Who opens against Man City, and when the rumours run backwards

by Tony Attwood

There comes a moment in each transfer window when the fantasists and their make believe chums from the fairy woods give up on trying to invent ever more unlikely tales of transfers and instead start writing about the people who are not coming to the club.

These are of course the players they tipped just a few weeks before to be jetting in and signing contracts – and indeed even some who were already alleged to have signed contracts that were leaked to the media concerned.

And already the Star seems to have given up earlier than most with the headline

“Arsenal transfer news: Caglar Soyuncu’s agent speaks out about ‘deal’ and ‘official talks’.”   Basically the paper says no talks, no deal.

Of course some of the “outlets” do get quite carried away, for instead of reporting transfer rumours they move across to transfer demands as with “Ever Banega transfer demanded by Arsenal fans after Argentinian shines in Nigeria win.”   That is in the Mirror, and I’d say that shows much the same level of desperation.

However Foot Lond, those masters of the 50 word news article, have actually done better, and I think credit should be given where it is due, as they have come up with the team for the first league match of the season.


Bellerin Sokratis Mustafi Monreal

Torreria Xhaka Ramsey

Ozil Aubameyang Mkhitaryan

There’s a lot of sense in this, and my only thought is that I am not sure Ozil is going to be ready to play in the first match, particularly if Germany do get themselves together and continue on through the world cup to the semi-final.  That would mean an appearance in the 3rd/4th place match or in the Final, and even if Ozil is not picked he has to stay in full training.

Then there is the holiday and then… well, I don’t see how the dates match up.

Besides that starting line up pretty much assumes that Lacazette is not first choice.  Yet if he is still in the squad he is going to be fully fit and ready to go, having not gone to the world cup.

I don’t see Laca as someone on the way out.  I know the argument is that Aubameyang must play centre forward but I don’t think that precludes him being nominally on the wing and cutting in to score – in effect with two centre forwards.  It sure as hell confused the opposition when we were able to do it last season.

So where would that leave my lineup?

If we assume that Sokratis is coming to Arsenal and is fully fit, and likewise Xhaka, Ozil and Torreria, I would still find a way to play Ozil in the number 10 slot behind the front three with the players either side of him playing a wholly defensive role against Manchester City, giving a line up like this


Bellerin Sokratis Mustafi Monreal

Xhaka           Ramsey


 Aubameyang Lacazette Mkhitaryan

Ramsey therefore having a defensive role alongside the now rehabilitated Xhaka.

I was going to bring you the Daily Express’ version of the line up which they published a couple of weeks ago but as they included Koscielny in the squad I don’t think they are taking this seriously.  I mean I know I make mistakes but even I noticed Kos was injured.  For six months.

But it does remind me that errors have been commonplace in the media since they started covering football.   Just today the Arsenal History Society has published the latest episode in the series “Henry Norris at the Arsenal”, this one covering December 1923.

The article recounts how the Times got the score for one match wrong in its report, and how the local paper, the Islington Gazette, talked about the strangeness of the Arsenal line up for a match, when there had in fact only been one change from the previous game.

It also goes back to the time when during the first world war the Times, which was utterly opposed to the continuation of the football season in 1914/15, while being utterly in favour of the continuation of horse racing (the sport of the toffs), sent a reporter to Highbury to cover a match with the brief of explaining why football should be banned.

The poor sap, who had clearly not been to a match before in his life, reported on how tiny the crowd was, not recognising that he was at a reserve game.

But then I guess it is a tough life being a journalist.

Anyway, Arsenal have suddenly announced a meeting for this evening, and Arsenal Independent Supporters Association (of which Blacksheep and I are committee members) have been allocated a number of tickets, so it’s off to London to see what the club has to say.  I hope its worth the 160 mile round trip.  Hopefully I shall be able to report something exciting tomorrow.

And from the Arsenal History Society

Henry Norris at the Arsenal: the full story.

Today’s Arsenal anniversaries: When a pre-season game was abandoned due to fighting



8 Replies to “Who opens against Man City, and when the rumours run backwards”

  1. I can’t see any way that players in the World Cup can Feature in our first match on 11 August if they play beyond the group stages. I believe tha the players will have a four week holiday before returning to training. The group stages finish on Thursday, so they would return to training on 26 July when the club are in Singapore. August 11 will give them a little over 2 weeks which might be just enough time.

    Nacho Monreal potentially has his next game on 1July when Spain play Russia, his earliest return date is therefore 29 July giving him a one and half week period to get back to match fitness

    Danny Wellbeck’s round of 16 match is the 2nd or 3rd of July so he won’t be back with the club till August 1st.

    We will know more about Mesut’s return date later this afternoon. If Germany fail to qualify for the knockout rounds, he should be available for the City game, if Germany pull the rabbit out of the hat and qualify then I can’t see him being available.

    It will be interesting to see if City and Chelsea rush their players back early for the Community shield and the opening two games of the season.for both

  2. Master Tony, both your starts and that of the Gooners are 2 strong similar starts good for Arsenal opening Premier League match against Man City on the opening day of next season in August. It’s a big PL game. But let’s be a little patient to know for sure all the new senior signings who Arsenal have signed and will still likely sign this summer window as media rumours are still suggesting the club is likely to sign up 5 or 6 new senior none home grown players this window out of which 2 have been signed and 2 heavily linked with club for signings are looking to be on their ways to the Gunners.

    Arsenal fans demanding for Ever Banega signing after Argentina beat Nigeria at the ongoing World Cup in Russia is okay. But have Arsenal players signing committee considered looking at Oghemekaro Etebo, the Nigerian Super Eagles midfielder player for signing this summer after watching him played against Argentina yesterday? Though Stoke City FC is reported to have signed him already. But if Arsenal give Stoke a little profit on what they’ve paid for him and give Etebo a better deal than Stoke have given him, I think they’ll get him but if they want him.

    Safe journey to the AISA meeting

  3. Apart from Torreria and Xhaka it looks like we’ll have pretty much a full fresh squad for the start of the season!

  4. We now know that Özil is likely to be available for the start of the season. Monreal, Wellbeck, Xhaka amd Leichtsreiner not, nor Torreira if he really is joining us. Could be far worse

  5. Back to the World Cup –

    VAR can be brilliant when the official knows his onions. The Germany game was one of the few that had VAR showing how good it can be.

  6. i thought the lads were entitled to a 5-week-holiday … it’d have to be checked out, but regarding how physically and psychologically demanding their job is (no irony there, believe me, and yes, i know what their paychecks look like …), i think they need that, all the more so since there is no winter break in england.
    so far, that would give us the following return dates to colney: mo july 30th, alex july 31st and … mesut (!!) august 1st; as for nacho – torreira – lichtsteiner – granit – danny, it’ll be at least one week later, so that none of these lads will be available on august 11th, not even mo/alex/mesut, who’ll be doing the heavy pre-season work.
    that’ll leave us with something like:
    bellerin – mustafi – sokratis – kolasinac
    ramsey – maitland-niles
    mkhitaryan – ???? – aubameyang

    i think jack would have been a much better option than those question marks, but then, what do i know??

  7. @ Andrew C,
    Germany’s unexpected early exodus from the World Cup has done us a real favour.
    Our playmaker-extraordinare, Mesut Ozil, will have additional R and R before the start of next season.
    Messrs Aubameyang, Lacazette and Mkhitaryan (as well as others) will be looking forward to feeding off Ozil’s sublime moves in what should prove to be a highly successful campaign. 😉

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