O-I-L Behind Auba, Tor-Ka Midfield Beasts, Sokratis to Outsmart weeny Deeney: Preview



That’s six straight wins on the bounce in all competitions, yet we have not started singing Hallulujah. Agreed that the ability to win ugly is the stuff of champions, our song would start only when such wins are not the norm (as they have been) but mere punctuations in a script of commanding wins. Such a script could jolly well be as close as commencing this game week 7 against 4th placed Watford at the Emirate. With Cech back to his best, and the return of our indomitable Greek philosopher, with our diminutive dynamo now manning the command centre and worldies like Auba, Laca and Mesut in the Emery mix, expectations cannot be anything but high. We are the Arsenal and we expect to always win, and win with a swagger.

But first, we need to educate those expectations. Emery is working with basically Wenger’s team. A team that scored 74 goals last season (3rd joint highest in the league), evidence that whatever problem we had has nothing to do with us with the ball.

This fact was well understood by Gazidis and co. who did a brilliant job with their choice of Emery to replace Wenger. They needed a man with the strength of Wenger but without his ‘weakness’. Wenger is a 4:2:3:1 man. So is Emery. Wenger pushes his full backs up the pitch. So does Emery. Both play the defensive high line. Both love to dominate possession and territory. Both are committed to out-scoring their opponents. But without the ball, the two head in opposite directions. Emery wants to win the ball back quickly and therefore begins his defending from the front. That is why he calls for more energy and intensity from the team. Wenger prefers to put his men behind the ball employing the passive defensive strategy instead. Only his central defenders defend on the front foot.

When the team is with the ball, Emeryball is very much like a Wengerball and that is supposed to be a compliment to the new boss. To see Unai’s stamp requires a look at the team when without the ball. Already, his sweat on the team is plain to see. There is now more energy in our play when the opposition is in possession, but it is yet to match the organization and intensity of Klopp’s Liverpool or Pep’s City… and maybe never will until after two or three transfer windows.

Meanwhile Emery has to continue pushing his men to higher levels of energy and intensity and finding the best ‘process’ to get them playing the Emeryball, the Wengerball if you like. For the latter, he has a task in his hands; how and where to fit in his very talented forward men. If he gets it right all these recurring tales of winning ugly ceases. Our DNA is ‘pretty with the ball’ and Emery’s task is to add sweat and thunder when we don’t have it.

One of his conundrum is his attraction to Ozil on the ball and Ramsey off the ball. But it hasn’t worked playing them together. Instead of giving a balance their combo brings disequilibrium. It’s time to stop playing both together. Another for him to sort out is how to play our two world class strikers (Auba and Laca) at the same time without underutilizing one of them. This might require that he thinks outside his box.

My prediction:-

submit football lineup

Bench:- Leno, Holding, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck

A resounding 3-0 to the good guys.


By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Bye Bye Aaron: We Had High Hopes But You Did Not Live Up to Them

Aaron the poker game is up, buddy. Emery gave you his Paddington stare and you blinked, and the contract is no longer on the table. You may value your contributions to the team – and who will quickly forget your FA Cup final goals? – but Unai can do without you; and so, he was not bluffing when he said you sign that thing now or it is Diolch and Bore Da (thank you and good morning).

With Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Elneny and AMN, Unai has five deeper midfielders who can all push up and support the attacking ‘Nr10’ midfielder. That Nr10 role is for the one who wears the shirt, and it is now clear to all of us that combining you with Mesut is just not working. With these pushing-up, all-round midfielders who can defend and support attack in equal measure and with high levels of discipline, the one in the hole needs to be comfortable with receiving the ball in tight areas and with finding space where there does not seem to be any and producing those fine, well-weighted passes. This my friend is not you. You devour space and need it to thrive with that big engine of yours, but it is not what the new Arsenal system can offer you. We have Mesut and Mkhi, and Iwobi and Smith-Rowe are making rapid progress to become the new Master of the Hole position.

It could (still) work if YOU would play on the right with discipline and dedication and leave the middle to Mesut, but this just seems beyond you.


After 10 years at the club, you should be making the difference now, but you are not and the new manager has decided he can do without you. There comes a time when you have to fulfil your promise and it is sad this has not happened at the home of football. I was there when the vile Orcs snapped your leg; I have defended and supported you through numerous posts here on BK and other blogs for many years; I had high, high hopes that you would become a modern-day-legend for our club. There were moments and even a season or two in which you delivered but you never really got to where I thought you were capable of ending up: our new Vierra, our Lampard or our Gerrard. A real shame.

I know there were regular injuries but something else is missing, call it focus or hunger or intrinsic pride for the shirt, or presence or leadership or desire. Whatever it is, it is missing. You should have signed that contract a long time ago, but you didn’t, and that said/says it all to me.

Use the next few months wisely and make a move that works for you, and not just in terms of status and salary.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Arsenal v Brentford: Starts for Willock, S-R, Nketiah and Thompson? Preview/Line-Up

The show must go on v Brentford. We like winning we do and we have some hungry players who need a game. At the principle of OGAAT – One Game at a time – combined with the fact that Emery will love to see more of his squad in meaningful action, our new manager no doubt will have given his first eleven for tomorrow’s game some thought. 

This is what the Kevster said re tomorrow’s possible starting eleven in previous post: “Leno (or Martinez), Lichtsteiner, Iwobi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Holding, Nketiah, Willock, Smith Rowe, reserve left back Dominic Thompson (?), Mustafi, Welbeck, Olowu (?), Saka (?) with maybe a couple or three biggies on the bench for an emergency, that lot in whatever combination looks the likely lads for Wednesday imo”

Let’s dissect the thinking around this a bit:

  1. We have certain starters for the UEFA games and they need a weekly game to stay fit and focussed, so they are likely to play again on Wednesday: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Welbeck, Holding and Elneny. I reckon they will all start.
  2. There are a few youngsters who need game time: Nketiah, Willock, Smith Rowe
  3. We need a LB other than Nacho, who of course needs a rest. So I go with Allezkev’s recommendation of Dominic Thompson.
  4. I reckon that adds up to 11! 🙂

So the predicted starting 11 will look like this:

submit football lineup

Maybe Emery plays Mustafi again and spares Holding or move Elneny next to The Curls; we will have to wait and see. I may have gotten this totally wrong but somehow I feel I haven’t. Should be a good game for those who’ll be there.


By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 49 Comments

Auba/Laca Like Cole and Yorke, No debate about MOTM, Almost in Top-4: Six Observations

Arsenal 2 – 0 Everton. Joint fifth in the league now.

To summarise our game v Everton today: we are a work in progress and have frailties but have quality AND character all over the pitch to win, and that is what we did. 


Six observations from a mad, frantic, table-football kind of game:

  1. Cech was MOTM – that one is easy for us all to agree on, no? Petr is a winner and rather than relax and be Arsenal’s number 2, he is fighting tooth and nail to be first choice for Emery. He has won us games before and he did so again today. His positioning was strong and his interventions were decisive; he still frightens opponents when they face him and that is half the chance saved time and again;
  2. The Laca-Auba combo paid dividend once again. We now have the sort of quality up-front that will win us games and it is important there are two quality attackers from the start. This makes it hard for defenders to eliminate our attacking threat for 90 minutes. At some point, they will get chances and before you know the net bulges; it did twice and the three point are ours. It reminds me a bit about Cole and Yorke for Manure in what now seems a lifetime ago;
  3. Torreira-Xhaka gave us better shape, especially in the second half, but they will have to work together a lot more to become fully effective: a work in progress. Emery did a good job in instructing them during the second half, as they increased the tempo and their passing was more crispy; and they pushed a bit higher as well and started to play the ball towards the Everton ‘D’ area rather than play it wide time and again;
  4. Ozil and Rambo on the pitch just does not seem to work. I know Rambo had technically two assists but the first goals was all about a superb finish and the second one was technically offsite as Rambo miscued his effort on goal. Ozil tried as hard as Rambo but the game was very frantic and he struggled to get a grip on it. It also feels that the German and Welshman run into each other space but with different intentions (and technical qualities) and this does not help the attackers as in what to expect and to do next;
  5. Our team spirit and energy levels are good, if not very good. The game was played at a high pace and right till the end we tried to score goals. Technically and tactically Arsenal remain a work in progress but we are winning games because of the hard work and individual quality of players (Cech, Laca and Auba especially);
  6. Mustafi’s kamikaze style caused Sokratis an injury (and yellow card) and the Greek did not look too pleased with the German. The good news is that Holding did a good job replacing Sokratis and even brought a bit of calm into our defence. Rather than making progress this season it looks like Mustafi is our weakest link in defence right now (and he should thank Cech for saving us/him a few times in the first 15 minutes alone). How long before Emery opts for a different CB pairing in our key games?

Up next in the PL are Watford at home and a win would see us enter the Top-Four for the first time (on points at least). It might not be pretty or for the purists at this stage, we remain vulnerable at the back and our midfield still lacks shape and domination, but we fight as a team for ninety minutes and keep scoring goals (two PL goals per game) and just had our first clean sheet. So let’s keep OGAAT-ing and growing and who knows where it all ends this season?

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Arsenal-Everton Live-blog: Lucas Torriera Gets his First League Start



Torriera replaces Guendouzi, otherwise, Unai Emery fields the same group that won at Newcastle and Cardiff.

Arsenal Confirmed starting XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Everton Confirmed starting XI: Pickford; Kenny, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gueye, Davies; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert Lewin

Please join us for a bit of a Live-Blog and/or Game-Day-Chat.  Your observations are as good as mine…and maybe even better!

by 17highburyterrace

Posted in Uncategorized | 167 Comments

The Ideal: Torreira/Xhaka, Guendouzi in Hole, OLA up-front, Hold/Sokratis CBs…

— But it won’t happen. 

Full of cold and not much time for a preview, so I suggest you read the Arsenal match brief instead (with some good stats in there!):


In terms of starting eleven, I guess it will be the same as last week’s, with starts for Xhaka and Guendouzi in the middle of midfield – in my opinion a guarantee for conceding at least a goal again tomorrow – and Rambo in the hole. In attack we will see again OLA: Ozil, Laca and Auba and at the back it is Cech, Monreal, Sokratis, Mustafi and Bellerin

The starting 11 I would like to see are:

submit football lineup

  1. Give Holding and Sokratis a chance to grow as a CB duo
  2. For flip sake start with Torreira and Xhaka in de DM-Pivot: for balance and control
  3. To show that I do not dislike Guendouzi, I would play him the hole as the B2B midfielder. That way he can support the attack without leaving our defence exposed. It would be good to see how he would do in that position as we need to start planning for life after Rambot
  4. Laca, Auba and Ozil to play together again and build further on their growing collective form.


By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 36 Comments

Arsenal v Vorskla Predicted Line-Up: Emery to Make 8 Changes and Laca to Lead Line


Emery must have a special attachment to the Europa Cup. As coach of Sevilla he won it a record three consecutive times. He would like to add a forth to his haul. Apart from that sentiment, he knows that the Europa is a feasible route back to the Champions league. It is therefore a competition he is bound to take seriously. That much he has already made known when he dismissed the notion that it is a competition that he could be making eleven changes to his 1st team, though he subsequently got us all confused by saying that he would be using a lot of different players for the different competitions. When Emery delivers his English, lots of deciphering must be done. Brave man he is.

Emery also indicated that he approaches every game on its merit. That’s OGAAT (one game at a time) philosophy. Apart from each game plan, every coach has a campaign plan and at this early stage of the season the PL must be Emery’s top priority. Combing through all that he has said, we suspect that there won’t be wholesale changes but enough to obviate the deleterious effect of Thursday/Sunday matches to the team. Another factor that would have a hand on who plays is the need to give some fringe players more game time for upping their match fitness in readiness for the grueling season of four competitions.

Not much can be said about FC Vorskla. They finished third in the Ukrainian premier league last season and currently sit at the 5th position on their table having won 4 games and lost 4. That’s not terribly intimidating.

Emery is experienced. He knows that no team should be underrated. He would want to start the Europa league round robin stage of the competition very strongly and only take his foot off the throttle when he sees the team in a safe place. Only then are our academy players likely to come in strongly.

I don’t expect Monreal to be risked at the left back position as he currently has no senior back up. This is a match that looks perfect for the talented Guendouzi to grow his game. I expect Torreira to be on the bench but to make his first start of the season at the Emirate against Everton.

What is Emery’s team to start? That’s a tough call. Below is what I consider a decent shot at it and a decent team comprising 8 changes and a strong bench.





BENCH:- Cech, Mustafi, Monreal, Torreira, Smith-Rowe, Ozil, Aubamayang.

If the match proceeds as hoped, I won’t be surprised if Monreal comes in as a 2nd half substitute at left back with Lichsteiner taking over from Bellerin and Aubamayang coming in for Lacazette (Emery with an eye on Sunday). Of course he could be seeing it all differently.

We need a flying start. Let’s have your prediction of the line up and the score line. 4-0 to Arsenal.



Posted in Uncategorized | 59 Comments