Arsenal v MU Preview/ Lineup: Enter the Hungry Brazilian

the Red Mancs are coming to the Home of Football for an early Saturday night battle for momentum. They suffered a painful loss to the Blades and desperately need to bounce back as to avoid Citeh to run away from them in the table. The Gunners are on a great run and have the bit between their teeth; a win would catapult us forward and give us all belief that we can still go places this season. If the Mancs win the gap between us and them will be 13 points, but if we win it will be just seven, and that is a big, big difference. I expect Pool and Citeh to be out of our range once they get back into their strides again, but any other team in the league we can catch. Not that we should look too much at the table right now (hard not to, though). Let’s just focus on OGAAT, on tonight’s game and try and win it.

It will not be easy to get the double over the Mancs. They have hardly any injury issues right now, and as a settled team they are a bit further than us. Their midfield was over-classed by us in the return fixture but has improved a lot since then. Fernandes is a great player and Pogba and McTominay in deep(er) midfield have started to form a half-decent partnership. Yet this is where we should be able to overpower them again, and this midfield battle will once again be crucial. MU love to sit back a bit a spring a counter from possession regained in their own half, and with the likes of Rashford, Cavani and enfant terrible Greenwood they can hurt us. Yet if we sit back a bit more than we did against the Saints and play a more controlled game, the Mancs will struggle to create chances. They will have to come forward more and that will suit our intricate passes game more. Still, I also hope we will press them high at times and force errors as we did on Tuesday. It should be a great battle and the winner will feel galvanized afterwards.

Arsenal have some fitness doubts right now and it is still not clear whether Auba is available or not as I write this. Tierney and Partey seem ready to play and that would be great news. Let’s assume that Auba is not ready yet, which will leave us with the big question who shall replace him. ESR is a doubt and that could leave us with a choice between new boy Odegaard or the much maligned Willian. MO11 may not be match fit as yet, so I expect it to be either ESR, Willian or maybe Martinelli. At the back I expect a return of Gabriel as we will need his athleticism against Greenwood, Rashford etc. I sense this will be a game for Martinelli, the hungry Brazilian, especially if Emile is not fully fit to start. Together with Saka and Laca (and hopefully a confident Willian) they can destroy the Mancs’s defence tonight.

My preferred starting-11:

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal.

38 thoughts on “Arsenal v MU Preview/ Lineup: Enter the Hungry Brazilian

  • agree with OGAAT, TA
    also agree with your lineup; I think Luiz isn’t an option today, because of his lack of speed
    sometimes experience can do wonders, but against rashford/martial/greenwood, picking him tonight looks like too big a risk to me
    actually, one slight variation to your lineup, if our big brazilian lad was as rusty at colney this week as he was at st mary’s last saturday, would be to shift kieran to the right:
    lacazette
    pépé-smithrowe-saka
    xhaka-partey
    soares-tierney-holding-bellerin
    leno
    as far as speed is concerned we’d be covered then, but rumour has it our clyneside lad is doubtful too, so …
    they’ll be a tough nut to carck, no doubt (8 away wins out of 10 games!!), but if they pick lindelof-maguire in central defense, our “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” nick-emil-bukayo-laca frontline can harm them, i think
    COYG

  • Cheers LeG. We will need the height of either Gabriel or Luiz in defence, especially for defending set-pieces. Also feel this is THE game for Martinelli, and Pepe’s lack of close ball control will become too obvious if we play him today.

    I really like your description of ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ 🙂

  • Hi Total, Thanks for you PM.
    I wonder if Odegard will at least be on the bench, I know nothing about him other than what I have read lately. I’m yet to see him kick a football.

    I’m having an issue with DAZN at the moment and may have to resort to listening to the game on Arsenal.com.

    Our overall EPL home record is:-
    W12, D8, L8, GF41, GA, 32.

    Our last five game record is :-
    W4, D0, L1, GF10, GA3,
    We have had four clean sheets in these five games.

  • Wow it is quiet!!! 😱

    Team:
    Starting XI: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, David Luiz, Cedric, Partey, Xhaka, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Lacazette

  • Yes GN5, three important players missing. Hopefully they are fit for the midweek game. Still it is a strong team and ESR, Partey and Martinelli are starting. Here is hoping that Pepe has a great game today.

  • Lets hope that Ole underestimates us and we pull off a snatch and grab victory.

    Seems like we have a private blog at the moment – but I’m sure others will appear from behind their couches.

  • Maybe Martilnelli will be special to make up for Saka…. Pepe too… Make a statement with this opportunity.

  • That line up, without Tierney, Saka and Auba (we already knew that one) is a cringe worthy experience. But this is our home, with a couple of hungry players so, why would united not feel less confident. I think I rather like the unpredictable nature of our selection. It was a master stroke to have Odegaard on the bench too; keeps Ole guessing what he may bring, whereas, he may not even play.

    I feel positive we won’t lose this one. Best scenario for the visitors is a draw. Happy it is Michael Oliver too. He is one who doesn’t appear to have favourites.

  • Someone should remind the boys how United dented our 50th game unbeaten run (keeping it at 49 for us) when the beat us at OT. Time to break their long unbeaten Away record.
    COYG!

  • I would like an AMN or Elneny type playing glued to Bruno. Most dangerous player in the league for me.

  • There is a lot to like about the boys. Great work rate and discipline, tactically strong too. But we are outnumbered in midfield and Martinelli and ESR are being outmuscled when we are attacking. Arteta will have to tweak it a bit… And show them less respect. Have a good feeling about it. CoyGs

  • It’s been a well fought half of football. The absence of Saka is felt but Martinelli has not don a great deal wrong but has rather put in some key blocks/interception as he seems to take his defensive job more seriously. United are a dangerous side and have been carrying out overloads on the flanks, which has given our full backs/wingers a lot more to do.

    We needed the pace of Tierney today, to keep Wambisakka at bay. That’s not to say Cedric hasn’t filled in well. Laca has worked hard but needs some composure at the right time; ESR has misplaced a few passes and lost the ball at key moments; Pepe has done his thing and is having a good game.

    All in all, they’ve had the better scoring chances and unless we start to take some risks, we may find ourselves on the back foot often. If that’s the game plan, then we have to be clinical when the chances come.

  • Fernandes is the worst piece of cheat in professional sport – and he’s Oliver’s pet, obviously
    It’s starting to look like Fort Emirates Alamo, but the lads are as brave as it takes to make us very proud of them
    It’s going to be very hard, Bukayo-Kieran-Auba’s absences take a terrible toll on us
    McTominay’s injury was a huge blow … to us; I don’t know what OGS was thinking when he picked his team, but I liked it a lot when Pogba was in the left attacking midfielder (what the f..k?!?) position, now he’s back in midfield, Martial on a good day can be lethal, so there’s more than an outside chance we’ll be in great danger
    One more miracle save for Bernd the Great
    Rob hasn’t put a foot wrong, actually I think he was … perfect in everything he did
    Partey should really be told not to shoot when he gets anywhere near the opponents’ goal, scoring from outside the box is obviously one missing string to his bow
    Pépé has been trying really, really hard, but when I see him play, the voice of my dear old youth coach’s ghost keeps ringing in my ear: “How the f..ck do you expect to score if you’re never on target!!!”
    Anyway, hats off to the lads, it will be a tremendous achievement if they get one of three points out of this, out of sheer bravery
    COYG

  • Quick observation: Ref and VAR have ignored that ankle breaking challenge on Xhaka by Fernandes. How was that not a yellow card, at the least?

    Secondly, Cedric has to be careful now as he is on a yellow and would be lured into some rash decisions/challenge.

    I wonder who we can call on from the bench to push us on and on the front foot. Willian? Nketiah? Odegaard? Auba should be taking this job more seriously, in my view. Would have been nice to not have him missing for such a big game.

  • Good call by Oliver … damn! Laca free kick…, then the Smith Rowe saved.., and the Pepe shot from Willians cutback earlier, blocked by McGuire aaaargh.

  • On balance, with different luck on both sides, could ‘ve been 3-2 or 2-1 Arsenal. We had more good chances and deserved a win.

  • I the know the TV made David Luiz MotM but for me it’s Lacazette, I thought he was brilliant especially as he was up against Lurch, I mean Maguire… What a brave performance Laca and another solid game by Soares, I found the game frustrating but we keep our unbeaten run going and stop the Mancs.

    Every time we got a free kick around the edge of their box I kept thinking ‘if only we had Ward-Prowse’.
    You see teams never worry about giving free kicks and corners away to us because we’re so damned awful at them.

    Am I imagining it but did Willian look as if he was actually contributing? Does he get it, is it sinking in, I guess all we have is hope when it comes to him, but a lot better.

  • I would take what i saw from Willian today, closer to what I expected from him originally…..still a bit off, but to be fair, i understand he’s a little rusty. I never expected a full season of 90 minute performances from him, not by a long shot…. but quality (and effort) when he’s on for less than 90 is respectable.

    For 3 years on his salary, that’s not enough, and I wouldn’t have considered him… but I don’t wanna hate our own player out of frustration. You see a couple injuries to Martinelli and Saka, and it’s important that he stays mentally ready.

    Pepe again, didn’t score, but could have, and was defending and working hard all over the pitch, as he has been for a while. Nice to see. I think he can be better even, on the left leaning towards middle as Kev says. Could be a strong second option after PEA.

  • Kev, you and I were writing the same thing about Willian at the same moment! You said it better.. he was contributing on both ends. Now we know, for a half, he can do that if we need to protect one of the kids who needs rest, or to come off early. Pepe also hustled for 90, which is beyond what i expect usually, but he seemed to understand the importance of the game.

  • Absolutely agree with Jnyc, Willian was better than expected (not just due to low expectations, but was indeed almost good), Pepe was also a constant threat. Soares wasn’t as shiny as on Tuesday, but he kind of eliminated Rashford, whom I hardly saw playing on the right and tried his lack against Bellerin instead.
    Partey wasn’t bad, but lost the ball uncharacteristically often. Xhaka didn’t contribute to the offense much, made an Elneny-shift tonight, but he was solid as the makeshift LB when defending counterattacks.
    I wasn’t as impressed by Lacazette as Kevin, his first-half long shot had more promise than that. But the real difference was between Leno and de Gea. I would never swap the two and Bernd made a great save against Fred, but his 50% passing accuracy and 0/11 long balls/kicks are quite pale compared to the 80% and 5/9 stats of the Spaniard.
    Luiz was good at defending and organizing, but I’m more impressed by Holding’s 10 clearances (2nd best were Wan-Bissaka and Luiz with 4-4 each). While Rob plays more non-nonsense to my taste, I adore him for constantly smiling and always helping the opponent to get up after a clash or a fault. He is probably not our strongest defender, but he is my favorite when it comes to personality and Arsenal-heart.

  • Nah J, I thought you summed up Willian as well as anyone and yes mate, you’re spot on, that’s exactly how Chelsea used him, as a sub to plug a gap or run down the clock, like an expensive Gilles Grimandi.

  • PB, Rob is never going to be easy on the eye for the puritans, he’s more artisan than artist, but he does the job as you say and what more can we ask for?

  • Also have to say ESR was impressive again in the way he did his defending and at times gave the midfield a thrust through the middle but what an engine he is literally all over the pitch. Together with Granit they at times bossed the midfield. To think we were missing 3 of our best and that Thomas had his worst game for us and we still had a chance of winning it all. Special mention for Laca and Pepe for working their socks off as well as Willian who for once put himself about but still lacks a bit of quality.

  • You’ve all sumed it up well, Kev, Jync and PB. It was an exhilirating watch at times and was, probably, one of the best 0-0 games you’d see. Pepe and Willian did put in a shift. Scratch that. Both played well and we’re responsible for some our better moments. It can only bode well for the team if every player is up to speed and ready.
    Let’s hope the exertions don’t affect us in our next game. These things happen.

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