Internationals make ‘Boro team easy to pick

Arsene Wenger might find International weeks irritating, but sometimes they solve his problems for him. In the week between the end of the transfer window and our game against Middlesbrough, he must have been pondering how best to accommodate his new players. Should Gallas play at left-back or centre-back? Will Baptista play, and if so should it be in midfield or upfront? Well, the past few days have in part answered those questions, and several more.

Jens Lehmann‘s clean sheet for Germany is slightly less impressive when you consider the opposition: San Marino. An incredible 13-0 win gave yet more ammunition to those who suggest a pre-qualifying tournament for these championships. However, he is certain to keep his place.

In defence, our options are compromised by the fact that Johan Djourou picked up an injury playing for the Swiss U-21s. This means that Justin Hoyte, who impressed for England in the same game, is likely to retain his place at left-back. Taking Djourou’s centre-back role will be William Gallas, who is set to make his Arsenal debut. Word is that Johan’s shoulder injury could be at least medium term, so it’s fantastic to have Gallas here whilst our two Swiss lads get over their respective shoulder problems.

In midfield, Gilberto‘s two displays for Brazil against Argentina and Wales were impressive enough to guarantee his place, whilst Cesc‘s delightful through ball for David Villa in Spain’s remarkable defeat to Northern Ireland showed his worth to any team. Therefore, I’d expect these two to remain our central partnership of choice.

On the flank’s, Tomas Rosicky will most likely be joined by Alex Hleb. Rosicky captained the Czech Republic to two wins in the past week, particularly impressing against Wales, whilst Wenger seems to favour Hleb’s trickery over another International skipper, Freddie Ljungberg.

Although Hleb did give Holland a bit of trouble, they ultimately won 3-0, and Robin van Persie was the star. It’s surely impossible to drop someone who has just scored two goals of this quality. Van Persie will almost certainly be joined up front by Thierry Henry, who also scored as France gained revenge on Italy.

This means that Julio Baptista is likely to start on the bench, where he may be joined by Theo Walcott, who scored his second England U-21 goal in two games.

This should leave us with a line-up looking something like the one on the left. When you consider that this doesn’t include players like Baptista, Ljungberg, Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor it’s clear our squad has more depth than it has had for some time.

Speaking of Adebayor, he was joined by Alex Song, Armand Traore, Mathieu Flamini and Manuel Almunia in an Arsenal friendly against Thai side BEC Tero Sasana. You know, just so they didn’t feel left out in International week.

I’ve been looking forward to Saturday ever since about 1.30am on Saturday morning, which is when the last of our transfer business was finally completed. What we have now is a squad full of players who are eager to succeed in the red-and-white of Arsenal.

It’s the first game I’ll have been to this season, and I’ve really missed the competetive edge of regular Premiership action. Last year this fixture was pretty kind to us, let’s hope it’s not too dissimiliar tomorrow.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.


  1. cxc   •  

    Nice article, keep it up! Very good analysis and links too. Well done!

  2. Anti   •  

    No place for Vieira?

  3. Lee Bailey   •  

    This certainly highlights the great problem Wenger now has in picking his starting 11.

    I agree that Gallas will get his first start with Toure Eboue & Flamini as opposed to Hoyte in defence.
    Our midfield I believe will see a slightly different shape with Baptista starting just behind Henry with Van Persie wide right, Rosicky wide left & Cesc & Gilberto in the middle.

    Adabayor Theo Hleb Almunia & Hoyte will be on the bench.

    I also believe that will see us scoring at least 5 past Boro on Saturday. Expect us then to go unbeaten the rest of the year!

  4. Norway Gooner   •  

    Love the links too!

    van Perie looks so class. He is going to have a excellent year for us.

    Henry looks to have gotten back some sharpness too…

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  6. Mokaya   •  

    I Like the analysis i wish this is the line-up which we could have started with in the opening match. The likes of Chelsk and Manu could be swetting. Gday guys keep in touch.

  7. lazola   •  

    hope we beat boro convincingly on sat to give alot of confidence goin into the manure game..boro are known to be giant killers(MANU&CHEL$EA)..remember the game 2 sesons ago(5-3) to arsenal of coz…COME ON ARSENAL…

  8. Steve   •  

    But we will only have one day to prepare for the match. We are not at our best coming off international games-Wenger likes a minimum of four days to prepare the team. So dont be surprised if we are rusty and some moves break down on the edge of the box. We still havent had a prolonged spell where all the players could train and play togerther with internationals being played. However, I still expect us to win, and for the first time, I think we have genuine strength on the bench-Baptista, Adebayor, Walcott, Flamini and others to come back, like Lauren, Diaby, Senderos, Djouroru, Clichy, while our loansters are performing really well- I think Bendtner can come back in January and contribute to the team.

  9. ruralgoon   •  

    really really hope that flamini is persuaded to play LB again. afraid hoyte’s confidence has been knocked by playing in such a shite sunderland team last year. he seems to see conceding goals as inevitable rather than something he can prevent!

  10. Little Dutch   •  

    I agree with Steve, expect a slow start, but I still fully expect to win. RVP’s goals were top, top class.

  11. gunner8   •  

    Great blog today, although I have to agree with Steve… …I pray Flimflamini will join Eboue, Toure and Gallas in defense. I also hope that RvP will play on the right of midfield, even though for the Dutch he is on the right of a forward 3, he has proved consistantly to be a MAJOR threat coming in from the right hand side. Both of those goals (thanks Tom), were hit with his Venomous Left Foot or VLF, coming in from the right!
    Please, please, please mr.W don’t play Hleb until he learns how to give that final ball… …he will learn, but for the meantime play the Viper on the right.
    I agree Fab4 and Gilberto will be in the middle and Rosicky on the left.

    Up front, (if RvP is on the right, I think Adebayor will get the nod ahead of Baptista… …purely because he has not had a midweek game of significance and he knows the team… …with the Beast making a second half apearance. Oh and TH 14 up front

  12. mark   •  

    van persie is fantastic..he has such a venom in his shot… maybe in arsenal he feel more shy to take shots. i hope wenger encourage his players to shoot more rather be generous to pass around.. anyway arsenal team look pretty strong in terms of internationalr.. look at our player, they are all leading players in their international outfit. i expect arsenal to finally start their season this sat

  13. Andrew Dear   •  

    I think we should start with Freddie on the right, he is far better than Hleb if we are honest and makes better decisions when he is in the danger zone. I would also play on the euphoria around the club at the moment and start with Baptista upfront with Henry, RVP played 90 during both internatinals and he and Walcott can play the last 20 in case things aren’t going according to plan

  14. James Marsh   •  

    Can anybody tell me why Flamini hasn’t been playing at Left Back so far this year? I know it’s not his preferred position but he did a great job there last year, it’s nice to see Hoyte given a bit of a run in the team I guess but it seems odd when we seem to have a better option on the bench.

  15. gunner8   •  

    James… …can not explain it Flimflam is way better than Hoyte!

    Andrew:: RobinviperPersie played 180mins but so did TH14, Hleb, Gallas etc.

    Fredie should be a SUPERSUB this year with Walcott (although if he sets up a goal every time he is on he might have to start).

  16. Little Dutch   •  

    I think Flamini made noises in the summer that he didn’t want to be considered a left back. I also think that le boss is trying to give Hoyte a fair crack of the whip. Personally, I don’t think he looks good enough, I hope in time I can be proved wrong. I would start Hleb, I think Freddie has an awful lot to prove at the moment, he hasn’t had a good season for a while, and his effort in some games last year was poor at best. Hopefully, the emergence of Walcott and Rosicky will inspire him.

  17. Gelbs   •  

    I would drop Pleb and play Walcott. What has Hleb got that Walcott hasn’t?! Maybe experience but that’s about it. Hleb is supposed to be a really good dribbler. Funny. I never see him go past players. All I see him do is lose it and pass to the oppostion.
    Anyway, anyone think Baptista will be made at times, to play on the right midfield/wing like Parlour did, strength and toughness?

  18. Wright 88   •  

    Can`t wait for our next game,the new signing have lifted us up……….Chelsea cunts want Bendtner

  19. gunner8   •  

    Little D, you are right about flimflam, but who gives a rat’s arse what he wants… …he will not get into the midfield anymore, so he should take what he gets! Hoyte simply is not good enough, Kerry Gilbert is a better player (unfortunately on loan), hell Traore is even better.

    Ljungberg has lost it a bit, perhaps a sub cameo would provide the 15 mins he can give? He did look very good in the villa game (he was injured) although some cnut in the mirror gave him a low mark… …do they even watch the game???

    Gelbs, I agree with you… …I thought Hleb would be better and maybe he will, but as for Theo he is not ready… …30 mins here and there will be better for him.

  20. Gelbs   •  

    Or how about Van Persie on left wing, Rosicky on right and Baptista as the second striker?

  21. DeiseGooner   •  

    Eboue Toure Gallasl Hoyte
    Baptista Gilberto Cesc
    VanP/Ade Henry


  22. Gelbs   •  

    Eboue Toure Gallas Hoyte
    Rosicky Fabregas Gilberto V Persie
    Baptista Henry

  23. DeiseGooner   •  

    Maybe swap VanP and Rosicky. VanP looks dangerous cutting in from the right to shoot with his left. Same could be said for Rosicky. But then again with The Beast in the box we would be more dangerous with balls crossed in from wide.

  24. Gelbs   •  

    What I was thinking. Either wing will do. Cutting in can be deadly. Particularly with Percy’s shot. Want the Beast playing though. Or save him for United next week!!

  25. gunner8   •  

    Gelbs I agree with Deise, his shot is too good w/left foot to put him on the right.

    I would love to see us play a 4-3-3, which could revert to 4-4-2 Diamond or 4-5-1 with ease… …in fact Dutch style, we are suposed to be a TOTAL FOOTBALL team, so let’s play like the Dutch


    Sorry Hoyte can’t play, (although he probably will against boro)
    Silva sits in front of back four, while Csesc and Tomas move freely from the side to the center as play dictates, Baptista can move up from a midfield role if RvP or Thierry get the ball. vP and TH can play wide and come in, (which they love), while for once someone will be in the box

  26. DeiseGooner   •  

    Its a fair statement about a player like Baptista (strong, direct & versatile) that 1 player can add so much variation to the team. Lets hope he will be a hit and the team benefits from it. Same can be said for Gallas too, i suppose :o)

  27. Gelbs   •  

    So the diamond wouldn’t really be playing with wingers as such. Rosicky and Fabregas being more central and the two full backs pushing on as wingers at times? Looks good. Can’t have the two central midfielders playing out wide as such because too bigger gaps be left in the middle.

  28. DeiseGooner   •  

    Yeah Cesc and Rosicky are far more dangerour centrally. And we have attacking fullbacks to peovide width and overlaps. VanP and Henry regularly move out to the wings to pick up the ball. And with Bappy providing the power from Wenger “hanging midfield” thats a potent attack.

  29. Gelbs   •  

    Bet he’s hung like a beast as well!

  30. gunner8   •  

    it was not supposed to be that static, but more how we play anyway with Eboue and LB running up and Down and RvP attacking from the byline, much in the same way he did last night switching with the overlapping fullback

    rosicky anf fabregas would be more central to create with Baptista linking with them (why he is in a diamond ish) and when the ball is played out wide being that man in the box

    I think that would be our strongest team on the pitch though

  31. gunner8   •  

    interesting Gelbs

  32. DeiseGooner   •  

    Ill leave you to mull over that one Gelbs, just take a step back from the pc whrn you cream yourself !

  33. gunner8   •  

    and yeah Deise more or less

  34. gunner8   •  

    for both comments lmfao

  35. Gelbs   •  

    lol. I actually had that formation as Arsenal on FM and was the bollocks. Hopefully Arsenal can win stuff in reallife as well !

  36. gunner8   •  



  37. DeiseGooner   •  

    Yeah thats how Jose Mourinho got into football management too Gelbs. Football Manager 2000. And just look at him now. :o)

  38. Gelbs   •  

    It was Championship Manager back in 2000 :p

  39. DeiseGooner   •  

    If you say so schoolboy

  40. Gelbs   •  


  41. ruralgoon   •  

    gelbs, frankly i’m finding you more disturbing than collinas stare!! you need to get out more… some good points though

  42. jamesj89   •  

    Van Persie certainly looks the part and Henry hopefully seems to be regaining full fitness.. Appartantly Theo got quite a nice goal any chance for a link for that???

  43. Ani   •  

    It amazies me how RVP only scores these magic gols for the Dutch and not for Arsenal…My team would be
    Eboueue Gallas Toure Flamini(no Hoyte plzzzz)

    Gilberto Cesc

    Ljunberg Rosicky

    Henry Van Persie

    The left wing can be filled by the wing backs/Henry/RVP…..Rosicky is best just playin in the hole…

  44. Ani   •  

    Team formation would be like : 4-3-1-2

    Eboueue—- Gallas—- Toure—- Flamini(no Hoyte plzzzz)
    —————Gilberto— Cesc————————–
    Ljunberg———– Rosicky—————————-

  45. g00ner bh0y   •  

    nice analysis – ta much for the links

  46. James Marsh   •  

    I think that RVP would score goals like the ones he got for Holland if he were given a decent run in the team. Much as I’d like to see Baptista in the side I hope we don’t put RVP on the bench to make it happen, as he’s too good for that. I’d like to see Baptiste in centre mid, even though that would mean dropping Cesc or Gilbs. I wouldn’t want us to play the five in midfield in the Prem (effective as it was in Europe), as given how much teams in the league sit deep against us we might struggle to break them down.

  47. Gun Man   •  

    I hopefully this time we can see some goal going on. I been joke by my frens saying that nowdays your gunner simply got a gun that doesn’t ‘bang’. =(

    So, hopefully they don juz pass n pass n forget to shot. Henry always pass back to others to shot as his surrounded by dozen of opposite players near the box.

    The others juz too depent on him to shot by keep on passing back to him. I think he must be frust by that.

    Come on gunners, the history tell that we can score from either side (defender, midfielder, striker) n maybe goalie. =)

  48. gunner8   •  

    Ani, Rosicky is better in the hole as is Ljungberg… …but AW seems to like to play his number 10’s on the wings (Pires was also better there)

    he realized way before Mourinho that it is better to play a complete footballer on the wide positions, than by using 1 dimensional whingers

    oh jose you are not so smart, special one my arse

  49. Gareth   •  

    Great blog, but one slight complaint/suggestion. The links to the videos on YouTube are great – if they weren’t at full screen – which makes them very blurred etc. Can you please link to youtube videos at normal size?

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  50. enki   •  

    isn’t refreshing when gelbs is positive. thogh i disagree that hleb cannot get past player i am pleasently surprise by your suniness

  51. ruralgoon   •  

    am slightly worried that hoyte may well be turning into our very own djimi traore replica. Never saw the resident lierpool fan quite as happy as he was when that mug dowie paid £2mill for him!

  52. Amos   •  

    James Marsh is right on the money. RvP is way too good to make way for almost anyone we have even a partly fit TH14!

    He needs a run in the side. If he does and develops as he should you are looking at a potential World Footballer of the Year in 2 or 3 years time!

  53. bombay arsenal connection   •  

    cant wait for tomorrow. for me this is the season openenr. the team is settled so has the dust over the controversial transfers. i think arsene will play a 4 4 2 formation. i dont thin arsenal particularly favour the diamond formation. vp will play on the right rosicky on the left and cesc and gilberto in the middly. henry and ade will start up front. the beast will be a sub and alongwith with walcott will get about 25 mins in the second half. flamini will start at lb, with eboue kolo and gallas making up the back four. we will win 3-0.

  54. GunnerNews   •  

    I like that formation but not sure Fab is comfortable on the wing, Hleb deserves a place in the team so maybe ‘The Beast’ should come off the bench, RVP should definitely start.

    Rosicky needs a nickname: how about ‘Rocky 7’?

  55. mexican gunner BIG FAN   •  

    DONT trusta anythinga can happenEVEN WITH BORO imagine it or not.

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