Thoughts On Starting Eleven And Tactics Against Liverpool

These are the articles I like to write the most. Just before a game the expectation is high and there is an uneasy feeling in the stomach. The mind runs amok with dream scenarios and nightmarish ones. That’s the beauty of this sport, isn’t it? One moment of magic or of madness can make it or break it. And once you have plenty of players capable of both there is just no end to the possibilities. Add to it the fact that it’s the first game of a new season at a place no less historical then Anfield and you get a high like no other.

I’ve been flying all day but I guess now it’s time to focus. To be frank, I can’t make up my mind. This could be a big win for Arsenal, it could be a big loss, or it could be a high scoring draw. I’ll be very surprised if it ends up as a dull, low-scoring affair.

Both managers have something to prove and both set of players need a good start. There is uncertainty about some big players on both ends. We don’t know if Cesc, Song, RvP and some others will be fit to play or not. Liverpool fans will be anxious to see if Torres or Mascherano get on the field.

Wenger said that players without match fitness will run out of steam. We could see that in the first game when Spuds had a good first half but went completely missing in the second. So there is a good chance Arsene will play only one or two out of Denilson, Diaby, Cesc and Van Persie.

I guess seven players pick themselves. The back four will be Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, and Clichy. There is a argument for picking Gibbs ahead of Clichy but I think Wenger will go with experience. Nasri, Arshavin, and Chamakh are the other three. Fabianski will probably get the nod in goal but I don’t care either way about that selection. I’d also pick Eboue ahead of Walcott on the right.

But the game will probably be decided by the other two players in midfield. If I were the manager I’d start with a strong midfield. Wilshere and Frimpong have been good but giving them the responsibility of stopping a fired up Gerrard or the wily Joe Cole in a big game doesn’t seem like a good idea.

The big question is, Can those without match fitness play at a high tempo for at least one half? If so, I’d start with Denilson and Diaby behind Nasri (assuming Song isn’t available). Rosicky is also an option but his defensive contribution in recent games hasn’t been up to the mark.

I’ve a feeling Liverpool will slow down later in the game. They’ve not had an ideal pre-season due to the Europa League qualifying games and that should give us a better shot in the second half. So tactically I’d prefer a cautious start with the best available players and subsequently we could use the fresher and faster youngsters against tiring legs.

Gerrard looked hungry and in good touch while playing for England. This will be a huge test for Koscielny. His fabled skills in one-on-one situations might be needed more than once as the Liverpool captain is quite likely to make those forward bursts.

The absence of Torres could help us but Cole and Gerrard will test our midfield early on. We cannot afford to switch off or lose focus because both these players are capable of hurting us within moments and out of nowhere. That’s also the reason I’m hoping we get half a game from our experienced players who’ve been there and done that.

On the other end, I think this game will be a good test for Chamakh and Nasri. They have to show that they can carry their pre-season form into big games. Obviously, everyone at Anfield will be keeping a close on Arshavin as well. The diminutive Russian loves to play there and I won’t be surprised if he comes up with another big performance. He will have to shed the cobwebs and the lacklustre attitude that we saw in pre-season. He is the kind of player who is most dangerous when you’ve forgotten he’s on the pitch so I’m not overly concerned by his pre-season form.

Eboue should provide us some balance and we can use Walcott later on against tiring legs. Some might argue that he can do a lot of damage from the start but I’m one for a cautious start.

I tend to believe Liverpool don’t have the kind of depth we have and that could be to our advantage. Our rigorous pre-season training also helps us start better as is evident from the 14 goals we’ve scored in the last three opening day away fixtures. Sadly, the key midfielders have all missed that and that makes Wenger’s job of picking the team really difficult.

Arsene could surprise us all and pick a team similar to the one that started the second half at Legia Warsaw. Nasri and Wilshere would be in the midfield with Vela (or Rosicky) slightly ahead of them and Eboue and Arshavin on the wings to support Chamakh upfront. We controlled the game against Legia with a similar system but I’m not sure it will work against Liverpool.

If Arsene does decide to go with a youngster or both of them in the middle, I hope Nasri plays a deeper role and Wilshere plays in a more advanced position. If we have the two youngsters as the deeper midfielders we will struggle to get the ball out from defence as Liverpool excel at pressing high up the pitch, a tactic Hodgson has successfully used against us with Fulham. There is a good chance things will get ugly in such a scenario and that could affect the confidence of the youngsters and that of the squad (and here I am trying to get rid of the nightmarish thoughts!)

Ultimately, I think our depth and better fitness levels will see us through. I’m guessing there will be at least four goals in the game and we could win 3-1 or draw 2-2; both acceptable results in my opinion, although the first one would probably be better classified as an explosive start.

52 Responses to Thoughts On Starting Eleven And Tactics Against Liverpool

  1. Full-Blooded American Goon says:

    In my fantasy world, Arsene would say: Fuck it, let’s roll:

    Sagna Kos Verm Clichy
    Nasri Cesc/Wilshire
    Eboue Chamakh Arshavin

    Be not afraid: Either we believe in our Young Guns or we don’t!

    In reality, I think we’ll line up like this:

    Sagna Kos Verm Clichy
    Nasri Cesc
    Eboue Chamakh Arshavin

  2. josh phelan says:

    last year we had a lack of quality at the back, we have more now in my opinion. what we have done is swapped koscielny (relitively unknown) for gallas (who had a bad year), senderos (last year loanee) for nordveit (who has impressed in pre season an at his loan spell at nurnberg) and silvestre (pure crap) for last years injury struck Djourou. I believe we have the team to win the league. Ramsey is back in November and wilshere and gibbs have also look good enough for 1st team.

    RB – SAGNE
    LB – GIBBS
    DM – SONG/DENILSON (whoever is fully fit)
    RW – NASRI
    ST – RVP

    • Merks says:

      Yes your formation makes sense, I would love to see V.P pair up with Chamakh. Two problems though:

      1) Denilson is too weak to play that role and i would even go as far as puting diaby there over Delilson if song is not fit to start.

      2) I would put clichy left back rather than Gibbs, no disrespect to Gibbs but against liverpool away, experiance is key.

      • desigunner says:

        Of the three (song, denilson, diaby) I think Diaby is in the best shape in terms of Fitness.

    • desigunner says:

      Sorry not sure why this comment got held up for moderation.

      It’s nice to see someone with the right math about the defensive situation. Often we just get 4 out 1 in kind of cribbing.

      We certainly have the team to challenge for the title and it will get better with one or two additions, hopefully. I’m just a bit concerned about how many will actually be able to play tomorrow.

      • Merks says:

        My prediction:


        Sanga Verninator Koz Clichy


        Eboue Nasri Rosicky

        Chamakh RVP

      • Merks says:

        Im i bit torn over Songs fitness and diaby’s discipline in being able to hold the position and sort Steevie G out..

      • desigunner says:

        If Song can play then obviously that the best option … but we should not risk aggravating his injury. That could be catastrophic.

      • Merks says:

        It will be a tough call for wenger. But im confident we will come out all guns blazeing tomorrow. Lets get back to some proper football, rather than the pile of sh*t we witnessed over the summer!

      • clarence says:

        if song and cesc is unable to play ths game, i feel that is will be safer to play fimpong with diaby in front of defence, and nasir in cesc’s role in 4-2-1-3. this way, fimpong will provide the muscle cover in front of the defence and diaby provide the experience (althou not much)

      • Merks says:

        Flippin hell, Koz is gone, why would you go to ground like that by the oppositions corner flag?

  3. josh phelan says:


  4. Jaygooner says:

    Although it is likely Wenger will stick to the formation that suits Cesc, 4-3-3, I would like him to spring a surprise and use the effective tactic Germany used in the World Cup 4-2-3-1. Two holding midfield players, be it Song/Denilson/Frimpong/Eboue even, take your pick, allows Wilshere/Rosicky/Nasri/Arshavin/Walcott maybe Diaby loads of license to roam and create havoc. We must accept that RVP isn’t going to start but that kind of line up would suit Chamakh perfectly. He has already proved he has a good touch and space awareness. As for the result? I am kind of resigned to a close defeat, a draw would be ok and a win well yeah!. As long as there are no defensive howlers and we play to our best, I am happy with that. OOOH TO BE A GOONER

    • desigunner says:

      Yes, we could do without a blunder at the back. Otherwise the misery brigade will make life a pain for the next week.

  5. Subterraneo says:

    Liverpool 4 Arsenal 1

    • U fools says:

      I think I speak for everyone, or almost… If it is to make those kind of comments, just keep them to yourself…

      • Subterraneo says:

        If you just want sycophantic and unrealistically optimistic postings then fine.

        I am just worried. Letting five goals in against an average Polish side does not bode well. I hope it was a one off.

        Chamakh looks good though and it seems that some of the youngsters can make a significant contribution this year.

        Excuse me, long journey to make now…

  6. Jaygooner says:

    Nice to see you Sub Bet you won;t be back tomorrow to say ooops I got it the wrong way round . wanker

    • Lawrence J Beadle says:

      Difficult for me to pik ateam. W always surpries me. however if Arshaven Walcot Nasri and Cesc if if plays r on top formand the others play upto potential I look for a 1 0 score – we win.

    • Subterraneo says:

      Apologies for the pessimism; borne from 40 years of bitter experience. As you say, hopefully it will be the other way round.

      • desigunner says:

        40 years of bitter experience? of what? In the last 10 opening day games Arsenal have won 7 and drawn 2. Surely, you’re not talking about that experience!

  7. Lawrence J Beadle says:

    If they play like I havewritten we are in big trouble SORRY

  8. batty the gooner says:

    how anyone can consider flappyianski is beyond belief

  9. Daniel says:

    He will start with almunia in goal tomorrow. Because he’s come out and said that the goalkeeper who starts tomorrow is the number 1. Now he can’t go putting fabianski in goal, making him number one to then bring in another goalkeeper who will be number 1. But Almunia would leave if we brought in another keeper therefore freeing up the number 1 spot for the new gk

  10. Phil23 says:

    I also dont mind which keeper starts. I think playing away would be more beneficial to Fabianski but then again Almunia is much more experienced in the big games. Other than that i’d like to see a team go out with lots of running in them. For example:
    Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Clichy
    Frimpong Diaby
    Eboue Nasri Arshavin

    Coming on:
    Van Persie

  11. Merks says:

    Chamakh hatrick anybody? Would be a brilliant start!

    • desigunner says:

      That was the exact thought I had when I saw Drogba get 3. It was one of those dream sequences that I was talking about 😀 Seems a little too romantic to be true.

      • Merks says:

        Yeah it seem a bit far fetched HA! Look at drogba’s opposition in that match and look at chamakh’s, on his premier league debut haha, we will see, im certain that Chamakh will leave his mark tomorrow, and arshavin!

  12. Phil23 says:

    So stoked Arsene resigned! We have a great future ahead of us! Starting tomorrow.

  13. messi says:


    sagna koscienly vermaelen clichy

    diaby denilson nasri

    rosicky chamakh arshavin

    subs: fabianski, eboue, gibbs, cesc, walcott, vela, van persie

    bring on cesc, walcott and eboue 2nd half if were in trouble and we should win it.

    going for a 2-1 win……… arshavin to score first, stevie levels……. and then CHAMAAAAKKKKKHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nik Mahmood Farid, christian-allen. christian-allen said: Thoughts On Starting Eleven And Tactics Against Liverpool: […]

  15. Orlar says:

    In this kind of a game, we need experience and i will want him pairing Frimpong and Wilshere up in the midfield because they know each others hand but Nasri will have a huge work in the midfield. My starting XI

  16. In this kind of a game, we need experience and i will want him pairing Frimpong and Wilshere up in the midfield because they know each others hand but Nasri will have a huge work in the midfield. My starting XI

  17. Vermaelen says:

    See what I said about Mannone… not a mention of him anywhere, I feel so sorry for him that I’ll pick him.. haha. Anyway I think Diaby would play, if only for 45 minutes.

    Sagna Vermaelen Koscielny Clichy
    Diaby(Wilshere) Frimpong
    Eboue(Walcott) Arshavin(Vela)

    I think this would be another invincible season… I could just feel it… or is that too high an expectation? haha Don’t shoot me down until I’m proven wrong…(hope it lasts for more than a day!)

    • Vermaelen says:

      Looks like my invincible season is on!

      Anyway… would want the lads to show more heart into the game, they don’t seem to want to win the game like the Liverpool players. Great to see Rosicky trying hard though and taking charge. However I think a draw is a fair result. All credits to the Liverpool players for trying.

      • desigunner says:

        I like your belief. There is no reason to not believe till we lose. We can definitely remain undefeated in the next few games.

  18. eddy says:

    mannone or SZCZESNY……………

  19. FT9 says:

    Liverpool will slaughter arsenal just wait and see 4-0 YNWA

  20. Kennyg says:

    Eboue will play cm today wenger has done that before and i c him doin it again.

    My team when fit

    Van persie has been successful for holland on the right

  21. Manav says:

    You’ve made a very important point in saying that Wilshere should be played ‘in a more advanced position’. He’s the kind who has a tendency to go forward every time the ball’s at his feet. And he doesn’t release the ball as quickly as Cesc does. That will be a significant minus if he plays deeper ’cause that’ll make getting the ball to the forwards all the more difficult since Liverpool’s experienced mid-field will pressurize us immensely. Nasri’s already proved that he can play through the middle in a deeper than usual place. This ploy would give some bonus confidence to debutant(?) Frimpong.

  22. Eduardo1967 says:

    The problem is not who plays in goal!

    What is wrong with Arsenal is that we do not have a defensive unit. We used to have a back 5 (seaman,Winterburn,Dixon,Adams and Keown). These players were the rock for the club and all knew what their jobs were within the team. At the moment this is not the case.

    We have a lack of players who can cross the ball with any accuracy, so when they cross (Clichy and Sagna for example) the ball gets knocked straight back. Where are Clichy and Sagna then? Stuck upfield. Then the defensive unit is split and is not covered by the midfield hence the amount of goals we concede via our opponents counter attacking.

    I like the idea of Clichy and Sagna as attacking full backs or wing backs if you like but in order to play them you would need three centre backs to enable cover for their forward raids. At present we have to fit CB’s with none on the horizon so perhaps Clichy and Sagna should be employed as defenders!

    We could play a 3-5-2 formation (if we had more CB’s).
    At the moment I would have Verm, Kos and Song if fit at CB. Sanga and Clicky at wing backs. In the middle 3 lots of options. Fab, Nasri and Diaby (when in possession one would act as an Att Mid just behind our two strikers.
    Our TWO strikers RVP and Chamakh. This leaves out Arsh but we can rotate with midfield or attack.

    Defending corners and fee kicks is obviously another BIG problem. After laughing at our ineptitude against Wigan last year (defending corners) I was struck with this thought. WE knew wigan would hassle Fabianski and he is not strong (or tall) enough to deal with the physical pressure so why not stick three of our biggest players in front of him so Wigan cannot push and shove him around? We have this ridiculous situation where we bring all ten players back. If three of ours protected our keeper that would still leave seven players to mark the remaining players.
    As an alternative why not leave three of our players upfield. This would take four ( three to mark our three and a spare man) of their players back leaving five of their players forward to mark with seven of ours.
    Our three players should be left on the halfway line. One in the middle and one wide right and the other one wide left. This would make opponents think somewhat and enable us three options to counter attack from corners. It would also take seven players out of the penalty area thus giving our keeper more space and a less chance of being hassled by our opponents.

  23. Zerin says:

    Interesting first fixture.

    To be honest most variables are unknown to predict this game

    I expect Jovanovic to start and have a good game. He will trouble the Arsenal defence with his direct style

    Will be interesting to see Koscieny. Hope Arshavin does not score today:) Everyone at Liverpool is sick of his performance against Liverpool

  24. […] Thoughts On Starting Eleven And Tactics Against Liverpool These are the articles I like to write the most. Just before a game the expectation is high and there is an uneasy […] […]

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