Dundalk A.F.C. Limited” —on 25 January 1932.

1936 the club moved permanently to land made available by former committee member P.J. Casey on the Carrick Road, on a long-term land lease, naming the new ground “Oriel Park”. Almost 10 years to the day after Dundalk G.N.R. played their first League of Ireland match away to Fordsons, the same club (as Cork F.C.) were the first visitors to the new ground, with the home team winning 2–1.  Oriel Park’s attendance record is an estimated 18,000, set in 1982 for Dundalk’s European Cup Winners’ Cup second round tie against Tottenham Hotspur F.C. On occasions when Oriel has been unavailable due to works, matches have been moved to United Park in Drogheda or Gortakeegan in Monaghan. The ground has had an artificial playing surface since 200On occasions when Oriel has been unavailable due to works, matches have been moved to United Park in Drogheda or Gortakeegan in Monaghan. The ground has had an artificial playing surface since 2005.

Domestic records held by the club

  • Most Premier Division Titles: (8)

  • Most consecutive Top-Two League finishes: (7, 2013–2019)

  • Most points in a League season: (87, in 2018)

  * Most points in Group Stages of a European season: (4, in 2016–17 Europa League)

  • Most goals scored in a League season: (85, in 2018)

  • Largest Goal Difference in a League season: (+65, in 2018)

  • Fewest defeats in a 30+ match League season: (1, 2015)     

I can find no record of previous games between Arsenal and Dundalk, but given the huge disparity between the two teams it will be a major shock if Dundalk go home to Ireland with any points.


Predicted Line-up by TotalArsenal:

With Luiz now out for a few weeks we are down to two available senior CBs for tonight’s game and I would not risk Gabriel for this one anymore, as opposed to my thoughts yesterday. We need an organiser at the back and I think Elneny is probably best suited, with Kola and Mustafi to do the dirty work on the left and right of him. To avoid these defenders to become too exposed, I reckon Partey (or Xhaka) will have to play and this may be a great opportunity to play AMN in midfield, who is a bit more defence-minded compared to Willock. Joe and Soares on the wingback positions and the attack picks itself, unless Mikel will want an experienced attacker from the start (Laca or Auba).

30 thoughts on “Arsenal v Dundalk Preview/ Lineup: Ainsley in ideal position, a midfielder in Defence, Eddie CF

  • Excellent bit of football history, GN5. Thank you!

    The romantic thing about the UEFA League, much more than the CL, is that we get to play teams we have not played against before or hardly know. Dundalk – great name and there are plenty of place names in Scotland that start with ‘Dun’ which means Fort – looks like a nice place and it is shame nobody can travel there when we play them in December.

    We should not underestimate them of course as they will come with nothing to lose and play the game of their life no doubt, and it is a shame that so many CBs are injured, which will give this game a nervy edge most likely. That’s why I want us to play with a strong midfield and push the game away from our defence. Looking fwd to this one.

  • That was a really enjoyable stroll through a bit of Irish sporting history there GN5, thanks for that.

    I understand that Dundalk put a lot of work into their dead ball situations so I suspect that we could have a few high crosses coming into our box if we give them the opportunity.

    I do hope that with 3 points safely banked from the Vienna game that Mikel might let the boys off of the leash a tad for tonight’s game, we really could do with a morale boosting result.

  • Not really Total, most of our promising academy players are out on loan and the rest are already in the squad except Balogun and the impasse with his contract is blocking his progression.

    Cottrell is an outside bet I suppose, he’s a very technical midfielder of Santi proportions and that’s about it mate except for Smith Rowe whose just back from a long injury spell so I’m not sure that they’ll risk him yet even from the bench.

  • I’d just like to see Nelson get a start Total and Nketiah get a full 90 minutes, I’d rest Saka and give Niles the gig for 90 minutes and have Willock involved at some point, these lads need some encouragement.

    I guess that Azeez is an outside bet but I’m not sure what his form is like and he’s not been involved in training with the senior squad and that’s often a guide.

  • Great bit of Irish Association football history there, GN5. It only drives home the fact we cannot take the visitors for granted. With the number of backroom staff we have of Irish origin, expect Dundalk to put on a show, for the heck of it.

    I had, inadvertently, posted a late entry (my thoughts on the line up) in the previous thread Runarsson may not start, still, seeing as the visitors are an unknown quantity with little to lose. I feel we would need to be secure at the back and while I see the reason to wrap our key CBs in cotton wool, it will be risky to start with Elneny in central defence, rather than as an auxiliary defender, from midfield. He has the engine for it. We will need to have the midfield and defence assured since we may have the youngsters upfront. Personally, I would like to have Laca involved at some point, just to give him a chance to boost his goal scoring sharpness.

    It is a game we just have to win.

  • Cheers Eris, I think the biggest risk we have is an injury now to Gabriel, so I would not play him tonight. I have less worries about playing Elneny in defence than you. We will have to see how Mikel will resolve the CB challenge..

  • I guess we just have to wait and see, TA. I don’t follow the Irish league and have no clue what Dundalk are like. Arteta’s choices will reflect what he knows of them. Plus, we do need to have our players well rested for the trip to the Old Toilet.

  • Arsenal hand a debut to Icelandic goalkeeper Runar Runarsson as they make 10 changes from their defeat by Leicester.

    Only Granit Xhaka keeps his place in the XI from that game. Shkodran Mustafi makes his first start since July, with David Luiz injured.

    Nicolas Pepe, Ainsley Maitland­-Niles and Mohamed Elneny are among the other players to come in.

    Arsenal: Runarsson, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Soares, Xhaka, Elneny, Nelson, Willock, Pepe, Nketiah.

    From the BBC

    Risky line up……

  • Confirmed line-up and 4-3-3 formation (LiveScores):


    Not bad. I don’t know if Arteta plans to play Xhaka on sunday, though.
    And I miss Smith-Rowe not only from the starting XI, but from the subs too.
    But Willian is there, along with Hein (3rd goalkeeper) and Balogun.

  • Sorry I couldn’t join ya Total, but a very welcome 3-0 win, Runarsson keeps a clean sheet on his debut, Balogun makes his debut, is he being reintegrated into the club? A right footer from Pepe and Johnny on the spot from Eddie and a lovely finish by Willock who spoke really well after the game to TV, he came over very humble and a credit to the club and his family.

    Dundalk weren’t a bad side and they tried to play football, having 2 or 3 sniffs at a goal, obviously at this level their finishing wasn’t up to scratch but overall a good side.

  • Stand up Reiss Nelson, played the full 90 minutes and showed the manager if he needs a player who can receive the ball under pressure and retain possession then Reiss is his man.

    Some beautiful close control and dribbling, he always looked as if he had time, equally effective on either flank or through the middle.

  • Balogun showed that he wasn’t phased, tried some tricks and back heels that he needs to work on but the potential is there he just needs to sort his contract out and he’s in with a great chance of a career at Arsenal. Was a bit outmuscled by a couple of huge Irish centre backs in the air but he never ducked out of challenges even if it was a bit middleweight vs heavyweight.

  • I think that Arteta got just about everything right this evening all the way down from his initial selections, his tactics and down to his substitutions and taking guys off that he might need at Old Toilet this Sunday.

    I’m glad that he seems to be finally getting the hang of making subs, tonight was, according to Martin Keown, his 39th match as a manager so good for him…

  • What a satisfying game. It’s nice to know that Arteta’s game plans are good and have attacking intent, it just took players who have been at the club for a while that know how to play the Arsenal way to execute it. I get that the level of the opponent makes a difference, but it was nice to see a total performance.

    Nelson and Willock were both incredible and are deserving of a look in league games. Both for their combination play, Joe for his midfield forward runs and Reiss for his trickery on the ball and ability to beat a defender. Hope the starters took notes!

  • Nice game with fine performance from the youngsters and composed ones from the ‘seniors’. We won the shots challenge by 25:4, and the key pass mini-game by 15:3.
    Willock played way better than expected, Nelson played almost as good as I expected. Rúnarsson didn’t have many chances to prove himself, but he didn’t do anything wrong, so that’s also an encouraging debut. In hindsight we probably didn’t need a DM like Elneny, as Dundalk came for a 0:0, so I would have traded his single interception for some creative and/or attacking intent.
    The only aspect bothering me (just a small bit), is the impact of the substitution of Ceballos and Willan. I really expected that they would put the game to bed, but in fact they put me to bed.

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