Arteta’s Dilemma: Vienna Preview & Predicted Line-Up

Oh, Vienna

The dilemma referred to in the headline is this: given that we have already qualified from our Europa League group, should we use tonight’s visit of Rapid Vienna to rest as many players as possible; or do we start some of the senior players in an attempt to rebuild confidence?

The down side to the second option is that we have a monster game looming on the horizon: away at the Armitage Shanks Arena in N17 against the table-topping Spuds, a fixture in which we can only hope that the opposition will be distracted by the nosebleeds they’ll be suffering from the unfamiliar altitude.

If we had a less high profile fixture on Sunday I think El Patron might even be tempted to start Aubameyang against the Austrians tonight to get his scoring juices flowing, with a view to starting him again on Sunday.

But given that there are only 67 hours between the end of tonight’s game and kicking off against the Spuds, I suspect Arteta will play it safe and stick with a similar team to the one that has started recent EL games. After all, caution seems to be our manager’s guiding principle at the moment, even though it’s not serving him well.

In fact Arteta may decide to send out an even weaker team this evening if, for example, he is planning to start Willock at Totteringham.

Kolasinac is available again after his stint in Covid quarantine, Partey is still out with his thigh injury but due to rejoin first team training. It’s highly unlikely he’ll be available for the weekend (sadly).

Here’s my guess at the team:


Soares – Mustafi – Holding – Kolasinac

Willock – Xhaka – Smith-Rowe

Pepe – Lacazette – Nelson

I’ve put Xhaka in the team in the expectation that he will not be starting on Sunday after his awful game against Wolves. And I have left Ainsley Maitland-Niles out because I am hoping he will start at the weekend and be given the job of marking Bale out of the game.

Vienna were disappointing in the first leg and whatever team we put out should expect to win tonight.

The Europa League is providing our only enjoyment at the moment so here’s to another entertaining outing and to us hitting our EL average of three goals per game.

In other news, I made the point in yesterday’s Post that I would like to see us get a fast, big, powerful centre forward in the January window. “Someone like Olivier Giroud from five years ago,” I said. I guess that must have rankled with Big Ollie because, as you may have seen, he banged in four goals for the Chavs last night.



39 Responses to Arteta’s Dilemma: Vienna Preview & Predicted Line-Up

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    I always said that Giroud was a good player. 😉 (Timing is everything)

    I have a ticket for the game tonight. Will be an interesting experience. I’ll give you my take on it tomorrow.

    Anybody else on here going?

  2. RockyLives says:

    I’m jealous Pete (I think).

    Do you feel like writing a report – it would be great to get one from an “in stadium’ supporter’s perspective after all this time…?

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    There is no dilemma, Rocky. Arteta will love to be in this utterly bearable lightness of being. For once. An inconsequential game yet great opportunity to send out a motivated bunch of players at the home of football to go and enjoy themselves.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Am also jealous of Pete.

  5. LBG says:

    Totally agree! My problem is with Rocky’s possible team and how many have ever been properly ” motivated”.
    Why not blood some of the even younger……. and keep them in for Sunday.

    No Vines representation – very rare – and, at this point anyway, we will not be attending the Home of Football this season. Our Dad is probably turning in his grave!

  6. Red Arnie says:

    Thank you, Rocky.

    Not too worried at this stage of the Thursday League. I expect the young guns to be fine.

    I expect self-preservation today, and throwing the kitchen sink in the NLD. I expect us to shave it on both occasions, just about.


  7. LB says:

    Can anyone work out who is playing just behind the front three?

  8. LB says:

    Lacazette as a number 10, where on earth does that go?

  9. Red Arnie says:


  10. LB says:

    I think that question just got answered…….


  11. LBG says:

    Mikel suggested Laca was going to play in a different position. Playing 2×10 with Nelson?

  12. LB says:

    2×10 hmmm, interesting, thanks

  13. Red Arnie says:

    LB. 🙂

  14. Red Arnie says:

    Good. 🙂

    I like the sight of Mari

  15. LBG says:

    Get a third goal and look to give Smith-Rowe, Balogun and Azeez a full half.

  16. LBG says:

    Please, please Mikel do not put Xhaka, Dani, and Willian back in for Sunday.
    Ainsley, Nelson, Eddie and Elneny must play against the Spuds

  17. LB says:

    I get the feeling that MA is prepping AMN and Elneny tonight ready to start on Sunday.

  18. LB says:

    Arteta’s good will has been scratched recently but if he plays Xhaka and Ceballos in front of the defence on Sunday and we lose, his good-will, will be mauled.

  19. LBG says:

    Why do our goalkeepers parry out into danger?
    A rocket is required, Mikel, preferably with motivated subs.

  20. LBG says:

    Eddie, the Fox, stat. All his 16 first team goals for Leeds and us have been scored from within the box.

  21. LBG says:

    The three off are interesting. Anybody bet on Laca in “a new role” with Eddie up front and Aubang on the bench?

  22. LBG says:


  23. LB says:

    A bet, hmmm, unfortunately I think we will see the same ol, same ol up front, but we might get Laca in his new role. Elneny for certain behind him and as much as it pains me Xkaka will be there again but of course it should be AMN next to the Egyptian.

  24. LBG says:

    Excitement, positive play, 12 corners. Youth on show. GOALS!!
    You were a lucky man, Pete.

  25. Red Arnie says:

    I liked the experiment with Laca. No complaints!

    Nose says we will scrape it on Sunday. Just like we did tonight. 🙂

  26. RockyLives says:

    I didn’t see the game and I’m confused as to what our formation was.

    Can anyone enlighten me?

  27. RockyLives says:

    I see the Spuds are not guaranteed to qualify.

    They have to play Antwerp, the top team in the group, in their final match next Thursday.

    If they lose and LASK beat the bottom club (Ludogorets Razgrad) by 10 goals… then hilarity ensues.

  28. Red Arnie says:

    Laca was playing deeper and sort of free role, I think. But my bolleaux is real bad. 🙂

  29. RockyLives says:

    So we had a front three of Pepe-Eddie-Nelson with Laca in behind?

  30. RC78 says:

    AMN did great, I thought.
    El Neny was also interesting.
    Pepe also did well but could have been more decisive.
    It was nice to see Mari back and I thought that Kola looked solid too.

    I really liked Ceballos when he came on – excellent passing. I think we should really play him higher up the pitch like a false 9. He may provide that extra “je ne sais quoi”.

    A good run and it was nice to see fans in the stadium 🙂


  31. RC78 says:

    Sorry forgot Laca, of course, who did well too.

  32. Red Arnie says:

    No, Eddie-Nelson in the box, Elneny-Pepe MF, and Laca free role in between. I think.

  33. Red Arnie says:

    Elneny-Pepe-AMN, I mean. Interesting formation. Kind of 4-3-1-2, I think

  34. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky for the post. Ditto your last comment in not seeing the game and wanting some formation enlightenment.

    Interesting that Lacazette was a number 10 earlier on in his career before moving up top so he obviously has an understanding of the role. Might be worth a try. Could he play behind our young fox in the box?

    A front 4 of Eddie, Lacazette tucked in behind with Auba to the attacking left and ditto Saka on the right must surely pose the goal threat we have been lacking.

    Like LB I would like to see AMN partner Elneny until Partey returns. Probably would like to see how an AMN and Partey partnership would shape up long term.

  35. LB says:


    Do you want a few words for tomorrow?

  36. RockyLives says:

    Yes please LB. I’m trying hard but it’s a bit lonely sometimes so it’s great when you, RC and some of the others offer something up.

  37. RockyLives says:

    Will you put it in drafts?

  38. LB says:

    New post

  39. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for the report LB.

    Vienna may be poor, but they were the team in front of us and it sounds like we dispatched them with real confidence.

    Sunday is a big ask for us to get anything from the game, but the joy of footy is that it’s always full of surprises.

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