Pick Your Europa League Starting 11

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is unknown.jpeg

The transfer window is over, there are some really tough Premier League games coming up and the club (apparently) has registered its squad for the Europa League campaign… minus the names of Ozil and Sokratis.

With all that in mind, here’s a simple question: what would be your starting line-up in our first EL fixture (away at Rapid Vienna on October 22nd)?

Vienna are the toughest of our group stage opponents so I think we’ll put out a reasonably strong side (there will be more scope for fringe players against Dundalk in particular).

However, with a league fixture against Leicester City just two days later, Action Man has some juggling to do. We don’t want to jeopardise Premier League points, but nor do we want to get our EL campaign off to a bad start and break the momentum we’re building.

Here’s my suggestion. Feel free to add yours in comments:


Soares – Holding – Luiz – Kolasinac

Maitland-Niles – Xhaka – Willock

Willian- Nketieh – Nelson

With some firepower on the bench should we need it (in the shape of Auba, Laca and Ceballos).

Over to you.



39 Responses to Pick Your Europa League Starting 11

  1. LBG says:

    Looks good to me Rocky! Do we think Saliba will be loaned out? I would still be keen to see him this year and, in fact, if we are going to revert to four at the back ( my preference as well)to give him a chance alongside Daviiid in Europe.

  2. Pete the Thirst says:

    Give Gunnersaurus a run out in goal.

    @LBG good question. Saliba was the best thing since sliced bread last year. I read rumours of family issues, but Arteta has taken a look and doesn’t think he’s at the level required. That’s concerning considering the amount of funds and time we have spent on him.

    Gabriel on the other hand looks like an ‘oven ready deal’. Very impressed so far.

  3. RA says:

    Before delighting in your Post, Rocky, I would like to comment on a couple of yesterday’s comments.

    1. Le Coq your brilliance at cracking anagrams is a credit to you, and a joy to check them, and find there has been no cheating.

    Your anagrammatical skills are, in a different way, comparable to the Rasper’s extraordinary skill with The Times crossword and I am in awe of you both!! 😁

    2. FGG, a very readable and well reasoned comment examining the prospective ding dong that will occur with so many clubs trying to get a gallon of them (8) into a quart pot (4) qualification grid.

    Well done, guys. 👍👍

  4. RA says:

    I know a quart is only the equivalent of 2 pints — but I’m sure no one will notice!!

    O0000er Mrs — what ave I just done??? 🤪

  5. RA says:


    Saliba spent a lot of time injured last season and had very little game time and of course the French League was curtailed by Covid – so all will be well when he has fully recovered and recovered his stamina etc.

  6. Jey Dee says:


  7. GoonerB says:

    Morning all. Fantastic to see our resident Wichitarian embracing imperial measurements 🙂

    Thanks Rocky,

    The Saliba thing confuses me. I understand that he is 19 and not the finished article but he was playing at a team in Ligue 1, the top tier French division. Not only that but his stats have been touted as very good, excellent if you consider his age, and St. Etienne really seemed to value him.

    Surely that speaks of a player that comes to us and is at least worthy of a starting spot on the bench and is slowly integrated into more 1st team action over the season. Is it not a good idea that he actually spends time around an experienced CB like Luiz this season receiving guidance?

    I think I need RC78 to enlighten us. He will have seen more of Saliba than most of the rest of us and maybe be able to explain how he seems now to be deemed off the pace when everything seemed to point to him being at least ready to operate as a back up CD with increasing playing time as he adapted.

  8. RA says:

    Your suggestion seems as good as any other combination of squad players, with a sprinkling of stardust. [Willian, Eddie]

    Eddie matched Shearer’s and Jeffers’ (remember him) goal scoring record for the U21s, so I hope he emulates the former’s career and not the latter’s.

    I read that Saliba’s loan deal at St Etienne collapsed in the last minutes of the international transfer window which was a shame as it was too late to arrange an alternative.

    However, as the UK transfer window stays open until next week (16th Oct) it is quite possible that Saliba, Nelson and Willock will get loan deals with Championship teams.

    The sub’s bench with top players on call is essential, and I think we will be OK.

    Thanks for the Post, Rocky.

  9. LB says:

    We have 8 central defenders, how much playing time is Saliba really going to get, far better to go out on loan.

  10. RA says:

    Oi, GB,

    My 11:08 answered your Saliba question before you even asked it. At your service. 🤪

    We are called Wichitans. 😉

  11. GoonerB says:

    I’m not against it LB if Arteta and the coaching team feel it is the right thing, but something still doesn’t make sense.

    It would appear that (if we had been able to) we were looking to move on Socratis and Mustaffi for certain. Chambers was touted as being on his way out but the injury has stopped this. Either way he will not be available as a fully match fit CD until we are 3/4 through the season. Holding was also almost on his way out before a last minute reprieve.

    All of that tends to indicate that as of only a couple of months ago, Saliba was earmarked as a key core CD this season, ahead of Socratis, Mustaffi, Holding. It looked like he would be one of the key 3-4 CD’s along with Luiz, Gabriel, and maybe one other. Its not like he has come from the 2nd or 3rd tier so they would have seen plenty of him playing against decent opposition. Something still doesn’t add up.

  12. GoonerB says:

    Haha RA. I may have to ignore the official title and stick with Wichitarian…..it sounds more grand to my humble ear.

    Why not play Saliba in the under 23’s for a while? That way if he recovers fitness quickly we have him available.

  13. GoonerB says:

    Rocky, sorry I’ve not really answered your post.

    Firstly I don’t know who the 24 squad is. I’ve searched it but can’t seem to find the list. I did see something saying some players (like Saka for instance) were in the “B” squad, but I have no idea what that means or if they can be selected. Maybe only if an “A” team player gets injured?

    Can someone enlighten on whose in the squad and what it means? Again not certain but it seems to be that the initial 24 is for the group stages only and can be changed after that. Does anyone know this?

    On another squad note, it looks like Arteta has his work cut out naming the overall EPL 25 man squad. I had a quick look at it and have no idea how he will shape that and who misses out.

  14. RA says:

    You have a point there.

    When players go on loan, it is usually for a year, and unless all parties agree to it, the player cannot be recalled if there are problems later in the season.

    That means I agree with you. 😁

  15. RA says:


    UEFA have to receive the list of each clubs squad for the European competitions, and then publicise them altogether.

    You may not have found anything because the lists are not publicised until this morning — so hold tight, if they are not available yet – they will be soon.

  16. RA says:

    Sorry, GB,

    I should also have said the Premier squad is presented to the Premier League on the 20th October, so any list that is published before then is not authorised.

    Rumour is that Ozil has not made either the Premier or Europa squads.

    That is weird. Just pay him off if things have gone that far.

  17. RA says:

    Europa Squad.

    GK: Leno, Runaroundson, Macey, Hillson, Iliev.

    Defenders: Belli, Gabriel, Holdtight, Soarass, Mustafi, Chambers, Mari, Louise, Kola, Tierney

    MidF: Dani, Willian, AMN, Partey Piece, El Neny, Xhocker

    Forwards: Laca, Auba, Pepe, [Nelson, Saka, Willock, Smith Rowe Together – HGP]

  18. LB says:

    Ozil’s omission from the Europa squad can be rationalised, we don’t want him cup tied as that could further reduce his sellabilty.

    But if he hasn’t made the Premier squad, the club must be in negotiations to pay him off.

    Although, here’s a thought, if Ceballos gets injured who on earth would replace him and his creativity in the midfield for the rest of the season?

  19. RA says:

    That is a hypothetical question, LB, as Dani may never get injured, hopefully, but it is a fair question – who would replace him? — you might not think my answer is fair to you – but ……. Saka?? 😁

  20. LB says:

    And that is a fair answer RA, I would also like to see AMN given a chance.

    There have been a few of Mikel’s miracles so far most notably Martinez but Elneny, and AMN on the left are close too.

    I get the feeling that there will be more, AMN a success in central midfield is not completely beyond the realms of possibility.

    Bit early for Saka but who thought he would be capable of playing LB as well as he did?

  21. RockyLives says:

    Is our Prem squad confirmed? Or could Ozil still be in it?

    As others have mentioned, the window for deals with EFL clubs is not yet closed, so there’s always the possibility of a loan for Mesut at, say, Huddersfield or Coventry or similar.

    Of course we would have to cover some of his weekly wages (about £345k out of the £350k)…

  22. RA says:

    Rocky my boy, my 12:59 to his camel-lordship, GB, did mention that the squad details for the Premier have to be with the powers that be by the 20th October, at which time the squad rosters will be made publicly available.

    Here you are – the Evening Standard has this to say about Mesut;

    “Mesut Ozil is staring down the barrel of being left out of Arsenal’s Premier League squad and may have already played his last game for the Gunners.

    Ozil was not included on Arsenal’s 25-man list for the Europa League group stage and he is almost certain to miss out again when the club submits its squad to the Premier League on October 20, three days after the visit to Man City.

    Arsenal have 19 non-homegrown players over the age of 21 – two more than the limit allowed by both the Premier League and Uefa.

    Ozil is yet to play this season after Arsenal failed to agree a pay-off with their highest-earner, who has eight months remaining on his £350,000-a-week contract.

    Latest transfer news and rumours:

    The German, who last featured on March 7, can discuss a free transfer with other clubs in January, when he could also seal a move or be added to the domestic and European squads.

    Until then, Ozil is facing the prospect of sitting out the rest of the year unless he agrees a pay-off or an unlikely move to an EFL club before the October 16 domestic deadline.”

    As LB and I have been discussing, Dani has the skill and class to be a big asset to the team, and altho Saka is still a teenager we have all seen his class, and hopefully England will play him as a left Wingback tonight. So we do have options.

    For myself, I am bewildered by the club and Mesut being unable to get along — there should be a common sense approach to what is probably his last season, would be to get him fit, and if anything happens to Dani or Saka we have even more cover, which might take us up another level.

  23. RA says:


    In the past I have to admit that AMN has not been a player I particularly rate.

    But as you say, the influence of Mikel has been noticeable in improving the performances of many players, including AMN, and he, like Saka has already appeared on the England scene.

    So, my attitude has changed somewhat, provided he does not play at RB, as he and Belli are spectacularly unsuited for that position.

    Overall he has played very well this season. 😁

  24. LBG says:

    If Dani is injured…..Willian, Saka, Smith-Rowe to replace in that order and depending on opposition.

  25. LBG says:

    Ozil and Sokratis not named in Europa squad.

  26. Le Coq Monster says:

    Nice one Rocky.
    I reckon Captain Black will rotate all season in all comps.

    Hiya Redders, you know I love an anagram and I know I did this one many years ago, but it is still my favourite……………Piers Morgan`s full name is ……..Piers Stefan Pughe Morgan !…..and that my friend comes out as probably one of the most fitting anagrams ever !……..Huge Fat Penis Sperm Organ !

    Hope this comes out…………..Mikel! 😆

  27. RA says:

    Le Coq,


  28. GoonerB says:

    Haha LC, love the anagrams but what have you done to our Mikel? The hair is ok but you have aged him and given him a Maureen scowl.

    Are we really naming 5 keepers in that EL squad? If so, why? Surely 3 is the maximum needed. The early EL is a perfect place to try out certain formations and players such as Saka in the Ozil role for instance, so I would rather have a couple more young outfield players in there than 5 keepers.

  29. RA says:


    Your news might have confirmed my UEFA announcement @ 1:13.

    I don’t know why I bother with you and Rocky being right on the ball. 🤪

  30. RA says:

    Don’t fret, GB, I think Iliev has gone on loan.

  31. RockyLives says:

    So is Mikel more like Captain Black? Or Action Man?

    Or could it even be G.I. Joe (US equivalent of Action Man) or possibly Scott Tracy from Thunderbirds?

  32. GoonerB says:

    RA, I’m also not sure why it has got to this point with Ozil. Ultimately I will put my faith in Arteta, and he must be seeing something he is not happy with, and we need to trust him on this.

    I find it hard to believe that Ozil wouldn’t have wanted to go out with a bang in his last season with us and do what was required to get Arteta to play him.

    I have never been one to want him to do lung busting 60 yard runs back before going in with a sliding tackle on the edge of our box. I have always paid attention to the stats that show the distance he runs which put some of the arguments to bed about him being lazy.

    You really want ozil to press where he can in his “zone” but to hold a more advanced position and not track back to far so that he can put himself in space to be the “out ball” when we break down an attack. You always want him to get us on the front foot again.

    I never felt we set up the right team around him even from when we first got him, and felt it was somewhat criminal to get a player with his sublime ability and then not put the right framework in around him to maximise that.

    We never put the right solid defensive midfield structure behind him, and ignored that in the transfer market. We never set up with a proper pacey front 3 in front of him and ignored that in the transfer market.

    We often played a front 3 without specialist pacey wing forwards, frequently using a slower central midfielder in at least one of those wide attacking positions, who then invariably favoured drifting inside thus overly congesting the area Ozil operated in, and then played a slower target man up top.

    Players like Giroud and Ramsey were excellent players but didn’t have the pace to exploit Ozils quick thinking defence splitting passes. The balance was all wrong for Ozil.

    In many ways the team balance is now more suited than it ever has been to get the best out of Ozils skills while minimising his weaker points.

    He can now have 2 proper lynchpin more defence minded midfielders playing behind him, and there is now the pace and movement in the front 3 and overlapping fullbacks in abundance. This should be exactly the right time for him to shine.

  33. RA says:

    A superb appraisal, GB, I could not agree more — and I have missed your well thought out comments — and this one would have made a great Post. 😁

    The problem for us fans is that we do not know what has, or has not happened in the background – and we will have to wait until next summer when he might tell us from his perspective.

    You are right, of course, Arteta would not have wanted this to happen without there being a very serious problem with the player relationship, and if he has not been able to sort it out then there is sadly no hope.


  34. LB says:


    The prem squad hasn’t been announced yet, in a couple of weeks I believe, if Ozil isn’t in that then for all intents and purposes he will no linger be an Arsenal player.

    But in the mean time, the romantics can still dream.

  35. RC78 says:

    Little info on Saliba:
    He is a young and very talented Centre Back. He is good at anticipating and he is quite pacey as well. His passing is good and he is decent in the air. What he lacks is physicality. He is more of a Varane type of a Defender rather than a Van Dijk. He needs playing time and I think that because many defenders have stayed, Arteta feels like he could get more time at another club. I had indicated that he would need more time than Gabriel because physically, he needs to grow. Also, I am gutted we did not go for Fofana from St-Etienne – he is more like a hybrid Varane-Van Dijk and will make Leicester very happy. So overall, Saliba is definitely a good purchase and had more defensive players left the club, he would have been kept but now for his growth, a loan to an EPL, EFL or Scottish league could be an interesting option. He needs regular game time.

  36. LBG says:

    Feel for Saka tonight, and clear evidence of what were Mikel’s priorities. Saka has been faced on his normal left hand side with Keane as a centre back with no left foot meaning a turn inside every single time from him.
    Now Mings is on, immediately Saka is able to progress forward and RECEIVE THE BALL.
    Great if you are genuinely two footed, but minimally at centre back you must have a left sided player on the left side to enable a balanced approach to attack.

    And if only Coleman could cope with SakA not Sako….but he is Welsh!

  37. LBG says:

    Like RA, I feel your assessment of our use of Mesut could not have been more accurate. This will probably be our last conversations about a genius of a player whose talent shone most when he held a central position between the lines and had quick, intelligent runners in front of him. It was no coincidence that Ronaldo bemoaned his loss from Madrid more than any other player.
    As a romantic, I say thank you for your brilliance Mesut and for the brightness that you brought to the team, regretfully less often than we would have hoped for!

  38. 1979Gunner says:

    Great Ozil analysis Gooner B – makes sense but it seems that in whatever negotiations have happened neither ‘side’ is willing to budge.

    Saliba is a bit more mysterious. Yes I understand the arguement about lack of fitness/minutes BUT, a loan will mean £27m for a player who won’t have played for Arsenal in 2 years and is already miffed at whatever shenanigans which meant he missed the French Cup Final and the chance to return to St Etienne on loan. Something doesnt seem right – he looks frustrated.

  39. RockyLives says:

    New Post

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: