Arsenal need to pick a team with character for a cold night in Portsmouth

Arsenal should go Strong against Portsmouth by Dan Smith

The FA Cup was already a high priority for Arteta regardless of what happened in the Europa League, but before Thursday he may have pencilled in a line up for tomorrow which he may now be rethinking.

The plan might have been to give game time to Nketiah, Willock, Reiss, etc, but with what’s at stake, the youngsters might need help to get over the line.

The draws been kind, in terms of we are beating a League One side away from a quarter final, but this is still a tough tie.

We know from when they were in the Premiership, Fratton Park can be one of the great atmospheres in this country.

Portsmouth have nothing to lose, all the pressure is on us, and remember there are no replays to act as an insurance policy.

A lower League side, evening kick off, flood lights on, against top level opposition who are not mentally the strongest. This could be a perfect banana skin for TV companies – and that’s before we lost 2-1 to Olympiakos.

All the progress our new manager has made, midweek was like landing on a huge snake and having to start again with every individual’s confidence, it could be that serious.

Arteta will earn his money over the weekend deciding who needs to play straight away to get that loss out of their system or who’s confidence and character can’t handle the pressure of Pompey away.

Auba for example might have been rested but might not want to spend a week thinking about his miss.

On the other hand, if fear of failure meant Leno couldn’t deal with a back pass in one knockout competition may be this isn’t for him?

I would start Laca as fans are turning on him and I don’t want that to become a saga.

You like to think we have enough characters where players are insisting they play, but I’m not so sure. This is about picking those with the right personalities. A Torreira, Guendouzi, Sokratis, etc, will roll their sleeves up, while it’s not a game for an Ozil or Ceballos.

Is anyone else worried this is going to be like Bradford a few years ago?

Anyway, here’s my team ….

Martinez – started last two rounds so probably been promised to be FA cup keeper. Leno needs to clear his head.

Sokratis – RB- We still seem to be protecting Bellerin’s fitness and Arteta trusts the Greek defender at right back. I think Niles has talked himself out of the position. Papa’s got the right personality for this type of cup tie. He won’t be intimidated and if he needs to fight will roll up his sleeves. If anything, he fights too much!

Luiz – Has the personality where I can imagine him wanting to play. One of the few leaders we have off the pitch if not always noticeable on it. He has enough experience though where he knows what to expect.

Holding – I’m assuming Mustafi hasn’t recovered from his knock. I don’t think this is an ideal game to throw in a new signing. Going from the Brazilian League to Fratton Park might be a culture shock. This could be a huge game for Holding who hasn’t looked great since returning from his long term injury.

Maitland-Niles Lb – For the first time on Thursday I saw the pressure was getting to Saka. No criticism, lad is only 18 and the hype been over the top, so it’s natural he would have a dip in form. Just for this game I’m going to ask Niles to play out of position so Saka can have a rest .

Xhaka – Some blamed him for our latest defeat. I think he was as guilty as anyone for not moving the ball quick enough but in general was accurate with his passing. Overall he been good recently.

Torreira – This game was made for him. He wears his heart on his sleeve, offers a good work rate and won’t be bullied. If anything needs to watch his discipline.

Willock – He offers a different type of option in the number 10 role. Yes, we should have lots of possession but the likes of Ozil and Ceballos can be bullied. Willock won’t, and while he might not be clinical in the final third he will drive with the ball.

Auba – We might not have started him if we won on Thursday. I just think the beauty of football is the next game is so quick. I don’t want him thinking about that miss for 9 days. Also, mentally it will lift others to see him in the line up.

Martinelli – Pepe’s touch was off in midweek and maybe he took too many, yet at least he was one of the few to try and do something different. I just think with his confidence up and down this is an away game where he might get targeted. Martinelli is more of a fighter and more direct.

Lacazette- Some gooners continue to turn on him yet you can never question his work rate which is what will be required in the FA Cup. I also think the quicker he lifts his confidence the better.

Who do you think has the right personality for a cold Monday night on the South Coast?

Be kind in comments…

Dan Smith


  1. Sue says:

    I’m going with Martinez, AMN, Mari, Holding, Saka (or Mustafi!), Guendouzi, Torreira, Willock, Martinelli, Nketiah, Auba.

    I agree about Saka needing a rest.

    1. Igot350K4scoring1goalandu? says:

      Sue, Ozil’s not on your team sheet?Has he made it to the bench?Kind of nervous seeing your selection.Would prefer Cabellos over Willock, rest your team seems good for a victory.

      1. Sue says:

        Haha no, saving him for Saturday 😉

  2. Abi says:

    Saka definitely needs a rest

  3. Shakir says:

    I think if martinelli and auba is to play together then one of should play as CF and the other on LW.Both of them are ineffective in the RW.
    Saka should start,i know he deserves a rest but he is the only reliable option at LB.His crossing was quite poor thursday and this can be a game to regain his confidence.

    Xhaka had one bad game under MA and some of our fans are like he shpuld be no where near the team.He is a vital member of the team and he has been doing very well recently apart from the thursday game.

    And if we dont start pepe or ozil,then ceballos should start because we need some creativity.

    Mari should start because defensively luiz is terrible and i think if mari plays then we can give xhaka a rest because mari is a left footed player so he can play the diagonal that xhaka does and cover for saka well.

  4. Th14 says:

    It’s time we give Mari a chance,

    1. Atid says:

      I’m going 343

      Holding Sokratis Mari
      AMN Torreira Willock Xhaka
      Nelson Nketiah Martinelli

      Leno Bellerin, Luiz, Guendozi, saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang

  5. gunnerforlife says:

    Mari should play and so should Martinelli. We have to win at any cost.

  6. Diogenes says:

    I think your starting 11 would have trouble scoring.

    Because with Sokratis and AMN as our fullbacks, and Xhaka, Torreira, and Willock as our midfielders where is the service to our attackers coming from?

  7. S.J says:


    Martinelli, Willock, Nelson..

    Guendouzi, Torreira..

    A.M-N, Holding, Sokratis, Bellerin..


  8. JustJoy says:

    MA just give us a winning team but i want Martinelli. Mari and Martinez(3Ms) in he line up.

    Pompey 0:3 Arsenal

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