Our season: A Glass 2/3 full?

June 1, 2023

What a roller coaster of a season! After an exhilirating first half of the season and a good start of the year and after more than 200 days at top of the league, our form dipped and Man City wins the league with a 5 points cushion…So how do we see the season? As a success? As a failure? As something in between?

  • Positives
    • We led the EPL for a good part of the season
    • We played some good football and finished in the Top 2 and with one of our highest points’ tally ever
    • The atmosphere around the team and the club generally was very positive
    • Our recruits made a positive difference both summer and winter recruits
    • Arteta-Edu seems to be a working duo
    • Some of our players grew tremendously: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli especially
  • Less positives
    • Finished the season without a trophy
    • Wobbled in the last 8 games…no matter what the reason is (mental, injuries…)
    • Some key players lost their ways in the finishing line: Ramsdale, Gabriel, Holding, Partey especially
    • Squad seemed too thin to match up against the might squad of Man City and will stuggle next year against teams expected to strengthen, especially Man Utd (Kane, Mount…)

So how do you see the season? Did we miss an opportunity to win the League? Does the “no trophy season” means that it was not a good season? Do the positives outweigh the negative?

Who are your:

  • Defender of the year: Saliba?
  • Midfielder of the year: Ode?
  • Forward of the year: Saka ?
  • Player of the year: Ode ?
  • Most improved player: Xhaka (and then White)

Where do you think we need to strenghten?

  • We need a better back-up GK – Lafont from Nantes or Islier from Leeds for me
  • We need another CB – Kim Min?
  • If Tomy leaves, we need another RB too
  • We need another DM/CM for sure – Rice?
  • We need another MF/FW as well to cover for Saka – Musiala? Gnabry?

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Kim Min, Zinchenko – Rice, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, Martinelli – G. Jesus

Lafont – Tomy, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, Kiwior – Gnabry, ESR, Trossard – Nketiah

Anyways, what are your thoughts and COYG! What a season to follow 🙂


Key players for our last 8 games…

April 13, 2023

24 points to take…Back-to-back games against City, Chelsea, Newcastle and Brighton between 26 April and 14 May…

What an exciting and yet stressful end of the season…Our team will be tested and all our team will be needed and as a team, we will need to perform at a high standard…Yet, some players will probably be more critical than others…Pick your top 5 players that need to be at their very best for us to have a chance to win this EPL, including one GK and one defender at least…

Here is my Top 5

  • Ramsdale – not always the most reasssuring of all GK but he has been good for us this season and helped us secure points multiple times this season. We need him at his best.
  • White – often underrated this season and not always great at RB, he has come up with some good performances this season and scored us a few critical goals. We need him to be decisive in both boxes.
  • Partey – our shield and heartbeat in midfield. We can’t afford to lose him or to have him drop his level of performance.
  • Martinelli – we need him to create goals and score goals while also working defensively. At his best, he allows to stretch the opposing teams and to not play too high against us…
  • Trossard – an impact player. He can’t have a dip in performance – whether he is a sub or a starter. He can be a catalyst for goals on our front line and he never whines about defensive duties…

Again, we will of course need Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Xhaka, Ode, Saka and Jesus to be at their best too but choices had to be made…What is your top 5 and why?

A Gooner in exile’s perspective after the draw at Anfield

April 12, 2023

Well that was a disappointing end to my weekend, but hey ho, we go again.

Last season none of us would have been disappointed with a draw at Anfield? I know Liverpool have not been firing but they still have the players to hurt anyone on their day. Its a testament to how far this young side has come.

Ramsdale must be sniffing an England start soon, not quite as calming as Safe Hands, with a bit more Lehmann in his demeanour but a top keeper nonetheless and pulled off two amazing saves. And what I like about him is he doesn’t seem to get upset when he has to make a save, it’s his job and he gets on with it (albeit with a little self congratulation).

I’m sure we are all now working out how we do it from here.

I’ve just been through remaining fixtures, and by my maths, we can draw at City and Newcastle, win the rest and have 93 points on the board. Taking 2 off City means even if they win their remaining they can only get 25 and a total of 92. League won!

Lose to City and obviously we need to run in the goals and win all the remaining games (or at least match City results).

Do we really expect to go unbeaten in the last 8 games, do we really expect City to win 9 on the bounce with Champions League and FA Cup fixtures around them?

If we push them to need to do that, we would have had a good season, and although it will be disappointing not to win the league, we have so much to look forward to with the current direction of the club on the pitch and behind the scenes.

Thanks GiE!

A bright team vs a team of stars…The story of Arsenal and PSG so far this season

April 3, 2023

As you all know, I am a fan of both these teams despite their obvious differences in business models…

Arsenal’s season thus far is one of team work and collective effort. Players applying a game plan and fighting for each other. Jesus defending, Ben White scoring, Zinchenko creating, Trossard running up and down, Odegaard intercepting… – just a few examples. There is a team spirit and cohesion and while everything can be improved, at least, there is a sense of unit and game playm

PSG’s season prior to the World Cup was one of team work and collective effort too and after the World Cup, the team is back to being a star-studded line up with no cohesion in attack or in defense. PSG had the league won before the X-Mas break and after it, they lost 8 times…mostly they are beaten by teams that are more aggressive and with players that are ready to work for each other. Injuries are decimating the defense but the issue is not injuries but work ethics and team set-up. The first part of the season we played 343 and 433 and now it s a bit fluctuating…no one really knows…lol…The coach won’t be kept and names like Zidane, Conte…are being linked with PSG again…I am not a huge fan of his but I think Conte for 2 years will do well at PSG. I also think that PSG need to get rid of Donnarumma, Navas, Dagba, Ramos, Bernat, Kurzawa, Michut, Verratti, Paredes, Wijnaldum, Soler, Draxler, Messi, Icardi and loan out players like Pembele, Gharbi…Basically, the team should be built around Mbappe and you need to play in a 4231 or 433 for him…

MESLIER OR LAFONT – Hakimi, SKRINIAR, Marquinhos, N. MENDES – , D. Perreira, RABIOT – BOWEN OR MOUNT, Neymar, Mbappe – KOLO MUANI (Or Goncalo Ramos or Marcus Thuram)

Rico – Badshiabu, Kimpembe, Diallo – Mukiele, F. Ruiz, Vitinha, Zaire-Emery, Truffert – Ekitike, MUNETSI

In the end, having the right coach with the right plan makes a huge difference. PSG wasted time with Emery and Pochetinno and now with Galtier. The only good goach we had since Laurent Blanc was Tuchel and we was unfairly sacked…now we are paying the price of this sacking since…So we need to adress this lack of team cohesion and game plan, for that, you need a coach with a big voice and personna and history of success. Conte fits that bill and he won’t be scared of the owners or star players. He can clean up the team and its surroundings for 2 years before getting the usual sack…I am a big fan of Gasperini and Jorge Jesus too but we need more vocals on the bench at PSG…

Anyways…back to AFC, we need to keep fit, focused and effective in both boxes. There is no space for a slip up because City won’t drop points…We have 4 very tough games: Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Newcastle, 2 tough games with West Ham and Brighton and then 2 easier games with Wolves and Forest although they ll be fighiting hard for survival…We would need ideally 22 points but I am thinking 18 points may be reachable so 90 points on the card but we really need 22 to win this EPL…So let us see if we can keep the momentum, our focus and our nerves…COYG!

March 25, 2023


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