Arteta/Rosicky DM pivot, Zelalem in hole, Ox & Ryo on Wings? Coventry preview

FA Cup 4th Round



This is not your usual preview, where most of us are familiar with the opposition, their players, and their style. So, bear with me if I spend a little longer on what we might expect. I asked for this assignment because CoventryCity is my home town club, and despite their well documented off-field problems, I still follow their results and progress keenly.

I would like to open this report up with this link for an insight into their manager’s self awareness, and hopefully through that, allow you a more rounded respect for our opponents on Friday night?

So, from the above I think Coventry will play with the freedom that will allow them to be at their very best, even though a victory is very unlikely. That is a dangerous combination, if the Arsenal players simply think they only have to turn up and they are in the 5th round. Coventry will play to the 95th minute and if there is the slightest chink in our application, they will pounce.

Here are a few players to look out for from the team I expect will play for the Sky Blues:

Franck Moussa – Belgian youngster who plays as an attacking midfielder, and scored last weekend with a 35yd rasper in injury time. Very popular with the City fans.

Carl Baker – Now the senior pro in the midfield. Plays out wide, with pace. Skilful; takes the penalty shots, and has got the most assists, with 8 this term.

Cyrus Christie – Young, athletic left back. Likes to get forward a lot. Pacy with it.

Leon Clarke – He is the senior striker of City’s front pair. He scored 10 goals from 14 appearances last season. He is their leading scorer with 18 this season. However, there is talk of a transfer to Wolves, but as they are out of the Cup, I guess he will want to play this game before any move is completed?

Denzel Slager – Recently signed late entry for a start.

Joe Murphy – A very capable ‘keeper on his day, and has been with City for the last 3 seasons. Has made more saves this season than our Chezzer!

Predicting the Arsenal line up is tricky, given surprise injury recoveries, but this will be something like it. They will rest a few seniors, but there will be a solid core:

Ars v Cov

Subs: Szcz; Sagna; Frimpong; Ozil; Santi; Eisfeld; Podolski.

It is a youthful midfield that will not last the 90, but by having Ryo ahead of Gibbs means that latter can monitor the dangerous Baker. In a more 1-4-1-4-1 formation, I think Rosicky will do the prompting, feeding Zelalem to find the key passes to both wide men. Good crosses will suit Bendtner’s better heading ability? Ox and Rosicky can interchange to provide another threat in the central area.

Coventry line up will be something like this:

L.Clarke – D Slager


Moussa – Fleck – Baker


Christie – Webster – D.Seabourne – Adams



Subs will include: Midfielder Adam Barton and J. Clarke, defender.

Callum Wilson – Usually the pacy young partner to Leon Clarke, but he is injured and misses the game. Big loss for them.

How the game will be won or lost:

Overall, Coventry score regularly, 55 this term in League 1, with 45 against.

I think they will play the two up front and really go for it. It may be tight in midfield, but they can break equally quickly, and Moussa capable of firing in from any range.

It does mean they will be vulnerable if they go to open, but it should be an exciting game. Their manager will expect them to put in a good effort, so if they lose it will not be because anybody shirked their responsibility.

Well, possession, as always, will be key but it is not the whole story. Coventry will play on the counter and hope to win the ball in midfield. They have pace down both wings, so balls played inside to the dangerous Moussa means any lack of concentration will be punished. With the team above, Arsenal should have the numerical advantage in midfield and I expect them to win this area comfortably enough, but with Ryo on the left, and Ox and the overlapping Jenkinson, on the right, I think less will be played through the middle … unless of course they do play the full senior squad in midfield?

Personally I do not think it will be necessary. I think our strong defence will be too good for the likes of Slager and Clarke. Moussa is a bit of a maverick, so best not let him get any clear shots on goal. Ox and Rosicky helping out Arteta to stop Fleck from getting the ball through middle, and Gibbs is probably the better option (over Monreal) to handle Baker’s pace. Jenks will have to be quick on the other side if he gets forwards himself, but hopefully Ox will be on that side to help out.

Zelalem is my quirky option to start. It should be a game that suits his passing game a treat, and with Ozil on the bench, it can be rectified if he looks like getting overwhelmed. Both Rosicky and Vermaelen are subject to their fitness. With a good break before our next game Koscielny is the obvious replacement in defence. If Arteta is not available, then Wilshere may have to partner Frimpong or Yennaris, as both played in the Under 21’s last time? Therefore if Arteta is fit, I think Rosicky’s better defensive work holds Santi out? Whilst Ozil could start and have a real influence on the game from the start, I think they will save him for midweek?

Zelalem up against Fleck might be a different challenge? I can see Podolski coming on, or even starting, and the switch will take place with Bendtner around the 70th minute. The rest will be score dependent, barring injuries.

Goals should come from Bendtner’s heading at set pieces, and Rosicky and Ox should have plenty of opportunities too. I do not see us keeping a clean sheet, but I think 3-1 to the Gunners, even if it will be late on before it is wrapped up. I will repeat, Coventry will keep it going right up until the final whistle.

So remember we play Southampton on Tuesday and Coventry are a League 1 side:

Q.1 Would you rest some of our key players? If so how many?


Q.2 Who from the YouthAcademy would you like to see get some game time?


Q.3 What is your score prediction?

Written by: Gerry

Time for Ryo, Eisfeld, Hayden and Olsson to shine: WBA preview

We discussed the options for tomorrow’s line up more than enough in yesterday’s post, and to be frank, I have not got much of a clue who Arsene will play against WBA. Arsene is Arsene and he will do what he thinks is right. I have a horrible feeling he’ll play a lot of regulars and it might backfire on us; the nightmare of Bradford still lingers on in my mind.

I don’t care much whether we go through or not, but I just want us to play good football and give some youngsters a proper chance to shine.

Some interesting points came out of yesterday’s post responses:

  1. Quite a few fellow bloggers don’t believe that Koz and Vermaelen should play together; that either should be combined with Mertesacker, or even Sagna, rather than play as our duo CB’s. Although, I agree that Mertesacker is our first choice CB – a point I have been making for the best part of two years – I still believe that Koz and Vermaelen can play really well together, and I feel strongly that they should start in tomorrow game against WBA;
  2. The cyber-room was also split about who should ideally play as our double-DM pivot, and I agree with the observation by some fellow bloggers that it’s wonderful to have options for these crucial positions now. I, for one, would love to see Arteta and Flamini start a few games together, especially in away games or games against fellow top-teams. This is not to say that I do not rate Ramsey: the absolute opposite is true. Ramsey is doing great and adds a dimension nobody else is capable of offering at the moment. Against WBA I am hoping wise-head Arteta will start with a youngster next to him – either Hayden or Olsson should get a chance as a starter tomorrow;
  3. The other points of discussion were about who should play up front – Akpom or Bendtner – who should play in the hole – Eisfeld, Arteta- and who should play on the wing. The latter seems to become our problem-area this season, with Cazorla, Podolski, Ox, and now also Theo, out injured for significant periods already. We will now need Gnabry to stay fit when we play Swansea and Napoli, and I would not be surprised if he will not be risked tomorrow. This should mean that Ryo will get a start and I hope he will do well. I am also hoping to see Eisfeld, in the hole or on the wing.

Other than seeing us play some good football with passion and focus, and a few youngsters doing well, I am keen to see whether our ‘second string’ – if indeed Wenger gives most of our first team players a rest, which is definitely not a given – can play in the same shape and style as we are now getting used to with the current ‘first teamers’.

I am particularly interested in whether Akpom or Bendtner can play the ‘Giroud-Holding-Striker’ role effectively, and whether Eisfeld will be able to shine in the hole, if indeed he gets a chance there tomorrow.

Hoped for, but not predicted, line-up:

WBA team

All in all, plenty to look forward to. 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Indonesia Dream Team v Arsenal pre-view: Miquel, Ryo, Gnabry, Eisfeld to shine?

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s friendly against ‘Indonesia Dream Team’: nothing is a better antidote against the poisonous Torture Window shenanigans than watching a game of football involving our boys. It will only be temporary relief, and as per the nature of early season friendlies, it probably won’t be much of a game to watch, but at least the ball will be rolling again and we can watch eleven Arsenal shirts in action for the first time in two month.

This is the 24-man squad for the Asia Tour (thanks JM for providing the data):
GK: Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny, Damian Martinez

DF: Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Ignasi Miquel, Bacary Sagna

MF: Mikel Arteta, Ryo, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Serge Gnabry, Kris Olsson, Thomas Eisfeld, Chuks Aneke, Gedion Zelalem

FW: Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Chuba Akpom

The following players did not travel to Indonesia:

i) Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal (extended rest due to their involvement in the Confederations Cup)
ii) Yaya Sanago (still with France at the Under-20 World Cup)
iii) Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Frimpong (injured/recovering)
iv) Gervinho (announced as “sickness” … or something more ?…. Linked with Marseille, Roma)
v) Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva (no work permit to play for Arsenal yet?)
vi) Chamakh, Bendtner, Santos, CY Park (on sales)

I have not got a clue which team Arsene will select for tomorrow’s friendly, which will be shown by ESPN at Sunday 2.45 p.m. If I had my way, I would start with a strong team, but give at least some of the youngsters a chance to show us how much further they have developed last season. I would love to see more of Gnabry, Miquel, Eisfeld, Olsson, Aneke, Zelalem and Akpom during this tour.

I don’t think Arsene will add more than two or three top players to the team this summer, and with a number of players who were regarded as surplus to requirement now departed – with more to follow – there is a good opportunity for some of the above mentioned youngsters to play themself into the squad for next season.

Your guess is as good as mine as in who is going to start in tomorrow’s team. This is a time for experimenting and it will be interesting to see how we line up, in terms of formation, and who will start/ play where. No doubt, Arsene will make many substitutions and it will be hard to pull any big conclusions from Sunday’s encounter.

I expect us to be in with the familiar 4-2-1-3 (4-2-3-1) formation and would like Arsene to start with the following players:

Let's attack with speed and invention with proper wingers, Wilshere and Eisfeld mastering midfield, and Giroud playing the holding striker role.
Let’s attack with speed and invention: with proper wingers, Wilshere and Eisfeld mastering midfield, and Giroud playing the ‘holding striker’ role, whilst benefiting himself from proper wing-service.

How would like Arsenal to line-up for tomorrow’s friendly?

Enjoy the game fine fellow Gooners! 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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