No Rambo. Wilshere or Giroud in my starting 11 as this is the year of Theo!

No Jack, Rambo or Giroud? My ideal starting 11 for 2015/16

A strong bench? Possible?

A strong bench? Possible?

Think I can speak for the general population of Arsenal fans that I am genuinely optimistic about the team going in to the 2015/16 season. The squad is the finest it’s arguably been in my lifetime – not even the Invincible’s had the quality of squad depth we have at the moment.

Nevertheless with impressive squad depth comes a new dilemma, just who is in my best starting line up? Optimists might say this scenario is a luxury, pessimists will tell you that it is a burden but it is a conundrum which Arsene Wenger is going to have to try and figure out. It does seem strange that some fans are crying out for new signings all the time, surely the squad has enough variation and depth as it is – let’s enjoy that fact!

The boss man has probably got a lot on his mind as he rallies his troops to finally fight for the coveted Premier League title once again, so I’m going to provide my view on who I think is our strongest starting eleven, just to help him out. Some slightly controversial choices but what is football without opinion eh?

Goalkeeper – Petr Cech

Easiest Decision

Perhaps the easiest decision on the team sheet these days. Still cannot believe that he is ours, a world class keeper, a true match winner, never thought I would say those words again about an Arsenal shot stopper. I feel a bit for Ospina but he was never really the long term answer and as for Scz, well I wouldn’t mind seeing him perhaps go out loan for a season to help re-build his confidence and maybe help him kick that habit that Mr. Wilshere seems to enjoy too.

Right Back – Hector Bellerin

The boy who can do anything

The rise of Bellerin last season was nothing short of miraculous. How a young Spanish teenager plying his trade in England can go from looking so far out of his depth against Dortmund it was criminal to being one of the division’s finest full backs is beyond me. His meteoric rise was helped by the injury-prone Debuchy but the defensive discipline Bellerin was displaying towards the end of the campaign was simply outstanding and pace wise there are very few better. Oh and he also chipped in with a few goals – including the opener against Liverpool at the Emirates – a true talent if ever I’ve seen one.

Centre Back – Laurent Koscielny


The aptly named ‘Bosscielny’ is possibly Arsenal’s finest defender for many years. His pace, tenacity and leadership qualities have been instrumental to the club and he seems to keep on improving. As long as he is fit I doubt Arsene will ever leave him out of the line-up but the real question I think now is who should partner him, a controversial debate.

Centre Back – Gabriel

Time to step up

In a previous post I gave my thoughts on who I think should partner Koscielny. I chose Gabriel simply because I believe the time has come for Mertesacker not to be considered an automatic starter. Gabriel for me is the ideal modern defender and his style of play I feel is something which suits Arsenal perfectly. His ball recovery statistics were hugely impressive in La Liga and if he can implement these in the Premier League I think Arsenal would benefit hugely – food for thought.

Left Back – Nacho Monreal

First choice over Gibbs

Never did I think I would see the day that Nacho was the undisputed choice at left-back. After an Arsenal career which started with heavy doses of criticism he has improved immeasurably to become Mr. Dependable. He may not be the most spectacular full back in the world but his discipline and positional awareness have proven vital for Arsenal allowing the players in front of him, mainly Sanchez to flourish – kudos Nacho.

Central Midfield – Francis Coquelin

Renaissance Man

Ah the Renaissance man, who’d have thought ‘Le Coq’ would have become irreplaceable in our team? Not me. His sudden emergence after being recalled from a loan at Charlton was arguably the main catalyst for Arsenal’s impressive unbeaten run which pretty much secured Champions League football for us. A true winner, a man who loves to do the dirty work and someone who has become truly priceless, finally we have a proper DM – an issue well and truly solved.

Central Midfield – Santi Cazorla (Captain)

Simply the fulcrum of the team

This may cause some debate but I believe that the duo of Coquelin and Cazorla is one that will only further improve Arsenal. Coquelin requires a distributor next to him as he is not the most capable passer ever and in Cazorla he has one of the best in the business. Wilshere and Rambo for me do not possess the discipline or passing abilities to perform this role as well as Santi does and that is why I think his position in the team should never come under question. Oh yeah and being possibly the most ambidextrous player in Europe helps his cause too, oh and so does 11 league assists.

Right Midfield – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

On his day unplayable and gives the team balance

Ah we’ve arrived at the point in the article which I am certain will cause the most debate. I am full of praise for Ramsey’s adaptability last season when he was asked to play on the right and did perform to a high standard. But in my humble opinion is there anything more exciting than seeing the Ox running towards defenders? A truly fearless talent who perhaps isn’t the finished article but unquestionably has the potential to reach the very top. Pace and power have never been truer descriptions of a player – on his day he is unplayable – just ask Manchester United in the quarter final of the FA Cup. Let’s just hope that injuries do not continue to plague our Ox and we might just see the start of something special, someone who will terrorise full backs across Europe.

Centre Attacking Midfield – Mesut Ozil

The ‘artist in the shadows’

Erm yeah if anyone disagrees with this option then do the club a favour and stop supporting them. What we have in our Arsenal ranks is possibly the world’s finest playmaker, the man who makes everything easy and adds a touch of class every time the ball arrives at his mesmeric feet. I once described him as the ‘artist in the shadows’, feel free to use that one if you must. The joy I have that he is now no longer operating in the dreaded ‘LW’ position is enough for me to feel optimistic that we can achieve great things. We never needed Cesc back at the Emirates and if he had the chance Mourinho would take Ozil in a heartbeat, then again most sane managers would do the same.

Left Midfield – Alexis Sanchez

Has there been a better first season?

Has there ever been a better debut season in Premier League history? I’ll make this easy for you, no there hasn’t. Our Chilean superstar is one of the best in the business and at times dragged Arsenal through what was an inconsistent season. Spectacular goals and unbelievable work ethic are just some of the characteristics which have arguably already made him an Arsenal legend. I feel myself running out of superlatives to describe Alexis, let’s just say that he would probably make it into most teams in Europe, therefore his inclusion here was merely a formality.

Striker – Theo Walcott

2015/15 – The Year of Theo

Yes I love Giroud and yes I know Theo’s successful games as a striker can be counted on one hand with ease so far, but I feel his impact as a striker could help the team thrive. His finishing ability even during his days on the wing was always impressive in my eyes but what I like most is how fluid and flexible our attack becomes with Walcott as the focal point. The passing and movement in the FA Cup final was the best I have seen from an Arsenal side in years and I believe now is the time for Theo to reach the levels his potential always pointed towards. He looks sharp, determined and above all dangerous, all the signs say to me that 2015/16 could have Theo Walcott written all over it but I have been wrong before.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to the debate!

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15 Responses to No Rambo. Wilshere or Giroud in my starting 11 as this is the year of Theo!

  1. james omuse July 21, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    i love this side of view, it coincidentally my point of view should wenger want to win the leage
    from Kenya

  2. TC July 21, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    Agree with this line up as my favorite as well BUT football is a squad game these days and realistically the ‘best’ team will rarely have the opportunity to play together – injuries, form, suspensions, rotation and team being played all come into play. Of those reasons – rotation – has unfortunately been an achilles heel for Wenger who tends to flog certain players then complains. But nevertheless I agree this is my current Arsenal dream team with the existing squad.

  3. Robert Makuta July 21, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    Two changes to your high rated side. I would like to see Wilshere partners Le Coq, then Santi Cazorla replace Ozil. None in Europe could stop that Arsenal. I like Ozil and I appreciate his technical skills, but his is to slow, of course Wilshere is a bit slow, but he is combative and some how incisive, Jack Wil is a special kid to kill the game!

    • Danny Ryan July 21, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

      Sorry but I think ozil is simply too good to be left out, irreplaceable in my eyes. Santi in the deeper role has the discipline and distribution which Jack sometimes lacks and even if ozil is slow TW, AS and AOC should provide enough speed in my eyes!

  4. Robert Makuta July 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Two changes to your high rated side. I would like to see Wilshere partners Le Coq, then Santi Cazorla replace Ozil. None in Europe could stop that Arsenal. I like Ozil and I appreciate his technical skills, but his is to slow, of course Wilshere is a bit slow, but he is combative and some how incisive, Jack Wil is a special kid to kill the game!

    With this kind of squad, Arsenal could make more than 100 goals and more than 90 point.
    Even Rambo could do the business if partnering Le Coq, in that position Rambo is fantastic, I hope Wenger will never again play him as a winger!

    Kigali, Rwanda

  5. Bildad Mbagara July 21, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    I have to agree with your line up. The defence is solid, the midfield has a tantalizing mixture of creativity and stability while the attack has got pace. This lineup can dominate possession while at the same time would not blunt our attack. From a Kenyan fan.

  6. Rich July 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    While I get the argument that the only way to look at it is to pick your best starting eleven (not players, but the eleven which work best as a team) every time, and let the rest take care of itself…I think we’ve a situation which tests that idea to the limit, and ultimately breaks it.

    What you’ve selected is a very fine side and, in the choice of the Ox over Ramsay, you’ve picked arguably the best player in that particular position…but then you have to ask, can Ramsay really be left out of the side?

    If you still say ‘yes’, you then have to ask can you contemplate Ramsay leaving.

    That’s surely the reality Wenger faces. Ironically, and unpleasantly, it’s something we may well be facing before too long if Ramsay does play all the time. I think we’re pretty safe, in those circumstances, from him moving to another Premier League club (though we should all know those things can’t be definitively ruled out by now), but what about Real or Barca? A full season like the half season he had two years ago and their interest seems highly likely to me.

    Injury free, I believe he has that season this year. In fact, I think he’s a better player now than he was then.

    But anyway, that’s what happens if he is playing all the time.

    If he isn’t a main man, virtually nailed on to start, then it seems a guarantee he will almost instantly be one unhappy player, with a pack of clubs vying for him and trying to entice him with offers of wages 50 grand or more than he can earn with us.

    He has to play for me simply because of his immense quality as a player and, because of his character and his circumstances at this stage, leaving him out of that first eleven means inviting instant unrest.

    So, Wenger does indeed have a tricky job on his hands keeping everyone happy enough. I think the big clue was probably this weekend just gone. A clue of how we’ll play and an indication of why we haven’t signed that 2nd dm- we’re probably going to start a lot of matches without any true dm!

    If Ozil’s virtually nailed on every game, it leaves two central spots, and the pairings will likely be either Cazorla and Ramsay or Cazorla and Coquelin. The right meanwhile will be mostly the Ox’s, with Ramsay playing there quite often when It’s Coq/Caz in the middle, and perhaps Wilshere spending some time there too. There’ll need to be a fair bit of juggling and flexibility to stand any chance of keeping everyone happy.

    Ah, Wilshere. Likely to have a little bit more patience than Ramsay, but not all that much.

    It’s gonna be fascinating to stay the least. Worth noting too that players are a little more tolerant of a bit of bench time or not-favourite-position time when the team are enjoying great success

    • Danny Ryan July 21, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      I agree with you about Ramsey as he is a fantastic player and Wenger has a huge issue to solve regarding his play time. For me AOC would provide more of a threat on the wing and get give us general width.

      As for centrally Caz, Ozil and Coq are all currently irreplaceable in my eyes so I struggle to see where Rambo fits in.

      Jack is the same and while they are both hugely talented players I just feel that the side may opearte better without them – however I could be wrong.

      The upside of it all is that my word do we have some impressive squad depth, now wenger’s task is to keep them all happy – not gonna be easy.

  7. Soulmate July 21, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    I agree wit ur selection.but wen it coms to d back line which arsenal shd b more concern about.despite d slogishness of permesacker,d experience is dere which d new guy lack but wit more game time,i bliv he ll adapt n we had a gud game wen permesacker play along side wit kochiely.jack wilshel shdnt b excluded frm d team.dat guy is smthn else dat if he is injure free.i tink d idea of his selection isnt bad just dat a few changes needs to b done

  8. Timothy Hargreaves July 21, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    Hi Danny.

    Nice article.

    I can’t see Le Boss picking Bellerin ahead of Debuchy much if Debuchy is fit. Debuchy isn’t “injury-prone” as you put it – he got a freak injury (Giroud got one of those this past season too) and the other was from typical Stoke thuggery from Arnautovic. Debuchy is also key for Bellerin’s development – while Bellerin is a great talent, he needs to work on his defensive nous, which will likely come from Debuchy mentoring him.

    I can’t see Gabriel getting ahead of BFG yet in AW’s thinking – I don’t think that Gabriel has the command of English that he needs to communicate with his team-mates yet. BFG recovered a lot of his form when Coquelin started playing DM for us.

    Ozil should be rotated out against the smaller clubs (e.g. Bournemouth, Norwich, early rounds of League Cup) to prevent fatigue – I can see Wilshere or Ramsey playing that role in those matches.

    • Danny Ryan July 21, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

      The injury prone comment was slightly silly of me I agree! However I think Bellerin is one of the finest young full backs in Europe and I don’t think Wenger expected it so maybe Debuchy will struggle to get in the team.

      I don’t think Debuchy was signed as a long term option by Wenger in my opinion.

      Ozil should be perhaps looked after better and rotated I agree, too many times has he suffered from fatigue related injuries.

  9. Trevor Mullen July 21, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    I like your line up but I can’t see Ramsey left out as he is probably our best goal scoring option along with Sanchez from the midfield, most games its Ramsey who’s breaking from the mid to support our strikers.The only other thing is that our team at the minute while full of flair and pace is still lacking physically and will still struggle against the Chelsea’s and stokes more physical play.

  10. Twivil July 22, 2015 at 1:14 am #

    I like the comment about Caz being the fulcrum of our team. Especially as a fulcrum doesn’t move much- only tackles by mistake- doesn’t close down or score many goals. I marvelled at how he fooled the Everton winger into racing past him as if Caz was a child in the playground- knowing, as any genius would, that the wiinger wouldn’t score in this instance! Imagine the result though if that had been Chelsea or United!

    We will not beat the top teams away- playing Caz anywhere in our team. Against average sides the others can do his work but not against the top teams in the Prem and Europe. We are playing them with 10 men and stroller. In attack and defence- it does not work. We lost the Prem last year because of it- play him against fast physical teams and we will miss out again.

    • Dave Seager July 22, 2015 at 7:18 am #

      I assume you missed our performance at Man City when he dominated the game and we won 2 Nil.

      • Danny ryan July 22, 2015 at 9:42 am #

        And the game at anfield where santi was the only one to show up

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