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WHAM v Arsenal: the formation, the teams, the guesswork.

By Bulldog Drummond

Rather interesting that a quick flip around the more “serious” newspapers at noon, such as the Telegraph and Guardian, reveal no on line match preview for West Ham against Arsenal.   We do have the usual interesting stuff such as 

  • The 20 fiercest rivalries in English football – where does Arsenal v Tottenham rank in the spite battle?
  • Olivier Giroud’s France World Cup squad place under threat unless he plays more for Arsenal
  • Chelsea aim to hijack Arsenal’s January bid for £80m-rated Monaco star Thomas Lemar

all on the Telegraph’s home page, but a match, well, no, nothing.  I’m sure they will get to it anon and meanwhile I will try and do my bit to fill in the gaps.

The discussion, where there is a discussion at all, is that Mr Wenger is considering a switch back to a four-man defence against West Ham.  Three reasons are given for this.  One is that Aaron Ramsey will be absent with a hamstring injury and this changes the dynamic of the team.  The second is that Mr Wenger has moved across to a back four in recent games after a substitution, and the third is that Mr Wenger has often said he personally prefers a back four.

However there are various alternatives to three central defenders and two wing backs.  One is of course the traditional 4-4-2 but there is also the 4-2-3-1 and this could just possibly allow Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud all to play in the same team.  As indeed could 4-3-3

There is also the issue of Jack Wilshere and whether this will be the moment to start him.  As happens each year, December is a very crowded month for matches in the PL (exactly the reverse of other leagues that take a break), so the question arises, if not now, then when?

And there is the fact that West Ham have just beaten Chelsea, which means that they can turn it on a bit if they can just get themselves together.

Our other injury is Mustafi, while West Ham’s injuries are shown by Physioroom as

Man down What went wrong When’s he back? Tonight?
E Fernandes Ankle Injury No Return Date No
C Kouyate Hamstring Injury December 16, 2017 Slight Doubt
J Collins Hamstring Injury December 26, 2017 No
S Byram Thigh Strain December 23, 2017 No
J Fonte Ankle Injury January 20, 2018 No

Bringing in Wilshere for Ramsey is a straight swap and allows the team to line up as it did against Southampton before the change over.

Arsenal touch the ball much more than West Ham (12,924 touches for Arsenal this season, 9,370 for WHAM) which is a figure that shows why Jack could well contribute to this team, as an extra touch and move forward player.

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But West Ham are kings of the yellow card, as we’ve noted before, with 38 this season (Arsenal have 24).  They have also had two players sent of in the campaign.

That figure suggests West Ham could be targeting certain players, fouling them a lot to get an injury or to provoke a wild retaliation.  They also seem to have re-discovered that old tradition of rotational fouling, which we noted on this site nearly 10 years ago, and the refs still seem not to know what to do about this.

But West Ham have only kept four clean sheets this season, which means a goal is always possible, so an action packed forward line including Giroud could be interesting.

Overall I just see too many possibilities for the line up to have any confidence in my predictions.  The simple version is


Monreal Mertesacker Koscielny

Bellerin  Kolasinac

Wilshere Xhaka

Ozil Lacazette Alexis


Going over to 4-3-3 might give us



 Bellerin Monreal Koscielny Kolasinac

Wilshere Ozil Xhaka

Lacazette Giroud Alexis

The beach by the banks of the Thames in that part of London is not a very nice place to be, but still, we have to have a beach as it is a tradition…

Ospina, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Debuchy, Wilshere, Elneny, Iwobi, Walcott, Welbeck, Coquelin

That’s 11 players – a whole team’s worth in fact, and I’ve left out the youngsters like Maitland-Niles and Nelson, but getting them down to seven depends completely on the opening line up and formation.  It’s all getting too difficult for me.

Would anyone else like to have a go?

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54 comments to WHAM v Arsenal: the formation, the teams, the guesswork.

  • alexanderhenry

    Alexis should be dropped and ideally sold in January while we can still get some money for him. The decision to keep him is one of the worst Wenger and Arsenal fc have made in recent years.
    His recent poor showings- apart from the spurs game- show that he has indeed ‘found himself frustrated recently’, but that’s because he wanted to leave this summer and was convinced that a move to man city was a done deal. It has nothing to do with him needing to find ‘a better balance in his positional play’.

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    And you know this because you have inside information from Alexis or his Agent? Or is it an opinion fed by the media who know even less about it than you and I?

  • alexanderhenry


    He will be in the summer. He’ll leave on a free.

  • Gord

    OT: Santi Cazorla at

    There is a special section on Santi Cazorla today, with a twi about today being his birthday.

    Happy Birthday Santi. I hope to see you playing again soon-ish.

  • alexanderhenry


    Are you suggesting that the whole transfer saga concerning Alexis was made up? Do you actually think he wants to stay at Arsenal?
    If so, why hasn’t he signed a new contract?

  • Chris


    Considering the fact that UA proved for a few transfer windows that newspapers and blogettashad it 99 % wrong in each one of them, I’d take the basic stand that they are not to be trusted

    What we know from a ‘trusted’ source, which I consider Mr W to be is what he officially has told us, which may be only part of the story.

    Considering the millions in play, the fact that except for Jack (and in Liverpool Gerrard) and maybe some other youngster, no other player has Arsenal blood in his veins, they are mercenaries, play the guessing game, provoke, try to get the best deal (or their agent does that) by putting out false info, using Twitter and Instagram to manipulate fans, public opinion and the club.

    So personnally, I believe we know nothing certain about what went on.

  • para

    alexanderhenry, Andrew

    We forget that players want to get the best wages possible and their agents will use any means to do so, as it increases their own wages too.

    All reported things about Alexis may well be just smoke too, and if Arsenal matches his wage demands then we may see a smile on his face, but not forgetting he and his agent knows that ManC could more than match his wage demands, there maybe some fire where the smoke is, especially if Pep does want him.

    But Pep will stay silent on the matter obviously regardless of what Pep wants.

    Oh its all fun and games!

  • Gord

    So far, the score is 0-0.

    LiveScore has a guess at a lineup:
    Koscielny Holding Monreal
    Bellerin Wilshere Xhaka Kolasinac
    Ozil Sanchez

    Beach: yes, there will be a beach.

    As there are N media outlets in the world also guessing at lineups, there are probably 2**N different lineups published. Most will be wrong.


  • alexanderhenry


    I understand that, but surely it’s a massive risk to allow a player worth £60 million to run down his contract. After all the years of austerity and selling our best players I am absolutely baffled by the decision. If he walks in summer, it will be hugely embarrassing as well as anything else, especially when you take into account his poor form this season.

  • Gord has gone into game-day mode. So we are getting close to the start.

    In the news, more medja outlets have started their commentary pages, where they follow the lead of some Arsenal “fans” and bash Arsenal every which way they can.

    In most of the games tonight, I am hoping for a draw. I would like SWANSEA to win at home, I would like WBA to win away and I would like Arsenal to win away.


  • Tony Attwood

    Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny (c), Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Ozil, Iwobi, Sanchez, Giroud

    Beach: Ospina, Chambers, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Elneny, Lacazette, Welbeck

  • Gord

    From the Guardian:

    > Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Wilshere; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud. Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Elneny, Welbeck, Lacazette.


  • Gord

    Sorry, Tony got it (from somewhere). Oops!


  • Menace

    Not long to go before boxing, bruising & battering are back in the London Stadium…..and this is going to happen on the football field with Moss officiating.

    Let’s hope he gets a pinch of conscience & officiates according to the FIFA laws rather than the PGMOL Laws.

    Come on Arsenal it’s our stadium. We’re paying for it.

  • No prob Gord. Always worth having it from two sources

  • Gord

    LiveScore saying someone is lyin g in the pitch, but mention neither name or team. It is Alexis of Arsenal who is in need of treatment. No doubt the referee missed something in that play.


  • Menace

    John Moss talks to Zabeletta after he rakes Alexis’ achilles. Should have been a foul & a card. Selectively bling bastard.

  • Menace

    bling ??? blind!!

  • Menace

    Jack gets kicked & another ignored foul.

  • lewis

    Some more shoddy defending there..All over the place.

  • Menace

    vigilant assistant has picked up two off sides. Moss however has allowed GBH to go unfettered!!

  • Menace

    Cnut of a commentator says ‘nice elbow in the mouth for Giroud!’

  • Gord

    Arnautovic was a 0.0000000000001cm offside

    0.000000001 microns
    0.000001 nanometer
    0.001 picometer
    1 femtometer

    I don’t think so. Femtometer are used in measuring things related to processes in the nucleus of atoms.


  • para

    Looks like Arsenal will have to pull out a great performance to win according to Arsenal commentators.
    Cant be bothered to find a stream, listening as in the old old days.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Miss being as myopic as I feared. Only a matter of time before one of our players gets seriously hurt

  • Menace

    Giroud being held down when rising for a cross – blind don’t see that¬¬¬

  • Gord

    According to the statistics, we are doing twice as much fouling as WHam.


  • Menace

    Marc Noble falling over for a foul. So damned obvious!!

  • Gord

    After Cresswell needed treatment, LiveScore decides to increment the treatments counter for WHam. But nothing earlier for Alexis.


  • Andrew Crawshaw

    About time one of the WHU players got booked

  • Menace

    Giroud’s overhead attempt at goal stopped by Creswell hand & head. Should have been a penalty but not with this mob.

  • gouresh

    What’s the point of having Oliver if they play every ball through the middle

  • Menace

    Giroud has good feet & can score just as well with feet as with head. Issue is that fouling in & around the box is being ignored by Moss & his assistant. The assistant on the near touch line has worked his future in the lower divisions by being Arsenal honest.

  • Stats I can see summarise as
    Arsenal 11 shots, WHAM 1 shot
    Arsenal 7 fouls, WHAM 3 fouls
    Arsenal 63 percent possession, WHAM 37 percent

    Why don’t newspaper sites rate the referee as we go along, since they bother to collect all these other stats? It couldn’t be that PGMO tells them not to, could it?

  • But don’t forget our headline today:

    The ref of catastrophic blunders.

  • Yassine so sick of this ref thing, nothing is changing, and they dont even try to hide what they are doing.

  • Interestingly the Premier League official site lists fouls by player, but don’t total them up and give them by club. So we can’t see if WHAM are under or over performing on the fouling front.

    But we can say that to keep up their average they need two or three yellow cards in the second half. It is not as if they are not trying.

  • And it’s chucking it down

  • Menace

    Arsenal pressurising the goal & getting close.

  • Menace

    The long ball throw is now being used as a time waster. It has not reared its head for a while The assistant oin the Arsenal half is of Moss’ persuasion & seems destined for PGMOL glory (unlike his colleague who has qualified for extinction).

  • gouresh

    We are expecting a penalty? Really?

  • para

    Come on, but getting closer

  • Menace

    Marc Noble stamps on Jacks foot & gives away a free kick. Shame Moss didn’t give him a card. This is the 3rd stamp on Jacks foot this game.

  • Gord

    Guardian made a useful observation, I don’t know how that happened. But they said that with 13 minutes yet to go, WHam are absolutely knackered.

    Perhaps we will get some more shots on target and score one or two? Or ten? 🙂


  • para

    Come on Arsenal, best defending now

  • para

    Come on Arsenal, not good enough.

  • Menace

    Reid tackles with a flying leap that should have seen red.

  • para

    There seems to be no great cohesion when we are forced to change players through injury, we just seem to be not as good.

    Well 2 points lost, again.
    Ah well.

  • Gord


    Shots on target 1:1 _1:3
    _off target _ _ 0:5 _3:10
    Corners _ _ _ _ 0:3 _1:7
    Offsides _ _ _ _4:0 _4:0
    Fouls _ _ _ _ _ 5:7 _9:9
    Yellow _ _ _ _ _1:0 _2:0
    Goalkicks _ _ _ 7:3 13:6
    Treatments _ _ _1:0 _1:0
    _5 68
    10 63
    15 59
    20 54
    25 58
    30 ?
    35 58
    40 57
    45 58
    45+2 59
    50 61
    55 62
    60 61
    65 61
    70 60
    75 61
    80 63
    85 63
    90 63

  • Menace

    No score but I must say officiating was half decent in 2nd half. The stamping has to be punished severely as should the Reid jumping tackle. Off the ground means no control.

  • Jammy

    Comments like saying that that last challenge deserved a red completely discredits the numerous times when the referee really does do us over.

  • SidBish

    That was pretty poor from Arsenal, what’s the point of playing all through the middle ? Should have used width and Giroud’s height, were lucky not to concede at the end too. Just don’t understand the tactics used. Jack was the only one who really showed desire ….

  • MickHazel

    I am mystified. Why play Giroud, the best header of a ball in the premier league but don’t put any crosses in apart from two or three from Maitland Niles who did well on his league debut as a starter. Bellerin could have put numerous crosses in but nine times out of ten passed it backwards or sideways. In my opinion Bellerin should be dropped, he is poor and has been for some weeks. He seems scared to take an opponent on, he rarely overlaps and he is getting caught out of position time and time again. And a typical Arsenal bit of comic book defending nearly cost us at the end of the game but the crossbar saved our blushes. Sanchez was useless again and also should be dropped. Big plus was Jack who was excellent in midfield, I think he could forge a brilliant relationship with Ozil in the future. Again plenty of shots, 22 I think, but only three on target. Same old story, plenty of possesion but no end result.
    All in all very disappointing.