Just go for it Arsene: Xhaka deep, Ox box to box, Perez, Iwobi, Alexis and Ollie in Attack.

Arsenal – Bayern Preview

What can we say about this game? We should be excited to welcome one of Europe’s best teams, currently as well as historically, to the home of football. But we are not. The season held a lot of promise but it has almost all fizzled out, and a big reason for this is the second half humiliating drumming by the Germans a few weeks ago.

We have a more than decent defence and plenty of excellent attackers but Arsene cannot get the midfield right, and this seems a structural problem. Would a fit Cazorla have made all the difference? Should we have kept Jack Wilshere? Would Rambo have turned our season round if he had played without recurring injuries? Who knows. Fact is that we are weakest in our midfield and that is where we are losing the battles with the big teams, and sometimes the smaller teams too. It sucks like a drain.

What is Wenger going to do tonight? Try and avoid further humiliation by defending deep and play on the counter? Attack, attack, attack from the start and go for it? Or a balance between secure and adventurous? Je ne le sais pas. But I reckon Wenger has not much choice in the matter… his midfield options are very, very limited without Santi, Elneny and a surely not fit enough (read too rusty) Rambo. Other than a youngster in the centre of midfield, which is not a good idea, he can only play two out of Coq, Xhaka and Ox. The first two are too similar in terms of wanting to be the anchor of midfield, so it has to be one of the them. That is Xhaka for me. So Xhaka and Ox, our attacking (b)ox to (b)ox for the night, is the duo to go for imo.

The rest is a matter of individual confidence and hunger, and I reckon Wenger will pick the strongest team, even though he knows the game is up for us, and possibly him. The game will still be watched all over the world and pride (and avoiding further humiliation) is at stake.

Predicted Team for tonight:

———Ospina———–

Bellerin – Mustafi – Koz – Nacho

—– Xhaka—————-

————Ox to Ox——-

Perez——Iwobi——-Alexis

——-Giroud————-

Theo or Welbeck could start instead of Perez or Giroud, or come on later to make a difference. Rambo could replace the Ox in second half to put new energy into the midfield.

Let’s go and attack them and just go for it. Entertain the fans and regain some pride, even if it means risking another drumming. Es gibt viel zu tun, packen wir es an.

COYGs

By TotalArsenal.

Giroud and Alexis up-front, Holding and Mustafi CBs, Coq and Xhaka to get new chance: Preview

Sutton United v Arsenal – FA Cup fifth round Preview

I am not sure whether to spend many words on this must-win game. Sutton United deserve all the plaudits for getting through to the fifth round by eliminating Leeds United. they will play us at their stadium, the Borough Sports Ground, on their artificial surface and will want to give us a game of course. And what is there to lose for them? These are the sort of games the players and supporters dream of, and even if the former lose handsomely against us, the latter will still see them as heroes. And if they were to manage to beat us tomorrow night, the local hospitals’ midwifes will be in overdrive come November this year. 🙂

Arsenal’s only real enemy are themselves. After that utterly demoralising second half against BM last Wednesday, there is a chance of a lack of focus or appetite for tomorrow’s game. That would of course be unforgivable, so it is quite unlikely that the boys Wenger will select for tomorrow’s game against the U’s will not be really up for it. This is about pride for the shirt as much as anything else. And with a more than doable home tie against Lincoln City next up, there is an additional incentive to play well and make winning the FA Cup a big priority for the remainder of the season.

Wenger finds himself in a difficult and dark corner right now, but he knows that nothing more will bring back the light than winning games again. He also needs to re-balance the team as to get back a better spine and resilience, which should form the basis of a strong run towards the end of the season in both the league and FA Cup. I am not sure he has the players for this right now, but by playing Elneny and Xhaka in the DM-pivot and playing a bit deeper and more compact, we should see a much needed improvement. Well, that is what I would do, but not necessarily against Sutton. Reintroducing Giroud, who luckily cannot be blamed for our recent disasters this time round, seems also a good idea. Welbeck played today so is unlikely to play again tomorrow.

Looking at the training pictures on Arsenal.com, I reckon this could be the line-up:

Iwobi and Alexis are likely to swap positions and fill the space in the hole. Ox (or maybe Theo instead) will also be allowed to move into the hole regularly, and Giroud will become a strong central pivot to create space for the team and connect with fellow attackers as much as possible. As Sutton are likely to park the bus, we also need Ollie’s aerial presence to add variety to our attacking play.

As long as our attackers play with a high tempo, passion and concentration, which means helping out midfield and defence as much as possible, we should create plenty of chances and then the goals will come.

Let’s get behind our team once more. COYRRGs!

By TotalArsenal

 

Holding/Mustafi CB pairing, Iwobi nr10, Ox and Welbeck to Feed the Scorpion? Preston v Arsenal Preview

 

Those who are hopeful to see a lot of youngsters against Preston on Saturday will get disappointed. The FA Cup is Arsene’s Cup and he will field a strong team against the beautifully named Lilywhites. We also will want to keep momentum after a strong comeback against the Cherries and a big game in Wales following our FA Cup game. This is not a good time to play a weakened side and hope for the best at Deepdale: just like Man City did tonight against the Hammers, we need to play with a high tempo, passion and strong focus.

This is the side I reckon Wenger will field tomorrow:

Koz, Bellerin, Sanchez and Ozil to be rested or start on the bench. Holding to join Mustafi and Gabriel to play on the right. Gibbs is still out so another start for Nacho, I reckon. Rambo and Xhaka to get another chance to get used to each other and hopefully a start for either Perez or Welbeck on the left, depending on fitness. Ollie CF, Iwobi in the hole and Ox on the other wing.

Let’s hope the boys do us proud tomorrow.

COYRRGs!

By TotalArsenal

 

Xhaka-Rambo DMs, Ozil back in hole, Iwobi/Alexis/Perez in Attack: Line-Up and Preview

Bournemouth v Arsenal

Image result for vitality stadium images

Bournemouth away just 48 hours after beating Palace is not an easy fixture… but maybe this is not a bad thing. These festive fixtures are all about focus and the Cherries’ ‘cup game win’ over Pool a few weeks ago will still be crystal clear in Wenger and the boys’ minds; this should help us with taking the game serious from the start and play with the required tempo and intensity to take all three precious points back to Ashburton Grove. Pool went to lowly Sunderland on a high after beating Man City but then gave a lead away twice to drop two big points – something I have seen Arsenal do many a time over the years…

We have a fantastic squad and Wenger should not struggle much in avoiding tired legs and minds on the pitch. However, he will not want to tweak too much as to not disrupt the flow of our game/style of play.

A win will take us to one point off Pool and six off the Chavs, and the latter are playing the Spuddies at the swamp tomorrow so there is a decent opportunity to reduce the gap with the leaders and/or increase the gap with our North-London rivals. But we need to focus on our game and Eddie Howe’s outfit want to play football, which, especially for an English manager, is of course great. Even though they will be without Jack, they have the players in midfield to give us a game and they will create chances. Afobe has cancelled his participation for DR Congo in the ACN and of course he would love to score a few against his former club. The Cherries are as strong at home as Man City or Man United and they will be on a high after beating the Swans away convincingly three days ago, so let there be no doubt that we will have to battle hard to get that much needed win.

Arsène Wenger

Who is going to do this for us? There does not seem to be team news on Arsenal.com this morning, so I have to make some assumptions.

Predicted Line-up:

Le Coq could start ahead of Xhaka but I reckon the Swiss maestro was so good in controlling and orchestrating our game from deep that Wenger will be tempted to start him again. Rambo in the B2B for me, and this will be a big opportunity for the Welshman to establish himself in the team again (and with Elneny away at the ACN and Jack out on loan, and Santi still out injured, THIS is his opportunity). As Bournemouth are likely not to sit deep we need good attacking runners in the team, so I have gone for Iwobi, Ozil, Perez and Alexis. Perez needs, and imo deserves, another game and I reckon Ozil will have recovered from his ‘cold’… a typical Wengjury if you ask me. Gibbs is still an injury doubt apparently, so Nacho to play another game. I am not overly confident to get 11/11 today but let’s wait and see what the gaffer does.

Looking forward to this one. 🙂

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

By TotalArsenal.

Rambo/Coq in DM pivot, Iwobi/Theo on wings, Alexis CF: Arsenal v Spurs Preview and likely Line-up

A short but sharp match preview as we all know what is at stake here: pride, NLD bragging rights, a six point gap, and leading the table before the November interlull. I reckon it has been a great achievement to get level with Pep’s City and now we have the chance to overtake them, which would just be bliss. Of course Pool will have something to say about who will lead the table at the end of the day, but we must just concentrate on our challenge. It is about time that we beat the Spuds again, but it will not be easy despite their recent form.

Wenger has been able to rest the players who do most of the running for us: Nacho, Bellerin, Iwobi, Ox, Elneny and Theo. It is not entirely clear who of those are deemed fit to play as Arsenal.com has not updated its info re this since Thursday. It is to be expected that the Spuds will mainly play compact at the back with a desire to spring a counter as soon as we make a mistake. They will also press us high when they can but always in such a way that there is very little chance we can break them easily. Pochettino has his teams play a lot like Mourinho’s old Chelsea: they are hard to break down and score against and rely heavily on an in-form striker or two to win games for them. The latter they do not have currently and let’s hope this will remain the case today. We must play with care but also take the initiative and without any doubt will give away a few chances today, so our defensive discipline and their ability to take their chances will be a key factor.

Having said that, Arsenal have an in-form strike force and a strong midfield to boss the Spuds in their own half, and can create chances in the process. But we will have to take those opportunities early on to have a really good chance to win. If we are not leading by say 30-35 minutes it could become a tricky one for us.

I reckon, subject to fitness, that Arsene knows 9 of his 11 starters. The two areas where he will have some doubt is who to play next to Coquelin and whether to play Theo, Ox or Rambo on the right. We need to be solid in the double DM pivot with a strong focus on defensive duties and athleticism to cover the box to box challenges. Santi could play a big part in helping Ozil to crack open the Spuds’ bus but he may not be fit enough to play. I also doubt whether he is the right player to play as B2B in today’s game. For me, it is either Xhaka, Elneny or Ramsey. I would go for the Egyptian and play Rambo on the right ‘wing’ position. But I expect Wenger to play his strongest and most exciting team to watch.

Predicted Line-up:

submit football lineup

Whatever team will play, I am sure they will give their all for all the reasons given above; and let’s hope we will beat the Spuddies playing football the Arsenal way. Ooh to be…

COYRRGs!!!

By TotalArsenal.

Rambo and Xhaka DMs, Iwobi and Ox on Wings, Gabriel for Kos? Match Preview | Predicted Line-up

ludogorets-arena

Tomorrow Arsenal play a crucial game against Ludogorets Razgrad in the CL. A win and qualification for the next round should become a formality, if it will not be in the bag already; a draw or a loss and we will be up against it with hard games against PSG (at home) and Basle (away) to come. Add to this that Arsenal will have tough fixtures in November, and it becomes obvious that Arsene would love to secure early next round CL qualification tomorrow evening.

Wenger also seldom or never plays a weakened team in CL games, especially not when there is still something to play for. From what we saw in the home fixture, Arsenal should be able to win tomorrow, but this will not just happen by itself. The home crowd (about 9000 seats only) will be behind their team, and they will want to revenge the dreadful 6-0 defeat a few weeks ago. And if we play with a low tempo and lack of intensity and aggression, it could become quite difficult for us to secure the three points. They definitely have players that can hurt us and are pretty strong in midfield to give us a game.

I reckon we have too many ambitious and proud Gunners in the squad to be at risk of underestimating the challenge, and Wenger will select the right team to achieve victory. But he also needs to guard for fatigue and keep an eye on Sunday’s big NLD encounter.

As always, predicting the exact line up is not easy, but a mixture of what I reckon will work and what Wenger is likely to do leads me to the following starting eleven:

Predicted starting 11:

submit football lineup

Ospina in goal is more or less a given. Gibbs to continue on the left and Jenkinson on the right in defence as Bellerin is ruled for tomorrow’s game. Mustafi starting once more and I reckon Koscielny could do with a rest and Gabriel with a game, so I am going for a MusGab central defence duo.

There are a lot of training pictures of Xhaka on Arsenal.com and this seems a great game to reintroduce him. I also feel that Rambo will get a start which will allow us to rest Coquelin and Elneny, who will be desperately needed on Sunday.

Mesut Ozil struck his first professional hat-trick as Arsenal thrashed Ludogorets

Either Iwobi or Ox should get a rest as they both looked knackered after playing 60 minutes on Saturday. However, Wenger has not got too many options right now with both Welbeck and Perez injured and Theo not fully fit either. So I reckon both Ox and Iwobi will have to start even though it is unlikely they will play the full 90 minutes. Ozil in the hole and Alexis up front for at least 70 minutes, but maybe Arsene will start with Giroud instead. I have no doubt that Ollie will play at least 20 minutes tomorrow and let’s hope he can add another goal, or two, to his impressive tally.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

 

Santi Returns | Giroud to Lead the Line? Sunderland v Arsenal Preview/ Line-Up

253FF7F900000578-0-image-a-2_1422894082588

At 12:30 pm Saturday early kick-off, our team will line up against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. It will be a confrontation between the joint table toppers Arsenal and the team firmly rooted at the bottom Sunderland. The result looks a fore gone conclusion, but that’s on paper only. This is the Premier League where nothing is ever assured. Nine games have been played and Sunderland stand at 2 pts: 1 pt at home, the other away. The team has scored a total of 6 goals, conceding 16 with an average possession of 41.7%. They also average 9.6 shots per game.

One thing these stats tell us is that this is a team that sits deep counting on counters for their goals.  Even more loudly, the stats tell us that the team is not very proficient in these tactics. On the other hand, our stats show also a clear lack of proficiency on our part at unlocking ‘parked buses’, as we were able to score only 1 controversial goal in 270 minutes of football against Middlesbrough, Burnley and Leicester where we enjoyed our most possessions of the season so far (75%, 67% and 61% respectively). Such high possession ratings indicate games against ‘park the bus’ teams, and so toothless has been our displays on such outings. It might be apt to note that we banged in 6 goals where we had the least (43%) possession of the season in our game against Ludogorets. We love playing against teams that love to play. The other way, not at all.

Is the stage then all set for a stalemate?

It is this threat of another stalemate against a PTB team that brings the big question of who leads the line: Giroud or Sanchez? That is assuming we are able to shackle the duo of Jemain Defoe (4 goals) and Patrick van Aanhole (2 goals) who between them have scored 100% of Sunderland’s epl goals.

If Giroud is selected, Walcott would cease to drift inside as Giroud is now there. Instead, Walcott hogs the wide areas for whipping in crosses for Giroud to attack. With Walcott that wide, Bellerin’s overlap is largely stifled. Ozil would have no need to again push up as Sanchez, aka false 9 or is it aka double 10, is no longer there to suffocate Ozil’s #10 spaces. Instead Sanchez has moved wide-left, seconding our best vertical ball carrier Iwobi to the role of bench warming.

Nacho or Gibbs would have to bump up the field more frequently because Giroud in the box is excellent when feeding off crosses. Coquelin would be asked to keep an extra eye on the space vacated by ‘wing back’ Nacho or Gibbs and the rippling effect of Giroud for Sanchez continues, affecting the entire structure of play. Your guess is as good as mine, whether the great ripple across the whole of our play would improve or lessen our fortunes. Poor Wenger, this is his headache. All we care for is that Sunderland will be trounced.

To be or not to be is the question for Mr Wenger. Nacho or Gibbs? Iwobi or Ox?  Should he risk Santi, the brain box, who has been seen training since last week or does he play the exquisite but safe passer Elneny? Is it Ox in place of Walcott who has a hamstring alert? Ludogorets away looms on the horizon also? And our eternal enemy Spuds soon after? Questions, questions and questions all poised delicately on the knife edge of us wanting Sunderland trounced.

  1. S. Eliot maybe was making reference to this conundrum when in his ‘The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ he wrote:

“And indeed there would be time

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions 

And for a hundred visions and revisions

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.”

Image result for micheangelo david image

The assurance I can give here is that by the time Wenger gets his line up ready for submission Saturday morning, he would have poured himself another cup of tea because the first one is gone cold. Dead cold.

Predicted line-up:

submit football lineup

Bench: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Elneny, Ramsey, Walcott, Giroud.

Score: 0-2 (Arsenal win). Alexis and Iwobi to score.

COYG!!!

By Pony Eye

Perez CF, Ox and Theo on Wings, Santi/Coq in DM-pivot: Arsenal v Swansea Preview/ Line-up

Swansea, home or away, have not been easy opponents for us in recent years and I don’t expect tomorrow’s game to be a walk in the park either. All games after international games are hard, but luckily we play at home which should give us a better chance to take three points. The Swans will be reenergised by the arrival of another new manager, the American Bob Bradley. The players will want to make an impression on him and I figure they will give us a game. Anything less than 100% commitment may cost us points tomorrow.

Image result for arsenal football ground images

So we have to hit the road running and play energetic and dominant football, take our chances when they come and don’t get lulled in a false sense of security. The team that can do the job will likely be:

submit football lineup

Cech in goal, full backs Nacho and Hector Vector, and King Koz and Mustafi as our CBs…. Cannot see Arsene messing with this back five. Coquelin is fit again and Santi was rested for two weeks, so I reckon that will be our double DM pivot. Always hard to leave out Alexis but with a late game on Thursday, followed by a long flight, I reckon Wenger will start Perez and put Sanchez on the bench. Walcott is as fit as a fiddle after two dreamy international games, Ozil is ready to rock again and Wenger may rest Iwobi and start Ox.

Well that is my predicted line up. COYRRGs!!

By TotalArsenal

 

Starts for Ox, Gibbs, Perez and Xhaka? Arsenal v Basel Preview and Line-up

A home game in the CL is always something to look forward to. Wenger picks his best players and the quality of the football is usually very high. I don’t know much about the current Basel team but I expect them to be well organised and well drilled to defend as a unit and not give away much space where it matters most. I don’t expect them to totally park the bus and to press us high up the pitch regularly, though.

SONY DSC
The home of football.

If Arsenal can start with the same focus, intensity and tempo as we did on Saturday, we should be able to control the game and hopefully create, and then take, the same number of opportunities. Key is of course not to underestimate our opponents and give our all to win this game.

It is always hard to predict a Wenger first 11 and I have no doubt that he will tweak the team a little bit to allow for some rotation and keep his wider squad players happy. Will Gibbs or Ox get a start against Basel for example? Hard to say. It is important that we do everything to win our home game against Basel as we need the points, so the first eleven should not differ much from Saturday’s team. I expect us to line up as follows:

arsenal-v-basel-cl-1st

Ospina in goal, same back four but with maybe a start for Gibbs, Xhaka to replace the injured Coq (potentially not more than just three weeks out), Alexis up top, Ozil in the hole, Theo on the right wing and either Iwobi or Ox on the left wing. There is a small chance that Perez starts instead of Alexis, but I don’t think the Chilean will allow it! 😉

Looking forward to this one.

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Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal

 

How to Beat our London Nemesis: Santi, Xhaka and Ozil to feed Alexis and Theo

My Best Team Against The Chavs – our London Nemesis

It is about time we beat the Chavs again, I am sure you agree. But how can we do it?

By outpassing them, just like Pool did last week Friday. But we also need to defend their counter attacks really well and keep all eleven players on the pitch.

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This will not be easy and it is fair to say that this London derby will be our  biggest test yet this season. Having said that, I reckon we have what it takes to finally win a PL game against the Chavs again, and let’s hope the referee will be able to deal adequately with all that will be thrown at him on Saturday evening. This is of course as key a factor as anything else.

They will be okay with sitting back and play us on the counter, and we all know how many times we have lost to them through their counter attacking football, feasting on the space we had left for them. Part of me wants us to sit back and invite their pressure, so we can beat them on the counter, but we are now too good a team to not go and attack them and win the game the Arsenal way. Luckily, with Koz, Bellerin, Mustafi and Nacho we have four fast defenders who can play a high line to great effect.

How should we then line up? Well the back five are obvious picks: Cech, Monreal (although a Gibbs start is not inconceivable) King Koz, Mustafi and Bellerin. Coq is needed for his steel, but he will have to check his temperament a bit, as he is likely to be one of the players to be provoked by the infamous neck scratcher. Rambo is not yet ready and Santi is playing so well at the moment that we cannot leave him out. So Xhaka is likely to miss out once again, but his time will surely come. I am a bit worried about Santi’s lack of box to box mobility though, especially if and when we lose the ball. The Chavs have some fast players and our box to box midfielder will have to track back and support his fellow DM/Defenders regularly. If we are to play Cazorla, we need the full backs to be very disciplined: only one of them can go forward at any given time.

I reckon Santi will play, but I would be tempted to play him in the hole this time, with Mesut moving to the wing (in a free role). Next to Coquelin, I would be tempted to play either Xhaka or Elneny, as they both have the engines and legs to do the full on B2B stuff required against the Chavs; they also give us that extra bit of defensive steel in front of our back four. With the Chavs likely to sit back and forcing us to pass our way all the way to the goal, Xhaka carries a fine threat with his long distance cannonballs. Elneny also has a decent long distance shot, so either of them would do for me.

With Ozil on the wing and Santi in the hole, we need two proper goal threats up-front. We can pick from Theo, Perez, Akpom, Alexis and possibly Giroud. I have a suspicion that Ollie’s toes are absolutely fine, and although I don’t expect him to start, I can see him come on as a substitute to score the winner towards the final minutes of the game.

I fully expect Wenger to play Alexis as our CF once again. This is the new plan for the season as far as I can see it, and I love it. That leaves me with one remaining ‘midwing’ position to fill and  I would either pick Theo, Iwobi or Perez. Given Walcott’s recent form and his fearlessness in front of London opposition, I am opting for him to complete my dream 11 to beat the Chavs:

submit football lineup

What do you reckon fellow Gooners: is this the team to take all three points from the Chavskis?

By TotalArsenal.