Viking FK v Arsenal Line-Up: Rambo & Xhaka to feed Alexis, Akpom and Theo?

Viking FK v Arsenal Friendly – The Gunners ready to battle it out with the Vikings of Stavenger

I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying our pre-season friendlies until now. Holding is the big surprise of course, but Ox has played well too and Xhaka has been a joy to watch. Furthermore, Elneny has been in very fine form and Le Coq is fighting for his life to make the first eleven once again. Santi looked more silky than rusty against Chivas and Akpom is finding the net with some ease at the moment. It has also been good to see the youngsters knocking hard on the door and not looking out of place in our pre-season team. And our full backs are bombing forward and producing assists, and that is also music to our ears.

I don’t know much about Viking FK and would like to invite our fellow Norwegian Gooners to give us some background info.

Viking FK were founded in 1899 and are one of the best Norwegian clubs historically having won the title eight times, even though they have not won the league for about 25 years. They are in the middle of the Norwegian top league season and will be playing again on Sunday, so it remains to be seen how serious they will take the match on Friday. The good thing is we will face a fully fit team that will not find it hard to get going against us. And that is what we need if we want to test out players and key elements of our game for the coming season.

It is hard to predict who will start. I have a feeling that Wenger will play his first choice players for our last friendly game against the Northern Oilers and, therefore, will start some of the ‘second choice’ players on Friday. He will also like to give Rambo and Alexis an opportunity to get some game time but I doubt they will last more than 45 minutes. I reckon Arsene wants to combine Holding and Bielik at least one more time before our game against Pool in ten days time. Chambers at right back is a guess and another start for Gibbs is on the cards too.

The most exciting bit is who will be playing in midfield. I predict a rest for Le Coq and a start of Elneny, with Xhaka and Rambo playing slightly in front of the Egyptian. I cannot wait to see these three work together.

Our attack is another guess. Theo has asked to play on the right as much as possible from now on, which I think is a good decision. Let’s start him there which gives Arsene the opportunity to start Akpom as our CF. On the left we should expect Alexis to start, or to come on later if Wenger really wants to ease him back in – with a start for Iwobi in that case. The combination of Theo – Akpom – Alexis up-front, being fed from behind by the multi-talented midfielders of Rambo, Xhaka and Elneny is a mouthwatering prospect.

Predicted Line-Up

football formation

The game can be watched on Arsenal.com so don’t miss it – kick off 7.30 pm on Friday 5 August.

CoyGs!

By TotalArsenal

Holding & Akpom Give Arsene Headache, Ox Draws Goat’s Blood, Debuchy Fights for Survival: 8 Friendly Observations

Chivas de Guadalajara v Arsenal Pre-season Friendly: 1 – 3

Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Monreal; Xhaka, Coquelin; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Iwobi; Walcott

Subs: Martinez, Debuchy, Bielik, Gibbs, Zelalem, Elneny, Campbell, Willock, Reine-Adelaide, Akpom

Rob Holding celebrates scoring

It is hard to review a match watched between 2 and 4am on a small Ipad screen, but let’s try to analyse the game and see whether we can pull some more conclusions.

Here are my eight observations:

  1. Holding continues to look very promising. Part of me thinks he is too young to play a big part in the coming season, and another part feels he is the Max Verstappen of our team: level headed, confident, fearless and very, very talented. He will be 21 next month so he is not that young anymore, and if he were to play with the likes of Cech, Koz and Nacho, who can guide and coach him, he could do really well from the start of his Arsenal career. Arsene says he wants to add experience in the CB position but young Rob will be adding a lot of food for thought for him at the moment. Holding did not have a perfect game but his composure, passing and drive are very exciting; and he scored a fine goal to get us in front early on  as well. Stuff of dreams right now and let’s hope he will keep it up.
  2. The return of Cazorla, combined with Xhaka and Coquelin behind him, was a joy to watch. He clearly was enjoying himself and produced some fine attacking passes. It was surprising to see Xhaka play quite high up the pitch regularly, and he also produced some excellent through-balls, especially to our full backs. At times I struggled to see whether it was Santi or Xhaka who produced the through-ball or classy forward pass, but it is really good to see that we had more than one creative provider on the pitch with the King of Assists still not in action.
  3. We are blessed with excellent goalkeepers. Cech is such a calming influence and his experience on and off the pitch is vital for us. But Ospina is not far behind and I hope Wenger can keep him motivated to stay at least another year. Ospina, just like Cech, may let in the odd stoppable goal, but his presence and professionalism have a calming impact on his fellow players and that goes a long way. Martinez also looked tidy in the second half.
  4. Ox scored a peach of a goal, the sort of cracker we know he is capable of. We have to see whether he can score regularly against tougher competition but this is a very promising start to the pre-season for AOC. At the moment, he is winning the battle for the other ‘midwing’ position – Alexis will of course take one as soon as he returns – from the likes of Iwobi and Campbell. The latter two looked a bit flat, or maybe I should say ‘ineffectual’, against Chivas. I remain skeptical about the Ox’s chances to claim a first team spot this season, but his attitude, directness and fitness levels have been impressive. Campbell and Iwobi have to raise their game.
  5. Theo positioned himself a lot better, just a shame his finishing was well below par once again. It must have been a dagger in the heart for him when Akpom scored so soon after he came on. Akpom did not necessarily impress that much either last night, but he did the thing that matters most in football and that is of course putting the leather over the line. I see Akpom as a traditional CF who looks more towards getting on the goal sheet than helping out the team constantly ala Giroud. But he has an eye for goal and the coolness to take his opportunities, which we cannot pooh-pooh…. another headache developing for Arsene: include in squad or send out on loan again? Theo, on the other hand, needs a goal, or at least an assist, very, very badly right now.
  6. I liked our aggression in midfield. Especially in the first half, there was a fierce and welcome battle in a congested midfield between the Chivas and Arsenal midfielders. Both Coq and Xhaka were strong and fought aggressively for midfield dominance. Francis and Granit were still a bit rusty and gave away too many free-kicks, but I really liked the physicality of their play. This is just what we will need in the PL to dominate teams in the midfield area. Add Elneny to the mix, who had another fine 45 minutes, and we have a really strong midfield that will provide the axis around which our game can flourish.
  7. Debuchy played with passion and aggression, which  brought us a goal and cost us a penalty. I don’t mind the latter. I want to see Matthieu give his all and fight for his position and that is exactly what he was doing yesterday. Good man. And the assist for Akpom’s goal was very good: well placed and kept on the ground to make it easy for the CF to finish. I want him to stay and fight with Bellerin for the FB position.
  8. Mesut was in da House. I know we are all desperately scanning the sport websites for news about new signings, but let’s also not forget the importance of keeping this continuously improving squad together. Seeing Mesut supporting the boys in the stands put a smile on my face. I want him to be well rested before he starts playing for us again, but I cannot wait to see him back and work alongside the likes of Xhaka, Elneny, Coquelin and Santi, to name but a few.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal with Chuba Akpom, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil

What are your observations?

By TotalArsenal. — Thanking The Mirror for pictures.

 

 

 

Cech behind Gabriel and Koz | Le Coq behind Jack, Mesut and Santi: Lyon Preview – Line-up

Arsenal’s home cup friendly against Lyon promises to be another fine test. I will be checking on the team’s ability to dominate the game around the Southern France’s team ‘D-area’, as we have been so impressive in doing this in the cup final, and recently, against Everton.  The Toffees were simply played off the pitch, but maybe this was down to fitness issues or a lack of hunger. The Gunners were hungry all right, which, as described in the match review, was a very nice surprise for me.

untitled1

Against Lyon, managed by former Gunner Garde, we are likely to be tested a bit more. I have not seen Lyon play a lot recently so cannot give you much insight on our opponent.  I expect us to play another 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 formation, with the aim to play our attack minded midfielders as near to the Lyon box as possible and with high levels of possession of the ball.

We will want to dominate and try out our intricate passes to penetrate the Les Gones’ defence with real menace. The FBs, take your pick from Gibbs, Nacho, Bellerina and Debuchy, will provide the width, and therefore threat, to go behind the defence and add that much needed dimension to our attacking play. It is this interplay between the four central midfielders, the CF and the FBs that will be the basis of our attacking success against those teams that want to sit back, or indeed, are forced to do so. And Wenger is right to want to see more goals from the rest of the team and believe that we are capable of scoring ten more goals in the PL – from 71 to 81 – in the coming season (see Arsenal.com). This is a point I have been making for quite a long time now: forget about Wenger wanting to buy a super striker and replace Giroud; our goals need to come from all over the team, which makes us unpredictable/hard to plan against.

Furthermore, I am interested in how we will line up at the back and in central midfield. It would be good to see a bit more of Gabriel, either with Koz or the BFG. I guess Wenger will play a near full strength team tomorrow, so Cech is a near given and Coquelin will be our holding DM; unless of course, Wenger wants to experiment with two all-round midfielders, who are not as good defensively as Francis but add more from an attacking point of view (see also 17ht fine post on this topic). I need my DM fix and would always play with one in front of the defence, but Jack-Rambo combo would also be nice.

Alas, we can over analyse this; it is just a friendly and Wenger will use it as a way for players to get match fitness, with maybe one or two youngsters being thrown into the mix, either at the start or later on. So here is my predicted starting eleven:  Cech, Debuchy, Gabriel, Koz, Nacho, Le Coq, Santi, Ozil, Jack, Rambo, Giroud.

arsenal v lyon

We could see Theo instead of Le Coq, with Ramsey moving into the deeper midfield role.

Enjoy the game fine fellow Gooners.

By TotalArsenal.

Cech between the poles, Toral LM, Walcott RM: Arsenal v Everton Line-Up & Preview

Preview for Arsenal vs Everton (KickOff  Saturday 8.30pm SGT, 1.30pm BST, 8.30am EST) 

Thanks to www.Arsenal.com for training picture
Thanks to http://www.Arsenal.com for training picture

Most likely line-up for Arsenal:

Arsenal v Everton July 15

This match will be an important one for Le Prof to win, as he gears his team to two more games in the Emirates Cup before the Community Shield; thus, he will field the strongest team possible.

I believe that Everton will do the same, and Martinez had started his first team on Wednesday, thus they are better prepared (albeit more tired) whilst our first team (minus defenders) would play the first game of the season.

So this will be a tight match, and I feel that we are better equipped with Santi (definitely fantastic with his on the pool heading skills) and Ozil taking the playmaker roles, and the playful Giroud leading the front-line.

Everton were not that good in the midfield area on Wednesday, from what I saw in the second half against a Stoke team less resilient than they usually are. If they manage to shake off the cobwebs and the passing mistakes, it will be a good test for the Gunners. Stones and Tim Howard are the better Everton players in my opinion.

Back to our lads. On the left midfield area we are a little short: I am not sure about Wilshere starting as he played quite a fair bit on Wednesday. Toral has a good left foot and vision, thus he might be given the nod.

As this is a must win game for the lads (to get momentum), I expect a faster game from the first team, and hope that the cobwebs stuck to the Everton players stick to them for the whole game.

Your turn guys 🙂

By JK