Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton

It’s been just over a day since I posted the match report for the Stoke game. It creates an uncomfortable feeling that this game is coming too soon after the previous one. Is it the same for most of the clubs? Somehow I doubt it.

This proximity of fixtures will make Wenger’s job tougher. Given the injuries, especially in defence, Le Boss would probably have appreciated a chance to use one or two regulars in a game like this. But he will just have to play the hand he’s been dealt. If you want a peak at that hand and make some guesses, these pictures of the Gunners training for the game might help.

In his pre-match interview with Arsenal Player, Arsene named Frimpong, Coquelin, Miquel, Alex, and Park as the players who are likely to start. No surprises there. And I will be surprised if Fabianski, Rosicky, and Benayoun don’t get a start. That’s 8 out of 11. It will be interesting to see Wenger’s choices and how he balances the starting line-up.

The back four is completely open for debate. Some have suggested that Vermaelen could make a comeback, others are dreading that Squillaci will get on the team-sheet, Miquel could move to left back, Coquelin might play as makeshift right back, Yennaris or Meade could get a promotion from the reserves to fill in at their respective full back positions, and so on.

Ideally, I’d have preferred a strong defensive unit. Bolton boss Owen Coyle might not play his first eleven but is quite likely to put out a team that has a number of international players and significant Premier League experience. But it would be foolhardy to pick any of the four that started against Stoke. Arsenal have three big games starting with next weekend’s trip to Stamford Bridge. If the injured don’t make a timely return these defenders will have a heavy work load. This game should not be added to that even if winning the Carling Cup seems like an attractive possibility.

For now, Coquelin – Squillaci – Vermaelen – Miquel seems like the strongest available combination. Arsene mentioned that Coquelin is more suited to the midfield role but I am finding it hard to see any other player starting at right back. Playing Yennaris, or the forgotten man Eastmond, would be a big risk.

Moreover,  I doubt there is a place for the youngster in the midfield. Frimpong, Rosicky, and Benayoun should start in the middle. If the French lad is drafted into the middle one of these three will have to move out of the starting eleven or shift to the wings, which will then affect the players who usually play on the flanks.

So, while Coquelin is more of an all-action, Flamini-type midfielder, he should show he can be versatile when the team needs him to perform a different role.

While the return of Vermaelen is an exciting prospect, many will surely be worried whether the manager has been forced into starting him sooner than advisable. In fact, now that I think about it, the Belgian will be lacking match fitness so he might not start at all. I won’t be surprised if a youngster like Boateng made the starting line-up.

Up front, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Park can be supported by Arshavin or Chamakh, depending on the role Arsene has in mind for Park. The Russian and the Moroccan are both in need of games so this will be a tough choice.

An interesting option for Arsene would be to go with a 3-5-2. This way he can have Vermaelen, Squillaci, and Miquel at the back. Pick AOC and Benayoun on the wings with Coquelin, Frimpong and Rosicky in the middle. Park and Chamakh can lead the line. I would love to see it just to see how it works out but I doubt Arsene will change the system.

Le Boss did go with a 4-4-2 last time out. He could do the same again with Benayoun and AOC on the wings, and Frimpong and Rosicky in the middle.

Possible starting eleven,

Fabianski – Coquelin, Squillaci, Miquel/Boateng(Vermaelen?), Miquel/Meade – Frimpong, Rosicky, Benayoun – AOC, Park, Arshavin.

I have left Chamakh out as I failed to spot him in the training pictures. The bench will have youngsters like Miyaichi, Aneke, Ozyakup, Sanchez Watt, Freeman, and others. In that regard the starting eleven will have to do the job. There isn’t much hope of a game changing performance from those with limited experience even if some like Ryo are highly rated. It’s not a slight on their fledgling careers but a simple matter-of-fact observation.

For the last couple of years I have believed Arsenal squad has been a man short in the defensive areas and a versatile player is needed. Emerging talents like Frimpong and Coquelin do add some strength in depth but in such games, and with the injury problems that Arsenal have, the squad does look a bit thin.

The Gunners have worked hard to create some defensive stability but that will be tested if a reserve level back four is put out. It will place a greater burden on the midfield and the attacking players will have to outscore the opponents as a clean sheet will be hard to keep. If nothing else, this could turn out to be a very open and exciting game.

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26 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton

  1. Ajinkya says:

    I also look at training pictures, to see who is in the squad. I do not think Bolton will field their first 11, as they sit at the bottom of the table and will want to concentrate on improving on that front.
    If Vermaelen comes back, I would like him to partner Mertesacker with Koscielny as right back for the chelsea game at least.

    • santori says:

      You may be surprised.

      They desperately need a lift and this is a perfect opportunity for them against a “weakened” us.

  2. Anvil19 says:

    Desi quick question, where does TV5 feature(position) if atall on Sunday?

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      Koscielny will move to RB and Vermaelen would partner Mertesacker. The problem with this is that u would be disturbing a winning combination in a crunch game. Verm hasnt played with Mert even once. The other option is to move santos to right back and play Verm at left back. That would mean playing two players in unnatural positions althought Verm has played LB before i believe. Its a tough one. you would rather go with the first option as that doesnt disturb the balance as much. Being left footed, Verm woudl be on the left side of CB, and Mert and Kos who have a good understanding will stay play alongside on the right.

      • santori says:

        MIght be still too early for TV.

        Plus with such a big game better to have the familiarity that comes with Koscielny and Metersecker currently then throw an unknown in the works.

        We’ll have to ease TV in slowly IMO. Perhaps the home game against Marseille may be better by which time Mteresecker could be rested.

  3. VanTheManPersie says:

    Normally you would associate a problem for the manager while picking an 11 with too many options as a sign of squad strength. Here its exactly the opposite. Because of injuries to Sagna,Gibbs and the returning Vermaelen , Wenger just has too many options in terms of who to play as makeshift right back and left back. He has said that coquelin is not comfortable playing at right back. Havent seen much of Yennaris, but Wenger might decide to start him. If Chamakh doesnt start like you said , thats a big surprise as he badly needs games. Arshavin should definitely start along with alex on the wing . We can maybe expect the midfield trio of Frimpong, Rosicky and Benayoun. If Coq doesnt play at RB, i would prefer him over Frimpong. But Vermaeln doesnt start, it would mean playign the squid and Miguel at CB. Now assuming Chamakh doesn t play because he didnt train, it would mean the only tall player on the pitch would be Miguel. That doesnt give me confidence with Fabianski in goal. So frimpong has to start to give some much needed height. So coquelin playing right back is a big possiblity in place of the inexperienced Yennaris. This will be tough game because of the personel involved. For arsenal to win, rosicky,alex,park,miguel and frimpong need to come up with their best performances of the season. It will be shame if Chamakh doesnt start. Alex has got a good cross on him and with park along side him, this could be his best chance to rediscover some form.

    Hoping arsenal will nick it 2-1.

    • Charlie says:

      yeah mate, frimpongs massive aint he. Your an idiot, he’s bout as big as walcott. sort it out you nonce. Chamakh shoulda gone to sunderland not the big dane

      • VanTheManPersie says:

        my bad…i guess he just looks bigger….pardon my ignorance:) If Yennaris starts , then pong should be on the bench and Le coq should take centre stage.

        Yeah Bendtner would have stayed if only his ego was not as big as he is. But to be fair to him, he would never get regular starts and if thats what you want, you have to move…even if it is sunderland.

      • ZAK THE GOON says:

        Why do you have to be rude in replying to an honest mistake? It’s people like your good self that in your own words are the real ‘IDIOT’s’ and ‘NONCE’S’.

        Hope the lad’s come through this game, unleash the OX, LE’COQ, RIO AND PARK

      • ZGunner says:

        The Dane…. lol…. what cracks me up is it is the same fans that booed him that miss his services the most…. Bendtner got so much $hit from Arsenal fans. He’s a great talent.. though a tad arrogant.

  4. MSL says:

    I would expect Martin Angha to start at right back. I couldn’t find him in the pictures. He is said to have caught Wenger’s eye.

  5. Charlie says:

    you guy’s forgot ’bout jenkinson. There aint a chance wenger’ll play argueably his best two centre backs at left and right back at stamford bridge. You guy’s dunno what your talkin ’bout. Knob-heads

    • Gooner92 says:

      The same jenkinson that is injured? Idiot

    • ZAK THE GOON says:

      jenkinson is injured you ‘KNOB-HEAD’ clearly your either a sad spurs fan on a arsenal blog pretending to be a gooner or your a spotty little teen chav who is properly only goppy behind a computer screen or your both!!!!

      P.S This is my last reply to your ‘knob-head’ filled bullsh*t

  6. Aussie Jack says:

    Let`s not take this game too lightly. The comment was made we need to score goals and for that reason I would be inclinded to play Gervinho ( Parks) up front with Asharvin right behind him..Jenkinson (RB) Mertsacker and Kosceiny (CB`s) Vermaelen (LB). In the middle Chamberlain,Rosicky, Coquelin with Walcott on the left. Miyaichi can sub for Walcott and Santos for Vermaelen, if he tires.

  7. Gooner92 says:

    Yanneris starts at right back tonight…it’s already been confirmed

    • Gooner92 says:


      • santori says:

        A gamble but always like to see a surprise package come on.

        I think Wenger was guilty of taking the Carling a little too seriously last season at our expense on four fronts.

        Good to see the competition revert to an opportunity to blood the young guns again.

        If Yennaris plays, I would move Djourou to the middle with Miguel.

        Either of Santos or Gibbs (if deemed fit) should start at LB.

  8. Alex says:

    Arshavin should start against Chelsea since Walcott isn’t in the best of form, I would grant Miyaichi a start and bring on Arshavin as a late sub if need be.

    • santori says:

      I would agree on resting Arsharvin but keeping him as a contingency/impact sub.

      Not sure if we should start Miyaichi and Ox at the same time. Would like to see the Japanese but I think we’ll need to balance youth (Ox) with someone with a bit more guile like benayoun on the other flank, intially of course.

      Might see Park out wide thereafter.

  9. santori says:

    Bearing in mind the big match over the horizon at Stamford Bridge, we must rest as many players as possible.

    However this is stil Bolton and bearing in mind :

    1) Getting knocked out at this stage even in the Carling Cup will be bad for our recovering morale

    2) We are yet to settle at the back completely and some of the new players need as much time aclimating as poss :

    3) We will be playing a more unfamilar reserve frontline

    I would have to go for a backline of :


    Some might say that a couple of these players may neeed a rest in view of the forthcoming clash at the Bridge.

    I think the most important player that needs a rest in the backline is Koscielny. Bearing in mind the return of Vermaelen in a short while, I think it will do Metersecker good to continue to play for familiarity. It will be several games down where we can afford to rest the big German and have TV/Kos in.

    Similarly, with Jenkinson due back shortly, it will do no harm to add some solidity at the back and play Djourou who has been thus far surprisingly good deputising (your utility defender if you may)

    The same can be said with Santos who can rotate to the bench with Gibbs also set to return shortly. The Brasilian has adapted well and should keep playing to continue to gorw in confidence with the English game.

    Therefore, I favour not to much change at the back to keep us as solid as possible defensively. The only addition will be young Miguel who would benefit from playing next to the likes of Metersecker.

    No Squillaci please.

    with regards the midfield, I think Coquelin has been playing very well and should deserve a start. Frimpong came on against stoke and nearly put us in trouble, granted he is the more physical of the two. I could envisage both these players featuring as a screen in front of the defense with Rosicky playing ahead as playmaker.

    However, if Diaby is deemed fit, I would start him next to young Coquelin at very least for a good 60 minutes to get him back to speed. he could switch to and fro with Rosicky in the advance role with Coquelin sitting further back.

    Mid : Rosicky/Coquelin/Diaby

    Up top, I think Chamakh needs to be played. He is getting very close and with a team like Bolton, we may well do with his physicality.

    On the wings, Ox and Benayoun to add a dash of experience and the unknown.

    Attack : Chamakh/Ox/Benayoun

    Subs – Park for either of Chamakh or Benayoun. If thinsg are going well, maybe Miyaichi out left. If not Arsharvin.

    In the middle, Frimpong for Diaby. Again if things are going well then Ozyakup for Diaby. If not Song.

  10. santori says:

    Just checked the main site.

    Might add, doesn’t look likely on Diaby so maybe Frimpong and Coquelin in tandem.

    Hopefully though, Wenger does g o for the 4-4-1-1 with Chamakh and Park up top and either of Frimps or Coquelin holding next to Rosicky.

    May be a perfect opportunity to experiemnt with an alternative set up that suits some of our attacking assets, particularly Chamakh.

  11. feygooner says:

    According to YounGuns, Yennaris will start at RB and most probably Miguel at LB.

  12. Dave Highbury says:

    The Ox and Park Young will muller them…in style

  13. Rob Lucci says:


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