Arsenal (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

After two insufferable weeks, the international break is over and Premier League football is back, with Arsenal in town this weekend as we look for our first win of the new season.

Despite this being just our fifth game of the season, this is now our fourth against one of the league’s ‘top 6’, with our three previous all being 2-1 defeats at the hands of Spurs, Chelsea and Man City.

Some have praised us for staying in the game and defending well, but the lack of attacking intent and our ultra-cautious approach has frustrated just as many.

The big question is, will we ditch the five-man defence, go back to 4-2-3-1 and ‘have a go’ in this one? I think we will.

We’ll never be gung-ho – and rightly so given what our organised and disciplined approach delivered last season – but Benitez will know that this Arsenal team can be got at; just as we proved when we beat them at our place back in April.



Preferred XI

Here’s the team I’d like to see, followed by the side I expect Rafa to go with:

I see us reverting back to a slightly less defensive 4-2-3-1, meaning it’ll be one of Clark, Schar, Fernandez that partners Lascelles – and I expect it to be Fernandez who gets the nod. He’s been quietly impressive in his three appearances so far, he’s a player Rafa knows well and is someone I expect to be Rafa’s preferred partner for Lascelles while Lejeune is out.

Ritchie and Shelvey’s returns are inevitable now they’re fully fit, with Ki almost certain to drop out as a result.

I really do want to see Rondon start, but I can see Benitez going with Joselu. Why? The Venezuelan only returned from international duty yesterday (after playing in the early hours of Wednesday morning out in Miami) and has only trained once since he got back.

The same applies to Yedlin, but Rondon is someone who is still working on his fitness after a total lack of preseason, with his replacement (Joselu) seeming like a far more viable option to come in than Manquillo (Yedlin’s potential replacement).

If Rondon seems fully fit and isn’t showing any real signs of fatigue then Rafa may well go with him (and I hope he does), but I get the feeling he’ll start Joselu – who is confident and in decent form with two goals in our opening four games.

Rafa is cautious and he’s not afraid to start Joselu at the worse of times, so he’ll have no problem picking him if Rondon doesn’t look like he’s able to put in a 60-minute shift.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Joselu. 

The Opposition

Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in the Arsenal squad:

Alexandre Lacazette: He really impressed me in this fixture last season. He’s a lethal finisher who’ll lash anything in the box into the roof of the net if given half the chance. His hold up play for a smaller striker is quite impressive too, with him doing well to hold off Lascelles at time when we played them back in April.

Matteo Guendouzi: The 19-year old has won Arsenal’s player of the month for August, putting in some brave performances in midfield following a mixed debut against Man City. He looks bright, energetic and isn’t afraid to get stuck in or show for the ball, but he is still very young and inexperienced. Diame needs to get at him from the off.

Petr Cech: It wouldn’t surprised me if they started new signing Leno instead, but I sincerely hope not if. Cech has looked past it for a while and has looked pretty woeful whenever I’ve seen Arsenal this season. He’s always got a mistake in him and his passing out from the back (which Arsenal now seem to insist on) has been atrocious.

Aaron Ramsey: A goalscoring midfielder who has knack of getting into the right place at the right time. We’ll need to keep an eye on him and watch our for his late runs into the box.

Predicted Arsenal XI – (4-2-3-1) Cech – Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal – Xhaka, Guendouzi – Ramsey, Özil, Aubameyang – Lacazette.

 

Team news

Rafa Benitez has confirmed that both Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey will return to the squad after missing the Man City game.

A late decision will be made on Rondon and Yedlin, with both returning just yesterday from international duty.

Arsenal appear to have no fresh injury issues, with Alex Iwobi back after missing their last game through illness.

 

Match Prediction

I see us approaching this one as we did against Spurs. The question will be whether we can get the balance right, with it being vital that we take our chances – something this Arsenal side are bound to give you if you get at them.

Lacazette and Aubameyang are quality strikers who could give us real problems, but if we stay switched on at the back, win the midfield battle and get into them from the off then we have every chance of getting a result.

I watched them at Cardiff and as good as their striking duo are, they still look soft at the core.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Arsenal

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

54 thoughts on “Arsenal (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. If all of these bankers get sirs then who else? Obviously, posthumously it would be Paisley, Clough and Moore.

    So, if Bradley rides a bike fast and Karren works for porno kings gets an honour the who else, and not just an OBE?

    Shearer
    Jimmy Anderson
    Kevin Keegan – he was a better player and manager than Lord Trev of Brookingtonshire.

      (Quote)

  2. Boycott
    Alistair Cook
    Lineker – if that guy that rowed a boat in the Olympics that nobody watched gets one then 20 years on the BBC should get Gary one as well.

      (Quote)

  3. Mio? Lost me there Ice. Do you mean Diame? Mo?

    Still never a mention for Muto. Seems very strange.
    I’d like to predict a win today but apart from last season we’ve a terrible record v Arsenal. Could be another loss on the way.

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  4. georgio:
    Mio? Lost me there Ice. Do you mean Diame? Mo?

    Still never a mention for Muto. Seems very strange.
    I’d like to predict a win today but apart from last season we’ve a terrible record v Arsenal. Could be another loss on the way.

    aye meant to type MO sorry,grand kids not helping on this laptop

      (Quote)

  5. Olly did an article dedicated to Diame as well. I think he was dreadful in the first half of last season, but huge credit to him, he was probably our best player in the 2nd half.
    I don’t think he’s been that bad so far this season, but he’s not playing as well as he ended last season. He did say he started the season carrying an injury I think, so his fitness wouldn’t have been 100%. But I think he’s probably suffered with Shelvey being out, and forming a new partnership with Ki. I also think the change of formation will have effected him.
    Hopefully get back to 4-2-3-1 with Shelvey alongside side him and we may see his form improve.

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  6. Kenedy is the one for me. He was a bit of an unknown quantity last season, both for us but also the opposition defences. But now there is a greater expectation on him, and he’s clearly a confidence player. If his head drops, he suffers. But he has to learn that not even move will come off.
    I think he’s said that he wants to go back to Chelsea and win things, and who could blame him?!.
    But he needs to understand that they will be watching him now for us and deciding if he is a Chelsea player or not. They will want to see a grit and determination from him as much as that talent and flair. The likes of Hazard, Willian and Pedro will have off days, but they still win days with hard work and determination. I’m not saying he’s as good as though players yet, but if he is saying that’s where he wants to be, then that has to be his target.

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  7. I know Rafa wants a new midfielder and I know Hayden wants away, but I’ve seen Longstaff a few times now and he didn’t look out of place against forest, but he consistently looks the best player by far in the U23 games. I know the PL is a far different standard, but I would love to see him starting to be introduced to the first team squad and start to get some game time.

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  8. Sharpy17:
    I know Rafa wants a new midfielder and I know Hayden wants away, but I’ve seen Longstaff a few times now and he didn’t look out of place against forest, but he consistently looks the best player by far in the U23 games.I know the PL is a far different standard, but I would love to see him starting to be introduced to the first team squad and start to get some game time.

    Agree with that Sharpie… would love to see a youngster promoted and make it into the first team. It’s been way too long.

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  9. Just seen the team news and it’s as I predicted with Hayden, Murphy and Joselu starting. That team will get nothing. Quite why he’s leaving Kenedy, Shelvey and Rondon on the bench is beyond me.

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  10. To say it’s disappointing is a huge understatement. Rafa is so weird sometimes. If those players are fit enough to be on the bench then start them. In the end he won’t be able to bring all three on.

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  11. georgio:
    Just seen the team news and it’s as I predicted with Hayden, Murphy and Joselu starting. That team will get nothing. Quite why he’s leaving Kenedy, Shelvey and Rondon on the bench is beyond me.

    Can only assume, Shelvey only just getting back from injury, Rondon has clocked up miles on int duty and Kenedy has been below par and may be better from off the bench. Pity cause I would of liked all 3 to start.

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  12. This is what I wanted to see from us!!. Still 0-0 at the mo but high press against this Arsenal side is a must – the keeper and defence can’t play the football Emery wants them to and are vulnerable.

    Murphy has started decent and good to have Ritchie back. I think it’s good for Kenedy to know he’s not guaranteed a place and will have to work for it.

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  13. Sharpy , my worry is that all these opportunities are getting missed or saved and they have the ability to get a goal from nowt with the talent they have, which would be just our luck.
    We just need to keep knocking at their door, hopefully one or two will go in.

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  14. Lee Ryder‏Verified account @lee_ryder · 3m3 minutes ago

     More

    Lascelles did have a long conversation with the physio after the warm-up so perhaps his injury worries haven’t cleared up. #nufc

    Clark replaces him

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  15. No sorry Kim I took the dog out for 30mins and come back to 0.2 🤬.

    Hit the nail on the head Kim – we had our chances first half, but there’s the difference of having quality in the final third isn’t it?!.

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  16. Really angry actually, that Arsenal side are pap at the back and for want of a more prolific forward we would probably been ahead first half.
    Ashley so concerned with the bad press he and his SD is getting he’s forgetting his other business is heading down the toilet.

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  17. Sharpy17:
    No sorry Kim I took the dog out for 30mins and come back to 0.2 .

    Hit the nail on the head Kim – we had our chances first half, but there’s the difference of having quality in the final third isn’t it?!.

    bet you wish you’d stayed out mate

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  18. Is it Stuart? This is the worst performance I can remember in a long long time. Hayden Murphy Joselu should never play for us again. The rest were dreadful too. Fernandez or Dubravka man of the match.

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  19. I’m getting frustrated with Kenedy, just came on and lost the ball coz he looked totally disinterested.

    Kim – I fear this could be the story of the season. It was last season and we got away with it – actually we worked miracles last season. This season is defo a case of is there 3 teams that pick up less points than us?

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  20. kimtoon:
    just me on here then.

    I’m watching Kim, wish I wasn’t though… same old Pap now. Kenedy crap again, Hayden non existent and should not have even started. 😡😡

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  21. georgio:
    Is it Stuart? This is the worst performance I can remember in a long long time. Hayden Murphy Joselu should never play for us again. The rest were dreadful too. Fernandez or Dubravka man of the match.

    Sarcasm doesn’t really come across well on a blog…

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  22. Rafa has to take some of the blame today. Hayden should not have been anywhere near the first team today. If Shelvey was fit for the bench, he was fit to start, and if Ripondon was fit for the bench he should’ve started and if tired he could come off later… Yedlin travelled just as much as Rondon… Kenedy should not have come on either. I’dve had Longstaff on the bench too and given him 15-20 mins. But what do I know…?

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  23. Sky News Breaking‏Verified account @SkyNewsBreak

    Follow Follow @SkyNewsBreak

     More

    Sky Sources say Sports Direct has been snubbed by most of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms as it seeks to appoint a new auditor

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  24. Talk about boring boring Arsenal. Perhaps the worst Arsenal side I’ve seen. Trouble was we were even worse. Had all the possession and corners in the first half but Cech didn’t have a save to make until the 88 th minute. When I saw Hayden’s name on the team sheet I feared the worst. Why we brought Kenedy on I don’t know. Couldn’t beat first man with two corners. At least Murphy has pace. Only bright spot for me, and I’m clutching at straws was Fernandez. Feeling bitter and disappointed.

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