Arsenal’s Best Strike Partnership

We’re heading into what could be a very important weekend for Arsenal’s immediate future and certain subjects have been debated half to death:

Emery in or out.

The Xhaka debacle.

The midfield dilemma.

So how about we change the script just for today by taking another look at a topic that has slipped down the priority list of late, namely: with the talent we have available, how should our attackers be set up to give us the best chance of scoring goals?

(After a performance where we managed one attempt on target it’s not an unreasonable question).

First a caveat: obviously the way we play in defence and midfield has an effect on how our strikers perform. But for the purposes of this exercise let’s just pretend we have a functioning team behind the strikers (I know, hogs might levitate etc) but bear with me.

In those circumstances, which strikers should be starting in our first team and in what configuration?

The options available to us are Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe, Saka, Nelson, Martinelli and I think we can throw in Ozil and Ceballos if either is played as a Number 10.

My preference is Lacazette central, with Aubameyang on the left and Pepe on the right.

But I know some people have doubts about Laca and would rather see Auba in a central role.

And what about Martinelli? After a blistering start to his Arsenal career, should he be in the starting equation?

Pepe has disappointed so far, but I’m sticking with him because I’m expecting him to come good, but perhaps Saka or Nelson are better options right now?

And one addendum to this discussion: is attack an area where we need to consider strengthening in January?

Over to you…



43 Responses to Arsenal’s Best Strike Partnership

  1. RC78 says:

    Interesting post as always – thanks.

    1. I think the idea is to play with Pepe, Laca, Auba. How we can play them to perform their best is something else?

    I. If we play with the 3 of them as part of a front three, then there are 2 options for me:
    A) Pepe, Auba playing behind Laca and Laca being the target man in a 2-1 set up
    B) Laca playing behind Pepe, Auba and Laca playing as a 9 1/2 essentially and dropping a bit deeper while Pepe and Auba play at the defenders’ shoulders level in a 1-2 set up

    II. If we play in a 442 set up, then Pepe on a wing and Laca, Auba up front.

    2. I think we need to bolster in attack to get a Giroud type of player in January. I wish we had made a move for Milik from Napoli…Now that it is not possible, we can try maybe Cavani, Dzyouba, Dzeko, Mitrovic, Barnes (?). We need more aerial threat.

    III. Rumour has it that Emery will again play with 3 at the back. The question is whether he now plays with 5 in the middle or 4…Now that would affect who plays and where they play up front..This may mean dropping Laca or Pepe…

    IV. If Xhaka leaves in Jan, then we can maybe try to land a proper DM or someone that has high impact in the midfield on both ends.

  2. Sue says:

    Nice one, Rocky. Although, I’m disappointed, I thought your ‘little post’ would be more to do with alcohol or AA book club 😀

    I agree with your preference – Laca central, Auba left, Pepe right. This is what I hope we’ll see tomorrow.. as much as Pepe frustrates me, he has to burst into life sooner or later!
    BBC sport say… Auba is yet to score an away goal on a Saturday, in 7 appearances.
    We have gone 11 away games without a win, against teams starting the day in the top 3.
    To add to Vardy scoring 8 in 8 against us!
    It’ll be tough, and I’ve come across some people saying they hope we lose tomorrow, so Unai will be sacked. I’m not Unai’s biggest fan, but I could never bring myself to want us to lose!
    I am nervous about the match, so have decided to chill out before and put my Christmas tree etc up! The calm before the storm 😀

    Who knows what’ll happen in January.. we may lose some of our top players, from what I’ve been reading. Defence needs looking at, big time! Top of my list is Tyrone Mings.

  3. Harv says:

    Whatever combination is used, Martinelli should be the go to central striker. has shown repeatedly the striker’s nous of anticipating where the ball will go. Terrific in the air and uses both feet. Wrightyesque…

  4. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky, it’s good to get onto a positive topic.

    Laca is taking longer than we might have expected to regain his form, but like you’ I’d also start with him in the middle and if that’s not working, take, him off, move Auba to the middle and play Martinelli wide left.

    What I think is ludicrous is when we have 3 top strikers on the pitch and we bring on more if we’re chasing a game. Supply to the strikers has been one of our problems, so reducing the midfield makes little sense.

    Martinelli is much more of a target player than Laca. So far we haven’t seen the sort of relationship between him and Auba as Laca has, but I guess that will come in time the more they play together.

  5. RockyLives says:

    Harv makes a good point about Martinelli – he has certainly shown great potential as a central striker.

    But… I’d be wary of heaping too much expectation on a young player so soon.

    To me he’s a great off-the-bench option for the first team for now.

  6. RockyLives says:


    A Christmas tree in early November?

    Why not put out your Easter Eggs while you’re at it 😀

  7. LBG says:

    Think Martinelli has not only shown more confidence but greater natural striking skill than Pepe, who needs more Pires-type time to believe in his skills.

    Martinelli Ozil Aubameyang

  8. RA says:


    A lovely little Post, despite our Sue being disappointed at the lack of alcohol, presumably intravenously administered, and more recommendations from the book club, the saucier the better.

    I have always thought that the most upbeat blogger we have ever had on AA, was Micky What Done Did It, and in his honour, I must say that we should go with his world renowned set up, which as you all know is ………… 1 : 10

    We do not really need a GK, so I would give that duty to Nelson

    The other 10 attackers need to be carefully positioned, maybe 4 on each wing, and Auba and Laca waltzing around in the centre performing a fol de rol and taking turns to score every 10 minutes.

    Job done!

    Writing that has brought a tear to my eye wondering where the Micky is now, and still holding out hope he will be back soon to sort out this lacklustre team, as only he can.

  9. Sue says:

    I can’t help it, Rocky, I’m very excited and the sooner it’s all up the better! Well if creme eggs were in the shops, I’d dangle a few on the tree!! 😀

  10. RockyLives says:

    That would indeed by the Micky approach Redders.

    It would be nice to read his always entertaining comments on here again.

  11. I’m not sure that we need an actual striking partnership (as of old), but one reliable goal scorer (Auba) with two fast players either side who can switch positions during play & chip in with goals and provide service to the main man. Right now that would be Martinelli & Zaka and with the options of rotating in Laka & Pepe and soon to return Eddie. I’m not giving up on Pepe yet, but don’t expect him to hit the heights of Ligue 1 for some time yet.

  12. RockyLives says:


    Your tactical analysis is as impressive as ever.

    To be honest I still hanker for the good old 4-4-2, with two wide midfielders who can attack effectively (think Overmars & Parlour or Pires & Freddie) with at least one of them having enough grit and work rate to not leave us too exposed defensively (Parlour and Freddie in the above examples).

    Everyone tells me you can’t play that system any more, but I don’t really understand why.

    With our available players my front two would be Laca with Ozil behind him, and the two wide midfielders would be Auba and Pepe.

    The flaw in my plan is that I don’t see either Pepe or Auba as providing the defensive effort of a Ray Parlour.

  13. RockyLives says:

    In fact maybe Auba with Ozil behind him is the way to go, with two of Martinelli, Saka, Nelson, Pepe as the wide men.

    Laca as supersub.

    I thought Saka started well this season but has gone off the boil a bit. In your system I’d go Pepe and Martinelli.

  14. Sue says:

    RA.. Saucy books and intravenously administered alcohol 🤫 haha!!

  15. RockyLives says:

    Don’t get too excited Sue. By ‘saucy books’ he means things like “100 Best Cooking Sauces.”

  16. RA says:


    I forgot to tell you that my two best books were,

    — Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and,
    — Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll,
    — The Water Babies, by Rev Charles Kingsley

    What do you mean, I cannot count? Bah, humbug!

  17. Sue says:

    I should have known, Rocky… anything to do with food, hey RA 😜

  18. Sue says:

    RA.. 🙃🤪

  19. RA says:


    If you or anyone else wanted to read the history of England in the form of a gripping murder mystery novel, I would recommend Tombland, by C J Sansom, who wrote a series of such novels featuring a lawyer Serjeant Shardlake, and finishing with this one.

    It is set in the 1550s after the death of Henry VIII in 1547, when his only son Edward VI, son of Jane Seymour, had succeeded him.

    The way you would probably remember the fate of Henry VIII’s wives (it was the way I did anyway) was the rhyme; “Divorced, Beheaded, Died: Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” so provided you remembered the names of the wives, you could easily remember what happened to them.

    Jane was the one who ‘Died”.

    That’s the only history you need — the murderer was sought during the political turmoil of that time, and you could be amazed at how similar politics then, and now, were/are.

    A great murder mystery, and reading the book you also end up knowing the history of this country in very troubled times — the Reformation.

    Centuries later and along comes Brexit, and the politicians are at it again. 🥺

  20. RockyLives says:

    The Shardlake books are excellent Redders. I have read them all except the latest one… so I’ll add it to my list.

    While we’re in ‘Book Club’ mode, I think I might write a Post in the near future assessing the various books that have been written about Arsenal. I have most of them on my shelf and have read the vast majority.

  21. John Mathews legend says:

    Talking of books….
    My brother and I were given a book called ‘Arsenal Arsenal’ as a present in 1971.
    A bumper sized red book with colour photos etc, a celebration of winning the double.
    Have sometimes wondered if this site got its name from there?

  22. RA says:


    I read about 20 novels, on average, per year, and another 5 or 10 professional or scientific books in addition.

    It would be interesting to learn whether we share any liking for other authors, in addition to Robert Harris (not that I have read the Cicero trilogy).

    Stephen Donaldson — (1st, 2nd and 3rd Chronicles of Thomas Covenant — and for a change of genre, The Gap Sequence). Brilliant.

    Dorothy Dunnett — a unique series starting with The Game of Kings (nothing to do with Game of Thrones) — and ending 5 books later with Checkmate.
    An absolute master piece of English Literature.

    Alan Furst — several novels based on pre-World War 2 and during WW2 spying throughout Europe by many of the key countries involved, and the work of their Foreign Correspondents. Rather like the Sansom books in a different era – combining fiction with historical accuracy.

    An author I think is tops in his genre is Phillip Kerr.
    He has writen novels pre, during and post WW2 from the viewpoint of a German officer and a detective in Berlin, with all the problems facing a decent man who is anti-Nazi and again is based on historic context.
    [Utterly different the Alan Furst books above.]

    I will shut up there — to continue would bore you, and fill up too many screens full. 😁

  23. RC78 says:

    I d say I enjoyed the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett and also A little life (depressing but good)

  24. Sue says:

    My oh my, RA.. 20 novels, plus 5 or 10 other books! Where do you find the time?? Wowser!!
    I struggle to read around 3!! There just aren’t enough hours in my day!
    Thank you for the recommendation of the Tombland book. I’ll probably get round to it in around 5 years, if I’m lucky 😂

  25. Aaron says:

    The Arsenal could put Messi, Ronaldo and suarez up front and it would not matter. They need to get the ball in goal scoring positions, and they will not get enough service.

    Auba on the left, means left for dead. Martinelli has been on a tear, let the kid have some minutes, Laca looks really short of fitness, but if we need someone to hold up the ball he is your guy, Pepe looks dangerous whenever he has the ball-he will come good!

    However, as been mentioned to death, it is all about the midfield, and if Emery can ever get it right with these players, yet he has not shown he can do it.

    Playing new players together week in week out does not build a team, and for the starters they need to build confidence in knowing who is going to be where and when, our forwards always look like they do not know what is going on ever. Who could blame them? It takes time to build cohesive partnerships and compliments, something we have not seen for a long time. A nightmare really.

    If the Arsenal get something from this game is will be a surprise.

    Away from home-enough said….

  26. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Redders

    I read the Thomas Covenant books (years ago). Very good.
    Also Phillip Kerr.
    Not read the Dorothy Dunnett or Alan Furst so will give them a try.

    I’m currently in a phase of reading Western books – the mind blower of them all being Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. But also True Grit (classic by Charles Portis) and Valdez Is Coming by Elmore Leonard.

    The Robert Harris Cicero series I would definitely recommend. And if you like historical fiction there are two very good series by Conn Iggulden – one telling the story of Julius Caesar and the other about Genghis Khan. Great historical detail, thrilling action – real page turners.

    Apologies to all for this digression from matters footballistical.

  27. Sue says:

    So, Ederson is ruled out of Sunday. I have a funny feeling it will be one of those weekends…
    Where we drop points.. all of our rivals win.. and Liverpool win.. and pretty much win the title 😫 Can’t think of anything worse……

  28. RockyLives says:


    I have a strong feeling we’ll win this weekend.

    Time for another bet, perhaps…

  29. Sue says:

    Not another bet, Rocky 😂 One thing I’m sure of – the bookies love you! 😜

  30. RC78 says:

    Just downloaded the Genghis Khan collection. Let s c if it s good

  31. RockyLives says:

    Have you read his Roman series? I hope you enjoy the Genghis books. Strange to read books where you’re rooting for Genghis…

  32. RC78 says:

    RL – no but saw better reviews on GK

  33. RA says:

    Hi Rocky/Sue,

    Thank you both for your patience, and good humour.

    Rocky, thank you for your recommendations. I have toyed with Iggulden before, so to speak — I remember Raddy was reading one of his novels, and we discussed it. (it was a long time ago, so I hope it was BR – otherwise embarrassing. 😁

    I will add the others to my list (yes I need lists nowadays, 😳 ).

    Oddly, for someone born in cowboy country, I have never thought to read a ‘western’ book. But I will give it a go, thank you — I did see the film True Grit, and umm …. 🤪

    No more books, people. I add my apologies to Rocky’s, for straying too far from football – sorry.

  34. fatgingergooner says:

    Martinelli is our future, no doubt about that, but he is starting to push for a spot right now. His work rate is phenomenal and he just seems to know where to be to get a sniff of goal. He’s going to be the next big thing in football if he carries on progressing and it’s so good that we have him at our club. I’d seriously consider playing him at the weekend as we need something to get excited about and I think he’s one of those players who can lift the rest of the side with his energy and his closing down from the front. I’d play Martinelli, Auba and Pepe with the onus on fast counter attacks and clinical finishing, with Laca coming on if we need more link up and a bit more of a target into feet.

    As for the rest of the season, Nelson has disappointed so far when I’ve seen him and I think Saka looks more promising but still needs time, so for the most part I think it’s between Auba, Laca, Pepe and Martinelli for those front 3 positions. I don’t actually think Lacazette will stay beyond this season and then it will be up to Nketiah and Martinelli to fill that gap as the club might be reluctant to buy a striker whilst they have such good young talent looking to take the next step. Hopefully we buy a world class goal scoring midfielder instead as that would take some pressure off and give us a different dimension from midfield. If Xhaka does leave then a really solid, energetic player in midfield to compliment Geundouzi would be good too. Maybe a Declan Rice type player, or Ndidi who has been excellent for Leicester.

  35. fatgingergooner says:

    Willock has the potential to be our next goal scoring midfielder, and Saka, Nelson, Martinelli and Nketiah have the potential to be our future forward line, but what we cannot afford to do is be looking at them in 6 years or so and still wondering when they are going to peak. It’s easier said than done, and the club won’t always get it right, but there must be a ruthlessness moving forward. Players need to show progress and they need to improve rapidly to stay at our club. Jesse Lingard is nearly 27 and is still bang average. United have wasted years on him and we did the same with the likes of Ox, Wilshere, Walcott etc. It could’ve been the same with Iwobi but the new look back room made a decision and got rid and it will probably be the right one in the end. I don’t want to see Willock playing for Arsenal at 26 with 5 goals a season and the odd good performance.

  36. RockyLives says:


    I agree that Martinelli looks the real deal, but as I said to Harv earlier, we can’t expect him to perform at top Premier League striker level right away.

    I say ease him in during this season with regular substitute appearances and in the cups then hopefully next season he flies.

  37. Anyone fancy writing the pre-match for tomorrow? I don’t seem to bring us much luck:(

  38. RC78 says:

    Emery asked Xhaka if he could play and Xhaka said he wasn’t ready to play yet. Emery oh emery

  39. RC78 says:

    Hi peaches – I ll get smt to you but I don’t think I am a lucky charm either 🤔

  40. RC78 says:

    Peaches – just sent through

  41. That’s brilliant RC78 thank you

  42. Morning all

    Just sorting the post ……. back in a bit …..,

  43. There’s a New Post …………….

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