Torreira’s Obsession with Balance Liberates Xhaka to Dictate the Game: Line-Up /Preview v Wolves


BK wishes Danny a speedy recovery.


Unai has a passion for psychology, ask Romain Molina the author of the new book “Unai Emery – El Maestro”. To Emery, football is all about emotions and structure, about the heart and the head, the expression and the discipline. That is what he loves to see from his team on the field and from the fans in the stands.

We have gone 15 games without a loss. The confidence of the team must be bubbling over. We, the fans, can guess as much. We’ve heard Xhaka say they are in the mix, Holding say they fear no one, Leno that they can match the best and Ozil that the team can only get better. We see it in the spring in Laca’s gait and in that audacious Iwobinho’s nutmeg of Milner. Confidence is good but Emery also knows that confidence is only as good as it is well grounded on, first of all, respect for the opposition amongst other things.

I have a lot of respect for Wolves. Make no mistake it’s not going to be an easy contest when we face up to them at the Emirate. This is the team that took 2 pts off a City team that was on full throttle on the day. The only other team that has been able to do that to City is Liverpool but it could be argued that Pep planned for a goalless draw that day and so had his normally marauding fullbacks sitting back the length of the game. Wolves also took 2 pts on the road off Manchester United. Last weekend all the experts agreed that the Spuds were very lucky to have gone home with the 3 pts against the Wanderers. Wolves xG was 2.41 goals with the Spuds’ at 1.63.

Wolves are gritty. They don’t park the bus. They don’t play with any complex. They contest for the ball everywhere on the pitch. Luckily for us they don’t have any Auba or Laca in their attacking ranks but we should know better than take our eyes off Raul Jimenez their striker who’s had a hand in 56% of their goals. Luckily also Emery’s very competitive nature has rubbed off sizably on our team. So far we are the hardest working in the PL this season. We’ve won more points than any other team from a losing position, not ideal but it tells a big story. The fans love the fact of our new found combativeness. When Liverpool went 1 goal up last weekend the fans upped the decibel level in support of our team propelling them into overdrive. The Emirate looks it would be a fortress, a part and parcel of the Emery revolution.

Emery’s 1st eleven has almost fully emerged. He has tested out so many things including Xhaka at left back, Ramsey at #10, Ozil wide right, Auba leading the line, Maitland-Niles right winger, Iwobi left back and so on. Against Liverpool he started the Fab 4 together for the first time. Are there any more feasible combos that he might still want to check out?  I think so and again why not. El maestro has been learning and winning.

Only Holding, Iwobi and Sokratis from amongst those who started on Thursday do I expect to be in contention for a starting berth against Wolves. This fixture looks like it’s come a tad too soon for back-to-training Monreal and Lichsteiner is doubtful with a muscular problem.

Against Wolverhampton Wanderers we may see this line up:-






Bench:- Cech, Mailand-Niles, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Nketiah.

Hop in Gooners, it’s Emery on the wheels!!!

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Arsenal v Sporting CP Line-up and Preview: Rambo and Mkhi to Lead the Team to Victory

After last weekend’s spectacle, it will be a bit harder to get excited about this one v Sporting CP. have done a good job in previewing the match, so if you haven’t as yet had a chance as yet, here is the link:

It is just a great opportunity for Unai to give his ‘fringers’ another chance to get football match fitness and to try things out in terms of formation and tactics. On the other hand, Emery wants to win the group and show UEFA and the sponsors that he takes this competition very seriously, so expect him to play a few first teamers as well.

This is my predicted line-up:

submit football lineup

Kola, Licht and Super Sok (if fully fit) could do with another game and are relatively safe pairs of hands. Guendouzi is a nailed on starter, but we need some experience in midfield so I expect the Swiss clockwork to start next to him. Rambo and Mkhi are likely starters and Auba up-front with Welbz as his shadow are also quite likely to start imo.

A start for Iwobi or Mesut is definitely also on the cards and I hope we will see AMN and Smith-Rowe getting some time on the pitch again. After a couple of hard fought draws it would be good to win again, especially with a difficult PL game v Wolves ahead of us.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal.


Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Arsenal v Liverpool from a Pool Supporter’s Point of View


So wasn’t it interesting and thoroughly entertaining to see two teams slogging it out to win!? Both teams setup to attack and left nothing out there. What I thought was very apparent was the need to win the ball back promptly (the Guardiola way) so the attacking players could do their do! Great to see Milner, Torriera, Wynaldum and Xhaka sticking their foot in and getting around the pitch. Milner is like a man possessed, one minute scoring next minute cleaned out on the floor! To be fair not sure what team won the midfield battle.
Liverpool settled well although Klopp still says that we didn’t press well enough! Liverpool kept the ball and seemed determined to break at pace. The Arsenal defence held their own but always looked susceptible to the quick movement of the front 3. Many a time the Arsenal team were retreating but seemed to soak up the pressure pretty well.
The mane goal should have stood admittedly but that was a tough call for any ref as initially he was offside. That said, Mika should have scored that header as he got above the keeper. So two big chances gone a miss.
The game wasn’t littered with chances and half time came at an ok team for both teams although as a Liverpool fan I always felt VVD and Gomez had the spades covered.
Talking of Van Dijk, Klopp obviously saw a weakness in the Arsenal back line that being height. VVD won most Ariel battles and too should scored a number of times. Arsenal centre backs played ok on the whole but they always looked weak in the air.
Laca as you guys call him was a constant threat all game, sharp movement, great first touch and a real eye for goal. The threat was increasing and whilst I never really saw Arsenal scoring Laca took that goal magnificently. Sharp movement, no back lift and a perfect shot in an acute angle.
For the last 20 minutes I still felt either team could score but felt confident Liverpool would get chances. No real clear cut guilt edge chances for the remaining of the game and to be fair draw was a fair result.
Arsenal are clearly improving, the style has changed and Emery has them playing without fear. He asks his big players to stand up and over the last 10 games they are obliging. For me, I don’t buy into the Xhaka hype, great left foot but doesn’t do enough and hasn’t justified his high promise before Arsenal bought him. The striking options will frighten most defences and Arsenal will now always create chances. Supported by fast wing backs and a magician in the middle the AubaCazette partnership will guarantee 30 goals a season. Encouraging. However Arsenal are fast approaching the same situation Liverpool faced 3 years ago – great going forward but very vulnerable at the back. Emery will need time but I would address the centre backs as both aren’t good enough for me and will ALWAYS give away chances especially against the top 6. Sort that out and add depth we’ll be looking at a top 4 challenger- hopefully toppling United along the way. Liverpool and Klopp on the other hand have adapted to the EPL and now can boast one of the strongest defences in the league with great balance. Both teams are similar, great attacking threats, promising managers but Liverpool’s edge is in the fact they have played together, their understand the managers demands and now have a solid defence. Arsenal don’t have this and this will take time. Good luck to Emery, he had shown promise now it’s all about building his own team and adapting to the different challenges each team faces. Good game, good teams- fair result.

By Dave – a visiting Liverpool supporter.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

MOTM is XhakaReira, Arsenal Have Their Supporters Back, Laca’s Bergkamp Moment of Stillness: 8 Observations

In anticipation of a match report by David the Pool supporter, here are my quick observations of a pulsating full-of-life game that will be remembered for a long time:

Virgil van Dijk stuit van dichtbij op Bernd Leno.

  1. Tactically, technically and in terms of fitness, we matched the Pool team yesterday. After losing out against Citeh and the Chavs at the start of the season – not deservedly so against the latter – Unai has made progress with Arsenal in all the above mentioned aspects. We did not sit back and absorb pressure, but we also did not commit too many players forward; there was a good balance and it was telling to see that Van Dijk was Pool’s best attacker..
  2. Key to all this was the DM-pivot formed by a match made in heaven, Xhaka-Torreira. They bossed the midfield for large parts of the game and found that perfect balance between protecting the defence and supporting the attack. Torreira was MOTM but it could also have been given to Xhaka. In fact, I would give it both of them as they get the best out of each other and together they are three men on the pitch..
  3. Holding and Mustafi had a good to very good game. They clearly struggled with containing the aerial threat of Van Dijk and we got away with things a few times, but other than that they combined high energy performances with relatively cool heads. The same cannot be said about the goalkeeper who clearly is all about energy and presence but does not always make the best decisions in the heat of the fight. I don’t blame him for the goal as it looked he would have pushed the ball out into safety had it not been for Holding’s heel being in the way, but some of his decisions to come out and leave his goal empty behind him were not too clever. Still, Leno had more than a decent game given that he is new to these sort of PL encounters..
  4. Emery’s subs were very good again yesterday. Welbz, Rambo and Iwobi brought renewed energy and penetration to our attack and that proved vital to claim a point and we could have had all three of them with a bit more quality in our finishing (shame the last chance fell to Bells’ poor left foot). I would have liked Unai to have started with Welbz or Iwobi and bring on Auba for the last thirty minutes, but, in hindsight, his strategy worked very well and we finished the game as strong as we started it..
  5. We got lucky with the Pool ‘offsite goal’ but we were also unlucky that Mkhi, who is lacking a bit in sharpness in front of goal at the moment, did not score from his free header early on. The home of football’s woodwork was also kind to us and it just shows you that however good tactics, the players etc are, luck always plays a role in football (and in life); that’s why for example the Chinese cherish it so much! I think it would be hard to argue for anyone that a draw was not a fair result on the night..
  6. Mkhi, Ozil, Laca and Auba all gave their all to keep the Pool defenders busy and never let them settle down and this was vital for the outcome of the game. Unai really has got this team working hard and for each other and that is great to see..
  7. The home fans were terrific and really, really stood behind the team, and this was also vital for the outcome of the game: Arsenal Have their Supporters Back!..
  8. The last observation goes to the fabulous Iwobi and Laca. The Nigerian produced two moments of attacking genius that led to the goal and could have led to us winning the match at the end. He found Laca in space and he found Mesut in space when there was very little of it available. For this you need a cool head and good overview and lots of feeling in your head, and this is so much harder to have in a top game when the pressure is on late on. Alex Iwobi – you rock! And then there is the hard working Laca who could still find a Bergkampesque moment of stillness to produce that goal! Love that man.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Arsenal-Liverpool Live-blog: All Guns Blazing: Lacazette, Aubameyang, Ozil & Mkhitaryan All Start. Emery Goes With Experience in Attack.

Line-ups are out and we’re ready to host some real competition at Ashburton Grove.  Whaddayathink?


Posted in Uncategorized | 109 Comments

Laca Plays But Auba Leads the Line: Arsenal v Liverpool Preview


Klopp’s Liverpool come knocking. They are a relentless, dangerous side. They have a £66.9m Brazllian between the sticks. A £75m Dutchman marshaling a back line of stalwarts. They have conceded only 4 goals this season. Milner, Wijnaldum and whoever else from their rich collection of midfielders, form the hardest working midfield in the premier league. Up front they have Salah, Firmino and Mane who last season were the most devastating trio on the break. But don’t be fooled, Klopp has been at it all week wondering how on earth he is going to contain the Arsenal offensive fire power on a record setting 19.5% goal conversion rate. He knows he has 11 men in his team against our 12. Our voices would be unrelenting in our support of the Emery revolution. But the boys must fly off the blocks.

That must be Emery’s opening move: to get the 12th man on board.

What else? First we take stock. Who are available and who are not. Guendouzi is out. By the new FA rules yellow cards are not carried over to a different FA competition but red cards are. We should expect that those who started against Blackpool would not start against Liverpool. So players like Mustafi, Ramsey and Mkhitaryan would have been pencilled not to start, but Guendouzi’s unavailability might bring a slight rethink. Lichsteiner starting and playing the whole 90 minutes gives hope that our crew know Bellerin would be fit for Saturday.

In terms of strategy, do we need to go toe to toe with Liverpool?  They are far ahead of us in the energy game which is not purely a question of stamina (so far this season we are leading the PL in grounds covered).  Therefore Emery’s response might be us inviting their press and frustrating it. That is the reason why Leno should be a must starter, and our better ball players Holding and Torreira as well (unfortunately our master ball circulator, Elneny, misses out on injury). As the tempo of pressing teams invariably drop after the interval, Emery’s 2nd half calls would have that in mind.

Up front Emery might go for Aubameyang leading the line, playing off the shoulders of Liverpool’s inevitable high defensive line. That by itself is already a huge contribution to our play. Bet on Van Dijk and Gomez to be troubled in mind by the presence of our elusive gazelle with acres to run into. Iwobi starts wide left in the position that allows him full expression. Similar to what City did when they tackled Liverpool in a goalless draw, our full backs should be conservative with their forays upfield. Faint signals coming out suggest that both Monreal and Bellerin might be fit to start. We pray so.

Liverpool have a very industrious midfield. Emery is likely to respond to that by instructing #10 Ozil to play deeper, more as our most advanced central midfielder to give a formation hybrid of 4:2:3:1 and 4:3:3.

Would Emery think along these lines? If he does, watch out for a line up such as this:-

submit football lineup

Bench:- Cech, Lichsteiner, Mustafi, AMN, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck.

Body punches 1st half. Sucker punch 2nd half. Arsenal to win 2-1.


By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments

Breaking up THE partnership Cost us | Why Sub Mesut? No debate re MOTM! 8 Observations

Our winning run came to an end today but we remain unbeaten. Not the result we hoped for but overall I reckon Palace deserved a point and an away draw isn’t too bad a result. Yet I reckon Unai got his subs wrong today and that may have cost us…

Eight initial observations:

  1. Breaking up the Xhaka-Torreira combo in de double-DM positions probably cost us two points today. Guendouzi did not play badly but he is no Xhaka when it comes to simply controlling the game, protecting the shape of the team and finding that extra man with quick diagonal balls. Guendouzi likes to run with the ball – a bit like Rambo does – whereas Xhaka likes to receive the ball in space with the aim to find the best free man available. Torreira and Xhaka look like partners whereas Torreira and Guendouzi looked like two einzelgangers. I didn’t think the CBs had the same level of cover from the double DM-pivot as in previous games either. As a result we looked messy and nervous for 90 minutes and in the end we paid for it;
  2. Palace were well set up in defence and clearly were keen to avoid our FBs to get behind them. At the same time, the Eagles targeted our FB-areas to cause us damage and we looked vulnerable on both sides. Emery made a change at half time but he didn’t really have many options. Still, we played better with Licht at RB, but the return of Nacho and Kola cannot come soon enough;
  3. Iwobi and Ozil were less effective and I reckon this was due to the lack of quick balls to them from the midfielders – see also my first point. I expected us to increase the tempo in the second half and we did start well, but we lacked shape and our passing was not sharp enough for the entire game, whereas usually it is much better in the second half at least;
  4. I did not understand Unai’s decision to take Mesut off. If it had been for another creative midfielder like Mkhi or Rambo I could have lived with it, but Ozil out Welbeck in didn’t make sense to me. We lost our impetus to attack and looked even more disorganised. Ramsey came on later but he never got into the game, understandably so given the little time he was given to have an impact. Emery’s subs have been fab until now so I am not going to be too critical, but I didn’t understand the Danny for Mesut subbing;
  5. I was getting used to Auba coming on after 60 minutes and give the team that shot in the arm. Today AubaCazette started and it did not really work. Auba got his goal anyway, but a start for Welbeck or Mkhi had my preference today. Auba and Xhaka did not give us much from the left flank today but then you can argue that both players are not at their best on the left;
  6. How good is Torreira?! Graeme Souness said last week that Torreira is ‘neat and tidy’ indicating that he was not more than a hard working, decent midfielder. I would say that Souness’ commentary is not even ‘neat and tidy’ but that is for another time. Torreira gives us shape at the back whereas Xhaka gives us shape in attack and together they strengthen each other at each side of the pitch. Lucas’ ability to anticipate danger and where the ball will be next is very, very good, and so is his first touch and quick passing ability. These are the sort of deeper midfielders that make a team tick: What a gem!;
  7. We allowed CP too often into our box and I was not impressed with the Leno-Mustafi-Holding triangle today. Mustafi was clumsy when given the first pen away, but all three showed little calm and looked all over the place at time. To be fair, without the Xhaka-Torreira protection and no Nacho to help out either, it was never going to be an easy game for them. Holding on the other hand had a good individual game;
  8. Yet in spite of all the above observations, we would have won the game if the gullible Atkinson had not given a second pen against us. Yes we were lucky too with the referee not spotting that Laca’s hand had touched the ball for our second goal, but the Palace players had been trying to get pens all afternoon and he fell for the Zaha move (to be fair I did too initially, but I ain’t a ref…).

All in all, I am happy with the point and I hope that Unai will have learned a few things from it.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 55 Comments