Arsenal Preview and Line-Up: Awesome Auba is Back, Martinelli or Pepe?

A few days ago, we published GN5’s historical match preview and my predicted line-up, but this post did not get enough airing due to my (misguided) excitement about the last day of the TW and belief that we would all be discussing the (then imminent) arrival of Cedric Soares…. That did not happen and I want to do justice to GN5’s fine post by reissuing it.

Burnley v Arsenal – February 02, 2020

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Proud founder members of the Football League, Burnley Football Club began life as the ‘Burnley Rovers’ rugby club and became Burnley Football Club in 1882. They moved to their Turf Moor home shortly afterwards, at the invitation of the town’s cricket club, which is still uniquely situated next to the stadium.

FA Cup campaigns gave way to organised football in 1888 with the foundation of the Football League – and since then Burnley have claimed every major honour, with the exception of the League Cup.

The first honour was a Second Division title in 1897-98 and the club’s improved fortunes were finally reflected in an FA Cup triumph at The Crystal Palace in 1914, with a 1-0 win against Liverpool coming just months before the outbreak of the Great War.

Following the War, the Clarets continued to make their mark on the domestic game and in the 1920-21 season the team enjoyed a remarkable unbeaten run of 30 league matches as they led the club to an inaugural First Division title, having been runners-up the previous season.

That magnificent league record stood for over 80 years, until being battered by Arsenal in the 2003/04 season.Burnley has been champions of England twice, in 1920–21 and 1959–60, has won the FA Cup once, in 1914, and has won the Community Shield twice, in 1960 and 1973. The Clarets also reached the 1961 quarter-finals of the European Cup.

Burnley is one of only five teams to have won all four professional divisions of English football, (Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4) along with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Preston North End, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.

Burnley has a 50/50 EPL home record of – W6, L6, GF16, GA18, and in their last home game they beat Leicester City 2-1.

Burnley Home Results – 2019-20
Against W L GF GA
Southampton 1   3 0
Liverpool   1 0 3
Norwich 1   2 0
Everton 1   1 0
Chelsea   1 2 4
West Ham 1   3 0
Crystal Palace   1 0 2
Man C.   1 1 4
Newcastle 1   1 0
Man U.   1 0 2
Aston Villa   1 1 2
Leicester 1   2 1
Total 6 6 16 18

 Arsenal has not lost to Burnley in the Premier League era and we hold a perfect home record.

Arsenal v Burnley – EPL home game results
  W D L GF GA
1 06-Mar-10 1     3 1
2 01-Nov-14 1     3 0
3 22-Jan-17 1     2 1
4 06-May-18 1     5 0
5 22-Dec-18 1     3 1
6 17-Aug-19 1     2 1
Total: 6 0 0 18 4

We are unbeaten in our away games at Turf Moor and have only dropped two points in five games. 

Arsenal v Burnley – EPL Away Game Results
  W D L GF GA
1 16-Dec-09   1   1 1
2 11-Apr-15 1     1 0
3 02-Oct-16 1     1 0
4 26-Nov-17 1     1 0
5 12-May-19 1     3 1
6 02-Feb-20          
Total: 4 1 0 7 2

Burnley and Arsenal are tied in the League with both teams sitting at 30 points, their respective managers will have the teams fully revved up and ready to battle for both points and position.

Will Arsenal retain their record of not losing at Turf Moor in the Premier League?

GunnerN5

See also Arsenal.com for fine preview and great training pictures…. so much joy amongst the players these days….

https://www.arsenal.com/news/burnley-v-arsenal-preview-stats-goals-graphics

Finally, TA’s much-desired Line-Up (rather than predicted):

It is to be expected that Pepe will start, but I reckon he is not doing enough on the right wing to justify his inclusion much longer. He is lucky that Nelson remains injured as in my opinion he is the better player in terms of first touches, passing ability, graft and support to the defence… and much more of an Arteta player. Auba will surely return as he loves scoring against the Clarets but can Arteta really leave out the fabulous, hard working Martinelli in this pivotal game for us?!

 

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Arteta’s Team Plan: How Cedric Soares’ Arrival Could Strengthen Our Midfield

This ride on Arteta’s lilactrees-filled road to glory is becoming more and more pleasant. The contours of a strong team that is able to play winning AND attractive football are slowly becoming visible. Of course it is early days and our progress is still fragile, but this feeling of going forward again is giving us all, sticking with our recent blog-theme, a Vic Damone-like extra step…. Oooh the towering feeling.….

Since the arrival of Emery I never believed we could win a game without Torreira playing at least 80 minutes, but Arteta has managed to convince me that we can actually be victorious without the Uruguayan Black Panther. The first half v Bournemouth was so strong and somehow Arteta managed to make Xhaka and Guendouzi work together effectively.

I watched the first half again and still don’t understand how he did it! Of course we work hard to have more (quality) men on the wings than our opponents, so the centre of midfield is not so important, maybe?! On top of that, we had the industrious and athletic Willock supporting the deeper laying midfielders; but still, I cannot get my head round why it worked so well – in the first half especially.

This first half saw us score two fabulous team goals in which Willock had a pivotal role. It was good to see him back in the frame and taking his opportunity with both feet; I have such high hopes for him. I have already eulogised about Saka’s perfect cross – in the Netherlands it is called a Ceulemans, after the Belgium master billiards player – and his superbly taken goal, and Martinelli also had a mature game with an unselfish assist and great and effective presence in the box. So much to be excited about!

Today the TW shuts and it looks like Arteta will add Cedric Soares, the 28 year old Portuguese International who is in the last year of his contract with the Saints. It looks like he is cover for the RB position…. but we already have two players who can play there: Hector and Ainsley. So why get the added, costly cover? Hector is clearly ready to be our nr1 there again and Ainsley really impressed at RB in recent games.

But wait a minute…. Is Arteta perhaps ready to move AMN into the midfield, where he would prefer to play? In my opinion, that is where we need to strengthen but IF Ainsley is ready to move more central in midfield then count me as exceptionally excited! In fact, if you look at the first and second eleven below, would that not make us much stronger and more complete?!

The addition of Soares would give us cover on both RB and LB – the latter only until Tierney and/or Kola return – and free up AMN to play a key role in midfield. Now I don’t expect this to work straightaway, but Ainsley could add a lot there with his calm and composure, athleticism, strength and excellent passing ability. Key is for Arteta to coach him – this is his former Arsenal role after all – and improve his concentration levels and positional awareness, but if there is anybody who has the ability to become a new Vieira over time then it is AMN imo.

See the source image

Let’s see what the expected arrival of Soares really means for both the full back and central midfield positions.

By TotalArsenal.

 

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Burnley v Arsenal Line-up and Preview: Six Changes

Burnley v Arsenal – February 02, 2020

See the source image 

Proud founder members of the Football League, Burnley Football Club began life as the ‘Burnley Rovers’ rugby club and became Burnley Football Club in 1882. They moved to their Turf Moor home shortly afterwards, at the invitation of the town’s cricket club, which is still uniquely situated next to the stadium.

FA Cup campaigns gave way to organised football in 1888 with the foundation of the Football League – and since then Burnley have claimed every major honour, with the exception of the League Cup.

The first honour was a Second Division title in 1897-98 and the club’s improved fortunes were finally reflected in an FA Cup triumph at The Crystal Palace in 1914, with a 1-0 win against Liverpool coming just months before the outbreak of the Great War.

Following the War, the Clarets continued to make their mark on the domestic game and in the 1920-21 season the team enjoyed a remarkable unbeaten run of 30 league matches as they led the club to an inaugural First Division title, having been runners-up the previous season.

That magnificent league record stood for over 80 years, until being battered by Arsenal in the 2003/04 season.

See the source image

Burnley has been champions of England twice, in 1920–21 and 1959–60, has won the FA Cup once, in 1914, and has won the Community Shield twice, in 1960 and 1973. The Clarets also reached the 1961 quarter-finals of the European Cup.

Burnley is one of only five teams to have won all four professional divisions of English football, (Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4) along with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Preston North End, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.

Burnley has a 50/50 EPL home record of – W6, L6, GF16, GA18, and in their last home game they beat Leicester City 2-1.

Burnley Home Results – 2019-20
Against W L GF GA
Southampton 1 3 0
Liverpool 1 0 3
Norwich 1 2 0
Everton 1 1 0
Chelsea 1 2 4
West Ham 1 3 0
Crystal Palace 1 0 2
Man C. 1 1 4
Newcastle 1 1 0
Man U. 1 0 2
Aston Villa 1 1 2
Leicester 1 2 1
Total 6 6 16 18

Arsenal has not lost to Burnley in the Premier League era and we hold a perfect home record.

Arsenal v Burnley – EPL home game results
  W D L GF GA
1 06-Mar-10 1 3 1
2 01-Nov-14 1 3 0
3 22-Jan-17 1 2 1
4 06-May-18 1 5 0
5 22-Dec-18 1 3 1
6 17-Aug-19 1 2 1
Total: 6 0 0 18 4

We are unbeaten in our away games at Turf Moor and have only dropped two points in five games. 

Arsenal v Burnley – EPL Away Game Results
  W D L GF GA
1 16-Dec-09 1 1 1
2 11-Apr-15 1 1 0
3 02-Oct-16 1 1 0
4 26-Nov-17 1 1 0
5 12-May-19 1 3 1
6 02-Feb-20
Total: 4 1 0 7 2

Burnley and Arsenal are tied in the League with both teams sitting at 30 points, their respective managers will have the teams fully revved up and ready to battle for both points and position.

Will Arsenal retain their record of not losing at Turf Moor in the Premier League?

GunnerN5

TotalArsenal’s predicted line-up (assuming Luiz and Auba are now available again):

 

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Arsenal Player Ratings: Obvious MOTM, Mustafi and Guendo’s Best Games, Eddie Eddie Eddie!

A great, dominant and cool-blooded first half was followed by a less dominant second half, but Arsenal totally deserved the win and are now in the last 16 of the FA. A trip to Portsmouth will follow in February and the Arsenal are on course for a record 14th FA CUP win!

The first half we were that good that it seemed Arsenal were playing a second division team at home at times. That was all down to Arteta’s game plan and instructions. Very, very impressive.

happy arsenal v bournemouth

Player Ratings:

Martinez: 6.5 – not that much to do in the first half but quite involved after the break. He tried hard to make up for the lack of height/ aerial power of the defenders but was not very convincing with his one fisted clearances.

Saka: 9 – what can you say? Bukayo has it all and was clearly the man of the match with a superb goal and quality assist. He is so strong, fast, calm and intelligent. Love him.

Big Sok: 7.5 – what a warrior and seemed to enjoy playing next to Mustafi and (when he sat deep-left) Xhaka. He was our leader today.

Mustafi: 7.5 – worked his socks off and his interceptions and reading of the game were good. Also some quality distribution from the back. Shame he got injured; it does not look good I am sorry to say.

Captain Hector: 7.5 – this was a big battle for him and he seemed to have enjoyed himself. The Pepe/Bellerin combo is a work in progress, but at the back Hector put in a good shift. I bet he feels great after coming through the Cherries’ physical onslaught.

Xhaka: 7 – very effective in this hybrid role of half DM/ half LB but a few poor passes for which he was not solely to blame. Battled hard in the end with some good interceptions.

Guendouzi: 8 – possibly his best game in an Arsenal shirt. Played much more with his back towards our goal when helping out defence and his reading of the game and interceptions were good. Guendo also moved the ball forward well and was a  thorn among the Cherries all game long.

Willock: 7 – Strong first half (8) but seemed to struggle with Bournemouth when they upped the tempo and intensity in the second half (6). I wanted him to support Guendouzi and Xhaka more in midfield, but some of his attacking play in and around the hole was very promising. Good to have him back on the pitch.

Martinelli: 7.5 – Good assist for Saka’s roof-of-the-net-screamer and worked very hard both in attack and defence. Marti and Saka – Sakarti – are developing a very fine relationship and this time it is Saka who gets the goal. Martinelli has such a pressence on the pitch and every opponent will suffer by him; that’s a guarantee.

Eddie: 7 – Good first half and finished his chance well. Loved his play and anticipation in the box and general involvement in the game. But just like Willock and Pepe, I felt he eased off too much in the second half.

Pepe: 6.5 – Had his moments and was effective in the first half but I wanted more from him in the second half. He remains a work in progress (and is lucky that Nelson is not fit to play imho).

Ceballos: 6.5 – Helped with taking the game back to the Bournemouth half and a few good interventions in our box. But still looks like a duck out of water on the pitch at times. Really needs more game time but competition is big…

By TotalArsenal.

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The FA Cup Kings v Bournemouth Preview: Strongest Line-Up / Eddie Start?

Arsenal v Bournemouth – January 27, 2020

See the source image 

This will be the first time we have met Bournemouth in the FA Cup in fact it will only be the 12th time we have met them.

Our EPL away record

Bournemouth v Arsenal EPL Away Record
Date W D L GF GA GD
07-Feb-16 1     2 0 2
03-Jan-17   1   3 3 0
14-Jan-18     1 1 2 -1
25-Nov-18 1     2 1 1
26-Dec-19   1   1 1 0
Total 2 2 1 9 7 2

Our Home Record

Arsenal v Bournemouth EPL Home Record
Date W D L GF GA GD
28-Dec-15 1     2 0 2
27-Nov-16 1     3 1 2
09-Sep-17 1     3 0 3
27-Feb-19 1     5 1 4
06-Oct-19 1     1 0 1
Total 5 0 0 14 2 12

 

Arsenal v Bournemouth – League Cup – Home Games
Date W D L GF GA GD
27-Oct-87 1     3 0 3

 

Bournemouth have a home record of W3, D3, L5, GF12, GA18.

 

Manchester City Lost 1-3
Sheffield United Draw 1-1
West Ham Draw 2-2
Everton Won 3-1
Norwich Draw 0-0
Wolves Lost 1-2
Manchester United Won 1-0
Burnley Lost 0-1
Liverpool Lost 0-3
Watford Lost 0-3
Brighton Won 3-1

Arsenal has a long and proud record in the FA Cup with 20 Cup Final appearances and a record 13 victories.

Arsenal FA Cup Final Appearances
  Winner GF GA Loser Year Venue
1 Cardiff City 0 1 Arsenal 1927 Wembley Stadium
2 Arsenal 2 0 Huddersfield 1930 Wembley Stadium
3 Newcastle 1 2 Arsenal 1932 Wembley Stadium
4 Arsenal 1 0 Sheffield United 1936 Wembley Stadium
5 Arsenal 2 0 Liverpool 1950 Wembley Stadium
6 Newcastle 0 1 Arsenal 1952 Wembley Stadium
7 Arsenal 2 1 Liverpool 1971 Wembley Stadium
8 Leeds 1 0 Arsenal 1972 Wembley Stadium
9 Ipswich 1 0 Arsenal 1978 Wembley Stadium
10 Arsenal 3 2 Manchester United 1979 Wembley Stadium
11 West Ham 1 0 Arsenal 1980 Wembley Stadium
12 Arsenal 2 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1993 Wembley Stadium
13 Arsenal 2 0 Newcastle 1998 Wembley Stadium
14 Liverpool 2 1 Arsenal 2001 Wembley Stadium
15 Arsenal 2 0 Chelsea 2002 Millennium Stadium
16 Arsenal 2 0 Southampton 2003 Millennium Stadium
17 Arsenal* 0 0 Manchester United 2005 Millennium Stadium
18 Arsenal 3 2 Hull City 2014 The New Wembley Stadium
19 Arsenal 4 0 Aston Villa 2015 The New Wembley Stadium
20 Arsenal 2 1 Chelsea 2017 The New Wembley Stadium

The FA Cup Final was first televised on 30 April 1938. The match at Wembley was between Preston North End and Huddersfield. With fewer than 10,000 sets in the country at the time and 93,000 people in attendance, many more people saw the game in the ground than at home. But it started something that is now a major part of television output, fought over by broadcasters and worth millions of pounds to the teams.

The Cup Final was only the second complete football match shown, after the England v Scotland game earlier that month, which was viewed as a test run for the bigger event. The BBC’s outside broadcast unit of two vans relayed the action to Alexandra Palace via an aerial set up between the famous domes of the stadium.

Preston’s team featured the legendary Bill Shankly, but the match was goalless until the final minute of extra time, when George Mutch scored to make Preston the winners. The late goal caused a problem for commentator Thomas Woodrooffe, who rashly said “If there’s a goal scored now, I’ll eat my hat!” Woodrooffe was later held to his word, though his hat was made of cake for the occasion.

Watching football on television has become an essential part of many football fans lives. The FA Cup remains a cornerstone of the BBC’s sport output.

GN5 watched his first FA Cup Final in 1950 on my Uncles 9” black and white TV set that had a large magnifying glass position in front of the screen – it seemed like a good idea but you had to sit directly in front to get a reasonable picture. This year I’ll watch the game in my son’s home theatre, complete with surround sound and projected on to a 120” screen.

I’ve watched 69 FA Cup Finals in all, including 16 of Arsenal’s – with 11 being victories.

In 1980 I was on a work contract in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and US TV did not cover the FA Cup so I phoned a hotel in Cranbrook B.C. Canada and they confirmed the game was being shown. I booked a room and drove 200 plus miles through the mountains to watch us lose 1- 0 to West Ham – it was a very lonely (yet beautiful) drive back to Idaho the next morning.

Let’s see if we can win number fourteen for Mikel.

GunnerN5

Predicted line-up by TotalArsenal:

I predict a strongest possible starting 11 tonight. After all, Arsenal are the Kings of the FA Cup, we need momentum, Bournemouth away is always hard, the nation will be watching, we just love this competition, etc. 

If Sok is fit enough, expect a CB duo of Holding and Sok. If not we may see Xhaka play in the LCB position of suspended Luiz and Holding move to his much preferred RCB position. If Xhaka is needed in midfield, expect Mustafi to get another chance as CB (if Sok is not fit enough).

I expect a start for hard-working Laca with Pepe, Ozil and Martinelli behind him, but for freshness, and just 60 minutes or so, Arteta could give Eddie a start. In fact, I have a feeling that may well happen, with Laca to come on late to score a glorious winner!

TA.

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Rumour is Ceballos Starts: Bournemouth v Arsenal Line-Up / Preview

See the source image

The importance or non importance of the FA competition is not the issue. Even if it were a mere friendly, which it is far from, Arsenal need a win so as not to jeopardize the good work Arteta is doing. Nobody knows this better than Arteta himself, therefore it is expected that he will field a strong team.

Martinez should start at goal. That’s like a contract signed, sealed, delivered. MA might not want returning Bellerin exposed so soon after the gruelling 10-men heroics of less than a week ago. It will be a decision made easy for him by the fact that Maitland-Niles is a good replacement. Sokratis will be back, likely partnered  by another returning player Holding. Brave and impressive 18 year old Saka might be rested for the Tank. Oh, just learnt the Tank is out, so Saka is in. Come to think of it, at 18 his turnaround maintainable time should be much shorter.

Xhaka usually has the most touches of the ball in the team but somehow at the end of every game the impression is that he has expended the least energy. He must be a jogging. Not so Torreira who uses up every ounce of his energy even before the 90 minutes but somehow is able to dig deep into a special reservoir that leaves him totally exhausted by the final whistle. Arteta might deem it necessary to give him a rest on the bench in place of Guendouzi.

Martinelli starts in spite of the 26 sprints he did against Chelsea, 11 more sprints than any of his mates. Arteta, quick on the uptake already knows Pepe for what he is. An unpolished gem. He knows that not long from now, after forging him in his crucibles, he will be glittering. Pepe is likely to start but feeling the flame of Arteta’s burning eyes fixed on him all of the 90 minutes.

He might rest Ozil and use the opportunity to test out his conviction that Ceballos’ creativity can be very useful in the more forward areas. His playing style is not in any book of tactics and defenders might find that unsettling.

Does Lacazette need a rest? He’s been working his socks off. I don’t think MA would be in the frame to start Nketiah. He’d rather have him come off the bench.

Predicted line up:

Subs: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, Nketiah.

Eddie Howe the Bournemouth manager has even tougher decisions to battle with. He has eight men out. He is in the relegation dog-fight. He is playing in front of the home crowd. What team will he send out? Something tells me he’d be brave. We must expect a tough Monday night.

COYRRG!!!

By PE

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With Just 1.3 PL Goals per Game Re-signing This Former Gunner Would Make Sense

Is it too late to re-sign Ollie Giroud?

Exactly 101 weeks ago, Oliver Giroud, L’Handsome, signed for the Chavs. We got Auba, Dortmund needed a replacement which they got from Chelsea and they wanted Giroud to fill the hole. OG worked well with Eden Hazard and played a pivotal role in the French national team that won the world cup in 2018. The move to the Chavs had worked out for him, even though he would rather have stayed at Arsenal by all accounts.

Wenger convinced him to make the move and Auba has been a success for us in terms of goals, so everybody should be happy, right?

Now he is even being linked with a ‘surprise’ move to the Catalonian gods of Barca to replace the shoulder muncher, who is out till the end of the season.

The point I tried to make for many years is that Giroud was a very important player for us. He had his limitations, just like his fellow world championship winning teammate, the BFG, but boy did he milk his qualities to the full and was he an asset to the team. I am really pleased to see that Ollie is getting the recognition for this from both Gooners and non-Gooners, and finishing his football career at Barcelona would surely be the icing on the club-cake?!

He made others better, more effective players by giving them options and making space for them. Very few attackers were better than him in finding the balance between playing with his back towards goal to enable others time and space with the ball, and yet scoring enough goals himself in the team set-up. Now look at Laca: he is trying hard to play with his back towards goal, for which he does not really have the body mass, but his goals have dried out. It really is an art and an unthankful role to play and OG12 simply excelled in it.

Ollie made Ozil and Sanchez the stars of the show without much appreciation it seems, especially from the Chilean firecracker.

Sanchez scored 8 goals in 20 Arsenal matches in the first half of the 2017-18 season; after that he managed just 5 in 45 games for Manchester United (in 1.5 season). MU did not have an Ozil, but they also did not have a Giroud to make space for him and connect with (although Lukaku could have been such a player, he was not used like that).

Over the last two seasons, Ozil’s assists have dried up. He is still our king of the key pass but very few are leading to goals these days, and it was all quite different when he was working with both Giroud and Alexis.

Many Gooners wanted an improvement on Giroud and they finally thought they got one when Auba signed.

However, we should be concerned about our lack of goals and dependency on Auba. PEA is the superior attacker to Giroud as his personal stats show, but there is more to football than individual goal tallies. Have we become too dependent on Auba? Our goals have dried up this season that is for sure and Auba is our only prolific striker, especially in the PL.

In 5.5 seasons Giroud managed to play a whopping 253 games for us,  46 games on average per season. He scored 105 goals, an average of 19 goals per season. OG was a work horse and his lack of athleticism and raw speed – to which the British football fans are totally addicted – never made him a favourite for all, but boy was he important to the team.

The biggest question to ask is have we actually become better as a team in terms of scoring goals since Giroud left and Auba arrived? GunnerN5 kindly did some statistical analysis for us and it turns out we have gone backwards: in the ‘Giroud era’ Arsenal scored on average 1.87 PL goals per game (in OG’s last two seasons at the home of football it was even higher at 1.99!). In the ‘Auba era’ it is just 1.63 goals per game (with just 1.33 goals per game this season).

Could Ollie return? Should he return to Arsenal for one or two seasons?

It is not inconceivable but looking for a similar type would probably make more sense. Having an attacker who can play with their back to the goal suits Arsenal’s passing game, and it looks like Arteta is very keen on it. We surely need to do something up-front as the goals have dried up this season, and although we are playing much better football under Arteta, it is vital that we start to turn draws into wins by getting our goal per game average back to the 1.9/2 mark.

So, it may not be a stupid move at all to re-sign Ollie for 18 months and I am sure he would jump at the opportunity.

By TotalArsenal.

 

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