Stick with Auba or put in the NextGen from the start…

December 4, 2021

Auba seems to continue his dip in form since signing his mega contract. It could be that he is not getting enough service but when he does, he does not put the ball in the back of the next and that’s what he is asked to do. If our main striker is not scoring, we are going to have struggle winning points…

I believe that at the moment our freshest and hungriest forward is Martinelli and I d start him in every game. I also think that ESR, especially, but the midfield in general play best when Laca is on the pitch so why not go for the following line-up up front:

Saka, ESR, Martinelli – Laca

If Arteta is not happy with Laca, then stick Balogun, Nketiah or Pepe in the mix but for me Saka, ESR and Martinelli should start at the moment if fit.

As for Odegaard, he has yet to convince me. His delivery on set-pieces is interesting but other players can deliver the ball as well like ESR, Saka, Pepe and Laca…

In the last few games, Lokonga has shown good promises and maybe it is time to also give more of a chance to AMN because he played well when called upon…so what if we, in the end, played:

Rams – Tomy, Ben, Gabs, Nuno (or Tierney) – Lokonga, AMN – Saka, ESR, Martinelli – Laca

Would that be a decent line up? Would that be our optimal line-up?

Partey still needs to show his best but our patience is also running out so why not give him a taste of the bench? Then on the bench you have: Leno – Chambers, Holding, Mari, Tierney (or Nuno) – Partey, El Neny – Ode – Pepe, Nketiah, Auba, (+Balogun, Cedric)

So shall we go for it?


An upseting loss and worrying form from Partey and Auba

December 3, 2021

The game started well with a goal that came our way in the oddest circumstances but we ll take it. Then we give away a cheap goal by not following Fred in the box…Following this, we give away another cheap goal but we quickly react and get an equalizer after a good transition phase seeing Martinelli square off with Odegaard. Odegaard then slices a player in our box for no reason…gives away a PK that CR7 scores to make it 3-2 and reach his 801 goals. Upsetting loss. Worrying performances by Partey and Auba. Bright lights were our full-backs again, El Neny and our brightest star yesterday Martinelli.

Fatgingergooner says:

“Not sure how we lost that game but we did. As with the Liverpool game, we conceded just before and just after half time. You’re not going to win many games doing that. Also in line with the Liverpool game, we managed to fire up the home team. Arteta’s spat with Klopp sparked Liverpool into life, and our weird goal and a sense of injustice fired up United. The nature of our opener certainly didn’t help our cause. I think we missed Saka’s cutting edge in the final third, and we somehow managed to concede 3 sloppy goals. I’d like to see a front 3 of Martinelli, Saka, ESR for a few games as I think the Brazilian looks really sharp and it’s clear that Auba is struggling. Onwards and upwards”

RC78 rates:

“Ramsdale – 5, nothing wrong but not decisive
Tomy – 6.5, played well
White – 5.5, not his best esp. in the first half
Gabs – 6, the better CB tonight
Tavares – 6.5, played well
Partey – 2.5, quite a disaster today
El Neny – 6, our best midfielder
Odegaard – 5, ghastly, then hero through his goal and then villain by conceding the PK
Martinelli – 7, our best player
Auba – 4.5, another outing that begs the question of his utility to the team
ESR – 5.5, quiet by his standard”

Yesterday our two worse players were Partey and Auba and Odegaard, besides his goal, was also poor.

If these 3 do not perform, we have Lokonga/El Neny + Martinelli-Laca and even Nketiah in our locker so I would agree with Fatgingergooner and as in a previous post, let us just play Martinelli, ESR, Saka up front and may be we make them play with Laca in our 4231 set-up. These 4 players are showming more hunger and form:

Rams – Tommy, White, Gabs, Nuno – Lokonga, El Neny – Saka, ESR, Martinelli – Laca

Arteta: 4.5.

Man Utd: MOTM – CR7 because of his two goals.

How we lost this game is still a mystery.


Man Utd vs Arsenal…A match not to be lost…

December 2, 2021
Everton's Spanish midfielder Mikel Artet

So Man Utd invested massively over the summer with Varane, Sancho and also brought CR7 back to Old Trafford. They have a quality and talented squad for sure but for some reason, they have not gelled yet. I am hoping that their struggle will continue at least until February 😛

My love for AFC grew in the 90s and my dislike for Man Utd grew proportionally as their team back then was full of annoying players from Schmeichel to Neville to Keane and RVN but also talented ones like Scholes and Giggs but anyways, for me, I get even more annoyed with Man Utd than with Spurs…anyways…

Tonight is about “not losing” – making sure that we are solid, do not give away cheap chances and goals. Stay focused and pounce on the counter if you can. We need resilience, power and pace today to keep Utd at bay. They have a devastating strike force with Rashford, CR7, Sancho (+ their subs) and then Fernandes can create a goal of nothing. I always feel that Maguire has a goal but also a mistake in him so for me, it is going to come down to who is going to dominate the midfield and makes the least mistake and I d play the following line-up:

Rams – Tomy, White, Gabs, Nuno – Partey, Lokonga – Saka, ESR, AMN – Laca

but I am expecting: Rams – Tomy, White, Gabs, Nuno – Partey, Lokonga – Saka, Laca, ESR – Auba

Whoever starts, let them put in a good shift and bring at least a point back from Man Utd.

COYG!


An open race for the 4th EPL spot?

November 30, 2021

The Top 3 teams in the EPL are, at least, within the Top 5 teams in Europe:

  • Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, Bayern, Real…

There is a case for Dortmund (as always), Ajax (who is having a great year again) and may be even Atletico Madrid but teams like PSG, Juve, Barcelona and Man Utd or Sevilla or Villareal are looking a bit off the pace SO FAR… the December reality may not be the May-June reality…

In the EPL, the top 3 teams have widened the gap with the rest of the pack until now whether it is Man Utd, Leicester, West Ham, Tottenham and ourselves. At this stage, we cannot totally discard them but Wolves and Aston Villa or Brighton do seem to be fighting more for a Top 8 finish but who knows..

The interesting thing is that there are 5 genuine contenders for the 4th and last Top 4 sports and it is hard to tell which team will come on top comes the end of the season.

  • Man Utd has a deep and talented squad and now a very good coach so there is a chance that they kick-on…
  • Tottenham has a good squad and strong coach as well and they may start winning games more regularly in the second half of the season
  • West Ham has been playing well this season and building on last season’s progress
  • Leicester has a core group of players that knows how to get things done and a very good coach as well
  • And then we have been rather good, built a good set-up and shoring things up defensively mostly…

So who will land the prized 4th spot?

  • Project Arteta?
  • Project Conte?
  • Project Moyes?
  • Project Rangnik?
  • Project Rodgers?

I am, of course, hoping for Project Arteta but the other teams have talent and proven coaches so it won’t be easy….The direct games against these teams are going to be key to securing the Top 4….What’s your take?

COYG! Let us finish in the Top 4 and start building a Champions-League worthy team….


AFC 2 – 0 Newcastle, the change of guard is happening…

November 27, 2021

A convincing win against a poor Newcastle team. We dominated possession, we dominated the midfield, we dominated also defensively. Overall, we just dominated – we maybe conceded 1-2 chances and I believe we should have been awarded a PK at the end of the game as Lascelles’ elbow into Martinelli’s face was a clear foul and intentional…Anyways…Two very well taken goals by Saka assisted by Tavares and Martinelli by Tomyasu (our wings are working decently 🙂

Ramsdale: Untroubled, calm…6

Tomyasu: Proving to be an astute purchase. An assist and solid going forward and defensively. 7.5

White: Not bothered. Did not take any risks. 6.5

Gabriel: Solid and more daring than White. 7

Tavares: Slowly but surely becoming the Nr.1 option as LB. Bright, brave and solid. Needs to be more aware at times defensively but wonderful going forward. An assist. 8.

Partey: Solid but also guilty of some poor passing once we were up 2-0. 6

Lokonga: Solid, sober. 6.5

Saka: Wonderful before his injury. A goal and plenty of gusto. MOTM. 8

Ode: A rare start. Did not help his cause but did not make it worse either. Some good passing. 6

ESR: A quiet game by his recent standard. 6

Auba: Ghastly. 5.5

Martinelli: Full of life and trickery. A great goal and should have gotten a PK at the end.

Laca: Energetic but not decisive. 5.5

El Neny: N/A.

I think today was a real marker for Arteta’s AFC in many ways

  • Ramsdale and the back four are rather solid and seem to enjoy defending together.
  • We were supposed to be excited about Auba, Laca and Pepe but in the end, it seems that our excitement and goals may come from ESR, Martinelli and Saka! ESR and Saka are clear starters now and although he needs to become fitter, Martinelli could be the striker we need. Has the change of guard happened…
  • Partey, Lokonga – Ode – did not look out of sorts but I still believe this is the area of the pitch that could use some improvement.

The losers: Pepe, Saliba, Auba, Tierney, Cedric/Chambers.

The winners: Tomy, Tavares, Martinelli


Liverpool continues its annual AFC battering at Anfield in the EPL..

November 22, 2021
HIGHLIGHTS | Liverpool vs Arsenal (4-0) | Premier League - YouTube

The last few years, we have been crushed by LFC in the EPL at Anfield:

  • 2019/2020: Liverpool 3 – AFC 1
  • 2018/2019: Liverpool 5 – AFC 1
  • 2017/2018: Liverpool 4 – AFC 0

So we had conceded 12 goals and scored two in the last 3 away EPL games at Anfield and it seems that last week-end, we were unable to reverse the tide against Klopp’s Red Army…

This game was supposed to be a benchmark for us in terms of measuring our progress but if you look at the score and the way we conceded the goals, you cannot be objectively optimistic. Of course, LFC are a well-drilled and oiled team with a fantastic trio up front and a robust defense but could we not have done better? Should we not have done better? Wasn’t it Arteta’s responsibility to set-us up better against this formidable team…

4-0, 2 soft goals and then a capitulation….There were weaknesses all over the pitch and on the side line for us. It was a no contest and the better team won convincingly and deservedly.

AFC – Players Rating: Average of 4. / Manager rating: 2 (because of his yellow card, otherwise 3.5)

Not much to say besides the fact that we are still maturing as a team and that we must do better in next game and next time against such opposition.

There is no shame losing to LFC, Man City or Chelsea but we need to put in better performances, grind out some results. I would be super happy if we finished 4th behind them but will it happen? Are we the best of the rest? Some teams have better squads like Man Utd for example and some teams play better as a team like West Ham this year or Leicester last year…Is a top 5 finish and a Cup win, the minimum for Arteta this year?


Liverpool Away: a Real Test of Our Progress. Prematch and Predicted Line-Up

November 20, 2021

Can Arteta’s men punch above their weight today?

Just a brief prematch today as I’m in a rush.

Our progress this season has been mostly positive after the dreadful start of losing the first three games.

Key partnerships in defence, midfield and attack have gradually taken shape and given us grounds for optimism.

However, we are still unconvincing at times and can make heavy weather of games we should be dominating.

On paper Liverpool will be strong favourites today and a defeat for our boys is likely.

However, I watched the Scousers’ recent defeat at the hands of West Ham. They were pretty unconvincing at times in that game and looked vulnerable at the back. We certainly have the attacking personnel to hurt them if we play to the best of our abilities.

But with their in-form attackers we’ll have our work cut out to keep a clean sheet. We need Ramsdale to be on top form and for the White-Gabriel axis to continue functioning as well as it has done in many games this season.

There are late fitness questions about Aubameyang and Partey. Let’s hope they both get the nod to play.

Predicted line up:

Ramsdale

Tomayisu – White – Gabriel – Tierney

Partey – Maitland-Niles

Saka – Lacazette – Smith Rowe

Aubameyang

Even if we go down to defeat, the manner of losing is important. If we get thrashed there’s a danger it will damage our recent momentum; if we end up second best in a close-fought game we’ll be able to take pride and credit from it.

But I’m going for a sneaky 1-2 away win for the good guys.

Come on you Gunners!

RockyLives


Newcastle to poach some AFC players?

November 17, 2021
Holding & Chambers get under-21s nod – Arseblog News – the Arsenal news site

The press is indicating that Newcastle is interested in purchasing some of players currently playing in the EPL, including at AFC:

  • Apparently, they want some Man Utd players like Lingaard and Van Den Beek
  • Apparently, they are also interested in AMN, Holding and Chambers

So the question is to see whether we should actually consider serious purchase offers from Newcastle…if they are willing to invest in some of our lesser used players…

What is your take on:

  • Chambers
  • Holding
  • Mari
  • Kolasinac
  • Pepe
  • El Neny

Shall we consider an offer from Newcastle for them in January?


Your ultimate AFC XI with English players only from players playing from the 1990s onwards for us…

November 14, 2021
Premier League team of the season so far - BBC Sport

So as we have Ramsdale, Saka and ESR in the England squad and we also have Balogun in the youth set-up, it may be time to reflect on our English contingent at AFC since 1990 and onwards…Who will make it in your ultimate all English AFC XI?

Here is mine:

Seaman – Keown, Adams, Campbell, Cole – Parlour, Merson, Wilshere – Saka, Wright, Walcott

Will Jenkinson, Bould, Winterburn, Dixon, Smith, Chambers, Chamberlain, AMN, ESR, Smith, Wellbeck, make it into your team?

A link to get some ideas

https://www.englandstats.com/club.php?cid=4


Emile Smith-Rowe: Our new Robbie Pires, Hleb or our own AFC KDB?

November 10, 2021

Needless to sat that ESR’s trajectory in the last 18 months has been fast and ascending. Not only has he managed to establish himself as a regular starter at AFC, he has also impressed his coaches at England Under-21 and his bright start of the season has seen him get his very first call-up to the senior England national team…

Quick recap: ESR is a 21 yo attacking midfielder, an AFC academy graduate who also had short but useful loan spells at Leipzig and Huddersfield town. He has represented England at youth level and has won the 2017 Fifa U-17 World Cup with Brewster, Foden, Gibbs-White, Hudson-Odoi and Sancho amongst others. This season he has registered 5 goals and 2 assists including 4 goals and 2 assists in the EPL. He operates as an attacking left midfielder from the left side…

Hence drawing comparisons with Pires and Hleb but also with KDB who started as a wide attacking midfielder in Germany…

So ESR works hard, had a decent eye for a pass and a goal. He is not necessarily fast but he is not slow either. He is not a winger crazy about dribbling and crossing from the touchline and he is not a fake 9 either or a 10 in the mould of Ozil. He is also not an 8.

So according to you, is ESR more like Robbie Pires, Hleb or K. De Bruyne? Our nemesis R. Ferdinand says that he is a blend of Pires and Hleb and for once, he may not be totally off the mark