Pick your “best side” when all fit and available

It seems that we are actually going to have to fight very hard for a top 8 finish this season. Who would have thought this would be the case after our Community Shield victory and the signings of Gabriel and Partey?

The point is that we are cruelly lacking…points so far this season. We have not won any games in two months in the EPL and although there has been a bit of misfortune, overall, we have not performed well and we have not managed to be “hard to break down” nor “hard to stop/contain”. I know the players are the ones on the pitch but I also think that the coach has his responsibilities. We just have not been good enough this season (except maybe in the Europa League).

So who should lead Arteta field to steer us back in the top half?

GK: We let Martinez go so we have to rely on Leno as our GK.

RB: Bellerin did have some good games but mostly, he has been ineffective. AMN needs to improve some more defensively but he has been OK while Soares is at best a sub so AMN for me.

CB: Gabriel has been great until he got his red card. Luiz is still among our Top 3 defenders and although Holding is not as consistent as we wanted, who do we play ahead of him? Saliba/Sok are not qualified, Mari/Chambers are recovering and Mustafi remains a liability…

LB: Tierney has been sensational as a LCB and LB and I think he should be played as LB as his crossing is rather good.

DM/CM: Partey is key, El Neny has played well. Ceballos has been our most dangerous midfielder thanks to his passing. So we do we start? Partey-El Neny for me.

RFW: Saka is really our creative force these days. His runs and timings have been good and he can pbbly cause havoc if played on the right side too. Willian has been abysmal and Pepe not consistent enough. What about Nelson? Hard to say so far.

ST: Martinelli for me. I think he can hold up the ball and not only create for others but also for himself. He is also good at making runs inside the box. Nketiah works hard but not enough end product, same for Laca. As for Balogun, maybe a bit light still although a great prospect.

LFW: It has to be Auba. I think that with Saka on the right and Martinelli in the middle, he will be able to rediscover his shooting boots. With Tierney’s overalaps, he will have the chance to cut inside.

So here it is for me, if we stick to a back 3 system:

Leno – Holding, Luiz, Gabriel – AMN, Partey, El Neny, Tierney – Saka, Martinelli, Auba

Bench: Runnarsson, Saliba, Mari, Bellerin, Xhaka, Willock, Nelson, Willian, ESR, Pepe, Nketiah, Balogun

Offload in January: Soares, Chambers, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kola, Laca

What do you say? Is that starting XI our best when all are fit and available?


21 Responses to Pick your “best side” when all fit and available

  1. RC78 says:

    Spurs lost, not all is grey and gloomy I suppose

  2. RC78 says:

    Bench also includes Ceba, by the way

  3. Aaron says:

    Whatever Mikel has time to do, he needs creativity!

    From another site.

    “Arsenal have scored just three goals. Rank 20th.

    Arsenal have had 27 shots on target. Rank 19th.

    Shooting accuracy 35%. Rank 20th.

    Shot conversion rate 2.9%. 20th.”

    And our xG is abysmal, so no matter who is in the lineup, if there is no creativity for our front three, it will be useless.

    From yesterdays game, 2 shots on target in 94 minutes, the one off the post looked to be deflected, and Ceballos was fortunate not to be sent off.

    Will be looking for Mikel to be brave, that means no Xhaka, Bel, El Neny, but eventually bringing on Partey and some youth, including Saliba, because the last two years illustrates no matter what combination, the dullness is evident with our senior players playing together.

    Would rest Saka and other youthful players, that means no cup games and give them a run in the EPL, could not be any worse than what is true right now.

  4. Chris McC says:

    Our midfield is a joke other than Partey. Elneny, Xhaka and Ceballos are just not good enough. It’s a shame Guendouzi is such an arse because he’s exactly the type of player that would sit nicely next to Partey.
    I would take a risk and give AMN a go next to Partey rather than Xhaka (bang average), Elneny (too slow) and Ceballos (no real end product).

    Here’s my suggested line up and I’ve gone for 4-4 F’ing 2
    GK. Leno
    RB. Bellerin
    LB: Holding
    CB: Gabriel & Saliba
    LM: Saka
    RM: Pepe
    CM: Partey & AMN (Or give young Azeez a try).
    FWD: Auba & Martinelli

    Would sub Pepe for Nelson at half time if Pepe hadn’t done anything and would tel him that as well

  5. Chris McC says:

    Sorry didn’t mean Holding at RB and meant Tierney

  6. RC78 says:

    I am liking the 442. The good thing is that we could indeed just play younger and hungrier players…

  7. LB says:


    You really would expect the Italians to come up with such deliciously bitchy concept rather than the pragmatic Germans wouldn’t you?

    Either way it is working just fine for me right now.

  8. Aaron says:

    Yes, Azeez, Willock, AMN or ESR, any of those 3 if not AMN, next to Partey, and place AMN at RB.

    Rotate Balogun and Nelson up top with your suggestions.

    Could rotate Holding Mari here and there at CB.

  9. Tamale AbdulKarimu says:

    Elneny to Neils in midfield then play Bellerin right wing back he can perform when there is a cover their. A 3-4-3 formation with Leno, Gabriel, Holding, David Luiz, Bellerin, Partey, Niles, Tierney, Saka, Aubameyang and Martinelli.

  10. LB says:

    Expected that Willian doesn’t get anywhere near anyones line up but interesting that neither does Nketiah and Pepe just about gets a mention.

    I am one of the many who has put all his eggs in Martinelli’s basket.

  11. Gööner In Exile says:

    Ok so for me first question is formation, 4-3-3, 3-4-3 or any other combination of numbers.

    The most important problem to solve is how to get our best players on the pitch in a formation that works for them.

    Some have asked our wingers to switch flanks so right footer comes from left and vice versa, issue with that is if we go 3-4-3 we can’t have wing backs on the wrong flanks.

    Also we have to decide whether our full backs are a constant part of our attacking options or just an occasional foray forward but defenders first, think Winterburn, Dixon, Neville, Irwin, Pearce etc.

    We then have to work out how we want to move the ball through the middle of the park or via the flanks, then we have to decide how we want to get the ball to the centre forwards.

    Once we know all of that then we can decide the best XI.

    The issue as I see it is that we haven’t got the players to play wide attacking football with crosses, our centre forwards are really not players that thrive on those kind of chances, but equally we have a central midfield that is devoid of the necessary skills to get the ball to centre forwards running channels.

    To my mind if we want to put our best players/performers on the pitch in the attacking half we have to start with our wide men, for me that means three centre backs.

    So Gab, Holding, Luiz.

    Right wing back Saka, Left Wing back Tierney

    Now we have to look at central midfield we need at least one prepared to play the holding role in front of the centre backs, ready to drop in when centre backs have to go to the wings. But also capable of being an option out from the back should wing backs be cut off. That position for me goes to AMN. Better on the ball than Elneny or Xhaka, able to move it in tight positions and a good reader of the game.

    So …….

    ……….Holding … Luiz …. Gabriel

    Now we need energy in the central midfield in front of AMN, easy that’s Partey

    And we need two players who give different options and a centre forward that can hold up the play.

    So at the moment I am going Pepe, PEA, Martinelli

    So …….

    ……….Holding … Luiz …. Gabriel

    That said it looks like Saka and Tierney have to do a lot of work in that formation.

    So maybe just flat back 4 and a 4-3-3


  12. JM says:


    Leno; Maitland-Niles, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Chambers, Partey, Saka; Pépé, Martinelli, Aubameyang

    (GK)Leno; (CB-R) Chambers, (CB-C) Gabriel, (CB-L) Holding; (RWB/RM) Maitland-Niles, (DM/CM) Partey, (CM/AM) Saka, (LWB/LM) Tierney; Front-3 (No fixed positions) Pépé, Martinelli, Aubameyang

    (same as above), with the exception of Pépé in CM/AM alongside Saka and in front of Partey; (2 forwards) Martinelli and Aubameyang

    (GK) Leno; (RB – dynamic position; when attacking – Maitland-Niles; when defending – Chambers) Maitland-Niles/Chambers, (CB-R) Gabriel, (CB-L) Holding, (LB) Tierney; (DM – dynamic position) Chambers/Maitland-Niles, (DM/CM) Partey, (AM/LM – supporting the LB) Saka; Front-3 (No fixed positions) Pépé, Martinelli, Aubameyang

    (GK) Leno, (RB/RM) Maitland-Niles, (CB-R) Gabriel, (CB-L) Holding, (LB/LM) Tierney; (RM/AM/RW) Pépé, (DM/CM) Chambers, (DM/CM) Partey, (LM/AM/LW) Saka; (Shadow Striker/Withdrawn Forward) Martinelli, (Main Striker) Aubameyang

    Rúnarsson, Marí, Soares, Willock, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Balogun

  13. Gööner In Exile says:

    On the 1st November we won 1-0 away at Manchester United, post match pundits were praising Arsenal and Arteta for new found solidity and saying it would only be a matter of time before goals went in, at that point we had a PL record of W4, D0, L3. United’s record was W2 D1 L3

    According to pundits Ole was for the chop, the dressing room was lost and the players were not good enough. Some even said that our “Top 6” away win didn’t count as United could not be considered that anymore, yet now they sit 3rd having won 6 from 7 after we beat them. Point is as quickly as joy can turn to sadness the same is true in reverse. I’m sure there were lots of fans of United calling for Ole’s head there were definitely lots of paper headlines of the same.

    Simple fact is they are now circling round Mikel, newspapers and pundits seem to have forgotten their job is to write about the game and not click bait to push advertising revenue.

  14. RockyLives says:

    Sensible comment GiE.

    Football fans are very short termist by nature.

    And thanks for a good Post RC – I like your starting line-up.

  15. RC78 says:

    GiE –

    1. I agree with you that first we need to find our best formation with the players / squad at our disposal. Based on results under Arteta, I think that we may have to stick with a back 3. I also think that then it is a matter whether we play with 3 or 2 up-front.

    2. it is good to bring perspective. I hope the pundits read you 🙂 The main difference I see between Ole and Mikel’s squad is that Ole’s squad has more talent overall, especially going forward with Rashford, Martial, Cavani, James, Greenwood, Fernandes…and that they have quite some options in midfield with Pogba, Matic, Fred, McTominay and their right back is actually really good. But in any case, if Man Utd with Ole can turn it around, I am positive that Arteta could also turn it around with Arsenal 🙂

    Rocky – how r things your side?

  16. Gööner In Exile says:

    RC, interesting thoughts on United’s squad, in reality as good as Rashford, Cavani, Greenwood and friends are you would think that Pepe, Aubameyang and Lacazette should be their equal especially when supported by Saka, and Willian. But that is all on paper.

    For the last season our forward line made up for shortcomings throughout the rest of the squad, it is their loss of form that has led to our current position. By same token towards end of last season and early this United’s frontline whilst having potential wasn’t firing, now it is and they are seeing the benefits, maybe that’s bringing in Cavani or just timing.

    Can our front three (or just PEA) fire again?

  17. Pete the Thirst says:

    Generally agree with your side RC apart from I wouldn’t let that cowboy Luiz anywhere near the starting 11.

    There were 3 moments on Saturday that summed up where Arsenal are:

    – Pepe not making the effort to chase a ball down the wing then gesturing that he wanted it to feet. Is it time to admit we’ve signed a pup?

    – Nketiah getting a great ball from Tierney in the box. He half volleys the ball well wide when he had time to take a touch. Not sure he’s good enough?

    – Willian blazing a ball well wide when we had 5 players around the box. Did he do it on purpose?

    Arteta really isn’t making this job easier by picking these players. Has Willian got something written into his contract that he plays? It’s a mystery how he starts regularly.

  18. Pete the Thirst says:

    @GIE apart from a few flashes has Pepe given us a run of form? Don’t recall him being anything other than underwhelming.

  19. Pete the Thirst says:

    @GIE apart from a few flashes can you recall a run of form from Pepe? He’s been underwhelming generally.

    Great business for Raul, Kia & Mendes.

  20. RC78 says:

    I am really at loss for Pepe. He was really outstanding in the French league, not for one year but 2 years. The guy was fast, willing, dribbling, scoring and creating chances. Maybe he is having a “Zaha at Utd moment” and we should just be patient with him. He is clearly talented.

    Pete – we can put Mari ahead of Luiz but I feel like Luiz (although a liability) is still better than Mari…Why don’t we just give a chance to Saliba? He can only get ready for the EPL by playing in it so why delaying the inevitable?

    I think Utd’s forward line has more versatility:
    – Cavani is better than Laca for sure, in the air and holding the ball and also in scoring;
    – Rashford is at least as good as Auba and is definitely a better and faster dribbler;
    – Greenwood/James have unfortunately showed more killer instincts than Pepe but Saka may be a better player overall so there is solace 🙂

    The bug mystery for me this season is Willian and why Arteta keeps on playing him. His delivery from set pieces has not been great and he has not really contributed to improving our forward play. I think that Ceballos/ESR/Nelson could be better trusted to create something.

    In terms of squad, I would really like us to also let Mustafi, Chambers, Sokratis, Soares and Lacazette out in the January transfer window. Let us cut our losses on these players.

  21. RC78 says:

    New post

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