Arsenal V Spuds Preview: 4-2-3-1 With Three Key Couples in Midfield and Attack

Just a few weeks ago the Spuddies were poking fun at us: TOTL with three wins whilst Arsenal were rock bottom. An ever-lasting international break and two PL games later, and with a NLD ‘six-pointer’ to be contested this Sunday, we are already offered a great opportunity to catch up with them. It all reminded me of a diptych painting in the waiting room of my childhood’s GP back in the deep south of the Netherlands, very close to the German border. The sub-text reads ‘Wie du mir, So ich dir’ – something like ‘As you do to me, I will do to you’.

It is never clever to poke fun at the Arsenal when your trophy cupboards are dust’s best friends; and now we are right below them and ready to put our teeth into them… and just one game away from catching up already.

Yet we have no right to be full of hubris as our one nils to the Arsenal were hard fought for victories and the Spuddies are a much more established team than Arteta’s newly picked ensemble right now. A loss to either team would be doubly painful and we must of course be wary of the likes of Kane and Son doing damage on the break. Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs will probably like to absorb pressure and play on the rebound and counter; Arteta’s Arsenal, playing at the home of Football, will mostly likely push up and take the game to the North-London rivals. As always, getting the balance right, especially in midfield, will be key. The really good news is that ALL, yes all, players are fit to play! Yeehah!


It is hard to exactly predict the line-up but I would like to think that Laca, who had a good game v Wimbledon, should start this time. Alex has been involved in six goals in eight games v the Spuds and he scored in the last three NLDs. Does that mean that Auba should start on the bench? Well maybe, but this may well be the right game to play both of them once again. It partly depends on whether we play three at the back and include Big Rob into the lineup. I don’t think we will.

The other big question is whether Granit walks back into the team. I know not everybody would like that to happen but I expect and want it to. Our left works much better with Granit in the team and he will be careful enough to not get send off again.

How many goals will we score, Granit?

I think the defence picks itself and I would like to include Partey, Saka and ESR and Ode for this one. Pepe and Eddie can come on later and do some more Spuds-mashing.

For me there are three key couples: ESR and Ode, Laca and Auba and Xhaka and Partey.

So this is my preferred – and possibly also expected – lineup for the 204th NLD:

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

By TotalArsenal.

50 thoughts on “Arsenal V Spuds Preview: 4-2-3-1 With Three Key Couples in Midfield and Attack

  • Ta, iam not jumping on the Xhaka bandwagon yet. But I suspect Arteta has his favourites and culture of the club goes out of window when it comes to his favourites. So Xhaka will start, but that means we lose mobility in the center.
    Looking at yesterdays results we have a great chance to close down the gap between us and top of the table to just 5. But everytime last season we had a chance to close the gap we didt take. The team is different and full of yound blood so hopefully they have to take chances and win the game. Nothing less is acceptable. But I am ready to move on from Xhaka and willing to give youngsters like Sambi and AMN the benefit of doubt.
    A win is a must.

  • One for Eris;

    Arsenal have bolstered their academy ranks with the signing of Anglo-Nigerian youngster Noah Laditan.

    A delighted Laditan took to social media on Saturday morning to confirm that his move to the Arsenal academy is now in the bag, and he joins the Emirates outfit from Southend United youth team.

    The former Shrimpers starlet has signed schoolboy forms with the Gunners and will be aiming to sign a scholarship with the category one academy club in the future.

    The likes of Folarin Balogun, Ovie Ejeheri, Arthur Okonkwo, Ryan Alebiosu and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji were schoolboys at Arsenal before signing scholarships at Arsenal, and the same applies to Hale End Academy products Alex Iwobi, Chuba Akpom and Chuks Aneke.

    Writing on Instagram, Laditan stated : “Happy to say I’ve officially signed with @officialarsenalacademy after 2 great years with @sufcrootshall . A new chapter for me in this beautiful journey”.

    Eleven players of Nigerian descent have been registered by Arsenal for the first half of the Premier League season.

    Ifeanyi Emmanuel

  • Still think Holding should come in for White, for this one, unless he has shown mental readiness for the game. If he dwells on the ball as it seems he is wont to, he could cost us. Has to be intelligent and not be cowed by the demands of his new surroundings.

    Kev, nice one on the young man. Truth is Nigeria is full of talented youngsters and it is pleasing that Arsenal are willing to engage and educate the kids to give them a career in a game they love. 👏🏽👏🏽

  • Madhu, mobility is not unimportant but Xhaka is clever and anticipates, and as a result is seldom caught out. We need his organisation and intelligence today, and although I like AMN and Sambi a lot Granit offers something unique in our team. But that’s my view and I respect yours.

  • Eris, Arteta, like almost any manager, will not sideline a player on the basis of some hesitation in his previous game.

    But inclusion of Holding is not a bad thing and if we play with a back three we may see ESR or Laca benched to accommodate this.

  • I agree with you, re Arteta on Ben White. He would also worry about what it may do to his confidence. For me, it should be about the team, not the feelings of the new boy’s. I shall have my eye on him today (if he starts).

    By the way, ESR didn’t have a place in your “preferred” 4 at the back line up above. Only way both Ode and ESR get to start is if one of Auba or Laca loses out. Yet, I’d prefer to see them both start, for the reasons you’ve put forward.

  • Oh, and I think Arteta would start Sambi and Partey for the NLD. Just so as not to disrupt current momentum. It’s what managers do. Xhaka will have to work his way back in. As usual, we will only get to know about an hour to kick-off.

  • Eris, the team is a collection of individuals and by looking after the individuals Arteta is looking after the team. Arteta builds trust and confidence so I expect Ben to play.

    Yes I made the wrong assumption and thought both ESR and Ode would play, but in this formation it is indeed either Laca or Auba out then.

  • I like the line-up, it’s offensive enough, and the boys have experience in it. My only change would be a Saka-Pepe swap, but otherwise these our the strongest players in our strongest formation.

    I’ll be interested in and excited about the Son-Tomi duel, as the best Asian players of the PL face off tonight. I hope Tomi comes out victorious, while our wingers will torment Tottenham’s full-backs.

  • I like the line-up, it’s offensive enough, and the boys have experience in it. My only change would be a Saka-Pepe swap, but otherwise these our the strongest players in our strongest formation.

    I’ll be interested in and excited about the Son-Tomi duel, as the best Asian players of the PL face off tonight. I hope Tomi comes out victorious, while our wingers will torment Tottenham’s full-backs.

  • I understand Eris concern about Ben White. I hope someone, either a player or member of the coaching staff has made a point to impress the importance and intensity of these games vs tottenscum.

    I say Xhaka should be a sub if we have a lead. I think he’d be perfect for that this week. But if he starts, he is plenty tough enough, and mentally strong enough to be prepared after the weeks off. It’s not like he hasn’t been through it before.

    Starting should be Partey and Sambi for size, mobility. Did Lokonga play 90 midweek? If so, my lineup isn’t happening.

    I have toyed with the idea of Auba left and Laca up front, but I wouldn’t do it in a match like this, where we’ll need every player on the pitch to be able to win balls and fight through challenges. No way would I use Auba anywhere but up front today, if at all.

    Tierney needs to get back to defending first. Not just against spuds, but in general.. no more running the attack through him. Just occasionally as a change of pace. As someone else has said, he needs to be blocking crosses.


    TT……White.. Gabs…. Tierney

    Partey……. Sambi

    Saka…. Ødegaard….. Pepe


    Xhaka defensive sub.
    Smith Rowe impact sub against tiring defenders.
    Pepe has earned a start with tough defending and helping in midfield, and he’s not as good as a sub as ESR.

    Also Emile has looked a little ragged every time he comes off, as if not fully fit.
    I expect Auba to start for obvious reasons, but I think we know Lacazette is the better choice.

  • Did I hear that Arteta used Saka on the right midweek? And that he looked good there? Maybe there’s hope for Mikel to notice the obvious.

    I don’t think it will happen, but I’d consider Holding in, and White as DM with Partey ahead, but it would be risky only because it would be new for him with us, and we want him to get continuity in his regular position

  • Great comments. Where we differ is that most believe we can win this game without Granit starting. Think we got away with it because of the relatively weaker opposition, but no way Arteta can afford not to start him today.

  • I like my lineup much better than Artetas. 3 differences. Sambi for quickness, ESR big impact sub, Lacazette for battling in the box. I hope his works perfectly. First, let’s continue the clean sheets, but in case they get a cheap, fluke goal, let’s not lose our spirit or our heads. We can score a few, it’s coming soon anyway, why not today? No better occasion.

    I’ll drop all my lineup preferences if he has Saka playing mostly from the right. I’ve been banging that drum since week 1. It could literally change our whole season to have an effective, confident Saka.

  • Hahaha J, I like your confidence.

    This probably is our strongest possible lineup. Everyone can pass a ball and is comfortable receiving it in tight spaces. I prefer Laca to Auba it can live with Auba as our sole CF

  • 32
    Smith Rowe

    Nuno Tavares

  • Indeed I do. 🙂
    It was a lucky goal, but well deserved nonetheless.
    Just like you deserve for a near-perfect line-up prediction, and your Saka-hunch.

    When we meet, the first beer/cider is on me.

  • The boys have been amazing. Great balance in midfield, penetration from the wings and organised at the back. Ode could be more involved but Emile and Bukayo are flying right now.

    Still it is a Derby and we need to stay focused.

    CoyrrGs ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ ⚽

  • TA, nice calls all round, including the one where PB owes you. 😄.

    Nice going lads. I am too much in the zone to type comments. Great start and we do look up for it. Commentators are reminding us of those derby day come backs but this looks like one day they are not coming back, no matter what. We are flying, including said Ben White. Still watching him though.

    Good job, so far, lads. Now, finish the job. We are already above Spurs now and must not let up.

  • Aside from Sakas play on the first assist, which was great, you see the confidence with which he plays on the right side. He’s a totally different player. His creativity is so obviously freed with confidence, seems more than twice as dangerous compared to when he has the ball on the left side.

    We are playing the best football today since….. a few years before Arsene left.. finally the intuitive passing, but even better… every pass is forward….and probing, direct.

  • After Kanes offside miss, I would bring on a fresh player. Pepe for exhausted looking ESR maybe. 63 mins.

  • Agreed, J, the substitutions should start coming to keep the pressure and momentum.
    Pepe, Martinelli, Sambi or even Lacazette. Defensively we are well covered on the pitch.

  • Looks like we have invited trouble on ourselves. The last 20 mins is going to be very nervous.

  • Fine win! Well played, the boys. That was a gargantuan effort to overcome all that negativity and how Burnley and Norwich City aren’t top sides.

    Hopefully, a bit more respect by The Mirror and Daily Mail as we have beaten Spurs well today.

    Not sure how bad the injuries to Xhaka and ESR are. We can’t afford to have injuries to two key players now.

  • Eris,
    ESR always looks somewhat hurt to me towards the end of games. I hope its normal. I have a theory (no stats) that he leads the team in sprints and that’s why he tires. I hope.

    Xhaka looks worrisome to me. I’m keeping a good thought for him. He’s under appreciated, even by me.

  • The first 30 mins were the best football we have seen since Wenger. I have not looked at the stats but wouldn’t be surprised if we had months last season with fewer line-splitting passes than today in the first half.

    Against even lesser opposition than the evil Spuds, I would like to see us play 4:3:3 but especially in the tougher away matches, Xhaka’s shithousery will probably be required.

    Tomiyasu was immense. With any of our other right backs this could have been a lot tighter.

    Great result and I hope the crisis talk now moves up the Seven Sisters Rd.

  • By the way, watching highlights now, Xhaka saved a dangerous error by Aaron and turned the play into our second goal. The biggest moment of the game in my estimation. Total will agree!

  • Purr…
    Ben’s sliding tackle, Thomas’ long ball to Auba, ESR’s perpetual motion, Martin’s perpetual excellence, Auba’s captains game, Bukayu’s brilliance, Gabriel’s and Granit’s staunchness, Aaron’s beautiful fingertips. Spuds sliced, diced and sacrificed in 35 minutes of sheer sublime gorgeousness.
    It’s a beautiful day in North London, in Kerikeri and wherever you are…

  • J, Granit made the best of an awkward moment indeed. We could tell that he hadn’t played for a while I thought, but still he was good and partnered v well with Partey.

  • I guess you are right, Jync. ESR always walks out of games with head bowed and limping (or appearing to do so). Xhaka, on the other hand, had a knock in an avoidable contact with Lucas Moura. Granit had a fairly solid game, as usual, in my view. In fact, I daresay he was the leader today, pointing out gaps to be plugged, marshaling the troops, ensuring we retained dominance of the midfield in the first half, roughed up Moura and even Hojbjerg a few times (especially the tackle he put in leading to the second, all important goal, stood tall when he had to and just kept things purring. When Spurs turned up some pressure in the second half, he still was influential but to a smaller extent.

    The world (with our dressing room) is a happier place today!

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