Arsenal v Villa Lineup: Four key selection choices for Mikel

Arsenal v Aston Villa

These days every PL game is a big test such is the standard of the PL. Villa under Dean are re-establishing themselves gradually in the PL and are a team that can surprise a top team any day. We know that Arsenal are a work in progress and that tonight’s game is a must win, ‘cup game’.

After Monday’s dropping of two valuable points v Palace, there is even more pressure on the team to win tonight.

Who is going to do this? Everyone is fit except GX and there are a few selection challenges for Mikel:

  1. Who to play in midfield, and one or two midfielders in the pivot?
  2. Auba alone or with Laca?
  3. ESR and Ode or just one of them?
  4. Pepe another start or not?

My preferred lineup looks like this:

Time for Elneny?
We need balance in midfield and Mo offers Partey to play in the Xhaka/Conductor role

The hard choices here are whether to leave out one of ESR and Ode, and then who it should be. I feel we need the added energy and goal threat of Laca, and by playing Elneny we will see more creative impact by Partey.

Arteta is unlikely to go with my preferred lineup but let’s she who he’ll pick and how it goes.

CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

36 thoughts on “Arsenal v Villa Lineup: Four key selection choices for Mikel

  • Thanks for your posts Total. ESR would be my choice as he is a bag of energy and is more involved in the game than Ode. I also feel that Elney is our best mid-field partner for Partey – while Xhaka is off injured. The team is a work in progress and we should expect such in their performances – it will take a good while for the team to mature into a viable unit. I just hope that our home crowd understand that and allow the team the time to gel together.

  • This may change things Total.

    Bukayo Saka was taken off at half time on Monday night after a heavy challenge from Crystal Palace’s James McArthur.

    So what’s the latest on his fitness – and what are his chances of taking part against Aston Villa on Friday?

    “He hasn’t trained yet, so again we have to assess him today and see how he is,” Mikel Arteta said in his pre-match press conference.

    “It is down to the doctors and himself to see how he recovers and how he feels when he trains today and tomorrow.

    “He is very important, he has shown how important he is for the team.”

    Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being

  • Yeah I saw that too on Saka, GN5. But only Xhaka was indicated as a fitness concern on Arsenal.com today…

    If he is out we may see both ESR and Ode start, or indeed Pepe…

  • Frankly Ode looks like a light weight and seldom gets to utilize his obvious skills as he gets bounced off of the ball.
    I think it will take him a long time to settle into the rigors of the EPL. However if Saka is unavailable I would take Ode over Pepe any day.

  • I don’t think that Saka should start after the GBH he suffered on Monday. I would start Pepe instead with ESR.

  • 32
    Ramsdale
    18
    Tomiyasu
    4
    White
    6
    Gabriel
    20
    Tavares
    5
    Thomas
    23
    Lokonga
    7
    Saka
    10
    Smith Rowe
    14
    Aubameyang
    9
    Lacazette
    Substitutes
    1
    Leno
    16
    Holding
    17
    Cedric
    31
    Kolasinac
    15
    Maitland-Niles
    25
    Elneny
    19
    Pepe
    8
    Odegaard

  • I finally watched the Palace game. I didn’t have strong feeling about it either way, surprisingly. I didn’t think we were as terrible as we have been at times. As TA pointed out, the level of competition is such that an ok performance can end up in a loss or draw pretty easily.

    To me it looked like a classic Wenger game. We were trying to be expansive…A couple of big errors put us in trouble, and we fought back to a draw.

    Though I wasn’t too upset about the performance, it still angers me to no end the stupidity of Arteta moving Saka back to the left.

    I don’t use words like stupid often to describe anyone associated with the club, but I’ve had it with this particular error. The player is on a great run lately on the right, and he kills the run by putting him where he routinely underperforms.

    There was a time months ago where only a few of us were mentioning the huge disparity in Saka quality on right vs left.
    Now after this past repeat mistake by the manager, everyone is talking about it.. online, on podcasts, even the match commentators questioning it.

    So when is the manager going to figure it out himself? Saka is going to get kicked by opponents no matter where he plays, but shouldn’t we use him where he’s clearly better?

    Aston Villa. I hate them now. Sick of Emi Martinez comments. Their smart ass bids for Smith Rowe. I got over the Buendia thing because I much prefer Ødegaard, who we were rightfully holding out for.. This is a game I’ve been looking forward to.

  • OK that is interesting. Tavares for Tierney who is totally missing. Partey and Sambi again. ESR and both Laca and Auba… And, Saka. Very attacking but with two DMs, I like it

  • Here it is.

    32
    Ramsdale
    18
    Tomiyasu
    4
    White
    6
    Gabriel
    20
    Tavares
    5
    Thomas
    23
    Lokonga
    7
    Saka
    10
    Smith Rowe
    14
    Aubameyang
    9
    Lacazette
    Substitutes
    1
    Leno
    16
    Holding
    17
    Cedric
    31
    Kolasinac
    15
    Maitland-Niles
    25
    Elneny
    19
    Pepe
    8
    Odegaard

  • I’m very pleased to see that Laca is starting. Apparently, Kieran has a bruised ankle. It provides a good chance for Nuno to show us how good he is. I hope Saka is fully fit but we have good options on the bench if he starts feeling the effects of Monday.

  • Summary

    Tierney misses out with a bruised ankle, Tavares makes first PL start
    Alex Lacazette starts up front, with Aubameyang and Saka on flanks
    Sambi Lokonga starts in the centre of midfield alongside Thomas Partey
    Tune in from 7.30pm (UK time) for all the build-up to tonight’s game

  • I think maybe Arteta is managing Ødegaard to show him he wants to see certain improvements in his game. I have confidence it will work. Tavares, seems so exciting, he just needs to focus on defending first. Sambi getting to start to make up for last weeks error.

  • Supper game by Sambi and Partey in midfield.

    So happy with their dominance until now. Our attack is on fire too. Full backs great to watch. I could go on! 😁

  • I hate to say this, but Lokonga shoots a little too much. He just had a couple open passes he ignored. Sambi…. midfielder, not striker.

  • A hugely encouraging performance, bristling with fierce intent, embodied by Laca whose bravery and cleverness with the positions he takes up and the way he won the penalty should have earned him man of the match. Very impressive performances from Sambi and Tavares (boy, can he run) and ESR’s ball carrying may have earned him an England call up. Loved Auba’s flick, so like the one he performed against Tottenham.
    Very interesting discussion around the penalty call and the timing of half time in the aftermatch. I wonder if the penalty had not been given, would the game have restarted with a drop ball, as the ref stopped the match when the ball was still in play? Or would they have walked off for half time? Dermot Gallagher offered a voice of reason. Learning all the time…
    Good to put three past Emi. Now, off to Elland Road.

  • What a performance that was. That’s what I’m talking about. 🤓 Villa were put to the sword and their players looked shell shocked at just how committed and physical we were, even winning the 50-50s, in the first half. That’s the kind of form we want to see much more of, on a consistent basis. If we can fly out the traps like this more often, we would be a handful for any side. And I mean any side.

    Laca was harrying, putting himself about and was in the ears of the ref (we don’t do that enough so, really well done, Laca) at every opportunity. He was selfless, as always, getting the brunt of some crunching tackles and winning us a penalty at the dead of first half. Tavares bombed down that left flank in a manner that would make Tierney proud; he was not missed. ESR was his swashbuckling self with the ball. When he is on the go, his control and eye for the right pass in a counter is amazing. Auba just loves to have Laca next to him and he fought and fought for the team. I salute his contributions today. He is due a hat-trick and needs a consistent run of scoring form.

    I also thought the CBs and the keeper have such great understanding it must hurt Leno. They fought for a clean sheet but, alas! It was not to be. If you ask me, the team has learnt a great lesson from that draw with Palace and simply increased their work rate, running and doubling up on the opposition players to win back possession, consistently. Yes, one point off top 4. All we need now is a run of wins and top 4 will be achievable.

  • TA, I normally get an email notification for New posts but that’s not been the case for a few posts now. Is there something I need to sort out with WordPress or can you fix it?

  • Thought Sambi didn’t disappoint either. In fact, he was a more positive influence in the midfield than Partey was; at least, in the first half. Well played, birthday boy.

  • Not had a chance to read the post or comments, I’ll do it tomorrow as I’m a bit knackered now, but I’ve gotta say yesterday evenings game was fabulous, the team gave everything but special mention to Lacazette as he was superb. I also enjoyed Tavares but the whole team put in a performance.

    Night all.

  • Great game abd till late in to second half we didn’t take the foot off the pedal. I think every player knows that in premier league you have to play full 90 mins to earn a result. Hopefully palace game is a wake up call. Today’s match should be a template. Laca for all his work rate sometimes looks too casual.
    Loved both the fullbacks. Tomi appeared in ten final third more tomes today than all the games out togetehr. Taverez has got a tank and never looked tired. Tierney needs to fight for his place, shouldnt be an automatic.
    All in all Villa was put in thier place and ESR scoring was icing on the cake.

  • Ah! Good spot, even though I can’t say I recall doing that consciously. That’s got to be the reason. Will click it and see how it goes. Thank you.

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