Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven For The Leeds Replay

Arsenal travel to Elland Road for a fixture we could have done without. Nevertheless, it’s a game we have to play and must win.

I was not happy with the result in the original fixture but the performance of Leeds was commendable. They seem like a team from the same mould as Blackpool or WBA and their manager Grayson reminds me a bit of Holloway. I’d certainly prefer to see Leeds win promotion rather than some other team cut from the same cloth as Stoke or Hull. But that’s a discussion for another day. For now let’s just focus on their football.

If the first leg is anything to go by, we can be sure Leeds will offer some well organized resistance in this game. The hosts will press in the centre of the park and will make it difficult for Arsenal to open them up by covering the passing channels. The only way for the Gunners to break them down will be through high quality movement and quick passing similar to what we saw against West Ham in the last game. Pace down the wings will also help.

In attack, Leeds will rely a lot on the technique and intelligence of Snodgrass along with the pace and trickery of Gradel. I read that there were some doubts over the fitness of Becchio and that might prove to be a big loss for the hosts. I’m again looking forward to watching Sanchez Watt in action against a top side.

In fairness, Leeds have a good attack, but unless Arsenal gift them a goal through an individual mistake or unbalanced team selection, I don’t see the hosts troubling Szczesny in the Arsenal goal that often.

Arsenal will have to avoid conceding soft free-kicks or a penalty. If the Gunners can force Leeds to create from open play the Championship side is quite likely to come up short.

At the other end, Arsenal need an early goal. If they can get one it will force the hosts into adopting a more attacking set-up and open things up for our attackers. If the game is locked at 0-0 for a long period of if Arsenal concede first it could turn into a frustrating night. Hopefully, we will see more urgency – in passing, pressing, and movement off the ball – right from the start.

The fanatical home support might have an impact in terms of lifting their players. I’m confident our players can handle it after having played at many such venues. But the Gunners must be mentally prepared for extra effort from the home players. These things are not easy to see but they make a difference to the 50-50’s and can make a big impact on the momentum of the game.

Arsene will have to rotate a bit but I don’t expect wholesale changes. I won’t be surprised if he changes the full backs. Sagna should be fresh after his ban and Gibbs is good enough to take responsibility in such a game. Szczesny, Koscielny, and Djourou cannot be replaced due to the injury situation.

In the midfield I’d like to see Rosicky come in for Cesc in front of Wilshere and Song. I’m confident that midfield will be able to dominate this game. El Capitan has played a lot and could use a rest given the congested schedule in the coming weeks. Having said that, I’ll be surprised if Wenger rests Fabregas. Le Boss is more likely to bring Denilson in for Wilshere or Song.

No matter who Wenger chooses, I hope he picks two out of Song, Wilshere, and Cesc. That will give the midfield continuity and stability. Too many changes in midfield break the rhythm and affect the speed of passing.

Up front I’d like to see RvP and Walcott retain their places while Arshavin coming in for Nasri. There was a story that Nasri has been playing with a knock. If that’s the case it would seem sensible to have Arshavin in. Earlier in the season the Russian did well along with Walcott and I see no reason why those two cannot recapture that form.

Once again I’d like to see two of RvP, Nasri, and Walcott retained in the starting eleven. This way some players will get a rest but the team will not be weakened considerably. Similar rotations in the next two games can ensure that all the players get a regular break.

Preferred starting line-up,

Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs – Song, Rosicky, Wilshere – Walcott, Rvp, Arshavin.

I’d also have Cesc, Nasri, Bendtner, and Chamakh on the bench in case the game doesn’t go as planned.

Rotations are a necessary evil but Arsene must take early action if the quality of performance isn’t up to scratch. I think Arsenal have enough strength-in-depth to turn this tie around in the second half if the need arises but it should not be left till late in the game.

Based on my recent form I’ll stay away from predictions. Just hoping this will be an entertaining Cup tie with positive play from both sides.

45 Responses to Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven For The Leeds Replay

  1. guy says:

    i would never start van persie. you saw how bruce and obrian tackled in the first leg. he will get injured and miss the barca games. go big on them. 4-4-2 with bendtner and chamakh up top. nasri and walcott out wide and song alongside wilshere. back four and gk name themselves

    • desigunner says:

      I agree it is always a risk playing RvP in such games. I’d have thought keeping him out of the Ipswich game would be better but it could be done for this game as well.

      However, I’m not sure Wenger is going to change the formation.

  2. santori says:

    Sounds about right Desi.


    I still think Wenger foolish for getting sucked into this whole ‘trophy drought’issue.

    Fact is we need a second squad to compete, at least in the Carling Cup.

    …with the amount of games being played and the congestion around this time (thankfully easying up), it’s no surprise that we have been on occasion uncompetitive.

    Again, I think RVP is better with a bit more pace to operate. I’m not saying he is poor at tight areas because he can turn on a dime but he isn’t quite as physical as Chamakh.

    The other thing to consider is in keeping our second striker sharp. Therefore Chamakh has to play (for CC at least)

    So yes, RVP should start this one as he is picking up form but hopefully, Wenger will also figure out a good and balance second side which we could play in cup competitions (without necessarily the service of some of our top boys), and Chamakh should be in it.

    • santori says:

      I meant a bit more ‘space’ not pace’ regarding RVP (which was the case with West Ham)

      All the same, hope he gets a hat trick.

    • samir nasri says:

      he’s not really that foolish, he has to say that it’s a trophy drought because some fans need to hear that

    • desigunner says:

      I feel the trick now is to find a good balance between the two squads. I don’t think having two separate 11’s will work. There has to be a mix and match and it’ll be tough for Arsene to find the right balance for each game.

      Agree with you about the need to keep other strikers sharp, I guess same can be said for the likes of Arshavin and Rosicky as well.

  3. Rash says:

    My fav line-up :


    Sagna Koscielny Song Clichy

    Walcott Rosicky Wilshere Arshavin

    Van. Persie


    Bench : Fab, Nasri, Vela, Chamakh, Eboue….

    Strong, experienced and attacking line-up.

    It can be 4-4-1-1 (defending – Van.persie does track back) and then 4-3-3 when attacking (Walcott, V.Persie, Bendtner)

    Wilshere for DM. Denilson sucks.

    Song in CB, don’t try the reserve captain for such’s a big gamble..


    • desigunner says:

      I’ll be very surprised if Miquel gets into the game tomorrow unless there is another injury.

      The regular CB’s should start. I’m not really gung ho on the idea of Song at CB. AT times he goes to sleep at critical moments.

    • critic says:

      djorou will not play, that’s for sure.

  4. w12mcee says:

    song starting would make a big difference the rest of it is down to how everyone performs. i dont think there is really any player in our squad who isnt good enough to be picked for this tie. no excuses, play properly = win comfortably

  5. Phv says:

    Wenger said he will rest Djourou tomorrow.Miquel will make his debut.God help us ! Miquel has no pace and does not have strength yet.He struggles in the Reserve League sometimes. We will be lucky to lose by 2 goals.

  6. w12mcee says:

    on another note. anyone seen that arsenal brasil interview with denilson. liked it but when asked about leadership in the squad he didnt answer how i thought he should, nevertheless he just said what he feels. i just wish it wasnt so.

    • Northlondongooner says:

      I don’t think he’ll play after giving this interview… Hope it doesn’t alter team morale!

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      Thanks for the information. I just watched. It was a really good interview.

    • desigunner says:

      Leadership is an issue at Arsenal. And I’m not sure it’s an easy one to solve. It won’t be easy for a newcomer to be a leader when there are so many talented players in the team unless the newcomer had the stature of a zidane or maldini or someone like that with great talent and a number of trophies. Not easy to get such players.

      • Phil23 says:

        I can’t believe he said all that… The fans are already on his back and tbh he isn’t performing well imo. I think it was Jack Wilshere or Walcott who recently mentioned about a fight or two in the dressing room. Maybe Denilson was one of the people involved and it has effected his form? Most likely not but imo saying there is no leader in Arsenal is a massive mistake which will have the media circling for weeks or more. To say that Robin Van Persie is not an exemplary leader is a joke.

      • Phv says:

        Well let’s face it Fabregas and RVP are not leaders.They are nice guys.Vermaelen could potentially become a leader.A guy that will become a leader (and it is pretty damn obvious) is Jack Wilshere.You can see it and I don’t need to explain why.Aneke may become a leader in 5-6-7 years as well.Song is 23 and I could see him becoming a leader when he is 28 or something like that.Another potential leaders in the future are Frimpong and maybe just maybe Coquelin or Lansbury. Nothing is certain though.

      • I dont think he told anything wrong. The question was very specific and it was more of who can rally the team when they are down. It is true there are nobody. It is not all about shouting at somebody, it is more about make the team push and issuing war cry and we can do it attitude when chips are down.
        Cesc and VanPersie are very good players who take initiative on the pitch but i think
        they do not have much effect on others. For e.g it was cruel to see us loosing vs Chelsea last year in the second half also against Man u.

      • Phil23 says:

        We will have to agree to disagree. I believe that when the first team is on the field there are several leaders. Maybe not a the kind of leader you are all talking about but leaders nonetheless. As the squad ages the leadership will be more obvious. I also agree with you Desi that Denilson did not say anything directly but the point is that he said things that can easily be misinterpreted. Better just to not go there at all?

  7. Phv says:

    By the way, I would like to say that I would be hugely disappointed with Wenger if he buys anyone other than Ciani(Bordeaux),Sakho(PSG) or Vertonghen(Ajax).I watched Zapata recently and he is not as good as the hype suggests.

  8. sam says:


    what if miquel proves you wrong tonight?
    if he cannot cope song will take over at half time.
    if he impresses then then arsene and the stingy boards just save 10 millions

    • Phv says:

      I think Bartley of all young defenders can become really good in the future like djourou seems to be doing.Miquel is not going to make it at Arsenal.

  9. sam says:

    actually i am backing wenger if he gambles on miquel.
    do you realise by the end of the season we will end up with so many defenders?
    buy buy buy buy we have so many kids coming through where are they gonna play? we lost nordtveit because of this arsene sold him so quickly now we have a problem.

    • desigunner says:

      To be honest I’m not sure the kids in defence are that good. They’ll need a lot of experience and improvement before they can start for Arsenal. Otherwise they run the risk of going the Senderos way – lot of talent but confidence killed by some bad games.

  10. Munz says:

    Wat ever it is i hope denilson doesnt play. Hope to see rambo get a bit of time

  11. Kushagra India says:

    you are talking of too many ifs and buts and these ifs and buts have cost us 5 years…

  12. Kushagra India says:

    Our inability to sign Chamakh last year in Jan cost us the title Arshavin’s form dipped committing the same mistakes this year…

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      Arshavin Form – dip – this season- same reason ?

      What are u talking about ? I like ur vindication about Chamakh winning us the title………….

      As you know what would happen with any set of players may be you can stop watching football as you know the results. What fun is to watch a match when you the results….

  13. Northlondongooner says:

    Hi des.. Why do I keep getting moderated?

    • desigunner says:

      Sorry about that. I have some general settings for moderation and not individual ones. I haven’t found any corelation so far i.e. why all your comments are held up… I guess it’s my inability to fully understand the moderation system in wordpress.

      For now, please bear with me.

  14. Phil23 says:

    I disagree with the lineup somewhat. I think there are too many starters in the team. To no start Chamakh up top would be a sin. He has had a huge rest and looked great when he came on against Leeds. Although I don’t really want Song to have to play, he has to as Arsene has no other defensive mids. The fact that we have no experienced options in DM, CB and Gk is worrying. Gk is understandable as Almunia is “injured” and Mannone is at Hull. But one player could have solved both of those problems plus solidified our weaker left side. No need to mention names. My line up would be:
    Vela Rosicky Nasri
    Ramsey Song
    Gibbs Miquel Koscielny Sagna

    Imo if we keep playing Djourou and Koscielny we are going to start losing a lot of points as they will perform like amateurs when playing against fully fit physical strikers. I’d rather get knocked out of this cup than lose a single point in the league through fatigue. If the players cared that much about the F.a cup they would have performed like they did in the last 3 premier league games. As said above, we could put out our entire second team plus Song (for some stability) and we should expect to win the game. I agree that theres a chance of being disjointed but when it comes down to it, this is a cup game and if the players are up for it we will keep the ball and create chances. Lets wait and see what happens tomorrow but no matter what happens, if we get through the game with Song, Djourou, Koscielny, Szczesney, Van Persie, Fabregas, Walcott and Nasri in tact, I will be happy. I don’t know about you guys but winning the Fa cup means exactly that to me…. F fall. I want to see the looks on Uniteds faces when they have to watch us lifting the pl trophy on television. P.s. wouldn’t mind if Cesc started but instead of Ramsey as Rosicky will be a great help once in form. P.s.s. I would like to see Arshavin start in the Premier league and left out for both of the cup games. He needs the extra week of rest to be fully recovered and imo he needs the leap of faith to be put in against Premier league opposition. It also means Nasri and Walcott can play in one or two of the cup matches without suffering burnout.

  15. Arsenal4 says:

    I would rather have a team B playing and lose, rather Team A win but later we stutter in League. Priority still should be the league and champions league.

    Having said that, I still have so much confident with our team B potential. The past 2 games have been bad, but if we look to previous, they are more than capable to carry on with this kind of game.

    Arsenal B to win 2-0.

  16. phill23 says:

    Just checking to see if my photo works! Thanks for the heads up Desi!

  17. Lex says:

    Team News:

    Sagna Miquel Koscielny Gibbs

    Denilson Song


    Walcott Chamakh Arshavin

    Subs: Shea,Eboue,Wilshere,Fabregas,Nasri,Bendtner,Vela.

  18. Lex says:

    Team News:

    Sagna Miquel Koscielny Gibbs

    Denilson Song


    Walcott Chamakh Arshavin

    Subs: Shea,Eboue,Wilshere,Ramsey,Nasri,Bendtner,Vela.

  19. Northlondongooner says:

    Abt what Deni said. I’ve been in his situation before, just a misunderstending. Now lets win tonite!

    posted by @cesc4official from Twitter for BlackBerry 2 hours 32 mins ago

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