Report: Trio set to hand Gunners fitness boost for North London derby

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According to James Olley in the Evening Standard, Arsenal’s injury worries ahead of the Sp*rs game this weekend are receding.

It had been thought that Petr Cech’s calf injury would keep him out of the team for the Wembley showdown, but the report suggests he will be available with the club ‘optimistic’ about his availability.

Nacho Monreal, forced off at half-time during the 5-1 win over Everton with sickness, has recovered sufficiently to take part, while Danny Welbeck could be set for his first involvement since mid-January after he picked up a knock in the defeat to Bournemouth.

Arsene Wenger is expected to revert to a back three for an away game, with Monreal slotting in alongside Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny.

He will have to choose between Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles for the left wing-back position.

Jack Wilshere is also in contention for a midfield start having overcome illness last weekend to make the bench for the Everton game.

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Mootilated
Mootilated

Well, I guess we signed Auba for nothing if Welbz is fit!

Lack of Perspective
Lack of Perspective

To be fair to welbz he was our best player-ish at the beggining of the season.

TeeCee
TeeCee

Yes. Of all our player-ishes, he was the best.

Harish
Harish

I know he plays like Bambi on Ice sometimes but he assisted in knocking his boyhood team (ie Manc Scum) out of the FA Cup a few years ago.

He has his uses.

Ty W
Ty W

He’ll grab a goal with a shoulder or a knee for sure!

Pedant
Pedant

He’ll keep the bench warm, that’s his likely role.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

He can fill in on any of the front three positions to be fair. Useful guy to have around.

Toni
Toni

Who? Dat guy? Pff!

Mein Bergkampf

I think we’ve been kinda harsh on Welbz to be honest. Chucking him on with 15 to go in games we are performing woefully is a pretty tough ask. He’s a great player on his day but not a game changer as such.

Toni
Toni

The main reason you would have a soft spot for him is because he is English. He is a pretty big load of bollocks for a striker. Old man Jermaine Defoe would probably be a more effective striker for us despite his age. Dat guy would probably find a new ridiculous way to miss the target from 2 yards out.

Finlay307
Finlay307

Spot on.

Geefive
Geefive

Which is exactly why we should’ve kept Giroud and sold Welbeck.

A Different George
A Different George

And once again: Giroud to Chelsea was the price to get Aubameyang. You can disagree with that, if you like, but you are criticising a decision–keeping Wellbeck while selling Giroud–that was not Arsenal’s to make.

Ozenal
Ozenal

Yep, contrary to popular belief our transfers have been pretty ill planned and not structured. We got players on the last day of transfer window because we couldn’t get out first choice and end up with players who you cannot play a strong pressing or possession passing game… I E Xhaka, Sanchez, sead, giroud, mustafi, welbz.

I’m not saying they are bad players. Just square pegs in round holes. And Wenger teams are famous for passing and movement.

Something happened with the transfers. It obviously hasn’t been Arsene making transfer last few years ie Kroenke years, because why would a manager sign players who obviously didn’t fit his own system.

Unless A, our scouts are crap and have isntructions written in crayon. Or B we have a crap negotiator and never get deals done in time, instead making last minute panic buys.

Both are feasible.

Santori
Santori

Nobody will pay the price for Welbeck.

That said, now that we do not have GIroud, we have Welbeck as the only cover for Lacazette in Europa.

Wise decision? Hope the injury gods don’t punish us with Lacazette.

Toni
Toni

Tough times.

caligunner
caligunner

Lol Every club is an injury away to their striker and stuck with a lesser level striker. Not every club can have elite or close to elite second striker.

If Giroud was kept and Laca did get hurt most of us would start complaining about how slow OG is or how he isn’t athletic enough. That he is only good for 15-20 min off the bench.

Jaminho
Jaminho

Completely agree. Although his air-shots are getting pretty ridiculous…

Goonerink
Goonerink

welbz will get you a goal every 4 games off of his little toe/ear lobe/tongue.

honestly think if he had done a sturridge and gone to a southampton/wba/newcastle/everton he would get games, confidence and goals.

Da Boss
Da Boss

I would have hoped after last week that we could stick with a back 4, but such is life. Whoever is on the pitch just has to give 100% and walk out of there with 3 points. And the bragging rights.

Come on you Gooners.

Goonerink
Goonerink

i think the reasoning is at home games the away teams will sit back more.
whereas away games vs top 6, we need a more defensive mindset than when were at home.

everton/palace’s attack isnt as potent as TeamGB’s Olympic Divers.

Highbury
Highbury

I gave quite the polite chuckle reading “TeamGB’s Olympic Divers”.

Andy
Andy

Cech,
Mustafi, Kos, Nacho
Bellerin, Jack, Rambo, Sead
Mikhi Ozil
Auba.

3 points. Job done.

Jimbo Jones
Jimbo Jones

Would hope so…. ?

I read a Mailbox entry on football365 the other day that Kolasinac could be converted to a decent DM. It got me thinking but his passing is a bit dodgy for this perhaps. However what did occur to me is Mustafi is made for the role. Proactive, excellent tackling, strong, he’s decent on the ball, and it would reduce the risk of his sometimes over casualness at the edge of box and shift it 20 yards up the pitch where it is less of a problem.

In practice I don’t think it makes much difference in whether we play a ‘back 3 with 2 wingbacks’ or a ‘back 4 with an anchor man’ so we could line up something like

PC
HB LK NM SK
SM
AR JW
MO HM
PEA

I think it gives us more solidity, we look generally more comfortable with 4 at the back, and puts our best players in pretty much their favoured positions. Laca provides cover up top. Thoughts?

Charvakan

Mustafi has been too inconsistent passing, and he’s not as mobile as a DM needs to be. I agree with the chorus pushing Maitland-Niles as a DM. I think he’d be very good there now, and could be excellent by next season. He’s doing very well at wingback, but let’s hope Sead regains his form (he was a beast early in the season), and Nacho is our best LB in a back four.

Goonerink
Goonerink

nice points but i think the theory falls apart in practice.
mustafi is TOO aggressive for that role imho, and will tackle too heavily for the role.

xhaka is shite defensively, switching off and when he was switched on he was reckless… but due to his passing ability gets the nod from wenger in that role.(rightly or wrongly)
My point is that the DM needs to have solidarity and a passing range.

for the CDM role:
xhaka is too weak defensively.
Jack is too weak physically.
Rambo is too weak positionally.
Elneny is too weak technically.

The perfect DM is a mixture of all of them, but seeing as buying the best DM in the world is out of the question we have to choose the lesser of two evils, and IMHO that is either Elneny or Jack, sat beside Ramsey.

With a back 4 we have the luxury of choosing 3 of them which helps hide their deficiencies.

Jimbo Jones
Jimbo Jones

I think you’re probably right in that whatever we do it is a compromise and mustafi is definitely a risk as he’s over the top. Not sure what it means for him as a defender. Worrying aye! we just don’t have the player that we really need and could glue the team together.

I tend to think we need 5 offensive and 5 defensive players and going forward we’re in pretty good shape and have options. Defensively I think we struggle by shoehorning a naturally attacking player in to the CDM role and then whatever we do makes the team unbalanced. I’d love to see Jack and Rambo in the side together but they really need somehow to really sit behind them

Goonerink
Goonerink

Trouble is a last ditch slide tackle by a cb and a slide tackle in the middle of the pitch by a Dm are viewed differently, the latter leaning away from being justifiable, regardless of the skill or lack of in which its applied.

Santi’s Smile
Santi’s Smile

An Elneny start could be an interesting option, where he allows flexibility to shift between a back 3 and 4. That would allow Nacho to be LB or LWB. He did it in the win over Chelski so he could it v. Sp*rs.

sixteen swans
sixteen swans

I still can’t see Arsene playing both Wilshere and Ramsey anytime soon.

Obviously, he’s not going to drop Aaron after Everton which means Jack sits it out (despite his not inconsiderable form) for the time being. It’s called (a) competition or (b) having a fucking awesome bench capable of influencing matches.

Whatever you think of either, whatever you think of Xhaka and Elneny, we’re playing Sp*rs away from home. And “away from home” hasn’t exactly been our forte this season. So unless you think we can score another four first-half goals it doesn’t constitute a game plan that has a decent chance of success.

Anyway, it’s not your gamble to make.

The first and maybe only point of Saturday’s match is to win the fucker by another twice-deflected own goal for all I care.

Last round of matches Sp*rs, Liverpool, and City all dropped two points relative to us and Chelsea dropped three. How fucking brilliant was that? And already you want to jeopardize those gains with some iffy team selection.

We cannot afford to lose many (perhaps, any) more matches if we’re going to get back into the top four. Oh, you think we’re going to win the Europa Cup, do you? Your constant wearing of your lucky underpants will ensure it? Well. it’s still a big ‘maybe’ bordering on ‘probably not’ for me: Atletico, Napoli, BVB09, Leipzig … Go look, it’s perhaps the strongest bunch of supposed also-rans I’ve ever seen.

But, I digress. From now until our very last match is all about clawing back up the table. Just twelve games to go and a whole bunch of decent teams to jostle and leapfrog. Obviously, we’ve done this sort of thing before – so there’s that to fall back on. As have Sp*rs (bless). Which makes Saturday a fucking SIX-POINTER. And you want to gamble it all on playing an eleven that will be midfield/defensively depleted?

My game plan has us winning and Sp*rs losing by any means necessary. (Plan B: us not losing, and Sp*rs not winning.) We already know they’re going to dive at least one penalty … so, it’s not going to be easy. But right now there’s an extra confidence permeating the squad. My thinking is we keep it intact for the rest of the season.

No.+8
No.+8

very amusing read. Enjoy the game! come on you Gunners!

Lack of Perspective
Lack of Perspective

I think we might see the back and the back four with elneny as the combo player.

———-cech———–
Bel-kos-must-Money
——–elneny———-
—–xhaka–ramsey——
–mikh—auba—-ozil—-

A Different George
A Different George

I think this is the formation we will use. It leaves Jack on the bench, which is a negative, and it relies on Bellerin and Monreal (or Kolasinac) for width, but it has the great advantage of choking off space for Eriksen, who is the one who makes their attack work. And our front three plus Ramsey puts a lot of pressure on Dier. I think they will start Wanyama instead of Dembele for this reason.

Rectum Spectrum
Rectum Spectrum

Jesus…. Jack and Rambo in midfield…..I can just picture Ali running through all acres of space, laughing with joy as Erickson pulls Nacho wide and kane running through the 2 centre backs….

Get Elneny in there beside Rambo.

Goonerink
Goonerink

i see the reasoning, but jack needs to play.
he is the biggest arsenal man in the team and this is the NLD.

Mpls
Mpls

I’ve never seen a match in which Jack and Rambo worked well in midfield. Before Jack’s gap year it was tried a number of times to disastrous effect. Aside from the obvious (neither of them fit at the same time and occupying a similar role) probably why we haven’t seen it since.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

I think Jack and Ramsey as a midfield two isn’t defensive enough, though admittedly I don’t think Xhaka would really help in that regard either

Rogerbij
Rogerbij

Not sure about kolasinac, out of form and really poor passing… However did score on his last visit to Wembley…

Neil
Neil

Spot on Andy. Sadly the reality is that he will stick with Xhaka, and wouldn’t surprise me if he started with same 11 including Iwobi, which of course would be a disaster.

Isaac
Isaac

Iwobi has actually played very well over the last couple of weeks both offensively and defensively – I don’t see how his inclusion would be a disaster, he’s very good in possession even when he’s under pressure and also strong on the ball. Personally, I’ll start him on the left

Boom Xhaka Laca
Boom Xhaka Laca

If he truly is reverting to a back 3 for away games, it seems like Iwobi is the obvious casualty in midfield.

Also to be fair to them, both Xhaka and Iwobi were markedly improved against Everton. Fingers crossed that can continue.

Aby
Aby

Cech
Mustafi kos Montreal
Bellarin Jack Ramsey AMN
Ozil Mkhiterian
Auba

Thierry Bergkamp
Thierry Bergkamp

Why do people think a midfield 2 of Jack and Ramsey in an away NLD is the way to go?

David C
David C

I would drop Elneny in the midfield 2 for a bit of protection. Can’t wait to see 3 players from Sp*rs booked for diving this game!

Charvakan

I love Mo, but if we’re going with three in the back, replacing Ramsey or even Xhaka with Elneny does not leave us with enough going forward. With a back four, sure, play him. He’s a great defensive option coming in for (say) Ozil or Xhaka to protect a lead late on.

gooner
gooner

Because they just hope we play their favorites and somehow things work out.

The reason Xhaka looks so bad ( main reason anyway) is because he’s playing out of position in the first place. Him , Jack and Rambo are essentially CM players. None of them is a DM and you are suggesting we drop an out of position player for another simply because you want to see Jack but would also want to see Ramsey.
Forget the fact that we have Mo because he’s not a fan favorite.

How about we play Ospina as a LWB while we are at it. Just to raise his spirits since he was expecting to start the game.

Bai Blagoi
Bai Blagoi

If Xhaka is not an defensive, but an attacking midfielder, then he is a pretty bad one. Compared to Rambo for example, I don’t think he has any of his attacking qualities.

gooner
gooner

Not attacking mate. Just CM

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Why don’t we just forget about defending and fill the team with attacking players, tell them all to play in the opposition penalty area

ronaldo
ronaldo

we have been for years

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

like normal

Carlos _ Santana
Carlos _ Santana

But this isn’t an away game…..

260589
260589

WWWWWWWWWembley Form!

Episco
Episco

Just throw in all the strikers. We’ve got Aubameyang, Micki, Laca, Ozil, and now Welbz. North London is always red. COYG

Boom Xhaka Laca
Boom Xhaka Laca

Throw Eddie Nketiah in there too!

gooner
gooner

With the strikers we have I’d be open to him getting some minutes ahead of welbeck, who won’t get any better given his age.

But that’s in the coming seasons since he’s not really there yet.

Goonerink
Goonerink

nacho did, santi did, auba did…
theres more but I cba to name them all…
welbeck still has time to improve, though not dramatically.

Why not
Why not

cant be arsed to write cant be arsed. loved it.

NaijaGunnerz
NaijaGunnerz

A 3rd league position is very feasible and the league next season. COYG

Jammathon
Jammathon

Ugh. Think we should really be picking and sticking to 4-2-3-1 which seems to suit our new attacking toys so well. 3-4-3 should be left as a change-up formation when things just aren’t going well in the 70th minute.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

I dunno it’s worked for us in the past in these games

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Good to see Sp*rs have a Wednesday night game and then a 12.30 sat kickoff. Might help.

Andy
Andy

They are playing Newport of the 2nd Division (4th Division in old money) and will rest players. There is no way in will be as close as the 1st game. I expect it to be well and truly over as a contest by HT.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

True but they won’t be resting everybody. Hopefully it will go to extra time.

Goonerink
Goonerink

extra time and a few league 2 challenges would be perfect.

if I was newports manager i would be telling my defenders, after recent revelations, that if you are going to tackle spurs in our final 3rd then make sure you hit hard.
If they are going to dive anyway like theyve admitted then might as well make sure theyre put off trying it on.

arsepedant
arsepedant

I was tempted to ring up a Newport flower shop and have a nice bouquet delivered to the offices at Rodney Marsh, with the note “Dear Newport, please fuck up as many Spurms players as you can while you knock them out of the Cup. Love, Arsenal.”

Goonerink
Goonerink

I’m sure arteta and titi have been advising him similar. (apparently he was on their coaching course and is in regular contact)

Goonerink
Goonerink

What’s the downvote for? Shit is it actually Thierry or arteta saying they aren’t in contact like their manager says in the BBC piece on Newport before the game?!

UFB
UFB

No excuses. I like it better when we beat them faire and square.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

I have no problem with it being unfair

Jay Song
Jay Song

I would actually start with back 4 and replace Iwobi with Wilshere. Like 4 1 4 1 with Xhaka holding. I think if we can provide Xhaka and our back 4 with enough support we will have lot more attacking threat with that line up.

My line up wil be
Cech
Bellerin Mustafi Kos Monreal
Xhaka
Ozil Jack Rambo Mkhi
Auba

Sean
Sean

Urgh, that formation reminds me of that dreadful period at the start of the 14/15 season when Wenger tried to shoe-horn Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere and Ozil into an attacking four. Think I’ll pass on seeing that again. Just go with a three man midfield if we’re gonna play both Ramsey and Wilshere.

Moses
Moses

Consider replacing Xhaka for Elneny moving between defence & DM like the 2nd half against Chelsea match 5

Dokthe2nd
Dokthe2nd

This Derby is too inportant to Jack for him not to start. The man oozes passion for the club.

Alvin
Alvin

We (Arsenal) have enough firepower to gun down Tottenham anytime, any day and anywhere. Iwobi and Ramsey are playing well at the moment. I don’t think we should alter our formation (4-2-3-1) is just perfect.

Man Manny
Man Manny

We have a huge chance of winning this game. Our attack should get the job done – outscore them. Cech, Ospina, makes no difference to me as none seem able to keep a clean sheet at the moment. Our fearsome strike force will down the spuds!

renaissancerosicky
renaissancerosicky

Gut tells me we should stick to a back four. But I think we can win either way. Lets fuck em up nice and proper, it’s Wembley after all

DontForget
DontForget

I for one do not like the back 3.

MrT
MrT

Cech
BeLl – Kos – Must – Monr
Ramsey – Xhaka – Wilshere
Mkhi – Ozil
Auba
4-3-2-1
Will BEAT the SpXXrs !

goongot
goongot

Elneny instead of xhaka.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob

Remove xhaka and iwobi for this match and put Elneny and Lacazette in the team

Santori
Santori

Eleneny may be more secure but doesn’t give you the pin point accuracy as much as Granit going forward. BUT there’s something to be said for caution.

Elneny seems better in a back 3 with Mustafi, Koscielny flanking in whch case we can also play Monreal. Having said that against Swans, we were too deep with Elneny. OTOH, we have Jack back so we have a player better able to turn and engage, run the ball upon the dribble. Midfield is key and there’s another selection headache because Iwobi was excellent and so was Ramsey.

Lacazette will need game time but at the moment, you’d bank on the understanding of Mhkitaryan and Aubameyang to continue where they left off.

It may be Wenger will be tempted not to change the team too much from the one which faced Everton.

I expect Spurs will play open and come at us so there will be plenty of space to exploit.

Sean
Sean

How do you see the Lacazette one happening? As far as I’m concerned neither Auba or Lacazette would be anywhere near as effective on the left, and it’s not worth reshuffling the formation to fit both in. They’ll both have big chances to impress (Lacazette in the Europa, Aubameyang in the league), and will be competing for their place, which can only be a good thing.

Lance
Lance

Should have sent Welbeck instead of Giroud

caligunner
caligunner

Only if thats how transfers worked lol I wish we could have sent them Lucas Perez remember that stud

jackbut
jackbut

however, i am confident of the three points for us on Emblem… its a feel good factor

Fucking Wenger Ball
Fucking Wenger Ball

Predicted line up v Spurs:

GK: Ospina
DF/WB: Bellerin, Koscienly, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac
MF: Ramsey/Xhaka, Wilshere, Ozil, Mikritaryan
ST: Aubameyang

2-2 or 2-0 Arsenal win.

QMantis
QMantis

Just start the game on the front foot and no mistakes. To many times we’ve let ourselves down and paid the price. I’d love any kind of win but just as important would be not to lose this one. Coyg

Santori
Santori

Its not just starting the game. Its sustaining the effort which is the problem.

Jean Ralphio
Jean Ralphio

4 3 3 is best I think

Santori
Santori

Formation is slightly a mot point IMO

We play a flexible system that Wenger is able to switch in between 3 at the back or a rotating 3 in midfield or possibly even 2 up top.

This is because the personnel he has now suit more a 3-2-4-1 or a 3-4-2-1 or indeed a 4-1-2-1-2.

I’m not sure we are entirely suited to a 4-2-3-1 in the traditional form as we lack wide players with sufficient pace and creativity. Most of thew players are better in a flexible system in midfield with fullbacks supporting.

Its a ll pedantic really.

We may have to adjust when we see how the Spurts and Ponch line up.

Nothing should be fixed.

Anish
Anish

Think we will stick to a back-four, and I hope he picks El Neny instead of Xhaka from a defensive-cover perspective

Santori
Santori

Elneny is more diligent but also a more limited choice.

Granit’s deliveries last game were pin point.

But his consistency and his awareness defensively is questionable.

Still if we want attacking power, granit is a better bet.

Elneny is an option at Cback with Mustafi and Koscielny either side. That way we can also play Monreal still at left wingback and hold a 3 to watch Kane and Ali.

Santori
Santori

3 at the back may indeed be better caution.

It doesn’t matter if its Kolasinac or AMN frankly. BOTH are error prone. AMN has on a number of occasions failed to track runners into the box.

Kolasinac IMO is merely having issues getting used to pace of the game. He will get better defensively.

Even Monreal who is much lauded these days has been guilty over recent games of pushing too high thereby isolating Mustafi behind.

Sensible positioning and always backing up the defender on hand is the key issue. When we drop our efforts (particularly midfield) we run a risky game.

When the midfield (and fullbacks) stop doubling up, we increase the chance of the Cbacks coming under duress. Sure they can cut out stupid decisions themselves but the collective effort and decision making whether to hold back in caution or push forward , is THE key issue.

Santori
Santori

Spurts in action tonight against Newport.

Hope the minnows give them a good run for the money, maybe induce a red card or a knock here and there, tire them out for us for the weekend.

Its a must win for us this weekend. Cup final in many ways (and at our fav local Wembley)

We not only need to win but dent their confidence.

Ozenal
Ozenal

We need Niles in the centre marking Eriksen.

Wendy Agnew
Wendy Agnew

Welbeck!!!!!!