Pepe starts, Laca on the bench: Liverpool v Arsenal team news

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Arsenal face Liverpool at Anfield this season, looking to go top of the table with a win, but hopefully taking something from a ground where we’ve been poor in recent seasons.

Here are today’s official line-ups.

Liverpool: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Mane, Sala, Firmino

Subs: Kelleher, Milner, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Shaqiri, Origi

Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Willock, Ceballos, Aubemeyang, Pepe.

Subs: Martinez, Chambers, Kolasinac, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Nelson, Lacazette

Follow the game on the Arseblog live blog

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lordMartynz
lordMartynz

I will get behind the team, but this is far from the line up I expected.. But then, I am not Unai. #COYG

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

17% more scared than I was 12 mins ago. Hope Unai has a plan!

Gooooooonnnnaaaaaaaa
Gooooooonnnnaaaaaaaa

He better get a result otherwise he’ll be 100% to blame. This is not the game for Xhaka, he’s too slow, and there’s no reason for us to play a 4-4-2 or wtv this formation is.

Mayor McCheese
Mayor McCheese

Xhaka was a standout in our game against Liverpool last November.

The formation is a diamond, I believe. It’s something I thought Emery should do for this game, so I’m pleased. We’ll see how it goes.

Mayor McCheese
Mayor McCheese

Also, in what universe is it at all rational to demand “better get a result” against the European champions at their home ground? Why don’t you go back and check how many games Liverpool lost last season.

Don’t be absurd.

Gooooooonnnnaaaaaaaa
Gooooooonnnnaaaaaaaa

And I was proven right.

Xhaka played exactly like I expected him to – like someone that is too slow and not agile enough to play in such a high intensity game against such a pacey and dynamic team.

And by “better get a result” I mean if you’re going to change from a winning formation to something that seems like a bad idea, you better surprise me and prove me wrong.

Dave M
Dave M

Safe to say Liverpool weren’t expecting it either

CRAIG
CRAIG

UNAI OUT! That was the worst selection possible for today’s game. Wtf was he thinking? Why is Lacazette on the bench?? Why is Willock starting? Why is Xhaka starting? He has too many inexperience players starting at anfield at once. He’s playing a stupid stupid formation in a 3man midfield diamond nonsense and the game is well past 75min 3goaks down and lacazette is stillllllllllll on the f bench???? He still hasn’t changed that stupid stupid diamond 433 formation at half time? Why why is he being so naive and stupid I swear I wanna punch UNAI IN THE FACE RIGHT NOW! STUPID MAN! arsene Wenger always said when you’re playing a team who play possession football and press high you pack the midfield! That’s why he plays a 4 5 1 away from home!!! IF UNAI played a 3 5 2 it would be milllllessssss better than this stupid formation he’s playing. It’s 80min and NOW he brings in f lacazette???? Are you kidding me! This guy just showed me he’s not up to it tactically as I thought he was. This is not it. I’m so disappointed in UNAI TODAY SO DISAPPOINTING. HE UNAI COST US THIS GANE NOT THIS GAME!

TUW
TUW

The home team lost in all the 5 Premier league matches today!!! Liverpool to follow…

CRAIG
CRAIG

Why such late subs. Unai is stupid

Hantal
Hantal

Saw the headline and thought we must be going for pace for laca to be on the bench but Xhaka starting seems to suggest not so much

Rich
Rich

Xhaka lacks acceleration and agility, which does cause him and us problems, but he’s not slow over medium and long distances.

I like Xhaka, he’s a better player than given credit for.

Not sure anyone would have guessed this lineup? Emery is impossible to second guess, it’s a team designed to beat the press and counter

Hantal
Hantal

We didn’t beat the press or the counter…

Mentally Drained Gooner
Mentally Drained Gooner

Xhaka in Laca out. How does this work? Will learn in a few minutes

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

There no reason, Laca on the bench acceptable.

The Far Post
The Far Post

Xhaka to hit Auba & Pepe in full stride? One can only hope he gets enough time to look up. Fingers crossed.

shokim
shokim

Wow Pepe starts and I cannot stand the anticipation. #COYG

Ponsonby Gooner
Ponsonby Gooner

Ozil not in the squad?

Drew
Drew

I was wondering that as well. I’m wondering if he may be leaving?

Richie

He’s being saved for the Europa League.

Jay
Jay

He’s only just come back from illness and before that the whole security thing, I’d have been surprised for his first game back to be this match. Think Unai made the right call.

Lord Bendnter
Lord Bendnter

Somebody, for God’s sake, get him a complete Immunoglobulins screen.

Dr Bendnter

Abhi
Abhi

This line up is weird…

midgunner
midgunner

I don’t understand why he has to keep tinkering with the formation.

Was hoping he’d bring a clearer identity this year but it’s hard to see any sign so far.

Guess we gotta trust he knows what he’s doing.

COYG!

goonero
goonero

Xhaka gets the start ahead of Torreira and the armband…😧

DialSquareGoon
DialSquareGoon

Diamond midfield…

DAANNY
DAANNY

stupid formation by unai today very stupid and naïve tactically!! he made lots of mistakes today im starting to question him now. I don’t trust him to be the one to take us to where we need to be! hes now under my microsccope

Goonerink

I would prefer the more mobile torreira over xhaka but lets see how he does.
COYG

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

Not quite sure what formation we’ll be lining up in based on that selection…

4-3-3 Pepe on the right, Willock on the left? Surely not Xhaka dropped into a back 3..

CHIBS
CHIBS

4-4-2
4-3-1-2

Red-Wing
Red-Wing

Not surprised Xhaka’s starting given that Emery likes him, but would really prefer if that wasn’t the case.

GraeB
GraeB

Every test bigger than the last for Willock, hope he enjoys it.

Deejay
Deejay

I think we’ll have three midfielders in front of the back 4 (xhaka, Matteo willock/ceballos), with a 10 in ceballos/willock and two strikers with pepe and auba. Not what i expected but I think it works well.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Bit conservative for me but hopefully unai has got it right

GraeB
GraeB

Be conservative! Every time we’ve gone for it here we’ve been stuffed. Remember ’89 – keep it tight, take the chance that will come and get the win.

GraeB
GraeB

… and there was the Michael Thomas chance but Pepe blew it.

Sir Obi

We will be stretched on the flanks, pound for pound our midfield is not as solid as theirs. Meaning either Willock or Ceballos will have to cover the flanks when we don’t have the ball.

Deejay
Deejay

100%. willock will cover the left and Matteo wil cover the right

Deano

Let’s hope that Nacho man can finish on a high.

Kaleja
Kaleja

Better safe than sorry, I get it.

Yellow Ribbon
Yellow Ribbon

Disappointed by that lineup. Not expecting a miracle

Richie

Me too. Been excited all day but no Lacazette has taking some of the excitement off for me.

Lanre
Lanre

WTF kind of line is man putting out?

Richie

You need your big players at Anfield, no idea why Lacazette is on the bench and Willock is starting. Hope Lacazette isn’t carrying a knock.

Ballz
Ballz

Playing xhaka as the holding midfielder literally exposes all his weaknesses and none of his strengths.

His strengths are his passing range and his killer left foot. His weaknesses are lack of pace, poor dribbling to get out of tight situations, lack of defensive awareness, and struggle to receive the ball under pressure.

As the DM, he has to constantly receive the ball under pressure from Salah, Mane, Firmino, and whoever else they put on him, he has to be defensively switched for the entirety of the game, and he has to be able to keep up with the pace of their front 3. Literally everything that he sucks at, and not hot hat he’s good at!

Also, why not start Laca? Why play Ceballos on the wing where he can’t control the tempo of the game?

This is a manager overthinking things. This is why I’m so many games last season, we had to rely on individuals to dig us out of tough situations

Matt
Matt

Its possible that xhaka will not receive the ball from the back as much as guendooozi and cevallos but be around for the sideways passes…. We’ll see though

BigArse
BigArse

4-4-2 or 4-3-3? Then who’s on the left wing? Willock? Diamond? I’m confused. I hope Klopp is too.

David C
David C

4 3 1 2?

Richie

Looks like 4-5-1 to me….

Donald's Trump
Donald's Trump

I’ve never understood the difference between a 433 and a 451

mohit mandan
mohit mandan

4-3-1-2
Willock and Guindouzi would be covering for auba and pepe so that they can stay up too and counter

Gudang Bedil
Gudang Bedil

Where the hell is Ozil?

non flying dutchman
non flying dutchman

Galatasary?

The Far Post
The Far Post

Purchasing a ticket to D.C.? 😉

Thierry Bergkamp
Thierry Bergkamp

All the excitement and anticipation leading upto this game has been sucked out of me, after seeing this lineup. No Torreira or Lacazette. Xhaka……wtf!

Richie

Me too. Expect half time substitutions. Willock off, Lacazette on.

Lanre
Lanre

Line-up is confidence-sapping. Got an uneasy feeling now.

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

Surprising, but if Emery was intent on bringing back Xhaka, maybe it’s good that he hasn’t sacrificed any of last week’s more mobile three from the midfield. Pace of Auba and Pepe in behind with Xhaka and Luiz pinging balls over the top might just give the scousers some pause for thought…

yen
yen

Let’s get behind Xhaka. Arguably the best player on the pitch in last year’s 1-1 draw. See for yourself:

https://arseblog.news/2018/11/arsenal-1-1-liverpool-player-ratings/

Richie

At the Emirates, different kettle of fish….

yen
yen

Valid point, not like it’s a completely different sport though

Reality check
Reality check

Don’t worry about that mate.. modern support means looking for the next scapegoat to vent all your frustration at, while some other can get away with murder. Mustafi is gone so its Xhaka, Ozil and Kolasinac now..

kev wilson
kev wilson

It’s a five man midfield. using Pepe’s pace for counter attacks. We have to go there and think of a draw not a win!

Fear and Loathing in Joplin
Fear and Loathing in Joplin

Looks like a 4312 maybe? Guess we are packing the center of the park and playing through the press (gulp) with maybe an eye for a ball over the top to aubameyang or pepe?

Sbdjubor1306
Sbdjubor1306

Hope this lineup works, Emery will have no excuses. We’re going to be under a high press and we have Lacazette, on the bench, he can hold up play. In midfield, we have Xhaka, who slows the play. What’s this nonsense about Toreira not being match fit? Mane, Salah, & Firminho had long post seasons but they have started the last two games, why? They are the best in their positions. The kid gloves culture at Arsenal must stop. These are professional footballers who are paid millions for the sole purpose of playing. I don’t understand how Reese Nelson gets to start ahead of Lacazette. Hope it works cos I won’t listen to Emery’s excuses

Thierry Bergkamp
Thierry Bergkamp

Every Premier league game today was an away win. Lets make it a full house

Gavin Binding
Gavin Binding

I’m taking a wild stab in the dark @ a 4-2-2-2 ?

Leno

AMN Sok Luiz Monreal

Guen Xhaka

Willock Ceballos

Pepe Auba

Mark
Mark

About as expected with the exception of both Xhaka and Ceballos in there. Good balance on bench with Lacazette, Nelson, Torreira, Kolasinac, etc.

Lacauberpepe
Lacauberpepe

I’m not surprised by the line up after emery drooled all over liverpooh during his pre match press conference. Hope there’s a clear plan behind it.

Mentalist
Mentalist

Disappointing… not by player selection so much as by the fact Unai can’t help himself changing formations every fucking game.

I’m willing to eat my words though.

Jean Ralphio
Jean Ralphio

Dominating midfield is not a bad idea from Unai. Glad Willock is starting.

Savage
Savage

Not one, but two lightning runners. That’s going to give us great out-ball options.

Forest gooner
Forest gooner

Wow! Damn excited.
Long balls from the back by xhaka and Luiz and through balls from the middle by willock Ceballos, and Guendouzi
Auba and Laca to hit them with pace.
Allowing and absorbing the high press and hit them on counter.
Tactical battle indeed!

Steve McSween
Steve McSween

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. I’ve seen far weirder selections over the years

Jimmy neill
Jimmy neill

Salah*

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

Formation already looks shit

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

Please don’t wait til half time to change this idiocy

Lacauberpepe
Lacauberpepe

Tough to watch !!!

Goonereality
Goonereality

Well, almost 30 minutes in and we’re under heavy pressure as expected but, so far, holding. It’s down more to Liverpool’s finishing than our efforts though.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

We defended quite well and have a chance of scoring on the counter

Probably just going to get worn down at this rate though

The Far Post
The Far Post

Sokratis black-art backfired 🙁 Pepe has had a few chances to break. Still another half to go. COYG.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

I think they were too worried about van dijk

Alan
Alan

Caballos magnificent right? Didnt you all expect that? This is Liverpool and the multiple situations where he lost the ball says it all….no Laca, no özil… different formation once again.

True, Pepe had some good chances, but thats not enough.

Dawdler
Dawdler

Written at halftime and so half of the game to be determined, I am trying not to be reactionary, but I am a bit disappointed that we have sacrificed the more invigorating and exciting lineup options for this.

I know he has been a constant in our team for the past few seasons, but those seasons have not been memorable and neither is anything about Xhaka’s game. I think this reflects in our personality on the pitch. He has so much influence in our midfield because he handcuffs more dynamic players with the spaces he occupies, and offers nothing dynamic himself. How has he influenced this game in a way that merits his inclusion over what Laca could offer?

We have not maintained any posession and that would be the only merit of his inclusion, as a calming influence to cycle the ball.

Yeah yeah we need to be solid defensively, but we are also playing very defensively which is giving one of the BEST teams in Europe all the time in the world to figure out how to open us up. The slow pedantic personality we exhibit is a direct reflection of Xhaka’s slow pedantic game. I’m sorry but we wont beat Liverpool like that, we wont inspire any confidence or excitement going forward and we wont deserve any better for it.

Dawdler
Dawdler

I stand behind my assessment. Minutes before the penalty Luiz is yelling at Xhaka for his stationary play not showing himself into open space for the pass. It affects the energy and attitude of the whole team when you play like that. I didn’t expect a victory here but, I just wanted an inspiring performance. Spurs looking at us without much concern on this performance.

Reality check
Reality check

If Xhaka had given that chance away at 20:00 intead of Ceballos, you would’ve sent out a hit squad for him.. while Sokratis is playing with fire and AMN doesn’t know what’s going on around him, you choose Xhaka to put all the blame on.
Luiz just conceded a penalty, that should give Xhaka some breathing space

Dawdler
Dawdler

I’m not a fan of Xhaka, true. But I am not being him, I am blaming the formation and managers decision to play him. Xhaka’s game has it’s merits but I don’t think it suits our squad, our strengths, or the Arsenal brand of football.

Reality check
Reality check

It’s personal so fair enough..

Leon
Leon

Well done Luiz.
What better way to get back into the game than to give a penalty away at the beginning of the second half.
I thought the summer business was excellent apart from the signing of Luiz – a poor defender in his prime and way past it now.
Very disappointing…

Ballz
Ballz

There’s a difference between playing to win, and playing to not lose. Emery is a small-minded manager who is driven by the fear of losing instead of the ambition to win.

We have the players and the skill to really go head to head with Liverpool and pressure them. Instead, our manager puts 8 players behind the ball in our own half and hopes for a lucky counter attack for us to score. We’re not Stoke city!!

Leon
Leon

Xhaka, Monreal, Leno, Sokratis, Luiz – do you want to re-evaluate your opinion we have the players to fight liverpool ?
Arsenal are just wank simple as that.
Liverpool are SLAUGHTERING Arsenal – they are three or four levels above Arsenal. The best team in Europe against a mid table clown of a club.
And now its 3-0
Arsenal are fucking garbage…..
I know it and everyone here knows it…

Ballz
Ballz

Adrian, Henderson, Matip, and even Fabinho are not world beaters either. A team is comprised of individuals with different strengths, skills and weaknesses. It is up to the manager to choose the right strategy and provide instructions that allow individuals to thrive instead of having their weaknesses exposed every time.

I repeat, we have the players and the skill to really put Liverpool under pressure, but our coward of a manager is so afraid of losing that he won’t give winning a chance. Liverpool are NOT 3 or 4 levels above arsenal, and if they are, it’s down to Klopp. We’re not Stoke city.

Nordin
Nordin

Exactly my point as well. And we are going down. 3-0 and we still half an hour to go.

Armchair
Armchair

Pepe with an excellent chance to score on a breakaway and he does absolutely nothing with it–a weak shot directly at the keeper. Good grief. He made a great play to steal the ball and beat the last defender–but he’s got to do better than that…..

Leon
Leon

72 million to fall over the ball.
Not fit to lace Salah’s boots..

Miguel
Miguel

Jervinho 2.0

Flavoured Rice

So much for Guendouzi’s and Sokratis dumb comments about how it would be different. It never is and never will be with Emery in charge. At least under Wenger we had a fuckin identity and could play a bit.

We never know which team this tactical genius Emery will play week to week. Whatever is the sensible, rational option he goes an does the opposite.

It’s early days and I’m already bored of negative, apprehensive football that has permeated this club under Emery. Go now, and make it quick

Goonereality
Goonereality

Game over now at 3:0, I just hope they don’t equal last season’s tally. Morale will take a pounding if they do. Those pre-match comments by some of our players are ringing hollow. As always, it’s what you do, not what you say, that counts. There’s a deal of work to do yet as I think most of us knew.

Me2
Me2

Going to be a long and very disappointing season I do believe…
At least Arsenal had the intelligence to include clauses in Emery’s contract to release him if the season turns out to be a disaster – sorry but wins against Newcastle and Burnley don’t really mean much – its these games that are the parameters…

Goonereality
Goonereality

Well, I was critical of Gooners who thought those initial wins meant that we were almost automatically going to do well for the rest of the season. That said, I don’t think we can go too far in the other direction because of this poor result. Realistically, we won’t know what improvement we’ve really made until Christmas/early New Year. Let’s just see.

Lacauberpepe
Lacauberpepe

Is Unai Emery on drugs ?!!!

Flavoured Rice

I’ll need drugs after a season of his negative shit again