Arsenal v Standard Liège: the team and the defensive decisions

by Bulldog Drummond

Standard Liège are on a run: five straight wins as we can see below, although perhaps that has been a little helped by having played the last four games at home.    Indeed their last defeat was on 1 September with a 1-0 away loss to Anderlecht.  Here are the games…

Date Comp Home team Score Away team
14 Sep 2019 League KV Oostende 1 – 4 Standard Liège
19 Sep 2019 Europa Standard Liège 2 – 0 Vitoria Guimaraes
22 Sep 2019 League Standard Liège 3 – 0 AS Eupen
26 Sep 2019 Cup Standard Liège 2 – 1 Lommel
29 Sep 2019 League Standard Liège 1 – 1 Sporting Charleroi

Here is the Belgian table thus far, and as we can see although recent run looks impressive they have lost twice in a league that is not always the most challenging competition to play in.

# Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Club Bruges 8 6 2 0 21 3 18 20
2 Standard Liege 9 6 1 2 21 7 14 19
3 Gent 8 5 2 1 20 8 12 17
4 Antwerp 8 5 1 2 17 9 8 16
5 Royal Excel Mouscron 9 4 4 1 13 10 3 16

On the injury front we remain with just Smith Rowe and Lacazette as the two players out.

Since our defeat to Liverpool we’ve gone on an unbeaten run (excluding the under 21 games, along with the under 23 PL2 league games)…

Date Game Res
Score Competition
01 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 2-2 Premier League
15 Sep 2019 Watford v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
19 Sep 2019 Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal W 0-3 Europa League
22 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Aston Villa W 3-2 Premier League
24 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Nottingham Forest W 5-0 League Cup
30 Sep 2019 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League

It is of course hardly a run to make a big song and dance about, but given the negative publicity and the abject refusal of the Guardian to recognise we are currently the top performing team in London, it is still worth noting.  For if we don’t, not too many others will!

We have played Standard Liège four times over the years… and not only won all four, but the games also saw one of our great nights in Europe – and seven goal victory in the CWC in 1993.

Date Match Res Score Competition
20 Oct 1993 Arsenal v Standard Liège W 3-0 Cup Winners Cup
03 Nov 1993 Standard Liège v Arsenal W 0-7 Cup Winners Cup
16 Sep 2009 Standard Liège v Arsenal W 2-3 Champions League
24 Nov 2009 Arsenal v Standard Liège W 2-0 Champions League

Our starting line up for that 0-7 victory was


Dixon Adams Keown Winterburn

Merson Davis Jenson Selley

Campbell Smith

The goals were shared around rather evenly with Adams, Kevin Campbell (2) Merson, Selley, Smith and sub McGoldrick getting them.

SportsMole give us a possible lineup of


Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney;

Torreira, Ceballos;

Nelson, Willock, Ozil;


Indeed there is a general feeling that Bellerin and Tierney will be in the team, although slightly less accord over who plays in the two middle of defence positions.

But that line up leaves us without Bukayo Saka who was involved in the three goals against Eintracht Frankfurt which would seem a little harsh.

Squaka come up with


Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mustafi, Kolasinac;

Torreira, Willock, Nelson, Saka, Pepe;


The only question I would raise about bringing in Bellerin and Tierney now is that we have a league game on Sunday of course.  That is against Bournemouth and although that would not necessarily be a cause for concern, Bournemouth are in the upper reaches of the league at the moment.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool™ 7 7 0 0 18 5 13 21
2 Manchester City 7 5 1 1 27 7 20 16
3 Leicester City 7 4 2 1 13 5 8 14
4 Arsenal 7 3 3 1 12 11 1 12
5 West Ham United 7 3 3 1 10 9 1 12
6 Tottenham Hotspur 7 3 2 2 14 9 5 11
7 Chelsea 7 3 2 2 14 13 1 11
8 AFC Bournemouth 7 3 2 2 13 12 1 11

So should we hold our favoured back line of Bellerin Sokratis Holding Tierney over until the Bournemouth game, or should we run that line up out for this game?   Or think about playing it in both games.  Quite a decision to make.

The key point about this Europa League group is that Arsenal and Standard Liège won their first games and are the two favourites to go through, so a win for Arsenal tonight would after just two games give a clear indication who is likely to win the group – for which Arsenal are of course favourites.

And although that will mean smaller crowds for the remaining two home games after today for Arsenal in the League section of the competiton, it can mean that we can be ever more experimental in using the up and coming young stars and not overplaying our senior squad.

We shall get a clue tonight.


41 Replies to “Arsenal v Standard Liège: the team and the defensive decisions”

  1. the choach is the problem with Asenal he is not fit to be Asenal manager how can you play 8 games without Ozil pls cant figure out this is pepe better than Oxil even if he ois playing as expected ?

  2. Quite possibly you are right mkotey, but as with the demands for Mr Wenger to go, there is never any guarantee that the next coach will be any better than the last, and each change of manager disrupts the team and the club further.

  3. “So should we hold our favoured back line of Bellerin Sokratis Holding Tierney”

    I think Luiz will be in that favoured back 4 instead of Sokratis. Time will tell.

  4. @ mkotey

    The manager sees the players on the training pitch: the manager knows the players’ attitude; the manager knows about the players’ fitness; the manager knows how well a player will fit in to a tactical set-up; the manager is experienced and qualified at coaching top football teams; the manager has access to a whole host of information that supporters don’t.

    I can’t figure out how “supporters” believe they know better than the manager. In my view, supporters who think they know how to manage a top football club are somewhat misguided and potentially far more of a problem as they perpetuate dispondency and negativity and contaminate the views of others when positivity and real “support” would actually be beneficial to the club. But that’s just my opinion.

    As Tony says, you may be right but I’d like to see some hard evidence to support the claim that you know “the coach is the problem” and that he “is not fit to be Arsenal Manager”.

  5. I’ve just noticed we’ve been given Atkinson for the Bournemouth game. How the hell can they justify us having the same ref three times in eight games. It’s about time AFC started kicking up a fuss about this. The bloke has already given us six cards in two games…..having said that it’s not quite as bad as the seven Moss gave us in one game.

  6. @Mikey If Arsenal kicks up a fuss gaurantee the media will make fun of them till another club does it.

  7. The Standard Liege fans have been letting off smoke bombs & flares in Kings Cross station causing chaos. Trains have not been stopping while the station was evacuated for safety reasons.

    I hope their club is fined and I also hope we have the tightest security at the Ems. Their fans will buy tickets from the touts and will be everywhere in the stadium with flares etc. The Police have a responsibility to ensure safety outside the ground but Arsenal are responsible for safety in the ground.

    It is going to be a mare getting to & from the Ems tonight. Just hope we give them a trouncing to take back to Belgium, with some mayonaise 😉 .

  8. 17:17; title of the Guardian:
    AZ Alkmaar v Manchester United, Besiktas v Wolves: Europa League – live!
    stalin used to erase people from photographs, too; nice to know more about the guardian football page editors’ role models …

  9. I moslty remember how a Standard player ruined the career of Gibbs in the last minute of the match by planting his foot on his foot with as a result a broken foot that took him all season to recover from…. Dislike them

  10. From (mistakes are mine):
    Bellerin Mustafi Holding Tierney
    Maitland-Niles Torreira Willock
    Ceballos Martinelli Nelson

    Beach: Leno Aubameyang Pepe Chambers Guendouzi Kolasinac Xhaka


  11. BT commentators:

    “Surely Man Utd’s big ambition must be getting back in the top 4 and getting back into the champions league”

    Well well, there I was thinking it was all about winning things.

    United have been absolute garbage and not managed a single shot on target.

    From how McManamans fawning over them you’d think they’d got a draw at Barcellona.

  12. Oh no, not 3-0!!!! – Herr Klopp

    Better get the fourth soon or it could be a disaster 😜

  13. 8 shots, 4 on target. 56% possession, 88% passing accuracy on 276 passes. And only 3 fouls. A good half of football.


  14. 21 shots, 9 on target. 61% possession, stayed at 88% passing on 595 passes. 7 fouls for 1 card.

    Congratulations Gunners!

  15. It looks like we’ve found one there.

    Lots of things to like about tonight, but of course you have to take the opposition in to account.

    Even so, if we’d payed £70 Million for Martinelli I’d be more than happy with what I’ve seen.

    It’s not just his instinctive finishing. His touch, his vision and his work rate are all exceptional.

    If either of our main 2 strikers lose their form I have no doubt he will be able to step up. Great to have so much pressure on them to keep them on their toes.

    Well done lads.


  16. A brillant win! Congratulations to the lads. Martinelli is an exceptional player. He is tonight in the spotlights and he fully deserves it.

    But another player appears to be a very talented boy: I was so impressed by Tierney! He works so hard on the pitch… and so well!


  17. I wonder how Martinelli, Nelson and Saka might do?

    I was just following the UEFA commentary. Few mentions of Mustafi tonight, and when he was mentioned, it seemed to be job accomplished. So, I am guessing he had a good game.

    I suppose all the medja will be saying how much better ManU were than Arsenal tonight. Wolves managed to get an away goal.

  18. Speaking of wondering about things, I wonder if Walter seen the game? He is probably our favorite Belgian.

  19. BT sport certainly rubbished the ManU game even though they broadcast it. Zero quality, zero chances, zero entertainment.

    KT, Hector and Holding will be like three new top class signings in October. Martinelli and Ceballos were excellent then there’s the kids (Willock, Nelson and Saka), beginning to look like Unai’s building his very own brand and jolly exciting it looks too. If Pepe ever begins to look like 72 million we could be on to something?

  20. WOO HOO , HOO ! Well done our youngsters – a superb performance , without over exerting oueselves.
    Very impressed with this team , as well as those defenders returning from injury. I don’t think any one of them disappointed .
    My man of the match would be Tierney , although all of them did their fair share in playing with speed , vision and passion.
    Up the Gunners !

  21. Woo hoo, hoo indeed! What a great couple of results in Europe. It is heartening to see Emery’s plans (and his predecessor’s of course) coming together, creating some really excellent football and a great legacy and base on which to move forward. The youth players are all playing excellently and it is a good lesson for the established ones and good that they are helping the youngsters to develop.

    I nearly fell off my seat when I read about Michael Owen comparing our youth setup favourably to that of Man U. We have been reading various pundits gushing about Chelsea’s youth players and they do have a couple of good ones but we have almost a whole team’s worth under 25, who would probably hold their own in the Premiership.

    Having Tiernay here now and Bellerin back means our full backs are as good as any.

    Pundits and the media change like the wind. One week we are ‘reportedly’ weak and uninspiring and the next we are the bees knees. There doesn’t seem to be much in between. Man U are currently getting slated big time and they really do appear to have issues. Most of the issues we were being written off for are rectified, as we now have a fully fit defensive squad, including Holding and Chambers as well as the full-backs. Chambers and Holding may well be playing for England and Arsenal. Chambers was slagged off by Neville last week but he probably doesn’t realise that Chambers was unanimously voted Fulham’s player of the season last season and he has played center back, left back and right back. He got two assists and a goal last week, playing left and right. That is incredible and Neville could do better research.

    I am nervous to say that the referees are ‘perhaps’ getting a bit more level-headed. It is worrying that we get more cards per foul, as pointed out by a few of you on previous articles here. But that will probably change. We will be watching carefully.

    One thing that so many of us here hope for is that some of the younger fans can learn to have some patience with the squad. We have strength and backup in every position and all players have good and bad periods. Just now, it looks like what we need more than anything is support from the whole fan-base. I am sure that more will come on board if we can beat Bournemouth this weekend, possibly going third if Liverpool beat Leicester. They might find that harder than expected cos Leicester are playing well. All we can do is try our best to win convincingly if possible. Consistency from players, manager and fans is what is called for.

    Some of you have mixed feelings about Emery. Some of us think that he is great. He is always calm when interviewed and has a good deportment. His English is improving but as he has some players to hep with translation, whilst he is still getting to grips with the language. I am sure that this will improve as well. He has very detailed tactical plans and preparation. It was always going to take a good while to get the system working and it may take a couple more months. The fact that we have such excellent, intelligent players will help. If any team can play with the Emery style, this lot can! I like him, even if he does say ‘goob afternoon’ a lot. Many were crying out for a new manager during Wenger’s last coupe of seasons. In the end, it happened and we have another excellent manager, maybe equally as technically minded as Guardiola. Once the tactical side is drilled into the players and becomes automatic, we will probably see some very, very exciting football. We already have done a couple of times lately. A draw at the theatre of prawn sandwiches is hardly a disaster, even if United are in ‘total disarray’. Things change quickly. We have the players and the manager to be back in the CL next season and to entertain the fans. It’s a great time to be a supporter. Let’s go!

  22. Dec

    “BT sport certainly rubbished the ManU game”

    They did indeed, and very deserved it was too. Did you watch the game? It was dire.

    My first comment was whilst watching and having to suffer McManamans endless gushing despite what was happening in front of our eyes. But he was made to look a bit foolish when the first comment in the studio was something like “well if there’s anyone still with us….”.

    Couldn’t agree more with your comments onus.

    Sally Pally

    Very enjoyable write up.

  23. Onwards and upwards! Great to be one of the ‘Big Three’ looking down at the minnows like Spuds, ManU and Chelski.
    Full credit to Le Boss and Unai.

  24. Arsenal seem to be rapidly developing 2 goodish teams- this is surely progress-and its not clear to me which one is best. We have a genuinely good crop of young players who with time could really develop into something.

    The defenders coming back look promising.
    But I am not getting carried away given the space we still give opponents in midfield when defending-

  25. goonergerry

    “But I am not getting carried away given the space we still give opponents in midfield when defending”

    I am not, and have never professed to be a coach. I often watch games knowing ‘something’s wrong’, a notion often reinforced by the concession of 2 or 3 goals, but I don’t know what. Sometimes I think we’re just not working hard enough, but shouting ‘pull your f***ing finger out’ hardly cuts it.

    BUT, despite all my positivity, and I am really hopeful, I agree teams get at our back 4 too easily and I think you’re right, there is still too much space between them and the midfield.

    But as I say, I’m no coach so who knows.

    Fingers crossed Emery pulls it all together. I’m confident he will.

  26. Our game against Standard Liege was excellent for many reasons, and particularly for good officiating. There weren’t any cheats from players and even the little upset toward the end was handled professionally.

    Our kids are fantastic. All of them have been just beautiful to watch.

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