Simple question: if all our players are available, which of them would you put in the starting line-up for an important game?
I know it’s a stretch of the imagination to think of all our lads miraculously leaving the sickbay… Kolasinac with his shoulder un-knackered; Calum Chamber’s cruciate suddenly whole again following a secret late night visit from Glen Hoddle’s old faith healer; Kieran Tierney raring to go… but let’s run with it anyway.
If I had been carrying out this exercise even six weeks ago my team would have looked different to the one I’m about to propose.
For a start, there would have been no place for Ozil (whose Arsenal career seemed to be drifting into insignificance) or Pepe (he was, if we’re totally honest, proving to be a little bit disappointing) or Ceballos (who was turning into the new Denis Suarez) or, heaven help us, Mustafi (no explanation needed).
So it’s something of a surprise to me that this is the team I would select to do battle if all were available:
Bellerin – Mustafi – Luiz – Tierney
Torreira – Ceballos
Pepe – Aubameyang – Saka
Subs: Martinez, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Willock, Martinelli, Lacazette.
Let me briefly explain my thinking. For a start, Mari and Soares were not even up for consideration because I’ve yet to see them play for Arsenal.
The selection of Luiz and Mustafi is based on how they have performed in the last four or five games. They seem to be forming a partnership in which each’s style of play complements the other’s.
Tierney has had a stop-start career at Arsenal so far but has shown enough to make me think the LB slot is his for years to come.
Dropping Xhaka to the bench is what I would do, but I really doubt Mikel Arteta would do the same if he had everyone fit to play. Like Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger he seems to see the Swiss as an essential fulcrum to our play.
Neverthless, I’m replacing him with Torreira and putting Dani Ceballos with him to provide the link-up play to our German midfield magician. In this scenario both Ceballos and Ozil are the beneficiaries of their recent rehabilitation.
I like Lacazette but his form has been too inconsistent this season, so it’s plank-warming for him and a run down the middle for Aubameyang.
With Saka and Pepe (who, at least to this viewer, is getting better with every outing) Auba will get lots of service, and all three have goals in them.
If I have a concern about my line-up it would be the lack of anyone up top to hold up the ball. It’s not really Aubameyang’s game. However, I see a combination of Ceballos and Ozil having a lot of control in central areas of the pitch and I don’t expect us to be playing too many long balls for Auba to contest for (apart from balls over the top for him to run in on goal).
Feel free to share your own line-ups in the comments.
- This Post was written before the Olympiacos defeat and the Portsmouth victory. I was tempted to re-write it afterwards, but decided not to let one bad performance influence my overall thinking… even though I’m looking at the right back in my line-up and thinking… hmmmm…. not so sure now.
If I was doing an updated version of this Post to include our last two results I’d be tempted to drop Bellerin for AMN and to drop Pepe for Nelson…
But… I don’t think I would give in to that temptation. Bellerin had a very bad game against the Greeks and Nelson had an excellent one against Pompey, but I’m going to stick with the longer term view and back both Belli and Pepe to come good.
If all match fit, and presumably only this season’s availability, and all full of confidence Rocky ( not much to ask, is it!), I have a significantly different preferred selection.
Soares Holding Mair Tierney
Torreira (or Luiz, sorry had to do it)
Ceballos Ozil Saka
Torreira fractured his ankle….😱
Reasonable side Rocky. I think Bellerin is really struggling post injury. He seems to have lost a touch of pace and he’s never been the greatest defender.
@Sue that doesn’t surprise me. Reckless challenge leading to a broken bone deemed not worthy of a yellow card by Mike Dean. But a bounce of the ball from Guendouzi gets a yellow. Go figure…
Pete, that just sums that idiot up….he hasn’t got a scooby!
Blooming heck Sue.
But it was a “fair tackle”…
Terrible news for Torreira and for us…Time for Douzi, Ceballos to step up in terms of defensive work rate…
Shall everyone be fit and based on our current players and the form since Arteta came over only ( no Tierney 😦 ), I d play:
Leno – Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka – Ceballos, Xhaka – Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli – Auba
NOW, if we were to play a game against a top team, we do need a bit more strength to our team so I d play a slightly different one than the one above:
Leno – Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka – Torreira, Xkaha – Pepe, Ceba, Auba – Laca
In any case, we know that we will need to:
1. Get at least one CB, unless Saliba can fill that void (not sure of that yet so I d rather bank on Koulibaly)
2. Get at least a RB (Pereira?Hakimi and potentially a LB (Gaya or why not M. Alonso who wants to leave Chelsea maybe)
3. Get a DM/CM (Brozovic and S.Milinko-Savic would be great but can settle with Ndidi or Rice)
4. Get a FW (we can either go for a creative type of player like Grealish or a pacy winger/scorer like Sancho or Gnabry)
I think it will go like this for me:
Leno: Hector, Musti, Luiz, Kolasinac; Ceballos, Xhaka;Ozil; Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli
I guess not much of our current injured players will make my starting xi, I can be tempted to start chambers in the defence alongside luiz, but I think musti has been solid as well since his integration back to the team and due to lacazette’s dipping form this season I’ll go for Auba up top and Martinelli on the left wing, Saka has been impressive in the left back role but I miss Kolasinac’s energetic burst of pace down the flank, kudos to saka he’s done well there but we must not forget that is not his preferred position he is only a makeshift, but I won’t be surprised if he eventually claims the role as his in the coming years cos realistically that MIGHT be the only way he’d get as much game time he wants just like AMN(I think that’s the problem for him he doesn’t want the position but he is surplus to other positions).. That’s it for me..
This is fun
Hector, Mustafi, Luiz, Tierney
Aubamayang, Martinelli, Saka
Now if we were playing Man City or Liverpool then, as I said at the time, I would have Luiz as the DM with Chambers and Socratis behind, Chambers was still fit and Mustafi was still on the naughty step, it still baffles me why this concept confused people, one person in particular. (Sorry had to do it)
From now till the end of this season:
GK(Leno), RB(Mustafi), RCB(Luiz), LCB(Mari), LB(Tierney), RCM(Torreira), LCM(Ceballos), LM/LW(Saka), RM/RW(Pépé), CF(Martinelli), ST(Aubameyang)
GK(Leno), RB(Mustafi), RCB(Luiz), LCB(Mari), LB(Tierney), DM(Torreira), CM(Ceballos), AM(Saka), LF(Martinelli), RF(Pépé), CF(Aubameyang)
GK(Leno), RCB(Mustafi), CB(Luiz), LCB(Mari), LM(Tierney), CM(Torreira), CM(Ceballos), RM(Pépé), RF/AM(Saka), LF/CF(Martinelli), CF/ST(Aubameyang)
Bench: Emiliano, Bellerín, Chambers, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Özil, Lacazette
Just been watching the Tottenham – Norwich highlights, very funny.
And the thick prat Dier climbing into the stands, it just gets better.
It looks so nasty in our list of players in the list which for me shows how little squord we have or less quality we have in our team bench when other teams almost have two. we need to up our recruitment system
Ceballos over pepe LBG interesting
Sure! Pepe is not ready, is confused regarding the appropriateness of his skills, and needs time to develop Premier League maturity.
I do believe, however, he will come good given patience.
Thanks Rocky. Well normally I have an opinion (shock/horror) and I find this sort of thing easy, but right now I find it difficult. I think if everyone was fit our current strongest 11 and formation could be a bit different to what we currently see.
Also Douzi had dropped a bit recently but put in an excellent performance on Monday. He does his defensive duties but it was more his ball carrying ability that impressed me on Monday and his willingness to try and get us on the front foot and make a forward pass. If he plays this way regularly I think he will soon be in my 1st 11 and also possibly Nelson if he continues consistent performances like that. Nice problems to have.
I will make some assumptions about certain players ability and go slightly left field in a 4-1-4-1 formation
Soares, Chambers, Mari, Tierney
Pepe, Ozil, Saka, Martinelli
LBG, I thought about Pepe for next season, and a lot of my thought was with your penchant for a front 2 in mind.
We need to start to develop solutions for not playing with Ozil, and will need to be phasing in alternatives next season. One of the options is for a front 2 and I just wonder whether we would be better playing Pepe more centrally in behind Aubamayeng (assuming he is still here), kind of creating a front 2 with Pepe as the slightly deeper striker.
We have good options on the attacking right with Saka and Nelson anyway. I do love Laca’s commitment but right now he is off form and will he still be with us.
Making certain assumptions I would love to see us line up next season in a 4-2-3-1 as follows:
Soares, Saliba, Mari, Tierney
Saka, Pepe, Martinelli
Great post btw, Rocky.
I was going to say how nice it is to have all these options.. but now with Torreira out, that is a massive blow…. John-Jules also has a fracture – what else can go wrong? – I do like GB’s team though on his @1.31 comment… Ooh that’s kinda exciting!
Sancho leaves Dortmund for 140 Mln EUR. Which destination? Man Utd, Chelsea, PSG, Liverpool, Real, Juve…? Let us see but for sure he is leaving…
Interesting, but you see I would suggest Martinelli would be much better suited to the central behind Aubang role , which would still produce my wish for two genuine goalscorers to be playing off each other.
Pepe may have to take a few lessons from Nelson recently in terms of directness out wide, whilst mixing and matching his “tricks”. We may not be able to keep both but two top quality players for each position should be the cliched ideal surely.
Saka is surely pure left.
I still believe of course, Smith-Rowe will turn out to be the best option for “behind the strikers” role.
Transfer update: Apparently, Arsenal is keen to sign Jonathan David from La Gantoise in Belgium. A 20 year old Canadian striker who has scored 18 goals in the league and has an impressive tally of 23 goals and 10 assists in 39 games in all competitions. Ajax and Lyon are also actively pursuing him. They see him as the natural Auba’s successor…
The club wants to keep Auba but Auba wants out and he ll pbbly be lured by Barcelona, Madrid, Juve or Inter Milan next summer. I d love to keep him but let us face it, he wants to lift trophies and his chances are higher at one of the above mentioned clubs.
ST: Laca, Nketiah
LW: Martinelli, Saka
RW: Pepe, Nelson
Another youngster followed is 19 yeard old Turkish midfielder and international Orkun Kokcu from Feyenoord. Apparently, Edu likes him a lot – maybe an indication that Ceballos’ days are numbered with us.
Ceballos has done reasonably well lately but I suspect you’re right about him going at the end of the season RC.
So I just watched Saliba and he was OK in the first half but really upped his game in the second half and was key in the build up of St-Etienne’s second goal which sends them through the final to face PSG.
Saliba was particularly good in the second half – he could send some of our CBs packing like Mavropanos, Sokratis or even Holding. He still needs to improve but the kid is good.
That’s good to hear, RC. That’ll be a good final.. he’ll have his work cut out that night, trying to stop Mbappe….. his 2nd goal last night was spot on 👌
@Sue – Mbappe was on fire last night but to be honest, the game did not give me any confidence for the Dortmund game. Lyon was better than us for 60 minutes until we get the PK and they get a player red carded. The most worrying part of the team was the Gueye-Paredes pair. Gueye is looking like a shadow of himself since his injury at the end of last year and his repositioning. Tuchel wants to use him like Deschamps uses Matuidi but Gueye is much better at shielding the back 4 rather than pressing high up the pitch…
Against Dortmund, we will not have Meunier, Verratti (and maybe Kimpembe and Silva) so I can see Tuchel gamble on Kehrer, Kouassi…
Navas – Kurzawa, Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Kouassi, Kehrer – Bernat, Gueye, Di Maria – Mbappe, Neymar
Navas – Bernat, Kimbembe, Marquinos, Keher – Neymar, Gueye, Kouassi, Di Maria – Mbappe, Cavani (or Icardi or Sarabia)
By the way – from Leipzig and besides Werner, Upamecano, we should also look at Laimer and Sabitzer. Very industrious players.
“Reiss is a special player and can eliminate (opposition) players in a one on one”.
That is what Pepe has got to learn to do in the Premier League, with less of the ballerina moves. Eliminate!
What with Torreira fractured ankle, John-Jules fractured tarsal added to Chambers,Tierney, Holding, Bellerin ths season, does Dean have a hot line to the god of football? Second thoughts, the Devil.
Let alone Soares and Sue’s former lover!
😆 I still think he’s hot, LBG!!
Morning all ….
…. New post ….