Arsenal Preview/ Lineup: Solid Defence, Mouthwatering Midfield, Deadly Forwards

The biggest game of the season for Arsenal so far will be tonight’s at the Sinobo stadium. Winning a European cup would be great and we are now just three games away from the final.

I know that winning this cup would also automatically qualify us for the money-ball that is the Champions League, but for me this is much less important. In fact, I dislike this ‘additional benefit’ that simply undermines the importance of winning the UEFA League Cup as a major prize on its own. There used to be three European Cups to be won every season but now it all seems to be about the elitist and utterly predictable Champions League, with just the odd season throwing in a surprise.

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Anyway, let’s enjoy the moment and that Arsenal are playing European football at a level that we can deal with right now. Tonight we will play in beautiful Prague and we have a big job to do. We will have to score at least once and therefore need to attack, but we don’t have to go overboard. We know that every away goal will count double in case we end up in a draw so, 2-2, 3-3 etc will all be in our favour. Last week we played too tentatively and it cost us in the end; today we need to play with real purpose and confidence… and with all guns blazing of course. We need goals and to mean business, and I am confident the boys will be well up for this.

Who will start? Hard to predict but I reckon our starting-11 will/could look something like this:

It could be Mari or Big Gab partnering Holdingho, but with Xhaka as left-footed left back likely to continue in the same position, the passing out from the left should be much better and Gabriel’s dynamism will be needed. Soares is our best right back and I would play him there ahead of Bels or Calum.

If ESR or Odegaard are not fully fit, expect Ceballos, who had a good game on Sunday, to start instead. The attacking midfield of a deeper Partey with the young, mobile wolves of Emile and Martin in front of him is mouthwatering. In attack it should be Saka and Laca and then there is a choice between Auba and Martinelli (Willian or Pepe). You can pick your favourite but I would go for Auba’s experience to take chances when they come his way. If after 60 minutes or so Auba has not done so then bring on Martinelli or Pepe. The good news is that we have options in most positions and all are very keen to play tonight. They’ll need to be.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal.

40 thoughts on “Arsenal Preview/ Lineup: Solid Defence, Mouthwatering Midfield, Deadly Forwards

  • Good arguments with a reasonable line-up, more than capable to deliver a 2-3 goals victory.
    Based on yesterday’s training pictures and videos, it seemed that Odegaard and Aubameyang have trained separately, so their involvement – especially in the starting line-up – is not too likely. But as Mikel said they will be screened just before the game, so never say never… Nonetheless I expect this line-up:

  • Thank you Total I’m really looking forward to the game today. Your line up/s are as good as we can get I hope that Auba starts and come up with some of his magical moments although the desire and energy of Martinneli could the the ace in the hope.

    Sparta will, most likely start off very defensively which should suit us just fine as we have enough snipers to steal a valuable away goal and turn the tie back in our favour.

  • Here we go these are Arteta’s choices for perhaps the biggest game in his career.

    1 Leno
    21 Chambers
    16 Holding
    22 Mari
    34 Xhaka
    18 Partey
    8 Ceballos
    19 Pepe
    32 Smith Rowe
    7 Saka
    9 Lacazette (c)

    33 Ryan
    45 Hillson
    2 Bellerin
    17 Cédric Soares
    6 Gabriel
    25 Elneny
    66 Azeez
    24 Nelson
    12 Willian
    35 Martinelli
    30 Nketiah
    38 Balogun

  • Thanks for the lineup, GN5.

    Auba and Ode don’t even make the bench which is a blow. Fingers crossed Laca stays fit and Pepe and Ceballos deliver tonight.

  • Amen to that!
    I don’t see a clear liability in the squad, assuming Ceballos doesn’t revert back to his anti-Benfica form.
    I’m optimistic about the game. The line-up is strong, we have serious options on the bench (unlike Slavia where Slima and Masopust are the only players on the bench with substantial experience – and Sima is probably not 100% fit), so I hope Arteta made the tactics right and he is willing to substitute sooner than usual to bring fresh legs and extra pressure to the Czechs.

  • 3 goals in 6 minutes, 2 actually counted.
    Convincing performance, crisp forward passing.
    I don’t see us conceding 3 goals, but I’ll do my best not to jinx it.

  • Laca makes it 2-0 on the night, from the spot. Pepe had gotten the first in brilliant fashion. I feel the game against Sheffield United was a dress rehearsal for the what we are being served, so far. Couldn’t believe VAR had ESR offside for what would have been the first goal.

    Good job, lads.

  • The boys play spectacular.
    Either Arteta or the VAR-decision must have fired them up, because they are cruising.
    Saka did great, but whatever Chambers did to set the chance up is beyond words.
    If we were playing against Bayern Munich in this form, they would be 2 goals down, too.

  • Off topic (and you’d understand I feel no pressure now). Fine comments, from the previous thread, about the great African sides and our Nigerian legends (Kanu, Finidi, et al), Kev and PB. Interestingly, it is Finidi George’s birthday, today and I saw a very touching clip featuring most of his 1995/96 Ajax team mates and the manager, van Gaal, wishing him a happy birthday.

    Top notch comments and great knowledge of what’s been the emergence of Africa on the World Cup stage. First it was Tunisia in 78 (they denied Nigeria by a painful own goal, over the two legs), then Algeria in 82 with that amazing 3-2 victory over West Germany; needed a solidarity match involving Peru (conceding a truckload) to Edge Algeria and letting in the Germans.

    86 had Egypt as the African star turn; 94 was Nigeria’s year. Won the African cup of nations and came to the USA in good form, beating a good Bulgarian side (Stoichkov and all) 3-0 in their first game, named the most entertaining game of the tournament. 10 man Italy denied the Eagles a berth in the Q/finals, quite unexpectedly. They had Arrigo Sacchi as manager and Roberto Baggio as star man; he single handedly got them through that game. Most Nigerians felt unlucky as that team was capable of winning the tournament.

  • The boys are reaping the rewards of that clean sheet at Bramall lane. Confidence looks to be returning. Nice half.

  • Indeed, Eris.
    I’m about to open some canned raspberry, mascarpone and sugar-free whipped cream from my fridge, which is the dietary equivalent of a bottle of champagne. 🙂
    I hope the boys won’t park the bus and we’ll see entertaining football in the second half.
    I think if Arteta brings on Martinelli, Balogun, Azeez, Nelson and Nketiah (besides Elneny, who will surely come on at some point) the youngsters’ pride and will would eventually bring energy to the game.

  • That was one of the best first halves we’ve put in this season, it was like Wolves (a) but this time we took our chances.

    Should have been 4 as that off side was laughable, Partey has been fantastic, the director of operations.
    And don’t you just love our young players, even Ceballos has rediscovered his va va voom.

  • It’s been simply beautiful to watch. Villarreal also leading 2-0 at half time, so a clash with Unai Emery is in the horizon.

  • Pepe was the breakthrough after the offsides. He had his way with that defender, was not going to be denied there. He’s turning into the strong premier league player we were hoping for.

  • I don’t enjoy being the guy here constantly complaining about something, but what would Arteta need to make some substitutions for fringe/squad/academy players to have a few minutes of European football?
    It’s 77 minutes now, the second half is quite boring (yet not entirely joyless), and Slavia Prague doesn’t play any dangerous, so I don’t see many reasons to keep first every team players on the pitch and/or reserve 4 substitution opportunities for unforeseeable changes…

  • This was a fine performance, no question about that. Mikel has motivated the players right, but the opposition – even though keeping a long unbeaten record at home and leading the Czech championship by a country mile – was well below the level of Sheffield United.
    I hope that the confidence perseveres, yet not turns into underestimating next PL opponents, and we’ll keep all 6 point home against Fulham on Sunday and against Everton the next Friday, before we travel to Villarreal to settle with Unai once and for all: who is whose daddy.

  • Autumn is falling from the trees here in New Zealand, but for 45 minutes this morning we returned to the height of summer. Slavia are no slouches, having seen off Leicester City, but they were made to look very ordinary by our lads. Good to see four English lads in the line up and two more off the bench. Staunch, uncompromising defending, dominant in midfield, razor sharp up front.
    “Full speed ahead Mr. Arteta, full speed ahead
    Full speed ahead it is, Sergeant
    Action station, action station
    Aye, aye, Sir, fire”…. Let’s sink that yellow submarine.

  • It is hard to see how they beat the Foxes, but they did and that should tell us how well the boys played tonight. Arteta just did really well with the tactics and player choices. Everyone played well tonight, they did us proud.

  • Great comments, I’ve gotta say that I thought that Slavia weren’t pushovers at all, I recall most Arsenal fans being quite nervous a few hours ago so let’s not make the mistake of dissing them now we’ve won.
    For me they’re a highly committed and motivated team who kept coming at us for the entire 90 minutes, that’s why we couldn’t ease up and why we had to keep going till the final whistle. Our defence was superb because there was a few times that we had to contend with pinball in our penalty area but the fact that Leno was untroubled had as much to do with our defending as it had to do with their finishing, you don’t go almost two years unbeaten at home if you’re a pub team.

    Our finishing was top top quality, we had a balance up front led by Lacazette who used all his knowledge in that position to lead the line and help his young team mates. Making a decision on his future this summer is going to be enormously difficult?

    It was so cool seeing Arteta showing imagination with his subs, not using Willian and bringing on Nketiah, Martinelli and Balogun was enough to make me stand up and cheer.

    Ceballos is playing as if he wants a move to Arsenal and if he carries on who knows?
    Maybe the time out of the team and the rest did him good?

    Fatigue is going to be an issue in the weeks ahead, Mari and Holding have had spells out and they look refreshed, same with Chambers, only Xhaka never stops and we must all be glad of that.

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Arsenal forward treated in hospital for malaria

    Last updated on

    15 April 202115 April 2021.From the section Arsenal
    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
    Aubameyang came on as a substitute in the Europa League quarter-final first leg against Slavia Prague on 8 April

    Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been treated in hospital after he contracted malaria while on international duty with Gabon.

    The 31-year-old scored in Gabon’s 3-0 win over DR Congo in Africa Cup of Nations qualification on 25 March.

    He played in Arsenal’s Europa League quarter-final first leg against Slavia Prague on 8 April but missed Sunday’s win over Sheffield United.

    “I’ve spent a few days in hospital this week,” he said on Instagram.

    “I’m already feeling much better every day, thanks to the great doctors that detected and treated the virus so quickly.

    “I wasn’t really feeling myself the last couple weeks but will be back stronger than ever soon!”

    Malaria is a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. Symptoms usually appear seven to 18 days after infection, but it is not contagious.

  • Great performance from the lads today which made for comfortable viewing. So many stood out it is hard to pick a man o m. but I will give it to Laca for his outstanding leadership and stepping up to take the penalty after his mishaps in the first game. ESR, Pepe, Laca and Saka were all business like from the off and delivered our best half hour of football for sure this season The rest of the team was also excellent but special mention goes to Chambers for once again coming from nowhere and providing the right flank a jolt of electricity as well as Granit for being our leader at the back and overall consistency and embodiment of a team player as he has taken on the left back role with his usual commitment. I also dont want to forget Partey and Ceballos who played their part in controlling the midfield and kept the game flowing with quick and precise decision making. Arteta In Laca In hope (Laca gets a new contract he is having his best season for us).

  • It is easy to agree with everybody. The comments are spot on.
    Kev is absolutely right about his appreciation of the finishing, as we scored 4 goals from 4 on-target shots and we needed only 6 key passes – which implies clinical conversion as well as shows (besides the 60%-40% possession to Slavia) that it was far from a training game.
    While Kev also satisfied with the substitutions I am a bit less impressed that Balogun got 3 minutes, Martinelli, Soares and Nketiah got 12 each (plus a few in extra time). Partey who did a monster job in the midfield (5 tackles, 3 interceptions 1 clearances [the only of these stats that is not the highest among both teams) and 2 blocks) could have received some more rest, and the youngsters could have given more opportunities and more balls than 4 (Martinelli), 2 (Nketiah) and 1 (Balogun).

    Agreeing with Madhu, while everybody played really well I would pick Lacazette as MotM again, with notable mentions for Partey, Saka, Ceballos, Pepe, Chambers and Smith-Rowe.

  • Forgot to add: I’m not sure if this first 45 minutes was the best half of the entire 20/21 season, but was probably the best 10 minutes (from 14 to 24) of Arsenal football I have ever seen – apart from YouTube compilations. 🙂

  • For once you will have an easy game to write about Total and I’m sure you will do it justice.
    The teams three goals in 6/7 was simply spell binding – every time we had the ball we looked like scoring.

    It’s going to be very interesting for Arteta to match skills with Emery in the semi final – can’t wait for April 29th to arrive.

  • My wife knows that I believe the omens are good before a match whenever I shout out Saka, Xhaka, Laca are playing and she usually laughs! But, last night the laugh was a belter as just as soon as I had shouted “Saka, Xhaka, Laca!”, Peter Drury announced that the referee was Çakır (pronounced Chaka) and then referred to his colleague McManaman as Macca.

    Anyway, the omens were right. That first half was a thing of beauty and Laca is showing that he can be the monster that TA described. To think we performed so well without PEA, Willian, Luis, Odegaard, Bellerin, Cederic, Tierney and Big Gab in the starting lineup!

    The future is bright, the future is Arsenal’s! #COYG!

  • Maybe Laca will get a new contract in the summer. I hope so. Anyway, here’s what Arteta has said about him

    “In key moments and in big matches, you need players – and senior players who have this experience – to make the difference for you,” he said.

    “For me, in his style and in his development, even if he’s soon turning 30 years old, he’s on the right path because he’s very willing to learn.

    “He’s doing things in a much better way than before. He really glues the team together and that’s a quality that is not easy for a striker. He’s got it.”

    Long may the Saka, Xhaka, Laca triumvirate keep going!

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