Expectations – How good can this Arsenal team be?

Following Mikes post comparing the class of 2019 to the class of 2017 I thought it would be good to  look at how strong we are “on paper” relative to our other top 6 rivals. I say the word “on paper” as I feel it is more of a reflection of the raw materials we have and therefore the potential of the side before factors like shape, balance, attitude, fight and leadership come into the equation.

That next bit of course comes down to how those raw materials are blended and shaped by the manager and coaching staff in order to achieve full potential. The assessment of the raw quality on paper allows us to see our potential relative to our rivals. This in turn allows us to set our expectations on the manager and coaches, not in a spoilt entitled way, but based on genuine reflection of our squad.

In order to do this I have subjectively picked what I believe to be the strongest 11 in each club. My format for this is based on who I believe each manager would (or should in our case) put out in a straight head to head meeting between the big boys, not taking into account injuries, and rotation in other games against smaller clubs where the strongest possible 11 is not always required. The choices I have come up with are open to interpretation of course, and feel free to disagree wherever you want.

There are question marks over a few positions with our other top 6 rivals, but also with our strongest line up, but I have picked the side I believe is our strongest line up and who I would want to face City or Liverpool at this present time to give us a foothold in the game. Considerations on strength in depth are important for the whole campaign but I think as you will see we are particularly strong (maybe City aside) in this over our rivals.

I have also based all teams on a 4-3-3 system (or variation of it) as if you look at the other clubs line ups they all seem to mostly operate in this system. I believe it is also our strongest system for those top table games. Here goes:



Bellerin, Holding, Socrates, Tierney


Ceballos, Torreira

Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Man City:


Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko


De-Bruyne, D.Silva

B.Silva, Aguero, Sterling



Alexander Arnold, Van Dyke, Matip, Robertson


Henderson, Wilnaldrum

Salah, Firmino, Mane



Azpilcueta, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson


Kovavic, Mount

Pedro, Abraham, Pulisic

Man Utd:

De Gea

Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw


Pogba, Lingard

James, Rashford, Martial



Walkers-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghan, Rose


Eriksen, Sissoko

Lamela, Kane, Son

So there you have it. Arguably the strongest line-ups for each side in a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3 really) system.

When I look at the defences, (including the keepers), Liverpool look the stand out defence at present. I think we look better than Chelsea and possibly Utd and are not far off (and possibly match) both Spurs and City. I also feel we have quite decent strength in depth now compared to some of the other sides in players like AMN, Kola, and Chambers. Of course Luiz is another CD that makes us even stronger in depth but I would still prefer him at the base of the midfield.

When I look at the midfield 3 I feel City look to have the edge, but not by too much. Are any of Rodri, Jorginho, Fabinho, McTominay and Ndombele potentially better in the holding midfield role than Luiz? I don’t think so and even feel that if we played him there regularly he could be the stand-out player in that position this season.

The other 2 midfielders look strongest with City, but ours are none too shabby, and I will stick my neck out and say that I believe we are potentially stronger than the others bar City here. Also, from a strength in depth aspect, we still have Willock, Douzi, Ozil, ESR to consider so again across the season we have great cover.

Up front I will consider the front 3’s as a whole functioning unit. City and Liverpool stand out. However, if Pepe finds his feet and our front 3 start to really gel we could have a front 3 the equal of those two, and for me, when looked at as a unit rather than a single individual (i.e Kane), we are stronger than Spurs, Chelsea and Utd. All our front 3 have the potential to hit over 20 goals each this season and are all high assister’s. With exciting young players to cover wing forward positions like Saka, Nelson and Martinelli, again I feel we have strong, albeit precocious, young talent that give us some extra strength in depth.

All in all I feel we look the 3rd strongest on paper, but I will also stick my neck out again and state that, on paper, we are not actually far behind the 2 front runners. If Emery can establish that strongest 11 and get it gelling and firing on all cylinders we could end up a lot closer to those 2 than we would have thought some months ago.

My glass is more than half full with anticipation, but on the flip side my expectations are also quite high. Over to you A.A’ers….. digest, discuss, agree, disagree, and tell me I am living in cloud cuckoo land.




31 Responses to Expectations – How good can this Arsenal team be?

  1. dylan woods says:

    i agree

  2. RockyLives says:

    Great read Gooner B

    I agree with your overall assessment – we’re behind ‘Pool and Citeh but can have every hope of being on a par with or better than ManUre, Spuds and Chavs.

    The one thing I’ll quibble with is your version of Arsenal’s optimal starting line-up. Like you, I’m all for the idea of Luiz as our holding DM. It’s just that I haven’t seen a scintilla of evidence that UE has any interest in playing him in that role.

    I suspect our ideal/likely first team is:

    My personal ideal first team would be:

  3. RC78 says:

    Home Games:

    Leno – Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Kola – Torreira, Chambers – Ceballos – Pepe, Laca, Auba

    Away Games:

    Leno – Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Kola – Torreira, Chambers, Gwen – Pepe, Laca, Auba

    GK – Leno is far from Alisson, Ederson, Lloris, De Gea – Grade: E
    DF – Our defense is also not at strong as City’s, Liverpool and Tottenham but is at least as good as Man Utd – Grade: D
    M – Our midfield is largely behind City’s, Liverpool and I d say close to Tottenham but better than Utd. Grade: D
    F – Our front three is not as good as City’s and Liverpool but largely compares with Tottenham and Man Utd: Grade C

    so our average is a D and taking Chelski out of the equation although they can end up being great because they have quality players in Azpi, Jorginho, Pedro (…), I d say that we should expect to fight for the Top 4 and based on quality only, we should edge Man Utd to the last spot. Tottenham should finish above us and Liverpool and City will batter for the title.

    Best XI EPL ?:

    Alisson – Trent, Van Dijk, Verthongen, Robertson – De Bruyne, Rodri, D. Silva – Sterling, Kane, Mane

  4. RA says:

    My Dear Gooner Bee,

    You are living in cloud cuckoo land!

    My reason for saying so, is you asked me to;
    “tell me I am living in cloud cuckoo land.”
    And always willing to be cordial, I have acquiesced. 🥺

    The fact is Bee, you are getting too good at all this, and I do not think you are living in cloud cuckoo territory at all.

    Your post coming straight after Mike’s makes them complementary one to the other, and Kudos to you both.

    If I have a ‘ruther’ — I think you have rather strayed into more than a subjective assessment of the ‘raw materials’ available to each club, and, for example, to place Luiz on a pedestal higher than any City player, in a hypothetical position that Luiz does not even play in, is succumbing to the ‘rose tinted glasses’ worn by every Gooner fan. 🤪

    That aside, and it does not hurt to have differences of opinion, or shades of agreement [ 😏 ] I think it is a well thought out, and really uplifting Post, coming, as it does, at the re-commencement of the EPL this weekend.

    I think that both City and ‘Pool are streets ahead of us, at the moment, and if I had my arm twisted behind my back, I would, reluctantly, have to say we will struggle against both the Chavs and the Spuds for that top 4 position.

    My reason is that we have history in being rubbish against ‘lower’ teams, with often unexpected, and unwanted results, such as we had at the end of last season, where draws and losses against some ‘minnows’ cost us 4th place, and enabled the Spuds, who were pretty poor, to pip us by one measly point.

    I love your optimism, and hope you are correct in your assessment — but ……….. only time will tell.

  5. RA says:

    Perhaps I could mention, in support of my totally unreserved view (above), that Ceballos said (yesterday) that when we played and were trashed by ‘Pool, he was in awe, and said they were outstanding and better than any team he has ever played against.

    He also went on to say that PEA (Aubameyang) was comparable to Ronaldo, and that Lacazette was the best player in the Arsenal team.

    Of the two comments, I think that he was being over-generous comparing Ronaldo to PEA — and if Laca was our best player then the first statement was either suspect, or Laca could not, by definition, be better than PEA who was comparable to the best player in the world.

    He was probably trying not to offend either player?? 😜🤪

  6. RA says:

    “unreserved” = “unresearched” 😛

  7. RA says:


    I like Gwen too — didn’t know she played for us too??

    I know it is a bit of a cop out to use important ‘others’ to bear out my opinions, but I am very much in agreement with your personal, preferred tramline up, but I do not think it is quite the roster Embers is looking for.

    He is alleged to have said, to his coaching staff, that Holding cannot take it as a given that he will simply return to the first team squad, and that he will have to show he is better than the current players.

    Nothing wrong with that — but it makes me think that Embers is not convinced about Holding.

  8. RA says:

    “tramline” = “team line up”


  9. RA says:


    Good comment.

    I also cannot argue with your best EPL team selection, and it is salutary that not one Arsenal player makes it into your team roster.

  10. RockyLives says:


    I agree that my preferred tramline ( 🙂 ) seems to be unpreferred by UE, who therefore must be off his trolley(bus).

    My line-up also has no room for Torreira (whom I like, although I think he’s a bit too lightweight) because if Luiz plays DM the terrier is not needed.

  11. fred1266 says:

    No kante in Chelsea squad interesting

  12. fred1266 says:

    Technically u counting luiz as a CDM does count since he doesn’t play there and our cdm is xhaka so in that case we are last

  13. Sue says:

    He’s injured, ain’t he Fred?
    United v Leicester will be juicy.. Vardy up against Maguire!! I hope to god Deeney isn’t watching it….. urgh, that voice… where’s Charlie Nicholas?? Why Deeney?? 😖

  14. Pat7 says:

    I think we’re capable of 3rd this season depending on whether our injured players don’t suffer major setbacks. As our strength improves the Totts will come undone as their ‘belief’ disintegrates and they start looking at what they’re being paid.
    They’ll be in the territory we were back then – losing key men, maybe Pochettino too. Fun all the way.
    But the blending should be great if the support can manage a little patience. The best team in years coming together and after January could be even better…..:-)

  15. Sue says:

    Been waiting 2 weeks for this, and.what happens.. Liverpool scored 3, Chelsea are 4-1 up, Spuds 4-0 up.. United 1-0 (yet another penalty)… urgh… gutted…. and Norwich could make it even worse yet….. come on City 🙏🥺

  16. RA says:

    That’s the problem as I see it, Sue.

    Those teams dispose of ‘lower’ teams as a matter of course. We play Watford tomorrow and we will beat them — maybe??

  17. fred1266 says:

    Who kante ? Yea

    But surely when he come back he will be in starting lineup

  18. fred1266 says:

    Well Norwich 1 up

    Anyone watching Norwich game how they pass from the back

  19. RockyLives says:

    I share your optimism.

    Bad results all round today (unless the Canaries hang on – sorry Sue).

    We need to do the biz tomorrow and I’m sure we will.

  20. Sue says:

    Arghhhhhh!!! I was hoping we’d see a very drunk Delia at half time…. not a chance!!!
    They have been really below par… don’t rate Gundogan or Zinchenko. Get KDB on…
    Bless lil Aguero (& his thighs) a lifeline has been thrown…… what a 2nd half it will be

  21. Sue says:

    Fred.. Norwich have played some decent stuff & at times, you’d think they were the defending champions (& yes, that pains me to say!!)

  22. Sue says:

    We’re up against it, RA… no room for error… and just as i write this.. Pukki has scored….. 🥺

  23. RockyLives says:

    IF it stays this way and…

    IF (when) we win tomorrow…

    We’ll be level on points with Man City

  24. Sue says:

    I know there’s a long way to go yet until May…. and it’s looking highly likely that City will lose… but please god, Liverpool have to lose sooner or later, they can’t go unbeaten… 🙏 i really couldn’t bear it….

  25. Aaron says:

    Am tired of hoping, rooting for other teams to beat our direct competitors.
    The Arsenal just need to win their games- end…of…story…

  26. Sue says:

    Well done to Monreal.. scoring the 2nd goal in a 2-0 win over Atletico… boy, I’d love to have seen the smacked arse look on Diego Costa’s face 😝

  27. Sue says:

    Elneny had a debut to forget – he saw red & they lost 3-2!

  28. Morning all

    Rasp is at work this morning so we’re just sorting the pre-match.

    Sue – I’ve taken Laca out and put Nelson in on the wing, is that ok? If you have another idea I can still change it 😉

  29. Sue says:

    That’s perfect, Peaches.. thank you! 😁

  30. Rasp says:

    Morning all ….

    … New post ….

  31. fred1266 says:

    Ok were elneny went again

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