Akpom CF, Ozil nr10, Perez and Ox on the Wings: Arsenal Predicted Line-Up

Did Arsenal ever have such a deep squad as we have currently? Well I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to how our current ‘second choice’ players will do against the Tricky Trees, or is simply ‘The Reds’ more appropriate? You tell me.

We will be meeting two ex-Gunners at the City Ground tomorrow: Henri Lansbury and Lord Bendtner. One just did not make it to the top level but looked promising for a long time, and the other one has tonnes of talent but lacked the focus to make it at THOF. Nottingham Forest is still a famous name in football and we all know why, and there is no doubt that the locals will be looking forward to playing Arsenal at home and give us a hell of a game tomorrow.

Image result for nottingham forest football ground images

17HT, the one who used to do match previews for us for a while, and I watched a similar game live last season; Arsenal were abysmal and Sheffield Wednesday knocked us out of the League Cup. I hope we will play a lot better tomorrow and do the away support proud. To achieve this we need to field not just a strong team but, even more importantly, a committed team. For me, that means we need to select those players who are hungry to play. And there are plenty who are desperate to play some meaty football tomorrow.

NF made it to the next round by beating Doncaster and Millwall away (both 1-2), but they are not doing that well in the Championship with just three wins out of eight, and currently sitting in 13th position of the league table. This weekend’s loss against the Canaries at home is further evidence that they are there for the taking.

So how should we line up? It is hard to predict the line up but if we base it on a combination of players who need a game and anticipated appetite to give their all, I reckon we could see something like this:


Ospina seems to get the cup games, Gibbs, Holding and Debuchy all need a game and will be hungry. Arsene has said that Gabriel could play which I reckon means he will play. Elneny and Xhaka need a game and will be very hungry. Ox could do with another start and, to please some of the regular BKers here, I have put him on the right wing. Perez needs a game and could well start up front, but as I reckon Wenger wants to play Akpom as well, it is more likely that the Spaniard will start on the left – with a licence to move centrally as a second CF regularly.

I also think Ozil will start tomorrow. Mesut has yet to hit form and started to play club footie again only recently, so another game to get him up to speed and get the best out of Akpom, Perez and Ox should do him good.

Let’s hope our boys do us proud.


By TotalArsenal


To Hull and Back with 3 Points? Starts for Perez, Giroud AND Alexis, and Xhaka/ Elneny could do it

Preview & Predicted Line-Up

I have more or less given up on predicting the starting eleven. The squad is big and Arsene needs to keep a lot of players happy; but he also needs to field a team that has a very good chance to get a result and for that he needs to choose his players carefully.

Against PSG Arsene surprised us with selecting Coquelin and Santi for their second starts in four days, leaving Xhaka and Elneny on the bench. He also opted to start with Giroud and Perez on the bench, giving rough diamonds Ox and Iwobi a chance to shine at the highest platform of club football. Arsene knows a lot more about his players than us, and I have peace with his choices, even though I would have preferred a different line up on Tuesday.

Against Hull I expect a tight game with a lot of possession for the boys in red and white and the Tigers attacking us mainly on the counter. So a good game to bring in Ollie as he can help us crack open the Hullish parked busses.

On the wings I would like us to play Perez and Alexis, and give Theo a chance to come on if the game was to open up properly, and if he is indeed fit enough to play. Ozil needs another game to play himself into form and the prospect of playing with Giroud, Perez and Alexis should surely excite him.

The double pivot is a harder choice to make. If Hull will indeed park the bus for most of the game, then Santi is a good one to have in terms of supporting Ozil in finding gaps. But Santi already played two games this week and we don’t want to see him get injured. Maybe it is time for Xhaka and Elneny to start this game. Both can push up and support the creative side of things, and both are good to keep the Tigers hemmed into their own half.

The back four pick themselves again, although I would not be surprised to see either Debuchy or Gibbs, or even both, get a start.

My ideal starting eleven for tomorrow game is:


Enjoy the game fellow Gunners. COYRRG!

By TotalArsenal.


Xhaka/Elneny in DM Pivot, Alexis CF, Ozil to Rule, Theo/Perez on wings: Preview and Predicted First 11

We love the group stage of the champions league as some of the best games are being played in this competition every season. It is quite special that the two favourites of the group meet each other in the first group game, rather than in game three and four as usually is the case. PSG are yet to hit form and the same goes for us to some extent, so both teams could do with a very good match of football and three points. A good performance and a draw would also probably suit both clubs. With a bit of luck we should witness a feast of attacking football tomorrow.

For Arsenal this is an opportunity to lay down a marker in Europe, England and for ourselves. We need a good game and I reckon Wenger rested Sanchez, Giroud and Xhaka so he can field a very strong team in the capital of his home nation, even though I don’t expect Ollie to start. A good start is not crucial in this competition, but as we are playing the favourite team to win the group stage, a win tomorrow would give us a strong position to win the group eventually: an absolute necessity to get far in this year’s CL competition.

PSG like to play football and push opponents into their own half. If they do that we will have the weapons to punish them on the break. Arsene could start with Giroud and play a France national team style formation with Alexis (as a Griezmann) behind our solid Frenchman. He could also opt for pure speed up-front with Alexis as our ‘holding CF’ and with a licence for him to take on defenders left, right and centre.

I have a feeling that Giroud will have to miss out on a start in Paris. Wenger would be sentimental enough to allow Ollie to shine in their joint capital, but this is too important a game to not do the right thing. And against a team that is able to push us back into our own half, it is better to not start with a slowish holding CF. So I reckon we will start with Perez – Alexis – Theo, but would not be surprised if Iwobi gets a chance instead of Perez or Theo.

At the back, I think we will see the same GK and defenders as against the Saints. This leaves us with midfield and this is a game for Xhaka, no doubt. His ability to launch our attackers and get Ozil involved as quickly as possible, should be absolutely key tomorrow. Who shall we play next to him then: the steel of Coq or the immaculate passing of Elneny; or is Santi ready to start once again? Really hard to predict who will play in the double DM pivot, but I feel Xhaka and Elneny will get the nod, with both Coquelin and Santi coming on at some point in the second half to shore up the game and/or replace tired legs. And tired they will be tomorrow evening.

So my predicted starting eleven looks like this:

submit football lineup

What do you think fellow Gooners: Will we win this game and is this the starting eleven to do it?


By TotalArsenal.


Holding/Koz, Xhaka/Santi, Perez/Giroud/Theo to Start v Saints: Predicted Arsenal Line-Up

I guess the one good thing about the international break is that we look even more forward to the weekend Arsenal game than normal. Add to this the fact that Mustafi and Perez have been training with the team this week, and with that prompting rumours of them both starting, and we are even more excited about our home game against the Saints.

I watched Southampton against MU a few weeks ago and was very impressed with their style of football. They had plenty of half-chances but lacked the quality up front to hurt the Mancs. For a long time the Saints were in the game but then fellow Dutchman, Jordie Clasie, gave away a very bad, unforced penalty and the game was lost. Let’s hope they are as generous with mistakes on Saturday as they were then.

The Saints pass the ball round well and will give us a game in midfield: a battle we must win if we want to take three points from this encounter. So it is important to get the double DM pivot right. I am tempted to play Elneny next to either Xhaka or Coq as he is brilliant in terms of making himself available for a pass and then not losing the ball. For me this will be key.

Having said that, I reckon we could start with Santi as we are playing at home, as long as he is prepared to stay deep when required. Getting this balance right will be vital. I am going to go with both Xhaka and Santi as they add so much to our attacking play and I am hoping we will be able to press Southampton well back into their own half for most of the time. This would suit the three football geniuses Granit, Santi and Mesut very, very well.

I have a feeling that Alexis will be on the bench for this one. After such a long flight it would be wise to rest the Chilean firecracker as we have a massive CL game in midweek. This should allow Arsene to give Perez a debut, and I reckon it will be on the left, with Giroud as our CF and Theo on the other flank. Wenger may start with the Ox on the left and then give Perez a chance later on, but I somehow feel he will opt for the newly acquired Spaniard.

submit football lineup

At the back I reckon Wenger will stick with Holding and Koz for this one. Young Holding has been doing very well and I think Wenger will want to ease Mustafi in. I guess it will also be a nice confidence boost for Holding if he is not taken out of the starting eleven straightaway.

So there you have my predicted starting eleven for Saturday’s game. Of course we will find out more about fitness levels and injuries of our players during tomorrow’s press conference, which may change my predictions, but for now this is what I am going for.

How would you line up the team?

By TotalArsenal.

Koz-Chambers, Coq-Elneny, Theo-Alexis-Ox, Santi nr10: Predicted Line-Up and Tactics

Leicester City v Arsenal – The Champions and Runners-up meet early in the season for a feast of football?

Predicted Line-up and preferred Tactics

It is hard to predict how Wenger will line up against the Foxes this evening. In my previous post I picked my favourite 11 to both win the match and make a strong statement in the process. Having read Arsene’s comments over the last few days, I now reckon he will line up something like this:

submit football lineup

It looks certain that Koz will start and Wenger also seems to be indicating that Alexis may start again up front. I am in favour of  both decisions as Koz brings confidence and Sanchez has been a really good alternative to Giroud in the last two games. We scored six goals against City and Pool and that is a fine start to the season, especially as Giroud and Ozil – our top-scorer and top-assister last season – have not been seen on the pitch until now. Alexis is due a goal or two himself, and playing him central means that he does not have to work too hard and can ease himself back into top form.

With Ramsey out it is to be expected that Wenger will pick Santi for the nr10 position. On the wings, it is a choice between Theo, Ox and Campbell, as Iwobi is injured and Jack is probably not match-fit enough to start there. I would prefer the Costa Rican, but it looks like the speedy Englishmen will be preferred for this one.

This will be another battle of midfield and I wonder whether Wenger will stick with the ‘Dogs of War’ Elneny and Coq rather than introduce Xhaka from the start. My feeling is he will go safe and opt for the Swiss Maestro to come on later.

At the back the team picks itself, although some will argue that Gibbs should start ahead of Nacho. I reckon Wenger will stay loyal to Monreal, and he is also the sort of player who gets better and better the more he plays. I feel Wenger will not give up on Chambers easily and prefer him to Holding for today’s epic battle.


We know that LC prefer to play on the counter and I hope we will not make it that easy for them. They will sit back and absorb our pressure and then spring the counter with their new signing Musa, Vardy and Mahrez, supported by the impressive Drinkwater whenever possible.

I don’t want us to expose King Koz like that in his first game. It is likely to cost us dearly and lead to injuries, and not just to Koz. As the Foxes are at home, it is easier for us to sit back and force them to come out and play, and then we can have fun on the counter instead of them, with the likes of Ox, Theo and Alexis offering a great threat, especially if they are fed by Cazorla and Elneny (and by themselves of course).

So let’s play compact and with real discipline and not allow them space behind our midfield that leaves the defence exposed. Let’s also be patient and professional, with the aim to take all three points back home – even if it is ‘just’ with a 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal

Ozil, Theo, Alexis behind Giroud | Koz back | Xhaka/Elneny DMs: Big Guns to blow the Foxes Away

After a week of navel gazing,  dreaming of new signings and analysing the Liverpool defeat to death, it is time to look forward to the next game. In the end there are 111 points to play for, yet some make you believe it is already doom and gloom with Arsenal. There is no doubt in my mind that we will learn from last Sunday’s game and that the team will also sooner or later accept that they were simply blitzed in a short period of time. This sometimes happens in the game and overanalysing the, in the end, narrow defeat does nobody any good.

Upwards and onwards, and time to get the big guns out and make a statement.

The Foxes have two players it appears we have been interested in, and they both decided to stay with their club. An admirable decision in many ways as loyalty is such a rare thing nowadays, but it is now up to our boys to show them once and for all what they have missed out on.

I am all for giving players a rest, but after seeing the BFG get badly injured after a whole summer of no football, we have to conclude that avoiding injury is no hard science. We often rest players for a long time and then they still get injured almost as soon as they appear on the pitch.

What we do not want to do is send out a team that has confidence issues, and we need to give a strong performance on Saturday evening as well – and ideally come away with three points – so it is time to bring out the big Euros’ Guns and fire from all cylinders at the Foxes.

This would be my team for Saturday: 

submit football lineup

It is time to re-establish the Nacho-Koz partnership on our left hand side, as it was there where we were penetrated at will and which cost us very badly. Of course, I am worried that Koz might get injured but, as per above, there is no guarantee that he will not get injured straightaway if we rest him one or two more weeks.

On the right hand sight, I would keep Holding as he seems more assured and stronger in the air than Chambers. I also feel that the former Southampton man is struggling to make it at Arsenal and the next game is not one to grand him for gaining more confidence and form. I would also be happy to start Debuchy next to Koz, and this may well happen.

In front of the defence I would opt for the wall of Elneny and Xhaka, with the latter playing deepest and Elneny giving us extra protection whilst supporting our attackers as much as possible. Wenger may well opt to play Coquelin again, but I would love to see Granit start and spread his diagonal balls with the finest Swiss precision.

Up front it is time for Sanchez – Ozil – Theo and to put Giroud back as our holding CF. From a fitness point of view this might not be our strongest eleven to start with, but it would give the whole team a psychological lift from the start. And that is what we need more than anything else. After 45 or 60 minutes we can take off Ozil and Giroud and replace them with either Akpom, Campbell or Santi (moving Theo central); and if Koz gets tired we can bring on Gibbs and move Monreal into the left CB position.

That is what I would do, but I am not sure Arsene will go down the same path. However, I don’t think I will be far off.

What would your first eleven be for Saturday’s crunch game against the Foxes?

By TotalArsenal

How to Line Up against Liverpool: 4-6-0 with Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi, Rambo, Alexis and Campbell in the ‘6’

Here we go again. A new season, new hope, light after darkness and all that… Enjoy the ride and who knows where it will all end.. 🙂

We already published a pre-preview a couple of days ago, so let’s be brief with the preview (and it does not look that 17HT is doing a preview for today’s game).

The problem with being title contenders, well maybe not according to the all knowing pundits but definitely if you listen to the majority of the fans, is that every game becomes a must win. Yet we are entertaining one of the best footballing teams of the last five years, and an English football giant, in Liverpool. Who knows how the game will end, and of course I am hoping for a thumping win to shut the front door on the digital and paper pundits properly – and reunite Goonderdom in the process.

Oh how the ITV reporters were having a go at Arsenal not investing in the squad when we were losing to the Northern Oilers (£150m on players just this summer alone), and oh how quiet they became once Iwobi and Theo put us ahead with decisive and beautiful goals. But more than a win, I also want to see a fantastic game of football in which two teams give their all and show what they have got.

It is the start of the season and teams have to find their form and shape, so we have to see how it goes today. We played well during the friendlies but nothing fully prepares a team for the real stuff. An early goal against might disrupt or galvanize either team, and a rash challenge might lead to a straight red early on…. it is all possible.

I like Klopp and the way his teams play, and it seems that he is the perfect match for Pool, both for the football club and the city. There will be no Mourinho like sitting back and absorbing pressure and pounce on the counter from them; in fact, we may be forced to play like that with Pool pushing us back into our own half. With Giroud and Ozil out, I reckon we could play a 4-6-0 with the aim to not let them dominate us, but instead make Arsenal dominate Pool in their own half.

I don’t think Wenger will go for this, but when I do match previews I don’t want to predict what Wenger is going to do. Instead, I want to look at the team and see how we can  best attack our opponents.

Given the injuries at the back, I am tempted to play a style of football that keeps the opponent away from us, rather than sit back and absorb pressure.

This would be my preferred line up for today’s fab battle against Pool:

Arsenal v Pool ideal

Iwobi, Rambo and Ox/Campbell can sit next to Elneny and Xhaka and squeeze the life out of the Pool midfield, and then we can attack in their half with our passing game and Alexis working as a false nr.9… yep the Barca-esque way. That is what I would do, but what would be your formation and starting eleven?

By TotalArsenal.


How to Beat Pool: Rambo nr10, Alexis CF, Iwobi/Joel on Wings, Xhaka/Elneny DMs

And Chambers and the Nacho-Man as our CB pair!

It is still too early to predict the team against Liverpool on Sunday with exactness. We will know more after tomorrow’s press conference – assuming there is one – and Friday is also a typical day for a new signing by Arsenal…. We live in hope. If indeed we do sign a defender or attacker by cop tomorrow, there is only a small chance that they would start in Sunday’s 4pm battle. But I reckon we will be able to field a strong team that can get all three points and give Pool an early nosebleed.

The obvious area of concern is our defence. We have not looked too good in defence during most of the friendly games, and especially the now injured Gabriel did not look fit or focussed during any of his outings. So at the moment, we have our nr1 defender Koz back in training but probably not fit enough to start, our nr2 and nr3 defenders BFG and Gab long-term injured, which leaves us with youngsters Bielik, Holding, and Chambers. The latter should take this opportunity to break through to the first team and Wenger will use the next few games as a big testing moment for the young Englishman – his first team future at Arsenal could depend on it. I reckon Callum will be ok as long as we partner him with a cool and collected, experienced defender. At this moment in time, this has to be either Debuchy or Nacho, and I am going to suggest the latter is the best option. A combo of Chambers and Nacho, with Bellerin and Gibbs besides them and the experienced Cech behind them, should form a very decent defence.

I was at last season’s Arsenal v Pool game and the visitors really impressed me with their pressing football, high tempo passing and great running with and without the ball. Even though they have changed managers, the style of play is not very different. On Sunday they will try to press high up the pitch and not allow us to build from the back. This will actually suit us, as we can play compact and deep and play on the counter regularly. And playing compact will also help the likes of Chambers and Monreal to control the box better.

What will be absolutely crucial is who we will select for the double DM pivot and our mid-wingers. They all need to be able to help out our defence and are key in winning the midfield battle. They also need to add the spark to our two main attackers and get themselves into scoring positions as much as possible. This is where we can make a difference, and our performance against MC last Sunday is cause for some optimism.

football formation

I reckon we can win that battle in midfield and then there will be space and time to play some aggressive attacking football that will get the home crowd very excited. Regular readers know how much I rate Elneny and I simply don’t think we could do without him. Next to him it should either be Le Coq or Xhaka, and I believe the latter has that extra weapon that could bring us our win: the diagonal long-ball to our midwingers or CF from deep in our own half. Having said that, it may be that Wenger prefers to play Coquelin as he has more PL experience and adds that little bit extra protection to our defence (I would imagine).

In front of these two and behind the CF, I would play the One Aaron Ramsey: he can add that extra defensive support to Xhaka (Coq) and Elneny when required. He also can make those runs into the box and form a great partnership with my preferred CF for Sunday’s encounter: Alexis. Both have the quality and confidence to take our chances and their work rate is second to none. I can also see Wenger playing Theo up-front and Alexis on the wing, but I would rather bring on Theo in the second half to replace either Rambo or Alexis.

Image result for joel campbell images

On the (mid)wings, I would prefer to start with safe pair of hands Joel and the lively Iwobi. Both will support their FBs well and add real threat up front whilst also having the engines to keep going which will be crucial against Pool, as this will be a high tempo, very intense game for 90 minutes.

Image result for Alex Iwobi images

I am not sure whether this will be our starting eleven but I reckon it would give us a really good chance to play some fine football and take all three points.

In just a few days the footie feast starts again – I cannot wait – COYRRGs! 🙂

By TotalArsenal



Viking FK v Arsenal Line-Up: Rambo & Xhaka to feed Alexis, Akpom and Theo?

Viking FK v Arsenal Friendly – The Gunners ready to battle it out with the Vikings of Stavenger

I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying our pre-season friendlies until now. Holding is the big surprise of course, but Ox has played well too and Xhaka has been a joy to watch. Furthermore, Elneny has been in very fine form and Le Coq is fighting for his life to make the first eleven once again. Santi looked more silky than rusty against Chivas and Akpom is finding the net with some ease at the moment. It has also been good to see the youngsters knocking hard on the door and not looking out of place in our pre-season team. And our full backs are bombing forward and producing assists, and that is also music to our ears.

I don’t know much about Viking FK and would like to invite our fellow Norwegian Gooners to give us some background info.

Viking FK were founded in 1899 and are one of the best Norwegian clubs historically having won the title eight times, even though they have not won the league for about 25 years. They are in the middle of the Norwegian top league season and will be playing again on Sunday, so it remains to be seen how serious they will take the match on Friday. The good thing is we will face a fully fit team that will not find it hard to get going against us. And that is what we need if we want to test out players and key elements of our game for the coming season.

It is hard to predict who will start. I have a feeling that Wenger will play his first choice players for our last friendly game against the Northern Oilers and, therefore, will start some of the ‘second choice’ players on Friday. He will also like to give Rambo and Alexis an opportunity to get some game time but I doubt they will last more than 45 minutes. I reckon Arsene wants to combine Holding and Bielik at least one more time before our game against Pool in ten days time. Chambers at right back is a guess and another start for Gibbs is on the cards too.

The most exciting bit is who will be playing in midfield. I predict a rest for Le Coq and a start of Elneny, with Xhaka and Rambo playing slightly in front of the Egyptian. I cannot wait to see these three work together.

Our attack is another guess. Theo has asked to play on the right as much as possible from now on, which I think is a good decision. Let’s start him there which gives Arsene the opportunity to start Akpom as our CF. On the left we should expect Alexis to start, or to come on later if Wenger really wants to ease him back in – with a start for Iwobi in that case. The combination of Theo – Akpom – Alexis up-front, being fed from behind by the multi-talented midfielders of Rambo, Xhaka and Elneny is a mouthwatering prospect.

Predicted Line-Up

football formation

The game can be watched on Arsenal.com so don’t miss it – kick off 7.30 pm on Friday 5 August.


By TotalArsenal