Arsenal v Toffees Lineup / Preview: Will There Be Rock?

The games keep coming and there is little time for reflection and refocusing. The aim is clear: Arsenal need a win and this needs to be done from within each individual on the pitch. If everybody fights at their hardest then at some point our luck will return and the team will become a team again. Let there be rock!

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock (Live At River Plate, December 2009) – YouTube

The Toffees are of course not an easy sweet to crack. They are flying at the moment and have a shrewd and experienced manager in Ancelotti. But such is the form of Arsenal that it does not really matter who we play; we are our own worst enemy. This team is looking for its balance, for things to start clicking and for Arteta’s camino to start leading us in the right direction. Will it happen today? Probably not but hopefully we see some more progress.

Mikel Arteta: Why Arsenal have ‘no doubts’ despite worst start in decades – BBC Sport

Guillem Balague’s article for the BBC seems to give a clear indication that all is well inside the Arsenal camp: the management are behind Mikel and so are the players. He may be a little too regimented in his approach but they can all see that he is working hard and has a clear vision for our club. When things don’t go well we all start to see elephants and rhinoceroses on the road, issue conspiracy-theories and look for causes and solutions, but when you read the above article it all seems to be just a case of inevitable stumble-blocks on the path of (structural and cultural change. I think Mikel and the club would do well to explain their vision to the fans and ask for some patience this season.

So how will Arteta line-up today? I think it will be pretty similar to Wednesday’s formation with probably Luiz for Gabriel in the centre of defence. Maybe Laca will start ahead of Eddie and Willian ahead of Pepe, and Bells will start.

If it was up to me though, I would start with the following eleven:

I would like Willian to play in the nr10 position but help out in midfield too. Elneny can move next to AMN if and when Willy moves in the hole. Soares can sit back but now and again, as unexpected as possible, he can move forwards to spring an attack from our right hand side. I like to continue with the combo of Tierney, Saka and Auba on the left side, with AMN providing cover in all areas. Luiz can organise our defence in a three at the back – the only way to play him imo – and he can provide a few nice balls over the top for our-free-to-roam central attackers. Arteta can bring in the likes of Ceballos, ESR, Nelson, Eddie, Balogun (?)etc to freshen up things.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners – Let There Be Rock!!!

By TotalArsenal.

85 thoughts on “Arsenal v Toffees Lineup / Preview: Will There Be Rock?

  • I love the formation T, and the player choices too, though I think Tierney is wasted as part of the back 3. But maybe he is better than all of our CB options? Thats not a good sign. I Agree with most, why sign Soares if not going to use him? Plus that allows Ainsley in midfield. So many of us see potential in him there, then why doesn’t the manager see it, especially considering how short we are there. I wouldn’t blame the player for wanting a move away if he doesn’t get a chance with Xhaka and Partey out, and all these fixtures.

    I think Pepe put in good work effort at Southampton and I hope he builds on that, but I’m ok with giving him 60 minutes or coming off the bench for impact. But I really like your line up for having just one true striker. It’s my opinion that having 2 strikers on the pitch means less overall quality football in midfield, and there we are already lacking badly.
    Honestly, I think that has been Artetas biggest error so far, and it’s cost us a lot. Shoehorning Lacazette in midfield basically has been a huge failure and has hurt our play and results. More strikers does not equal more goals.

  • Hi J, like you I am hoping for more balance in attack and more power and creativity from midfield. I like us to get closer to the opposition’s box and make some runs into it from midfield. AMN and Willian can be those energetic bunnies. Everton will want to play football at home and this should leave us with space to attack in. But we are up against Ancelotti and he may well allow us to run into the familiar trick of us attacking and them counter-attacking. We will see.. 🙂

  • I like your predicted 11, with a few tweaks.
    Now, he is rested and perhaps had time to reflect a bit, Bellerin is likely to start as right wing back; I would like to see Mustafi, personally, because of Everyone’s Brazil striker whose style I feel is best countered by Mustafi’s.

    Again, with the forced substitution of Ceballos (Arteta couldn’t afford another 2nd yellow) last time out, he is likely to be allowed to go again today. Willian, Laca and Auba to make up the front 3.

    The players have got to take responsibility and fight for the shirt to get anything out of this game.

  • Good shouts, Erismus. I fear Arteta’s line up will not be like the one I would prefer, but he is the master and I will support him. I am fighting a personal sensation of not being able to win a game in which Ceballos starts (in the DM pivot positions). But yes he is likely to start and we will hope he does both parts of his role really well.

  • T, I can see Ancelotti playing on the counter, because it’s obvious we are desperate to start scoring goals. The fact that we were stupid enough to play that way against Mourinho worries me for today a bit.

    Watching Southampton create chances against Man city right now and I wonder why we are so dysfunctional. I get jealous watching other teams, like never before. Even if they lose, they don’t look bad.

  • Also watching man city….. when will we start to have effective pressing like that ? You hire a coach who comes from city and Pep, the least you can expect is to bring that. In my case, it was the first aspect I expected us to work on and get much better. Not for 90 minutes, but strategically to keep teams off balance, more in packs, and better anticipation of passes. Without that in mind, I don’t think I would’ve wanted to hire him.

  • Thanks for the preview TA!
    Would go with the setup you’ve proposed with a couple of tweaks. The matchups in midfield are critical. James and Allen are out injured for Everton. Doucoure with some combo of Sigurdsson, Gomes, possibly Holgate with a return expected by Seamus Coleman. So, I feel I’d rather see Dani Ceballos in that No 10-ish role– with Lacazette’s striking skills versus Pepe’s… presence on the pitch.

    Calvert-Lewin’s hot goal scoring streak has cooled of late– though he has assisted in the Toffee’s last 2 wins over Chelsea and Leicester. We always seem to find a way to make Richarlison dangerous– dating back to his days at Watford. Alex Iwobi has been playing well. Carlo Ancellotti has been rotating keepers on a couple of occasions this season with Pickford expected to return after Robin Olsen kept a clean sheet last week.

    Going to take some good defending and one or two moments of white light for Arteta’s charges to persevere. And I am a bit more confident this time out, than I was just 2 or three matches back.


  • Well, there is no surprise with regards to GK, defenders and midfielders, but the attacking trio is quite a novelty…

  • I’d have to think a little bit better yes, T. I recognize a big part of that is charisma and track record which gets players to buy in. I met Noel Gallagher at my old job and I asked him how pleased he was with Pep. Your know they have special access at the club and got to know him. He said Pep can’t get enough teaching young people , including his kids. He was raving about that aspect.

    But he has become far too much of a checkbook manager in my opinion, not to mention a failure in champions league.

  • Interesting line up. Eddie over Laca. We really need to stop depending on strikers for goals so much anyway. Too much focus on that in the media and fan shows.

  • We are missing so may players it will be a very difficult dame for us – but we have not done so well with the first team choices so maybe fate has shown a new way for us ?

  • When Arteta alluded to possible absences but not going to tell, I suspected it was either Holding or Auba, as I didn’t “see” them both in the training video. Later saw a pic of Holding in the session. Got me wondering, could it be Auba? Turns out it is he. Hope it isn’t long term and that he returns stronger and sharper.

    The worry is that it isn’t Laca coming in for him. Is he done here?

  • Nketiah will deliver, if he gets the chances. The concern is with Pepe and Willian. We need courage. Happy it is Maitland-Niles at right back though. Hope he supports Holding against Richarlison.

  • Oh, and Martinelli is on the bench. He will get a few minutes, depending on how things go.

  • I like to have the full teams and subs posted, so here goes:

    Pickford, Holgate, Mina, Keane, Godfrey, Sigurdsson, Doucoure, Davies, Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison

    Subs: Kenny, Tosun, Nkounkou, Bernard, Coleman, Gordon, Branthwaite, Olsen, Lossl

    Leno, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Ceballos, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah, Willian

    Subs: Bellerin, Lacazette, Runarsson, Cedric, Mustafi, Willock, Kolasinac, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli.

  • Kind of humorous– with recent calls for a ‘youth movement’. A shame Martinelli isn’t completely fit. This might have been just the style of play for him to excel.


  • Ya’ know what– in watching City v Soton? Soton played City almost even and had an opportunity or two to level. Makes me think– our team is playing well enough to grind out results if we could just bag the odd or timely goal (like Holding’s last minute header). That– with a measure of composure at critical moments– it can all come together.

    The back-3 of Rob-David-Kieran were instrumental in the teams successes over the Summer. Saka and AMN were once full-time fullbacks– and instrumental last Summer as well. That’s the foundation I’ve been wanting to see for a month or so.

    Go Gunners!


  • Well, I thought the penalty had changed it all (Pépé took it really well, btw), but …
    So far, we had delivered a joyless, soulless, uninspired performance; this squad’spirit is wounded, and it shows
    Rob’s very unlucky at the moment, wednesday he had a goal denied by the post, today this og, the lad must feel cursed, he’d had a very good start imo
    Dani and Willian are invisible men, which is worse than being poor
    I’m afraid we might be running Bukayo on empty, the lad looks exhausted, if he’s not rested soon, I fear he might get injured, what a shame it’d be
    Kieran should be regarded as a hero of our cause, whatever the context, he always delivers – hopefully he’ll be our next captain
    Eddie moves well, there’s a muscular side to his game that i like (i like it when CBs look like they’ve suffered from provoking contact with our CF, and with Eddie this happens very often), but he gave away a golden opportunity, which highlighted his present technical limitations – i suspect he’s a hard worker, he’ll improve
    You’d want to be in the stands, trying to cheer up the lads. In front of a tv screen, our games are starting to become painful experiences …

  • How is Pepe not standing between the CB and the corner the ball is delivered from? Why is he not engaging a much larger player — at all?

    Honestly. Arsenal ought to be up 2-1 at the least.


  • 2-1 at half time. One own goal and the other, a good header by perhaps the talliest player on the pitch being marked by an unlikely player in Pepe. As a team, we’ve not played badly and have given as much as we’ve got. If I didn’t know better, I’d think/say Everton are showing us respect, which suggests we are doing some things right and making it hard for them to create much.

    Nketiah needed to have taken a touch and slotted that chance home. Pepe has been hot and cold; both he and Willian have been tame with his defensive responsibilities, whether blocking crosses or putting his foot into it the right way. He just isn’t pulling his weight at all. At this point, I miss not having Nelson available or that’s it for Willian, for me. He needs to keep possession and do enough in tracking, while also being aware of position of team mates.

    I expect a draw but would admit we haven’t shown how the goals will come.

    What changes to come? We shall see.

  • I have at least seen Danni get involved a couple of times defensively and then he had a quick transition pass through to eddie on the right which he took hastily and came of the defender. Willian is just floating anonymously for my liking and does not really close people down defensively kind of like Ozil was it not him who was closest to the crosser of the ball that resulted in Holding’s own goal he barely gave any effort. He is also not really looking to make himself available for pass in midfield but maybe I am just being harsh on him. Our full backs are maybe our best players with Ainsley solid at the back and winning a penalty.

    I am hoping Arteta is at least brave enough to make quick changes starting with ESR for Willian. Oh and I was very concerned before the game about them scoring on corners with the height and power they possess so far they got one goal from it.

  • That was prescient Eris. Willian acting like a spectator on AMN’s running pass top-of-box wide open.


  • You can see Ricarlison putting in a real shift on both ends helping out his defense the way Wllian should be getting stuck in.

  • I would never wish our player to be injured but maybe if Saka was to limp some more he could actually be given a breather Arteta simply says he needs to be protected but refuses to even give him a sub role I fear he will get injured as others have mentioned.

  • Starting to show some more intent going forward even Willian has been involved in a couple of moves its a shame we dont start like this but only when we are chasing a game.

  • Might be a good thing if Eddie would be more active among those defenders in the box. They have no other responsibility than to watch the ball– when he stands or walks among them.

  • too late flashes of brilliance … and they were just flashes, anyway
    joe for mo’ made sense, he’s been very interesting, confident, i think he’s matured a lot lately; he definitely deserves starts
    very happy to see gabe again, of course – but pépé out, not willian??
    as for emil … what a vote of no-confidence it is to see gabe picked ahead of him
    and lastly, not having brought laca in sooner, is a humiliation he doesn’t deserve imo
    bukayo on the right … this kid just brings light to whatever part of the pitch he tramples
    at this point, i don’t care much about tactics, but it’s an understatement to say i find mick’s man-management puzzling …
    city/chelsea – maybe two low-expecation games is just what we need right now

  • To be fair Willian improved in the second half and Pepe was just taking pot shots from the left it was not coming off for him other than the penalty said it several times needs a run on the left I get that Mik is in love with the whole inverted winger idea as he had with Mahrez and Sterling but its not for Pepe. They were at least worthy of a point but just no goals in the side.

  • In the end, we saw some effort from the lads. Willian started to show more for the ball but needs to be looking to thread passes to our runners instead of merely carrying the ball from one flank to the other. I see forwards making runs to give him options, but he ignores them, making shimmying runs to the next flank.

    I liked the energy Martinelli brought and the changes Arteta made sent the messages we needed to be on the front foot. Well, our luck deserves to turn soon. Surely, we deserve to go on a run soon. This Everton side has beaten some good sides so, I won’t scoff at our second half performance.

  • But you have to wonder with Chelsea up next how much time does Mikel have. The pressure is mounting on management to do something but I hope they hang in there as the fixtures lighten up after Chelsea. We also badly need Thomas back to drive through that midfield and add that much more class. The defense did a fairly decent job without Gabby today especially Ainsley who should keep at Hector for a while.

  • Pepe, pen aside, was again akin a hood ornament today.

    Adding nothing. Allowed his man mark to glide all the way across from far side of goal and head in the winner.

    The team fought hard, deserving at least a point. Let down by Eddie (lack of awareness) and Willian (lack of effort for the first hour) and Pepe’s ‘no-show’.

    Tough to beat an in-form team when you are playing with eight plus 3 bystanders. Those three don’t deserve those minutes again for some time.


  • Things I’d like to see ATM:

    -Edu sacked & arrested,

    -Willian sacked & arrested,

    -Arteta sacked.

    Edu arrested for having Willian and Luiz at Arsenal on mega-deals even if they are well past their best.

    Willian arrested for being involved in a transfer that made sense only to his Mr 15% and Edu.

    Arteta sacked for screwing things up with Mesut and playing Willian constantly.

  • We are getting better. Once again Arsenal did not deserve to lose but it happens when you are in the doldrums. Some players were below par and Arteta will soon have alternatives to pick from.

  • Last year Spurs stole Mourinho just a few weeks before we sacked Emery. Now we’ve just missed our chance again with Fat Sam being scooped up!

    Such timing !

  • I’m very glad you wasn’t serious J, otherwise the men in white coats would have come a calling…

    Only saw brief highlights although the game sounded awful on the radio.
    I thought we deserved a point on chances.

    Holding own goal only compounds our bad luck but too many players are not playing on merit.
    What has Mari and Chambers got to do to get a game?

    Pepe is hopeless if we put him up for sale we’d be lucky to get £20m, why on earth won’t Arteta play more of the youngsters, if he doesn’t then some of the usual suspects will cost him his job?

    Nelson simply has to come into the equation when he’s fit and even Balogun, we need goals and that kid can score…

  • TA,

    A disappointed ‘hello’ to you and the guys – not much to say to be candid, but for what it is worth, here are my Player Ratings:

    Leno, [6] – Holding, [6] – Luiz, [6] – Tierney, [7.5] – Maitland-Niles, [6] – Elneny, [5] – Ceballos, [6] – Saka, [6.5] – Pepe, [4.5] – Nketiah, [5] – Willian [5]

    Subs: Willock, [5] – Lacazette, [5] – Martinelli, [5]

    As usual, all ratings are affected by the course of the game — and the result – no one will thank me for saying ‘we lost’ but there it is.

    No goals from open play – again – and the creativity was poor – again —– so where the heck was Balogun — and where the heck was ESR ??

    In the years I have watched Arsenal, since I was a boy, I have never watched any Arsenal team play in such a desultory way, game after game.

    Ouch – it hurts!!

  • Thanks Redders. Those scores seem pretty much on the mark. I missed the last twenty minutes. Nobody is out playing us but we lack the rub off the green which I think is typical for a team bereft of confidence. Conceding the first goal is of course deadly for us right now. Still not all is awful.

  • Here is an idea:

    re-sign Fabregas come January.

    He ticks all the boxes.

    1) He is a HG-player.

    2) He owes us big time.

    3) He would be the most creative midfielder in the squad.

    4) He is an ex-Chelsea player past his best.

  • Frankly in my lifetime I’ve seen worse Arsenal performances. Right now we are having no luck, own goals, red cards and woodwork all seem to be against us.

    I won’t jump in on criticizing individual players but it’s obvious to all that we are neither creating scoring opportunists nor are we finishing the few “golden” chances we get, I remain confident that it will turn around and that we will not be involved in a relegation dog fight.

    Sales of the deadwood, of which we have plenty, and purchases of some creative players are critical to our short term hopes, and long time development.

    I also feel that the second half performance will win us most games, so all is not doom and gloom.

    RA, your ratings seem to be very fair to me – sad as they look.

  • Thing about Holding’s own goal– it was borne out of effort to stay astride Calvert-Lewin. Rob defended well all-day. He and AMN worked well in silencing Richarlison. This specific back-3 worked well with Elneny doing the shielding. AMN and Saka were active both on the flanks and central at times. AMN’s energy winning the pen (don’t see how he’s not our No.1). With the exception of Michael Keane’s long-range miss(le), felt the defense had played well enough for a result. It worked well enough.

    Till it came to the most passive front line one might select.


  • Total, nice comeback there🤣 Pulis…

    Admir… Cesc really clever joke LOL
    Sometimes laughter is all we have, when things get as bad for Arsenal as they seem now.

    N5, it’s so true what you say about little bits of luck lately… as we have basically been in all the games close enough, though chance creation and scoring is still a major concern. Eddie blew the easiest of opportunities, and we know why.. over anxious, because the pressure to score is mounting every minute played. To me, almost all own goals are down to luck.. ours have been. Then, Hitting the woodwork too. When it rains, it pours.

    JW, I agree with all of your last comment. I always defend Holding as underrated against people who think we need to spend 50 million on a CB.

    But a couple huge lapses that could cost any team 3 points. Iwobi had too much space to deliver that cross, and thanks for pointing out Keanes shot. That lapse was horrible, embarrassing even… Also Leno’s save was excellent before their headed goal. Was that another shot they got clear for? Those mistakes are more than enough in this level of competition.

  • Hey T, just rest and recover. We can get by a day or two just commenting (commiserating) here. Just drop in some comments if you feel like it.

  • You take good care Total, here in Essex it’s basically lockdown again and I guess it will be until the end of December, gonna make my last trip into London later today to see what’s happening and then that’s probably it until 2021…

    Hey J, I watched a really eye opening documentary on You Tube this evening about Seattle, it was made by ABC and it really painted a bleak picture about things there. The local authority seem to be a bit insane and set on a course of self destruction, it was all quite depressing and really rather sad….

  • Morning all,
    Total – Look after yourself and don’t worry about the blog BK – we will always be here.

    I’ll post the results of the competition shortly.

  • Hi TA,

    Hope you feel better soon!!

    All the best to you and the family, and a Happy Xmas to you all in these trying times — just in case you are not around for a little while.

  • Hi GN5,

    [Make sure I win the competition — and don’t tell anyone I did not enter it] 😁

  • Here are the results of the weekly competition:-
    For the week.
    1st – Gooneris, Total, PB & JWL with 3/6 plus 1 bonus point each.
    5th Kev with 2/6
    6th GN5 with 1/6
    For the season.
    1st Kev – 60 points
    2nd Gooneris – 46 points
    3rd PB & JWL – 38.33 points
    5th GN5 – 38 points
    6th Total – 34 points

  • Here are my choices for the weekends games:-
    There’s an extra two points for the correct score between Arsenal & Chelsea
    Leicester v Manchester United
    Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
    Arsenal v Chelsea
    Sheffield United v Everton
    Wolves v Tottenham
    Dundee v Motherwell

  • Be well TA.
    Everyone please stay safe too.

    A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
    May we put this year behind us with all due speed.


  • It’s getting quite bleak to the point that I’m not convinced that new recruits will help Arteta turn things around. We’ve never attacked well under Arteta so it’s not like more creative players will suddenly wake some sleeping giant.

    Since the interlull:

    20th in goals scored
    20th in chances created
    19th in shots taken
    20th in shot accuracy
    20th in shot conversion
    19th in pressures
    20th in tackles
    20th in dribbles

    It’s not even a matter of getting the deadwood out at this point, I think it extends far beyond that. I’ve wanted to back Arteta but I think he’s out of his depth. Everything is too calculated and precise – Hummels said it best when Favre was sacked at Dortmund, “The margins for error are too small and everything needs to be absolutely precise for the Manager’s tactics to work. You need to have a team full of world class players to be able to pull it off, which is just unreasonable.”

    That’s exactly where I’m at with Arteta and I’m expecting the end to be very soon if he doesn’t get a win in his next three league matches.

  • Seems like a too-finite assessment HH. Arteta worked near-miracles with his tactics for months. I’d even offer that without Arteta– this team would never have given the glimmer of hope.

    One then asks: Who might do better with this band of players over half a season? Supposing this team– with a Newman survives the drop– then what? Newman is a short-termer most likely. Then who? No manager of repute is going to leave a decent-to-good club to takeover Arsenal. Then it’s down to those on the outs (or in China) at present. Pochettino. Pelligrini. Benitez. Just the ones on the tip of my noggin (with PL experience).

    Allow me to digress. In the most recent matches? We gained momentum in attack against Burnley. We played Soton even. We ought to have drawn with Everton at worst. The effort is there.
    But for 2 players’ stupidity, 2 more players’ inexperience, 2 near misses, and a pair of own goals– the club might have 5 or seven more points this last week. We’d likely not be entertaining this conversation. No other manager’s presence changes those kinds of events under the circumstances (IMO).

    My thoughts on this are– that as long as Arsenal can maintain a gap on the bottom three teams– Arteta’s got the slack to work this out. He needs creative talent in MF and a Plan B-type CF. If the club don’t address the lack of creativity and scoring as Job One in January? Makes little difference whose hand is on the tiller.


  • Tomorrow evening is like a free hit, no Premier League stress and an opportunity to play some of our youngsters which is also sure to be a lot more interesting and energising for us fans even if the opponents are Man City. I’m looking forward to seeing our young guns that’s for sure because the spectre of Chelsea is looming next…

    Chelsea on Boxing Day has all the hallmarks of a make or break match up for Arteta with Frank Lampard and his revitalised and financially doped team of globetrotters rolling into Ashburton Grove – I’m not very confident, I can’t lie…

  • Following on from Chelsea and on any other normal Arsenal season the Gunners have 5 matches to negotiate that should glean us 5 victories, but this season isn’t normal and especially when a recent draw with Southampton is greeted with relief as was the case a few days ago…

    Brighton (a) has been a banana skin for the last few years and always at this time of the season and then Big Sam lays in wait, probably looking for his first win as West Brom manager – well Sammy the walrus will will be rubbing his fat hands in anticipation of the visit of our mentally fragile Gunners. It’s frightening to imagine how we’ll feel and what state we’ll be in if we don’t take at least 4 points from those two?

  • The Arsenal team that knocked Leicester and Liverpool out of the League Cup seems like an age ago, but if by some miracles the Uncoachables prevail against Man City we’ll have a League Cup Semi-Final to play next and it seems to be a one off instead of the usual two legged affair – anything could happen, we might even get to Wembley in this schizophrenic of seasons?

    Newcastle (h) FAC, Palace (h) PL and Newcastle (h) PL follow and if Mikel is still in charge then he might have weathered the storm and we might be on the up, but don’t ask me if I think that that will be the case because I haven’t a scooby?

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