Burnley – Arsenal, another 3 points in the bag?

September 18, 2021
Burnley vs Arsenal Predictions, Betting Tips & Match Preview

Finally, some AFC Football again! Since there are no cup games at the moment or European football for us this season, it seems we are having AFC Footie withdrawal symptoms…

So today’s game is so welcome! We are playing at Burnley who is also struggling. They are not a great team by any means but they work hard – direct football, long balls, set-pieces pressure… It will be important to be present in the duels, air and on second-balls (knock downs). Ultimately, we should have enough quality and fire power to see them off but we need to start on the front foot with a lot of…Intensity (Mikel’s favourite word). Holding, El Neny probably out and Xhaka is still suspended.

I would play a 343 today with the following line-up:

Ramsdale – Tomy, White, Gabriel – Saka, Lokonga, AMN, Tierney – ESR, Laca, Auba

I still can’t fit Ode in my team so not sure how Arteta does it…lol

Now Arteta would pbbly play:

Ramsdale – Tomy, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Lokonga, AMN – Saka, Ode, ESR – Auba

It is going to come down today to (i) Ramsdale aerial capacity/commanding his box, (ii) Lokonga and AMN to protect our box on knockdown ballsm (iii) on White and Gabriel to neutralize long/direct balls and then (iv) on Tierney, Saka to stretch the defense and Auba’s ability to finish chances. If Laca were starting, then I think ESR will score but I doubt Laca will start but he will come in and be a game changer.

I can see Laca and Auba score today but I am not sure we will win…especially if we play Ode and ESR together so I can see a draw at 2-2 or a hard fought 2-1 win for us.

COYG! Let us climb the EPL table, 3 points at a time


Is the next game critical for our EPL season?

September 10, 2021

So we have played 3 games in the EPL for 3 losses against:

  • Brentford: 2-0 away
  • Chelsea: 0-2 at home
  • Man City 5-0 away

So 0 point, 0 goal scored, 9 goals conceded.

Our next few games are:

  • Norwich at home
  • Burnley away
  • Tottenham at home
  • Brighton away
  • Palace at home

So 3 games at home against Norwich, Tottenham and Palace and 2 away at Burnley and Brighton.

Besides Tottenham, none of the team are “EPL power houses” although Brighton is improving with quality players and Norwich can be dangerous at times.

15 points to be taken and I would stay that we should expect/aim to take at least 10 points BUT if we do not win against Norwich, it could become very tough for us to catch the top half of the EPL table because others may take more points than us and the gap will widen but also because the mood around the team won’t change…until we get a convincing win. For that, I believe that the Norwich game could be a defining game in our season. Win it and you change the mood and get on an upward trajectory…otherwise, we re stuck and pressure piles on the team and Arteta…

So here is my preferred line-up if players are fit enough to start:

Leno – Holding, White, Gabriel – Chambers, Partey, Lokonga, Tierney – Saka, ESR – Laca

I am not a fan of Leno but he did well during last game so we cannot drop him yet.

Here is my prediction…a hard earned 2-1 win with Pepe or Auba delivering us from the bench with the winning goal.

COYG!


Possession football? Attack? Counter-Attack? Press? Counter-Press? Long balls…?

September 3, 2021
6 football tactics that changed the game as we know it | FourFourTwo

FGG and GB were having a debate on our tactical approach:

  1. Under Wenger, we were clearly attack-minded and towards the end, with a clear leaning towards possession football;
  2. Under Emery, we were tactically like a cameleon – changing according to the opponents but the idea was clearly based on quick transition football;
  3. Under Arteta, we are still unsure. It started quite brightly as a counter-attacking team but since then, there has been vague attempts at various types of football

Ultimately, the point was that whatever the brand of football chosen, you need to also have quality players and in the last few years, our squad is not as competitive as it used to be in comparison to other EPL squads. Man City, Chelsea changed the EPL with heavy investors and Liverpool followed suite together with Man Utd. Now, other teams like Leicester, Tottenham, Everton are also investing more willingly and all of them have improved their scouting capability…At one point, we were the best at unearthing talent especially from the continent and we were also very popular because of Wenger and his type of football and his care for young players…now this has gone…

So we sit, as a team that is yet looking for its identity under Arteta. It is full of promising players but they may never fullfill their potential/talent or may decide to export it elsewhere…Who Knows? The point is that maybe, finishing in the Top 6 would be actually a fair target for us – ambitious enough but not too ambitious…Would you be surprised if:

  • Tier A: Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd finished above us?
  • Tier B: What about Leicester, Tottenham, Everton, West Ham, Aston Villa, Leeds and Wolves?

We clearly are a notch down from the City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd at the moment but what about the other 7? Can we beat them to a top 6 finish? Is our squad in terms of quality better than the Tier B teams?

On another note, seems Arteta may be willing to play with a back 3 and would be happy if he stuck to this idea for a few months…

Is that our most solid team:

Ramsdale – Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel – AMN, Partey, El Neny, Tierney – Saka, Laca, ESR?

Leno – Chambers, Holding, Mari – Soares, Xhaka, Lokonga, Tavares (Soares) – Pepe, Auba, Martinelli

I still can’t see where I would play Odegaard in a 343 set-up…but Arteta knows and hopefully it will work out


The squad is there now. How do you set it up? Who is in your starting XI?

September 1, 2021

Transfer window is over. Arsenal tops the chart in the EPL this season in terms of net spender…but then again, if you look at the pedigree of players joining clubs, you would say that Chelsea and Man Utd have done well with respectively Lukaku-Saul and Ronaldo-Sancho-Varane. On an interesting note, Chelsea have bought for roughtly 100 Mln but recouped most of their investment through the sales of players like Tomori, Zouma and Abraham for example…

Anyways – let us look at our squad:

GK: Leno, Ramsdale, Okonkwo

RB: Tomiyasu, Chambers, Soares

CB: White, Holding, Gabriel, Mari

LB: Tierney, Tavares, Kolasinac

DM: Xhaka, El Neny, Lokonga

CM: Partey, AMN

CAM: Odegaard, ESR

RFW: Saka, Pepe

LFW: Auba, Martinelli

CF: Laca, Balogun, Nketiah

How would you set-up the team given the players we have? Who will be in your starting XI when all players are fit?


Few hours left and then the transfer window closes…

August 31, 2021
Only four exempt from criticism as former Arsenal star blasts squad

Here are the major outs:

  • Runnarsson
  • Bellerin (pbbly loan)
  • Luiz (end of contract)
  • Mavro (loan)
  • Saliba (loan)
  • Willock (sale)
  • Willian (contract termination)
  • Nelson (loan)

Here are the major ins:

  • Ramsdale – 25 Mln
  • Tomiyasu – 25 Mln
  • B.White – 50 Mln
  • Tavares – 19 Mln
  • Lokonga – 15 Mln
  • Odegaard – 30 Mln

Could still leave: Soares, Kolasinac, AMN, Nketiah

Unlikely to leave: Laca, Auba but you never know

Potential line up in the favoured 4231

Leno – Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, ESR – Auba

Ramsdale – Soares, Holding, Mari, Tavares – Lokonga, El Neny – Pepe, Laca, Martinelli – Balogun


2-0 for now and a man down…not looking good

August 28, 2021

Well well well…Xhaka just got a red card, not necessarily justified but could have gone either way…

Soares is having a horrible day at the office, Chambers and Auba too…

ESR and Odegaard not very good as part of the midfield three and Saka is just absent…Holding and Leno not being so bad given the circumstances but the weak links have been Soares, Chambers, Xhaka and Kola…

What will Arteta do at half-time? We were never going to win but we are not even contesting…this is a rout so far…


Torreira out, who is next?

August 26, 2021

As Torreira is joining Fiorentina on a season-long loan, Arteta mentioned the club is working on exits and the following players have been linked with moves away:

  • Willian to Corinthians once his contract is mutually terminated;
  • Nketiah rumored to join Crystal Palace;
  • Nelson could also join Crystal Palace but on-loan after signing a long-term contract with AFC;
  • Kolasinac also on the potential out list but no concrete offers for him yet;
  • Bellerin also on the potential out list but no concrete offers for him yet;
  • Soares with an uncertain future with us as well;
  • AMN, uncertain future but he may be keen to stay;
  • Lacazette rumoured to be on the market for 15 Mln EUR but I think it is unlikely;
  • Aubameyang supposedly monitored by Barcelona and Man City but I doubt he will leave.

So who do you think will leave?


Are we all alcoholics looking for salvation with another Cup….?

August 25, 2021

So our Cup jousts start today with a EFL Cup game against West Brom…

Given our lack of European football and limited ambitions in the EPL, it is fair to say that Cups will be given more priority by AFC this season and that we could expect Arteta to field a strong line-up in national Cup competitions as clearly they represent a great chance for trophies, success and even European football.

So some have said that the team has been hit with bad luck through Covid-19, injuries…and others feel that Arteta needs to prove himself and turn the results around. In any case, everyone agrees that our season’s success may be largely determined by (i) a Top 8 (yet Top 8 :-() and (ii) Cup glory.

Make no mistake – West Brom is in good form under Ismael and have players to hurt us. It may be a repeat of the Brentford game …

So who will start for us today? Give your predicted and preferred line-up…and outcome:

Here are mine:

Predicted line-up: Leno – AMN, Chambers, Holding, Mari, Tavares – El Neny, Xhaka, Odegaard – Pepe, ESR – Laca

Preferred line-up: Ramsdale – AMN, Chambers, Xhaka, Holding, Tierney – Odegaard, El Neny, ESR – Pepe, Saka – Laca

Outcome: Arsenal to win. COYG!


Entering the Plague Pit (The Emirates)

August 24, 2021
Arsenal / Chelsea - Emirates Stadium à Londres | Billets & Places

Rather than drone on about how bad Arsenal were against Chelsea, I thought I’d give an account of my day at the stadium.

It’s been 17 long months since there has been a ‘full’ Emirates stadium. I managed to get to a game in December against Vienna. That occasion was a surreal experience sitting 3 seats from any other fans, only topped by having to order a ‘substantial meal’ with my beer that same day.

I passed up the chance of a beer pre-match and headed straight to the ground. The fans in general were in a boisterous mood aided by alcohol and a variety of other substances.

Those of us with season tickets will be aware of the new entry requirements to the Stadium with a new card and/or an App on the phone. I decided to bring both as my experience of dealing with Arsenal’s website and customer service department is akin to drinking petrol…not pleasant.

We were funneled along some queues where coats and bags were checked before getting to the concourse around the stadium. This seemed to work well as the usual queues at the turnstiles were a lot shorter than in pre-covid times. There were a few hold ups at the entrance as there were some Apps that didn’t work, but I got inside the stadium pretty quickly. The bar areas were packed, and the Arsenal fans were in good voice. I went into the seating area, took up my place and caught up with a number of familiar faces.

I would say that the Stadium was two thirds full. I know several people that have caught Covid recently so couldn’t make the game or were understandably reluctant to come along. Others are on holiday and more didn’t fancy it for reasons of their own. The game didn’t sell out, which meant season ticket holders were unable to put their tickets on the ticket exchange. Considering this was the first full capacity game in the stadium for some time and we were playing a traditional rival from London it speaks volumes of where Arsenal are at the moment. Many fans can’t be bothered to watch a team that has declined a long way from the previous highs of the early 2000s. This is natural, but it must make the powers that be nervous.

At the start of the game the sun was shining, and the fans were making a lot of noise. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind the clouds, the heavens opened, and it didn’t stop pouring for about 30 minutes.

Near where I sit in the North Bank there was a broken gutter high up on the Stadium roof, which meant that bucket-loads of water tipped down on some unsuspecting fans below. This isn’t a cattle shed or Stamford Bridge in the 80s, it’s not a good look. It was interesting to note that the Stadium looked a bit washed out. The seats and murals have become sun-bleached like a lot of the cheap seats in a US Baseball Park. Considering the Stadium is only 15 years old it looks a bit jaded. Just like the team really.

You know what happened in the game, so no need for further analysis here. The fans dripped away as they tend to do at Arsenal leaving a half empty stadium at the final whistle.

The crowds outside trudged along slowly towards Arsenal tube and the other destinations. A few half-witted Chelsea fans (are there any that aren’t half-witted?) aggressively chanted their way down the road, then disappeared in another direction.

My group visited a few local hostelries. The atmosphere was upbeat in these pubs. The Arsenal fans know that the team is in bad state and will tolerate the poor fare on offer for a while before things turn toxic. Lose at home to Norwich and the mood could change quickly.

I really enjoyed my day out. It’s been a long journey to get back to full stadiums. I think most fans in attendance enjoyed the novelty of watching a game in person. Here’s hoping this carries on…

Up the Arsenal! Courtesy of: Pete the Thirst


Building a team for the future but at what cost and with which guarantees?

August 23, 2021
Martin Odegaard: Arsenal confirm £30m signing from Real Madrid | Daily Mail  Online

Arteta has been saying that since he arrived 20 months ago, he had to change many things at the club in terms of the way it operates, its culture…and to be fair, some positivity and changes were visible in his first 6 months with a new-found defensive resilience and 2 Trophies: An FA Cup and a Charity Shield. To win both, big teams had to be beaten so when we started last season, there was a sense that we could consolidate our gains and build on Arteta’s early success with our club and with the signings of Willian, Partey and Gabriel, there was a “feel good atmosphere” around our club especially after our demolition of Fulham away with a few assists from Willian…

Then the season 2020-1 was what it was with a poor League position, performances in the Cups were not great and our run in the Europa League ended against Emery…who went on to win the Europa League

By then, Arteta had been able to shape the team to his liking to a certain extent…This summer, he managed to make new additions: Ramsdale, White, Tavares, Lokonga and Odegaard. He also managed to extend Tierney and Smithe-Rowe while Saka signed on last year. All seem to have a similar profile: young players, good potential and a good engine. Tierney, Odegaard and Saka have got some international experience too.

So Edu-Arteta say that we are building a team for the future with solid foundations but they are two major assumptions here:

  1. They will play and improve with us
  2. They will want to stay with us in 12 or 24 months because they (still) believe in the project/in our club.

And I am not taking into account external assumptions related to other clubs also strengthening

I am sure that Arteta will give them the necessary playing time to develop and that our coaching staff will also help them improve but I am not sure that players like Tierney, ESR and Saka would like to stick with us, if we do not (i) contend for trophies, (ii) win trophies), (iii) finish Top 4 or Top 6 especially if clubs like City, Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real, Bayern, Barcelona, Juve, PSG come knocking at the door for them…

PSG needs a LB – they could easily approach Tierney. Would Tierney not want to play with Mbappy, Neymar and Messi?

Liverpool and City always looking to bolster their wingers’ option, wouldn’t Saka want to be coached by Guardiola or Klopp?

So, I understand that Edu-Arteta want more time (basically this season) but their project also need to include more instant success to ensure that the club is still competitive this season and that we can retain the younger talent extended and recruited…Otherwhise, their whole vision is doomed to fail…

Do you honestly believe that Arteta can make the following team (based on acquisition and Arteta’s formations since last year) compete for a Top 4 finish and a Cup Win this season:

Leno – Chambers, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Odegaard, ESR – Auba (or Laca)

I have my doubts…We had our best results with Arteta playing with a back 3 and I would be more comfortable going back to this set-up especially given the fact that we are conceding goals and chances like no one’s business….