Arsenal Best-11 and My Biggest Wish

Now that the TW business is finally over, we can all fantasise what our best formation/11 is, and I like to hear your thoughts about it.

Obviously, it does depend on Mikel’s footballing philosophy, which I am sure will become much clearer now that he has almost all his chess pieces on the board.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. I like both Holding and White to play. Without Luiz in the team, we need Rob’s leadership as well as his aerial qualities. Ben offers that quick thrust forward from defence which will give our play another dimension.
  2. Partey is THE man in midfield but unlike Xhaka he is injury prone and this makes it hard to build the team around him. Scapegoat Granit is still a key player but should become less pivotal this season, which I am pretty sure he and Arteta agreed will be his last.
  3. ESR and The Ode will both need to play so we have options for creating chances and play the superior passing game.
  4. Can Auba and Laca play together? We need the added goal threat but Auba lacks the footballing skills to play LF imo. We also need a super sub offering real impact.
  5. We need height in the team for dealing with set pieces on either end.
  6. We need real thrust from the wings but also great capability to hold on to the ball and pass it well in tight spaces. Saka and ESR are such players, Pepe struggles with this, especially in PTB games when there is little space to operate in. Pepe is super sub potential.
  7. The GK needs to be dynamic and assured, both in the air and with his feet. Ramsdale looks the better option but Leno is still the first choice.
  8. We need a regular starting 11 with the right personalities and character that gradually will ooze title winning aspirations and conviction.

So on the basis of this here is my Arsenal Best-11:

Leno (for now)

TBD* – Hold – Gab – KT

–White—-Partey – –



* I want to see our new signing from Bologna in action before deciding on the strongest RFB option.

I think this is quite close to the strongest eleven. Defensively very solid and a really dynamic and strong (with !Presence!) midfield with a great balance. Four dynamic, great passers of the ball in tight spaces in attack, and all able to take on a man. Saka becomes more our second attacker with Laca our main one. Ode and ESR and of course Partey to unlock defences from midfield and higher up.

Only issue I have is lack of regular goalscorers in this set up, and my biggest wish is to see Saka, Emile and Martin all get double figures this season.

Auba, Pepe and Balogun / Eddie should also start games but especially the first two could become great super subs this season.

What is your ideal starting eleven?

By TotalArsenal 🚀 ⚽

35 thoughts on “Arsenal Best-11 and My Biggest Wish

  • Assuming Arteta remains in charge, I expect he’ll want to deploy the same 4231 system which looks more like a 325 in attack and 442 in defence. If so, the players he’ll pick for that shape are already fairly clear (injury and fitness depending).

    CF: Auba bound to start ahead of Laca given the contract situations
    LF: ESR will likely start ahead of Saka more often because ESR occupies the left hand half space better (allowing KT to bomb on down the wing)
    10: Odegaard who will likely drift into the right hand half space
    RF: Saka or Pepe depending on opposition. They’ll be ask to provide width on the right and also be prepared to cut inside too – likely confusing the hell out of their play
    LCM: Xhaka if he’s fit (Arteta loves him), Sambi if not and AMN/Elneny if no Sambi
    RCM: As above but with Partey
    LB: KT, clearly
    LCB: Gabriel. No-one else with a left foot (Arteta demands his LCB has a left foot for better passing lanes) can press high like him. Mari looks lost doing it against strong opposition. Holding has a right foot.
    RCB: White. There’s a reason Arteta pushed for a £50m move for a defender that can’t head the ball. He believes he’s one of a select few defenders that can play Arteta ball.
    RB: Tomi or Chambers. Given Arteta prefers a back 2-3 in the build up and White is vulnerable in the air, Arteta will need a RB that is great aerially. Almost someone that can interchange with White (who is happy drifting right). Arteta hoped that could be Chambers but the Man City game showed his discomfort playing more centrally. So more likely to be Tomi.
    GK: Leno until he performs badly, then Ramsdale.

    I’m not saying that’s my starting line up but then again, I’d rather Arsenal had a different manager playing a different system. Arteta’s is weird and over-complicated. Plus it doesn’t work. All good reasons to sack him.

    You look at Tuchel’s system at Chelsea (JJ Bull analysed it brilliantly today on his youtube channel) and you see the simplicity that enabled Chelsea to go from a mid-table team to European Champions.

    I think the starting line up at Arsenal would be a bit different under a manager like Tuchel. Not too different though given Arsenal lack quality in depth. But different enough (Holding, Saliba, Bellerin, AMN, Laca would all likely have bern involved more under a manager like Tuchel).

  • I am still sad about Saliba but I think we are well set to play a back 3, Tomi and Ben can do right side Tierney (like for Scotland) or Gabi left then central Rob or any of the above (next season Rob and Mari go). It would allow AMN to be a wing back and either Tierney or Tavares on the other side. This of course reduces spaces for others but Partey plus 1 then a flexible front 3 would work. I wouldn’t try Martin as the plus one as he’s a bit lightweight and I think Sambi will be that. You then have Emile, Martin , Bukayo and Pepe to alternate behind Auba or Florian. As much as I like Laca I think we have to use the season to learn how to play without him. There is also the flex for Saka or ESR to be wingbacks but then we may be too open.

  • Cheers Dave, I like your reasoning a lot.
    I am less of a fan of a back three as it often becomes a back five and it slows us down when pressed back. We also miss that extra attacker/AM then.

    But with White in the back 3/5 we could see real added thrust and turnovers from deep. So it’s worth giving it a try.

  • I’d really like to see White and Gabriel play as a pair because they’re the players Arteta has brought in, but there needs to be some really serious work done on coaching the defence and not least defending high balls into the box, we’ve got this new dead ball coaching expert but from what I’ve seen it’s all a bit underwhelming in that dept. Arteta has got most of his defenders to work with during this Interlull so I’m looking forward to seeing some improvement in that area of the team vs Norwich.

    I pretty much agree with your attacking combo Total, I guess you can rotate Smith, Saka and Pepe on the flanks, but Odegaard needs to start most games now, he’s a top top player and we have to play him.

    No Xhaka means Partey and Albert in midfield, we need to start seeing Partey dominate games, we’ve seen glimpses of what he can do and he was unlucky vs Chelsea in pre season, it was almost a deliberate policy to crock him by Tuchel. I still think not buying Bissouma is a major error by the club, you know, if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail, we needed a major personality in there as an option to Partey because I’m not sure about how fit he is both physically and mentally and how happy he is at Arsenal….

    My biggest wish is for Arsenal to win their next 8 Premier League games, they’re all winnable and Arteta must have a winning run as he desperately needs to repair his reputation with the fans and maybe some of the staff at Arsenal.

    It’s still redeemable but it needs to change and it needs to change forthwith…

  • So we have a anti vaccine proponent in our team. Amazing how a professional athlete who synthetic substance to keep fit refuses to take vaccination for a deadly virus. Now he gets affected putting at risk his team mates many of whom are youngsters with fledgling career.
    What a shame.
    My best 11 would be
    Hiro – BW – Gab – KT
    –Sambi – Partey/ AMN —
    Saka — Ode/ESR — Gabi/ Pepe

    No place in my team for a antivax bloke who puts self and team mates in danger.

  • Some wish, Kev. Eight games seems unlikely at this stage but a wish is a wish! 😁

    Yes I am also looking forward to the White and Big Gab combo.

  • GN5, thanks for the reminder. Coming late but I hope I still meet the cut-off. Been a hectic past few days for me; could hardly check out Arsenal news but up for a few days off work so shall catch up on the blog, four posts behind now.

  • My predictions follow:

    Scotland V Moldova. H
    Belarus v Wales *. A (0-1)
    Switzerland v Italy. D
    Belgium v Czech Republic *. H (3-1
    England V Andorra. H
    Arsenal Women v Chelsea Women * H (3-2)

  • Arteta’s comments about why he wanted Tomi have added weight to Dave’sthoughts about playing 3 at the back. I won’t be sure what my ‘Best-11’ will look like until I’ve seen our new boys playing for us in the PL. The lineup against Norwich is going to be interesting!

  • Interesting to hear what everyone thinks of anti vax Xhaka. Now that he has got covid and without vaccination make no mistake the long term effects of this virus will remain. Few questions to ponder
    1. As a professional Athelete you use synthetic substance to keep yourself fot but refuse vaccination for a deadly virus? Shouldn’t a professional athletes decision be based on science.
    2. Taking vaccine may be a personal choice but you are a professional Athelete who play a team sport. By now taking vaccine you are putting your team mates also into jeopardy. Can you be called a team player? After all this is not a vaccine for polio or anything like that which is not transmittable , but a world wide pandemic disease.
    3. What does it say about the culture of Arsenal when a Anti Vax professional is given a contract extension and not selling him when an opportunity existed? Isn’t the club putting youngsters career and the whole club in a jeopardy? So much for a culture change at the club. Isn’t the club which boats of being pioneer in data science ignoring science?
    4. Wonder why Arsenal had so many covid cases recently? I think you have the answer based on this current episode. No sympathies if you don’t follow medical advice and unable to take care of yourself to the extent possible. Imagine poor in this world are struggling to get vaccinated and vaccines haven’t reached them.
    Make no mistake this is not against Xhaka but against a culture that ignores science under the garb of personal choices. Sometimes you have to give up personal choices for greater good.

  • OK the Guardian is writing that Xhaka has Covid-19 and opted not to get vaccinated.

    I’d rather see he did get vaccinated but it is a personal choice. That does not make him an anti vax person and the associated ‘movement’.

    We don’t know his personal reasons for this and can only guess at it.

    He has seen loads of players having had Covid-19 and getting through it well. Those who are vaccinated are protected against him giving it to them to a large extent. So not much risk for others at the club.

    The risk is mainly to himself but he is a healthy man and made a personal choice. Again, I would have liked him to have taken the vaccine but no need to crucify him.

  • Swiss manager said that xhaka has refused vaccination. It’s in the press. There is apparently a tweet by Mou advising xhaka to take vaccination. Xhaka hasn’t denied what his Swiss manager has said

  • The so called ‘anti vax movement’ is a media construct, they love to pigeonhole people.

    I have to say, especially when considering that it was Mikel Arteta catching WuFlu – and thus leading to the suspension of football in this country – that I’m really surprised that anyone at all at Arsenal has not had the vaccine. It doesn’t send out a great message.

  • Potential Arsenal squads.

    First XI: Leno; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Saka; Aubameyang

    Second XI: Ramsdale; Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tavares; Lokonga, Elneny; Pepe, Lacazette, Martinelli; Balogun

    The rest: Okonkwo, Chambers, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Nketiah

  • Nice squads, GN5.

    I noticed nobody is feeling much for the White/Partey duo in central midfield. I think it would be awesome, but there you go. 😁

  • TA, based on Edu’s comments about the transfer strategy, White was bought specifically to replace Luiz so, Arteta and Edu are not thinking of a midfield role for White either. I would rather we see him play in the role he is used to for the time being. With Xhaka out it gives others their chance to prove themselves and, I’m hoping, give Arteta a difficult decision when Xhaka is available again.

  • Interesting to see Mourinho Tweeting Xhaka regarding the vaccine, seems as if Jose is still keen on him?

    Another bid from Roma in January perhaps?

  • Cheers OML, if that is true what is the plan with Rob? Are we then going to three at the back?

    White can play in midfield and it would initially make sense to me, especially if we play a back four.

    Re Xhaka, his left foot is very important and we will miss him. Cannot see anybody taking his place other than Partey ut this would lead to another gap… 👍🏼

  • That’s true Total, but why should Mourinho be Tweeting Xhaka?
    Seems a bit odd, it’s as if he can’t let go?

    I’m sure that we could have got Tammy Abraham this summer and he did seem to suggest that Arteta wanted him, but Mourinho probably got in his ear, (it’s what he does) rubbished Arsenal to him, told Abraham that we weren’t going anywhere fast and that if he wanted to win trophies to go with him.

    I’m also sure that Mourinho has been in Xhaka’s ear as well and I’m pretty sure that Xhaka wanted to play in Italy, not least because the referees are better and they seem to use VAR properly, he certainly seemed ready to leave. So yeah, Roma might be skint for now, but come January they might not be and our priorities might have changed?

  • Well I don’t know about January Total, the continuing fitness issues with Partey only bring more into focus Arsenal’s failure to sign Bissouma this summer.

    I reckon that Arsenal were ready to sell Granit to Roma but the Italians thought they could pull a fast one by bidding well under his value, it kind of says a lot about how Arsenal are viewed, are we seen as a soft touch in transfer matters? I hope not and maybe some of our business this last summer will have been about readdressing that perception?

    As for Granit himself, he is far too professional to kick off over the impasse in his move to Italy, I think myself that he was probably up for it and for working with Mourinho, who had been sweet talking him since the Euros. Arsenal’s move to extend and improve his contract is a shot across Roma or anyone else’s bow, that the giveaways from Ashburton Grove are at an end and I’m in favour of that message going out.

    Arteta said that he didn’t want Granit to leave when he re-signed, but what else is he gonna say, although there does seem a definite respect between player and manager.

    I’m ambivalent, if Granit had left and that had meant we got Bissouma then I’m in for that, Granit staying is equally ok from me, he’ll do his job as he always does for Arsenal and I don’t blame him for the Man City game, playing him as the lone DM wasn’t the greatest idea given his lack of pace, but there ya go!

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