Tag Archives: Everton

Arsenal come unstuck against tough Toffee’s

Everton played well.

This weekend always looking like a “swing weekend” with Arsenal and Manchester City both playing away at grounds they have both struggled at in recent years. And as it turned out both teams lost 1-nil.

We predicted on Saturday morning that it was going to be a tough trip to Everton and that is eaxactly how it transpired.

Sean Dyche was always going to make his Everton side hard to break down. As predicted he packed the midfield and went with a very solid 451.

Everton worked their socks off defensively. Their players showed an intensity and attitude that has not been seen all season. We became victims of the “new manager bounce”.

Dyche’s team pressed superbly.

Alex Iwobi and Dwight McNeil put in a fantastic defensive shift, which saw Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli doubled up on every time they received the ball.

One weakness of the way Mikel Arteta sets us up is that the full backs do not really get around the wingers. This means we can then not take advantage of the space created when the wingers are double marked.

We certainly miss Gabriel Jesus’s movement when teams defend so tightly. He drifts left and right and finds that space. It just is not Eddie Nketiah’s game.

Everytime the ball went inside, Everton smothered us.

Abdoulaye Doucour, Idrissa Gueye and Amadou Onana ensured that Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard saw very little of the ball. Again doubling up on our creators.

Dominc Calvert Lewin also dropped deep, helping out his midfield whenever Thomas Partey received the ball.

Where ever we looked, Everton were doubled up on us. Our passing was not quite sharp enough, not quick enough. And we were just enable to take advantage of the free man.

As predicted on the morning of the game, Dyche put out a side that had a lot of players 6ft+. Set pieces were always going to be a threat and that is how they scored.

We never really got fully going and had one too many looking off the pace. But we can not take anything away from Everton.

Dyche set them up brilliantly and their players played to his plan for 90 minutes. I imagine that is how Everton will play for the rest of the season. Hard to beat and grind out wins.

There will be some frustration around. There always will be everytime we do not win a game. Some have gone OTT. Toys thrown out the pram. The same people that have spent much of these season silent, not posting, then only pop their heads from under a rock when they have negativity to share.

They will probably be trying to find a way to blame the transfer of Jorginho. Moan about our transfer deals in January. Mykhailo Mudryk or Moises Caicedo would not have made a difference on Saturday.

These people are best left ignored.

We are still top of the league. I still do not expect us to win it. Manchester City are still favourites.

I had always said that I will not consider us as having a proper chance until we are above Manchester City following the game on 15 February.

City’s defeat means that 3 points against Brentford guarantees is still being ahead of City after we face them.

Dust ourselves down and we go again against Brentford.

I expect them to set up simialr to Everton. Hard to break down and look for set pieces. Almost every team we play between now and the end of the season will play like that.

As we saw in the match day blog, stick with the team! We go again.



Chelsea transfers, Boring Boring Newcastle and Wishing to be Everton

Chelsea Transfers

A lot has already been written about Chelsea’s transfer business over the last two windows.

I have never seen anything like it before.

The long term contracts are normal in baseball, a sport Todd Boehly has been involved nin for over a decade. He has basically taken the way things work in America and applied it to football.

If it works, it will change the way every football team operates. If it doesn’t, Chelsea are going to end up with a lot of underperforming players on long term contracts.

One aspect rarely mentioned is that during the takeover, the consortium Boehly is part of had to commit to investing £1.75 billion over 10 years into the club. It is this investment that is freeing up the cash to make these transfer, the fees then amortised over the length of the contracts for accounting purposes.

One risk Boehy is taking is over squad size.

As it stands, Chelsea have 37 “senior” players, including those out on loan. Arsenal have 30.

They also do not look like slowing down their spending and are being linked with Moisés Caicedo and Marcus Thuram, and with a deal for Christopher Nkunku agreed for the summer.

They are going to have to release sell or loan out a lot of players during the back-end of this window and throughout the next just to ensure they do not end up with double figures of unregistered players.

On paper, bringing their squad numbers down does not quite look as difficult as it seems.

Of the 39 players contracted to the club (included Nkunku):

2 have their loan deals expiring
4 have their contracts expiring
At least 8 look surplus to requirements

If they decided to not renew any of the deals expiring, and were able to shift the 8 players listed above, it would take their squad size down to 26.

With many of them not needed to be registered due to being U21, they would have squad space to make further additions.

But selling (or loaning) those players comes at a risk.

Any loan deals will see Chelsea still paying a huge chunk of the salaries. Clubs will know the players need to be dumped and will take advantage of that.

Likewise, the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are unlikely to be sold unless Chelsea are willing to take a huge loss on their transfers.

If they can not sell or loan enough players, they will end up looking at cashing in on Kai Havertz, Cristian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling and others. Players they do not really want rid of but would be fairly easy to move on.

If they can move on everyone they need to, it will see around 14 players depart, with 14 bought in over 3 windows. That is tough for any manager to integrate.

Chelsea’s transfer behaviour is due to how poorly they have been run over the last few years.

Too many ageing players whose contracts expired, and too many big money replacements have flopped. They have needed this huge investment to re-address their squad issues.

What they now need is all of their new signings to “bang”. Any of that doesn’t they will be stuck with for a long time…

Boring, Boring Newcastle

Newcastle have kept 7 clean sheets in the 8 games since the return of football. A fantastic achievement.

But they have only scored 1 goal in their last 4 Premier League games – an 84th minute winner against Fulham.

3rd in the league is sensational for a small club like them.

Even when you take into account the money spent – and it really has not been that much – what Eddie Howe has done is incredible.

But the way he has done it is not so impressive, and beginning to get exposed.

Howe sets his team up to stop opponents, to waste time, to spoil the game, and to win free kicks and set plays.

The fact 3 sides have been sanctioned by the FA when playing Newcastle shows just how much they are set up to frustrate and ruin the game.

And it is not just the XI on the field that get involved. Coaches and substitutes have been booked on numerous occasions for trying to slow down the game.

And this style of ply is slowly catching up with them as lesser sides begin to realise they are not a threat going forward.

It is all well and good coming away from the Emirates with a 0-0, but failing to beat or score against Crystal Palace or Leeds United just isn’t top 4 form.

Their time-wasting tactics will be to their own disadvantage as we get to the stage of the season where teams need to win, not draw, games.

Wishing to be Everton

“Be careful what you wish for”.

Some Arsenal fans cried like babies when Farhad Moshiri sold his minority share in Arsenal and bought Everton. It would be the end of us as a top club and turn Everton into title challengers.

With his departure, they also thought this would be the end of Alshir Usmanov’s links with Arsenal, and the Uzbecki would plow his billions into Liverpool’s second club.

Part of that proved right as 2 years later KSE bought our Usmanov’s shares to take 100% ownership of the club.

But Usmanov’s money did not appear in Everton, other than in a training sponsorship deal.

Despite the lack of obvious Usmanov funds, Everton would begin to spend big (note: prior to the take over they have never spent more than €50m):

2016/17: €86m

2017/18: €203.2m

2018/19: €99.8m

2019/20: €121m

Over €500m spent over 5 years.

On 21 December 2019, they appointed the great Carlow Ancelotti as manager. The day before we appointed Mikel Arteta into his first managerial role.

A serial winner versus a managerial virgin. Against the Arsenal-incels shed tears into their used Kleenex.

Why didn’t we appoint Ancelotti? With Moshri (and Usmanov’s) money and him in charge, they will be title challengers!

In 2020, they then recruited James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan. 3 players some Arsenal fans wanted us to sign. This will be the year they finish above us!

Everton finished 10th and Ancelotti quit to return to Real Madrid.

The next season, investment dropped to €58m. 70% less spent on players than the peak of 2017.

Last summer they spent €78.2m, but the names of Onana, McNeil, Maupay and Garner were not exactly Rodriguez…

And now they are 19th in the table, whilst Arsenal are top of the league.

Moshri and Ancelotti or Kroenke and Arteta. Be careful what you wish for.


Match Report: Everton 1 – 0 Arsenal

Everton (1) 1 Arsenal (0) 0
Premier League
Goodison Park, Goodison Road, Liverpool L4 4EL
Sunday, 7th April 2019. Kick-off time: 2.05pm

(4-2-3-1) Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Elneny, Guendouzi; Kolašinac, Özil, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Čech, Ramsey, Lichtsteiner, Aubameyang, Iwobi, Suárez, Jenkinson.
Yellow Cards: Sokratis, Guendouzi, Mustafi, Monreal
Referee: Kevin Friend
Attendance: 39,400

In The Big Lebowski, when the Dude meets the narrator, the latter says to the Dude that “a wiser fella once said, sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, the bear eats you”. In other words, win some, lose some. Today, at Goodson Park, the bear most definitely had a meal out on us from start to finish. Right from the moment Phil Jagielka’s goal settled the match as early as the tenth minute, we played as if our whole team were reinvented with two left feet.
Has there ever been a first half that we have played this season that has been so devoid of both inspiration and creativity? Highly unlikely. We just didn’t click, the midfield were nothing short of pathetic at times; God only knows why Mr. Emery didn’t play Aaron Ramsey from the start is a mystery. And where is Denis Suárez? The home team completely dominated the match in the first half, and to be fair, it looked as if we were lucky to go into the break only being 0-1 down.
The second half saw us wake up and smell the coffee, albeit rather briefly, which coincided with Aaron Ramsey replacing a tepid Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolašinac being substituted for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (along with a change in formation) to try and zip proceedings up a bit, which looked okay for about a quarter of an hour or so. Somehow, we were unable to continue the momentum, and despite the speed of our strikers, we simply allowed Everton to regroup and dominate the match yet again.

We did have our chances in the second half; Aaron Ramsey should have scored after Jordan Pickford’s disastrous save that never was, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s effort would have been easier to score than it was to miss, and with the shot going inches wide, our chances to equalise seemed to disappear with it. Frustration crept in like a winter snowstorm and again the home side appeared to take control with Gylfi Sigurdsson being denied by either excellent goalkeeping by Bernd Leno or poor shooting on his part with at least three efforts being blasted over the bar. Emotions spilled over with the two managers having words on the touchline that incredibly managed to involve players in their spat, with Mesut Özil petulantly throwing his jacket at the Everton manager after being substituted for Alex Iwobi with just fifteen minutes left of the match. Somehow we managed to keep the home team from scoring a second goal late in the game, and when Kevin Friend blew the whistle, it couldn’t be a moment too soon for Arsenal.

This was truly one of those matches that is best forgotten. We showed little character, poor defending and no decent midfield movement to mention in despatches, let alone efforts on the Toffees’ goal to be remembered. Arsenal may well have had 57% possession, but what use is that if we don’t convert this into goals? Points make prizes, not the proportional representation theory of a possession-based game. We can of course, still finish in the fabled top four at the end of the season, but it could be a close-run thing now, and we may have to be the servant of other team’s results, not the masters of our own. Arsenal have only recorded one away victory in the Premiership since November, and out of the remaining half dozen matches that remain, only two are in North London, which it has to be said, on our record is a sobering thought. Chelsea play West Ham on Monday evening, and if they are victorious, the West Londoners will propel themselves into third place, leapfrogging both ourselves and Tottenham Hotspur, which means that we will definitely have to win all of our games, nothing less will do. It seems that we need to sort ourselves out, and very quickly indeed; Napoli await in the Europa Cup on Thursday evening, and if they are watching this performance today (which they more than likely are) then they will surely fancy their chances at The Emirates. Let us hope that today was indeed a bad day at the office that won’t be repeated; like the man in the movie said all those years ago, today the bear eats you. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.