Is 4-1-2-3 with both ESR and Ode in the ‘2’ feasible?

** Discussion Post **

Mikel Arteta is revolutionising the team and we got a good taste of what is to come on Saturday. Arsenal looked fresh in all departments and we all appreciated it.

It remains of course a work in progress but Mikel is showing real courage with his team selection and the first signs are promising. The cynics will point out it was only Norwich and only just one nil, but the result and opponent matter much less than the courageous road the management now have actually taken: the multi-coloured elephant guiding us forward on our path is deserving of our attention.

The ultimate 4-1-2-3 team?

I can see that defence become a regular feature with perhaps Holding squeezing himself back in there. We have in fact good back up and competition in all positions.

The attack could also be more or less settled with two powerful wingers and Auba as a mobile CF. Laca should be able to push himself into the attack again and the youngsters will also get a chance to get into the team, but an attacking three of Pepe-Auba-Saka could well become a regular feature.

The midfield on Saturday was necessarily more makeshift and I can see Arteta making changes here. Not that the boys did a bad job and they certainly will push hard for first team time going forward.

The big questions for me are:

  1. Can we push up two attacking midfielders with just one DM type midfielder behind them, as per the formation above?
  2. How to incorporate both Emile and Martin otherwise? Playing just one of them seems to make Arsenal too one-dimensional.
  3. Is XhakA-Partey in a 4-2-3-1 our stronger option when both are fit?
  4. Who could cover for Thomas when injured, Sambi or Ainsley?
  5. Is the above formation too attack focused or will ESR and Ode manage to fill in the gaps surrounding the sole DM?

I would love us to play with the above formation, at least to see it tried out.

What are your views?

By TotalArsenal

Eight Observations from Arsenal v Norwich

Arsenal 1 – 0 Norwich

Eight short observations from a crucial win:

  1. Arteta made a number of changes and dared to start this vital, must-win game with a new GK, a new RB, a new central midfield pairing and a new CB pairing. There was occasionally a lack of comms between the players but the whole team did seem a team from the start.
  2. Odegaard had a free role and looked isolated in his efforts to make things happen at times. But his workrate was tremendous. Things changed when ESR joined the team in the second half, and Arteta must try to play them both as much as possible.
  3. Ramsdale was a joy to watch. Dynamic and dominant from the first moment, and yet so calm and in control. The CBs looked at ease with such a fine GK behind them. It’s only one game of course but first signs are promising.
  4. Pepe and Saka started off with a lack of composure, poor touches and misplaced passes, but they finished on a high, especially after ESR had joined the party. Once they have lost their summer rustiness they will torment a few defences, I reckon.
  5. Lokonga and AMN did relatively very well. They both had the all important presence in midfield and worked hard for the team. Their contributions to the attack is a work in progress but the hunger was there all the time.
  6. Auba was very involved and was a good captain for the new look team. He missed a few good chances but maybe this is the price to pay for more overall involvement from Auba. Others also missed (half) decent chances, and scoring goals is a team responsibility.
  7. The last ten minutes were very promising. Norwich managed to put some late pressure on us but the team stood strong. Big Gab and Soares made great blocks and Ødegaard intervened at the last moment.
  8. I was very impressed with the home crowd and the support for the team. Together we can take our team forward. CoyGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

3-1-4-2: All Out Attack v Norwich yet Solid at the Back

This is a quick post and I am calling all Gooners to comment with your preferred line up for tomorrow and why.

I am not really interested in your predicted lineup but how and who you would like to play v the yellow and green Canaries.

This is my preferred lineup:

I think 3-1-4-2 or 3-5-2 would give us a solid defence and a multi-skilled midfield, with good runners and excellent passers.

Three at the back allows White to make forward runs and support Partey if required.

This formation also allows us two attackers upfront.

So that is my lineup to kick things off…

By TotalArsenal

The One Midfield Beast to Turn Fortunes Round for Arteta

In the last post we covered the potential of the three or four musketeers up-front, and what a wonderful prospects they are.

Assuming that Arteta will play with two central deeper midfielders again, either in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3, the big question is once again who will play in those pivotal positions?

If all are fit the obvious answer is XhakA-Partey. I wonder how many games they both saw out together, though.

I have absolutely no doubt that if this twosome could play 30+ PL games in tandem, Arsenal will finish in the top four this season.

But this is unlikely. Thomas is too injury prone and has the Ramsey effect on us: it takes a while for him to get going and just when he becomes really, really good Thomas gets injured again. I so hope this will change this season.

Xhaka is unloved by most of the fans it seems, and although the man has a fabulous fitness record, averaging 40+ games per season, the lack of appreciation is likely to continue. Yet he works well with Tierney and Auba/Saka, and his left foot is very important for Arteta’s system. He also gives structure to our play which we really miss when he is out, whether you like it or not.

So Partey has a continuous fitness issue and Granit plays on a knife edge at Arsenal, despite Mikel’s unwavering support for him. Not ideaal.

The former Anderlecht captain Lokonga looks promising, and he may well hold the key to our success this season. I need to see more of him to make any judgement. Still, he will need time to adjust to the bluster of the PL and is unlikely to be instrumental this season.

Elneny is a solid squad player, who works really well when paired with Xhaka. He won’t put the world on fire but is as solid as Xhaka’s first name. No surprises, no nonsense but always committed and important to have in our squad.

So this seems to leave us with Ainsley. The man who wanted a loan but reconciled with Arteta and should now get a golden opportunity to shine. Granit is suspended, Partey will need time to get back into it, and the others are equal competition for him.

We all know about AMNs potential and we all would love him to succeed, and surely these next four months or so are THE opportunity to finally break through at Arsenal?? Will he be our constant Midfield Beast so desperately needed this season?

Ainsley this is your moment, this is your stage and we are all behind you.

I must say that I have doubts on whether the midfield will work out in the next few games or indeed this season. This is where Mikel, a former midfield maestro, will have to make the big difference now. It will make or break him.

Nobody is perfect but the perfect combo of midfielders now needs to be found.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal’s Three Musketeers

Here is what I am looking forward to: the development and PL conquering of our very own young Musketeers.

Musketeer Characters:

D’ARTAGNAN: Our hero; eighteen years old. Raised in French province of Gascony, leaves home to go to Paris. Brave, excellent swordsman, and enthusiastic to become a musketeer but also impulsive, hotheaded,  and inexperienced. Falls in love with Constance Bonacieux.

ATHOS: Leader of the three musketeers. Full of shadows, intelligent, courageous; precise in his sword fighting.

PORTHOS: One of the three musketeers. Humorous, vain, slave to fashion, good-hearted; comical and jaunty in his sword fighting.

ARAMIS: One of the three musketeers. Romantic, handsome, hot tempered, studying to be a priest; melodramatic in his swordfighting.

Emile (ARAMIS)

Of Latin origin and a variant spelling of the name Emil, which itself is derived from the Latin ‘Aemilius’ meaning ‘rival, trying to equal or excel, emulating‘.

Yes ESR is a competitor and is always looking for ways to get better, just like DB 10 used to do. The healthy competition with Odegaard (and Saka) will do him good. Together they will push each other to dizzying heights. We all have seen the great potential in Emile and this year I hope to see further development in getting a menacing cutting edge. More goals and assists would be bliss.

Bukayo (D’Artagnan)

Meaning of name: Adds to happiness

Yes Bukayo’s smile always adds to my happiness, but it’s his football that’s really Happiness-Plus. Saka is the epitome of the modern footballer: he can play everywhere and reads the game so well, is a great passer of the ball and has a sumptuous left foot. On top of all of this, Bukayo has perhaps the greatest quality in football: the ability to break the lines with the ball at his feet and thus to make things happen anywhere on the pitch. That’s what gets me off my seat and ask my daughter to please go and marry him. Also hoping that Saka will score and assist more this season.

Martin (Porthos)

The name comes from the Latin name Martinus, which is a late derived form of the name of the Roman god Mars, the protective godhead of the Latins, and therefore the god of war. The meaning is usually rendered in reference to the god as “of Mars”, or “of war/warlike” (“martial”).

Yes there is something warlike about Martin. It’s in the way he chases the ball and opponents, the way he always aims to move forward, find the killer ball and shoots on goal. Odegaard never lacks hunger or purpose; it’s simple, he want to win through beautiful yet efficient football. We also need more goals and assists grin the Ode.

Together they can work with Our Leaders in attack, Laca or Auba ‘Athos’ and gradually conquer the PL the Arsenal Way.

What a feast of an adventure to look forward to.

CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

All I Want From Mikel

The Great Reset.

Have you ever seen a team that needed a fresh start or reset more than this Arsenal? 
It’s not the same as other clubs on losing streaks or poor starts. We’re trying to forge a new team identity. I hope this includes a playing style, and some spirit. All that has been lacking for too long now.  

   When we always wanted more signings in the transfer window ( like all football fans), Arsene warned that it’s hard to incorporate more than one or two new starters at the same time. I’m sure we’ll have some pretty serious growing pains, with not only new players, but young ones also.

  This is all reason for patience with the manager. I worry that in asking for so many young players, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. In theory, all the signings make sense, defenders who are comfortable on the ball, and of course, Ødegaard who can give us a central option finally, and feed our strikers to their feet.

  I worry that we left ourselves light in central midfield.  I love Sambi, but I’m afraid that he is not going to be as positionally aware or quick to sense threats as a veteran midfielder would be, even though we love the youthful ability and potential. If Partey can’t stay fit for the next few games, things will continue to be difficult. I’m not saying we should have spent more, just that we needed more focus on cm.

 I want to have patience, as we all wish we can have in life, but rarely achieve the level we aspire to.

 I’d like to see some results of course, but since we’ve been so unpleasant to watch for the past year, I’ll be looking for signs of Arsenal quality play. Slick passing, domination of inferior clubs.  Less of a dependence on Tierney, because opponents can easily shut that down when it’s our main game plan. Tuchel literally used it against us. I also believe that Kieran, in his frustration at lack of scoring and winning, was trying to do too much himself, and got too far forward to get back in time. He never used to do that, and it’s a sign of frustration from one of our leaders. He should be a weapon we use occasionally to overload defenses that are looking everywhere  for threats.

I hope Mikel can inspire our guys to come out expecting to score and win in the first halves of games, not just scrambling in the second halves. With our attacking talent, we should be taking leads more often, and running up the score on teams who are trying to chase the game, instead of that happening to us. 

I’m looking for signs like Saka and Smith Rowe scoring and assisting more. There’s no doubt that there’s talent there. That Pepe is utilized much better, and Martinelli also, because he was invisible in our first two games. That can only be improved by game planning and coaching.

Basically that’s some pressure on Arteta, I know. Fair or not, Coronavirus or not, it’s where we find ourselves. I’m looking forward to watching this play out, so that must mean I’m optimistic, right?


Arsenal Best-11 and My Biggest Wish

Now that the TW business is finally over, we can all fantasise what our best formation/11 is, and I like to hear your thoughts about it.

Obviously, it does depend on Mikel’s footballing philosophy, which I am sure will become much clearer now that he has almost all his chess pieces on the board.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. I like both Holding and White to play. Without Luiz in the team, we need Rob’s leadership as well as his aerial qualities. Ben offers that quick thrust forward from defence which will give our play another dimension.
  2. Partey is THE man in midfield but unlike Xhaka he is injury prone and this makes it hard to build the team around him. Scapegoat Granit is still a key player but should become less pivotal this season, which I am pretty sure he and Arteta agreed will be his last.
  3. ESR and The Ode will both need to play so we have options for creating chances and play the superior passing game.
  4. Can Auba and Laca play together? We need the added goal threat but Auba lacks the footballing skills to play LF imo. We also need a super sub offering real impact.
  5. We need height in the team for dealing with set pieces on either end.
  6. We need real thrust from the wings but also great capability to hold on to the ball and pass it well in tight spaces. Saka and ESR are such players, Pepe struggles with this, especially in PTB games when there is little space to operate in. Pepe is super sub potential.
  7. The GK needs to be dynamic and assured, both in the air and with his feet. Ramsdale looks the better option but Leno is still the first choice.
  8. We need a regular starting 11 with the right personalities and character that gradually will ooze title winning aspirations and conviction.

So on the basis of this here is my Arsenal Best-11:

Leno (for now)

TBD* – Hold – Gab – KT

–White—-Partey – –



* I want to see our new signing from Bologna in action before deciding on the strongest RFB option.

I think this is quite close to the strongest eleven. Defensively very solid and a really dynamic and strong (with !Presence!) midfield with a great balance. Four dynamic, great passers of the ball in tight spaces in attack, and all able to take on a man. Saka becomes more our second attacker with Laca our main one. Ode and ESR and of course Partey to unlock defences from midfield and higher up.

Only issue I have is lack of regular goalscorers in this set up, and my biggest wish is to see Saka, Emile and Martin all get double figures this season.

Auba, Pepe and Balogun / Eddie should also start games but especially the first two could become great super subs this season.

What is your ideal starting eleven?

By TotalArsenal 🚀 ⚽

One Window Closes, Another One Opens: The Arteta-Era Starts Now

Now I have no doubt that in the deep dark seas of the Internet there will still be much moaning about Arsenal’s TW business, but this boy is very, very happy with our new toys.

The club has spent a hell of a lot of money and is obviously backing Arteta with their heads and wallet. If anything should be taken from this transfer window it is the change of direction. All players bought are promising talents in their early twenties. Big boys about to become men; perfect materials for development. This is now a long term project which sets us apart from most other top clubs, and I love it.

The defence will look very different once everybody is fit and settled in. Holding will have a big job on his hand to work the back line into a solid, well-clicking unit. The return of big Gab will also be very welcome. White, once settled in, will give us another dimension.

We desperately needed a quality RFB and let’s hope Tomiyasu is that man. We made place for him by letting our disputed Nr1, Hector, go out on loan. Now Chambers can be back up CB again, Soares back up RFB and all is well.

Midfield has been strengthened significantly with the additions of Anderlecht’s young captain, Lokonga, and Magic Martin. AMN provides further strength in depth which is important for covering the ACN departures of Partey and Elneny. I’d imagine Ainsley will make a move in late January, unless he manages to claim a position. The immininent return of Partey will be like a big new signing in itself. And this will be another great developmental season for wonder kid, Emile.

Upfront, just as in midfield, we have a fine balance of experience and youth and healthy competition. I am glad we held on to Auba and Laca, and Balogun, Eddie and Martinelli, Saka and Pepe will give us great options.

I guess Eddie was not in the plans but the move to CP fell through as these things sometimes go.

Willian’s early departure was a well worked move by all; Reiss will gain experience in a temple of football and in a competition that is on the up again, Azeez will develop further at Portsmouth, and other than possibly Kola and maybe Eddie, Arteta is now working with his chosen team. The club did well to reduce the squad through sales and season long loans.

New, carefully selected faces and plenty of space to breath in; maybe the Arteta-era only starts now.

I think we all know now that success will not come immediately, unless we have a good cup run which is in the club’s DNA of course.

I am not going to focus so much on a goal as in a top four or top six finish, even though I think we will do well. No, I will look mostly at how Arteta develops this team now, the lines he sets out and the quality and potential of our football. That will be the structural focus of for the foreseeable focus. So you know where I will be coming from. 🙂

Or as the inimitable Robert Pirsig put it:

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”

CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

RFB/CB in the Bag and Edu isn’t Finished Yet

Oh it’s crazy crunch time in the football transfer window. 10 hours to go and the Guardian just confirmed that Arsenal have signed a new RB/RFB subject to a successful medical. Takehiro Tomiyasu is to join us from Bologna:

He is 188cm tall, fast and ball tight from what I saw on YouTube. His Bologna defence stats are mostly in the top three and he was twice MoTM last season.

I have not seen him play but it all sounds promising.

This must mean that Bellerin is indeed on his way out. Hector always gave his all and he added personality to the team, but a departure now seems right for both parties.

It would not surprise me if there are more comings and goings. We need a clean slate as much as possible and all those who stay to be fully committed to the cause.

Will Ainsley be allowed to leave (on loan)?

Will Eddie leave for Crystal Palace?

Will Kola leave (on loan)?

Will we sign another attacking midfielder – Aouar or Bisouma maybe?

Will Auba slip out at the last minute?

What are your predictions fine fellow Gooners?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal Need a Sagna Beast at R-FB: Three Options

Just two days of TW left…

The squad, once everyone is fit and available, looks pretty good to me in terms of having all the ingredients for Arteta’s great project, whatever that might look like (we will find out in the next few months hopefully). 😊

The exception is our right back situation. You could argue we need also a beast of a CF, but let’s park that thought for another post.

Our right back position, or should I say right wing back position, is well covered in numbers but all are much more back up material than able to claim the spot like King Kieran does for us on the left side. The final missing piece of the jigsaw is a wee beastie of a right back.

Soares is my ideal back up RB. Chambers and, if he stays, Bellerin are also good nr2s. I need to see more of Tavares in that position and he seems to mainly be back up for Tierney. There are other internal options but none of them will claim the Nr1 spot in all likelihood.

So I think we need to buy. We need someone who sets the right wing on fire like Bacary Sagna used to do for us. He was never really replaced, even though Bellerin showed a lot promise after Bacary left us for the Oilers.

In recent times Arsenal have a history of hanging on too long to undepar full backs, and this position has become even more important in the last decade.

So I welcome the rumours of Arsenal being interested in another Kieran: Kieran Trippier. His age is a draw-back (31 next month), but there is no doubt he would hit the ground running and provide real bite on our right.

In terms of getting a player who can develop with the rest of the team, Noussair Mazraoui of Ajax might be our ideal man. He is only 23 and a star in the making if you ask me.

Cash strapped Barcelona might want to sell the beautifully named Sergiño Gianni Dest who will become 21 in November. This American has it all.

There are other options and I invite you to share your suggestions with us on the blog.

So, here is hoping our main focus is on getting a wee beastie RFB/RWB. Just two days to go!

By TotalArsenal