Arsenal v Magpies Preview/ Lineup: A Double Boost on the Left and the Return of Big Gab

After a bit of a setback against the Eagles last Thursday, the boys are back in action again on Monday. Once again we are meeting the Barcodes at the home of football, but this time it is not for the FA Cup but for the league. All is not well in the Newcastle camp it appears, with players rebelling against the manager’s tactics and you name it. The cacophony of all those shouting and screaming magpies must be deafening!

So will they be up for it tomorrow or become easy pray for the hopefully again firing-from-all-cylinders Gunners?

The Eagles game saw us shooting many blanks and we lacked the ability to somehow crack their solid defence. This was bound to happen to us at some point again and I am not too worried about it – all teams have had these sorts of frustrating games in recent weeks. We saw Pool and Manu miss a load of (half) chances today, and the Chavs only overcame a determined and well-organised Fulham as a result of a lucky bounce rather than a well worked out attack, yesterday. Teams are becoming really good at defending and the only way to crack them is by applying high levels of energy (whilst protecting the shape of the team), taking a half-chance and hoping for a lucky bounce of the ball, it seems. We lacked that sort of energy on Thursday, and also did not take our half-chances or had the benefit from a benevolent bounce of the ball in the opposition’s box. Yet I was impressed by our defending and Xhaka had an inspired game in midfield. Would we have done better with Tierney, Mari, Elneny and Martinelli involved in the game? Probably, but we will never know. I fully trust Areta to have made the right call on the night.

We know that the Magpies will in all likelihood play a similar game as in the FA Cup game: make it hard for us to play out from the back, sit deep when we get through their midfield and hope to get something from a breakaway or, more likely, a set piece or high cross into the box. So we need to be disciplined and have a solid midfield, especially with such adventurous full backs Arteta likes to deploy. Up-front we need energy, close ball control, excellent movement and ability to take our (half)chances. For this we will need to reintroduce the aforementioned players, or at least some of them.

My preferred lineup is:

Mari does not yet appear fit to play and it is time to reenter Gabriel anyway. Maybe Arteta will give Holding a rest and play Luiz instead, but I would like to see the Gab-Hold duo tomorrow. Hopefully TIerney is available again but if not I would like to see Gabriel play at left back (and then Luiz to play with Holding). In the middle we need to reintroduce a solid defensive midfielder, either Partey or Elneny for Ceballos, as to keep our shape and discipline which will allow the whole team to play better, both in attack and defence. Xhaka may need a rest as he had a very busy game v Newcastle.

In attack we should see a start for Martinelli who is available again! Saka should hopefully play and in the centre of the three attacking mids it will probably be either ESR or Willian. I am wary of overusing ESR at this stage and he looked a bit tired to me on Thursday. Willian between Saka and Martinelli and with Laca up-front could be treat to watch, but Arteta should stick with the in-form Emile if he is fully fit to play.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal.

29 thoughts on “Arsenal v Magpies Preview/ Lineup: A Double Boost on the Left and the Return of Big Gab

  • Thanks for the preview, TA.
    I hope this is going to be another win to keep our momentum.
    It is funny to see (at first glance) that only Leno, Holding, Partey and Saka have undisputed places in the line-up, but if we add Auba and Gabriel who should be popping up in any of the 2-2 possible positions as well as Tierney’s doubted fitness this is quite close to our current reality on the indispensability of our squad members.

  • It was Interesting to see how Man City dealt with Palace yesterday and to compare them with us, where as Arsenal play out from the back with at time a rather ponderous build up and around the edges of our box, City are snappy and press right up to the half way line compressing the opposition into their own half as they play their keep ball. Of course City in general have better players and Palace lacked Zaha so that was extremely lucky for Guardiola but it shows how far we have to go and why Man City will be likely to finish in the top two and Arsenal finish around 8th.

    Thanks for the post Total, being so close to our FACup tie their isn’t much to add to GN5’s earlier efforts but kudos to you for giving us something to natter about. It took us until added time to break the Magpies down so I’m not expecting a classic although I hope that the starting XI will reflect the team that finished the cup tie rather than the XI that started it.

    I can’t help feeling a little bit nervous about Tierney, maybe an hour of our Flying Scotsman and then if we’re hopefully in charge, whip him off…

    Gabriel or Luiz? I’d go Gabriel if he’s fit, Gabby is the future and Luiz most certainly isn’t, I don’t care how popular he is in the dressing room.

    Rumours of Lacazette and Arteta not getting on is the latest piece of tittle tattle, does that mean that the spy in the locker room is still active?

    13 days to go to move on players and bring in a goalkeeper…
    Just saying.

  • Well said, Kev. By the way, goalkeepers.
    I’ve been reading rumors on Arsenal being interested in Freddie Woodman as back-up goalkeeper.
    He looks like a quite decent player to me, and the right profile for the role. While he is still below Leno’s 1,9m (Freddie is 188 cm tall), his 56 junior caps are quite promising as well as his U17 EC and U20 WC titles. He is doing quite well for Swansea City – 2nd in the Championship with 14 clean sheets and 12 goals conceded in the remaining 9 games – but his loan situation (belongs to Newcastle, on loan to Swansea till the summer) would make it difficult to sign him in the next 2 weeks. Nevertheless it would be still exciting to sign him in the summer, as I consider it an acceptable risk to keep Leno with Rúnarsson, Hein and Okonkwo as back-ups, but it seems to be a common perception to find it too big of a risk.

  • Cheers Pete, regarding Woodman if he’s the right player with the right profile then I’d be happy to wait until the summer to get him, maybe we could take an experienced goalkeeper on loan until the summer if the club feel that Runarsson is too much of a risk?

  • Hi all,
    I wish Kieran were rested tonight, I’m afraid he might suffer a Partey-against-Spuds-setback
    and if we can’t beat that newcastle side without him, well something’s very wrong indeed
    should he be rested, based on your lineup TA, we might have something like
    a side which should treat us not only to a win but also to attractive, attacking football

  • Le Gall, that is some seriously attacking line-up, with even the full backs are capable to wreak havoc on the Newcastle defenders.
    I really wish to see them in that formation together, however I don’t see Martinelli starting as a RW. Maybe he can swap with Auba to share the same line-up, or could come to replace Pepe/Nelson/Willian, but most likely Saka will play at RW…

  • Thank you for the well thought out PM Total.

    It seem that there are more defensive oriented games these games and as spectators we end end watching a bore-fest – who would have expected a 0-0 draw in the Liverpool v Man U game – well from the score predictions in our competition none of us did!.

    I would really like to see Partey, Gabriel, Tierney and Martinelli back in the squad as we noticeably lacked speed and thrust against Palace – however I would prefer never to see Willian in an Arsenal shirt ever again……

    We have an excellent EPL home record against the barcodes with a record of :- W19,D2,L4,GF56,GA18 and we have won the last eight games on the trot.

    The game starts at 3:00 pm in Canada which is a nice throw back to days of yore.

  • yep, pb
    not to mention the fact that i resisted my urge to slot joe into granit’s spot
    i chickened out, eventually, too afraid you all might banish me, put a spur spell on me

  • Thanks for the preview, TA. The approach of both teams to this game will differ from the FA cup game for obvious reasons. It’s about racking up or (as it will be for the visitors) trying not to drop points; we should be up for it and go for the win. I fully expect us to stick a few goals past them, with the right selection and motivation.

    As GN5 reminded us, we do have a great home record against the barcodes and no reason this doesn’t continue today. I read that we’ve won 14 out of our last 15 premier league games and kept 25 EPL clean sheets against them. That’s a confidence booster already. If you are the superstitious kind, we have won each of our last 6 EPL games played on a Monday at the Emirates. So, for me, it is going to be a resounding win.

    Because he has a good record against them, I’d give Auba a chance to play centrally so we can have Martinelli ESR and Saka behind him. I don’t see why we need to drop Tierney if the medical staff feel he is up to it. So, he will be part of the back 4 TA has put up. With Carrol likely to get playing time, may be a combo of David Luis and Gabriel would be ideal, but you feel Arteta won’t be taking chances. The DM pair is likely to have Partey and Xhaka (or, Elneny, if it is thought Xhaka needs a rest). Auba May come on later to rest Martinelli and perhaps, AMN for Tierney, just to give the latter some minutes for confidence.

  • I also read about the keeper interest in Freddie Woodman. However, at the time, it sounded like the kind of rumours you get to see when a game of significance is about to be played between two sides, with the player belonging to one of the sides. It just spices things up and maybe, motivates the players a tad more. That, or we already have a target and wish to send the message to his agent to quit playing hard ball.

  • Thanks for the comments guys. It has been a long wait with no Arsenal footie over the weekend, but at last it is our turn. We will know the line up in 30 minutes or so. CoyGs!

  • Appreciate the preview TA. Feel Arteta is finally at a point where he has a full team available for the first time since– well, never really. The team he’d hoped to have had through the festive schedule– till Partey’s too-early return jumbled it all. Imagine had there been a solid group 2 weeks earlier? Maybe another 6-plus points. Hanging out near 5th or 6th spot– and feeling like the team might be dangerous?

    So here we are– then– now. Now at a point where we see what Mikel is made of as a manager– with a fully able team to call upon.

    Some interesting bits I’ve come across this morning– following news of Mesut Ozil’s impending departure. Possible new attempts to land Houssem Aouor or Emi Buendia. Along with– Jack Wilshire making a move to Bournemouth on a free to see if he can help the Cherries to promotion back to the PL. Happy that Jack will have a chance to play regularly again.

  • Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, Luiz, Holding, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette

    Subs: Runarsson, Bellerin, Gabriel, Elneny, Willock, Willian, Pepe, Martinelli, Nketiah

    Newcastle: Darlow, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Shelvey, Longstaff, Almiron, Joelinton, Carroll, Wilson

    Subs: Dubravka, Ritchie, Hayden, Hendrick, Manquillo, Yedlin, Murphy, Longstaff, Anderson

  • Ryan Christie, 25, of Celtic is still being linked, a left footed attacking midfielder with a more than useful shot – another Scotsman would be very welcome for me and maybe the club see him as better value than the £40/£50m being quoted for Buendia?

    2 or 3 Jocks in your team is the optimum for any English team especially as they love to come south of the border and show us to play football, so they don’t ever need motivating…

    Interesting team, although I’ll be on edge as long as Tierney is on the pitch…
    Some goals on our bench for a change.

  • Looks like Arteta has opted for the graft of Laca and the presence of Auba, as against the drive and aggression of Martinelli. With Tierney starting, that would be understandable. We are going to see another aerial battle between Carrol and Holding, with Luis lending a hand (or, head?) every now and then.

    Curiously, the visitors are out with a bold starting 11, with three forwards on. Of course, it means nothing if we can keep Carrol and Joelinton playing defence. If we can rattle them early enough, it should be a rout.


  • A couple of Scottish beasty boys would be v welcome, Kev. We also need cover for Granit and if non of the youngsters takes the chance soon… May go shopping.

  • Very interesting to see Soares start. Now he is playing with quality players we can see how he will perform.

    Looking forward to how this team will take the game to the Barcodes

  • Catch your drift Kev– perhaps not an either/or situation?
    Do like the idea of having a creative middie who has played in the PL (1G/7A). Decent numbers playing for a team seemingly below his level.

  • The “Boomtown Rats” used to sing: “I don’t like Mondays” – I think of them a lot right now.
    What a gloomy night; I can’t help but think of the pain any of Arsène’s 22 teams would have inflicted to such a poor side – by far the weakest I’ve seen play this year – and I’m really starting to doubt our young head-coach.
    Rob, Emil are very good lads, I feel sorry for them: 11th is where we belong – at best.

  • Good first half imo. Auba and Laca need to be more clinical with their first touches and efforts on goal. Clearly the lads are trying to find each other and Partey needs to get played into the team, but the goals will come in the second half.

    The good thing is that I don’t feel we will easily concede anymore these days, and that has been a long time coming.

  • Not happy to see this still at 0-0 at half time. We need to take the game to them with confidence but hard to see how we do that when we favour the ball retention style instead of making the incisive passes at the risk of losing possession. Arteta needs to give Partey instructions to drive forward a bit more often. I feel he would have a say in it if we were to get a goal against this tight knit Newcastle team. We need to have him on the ball more often and see where that takes us.

    Auba is getting on the ball enough but must be a bit more committed to making something happen. He does look low on confidence and is too eager, it would seem. At the risk of ruffling some feathers, get Martinelli on for Auba or Laca. The longer it stays like this, the only team that grows in confidence is Newcastle.

  • I think the game plan for Steve Bruce May be to goad us into bombing forward and hoping to exploit any spaces we leave behind. I won’t worry about that. It should be all systems go.

  • Goooooaaaal! That’s more like it, Auba. I thought Partey would have a say, I did posit, earlier. We need to put them to the sword. Don’t let up.

  • many positives in the 2nd half
    clean sheet, auba’s back, partey excellent, emil brilliant, soares’s assist … but i’ve rarely seen such a harmless, soulless side as newcastle – what they, and their coach, did – or didn’t do – tonight, was an insult to their fans, really.
    confidence-boosting run of 5 games – exactly what we needed before the daunting february schedule
    by february 28th, we’ll know if these five games were more than a brilliant disguise – i sure hope so

  • Much better second half and it could have been more but for some impressive blocks by the Newcastle rear guard. Just got into 10th position ahead of Villa who have 4 games in hand and 2 points behind West ham, Southampton and Chelsea. You feel if we win the next two games, we would be round about the 7th place, assuming other results go our way. Next two should be Southampton and then Man United on the 30th.

    This just shows we can get these results if we play without inhibitions.

  • Just so satisfying that 2nd half. The team played as Mikel expected. Might have had one before half. But just no breaks.
    All of the obvious things aside– a hand to the Partey-Xhaka pairing and– Cedric gave us his best today. It was very good. ESR and Saka are developing a telepathy– and Cedric kept enabling their class.

    Then a bit of trivia, though not trivial: Arsenal have conceded just once since Christmas Day.

    All told– well done Arsenal!

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