The squad is there now. How do you set it up? Who is in your starting XI?

Transfer window is over. Arsenal tops the chart in the EPL this season in terms of net spender…but then again, if you look at the pedigree of players joining clubs, you would say that Chelsea and Man Utd have done well with respectively Lukaku-Saul and Ronaldo-Sancho-Varane. On an interesting note, Chelsea have bought for roughtly 100 Mln but recouped most of their investment through the sales of players like Tomori, Zouma and Abraham for example…

Anyways – let us look at our squad:

GK: Leno, Ramsdale, Okonkwo

RB: Tomiyasu, Chambers, Soares

CB: White, Holding, Gabriel, Mari

LB: Tierney, Tavares, Kolasinac

DM: Xhaka, El Neny, Lokonga

CM: Partey, AMN

CAM: Odegaard, ESR

RFW: Saka, Pepe

LFW: Auba, Martinelli

CF: Laca, Balogun, Nketiah

How would you set-up the team given the players we have? Who will be in your starting XI when all players are fit?


35 Responses to The squad is there now. How do you set it up? Who is in your starting XI?

  1. RC78 says:

    I would definitely play a back 3 given our squad:

    A 3421 for me:

    Ramsdale – Holding, White, Gabriel – Tomiyasu, Partey, El Neny, Tierney – Saka, ESR – Laca

    I am expecting the following line-up from Arteta though in 433:

    Leno – Tomiyasy, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard – Saka, Laca, ESR

  2. RC78 says:

    From FGG:

    “The usual ‘experts’ calling all our signings a waste of money. When I hear this nonsense I always wonder what Chris Sutton, Paul Merson, Jamie O’Hara and all the other genius ex footballers on TV these days would’ve said about Arsenal signings when Wenger first started at the club. They would’ve had a field day about us buying an AC Milan reserve player for £4m (Vieira), or trying to convert a Juventus fringe player from winger to CF (Henry). I imagine they wouldve creamed their pants at the opportunity to slate signings like Lauren, Toure, Gilberto etc. I guess it’s all part of this new soap opera that they’ve created around football transfers. It all feels very much like the American Draft Days now with players moving all over the place and idiots trying to tell us how good a player is even though they’ve never once seen them play. Merson trying to explain how good a Japanese defender from Bologna is, would be like me trying to explain the inner workings of the Afghan government.

    Anyway, my point is don’t get sucked in by the negative rhetoric. It might turn out that we’ve bought a bunch of Cygan’s and Stepanovs, but there’s also just as much chance that we’ve found the new Vieira and Adams. Transfers are a gamble and at least the club have played a hand. We should praise them for trying and be excited about the potential for improvement.

    Time to get behind the lads and see where it takes us. One thing is for sure, we can only go up the table from here!”

  3. RockyLives says:

    Hello RC

    Thanks for your great work keeping the blog going.

    Here’s my ideal team given our current squad:

    Tomiyasu – White – Gabriel – Tierney
    Partey – Sambi
    Saka – Auba – ESR

    Strong attacking subs when needed:
    Pepe, Laca, Martinelli

    Xhaka and Elneny as MF subs

  4. RockyLives says:

    However, here’s what I imagine Arteta thinks his first team is when all are fit:


    Tomayisu – White – Gabriel – Tierney
    Xhaka – Partey
    Saka – Laca – Auba

  5. RockyLives says:

    Let’s hope Tomayisu is at the very least a solid option at RB.

    I wonder if there’s a chance for AMN in MF, especially with Xhaka out for three games.

    Sambi looks promising but will clearly need time.

  6. AlexP says:

    – Ramsdale –
    – Tomiyasu – White – Gabriel – Tierney –
    – Sambi – Partey –
    – Pepe – Ødegaard – Saka –
    – Lacazette –

  7. LB says:

    That FGG writes some quality comments.

  8. LB says:

    As to the line up, I remember reading a comment from RC expressing concern that he didn’t know what formation or style of play Arteta was going to adopt this season, I thought at the time that the unknown is the most exciting part of the process that we are in right now.

    What will be the line up? I don’t have a clue but I am fascinated to watch it unfold.

  9. Gait says:


    Tomiyasu. Ben white. Gabriel M.

    AMN. Party. Xhaka. Tieney C.

    Bukayo Saka Laccazate ESR

  10. Mike M says:

    Hello All, been reading a lot but unable to find time to comment. Work is tuf right now. Looking at the squad overall, it’s filled with an equal measure of quality and mediocrity. I honestly believe whichever members of that group Arteta picks, if we don’t play together as a team and fight for each other and the manager, we will struggle. If Arteta can make these guys believe in each other, we can finish in the top six for sure. Someone mentioned about our “rightful place” and there was a comment questioning what that really was. I believe both to be true. We are a big enough club to expect to be top 6 at least for all the reasons football is what it is today. But these players have to earn it. I hope Mikel is the right man to instill that in them. Great job RC for keeping things going.

  11. fatgingergooner says:

    It’s interesting that most people are now in agreement of what our first 15-16 players will look like. Finally Arteta has a team and more importantly a spine with some level of cover (Leno/Ramsdale/White/Gabriel/Holding/Partey/Sambi/Xhaka/Odegaard/ESR/Auba/Laca). Now it’s about getting them all fit and getting them playing together. There is clearly going to be an interesting battle for the GK spot (although I suspect Leno will have been promised this season as a starter but may leave next year), an opportunity to play alongside Partey (let’s hope Sambi can prove he’s more of a PL player than Xhaka), and then options in attack (which is exactly how it should be).

  12. RA says:

    Good Afters, Rocky Doodle,

    I think your personal choices of team players for the future Arsenal set up is pretty good! 😁 👍

    You also anticipated that Arteta might not agree and made 3 changes from your selection to predict that.

    However, the whole deal concerning that walking zombie Xhaka gets my goat, but Mikel likes him – well he wanted to sell him, but … enough of that – I am concerned the ‘Whinge Finder’, Aka FGG, 🧙might dunk me in a pond!! 😳

  13. Tar says:

    3 Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel
    2 Maitland Niles, Tiereny
    2 Sambi, Partey
    1 Smith Rowe
    2 Lacazette Aubameyang.

  14. Mike M says:

    We don’t really look strong in any area other than the final third, we lack depth in all areas because our first choice players (right back to be determined) look good but no so much after that. We still don’t have a goal scoring center forward who can also score in the air.

    Leno/Ramsdale (coin flip)

    Tomiyasu* White Gabriel Tierney (Weak in the air)

    Longonka* Partey

    Saka Odegaard ESR (defensive questions)

    Lacazette*/Auba* (neither can score goals in the air)

    * Sound good and may be good in practice but a lot to prove.

  15. fatgingergooner says:


    An exorcism and a bit of elbow grease will get those negative thoughts right out. Although I have to say I agree with you on Xhaka. I really don’t understand how we came so close to selling him whilst at the same time considering him a first team mainstay. I wonder if maybe his performances at the Euro’s changed a few minds, or if other players wanting to leave made the management re-think (Bellerin/Willian). We’ve signed a lot of young players so we need dressing room leaders (which a lot of managers claim he is).

  16. fatgingergooner says:

    It’s good to see the return of the classic 344 formation (thanks Gait), and of course that old Premier League favourite…..the 32212 (great suggestion Tar).

  17. Sam Pedro says:

    I think is the most matured and sensible fan base site of all Arsenal groups, the maturity and sensibility here resonates more with me.

    Tomiyasi – White – Gabriel – Tierney

    Partey Xhaka

    Pepe Odegards Saka


  18. 1979Gunner says:

    I was thinking last night and some of the deal and management skills Arteta has displayed to date. I had a vision that when he gets the chop, I bet his replacement will immediately recall Guendouzi & Saliba from their respective loam deals, and the prodigal sons will return in a blaze of glory to save the day for Arsenal – going on to become Arsenal legends😁

  19. fatgingergooner says:


    I get the impression that aswell as looking for talent, the current team selection process has a few non-negotiables in terms of player attitude. I just wonder if Saliba has shown a certain type of attitude that Arteta doesn’t like (whatever that may be). We already know Geundouzi has a chip on his shoulder and Arteta hasn’t stood for it. It looks like Arteta wants a certain type of player in terms of personality, now he just has to prove that he can actually develop the players into a team. It’s fair to say we haven’t seen that yet.

  20. RC78 says:

    Arteta has brought in a lot of players now and also gotten rid of a lot.

    Guendouzi has been called to the French team for the WC Qualifiers. He is having a good season so far with Marseille. Brave with the ball and more decisive both defensively and offensively. We cannot keep him anyways because his contract runs out with us in 2022 so he will be a free player as of June and he will pbbly sign his contract with Marseille in Jan.

  21. RC78 says:

    Ramsdale – Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Mari, Soares – Partey, Lokonga – Willian, Odegaard, Tavares –

    Plus: Runnarsson

    Martinez – Sok, Saliba, Luiz, Bellerin – Willian, Guendouzi, Torreira Mkhy- Ozil – R. Nelsson

    Plus: Runnarsson, Mavropanos

  22. RC78 says:

    Interestingly – he has not sold nor acquired strikers so he must feel good about Auba, Laca, Balo scaring goals for us together with Saka, Pepe and Martinelli…Since he wanted to offload Nketiah, not sure how he feels about him

  23. RC78 says:

    I just want to also offer an alternative to my preferred line up in case Tomiyasu is not great at RB:

    Ramsdale – Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel – AMN, Partey, El Neny, Tierney – Saka, ESR – Laca

    Back-up squad but in a 442
    Leno – Chambers, Holding, Mari, Tavares – Pepe, Lokonga, Xhaka, Odegaard – Martinelli, Auba

  24. RA says:

    FGG, @ 2:33

    There is much that we ‘mere’ fans do not know about behind the scenes, but Mikel’s attitude re Xhaka is puzzling.

    For example, I think Xhaka has a short fuse that can get him, and the team, in trouble like his wild red card tackle recently.

    However, I read that Mikel was upset with him because he had made a bad situation worse by reducing the team to ten men.

    The only problem with that story was that when Xhaka left the field, Mikel gave him what seemed like a sympathetic look, and a pat on the bum. Maybe it was just a resigned acceptance that all was lost in that game.

    Anyway, what I saw did not marry up with what Mikel allegedly said.

    Like you said, in addition to Xhaka playing well in the Euros (I agree with that) it has been said that he gees the players up in the dressing room when they need some support.

    I certainly find ‘reading’ the players attitudes pretty impossible, which makes me wonder how anyone knows whether the manager has, or has not, lost the dressing room. (Unless some disloyal player has told a journalist??)

    Football, eh?

  25. RA says:

    RC, @4:51

    Tommy is a great CB and RB — until he shows he is not. 😜

  26. fatgingergooner says:


    I’m currently using the mantra of ‘everything I see or read in the media about Arsenal is complete and utter bollocks’ and I’ve got to say, it’s been a breath of fresh air. It’s just a shame we have so many fans who buy into it and who allow themselves to get lost in the spiral of negativity. RC recently mentioned that being passionate wasn’t allowed on this blog and that’s why he was having a break, but for me, the issue is people ‘choosing’ to be passionately negative. Why not just look for the good in the team instead and be passionate about that??? When our own fans are abusing a potential signing on Twitter before he’s even signed his contract, I think a line has to be drawn. Time to get some context and come back to reality.

    Enough of my preaching.

    As for ‘lost dressing rooms’, it’s just another media term to have a dig at a team who’ve lost a couple of games. In the same way that Roy Keane saying that a team ‘lacks leaders’ because they concede a deflected header at a corner. Complete and utter bollocks.

  27. fatgingergooner says:

    Seems to me we are looking to go towards the Chelsea model from a few years ago. They used to stock-pile young, talented players and loan them out all over the place with the view that they will either develop to first team regulars or be sold for a profit. I get the impression the large player influx won’t be a one-off, and that we will continue to purchase young, talented players during the future transfer windows. The only way we can make it work though is if the team is good enough to attract the best youngsters. There needs to continue to be a clear path to the first team for youngsters (something that’s never been a problem), and the team needs to be competitive on the field.

  28. VP says:

    GK: Leno,
    CB: White,
    CM: Partey,
    CAM: Odegaard, ESR
    RFW: Saka, Pepe
    LFW: Auba, Martinelli
    CF: Laca, Balogun,

  29. fatgingergooner says:

    Just had a quick glance at contracts. These are the players who’s deals will run out at the end of this season:-


    ….and this is the list of players who’s contract ends 2023:


    That’s 12 players and tbh I don’t see more than 3 of them getting renewals. If I was betting I’d say maybe Elneny (we are light in CM), Mavropanos (if he continues to impress on loan), and maybe Chambers (if he can find his way into the team and stay there). The rest I think will either be sold or leave for free.

  30. GoonerB says:

    Thanks RC. I think there could be a couple of options with formations and also a couple of options with who plays what position. For instance Saka could play a central or wide role as could ESR. Martinelli could be a wide left or up top option. White maybe could even play as a holding DM.

    Not keen on a permanent switch to the back 3. I feel that wanting to return to this is more a reaction to recent bad games and thinking that we need to switch back to this as a result. It did serve us well in a couple of games like the cup final and community shield but was found seriously wanting for much of the early part of last season.

    I’m not saying Sony use it at all but still feel we need a back 4 as go to system to get wide attacking options from both the wide midfielders and FB’s and have the extra CM attacking player. We just need to find the specific formation that works best for us here.

    Maybe a good starting point is to work out where we get goals from. We should have a target for goals scored based on where that historically gets you in the league. Then we can work out what Auba and Laca are likely to contribute and the rookies in Balogun and Martinelli.

    My suspicion is that this will leave us somewhat short of what we really need and we will need a lot if goal contribution from the midfield attackers.

    The next big step up for the likes of ESR, Saka and Odegaard is to be more productive in our goal tally. Pepe also needs to have a higher goal scoring season.

    This is why I am often concerned about too many DM players. How much will Xhaka, Elnent, Partey and Lokonga contribute to goals? Can we operate with just one of them?

    If we do play 2 of them then Partey needs to be a constant in that 2 as he has that ability to go forwards towards the opposition goal more than the others. This puts him into shooting positions. The only problem is he often blasts it into row z and nowhere near making the keeper work, so he would need to improve his shots on target stats.

    This is why I have wondered about just playing Partey as a holding midfield option with more limited action going forwards, and then play an attacking 4 of Pepe, Saka, Odegaard and ESR behind either Auba or Laca. It might be a but gung ho but increases our go threat and attacking intent a lot more.

  31. fatgingergooner says:

    Without doing too much research, I would say that a positive goal difference between 20-25 with 70 goals scored is going to get you into the Top 4 more often than not. Ignoring this season (as we’ve started -9 after 3 games!) we probably need Laca and Auba to contribute 30/35 of those goals between them. You will probably get 10 goals a season from OG’s/defenders scoring etc, so that leaves somewhere between 25-30 goals for the other midfield and attacking players to contribute. I could see Pepe getting 10 if he stays fit and plays, but it’s a struggle after that. We really do need Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli and ESR to be chipping in with at least 5 each. If they can add that to their game and increase the assists for our main goal getters, then we may start to improve and catch up to the other top 6 teams. Who we get to replace Laca and Auba are clearly going to be key to any future success.

  32. fatgingergooner says:

    Scrap all that. Just seen that Serge Aurier has said he’s open to a move to Arsenal as he wants to stay in England. That means we need to find an extra 10 goals to cover the ones he’ll give away….🙄😂

  33. fatgingergooner says:

    We played a young Brentford side today behind closed doors and won 4-0. Gabriel, Laca, and Soares (2) the scorers. Apparently the interesting point was that we played 3 at the back and when Arteta was asked about Tommy, he mentioned his ability to play in a back 3. It seems it’s here to stay, although it’s not clear wether it’s a first option or just a back up for certain games.

  34. GoonerB says:

    Fgg, my apologies as I haven’t been about the last little while so I didn’t manage to get back to your comment on mine…a couple of posts back now so you may not recall.

    Anyway, while I am still disappointed regarding the nature of that last defeat, and worry slightly that it points to something greater, it is time to put it on the back burner and see what we can do now from this point.

    With regards to the goal tally consideration you make some interesting points. I think in my mind we have been overly focussing on solidifying our midfield which I think can invite teams onto us, and when we don’t do well with it we go even more defensive in thinking this is the answer.

    An old Cliche but I still think for us that attack may be our beat form of defence. If we develop more as a better attacking side I feel our points accumulation will be far higher, even if we come slightly undone at times against other big sides that are slightly more mature and polished. We can catch them up later though.

    I actually look at Man City as our blueprint, more so than other big sides. One thing they have done under Guardiola is to improve every one of their midfielders as a goal threat, even while Aguero was still producing.

    All of Sterling, Gundogan, Silva, De Bruyne, Foden offer a goal threat and this should be our aim and blueprint with Saka, ESR and Odegaard. Double their goal threat and tally in addition to our strikers and we will progress well this year in the league, and all of those players have this potential in their locker.

  35. fatgingergooner says:


    I totally understand your points, and I agree that we did better whilst attacking the smaller teams, but if memory serves me right, one of the main issues under Wenger was that whilst we could beat the smaller teams with our attacking football, it left us far too open when it came to playing the big sides. We then changed that situation under both Emery and Arteta and our results against the bigger sides improved, but we were no longer the ‘flat-track bullies’ we once were. It’s almost as though we aren’t good enough to compete with everyone, and if we choose to concentrate on beating the lesser teams then we get hammered by the better sides and visa versa.

    I think Wenger had a pretty blanket approach in terms of tactics. ‘Play our way and what will be will be’. With Emery it seemed to change per opponent but was always about control, and under Arteta I think we are yet to see exactly what he’s looking for but my guess is it’s more of a middle ground between Wenger and Emery where we have fluidity in the tactics during games. Ultimately though tactics are less important than having the better players. The fact is we no longer have a far superior squad to the rest of the PL and that’s why we lose more matches than we used to. Up until the very end of Wengers reign our squad was still the 3rd/4th best in the league and that’s where we’d finish. I’m not sure you can say that now. We can change managers all day, but until one of them signs the right players, we aren’t going to be challenging. Even Pep can’t change average players into world class ones. If he could, then he wouldn’t need to buy.

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