Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ozil and Xhaka return for Anfield trip

Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka have both been passed fit for this weekend’s trip to Anfield.

After missing the opening game against Newcastle due to the security situation that also affected Sead Kolasinac, the Germany international then sat out the Burnley victory due to illness. Xhaka, who picked up bruising to his back and legs at St James’ Park, has also recovered.

It leaves Unai Emery with a selection headache. Will the Spaniard stick with the trio who excelled last Saturday – Dani Ceballos, Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi – or will he mix things up?

He also has a decision as to whether to start Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian was bright in his first home game for the club but could be retained as a weapon off the bench given he’s minimal pre-season.

Assuming we stick with a four-man backline, there’s little reason to change the defensive personnel.

Arsenal’s latest medical bulletin confirms that Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin and Dinos Mavropanos are still working their way back to full fitness.

It also says that Emile Smith Rowe is hoping to participate in full training by the end of August, which is a bit odd given he played and scored for the under-23s the other day.

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Ya gooner

Still unconvinced about xhaka but if he plays hopefully he has one of those games whete he plays really well which is like 20% of the time. Same with ozil these days actuall. We have to start pepe!


Xhaka very rarely plays good especially in away games in such difficult stadium he will be a liability and he will loose the ball too many times and expose us.

Dave M

Yeah this is not the game to be randomly turn the ball over in midfield…Salah, Sane and Firmino will kill us for such mistakes. I’d like to see the same midfield again. Only change I’d make to the team is Pepe for Nelson, keep the same formation, have Guendouzi and Willock play a bit more conservatively and cover the “hole” in front of the defense – Ceballos roaming, and controlling the ball, Pepe and Auba working hard tracking the full back but ready to break hard and fast as the counter is where we can hurt the puddles.


I’d be very, very surprised if Pepe starts. Given Emery’s hesitance with new signings in general (think how long it took for Torreira to come in consistently last year, which given his drop-off in form around the New Year was the right choice), I think he’ll be on the bench this weekend. Suspect he’ll come on and perhaps his impact will determine whether he starts against Spurs. I don’t know how Emery has the willpower though- it’s like sitting looking at all the presents on Christmas morning and being told you’ve gotta wait until after lunch to open them. Just… Read more »

Dave M

I hope you’re wrong. Need his flair, pace and quality here. He’s much more a threat on the counter than Nelson, who has been solid to good, but playing within himself. Need that threat even just to stop the Liverpool fullback careening down the flanks in support of their forwards.


This is exactly the game we signed these players for. Emery should start both Ceballos and Pepe.

Nearly everyone else in the squad has been there and failed to do it. So we need to give them new problems to solve.

Considering the Scouse have the potential to score goals early and quickly, there’s no use ceding them the advantage and then bringing on Pepe to chase a game late when their defence has already parked the bus.


I agree, and would be ecstatic if they did and performed. Ceballos 100%- he’s run the gauntlet against Burnley and come out with his reputation infinitely enhanced. Pepe- quite frankly I know nothing about him still. I very much enjoyed his cameo but the failed pass to Auba to almost guarantee 3-1 shows he’s not up to speed. Impossible to say of course, but I’d wager if Nelson was in that position he wouldn’t have undersold the pass quite so dramatically. I always just think back to Chambers vs Montero as to what happens if someone jumps in at the… Read more »


Sure, but don’t forget – before Pepe’s failed pass on that late counter, he’d already served up a caviar of a pass to Auba right on the penalty spot from his wide right position after a Laca layoff. Auba drew a good save from the keeper but it would’ve been a perfect assist. With the late counter, it was Pepe’s quality – speed and timing of his runs – that created the opportunity he didn’t execute in the first place. It’s the same with Auba, we get mad at him for missing sitters, but it’s his insanely good movement that… Read more »


Auba and Pepe are not known to be good trackers of ball back. I will rather go with back 3 in the first half. We need Kola and Monreal to double up on Salah, and Niles and Sokaratis do same on Mane.

Thierry Bergkamp

My first thought while reading the article was I hope Xhaka doesn’t play. I would swap Willock for Torreira, as he reads the game and makes interceptions better than anybody else we have, and I think last weeks midfield 3 is too inexperienced to go to Anfield at this time. I’d play Pepe instead of Nelson, too.
I’m really excited about this one, with no idea of how it’s likely to turn out. I’m hoping for a draw at least, but my heart says it could also be a 3 or maybe even 4 goal win, if Liverpool score early.


Not a huge fan of Xhaka too but in last years home game against Pool he had one of his best games as a Gunner. But if it was on me I’d go with Torreira, Guendouzi and then Willock or Ceballos, probably Ceballos although it would be hard for Joe to miss out based on the performances in the first 2 games. But I think defensively Lucas and Matteo are a bit more reliable and if Ceballos can put in the same kind of performance as he did against Burnley then he should be the first man on the team… Read more »

Ya gooner

You guys probably already know I’m not a huge fan of xhaka to say the least, but there’s a chance he will be picked due to ‘seniority’ and if so I hope he smashes it although I wont expect it.


I wouldn’t start Pepe, only because I have Nelson in my fantasy team, and at 5.5 mil he’s hard to replace adequately


Replace him with Ceballos (if you’ve got 0.1 ITB) ?


Sorry if this makes you cry, but you could have had Ceballos for the same fee a few days back…



Ashish Mann

All of a sudden we are nevwr talking about torreira at all for a midfield berth! Strange.


Are ‘OnlyBeingHonest’ and ‘ConstantLiar’ the same person commenting with different user names?
There’s definitely a certain connection between both the names.


Now is the time to discover a new level within yourselves, we need a performance that sends out a statement. As long as Ceballos starts.

At home Xhaka put in an outstanding performance against Liverpool last year, but people are quick to forget these things as always…


That’s true, and while I’m a fan of Xhaka, I feel like Liverpool will be even more intensive at home than away to us last season. I feel a more dynamic midfield could be more effective against them, especially when you consider how athletic a team they have


I don’t think people forget, it’s just that he is extremely hit or miss. Hopefully he has a good game if he features


Unpopular opinion but that was one of those rare days where we were very good by our standards and Liverpool were quite poor by theirs, Fabinho in particular had a stinker.

Considering everything, that result shows the significance of the gap between the two teams last season. Liverpool didn’t play anything approaching scintillating football at their place and they tore as a new one.


It’s easy to forgot the one good game, when you have so many poor games to remember, Xhaka is not as good as you think he is!


I think he can be better of course, but he is a good player and we have discussed how important he is to us too many times, if you haven’t noticed how important he is to how we play then you haven’t paid attention. You’re only noticing the odd mistake here and there and agreeing with all the other sheep.


Should be the exact same team that played against Burnley with the exception of Pepe for nelson


Ozil absolutely must not play in this game! We can’t afford to carry a passenger who won’t do the dirty work. This is precisely the type of matches where Ozil has never turned up for. I was hoping that he’d be gone by now: we don’t need him and now he’s just hanging around the club like a bad smell sucking up undeserved money.

If I was Emery I’d leave Ozil in London. We’ll need warriors tomorrow not some spoilt, lazy prima donna.


I agree with you 100%. Ozil should not start on Saturday and I think Emery knows it, hopefully he wont do such a mistake. Liverpool overload the midfield so we will need strong players with passion in the midfield. Xhaka is another player for me that should not play in this match, in such tough games away he always does a lot of mistakes and looses the ball too may times. I would start in the midfield Willock torreira and ceballos


I hope he plays and has an amazing performance, you would then feel stupid af


agree on ozil not starting – but i like the idea that we could chuck pepe and ozil on in the late stages if we’re still in the game…

Dave M

I’d chuck Pepe on from the Start, but I agree on Ozil, he could be a big factor in the late stages coming on fresh with a killer front three of Auba, Laca, and Pepa (What…!? it fits better than Pepe).


What…!? I thought we we’re getting a world class winger, but instead we’ve bought a cartoon pig because ‘it fits better than Pepe’. FML, bring back Dick Law!!

Dave M

“Pepa loves jumping in Muddy Puddles”


Ozil might be good to bring on if say, Liverpool were defending a narrow lead and were very deep in their own half. Could see him coming on helping us pick the lock. But he’s a liability in an open game where we’re chasing each other for the ball or if we’re under pressure, which you expect against top sides (and Sp*rs)


Who´s playing tomorrow? Your opinion fits the narrative that Ozil is a lazy luxury player. Which he isn´t in my opinion. His defensive abilities are lacking somewhat but his creativity with several top class options in front of him is sublime.


There are still people that support Mesut Ozil? You must be blind or crazy after all these years in arsenal. He is shit, he is only good with small teams now in Emirates

Scourge of Goooner

I think Emery is going to play 5 at the back (we all know who the five are). The two up front are also known – I don’t think Pepe’s going to start (specially if we’re playing 5 at the back). About the three in the midfield I think 2 are certain – Ceballos and the Doozie. The third one is totally tactical between Xhaka, Willock and Ozil. Xhaka is super with his distribution, but can be slowish on the ball, and Liverpool at home, beginning of the season etc will be at the their Geggenpressing best. I think guys… Read more »


Preach Fatgooner. Preach. it’s always weird internet people and hipsters who have watched football for about 5 years who relentlessly shout for Ozil in any situation because to them I think he represents some sort of faux football intellectualism. Liking Ozil while ignoring logic/evidence/statistics is to them synonymous with understanding football to a deep technical level. I find this oxymoron sad really and I find it embarrassing for the club. But as always people are allowed to think what they want and can dive into the deepest depths of delusion should they wish. Or maybe Liverpool will play like Ludogrets… Read more »

A Different George

Well, no one’s accused me of being a hipster (I bought the glasses, but they kept slipping off my nose; the beard was too scratchy) and I’ve been watching football for a bit more than five years (maybe, could it be, even longer than you) and I prefer watching Ozil to Glenn Murray. Must be my faux intellectualism. (By the way, since you liketrust statistics so much, I’m sure you will agree that Mustafi is about as good as Van Dijk.)


Your opinion is your opinion but you have no idea what you’re, talking about, with the likes of Laca, Abua, and with the addition of Pep and Ceballos, Ozil is exactly the type of player you need to create opportunities for them, nobody can pick a pass like Ozil, in a game like this you need your most creative midfielders to cause pool problems, if not they’re going to be spending the majority of the game in our half attacking, and we’ll be defending, so you see Ozil is the to unlocking Liverpool!

A Different George

I think this proves that you are a hipster faux intellectual (you know, like Zidane).


With Liverpool being without Alisson and playing with an unusual high defensive line, I see us grabing a goal or two. And this could be a golden opportunity to field Auba – Laca – Pepe.
Whether the goals we score will cancel out the goals we undoubtedly will ship, probably courtesy of the Colgate-spokesperson Firmino, is an entirely different matter.
Hopefully the whole team will be up for it! COYG!


Regarding Firmino, for me he represents their best creative source, and our biggest worry. Why not man-mark him extremely tightly? If we smother him, we can match Liverpool and possibly more in other areas. That seems like a job tailor-made for another South American who Firmino might be very wary of – Torreira. If we did that, the question becomes, is Torreira fit enough?


I expect Xhaka to start, Arsenal need his premier league experience at Anfield. He must be smarting more than anyone about our recent form there and can add some real steel to the middle of the park. He doesn’t have to be a 10/10 if he has Matteo/Dani running midfield alongside him. I can imagine we are going to be defending a lot, maybe even setting up for the counter. As for Ozil he is a good option off the bench. I imagine he still needs some minutes before he is match fit enough to start. He can provide the… Read more »

Public Elneny

Xhaka receives a lot of undeserved hate, but I really don’t think he should start this one. His big weakness is his ability to retain possession under pressure, and Liverpool are obviously one of the best at pressing high up. I’d go with Ceballos-Torreira-Guendouzi who can all play through the press well (although Guendouzi has his moments under pressure), and snap back at them themselves. We also have Luiz who can bypass it entirely, lessening our reliance on Xhaka to pass through the lines. Start Pepe and Aubameyang out wide to try and pin back their full backs and/or hit… Read more »


agree on everything save I’d use Ceballos-Torreira-Guendouzi instead



Public Elneny

Yeah he has been good. But tbh I haven’t seen a lot of Willock in a deeper lying midfield position yet, and Guendouzi has looked much more positionally disciplined so far this year compared to last. I think we should try to keep our midfield 3 fairly compact in a traditional 4-3-3 to prevent them getting isolated defensively or in possession


fair points


Xhaka is mediocre at best. He turns like an aircraft carrier and it takes him FOREVER to release the ball. He doesn’t cover the ground in midfield that is becoming more and more of a requirement in today’s game. The sooner he can start being phased out the better.


Exactly, I would use him only in some easy games on Emirates as well as with Ozil the same thing. In big matched they are useless most of the times


Be hugely surprised if Ozil travels. Not just because he doesn’t travel anyway….

Forest gooner

We should go to 5 at the back

Forest gooner

And then, depending on the score, sub in Pepe, martinelli, ozil OR kolasinach, torreira.


5 or 4 at the back has not made any difference in the leaky goals department.

Forest gooner

Because one of them has always been mustafi and then xhaka in the middle

Game on

And kolasinach


Ozil will be reduced to domestic cup and Europe league duties, and he’s usually “sick” for those games…..

I expect he’ll be on his way out in January, either Washington or Miami.

He won’t be missed, he’s one of the most overhyped players there’s ever been.

A Different George

I thought you said he would be gone this window. (The only possibility of Ozil leaving, genuinely, is if the recent security issues make him, or his family, feel he needs to leave England–as, more or less, happened to Di Maria. That would be a terrible outcome for football.)


If Özil and Xhaka are both in the squad, who will miss out? Martinelli and Mkhi or Nelson?
What do you guys reckon?


With Liverpool being without Alisson and playing with an unusual high defensive line, I see us grabing a goal or two. And this could be a golden opportunity to field Auba – Laca – Pepe.
Whether the goals we score will cancel out the goals we undoubtedly will ship, probably courtesy of the Colgate-spokesperson Firmino, is an entirely different matter.
Hopefully the whole team will be up for it! COYG!


My team against Liverpool :
AMN___Sokratis ___D. Luis___Monreal
______Torreira ____Xhaka _____
_____________Lakazette ___________



Man Manny

Yea; who needs a Leno when we’ve got our world class back four in place?


Same I wonder why anybody won’t agree with your formation.


I’m afraid we might get anally raped on the Xhaka/Monreal side by Saleh and Alexander-Arnold.


You could make a strong argument for not making any changes at all. The past two games everyone has played well, Mkhi aside. The most logical change is Xhaka for Guendouzi. While Guendouzi hasn’t been brilliant, with Xhaka you lose his energy in midfield which could be crucial. Of course if it’s a back 3 he wants, then someone has to miss out.


We should start the same 11 that started the 2nd half last week. I see no reason to change. I understand the theory of a back 3 making us more secure, but it’s not a logical. It simply hasn’t made us more secure in practice over the last couple years. I think Pepe is ready to give us an hour at least. And as for Xhaka/Ozil, they do have athletic and/or defensive liabilities and we can’t afford that at Anfield. They both have great positives to their games, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater, but they are each… Read more »


Being available doesn’t necessarily Guarantee A place in a starting 11, it just mean we have a larger squad than last season. So instead of speculating who would and wouldn’t we just have to be happy with the Depth of the squad.


A place on the bench for the pair of them is good enough. There’s no one in the midfield from last game that I’d replace with Xhaka and think “this makes us stronger”. I’d go a step further and say he actively makes the team worse in several regards without adding anything significant enough to me up for it. I’d go a step further than that and say no one who likes watching football likes watching Granit Xhaka play it. Ozil hasn’t played yet this season and is just recovering from cold or something, and Liverpool away isn’t the kind… Read more »


Come on now, you don’t fancy Granit Xhaka Scoring a thunderbolt from 35 Yards out.
Ee. Maybe not.


I agree with you completely. He adds nothing special to the squad now, when we have Luiz who can actually do the same job with long range passing ( I would argue even better than Xhaka). And with young pacey and committed mid trio I really can not se a place for him in starting 11 (he could do a few cameos in Europa league and thats it). Also his dismal defensive awareness is such an obvious liability on the pitch and ‘pool would enjoy taking advantage of that.

Maul Person

Hoping Emery plays the same team as last week with one change of Pepe in for Nelson. This is not a game for Xhaka or Ozil to start…


As a matter of strengthening the squad their return is welcome of course. That said, we never know what to expect from either of them really.

Recent problems aside, Ozil has largely been ineffective in away games particularly – when he’s actually turned up that is. Xhaka turns up alright but isn’t consistent by any measure.

Who knows though. We could probably do with a flash of Ozil magic, if he’s any left, against a very powerful Liverpool side, at home, and going for their 12th straight win I think! Now, that’s something we can aspire to.

Thierry Bergkamp

I’m super excited about this one!
Play Xhaka and we lose (possibly heavily)!
I’d like to see just a couple changes. Torreira for Willock, and Pepe for Nelson. The midfield 3 that started last week is too inexperienced to go to Anfield at this time, and Torreira is the best we have at reading the game, and taking up the right positions to make interceptions.
A draw would be great, and a win a bonus. However, if Liverpool get an early goal, It could be 3 or 4 goals in it.


Certainly don’t see him starting with Ozil for an away match this big so early in the season with no games under his belt. Definitely would prefer to see Xhaka start on the bench and go with a more agile Guendouzi and Willock as the holding mids. Both are very technically capable and dribble well out of pressure (which will be needed), which is not a strength of Xhaka’s.

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