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Arsenal’s possible line up for August: and who is going to win the League

by Tony Attwood

Last summer we were silly enough to put forward a whole range of possible line ups in June – the time when, of course, the transfer portal is still a future dream and only the out of contract players are on the move.

In fact our very first try in June last year wasn’t too bad

Cech

Bellerin Koscielny ??? Monreal

Xhaka Santi Caz

Ramsey Ozil Sanchez

???

 

We then had a go at slotting Gabriel and Iwobi into the team, and later added Vardy (a hot tip at the time if you can think back that far), but soon came to the idea that Giroud would still be with us, although perhaps playing quite often as a sub.

We’ve had one bash at a line up already this summer

Earlier this summer with the notion that the club might go back to 4-2-1-3:

Szczesny

Bellerin Mustafi Kos Kolasinac

The Ox Xhaka

Ozil

Mahrez Alexis Mbappe

Of course Ox is the hot tip of the moment to leave the club and we should not forget the evolving partnership of Ramsey and Xhaka.  Xhaka with his very high rate of accurate passing as we revealed in a previous post and Ramsey then having the ability to charge forward and head the goal that won us the FA Cup.

But in truth I can’t see us going back to four at the back again, unless some extraordinary transfer moves demand it.   That run of the last ten games with nine wins, including victories over Chelsea, Everton, Man U and Man City surely suggests that the new format will stay.

So what would that mean, taking into account the current state of transference and the latest level of rumours.

Cech

Holding Mustafi Koscielny

Bellerin Ramsey Xhaka Kolasinac

Ozil Alexis

Lacazette

And lets try a beach perm seven from these…

  • Goal: it is either Szczesny or Martinez given the current state of rumours
  • Defenders: Monreal, Coquelin, Mertesacker
  • Midfield: Elneny, Le Jeff
  • Forward: Welbeck, Giroud, Iwobi, Theo

As for who is going to win the league, or indeed what the top three is going to look like, if you wanted to place a bet you certainly look any further than teams from London and teams from Liverpool and Manchester, because through this century in the 18 seasons completed only three of the total of  54 top three places have gone to clubs outside the London-North West duoploy.

Here’s a quizzetta – close your eyes and take a guess who they were – those three teams from outside London and the north west, who got into the top three this century (which means starting with 1999/2000).

Give up?

Or are you cheating?

OK I’ll tell you

  • Leeds 2000 (3rd)
  • Newcastle 2003 (3rd)
  • Leicester 2016 (1st)

This is all something of a change from the 1970s when the journalists (as the fantasists from make-believe land used to be called) firmly predicted that a London team would never win the league again because of northern grit.

Mind you, to be fair we have had one top goalscorer from outside London and the north west in this time: Kevin Phillips of Sunderland with 30 goals in 1999/2000 – a season that at least had the temerity to finish in the 21st century.

So I wondered how the top three triumphs went during this era.  In effect the top three positions in the league have been dominated by six clubs:

  • Manchester United: 18 top three appearances
  • Arsenal: 13 top three appearances
  • Chelsea: 12 top three appearances
  • Liverpool: 6 top three appearances
  • Manchester City: 6 top three appearances
  • Tottenham Hots: 2 top three appearances

Which makes it 27 to London and 30 to the north west.

My own suspicion is that Tottenham will struggle next season because of Wembley.  You might recall we have done quite a few analyses of what happens to clubs when they move stadia, and Arsenal’s ability to stay near the top following the move from Highbury is pretty much the exception.

West Ham’s drop last season was not as great as I thought it might be following their move to the laughably named “London Stadium” but a drop there was from 7th to 11th in the league, while going out in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.  In the Europa League it was business as usual going out in the 3rd qualifying round for the second season running.  At least they won’t have to worry about Europe any more.

But to be fair collapse often doesn’t come in the first year after moving the stadium.  Middlesbrough were relegated two seasons after going to the Riverside, Stoke two seasons after entering the Britannia, Derby took five years after getting to Pride Park to go down, Southampton took four years, but then made up for it by tumbling into the third tier thereafter.  Leicester went down in two years.

So it could be a fairly poor second year for West Ham, and as for Tottenham – well, we don’t really have exact parallels for what they are trying to do with a move out as tenants and then a move back.  I am not suggesting that they will go down (extremely droll though that would be) but rather that they might actually struggle somewhat, even if they do play about with the width and length of the pitch as has been suggested.

Of course with Tottenham we still are not 100% sure of where the stadium money is coming from nor even a final confirmed cost of the stadium, although we know it is costing twice as much as first estimated and twice as much as Arsenal spent.  It will be interesting, and potentially amusing, to watch.

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9 comments to Arsenal’s possible line up for August: and who is going to win the League

  • locomotif

    it was seen sometimes wenger reverted to 4231 during games when opponent played defensive and still 0-0 deadlocked. its a flexible system but worrying for becoming overused style opponents could figure out soon?

  • Josif

    Tony

    My guess is that Arsene will stick with the same approach that did well for us during run-in.

    He did it after our run-in in 2012-13. If you recall, we were trailing Spuds (7 points behind) with ten games to go. He shuffled the cards, benched Szczesny, Vermaelen and Wilshere, introduced Fabianski and two important partnerships in the middle of defence (Koscielny-Mertesacker) and in the midfield (Ramsey-Arteta). This team went unchanged for most of 2013-14 with addition of Ozil and we won FA Cup and spent 128 days as the league leaders. If we hadn’t had so many injuries, we would have won the league.

    Same happened during 2014-15 when Coquelin-Cazorla partnership became the axis of almost unbeatable Arsenal in the second half of the season. Again, Szczesny was dropped for Ospina after Woj had an awful at St Mary’s. Again, injuries of Coquelin and Cazorla in November 2015 were the reason why we didn’t win the league.

    Now, I fully expect from Arsene to stick with the current line-up with a few questions left over our central defence, RWB position and a striker. I think Cech is still our best goalkeeper so I don’t think Szczesny’s return will drop Cech to the bench. We have Holding, Per and Nacho who won FA Cup v Chelsea with Mustafi, Koscielny and Chambers as other options. Gabriel is injured so I don’t think he’ll be ready for August. Which back three will Arsene use? My guess: Holding, Koscielny, Mustafi but we also must take into account that Holding and Chambers are with England U23 while Mustafi is a vice-captain of the German team at Confederation Cup which means they might get some extra-rest by Arsene.

    On the RWB positions we have Hector (with Spain U23) and Ox (I guess he’ll stay). Hec did well v Chelsea but Ox has better crossing, shooting and dribbling technique. I’d go with Bellerin.

    In the attack… Now, I must admit Lacazette’s possible arrival doesn’t make me extremely happy. He scored 10 penalties last season in the league and he will never get that with Arsenal. Giroud is ahead of him in NT so Lacazette is no upgrade on him. Aside from an opportunity to scream “BOOM XHAKA LACA” every time Xhaka assists for Lacazette’s goal, I don’t feel excited about it.

    So, the team for Chelsea:

    Cech

    Holding Koscielny Monreal

    Bellerin Xhaka Ramsey Kolasinac

    Ozil Alexis

    Welbeck

  • Josif

    As for the question about the league winners:

    either Man City or Man United.

    It depends on what will they do with their holes in the defence (Man City), attack (Man United) and midfield (both). City need two first-team full-backs (Alves and someone) as they have released 3 of their 4 FBs (Sagna, Clichy, Zabaleta) and a defensive midfielder. United need a central midfielder and a striker as they have released Ibrahimovic and their conversion rate was beyond awful last season.

    I said last August that Chelsea would win the league and now I don’t think they will retain it. Champions League football will be a huge burden as well as Hazard’s injury. Two HG-players have already left (Terry, Begovic) as well as two young talents (Solanke, Traore) which narrows their list of possible purchases. Lukaku can replace Diego Costa though as the Belgian is a HG-player but the problem is, Costa wants to return to Atletico but Atletico can’t register him until January 2018 and with WC 2018 around the corner, no player would want to sacrifice 5 months of football. If Fabregas also leaves, that would mean another HG-player is gone.

    Tottenham will struggle with Wembley as their record on Wembley in 2016-17 suggests (W1D1L3). Also, Walker wants to leave and Alderweireld didn’t want to sign a new contract without a minimum release clause in it. Their wage structure is tight and a new stadium is expensive. 53 of their 86 points last season were collected at WHL. Even with a goalscorer like Kane, I don’t think they’ll be capable of putting a title challenge.

    Liverpool – like Chelsea – have European football and Klopp has struggled even in his glory days at Borussia to balance domestic obligations with the European ones. They got Salah, it’s true, but his best position is the one where the best Liverpool player Mane already plays. They have at least three weak spots in their team, mostly in their defence, and they didn’t help themselves with an attempt to tap Van Dijk either. I expect them around Top 4 but with Klopp’s style of play, European football and incredibly tight schedule due to World Cup, injuries, fatigue and suspensions will take their toil.

    As for Arsenal… If we keep our best players, we can do a lot as I reckon we have a great chance to win a European trophy which would also mean a CL place for us. Top 4 in the league and victorious European campaign should be enough. It’s important to say we will have at least 29 games in 2017 (CS, at least one in Carabao Cup, 6 in EL group stage and 21 in the league) which is a busy schedule.

    Oh, I almost forgot:

    Koscielny is out for two more games. I don’t know if that’s just two league games or CS and a league game.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    While I don’t know if Le Prof has Penned down a particular or preferred playing formation for the Gunners next season, I for one will prefer to wait until Arsenal concluded their summer transfer plans this summer before I can say anything on Arsenal’s playing formations for next season’s campaign. But haven said this, one will not be surprised if Le Prof continues with playing the 4-3-3 playing formation he adopted in playing for the last quarter of Arsenal games last season which wonderfully worked well for Arsenal, him and us.

    Arsenal have reportedly newsed to have submitted a bid of £44m to Leon FC for the transfer of Alexandre Lacasette to Arsenal this summer. If this is true, a Lacasette transfer to Arsenal FC this summer could consequently means any possible transfer of Kylian Mbappe to Arsenal is unlikely to happen this summer. Because taking into consideration of how Arsenal are very careful not to over commit themselves in spending at the transfer market in a single window, Arsenal may not spend close to £150m get these two player strikers transferred to Arsenal in this current summer window. But it’ll be very ideal if they’ll do this spending if one takes into consideration they spent £87m on three targets last season and close to Iru above £100m in total on five targets overall last season. For, the spending of £150m on two top quality strikers of Mbappe and Lacasette this summer will hugely improved Arsenal performance in all completions during next campaign which could culminated into winning the Premier League title next season. But would they? I doubt if they will. But they could if they become very ambitiousvto win and showing the intent they want to win that Premier League title that has eluded them for the 13th consecutive seasons which has become the main bone of contention between Le Prof and some groups of diehard Arsenal supporters.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Pls, I ment to type 3-4-3 playing formation used by Le Prof last season and not 4-3-3 playing formation as I erroneously typed.

  • Alexanderhenry

    My prediction is this:

    I think arsenal will buy lacazette but I also think sanchez is leaving.

    The lacazette purchase will be announced first then the sanchez departure. Sadly, I think he’ll end up at man city or Chelsea.

    Unless we sell the ox or Walcott for decent money, lacazette will probably be our only major signing.
    Some cheaper buys will be made at the end of the window.

    I think arsenal will finish fifth or sixth next season.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Guessing without seeing the other’s answers.
    – Newcastle
    – Blackburn Rovers
    – Bolton Wanders.

    And send –

  • Brickfields Gunners

    One out of three ? Guess that servesbme right for not Checking out who the clubs are in the north west !

  • Pat

    Josif

    I could be wrong but I don’t think Arsene Wenger will concentrate on the Europa League. Somewhere he said it would be a good chance for younger players.

    He has also said several times that Leicester and Chelsea won the league when they weren’t in Europe. I think he will take this situation – Arsenal not being in the Champions League – to go all out for the league title.

    A lot depends on the usual two things: number one – refereeing; number two – injuries.