Back with a Bang? Leeds pre-match and predicted line-up

A false dawn over N17

My word, the Premier League table makes for ugly reading this morning.

Not that I can get too worked up about seeing the N17 reprobates up in nosebleed territory.

Their supporters have a near-60 year history of getting over excited and they’ve experienced more false Dawns than RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Let them start celebrating as if they are certs to win the league; let them keep harping on about how the current season finishes in 2021 and that they always win things in a year “that ends in a 1” (a tradition that conveniently overlooks the years 1891, 1911, 1931, 1941, 1971, 2001 and 2011). Let’s just remind them that the Arsenal likes to win things in years that start with a 1, or a 2.

The toxic combination of the EPL’s nastiest club and the EPL’s nastiest manager will bring about its own inevitable downfall, even if the poison turns out to be the slow working variety.

Aside from the Spuds, all the other results yesterday were not great from an Arsenal perspective. Manchester United and Chelsea both won. Meanwhile Aston Villa, whom we had made look like champions-in-waiting, were beaten at home by lowly Brighton.

We are in real danger of being left behind if we don’t start putting a run of results together soon.

It has been very up and down so far, with encouraging wins (Man Utd away) being interspersed with frustrating losses (Leicester and Villa at home). However, for all the frustration of flip-flopping between victories and defeats it’s worth remembering that from a points perspective it’s better to win one and lose one than to have two draws, even though the latter allows you to feel good about being undefeated.

Leeds at Elland Road will be no pushover. They have had some good results already this season and have an impressive manager.

We have team selection issues through injury (Partey is still out and Elneny and Kolasinac tested positive for Covid) and possible exhaustion of players used very heavily on international duty (Saka and Tierney played a lot of minutes while Aubameyang ended up sleeping on an airport floor in Africa).

But our biggest issue remains the same: we’re just not creating chances. El Patron has had two weeks to try and figure out how to rectify that problem, even if he has had to do so without most of his squad.

Will he start Aubameyang down the middle as so many have been demanding? I suspect not. But I do expect changes. Here’s the line-up I think we might see:


Bellerin – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney

Maitland-Niles – Xhaka – Ceballos

Pepe – Nketiah – Aubameyang

I will be extremely disappointed if Willian is in the starting eleven. He has been awful all season apart from the opening day victory over Fulham and against Aston Villa he was worse than awful.

A win today will restore some belief.

Come on you Reds.



53 Responses to Back with a Bang? Leeds pre-match and predicted line-up

  1. RockyLives says:

    PS. Before you point it out, yes I know that the picture is not really N17.

    That’s obvious – there are trees in the picture.

  2. LBG says:

    Morning Rocky
    Oh so agree about Willian…..and Laca, please!!!
    Dont think he will change from his standby three at back and are you ruling out Saka then?
    I think AM-N right wing back, Saka left wing back and, although I think your front three may be right, I would shake up the whole system and play Smith-Rowe centrally behind Aubang and Eddie playing closer together. ( What do you mean Dreamland?)
    Happy Sunday AAers.

  3. RockyLives says:

    Morning LBG

    I worry that Saka is Nacka’d and therefore might be used as an option off the bench.

    I really hope Pepe starts. He can be frustrating but the lad certainly has a goal or two in him.

  4. RA says:

    Hi Rocky,

    I am less than convinced that we will win this afternoon.

    No evidence for saying that, but touching on what LGB said, I think we have a gaping hole in the team as far as our creative side is concerned, and so far as E Smith Rowe is concerned, he could be the one to bridge that gap, except that he does not seem to be on Arteta’s radar, unlike some of the other youngsters.

    I cannot see him even being on the bench, which is a short-sighted policy, and does not bode well.

    As for the nonsense about sending Özil into exile, (and that is nonsense as far as I am concerned), that may be all well and good from the club’s perspective, but only makes sense, to a fan (me) who does not give a stuff about club politics, and just wants to win games and trophies, if a replacement for this resultant lack of creativity is available, (maybe ESR — unless he has also been a naughty boy, or is not as good, in the eyes of Arteta & Co, as many of us fans think he is.

  5. RC78 says:

    Most likely team out: 343
    Leno – Holding, Luiz, Gabriel – Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, AMN – Willian, Laca, Auba

    The team I would like to see: 352
    Leno – Xhaka, Luiz, Gabriel – Bellerin, AMN, Ceballos, Willock, Saka – Pepe, Auba

  6. RockyLives says:

    Good day Redders

    I think some of us are beginning to suspect that if Arteta has a major fault it may be that he is overly cautious.

    It is not lost on me that Saka, Willock, AMN, Martinelli, Nelson and Nketiah all had their principal breakthroughs under Emery.

    Not that I want Emery back (far from it) but I would like to see Mikel take some more risks with the young ones.

    I mean, Willock – after his MoTM performances in the Europa League – must be wondering what he has to do to get some decent playing time in the Premier League.

  7. RC78 says:

    I think we need to see Auba in the middle to add depth to our play through the center and I think Willock should be given a start.

  8. RockyLives says:


    Sorry, but I have never been convinced when Auba plays through the middle. He can’t hold the ball up so it usually means we lose possession too often.

    That’s not to say we could not devise a system that allows us to make it work, but I don’t know what that system would be.

    I think Auba would work brilliantly in an old fashioned front two alongside a more physical presence like a Drogba, Giroud type of player. With two wide midfielders pushing on.

    But I think that just means my head is stuck in the 1990s.

  9. RC78 says:

    I agree with you RL. Maybe our best line-up is with 2 players up front and maybe it is 442 if we have all our players fit:

    Leno – AMN, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney – Pepe (or Willan?), Partey, El Neny, Saka – Auba, Laca or Nketiah or Martinelli

    I think Martinelli has all it takes to take the space behind defenders but also to hold up the ball. So let us see…

    My worry is of course Luiz who just does better in a back 3 so that s why I was thinking of a 352…Let us see but clearly we need to have some of our players back and we also need to inject some pressure, intensity and creativity in this team.

  10. LBG says:

    RA /Rocky
    Smith- Rowe played and scored on Friday for U23s and that may be something else to kibosh my desire apart fro Mikel’s reluctance. I was please to hear Saka poo pooing the idea that he was playing too much – ” I’m am following my dream, how can I be playing too much.
    Also believe Willock should certainly be considered in that forward/ central position, and must be ” wondering” big time. ( I hope one of the things Mikel is NOT remembered for in the future, is wasting talent we already have).
    And finally, it is because Aubang cannot play with his back to goal, and need to take the ball inside or outside the wide(er) defender that I believe working off and Eddie ( or Martinelli) might work.
    Good to be taking Arsenal and not bloody Internationals. COYG, make us smile.

  11. LBG says:

    “off and with”

  12. LBG says:


  13. LBG says:

    I give up phone, you win…..

  14. Sue says:

    Goals this season:
    Calvert-Lewin 10
    Arsenal 9
    😳 Sheesh!! Time to start performing boys… we’re behind and I’d hate for the gap to become even bigger!!

    I have been looking forward to this game all season, please don’t disappoint!! Wish Ayling was still ours… COYG
    Luiz has just become a dad, be great for him to get on the scoresheet!

  15. LB says:

    I am going to go way out on a limb in my prediction.


    ———Soares, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney

    ———–Ceballos, Xhaka, AMN


  16. fred1266 says:

    Willock to start showing faith for his good play lately nice

  17. Sue says:

    Arsenal XI: Leno, Bellerín, Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Tierney, Ceballos, Xhaka, Willian, Willock, Pépé, Aubameyang(c)

    Subs: Nelson, Nketiah, Mustafi, Lacazette, Rúnarsson, Maitland-Niles, Saka

  18. LB says:

    God, I am bloody useless at the team guessing malarky.

  19. RockyLives says:

    Makes two of us LB

  20. RC78 says:

    So far…
    – Bellerin, Willian, Ceballos, Auba – useless
    – Pepe, Willock – Frustrating
    – Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka, Tierney, Leno – OK

  21. RC78 says:

    I think Pepe needs to play on the left side and Willian on the right.
    Willock needs to play slightly closer to Auba too.

  22. LBG says:

    I’m afraid Pepe and Aubang need ” everything to be perfect for them”. What neither do is make the extra happen, stretch that little bit further, sprint that little harder, believe that little bit more. They dont have the desire of Ian Wright, and at the moment it is only that that will bring us a goal.

  23. LBG says:

    Pepe will get even less out of Ayling!

  24. RC78 says:

    Willian is going through the game like a ghost…

    I think Pepe and Willock must have had the most dribbles for us, no?

    Maybe we take Ceballos out because he is just been absent and make Willock play a bit deeper and we bring in Nelsson?

  25. RC78 says:

    At least Nelson is in for Willian!

  26. fatgingergooner says:

    Upto now I would say Pepe is one of the worst PL signings of all time when you consider the cost.

    What a knob.

  27. Aaron says:

    gdang amateurs, seriously. $ dollar babies…

    In the game until that moment. It IS so hard to cheer for this squad of petulant brats….

  28. RC78 says:

    Well Pepe clearly frustrating and frustrated!

  29. LBG says:

    So, thank you Pepe, thank you Antony Taylor just what we needed!
    And Dani and X will now be even more useless as creative or defensive picks.

  30. fatgingergooner says:


    Not sure the whole squad are the same. We just seem to have individuals that don’t seem to want to do the work. Pepe’s attitude looks terrible a lot of the time. You wonder what someone like Nelson has to do to get in front of him and Willian. Much rather us play Saka and Nelson than these pricks

  31. Aaron says:

    fgg, you are correct, trying not play the name game, but Leeds entire team plays with absolute conviction, and we do not see that at our club consistently as a team.

  32. LBG says:

    What we have now is a defence and goalkeeper that have done very little wrong, and NO midfield or forwards!!

  33. Red Arnie says:

    Thank you, Rocky, thanks folks. Not in a mood to complain, about anything, but somehow got out of jail.

    Oh Pepe, silly silly boy.

  34. RockyLives says:

    Positives/Mitigating Factors:
    Got a point.
    Played with 10 men for long periods and got a point.
    Our (arguably) first choice MF pairing was unavailable.
    Leno was outstanding.
    Lady Luck smiled on the Arse.

    Still a long way from solving our creativity problem.
    We rode our luck (three Leeds efforts off the woodwork).
    We don’t look like a confident team.
    Defence did pretty well and Gabriel is on course for player of the season if he keeps this up.
    Auba was poor in his touch and decision making.

    (You may have noticed I have a downer on Willian)

  35. jjgsol says:

    2 shots on target.

    I missed the first 40 minutes of the 2nd half, but one shot was by Saka who, perhaps, should have hit it the first time.

    What was the other?

    Was it before Pepe was sent off or after?

    Lucky Arsenal is now coming back into vogue.

  36. RockyLives says:

    I’m also not prepared to throw Pepe under the bus.

    It was clearly an out-of-character moment for him (who knows what the Leeds twat said or did previously).

    If you can leave aside the ridiculous transfer fee (which is not his fault) he has been OK and at least carries a goal threat, unlike just about every other Arsenal player these days (including Auba).

    I hope he gets a run of starts when he returns from his suspension.

  37. RockyLives says:

    That Saka chance… Wrighty would have hit it first time and he would have gone for a chip.

  38. fatgingergooner says:

    Saka has to shoot first time.

    Take a point with 10 men though as tbh I thought we might lose with 11!

    Arteta is foaming! Good to see.

    Fair enough Pepe doesn’t need throwing under the bus, but it has to be made very clear to these players that it’s not good enough, and at least Arteta does that. It’s the only way the petulance and pathetic actions will stop.

    As he’s said before, it’s a process.

  39. fatgingergooner says:

    If we are staying positive (which Arteta always seems to do!) then it’s a clean sheet and we had the best chance even with 10 men. I know we lost 3-0 last game out but I really do believe the defence and GK are on the right track. The contrast from Emery and Arteta is night and day in terms of goals and chances conceded. I also think we look more equipped in midfield when everyone fit, but it’s fair to say we are still missing that goalscoring midfielder. Having said that, I look at the goal scoring charts and the days of a CM banging in goals is over. It’s all forwards and wide attackers. I really would like to see Saka and Nelson getting starts alongside Willock. These lads are ready for it now and surely can’t be any worse than those they would replace. Looking at the table, we’ve played some tough games away from home and it’s really tight between all the sides so we still have the opportunity to have a great season if we start finding the net.

    We all wanted a better defence when Arteta came in, so can we really complain when we get it and our attack suffers? I feel it’s easy for any manager to improve one side of the team (attack or defence) but it’s a great manager that can find a balance.

  40. RockyLives says:

    Excellent points FGG

  41. LBG says:

    A miss hit shot into the ground from Aubang.

    Agree almost completely with Ginge and his detailed thoughts on my briefer summation. Still believe however in Smith-Rowe we have an attacking central midfielder who can score from that position, like a Gerrard, Lampard, even Ramsey with late runs and a proper shot ( which so many others in the squad DONT have).
    Based on the last 5/6 years of Wenger and Emery, I dont think it is so easy to sort out a sieve of a defence. For that reason, I give massive credit to Mikel for both his coaching of Holding and Bellerin for instance, and him/ others who scouted Gabriel, Tierney and I hope Saliba.
    Luiz, X, Dani are not up to it, Laca also in my opinion, and like Ginge I want and have always wanted for “youth to be given a chance”.

    Sorry to be the one not to be very positive, but still feel there is a foundation and talent in the full squad.

  42. LB says:

    Worrying times, good to get a point, of course, but against a more clinical side we could get seriously embarrassed and we know who we have coming, worrying times for sure.

    Nelson may probably not get such a golden opportunity to cement himself a starting place in the team, Pepe and Willian could not make it easier for him if they tried.

    Don’t think Willock did him self any favours but he did perk up when Nelson came on, I got the feeling that he felt better with another mate out there. Looking more and more like the combo of Saka, Willock and Nelson needs further exploration.

  43. LBG says:

    Jota is playing all action, scoring midfield.

  44. RC78 says:

    Leno – 8, our MOTM
    Bellerin – 6, nothing too good but nothing too bad either
    Holding – 7, did well
    Gabriel – 8, clearly a solid defender
    Tierney – 7, did well but shy going forward even when we were 11
    Pepe – 3, sloppy match for him and a stupid dismissal
    Xhaka – 7, a solid performance
    Ceballos – 5, not a worthy starter
    Willock – 6, willing and tried but not enough edge going forward or defensively
    Willian – 4, a ghastly appearance
    Auba – 5, where is last year’s Auba?

    Saka – 6, a good game until the injury and he could/should have put us one nil up.
    Nelson – 6, added pace and trickery

  45. jjgsol says:

    So the defence is on the right track is it?

    Leeds had 25 shots, that is one every 3.6 minutes, and hit the woodwork 3 times.

    Is that sign of an improvement after 43 games?

    Even allowing for losing Pepe after 51 minutes, he was after all an attacker, who was hardly involved in the game in the first half anyway.

    I am sorry, but the wishful thinking is now clouding even the most basic reality.

    Our team is as much of a shambles now as it was at the end of Emery, no attack, no midfield, no creativity and a defence that allows 25 shots against it.

  46. jjgsol says:

    RC78, you ask where is last year’s Auba? The answer is simple, still waiting for someone to pass to him.

    This new ultra-defensive, but oh so porous team we have has no space for anyone capable of creating anything of merit for the benefit of attackers who are barely involved.

    7s and 8s for a defence that allowed 25 shots against it? What are the criteria for a good performance?

    Kicked the ball once. maybe?

  47. Sue says:

    Pepe will miss the NLD – the spuds will appeal the decision 😂

  48. Sue says:

    9 – Arsenal have scored just nine goals in this season’s Premier League; it’s their lowest tally after their first nine games of any league season since 1986-87 (six). Lacking.

    😳 that was before I even became a gooner!!! Sheesh!

  49. jjgsol says:

    That is 1 goal in the last 5 games, and that was a penalty.

    Just think, after 86 games, perhaps Arteta’s team can manage 2 goals in 5 games, possibly one from open play, or am I being too optimistic?

  50. RC78 says:

    Hi jigsol – I think the main issues for us facing shots were mostly the lack of work from our wingers, Ceballos, Willock and even Auba. I think Leeds had maybe 2 OK chances in the game and yet we still had a better chance than them to score a goal…

    I am also super annoyed with our performance but I thought (for once) that Leno did pretty well although he really needs to stop boxing the ball all the time, that Holding was less vulnerable, that Gabriel was solid and that Tierney was industrious and that by some sort of twisted fate, Xhaka was our best midfielders mostly due to a rather disciplined display. So if we suffered, I think it is because the defensive bloc was not great but it was mostly due to the players in front of our defense.

    Arteta brought belief and a FA Cup back last season but he really needs to find a way to do better in the league. If we don’t finish Top 6 this year, it will be a massive disappointment and I am not confident that we can pull another FA Cup win but we may have a shot at the European League – just intuition but let us see.

  51. jjgsol says:

    I admire your optimism.

    I am not seeking Arteta’s removal.

    I agree that he can be the person for the job, but he seems to have lost his way.

    43 games of general abject failure, punctuated with the occasional either lucky victory or one against teams that are even worse than we are, must be sufficient to show that this is true

    He needs help to develop his ideas in a more productive manner, one which involves more than running around a lot.

    Perhaps bringing Wenger or some other experienced older manager in on a temporary basis to advise and guide him about man management and team development might be an answer, but clearly, the way we are going is nowhere and we are going there fast.

    The exile of Ozil must stop as soon as possible and there must be a way to combine defensive steel with attacking ability.

    The attackers are starved of opportunities, which is sapping their confidence. Is it surprising that we can only muster 2 shots on target, against the team that has conceded more goals than most if not every other team in the league, and both of those were miserably fluffed?

    We cannot continue to blame the referees for our performances, because whatever bias they may display does not excuse the pathetic conduct of both our defence and attack, let alone the non-existing midfield.,

    I am neither a football manager nor expert, but the current shortcomings of our team hit you in the face each time you watch them.

    I used to look forward to watching our games.

    Now I am bored and uninterested.

  52. LBG says:

    25, generally poor shots, was almost exclusively all about the chasm in front of the defence and the speed of movement of the ball through our so called pressing forward line into that chasm.

  53. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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