Arsenal v PSG: the team and the formation, plus other guess work

By Tony Attwood

On the injury front we know that Héctor Bellerín and Santi Cazorla are still out along with Perez and the three January returnees, but there are also doubts about Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey.  Ramsey has a broken toe it seems, and both could be given a day off.

On the Santi Cazorla injury Mr Wenger said, “I’ve given a bit up on that, I don’t know how far he is.   He looks like he’s making progress, but as long as the player is not in full-time training with the squad it’s difficult to set targets.

“It’s not a big injury that will harm his future, but it’s an inflammation at the back of his Achilles, and it’s always difficult with inflammations to give a set time. My gut feeling is it will be short, two weeks, but when a player comes back to full training it still takes two weeks for a player to be ready to play again.”

On the plus side Mathieu Debuchy is back training with the first-team.

PSG may be without Ángel Di María because of his hamstring problem.  Serge Aurier we dealt with yesterday.

So what about the team: how about…

Jenkinson Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
Xhaka Coquelin
The Ox Ozil Alexis

This assumes Ramsey and Theo are injured enough to be out of the squad, but of course they could be half way there and able to come on from the beach.   So we might have, playing in the sand any seven from

Elneny, Cech, Gibbs, Iwobi, Gabriel, Holding, Theo? Ramsey?

Everything depends on how that midfield unit behind the attack minded players is set up and everyone seems to be having a go at predicting who will play and saying who should play.

In fact the Telegraph has been running a poll on who readers think should play.  The result by lunchtime today was

  • Coquelin and Xhaka: 52%
  • Xhaka and Ramsey: 32%
  • Ramsey and Coquelin: 13%
  • Coquelin and Elneny: 0%
  •  Xhaka and Elneny: 1%
  • Elneny and Ramsey: 2%

Coquelin and Xhaka seemed to me the obvious choice with Xhaka playing deeper but with the clearance to run forward – hopefully ignoring the guys who shout “Shoot” all the time he has the ball.

So Xhaka runs forward, Coquelin goes back… it seems simple enough.

Besides Coquelin harries to perfection which is what gives Xhaka the chance to put in those long distance passes, and not worry too much about doing tackles (thus not being sent off).

Xhaka and Ramsey was the second favourite – although I suspect this was voted on without the electorate knowing about the injury.   In this reality Ramsey goes forwards, Xhaka stays back, a bit like Ramsey and Arteta, only with better players (Ramsey better because he is older, Xhaka being a better player than Arteta was by the time he came to Arsenal).

Third choice was Ramsey and Coquelin with Coquelin sitting in the deeper role and not chasing after a ball that has just got away from him.

Even though PSG are not the team they were a year ago, they have scored two or more goals in eight of the last ten games they have played in the Champions League and are unbeaten in their last nine, with eight of those games being victories.  So protection for the defence is an important consideration.

On the other hand the media has been so full of games we haven’t won and sequences against Mourinho in the PL, they ignore the fact that we, like PSG have won our last three games in the Champs League and we have scored two or more goals in the last three Champs League matches.

But since football is now full of “facts” that are often little more than coincidences, we can notice that PSG have won only one of their eight away games against English opposition in all competitions, and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine competitive games against English clubs.

Oh yes and this could be a night for Mesut Ozil to shine as he has scored four and got two assists out of the last eight Champions League goals we have scored.

But looking the other way we have to take into account Edinson Cavani – who was the guy who scored after 42 seconds in the opening match between the two sides.  Which leads to the fact that all three goals we have let in, in the Champs League this season, have come in the first quarter of an hour.

Cavani is a player who not only scores wonderful goals, he also misses them, and so the media love the fact that he is playing against Arsenal, who they accuse of missing more goals than the rest of the PL put together (although actual statistics on such matters are never published).

He scored four in 45 minutes when PSG beat Caen 6-0 and nine goals in his last 10 games.  But (and this is what makes it incomprehensible to watching journos that he is not an Arsenal player) he missed one goal from three metres.

Anyway, it should be fun.  Let’s hope it goes ok.

Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Are Tottenham just like Arsenal, 18 years ago?

Serge Aurier has been refused permission to enter the UK. But would we let in the Trump?

Leicester, State Aid Utd., Man U; tales of decline

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #11 complete with video evidence

Hector, I love you more than words can say

More options up front than we had over the last seasons

Arsenal prepare for PSG; Santi Cazorla off to Barcelona

How the use of downright lies and misinformation has spread from football into the world beyond

From the Arsenal History Society  

The books:

“Making the Arsenal” and “Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed history” are available both via Kindle and in paperback.  For the Kindle editions please go straight to the Kindle shop, for paperback editions and more information about the books please click here.

54 Replies to “Arsenal v PSG: the team and the formation, plus other guess work”

  1. That’s right, Arsenal is often accused of being “wasteful”. I just read an interesting statistics for an “alternative league table” based on number of converted chances. Arsenal is first with highest conversion rate. Tottenham and Manure are 17th and 18th respectively. Would you know that from football reports in our media?

  2. A two all draw for the U19s this afternoon leaving our youngsters needing to win against Basel to stay in the UEFA Youth League. We are currently third on six points and Basel second with nine. Both teams have the same goal difference.

  3. Callback From The Last Article Posting.
    @Sam Sayyed.
    The Supreme Court will turndown the PM, Mrs May government’s appeal and uphold the earlier high court judgment on the Parliament have to first vote to approve the govt plan to activate Article 50. I suspect the Parliament may vote against the govt plan to activate Article 50. Because after a 2nd thought on Brexit, some leavers are looking to be backing out of the Leave plan. But personally, I am in support of Leave. Because in the book of Daniel, the EU is one of the evil dragons with many heads.

    The injury scares in the Gunners camp is forcing me to review my earlier early starts & bench I posted on this site on Monday before Le Prof updating the Gunners fitness and availability.

    My late reviewed starts & bench:

    Jenkinson Mustafi Koscielny Gibbs.
    Coquelin Xhaka
    Oxchambo Ozil Iwobi

    My bench:
    Ospina Niles Gabriel Monreal Elneny Walcott Sanchez.

    I’ve decided to start Gibbs ahead of Monreal at LB because Monreal struggled against Man U. I think he still needs a rest to fully regain his balance. Sanchez should be given a week rest to help him to further get rid of his troubling hamstring. But am starting him from the bench just in case he’s needed to play. The samething goes for Walcott. And I’ve decided to start Cech over Ospina because of Cech’s superior height advantage that gives him the edge over Ospina to deal successfully with Edison Cavani’s aerial prowess. But sincerely, no disrespect to Ospina.

  4. From

    Arsenal team: Ospina, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud

    Arsenal substitutes: Cech, Gabriel, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott


  5. Pretty “defensive” team to start, that is, defensive for Arsenal but with the subs brimming with energy to start. Do we need to win, but of course we want to, should be a good game as it really does not matter as much who is 1st or 2nd this year, but we’re home and need to perform well. Performance is the key.

  6. Pundit on Ten 2 TV insinuating that an Arsenal fan in the home office stopped the PSG players visa!! These idiots really piss me off. They initially spoke about the spuds & then went on about the other teams in tonight’s matches before picking on Arsenal.

  7. My starts & bench which I posted here on Monday are the ones that almost tallied with Le Prof’s starts and bench for this PSG match. The differences between my Monday’s starts & bench to those of Le Prof’s are: He has started Sanchez in the mid along with Ozil and Iwobi. But I had: Walcott Ozil Iwobi there. On the bench. Le Prof has Elneny there but I didn’t. And of course as I know he won’t accept my opinion to start Cech who I started. He’s on Le Prof’s bench as he has started Ospina.

  8. I don’t know that I agree with Coquelin’s yellow. There was not much contact, and it didn’t appear reckless to me.


  9. But who among Iwobi & Sanchez will Mann the LW & RW? I think Sanchez will be manning the RW while Iwobi who is better at LW will mann it. And of course all our 4 forwards and 2 mids and our wingbacks are given freedom to express themselves on the field. While any of our 2 CBs can come into the opponent’s box to attack corners.

    Winning this game by us is better than to draw it save a goalless draw that will still keep us top on head to head after tonight’s game. But if we beat PSG by whatever goal margin, we’ll head the table going into match day no6. And any away result we get at Basel will not change our topping our group if we beat PSG this night. But it’s better if Arsenal win the away Basel game to have a near perfect Ucl group stage result.

  10. Level.

    We’re learning to play CL football, good to see Coq being hard on the opposition especially when they deserve it 🙂 .

  11. Not it was the ref that called that pen, his movement was to move away initially before pointing to the spot. Think it was the statue behind the goal who gave it. We had another good penalty shout for handball which he ignored. Ramsey was felled in box too….PSG are playing well but this ref is suspect.

  12. Gord you’re right about the card for Coquelin. How Cavani is still on the field is another ref special!!
    This ref has got many decisions wrong witha PSG bias. More Quatari greese???

  13. Gord, I refuse to go to sleep until this game is over. That Giroud’s pen is said to be controversial as Sanchez went down with little or no contact. But it’s a pen to Arsenal and they’ve converted it. As it stand’s, we are only topping our group on goal difference at this stage into the game.. Let’s pray we’ll beat PSG to avoid a nail biting match at Basel.

  14. The key came with an initial ball that Kos had to clear while behind him was an offside PSG player that the assistant didn’t call. If you cannot see a clear offside what the fuck are you officiating????

    The pundits claiming that Aexis went down without contact!! blind c*nts spouting sh1te.

  15. Amazing assistant suddenly sees an Arsenal player offside. Just watch the bastard suddenly becoming officious!!

  16. Nah, that was a definite penalty Samuel, even the player that committed the offence didn’t complain…

  17. It’s soooooo obvious with our shirts…the pull is clearly visible, yet

    Yyyeeeeaaahhhhh….. hahahahahahahaha


  18. It has suddenly gotten better for us on the way to top this our group permanently with PSG unable to do anything against it. I wouldn’t mind another own goal by PSG again. But I’ll preferred we score it clean by ourselves.

  19. I think Jenkinson is by and large having a good game. Keeping that cross down, I think was a big part of Veratti getting the OG. After he had fouled himself out of the next game. And a few minutes later, kicking it downfield (and keeping it in play) to relieve pressure was really nice.


  20. Unlucky Iwobi.

    Dream play in remaining time.

    Jenkinson the long cross field pass to Xhaka who hits it on the volley, into the PSG net. 🙂


  21. Sad for Iwobi but thats what happens when a forward tries to defend. Thoe is on now so I’m backing Theo to score or assist. How the assistant doesn’t catch Cavani off side is amazing!!

  22. Well, that’s not going to work any more.

    Referee is sure getting in the middle of play.

    Come on Ox, let’s get another assist (or a goal would work too).


  23. This standard of refereeing is diabolical, Ramsey was cleared felled down and he waves play on. PSG nearly score from the break..

  24. So Iwobi is the one who has with the faintest of a touch put the ball into our net after Ospina looked to have saved it. What was Iwobi doing in our box? Defending? Is he not to be in PSG’s half unto their 18 and into their box?

  25. If the scores remained 2-2 at fulltime and PSG beats Ludogorets at PARC de Princes in a fortnight, they’ll top our group table on head to head irrespective of whether Arsenal beat Basel 0-10.

  26. Is this result we had gotten today against PSG not a terrible one? We played as if we lacked Champions League football experience to win a Ucl last home group game to top the table. What is our problem? Anyway, we are still keeping our unbeaten run in 18 applications in all competitions. That’s the solace we get at the end of this match. But these draw games result for us is getting too much for my liking. I hope it will change to a new start of another winning run for us by beating Bournemouth when we meet them on Sunday at the Ems. Gord, I am going to sleep now but not buoyed.

  27. Blind mice from UEFA cant see a punch on Ramsey or a foul that almost gave them a golden break.

  28. Shocking referee who gave a penalty for a dive and ignored a punch by a player who should have been sent off.

  29. Back to November

    Nobody is popping up with any suggestions for my questions.

    What other influences has Untold Arsenal come up with over the years? Oh, PGMO.

    So, I went back to Wikipedia, and started entering penalties, second yellow cards and red cards to the data. In the hopes of finding some reason why a model of low performance from late September to mid December happens.

    I’m up to 2012/13, and while there has been some interesting things, none of this seems to be adding anything to provide a reason as to why there is a 3 month slump before Christmas. Which has been the NULL hypothesis all along, there is no November slump. And the medja is populated by idiots writing crap.

    Entering data today, except checking Untold, TV and new for the game periodically, has been annoying to me.

    We have someone who seemingly spends every waking hour of every day, trying to out think Wenger. Wenger has a job as a manager, and he does a good job at it. If you think you are better than Wenger, go apply for a job as a manager of a team or go buy a team. Otherwise, quit wording your CRAP as advice to Wenger. He doesn’t know who you are, and could care less about your opinions of what he should do. It’s BORING!

    And then we have another contributor, who hasn’t had a good day until he CRAPS on someone. Arsenal didn’t do as good as they could have and it is not yet time to go to sleep, might as well visit Untold and CRAP on someone there.

    Possession statistics

    If a game (which is supposed to be 90 minutes long) has team A have 38 minutes of possession, many sources of position statistics assume that team B had possession for 90-38 minutes. This is wrong, there is time during a game when the ball is in play, and neither team has possession.

    A good example of this is a shot on net. As soon as the player hits the ball with his foot, his team has given up possession of the ball. It is entirely possible the ball may hit something and end up at the feet of another player on his team, this was not a pass. It was an accident. Typically this is all happening very fast, and so people ignore it.

    But, today’s game had one circumstance where Arsenal were under pressure from PSG, and Jenkinson cleared the ball. It stayed in bounds and there was considerable time before the other team claimed possession of the ball.

    We had a goal today, as a result of the ball doing a ping-pong thing in front of the goal before it ended up in the net. Effectively, no team had possession of the ball from the moment it left Jenkinson’s boot until it ended up in the net. I would entertain suggestions that PSG had possession for a few milliseconds
    when the defender kicked it out (which bounced off Vit… and into the net). The play was only a few seconds, I can grant PSG possession for a few milliseconds of that.

    If the ball is at a particular player’s feet and nobody is contesting him for the ball, he (and his team) have possession. Almost all other instances need to be considered after the fact.

    If a ball comes in to a player and he plays it with his head or off his chest (or …), we don’t really know if there is possession yet. It is possible there is possession. We need to follow play a bit to see if possession is realized. Or, you can give the player a few milliseconds of possession.

    Most people would like possession to be cut and dried, it isn’t.

    Let’s say we tape the game. We know the first half is 45+X minutes long, and the second half is 45+Y minutes long. If we track time in seconds, we have something more than 5400 seconds. We generate a bunch of random times from 0:end, where end is something more than 5400. And this is floating point, so it could be 1207.1326845 seconds. You move your recording device to that interval, and watch as much before, during and after of that time signal as many times as you need to, to determine if possession is by team A, team B or nobody. Move on to the next point. Do this for all points you drew, and you can make possession estimates. Your precision will depend on how many samples you analyze.

    Or, you can deterministically break down the entire game (which is much more work).

    Or, you can do the screwiness that Opta does.

    Top 50 books

    #29 is about Tony Adams – Addicted. Might be about Arsenal, might be about addiction. Probably still has something about Arsenal.

    #25 Niall Quinn Biography?

    DEFINITELY #24 Stillness and Speed – Bergkamp

    The list before 21 still not published, so that’s all I have.

  30. @ Gord 24/11/2016 at 1:40 am – Coming soon to a bookstore near you !
    ‘ # 1 -Awashed in glory – The incredible story of Mike and the PIGMOB. ‘
    The greatest ever work of fiction yet written!
    Should fly off the shelves as fast as the frivolous yellow and red cards that are shown to the Arsenal .

  31. Gord
    It would seem you may have found something which is worth looking into further.

    The anecdotal hypotheses for the slump (ie
    what folk reckon) include player fatigue (do total playergames correlate); new and or key player injuries (losing a santi is more significant than having debuchy still injured); teams we play, if there is some correlation between points earned (and fatigue) and the opposition. It may be that there is no one factor or combination that could model what you observe and even then it may, like most economic theories, be better at predicting the past than the future. If you do find a good model that can tell us what will be likely to happen it may be better to use it at the bookies first before you tell the rest of the world.

    Possession stats are again sadly interesting in so far as they can tell us so little depending on how they are compiled. A short time back someone posted an interesting link to an article that discussed it either being chess clock based (team A team B or stopped if dead ball) or based on the number of passes. Neither tells the full story.

  32. Robido

    I think that someone was me. 🙂

    Well, I just finished entering my next batch of data, which is the number of penalties, 2nd yellow cards, and red cards over the last 20 years. And correcting a mistake or two (I don’t think Razgrad plays in the EPL 🙂 ). I have to write some more code to parse this new data, then run it again.

    There seem to be very few games that Arsenal plays in (under Wenger), where penalties, 2nd yellow cards or red cards could play a part in the outcome. And I don’t seem to remember many of those occurring during this “slump” time. But, humanmemory is more fickle than magnetic disk memory, so I will wait for analysis to confirm that.

  33. Gord
    It seems you are compiling a really comprehensive dataset. I wonder if researchers such as that European bunch or the Arsenal itself have any data that they could share. It may require added value such as weighting opponents. There are some simple ones like games (graded attritionally perhaps)

    You I apologise for not crediting you the reference.

    On a different tack maybe I should mention the security checks. My “clean” bag was searched and they found an aresol I didnt know I had and it was confiscated. Well done I said. A mate did question whether it would affect the amount of s*** I spouted.

    You seem in better spirits now.

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