Willian to wander in Grealish role as Arsenal take on Fulham in season opener? (+ Predicted/Preferred Lineups)


Willian as Grealish

I don’t think that the first line up of the season is too tricky to guess.

It looks like Leno will start after the Martinez move.

It’s unlikely that Saliba AND Gabriel start, so with many CB’s out injured/just returning/about to be sold, its highly likely we go with Tierney.

The 3-4-3 has been the most successful formation recently and we are yet to sign the players or have them adapt yet to possibly be bolder. I would be bolder but I’m just an armchair coach.

So, if Tierney has to play at CB then Saliba is more likely to start as Tierney plays LCB like Gabriel. With Luiz out, Holding plays between them. Quite possibly why Holding hasn’t moved yet, also.

With Tierney at LCB, then AMN will likely play LWB. If that has to happen then I’d imagine that Bellerin (unless he’s got one foot out of the door), starts at RWB over Cedric.

I think this is logical so far. Hope so!

The midfield two would surely be Xhaka and Ceballos as ElNeny, as well as he played two weeks ago, is unlikely to break up a good partnership.

So we’ve got the first three layers without much fuss.

The forward line isn’t so easy to predict.

Willian was brought in to unlock weaker teams. How will Fulham play? If they had a very excited promoted crowd, I’m sure they’d pour forward, as first game home energy is huge. They won’t have this advantage though.

Will they park the bus?

If they do then Willian is needed.

We’ve realistically got 3 from 6.

Willian, Aubameyang, Lacazette , Nketiah, Saka and Pepe

If Lacazette has one eye on Southern Europe then Nketiah would start. It’s very possible that Nketiah starts anyway based on Arteta’s previous teams. Pepe and Aubameyang are the most likely to start due to form.

Here’s what I think may well happen.


Villa’s wandering playmaker

Willian will officially play left wing but have freedom to wander. The exact way Jack Grealish does at Villa. Helping out in midfield when three are needed. Roaming between the lines to connect, allowing AMN to go outside of him.

Staying wide to allow AMN to underlap. 

This would of course see Aubameyang central. We haven’t seen this yet under Arteta but maybe we do.

I like Aubameyang out wide as he is highly productive going forward and very efficient and committed defensively, but how do you fit our ‘creator’ into what I think is the short term formation unless Aubameyang is at CF? It could all be simpler than this with Willian on the right where he normally plays with Aubameyang on the left but…..

I just keep talking to myself. Telling myself that perhaps problem number 1 at Arsenal is not having a true creator in games we should win.

We sign one. We play a weaker team, so surely he starts.

This is my hunch for tomorrow.



This is what I’d do though ⬇️


This is a version of a 4-2-3-1.

Martinez may have been sold by the time you read this but for a club who are needing to sell, I don’t understand selling the goalkeeper who is at least equal quality, for £30M less than what you could get for the other.  So, I’m being stubborn and hoping (pretending) the story vanishes.

Pepe playing inside right, like Salah. Closer to goal. Allowing AMN the overlap. Saka’s crossing ability wider left and Willian creating slot balls for Auba running behind.

After seeing the clip of Aubameyang’s rasper in the secret Villa game and seeing Pepe, Lacazette and Willian in the picture when he scored, do we see this bolder 4-2-3-1?

Either way, I’m just a little excited.


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3 Responses to Willian to wander in Grealish role as Arsenal take on Fulham in season opener? (+ Predicted/Preferred Lineups)

  1. Flyingwhales September 11, 2020 at 8:04 am #

    Likely that Arteta will go for 4231, since Luiz is not playing, 3 at the back is not likely. We will likely see Arteta’s early formation which involves xhaka covering for Tierney and MLN coming to midfield when cebalos and xhaka advanced. We will have lots of twisting from Arsenal First Team Manager.

  2. Flyingwhales September 11, 2020 at 8:08 am #

    Nketiah, Aubameyang, Pepe, Williams, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney, Holding, Salliba, Bellerin, Leno.

  3. Victor Thompson September 12, 2020 at 8:27 pm #

    A very astute effort Mike and largely correct. Willian is determined to make a permanent ficture of either the 8 or 10 role and after this match, he has not only displaced one of the present mid-fielders but also Lacazette from taking static shots on goal. When Xhaka went of Dani Caballero filled his boots with instant effect. We were much quicker and versatile than we were without him. I have previously said that signing Willian was a good move and Caballero will provide subtlety while Willian will make his workrate upset opposing teams. When all or players are fit, we shall have alternative combinations at our disposal and with Arteta`s genuis I see us as top 4 material. By the way Gabriel made a superb initiation and deserved the “Man of the match” .

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