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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Balogun goes round Donnarumma with ease

 By 1970's Gooner 

Balogun looked really sharp tonight for Reims against the League leaders PSG scoring his 11th goal of the season. 

He showed that he has great speed, takes very good positions which give him the best chance to receive the ball and he is not averse to taking the shots when the opportunity arises.

He tested Donnarumma early in the game, a shot that the goalkeeper had to tip away to stop it hitting the net.

He led the line well receiving the ball under pressure and laying it off to a fellow player. And as the game was reaching the last seconds of a 6 minute injury time he popped up with a stunning goal. 

He rounded Donnarumma when he got one on one with him and hit a rasping shot from an angle high into the net beyond the despairing PSG defenders. There was no time for PSG to kick off it was that late! Final score 1 - 1

Having watched the whole game tonight I consider Balogun as being at least at par with Nketiah and would deserve to be considered for first team duty when he returns. 

This would give Arteta a hell of a headache come next season.


Friday, January 27, 2023

Beware of Spanish managers bearing gifts!

 By 1970s Gooner 

Isn't it strange that Pep Guardiola on the eve of the FA Cup game with Arsenal has been giving glowing reports on Arteta but more significantly in my mind on the quality of this Arsenal team. 

'It is a different competition, the FA Cup, it is a final,' he said. 'And of course, more than Arsenal to prove ourselves how is our level, when the team make 50 points it is because they have been the best, and they are.

'We have to prove how far away or how close we are and the best way to notice is to perform our best level. Otherwise, against a team at that level, it will be difficult'

He is on the one hand trying to push his own players to perform at the high level he thinks they have not reached on certain occasions this season.

But on the other I get the feeling he is trying through his eulogy of the quality of this Arsenal team to lure the Arsenal players into a false sense of security  and make them rest on their laurels.

I think we should play a strong team with only a few changes so that we can get a result and really show them how far we have progressed.  

But more importantly lay down a marker for what is to follow in those two crucial games coming up against Man City.



Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Football pundits get it wrong again!

 By 1970s Gooner 

It was obvious to me that Nketiah would prove to be a very valuable asset for Arteta and Arsenal after watching him lead the line in the last few games of last season when he was called in to replace Lacazette. 

He showed then that he had improved his all round game significantly especially receiving, holding the ball under pressure and laying it on to a colleague. Of equal importance was the run of games he had been allowed to have in the team which helped his sharpness no end resulting in the goals he scored.

So it was a surprise to me that when Jesus was unavailable due to injury that the majority if not all the so called pundits were predicting that Jesus's absence was a major blow to Arsenal's chances to winning the PL or even finish in the top four! And that Arteta needed to get a new centre forward in.

But to those of us who watch and think and analyse Arsenal and its players including those playing for the academies or out on loans it was not at all gloom and doom.

Apart from Nketiah's qualities which became apparent as described above there was another element that the pundits did not take into account.

 Nketiah will be leading the line in a significantly much improved Arsenal team. A team that had been creating a lot more chances than last season but which Gabriel Jesus was failing to convert.

So it was not really rocket science to predict that Nketiah will thrive in this Arsenal team.

I said this in previous posts and I'm saying it again: Arteta will find it difficult to choose who to start when Jesus is fit again...



Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Diaby the real deal or should we look at other positions?

 By 1970's Gooner

Mousa Diaby has those characteristics that would indeed excite Arteta and the Arsenal fans. He is young at 23 which fits the profile of the type of player Arsenal have been strategically investing as of late. He is also lightning fast and scores the goals from the wing. He has scored 6 goals and provided 3 assists in his 15 appearances for Leverkusen which is at par overall with what Saka and Martinelli have achieved so far in the PL.

However his club are of course asking for Arsenal to pay through the nose (88m) as they have seen how much Arsenal were prepared to pay for Mudric. In my opinion they are quite entitled to do that as the market is showing what the price is now for such wingers as shown by the fees forked out by Man Utd and Chelsea for Antonio and Mudryk respectively. 

But there is also a far more important reason they are quite entitled to ask for these fees as Diaby is a much better accomplished player than those two, playing and impressing in a far more advanced league in Germany.

So I hope that Edu can pull this off and persuade both the player and his team to agree to the transfer. I do however feel that it could face obstacles as Leverkusen want to keep him for this campaign and also we still don't know the player's preferences.

If this approach does not produce dividends then I would be happy if Arsenal keep to what they have which in my opinion can prove to be quite adequate. And let me explain:

Emil Smith Row is now back to fitness. Don't underestimate him. He has played on the wing in the past and also in the middle. I would consider him as very viable option  for deputising for Saka and Martinelli without needing bedding in time as a foreign import might do. And he was Arsenal's top goal scorer last season with 11 goals...

Reece Nelson is due back in a few weeks. He has shown this season in his few appearances that his sharpness and development have improved him a great deal so that he can be an important member of the squad. 

And lastly Gabriel Jesus will come back (probably end of February or beginning of March). This will offer Arteta the flexibility of having either him or Nketiah as a very real option for the wing.

In my opinion Edu and Arteta should concentrate their efforts and of course Arsenal's financial resources in getting in a viable alternative to Thomas Partey. That is where the team will hurt most if anything happens to him which will leave us very vulnerable indeed.


Friday, January 13, 2023

How the NLD may pan out

 By 1970s Gooner

The NLD is always difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy. But there are a few aspects that we can more or less expect to happen during the game:

Arsenal will start the game on the front foot, pushing and pressing the Spurs players higher up the pitch.

In parallel Conte's Spurs will likely adopt their usual tactic of dropping back with the aim to counter attack through their very fast and dangerous forwards (Kane, Son).

I expect that Zinchenko will be a major player in this game. He will move from his left back position to the left midfield taking over the distribution of the ball from that side thus allowing Xhaka to move further up in a more attacking position.

In contrast Ben White will likely stay back to form a three at the back defence with Gabriel moving slightly to the left side to cover for Zinchenko.

Tottenham on the other hand will be pressing to win the ball and spring lightning counter attacks. A tactic that suits the type of players they have in midfield and up front. 

They will have been practising for this all week so I expect that we will witness a very attacking, albeit a different kind of play from both sides with Arsenal having the majority of possession and Spurs springing forward when possession is won.

I expect Arsenal's pressure to bring dividends and find the net with the likely scorers to be Xhaka and Nketiah.

I also expect Spurs to score but only if mistakes are made by Arsenal's defenders as has been the case in Arsenal's recent games. 

If we can eliminate errors at the back then the win will be with a high score. 

If not then the win may likely be with a narrow score.




Thursday, January 05, 2023

Is Mudryk worth the money?

 By 1970's Gooner

Mikhaylov Mudryk is obviously very keen to join Arsenal. He has expressed this desire by showing himself to be watching Arsenal games, labelled Arteta a top coach and very recently liked a post asking for his 'release from prison' showing him behind bars in a prison cell!

However even if he has clearly indicated his preference for joining Arsenal his current employers may have different ideas. This is because they seem to be sticking out for a much higher transfer fee siting Antonio's summer move to Man Utd for 88m and encouraged by the reported Chelsea's interest in the player. They are now asking for 100m.....

I think they are taking us for a ride pushing for highly unreasonable amounts so that they can extract as much as possible a higher fee than they ever anticipated.

I don't see Mudryk as being worth these exorbitant amounts. He is obviously a talented player who will offer a great deal to Arsenal but consider the following:

He has only played 44 times for Shaktar overall.

Ha played 13 times for Shaktar this season scoring 8 goals and also 3 goals in the Champions League. 

Both these stats good as they are, are really not based on a reliable big enough sample. They are only good indicators for what may come in the future. The rigours of the Premier League will obviously place a much bigger hurdle for him to jump introducing a higher than normal amount of risk and uncertainty in the investment Arsenal are about to embark on.

Paying 80m or even a 100m is way way too much for such a player. Transfermarket only values the player at 40m which is a much more reasonable valuation in my estimation.

In my opinion the 62m that Arsenal have offered should be a last 'take it or leave it' bid. If Shaktar carry on insisting and drag this out till the last days of the window then Arsenal should walk away.

In the meantime Emil Smith Row should be given every chance to regain fitness and form having been top goal scorer last season with 11 goals! He will be a much better proposition at the moment than a highly overpriced and unproven in the PL Mudryk.

Arsenal should save the funds so that a decent Partey replacement can be recruited instead.




Thursday, December 29, 2022

Nketiah will do it again, Balogun will do it next season

 By 1970's Gooner

I had no reservations backing Nketiah to do the business against west Ham in my last post. He had a very good all round game, receiving and protecting the ball under pressure and laying it off to a team mate, contributing to the built up and of course scoring that wonderful goal to put the game out of West Ham's reach. 

I think that was a breakthrough moment for him which will serve as the catalyst to propel him to higher levels. With the newfound confidence gained he is likely to score against Brighton next Saturday. 

He will of course have a run of games before Jesus returns and my feeling is that Arteta will have a difficult time deciding who to start.

The emergence of Balogun must not go unnoticed. He has scored a brace tonight for Reims against Rennes bringing his total in France to ten just behind Mbappe (12) and Neymar (11). I watched the game and Balogun has developed attributes which are important: Strength, confidence on the ball and of course goal scoring at a higher level than he was used to. 

I say 'must not go unnoticed' in the sense that Balogun can follow in Nketiah's footsteps and provide the competition for that number 9 spot in the not too distant future. 

What we do need now is more competition for the wide places in the team. Martinelli and Saka is all we have and the addition of someone like Mudryk will provide a high quality alternative.

Arteta will also be provided with more flexibility in the short term in case Nketiah becomes unavailable, by moving Martinelli in the centre forward position and playing Mudryk wide. 

Mikel is building a strong squad with depth and high quality players which will keep Arsenal not only in the top 4 but continue to be a major contender for the title for years to come.




Sunday, December 25, 2022

Nketiah to the rescue

 By 1970's Gooner

The West Ham game appears to be a critical match for Arsenal. If it was a game happening without the World Cup breaking up Arsenal's winning run which has catapulted them to the top of the League, then you would expect an Arsenal home win is on the cards.

Of course, the break for the World Cup may have changed everything with the momentum some players had, interrupted. The same applies for both teams of course. But the onus will be on Arsenal to win more than it is on west Ham.

I expect that Moyes will set up the Hammers to stifle us and break on the counter. Arsenal will need to play with patience and move the ball about quickly.

A lot of pundits are forecasting that West Ham will get a result. One of the reasons they site is the absence of Jesus and Nketiah's indifferent form in the recent friendlies.

I consider Nketiah a very capable striker. Given that the rest of the team create the chances then he has the knack to be at the right place to stick them in.

He has done the business last season when he was called in to take over from Lacazette and I see no reason he can't do it again.




Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Saliba to start against West Ham?

 By 1970's Gooner

All the Arsenal players on World Cup duty seem to have returned to London Colney. Those who were knocked out in the earlier rounds of the tournament have already been assimilated back into the squad and are getting valuable training time preparing for the West Ham game. These are White, Ramsdale, Xhaka, Saka and Turner (the latter two had a very good World Cup), Partey and Martinelli.

The exceptions have been of course Jesus with his well known injury problem and Tomiyasu who seems to have been carrying an injury. The latter has not featured in any of the friendly games and will be doubtful for the West Ham game. In any case Ben white will start at the right back position on Monday.

The only remaining player is Saliba who was part of the France squad but did not get any time. If he takes the week off after the World Cup final, as he is entitled to do, then he will only have had a day with the team and will most probably be out of the West Ham game. 

But even if he did return right after the end of the World Cup then he will only have had a week's training with the team. Taking into consideration that he didn't play at all during the tournament then one week of training will probably not be enough to get him up to match fitness.

Which leads me to conclude that Rob Holding will be starting on Boxing Day as he has been training all throughout the time the others were at the World Cup and played in all of the friendly games in Dubai and at the Emitates. 

Saliba may be on the bench.

The other position that Arteta will need to decide is the left back. Zinchenko has been carrying an injury and even if he shakes it off he has not been able to train much but more importantly he has not played in any of the friendlies. Tierney has and looks fit and ready to go.


Ramsdale

White Holding Gabriel Tierney

Partey Xhaka

Odegaard

Saka   Nketiah  Martinelli