Three Young Midfield Gunners to Support our Most Mobile CF: Match Preview/ Lineup

Next up are the high flying Hammers. They had a week to think about their narrow loss at Old Toilet and will be keen to bounce back. A win will take West Ham back into the top four on points and there is no doubt in my mind that they will give us a hell of a game – a sort of FA Cup final can be expected. Arsenal need to be fully up for this and fatigue may play a role; especially the last fifteen minutes may see us struggle again.

So the team selection has to be done well and with the last fifteen minutes in mind. Arteta needs to be able to put three players on who can carry the rest through.

This is a big game for Arsenal. A win would take us to 44 points and just seven points off the top-four. With nine games after that, many of them winnable with the right attitude and intensity, the boys can close the gap, especially as we are still playing the Chavs before the season’s end. It will not be easy but it can be done.

I see this season as a transitional one and next season is the one that really matters. Arteta is building something special and this takes time, yet we may get to see the best of the current team in these last two months. Things are looking up for us: we are likely to concede about ten goals less this season, but the boys up-front have to step it up again as all nine teams ahead of us in the table have scored more goals.

So who is going to start tomorrow? It all depends on freshness and Arteta’s need for cohesion in the team, as to avoid unnecessary mistakes through miscommunication and misplaced passes etc.

My preferred lineup:

Can Luiz do another game or is it time for the reemergence of Holding? I guess the manager will go for David’s leadership skills but the extra height of Robbo would also be very welcome (Hammers are strong in the air). I am hoping for Soares and Tierney as the full backs and Xhaka and Partey in deep midfield. Up-front is a bit of a guess but I reckon the Hammers will struggle to deal with the youthful, unpredictable movement of Emile, Ode and Bukayo so I prefer them all to play. Laca as the mobile thorn in the Hammers’ defence would be the icing on the cake. Auba can come on as a supersub if we need this.

Now this team will not make the full ninety minutes and come home will all three points. Mikel will need to bring on three players who can hit the ground running and make a difference late on. Elneny for Partey is most likely to happen; Tierney may need to be subbed too – Hector can do that (Soares moving to the LB position); and then the big question is can super Xhaka play another full ninety minutes or does he need to be subbed after seventy minutes or so? I reckon he will be okay but Mikel may have to add another midfielder to the mix in the final stages. This will probably be Ceballos, or maybe Chambers will get the nod.

Looking forward to this one.


By TotalArsenal.

51 thoughts on “Three Young Midfield Gunners to Support our Most Mobile CF: Match Preview/ Lineup

  • Total, you live in a perpetual Spring. You are a Barnabus.
    If Laca finds his shooting boots and Saka’s hammy is okay, I think that line up will bring home the three points. Like you, I am looking forward to a cracking match.

  • Fine preview, TA and it is not one of your most confidence-oozing posts; which is very understandable as West ham are on a roll, with top 4 motivation to boot. Besides, these days, one isn’t certain what Arsenal team turns up. If we turn it on, we would definitely leave with the 3 points and that’s what I expect.

    The exertions (preparation and the game) of the NLD did have its impact on how we played on Thursday night, for sure. It also affected the Spuds but we handled our fatigued display better than they did, being home and having scored enough to pull through, in the first leg. I posit that Arteta and the players may also have had their minds tuned to the game against the Hammers; so, we should be fine.

    I like your line up and think that’s what Arteta would go with (is Saka fit, though?); we would need our strongest, no nonsense defenders because of the likes of Michael Antonio and Soucek. Cedric would hold his own against Antonio while the aerial abilities of Luis and Gabriel should help with checking Soucek in set piece situations. After that, I want to think our offensive play will be a bit too much for their defenders. Arteta may go with Auba for ESR or Saka (if deemed unfit), just to give the Hammers something to be wary about; against the likes of Dawson and Diop, I’d fancy Auba to get some joy.

    We have to fly out of the blocks and be aggressive to unsettle them. It will be intense, being a London derby and all; hopefully, we overcome and get the 3 points.


  • So many options Total with only Willian in the sick bay and as Arteta likes to make tactical switches I can see a few possibilities and so with the aerial threat posed by West Ham especially at corners and free kicks I wonder if he might draft in Chambers at right back to give us a bit more security from crosses into our box? Leno doesn’t command his box quite as well as I’d like to see so a bit more height at right back could come in handy…

    Yeah, I’d go with Lacazette up front but would Arteta leave his captain out of another big London derby because I’m not sure he would? The rest of that team looks fairly nailed on with an international break pending zzzzz.

  • Good point about Chambers, Kev. By the way, I saw Willian feature actively in the training videos for the game. He is said to be available, along with Saka.

    Again, I forgot the threat of the Manc in their fold: Jesse Lingard. Someone’s got to keep him in check. Having missed the game at OT, he must be raring to go.

  • In my opinion Saka should be handled with care. Rest and complete recovery. We’ve seen the consequences of rushing important players back. Saka could be our franchise player.

    Also I watched our Iron man Xhaka and our future captain uncharacteristicly walking through some of Thursday’s final minutes with exhaustion. Give them a rest. Everyone complains after an injury occurs, but nobody ever suggests proactively resting their favorite players.

    I totally agree with the call for Holding and maybe even Mari should come in. All the players we’re talking about resting gave so much last weekend.

  • Cheers Eris, inclusion of Auba is certainly possible, and he could make the difference. But in terms of energy and dynamics it will be different. Auba is not a wolf but a tiger and they hunt differently.

    Hope all is well with you and family?

  • Hey Kev, good shout for extra height with Calum as RB. We would lose out in terms of wing penetration in attack though. Mayby last twenty minutes?

  • The voice of reason from the Big Apple. I think we could start with Elneny and Partey if we have to, and Soares could start instead of the Tiger from Wishaw.

    … But it would be a risk for this pivotal game.

  • Hoping for a good game and win before we have the interlull.
    Have been listening to couple of podcasts and regarding Auba there was interesting suggestion that the way Arteta treated him publicly had an affect on his performance last game. I think we need to have a clarity of thought. If Arsene was at fault for not having decipline on how he treated superstars and the culture of the club was not ok then Arteta has got it right. He has passed a message thar you cannot Come late for a game which is disrespectful of your team especially when you are a captain. He should be the first among equals.

    Hope he understands that and he gets us victory in today’s game. No mollycoddling superstars.

  • Thank you for the post TA, it’s going to be a very tricky game today as West Ham are now a hard nut to crack. We definitely have to be a more compact team than we have been in the last 4/5 games, where we have shown long periods of solid possession only to do something dumb and give away a self inflicted goal which changed the course of the game.

    Our level of energy have also been suspect which could call for subs to be used earlier in the game. We certainly have a strong bench to call upon and it would be good to see Martinelli get some more time – as in his few minutes on the field in our last game he once again showed us how much energy and talent he has. I’m not sure that leaving Auba on the bench is the right thing to do – he has oodles of talent and surely he will start to click again – leaving him out will be a cause of great frustration to him. I guess in the end result it depends on what Arteta sees on the training ground and the game situation.

    Needless to say I’m looking forward to watching the game (If I can watch it) as it’s my grandsons birthday and we will be at my son’s home. I’ll take along my Beelink box and see if we can get DAZN on his home theater and hopefully watch the game on his 120″ screen.

  • If the LiveScore line-up is reliable:


  • Arsenal U23’s should have beaten Everton, dominated 2nd half after tactical switch from a back four to a back three. Great equaliser from Balogun who was our best player and should have probably scored a couple more, but not worth the reported £40k pw he wants…

    John Henry Francis (17) looks a player and Lopez also looked very good as a wing back, not sure about him as a full back, same with Alebiosu, but we have some very average players in that squad, it’s a bit of a mix n match but I guess it allows our better players to go out on loan.

    Bola played solid, good to have a bit of experience at the back…

  • Yeah, height at the back Total, Mari is a good pick as West Ham don’t have speed merchants it’s all about big units up front, in midfield and in defence…

  • Yeah smart call on Chambers, Kev thinking like our manager.

    Having a backup as good as Soares wants we can avoid starting Tierney 3 very tough games in one week, and because Kieran is so important in the attack, he’d still be available as a sub if needed. Let’s see our energy levels … because these players were really tired on Thursday.

  • What disgraceful performance. Are we really this bad? Leno at fault for first two goals could have saved both. Not sure where we go from here.

  • Had we got a second in that half, it would have been a humdinger of a second half. We have the tall players on, but Antonio out-jumps Luis to head for their 2nd goal. Then again, John Moss has been dubious as usual, allowing that quickly taken free kick from the wrong spot. But our guys switched off, inexplicably.

    Hey! It’s a derby and the game is not over, as we enter the second half. Hopefully, a typical game of two halves. Just prevent the concession of another goal and we can pin them back and pick them off.

    Xhaka looked tired and almost vulnerable to a bad error. Hope Arteta has his eyes on him.

  • Leno was indeed a fault for the first 2 goals, but he ‘earned the right’ to have a bad day. The lack of creativity is more alarming to me. Tierney is wasteful, his crosses are well below his standard. Auba is hardly present, Saka makes one bad decision after another. Odegaard seems to be lost, but I don’t know if it’s being his fault, or the teammates don’t move to a position where it would make sense to try a through ball.
    Everybody seems poor today, which might not be the fault of a few tired players (Leno, Luiz, Tierney, Xhaka, Odegaard all played the majority of minutes in March).

  • Would love to see ESR come on to rekindle his partnership with Tierney on the left but I just dont see Mkel doing it soon

  • Well, the pressure is back on the hosts. 3-2! Odegaard is running the game for a possible come back for us.

    At this point, I would throw on Martinelli, just for the chaos he is capable of. Auba to come off.

  • It would be game on if we haven’t taken our foot off the pedal a bit, letting them get a sniff again and again. We needed to sustain that tempo of the start of the half till it is level. If I had to take off Saka, I would consider Martinelli. Pepe is like the British weather, in terms of what to expect.

    Let’s hope for the best of him.

  • We are so poor when we gang up on offensive players. Somehow, we always seem to lose out in such situations.

    Ah. Martinelli is on.

    Come on!!!!!!!

  • We must go for the full 3 points now. I take it all back, Pepe. 😀😀😂😂

  • 3 points would have been nice but a bit cruel to West Ham. What a comeback and Odegaard is a genius!!

  • What a game and a half phew. Chambers my MoTM for sure. Made few clearances as well. Great going forward as well. That pass for Laca was exquisite.

    Henry pioneered the quick free kick goals and we were sleeping and nobody stood near the ball to guard.

  • Odeegard, Lacazette and Chambers were great, Pepe and Thomas were pretty good. The others were slightly below average, although there weren’t any disaster-classes.
    Martinelli should have started ahead of Auba – and this is not only hindsight.

  • Agreed shoutout to Chambers ghosting in from nowhere to takeover that right back spot did well on both ends. i would have him and oddegaard as my men of the match but thought Laca was great too (and overall has had a better season than Auba).

  • Madhu, it is amazing how we are so naive in the dark art of the game. We were busy remonstrating with the ref, backs turned and of course, need to learn from this (how many times have we had to say that?).

    Auba didn’t do much. Martinelli may have been a better option, but hard to drop your captain and highest goal scorer for the second league game running. However, I’d bring him on earlier when I see the game is passing Auba by.

    Had to catch my breath after that. We only started to play when the pressure was off. Reminds of a particular era of players, right before Wenger’s last season. Concede early, look ragged, then just when fans have given up and willing to take a respectable defeat, they start to play and “avoid” getting the 3 points the fans wanted. I still think we should have gone for the jugular when they were on the ropes.

  • Sorry, guys. It’s Odegaard al the way. No joint gong there. Chambers did well but would come a close second, for me.

  • It is going to be difficult but we have to try everything to sign Odegaard permanently, it was a masterstroke by Edu to get him on loan and he has said how comfortable he felt right upon arriving.

  • MO11 MOTM all day. Glides like Liam Brady, passes like our eponymous hero DB10, controls a ball like Zizou.
    You are no mouse, Total, nor a pachyderm. I had this in mind…
    In Acts 4:36 Luke translates Barnabas to mean “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation.” The original Greek word rendered “encouragement,” paraklesis, means encouragement, consolation, comfort, exhortation, and entreaty.

  • Wow, this blog never fails to surprise, great comment Stuart – and so, Total is our son of encouragement, well I couldn’t put it better myself but maybe a Barnabas in clogs perhaps? 😉

  • While I’m less enthusiastic about this game than TA – in the first 30 minutes we were pinned to our goal, the players weren’t prepared for that aggressive pressing from West Ham, Leno’s goal kicks didn’t work, and the boys were unable to drive proper attacks; and even after the 30 minutes it wasn’t Arsenal that found the answer to these tactics, but rather West Ham lost the urgency (or stamina for that level of pressing). It wasn’t a slow start, it was constant panic (or as Partey said “they dominated from the beginning and we were completely lost”) that was uncharacteristic to Arsenal and a pain to watch. Nevertheless I appreciate the turnaround, but I kind of used to being the unfortunate team after a draw, so I’m not enjoying being lucky to steal a point from a David Moyes team. It is catchy that in the second half “we went all-out and everybody was fighting as a team”, but that should be the bare minimum from the starting whistle.

    However there are plenty of positive aspects to the game, too. Agreed with Madhu and Makayah on Chambers being good beyond reasonable expectations, and him becoming a factor when planning a RB on the team sheet. I also enjoyed the game overall; instead of a 6:5 chance creation balance around the end of last season yesterday we won the key pass minigame by 14:12. And the sources of our key passes were not limited to 2-3 creative players, but 8 of the boys provided key passes (Odegaard 4, Chambers 3, Lacazette 2, and 1-1 from Tierney, Xhaka, Pepe, Saka and Smith-Rowe). I also appreciate Arteta who dared to substitute Auba, Saka and Xhaka, but would appreciate even more not to start them next time, as playing only 73-80 minutes doesn’t really constitute giving them proper rest.
    I think the high spirit despite being 3:0 down is also a good sign, and based on the second half we literally going to the interlull on a high, which should be continued against Liverpool in April. And I think just the fact that we were the better team for 55 minutes shows that we are a better team overall, and hopefully the results will start to show it as well.

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