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Sunday, November 03, 2019

To the Arsenal hierarchy: Sacrifice a few million to have a real chance of getting 60m.

By 1970's Gooner

Sacrifice a few million to have a real chance of getting 60m. That's the decision that the Arsenal hierarchy are now faced with. 

It's obvious now that Emery is not good enough to take this club forward. The dreadful form of the tail end of last season, which included a drubbing in the Europa League final, has predictably carried on this season. 

Emery himself has proved totally inept to manage the strong squad that has been assembled for him and has not established a style of play that we can identify with. Hell, he had around 15 months to sort out the defensive efficiency of the team but has achieved f... all. 

He has not shown strong leadership in the (non) selection of an inadequate captain (and player) and while declaring that his freezing of Ozil was an agreed action by all at the Arsenal implying that Ozil will be history, he makes a U turn and installs him in the starting 11!!!

This shows that he doesn't know what he is doing both off an on the field.

Take the game against Wolves as another example. A series of errors unfolded in front of us...

First the formation and starting 11.

What was it? Can you really understand what he had in mind? He played Torreira as a number 10!!!! And he had both Ceballos AND Ozil in midfield who are both creative players alongside Guenduzi who himself is not really a defensively minded player! 

This left no protection for the defence and allowed Wolves to boss the game in large parts of the encounter. They had 25 shots on goal to our 10. 25 shots on goal and we were playing at home.
This is criminal.

But the worse of it all his substitutions left everyone bewildered. 

At 60 min he brings off Lacazette who was having a good game and keeping them pegged back and brings on Martinelli. At 60 min! And we were comfortable up to then. There was no need to make that substitution but the result was that it further unbalanced and disoriented the team.

Then instead of bringing Torreira back to shield the defence he took him off! And put on Saka! who initially went in the number 10 position and then shifted to the left. What a pathetic substitution.

And when they equalised and we should have been looking to score the winner he takes off Tierney and brings on not Pepe but.....wait for it, Kolasinac...

Enough said the man has to go. And assuming he is on 6 m a year with a two year plus one contract then it will only cost Arsenal FC about 3m to get rid and say another extra 6m for the rest of the year if we are to get a top coach. Because Arsenal and its fans who pay top money to watch this rubbish deserve a top coach of this type of salary, not a mediocre one.

BUT THIS WILL BE MONEY WELL SPENT AS THE TEAM IS GOOD ENOUGH TO TAKE A TOP 4 SPOT AND GAIN A MONETARY RETURN OF AT LEAST 50 TO 60M.











Saturday, October 19, 2019

What the starting 11 should be against Sheffield Utd

By 1970's Gooner

This game coming up on Monday night away at Sheffield Utd will be the toughest Arsenal will face since Liverpool away but also the most significant so far.

Arsenal are in 4th position at the moment but really performances have not been up to standard and 4th position is more a result of weaknesses shown by other rivals aiming for the 4 top places rather than Arsenal's good football.

I have watched Sheffield Utd play this season against Everton away and Liverpool home. 

They are a very difficult team to beat but at the same time they do not sit back and park the bus. They are extremely well organised and are very adept at coming out of defence by their very accurate passes to their forward man. They are much better at this than Burnley. 

They also support their attacks with players from midfield and sometimes by one of their central defenders! They are a blend of a more modernised but also defensively minded Championship or 1970's side.

Their biggest strength lies in midfield where they are very industrious, full of running and tight pressing for 90 minutes. They fared very well against Liverpool's well oiled midfield trio.

They thoroughly deserved their away win at Everton and were very unlucky not to beat Liverpool or even get a draw as they created the more dangerous chances against them. It needed a howler from their goalkeeper, letting the ball slip through his fingers and legs, for Liverpool to beat them.

Those chances they created were defended very well by Liverpool. This Arsenal defence would have been inadequate to keep them out.

So Emery will need to be very careful in this game and put emphasis on matching them in midfield in terms of energy and strength as well as be very mindful of halting their counter attacks when they are in transition.

Emery's choices in midfield will need to take the above in mind and that is why I would play a defensively minded player as in Torreira along side Guendouzi and a more creative player like Ceballos. I would not start Ozil...

In defence I would keep the pairing of Socrates and Luiz and also Chambers as a right back as Bellerin will need to be eased back slowly considering how long he's been out. At left back I would start Tierney as he is a better defender and also more effective going forward with his accurate crosses and cut backs than Kolasinac.

In attack it looks as though Lacazette nay have to start on the bench as he may not be able to last 90 minutes. If fit of course he would walk straight into the side. Pepe's performances have been much below standard and in my opinion he needs to be rested and introduced back into the side later when he is ready. 

So if Lacazette could start today I would keep Saka and put Pepe on the bench. Otherwise Pepe will be given another chance alongside Aubameyang and Saka.

Leno

Chambers   Luiz  Socrates Tierney

Torreira Guendouzi

Pepe   Ceballos   Saka

Aubameyang


This is the moat significant game for Arsenal so far as they need to show to themselves and us that they can get results away from home (only one win so far) but also because the other top 4 aspirants face easier and winnable games. I don't think that they are going to be handing Arsenal any presents as they have done so far and any slip up we can end up 6th or 7th. 















Monday, August 26, 2019

Unai Emery needs to take a good look at himself

By 1970's Gooner

Unai Emery needs to take a good look at himself. He chose to play very defensively against Liverpool at Anfield and there is nothing wrong with that. But really you have to first choose the right formation and importantly the right personel.

Much has been said about the diamond formation which left a lot of space on the flanks for Liverpool's full backs to expose which is of course very correct.

But really the point is that the formation should have been to play with 3 at the back and the two wing backs to cover the flanks giving added protection in that sensitive area.

He also needed to include at least one if not two defensive midfielders in front of the back 3 for added protection. Who was the defensive midfielder among Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ceballos and Willock?

Ceballos is too raw in the Premier League for the moment to play in such a difficult game and so it proved. He hardly did anything of note and the game was passing by him...

Really how can you go to Anfield adopt defensive tactics against one of the most potent attacking sides of the league and play without a defensive player in the middle. This is mind boggling!

And finally he should have started with Lacazette and Aubameyang up front with Pepe on the bench. Lacazette with his combative attitude could drop back a little and help out when not in possession. Pepe to bring on later in the game when players from both sides tire.

The most worrying aspect of it all for me is that Emery was at a loss to try and take corrective action.

He made NO substitutions at half time when it was so obvious that we were being run ragged and torn to pieces. At least stick Torreira there at half time. Bring Lacazette on AT half time for Pete's sake.

DO SOMETHING!

Emery was proved inept. At playing the right tactics WITH the right personnel and the right
formation.

This is really worrying...








Sunday, July 14, 2019

Arsenal's transfer budget does not include a centre back

By 1970's Gooner

As we all know Arsenal's transfer budget was based on the accounting cash generated from the operations of the business of running a football club. Stan Kroenke and his son are hard nosed businessmen. 

They are not some benefactors that have bought a football club in the PL in order to realise a dream they had when they were small kids of 'one day owning their local football club'. Like for example Jack Walker with Blackburn. Nor are they Roman Abramovich, an Emir or even an Arab State who literally have money to burn.

So 40m plus say another 4 m (for Ospina) and what you can raise from selling players, preferably the big wage earners, is your lot and do the best you can because the business cannot afford more Mr Emery, they say. 

But 40 to 44m cannot really buy you much with the highly inflated prices of these days. Which are, by the way, brought about by the huge sums of money spent by the few mega clubs of Europe and the English clubs owned by the benefactors, as explained above.

Faced with this what can Emery and Arsenal's transfer 'gurus' do? Not much really.

We all know that Arsenal need to add a centre back, a left back and a wide midfielder as a minimum. Arsenal's current budget can get you an average player in only one of these categories. 

Can money be raised by selling unwanted players? 

The answer is not much:

Mustafi: No takers
Ozil: No takers (unless we pay more than half his wages)
Koscienly: 5m? 
Chambers: Probably Fulham but at 5m say?
Elneny: 5m at best.
Jenkinson: 3 to 5m

That's a total of about another 18 to 20m if indeed there are buyers at these prices AND the players are willing to go of course. If we can manage to get these sort of money then we are talking at best 60 to 65m. Less the 6m we paid for Marinelly leaves 54 to 59m.

If we get the Tierney deal over the line at 20m now plus extras (which would raise it to 25m over time) then that leaves us with 34 to 39m. Can you get the quality centre back and the wide midfielder we all want with this kind of money? 

The answer is no.

My feeling is that prior to Koscienly's unexpected downing of tools the plan was NOT to buy a centre back. Koscienly and Socrates would have been the initial pairing until Holding returned to action in September. 

The money saved was to be used to buy a decent wide midfielder. Or even to persuade Mr Kroenke to chip in with another 40m to buy Zaha....

The strategy for now is obvious: Stick to the plan. Persuade Koscienly to return to the fold. In this way the plan can be fulfilled. If however this proves not possible then what? 

I still think that the Arsenal transfer gurus will be keen to stick with Socrates, Monreal, Holding (in September) and Mavropanos if Kroenke accepts to release funds to make the Zaha transfer possible. This would be too good an opportunity to miss...

Otherwise they will either spend the rest of the budget (assuming it is augmented with player sales as above) to bring in a new centre back and rely on Iwobi, Mkhitaryan and Reiss Nelson for the wide areas.

OR split the budget to buy a centre back and wide midfielder at 20m each! Not recommended of course.

All the above depend on adding to the original budget, player sales worth around 18 to 20m.

If we don't manage that we are in deep shit.














Thursday, May 30, 2019

Major surgery needed but where and how?

By 1970's Gooner

It was obvious last night that the Arsenal team contained players that either did not do their job or were not up to the required standard.

The team lacked creativity and forward thrusts from midfield. Something that Ramsey would have provided in abundance. Sadly dozy Ozil failed miserably once again. The man is past it I tell you. He can't do it any more and this has been blatantly obvious for the last two seasons.

And this was the reason that the front two could not play their normal game as they were starved of service from midfield and the supporting forward thrusts.

It would have been more productive to have started with Willock. He did a lot more in those 15 or so minutes compared to what Ozil did the whole match....

Sadly for Maitland Niles, although he played well in the first half, it was his mistakes that cost us goals. 

The players were also too ready to open up the game so soon after we conceded the first goal. They had no nous to manage the game for a while and then try to get back.

So this defeat reduces our transfer budget for this window to 40m. This amount can these days only buy you an 'average' player!!!

So it is very important that Emery supplements that with player sales.

Lets start with the defence, an area which needs major surgery:

Players out:

Ospina (not good enough, can get a fee for him)
Cech (retiring)
Mustafi (enough said)
Jenkinson (contributed nothing this season)
Lichtsteiner (not up to the PL standard, too slow)

Players in:

Defence is a crucial area that Emery simply has to fix. Conceding 51 goals this (and about the same last season) is absurd. 

There is of course Bellerin and Holding to come back and this will bolster our defence but we need another high quality centre back as Koscienly is nearing retirement. We also need another left back as Monreal too is not getting any younger and Kolasinac is really a wing back not a left back.

Promote Martinez to number 2. He is a very good goalkeeper and we can save money to spend on other areas.

Midfielders:

Players out:

Elneny (very average player, passes sideways)
Mkitaryan (has ability but has not shown it. On very high wages)
Ozil (see above...., on outrageous high wages) 
Chambers (not good enough for Arsenal)

Players in:

Arsenal need to counterbalance the fragility of its central midfielders. This has been partially addressed with the excellent Torreira coming in this season and he will be better next season having adapted to the PL. 

But we need to pair him with another dynamic and strong central midfielder to provide proper cover in front of the defence. Xhaka is a good technical player with a very good left foot but he is not a defensive midfielder.

On the wide positions we only have Iwobi (and Mhktaryan) and we therefore need at least another quality player. It is good to see that Ryan Fraser is on our radar and I hope that this transfer goes through.

Promote Willock, Smith Rowe and Nelson and give them more games. 


Forwards:

Players out:

Welbeck (too prone to injuries and has not really produced it for Arsenal)

Players in:

We of course have to keep the two excellent forwards we have in Lacazette and Aubameyang! But we really have to provide service to them (by getting in a creative 10 and of course letting Ozil go).

Promote Nketiah and give him more games. He deserves a chance.


So in summary we need 4 players: A central defender, a left back, and a central and wide midfielder.




Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Note to Emery: The biggest mistake you can make is to repeat it.

By 1970's Gooner

The obvious strategy for Emery and Arsenal is of course to not prioritise one of the two routes to CL status for next season. Not unless one becomes out of reach.

You can say that for both options Arsenal's fate is in its hands. There are 4 PL games and 3 Europa league games left so the task in terms of number of games is about the same. But which of the two is the harder to win? I would say, marginally, the Europa league due to its higher degree of difficulty and its knock out character (for the semis).

So if your chances are split then you don't prioritise either competition AND you play each game selecting your best available team. Rotation will be a big mistake as you can end up with nothing. Especially if your second string are not good enough....

Rotating in the PL has proven to be almost fatal for Emery. He got away with it at Watford where playing with a player more for most of the game we were under the kosh and were very lucky to hold on.

But of course if you are lucky one time there is no guarantee that your luck will be repeated. And so the home Crystal Palace game proved to be a step too far for Emery.

He of course made the same selection mistakes at Everton previously (esp playing Guendouzi and Elneny) and the one nil score line was kind to us.

So the only viable strategy for Arsenal will be to play the best team for every game barring injuries and suspensions.

Considering the PL, Emery has to also play an attacking formation with the two forwards of Lacazette and Aubameyang starting and another creative midfielder behind them. 

This is because his recent rotationally influenced dreadful selections have resulted in us loosing very valuable points and now we have to recover them with only a few games left. Especially as the other competitors keep slipping up.


                     Leno

        Socratis  Koscienly Monreal

Maitland Niles  Torreira Xhaka  Kolacinac

                   Ozil

   Aubameyang  Lacazette


Note to Emery: 

The biggest mistake you can make is to repeat it.











Monday, April 15, 2019

Change of players or change of attitude against Watford?

By 1970's Gooner

This game against Watford is the most crucial game for Arsenal in the race for the CL spots.

Loose it and to all intends and purposes you are out of the race for the top four. This is because the dreadful away form that all media and pundits are correctly talking about will become the norm of what to expect from Arsenal for the rest of the remaining games. And the remaining games contain another 3 away fixtures (Wolves, Leicester and Burnley)….

Beat Watford and the mood changes, the media and the pundits change their tune and more importantly the players begin to believe that they can win away. And they can carry this belief  forward.

This is why Emery should choose to play to Arsenal's strengths and not overdo the attention he gives to combating Watford's threats and physical approach.

Arsenal's strength lies in attacking play and controlling the game from midfield. Just as they try and do at home games. Changing the personnel (as he is thinking of doing) and the style of play for the away games will not work and evidently has not worked up to now.

This is why he has to select his best 11 and go all out for the win at Watford. He should treat it like a Cup final.

This means that both Lacazette AND Aubameyang have to start tonight up front.

Torreira and Xhaka (or Guendouzi) can play in front of the defence. Ramsey a bit further up with Ozil rested.

Unfortunately Mustafi will have to come in alongside Koscienly and Monreal with Maitland Niles and Kolasinac as wing backs.

                 Leno

Mustafi  Koscienly   Monreal

Maitland Niles  Torreira Xhaka Kolacinac

                Ramsey

Aubameyang  Lacazette



Friday, March 29, 2019

What my 'computer' predicts for the top 4 places

By 1970's Gooner

We are due to return to the much awaited final run in for the Premier League with the title winner left to be decided, the three relegation places to be confirmed and of course the remaining third and fourth CL places hotly contested by four teams. 

Everyone including journalists are voicing and writing their opinion about who they think will finish in the 3rd and 4th places. But this is backed mainly by their intuition. They have not really sat down to put to paper their predictions nor have they really backed up these predictions with any structured justification.

Lets make it clear. The 'computer' I refer to in the title of this post is my personal thinking as to the likely outcomes of the games involving those chasing a top four placing but structured to follow some guidelines.

I have made therefore some, what I consider, realistic guiding assumptions regarding the outcome of each team's remaining games. 

These are as follows:

- Any games against the top two will be lost.

This affects Spurs the hardest as they have to play both Liverpool and Man City away. Also Man Utd play at home to Man City and Chelsea play at Liverpool.

- Any games between the current 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th teams will be drawn.

This only affects Chelsea and Man Utd who play each other 
at Utd.

- All end of season fixtures are expected to be won by the four 
competitors as I expect all opponents will be on the beach by 
then, with relegation already decided and other safe teams 
indifferent.


Spurs

Spurs apart, from playing the top two away from home, have 

probably the easiest run in with 5 of their other 6 games being 
at home against opponents they are very capable of beating. 
These include Crystal Palace, Huddersfield, Brighton, 
West Ham and Everton with only indifferent Bournemouth 
away

Predictions :

1.Liverpool (A)          0
2.Crystal Palace (H)  3
3.Huddersfield (H)    3
4.Man City (A)          0
5.Brighton (H)           3
6.West Ham (H)        3
7.Bournemouth (A)   3
8.Everton (H)             3

Total                        18
Current points        61
Final points             79


Man Utd

I expect Man Utd to pick up a point from its two home fixtures 
against Man City and Chelsea. 

They have a Wolves game away just five days before Wolves play 
their FA Cup semifinal. I expect Wolves will not have their full 
wits for this fixture and Utd will win it.  

Utd play against West Ham at home after their first CL game 
against Barcelona and I expect them to win this game as 
I consider West Ham will be indifferent. However Utd play 
Everton away after their 2nd CL leg against Barcelona. 

I expect them to draw this fixture due to tiredness 
and disappointment from getting knocked out of the competition.

Predictions:

Watford (H)       3
Wolves (A)         3
West Ham (H)   3
Everton (A)        1
Man City (H)     0
Chelsea (H)        1
Huddsfield (A)   3
Cardiff (H)         3

Total                    17
Current points   58
Final points        75


Chelsea

Apart from having to play Liverpool and Man Utd away, Chelsea 
have a very easy and winnable fixture list with 4 of the remaining 
6 fixtures at home ( Brighton, West Ham, Burnley and Watford) 
and away at Cardiff and Leicester (last game). 

However they go into the remaining fixtures 3 points away from 
4th spot leaving them with a lot to catch up.

Predictions:

Cardiff (A)       3
Brighton (H)    3
West Ham (H) 3
Liverpool (A)  0
Burnley (H)     3
Man Utd (A)   1
Watford (H)    3
Leicester (A)   3

Total                  19
Current points  57
Final points       76


Arsenal

Arsenal as you may know do not have to play any of the other top 
five clubs around them. But 5 of their 8 games are away, which is 
worrying as our away form, although better than last season, 
is not ideal. 

I would consider that the Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Brighton 
home games are very winnable. 

However, and to take into account that our away form is not 
great, I have not allowed an away win apart from the last 
game of the season at Burnley where I would expect that 
they will be safe by then (I expect that the current 
bottom 3, Cardiff, Huddersfield and Fulham will 
be relegated before the last game).

I have however taken into account our recent upturn in form 
which would allow us to at least draw the Everton, Watford, 
Wolves and Leicester away games. The Watford game in 
particular will be played a few days after our tough away 
game at Napoli.

However if we can master wins in some of those away games 
then I predict we will be home and dry. 

And of course momentum will be key. If we beat Newcastle 
and then carry this form in the next game, which is away 
at Everton, then the route to finishing in the top four will be wide 
open.


Predictions:                                   
                                                     
Newcastle (H)         3                  
Everton (A)            1                    
Watford (A)           1
Crystal Palace(H)  3
Wolves (A)             1
Leicester (A)          1
Brighton (H)          3
Burnley (A)            3

Total                      16
Current points      60
Final points           76



So the final standings are as follows:

Spurs      79points    3rd
Arsenal   76 points   4th           
Chelsea   76 points   4th
Man Utd 75 points   6th

Arsenal and Chelsea look like ending up with the same number 
of points and the final placings will be decided on goal difference. 
Currently Arsenal are ahead with 24 difference and Chelsea 
7 behind with 17. This factor may indeed prove decisive.

Unfortunately Spurs end up 3rd. 

I hope I am wrong and we finish above them.