Partey Time at the Etihad? Arsenal Pre-match and Predicted Starting 11

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Partey to Feature?

Welcome back, real football. I have missed you.

Internationals are OK in big tournaments (World Cup, Euros, African Cup of Nations etc) but the rest of the time? Nah.

This evening Mikel Arteta’s carefully tended Arsenal revival faces a significant challenge away at the Etihad.

There are several interesting dimensions to the clash: Action Man facing his old boss and mentor Pep Guardiola; a possible first run out for Thomas Partey in an Arsenal shirt; Manchester City coming off the back of some questionable results including a thrashing by Leicester and a draw with Leeds.

As Arsenal fans, all we can hope for is that the growing improvement we have been showing under Arteta’s leadership maintains its momentum, regardless of the result.

We have definitely been better organised and more defensively secure, although we have still made heavy weather of some games, including the victories over Sheffield United and, a few weeks earlier, West Ham.

However, we seem to be able to up our game against the “better” teams, perhaps because they don’t sit back and defend so deeply against us, which exposes our lack of midfield creativity.

This is a tough one to call and I would be happy with a point, but also feel we should go in to the game seriously intending to win all three. Auba will be our principal threat as always, but I have high hopes of Pepe getting on the scoresheet.

Indeed my line-up includes a start for Pepe (he deserves it after his showing against Sheffield) and, I’m afraid, I have limited our new boy Partey to the bench, but with a debut appearance at some point in the game.

My reason for not starting Partey is that he joined up with the squad only a couple of days ago after his international exertions and will not have had much time to absorb Arteta’s coaching preferences. However, as I say, I expect him to get a run out from the subs’ bench.

I am leaving out Tierney because, at the time of writing, it is unclear whether he has been declared safe to play after having come into contact with someone who had Covid 19, but the omens don’t look good. We could really do with him against City. In his absence I prefer AMN over Kola.

Given City’s attacking prowess, it has to be a back five, but switching to a back four when we’re in possession.

My starting 11:


Bellerin – Holding – Luiz  – Gabriel – Maitland-Niles

Xhaka – Ceballos

Pepe – Lacazette – Aubameyang

Come on the Mighty Arse!



43 Responses to Partey Time at the Etihad? Arsenal Pre-match and Predicted Starting 11

  1. Sue says:

    Hurrah, hurrah, matchday is upon us and about bleedin’ time! Nice one, Rocky 👍
    I’m confused about KT.. some reports say he’s been cleared, others aren’t so sure – so it’s safe to say I’ve not got a scooby!
    It’s a bonus about KDB.. still gonna be tough. Our last away win against a top 6 side – 5 years ago, yikes!! 😳 – was against this lot… so come on!!! 3 points in the bag, please!!

  2. Sue says:

    Our U23s also play today – 2pm against the red Mancs… 🤞

  3. Rasp says:

    Thanks once again Rocky, it’s hard to argue with your logic regarding Partey … except he is exactly the presence we will need to avoid being overrun in midfield, so I’m 50/50 on that decision.

    MA or AM as you call him has fared well in his first few encounters with Pep,he knows everything he can about his mentor’s thinking and approach so I guess that gives him a tactical advantage.

    I’d be disappointed with anything less than a draw. Recent results would suggest a win is more likely, but I’m probably getting carried away. We’ve had too many false dawns since Arsene left, a slow steady improvement will do = beating the teams we should be beating and competing with those at the top.

  4. RA says:

    That’s a very good Post, Rocky, thank you.

    It is a strange game to call.

    The history of the last few years has the Blue Mooners as shoo-ins to win this game, but we are given cause for hope, since Mikel took the reins, and we have beaten them recently, too.

    A win would be great – and why not? – but I would be more than happy with a draw.

  5. RA says:

    My attention was drawn to an article in the Daily Mail today, written by Micah Richards, who was a big Arsenal fan as a kid, despite being born in Leeds.

    He said that in his estimation 17 years ago (2003) when he was a youth academy player at City and Arsene was in his pomp, that he believed Manure had the best players, and greatest success (courtesy of their huge transfer budget??) and Pool had the greatest ‘heart and soul’ (??) but Arsenal played the greatest football. Good man!! 😁

    There was more but he praised Mikel for his grip on the management and coaching, and the huge change in the way the current Arsenal players listened to him, and how that had improved their game play.

    The article headline, and also how it finished, was to highlight that altho people (other fans) laughed when disgruntled Gooner fans went hysterical on the Arsenal Fan TV, when Arsenal were terrible (under Emery) – but that no one was laughing now.

  6. RockyLives says:

    I see that the El Scousico derby ended up as a draw.

    Which seems to confirm that (a) Everton are a real threat this season and (b) Liverpool probably won’t be running away with the title quite so easily this time round.

    It’s already a very peculiar season and if we can keep getting results who knows what might happen?

    It’s certainly hard to predict how it’s going to shake down. In addition to Everton, the Spuds are doing well, as are Villa. Chelsea are there or there abouts. ManUre have enough squad quality that they’re bound to start doing well when they get a proper manager.

    Meanwhile ‘Pool and Man City are stumbling. Let’s hope the light blue half of that equation have a really big stumble today.

  7. Sue says:

    I’m always mesmerized by Micah Richards on the box, RA…the size of those arms and those tight sleeves 😂😂😂 I also saw that article, loved it!!

    Our U23s are 1-1 at the break. Nelson with the goal. Saliba, ESR, Willock and Cedric all playing.

    What’s happened to VAR and Pool this season? No more favours for Klopp! It was shocking though..offside? Really? How?! Oh well, Everton deserved their point…
    Is it 17.30 yet?!! 😀

  8. Sue says:

    Man City XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Mahrez, Foden, Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero

    Arsenal XI: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Saka, Xhaka, Ceballos, Willian, Aubameyang, Pepe

  9. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Sue – but Wow!

    Auba central?

    Tierney playing!

    Pepe and Saka starting!


    (Only 8 out of 11 from my line-up though 😦 )

  10. LBG says:

    With four at the back, true test of Hector’s defensive positioning today.
    Hope Pepe and Saka can tear them apart.

  11. LBG says:

    So perhaps not four at the back!

  12. LBG says:

    So perhaps not four at the back! Prefer that for this game actually, esp with Aguero playing.

  13. RockyLives says:

    I reckon 5 at the back (Saka left wing back) but slipping into a 4 when we’re attacking

  14. Aaron says:

    Stepping in and up as usual.
    Those 3 are the hardest ones:-)
    Glad Mikel has options on the bench and in defense,
    Let’s just keep on keepin’ on.

    Excited to see the gradual growth of this club again.

  15. Sue says:

    Holding injured… Luiz in….

  16. Rasp says:

    What a shame Campbell is analysing the game in the studio … he’s quite boring and not the brightest ….

  17. Rasp says:

    The ref needs to get a hold of this game … city are fouling us high up the pitch every time we get possession

  18. Aaron says:

    Man, that was a crappy goal, aguero is the slowest guy up top and he just wanders into the box and Leno spills as he does right into the center. damn….

    Regroup men, and just make a good pass to get a chance on goal.

  19. RC78 says:

    Anybody else missing Martinez’s safe hands and footwork…?

  20. RA says:

    Trouble is, RC, whatever the answer to your question – it makes no difference, as it is history.

    For what it is worth – given a choice – I would not be sure which to choose, as Leno will get better as he recovers from his long term injury.

    Go with what we have! 😁.

  21. Rasp says:

    Nailed on penalty … why wasn’t that reviewed?

  22. Aaron says:

    Much better towards the end of the half, 2 clear chances on goal, unfortunate not to be level. Xhaka with a very nice through pass.
    Leno needs to smoke a spliff and calm down, his kicks have just been coming right back at him. Play out the back run aguero into the gound.
    Let’s see what Mikel can conjure at halftime.

  23. LBG says:

    Big decisions at halftime for Mikel.
    Laca for Willian for me sooner.

  24. Rasp says:

    The ref is a homer … no doubt

  25. Rasp says:

    Pep must be getting desperate … he’s coaching his team to be masters of the dark arts … cynical and nasty fouls being committed all over the pitch

  26. LBG says:

    Not the first time for this ref either, Rasp. Cynical cheating clear and obvious. Shared as always.

  27. LBG says:

    Certainly a mixture of poise and ugly, dirty, cheating, typical Manshitty performance.

  28. LBG says:

    Referee and two Edison saves the difference. Still much to be content with, and would still choose our squad and our Manager for honest football performance.

  29. Rasp says:

    Yes I guess we can be pleased with the performance … we could have scored three or four if we’d been more composed in front of goal … but it did seem like we were playing 12 men

  30. RockyLives says:

    Not a dishonourable defeat by any means but it’s disappointing how little we troubled them in the last half hour.

  31. Sue says:

    Not the performance I was expecting…. rather frustrating. Thankfully it wasn’t on ppv, or I’d have been even more Po’d……

  32. Gööner In Exile says:

    I think I fall in the Rocky and Sue camp.

    Yes we didn’t get humiliated, but apart from the fifteen-twenty minute spell before the end of the first half thought we were a bit too cautious. It is clear why as in second half if we did commit a few too many we were quickly on the back foot and chasing.

    But the question of improvement has to be how we go to grounds like this and take the game to opposition. That’s not to say I want to go down 5-0 and say I was entertained but I do want to see us get the most of the likes of Willian, Tierney and Saka. Thought Tierney and Saka were great to watch today when we had the ball.

  33. RockyLives says:

    I agree with all of that. It’s a dilemma playing a team as good in possession as City and with such capable attackers: overcommit and get blown away, or be over cautious and fail to draw blood.

    We probably erred too much on the cautious side tonight – especially in the final half hour.

  34. RockyLives says:

    I also thought our set pieces were uncharacteristically poor – corners and free kicks.

    Don’t know why Pepe wasn’t taking the corners as his have mostly been excellent.

  35. Sue says:

    GIE.. Bang on about Saka and Tierney! Saka was my motm… what a gem he is!

    Rocky.. don’t you remember how poor Pepe’s corners were against Liverpool? That could explain it….

  36. RockyLives says:

    Fair point Sue. He was such a good corner taker when he first arrived.

    Seems like our anti-corner coaches have got to him.

  37. LBG says:

    Last moan!
    No review from Antony Taylor, another ****, of the penalty. Two or three fouls on Saka and others on breakaways, the worst kind of pro……cheating foul. And the scape down the achilles on Tierney was a red.
    Dont mind losing to a better team that play honest football. Hate Shitty cheats!!

  38. LB says:

    I have been pursuing one of my favourite past times which is eating sea food, this time the location was Puglia.


    Saka was the shinning light today.

  39. RockyLives says:

    Where in Puglia LB?

  40. Gööner In Exile says:

    LBG it is well known Pep’s City commit fouls high up the pitch. As you say though some nastier elements today which seemed to have nothing to do with us escaping a press, just wanting to kick. Don’t get me wrong Busquets was a prime b******d but he was one of the few rather than one of the many.

    I can’t remember Barca’s frontline and midfield being so keen to foul high up the pitch, maybe it is the PL influence.

    Sue watching Saka today was a joy, so glad we have him on a contract now, the boy is full of talent. The defence is starting to take shape. Hopefully Partey is the final piece of the midfield jigsaw, because still centre midfield and a bit of creativity to get the most from the wide players is potentially where we are lacking at the moment.

  41. LBG says:

    Sure LB will be more specific, and interesting that he loves a part of Italy that we too love. Simple put, the heel of Italy.

  42. LBG says:

    Liverpool game
    “When the boot is raised that high (and poor old abused Mane, IS NOT TOUCHED BUT GOES DOWN AS THOUGH HE HAS BEEN SHOT IN THE HEAD), it is always (sometimes) deemed as dangerous play”.
    Sorry lads and lasses, refereeing/VAR/”professional” football cheats are ruining our game.

  43. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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