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Arsenal v Standard Liège: the team and the defensive decisions

by Bulldog Drummond

Standard Liège are on a run: five straight wins as we can see below, although perhaps that has been a little helped by having played the last four games at home.    Indeed their last defeat was on 1 September with a 1-0 away loss to Anderlecht.  Here are the games…

Date Comp Home team Score Away team
14 Sep 2019 League KV Oostende 1 – 4 Standard Liège
19 Sep 2019 Europa Standard Liège 2 – 0 Vitoria Guimaraes
22 Sep 2019 League Standard Liège 3 – 0 AS Eupen
26 Sep 2019 Cup Standard Liège 2 – 1 Lommel
29 Sep 2019 League Standard Liège 1 – 1 Sporting Charleroi

Here is the Belgian table thus far, and as we can see although recent run looks impressive they have lost twice in a league that is not always the most challenging competition to play in.

# Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Club Bruges 8 6 2 0 21 3 18 20
2 Standard Liege 9 6 1 2 21 7 14 19
3 Gent 8 5 2 1 20 8 12 17
4 Antwerp 8 5 1 2 17 9 8 16
5 Royal Excel Mouscron 9 4 4 1 13 10 3 16

On the injury front we remain with just Smith Rowe and Lacazette as the two players out.

Since our defeat to Liverpool we’ve gone on an unbeaten run (excluding the under 21 games, along with the under 23 PL2 league games)…

Date Game Res
Score Competition
01 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 2-2 Premier League
15 Sep 2019 Watford v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
19 Sep 2019 Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal W 0-3 Europa League
22 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Aston Villa W 3-2 Premier League
24 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Nottingham Forest W 5-0 League Cup
30 Sep 2019 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League

It is of course hardly a run to make a big song and dance about, but given the negative publicity and the abject refusal of the Guardian to recognise we are currently the top performing team in London, it is still worth noting.  For if we don’t, not too many others will!

We have played Standard Liège four times over the years… and not only won all four, but the games also saw one of our great nights in Europe – and seven goal victory in the CWC in 1993.

20 Oct 1993 Arsenal v Standard Liège W 3-0 Cup Winners Cup
03 Nov 1993 Standard Liège v Arsenal W 0-7 Cup Winners Cup
16 Sep 2009 Standard Liège v Arsenal W 2-3 Champions League
24 Nov 2009 Arsenal v Standard Liège W 2-0 Champions League

Our starting line up for that 0-7 victory was

Seaman

Dixon Adams Keown Winterburn

Merson Davis Jenson Selley

Campbell Smith

The goals were shared around rather evenly with Adams, Kevin Campbell (2) Merson, Selley, Smith and sub McGoldrick getting them.

SportsMole give us a possible lineup of

Martinez;

Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney;

Torreira, Ceballos;

Nelson, Willock, Ozil;

Martinelli

Indeed there is a general feeling that Bellerin and Tierney will be in the team, although slightly less accord over who plays in the two middle of defence positions.

But that line up leaves us without Bukayo Saka who was involved in the three goals against Eintracht Frankfurt which would seem a little harsh.

Squaka come up with

Martinez;

Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mustafi, Kolasinac;

Torreira, Willock, Nelson, Saka, Pepe;

Aubameyang.

The only question I would raise about bringing in Bellerin and Tierney now is that we have a league game on Sunday of course.  That is against Bournemouth and although that would not necessarily be a cause for concern, Bournemouth are in the upper reaches of the league at the moment.

1 Liverpool™ 7 7 0 0 18 5 13 21
2 Manchester City 7 5 1 1 27 7 20 16
3 Leicester City 7 4 2 1 13 5 8 14
4 Arsenal 7 3 3 1 12 11 1 12
5 West Ham United 7 3 3 1 10 9 1 12
6 Tottenham Hotspur 7 3 2 2 14 9 5 11
7 Chelsea 7 3 2 2 14 13 1 11
8 AFC Bournemouth 7 3 2 2 13 12 1 11

So should we hold our favoured back line of Bellerin Sokratis Holding Tierney over until the Bournemouth game, or should we run that line up out for this game?   Or think about playing it in both games.  Quite a decision to make.

The key point about this Europa League group is that Arsenal and Standard Liège won their first games and are the two favourites to go through, so a win for Arsenal tonight would after just two games give a clear indication who is likely to win the group – for which Arsenal are of course favourites.

And although that will mean smaller crowds for the remaining two home games after today for Arsenal in the League section of the competiton, it can mean that we can be ever more experimental in using the up and coming young stars and not overplaying our senior squad.

We shall get a clue tonight.

Original article: https://untold-arsenal.com/archives/77426

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