Which players deserves big-game start for Arsenal v Man City?

As you will be well aware, we have a highly anticipated clash with Manchester City at the Etihad tomorrow, but which players deserve their Arsenal place?

There are a number of selections which pick themselves but there are also a number of question marks having over certain roles, so we thought we’d take a closer look.

Shkodran Mustafi’s loss to injury has left a hole in our defence, and Gabriel and Rob Holding will have to have been staking their claim for a spot alongside our stand-in captain Laurent Koscielny.

The argument for the Brazilian is that he has already had recent first-team action after being utilised at right-back in the absences of Hector Bellerin and Mathieu Debuchy, proving he is match-fit, and he also has the obvious age and experience boxes ticked. Holding in my opinion is the better central defender from what I have seen, and when paired alongside Kosc previously, has shown experience beyond his years. I don’t think he will get the nod, but I would be happy if he did.

Cazorla missing in midfield also leaves a spot open also, with Francis Coquelin more than likely to hold onto his spot due to his defensive strength. Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka are the main options, and the Swiss signing has been winning this battle most recently, but I would not be surprised to see Elneny get the nod tomorrow.

We also have three spots which need settling also, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi, Lucas Perez and Olivier Giroud hoping to make up the placings alongside Ozil and Sanchez.

The Chilean is very likely to stay in his favoured centre-forward role having excelled there this term, which would see Olivier stuck on the bench. Lucas Perez joined as a striker, but having operate wide in our side this term, I see him as more of a wide player as far as our team is concerned. The Ox has been enjoying a run in the first-team of late, but I have a feeling we could see the Spaniard playing down the left tomorrow, with Theo Walcott keeping his place down the right.

How do you see our team lining up tomorrow? Am I mad to expect Wenger to change some players around for the big game?

Pat J

Tags Arsenal Gabriel Holding Lucas Perez Xhaka


  1. I think, actually, you are right on on fronts – just about. Yes, Holding is a better CD than Gabriel, yes Perez should play wide rather than the Ox (who could substitute Iwobi late on), and Elneny possibly rather than Xhaka. And yes, you are mad to think that Wenger will do any of these changes; he doesn’t have such imagination. This is a must win game seeing Chelsea is already running away with it. The team has shown lack of imagination and firepower and lack of defensive aptitude; most of all though firepower. Whatever you think, Alexis is not (on his own) sufficiently does not have the physicality required as a CF. Oh what would one give for Costa (I don’t mean his character).

    1. The bottom line is the strength & resolve with which a championship winning team defends on a bad day should agree with the intensity with which the team attacks on their best day.

  2. Cech,
    Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs
    Coquelin, Xhaka
    Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez

    For this game, Gibbs and and Gabriel are important options. With Aguero out, Man City’s three main scoring threats will be Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne, and Nolito or Leroy Sane. Pace on the wing kills Monreal and both De Bruyne and Sane will fly past Monreal. Gabriel is also a faster defender than Holding.

    In the middle of the park, Xhaka and Coquelin to marshal Toure who is a potential match winner. Guardiola does not like him, but he’ll play against Arsenal and his physical presence will need matching. Xhaka is the right player to do it.

    Up front, Arsenal need their best attackers on the field and Walcott, Giroud, and Sanchez are the most potent scoring threats the team has. Ozil pulling the strings is a given, but bringing in Giroud and leaving Perez, Iwobi, and Chamberlain as bench options makes more sense than starting them. The match up of Giroud against the shaky Stones anf the rash Otamendi is one to exploit.

    A lot depnds on how Arsenal elect to defend. If they press City, as teams have done with some success, they’ll have to go with Iwobi, Perez, or Chamberlain on the left and Sanchez in the middle; Giroud is too slow to press the keeper and the center back. If, however, they do not plan to press, Giroud’s extra firepower is too valuable to leave sitting.

  3. Perez is maybe too one footed to play down the left, he’s as one footed as Giroud. I thought Holding was going to come in when Mustafi went off that day, but Arsene brought on Bellerin moving Gab centre. It worked well at the time but I still regret not seeing Holding come on. This match tomorrow, I worry with Gabriel playing, his positioning at times can let us down. Some look back and think well he didn’t do anything wrong, but not sensing the danger or reading their intentions is doing wrong.

  4. City play free flowing football, no need of OG, he can come from bench, Gabriel, shaka moreal starts plus our normal winning team. D only area I am not sure is BTW iwobi n ox, two of dem r diff in style, n dey r both important, I prefer iwobi though, d guy has good pass .

  5. I respect Keown’s opinions about our defending. He said he didn’t think Gabriel set a foot wrong against Everton, if anything, he said Kos should have dealt better with the crosses.

    So I would be happy for Gabriel to get another game for his confidence and rythm.

    I would stick with Theo on the right and put Perez on the left with Coq and Xhaka behind them.

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