GUEST ARTICLE: Theo and Eboue Must Start

By on March 31, 2010

Guest contributor, Greg Schwartz, proposes a radical lineup change as a way to help stop the explosiveness of the Barcelona attack. Whether you agree or disagree, and I have a feeling many of you will disagree, it shows just how ridiculously these two matches are to Arsenal supporters.

So, I write this blog post knowing full well that many of you will disagree with me, and to be honest, I’m not sure I will even agree with myself by the end of it.   That said, here are my thoughts on the Barcelona match.  To win this game, Arsene Wenger must take a risk, and that risk is to start Theo and Eboue down the left side.  I have given this match a lot of thought, probably too much thought, as I have an Organic Chemistry exam directly after the match, but here is what I have come to:

Dani Alves is frightening coming forward.  He runs at defenders in a similar manner to Eboue, and provides a constant threat in the attacking positions with pace and great crossing ability from the right back slot.  That said, he often leaves himself, and the Barcelona backline, exposed with his rampant runs.  He either forgets, or ignores his responsibility to track back.  This leaves an exploitable space down the Arsenal left flank.  In addition to this, Alves provides the bulk of the supply to Messi, and provides him with overlapping runs in order to maintain possession.

In order to limit this attacking threat, my solution would be to start Walcott down the left.  While starting a player like Arshavin gives Arsenal skills and tremendous experience out wide, Walcott brings sheer pace.  He gives a different option and makes himself a relief valve against the pressure of a possession-based attack; which Barcelona seem intent to play against Arsenal.

Starting Walcott up against Alves limits the latter’s ability to go forward by constantly having the threat of Theo peeling away.  Even if Theo’s final ball lacks product, the option of handicapping Alves, makes the decision worth the cost.

Additionally, I was reading a piece in the Daily Mail today by Martin Keown, about what Arsenal can do to beat Barcelona.  In it, he suggests starting a right footed player against the naturally left-footed Messi.  He calls the plan, “sacrificing Clichy;” I see it more as enabling Eboue.  Eboue has played left back before, with moderate success, and I see him as capable of performing his duties intelligently and diligently.  His work rate and defensive prowess would provide more security for Walcott to play higher up the wing, further handicapping Alves.

Further, if Arsene were to start Diaby down the left as well, it creates an intriguing blend of pace, power, as well as the ability to cover the entire field quickly.  I see that as the most effective way to neutralize the threat of Messi and Alves.  Messi and Alves provide much of the attacking threat for Barcelona, with Messi banging in the goals, and Alves providing ten assists this season from the right back slot.

I admit my plan has drawbacks.  Theo is unproven at the top level, and could take away from the efficacy of the front line.  Also, Eboue has been an integral part of the Arsenal front line thus far, and moving him out of position risks minimizing what he offers best.  Continuing in that vein, Clichy’s form right now is remarkable and he deserves the chance to continue playing so well.  I worry with him though, that he will forget his defensive duties as he sometimes does.  In this game in particular, we cannot afford that.

All that said, I think whatever team Wenger goes with, this presents an opportunity for Arsenal to prove their credentials as a truly top team.  After all, Barcelona has shown chinks in their armor, which Arsenal are capable of exploiting.


  1. ben

    March 31, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Starting Theo Walcott and leaving Arshavin on the bench would be the equivilant of David Haye defending his WBO title this weekend with one hand tied behind his back! Your right I dont agree! E

  2. elz gooner

    March 31, 2010 at 9:13 am

    i personally wouldnt start walcott he is ineffective agasinst good and reasonably pacey full backs, however i do agree it could hold back alves

    • Greg Schwartz

      March 31, 2010 at 6:54 pm

      That would of been my main priority as I believe it was Alves who played through Ibrahimovic for the first goal. I also think Theo proved something with that goal. I maintain that he should start the away leg, though I’ll switch it up this time and say against Maxwell who simply can’t keep up with him.

  3. arsene wenger

    March 31, 2010 at 9:14 am

    walcott dont really bring sheer pace, he has amazing pace but has rarely brought it with him on a match day, you have to pick a team on who has done the business recently, and who has proved they can do the business over the last year or so, theo he is about as deadly to barcelona as a streaker with 34dd, they may be happy to see him on the pitch

  4. jgjg

    March 31, 2010 at 9:15 am

    theo walcott must start on the bench.. apart from pace he has absoloutely nothing, arshavin will start.. come on the gggggggggooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooners

  5. arsene wenger

    March 31, 2010 at 9:16 am

    he couldnt even hold back liam ridgewell for heavens sakes, alves isnt worried by reputation, like eboue he plays his own game, theo has not earned any respect in the game to turn a defenders head yet

  6. Tak

    March 31, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I agree with Eboue, but start him at RB, but Walcott should be made as an impact sub which is where he does best. AA can shift and if DA thinks he can come forward, Arshavin will be helping himself…

  7. jack

    March 31, 2010 at 9:18 am

    You call it radical – the rest of us call it ridiculous!
    Walcott? WHY? If Fabregas doesn’t play then the team that beat Porto – in our best performance of the season – will start.
    Walcott is at best an impact player from the bench. To start him when it is vital we keep possession, is the sort of internet-user-never-goes-to-games drivel we’ve come to expect from these blogs.

    Denilson, Walcott, Eduardo need to stay as far away from the pitch as possible! Their ball retention is abysmal.

  8. aqqe

    March 31, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I think I’d start with Eboue too, to be perfectly honest. But not Theo. Especially not on the left. I think the presence of Arshavin will be enough to make Alves think once or twice about the defending.

    Theo always has his best games at home in Europe though – remember Villarreal last year? – where he is afforded more time and less roughin up. He could well give Abidal or Maxwell the ride of their lives on the other flank. But, that being said, I think it’s too important not to waste possession – as he is prone to do – during this game because we will probably have less than 50% and we certainly need to make the most of it. I’d play a more techincal player instead with the option of bringing Theo on if necessary.

    With Cesc fit this is my starting 11.


    • Comrade23

      March 31, 2010 at 11:21 am

      Okay, let’s be clear about this: Regardless of the content of the article, if Arsene plays Eboue at left back, I’ll eat my hat. Clichy is starting, end of.

      • Greg Schwartz

        March 31, 2010 at 1:02 pm

        To be fair so will I, I don’t expect it to happen.

  9. Jazbo

    March 31, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Whilst I agree with the comments regarding Walcott, it sounds rather foolish to lump Eduardo and Denilson into the same hole.
    Eduardo needs games to get back to his best and denilson likewise.

  10. arsene wenger

    March 31, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Aqqe’s team looks like the one

  11. Daxxjoker

    March 31, 2010 at 9:37 am


    And you man,don’t write articles if you intend to write something like “I am not sure I will agree with myself”.

    Ofc Walcott won’t start on the left.He can barely use his right foot to put in an accurate cross.He would struggle on the left,especially knowing he can’t cut in the middle and shoot on goal cause he has ho power behind his right-foot shot.
    And the last time I checked – Arshavin wasn’t like Fernando Hierro.He’s got great pace,he can shoot and he can create for himself and other our players.
    Eboue will start,ofc.He has to.But he will play on the right,and Sagna will be benched.With Sesc declared fit to play,I expect this starting lineup :

    Butter fingers

    Eboue – Billy – Tommy – Clichy

    Alex – Fantastic 4 – Diaby

    Samir – That tall dude – Andrei

    • albaniangooner

      March 31, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      this is the best line up for this game. i like it. and i want to tell u, somehow i feel we are going to win 2-0.

      • Daxxjoker

        March 31, 2010 at 1:55 pm

        Thank you.This is our strongest lineup.Ofc – if RVP wasn’t injured,he would take his place.

  12. Comrade23

    March 31, 2010 at 9:53 am

    “Eboue has played left back before, with moderate success.” I think your definition of moderate success needs to be examined here. I can remember eboue playing left fullback twice last season. Once against Pompey at the end of the season with mostly Carling Kids starting, and the other against Wigan when he was so woeful that he was (shamefully, I might add) booed off by his own fans. Sorry, but playing Eboue out of position against arguably the best player in the world is suicidal, I don’t care if it was Keown who suggested it.

    I can see your reasoning about Theo, and he HAS had moderate success on the left (when healthy). But you write as though Arshavin were a sloth. The little Russian can run and seems to come up big in big matches. The stage will rarely be bigger. AA has to start.

    • Greg Schwartz

      March 31, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      I’m referring to a couple years ago, before the booing incident. In the Wigan game he played left midfield, coming in for Samir Nasri after he had been injured. As for Arshavin, I know he’s not a sloth, and in my lineup, he’d be starting out right. He brings pace in bursts though, and a player like Alves can catch him.

  13. goonerjon

    March 31, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Theo? He’s 21 years old for heaven’s sake and we still treat him like he’s a 16 year old waiting to develop…by the time Brady was 21 he was the envy of Europe…poor Theo’s not even the envy of Newbury….how odd that our brightest hope Jack Willshere is ‘learning his trade’ with Bolton….but just think how many of our players Pep would like…Cesc, Clichy, Arshavin, Song, Nasri and – as he likes tall strikers – what about Super Nick…it’ll be a great night,really…

  14. Si

    March 31, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Article does have apoint has a point! Not sure i agree with it entirely should definatly start arshavin and theo talk about ball retention why do we need them to do that when we have bendtner and song diaby and fab to do that!! Anyways boys stop the slating of Theo all you think he is poor in big games he been in two carling cup finals scored in both them against chelsea scored hat trick gainst croatia had an amazing role in the liverpool championsleague give him some slack i agree he could do so much better with the potential he has!!! But all remember u probli slated bendtner diaby and eboue now u love them off, bendtner for me is awful but i love THE ARSENAL so when he puts effort in for the cause even when he misses sitters at least he trying unlike crappy adebayor used to!! Theo trying his best maybe if stopped slating him on websites and go to the game and support your boys like i am 2night GUTTED if u aint hahaha Good article mate love bit of contreversy

    • Comrade23

      March 31, 2010 at 11:17 am

      Agree that we shouldn’t slag off our own players, but I doubt that people getting on Theo’s back in the blogosphere has any effect whatsoever on how he plays. He has great skills, but the fact is that his touch is poor and his decision making is still a bit erratic. I’d love to see what he can do if he sorts that out.

  15. TC

    March 31, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Walcott starting – you are having a laugh. 91st minute sub and that’s about all he’s worth.

  16. bob

    March 31, 2010 at 11:46 am

    ebue? maybe but not in place of clichy but sagna. Walcot is good but compared to Arshavin, he is nothing.

  17. Davi

    March 31, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Eboue should start, probably as a winger. Dont agree on walcott. Maybe we should bring him on later in the game, but he doesnt deserve to start based on recent performances

  18. Jack Tors

    March 31, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    You sure you all gooners or spurs fans?? Theo is still young, the difference in a player between 20 and 23 is staggering. Compare Cesc now to 2 years ago. Theo has been injured all season long and only just come back. He will be unplayable within 2 years or so. Get off the pundit bandwagon of knocking Theo and get behind him for once……

  19. BendyTheViking

    March 31, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    To me it doesn’t matter who the front ten are. I think we have enough talent and competence that our front ten could give any team a run. Fucking keeper though is trash. Almunia is literally more useless than a used tampon and it’s no like we have anyone else better to step in. We can debate theo and eboue and the rest all day but as long as almunia is number one none of that matters. We have no chance at winning this tie with Vanilla Ice in goal, whether the ineffective Walcott starts or not.

  20. albaniangooner

    March 31, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    the line-up tonight will be:

    this is the best 11 that we can put on the pitch against barcelona tonight.

  21. Marly

    March 31, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    All Theo haters must be loving him right now. Come on u gooners. We can do what is needed at their ground

  22. jonathan

    March 31, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Theo and Eboue did very well today! Without Walcott we would have lost today. Lets take the win away now!

  23. Si

    April 1, 2010 at 3:28 am


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