Mustafi out of Cup Final! What are Arsenal’s options now?

There is a saying that when it rains at Arsenal, it pours, and that is exactly the club’s defensive situation ahead of the FA Cup final against the Premier League champions Chelsea. After Laurent Koscielny got himself suspended for a ludicrous challenge on Enner Valencia in the game against Everton and Gabriel got stretchered off later in the same game, the Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has now stated that he does not expect Shkodran Mustafi to start the all-important Cup final either.

Speaking in his press conference, the Frenchman said: “Mustafi, we still have some worries about. He is still sick at the moment, and has not trained yet. I do not think [Mustafi will play]. I have to listen to the medical people.”

Considering that the German international has not even started training yet, you’d have to say that it would take a minor miracle for him to be fit enough to start the Cup final, which leaves young Rob Holding and the Gunners’ forgotten captain Per Mertesacker as the only two recognised central defenders, with Nacho Monreal being an alternative option. Even if Mustafi wanted to play and Wenger is willing to risk it, there are strict FA guidelines that will not let it happen. So how would Arsenal line up at the back?

For me, there are two options. If Arsenal have to stick to the current three-at-the-back system, Mertesacker has to start alongside Holding and Monreal. Considering that the Spaniard is not a natural centre-half, the inexperience of Holding and the fact that Mertesacker has not started a game in more than a year, sticking with the system against a free-flowing Chelsea side may be a recipe for disaster.

The alternative would be to revert to a back-four, with Monreal and Holding at the heart of the defence. While this formation does not scream defensive stability either, I would go with it ahead of having to play Mertesacker. The big German is clearly past it and surely cannot be trusted to marshall the defence in a game as big as the FA Cup final.



  1. Quantic Dream says:

    Mertesacker is on a monstrous 90k-per week.. and now you are telling me he can’t be trusted to start ONE game?

    1. JasonP says:

      But, but, but… He is great off the field, a real role model for the players to learn from worth every penny of the 90,000 a week he receives.

      But in all seriousness get rid of him and give it all straight to Alexis. Even if he leaves he’s given all the fans some joy to watch, we will never get a player of his quality again if he does leave we’ll have to settle for Barkley etc lol

  2. Janssen says:

    Who cares?

    1. JembutArsene says:

      Arsene cares, we’re all true fans care.

      Guess we might sell lot you at backyard sale of useless fans.

      1. Janssen says:

        Ah! There is the gatekeeper Jembut, who decides who is a good Arsenal fan and who is not.

        Guess because I don’t expect us to win the FA cup or Mustafi to win it for us, that makes me a bad Arsenal fan in your book. It makes me a realistic Arsenal fan in my book.

        The formation is not going to win it for us today. We need things to go our way to win it and IMO that has little to do with Mustafa. We actually need a small miracle to win today IMO and that goes for whoever plays for us or whatever formation we use. We need luck.

        I honestly don’t care if we use three at the back or four. Would be different for me if we had a fully healthy squad in which case I would have preferred 3 at the back. Given all the injuries you can make an equally compelling case for 4 at the back.

        1. Lexynal says:

          @ Janssen: We don’t need fan (i doubt though) like you at Arsenal. You may pls go support Spuds… will be more than welcome at a club that hasnt played a final of any major competition – talkless of winning a trophy.

  3. neil says:

    holding and monreal either side of mertesacker..
    or for something a little more adventurous how about bellerin and monreal either side of holding with the ox and gibbs as wing backs! very attacking and can you imagine ox and belleri down thst right side together !!

    1. khangunners says:

      Hehe i like your risk it all attitude but bellerin and ox will be a liability there. Coz the three ddefenders dont go out on attack and everytime am sure bellerin and ox will be wanting to attack. Add that to defensively frailty from both so it will be a very risky maneuver.

  4. Jaydawg says:

    What will be will be just support your team enough with the negativity. It’s an FA cup final! Enjoy it, Liverpool, spurs and city don’t have an opportunity to win anything ARSENAL ARSENAL ARSENAL

    1. Lexynal says:

      I wish we had more fans still as passionate and OBJECTIVE as @Jaydawg”. For goodness sake, we have had a poor season, BUT ARSENAL is playing FA Cup final in that same season. Common guys… YOUR team!

  5. bran99 says:

    I think 4 at the back will be more ideal, can’t trust leaving Mert alone in the middle, one on one with Hazard and we’ll see a comedy clip that will last a lifetime

  6. John Ibrahim says:

    Pray hard that we dont get slaughter by Chelsea

    1. SynthiagoCazorla_Hvman_Machine says:

      So they said about City.. before Arsenal beat them in the semis to progress to this final.
      Guys, Arsenal’s cup form has been red hot all this while. Now recent back to back wins in the league improved the confidence level also.

      1. Vanpayslip is the truest/name a troll I ain't influenced says:

        Ok, Arsene

      2. khangunners says:

        I think city and us are or hve same problems. There squad is not that superior to us. But chelsea are superior to us all over the pitch but as they say it’s a one off game and anything can happen so lets go gunners?

      3. RSH says:

        But Chelsea can defend, and we beat them once every 5 years. Our record against City overall is not really that bad.

  7. ThirdManJW says:

    We have to stick to three at the back because of the simple reason, it’s working! Everyone, and their dog knows how to set up against Wenger’s usual formation, with Chelsea comfortably brushing us aside recently. Conte hasn’t come against Wenger’s new formation yet, so I say stick with it.

    1. Troopz says:

      Three at the back works if the squad is fit and healthy i.e. all your first choice CBs are available for selection.

      Three at the back with unfit/inexperienced CBs is a recipe for disaster. Mark my words.

      Winning the FA Cup is not going to gloss over the atrocities committed by Wenger and the board, you understand?

  8. Atid says:

    Gibbs hasn’t trained all week either. Debuchy and Jenkinson are both in the squad along with Sheaf and Bramall.
    25 man squad
    Gk – Cech, ospina, martinez
    Defence – chamberlain, bellerin, jenkinson, Debuchy, sheaf, holding, mustafi (doubt) Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs (doubt) Bramall
    Holding Midfield – xhaka, ramsey, coquelin, elneny
    Attacking midfield – ozil, alexis, iwobi, walcott
    Strikers – welbeck, giroud, perez

  9. Goonerboy says:

    The thing is, even with Koscielny we are not guaranteed a win against a team like chelsea
    now that there is no kos, its gonna be even more nervous for me and i dont want this season to go just like that for us, dunno know how i would cope…

    Since the last day of the season, i have been so devastated that i lost all desire for football seeing as we wont be in UCL and ManU won the EL which gives them a slot in the CL
    I just dont wanna imagine how i would feel if we lost to Chelsea, it would make this season a huge failure…if we win, we can at least count ourselves among clubs with silverware(ManU, Chelsea,and other leagues) ManU even have 3 titles…

    So i dont even wanna know who plays in defence i just a win…coyg!!!

    1. khangunners says:

      Hehe true. It was always gonna be a tough game with or without koss. Lets not forget that a squad has more than 11 players and they to should step up to cover for the first 11 player. Lets see how they perform if given a chance. This is like winning a lottery to them playing at a final and all season you were just a bench warmer. Am nervous though hehe

  10. Peter Kenny says:

    It is simple, Lets play Monreal, Per & Holding as back three. Then instruct the defensive midlfieders help pack the bus to frustrate chelsea attacks – otherwise we are headed for 6-0 humiliation or even worse. The strategy therefore should be to avoid heavy defeat because we really have a very small chance of success under the injury & suspension circumstances !!

    1. RSH says:

      It’s not simple when Wenger is in charge. You already know the instructions. Attack, attack, attack, leave CB’s exposed and pray on counters.

  11. SoOpa AeoN . STANDS . FOR . THE . TRUTH says:

    1st pLace – UCL
    2nd pLace- UCL
    3rd pLace- UCL
    4th pLace- UCL
    5th place- EUROPA
    6th pLace- UCL

    Guess Life really isn’t fair with anything Arsenal!

  12. Troopz says:

    If getting humiliated at a Wembley final is the last straw required to get Wenger to leave the football club, I’m all for it.

    1. RSH says:

      Completely agree. If a lost meant Arsenal could become competitive again, I have no problem skipping out on a trophy people barley remember the winners of.

  13. Gonner SA says:

    Switch to 4-4-1-1

    Bellerin, Holding, Monreal, Gibbs
    Ox, Ramsey, Xhaka, Sanchez

  14. MATTHEW says:


  15. Fatboy Gooney, Too Fat to track back. says:

    Oh well, Lamppost at the Front & Back formation it is then. ??

  16. mark says:

    Have to say it’s not looking good.

    But football is a funny old game.

    Anything is possible.

  17. fritzy81 says:

    bell…..holding….. mert…….mon….gibbs…

  18. Simon says:

    I’ve complained about Mertesacker for a few seasons-

    But I have to give him credit where it’s due- he’s a natural captain, and leader on the pitch.

    I’m staying optimistic, and hoping that he’s leadership will be more of a plus in the team than he’s lack of pace-

    And with 3 at back formation, think he’s lack of speed is less critical – so it could work


  19. Sammy says:

    Why not a formation of
    Bellerin…Xhaka. ..Ramsey….Of
    Ozil. … Sanchez

  20. Sammy says:

    I mean the OX

  21. RSH says:

    Why do we have both Mertesacker and Gabriel? One of them need to go this summer.

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