Debuchy CB, Theo Starts, Coquelin for Ox? Liverpool Preview & Line-Up

Let’s get cool in the pool: Preview & Line-Up

Time for Le Coq to shine?
Time for Le Coq to shine?

After two great results and fine attacking football, in Istanbul and THOF, confidence levels are high and so are our expectations. Pool are a shadow of their former self and have become a team without bite: last season they scored for fun and now they hardly get more than one goal per game. We could be on the up now and Liverpool are struggling. Losing out to Basel for the CL will have hurt them badly and  their league position is even worse than ours (given expectation levels at the start of the season for both clubs).

Yet, I am nervous about this one. I guess the ‘good’ thing is we got an awful hiding from them last year, which will help Wenger to point out the importance of defending well in this game. We remain vulnerable at the back though, especially with Koz still unavailable. In a way, Liverpool have nothing to lose and will still have the sweetest of memories of last year’s encounter. This combination, further fuelled by a loyal and vociferous home crowd and a good away win mid-week, could be a dangerous one for us. Let’s pray they don’t score early and the team suffer from a horrible deja-vu experience.


I have seen Arsenal a few times at Anfield. It is a great, traditional stadium with a fantastic atmosphere, and there is a lot of respect for Arsenal, both for our football and the way the club is managed. It was at Anfield where I first saw Cesc Fabregas in action. He played next to Vieira and opposite of another great midfielder, Gerrard. I will never forget that game for Vieira’s and Gerrard’s goals, and especially for Fabregas’ incredible ability to read the game and anticipate where the ball would be in the next few seconds. I knew straightaway he would become a great footballer.

I also will never forget how Thierry Henry got a standing ovation from the Pool and away supporters at the end of the FA cup game that we won there (1-3). He had scored the last goal in real style, out-pacing and out-smarting Jamie Carragher from the centre of midfield with a fabulous run and a very composed finish. It was so great to witness this with my own eyes.

Liverpool is a fine football city and nowhere in the country, other than the good parts of North-London, is there more respect for good football – and therefore Arsenal – than in Merseyside.

But tomorrow we will play there a very important game and for ninety plus minutes there is no time for sentimentality. A win would put a lot of distance between them and us and would be a perfect start to the congested Christmas schedule.  We have a bit of momentum now and it is important to keep it going.

In order to do so, we need to stay cool in the pool. I reckon Wenger will opt for 4-2-1-3 or even ‘6-4’, with a split in responsibilities between the ‘6’, mainly responsible for defending, and the ‘4’, mainly responsible for attacking. Only the FBs will have a bit more freedom to support the attack – one at a time – but the rest of the ‘6’ will be tasked to keep it tight – at least for the start of the game. Wenger really does not want to give Pool any encouragement that we will leave a lot of space for them to attack us. We want to control that game, and with our superior strike-force we can and should be patient, as our chances will come.

My predicted line-up is:

Ars v Liverpool Dec 14

I reckon Le Coq will play instead of Ox, unless the latter is fully fit. Even then Wenger might opt to play the Frenchman next to his fellow countryman, Flamini, against Pool. Arteta is still not available and Ramsey is out too, and Coquelin comes closest to Arteta’s style of play (and has more experience that the popular options on this blog of Chambers or Hayden).

At the back, I reckon Wenger will stick with Debuchy as CB partner to the BFG, with Chambers (available again) replacing Bellerin as RB. With Chambers, BFG, Szczesny and Gibbs we have four out of five players playing in their best positions, and only MD is out of position. Debuchy is versatile and experienced and I reckon he is the better option at CB than Chambers (or Hayden). It is not ideal but it will have to do…

Up-front is where it really gets exciting. Theo could be back, but I don’t think he will start. It would be great to see him on the bench though. Cazorla picks himself for the hole position and I reckon it will be Welbeck and Alexis on the wings, with OG in the middle.

Wenger will pick his strongest team after they all had eight days of rest and this surely is the biggest test of the festive season (with the Hammers away game coming close though). He is also likely to opt for the above mentioned initial division of a defending and an attacking team, in order to keep it tight and calm, whilst waiting for our opportunity to pounce. Not everyone will like a more defensive approach but I reckon anything else is likely to cost us badly.

I expect it to be tight with one to three goals, unless one of the teams scores early….. and let’s hope it will be us if this were to be the case.

Come On You Rip-Roaring Gunners – Let The Canon Roar!

Written by: TotalArsenal.


A game of transfer window repercussions? Arsenal vs Tottenham Pre-Match


It’s DERBY time again. North London will be split in two once again for this very important game. On one side we have the mighty Arsenal. A team that optimises and oozes class. The other side…a cock on a ball, oh and Adebayor…enough said!

No time for the Transfer window, no time for injuries, we must focus on this game and give it all we’ve got again. Come on Arsenal faithful get behind the team and roar loudly.

Let’s get in to it shall we:

Missing in Action:

Diaby sick bay

Arsenal: Podolski (Hamstring), Vermaelen (Back), Ox (Knee), Arteta (Thigh), Diaby (Knee). Jack (Ankle) and Ramsey (Groin) should be right for this one.

Tottenham: Assou-Ekotto (Knee), Lennon (Ankle/Foot), Bale (apparently ‘Ankle/Foot’ – also known as ‘Almunia’s elbow’)

Transfer window update:

Tottenham have quite the long list. Whilst they have lost one primate, they’ve added Eriksen, Lamela, Chiriches, Paulinho, Soldado, Capoue, and Chadli.

Arsenal on the other hand have signed Flamini and Sanogo. Reading that definitely sends a shudder down the spine (even more so when you take in to account our injury record and our current long term injuries). The optimist in me says “let’s wait and see what the remaining days bring us”. The current Oz says “sharpen those pitchforks gents because if we don’t get some significant squad bolstering and major signings we may have to storm the gates”.

Anyway, welcome back Flamini. That 2007/08 season of his was a ripper. I loved how he went about it; he brought energy, drive, and a fighting spirit. His experience and determination will definitely help the cause.

Predicted Line-up:

starting line-up Totts

The best available should line-up for Arsenal in this must win home fixture (lose and we are already playing catch-up, and a loss to our neighbours will dent the confidence of both the team and the supporters).

Koscielny returns from his one match suspension for a great tackle. This should knock Sagna back to RB and move Jenks to the bench. Podolski’s injury should see Santi move over to the left (no other real options unless we chuck Ryo or Gnabry out there). Gibbs will line up down the left, and the rest picks itself. It’d be nice to see a cameo from Flamini (when we are 3-0 up). A look to our bench shows us just how incredibly light on we are at the moment.

Previous Encounters:

Tottenham v Arsenal 2-1

Can’t remember. Didn’t happen. Must have been a friendly or something?!

Two defensive lapses in a blink of an eye saw us go down 2-0. The BFG gave us some hope of a comeback…but it was not meant to be this time. It’s terrible that we were caught out by a monkey and a bloke who shaves lines into his eyebrows and head (I’m sure somewhere in the rule book that constitutes a straight red?!). After that result Tottenham moved into third position with a 7 point advantage over Arsenal…hahahahaha oh how things can change.

Arsenal v Tottenham 5-2

2012 was a good year for derbies. This game saw the best and worst from our dear friend Adebayor. A goal at the 10’ mark, and a straight red for a studs up challenge on Santi at 20’. Cheers Ade!!!

Per kick started the revival again and we went on to smash the spuds into the ground.

Arsenal v Tottenham 5-2

Words don’t do this match any justice. Have a watch to relive the memories:

Form Guide:               Arsenal:  : WWWLW          Tottenham: WWWWD

A convincing win against Fulham was sandwiched by Champions League qualifier victories against Fenerbahce. Hopefully those three victories were enough to brush aside the disappointment of our opening fixture against Villa.

Tottenham won their Europa League game midweek and rested quite a few players while they were at it (so don’t expected a tired outfit this Sunday). Both Premier League victories came from penalties put away by their new signing Soldado.

Arsenal Archive (1)

This week I’ve dipped into the Arsenal Archive and pulled out this video clip. It’s a collection of great goals against our North London rivals (here’s hoping we had a few more this weekend).


One to Watch:

Jan Vertonghen was a real enforcer last time we played. He was a very nice bit of business for Tottenham, one I’m still shaking my head about (why didn’t we get him???). Giroud will definitely have his hands full with both he and Dawson forming a solid CB pairing.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Aaron Ramsey backs up his brace against Fenerbahce. He will have his hands full against Paulinho and Capoue but I think his work-rate will see him take control again. Rosicky and Wilshere will definitely help see our midfield wins out.

Key-Match up:

Theo Walcott vs Danny Rose

Going forward Danny Rose is good, defensively he is questionable. We will definitely be going through Theo a lot in this match in an attempt to expose Rose’s weaknesses. Theo always comes to play against Tottenham and I see this game being no different. Mrs Rose has said Danny has had a few restless nights (nightmares, sweating, tossing and turning) in the lead up to this. Beware Danny…Theo’s coming to get ya!!

A nightmare on Arsenal's wing

Pre-Match Finger:

kid finger

This week’s finger goes out to…our injury curse! Podolski is now injured and will be out for 8-10 weeks. We really can’t catch a break from it. It’s bad enough that our squad is paper thin at the minute but come off it! It’s as though we are picking up one after every game, or worse…at training (Arteta). I’m an optimistic person but it is getting very hard to believe in the stability of this squad. Vermaelen and Wilshere have been plagued in recent seasons which have cost us dearly (from a quality player and a development standpoint). The Ox is out for an extended period (who here has that horrible feeling that we will hear “Ox hasn’t recovered as well as hoped so we’re sending him in for surgery. Return unknown”? I know I do, we’ve heard it all too often!)  Diaby is well…Diaby. Rosicky, Wilshere, Gibbs, Theo, and Ryo are all ticking time bombs. Imagine the squad we’d have if we could keep these players together…oh well we’ve always got FIFA!

I’m going to send another finger out to the transfer window. It’s long, draining, painful, frustrating, and miserable (if it was a guy we’d all undoubtedly be locked up because of the unspeakable things we’d do to him). Once it closes I hope we are all sitting back thinking “yep the juice was worth the squeeze” as opposed to sharpening our pitchforks and marching down to Ashburton Grove.

Pre-Match pat on the back:

This week’s pat on the back is going to Aaron Ramsey. In his short career not only has he had to come back from a career-threatening injury, but he’s had to endure the ridicule and torment from a large division of Arsenal supporters. His work rate and engine are unbelievable. Combine that with his mental toughness and he’s definitely going to be one hell of a player, and I’m glad it’s going to be with us. From ‘deadwood – squad player’ to 3 goals and 1 assist in 4 games this season. I don’t care if those goals came against Fenerbahce; if it was Santi or Jack every Arsenal supporter would be dribbling and crowing about their greatness. Well done Aaron, may you continue to serve up some delicious humble pie to those who doubted you.

Ask the opposition - spurs (1)

‘Ask the opposition’ returns again this week. It is designed to get some friendly banter from our opposition fans and get their insight for the match ahead.  This week the answers were kindly provided by Adam (Some will remember Adam when he dropped in last week under the name ‘Bongo’. Check out his youtube channel here: ), and Spooky (a top class Tottenham supporter from ).Let’s see what they’ve written for us this week:

1) You’ve probably heard this all Summer but…Bale. Is he staying or going?

ADAM: I think the whole world knows that Bale will be off to Real Madrid in the next few days.  What I’ve been impressed with though is the way our board have not allowed RM have it all their way.  It was an open tapping up which they seem to get away with year in year out but I think Levy has stood up to their bullying, selling when we are ready, and making them have to postpone their big announcement parades.

SPOOKY: Going. Gone. See ya. Ignoring all the media hyperbole and their creative spin and the variety of headline hunting agenda’s that dominated the football news all summer long, the crux of it all was simple. Bale was not for sell. The player was happy to remain at Spurs another season. However, if Real Madrid showed interest and they bid a bid worthy of acceptance then he would have no issue with leaving as long as Spurs and Madrid could agree to it. The reason it’s dragged is Spurs have stood firm with the asking price. Once that was agreed, I guess the payment plan was the next stumbling block. To be honest, I actually think even if Madrid didn’t bid Bale would have pushed for the move (or at least his agent).

You don’t know what might happen in football. As a player, he might not have the chance to join Madrid next season so he has to take the chance this season. The irony is, Madrid are probably only bidding because they failed to sign Neymar.

I wish him well. Honestly hope he destroys the league out there. Going to be interesting to see him play alongside Ronaldo and Ronaldo’s ego.

2) If he goes do you think you will manage with the new additions to your squad?

ADAM: Obviously a player like Bale will be missed a great deal as you will be only too aware having lost a few star players yourselves over the years, RVP & Fabregas to name a couple.  What it does though is open up an opportunity for someone else to step up and become a hero, and though we will be weaker in one position without him, we have strengthened in most other positions, so yes I believe we will not only manage with the new additions, but will be a more balanced side.  Hopefully one of the new players will take up his mantle.  It looks like Lamela has signed (fingers crossed) and I think he will be the player Spurs fans will be most excited about.

SPOOKY: Players come and go, the supporters remain ever present. We’ll survive. The harsh reality is we have a 36k stadium and Daniel Levy’s sell-on philosophy does work (even if it’s held us back in the past – Carrick, Berbatov, Modric). For the fee he’s going for, whether we’re spending the money or being funded by Joe Lewis – it’s a new chapter. It’s exciting. New heroes at the ready. Shame he didn’t give us one more season but it’s easy for me. If you don’t want to play for the shirt then play for someone else. Only concern (a minor one) is that we may take a few weeks to bed in all the new players. Still, it’s a wonderful ‘problem’ to have.

3) AVB how’s he travelling? Will he take you places?

ADAM: I like AVB a lot.  He comes across quite cool and seems to be able to handle the pressure, and to be fair he was being hounded by the red tops at the start of last season right up until we beat Man Utd away (when he made Sun reporter Paul Jiggins look a fool).

He has the potential to take us to cup finals and into the promised land of the top 4 definitely.

SPOOKY: I hope so. He’s the first coach we’ve had that actually has an ethos, a methodology to his preparation and a blueprint to the way he wants the team to play. Last season felt like the foundations we’re set. Got many of the basis sorted. Our away form was phenomenal. I remember the 90s, we couldn’t’ win away. When we won away it was like a cup final. Christ, we’re woeful. From Jol to Redknapp to AVB there has been sustained progression. But more so under AVB there has been a clearer indication of direction. Hoping for more expansive football this season at home.

4) What player/position is your weakest?

ADAM: I’d say left back is currently our weakest position.  AVB seems to have dropped Assou-Akotto who was competent though prone to make mistakes.  We are now relying on Danny Rose who is still young.  Though we have cover there in Kyle Naughton and Jan Vertongen it is not their main position, meaning unless we get in a left back before the window closes this is not our strongest position, shall we say.

SPOOKY: I worry about left-back. Benny appears to have been told not to turn up for training which might be a polite way of suggesting he’s having medicals for other clubs. Danny Rose is solid going forward but I’m unsure about his defensive qualities. He’s also a touch small – when compared to some of the beasts in the side. We need a new left-back. Right back will probably be covered by Kaboul although would also prefer to see competition for Walker.

5) Which Arsenal player would you like and why?

ADAM: I like Jack Wilshere as a player.  I was at White Hart Lane last year (I’ll not mention the score) when you visited and the way he kept possession, and his distribution, was quite awesome, especially at his age and build.  Even though we won I felt he was the best player on the pitch that day and would fit easily into our side, and most sides in Europe.  I think his love for Arsenal is very noble and I can see him becoming your loyal Steven Gerrard type player though, so I don’t expect us to sign him from you any time soon.   I hope he stays fit this year and plays well as he could be a key member of the England team in Brazil.

SPOOKY: Cazorla. Plays both flanks? Although actually, we might have enough cover there now. Had you asked me this question 10 years ago the answer would be so different. Oxlade-Chamberlain. Young, another Soton youth player. English. I like what I’ve seen so far but I worry (not so much for Arsenal) but when I look across at Theo Walcott I hope ‘the Ox’ has a better footballing brain because pace can only get you so far (although tbf, Walcott always…always plays a blinder against us – aided by our own capitulation of course).

6) Which player/position do you feel is our weakest?

ADAM: Most would say your defense is your weakest position but I think it is that strong defensive midfielder that you are missing.  You have flair and pace going forward, but sometimes the defenders need to be helped out further up the pitch, and I don’t believe you have ever really replaced big Patrick Vierra.

SPOOKY: Goalkeeper. You could do with a giant there. Mentally rather than physically. I think it’s very strange how Spurs appear to have signed players that Wenger would have lapped up once upon a time. Also, defensive midfield – you need a powerhouse in there. You’ve lacked that for some time.

7) If Arsene fails to strengthen significantly is it time to go?

ADAM: I would say so most certainly.  My understanding of how Arsenal work, and no doubt your readers will correct me if I am wrong, is that Wenger is in charge of all footballing aspects of the club.  So called Marquee signing is not essential but they raise the spirits of the fans, who are the life blood of the club.

On that point, I don’t think you are upset that you haven’t got in a big name; you just want to see an improvement in the ever depleting squad you have.  If he doesn’t strengthen and you get in the top 4 again and win a trophy it will be difficult for the board to let him go.  If he drops out the top 4, then I can’t imagine why your board would renew his contract.

A few of my Arsenal work colleagues think it may be best if you did have a nightmare season so they can get rid of him.  It feels to me as though they are saying “Thanks Wenger for all you’ve done, please retire now so we can still call you a legend, don’t let it go sour”.

SPOOKY: I can’t answer that. See from my own perspective this is how I see it. Wenger changed your club, he made Arsenal out of his own ideology and introduce football you lot we’re never accustomed too (even when you we’re winning titles under Graham). Okay, sure, he inherited a back four of immense quality, stole our judas captain but credit goes to the scouting and the technical football. Was a good time to hit the jackpot what with Sky Sports exploding. The top four back then dominated because they were several leagues ahead of the rest of us, granted only Utd (with Liverpool and one other occasionally) showing fight. But all football cycles have a conclusion, they all end.

I don’t know what Arsenal are up to with the alleged war chest. I thought you cleared all debt. It’s obvious the impact of City/Chelsea means the top top players are out of reach. Scouting isn’t as clever as it was. If Wenger is stubborn, then he’s going out fighting. He deserves respect but perhaps the best thing is for someone else to take the helm. Refresh the club. Seems you’re all too busy trying to hang on to the past.

Still, testament to his ability, he still inspires you lot to grab that 4th spot. Although I think Arsenal’s team is vastly under-rated by some. Perhaps that’s part of the trick. Makes Wenger look like he’s working miracles. If you do have £100M + in the bank for new players then I’d be upset. Especially with the ambition we’re showing, backing AVB.

8) What is your prediction for the match?

ADAM: Because it is still early in the season and you still have a full squad, and our squad is still settling I’d probably ought to say a draw 1-1, however I’m going to say Spurs to win 0-2, not based on anything other than I am a Spurs fan on an Arsenal site. Thanks for having me.

SPOOKY: 5-2. Ha! Christ, I hate the NLD sometimes. The footballing Gods are twisted. If we play and we lose then I’d rather we lose because we’ve been outplayed or beaten on the day without the dramatics of red cards or the usual capitulations. We’ve started well against you lot but twice it’s gone to shit. And Arsenal do love to turn up for this game at their ground. I think it’s going to be a score draw. I hope we nick it. Not sure the game will be a catalyst for either side like the past couple have been. Very early in the season, but no doubt the bragging rights are just as important as three points. You what, screw it. 5-2 Tottenham. It’s about time those footballing Gods repaid us for the past 18 years.


We haven’t lost our first two home games since the 1949-50 season and Tottenham have only beaten us once since the 1992-3 season…I’m confident that after the game on Sunday both records will remain. Yes we have injuries, yes it’s a new look Tottenham line-up, but we always turn up for this game! We shouldn’t underestimate team stability, that’s what we have at the moment. Our players know each other inside out, and that will be the difference in this one. Arsenal to win 2-1

Theo – Soldado – Giroud!!!

For this week’s psychic prediction I went back on to the free site in search of my pre-match friend, unfortunately Yakman is no longer. Fear not we have an English man by the name of ‘Eagle Star’. Here are his responses:

Oz: Will Arsenal beat Tottenham on Sunday?

Eagle Star: The devil in me says Arsenal will win.

Oz: The devil? You must be mistaken. We at Arsenal are good folk, Tottenham are the demons of North London. Score?

Eagle Star: Arsenal 2-1

Oz: The transfer window closes on Monday. We’ve had a torrid time of it so far. How many players will we sign between now and then?

Eagle Star: Logic says 1, but I think it’ll be 4 (another psychic ‘Nova Leone’ also predicted 4 – fingers crossed)

Oz: Thank you. See you next week

What is your prediction?

Will Dawson and Vertonghen stop Giroud in his tracks?

Which Tottenham player would you like in our team?

Written by: Oz Gunner