Rosicky King of NLD, Le Coq & Rambo, Ozil to add magic: Preview & Line-up

Little Mozart knows how to win a NLD: passion, power, and quality! COYG! :)
Little Mozart knows how to win a NLD: passion, power, and quality! COYG! 🙂

A bit more than 24 hours to go for the NLD. It is fair to say that both sets of fans are feeling confident about this match. A text from a Spud mate read as follows: ‘I hear Sanchez is out and we have Bentaleb back: thing are looking up’. Both teams are on a good run and have a recent, big scalp to their name: The Spuds gave the Chavs a 5-3 hiding and we overcame the Northern Oilers at the Etihad.

It is fair to say the Spuds are going through another transitional season under the new management of Pochettino , and have had with a mixed bag of results until now. For example, they beat Leicester away in the league but succumbed to them in FA cup at home; they beat the Chavs at home but lost there by 3-0; they beat Villa away by 1-2 but then lose to Stoke at home by the same score the week after. In the league they do not score many goals (35, 9 less than Arsenal) but concede a lot (30, 5 more than Arsenal), hence their goal difference is only five, significantly less than the teams above them (Arsenal has a difference of 19). And in the league almost 80% of the Spuds goals are scored by just three players; Kane with 10, Eriksen with 9 and Chadli with 7.

So we know who to keep quiet and I reckon if we deny them space, play compact and attack them on the rebound, we have a very good chance to come away with a result. Should we approach them the same as we did with the Northern Oilers? That is the big question, if you ask me. Inviting them on to us and taking them down on the break is of course attractive. On the other hand, it would also be good to dominate them in their own half and get the job done as soon as possible. We have the players to do either and I wonder how Wenger will approach the game.

Key is of course the role of the three midfielders and whether we press high or not. With either Flamini or Coquelin we will give the back four protection, and then it is up to the other two midfielders to find the balance between supporting the defence and making the transition towards attack. I hope our defence will be allowed to play deep enough to avoid any risks of them being exposed by the Spuds.

They are likely to put a lot of muscle in the centre of midfield with the likes of Dembele, Mason, Bentaleb and Paulinho. To win the battle in midfield we need to match this physicality and overcome them with clever and incisive passing. This also requires a calm head, especially in a NLD, and as such, this is another big test for Coquelin, if indeed he gets the nod by Arsene. The biggest challenges in midfield are for the two players who play in the middle of our second ‘4’ in the 4-1-4-1 formation. Who should play there, and what should be their remit: sit back and keep it tight, or push forward and hem them in their own half?

I reckon Aaron and Santi are the obvious candidates for the two central midfield positions. They are in fine form and know how to execute Wenger’s tactical instructions. They know how to sit deep and make the transition forwards when in possession.

I don’t think Wenger will tweak his back-five for this match, so let’s move on to the front three. The big question is who should replace Sanchez’s goal threat and who can find the best balance in supporting the defence on the flanks, yet offer speed, ingenuity and control of the ball when in possession/on the break.

Giroud is a given, so who to play on the ‘wings’? I reckon we will need Ozil’s quality to unlock defences and add a much needed goal threat. The partnership with Giroud has also been fantastic in the last two games: it has been good to see Mesut and Ollie exchanging goals and assists.

That leaves one position, and it will be either Theo or Rosicky I reckon. Theo offers a great goal and assists threat and Rosa has that passion and offers better additional defensive support.

With Bellerin on the right, whose strength it is to add to our wingplay there, we might not need Theo as much, and either Ozil or Rosa can play in front of the young, blossoming Spaniard. On the other hand, Theo is so confident and has that wow factor, especially on the counter…. I have a feeling that Theo will lose out, but only just.

So my predicted line-up is as follows:

Arsenal v Spuds Jan 15

Let’s play compact, deep enough as a starting point, disciplined and full of passion – and our quality up-front and in the middle to shine through.

Let the mighty red and white cannon blow that skinny chicken of the ball. 🙂

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners: Make Us Proud!

By TotalArsenal.

The Coquelin Miracle, Streetwise Alexis, Koz is back: Eight positives from game.


How easy was that? Easiest win of the season as the Orcs were scared into submission with all that bright light and unattainable football quality at the home of football.

They tried to rough us up for a while but Koz and Alexis put them to the sword with great ease, and that was it: job done. The only thing I regret is that we let the Debuchy injury go unpunished: sometimes I wish we were more streetwise and show the rest of the PL that we will not be messed with.

Eight Positives from the game:

  1. Alexis keeps delivering and was totally unimpressed with anything the Orcs threw at him. He is very streetwise and fantastic at avoiding contact with opponents when it is best to do so, yet he is not scared of any one and made of granite. His assist was simple and effective: just a case of quick thinking and good delivery; his first goal was very clever: he gave the keeper the eye, indicating he would once again opt for the far  corner (just before that Begovic had made a fine safe from a similar attempt) and then steering it precisely into the near corner; and then there was the free-kick: a touch of luck but great capitalisation on the Orcs’ nerves. What a Player!
  2. The triangle of the disciplined Coquelin, the wise Rosicky and the creative Santi. It worked very well again (as Gerry and others have already pointed out). Key is Rosicky’s understanding of the role, which is all about finding the balance of defensive support for Coquelin and adding attacking impetus by giving Santi support. Rosa did this very well. Coquelin was composed and strong and excelled in keeping it simple: what is happening all of a sudden….. a mini miracle in my opinion! Santi played with zest and passed the ball round incisively: our Spanish maestro seems to accept/understand that he is better suited in creating chances/key passes for others this season, rather than desperately being at the end of them all the time. With the likes of Alexis, Giroud and now Theo up-front we have very good goal scorers and what they need is silver service, and Santi’s is delivering it very nicely indeed right now.
  3. Koz looked sharp and played well for the whole game. We all know how important he is for this team, not just in his own role but also in terms of getting the best out of the BFG and the LB position. It looks like we are going to miss Debuchy for a while but if we can get Koz involved, fully fit, for the rest of the season then that is a huge plus.
  4. Ospina dealt well with the little threat he had to deal with, but, more importantly, he seemed to fit well with the back-four. They all seemed relaxed and trusting of Ospina and that is a good sign for a goalie that has played so few games for Arsenal. I had a feeling The Colombian would start (as per preview), but it appears that Wenger did not tell Wojciech his decision to not play him till just before the start of the game. I am sure this will be continued and let’s hope Szczesny senior will keep his gob shut.
  5. Bellerin did really well at RB and is progressing on a par with his blistering speed. Ox showed lots of energy and thrust, and is getting closer to meaningful contributions (goals and assists). Nacho played with real bite and lots of healthy aggression. Giroud battled well and played in the service of the team, and he also did well to stand above the Orcs’ attempts to provoke him.
  6. Ozil and Theo are back. Bliss.
  7. We are above the Spuds and gained three points on the Mancs.
  8. Clean Sheet.

So, a good, easy win with plenty of positives to take from. And the perfect preparation for the battle with the Northern Oilers? 

What did you make of the game?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Did Arsene finally sign the next Henry?

And other observations and afterthoughts from an important FA Cup win.

Alexis Sánchez Arsenal Toby Alderweireld Southampton

I don’t know about you, but I thought yesterday’s game against Hull was a bizarre one. The Tigers were toothless and sedated, clearly just making up the numbers and focussing merely on their defence. Arsenal played some fabulous football but lacked killer instinct, seemingly unable to finish off our opponents.

Never change a winning team, they say; unless, of course, you don’t believe you can win and feel there are bigger fish to fry. They had made ten changes to the team that beat Everton on New Year’s Day and, although some rotation is necessary around this time of year, this was a clear indication of how Bruce viewed his chances/the importance of making it to the next round.

Yet, Arsenal had looked shattered in their last game against the Saints, and continuous injuries to a large number of key players meant that Hull could and should have had a go. But, I guess if you are only two points above the relegation zone, and think of Wigan, who won the FA Cup just 1.5 years ago but are now second from bottom in the Championship, one can understand Hull’s reluctance to go all out for a win at the Home of Football. Survival in the PL is surely, but to some extent sadly, their one and only objective this season.

We played some good football with the rejuvenated Rosicky making the difference in the beginning. Rosa on the ball in full, elegant flight makes me think of those streamlined skiers doing the down hill slalom. His nickname should be graceful dynamo (JM take note! 🙂 ), and his energy and quality end products were key in the first half. Cazorla was also involved and effective, and behind them ‘last-chance-saloon’ Le Coq offered almost solid protection to our make-shift back-four (Bel-BFG-Cha-Mon). Hull did not pressure him much it has to be said, but he still had a very good performance (except for one or two reckless looking moments, maybe).

Wenger had positioned the hardly tested Campbell and long-term injured Theo on the wings and workaholic Alexis in the centre. There was great fluency up-front and the Hull defence were pulled all over the place. Our Chilean full blooded Cabernet Sauvignon proved to be a very good stand-in for Ollie, as he was able to find a good balance between playing the holding striker role as well as being deadly in the box himself.

However, we were wasteful up-front, and we did not capitalise on all our running and passing the ball round so well early on. Luckily, the BFG, despite having played in all recent games, was strong and fresh enough to out-jump the switched off Hull defence and score a Giroudesque opening goal after twenty minutes.

After that, there were more chances but the rusty Walcott and disappointing (and rusty) Campbell were wasteful when the game should have been put to bed. Our inability to put weakened opposition decisively to the sword – think of our shenanigans against 100% ‘away-games losers’ QPR on Boxing Day – remains a worry.

And I reckon this is what Alexis foresaw from the start and why he was desperate to start the game, even though he had been offered to have a rest. Everyone knows that winning the FA Cup remains our best chance for silverware this season and the red hot chilli pepper does not want to miss out on it. However much Cazorla has improved and Rosicky and Ox offer drive and enthusiasm, without Ollie, Rambo and Pod, and Theo and Joel not having their shooting boots on as yet, we are simply not deadly enough in front of goal.

Sanchez scored a fabulous, dare I say, Henryesque goal to give us all a calm end to the game. And just for this, we should love him.

In summary:

  1. Ospina and the defence did okay but, to be fair, were rarely tested.
  2. Le Coq needs a bit of coaching by the Flam, but might just keep himself in the squad with his recent performances. He adds bite and energy/stamina and finds through-balls easier already than Arteta or Flamini. However, we still need to add an experienced ready-to-roll DM, before anybody starts thinking differently… 🙂
  3. Alexis in the middle could be a long term alternative, especially if we get a Draxler or Reus to play on the left wing (this TW or in the summer). I am starting to believe Admir’s claim that Alexis will turn into the next Henry.
  4. Theo made some good runs, especially in the second half. His first touch and finishing were poor but this surely will improve again. The really good news is that he survived in the game and showed us again what he will bring to the team.
  5. Cazorla and Rosicky played very well together and should be played more often.
  6. Campbell tried very hard and made some good runs – with and without the ball – but his finishing and some of his passing were well below par. I hope he will get more chances to show us what he is capable off.

It was an important win as the FA cup really matters to us. We made it hard for ourselves by not scoring the second goal much earlier in the game, but the job was eventually done by one of the best Wenger signings ever. However much we doubt his ability to push us on to the next level once again, let’s never forget that he can still attract the very best to come to the Home of Football.

 Written by: TotalArsenal.

Full-Strength Back-4 | Theo-Sanogo-Alexis Up-Front? Hammers v Gunners Preview and Line-Up

Super Alexis (and Rosa) save Giroud's blushes... But will there be more damage down the line?
Super Alexis (and Rosa) saved Giroud’s blushes… But will there be more damage down the line?

After yesterday’s bizarre match against The Hoops, in which we almost spectacularly self-imploded, a (on paper) tougher encounter awaits us at the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers are on-Song (and no doubt with Song tomorrow) under the management of Fat Sam, and they will be looking forward to playing us at their own stomping ground.

We are getting good to very good players back every week now, and things are looking up. Unfortunately, Giroud let himself and the team down with a hot-headed action yesterday, which means he will miss out on the next three games. This could turn out to be a very costly mistake by Ollie, and Wenger will have to make the right choice in how to replace him: Welbeck back to the middle or Sanogo to keep our shape and system going?

The Hoops game had been very one-sided until our French senior CF saw red mist. Giroud’s sending off gave QPR an unexpected lease of life; and if Rosicky had not scored his cool goal (after excellent work by Beast of the Match, Alexis) for the all important 2-0 need, it could have finished differently (and it almost did anyway…. Deep sigh).

Enough said about that match: we got the three points and let’s just move on. A win tomorrow would really put the wind in our red and white sails and I have a good feeling about this one. There are four reasons for it:

  1. The team know that the Hammers are in fine form: I prefer our players to be fully focussed rather than underestimate an opponent;
  2. We have a good track record there recently;
  3. Our defence could be at full strength tomorrow for the first time a long while;
  4. We have Alexis, and Theo could start his first game which would be an enormous boost.

For me it is key to stick to our formation and style of play, and I reckon Wenger will start Sanogo. Welbeck really needs a break to rest, refocus and get his form back, as he has been very ineffective for a few games in a row now. Wenger could decide to play Danny in the middle for this one, but my gut feeling tells me he will play Sanogo. The junior French CF is our best copy of Giroud; and, with Alexis and Theo on the wings, he could play a very important part tomorrow.

I saw Sanogo against Dortmund and especially in the first half he played a very effective game. His finishing needs to improve significantly of course, but his link up play is very good for his age, as he reads the game well and acts very quickly and incisively. This is more important than his ability to clinically put the ball in the net in our system. The goals should come from Alexis, Theo, Santi and Rosa, and Sanogo always carries a goal threat himself.

Back-four is sorted; three up-top is sorted (although Wenger could start Welbeck and/or Pod in this one); and I reckon Arsene will play the same three in midfield: Flam, Rosa and Santi.

I reckon with this team we will Gun the Hammers down tomorrow:


Time to start the engine as JB would say. 🙂

Let The Cannon Roar!


Written by: TotalArsenal

Rosicky Start, Santi feeding the WAGs, Same Back-Five? Arsenal v QPR Preview & Line-Up

Quality Performance Required!

Time for Rosa and his smile to return to first team?
Time for Rosa and his smile to return to first team?

The so called easy games always make me a bit nervous. QPR at home might be regarded as an easy one, especially with tough ‘top-four away games’ coming up, but only if we put in a quality, committed performance today will we be able to bag all three points.

Losing two points late on against Pool will have helped the team to remain focussed for this one during the week. Defenders will want to make amends for the badly defended late, late corner. Our midfielders will want to re-establish balance on the pitch, and our attackers will simply want to keep up the good form (scoring 10 goals in three games is pretty impressive by anyone’s standards, although they were helped by a defender or two as well).

I want to see more leadership on the pitch: calm, organisation, structure, focus. Arteta and BFG offer this to some extent, but the former is injured and the latter is looking a bit lost at times (Koz’s imminent return will do him a world of good). As the defence picks itself more or less, it is important to strike the right balance both in midfield and attack, and leadership is a key component in this.

In midfield, I would introduce the now fit again Rosicky. Everybody loves Rosa and he can play a key role as our B2B midfielder today. Tomas can defend (with a fine tackle), can take the ball forward and take on a player if required, AND he has a good eye for the throughball. On top of that, and most importantly, he has experience… and knows how to lead the team; and in a period of four games in just ten days, he is exactly what we need right now. I would play Flamini as our deepest midfielder and Santi or Ox in the hole.

Up-front we have plenty of options, now that Sanogo is also back again. Key is here whether Wenger will want to give one or two players a rest. I have a feeling he will want to play his best team to secure the three points as quickly as possible. If we find ourselves three up after 65 minutes, we might see a few changes, but that is a big IF. So, for me it is WAG up top: Welbeck, Alexis, Giroud, with the aim to take Alexis and Giroud off as soon as possible. I have a feeling Ox, although apparently still fit to play, will get a rest today, but it could also be Santi who gets a well earned rest. We could also see Wenger continuing with Flam as our sole DM and play Rosicky with either Ox or Santi ahead of him.

It is hard to predict what Wenger will do, but here is my predicted line-up:

Ars v QPR Dec 14

I cannot wait to see the boys play again and let’s hope for a good win and brilliant atmosphere at the home of football.


Merry Christmas everyone! 🙂

 images (2)

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Rosicky to the Rescue: Preview and Line-Up v Dortmund

Rosa and Ollie to shake us up!
Rosa to shake us up!


Sometimes it is hard to support the team whilst NOT being in isolation, especially if, like me, you run an Arsenal blog. The sort of stuff I read can make me so angry, but I just have to keep telling myself that everybody has a different way of letting out their frustrations. And losing to the horrible Mancs is always a disappointment, even when we played them off the pitch for most of the game, and are still winning the war over them – rather than this particular battle. Myopia is rife.

This is the bit that irritates me most: the inability by many (of wanting) to notice that we played much better than Manure on the day. We lost through a rush of blood by the goalie and unlucky deflection into our own goal by a dazed Gibbs. The defending after that was risky, and yes, also inadequate, and it cost us a second goal and therefore the match. We were not clinical enough up-front, which is something I have been pointing out for a while now. Jack should have done better with his chances, but at least he is getting now into those situations more; and it is just a matter of time before he starts putting them away for fun. And with Ollie and Theo joining the strike-force now, we should be hopeful of a step improvement being imminent.

It should not come as a surprise that the better playing team did not win – that’s football – shit/Manure happens. In two games we will have caught up with the Mancs again, and from there on we will leave them in our trails. Us is winning ze War.

Let’s live by the principle of TIANG – YANG: There is always next game – Yes always next game! 🙂

And I am very, very lucky to attend it at the home of football. Despite all the winching and moaning and one-dimensional dribble I have been reading on the blogs, I am so looking forward to seeing our boys in action against Dortmund; and to do so with fellow bloggers THMT and Nik is even more special. TIANG –YANG! 🙂

So how are we going to line up against Dortmund? Same back five probably as there are very few alternatives right now. Wenger gambled pre-season on Chambers and Monreal being cover for the FBs AND CBs and let’s face it, it is not working. So we are likely to remain vulnerable at the back, which means we need protection in front of them. I reckon we will see Arteta combined with Aaron again, as both had an improved performance on Saturday. Once more, the DM position is where we should have strengthened during the summer, but hey TIANG -YANG!

In the hole it has to be Rosicky for this one. Everybody Loves Rosicky. And against his former team he will be extra motivated to do well. He has the thrust and ball control of Wilshere and his passing and through-balls are also of a high standard. He will also help out defensively, so a must start for me.

Up-front, I was so hoping Ollie would start, with Alexis on the left and one of Ox or Welbeck on the right. We need our structure back and Ollie holds up the roof. BUT he is not eligible as he was not registered for the CL squad this time round… 😦

My predicted Line-Up:


ars v dortm nov 14 improved

My preferred line-up includes Ollie’s best replacement – in terms of structure to the team and best fit:

Ars v dortmund nov 14 preferred


Written by: TotalArsenal.

Message to all Regular Bloggers on Bergkampesque

Blogging on here is of course free and there are no nasty, intrusive adverts spoiling your blogging experiences. I earn nothing from running this blog and pay for the admin costs myself, which is fine with me.

I have chosen the Willow Foundation as the site’s chosen ‘Charity of the Year’. Bob Wilson, an Arsenal Great, is the president of the foundation and it offers truly fantastic help to those who have become seriously ill at a young age.

Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days. These Special Days enable them and their families to reconnect and refocus on each other while enjoying an activity of their choosing. A day for them, a day about them and a day that will create memories they will all treasure forever. – See more at:

Please make a donation to the Willow Foundation – whatever you can afford. 🙂


Click on ‘Donate’ on the right hand side.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Frank, aka TotalArsenal.

Preview | Line-Up: Jack in hole, Nacho CB, Bellerin RB, Rosicky to support Arteta?

Inter-lull over and six games to go to the next break. Big players missing in all areas of the pitch, but still a more than decent squad to choose from. The mission is clear after allowing the gap with the Chavs go to nine points: start a winning streak by focussing on each and every game like a cup final. The most important game is always the next one as we live by the principle of OGAAT, or OVAAT: one victory at a time. And we will not be struggling much to treat the home against Hull as a cup final, given they were our opponents in the last FA Cup final just five months ago.


I like Steve Bruce. A decent guy: humble and enthusiastic, down to earth and fair – and with the sort of nose that makes you wonder what he sounds like when deep asleep. He is also a survivor and what he has done with Hull is pretty amazing all-round. Diame, Livermore and Huddlestone will form a strong central wall in their anticipated 3-5-2 formation, so I reckon we will need to be strong and disciplined in our midfield. If we crack it we will be fine.

After Arsene’s recent evaluation of Jack’s core strengths, it is clear to me we will find him play in the hole, or their about, today. He said on ‘

“Jack is not a ball-winner. I believe he is more a guy you want to get close to the final third, [if you] keep him deep you take a big part of his efficiency away.

“He is a guy who likes to penetrate when there are many people – he can provoke free-kicks, he can create openings. It would be detrimental to his strengths [to play in a position that] is not his strength.”

I hope fellow Gooners will remember these words as it will aid discussions on where Jack will play in Arsene’s team this season. We need some strengths and discipline behind him though, yet with the ability to give extra support in attack as much as possible. Who can do that well? Rosicky. So, I expect him to play next to Arteta, with both Ox and Flamini kept on the bench for a late cameo, or to be fresh for the Anderlecht game.

With injuries to Koz and Debuchy, and Chambers being suspended, the defence picks itself to a large extent. Maybe Flamini will move next to the BFG (on either side), but I have gone for Nacho, with Gibbs and Bellerin as our FBs.

Ox could start instead of Cazorla but I reckon Arsene will go for experience, and having Ox on the bench is a great weapon at hand. Alexis on the left and the Wel up top and that is it my fine fellow Gooners.

Predicted Line-UP:

Ars v Hull Oct 14

I cannot wait for the game to start. The one benefit of the narrow loss against the Chavs is it will have made us grounded and focussed. So Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners – the League starts again, here, today! Super OGAAT! as 17HT called it this week. 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Ox – Welbz – Alexis to Haunt Terry & Cahill | Rosicky to Nullify Cesc: Preview & Line-Up

What will Arsene have up his sleeve for this one?
What will Arsene have up his sleeve for this one?

So, we’re going into a match that certainly will be marked as one of the most important matches this season; certainly, it is the sternest test we have had to face so far. Most gunners, me included, have doubted our own team’s ability to hold up the current league leaders. However, I have no doubt in my mind that the boys can exceed our expectations and get a good result against the men in blue.

However, the Blues will not go down without a fight, especially with a certain Jose Mourinho involved. Mourinho’s tactical acumen is adapting his team to counter the opposition’s set-up, and this is one of the main reasons for Chelsea’s recent success. This is in direct contrast to Le Prof”s tried and tested formula, regardless of the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

Although we worry about the injuries to our key players, I believe the enforced changes to our line-up will provide some unpredictability to our style of play, and possibly help us against Chelsea. While Chelsea are indeed undefeated, they are not invincible: far from it. Their games against Schalke and Swansea have given us a hint of the brittleness of their defence. If we can sacrifice some of our traditional passing game build-up for some direct-pace approach, Chelsea can be unsettled.

Alexis, Welbz and Ox should focus on using their superior pace against the technically brilliant but slower duo Terry and Cahill. For this game, we should play Ox on the right and Sanchez on the left. While Ivanovic is a good, in-form defender, he is slow on the turn and who else but Alexis to cause him a few headaches with his fancy footwork? Ox is put on the right because Azpelicuta, or however you spell his name, is perhaps the best man-marker other than Koz in the PL. The only way we are going to expose him is through sheer pace.

Matic is a tougher nut to crack. He is usually so solid against good teams. But Chelsea’s match against Schalke has shown opposition teams how to expose him. In that match, he was up against Draxler. Draxler got past him with absolute ease with his sublime skill and forced Matic to foul him countless times. Which is why I want to give Alexis a free role on the left, interchanging positions with Ozil regularly. If anyone will replicate Draxler and finally break Matic, it has to be Alexis.

Another major threat for this match will be the Costa-Fabregas partnership. Costa will be hard to stop but I trust Koz and Per to nullify the threat he brings. Most importantly, we must stop our former talisman. We should deploy Danny to man mark Fabregas. We should deprive him of the ball and that will undoubtedly slow him down, or hopefully shut down – their source from midfield. Or we could drop Ozil and deploy Rosicky to harass and abuse Fab.

Alongside that, I sincerely hope Gibbs and Calum don’t venture too far forwards in this match. We should go for a more cautious approach, and by keeping back Calum and Gibbs we can blunt the pressure given by the Chelsea wingers.

Most importantly though we mustn’t concede within the first five minutes, like we did the last time. And even if we do, I hope we won’t be pushing everyone forward to get an equaliser. Stay calm, pass the ball around and slowly gain momentum from there. This may not be a blueprint for success but if done right, we might be able to salvage a point or even go on to win the game.

Predicted starting XI

Ars v Chavs Oct 14


PS- VCC, if I get the line-up completely right, I’m expecting 20 points for the UMF league 😛

Written by: Shrillex

Bergkampesque has a number of regular bloggers from all over the the world, and at times it might look we are all very familiar. However, we will welcome new bloggers who like to add to our debates in a constructive way with open arms. Just place a comment and join the debate – It’ll be fun. 🙂


Line-Up against MC: Rosicky to start, FlamShere in midfield, Sanogo or Welbeck?

Is it time for Rosicky to start a match?
Is it time for Rosicky to start a match?

Over the last few days, many a Gooner has given us their predicted/preferred line-up for the game against Man City on Saturday. As I far I can tell, nobody has predicted exactly the same line-up, which tells us both that we have a lot of players ‘to play’ with and are still undecided about our best eleven this season.

This is one of the nice things of blogging: predicting and dreaming about line-ups. I have predicted the line up many times but seldom got all eleven correct. This is partly due to Wenger often doing something unexpected AND my inability to keep the personal preferences fully out of the equation.

It looks like Ramsey’s twisted ankle is not too bad, and he might even play on Saturday. As others have noticed, Aaron is not firing on all cylinders at the moment, despite the goals he has bagged already. But he scored the all important second against the Northern Oilers during the Community Shield game in August, and if he is fit, he should play in my opinion. On the other hand, we have a big game in and against Dortmund midweek, and maybe it is better to rest Aaron for that bruising encounter.

It is also not clear whether Ozil is fully fit again. He missed both the Germany games but I have a gut feeling he will play on Saturday. Mesut is another player who has been struggling for match fitness and form a bit, and after two weeks of rest, this is the one for him to shine in and ‘re-launch’ himself.

Many predict a start for the Basle Brace hero, but I am not so sure. I reckon Wenger will start Sanogo as this game might just come a little bit too early for Welbeck. It takes time to settle into a team and get to know your team mates, and there would be a lot of pressure on Danny. I feel he might start against Dortmund instead, away from the home crowd and with some more days of practising with his fellow attackers under his belt. It would also be typically Wenger to persevere a bit longer with Sanogo and place Welbeck on the bench.

Many have Santi starting in the hole, as they assumed Ozil would either not be fit yet, or be played on the left. I am not a big fan of Cazorla in the hole, as he stays too close to the box and does not track back enough. Our midfield and attack are often too disconnected when he plays there, and he has not got the thrust that, for example, Jack or Rosicky have. These two are also better at bossing the midfield, whereas Santi’s strength is playing just outside and inside the box (an ideal formation for him would be 4-4-1-1 with him behind the striker). Personally, I would play Alexis in the hole in each and every game: he is the perfect mix between an attacking midfielder (Cesc) and a nr.10 (Bergkamp) and I would love him to take that role as our first choice; but that is unlikely to happen on Saturday.

I reckon the back five will be unchanged and both Flamini and Wilshere will be played in the ‘2’ of the anticipated 4-2-1-3 formation (rather than 4-1-4-1). I am a big believer of playing Jack in the hole, but he is not ready for it as yet (as we need regular goals from this position, and his final pass needs to improve a bit further). I also liked what I saw of him in the deepest midfield role in the ‘diamond’ against the Swiss: there is a potential Pirlo in Wilshere. So, in order to provide a solid, no nonsense double DM pivot, I reckon we will see both Flamini and Jack ready for battle on Saturday.

That leaves us with the wings. If Ozil is fit, he will start on the left with Alexis on the right (and Cazorla in the middle). If not, it might be Rosicky on the left and Sanchez on the right; or Sanchez on the left and Ox on the right. Whatever it is, it will be a strong attacking line-up, although I am still not too impressed with Ox’s form to warrant a starting place (and I know that many will disagree with me on this). 🙂

Predicted Line-Up:

Arsenal v MC September 14

Preferred Line-Up:

Ars v MC preferred September

The idealist in me would like Welbeck to start, just for the fun of seeing a new toy in action. I would like us to play with a solid midfield against the Oilers, keeping it tight with our passing and giving them very little time to settle. Rosicky is both so experienced and so passionate that I would love him to start. He had a decent game as captain for his nation against Holland and will want more now. Ozil on the right or left: it does not matter to me, as he will have a licence to roam and help out Welbeck and Alexis whenever possible. And yes Alexis in the hole for me. 🙂

What do you think fine fellow Gooners – and what are your predicted ad preferred line-ups now we are getting closer to Saturday?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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Arsenal’s Best 11 Players for FA Cup Final


The good news is that Oz Gunner will produce a match preview later this week, but I thought it would be good to discuss our best starting eleven today. Just for a bit of fun.

Injuries have possibly held us back from winning the title this season, or at least from getting very close to doing so, but luckily we can pick from a strong squad for Saturday’s FA Cup final against Hull City.

I have been thinking about our strongest eleven for the Cup final, whilst also taking into account things like potential departures of players and playing history in this competition.

I reckon our best eleven players for the final are:

Goal Keeper

Fabianski: yes, it would be a good and necessary experience for Szczesny, but I reckon we owe it to the older Pole to play in the final. He has got us there with some fine performances; but most importantly, Fabianski is a safer pair of hands when it comes to keeping his concentration for 90 (or more) minutes. I expect us to dominate the game for large parts and for Hull to focus on set pieces, and Szczesny has a knack of going in kamikaze in these sort of games…. boredom is not good for him. So Fab for me.

Left Back

Gibbs for me. I know some fellow BKers have their doubts about Kieran but for me he is one of the most exciting prospects in the whole Arsenal squad. A total athlete who offers everything you need in a full back, and he is very close to breaking through. The older he gets to stronger he will become and he needs to play in this final to win his first medal.

Centre Backs

Mertesacker – Koscielny. Both have their qualities and limitations but, like a perfect marriage, they get the best out of each other when played together.

Right Back

Jenkinson could do with the experience, but Sagna should start: one of my favourite Gunners and an absolute rock for us this season. It looks like he is leaving which would feel like a step back again; but we need his experience and hunger on Saturday, and he also deserves to depart with an FA cup medal in his suitcase.

Double DM-pivot

Flamini – Ramsey. I could live with Arteta instead of Flamini, but if Huddlestone is playing for Hull I want us to have a strong physical presence that will keep the former Spud quiet, and I reckon Matthieu is the man for this. I also believe Ramsey will be able to support the attack more if we play the Frenchman rather than the Spaniard next to him. The only risk is Flamini getting hot-headed and send off, but surely Wenger will coach him on this.

Ramsey is a given: he is our engine and our connector, who makes our team not two parts of defence and attack but one machine.

Central Attacking Midfielder – ‘Man in the hole’

Ozil of course, although…. Four things are important for the hole position: stamina, creativity, running with and without the ball and ability to give shape to our team. Long term, for me, the best person for this is SJW. Jack is best at giving shape and structure to the team, even better than Ozil – his performances in January were simply awesome. But Jack will not be fit enough to start, I reckon, and he will need a lot of games to get back to his very best again. So Ozil it is.

‘Holding’ Central Forward

Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, Ollie. Giroud is the obvious choice as nobody is better in our team at being the pivot in our attack: allowing the midfielders and fellow attackers to come forward and join the attack, creating opportunities for others and keeping defenders busy. Would I want OG to be a better finisher? Of course, but we need a lot more from Giroud in Wenger’s current system, and boy does he deliver this for us (again…. after a blip a few months ago).

Left ‘Wing’ – Right ‘Wing’

Aahhhh, it is a bit more difficult to choose for these positions. Without Theo and Ox (game comes to early, I reckon), we do not have a lot of choice for the wing. The two positions will have to be filled out of Cazorla, The Pod, and Rosicky. With Ramsey’s – and to a lesser extent Flamini – pressing and running from the centre, Ozil willingness to create space and do ‘wingplay’, Giroud’s readiness to spread himself about andthe support of the full backs, I believe we can get by without proper wingers in the team.

I am not a big fan of playing Pod and Cazorla together but reckon Wenger will go for these two on Saturday. I would prefer to start Rosicky, as he always personifies what playing for Arsenal is all about in the cup games. He has the drive and experience to motor the team on and he adds that little bit of speed and penetration the other two lack to some extent.

Pod has been in fine finishing form lately, and I would just about give him the nod over Cazorla for Saturday.

So my ideal team for the Cup final is:

FA cup final Arsenal line up

What do you think, FFG’s?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Be Kind to Yourself 🙂