GW3 Lineup Lessons (Part One)

Our weekly focus on the starting line-ups for the biggest teams in the league features Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man United.

Arsenal (1-1 vs Leicester)

4-1-4-1: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny (26’ Chambers), Mertesacker, Monreal, Flamini, Sanchez, Cazorla (77’ Chamberlain), Ramsey,  Ozil, Sanogo (77’ Podolski)

Wegner’s team is still 4 players away from where he’ll want them to be by the end of September. The French boss is hopeful on the return of Gibbs and Arteta after the break who will displace Monreal and Flamini. Theo Walcott is expected back in full training over the international break too and would presumably replace Cazorla in the first team, shifting Ozil back centrally, or replace Sanogo allowing Sanchez to be the focal point. Of course, there is a lot of speculation of a new striker arriving at Arsenal today. Chambers got another break (and picked up a clean sheet points) here coming on for Koscielny  althought the latter's head injury is not thought to be serious.

Chelsea (6-3 vs Everton)

4-2-3-1: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Ramieres, Matic, Hazard (83’ Luis), Fabregas (89’ Drogba), Willian (75’ Mikel), Costa

Diego Costa’s reported “six week injury” looks to be something of a Mourinho rouse or mediatrash as the Spaniard plays the full 90 minutes and looked very lively with his two goals. Oscar didn’t make the squad due to a minor ankle injury although last season Mourinho’s regularly opted to leave the Brazilian out anyway for the more combative Ramires. 

With Ramires and Matic in the double pivot Fabregas was allowed to a bit more license to go forward but as the average position map from ESPN’s Gamecast below shows was still quite deep compared to Eden Hazard. Ivanovic’s goal threat looks genuine with the big defender regularly getting into the box and even looking like supplementary striker at times. We’ll be taking a closer look at Ivanovic’s start to the season on the blog over the international break.

Liverpool (3-0 vs Tottenham)

4-3-1-2: Mignolet, Manquillo, Moreno, Lovren, Sakho, Allen (61’ Can), Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling (86’ Enrique), , Balotelli (61’ Markovic) Sturridge

Balotelli gets a start as Coutinho drops out and Liverpool go 2 up top with a midfield diamond tipped by Sterling. The average position map, again snipped from ESPN’s awesome Gamecast shows how Sturridge led the line with Balotelli a tad behind and Sterling and Allen coming from the left. Allen’s average position has to be tempered by having 0 shots or key passes (KP) compared to Sterling’s 3 shots and 3 KP. Balotelli and Sturridge looked equally involved with 5 shots and 1 KP a piece.

Manchester United (0-0 vs Burnley)

3-4-1-2: De Gea, Evans, Jones, Blackett, Young, Di Maria (70’ Anderson), Fletcher, Valenica, Mata (87’ Januzaj), Van Persie (73’ Welbeck), Rooney 

Another debut here as Di Maria makes his Premier League bow although it made little difference to United’s performance as the Red Devils muster just 2 shots on target. Rojo is expected to resolve his visa issues for GW4 versus QPR, and him plus the return of Herrera after a knock should shift Blackett and Young from the first team with Di Maria moved out left and Herrera into midfield. Herrera’s long term partner in midfield is unclear though and you’d expect Daley Blind is being lined up to be the dedicated defensive midfielder.

UPDATE:  Falcao signs on loan for United  who can guess who United wll lineup now?

Manchester City (0-1 vs Stoke)

4-4-1-1: Hart, Kolarov, Demichellis, Kompany, Sagna, Fernando (38’ Fernandinho), YYT, Nasri (63’ Navas), Silva, Jovetic (63’ Dzeko), Aguero

The big talk before the game was whether Aguero would start and how many minutes he’d get. He started and get the full 90 minutes. Gael Clichy was also left out as City continues to perma-rotate their fullbacks. Fullbacks these days do more running than any other position which is perhaps why City choose to limit the gametime of their options here. 

Fernando’s early withdrawal to injury does not look to be serious and he will be expected back in GW$. Mangela will probably be match-ready for GW4 too but it may be too soon to bring him in away at Arsenal.  Stevan Jovetic, after his highs of last week, was brought down to earth as City struggled against Stoke and was brought of early for Dzeko. There’s no one clear winner on who will partner Aguero at the moment between Dzeko and Jovetic.

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