Battle 11/17 – Chelsea Away: Time for White in Midfield and a Different CF

We are in a dip and the sooner we get out of it the better. But Chavs away is a difficult fixture, and the European champions have a formidable team. Yet I feel we can get something from this game if we play it right and have a bit of luck along the way.

Tuchel’s Chelsea is all about high energy pressing and running and I expect them to be tired tonight. The games against Real Madrid and Vieira’s Palace were intense, and if we can avoid an early goal we will have a chance to tire them out and pounce later in the game.

Our big hope is that Arsenal find their shooting boots in this game again, and then we can get something from it.

We need to be solid in midfield and this is a big challenge for Arteta. This is made even harder by the injury of Tierney and the lack of progress his first replacement has made since arriving at the Home of football.

Surely Xhaka needs to start in midfield again, but who should partner him? Who can make us forget Partey’s all round performances in that crucial area?

I am tempted to move White up next to Granit. We need a player with presence and ability to burst forward and Big Ben can do it. Holding is a good replacement in defence. If not White then it should be Elneny in a 4-2-3-1.

I would also play ESR and Ode with Martinelli to lead the line.

This would be my starting eleven tonight:

Ramsdale

Soares, Hold, Gab, Tava

White, Xhaka

Saka, Ode, ESR

Martinelli

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

Now is the time to show faith in Arteta’s Arsenal – We need just one thing.

Well it’s all not going to plan at the moment for Arsenal and Arteta: should we worry?!

Palace, Brighton and Southampton should have returned at least four to five points but we have got none in the bag. This is certainly worrying and with Chavs away and Ron United at home coming up next, we may well face five losses on the trot.

The good news is that Arsenal had gained a lot of table fat in recent months and as a result we are still hanging in there, with a game in hand as well.

I remember my parents building a house for us, with no experience at all. My mum became the finance and logistics wizard and my dad created the right atmosphere for the mainly evening building activities, and their friend let on the technical aspects. There was a good plan, energy and leadership. All went well after a slow start but then the friend/builder went awol and the whole thing came to a grinding halt. What to do next? This was a huge setback.

Well a friend of a friend came to the rescue unexpectedly and the project was finished within budget and time. It turned out that the ‘best friend’ was the weakest link and once he was replaced things started to improve again, albeit slowly.

The friend who let Arteta down is the ship-jumper, former captain Aubameyang. He had to go as his heart wasn’t in it and he really couldn’t care less. We are suffering from it now, only now, and Arteta needs just one thing: a lucky break, like my parents did.

The goals have to come again and who will stand up and deliver?! Where will this break come from?

If your values are good and work hard, luck will always come. Arteta will have his hopefully soon.

Every major project seems to suffer this mid-term period of the ‘grinding halt’, of despair and lack of trust in a positive outcome. It seems inevitable with the daring ‘leaps of faith’ projects, and let there be no doubt that Arteta is working on a Sagrada Familia sort of project for our team and club.

His captain had to go because he went awol and wanted away. We lack leadership and delivery up front, but the long term vision and plan are great and will get a new injection of quality this summer. The lucky break will soon come as well, maybe even this Wednesday, and Arsenal will roar on after that.

By TotalArsenal

Kieran and Thomas Out: Time for Arteta’s Trump Card and a Switch for Saka?

No Tierney and possibly no Partey for a while…. are we in trouble?

If we are going to miss both players for a month or more it will certainly affect us. Both add a lot in terms of Arteta’s style of play and game plans, and they also really add personality and experience to the team.

But these things happen to all clubs and there are suitable replacements within the squad. The squad is of course not thin but some will argue we lack depth in certain areas. We obviously have to see how things go and it may take a bit of time before the direct replacement – most likely Tavares and Lokonga – have fully settled. Furthermore, Arteta can make tactical adjustments to still get the quality that we have in the squad come to the fore again. With Brighton (H) and Southampton (A) away up next, Arteta has an opportunity to get it right gradually whilst hopefully not drop points in the process.

Option 1: replace Tierney and Partey with Tavares and Lokonga or Elneny – rest unchanged. Xhaka likes working with Elneny as they played together many times in the past, but Lokonga offers more to our attacking efforts. Xhaka will have to sit deeper than recently to get the best out of him and Lokonga can be the one who pushes up more.

Options 2: Bring in Holding and push Gabriel to the left. This should be an easy adjustment to make, especially if Xhaka sits deep on the left to support the left side of defence when required.

Ramsdale

Soares, Ben, Hold, Gab

Loko/Elneny-Granit

(Rest as usual)

Option 3: play three at the back and use our best player, Saka, as left back in midfield. As a left footer Saka brings a lot to the team and our left side would be very strong from an attacking point of view. Our right side would need fixing but Pepe, ESR or Martinelli can all play there.

Ramsdale

Ben – Holding – Gab

Soares – Eln/Lok – Granit – Saka

ESR/Pepe – Laca/Ode – Mart/Pepe

I believe these are the main options but maybe Arteta or you will come up with another one?!

<> at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England.

I think we should stick with Tavares, who clearly is work in progress but also a ferocious talent. Our next two games should give him an opportunity to settle and with Granit deeper in midfield he should feel a lot more comfortable. But I also like the thought of now introducing fab Rob into the defence, either in a three or four at the back. There is a winner in Holding and this might be the time for Mikel to use his trump card.

We are well covered for Partey, with either Lokonga or Elneny ready to step in. They are not as good as Thomas but will do a more than decent job against most PL teams. Hopefully, the Ghanaian will be back when we have to face Manure and the skinny-chicken-on-a-ball team.

Let’s see what will happen over the next game(s).

What would you do?

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Palace Lineup and Preview: Two Former Arsenal Midfield Masters Playing Chess

It has been a very long wait to see our boys in action but, finally, it will happen tomorrow. We are facing the Eagles at their turf and it will be hard to get all three points, let there be no doubt about that. An international break always disorientates a team and a manager struggles to get back into the groove, and this is made even harder by having to play away from home.

We know that Vieira sets his team up very tightly. They play disciplined footie that is usually not very exciting but effective nevertheless. Palace could finish as high as ninth this season and that would be a real achievement. We all remember what happened at the home fixture earlier this season, when we got a very late equaliser, a little against the run of play.

They are a tough nut to crack at any time, and the fanatic home crowd and disruption of the interlul will all make this a potential bruised banana skin for us. But it looks like everyone is available except for Ramsdale. Saka looks to have recovered from Covid, although Arteta has not stated that he will certainly play. The most pleasing aspect of our team now under Arteta is that we play with a certain pattern, structure and style of football that is very effective in controlling games. We are still a work in progress but we are now playing the sort of football that gets us results if, as always, lady luck is also on our side.

Ramsdale will be missed but Leno is good and keen to show us again what he is capable of. The back four is quite settled and and they all know their roles and responsibilities.

Xhaka and Partey are essential in Arteta’s system and every time they start together is a real bonus for us. I urge you to concentrate for a while on how this duo, who will probably play against Gallagher, Kouyate and Schlupp, controls the space and time in midfield. Yes they both will make a mistake or two in each game but they really control proceedings and without them we really are a much lesser team. It is not all fancy stuff but it is so effective. Key to it all is their spacial awareness (mainly Xhaka) and ability to break up attacks of the opponent early on (mainly Thomas).

The attack remains a work in progress, but with Odegaard in a free role between midfield and attack and Laca also operating in that vertical space we have two players who make things happen for us. The ones who are most likely to benefit from this space-making and excellent passing of the ball of the Norwegian and Frenchman are of course the wingers: (hopefully) Saka and Martinelli or Smith Rowe. I think the latter is the better finisher and in general much more effective player on or left wing, although Martinelli adds thrust and unpredictability that can help to crack the Eagles’ wall.

So I trust in our game plan and setup but here is the thing…. Vieira is an ex-Arsenal legend and he will have studied Arteta and Arsenal very well this season. Ex-players who turn into managers tend to really do that with their ex-teams. Hence, his goalless draw against City last month. So we have to be at our best tomorrow and take the game to Palace without being silly by giving them an opportunity to score from a counter or set-piece. At times they may take the game to us and put us under pressure too; Palace is a versatile team under Vieira and this really will be a tough game to win.

I expect this to be more of a chess game than a football game and patience and strategic adjustment (and a bit of luck) are likely to win if for either of our former midfield masters. Paddy must have one eye on the FA cup semi-final with the beatable Chavs and maybe he deep-down wants to help his former club too on this occasion. We really need the three points and have nothing else to play for. Let’s bring it on!

Expected Line-up:

Leno

Soares – Big Ben – Big Gab – Tierney

Partey – Xhaka

Saka/Pepe – The Ode – ESR/Marti

Laca

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!!

By TotalArsenal.

Nobody Could Tame the Premier League Latest Beast in the Hall of Fame – PV04 Fantastique!

Patrick appeared in 406 matches for Arsenal over a 9 year period.

Born in Dakar, Senegal, his family moved to Dreux, France, when he was eight. He first played for AS Cannes, where he made his debut at the age of 17 and captained the team aged just 19.] In the summer of 1995, he was signed by the Italian team Milan, though he played mainly in the reserves and made only two first-team appearances.

In August 1996, he joined Arsenal, in a £3.5 million move, Patrick later revealed he signed for Arsenal because his compatriot Arsène Wenger was going to be the club’s next manager; Arsene was officially manager of Arsenal by the start of October. His performances for Arsenal in the subsequent months made him a fans’ favourite. He ended his first season with 38 appearances in total and Arsenal finished in third place, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League via goal difference. His partnership with French international team-mate Emmanuel Petit the following season was instrumental in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. After a successful 1998 World Cup campaign with the national team, Patrick had another productive season at Arsenal in 1998–99. Although Arsenal failed to retain the Premier League, Vieira’s endeavour was rewarded as he was named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Disciplinary problems beset Patrick during his time with Arsenal and it was feared that he was prepared to turn his back on English football as he felt victimised. Wenge, several Arsenal players and fans supported him publicly, amid speculation that Italian club Juventus were prepared to offer Vieira an escape route. However Patrick stayed and Arsenal finished second in the league for a third consecutive season and runners-up to Liverpool in 2001 FA Cup Final. He was later named the club vice-captain, to ensure he would succeed Tony Adams as captain. In the 2001–02 season; Arsenal regained the league and beat Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final to complete a second double. In 2003, Patrick missed Arsenal’s title run-in, due to a knee injury, and they were overtaken by Manchester United who took first place. He was also ruled out of the 2003 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won, but jointly lifted the trophy with captain for the day, David Seaman.

In spite of growing interest to sign Vieira, not least from Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea in the summer of 2003, he agreed terms to stay at Arsenal and signed a deal which ran until 2007. The 2003–04 season was a successful one for Arsenal, as they reclaimed the league title and became the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire league season unbeaten. He endured a mixed start to the campaign, as he was sent off against Manchester United in September 2003, banned for one match and later fined £20,000. However he scored the opening goal against Tottenham Hotspur, in what ended a 2–2 draw which was enough for Arsenal to regain the title.  In the 2005 FA Cup Final, he scored the winning penalty in a penalty shoot-out after a 0–0 draw with Manchester United, which proved to be his final goal for Arsenal.

In July 2005, representatives of Juventus met with Arsenal, with a view to signing Patrick, and on 15 August 2005, he signed a five-year contract, in a deal worth £13.75 million, making his debut on 28 August 2005. Despite his performances dipping as the result of a persistent groin injury he helped Juventus retain the Scudetto, however Juventus were stripped of their 2004–05 and 2005–06 titles after it was revealed they were involved in a match-fixing scandal and were relegated to Serie B and had 17 points deducted.

On 2 August 2006, he officially signed a four-year deal for Internazionale. In his first season at Inter, he added to his trophy cabinet the Italian Super Cup as well as the 2006–07, 2007–08, and 2008–09 Serie A. On 6 January 2010, José Mourinho stated that Vieira had played his last game at Inter.

On 8 January 2010, he signed a six month contract at Manchester City and, subsequently agreed to a one-year extension. He made a late substitute appearance in May 2011, as City won the FA Cup with a 1–0 win over Stoke City at Wembley Stadium.

On 14 July 2011, he announced his retirement from playing and accepted a training and youth development role at Manchester City with the title of Football Development Executive. 

Vieira made his debut for France and was part of the France squad in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He came on as a substitute in the final against Brazil, and set up Arsenal team mate Emmanuel Petit for France’s third goal in a 3–0 win. He, with the rest of the squad, was declared a Knight of the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest decoration, in 1998.

He subsequently played as a first choice midfield player in France’s successful campaign in Euro 2000, which they won, beating Italy in the final. He helped France to victory in the 2001 Confederations Cup, ending the tournament as joint top scorer with two goals, including the winner, a header, in the final against Japan. He also played in all three games in the 2002 World Cup, in which France were eliminated in the group stage, failing to score a goal. He was injured and missed France’s defeat to Greece at Euro 2004. He won a total of 107 caps for France, scoring six goals.

https://www.premierleague.com/news/2545203?msclkid=9cf93171b1aa11ec89de912812a54383

Honours:

Arsenal

    • Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04

    • FA Cup: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05

    • FA Community Shield: 1998, 1999, 2002

Inter Milan

    • Serie A: 2006–07, [163], 2008–09, 2009-10

    • Coppa Italia: 2009-10

    • Supercoppa Italiana: 2006, 2008

Manchester City

    • FA Cup: 2010–11

France[163]

    • FIFA World Cup: 1998

    • UEFA European Championship: 2000

    • FIFA Confederations Cup: 2001

Individual

    • Division 1 Rookie of the Year: 1995

    • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 2000

    • FIFA Confederations Cup Silver Ball: 2001

    • FIFA World Cup All-star team: 2006

    • PFA Team of the Year: 1998–99 Premier League, 1999–2000 Premier League, 2000–01 Premier League, 2001–02 Premier League, 2002–03 Premier League, 2003–04 Premier League

    • Premier League Player of the Season: 2000–01

    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2001

    • French Player of the Year: 2001

    • Premier League Hall of Fame: 2022

    • Premier League Overseas Team of the Decade: 1992–93 – 2001–02

    • Premier League Overall Team of the Decade: 1992–93 – 2001–02

    • FIFA 100: 2004

    • Sports Illustrated Team of the Decade: 2009

    • Équipe type spéciale 20 ans des trophées UNFP: 2011

    • English Football Hall of Fame: 2014

    • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2019

    • Manager

Manchester City EDS

    • Premier League International Cup: 2014–15

Orders

    .     Knight of the Legion of Honour.

GunnerN5

Beast of a CF required, but who is better than Laca?

What makes a great CF these days? And how is success measured my esteemed friends of BK?

Who is that great CF of the league leaders, Man Citeh? They have no representatives in the PL top scorers’ top five. None. Yet only Liverpool scored more until now. The Scousers do have Jota and the fabulous Saleh in the top three but are they CFs in the classic or even in the modern mould? Don’t think so. The Spuds have the deadly and odious duo of Son and Kane in the PL top five, yet they managed to score just three more goals than the pride of North London, who have a game in hand. Kane definitely is a CF but we all know there’s more to his game.

What makes a team score? Who should be mainly responsible for this? And what is best for Arsenal?

The game my fine friends is changing and there may no longer be a straight forward answer. Look at Manure’s front fire power and we should be scared, but boy do they struggle to score.

The modern game is about the integral team play that leads to space and people free in the box at just the right time. It’s also about control and structure all over the pitch, and this is exactly where Arsenal have made soooo much progress under Arteta.

We need to score more goals going forward. Laca has just four PL goals, and even though he is our king of assists, it is fair to say that is not good enough. But what is actually his role? Is he really our CF or is he our chief space maker? Our chief hustler, our chief pain in the arse for defenders. And are our other attackers and midfielders not hitting the net enough in our system?

What Laca does is not easy. Very few CFs can do what he does. I do think there are better players out there but in the role that Laca plays he is pretty effective. Finding a like for like upgrade will be hard. All the top clubs are looking for them at the moment. The need to be prepared to run, to tackle, to hustle and bustle, to be a nuisance, and yet to be calm and composed when it matters?

Who ia this upgrade and should we not keep Laca as a very capable back up?

By TotalArsenal

Battle 7/17: Two Possible Changes – Preview/ Lineup

Recharge the Canon and Take Down the Claret and Blue Army

After Wednesday’s bonus game v Pool we are back to business, tomorrow. It would have been nice to get something from the Pool game but, as Arteta rightly stuck to playing with the same system and did not park the bus against Klopp’s team, a loss was almost inevitable. It was a necessary test to see where we are when it comes to playing the top teams, and we should be encouraged from our recent performances against Citeh and Liverpool. In the end we lost through small individual mistakes and lack of confidence/experience at the crucial moments. A better final ball after fine dribbling by Martinelli and it’s one nil; one more touch before shooting by the Ode and he can pick his spot; a stronger hand by Ramsdale and it is still 0-0, and; a midfielder running to block the pass and it stays 0-1 and we are still in the game. Small margins but the team will get better and better and maybe next time it will be us who finish victoriously.

We are not quite there yet and for me it is more a matter of the young players becoming stronger than strengthening the team through many purchases. We need more strength in depth for next season and one or two positions could do with an improvement, but the biggest gain will come from keeping this group of players together and letting them grow. And that includes the likes of Xhaka and Laca for whom I doff my hat at the end of every game.

We tamed the Foxes, bees, hornets and wolves in recent games and now it is time to sort out the Lions of Birmingham. I have a lot of respect for that club and the current manager and they will feel they have a good chance to get three points of us. The assumption will be that we are a bit tired after that Pool test, but I think the boys will be ready to take them on and show who is boss. They know this is a bread and butter game and Villa are nowhere near as strong as Pool. There will be frustration in Arteta’s youngsters and nothing is better than to play a game almost straightaway. I expect them to do us proud.

I cannot see many changes but it looks time to give Emile and Tomiyasu a start (the manager is cagey about the latter which makes me think he will actually start tomorrow). No doubt the players will tire a bit around seventy minutes and Arteta will be able to bring on new blood then.

So my predicted lineup is something like this:

Players after the slash likely to come on as subs

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal.

Battle 6/17: Bonus Game v Red Scousers To Measure Arsenal’s Progress

15/15 points is an amazing tally for our last 5 games. No game is easy in the PL as we witness every weekend. Arsenal had to fight like lions for those points and the boys did us proud.

Tonight The Teeth and his football machine come to the Home of football and we will be up for it. Yes there are three points to be won again but this game is about more than that: it’s about testing ourselves against the best; to measure our progress and the fortitude of our young and promising side.

The Pool boys will be up for it, especially after Pep’s Prinses dropping two valuable points on Monday. And so will we. It is a bonus game for us and we can approach it without pressure or fear. Just pride in the shirt and the joy of playing footie will do.

Let’s hope the game is not spoiled by bad refereeing and we get a clean fight.

I expect the same lineup as on Sunday, perhaps with a start for Emile instead of Martinelli. That would be my preference.

Enough said, let the feet do the talking tonight.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!! 🤩

By TotalArsenal

Battle 5/17: Preview and Lineup. Emile and Pepe to Steal It Late.

The Foxes are in town, and although the rattiest of Foxes, Mr Vardy, will not be available, we need to be at our best to beat them tomorrow.

They won their last three games so are on a bit of a roll. The pressure and expectations are on us and no doubt the boys will be up for it. They have to be on their guard for quick counter attacks and I wonder whether Mikel will once again push Xhaka up or whether he will play the Swiss clockwork deeper and next to Partey.

I Thought our left side was poor against the Hornets, leaving far too much space and having very little cooperation between Tierney, Martinelli, Xhaka and Gabriel. I think this was due to Xhaka playing higher up the pitch and Kieran and Marti not being on the same page much of the time. So for me this is the key area for Arteta to address.

It looks like Soares is keeping Tomiyasu out of the team, and the only real question is whether ESR is ready to start or not. I have a feeling that Martinelli will start and Emile will come on in the second half.

We are on a seventeen battles mission and won the first four. Getting the double over the Foxes would be sweet, so bring it on.

Predicted Lineup:

Mr Motivator

Soares-Ben-Gab-KT

The Wall of ParKa

Buka-Ode-Marti

Mr Duracel

The Space making Duracel Bunny

I expect a tight battle with Emile and Pepe to come on after 65 minutes to steal the three points from the tightly knit Foxes’ defence.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

By TotalArsenal

Something beautiful is growing again at Arsenal.