Five Points Clear

November 12, 2022

So would you still accept top four, really? You know what I mean, how long ago was it that you would have accepted that trifle, that mere bauble, at the beginning of the season, after the Tottenham win, after the Liverpool win, after the Chelsea win or in my case today after the City loss and our fine win against a well drilled Wolves side? Top four, pah, I want the whole cake now with icing and cherries on the top. 

Ramsdale: if you do your job properly which he did, and keep a clean sheet, which he did and the team win, which we did, why isn’t that a perfect performance worthy of the highest score? 10

Zinchenko: our Ukrainian clearly has a larger than life personality and it occurred to me that his play reflects that, there were moments today when I thought that that was a hindrance, slightly less bling and a bit more precision. Still a superb signing, love him. 7   

Gabriel: unusually looked like the more commanding central defender today, a very solid performance. 8

Saliba: it was quite a shock to see that he is human and capable of making mistakes, which he did in the first half, but obviously had a large gulp of Mikel’s magic half time juice and came out for the second and played to his usual commanding best. 7

White: the thing I don’t understand is why doesn’t Arteta encourage Benny Blanco to come inside, the same way he clearly does with Zinchenko? White is obviously capable of playing in different positions and taking on different roles, if he were encouraged to play a bit more centrally he could be the answer to the nightmare scenario of TP getting injured. Defensively as sound as ever but not quite as effective going forward but I think that had more to do with Saka being off the pace. 7

Partey: and onto the nightmare scenario of a TP injury, well my nightmare is that without him, we are a top sixish team fighting for a Europa place. The man is world class and a joy to watch, I wonder if he has a brother? 8

Odegaard: I just found out that Norway didn’t qualify for the World Cup, resuuuult, go find a quite beach Martin, have a long rest and come back and play as well as you did today. MOTM 9

Xhaka: stomach issues, get well soon Granit, you were missed.

Martinelli: a bit quiet today by his standards but was still key in both goals (love the contradiction) has Martinelli got his own song? Should have. 7

Jesus: we need a 25 goal a season striker, no we don’t, we need a player who is going to help us win more games than anyone else this season, and this guy is delivering, worked tirelessly. 8

Saka: was well marked but that doesn’t usually stop him, not his usual effective self. 6

Sub. Vieira: he has been poor recently; I think most have wondered if that has been down to playing with lesser talents in games in the Europa and the League Cup? Well today was his chance to play with the A team for the best part of ninety minutes and show that his superb Brentford performance was not a one off. In my opinion he did this, he did enough to reassure that he has a bright future with us this was underlined by his perfect chip for Odegaard to score our first goal. 7

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ARSENAL RESET

October 30, 2022

Ok, come on, fess up, which one of you set out this season’s fixture list, it had to be an Arsenal supporter there can be no other answer for it. We were in a slump, not a rut but signs of fatigue were starting to show themselves — Southampton and even more so against PSV. After that loss Mikel Arteta spoke of the need for a ‘reset’, a means to get us back to winning ways. What fixture could have been kinder, enter lowly Forrest, occupying the position at the bottom of the League and clearly ready to help us in out hour of need. A five nil thumping was just what the doctor ordered, a fine display of happy football and the restoration of our position at the top of the league. COYRRG.

Ramsdale: not a lot to do but what he did do he did well, had clearly been practising dangerous incoming corners as he cleanly plucked the one he had to. 7

Ben White: another top performance; has proved that he can play in more than one position and play it well, I don’t know why Arteta doesn’t try him out just ahead of the back line in the Europa games and that way we can keep Partey rapped in cotton wool, only to be uncovered for the all important League games. 7

Saliba: this is interesting, when he returned at the beginning of the season there was a real swagger about him, a look of  “you are lucky to have me, I can go anywhere” he wasn’t wrong and his play backed up his swagger – he has changed, why? Because he now cares, he is one of the team and has bought into the whole “all for one and one for all” mentality that exists within this Arsenal team. A classy, but a more human display. 8

Gabriel: there is no doubt that when he signed his new contract and committed to the club until 27 that one of the hierarchy, probably Edu said to him around signature time “ Ok, you are now settled, it is time to stamp out the hot headed nonsense” must have been as he has been the consummate professional since, there is still an error in him; he handed Forrest their best chance of the match – one step at a time. 7

Tomiasu: interesting choice, it makes sense to play him against a left footed winger in games that the opposition are going to come on to us, think Salah, but it is clear (at least to me) that when we are playing teams in which we should be on the front foot which was Southampton and certainly today then Tierney offers more attacking options down that flank than Tomiasu does. I am not sure why Arteta makes this choice; the answer can only be that he is too important in Arteta’s mind to leave on the bench. Played well enough, played even better when he switched to the right. 7

Xhaka: I am one of those who has completely bought into the resurrection of Granit, I walk around singing his song – bang, bang, we’ve got Granit Xhaka, we’ve got, bang, bang Granit Xhaka but I felt as we came into this game, if we are relying on Xhaka to score us winners something is not quite right, another solid performance from someone who clearly is a leader and a winner. 7

Partey: I remember describing him as “World Class”, when he first arrived, only to be shot down by people who knew better, hmmm, well do you get it now — class, pure class. 9

Odegaard: back to his best today, a captain’s performance and a really well taken goal. 8

Martinelli: tormented the life out of the Forrest defence, brilliant first goal. 7.5

Jesus: we clearly need a new number 9, we got a duff’un; this one doesn’t work properly. Worked his socks off. 7

Saka: classy cross for Martinelli to come onto for our first, hope the injury isn’t too bad.

Subs: Nelson, well done Reis and you are deservedly my MOTM; he knew he had been given a rare opportunity and was visibly worried about messing it up, went in at half time, Arteta sprinkled his confidence dust over him and he came out and turned to game completely back into our favour. 2 goals and an assist might not only be club changing goals they could be career changing goals, I wish him well. 8


EPL – Episode 10 – AFC hosts Liverpool

October 9, 2022

While many pundits and fans may see us as clear favourites for this game based on both teams’ current form, I would be more cautious for a few reasons:

  1. Liverpool is an injured animal and they will want to prove a point;
  2. Liverpool’s quality is still there with Alisson, TAA, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Salah, Firmino, Diaz and D. Nunez is a great CF so…
  3. We have failed to capitalize on our dominance vs Utd and got punished for it;
  4. We still concede quite some big chances
  5. We have often played poorly in games that mattered in the league under Arteta…

so there you go, while our form is clearly better than Liverpool’s, we need to put things into perspective and remind ourselves to keep calm, focused, committed and smart throughout this match. Win this game and LFC will have a hard time to catch up with us in the Top 4 race, Lose this game and they are edging closer to us along with other teams that won yesterday like City and Spurs…

No slip up today and a win is required but it will not be easy…not at all. Let us play 11 vs 11, a red card would doom us

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabs, Zinchenko – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, Martinelli – Jesus

Players to watch: Robertson, Firmino, Diaz, Salah, TAA, Van Dijk

Players to target: TAA, Upamecano or Matip, Henderson

It will be important for Partey to closely monitor Firmino’s movement. Also Saka and Martinelli will need to watch LFC’s full-backs and White will not have it easy with Diaz and same for Zinchenko with Salah. Win the midfield battle and we will be ok. Big game for Partey, Xhaka, Ode today.

Predicted score: 2-2 with goals from Saka and Jesus for us and Firmino and Diaz for them

Wanted score: 2-1

COYG!


Will Eddie and Vieira prove to be impact players for us even in the EPL?

October 7, 2022

Another win in the Europa League yesterday. A comfortable 3-0 win in front of our crowd and barring the first 15 mins of the second half, we controlled and dominated the game. Tierney, Xhaka, Vieira, Martinelli and Nketiah were particularly brilliant and Holding did not do himself any harm either. Another start and another goal for both Eddie and Vieira. They are proving to be decisive in the final third and this is what we asked them to be primarily so…the question is whether they can also have similar impact in the EPL as subs and starters?

Eddie has already demonstrated that he can hold his own in the EPL and Fabio is clearly a talented player so there is a positive mood around both these players but what do you think?

COYG! Get ready to beat Liverpool!


Who would make your England squad as the WC is approaching and would it include many AFC players?

October 4, 2022

Here is my take on it. England has a wealth of talent at its disposal, yet again…but for some reason, they have lost their shape and defensive stability after the Euro. 2 reasons for that: Philips has been missing due to injuries and Maguire is bottling all his games…So who goes to Qatar?

3 GK: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope…not much for debate here except that Dean Henderson can feel frustrated by the way Man U treated him last season

2 RB: Reece James, K. Trippier

4 CB: K. Walker, J. Stones, Dier, B.White or C. Coady or T. Mings

2 LB: B. Chilwell, Luke Shaw

3 DM: D. Rice, K. Philips (if fit), J. Ward Prowse

3 CM: Bellingham, Henderson, Foden

3 AM: Mount, Maddisson, Grealish

3 FW: Saka, Rashford, Sterling

2 CF: Kane, Toney

1 spot left for TAA or Sancho or Wilson or Watkins or Abraham…I would take TAA because he can unlock games with a shot or a clever pass but I think Sancho will be in the plane

Best first XI:

Ramsdale – Trippier, Walker, Stones, Chilwell – Rice, Philipps – Saka, Mount, Foden – Kane

in Gary’s 3-4-3:

Ramsdale – Walker, Stones, Dier – Reece James, Rice, Philipps, Chilwell – Sterling, Kane, Foden

In any case, Gary has to take Ramdale and Saka for sure and I think there is a case for B. White too


AFC guns down Spurs for a deserved NLD victory

October 2, 2022

A controlled game for the most part, some intricate plays at times and some players really having a good season so far…A great result and happy faces – NL is ours!

Ramsdale – did not have to do much

White – I would say it was his best performance for us as right back

Saliba – Continues to impress and started to look like our defensive leader

Gabriel – Mostly good except for that PK given. Needs to also close the opposition better at times.

Zinchenko – Bringing the X-factor to our game. Steady and tidy.

Partey – We needed the best of him and we got it! Now let s hope he keeps fit because when he is fit, he forms a good partnership with Xhaka. What a well taken goal too!

Xhaka – Another great performance by Granit! What a form he is in! We need him and focus and we can then chant his song all season long! MOTM

Saka – A timid start and then was roaring! Shame he did not score but he did create plenty of problems for the Spuds

Odegaard – Not his best game but industrious enough to help control the midfield.

Martinelli – What a young player we have in him! Constantly badgering defenders. A delight!

G. Jesus – Defending, scoring, creating spaces. An excellent recruit so far!

Arteta – Found his system and best XI and also keeping the team focus and grounded. Nothing has been won so far.

COYG!


EPL – Episode 9 – Gunners hosts Hotspuds for a fiery NLD!

September 30, 2022

And so the interminable wait for club football has finally ended and what a way to resume football with the most historical and heated derby in the EPL: Arsenal vs Tottenham…Which team will take the bragging rights as the North London Derby victor?

In terms of our squad, we are facing an issue at Left-Back, yet again! Zinchenko is uncertain and so is Tierney. El Neny and ESR are out and there is a doubt about Tomy and Partey but things are looking bright for Odegaard. Tottenham is waiting for news on Lloris and Kulusevski while Davies and Moura are most likely out of the game.

Tottenham is enjoying a fine start to the season and is scoring a lot of goals. Kane is enjoying another good season while Richarlison, Kulusevski and Son are able lieutenant as well. The main improvements though is with Sessegnon, Betancur, Hojberg, Dier and Perisic providing excellent defensive resilience. If Romero is fit, he will also be able to improve on the erratic Sanchez. Their main threat remains Kane but we know that Son gives us trouble everytime so he is to be watched closely. Tottenham plays in a 3-4-3 set-up and the main areas to explore are behind their full-back and we can always rely on a Dier error too. Another area that can be exploited is if we overcrowd their midfield with our three players (Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard) so let us see.

We have to hope that Partey and Zinchenko are fit to play, otherwise we are in trouble…

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, Martinelli – Gabi J.

Lloris – Romero, Dier, Lenglet – Perisic, Hojberg, Berancur, Sessegnon – Son, Kane, Richarlison

Predicted score: 2-2

Predicted number of yellow cards: 5

Predicted scorers: Martinelli and Ode (or Vieira if Ode does not play) vs Kane and Perisic.

COYG – prove me wrong and win this NLD!


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!