Changes needed – Arsenal need to have a brave, experienced Starting XI at the Etihad

Bring in experience on Wednesday? by Dan Smith

There’s a certain irony that Gary Neville has got a lot of grief regarding his opinion on the title race. Because he’s the type of character we are desperate to have in our dressing room on Wednesday.

The pundit said Sir Alex would often ask his squad if they had one game to win the championship, no matter how hard the task, would they take that scenario?

He feels Arsenal should be excited about the challenge at the Etihad and motivated about what they are on the brink of achieving.

That instead of focusing on their poor record at the stadium, they should treat the occasion as their World Cup Final, the game of their lives. If they do that, form possibly goes out of the window?

Not just do Man City have a group who can handle ‘squeaky bum time’, they are doing it with a smile on their faces.

The question is how many Gunners truly believe they can get a result in Manchester?

I have long said, talent in sport gets you so far. What separates the good from the great is your mentality.

Ramsdale, Gabriel and Partey have been good all season. It’s zero coincidence that they are making mistakes in April.

This is where Arteta earns his money in the next few days. He sees these players almost daily so will know who is handling the pressure.

If Friday was a dress rehearsal for midweek so many individuals failed. Individually and collectively, there was evidence across the pitch that players are crippled by the fear of failure. Just like the majority were last campaign in the race for 4th.

I believe we are not guaranteed to be in this position for a long time. We need to grasp the opportunity and be brave. It’s pointless our manager picking people he knows don’t have the stomach for the occasion.

It would be neglect on the Spaniard’s part if we wake up on Thursday morning saying certain names choked when we already knew that was the case going into the fixture.

For example, Partey should be dropped for his recent performances. There’s no point noticing that when it’s too late.

I personally would flood the team with as much experience as possible.

Tierney, Jorginho, Zinchenko and Jesus all know how to win high stakes games.

Against Southampton at 2-1 after 20 minutes, we acted like there was only seconds of the whole match left, way too stretched, rushing to win back the ball and lacking composure.

If that was our level of mind set at home to the side bottom of the table, why would it be any different away at the Champions?

It would be incompetence if the same tactics were administrated that haven’t worked in our last three matches.

You know Pep Guardiola will have something specific up his sleeve to counter out strengths.

In February that would deploy Silva as a makeshift left back, with his constantly tweaking his system from the touchline.

Whether it’s bringing Tierney into a back three, putting Zinchenko into midfield or bringing in Jorginho in to keep possession, we can’t simply change nothing when we know it’s not working.

It’s worth considering our last two wins over City when we shocked them in FA Cup Semi Finals, came when Arteta and before him Mr Wenger switched to a back 5.

Saka White Gabriel Tierney Zinchenko
Xhaka Jorginho
Jesus Martinelli

That is my idea of an experienced team that could win at the Etihad. What is yours?

Dan Smith

Tags starting XI


  1. Xhaka is injured so might not play, And Arsenal cannot afford to bench Thomas Partey in such a game.

  2. Dan. I like your formation, but it’s still not definite that Xhaka will be fit enough to start, and I’d like to see Partey still in there. A couple of poor(er) games and you leave him out!? I don’t know how things are going in training, but I’m sure they’re getting him pumped up for this one. If Granit’s not fit I would expect him to play anyway.

    1. The main problem of the last game came as a result of playing viera instead of Nelson or any other capable player

      U saw what happened when Nelson was introduced
      The manager needs to play a good team to beat city
      Geogihno and party at midfield

  3. Joker! Party out cos of one or two games?? You r panicking and employing knee jack reaction…period!

  4. I wonder why fans prefer to look at only the negative sides of games instead of matching the positives against the negatives.

    Against Southampton, the team were a goal down due to individual error which can happen to anyone. Same keeper made two quick saves in the same first half. The second goal came as result of the urgency to cancel the first goal. It takes mental strength to draw after 1-3 down. If not because of hard luck (Trossard’s shot), we would have won the match. These boys have shown strengths to overcome difficult games severally this season. Lets Give them the benefit of doubt.

    Partey isn’t as bad as some of us are saying about him. He’s a player who thrive from central to the right hand side of the midfield. He was constantly playing towards the left as a result of gaps in that area. He deserves credits for the periods he was constantly surrounded by four Southampton players and he maintained possession.

    City won’t find the game easy. I am sure Pep knows this.

  5. This is not a game to experiment with new formations and all that. All we need is for the players to go out there, give their very best, cut out the mistakes, and enjoy the game.
    If they give the best they can, we could come out with a result that will shock the world, even if it’s my head that is saying so!

  6. We have come much, much further this season than anyone expected.
    The author himself predicted, we wouldn’t make top 4.
    And now, we should try a new formation and a new starting 11, based on a very doubtful claim, it was lack of mental strength, that made us miss top 4 last season.
    Maybe that is in fact a weak mentality to try a panic solution?
    I am no managaer, but I would let as many of our primary 11 start, as are available. Let this young team have our confidence, that they will do their very best.
    City are of course favourites, but we have a young team, which, win or lose, will learn from this season, and which is built on a sound plan, that has gvien us a title chance much earlier than expected.

    1. @ DK
      That’s close to my team.
      Why can’t OZ and KT play together and compliment each other and rotate positions within the game.
      Only thing is MA picks the team. I would not be surprised if he puts OZ instead of KT. GX if half fit in the middle next to TP and MO instead of LT.

      We can only hope for at least a draw as we traditionally have a relatively bad month (Apr in this case) so that the title race goes to the wire and if we have a good May who knows we may be champions.

  7. This game will be decided by our mental strength, whatever state our minds are in tomorrow will decide the outcome.

    No formation will beat the Citizens at the Etihad just now,

    One thing for sure you can rely on Pep Guardiola to over think his game plan for this one, but if we are up for it we could actually make a good account of ourselves by halftime.

    My problem is the gaffer must be prepared to mix things up a bit if Pep Guardiola realizes the game is about to slip away and throw the kitchen sink at us.
    We are just too slow to react, that’s my huge concern

  8. This match will be all about attitude and mental strength
    A number of the team fielded against Southampton failed to show either
    I would go with a back three leavy Holding on the bench
    Use Saka and Zinchenko as attacking wing backs
    Bring in the experience of Jorginho for Thomas and play Xhaka alongside him as the holding midfield and have the front three of Jesus. Odergaard and Martinelli up top
    Changing a system is always a risk but after the last three matches the current system hasnt worked well and maybe reassess the amount of times you play out from the back

  9. Zinchenko should move to midfield. Most goals scored come through the left wing because he plyas inverted style and he’s not a good defender.
    Smithrowe is far better than Vieira. He has proven it before.

    If Xaka is npot fit, move Zinchenko to midfield instead of Vieira. Vieira was just the worst player against Southampton. In fact, he should go on loan next campaign to France.

  10. You think we have a better player than Partey for that position? Don’t tickle yourself and laugh.
    We won’t come home alive with Thomas out!

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs