Arsenal Preview/ Lineup: Time for Moller and ESR

Nothing has been welcomed more by Arteta, no doubt, than the luxurious situation of playing a couple of superfluous UEFA League games. I feel for the man who has so much pressure on him mainly due to a lack of philosophical resolve to see things in the right perspective by most of the fan-base.

See the source image

There are plenty of reasons to be dissatisfied with Arsenal’s performances and current position in the league, but the season hasn’t even started properly and it will be the next three months that will make or break it. Yet, if you read some of the blogs it’s like we are already relegated and Arteta is a nasty virus that has become us.

We do seem to be stuck in a painful discrepancy between Arteta’s vision/theory and the execution of it on the pitch right now. We are getting it 40% right and 60% wrong right now and hence have not taken many points from our recent games. Key is for Arteta to find a number of (temporary) solutions which make Arsenal do the majority right rather than woring, and so start winning games again.

When it goes wrong one of the things we fans like to look at is who the club can buy to make it all better. For me, like any other fan, there is always a need to buy one or two players to turns things round, but I am also fully confident that our squad is really good. Arteta has plenty to work with.

This is what he had to say during the press conference (see also

on how long he thinks it will take to build a team to play in the ideal formation and tactics he wants to play and the sort of players he will want to add to the group...
There are players that can develop perfectly into that formation [4-3-3] and one thing is that the ideal thing you would like to do and the other is the possibility that you have to achieve that. As a coach, you have to adapt to what we have and what we can do in the future, obviously we have to work to evolve it to where we want because as well we have to recruit players that are very specific for certain areas and whether you have them or not is a question that is at the moment one of the issues that we have.

on whether five or six players is an accurate number of new players he will need…
No but it’s not just to recruit because there are players that are evolving that you could not see that they could play in those positions and now you see how they are performing and playing. We’ve got a lot of players that are here that weren’t capable to play in that way of playing and they are. So as well, it’s about timings, it’s about coaching them and about them evolving in the right positions and maturing. It’s a bit of everything.

I think the responses by Mikel sum up how difficult it is for him to get things right straightaway; it simply takes time: developing and coaching players takes time; recruiting the right sort of player(s) takes time; making everybody understand the way we are going to play and their individual tasks and roles… takes time.

However, for tonight we, like Mikel, need not to worry about any of this. We are playing a game of semi-meaningful football in Ireland and we have a group of eager youngsters who would like to impress the manager and fans. What is not to like about that?

So how are Arsenal going to line-up? Will Arteta go all-Academy or will he play some experienced players in key areas? Some experienced players need game time and the manager simply needs to play them.

I am hoping for something like this:

Mari, Chambers and Soares simply need the game and the same goes for Pepe, AMN, Joe and Nelson. Kola also needs to stay fit in case Tierney gets injured, so another game for him makes sense. But in attack Mikel can try something out and it would be great to see starts for both Moller and ESR. Height in the box is sorely missed and a creative, attacking midfielder with an eye for a goal would be very nice too.

So for me, it’s these starting eleven this (early!) evening, but what do you say?!

By TotalArsenal.

40 thoughts on “Arsenal Preview/ Lineup: Time for Moller and ESR

  • Interesting article there Total, I guess Carney is suggesting that Wenger didn’t maximise the full potential of Olivier?

  • Both Nelson and Kolasinac unavailable tonight due to an accidental clash of heads in practice. Guess that means AMN at LB and maybe Elneny at CDM?

  • That’s a shame HH– to change the dynamic of the team so late in the week.

    With this team predicted (in one source) at Dundalk– now sans Kola and Nelson…
    Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Runarsson; Cedric, Chambers, Mari, (Kolasinac); Elneny, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Willock, (Nelson); Nketiah.

    Perhaps we see ESR in the middle with Willock on the wing (or vice versa)– and AMN at LB?
    Would really prefer that Arteta not use any first-teamers except in cameo or injury situ.


  • There is a time to buy and there is a time to stick. I’m pretty much always an advocate of buying the best…but, much as it will not be popular, this is not the time to buy. Buying even two creative players now will help nothing…at best it will add 2 players to the other 9 who are playing badly. It will be a complete waste of time and create 2 more pieces of deadwood, through no fault of any new signing they bring in. Arsenal need this season to find themselves again. What is the basis or style of the team going forward. Arteta needs to identify his formation and absolutely key, needs to know who his best players are. And he needs to play after game after game. And then again!Who of the CBs is Gabriel’s partner? Are Saka or Martinelli 1st team starters? Can I trust the occasionally world class Pepe to hold down the rw? Are any of Nelson, Wikock, Nketiah or Amn good enough to be trusted squad players or would club benefit more from selling them? Which of the unpopular vets is really as bad as twitter twats say, and which can be trusted?
    There is the core of a very good team here..Leno, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Bellerin, Ceballos (for the year) Auba (centre forward) should play every game. Then we have a team. Wide forwards Pepe and Saka should never be far away. Saliba needs a stage to show hes one of worlds most promising cbs. These are all good players and deserve to play. The rest of the squad is questionable, unproven and in some cases just proven to be unfit for Arsenal.
    But this, manifestly is not the time to muddy the waters further by bringing in more questions. This season is gone. We are not winning the league (the only position that counts) and an outside chance of a top 4 place is worthless in the scheme of things. Have some balls. Have the courage of our convictions. Start to build from your best team. Plenty of cups to play for, but the greater prize is arriving in the summer with cash in hand, knowing who we actually need when, right now, the legitimate answer is probably everybody!

  • Great comment, S-Giant! 🙂

    I think I agree to a large extent. Work with what we have got around Mikel’s philosophy and see the gradual improvement of both the way we play and many of our players. There are one or two positions in which we could do with quality (RB and CF) but maybe one or two youngsters will come to the fore in the next six months. It is about patience really.

  • Good post Total, football management and time are rarely mentioned in the same sentence.
    Moller is an intriguing pick to start and I’d love to see it, but it’s gonna be Eddie isn’t it? 😉

    HH that’s really sad news for Nelson because opportunities for our young players will become increasingly rare as the season progresses.

  • It’ll also be a shame if Niles misses out on a rare outing in midfield to cover for Kolasinac at left back. ☹️

  • Appreciate the writeup TA.
    It is about staying the course at this juncture. Such an odd season in the PL this time around. A number of teams who flew from the gate unexpectedly– and with some strength. With the bottom of the table defined at present? Means Mikel needs to keep the keel even. Injuries and wear and tear should see some teams level-off by January. The large squad Arsenal have carried may prove a benefit in this period.

    As for noise online? This is the reality for any big club in this era. I am reminded (and rewarded) by something I’d read recently. Written by Chuck Lorre, the producer of the recent decade-long mega-hit sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and now, the prequel ‘Young Sheldon’.

    Mr Lorre through the years of Big Bang ended every show beyond the credits by posting a ‘vanity card’. These were Chuck’s personal musings during the past week– usually with dry wit and insights of a successful longtime comedy writer. It became a weekly ritual then, for Mrs jw1 to pause the show at that juncture– and for me to do my radio-voice and read aloud.

    You see, even though I’ve had multiple careers and made a living online via web design, web administration and IT? I made a decision a couple of decades back to eschew social media. Completely. Not that I’m a raving Unabomber anti-Facebooker (as Mrs jw1 keeps up with family for both of us– and is a member of every FB Kitty Group that exists)– but I made the decision to focus on finding quality of information– over quantity of voices. Distilling-down as it were. Before consuming it, excluding the excess from the quantifiable.

    This last week I’d felt a wave of comfort hearing what Chuck Lorre imparted on the world– and to us in our living room.

    Possibly the most successful at what he does in his field? Chuck Lorre takes time to impart his thoughts for others in humble fashion. Search for: ‘Chuck Lorre Vanity Cards’

    There will always be more information available than we can process.
    It is incumbent on us all to find solid sources to trust.
    Keep looking forward.


  • From

    Emile Smith Rowe had been on the pitch for just three minutes when he slotted home the final goal of Arsenal’s comprehensive 4-1 win over Rapid Vienna last week.

    The 20-year-old attacking midfielder did what has become a rarity for the Gunners this season: he made a run beyond the striker and was rewarded with a tap-in when Ainsley Maitland-Niles rolled the perfect ball into his path.

    It was a goal that highlighted what many at Arsenal already knew, that Smith Rowe has that special knack of getting himself in the right place at the right time inside the penalty area.

    It also added to the growing number of voices calling for the youngster to be given a go in the Premier League by Mikel Arteta.

    Many were hoping Smith Rowe’s goalscoring cameo against Vienna would at least earn him a spot on the bench against Tottenham on Sunday but the Arsenal academy product failed to make the matchday squad for the north London derby.

    They won’t have to wait too long to see him in action again, however, with Smith Rowe pushing for his first start of the season on Thursday night, when Arteta’s side complete their Europa League group-stage campaign with a game against Dundalk in Dublin.

    At a time when Arsenal are crying out for goal threat and creativity in the final third, it represents an ideal opportunity for the England Under-20 international to stake his claim for a chance in the Premier League.

  • Considering it’s been more than two years since Smith Rowe made his senior debut with a late substitute appearance against Vorskla in the Europa League, it is perhaps surprising that a player who has been dubbed ‘The Croydon De Bruyne’ by fans has only amassed 15 senior appearances for the Gunners.

    However, there have been two loan spells during that time: one injury-ridden stint in Germany with RB Leipzig and another far more successful stay at Huddersfield during the second half of last season.

  • He featured 19 times for the Terriers and played a major role in keeping them in the Championship, even scoring the goal against West Brom in July that effectively guaranteed their safety.

    “Emile is a young boy who has the world at his feet,” said Danny Cowley, the former Huddersfield boss who was in charge of Smith Rowe at the John Smith’s Stadium.

    “He has that ability to find space. He could find space in a telephone box. He speeds the play up for you and draws and commits. He’s just a really lovely player.”

    Smith Rowe has been with Arsenal since he was 10, progressing through the Hale End academy in various attacking positions, even operating as a striker at times.

    However, as he got older, he started to make a name for himself in a central role behind the forwards, and it’s there where he now feels at home.

    “I enjoy playing at No.10 the most,” he said. “I love driving towards goal with the ball.

    “Some people have compared my playing style to Kevin De Bruyne’s and that’s a very nice compliment because he’s a great player and someone I really look up to.

    “I’m trying to learn as much as I can from watching De Bruyne and working hard in training with all of the world-class players around me.”

    After making such an impression while on loan at Huddersfield last season, many believed 2020-21 would be a breakthrough campaign for Smith Rowe under Arteta, but injuries have hampered his progress.

  • A troublesome shoulder problem saw him have to wait until November for his first outing of the campaign, but he marked the occasion with an assist in Arsenal’s 3-0 win at Molde in the Europa League. And he followed that up with a goal in his next appearance, against Vienna last week.

    In all, Smith Rowe has found the net four times in his 15 senior appearances for Arsenal, with just nine of those coming as starts.

    He is one of the few players in the Arsenal squad who has the ability to run with the ball from deep, who can pick a pass and get on the scoresheet himself.

    With Arsenal presently struggling for goals, he has all the attributes that could make a big difference for Arteta’s struggling side.

    “Emile is a player with an incredible talent,” said the Gunners boss. “He’s a player with very specific qualities to play in those pockets in that position as an attacking midfielder.

    “Mentally, it is always a challenge because the demands are so high and you need to hit those high levels to become an Arsenal player. So, it’s down to him as well.

    “But I really like him and he’s a player that if we are a little bit patient [with], we have a great player there.”

  • Patience is something Smith Rowe has had to show a lot of in the past couple of years, with injuries stifling his development and drastically limiting his opportunities at Arsenal.

    But he’s now fully fit and has a real chance to force his way into Arteta’s plans.

    A strong performance at Dundalk would see those calling for the ‘Croydon de Bruyne’ to be unleashed in the Premier League become even tougher to ignore.

    By Charles Watt

  • Saliba’s Arsenal future to be ‘decided soon’, says Arteta

    Charles Watts

    Arsenal Correspondent
    Last updated.

    The Gunners defender has yet to make a senior appearance this season and wasn’t even registered in their 25-man Europa League squad
    Arsenal have yet to decide whether William Saliba will be sent out on loan in January.
    The 19-year-old centre-back has yet to make a senior appearance for the Gunners following his £27 million move from Saint Etienne in 2018.
    He was expected to be a key player this season, having spent the 2019/20 campaign back on loan with his former club in Ligue 1, but things have not gone to plan.

    Saliba has suffered some personal issues off the pitch and had to deal with the death of his mother soon after making his move to England.

    His struggles to adapt saw him left out of Arsenal’s 25-man squad for the Europa League and he has yet to play a single minute in the Premier League or even make a matchday squad.
    The centre-back has instead had to make do with some appearances for the Under-23s and it has been widely expected that he will leave on loan once the January transfer window opens, with Saint Etienne the likely destination.

    Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League meeting with Dundalk on Thursday night, however, Mikel Arteta said a final decision on the defender’s future had yet to be made.
    “It’s something that we are discussing at the moment,” said the Arsenal boss. “The best thing for us to do. It will be decided soon.”

    Saliba was sent off on Tuesday night while playing for Arsenal’s U21s in the Football League Trophy against Wimbledon at Plough Lane.
    His continued absence from the first-team has been a source of great frustration amongst some fans and Arteta was asked when they cool expect to finally get their first proper look at the centre-back in the first-team.

    “Whenever we have the spaces and we believe that he’s ready to play with us,” he replied.
    “To be fair, he’s made massive improvements in the last few months and it’s been a really tricky situation for him. As I mentioned before, designed a pathway for him and there were a lot of things that happened to him in his personal life and professionally as well.

    “Now we’ve made some steps forwards, he’s working really hard and played for the under-21s again.
    “That was a good game because [Gabriel] Martinelli finally came back for 45 minutes, so I think it was a really positive day for us in terms of that.”

  • Kev, a start for Eddie would indeed not surprise me. Yet, he is sort of our twelfth now and so knows that he is likely to play PL minutes this weekend. But there is also Balogun of course. My hope is just to play something different for once, and Moller seems to offer this.

  • ‘We tested him three times’ – Injured Partey to miss ‘next few’ Arsenal matches but Arteta has no regrets

    Charles Watts

    Arsenal Correspondent
    20:37 09 Dec 2020

    A scan on Tuesday confirmed the Gunners midfielder is set for another spell on the sidelines
    Mikel Arteta insists he has no regrets about playing Thomas Partey in Sunday’s north London derby, despite confirming the midfielder will miss ‘the next few matches’ with a reoccurrence of his thigh injury.
    The Ghana international had missed almost a month of action having initially picked up the injury during the defeat against Aston Villa on November 8.
    But he worked tirelessly to be fit into to face Tottenham last weekend and was cleared to play having completed two full days training ahead of Sunday’s clash.

    Arteta then started him against Spurs, only for the £45 million deadline day addition from Atletico Madrid to break down just before half-time of the 2-0 defeat which left Arsenal languishing in 15th place in the Premier League

    And the Arsenal boss has now confirmed Partey is set for another spell on the sidelines, although he has not yet put a timeframe on when he could be available again.
    “He got injured in the same area,” said the Spaniard. “Not exactly the same spot, but similar as it was before.

    “We MRI [scanned] him yesterday [Tuesday]. There was an injury there and he will miss the next few matches.”
    Arteta has come in for some criticism following Partey’s injury, with many believing he was rushed back too early for such a crucial game.
    But the Arsenal boss is adamant that was not the case and that the player had gone through all the necessary checks to ensure he was ready to return.
    “No,” he said when asked if Partey had been rushed back.
    “He did incredibly well. He was very confident. We tested him three times. He had zero symptoms about it. But in football, you have a lot of unpredictable actions and he went into the floor, his knee got stuck.
    “After he needs to stretch and get up. Immediately he put a lot of stress in a similar area and he felt it again.

    “After it was said it was a bit too early, I don’t think it was because he was completely fine to play.”
    Partey will now definitely miss Thursday night’s Europa League meeting with Dundalk in Ireland and next week’s Premier League meetings with Burnley and Southampton at Emirates Stadium.
    Arsenal then travel to Everton before playing Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on December 22 and Chelsea on Boxing Day.

  • Thank you, Jw for that personal story and beautiful insights. I am also not into social media as time is too precious and I am a reader which does not go with constant interruption. Quality over quantity indeed!

  • Well I agree Total, I’d actually start Balogun myself, see how he reacts to his full debut, apparently Eddie and Flo have the same agent so that could complicate things as Flo is out of contract this summer and Eddie is out of contract in 2022, therefore a lot to think about contracts wise?

  • The contracts situation simply sucks, Kev. The players have so much power in these situations and what is a club to do? Big financial decisions/risks involved…

  • Big summers in 2021 and 2022 Total both in terms of recruitment and contracts, we can’t be giving anymore of these massive contracts to over 30’s, we have to go down the Gabriel, Tierney, Partey avenue.

  • De Bruine means the ‘Brown One’, Kev. Yet he is a ginger, so he should have been called De Rooie 🙂

    And yes it is the Dutch spelling but I think it is officially De Bruyne. An old fashioned spelling I reckon.

  • TA, it was reported by Chris Wheatley, one of the key Arsenal insiders for all things Arsenal (along with Charles Watts). Both will apparently be back soon though.

  • It’s a 4-4-2 tonight, lineup confirmed:


    Subs: Macey, Hein, Saka, Ceballos, Holding, Balogun, Cottrell and Azeez

  • I would imagine it is 4-3-3 with ESR in the hole, or Willock? But 4-4-2 with Pepe in the hole is also a possibility… whatever it is, this is a fine line-up for tonight’s game.

  • Oh my god!
    Elneny scored a hysterical scorcher. From 20 meters to the top corner.
    Our second outside the box this season, but a sure contender for the best goal of the season!

  • I loved that Elneny missile what a goal!! A little frustrated with the second part of the second half where we failed to keep possession well. Not sure why Pepe went back to the right flank wish Mikel would stop switching him so much and let him continue on the left where he did so well last time. I feel for Bolagun he surely has to leave after this there is not much we can learn about Eddy here not sure why he hasnt been given this start… sigh.

  • It was also nice to see AMN and Soares taking long range shots that were both on target.

  • Was completely with TA in expecting a more offensive formation. Slightly shocked Arteta feels the need for 3 at the back against Dundalk. We still didn’t manage to keep a clean sheet for even half an hour. So whilst the benefit is arguable, I feel it is costing us the fluidity in attack we had against Vienna, where our attackers were interchanging much more freely. Whilst Willock is having a good game in my view, he is not connecting attack in midfield as well as Laca’s through balls did last week. Is this a sign that Arteta feels 3 at the back is going to remain the default for the rest of the season?

    Maybe I am asking to much from a team that has little familiarity playing together, given the number of returnees from injury. However, I had really been hoping for therapeutic display that can help my push down the memory of Sunday a little further.

  • Nice to see Balo get his goal and for Azeez to make his debut. Azeez had very limited minutes but like what I saw very tidy on the ball and cool in possession.

  • Very enjoyable but the one thing that stands out to me over everything else is that Arsenal must, they simply must, get Balogun to stay…

  • But you can only do that by giving him minutes and I just dont see where those will come from.

  • Something about Balogun’s close quarters Giroud-ish layoff for Willock’s goal?
    Or just that he’s always seems primed to shoot at goal?


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