Arsenal v Benfica, the teams, the options, the future, and the bits we made up

By Bulldog Drummond

Trying to get the teams right is tough enough at the best of times, and Blacksheep (whose phone always seems to get the teams before anyone else in the pub before the match) does take special delight in the way that the Untold team predictor service is somewhat less viable as a source of information than the Untold research team.

But that’s nothing compared to today: trying to guess whose playing in the first of the two Emirates Cup matches for Arsenal really is a bit of a mug’s game.   What we can say from previous events is that

a) it is unlikely that anyone who played against Borehamwood will be included.   (And it has been a trifle amusing to read the bloggettas predictions made without know that the Borehamwood match took place, and that’s before noting how important it was in terms of revealing Arsenal’s decision making for the PL2 and Ladies’ teams.)

b) it is utterly certain no one will start both the Saturday and Sunday games

c) generally we get a more junior side in the first match and more senior side in the second.

Beyond that we know that 3-4-3 now appears to be the order of the day although there will still be some four at the back games played in training, in case a swap back is needed for tactical or injury reasons.


Thursday’s team was

Matt Macey

Debuchy, Bielik, Pleguzuelo

Jenkinson                                                 Toral

Reine-Adeleide                Bramall

Nketiah                            Akpom                          Mavididi

They surely won’t play today and the most any of them can hope for is inclusion as a sub on Sunday.  It was good to see Le Jeff back from injury and let’s hope he builds up to his previous level.    I thought Bielik might be included in the Ems Cup but maybe giving him a game at the centre of defence was an important experiment to see just how far he has come.

Macey is interesting in that he is now over 21 and so will be counted in the 25 if he stays.  But if a younger keeper were to be brought in as our fourth choice, surely he would have played in that game.  It could mean that we really are going to have a full reserve side playing in the Europa with Macey as the second choice keeper for those games.

Leaving aside Gibbs who is rumoured to be training alone (the reason suggested being that he refused a perfectly good offer of a transfer – but that is just a rumour) that leaves for the next two days.

Across the two days we need six of them, and we have six in the list – with the optional extra of Reiss Nelson.  And except that Mesut Ozil is a forward if our midfield is primarily Xhaka and Ramsey.  Now we have too many players again.  Idiotic Arsenal have too many players shock horror!

Pulling all this together I think we can see more or less two complete teams, with neither being a team of youngsters and reserves who look ready to come in and play in the first XI when needed.  Which suggests we have quite a good squad all round to compete in all four competitions.

There are so many possible combinations that anything I write for the team is going to look pretty silly come this afternoon and I could, for the first time, get all XI wrong in the team.   But I suspect that Giroud will play centre forward in one game Lacazette in the other, and that Donyell Malen might have to put up with being a sub in order to give Reiss Nelson a game as one of the three front men.

If anyone would like to put a full team together (before it is announced) please do have a go.

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36 Replies to “Arsenal v Benfica, the teams, the options, the future, and the bits we made up”

  1. Ospina ox per elneny kolasinax then Ramsey granite ozil danny w.giroud walcot

  2. I love all the fantasists but I have learned never to double guess Mr Wenger. He knows what he has, needs & how he will get a victory.

  3. Tony, you have omitted Calum Chambers from the defenders which makes the CB position somewhat easier. Also Cohen Bramall is in the squad despite having played on Thursday..

    I suspect we may see a team something like
    Ospina (Martinez)
    Chambers, Per, Nacho
    Maitland-Niles, Bramall
    Coquelin, Willock (Elneny)
    Theo (Nelson), Danny, Iwobi

    On the other hand as you say – probably not


  4. Elsewhere, ARSENAL Ladies are now, well, just ARSENAL.

    great move by the club. We are the ARSENAL indeed.

  5. The weather forecast is for rain from 12:00 onwards, clearing a bit between 17:00 and 19:00 but with further heavier rain from 20:00 for an hour or so before the weather front clears the street. If you are going take some rainwear, particularly if you are in the front 15-20 rows of the lower tier.

  6. The two games today are on UK TV. Freeview channel 37 Quest TV START TIME 14:00!

  7. Quest is a channel I’ve never watched before Andrew. If anyone is used to thinking that Sky has a lot of ads you should try Quest.

    Thanks for your team prediction – now what about the weather for tomorrow. I’ve got the walk from Ian’s house to the station and then from the Underground into the Arsenal.

  8. The coverage of the Seville v Leipzig game has been pretty decent. Not too much talking..

    Tomorrow it’s supposed to be dry with sunny intervals, at most a 10% chance of rain (rising to 30%at about 21:00). Maximum temp about 21C although I find the Met Office temp figures tend to be a couple of degrees low

  9. I posted a comment an hour or so ago on the reported refusal of Kieran Gibbs to leave Arsenal on transfer this summer, but I can’t see that my comment in the comments feed after posting it. But an MTN Nigeria network service report popup to say, “Cannot Establish Data Connection” on the screen of my Nokia C-300 which I used to type that my comment and posting it. But I have up to 50MB on that my set when I posted and even up till now I still have it as I am typing to post this my comment.

    It that my comment on Gibbs refusal to go away from Arsenal on transfer this summer, maybe because he doesn’t want to earn less than what he’s earning at Arsenal now at the club that had wanted to sign him. If so, this is an unacceptable behavior by Gibbs who should know that his football at Arsenal has declined and no longer of Arsenal football quality and standard. Thus consequently making him to become a left back spare part at Arsenal.

    Therefore, any attempt to use tricks to remaining at Arsenal next season by Gibbs and the like of him, so that they can continue to earn the mega pay they getting Arsenal but leave on the free at the expiration of their current deals there on 1st July 2018 to another club but only to start earning far less than what they are currently getting at Arsenal should be in it’s totality be rejected by Arsenal. And as a disciplinary measure, Arsenal should as from now on start to regrade the salary of any on the fringe Gunner who has deliberately refused to go on transfer to the salary scale the club that wanted to sign has placed him on to earning there. In this kind of case, Arsenal will no longer be financially cheated.

  10. lineup

    Holding, Mert, Kolasinac
    Maitland-Niles, Coq, Xhaka, Nelson
    Theo, Giroud, Iwobi

  11. Samuel, I am most sorry that you have had difficulty posting today, and I would assure you that nothing is being done this end to stop you posting. Indeed I do welcome your posts, and if I may put it this way, your dedication to and support of Untold.

    We do have problems from time to time with Untold as I am sure you will have seen, and it is possible we may have gone down for a few seconds just as you posted. But whatever the problem was, please do take it from me, there is nothing at our end blocking your comments.

  12. So, in the team we have the up and coming players as the two wing backs: Nelson and Maitland Niles. The future of Arsenal on display.

    And remember wing back is not necessarily Nelson’s best position, but is being used to help him develop into an all round player.

    I really hope he doesn’t go on loan but actually gets his chance through the season even if it is just in the three cups we are playing in.

    Interesting that we are not going to see the Xhaka Ramsey combination in either game.

  13. Courtesy of Guardian:

    > Arsenal: Ospina; Holding, Mertesacker, Kolasinac; Nelson, Coquelin, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi, Walcott; Giroud.

    > Subs from: Martínez, Koscielny, Monreal, Chambers, Bellerín, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Elneny, Özil, Lacazette, Welbeck.

  14. The Guardian has this, in their commentary (after announcing the lineups):

    > Forgive the lack of pre-match build-up – this game’s being shown on Freeview channel Quest. In lieu of presenters or analysts, they’ve stuck on a documentary about how skis are made.

    Excuse me Guardian dorks, but perhaps you are supposed to provide the build up?


  15. Looks like Maitland-Niles is on the left of the back three with Kolasinac as wing back. Good early chance for Giroud but good work from the keeper to deny the chance..

    The ‘How it’s made’ programme instead of the normal waffle was about as informative on football matters as a conventional buildup.

  16. unlucky goal…through Holding’s legs, off of both of Per’s legs and in.

    Some nice diagonal balls by Xhaka. Some nice middle third pressing but a bit too much sideways passing.

  17. Bummer that Coquelin is forced off with an (apparent) ankle injury. This probably alters the idea of Elneny appearing in the back 3 tomorrow a little?


  18. playing a 3-4-3 but the outside midfielders are both not getting back to help out. Usually in this formation one moves up and the other tucks in a little deeper to help out defensively…some poor ball play by our back 3 started that mess…

  19. The Guardian is taking shots at Arsenal lots of time. Wenger isn’t wearing the big winter jacket, so he is getting soaked on the sidelines. Abject defending.

    Bunch of useless twits. I wonder who else is providing commentary?


  20. Kevin Keating is the name that just flashed up on screen as commentator.

  21. Jeez what speed we’ve got : Walcott, Iwobi, Nelson, and even Kolasinac.

    Am I wrong in thinking that Iwobi looks much ‘larger’ ?

  22. And Giroud is serving as an excellent pivot/distibutor upfront.
    I really like that ompbination of him and our speedy Gonzales guys around him.
    Interesting set-up

  23. Say what you want, but Kolasinac £ 0.- Walker £ 50 millions I’d say we’ve got the steal of this transfer season
    And seing Giroud, Walcott, Chambers play like they do…well competition is a good thing.

    Chambers is excellent this second half.

    I think we’ve got ourselves one of the best squads in terms of depth in decades.
    We’ve got 2 teams.

  24. Tuned in late and i thought we’d bought 11 new players, i diddnt recognise any of them, than i saw we were playing in blue. 🙂

    Good run out for the lads.
    Some good movement from the lads today.

  25. Some slips in the early going but we really took over the game after half time.

  26. Our late subs were starting to click. Another 10 minutes and we would have swamped Benfica.

  27. Took my grandchildren for the match & little Theo thought the first goal was scored by Arsenal because of the colours. He was soon able to celebrate an Arsenal goal by the team in blue!

    Nelson is something special as is Saed Kolasinac. Iwobi has beefed up and looks like a player that will terrify defences. Wenger has done a magnificent job of mix & match.

    Incidentally, there was an idiot that walked onto the pitch & got a long way before being apprehended. The security was lax. It needs to be more vigilant in the stadium & on the field of play.

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