Everton Preview: Auba to Arrive With a Bang?

Football interrupts the transfer business. The window might be closed and by general consensus, it was a good one for the club but there’s still a ‘but’ hanging in the air.

It’s a big ‘but’ and one we weren’t going to solve in one window. However, a defender or defensive midfielder would have been nice.

The summer will begin and finish early for Premier League clubs which will be interesting from our perspective. No last-minute trolley dash predicated on a couple of bad results or performances; we’ve got to plan ahead. Just as well the new boys are here to do that.

A new Arsenal is in town; Alex Song probably wants to keep fit and is grateful that Arsène lets him stay fit at London Colney. He probably thought he was in with a chance of getting a contract for the short-term but that avenue has been closed down. Surprisingly so, I must admit.

Unsurprisingly, most of the attention was focused on the new signings. Henrikh Mkhitaryan starts this evening but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unwell so might not. It’s not quite broken back territory and he didn’t look particularly ill in training yesterday from the photos on dot com. Then again, Yaya Sanogo looked a decent young prospect for France in an international tournament before he joined Arsenal so looks can be deceiving.

Much is being made of how we fit Özil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, and Aubameyang into the starting line-up. It’s quite easy: Mkhitaryan on the flank, Özil in the centre with Aubameyang and Lacazette flitting between the centre and the other flank. Seems easy to me, but despite being told football is a simple game, we contrive to make it anything but.

Back to Basics?

That’s certainly true of the defensive side of our game. It’s no surprise that we low-balled West Brom over Jonny Evans. Apparently, we told the Baggies he’d be cheap in the summer so we offered £12m, a £9m profit for them on June’s value after Albion are relegated. Ouch! A shame they were after double our offer to land him this winter. New faces, same negotiating techniques; perhaps Raul Sanelhi will redeem that reputation.

The surprise is we didn’t try and sign a defender sooner. It’s not like the defeat at Swansea was a shock and nor should it have been a trigger for belated action. Arsène’s well-earned reputation for doing nothing until we’re desperate strikes again.

Wenger agreed with his inquisitors yesterday that we had problems with our defensive numbers. Mainly ’34’ in the goals against column. It’s not like we don’t have good defenders at the club but they suffer from the over-emphasis on attack in training. We don’t have the will to coach defensive play; it’s why we favour zonal marking. Man-marking requires hours of practice to get right where marking a lump of grass is easier.

‘You stand there, you there and you there. Right, that’s the defending done, let’s go back to attacking’ is how I imagine the sessions going.

Arsène kind of backed all of that up when he said:

“Attacking is in our DNA. We are an attacking team. The danger when you are an attacking team is that if you don’t score, then, of course, you create your own problems.

When people say we’ve conceded too many goals, I think we don’t score enough goals. That’s our basic problem”

The first rule of attacking football is that there is no attacking football…without a defence. His philosophy as he explained it is parks football; the football of the schoolyard where the next goal wins in the 79-goal thriller. It’s why we’re becoming an irrelevance in English football.

Oooh, Controversial!

We won’t return to previous heights or even the top four if we don’t improve at the back. It’s no good buying world-class goalkeepers or defenders if they aren’t going to be trained properly. Might as well stay at the current level and be done with it if the will isn’t there among the coaches or more importantly, the manager.

I’d expect to see some improvement on Tuesday this evening but I’ll believe it when I see it. That expectation flies in the face of everything we’ve seen previously this season so maybe it’s more hope?

But the forward line is what everyone wants to see and as I said earlier, it will be a surprise if Aubameyang doesn’t play. Jack Wilshere too, pictured eating a banana on the Colney pitches. A nation of Sunday league footballers thought, “Oh yeah, he’ll toss that skin on the pile of dirty needles and dog turds…” as they lament the state of council-run facilities in this country.

Jack didn’t of course; he’s neat boy and being a dad, knows the importance of setting a good example. Probably even had a little bag to put his rubbish in so he could dispose of it properly. Boy scout and all that.

Which leaves us with a team resembling:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny; Ramsey, Wilshere; Mkhitaryan, Özil; Lacazette

Half-an-hour is the cameo I expect for Auba this evening with a full debut at Wembley. The ‘controversial’ choice in the team is Ramsey and Jack together. Meant to happen but doomed to fail is how it’s probably viewed but Xhaka’s form is so hit and miss that it’s hard to make a case for his inclusion in the team any longer.

He really does need to get his head together and develop the consistency he showed for Monchengladbach which made us buy him in the first place otherwise he might find himself one of the summer’s casualties.

A win is vital today after the midweek debacle so gentlemen, it’s over to you.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

 

141 thoughts on “Everton Preview: Auba to Arrive With a Bang?

  1. No -one has played badly but for me Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Ramsey, Iwobi and Kos have been particularly confident and effective. Everyone has lowered their revs by 20% in the second half.

  2. The Everton players don’t look too eager to get back in the dressing room, I guess Fat Sam will have a word or three for them.

  3. Upson commentating. He says Wenger never would have had his teams dial it down after taking a big lead when he was at Arsenal. Well, he’s certainly happy for them to take their foot off the gas now. Everton didn’t get much better, we let them back in a bit. Still a fantastic win, but very frustrating to see the team play so within themselves that they let the opponents score and hit the post.

    The forward line was excellent today though. Aubameyang got his goal and looked lively, although the pace of the game probably got to him a bit in the second half.

  4. Foetry,

    A great game for him. I wouldn’t want him to start next week against the Spuds, but Wenger will probably see today’s performance as a reason to start him.

  5. Wavey,

    All the best sides are totally ruthless, I can recall United and Liverpool scoring eight and nine. It’s always been a bit annoying that we take it easy once we get a decent lead even if it does seem a bit churlish to say after we score five.

  6. That was fun and the news boys and Ozil put on quite a show. Good for Ramsey to take his chances well and have to admit even Xhaka looked good.

    Personally I still want Lacazette for Iwobi but brilliant result.

  7. That is 10 goals scored against Everton this season.
    3 goals conceded and the maximum 6 points taken, home and away.
    Congrats to Mikhi, he will be good for this team. On Ramsey’s hat trick, yes it is a good performance, but as we know consistency wins the league, not rare flashes of skill, so knuckle down, continue to improve defensively and contribute offensively. Good thing today Ramsey’s runs were productive and spectacular.

  8. Anybody that judges Mhkitaryan on his time with United and disregard everything he did before is foolish. Only 2 creative #10/attackers have thrived under Mourinho, Ozil and Mata.

  9. Wavey

    I think most Gooners ran out of patience with Rambo when Arsene was trying to play him back into form on so many occasions. But before getting injured this time round he was playing well & linking up well with Ozil and Lacazette.

    I don’t buy into the ‘favourites” argument otherwise we can say that all Managers have their “favourites”. There were times when people were calling OG, Theo, Le Coq favourites but they have spent time on the bench on many occasions when fit (Theo has been even benched when in scoring form)

    When Arsene signed Granit he benched him for many games whereas supporters, pundits, bloggers were all criticising him for not starting him. Now that Granit has cost Arsenal a number of goals, Granit is still in the team and seen as favourite”

    I want Jack against Spurs next week but Aron has always been a big game player and always shines when good or better players around him are on their A game.

    Arsene is handsomely paid to select his best starting 11 so good luck to him with LMAO and our Midfield ✌

  10. The signs are promising but we still don’t know how to shift down in gears. We go from 4th to 1st gear and sometimes from 4th to reverse to a grinding and damaging halt.

    The game was won, we just needed to switch a gear down…Instead we came out in the second half in slow driving mode and created danger for ourselves.

    ***

    Despite the offside, the finish was great and the link up leading to Auba’s goal was nice to watch.

    I still think we need some tweaking in the summer for defensive midfield and back line.

    Let’s hope this is the start of revival and not immediately stumble the next game.

    For now…..Yo’ Pierre looks good.

  11. Just got back from the ski slopes and saw the score. Ramsey with a hat trick. We could really a goal threat from our midfield since we tend to fill our forward slots with creative players who don’t score. PEA off to a good start.

    Swansea and today just show the amazing Jekyll & Hyde performances that have characterized the Emirates era. If the English FA made it illegal for teams to play solid defense and every team gave us time and space we could be really good.

  12. I really think Iwobi was very good today but if you add Lacazette to Ozil, Mhkitatyan and Aubameyang, I would put that 4 against anybody outside of Barca in Europe and its not just off of todays display but having watched them for season after season.

  13. C,

    The good and the bad of Iwobi was nicely demonstrated in a few seconds of the game. Close to the corner flag in our own half he dispossessed an Everton player, flicked the ball over his head, regained possession and instantly gave the ball to another Everton player. Brilliant one minute criminal the next.

  14. A good result. But Fat Sam’s team seemed to just desert the midfield. No pressure at all. He seemed to think that if they sat deep and fired long-balls at the speedsters that would be enough. I hope Arsene doesn’t draw the wrong conclusions from all of that. Top teams (even lower teams) won’t usually give Arsenal that sort of luxury.
    I wonder if PEA’s speed terrified them. That might be the unseen strategic advantage he will bring this team. He doesn’t really have the skills normally found in a possession-based team, but he makes it easier for a possession-based team to play by forcing opponents to drop deep.

  15. Foetry: I don’t buy into the ‘favourites” argument otherwise we can say that all Managers have their “favourites”.

    Always found this a rather strange argument. I think what it means is ‘pick the players I WANT’ (my favourites) which is somewhat ironic really.

  16. C:
    I really think Iwobi was very good today but if you add Lacazette to Ozil, Mhkitatyan and Aubameyang, I would put that 4 against anybody outside of Barca in Europe and its not just off of todays display but having watched them for season after season.

    C

    You might be right if we could somehow bring back Ozil from 5 years ago and the Lacazette who played in France instead of the one who has played for Arsenal this season. PEA is exciting but he has to somehow avoid the same problems that have changed Lacazette from one of the most prolific strikers in Europe to what he has been this year. Mkhitaryan is off to a good start but its a bit early to be calling him one of the best players in the world after 1 game against a team we have scored 10 goals against in 2 games. Let’s see what happens the first few times we run into a well organized parked bus.

  17. Orson

    Iwobe has plenty of technical skill and some eye catching trickery but just like so many other players he has trouble turning that into any meaningful end product. Its much easier to dazzle with technical skill when you are 55 yards from goal because the defending team really does not care what you do. However experienced defenders have seen this before and they have a good idea what to expect. The defense pays a lot more attention and the there is a lot less space when you get into the attacking 1/3 and some of the eye catching skills you see at the half way line do not work when you have the ball in dangerous areas where you can hurt the defense.

  18. Bill,

    Honestly mate and this is no disrespect BUT I question how often you actually watch the match and if you do how much of it do you watch simply to see what players don’t do as opposed to what they do do. For instance, you bang on about Ozil yet in the 2nd half of last season and the whole of this season he has been arguably our best player not just doing the things we all know and love of Ozil but everything and running matches. Lacazette, sure he has struggled at times but how much of that is down to team selection and his continued adaptation? People will judge Mhkitaryan on his time at United yet forget that Mourinho also thought De Bruyne, Salah, Lukaku, and several others weren’t good enough only for them to leave him and show what they can do PLUS you can’t disregard what he did prior to United. Quality wise, having the top goal scorer in France and either the top or 2nd best goal scorer in the Bundeliga thr past 3 years to go with Ozil who AGAIN is not only 1 assist shy of becoming the quickest to 50 assists in the PL area (he is still 6 matches ahead of Cantona who is thr quickest right now) but has also had the most assists and chances created BAR NONE in the PL since his arrival.

    You also talk about Ozil as if he has had consistent strikers who score and that is including Sanchez who would score 15-20 goals but would score 5 in 7 then go 5 matches without a goal with some horrific misses. Lets see how Ozil does with real goal scorers and before you say it, lets actually see how many matches he and Lacazette have played together.

  19. C

    We clearly see different things when we watch the same matches if you think anyone on the team not named Sanchez was good for most of the second half of last season. Go back and look at the archives and see what we thought last season while we were dropping from close to the top of league at the end of November to hopelessy out of the title race by the end of January and out of the top 4 by the end of the season.

    Time will tell about Mkhitaryan and PEA. Lacazette has clearly been a disappointment so far. The jury is still out but he deserved to be dropped because he is having a Giroud like cold streak. I think we have to be very concerned at this point. There is a lot of precedent for strikers coming to Arsenal and never come very close to replicating their success at previous clubs.

  20. Foetry,

    I’m not suggesting Ramsey hasn’t got a role at Arsenal, because clearly he has. My concern is that Wenger decides the line up we played should be the one he uses for every match. I’m not sure that it’s specifically about favourites, although that’s an easy way to label it. I think it’s more down to Wenger’s view of how we play football.
    His belief is that we don’t need to worry about who the opposition are. All we need to do is play our game. I’m guessing that he thinks he has a set first XI who do that and that, given the choice, he would play them every week.
    The problem is that football doesn’t work that way unless you have a first XI who are head and shoulders above everyone else in the league. Even then they would struggle in some games when opponents try to play tactics to frustrate them. A disciplined and organised team with great players up top can play a set way every week and win the league, as the Invincibles did, but the back bone of the team must all know exactly when their jobs are and do the heavy lifting as well. This team is a long way from that and will not have it anywhere near as easy as we did against Everton.
    Wenger has said in the past that his preferred midfield pairing is Ramsey and Xhaka. I would expect that Spurs will wipe the floor with us if we use that midfield pairing next week.

  21. C,

    Ozil and Mkhitaryan were sublime yesterday and those two together could be the edge we need up front to make the team less predictable. Their movement off the ball was excellent and they pulled the Everton defence all over the place. They won’t be able to do that every game, as better defences will be more organised, but it may mean they create the one or two great chances every game that the striker needs.
    I bet Lacazette was desperate to get on and be involved yesterday, which is great because he will be hungry. Without the injury to Cech, I suspect Wenger would have pulled Aubameyang off towards the end of the game and Lacazette would have really fired up.
    Iwobi was once again the attacking weak link. It all looks good, but there is very little end product. He got an assist, but anyone could have rolled the ball to Ramsey as he screamed for it on the edge of the box. I love that he works hard all game long, but it is mostly perspiration with very little inspiration. He could really do with some coaching.

  22. I watched the highlights on MOTD this morning and paid particular attention to Iwobi’s performance. I actually thought he did a great job in the middle of the park, he was regularly looking up and finding his man. It’s in the final third that he doesn’t do the job. The problem is that he needs to play on a Xhaka/Ramsey role in the middle, not as one of the forward players. It would be interesting to see him play a game in that box to box position with a holding player like Elneny alongside him. He should be waiting his chance in the pecking order for that position rather than taking up a winger/forward spot.

  23. Wavey,

    I like that solution for Iwobi, Wavey. My sense is that he has quietly begun improving his defensive skills and awareness (I know it can’t be through training, so it may be he’s signed up for a correspondence course or summat), even though off a low base, and while his goal-scoring instincts are weak I like the idea of putting him alongside a workhorse DM like Elneny. He has shown he can make beautiful defense-splitting passes when he’s in the groove, /so perhaps that’s more his role for now. Challenge is to fit him in right now, with Jack, Ramsey and even Xhaka staking claims in that part of the pitch – so maybe a project for next season and bench him for now.

  24. Noon Gunner,

    Yep, that’s what I meant by waiting his turn in the pecking order. Would probably play him ahead of Xhaka though. He was done a much better job of delivering the ball forward than Xhaka has been.
    The early rounds of the League Cup may have been a good place to experiment, maybe even with AMN alongside him.

  25. Due to popular request, the answer to the cryptic photo is:

    • The photo is from A Place in the Sun, featuring Montgomery Clift.
    • Montgomery Clift was the subject of the song The Right Profile by the Clash from their album, “London Calling”.
    • And yesterday was the clash between Arsenal and Everton

    Wahey! Sometimes it’s that simple.

    Anyway, today’s post is here: https://wp.me/p3nJ9V-6WQ

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