NLD – your best memories…

September 23, 2022

So here we are, 10 days away from the NLD…A must win game as always and even more so this year given that both teams are doing well and that the winner will no matter what be ahead of its opponent after the game.

So as we prep up for next week’s game, what is your best memories of a game where we hosted the Spuds at:

  • Highbury
  • Emirates

COYG! Let s get excited about the NLD!


Is ESR time at AFC up?

September 22, 2022

ESR had a breakthrough season least year, scoring goals and providing assists so much so that he deserverdly got an England call-up. When he is fit, he is very potent and can create chances and score chances. A good ball carrier, he is also a very good shooter but he is so injury prone still…and now it is clear that:

  • Odegaard is the starter as central attacking midfield
  • Martinelli is the starter at LFW
  • Fabio Vieira can be used very effectively in the hole as well

So the question is simple…once fit, ESR will need playing time, which Arteta will give him but does ESR have what it takes to sustain a high level of performance and reduce the number of nagging injuries he has been plagued with? If not, is his time up at AFC? We do have a few players like Azeez, Taylor-Hart, Patino, Lokonga and even Nwareni or we could also have Lokonga play in that central position…so…i am a bit worried for ESR. I d like him to succeed with us and be our KDB / DB but at the moment it is looking bleak


EPL – Episode 7: The sick Revenge :-) Arsenal wins at Brentford!

September 18, 2022
Partey, Vieira and Xhaka played a good game in midfield

Brentford 0 Arsenal 3

Ramsdale: not a lot to do but what he did, he did very well. 7

White: made his role look easy today which should not be underestimated. 7

Saliba: our French Colossus, wow what a player, was playing with authority before his goal but visibly improved after it. 8

Gabriel: another situation of making his role today look easy, many a team have come unstuck against Brentford’s attack but Big Gabbi held the line superbly. 7

Tierney: we got reminded just how much more defensive nous we get with Tierney than with Zinckenko and I am a massive fan of the Ukrainian. Easy with hindsight I know but the scot should have started against United. 7

Xhaka: Captain and rightly so; you were right Total, you were right. Granit aint going nowhere and neither should any Arsenal fan want him to do so. Superb performance today. 8

Partey: MOTM for me; controlled, not just the midfield, but orchestrated the whole game, everything went through him and had he been available I feel confident we would have won at Old Trafford. 9

Vieira: take a bow young man and can we have more goals like that please. I thought he was starting to fade towards the end of the first half but then popped up shortly after the break to give us a glimpse as to what he has in the locker, great goal and one that will last long in the memory. 8

Martinelli: he has set the bar so high if he doesn’t score it seems as though his standards have dropped. Played perfectly well for me. 7

Jesus: not been picked for the Brazil squad – GOOD, have a well-deserved rest Gabriel and come back and score more goals like that. 7

Saka: like Martinelli, has set the bar very high and without a goal he gets less song time from the away support, still exciting to watch. 7

Thanks LB!


EPL – Episode 6 – Return of the Gabys as AFC Travels to Old Trafford..

September 3, 2022

Sunday 430 at the Salford Public Conveniences.

This is a game we might lose. No Partey, Zinchenko or Elneny. Odegaard questionable (it wouldn’t be surprising if he has one of those small annoying fractures). Ramsdale not certain.

The No. 6 is easy: Sambi played really well against Vile, and will be better for minutes on the pitch. The No. 10 is harder should MO not be fit. Next in-line is ESR, but the natural like-for-like replacement is Fabio. But what a game to make your debut!

If MO and Ramsdale are fit, I predict a strong victory. If not, defeat would not be surprising, or dishonourable. But equally not certain. We will still have the dynamic front three plus Eddie when called upon. How so-called supporters are undervaluing Eddie, I cannot get my head round. He’s a genuine player, and he’s much stronger this season.

Our opponents are as they have been for a couple of years – a disparate assembly of expensively-acquired overpaid footballers. Watch out for MacTominay carrying on where McGinn left off, without censure from the referee Paul Tierney (from Greater Manchester) or VAR assistant Lee Mason (from Greater Manchester). How sensible of the PiGMOb to make economies on travel.

Unfortunately ten Hag has realised what a liability playing a refrigerator as your last line of defence is, and is going with the more balanced Varane and the dwarf Lisandro. Casemiro might well start (see MacTominay for critique), but will be slowed by all the banknotes bulging his pockets. I hope Anthony starts – he’ll be jigging about unsteadily under the weight of a preposterous transfer fee. Ten Hag knew him at Ajax, so obviously rates him; but KT will have his measure. And his goal contributions have always been negligible – a case of style over substance?

They have won three on the bounce, which is irritating, but they have all been by the odd goal, and reportedly unconvincing.

I expect us to go with:

Ramsdale
Tomi Saliba Gaby Tesco
Sambi X
ESR
Saka Gaby Gaby

A post by Maxwell the Magnificient

Few add-ons from RC:

  • I hope Ramsdale starts because I have not been impressed by Turner at all
  • Our back 4 is known – I don’t think Tomy will start and maybe it is good to have the more defensive KT rather than Zinchenko at LB…
  • I am quite sure we will see Sambi, Xhaka start as our double-pivot
  • As for Ode, better if he plays but if he does not, ESR will slot in and he is not too shabby of a player
  • Man Utd is finding a bit of consistency and the worry part for me is that Rashford and Sancho are finding their form…they will cause us trouble
  • I can see Casemiro and Anthony come in as substitutes
  • Ultimately, we need to target McTominay – Malacia, Lisandro, Varane, Dalot. Their back line especially Dalot and not fully settled Lisandro can be tested. McTominay is a dirty player, he works hard but also is not the greatest on the ball and can make mistakes under pressure. We need to control Malacia (he is good going forward), Fernandes and Sancho and that will not be easy but we can do it.
  • I think Martinelli can score again and I think that if we have Ramsdale and Ode, we will come back with 1 point at least but without, we may just register our first loss of the year…
  • COYG we can do it!

So is our squad adequately equipped to deal with this season’s challenges?

September 2, 2022

At last, the transfer period has ended and we now know our squad. It is important here to highlight 2 key points:

  • Although we did not make much money from our outgoing players, we did let a lot of players go and sometimes very elegantly like with Bellerin but some departures (AMN especially) might bight us back in the behind
  • We did recruit proven EPL players, which confirms Edu-Arteta’s wish to have players that are EPL ready from the on-set but we did not manage to get 2 players we needed to complete our squad: a DM/CM and a FW. Hopefully we will be ok…

Here is our squad:

  • RAMSDALE, Turner as our GK
  • TOMY, Cedric at RB
  • SALIBA, White, GABRIEL, Holding at CB
  • ZINCHENKO, Tierney at LB
  • PARTEY, El Neny, XHAKA, Sambi at DM/CM
  • ODE, Emile, Vieira at CAM
  • SAKA, Marquinhos, MARTINELLI, Reiss-Nelsson at FW
  • JESUS, Nketiah at CF

Apparently, we are also about to extend Saka to our longer deal so this is great news for us!

Our objective is clearly to finish in the Top 4, to do well in domestic and European Cups.

Our season started well with 5 wins but we have already lost Partey (AGAIN!) and Mo to injury, which makes us thin at DM/CM. We also have let AMN go although he could have helped out in these positions and we have loaned out Patino so…We tried to get D. Luiz but unfortunately, we could not reach a deal with Villa and it seems that our interest in Tielemans cooled down in the end…As for FW, Pepe left and we let Balogun on loan. Marquinhos and RN are our back up to Saka and Martinelli and no offense to them but they are not giving the best guarantees as of yet so we may be a bit short if Saka or Martinelli get injured…luckily we have Vieira and ESR that could also deputize there but not their main role, really…

So are we well equipped or under-equipped for this season?


Transfer deadline day…updates

September 1, 2022

Exits:

  • Maitland Niles most likely out to Southampton (Loan)
  • Bellerin most likely out now or in January, most likely to…Barcelona (Contract to be ended)

Arrivals:

  • A midfielder is wanted: Neves, Tielemans, Douglas Luiz on the radar and some interest in Merino as well
  • A forward would also be welcome: Neto, Mydruck on the radar

Elsewhere:

  • Auba to link back with Tuchel at Chelsea


EPL – Episode 5 – Arteta hosts Gerrard at the Emirates

August 31, 2022

We are top of the league after 4 games and are unbeaten and we are now hosting a very good Aston Villa team on paper who fails to deliver good results since the beginning of the year despite a very promising transfer window!

Their whole team (starting XI + 4 players) is solid starting from Martinez in goal and ending with Watkins up front. They play a good press and direct football but they are letting a few goals in despite having very good defenders like Cash and also a good hard working midfield with Luiz, Camara, McGinn (he is underrated this McGinn). On top of that, they should be able to create chances with the players they have like Coutinho, Buendia, Bailey, Ramsey, Ings, Young and Watkins! In any case, at the moment, their team has not gelled and we should take advantage of it and we know they are going to play physical so we must be ready for a tough battle – it will be a bit like with Fulham except the overall players’ quality at Villa is higher…

We will be without Partey and most likely El Neny and Zinchenko too so here is the predicted line-up:

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabs, Tierney – Xhaka, SAMBI – Saka, Ode, Martinelli – Jesus

Although I d like to see White in the DM role, I think that Arteta will play the same back 4 so I expect Sambi to start next to Xhaka. Now, my ideal line up would be:

Ramsdale – Tomy, Saliba, Gabs, Tierney – White, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, Martinelli – Jesus

Anyways, this will be again a tough game for us and quite physical too and we have been conceding goals so I will be expecting us to concede at least one goal…so I d say it will be 2-1 or 3-2 for us but we will only win by one goal margin. This time I could see Martinelli score at least one goal for us and I d expect a goal from Watkins or Coutinho for them.

COYG – do not think about Man Utd, focus on getting points at home and making the Emirates a fortress!


EPL – Episode 4 – AFC beats Fulham, again but it was not easy…Some retrospection on this game

August 30, 2022

This result has been portrayed variously in the media and the blogosphere – but generally, those not sympathetic to the Arsenal have called it lucky, and nothing to write home about. However, I think it is massively significant.

Firstly, let us agree that there are no easy games in the Premier League. It’s a cliche that’s trotted out when your team has lost or drawn against considered lower opposition. That does not diminish its central truth. There are eleven good players trying their damnedest to negate your superiority. There is a referee who is only human (except, possibly, Mike Riley and Mike Dean), and whose calls on one day might lean your way, and on another, might favour your plucky opponents. There is the capricious bounce of the ball. Critics who call down the Arsenal for only beating four also-ran teams heretofore, conveniently ignore that other aspiring leaders have come up short against these same teams already this season. Have Man City, Liverpool, Man Ure, Chelsea or even the mighty Sp*rs stuttered against the best opposition?

So a well-coached team spearheaded by the excellent Mitrovic was always going to prove difficult. The first half developed as one of those days, of which Arsenal has had many down the years, where possession and movement should have had us out of sight by half time. But the final pass/shot/movement frustrated. In previous seasons, we would have gone behind to a silly goal and hung on to lose luckily 1-0.

Then, early in the second half, we did go behind to a silly goal. At this point, I imagine I was in the majority anticipating the aforementioned anti-climax.

But this new team are made of other stuff. There is a steel, a confidence, a certainty about them – and that is why this was such a significant game. Not only did they keep going, keep ramping up the pressure, keep biting into challenges, keep exchanging crisp passes all over the pitch. They did it with a clarity of purpose that made victory likely. Significantly, doggy-fashion, they came from behind.

Odegaard’s deflected shot may have been lucky, but no more than half a dozen previously blocked shots had been lucky too. Gabriel’s redeeming winner may have been scruffy, but his focus was exemplary.

As to player ratings – well, I’ll give them all “tens”! With some added observations.

Arteta: unfairly criticised for his substitutions, bringing on Eddie for Tierney in the sixtieth minute. Simultaneously reactive and pro-active, and the young forward seized his moment with brio.

Saka: everyone jumping on the bandwagon that asserts he’s not the same player so far this year. Rubbish. He’s being double and triple marked and he’s still frequently wriggling clear to make telling incursions and passes. He has opposition defenders demanding brown underwear.

White: how can anyone be critical of this star? Filling in out of position, he has got better and better with every game. His defence is monumental; his attacking play increasingly varied and telling. He is undroppable – which makes Tomi’s situation interesting.

Xhaka: quite simply re-born. Moving him upfield has liberated him, and (pace LGB and LB) his contributions are a joy to watch.

Obviously, we will soon lose a game. It might be to the dreaded Manure next weekend. But whatever the results, this team are the most enjoyable and exciting Arsenal side for many, many, many a year.

A post by Maxwell The Great

Some add-ons from RC78:

  • Odegaard has been in great form this season so far and it seems the captaincy is giving him wings to do better. He has been great in setting the tempo and finding the good pass. Let us hope he continues on his good form.
  • Our CBs are showing great character and resilience. Saliba is impressing and Gabriel scored after his howler. It is great to rely on the whole team to score goals.
  • We missed Zinchenko a lot vs Fulham in our build up play – he adds another dimension to our game that cannot be denied and it will be hard now for Tierney to earn his starting spot except maybe in Europe and Cup Games but for the EPL, Zinchenko is the starter when fit.
  • While we are able to create chances, we are also giving away a few good ones in each game. We need to somehow become tighter to limit the opposition’s good chances.
  • Jesus’ off the ball movement and runs are great – he is really creating space for his partners as well as creating chances for them.
  • Nketiah had a great impact when he came on.
  • I think that bringing in another DM/CM (Tielemans? Merino?) and FW/Winger (Neto?Pino?) would not be a bad idea

COYG!


EPL – Episode 4 – Gunners host a brave and direct Fulham team

August 27, 2022

On the face of it, Arsenal would be clear favourite for today’s game given our history against newly promoted team and Fulham and also given our current form but we must not underestimate this Fulham team who has yet to lose this year and is playing smartly, bravely and directly and has a few tricks in its sleeves…

Fulham is probably going to play the same way they did against Liverpool: absorb pressure, counter-attack in number and put pressure on set-pieces. They have some quality players in Leno (whom me know well), Diop, Pereira and of course Mitrovic. They will also play more long balls too and fight for second balls. They are physically ready for the fight and for the 90 minutes…

However, they do have some issues too as concede quite some goals and Jesus should be able to capitalize on their central defense gaps.

So here is the deal:

  1. Saliba and Gabriel are going to have to face a lot of crosses and long balls so their aerial strength will be tested and Ramsdale will also need to command his area nicely
  2. Partey and Xhaka are going to be crucial today in challenging for the second ball
  3. White and Zinchenko would also need to watch the movement at the far post but also try to limit the opposition’s crosses
  4. It can be another game with a goal from Odegaard or Xhaka
  5. Gabriel Jesus is going to have chances but will also create space for both Saka and Martinelli, we need to finish our chances to avoid a nervy game

All and all, we are playing at home and we are in good form. Keep the discipline defensively and we should be able to see this game through. A 2-1 game with Saka, Ode and Mitrovic on the scoresheet.

COYG! Let the good times continue


Pepe, AMN, Bellerin…edging closer to the exit

August 25, 2022

So it seems that our club record signing is on his way to Nice where he will link up with Ramsey on the fancy French coast. He will be going there on loan without an option to buy. He has had great games and crap games and many anonymous games. He is clearly a gifted forward but somehow it did not work out for him at AFC…shame…I am sure he will help Nice a lot in the French league.

AMN is apparently closing on a move to Southampton, Not’Forest, Aston Villa or West Ham but the most likely destinations at this stage are Southampton and Forest. I think he is a very talented player who just never settled in one position. He will be the perfect squad player wherever he goes because of his versatility. Wishing him luck and sad to see a gooner leave…

Bellerin – once the Spanish jewel of our squad, the most expensive player of our squad wanted by the likes of Barcelona, Man City and Bayern Munich…An injury later, some soul searching, a new coach and a loan later…he is ready for new pastures. I think AFC is trying to sell him but he wants to end his contract to join Spain again and most likely Betis

So long good friends of AFC, shame it did not work out for you but I think that all AFC fans recognize your efforts and wish you the best!