Everton Preview & From The Vaults: 1960 – Mel At The Double

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It’s the usual time of the season; March arrives as February’s debris is left scattered across the horizon. According to Arsène, this is a vital time of the campaign. It is; simply put, everything worth playing could be gone by the end of the month unless the players respond to Wednesday’s humiliation in a positive manner.

Today’s visitors Everton, for all their manager’s platitudes will be looking for the chinks in the Arsenal armour which were so ruthlessly exposed in Europe. Anyone watching the game or reading the comments from Monaco’s coach and players will know where they are. Whether they are able to exploit them is another matter.

Decision day has probably passed already for Arsène; he knows who will be cut from the side which failed so miserably in midweek. Jack Wilshere won’t be fit following minor surgery whilst it’s too soon for Ramsey and Arteta. It limits his midfield options, with Rosicky and Flamini the only alternatives. With talk of Özil needing a rest, it sounded to me that Wenger had already made some of his decisions.

Speaking to the media this weekend, Arsène offered a simple selection rationale,

We have to find a team balance. When you have the ball in the modern game you have to attack, when you don’t have the ball you have to defend. All the players who can’t do that cannot play.

None of the players managed that on Wednesday so it will be an Academy side he fields this afternoon.

I did wonder in the aftermath of the defeat whether there was a case for leaving the team intact for the visit of Everton but it seems impossible to make a convincing case for doing so. It’s not just down to Wednesday, Arsenal have been unconvincing since the North London Derby. There has been a fragility evident in their defensive play against Leicester and Palace which although won, were games where they could quite easily have dropped two points.

It is an occasion for wholesale changes, beginning at the back with the restoration of Szczesny and Monreal to the defence. Ospina has been exposed in recent games and I’m not sure whether his nervousness is as a result of the problems ahead of him or part of the cause.

Equally, Per Mertesacker was significantly off-key and was at fault for Berbatov’s goal in the Champions League. It’s not the first time in recent weeks where the German has stumbled and having signed Gabriel from Villarreal, it strikes me that Arsène would be remiss not to rest his BFG.

Elsewhere, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott will replace Özil and Welbeck in the starting XI, although the German’s absence would mean Cazorla shuffling into the central attacking role with Walcott’s insertion on the right shifting Alexis to the left. Wenger doesn’t have any options up front beyond Welbeck so Olivier Giroud gets the chance to see if the Everton defence is more robust than his of Szczesny and Wilshere.

It leaves the line-up,

All of which means that Arsène will probably field an unchanged side…

The licking of wounds seems such a common feeling following what is effectively a Champions League exit. At 1 – 2, Arsenal were still very much in the tie but it was undone by breathtaking naïvety, the like of which is baffling to supporters and for a time left after the final whistle left the manager bewildered.

Whilst the players are in the spotlight, you can feel its’ arc widening to bring the manager back under scrutiny. There is an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, a feeling that we are always going to be in this situation; Arsène needs to inspire the players to an immediate response today, feeding a thunderous end to the season.

Such situations are always testing for the manager but that Monaco are such an ordinary side intensifies the disappointment and despondency. If Arsenal cannot overcome one the weaker sides left in the Champions League, they have no hope against Europe’s élite. The club remains entrenched in its ranking between 9 – 16 in continental football, becoming more synonymous for its wealth that ability.

That’s not a good position to be in for the long-term.

From The Vaults

Today’s trip down Memory Lane takes us back to February 1960. Mel Charles arrived at Arsenal with the tag of the most expensive transfer fee between British clubs weighing heavily on him. It appeared his fortunes may have been looking up as he hit a hat-trick in the previous home game to this one in a 5 – 2 win over Blackburn which lifted Arsenal to the heady heights of thirteenth.

The season had been poor by Arsenal’s standards. Before kick-off they were fifteenth with just twenty-six points from twenty-nine games (this in the days of two points for a win). It wasn’t as bad as Everton’s season though; they were nineteenth but only three points behind. The two elder statesmen of top-flight football were flirting with relegation.

It was a fate they would both avoid. Arsenal finished thirteenth and Everton two places below.

Enjoy today’s match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

20021960 efc

 

242 thoughts on “Everton Preview & From The Vaults: 1960 – Mel At The Double

  1. viceologist says:

    Positives are that Ozil played well…Bellerin looks great…Cazorla worked hard…Coquelin played through a broken nose, and Giroud should have had a hat trick. Gabriel showed promise too…

    Team cohesion still lacking though.

  2. C says:

    a win in a win and 3 points gained, now time to make brunch and then get ready to watch the Invincibles on NBC.

  3. viceologist says:

    I Have the exact same plans C!

  4. Bill says:

    We are never going to win consistently over the course of a 38 game season playing like we did today but that is not important right now. We have demonstrated in prior years that we can summon the mental strength we need to get enough points in short stretches to hold on to the top 4 no matter how what the level of our performances.

  5. earflow says:

    3 points in a game where we appeared to be licking our wounds.
    I seems to me that the last few losses are down to hubris.

  6. JonJon says:

    wait until we get knocked out of every cup in a march fortnight..
    we usually sulk for a bit so could see a mini league collapse…..

  7. C says:

    @Vice

    I would say it was a positice that Giroud scored a goal. His 2 misses should have, at the very least been on target because they were headers where there was nobody challenging him. Still a good goal.

    I’m excited to watch the Invincibles but I think part of me will get a but mad having watched how far we have fallen from then at certain positions.

  8. Ras says:

    3 points but the manner of the performance leaves a rather funky taste in the mouth.

    It is as Bill alluded to earlier, there is NO physical presence in the midfield area. We need ( MUST) sign somebody with a bigger physical presence. A player that is happy, contented to sit and stay in front of the defence. In recent matches le Coq has gone way to far up the pitch.

  9. Sam says:

    Coquelin did well today, as did Ospina. If Coquelin misses a few games, I fear for what might happen. Bellerin imho is often caught out of position and gives his opponent too much space – that youngster playing FB for Everton got in a lot of good crosses. Luckily Everton are poor.
    The concern is also Alexis’s form dip. Had to happen, but at a key part of the season isn’t ideal.
    I really really want to see more game time given to Rosicky.

  10. JonJon says:

    we have to understand the position wenger will put himself in though by buying all these physical deeper midfielders we need…..
    hes already got about 15mids and you could count the amount of defensive ones on a cartoon characters fingers, if he fills the central midfield up with physical players he has to drop his tippy tappers and like thats going to fucking happen anytime soon…

    he wants his tippy tappers to track back he wants to fill his team with attackers and he expects them to defend. hes already said it millions of times, its in todays post….

    as a result none of his players knows what they are doing and we play flat and rely heavily on the other team not being much cop….which, over a full season, isnt a consistent masterplan…certainly not a 8mil a year one

    he might change it for a few games and fool everyone but then it goes back to watching a bunch of talented schoolkids running in the opposit direction for 90mins..

    defenders going forwards, attackers going backwards…

    and he calls it the modern game…i dont see many other teams doing it..in fact, the best teams in europe find the balance by having their defenders defend and attackers attack…

    pretty simple really…football tends to be…

    the best perect the basics..

    clever arrogant fuckers overcomplicate shit and piss everyone off…

    its been going on years, we dont turn any corners, we dont progress he could spent 500mil on this team and we’d still be watching the same bollox becuase he doesnt know what hes doing anymore

  11. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:

    @Bob

    I’m under no illusions, we didn’t play as well as we might. That said, we won and kept a clean sheet with Ospina making a couple of sharp saves. I’ll take it every day when we win, whether attractively or down right butt ugly. Today was neither, it was relatively comfortable even if it did not thrill the senses.

  12. Birdkamp says:

    Impressed with us today. Glad for starters that our confidence wasn’t totally wrecked. First 20 minutes we just got used to being on the pitch again after Wednesday’s embarrassment but after that we controlled it. AOC can be sloppy at times, but does such a great job on the right – beat his man so many times, which can be the difference between getting hemmed in and starting an attack. Thought he returned to his pre-injury level.

    Gabriel was never going to be perfect today, but certainly grew into it and might just have won a first team place.

    Great character from Giroud, and he worked so hard for the side. He’s using his strength more too,and we should have had the match wrapped up when Jagielka hand-balled it after OG out-muscled him. Ospina also answered a few questions.

    Don’t think we could have expected a lot more. Just need to consolidate it vs QPR.

  13. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    On a positive note Spurs are losing their final.

  14. Bill says:

    Fortunately the schedule is in our favor. In the last 11 league games we only have 3 games against tougher teams and 2 of those are at home. Liverpool is probably a must not lose game and we need at least a draw in that one. Last year they came in to the emirates for the FA cup game in absolute top form and they had destroyed us at Anfield a week earlier yet we won that game and I am confident we can hold them to a draw.

    It would be nice to get at least 1 point from either chelsea or ManU but it’s probably not critical to get a result in either of those games as long as we can grind out results in the other 8 games. We have certainly demonstrated in the past that we are capable of getting results against mid and lower table teams when 4th is at risk even if our performances are lackluster.

  15. Wavey says:

    Sitting in the Rocket having a couple of pints of cider whilst watching the Spuds lose after the match. What a mixed back that was. If they had really come at us we would have crumbled, but Martinez tried to play a holding game today and it backfired. Their lack of threat up front gave us confidence and the last 20 mins or so of the first half was mostly us. They tried to pick it up at the start of the second, but we had our goal by then and were able to handle their limited threat, aside from one or two defensive slip ups.
    Lots of so so performances though, as I thought Ozil drifted out of the game too much and Ox was looking to come inside too often when there was acres of space down the line. When he and Bellerin did stretch them we looked more dangerous. Cazorla worked his nuts off, LeCoq took a battering and Gabriel looked to be in control apart from a decision to let the ball bounce in the first half. We did what was needed today and need to play the rest if the season in that frame of mind, get the job done. I doubt it will be pretty.

  16. Wavey says:

    And the officials had a mare. Ospina being floored by Lukaku and LeCoq by Gibson were both worthy of cards. The ref just didn’t seem interested and the foul on Ospina in particular deserved a caution. Never getting to the ball and simply sending a message.

  17. Birdkamp says:

    Yeah, Ozil and Alexis were probably our weakest players today, which isn’t saying loads, because Alexis kept our left flank safe and won the ball back a few times, while Ozil got a couple of assists. But if we want to be a proper attacking force we need them to be better.

    As for the rest of the season – City’s troubles are good for us, psychologically speaking. Gives us something to chase and avoid a bit of complacency. On current form it wouldn’t take long to catch them, but anything could happen from now to May.

  18. Birdkamp says:

    Tottenham have been pony since they beat us. Not the first time this has happened. Do they expend to much energy in games against us? It might not be a physical thing – is there a sense that these two fixtures out of 38 in a season mean too much to them?

  19. Bill says:

    Birdkamp

    Spurs were in a good run of form when we caught them. I don’t think they were ever a real threat to the top 4.

  20. Birdkamp says:

    Bill, it’s possible that we just met them on a hot streak. I guess their run was very dependent on Kane, who was performing at an unsustainable level.

    My view’s pretty Arsenal-centric. Was just wondering if they struggle to refocus after games against us, especially if they win. The clichéd way to put it would be that we’re they’re cup final!

  21. Bill says:

    Birdkamp:

    Its an interesting theory but a bit of a stretch, IMO. No way we will ever know.

  22. Bill says:

    Ultimately I think we need to go with either cazorla or Ozil in central midfield. They are clearly our most proficient technical players but I don’t know that having them both in the midfield brings out the best in either and it has not been providing good tempo for the team and I think it leaves us weak physically and defensively. Mourinho uses Oscar in front of Cesc in some games but he puts Ramires and Matic behind Cesc in tougher games. I think we will have to decide which of Santi or ozil is #10. I think they can play together if Ozil is a false winger but at least so far I don’t think that playing them together in midfield gives us the best chance to win.

  23. poodle says:

    So who captained us today in the absence of Per and Arteta?

  24. poodle says:

    And when is Arteta back? in games like the Monaco game he’s very good to have.

  25. C says:

    Santi was Captain and I wouldn’t hold my breathe on Arteta returning this season. Arsene said he is still weeks away from even training, so I’m sure it will be a couple weeks after that before he is fit.

  26. C says:

    So Le Coq has broken his nose. I think we will probably see Chambers at DM, well atleast thats who I would play.

  27. Wavey says:

    I think its all about being functional between now and the end of the season. We need to just get the job done in most of our remaining games. The ones where we will need to step up are Chelsea, Liverpool and Man U. The away games in the cups against Monaco and Man U are a bit of a pipe dream now. I don’t really see us as dangerous enough going forward at the moment. Alexis isn’t quite the same player since his little spell out with injury and perhaps he came back too quickly, but he is still our hardest working forward. Having QPR away as the next game perhaps give us a chance to consolidate as Man U are away at Newcastle and the Spuds have Swansea to deal with. Liverpool are only 3 points behind us, so I see the real chase between us, Liverpool and Man U at present. Spuds and Southampton still have a chance (Southampton have Palace next), but it seems to be 3 teams vying for 2 spots.

  28. Finnish Hit says:

    Seven home wins in the league in a row, four points off the oil-rigged jiggernaut but many will still be unsatisfied.

    Gabriel’s “mistake” wasn’t, it was a hugely unusual bounce. Captain Cazorla was passionate. I would have protected Giroud today and not played him, but Arsène commented on that pretty well (“I know him better now”). Also probably was better to change only one defender instead of two on the left.

    It would be easy to criticise Özil once again, but two goal-scoring assists… Hmmm. The second was amazing, as was the one strictly horizontal outside Everton’s box!

    A bit worrysome that the crowd was very quiet in the first half. I paid attention (only on TV up here) because of the BBC mbm comments on Bad Wed. Players and arenas are always a symbiosis, they can kill or build. The good thing was that they didn’t turn against the team or a player. Fortunately we and misfiring-on-all-cylinders-on-Wed Giroud got the goal.

    Not very many negatives I could take from this match, but many can do better.

  29. Phil says:

    Well that was an interesting afternoon.

    There was one stage, where you could literally hear a pin drop.
    The football was average. We were saved from a more difficult afternoon because Everton just don’t threaten.
    The real positive was that Gabriel played himself into BFGs spot.
    Giroud worked hard off the ball.
    TR7 again reminded Wenger why he should start. He was about the only player to have a crack from distance. Strange how sometimes they go in.

  30. Phil says:

    Thought the team was as lifeless as Wenger who seemed nailed to the bench. Didn’t even get up when Le Coq was out for the count. And he forgot to sub at the normal 70 minute mark.

  31. Finnish Hit says:

    Bill, regarding playing Cazorla and Özil: I think it was interesting in the first half seeing them play (attacking) both on either the left or the right at the same time, exchanging short passes going upwards. There was something new to me in that approach.

    I’m not proficient at football tactics (more interested in the psychological elements of the game) so maybe it was just coincidental. But the idea of “overweighing” technical players on one side is interesting.

  32. Phil says:

    Alexis was disappointing. But I guess I am comparing him to his earlier season efforts. He sets his own bar.
    Ospina earnt his pay.

  33. Phil says:

    Cbob,
    Agree we didn’t bat well, you got me there.
    Strange though that chasing down 152 was more difficult than chasing down 300. Don’t you think?

  34. Phil says:

    I would start Theo and rest Alexis against QPR.

  35. Yogi's Warrior says:

    JJ

    > clever arrogant fuckers overcomplicate shit and piss everyone off…

    Who have I upset now?

  36. Sam says:

    just watching Joel Campbell playing wide right for a young and fun Villarreal side against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu.

  37. Two Owls says:

    Yogi, just to comment, you are unimpeachable. I have a question for you about Merts. Does Arsene leave him out for a period of time given the performance of Gabrielle? I thought this new centre back acquitted himself extremely well save an errant pass in the 18 yard box which could have resulted in a goal. But, overall, he has earned another game in my books. This centre back offers something that I think we have been missing for a long time with Merts and that is pace. The Arsenal scouting staff did a wonderful job recruiting this player.

    On another point, I spent some time watching the movements of Ozil during this game. I know that Arsene regards him highly but I am one that is beginning to question his performances on the pitch. At times I thought that he was slow if not reluctant to come back into a defending position. I wonder what others thought of his game. As well, Sanchez is demonstrating that he needs an oil change. He plays in a disconnected manner, often making passes to anyone but a team mate. His glaring error in my opinion is that he gives the ball up on too many occasions.

  38. Yogi's Warrior says:

    Two Owls

    I’d leave him out until needed through injury to others, suspension or loss of form. Koscielny & Gabriel have played well enough in their fledgling partnership.

    Got to go with what the form book tells him more than any perceived loyalty.

  39. consolsbob says:

    It’s a funny old game, cricket, Phil.

    Sides tend to respond to the total set and gear themselves to reach that benchmark or, as we have seen, get overconfident and fall into complacency and hubris.

    In cricket as in life!

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