Starting Art School – Everton Preview

I was amused to see that if you scramble the letters of Mikel Arteta’s name you come up with: A TITLE MAKER.

Omens are not to be sniffed at, and if that anagram is a taste of what Miki is going to do for us I’ll grab it with both hands.

Mind you, for those who think we should have waited until he’d actually managed a team before snapping him up, there’s also an omen in his letters if you care to look for it: TAKE ‘IM LATER.

Enough of such nonsense.

It’s impossible not to feel encouraged and excited about the future now that we have a new man in charge.

Supporting a football team is a mixture of hope and despair and neither can exist without the other. We have been despairing of late, but now there’s a fresh start and – for a while at least – we can hope. It’s like that feeling you have on the morning of the first day of a new season: every fan of every club thinks that this could be their year.

So what about the man himself?

No doubt he has a big task ahead of him to turn around our fortunes, but it’s not the first time he’s arrived at the Emirates with the good ship Arsenal dangerously adrift and heading for the rocks.

He signed for us at the end of the summer transfer window in 2011 when we were all over the place and had just been hammered 8-2 at Old Trafford. Along with Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun, who joined on the same day, he helped us find calmer waters.

When Arteta turned out for Arsenal he was an exemplary pro. He predominantly played as a deep-lying midfielder, the link-up man between defence and attack (forming an excellent partnership with the BFG). It was not his preferred position (he wanted to play further forward) but he never complained and did his job brilliantly.

The word that comes to mind to describe him is “precise.” Precise in his play, precise in his demeanour, very precise with his hair.

He’s had three and a half years learning from Pep Guardiola, the best club coach of the past 10 years. He’ll also have learnt plenty from Arsene Wenger and, let’s not forget, he experienced the famous Barcelona academy system as a youngster.

All this is encouraging, but the proof of this Christmas pudding will be in the eating. I don’t doubt Miki’s football knowledge and insight or his coaching credentials. But it will be his character and personality that will make the difference. Can he take that most difficult step from being a good number two to being a good number one? Can he impose himself on the fractious and demoralised egos among our squad? Can he deal with the very public pressures of coaching a top club like The Arsenal?

Your guess is as good as mine, but for now I’m happy just to have the hope.

One of my hopes is that he’ll take this squad by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. I sense that, over time, Emery lost the respect of the players and they also lost confidence in him. Miki needs to hit the ground running and show that he won’t stand for carelessness, laziness, bad attitudes and sulks.

He’ll be watching from the directors’ box today as we take on his old club Everton at Goodison Park, with Freddie Ljungberg in charge of matters for the last time.

I suspect Fred is relieved to be passing the baton. This little stint will have done his future prospects as a coach no harm at all, but it was hardly a good situation for him to step into with no proper assistant coaches and a team whose confidence is shot.

I would love Fred to go out on a winning note and I fancy he will. What his role is moving forward remains to be seen, but I hope he stays at the club.

The Everton game brings two great footballing superstitions face to face: it’s “ex players come back to haunt their old club,” versus “new manager bounce.”  We’re at risk from the ex players, but if Iwobi or Walcott manage to bag a goal against us I hope we’ll have the fortitude to score more in reply.

As for our new boss bounce, I know Miki is not technically in charge today, but all the players know he’ll have his eye on them and they’ll want to impress.

Our crop of injuries doesn’t help. With Kieran Tierney already out for weeks the last thing we needed was for Sead Kolasinac to get crocked, but crocked he did get. With Rob Holding still out and Hector Bellerin doubtful we’re looking threadbare at the back.

Here’s my wild guess at our starting line-up:


Chambers Luiz  Sokratis  AMN

Xhaka  Torreira


Pepe  Aubameyang  Martinelli

Everton are six places and four points below us in the Premier League table, but have started showing a bit of spirit since Duncan “Elbows” Ferguson took over as caretaker manager. They’ll be up for it today and I expect a close game which we’ll shade by the odd goal, perhaps 2-1 or 3-2 to us.

It’s way beyond time that we Gooners had something to be excited about it. Let the new era begin.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!



75 Responses to Starting Art School – Everton Preview

  1. Match Day …………. Thank you Rocky for the post. I do hope that our players have done a bit of soul searching and realise that they can fix the bad run too …………. looking forward to some football, as ever.


  2. RC78 says:

    I am hoping to see Laca start and I can see Saka start as well so…

    Leno – Chambers, Sok, Luiz – AMN, Torreira, Xhaka, Saka – Pepe, Laca, Martinelli

  3. Sue says:

    Cheers, Rocky 👍
    Whenever I turned over to Sky sports last night, Arteta’s interview was on.. and I listened to it every time 😂 I loved it!! He said all the right things and I honestly can’t wait for him to get started (doubts, what doubts?! Meh 😂). And along with all the gushing from Pep and the Cityzens… well, it has to be a good thing!! Bring it on!!
    Not sure how much of the game I’ll see, as got to go Christmas shopping. May have to dive in to the nearest pub!
    I am nervous, as usual! Big Dunc has them playing well (& has the ball boys in fear of their lives, every time they score 😂)
    What worries me is Richarlison. He spends more time on the floor than on his feet… so up against Sokratis 😖
    The other thing which worries me is… Iwobi. I was never a fan.. he can’t come back to haunt us surely??!! 😩
    Well, we all know we’re not keeping a clean sheet. Be nice if we got a win for Freddie in his final game. (Thank you, Freddie 👍)
    In the line up, I’d put AMN as RB.. Chambers as CB (drop Luiz)… Saka as LB… the rest is spot on. Would love to see ESR. COYG… please don’t hike up my blood pressure, on top of Christmas shopping, it won’t end well 😂

  4. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Sue

    You might be right about Saka at LB.

    I realise ESR is a long shot but I wonder if Freddie will roll the dice with one or two of his academy youngsters in his last game in charge.

    Happy shopping. I’ll be glued to the telly looking for that new boss bounce.

  5. Rasp says:

    Beautifully crafted post Rocky. You’ve written the screenplay, we just need the actors to perform.

    You have summed up how I feel about the ‘Art of football’ far better than I possibly could … thank you.

    When I update the statistics widget in the sidebar I shall catalogue today’s result under Freddie’s shift, but like you, I think we will see those players who want to play for the new Arsenal put in a performance … and equally those who don’t and who I’d happily see bugger off in January.

    I’m happy to write this season off in terms of top six if I can see 11 players on the pitch who are playing for the shirt, for one another and for the manager.

  6. RockyLives says:


    “I’m happy to write this season off in terms of top six if I can see 11 players on the pitch who are playing for the shirt, for one another and for the manager.”

    Spot on. This season is already a write-off unless by some miracle we manage to win the Europa Cup. So let’s use it to lay solid foundations, not to patch a few holes in the roof.

  7. RockyLives says:

    My son has just pointed out that we lost 8-2 at OT, not 8-0.

    Thank Goodness for the WordPress “edit” facility. Now no-one will ever know I messed up…

  8. RockyLives says:

    My favourite line from Arteta’s first press conference is this one:

    “What I have learnt is that you have to be ruthless and you have to be consistent…”

    We could do with some ruthlessness.

  9. Rasp says:

    Great message from Ramsey ….

    “Fantastic appointment by Arsenal. Always knew Mikel would go on to be a top manager. Good luck my friend but I’m sure you won’t need it!”

  10. RockyLives says:

    Well played Rambo!

  11. Rasp says:

    I’m loving the way Mikel used the words “we have to address the culture” in his interview yesterday. He has a clear message … that’s so important.

  12. RA says:

    Superb Post, Rockyfella, right back at the top!!

    I hope Freddie can go out with a bang – but if not, he has done well, given it is just him and the Jolly Green German to do what normally requires assistants in double figures.

    If you are going to get appointed head coach after the start of the season, I suspect it would be better at Xmas/New Year rather than after a couple of months from the start, or a couple of months before the end of the season.

    Those players who still do not give a stuff will carry on with their lacklustre performances, whereas I think the youngsters will be giving their all to impress the new boss.

    Mikel will be able to see it all from the stands – and make a note, and have two lists to sort them out;

    B = Bastards — K = Keepers

    Where there is uncertainty – I will give Mikel GB’s comments, and he will find them very analytical – so, if he got through War and Peace, he should manage GB’s tomes. 😜

  13. RA says:

    Hi Rasper,

    As is my wont I sometimes comment immediately after reading the post, especially when I am late doing so.

    Today is an example, and I have said somethings that you have already – sorry, much. 😳

    I was not helped by making an exception and reading Sue’s comment when she mentioned shopping, the word I glimpsed as I scrolled thru the comments.

    Can’t wait to see what she has bought me …….. and everyone else on AA. 😛

  14. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Redders

    Do we think the Bs and Ks are already fully defined? Or do some Bs have the chance to become Ks?

    Did you watch the Arteta press conference?

  15. LBG says:


  16. RA says:

    I did watch his very well thought out interview, Rocky.
    I was impressed.

    I mentioned the ‘Bs’ and ‘Ks’ list slightly tongue in cheek, because some of those who will be on show are neither – just not good enough, at the moment, but Mikel’s reputation as an excellent coach with man management skills could change all that, if the players are prepared to listen.

    He has been told, I understand, that he will get bugger all for transfers, so he will need to give the players a chance to shape up or ship out.

    We do not want those who do not want Arsenal – they are confirmed Bastards by my reckoning – but we will see, I suppose.

    Peaches was being diplomatic with the time, when she put today’s Post up, as I showed in late comments that I was the undisputed champion anagrammer – putting you and the Rasper in your places!! 😂🤪

  17. LBG says:

    Mavrapanos is fit. Medley out, him in……but the teams are out!

  18. Team news ………..

    AMN …. Chambers …. Luiz…… Saka
    Torreira … Xhaka …. Nelson
    Smith Rowe …. Martinelli ….. Auba

  19. RA – I meant to apologise for cutting you off in your prime 😉

  20. LB says:

    Always good to read one of your posts, greatly appreciated as ever.

    I find it difficult to imagine any other ream selection than the one you have above but with the inclusion of Ozil in place of SR.

    I would worry that an incredibly youthful team could suffer an 8-0 loss with the obvious damage that would have on their mental development, it could be the other way round I suppose but I am clearly more risk averse than others.

    If Arteta is a product of Guardiola, then young players may have to wait a bit longer than they hoped. By way of example, the youthful and gifted Foden still hardly makes the first team; in fact, when I think about it City have a bad reputation for bringing academy players through the ranks, there is probably one exception that proves the rule that I have forgotten.

  21. LB says:

    And just when you finish writing the team news is announced making me look a fool…………lol

  22. LB says:

    I suspect that is going to be:


    AMN, Chambers, Luiz, Saka




  23. LB says:

    Hmmmm, Guardiola has a choice between playing experienced players and more youthful, looking above I am not sure that Arteta will.

  24. RA says:

    No complaints from me, Peaches. 😁

    I write so much rubbish – you probably saved me from a lynching!!

  25. RockyLives says:

    Well done Sue – you were right about Saka.

    Interesting that Freddie is starting Nelson and Martinelli ahead of Pepe.

  26. RA says:

    The subs are quite interesting – includes Mavropanos – maybe he will get some minutes now Embery has gone??

  27. RA says:

    Sue is out buying me a Chrissie present, Rocky. 🤪

  28. RA says:

    Oops —

    Subs: Subs: Martinez, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Pepe, Willock, Mavropanos, Lacazette.

  29. VP of Oz says:


    after today a new era begins. Perfect lego hair in the dugout for 3.5 years. Is it real?

  30. RockyLives says:

    With Ancelotti also watching from the stands, Everton have both “curse of the ex player” and “new manager bounce” in their favour. Hope it doesn’t prove too much.

    Perhaps in a way Arteta also represents “former player coming back to haunt us” as far as Everton are concerned, so it may even itself out.

    No Theo for the Toffees, even on the bench. Is he crocked?

  31. RockyLives says:

    Poor Sue. How on earth do you find a present for the Redders who has everything?

  32. RockyLives says:

    Since you lot can’t be bothered I’ll pat myself on the back for correctly calling ESR’s first Premier League start.

  33. Well done Rocky for selecting ESR 👏👏👏

  34. VP of Oz says:

    yes well done Rocky and another brilliant post

    geez we have some great talent
    I love Martinelli and Saka is also good

  35. RockyLives says:

    Thank you Peaches! How kind and totally unlooked for 😀

  36. RockyLives says:

    Looks like Iwobi will be going off with a hamstring problem, so the ex player curse will be off the agenda.

  37. fred1266 says:

    LBG EMR playing let’s see what he got

  38. RockyLives says:

    Saka, Martinelli and Nelson have all had good moments already. Let’s hope they keep it up.

  39. I’m pleased we didn’t go into business with Ancelotti …… does he ever smile? Looks so gloomy ……. who’d want to have to see that face everyday? I’m sure his mum loves him.

  40. VP of Oz says:

    I’m watching live but rocky commenting on iwobi hamstring was about 3 minutes before I saw it happen…

    soothsayer on ESR and now Iwobi

  41. fred1266 says:

    rc78 also loves him

  42. RockyLives says:

    Has Auba touched the ball yet?

  43. fred1266 says:

    Yea once and gave it away immediately

  44. RockyLives says:

    Two touches for ESR, both too heavy leading him to lose possession each time.

    Settle down lad.

  45. fred1266 says:

    He isn’t ready IMO, what about Nelson doing nothing on the other side of the flank

  46. LBG says:

    Continuing evidence of that fine defender….Luiz.

  47. LBG says:

    Martinelli being kicked off the field. Any chance of some protection from the referee… he’s not our Friend!

  48. RockyLives says:

    The commentators have rightly mentioned the lack of movement of our front players.

    That’s often a sign of a team that’s demoralised and lacking in confidence.

    But it’s a relatively easy fix for Miki moving forward.

  49. fred1266 says:

    Was luiz trying to even block that shot

  50. Rasp says:

    So far so good. Neither side are playing with great confidence but we’re working hard and competing. Note to our defenders … never let the long ball bounce near or in the box.

  51. LB says:

    Luiz looks like the only person holding that make shift defense together.

    Obviously not the long term answer and with defensive numbers being as low as they are he cannot be deployed in front of the back line as I have suggested might have worked better against stronger teams like City.

  52. RA says:

    To be candid, Rocky, poor Sue does not even know that I am setting her up for exclamations of horror at a lack of a prezzie for me, especially as she knows nothing about it!! 😛

    As these things go, I am not too unhappy with 0 : 0 at halftime. Martinelli plays the way they all could learn from. All action!!

  53. LBG says:

    Fabian Delph proving he hasn’t lost his Manshitty fouling skill.

  54. RA says:

    Emile is a potentially fine player, but he needs the minutes to get up to speed.

    He’ll be all the better for more games.

  55. RockyLives says:

    I agree about ESR Redders.

    Today he looks like he has concrete boots on, but it’s just nerves. He just needs time.

  56. RockyLives says:

    Xhaka is having a good game.

  57. RA says:

    That’s true, Rocky, but Xhaka always has those heart stopping slow motion errors in his kitbag – just like Luiz.

  58. RA says:

    Definitely been an improvement by Freddie’s team.

  59. Who fancies writing about that one?

    I thought we defended well, looked like we cared about not conceding 😁

  60. Sue says:

    I said we wouldn’t keep a clean sheet 😂

  61. RockyLives says:

    Well, I wouldn’t have guessed a nil-nil.

    We did OK today and I’m glad Freddie went out with a point.

    Solid performances from the back four (despite Luiz having a dodgy first 15 minutes). Decent from Xhaka and Torreira.

    Saka, Martinelli, Nelson and Willock showed plenty of energy and promise. Smith-Rowe struggled with his first touch but still had some good moments.

    Auba was never really in the game and didn’t look particularly happy. He’s not really captain material.

    And at last a clean sheet for the excellent Leno (even though he had very little to do in this game).

    So, overall not bad (and better than we’ve seen recently).

    However… our game is littered with little mistakes, lapses in concentration and bad habits. This is from a combination of low confidence and what seems to have been a lackadaisical attitude that has been allowed to develop at the club.

    There are encouraging signs for the future but there’s no question that the whole squad needs a good shake-up and a kick up the posterior.

    Get going Mikel!

  62. Sue says:

    Wasn’t a bad result… Chambers was MOTM… it’s rare for one of our defenders to pick up that award!!
    I caught the last half hour.. was quite emosh at the end with Freddie and Dunc saying their goodbyes! Both have done a good job 👍
    Shopping done… after seeing a certain comment this morning, about throwing me in a pond (yet again 😜). Little does RA know that I’ll pull him in with me, so his present was easy – a mankini 😂😂

  63. GoonerB says:

    Well I never. RA, I really must apologise. I have been blogging with you for a while and I hadn’t realised you were in your prime as Peaches mentioned earlier. If I had known you were in your prime I would have fawned over you far more than I have done 😀

    And as for peaches cutting you off in your prime, well just rest assured she will have no chance once you don the mankind Sue is getting you. The mental image I have of that is….well…..😳

    Thanks for a great post Rocky. I couldn’t fault anything today as a steady the ship type performance. The energy and work rate was very good and there was plenty of evidence of having a solid base to spring from.

    My prediction is that ESR will become the best of our midfielders once they all reach their top potential. I think his potential is higher.

    My only gripe was Aubas scowling face when subbed.

  64. GoonerB says:

    Sorry, as you probably have realised, that was not meant to read mankind but mankini

  65. Brilliant goal from Jamie Vardy 👏👏👏

  66. Sue says:

    Game on!! Mahrez deserved a goal… KDB next?!
    Seems weird seeing Pep without Arteta!

  67. Aaron says:

    Great title and darn near got the new entire lineup correct.

    Watched the game out West, on tape delay, and did not come here to read anything before the actual game started.

    Was startled to see the lineup, and was encouraged by Freddie’s stance to the game. albeit there were mitigating factors, but still started the youngest EPL team to date.

    Pleased that we did not concede, should throw a party today. Did not even look like Everton had a good look except for the one cross from their best offensive player that no one could get on the end of.

    Thought ESR should not have deferred to Auba on that pass, and felt that he could have one timed it into the net!

    Saka, really helped the left hand side to keep possession today, a rarity in the last 18 months and was glad not to see Kola and Mesut over there. Martinelli also gave them hell, and should have had someone on that side sent off for multiple foot stomps.

    One thing that Mikel needs to have the midfield work on is playing from the back and receiving the ball on longer passes- the 1st touch.

    Overall, a good day, took a valuable point away, on the road, and did not concede.

    Props to Freddie for coming in with the the BFG, and holding down the fort with little water and no ammo.

    Onward and upward!

  68. RockyLives says:

    I can do a few words about the match Peaches.

  69. Sue says:

    That was a good game! Now it’s the darts… it’s ladies night! Come on!!

  70. RockyLives says:

    Report in drafts Peaches

  71. Superstar Rocky 😁

  72. Sue says:

    Holy cow!!! Fallon Sherrock has done it again 👊
    Oh boy, that was superb!! She was amazing!
    Tungsten drama at the Ally Pally.. you can’t beat it 👍 Woohoo, girl power!!

  73. RC78 says:

    I like Freddie but I thought that his best teams on the field had Pepe, Laca, Martinelli, Douzi, Kola, Chambers and Leno on the pitch. Why drop Laca and Pepe?

    Am sure that Arteta will play them both.

    Leno – AMN, Chambs, Holding, Kola – Douzi, Torreira, Luiz – Pepe, Laca, Martinelli

    I can see him let Auba, Ozil and Xhaka go and also Mustafi and Sok. He s gonna bring in new blood

  74. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post …

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