Aston Villa vs AFC, time to win away and convincingly too

February 18, 2023

So we go and face Aston Villa in a few hours – a team that is certainly improving under Emery and is full of good players with Martinez – Mings – Luiz, Buendia – Watkins to name a few only. They are scoring more regularly and are conceding a bit less than before but they can still be unpicked. We know how the team will play: fast attacking transitions once the ball has been recovered but also keen to absorb some pressure but against talented wingers, it may back fire…

I can see a tight game for us but we have to WIN, no choice. We need to show a signal that we can bounce back quickly and are ready to fight for the EPL crown till the end…

We missed Partey and we are starting to miss G. Jesus too now…We know that the team we will play against will be nicely set-up so we need to be good on the ball and also NOT make any mistakes…This is a game to be tight and effective, rather than flamboyant. We need three players to really step up their games: our full-backs and Xhaka.

Here is the predicted line up:

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabs, Zinchenko – Jorginho, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, Martinelli – Nketiah

Here is the line up I would have liked:

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabs, TIERNEY – Xhaka, Jorginho, ZINCHENKO – Saka, TROSSARD, Martinelli

I know this requires a team formation change but I think that Odegaard needs a bit of rest and so does Nketiah. We need that extra impetus going forward, solidity in the middle and high-press against Villa…

I can see us grab a disappointing draw at 1-1 or 2-2 with Martinez haunting us with some world class saves and D. Luiz showing us why he would be a great addition to our squad.

COYG! Prove me wrong and go unpick A.Villa to win the game!


A Manchester team will win the EPL and we will finish in the top 3. Fair prediction?

February 16, 2023

Following some unsavory refereeing decisions going against us and some individual mistakes giving some goals and games away, it seems to be fair to say that we have lost our edge in the EPL race and that we are back to being a chasing team rather than a chased team when it comes to the EPL crown…

Yesterday’s display for a large part of the game was sensational but it was undone by 3 gifted goals against arguably the best team in the EPL…Of course, we have a game in hand but the way we are playing (and the refs are sanctioning us) with a bit less intensity and luck than in the first 19 games of the same make me clearly think that we may not have reached “EPL Champion” level yet…

Besides Man City, I am extremely worried about Man Utd. They are playing really well and may even pip finish in the top 2…

However, I am feeling confident for a Top 3 finish, which we would have all welcome at the beginning of the season…

I am a bit worried about our full backs and clearly, we can’t afford not to play Partey although Jorginho was not bad yesterday…

I can’t wait to see him back in our team and I am sure that ESR and G. Jesus will also add to our ability to win games. We really need them. We also need a more decisive F.Vieira – when Ode is struggling, we need more from him when he comes in.

Anyways, let us fight for a top 3 finish and if somehow, we are still within reach of the EPL crown with 5 games to go, then we can dream again. Until then, let us focus on winning games by hook, crook or luck…

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

Tuerney – Tomy, Holding, Kiwior, Tierney – Jorginho, Vieira – Trossard, ESR, R. Nelsson – Jesus

What if ESR was the key to our title chances?

February 6, 2023

I watched the game against Everton with intent and all of our starters started and our subs came in –

A) Trossard played with poise but no end product

B) Jorginho slowed the game rather than injected pace to it… no surprise here

C) Vitinha tried but he is still finding his feet in the league

D) Tomy hardly had any time so can’t really judge his appearance

and then I thought…what if a fit ESR came onto the pitch instead of Vitinha…He would have been making more runs than Vitinha and Trossard could have been moved further up even given us a chance of playing 2 CFs…

So for all the buzz around Trossard and Jorginho, I think that our most important “squad” player until the end of the season will be ESR and I can’t wait to have him back to the squad. I would even go further as to say that it is more important to have him fit than G. Jesus because of the different qualities he brings in…

What do you think?

New look Everton takes on league leader AFC :-)

February 4, 2023

Everton: 7 managers in 7 years…a new stadium being built…quite some investment…and yet 19th in the league…

Lampard tried, Lampard failed to deliver…Dyche is a solid coach known for his defensive mindset and uncomplicated direct attacking styles…

Everton has quality players in:

  • Pickford and Begovic are decent goalkeepers
  • Mina, Coady and Tarkowsky are also decent defenders, no non-sense
  • Coleman and Mykolenko have their up and downs but they have outstanding crossing ability
  • Doucoure, Onana, Gueye are solid in midfield
  • Iwobi, Gordon, Grey and Davies can drive and dribble the ball nicely
  • Calvert-Lewin, Maupay are good forwards as well

Ultimately, Dyche’s job and despite his defensive mindset is to find a formula for Everton to be more solid and yet score more as well…I can see him go for a 4231 with the following set up:

Pickford – Mina, Coady, Tarkowsky, Mykolenko – Gueye, Onana – Iwobi, Maupay, Grey – Calvert-Lewin with Iwobi playing closer to Gueye, Maupay closer to CL and Grey drifting on and off his wing.

For our coach, it will be a return to the team that welcomed him to the EPL and I think that he is preparing for a nice welcome by the club but a tough encounter on the pitch. New coach at Everton means everyone is going to be on their best behaviour and performance, especially against league leaders. Pickford, Iwobi, Gray, Maupay and CL like to play against us so we better be wary of them…

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko – Jorginho, Xhaka – Odegaard – Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli

I am not feeling the game today at all so I will go for the unlikely Everton win against us…like a 2-1 with two defensive errors from our side (White and then one of our CBs) and a goal by Nketiah. I hope to be wrong again…


Here is our squad for the second half of the season…and a little update on Balogun :-)

February 3, 2023

GK: RAMSDALE, Turner, Hein (sent Okonkwo on loan during the latest transfer period)

RB: WHITE, Tomyasu (sent Cedric on loan during the latest transfer period)

CB: SALIBA, Holding, GABRIEL, Kiwior ((arrived during the latest transfer period)


Double-Pivot: PARTEY, Jorginho (arrived during the latest transfer period), XHAKA, El Neny (injured, sadly) (sent Lokonga on loan during the latest transfer period)


RFW: SAKA, Trossard (arrived during the latest transfer period), (sent Marquinhos on loan during the latest transfer priod)

LFW: MARTINELLI, Smith-Rowe, R.Nelsson (injured, sadly)

CF: JESUS (injured, sadly), Nketiah,

Starting line up given current injuries:

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko – Jorginho (or Partey, hopefully), Xhaka – Odegaard – Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli

It seems the team is well covered in almost all positions. With Lokonga gone on loan, it would have been good to get another DM/CM in case Xhaka also gets injured…Also, it would not have hurt to get a CF in case Jesus takes longer to recover…BUT overall, the Edu-Arteta combo has managed to trim and bolster the squad quite nicely with the arrival of a promising player (Kiwior) and 2 established PL players in Jorginho and Trossard. Marquinhos and Lokonga need playing time to grow to see if they can eventually become solid squad members at AFC so the loans are great for them and then Cedric really needed to move forward with his career so a good option for him to also go out on loan.

As you know, I follow the EPL but also other leagues, especially the Ligue 1 and truth be told, Balogun is on fire at the moment. He is showing great spirit for the press and defensive duties and he is becoming more and more clinical in front of goal. He is definitely improving as a player and by the end of the season, we will need to make a call on him because he will feel like he deserves regular playing time…Let us see what we do with him but our CF options next season could be JESUS, Nketiah and Balogun – not bad but also they all have similar qualities so might be worth also getting someone like Giroud in the team but then we would have 4 CFs…so another loan may on the card for Balogun next year or maybe the club may decide to sell Nketiah or Balogun with a buy-back clause…In any case, the summer will be interesting in terms of our forwards…


Ins: Kiwior, Jorginho, Trossard

Outs: Cedric, Lokonga, Marquinhos


January 26, 2023

So we just registered the arrival of Polish international Kiwior. A young player who has been used as a Centre-Back and Defensive Midfield, he is known for his ability to play out from the back and pick out a pass. He played in Poland, Slovakia and Italy. He has a good interception record.

The question I am asking myself is why are we recruiting him (also instead of Ndinka)? We have White, Tomyasu, Holding, Saliba, Gabriel and Tierney that can play there…Are we trying to get rid of one them? If so, which one? Cedric is leaving for Fulham so I am thinking that White and Tomyasu are staying…Saliba and Gabriel are safe too imho so that leaves us with Holding but he is a club’s lad so…

Maybe he is coming in to play in midfield in the end…? Maybe as a support player to beef up our defensive mid or as the back up to Xhaka…

Or he could just be recruited to make sure we are covered adequately for each position

Turner – Tomyasu, Holding, Kiwior, Tierney – El Neny, Lokonga – ESR, Vieira, Trossard – Nketiah OR

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

Not too bad, not too bad…knowing that Balogun will come back next season…I think that the big question is about Lokonga’s credentials to be a solid enough squad player. If we are going in for Declan Rice in the summer (which I doube), it will also make things interesting for Xhaka…but I believe we may try to lure Ruven Neves, Mikel Merino, McAlliser, Fofana or Tielemans…

50 points…after 19 games and back-to-back wins against Top 6 rivals…the road is still long but hope is permitted…

January 23, 2023

Top of the League. 50 points, 19 games…

Two convincing, gritty and well-earned wins against Tottenham and then Man Utd. We can smile at the first half of the season and look at the second half with a bit of optimism. Of course, Man City have a deeper (better?) squad that is used to winning the EPL and they have a freak goal-scorer (Haaland – what a player!) but we are more than giving them a run for their money and now they have to catch us….

So against Utd, the positives:

  • Zinchenko, Xhaka, Ode, Saka and Nketiah. What a difference does Zinchenko make to our team? A clever player. Xhaka is like a new player, providing assists, pressing high and not indulging in silly defending…Ode, even when not at his best, is aggressive defensively and decisive offensively. Saka hit another level this season and Nketiah has provided more than adequate cover for G.Jesus;
  • The fans and Arteta’s fire.

So against Utd, the less positives:

  • Ramsey’s shakiness against Utd was a bit scary;
  • White and Tomyasu really struggled against Rashford and Tomyasu also at fault on Utd’s equalizer. We are looking at Fresneda, a young right back…
  • Partey – at fault on first goal and then did not reassure throughout the game
  • Saliba and Gabriel need to also cover Ramsdale better. A wake up call.
  • Martinelli, off day at the office.

Ramsdale – 4.5

White/Tomy – 3.5

Saliba-Gabs – 5.5

Zinchenko – 8

Partey – 5.5

Xhaka – 7.5

Ode – 7.5

Saka – 8.5

Nketiah – 8.5

Martinelli – 6

Was a nice game to start for Trossard. COYG! Keep going strong.

Poor Chickens! Red London! Arsenal Ecstasy!

January 17, 2023

Random thoughts on a glorious occasion.

Where to start? The players, maybe:

Ramsdale – dominant performance, saves, clearances, catching, punching – and best of all, shithousing Poorarlison, who swallowed the bate, and I’m waiting for his citing by the FA, but I won’t hold my breath

White – was… Whiter than White, does almost everything brilliantly, but needs to master his crossing

Saliba! – error free

Gabriel! – monster with exquisite distribution

Zinchenko – out and out baller, and one of the heartbeats of the team

Partey – the lean controller, very Vieira-esque

Xhaka – master of all he surveys

Odegaard – wow! Just wow

Saka – silky first touch, tormentor in chief

Martinelli – seems to have Velcro attaching the ball to his boots

Nketiah – if his first touch was as magnetic as Saka’s, he would have had three goals, but in everything else, fierce and combative

The manager: I think people – both supporters and those outside the club, are beginning to realise what a special person we have in Arteta. His tactical acumen, his technical knowledge, his teaching ability, and his player-management, are scary. In his first job as a manager. He has distilled the best of Moyes, Arsene and Pep. I hope he stays for years.

The referee: it seems unfair to criticise Pawson, considering we didn’t concede a penalty (!), and he got most of the big calls right; but how was Romero still on the pitch, after six, maybe even seven, bookable fouls, AFTER being booked.

As to the narrative of the match, all Arsenal in the first half, beautiful control and link-up play; Sp*rs resurgent in the second half, but Arsenal maintained defensive control. I was on edge until Odegaard scored, but sanguine and relaxed thereafter, so much confidence do I have in this group of players.

As noted last week, I still think a deep midfielder is more of a priority than another forward (both would be nice, of course). There are players to come in if Saka or Martinelli are injured. The fall-off if Partey’s out again is too much.

Mudryk: I can’t let it pass without a comment on that transfer. I actually feel sorry for the guy. He looks so unhappy at Stamford Bridge, one can’t help speculating that Shaktar told him “it’s Chelsea or nothing”. If he doesn’t prove as spectacular as his transfer fee, his career is almost over, tied as he is by high wages and a long contract. He might, but Arsenal were absolutely right to walk away. In fact, I think they should have abandoned talks after the second bid was rejected. And let’s face it, at that club just now, players are more likely to underperform, given the chaos between owner and manager. When Potter was asked about Mudryk, he didn’t confront the question of whether he wanted him, and was insipid in his praise.

London is red. Let’s wallow in it, and anticipate the meeting next Sunday with Manure.


Mudryk to Chelsea but we will win the NLD!

January 15, 2023

So Chelsea hijacked our deal with Shaktar for Mudryk by paying 88.5 Mln pounds + add ons…crazy…

Apparently, we are turning our attention to Raphina now…potentially Diaby (but he is not worth it to be honest)

BUT they are bigger fish to fry including a savoury NLD against a resurgent Tottenham team that can now count again on Romero, Betancur and Kulusevsky…The 3 players that changed their fortune last year as they edged us in the Top 4 race. Kane is in scintillating form and Son is always dangerous against us so while we may be top of the league and playing well, we are in for a very tough and contested match today…

The key will be to really exploit some of their defensive lapses especially their full-backs and center-backs sometimes miscommunicating. There be room in between the lines so Odegaard may be able to find some space to shoot…If Partey-Xhaka and our back 4 do well today, we should come home with at least a point…

I am gonna go for a 2-1 loss to the Spurs though as I can see us lose our patience and form at some point in the game. Most likely score according to pundits is a 1-1 draw – if it is a draw, I think it will be a 2-2…Now our scorer will be Martinelli and for them, Kane will be on the scoresheet.

COYG! Make sure I get the result wrong today!

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko – Partey, Xhaka – Ode – Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli

Lloris – Romero, Dier, Lenglet – Doherty, Betancur, Hojberg, Perisic – Kulusevski, Kane, Son

Let us not totally discard the FA Cup…

January 6, 2023

Our squad is of course thin and has been made thinner with the injury to G.Jesus and is prone to becoming too thin if Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Ode, Martinelli or Nketiah get injured…Their back ups are just not at the same level…so risking an injury to them may be just too risky…YET, the FA Cup is a fantastic competition and we have a good record in it. We have to respect the competition and give it a go – a trophy is a trophy…

We are playing Oxford, not the biggest name in football so we may have a bit of room for rotation but let us not rotate the whole team and keep some first squad elements in it to put the game comfortably behind Oxford’s reach at half-time…This will allow us to bring in some youngsters to the fold…

Ramsdale – Tomy, Saliba, Holding, Tierney – El Neny, Xhaka – Vieira, Ode, ESR – Nketiah

Second half:

Turner – Tomy, Saliba, Holding, Tierney – El Neny, Lokonga – Marquinhos, Vieira, Taylor-Hart – ESR

Let us win this tie and let us keep looking at options to improve our squad’s quality and depth.