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Thursday, March 09, 2023

Vieira doubtful for the Sporting game

 By 1970s Gooner

Arteta confirmed during last night's press conference in Lisbon that Fabio Vieira had indeed travelled with the squad.

What Martinelli confirmed in his own answers in the same conference was that his best friend was ill and couldn't be present there. And that's why Martinelli took his place.

This makes Vieira's participation for tonight's game doubtful. 

In trying to guess what Arteta will do tonight we only have to look at what he has done in all the previous games in this competition. He has gone strong with his selections. 

The fact that Tierney is absent will probably force him to select Zinchenko as a left inverted back to cover, but more importantly in my mind, to gain control of the midfield.

Especially if he rests Odergaard and plays ESR in the number 10 position.

Martinelli will most probably start as a number 9 flanked by Nelson and yes Saka.

And since left footed Kiwior looks likely to start (according to repots from Poland) he will be flanked by a right footed player in Saliba.

So my prediction for the starting 11 is as follows.


Turner

Tomiyasou  Saliba Quior Zinchenko

Georgino  ESR  Xhaka 

Saka   Martinelli Nelson

Thursday, March 02, 2023

200 low blocks

 By 1970s Gooner 

Everyone keeps pointing out the difficult games remaining in the run in. Games like Man City and Liverpool away for example even Chelsea at home if they can get their act together.

But in my opinion it's the supposedly not so difficult games that can cause you most harm. Games like Everton and Southampton away as well as Newcastle and Brentford at home have cost us dearly (9 points dropped).

Of course the reason for this is that these teams tend to play a low block packing their midfield with defensively minded players and doubling up on our wide players. You really need a particular mind set and a way of playing to get round these blocks and win the points.

The better teams tend to play a more open game which creates more spaces for us to operate in and play our own game.

Our remaining games contain more of the low block variety. Games such as Newcastle, Fulham, Forest and W. Ham away and Bournemouth, Palace, Wolves and Southampton at home. 

Zinchenko and come to that Jesus, when he returns, will prove vital in carrying us through these games with the experience they have gained with City. Where nearly every game is played against a low block.

Zinchenko in particular is dictating play from his inverted position and an important element of his play is that almost all his passes are not side ways but forward. 

They are aimed in the half spaces where Xhaka or Odergaard can receive and turn facing the opposition goal. Or even directly to Saka or Martinelli. 

His passing is not always 100% successful due to the difficulty of threading the ball through a packed midfield. But he shows the way and more often than not to victory.

He has after all gained his know how having faced 200 low blocks in his previous life....according to Arteta.


Monday, February 20, 2023

Play like that against Leicester and you're out of the title race

 By 1970s Gooner 

We have been used to seeing this Arsenal team start games on the front foot pressing from the top right from the first minute. And showing the positiveness and determination to take the game to the opponent. 

This attitude was missing away against Everton where we failed to deal with their energy and new found confidence from their coach's first game in charge.

We regained it against Brentford and in the first half against City but resurfaced again against Villa. 

We started the game nervously and without the necessary concentration. Our passing again was harried and imprecise which resulted in Zinchenko loosing the ball and Villa scoring.

Again for Villa's second goal there was no pressing when Martinez passed the ball to one of his defenders. He had all the time in the world to move forward and pass the ball to a midfielder and he had no one marking him as he effortlessly moved up the field and lo and behold two passes later they were scoring...

Where were we? What were we thinking? What a shambles first half. We have no chance of winning the League or even finishing in the top four if we keep repeating this kind of performance.

Arteta should leave aside all this nonsense of ' showing resilience' and 'character' and he should go deeply in his post match analysis of this game and get to the bottom of this first half shambolic performance. Because if it is not corrected Leicester will thump us real hard. They had a terrific first half against Utd and it was only Rashford's finishing that changed the game. 

Note that we don't seem to have that at the moment.


Friday, February 10, 2023

The two problems that need to be corrected against Brentford

 By 1970's Gooner 

Arsenal had 70% possession in the Everton game but never really looked in control through out. Right from the kick off our passing was laboured and imprecise which was quite unlike in any of Arsenal's games this season. 

Of course Everton contributed to that but you would have expected that Arteta would have prepared the players for it. 

One statistic that stood out for me and it was indeed very noticeable during the game was the awful defending of the 7 corners that Everton won.

In only one did we get the first header! This meant that we were on the back foot most of the time trying to clear the ball from inside the area rather from the edges of the area. And of course we conceded from a corner kick....

This is worrying for me.

If I'm not mistaken this was only the second goal conceded by Arsenal this season as a result of a dead ball situation.

So the issues that need to be corrected are the intensity and quality of passing which would go a long way towards controlling the game and of course defending corners, free kicks and long throws.

Brentford, having studied our performance against Everton, would undoubtedly have been training all week to hit us where they consider we are weak.

Let's show our quality and hit them with another 3 goals as we did back in late August at their ground.





Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Balogun's hat trick propels him to the top of the goal scorers table!

 By 1970's Gooner 

I keep telling you. This boy is a born goalscorer. In tonight's game against Lorient he has bagged a hat trick. And he had also missed two glorious chances to add to his tally.

The first came from a soft penalty awarded in the 44th minute for bringing down a Reims player when a corner was taken. Balogun struck it hard in the middle of ex Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone's goal. 

Lorient had already gone 2 0 up and it looked that Reims had a difficult game on their hands. 

Balogun's second and Reims's third came in the 64th minute when he steered home a deflected cross which went in off Vito's outstretched hands.

And the third and best of all was a volleyd shot in the 68th minute with his left foot which arrowed in on the far corner.  

This is I think his first hat trick in top flight football. It also takes him to the top of the League's scorers chart with 14 goals, one ahead of Mbape who is in action later tonight.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Are Arsenal the real deal now?

 By 1970's Gooner

Jorginho will become the 12th player to represent both Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League. But in my opinion he will become the major jigsaw of the puzzle that Edu and Arteta have undertaken to make Arsenal a top top team.

Their first major task when they took over was to get rid of the very expensive dead wood that was also holding the whole team down from reaching its potential. Among others the most significant moves out of the club were Ozil and Aubameyang who were earning huge amounts and contributing very little. Lacazette left when his contract run out and Pepe was moved out on loan.

They then proceeded to blood in the first team young players from the academy such as Saka and Smith Row as well as Martinelli who joined Arsenal very young. The recruitment policy was again centred on younger players such as Ramsdale, Ben White, Tomiyasu, Odegaard and Saliba (who was brought back from loan).

These players were blended with more experienced players such as Partey from Athletico Madrid and Xhaka who was convinced to stay by Arteta when he was on the verge of leaving.

The icing on the cake came when Jesus and Zinchenko were recruited from Arteta's previous job, Man City. They added experience and high quality as well as a winning mentality which is proving vital in propelling Arsenal to the top of the League.

All well and good with the first team but the depth of the squad needed to be strengthened especially in the wide areas where Saka and Martinelli plough their trade as well as in the midfield area where Partey Xhaka and Odegaard operate.

The imminent addition of Jorginho and that of Trossard from Brighton, proven and experienced players in central midfield and in the front positions respectively has now gone a long way in alleviating those fears.

Lets look at the squad at each position:

Ramsdale is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the League. His understudy, Turner, has proven by his performances in the World Cup for the USA and especially in the game against Man City in the Cup that he is a more than a capable goalkeeper.

At right back Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu have shown that the right back position is adequately covered by quality defenders. Both can also play at centre back equally well.

Gabriel and Saliba are a formidable partnership and a major reason we have the second most stingy defence in the League. Holding I would consider not to be an adequate replacement of either of these two. Kiwior who has been brought in in this window may prove to be so and that is the reason that he was recruited.

Tierney and Zinchenko who cover the left back position are excellent at their jobs. Tierney is an orthodox left back and very and good at it. Zinchenko is something else! He dictates Arsenal's game from coming in midfield.

Partey and Xhaka I need say no more. But now we have quality cover in Jorginho and of course there is Viera who needs this season to get to terms with the PL. Additionally Zinchenko, if need be, can play as effectively in midfield as at left back. Lokonga I do not consider as an adequate replacement player in midfield.

I also do not consider that Arsenal at the moment have a like for like replacement for the master Odergaard and this is a problem area that needs to be resolved. There is of course Emil Smith Row who can grow into that role (Man City will probably have the same problem if De Bruyne got injured).

And in the front wide areas we have Saka, Martinelli and now Trossard. Emil Smith Row can also play there.

Jesus and Nketiah have proven to be excellent up front. Trossard can also play in that position as he has done for Brighton. Balogun in my opinion will be a revelation next season when he comes back from the loan at Reims.

All in all Arsenal's first team squad now not only has a high quality first team 11 but also high quality strength in depth. 

Are Arsenal the real deal now?







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.