Unai, Wake Up! … Xhaka + Özil + Mhki = Disastrous Defending

My take on the pre-season is now focused on what we can expect from the coming season based on what we saw, how we ended last season and what improvements, if any, we have made.

Summary of last season is that we had a very effective “new manager bump” which put us in pole position to qualify for the Champions League. However with a typically Arsenally (what we used to refer to as Spursy) finish to the season we blew it in what I think was pretty spectacularly bad fashion. There were fundamental problems:

  1. We couldn’t defend properly and conceded way too many poor goals. My humble opinion on this is that as bad as our defenders appeared to play, we just defended horribly as a team. Our pressing during the first part of the season was quite good but after March, it was amateurish. We had no one who could hold the ball and relieve pressure. We had also signed what I think is a very good keeper which made it all the more frustrating.
  2. We weren’t direct going forward and (as usual) had no plan B if teams parked the bus. Our playmakers (Ozil, Miki and Iwobi) failed fairly miserably as a group. When Ramsey finally got into the team, he offered directness and we played better. When he got hurt, we were done.
  3. We had no heart, balls whatever word you want to use. A team devoid of leadership and such a weak mentality, I thought we were Spurs during the 2000’s!!! Seriously though, both us and Manure were horribly weak mentally and the final positions reflected that.

So I was looking to Unai to change three things really. Mentality, mentality and mentality.

On to pre-season. We won our first few games, beat Bayern and went 2-0 ahead against Madrid. I wrote in my match report I wondered if we’d really turned the corner or if we’d revert to type.

We did the latter. Gave that match away, played really quite well against Lyon (apparently, I didn’t see it) and lost that one, then lost against Barca after I thought, a fairly competent first half performance and a 1-0 lead. I know it’s pre-season but what have we learned?  Apparently not a lot. Here are my concerns with the manager for the coming season.

  1. We still aren’t defending well as a team. I don’t see that has been addressed. It strikes me as strange that at 2-0 ahead against a 10 man Real, then our most experienced defender gets 2 yellows in 5 mins. We had opportunities to kill the game off. We go in 2-0 up at half time, then he brings off Willock and leaves Ozil to defend ahead of our full back. We coughed it up and if Ascencio hadn’t got hurt, would have probably lost. And we still had 2 golden chances to win the game at the end but failed to take them. We lose to Lyon after a couple of marginal decisions and AMN not having the greatest of games. Why? If he’s not motivated after pulling the shirt on, who is? (I know he’s had some problems in his personal life so I’m giving him the benefit). Where’s the manager in this? Then we lose to Barca after being ahead 1-0 at half time because again we take off our best midfielder and put Ozil to defend our right and Miki to defend the left. No wonder we aren’t happy with how they played. They can’t defend !!!!!!!!!! Does Unai know that?
  2. Granit Xhaka. I still don’t put Mustafi in this category, Granit stands alone for me. Maybe I’m mistaken but a holding midfielder needs strength, agility, speed and awareness. Xhaka has none of these. His tackling is poor, he gives away loads of free kicks and possession because he’s poorly positioned, misread the situation or just gets outmuscled, outfought or outrun. Compared him to his top 5 peers. Kante, Jorginho (who’s not great either), Fernandinho, and basically any of the Liverpool or Spuds midfield. Not only would he not get a look in at any of them, he wouldn’t even start at United. Not to mention Wolves, Everton, Leicester. What does he do well? He strikes a ball and makes the occasional sublime pass. But I see the same Xhaka as last season and for those of you that know me, what Emery does with Xhaka was going to define how I see his second season. I have been a fan and advocate of Emery since he started and firmly believed he should be given a year, which he has been. I just don’t understand his persistence with Xhaka.
  3. MENTALITY!!! We are soft. No one expects us to take the lead and hold it. Pre-season has just re-iterated that and in any sport, winning becomes a habit. So does losing and weak mental performance. I know Klopp said you can’t become a big winner without losing big first. Hope he’s right because if so, we’ll win the quadruple this year !!! But I’m not holding my breath. Liverpool, City and Spuds are miles ahead of us in this category. And it’s squarely down to their managers.

In trying to be balanced, I must say I’m completely impressed with our transfer window. Hopefully we’ll sign a central defender which will make it an 11/10 instead of the 8.5/10 it is now. I also believe the signings we have made, although not defensive, will help with our ball retention and therefore indirectly with our defending as a team.

Pepe and Ceballos look like they’ll be tremendous signings and there’s more than one way to defend. So let’s see what Unai has planned. I’m concerned we haven’t signed a CB and if Xhaka starts and Miki and Ozil are deployed in front of our full backs, I see a frustrating season ahead.

Please prove me wrong Unai and Granit !!!!!!!!!

Mike M

99 Responses to Unai, Wake Up! … Xhaka + Özil + Mhki = Disastrous Defending

  1. Rotimi says:

    Let Xhaka start in first 11 and let’s see how it goes.. if he persists with losing possession and our defence keeps getting exposed, throw in Willock in his place. Emery can and will do it. I’m s just the right timing that’s needed. He needs to protect these young guys too and I also feel he’s not being a boss enough to make certain decisions but it’s just one year, so let’s see

  2. LBG says:

    Mike
    Thanks for your carefully worded and balanced assessment this morning. ( If only we could guarantee Dick reads such views!!)
    Agree absolutely regarding the right PMA, and Xhaka’s part in that deficiency in the squad for three seasons at least.
    Crux for me is threefold. Can the management team seal for us a new dominant CB ( Rugani would be my choice, before we get the talent that I believe Saliba is!), and Tierney?
    Can Freddie force his views, drive and leadership into Dick’s thinking regarding that change in “mentality”desperately required.
    Can we offload incompetents and free loaders to change that mentality.
    As I said last week I see and want my glass to be 3/4 full. I travel in old age hopefully, and expect my Club to make me smile this season.
    COYG.

  3. RC78 says:

    Good analysis – can’t disagree. You can’t play Mkhy and Ozil together and one shouldn’t ever play Xhaka… I d like to see Chambers – Torreira in the middle of the park and then we could entertain the idea of playing Mkhy or Ozil or Ceballos.
    Imagine – we re gonna have a front three composed of Pepe, Laca, Auba – we need to make sure defensively, we re strong so we can make the most of that lethal trio up front.

  4. LBG says:

    Today in 2012, Santi became a Gunner!
    Gratias Santi, for making us smile.

  5. LBG says:

    Jenko and his sheets have gone. Good luck Gooner!

  6. Sue says:

    Jenko has departed.. good luck at Forest!!
    It’s the end of an era… first Koscielny, now Jenko….

  7. jimson biono says:

    I’m 100% agree with ur analysis, but will unai by any chance read ghost? Cos my big problem is not even mustafi as claim only problem we have is central defense which is granix xhaka, this doing nothing in that team, compare with other top team like city and Chelsea, anyway, , u’v said it all, let’s wait nd see

  8. Sue says:

    Everton have reportedly made a 30m bid for Iwobi……bloody hell!!! 😂

  9. Pete says:

    Thanks for the post Mike.

    Oh for a real midfield general. You couldn’t get a much better leader than Vieira. But then Santi played differently and added an extra layer of artistry albeit without the physical presence.

    Most have said it will take 3 transfer windows for Emery to get the squad together to play the way he wants. Well this summer is No.2, I do hope we don’t have to wait until No.3 to at least start working on the defence.

    Only a day to go now and we’ve been linked with some decent defenders … my fingers are crossed. I do expect a surprise or two in the next 30 hours, let’s hope its a good one!

  10. LB says:

    I wonder what the record is for the amount of Christmases that can come at once?

  11. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Mike, and Rasp for yesterday.

    Having missed yesterdays post I can kind of comment on both from my own perspective.

    I found Mustaffi’s stats interesting yesterday. They would seem to suggest a defender that has a lot going for him but needs more help in the team around him.

    Stats don’t tell you everything you see with your eyes and he still needs to tighten up a bit on knowing where opposition players are in the box, and probably needs to be a bit more decisive and ruthless in taking charge and knowing when to clear the ball when we are in real trouble. Also he probably needs to learn a bit more about when not to go to ground in a tackle and when to shepherd the player more.

    I also agree with all those that highlighted the lack of overall balance in the side and our defending as a team. Could it be that Mustaffi is somewhat on the wrong receiving end of a poor team balance and poor defensive input elsewhere in the side? I have to wonder if the lack of a proper holding midfielder has hampered our CD’s and Mustaffi to some degree. That brings us to your point on Xhaka Mike.

    I haven’t hidden my opinion that our side has been unbalanced for years now, and this has a knock on effect to everything else. I feel the strongest teams in recent years tend to set up with a back 4, proper holding midfield player, a box to box midfielder, and an attacking CM all behind a front 3 with 2 wingers / wing forwards either side of a mobile number 9.

    I am sure you know from what I have said before that I agree that Xhaka is neither one thing or another in our team. He is not a top HM, BTB player or ACM. He has a role somewhere at either a lower level or anther league that accommodates his lack of mobility but good passing range.

    The other thing I have said before, with what should be our new set up, is that with natural pace and width from proper wing forwards that there is less reliance for the FB’s to provide this at all times. This means that the FB’s can choose more wisely when to overlap and support attacking moments so can be more part of a proper back 4 still.

    In recent seasons our FB’s, due to the lack of those natural pacey wider players, have been camped so permanently high that we have actually been defending as a back 2 against counter-attacks. How often have we seen Mustaffi have to bomb out wide to cover the absent FB and try and cut off the counter-attack thus leaving us with 1 CD in isolation.

    Those 2 factors alone of having a proper defensive midfield screen and having FB’s not both caught out forwards so often, that we haven’t had for a few seasons, should see us defending so much better as a team.

    Again a lot to me comes down to that poor balance that, hopefully, is being addressed this season. Lets hope we have a proper HM in place and that there is no more shoe-horning of central midfielders into wider positions from now on, and we have specialist players, even if younger, in those positions.

  12. fred1266 says:

    Chambers can’t go into midfield now because that mean wre have to play mustafi although his stats good still don’t want him no where near the side at the moment I hope CDM will be willock torreira and CB are chambers sokratis

  13. fred1266 says:

    noooooooooooo am done with this shit

    I will miss u Carl

  14. fred1266 says:

    Sue why u doing this to me

  15. Sue says:

    Awww Fred, I’ve just read Jenko’s message… I have a lump in my throat… what a genuine gooner!!!

  16. allezkev says:

    Interesting post Mike, I said I’d give Unai 2 years and that hasn’t changed. He’s had an enormous job on his hands trying to change the culture of our squad, players he can’t shift, a January window with no funds, injuries to arguably our best two defenders midway through last season, losing Ramsey when we could least afford to at the sharp end of the season, those given the job to replace him patently not up to it.
    Pre season is what it is, a PR exercise, let’s see how we handle a difficult trip to St James’ Park with all its assorted baggage before we lose heart.
    The new signings are encouraging, the kids are exciting, see where we are in May…

  17. Rasp says:

    I hope Koscielny reads that message from Jenko and is suitably humbled. Best of luck Carl …

  18. allezkev says:

    A touch of class from Carl…

    Strikingly different from our ex captain…

  19. LB says:

    Very classy.

  20. Mike M says:

    Morning all. Thanks Rasp for tidying up that ramble !! Appreciate everyone being understanding of the fact that I’m not being critical or negative, just pointing out what troubles me about the things we’ve all seen before that we don’t want to continue seeing.
    Rotimi, I would agree with you but for a couple of reasons, mainly there’s nothing new about Xhaka under UE as under AW that i can see. Can we afford to wait a few games? As Kev, Pete and LBG say, it’s going to take time and as you point out, our other option is probably Joe (although I sill rate Guendouzi very highly) and there’s no guarantee of success with him or anyone else. I just think Xhaka has had plenty of time already.
    As far as Koscielny goes (and I’ve said before that my son will back me up on this), he typifies everything that was wrong under AW in the last 8 years or so. It’s hard to define but for those of you that are surprised at his leaving antics, I’m not.
    Jenko you’ll be missed !! A true fan if not our greatest player !!
    Santi’s 7th anni. What a player. One of the few AW signed that had the mentality and talent to take us forward. Tragedy !!!
    Last. Spuds. if they pull off Dybala or Coutinho, or God forbid both, life may become quite unbearable.

  21. LBG says:

    My last comment on Kos.
    Why wouldn’t anyone be inclined to believe his statement that at the very least he has been hard done by, and at worst betrayed. Nine years. Unbelievable injury that strictly most do not return to football from. Promise that he could leave and then if he didn’t a new contract would be dependent on a massive cut and only on games played. Mustafi and Sokratis or much reduced Nacho as partners. Three at the back, four at the back! No Hector and more significantly Holding. Xhaka!!
    I think the guy was a bloody saint, and even if JUST wearing the new shirt might have been more sensitive, I will not be convinced by any of the “horror” or Wrighty comments. Good luck and thank you, Kos!

  22. LBG says:

    Sorry Wobbly!
    Your consolation would be your money could fund the one massive hole we still currently have, and just think you can pal up with Theo again.
    Do it!

  23. Rasp says:

    We’re now being ‘strongly’ linked with David Luiz … really??

  24. LBG says:

    And Umtiti….roll on the closed window!

  25. fred1266 says:

  26. fred1266 says:

    Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes has reportedly pocketed €15m during this current transfer window due to a clause in his contract with the club. The clause states that for every bid in excess of €35m that comes in for the player, he will be compensated with €5m regardless of him being sold or not. At present Sporting have received 3 bids worth over that figure with 2 from Manchester United and one from Premier League rivals Spurs.

  27. LBG says:

    Welbeck to Watford. I’d still keep away from Deeney, Danny, you might catch something….rabies or similar.

  28. Sue says:

    Zaha has handed in a transfer request!
    Oh jeez David Luiz…. no thank you!!!
    Good luck to Dat guy Welbz 👍

  29. Aaron says:

    Mike,

    Thank you for the thoughtful and balanced post.

    Did not the Arsenal hire a sports psychologist to work on that area between our players’ ears?

    The modern player is quite different from those of the past. They all look like rich buddies in some spoiled children’s fraternity. Oh, that’s right they are.

    GoonerB, agree completely with your analysis.

    Been smashing my fists against the ground for a long time on this Xhaka, Miki, Mesut and any other similar type of player to plug in.

    Can you imagine having to defend with those players in front of you? They are offensive minded and always have been, it’s why they were bought.

    Shift 2 of those 3 out for a few games and see what happens. My guess would be that errors by the defense would be reduced greatly. See 1st half of Barca game for the possibilities.

    Come on Raul-get us a proper defender before the window closes on our season!

  30. allezkev says:

    Seems that any deal for Rugani is dead…

  31. RA says:

    A very good Post, Mike, and thank you for that.

    It’s an odd thing how closely football reflects the real world, at least in the way that it tries to squeeze a square peg into a round hole, by which I mean Xhaka being the square peg and Arsenal being the round hole.

    Kozzer was a terrific player for us at a time when we have been, bye and large, pretty poor — and without him it could have been a lot worse.

    I have not seen the video which has upset many Arsenal fans, but I understand he was first shown in an Arsenal shirt, which he took off and dumped, and then proudly put on the Bordeaux shirt.

    I guess it was a stage managed attempt to show how happy he was to leave Arsenal, and play for his new club. Nothing much wrong with that because — other than players like Carl Jenko — most footballers are professional ‘guns for hire’ and any display of chest thumping to show their allegiance to their current club is quickly forgotten and on to a similar display for the next club.

    Just a little lacking in taste, and In the real world that could be seen as being a ‘turn coat’.

    But this is football we are talking about. Let’s just shrug — and move on.

  32. allezkev says:

    LBG, I’ve just heard that Dominic Thompson has been sold to Brentford!!!

  33. fred1266 says:

    Imagine luiz and mustafi in defense wtf

    Why don’t we just play guendouzi there

  34. fred1266 says:

    No allezkev u better be kidding one day and we lost 2 player I like am done see you all on Sunday

  35. RA says:

    If we really do get David Luiz it will throw up some interesting possibilities for Arsenal fans.

    First — how the hell will we be able to tell the difference betwixt him and Guendouzi?

    When the fans get worked up with some bad stuff, at least Douzi and Luiz will each will be able to say “it weren’t me Guvnor, it were the other bloke.”

    On the other hand, if Mustafi stays with us, as seems likely, Gooners will be tearing their hair out trying to decide who is the worst CB at the club, and it will be hard to decide who they hate most?

    Like Sue, I think we should all cross our fingers, eyes, legs and any other encumbrances we may have, that Luiz to Arsenal does not happen.

    I am sure that looks very fetching on you, Sue, but the rest of us could look like we are trainee referees! 😳

  36. RA says:

    That is terrible news, Kev, I( really rate Thompson and he is another Gooner bred lad, and if I remember correctly he signed a professional contract last summer.

    Making way for Tierney maybe?

  37. Rasp says:

    On that basis … we might as well sign Chaka Khan as a CB Redders 😂

  38. Rasp says:

    …. only she’s a bit on the short side ….

  39. LBG says:

    Allezkev
    Disappointed if finalised but perhaps guarantees Tierney. Means we are also likely to keep Nacho and Kola. Thompson will appear again in future. Hope we have a sell on clause like Manure!

  40. allezkev says:

    Chaka Khan reads the game really well though Rasp

  41. allezkev says:

    Very disappointed LBG, I had high hope for the lad, and yeah as you and Red say that seems to point towards closing out a deal for Tierney…

  42. RA says:

    Chaka and Sue would make a formidable CB pairing, Rasper, you are a genius! I feel for you, I think I love you.

    [Umm, I would hate those words to be misunderstood, you understand, but I am not a big fan of Chaka, and they are the only words I seem to remember from one of her songs.] 🤪

  43. Sue says:

    Omg where did these Luiz rumours come from? ?
    Just put Sky sports on the TV, to see it flashing along the bottom of the screen, that he’s training away from the team as he wants to come to us!!! WTH!!! He’s 32 & half donkey! The amount of times I’ve seen him just stand there & watch the ball fly past him into the back of the net!!! Him, Mustafi & Mike Cena together… Sheesh!!!
    I think he only wants the move so he can compare hair products with Guendouzi! Oh he really isn’t the CB I was hoping we’d go for….
    The only thing that would help my mood, is if we were to get Zaha….

  44. Sue says:

    Omg he’s crooning again…. 😜

  45. RA says:

    Fred,

    I recognised you immediately — but who’s the guy with Douzi’s hair?

  46. Rasp says:

    😂 allezkev

  47. allezkev says:

    Eddie to Leeds I’m hearing, on loan, he’ll do ok up there, big club, great fans, a good gig, he should develop nicely….

  48. Mike M says:

    My last on Koscielny. He didn’t really “dump” or discard the shirt that I can see on the twitter pages. If he did it’s not good. I also think he was a fine player for us, don’t get me wrong. It’s just there was always something missing for me, especially as Captain (along with a few others to be fair). Almost like as long as he did his job, all was good. But it wasn’t and his era was one of the least successful for Arsenal since the late 80’s. I wanted to see him try to inspire more and I think that’s been a problem at Arsenal for a while now. Good luck to him.

  49. RA says:

    Kev,

    It seems Emery cannot make up his mind : he was going to let Eddie go on loan — then he said he played so well in the pre-seasons that he wanted him to stay and be a first team squad player — then he lets him go to Leeds??

    I like someone who knows his own mind — but that does not seem to be our coach!

  50. RA says:

    As I said, Mike, I clearly made the caveat that I did not see the video, I was relying on a sports cast from the BBC in a round up of various transfers.

    You know how unreliable they are.

  51. RA says:

    This is how Kozzer responded to the criticism of his actions:

    I did not disrespect Arsenal,’ says Koscielny after transfer row

    ‘You should be ashamed for the way you’ve left the club after nine years,’ tweeted former Arsenal striker Ian Wright.

    FORMER ARSENAL CAPTAIN Laurent Koscielny insisted Wednesday that he had nothing but respect for the Gunners despite being told he “should be ashamed” of himself over the way his unveiling at Bordeaux was handled.

    The 33-year-old penned a “rolling contract” with the French side on Tuesday but enraged Arsenal fans when a video showed him stripping off the red and white shirt of the London side to reveal the blue top of Bordeaux.

    “You should be ashamed for the way you’ve left the club after nine years,” tweeted former Arsenal striker Ian Wright.
    “Got what you wanted and still trying to have a dig. Hope it’s worth it in the long run.”

    However, the French international, who made clear his desire for a move last month when he refused to travel on Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States, said he meant no disrespect.
    “I have the greatest respect for Arsenal,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
    I showed my respect on the pitch. As far as my transfer is concerned, that’s not for me to discuss. I am now at Bordeaux with a match quickly approaching.”

    Koscielny joined Arsenal in 2010 from Lorient and played 353 games for the London side, winning the FA Cup three times.

    He was named club captain at the start of last season following the retirement of Per Mertesacker but made just 17 league appearances after sitting out the first half of the campaign as he recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon.

    When the chance to move to Bordeaux arose, I weighed up the pros and cons. I thought it was a good choice,” he added on Wednesday.

    “I am very happy to be at this historic club.”
    The new Ligue 1 season begins this weekend with Bordeaux starting their campaign against Angers.

    No smoke without a fire??

    As I said previously – Shrug and move on.

  52. Sue says:

    Mike… from the comments I’d read about the video of LK’s unveiling, I was expecting him to rip the Arsenal shirt off, stomp on it, spit on it, even burn it.. it was nothing like it.. he just took it off….. didn’t chuck it on the floor… a big deal was made of it…. unbelievable!! Crazy!!

  53. allezkev says:

    I know what you mean Red, maybe Unai was hedging his bets with Eddie until the Pepe deal was done and John Jules has signed he’s got a young striker who can play in the cups…
    Then there’s Balogun whose coming through and who might get a run out in the League Cup?

  54. RC78 says:

    David Luiz is good but not much of an improvement fron our current crop. I think we should go for Tarkowski or Dias if we can’t get Upamecano. Mustafi needs to be offloaded then and Mavro loaned out

  55. RA says:

    That’s a fair point, Kev,

    I guess it is a matter of balancing the available chances/minutes when compared with the best talent (Laca/Auba/Pep etc) and the talent/wishes of the young player.

    It cannot be easy — but I hope that we get a top quality LB, or Thompson would have drawn the short straw.

  56. LBG says:

    Sue
    Totally unfair to donkeys!

  57. RA says:

    Sue,

    I suspect I owe you another apology for pulling your leg today — so, I am sorry – again.

    It will not happen again, I promise.

    I am going to take a break from AA, as I have done occasionally from time to time over the last 9 years or so — and that should help.

    My promise applies to other blogs too, in the unlikely event I should see you anywhere. 😎

  58. Sue says:

    RA.. no apology needed, but if it makes you feel better…. 😁
    Well look after yourself & I hope all is good with you (healthwise) oh and btw.. my leg will be waiting 🤣 and I might try pulling yours one day, although it’ll take some doing, the bloody size of it 😆

  59. LBG says:

    Rugani agreed personal terms. Make it happen and give them Mustafi.

  60. Mike M says:

    RA you did indeed caveat .(and Sue) I did too because i didn’t know if there was a larger screen showing more. Anyway he’s gone and it isn’t worth losing sleep over. I don’t think he was as anti Arsenal as more pro Bordeaux.
    Hope you come back soon RA. you bring good input to the conversation.

  61. Sue says:

    Tierney – about bloody time!!!

  62. RC78 says:

    Tierney and Luiz very close to joining us

    Emery will play 343 this season it seems
    Holding Sok Luiz
    Bellerin Torreira Xhaka Tierney
    Pepe Laca Auba

    Mustafi Chambers Monreal
    AMN Douzi El Neny Kola
    RN Nketiah Iwobi

    I have no clue where Ozil, Mkhy, Ceballos are gonna fit…unless we play in a 4321 system (which I d favour)

    Bello, Sok, Holding, Tierney – Xhaka, Luiz, Ceballos (or Mkhy or Ozil) – Pepe, Auba – Laca

    AMN, Mustafi, Monreal, Kola – Torreira, Chambers, Guendouzi – RN, Iwobi – Nketiah

  63. fatgingergooner says:

    Luiz and Tierney!!!

    Are we excited yet!? I am.

    Not a huge fan of Luiz, but he’s better than what we have and I’m excited by how the club have gone out and found a replacement for Koscielny and haven’t just gone along with the usual “we have good enough players to cover the gaps” that we used to hear all the time.

    If those 2 deals get done then what a magnificent transfer window with even a deal sorted for next season. All on a supposedly limited budget. A+

  64. Sanjay says:

    Xhaka,Miki and Ozil simply deserve to be sold !! I would rather bring on the youngsters who have proved they have balls to run and defend when we don’t have possession of the ball …

  65. fatgingergooner says:

    RC

    I’d imagine a 4231 when everyone fit. We may see different formations from time to time, but the signings indicate a 4231. He’s improved at full back which he seemed to want to do from early in the summer. I think Tierney is better defensively than Kolasinac and has the energy to get up and down. He’s talked about tighter full backs which would indicate a back 4. We’ve also brought in a Ramsey replacement from Madrid which would point to wanting to play a creative player in the middle with Özil probably being that man with Ceballos as back up. We’ve also bought a tricky winger and spent a fortune on him so it would be a shock if we didn’t play with wide attacking forwards.

    To me, all that points to a 4231:

    —————-Leno—————-
    Bellerin Sokratis Luiz Tierney
    ———Torreira-Xhaka———-
    Pepe———Özil——Aubameyang
    ————Lacazette————-

    Or even a 4123 if we are at home and go attacking:

    —————-Leno—————
    Bellerin-Sokratis-Luiz-Tierney
    —————Torreira————
    ——-Özil————Ceballos—
    Pepe——Lacazette-Aubameyang

    I could be totally wrong of course, and I think the great thing is we are all excited about how this squad could play and perform and the fact it can be moulded in many different ways.

    The great thing about this window though is that I think we can all agree the squad has been improved massively from the one that ended last season, and that’s the whole point of the transfer window.

  66. LBG says:

    Hope you are all wrong. Luiz is not a replacement for Kos and is not a defensive CB. Rugani is a proper no nonsense Italian defender with good on the ball skills and 6’3″ height. Luiz will be another bete noir by the end of this season and Chelski will be laughing at us. Please no Luiz!

  67. fatgingergooner says:

    Potential squad depth.

    GK: Leno/Martinez/Macey
    RB: Bellerin/AMN/Chambers
    LB: Tierney/Kolasinac/Monreal
    RCB: Sokratis/Mustafi/Chambers
    LCB: Luiz/Holding/Mavropanos/Monreal
    CM: Torreira/Xhaka/Geundouzi/Willock/AMN
    AM: Özil/Ceballos/Mkhitaryan/Iwobi/Willock
    RW: Pepe/Mkhitaryan/Nelson/Martinelli
    LW: Aubameyang/Iwobi/Martinelli/Nelson
    ST: Lacazette/Aubameyang/Martinelli/Pepe

  68. fatgingergooner says:

    LBG,

    I think we’d all prefer Rugani, but given there are 24 hours left in the window and Juve apparently wanted £40m+ for him I think an £8m short-term signing like Luiz makes sense and certainly improves us. I’d rather have him than not, and I’d rather we buy him that get Cahill on a free who is well past it. We have Holding and Saliba for next season along with Sokratis so there is a chance that Luiz is 4th choice in 12 months time anyway. He is capable of having a great season for us and has to be better than Mustafi or Monreal as CB, surely!? 😂

  69. fatgingergooner says:

    Apparently Luiz and Edu have the same agent (Kia Joorabchian) so that might explain why this deals popped up out of nowhere.

  70. LB says:

    I go out for five minutes and we are talking about David effing Luiz.

    For goodness sake……………I despair.

  71. Aaron says:

    The signing of Pepe and Saliba shows ambition.

    The rest leave me questioning the cheapskate business model.

    Am not sure of the timing of the Luiz deal, but it reeks of saying everyone is all in on the vision moving forward; but are they?

    What I mean by that is get Rugani or Upamecano for today, and the future moving forward.

    What does the Arsenal do when they smell a deal? Pivot, and put that money right back in their pockets.

    Damn, really, slow a$$ Luiz, a clone of our one true clown, who really is not so bad, but the Arenal never purchased a complimentary partner for him or a true dm in front, as Emery loads up our team to fail week in and week out against the big boys or on the road.

    So, Bel, Tierney, Hold, Laca and Ceballos can’t start the season. Tierney and Bel, realistically 3-4 weeks away, and Hold can’t play every 3 or days days for at least a couple of weeks.

    That is if Tierney can pass the medical: think Kalstrom, Silvestre and Suarez…etc

    If the Arsenal whiff on this window, and Emery goes with all the offensive players, we all know who they are, and does not provide cover for the defense, then Emery will be gone by Jan 1.

  72. Mike M says:

    I never try to disrespect Arsenal players past or present. Hopefully my comments on Xhaka are more measured criticism than anything else. I don’t have much of an opinion on David Luis. But I hope to God he’s nothing like his Chavs center back predecessor who is by a million miles my least favourite Arsenal player ever.

  73. RC78 says:

    I saw David Luiz at Psg and he is a good footballer and a decent defender. I don’t mind seeing him join AFC because he also adds a very very credible option at DM. When he played there at Psg for a few matches, he did excellent because his passing and positioning is rather good. He is also good at free kicks and is a serious aerial threats on set pieces. Big issue with him is that he has lapses and can let an attacker go unmarked or he ll get Booked stupidly. Another reason to get excited is that he had his best season with Conte when they played 3 at the back and I think that he would form quite a partnership with Holding and Sokratis at the back: Holding – Sok – Luiz
    It is a solid and physical back 3 that could cope with Xhaka or Torreira or Douzi’s shortcomings in front of them.

    Now all our FBs (except Monreal) are actually better at being WB and that also includes Tierney so I wouldnt be surprised if we played 343 to allow Bello, AMN, Tierney and Kola to give us their best on the wings. This would also allow us to really put pressure on the opposition because Pepe, Auba and Laca could either take the width to allow the WBs to cut in Or our front three stays in between lines and make runs behond the DMs and in between the opposing CBs and their full back. Big question mark is who plays in the middle of the park: who plays as HM/DM and who plays as CM/AM. I think Emery will pick Xhaka-Torreira.

    Now if we do indeed play in a 4231, then who gets tu be part of our starting back 4? Who plays as DM-CM and who plays as AM?

  74. Aaron says:

    RC78,

    Serious question here: If Xhaka starts, and we know Emery will start him, who plays in the center of the back 4?

    Where is the pace? Hint, it will be on the outside backs, but not up through the middle, or only on one side. AMN’s…..

    Does Emery start Chambers next to one of the others? For if he puts Mustafi, Sok and Luiz together in a back 4 or Luiz and Sok in a back three, the Arsenal are going to get properly….

  75. Matthew says:

    Has it crossed anyone else’s mind that David Luiz might be replacement for Elneny rather than Koscielny, and that we might still be in the market for a centreback?

  76. fred1266 says:

    Those who excited about luiz remember he got 7 from Germany, guess he can have something to talk about when they messing up our defense

  77. Rasp says:

    Hi Matthew, that’s an interesting idea. It would appear we’re still looking at CB’s beyond Luiz.

  78. fatgingergooner says:

    Wow, so much optimism.

  79. Aaron says:

    FGG,

    Optimistic going forward- hell yes.

    Protecting our goal- hell no.

    Mathew,

    Thank goodness for that comment, really, that is something to consider.

    If the Arsenal actually move someone else out from “the squad.”

    Can everyone imagine the money we had if we were not spending it on???

  80. RC78 says:

    I think Emery may indeed play Luiz at DM ahead of Xhaka in some games… If Emery brings in another CB, then we are really spoiled but I d love it to be true then we have another 23 days to offload some players…

  81. fatgingergooner says:

    Only way another CB other than Luiz comes in is if we get deals sorted for at least a couple of Iwobi/Kolasinac/Elneny to leave. Surely now it’s too late to think a deal will be done for a £20m-£40m defender? Luiz and Tierney would bring our outgoing to about £140m.

    Luiz is the new CB. Time to get on board and get excited about the season. He had a solid campaign for Chelsea last year in a back 4 a lot of the time. No reason he can’t do the same for us this season.

    Is he going to make our defence impenetrable? No.
    Realistically, is there a CB out there who could do that within our transfer budget? No.
    Is it he better than what we currently have? Yes and proven in PL so can play from day 1.

  82. fred1266 says:

    rc78 you remember when luiz come back to Chelsea he called ligue 1 a micky mouse league that probably why he was good at psg but in the Premier and CL he not ready

    When I see luiz I think of 2 things Germany 7 goals and Suarez tearing him a new one

  83. Sue says:

    Fred… and when he moved out the way of the ball…. for Kane to score!!

    Fred.. have you looked on Arsenal’s twitter page? There’s a lush picture of Kolasinac on there flexing 💪😂

  84. fatgingergooner says:

    Hasn’t he won the PL and CL? 🤔

  85. fred1266 says:

    I saw kolasinac also on the ticket page also flexing, Since he run off those guys he flexes different don’t u find

  86. Mike M says:

    Fred he did indeed win the CL with Chavs. I can understand your memory lapse however since John Terry was in all the celebrations in full kit even ‘though he wasn’t even in the squad. What a complete Plank that guy is.

  87. fred1266 says:

    Well to be fair I didn’t watch the CL that year never watch when premier side not in it that not arsenal

  88. Aaron says:

    Fred,

    He won it with chavs.

    I will rephrase the question:

    Have the Arsenal bought anyone from another top 4 squad that made us better in the last 10 years?

    Most likely not true, but read the Arsenal offer $65 mill for Upamecano and the said no. F me……

    Waiting…….
    And Luiz is 32 going on 40..

  89. Nicholas B Arthur says:

    Oh quit bitching. Depth has been our downfall. Our single biggest failing. Just shut up and enjoy the game.

  90. LBG says:

    Despair is my reaction, LB.
    Following the positivity of the rest of our signings, Luiz is a backward step, and no I dont believe will be an improvement whether CB or MF. Disruptive, ill disciplined, and most of all will he knuckle down and work on combinations for the good of a team in red.
    Not a chance!
    And finally, why would we ever be reconsidering three at the back. Doesn’t work unless all three are lightning quick and good positionally and even Holding lacks pace, let alone the Greek barge.
    Dont do it please, Dick!

  91. fatgingergooner says:

    We are shit defensively with or without David Luiz. He will not make us any worse at the back than we already are, but what he will do is give fast transition going forward with his passing, and he’s great from set pieces defensively and offensively. Also, as has already been mentioned, he can play DM if needed.

  92. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post …

  93. […] LB says: August 7, 2019 at 10:37 pm   (Edit) […]

  94. fred1266 says:

    For depth to work the players have to actually be good

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