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June 2021

Red Star Belgrade v Arsenal: an alternative approach to the line up.

By Bulldog Drummond

Yesterday’s meander around the possibilities of who might play against Red Star Belgrade on Thursday gave us this range of possibilities


Holding,           A,                   B,

Nelson,                                                             Maitland-Niles,

Willock,                                                       Coquelin

Walcott,                  Wilshere,


For A and B positions I put in any two from Elneny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Bielik.

But of course there is something else to consider: we did not play Ramsey or Alexis in the game at the weekend, so it is possible that they might be drafted into the team.  Given that the journey is under two and a half hours in the plane, it could be that these two could play in this match and also be ready for the weekend.

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Indeed if the decision to give them time off was psychological, on the basis that both would be recovering not just from WC games but also from being knocked out of the WC itself, the notion could be that they could come back here, get themselves back together, and then play again, fully geared up in the weekend’s league match.

On the other hand Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Debuchy each played 45 minutes in the under-23’s 2-0 win over Sunderland in the Premier League 2 game.  That suggests that they could be on the beach, but probably not in the starting line up.

In deciding on the strength of the line up Mr Wenger will of course need to take into account the league table as it emerges, even though only two games have been played.  At present it looks like this

# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 2 2 0 0 7 3 4 6
2 Red Star 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 4
3 BATE 2 0 1 1 3 5 -2 1
4 Cologne 2 0 0 2 1 4 -3 0

So at this early stage Red Star look like rivals for the top spot, and a further win for Arsenal would remove any thoughts of pressure in this group.

Now although such a sentiment could easily by turned into “that’s how low we’ve sunk” concept by someone looking for Arsenal negatives, there is a point to it, in that if Arsenal were to cruise into a position in which the top of the group position is secured with one, if not two games to play, then Arsenal would be able to put out even more experimental teams in the last couple of games, knowing that if, because of the number of youngsters, the team slipped to a draw, or even a defeat, it would not affect the group positions.

Which is a reason to consider bringing Ramsey and Alexis into this game.  What’s more both could play and, if matters are going the right way, could then be taken off and rested, to ensure they are completely ready for the weekend.

So how might the line up now look?


Holding         Mertesacker           Elneny

Nelson,                                                                  Maitland-Niles,

Willock,                                             Ramsey

Walcott,                  Alexis


Coquelin and Wilshere move on the bench, with Wilshere now earmarked for a place in the starting line up at the weekend.

This could then give us a bench of something akin to seven selected from

Macey, Dasilva, Gilmour, McGuane, Dragomir, Akpom, Nketiah, Coquelin and Wilshere

Although we were first off the mark with the line up yesterday, other websites have started to come in with their own predictions, and several are including Monreal as a starter.   That is of course possible – he has been in excellent form this season I think.

But he is now one of the older members of the squad at 31, and has become an absolute fixture in the league team, so I wonder if a game like this, where there is a chance to bring in other players, and where there is a certain amount of travel involved, will really be the right place to involve him.

The question is, if we don’t give other players the exposure here, in the excitable atmosphere of a Serbian ground, where and when will they get it.

But that leads on to the fact that this is a ground where the crowd can be a little excitable.

In 2011 Red Star were ordered to play a match behind closed doors following the Belgrade derby

In 2015 the game against Partizan “descended into chaos” (that’s a journalist phrase meaning a bit more than “a spot of argy bargy”) and was delayed after crowd trouble.

In 2016 the game between Red Star Belgrade and Novi Pazar was marred by serious crowd trouble and racism – according to reports.

In 2017 Partizan fans started a fire at the Red Star ground.

This is not to suggest that there will be any trouble – far from it – but rather that the crowd will be noisy and there just might be some racism – which means we need some older, calm heads on the pitch to help make sure the youngsters don’t get carried away.

More tomorrow.

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4 comments to Red Star Belgrade v Arsenal: an alternative approach to the line up.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Because of the importance of Arsenal away PL League match encounter with Everton next Sunday, I wouldn’t want to succumb to the notion being tailored that Sanchez and Ramsey should start the Red Star Belgrade match or playing it.

    For, the starts and bench which I made yesterday after cracking through my thoughts and had them posted on this site are quite a very strong starts and bench that are more than capable of beating Red Star in their backyard. Therefore, save Olivier Giroud, there won,t be any necessity whatsoever for Le Prof to start any of his Premier League first team senior Gunner in this match. For, the Gunners I’ve started and have on the bench for this match will do job successful for Arsenal as required.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I am reposting my Arsenal starts and bench that made yesterday for the match for all and sundry of Gooners to see them and appreciate.

    My 3-4-3 Starts:
    Debuchy Holding ElNeny
    Nelson Maitland Wilshere Willock
    Walcott Giroud Dasilva.
    What a starts!!!

    My bench:
    Macey Gilmour McGuane Dragomir Coquelin Nketiah Akopm.

  • Gord

    I think I put up a reference earlier, but I believe Master Bielik had shoulder surgery, and is out until December.

    I’ve been out of town for a few days. Someone named Josh thinks Leicester earned their EPL crown and wanted evidence.

    I set up Monte Carlo experiments here, and ran a LOT of them. I think I ran over 20 billion Monte Carlo trials, the equivalent of thousands of years of the EPL.

    Leicester should not have won the league.

  • Dom

    Elneny and Maitland-Niles…I hope you’re having a laugh…I hope. Elneny as a ball distributor is credible enough, as a defender, I have absolutely no confidence whatsoever. Let’s hope Arsene has worked it out for us.

  • Josif

    Arsenal have played twice against Crvena Zvezda/Red Star in 1978-79. We lost 1:0 in Belgrade and drew 1:1 in London which meant we were knocked out in this competition while it was known under the name UEFA Cup.

    Until 1992 and dissolution of Yugoslavia, you could say Crvena Zvezda were a bigger club than Arsenal in terms of European success. They won ECC in 1990-91 – the last one played without a group stage – and played a UEFA Cup Final (lost to Borussia Mönchengladbach). It’s worth noting because of the self-entitled part of our fan-base that acts like Arsenal have invented the football game thus earning right to every trophy out there.

    Right now, Crvena Zvezda have 4 points with an away victory against 1.FC Köln putting them in the good place to progress to stay in Europe after New Year for the first time since 15th April 1992 when they were beaten by Anderlecht in their last game as a representative of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In their last season they played home games in Sofia (Bulgaria) which helped Sampdoria to win the group.

    They have represented Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro and now Serbia since then without moving the club.