Sunday, 22 October 2017

Arsenal's Trip To Everton Previewed

Here we go again with Arsenal trying to get back on the horse after their latest setback. Our attempt to move into the top four went off the rails last week when we surrendered a lead to lose 2-1 at Watford. We've got to get a hold of the reins again though and go to Everton today with nothing less than three points as our target.

As bad as we have been this season we have been nowhere near as bad as an Everton team who spent a fortune this summer and have nothing to show for it so far. They're at the wrong end of the Premier League and bottom of their Europa League group too. Of course selling their prize asset last summer didn't help and it seems they just can't find a way to deliver the goals Romelu Lukaku scored so regularly for them.

At least our reserves and fringe players managed to keep up their 100% record in the Europa League on Thursday night while we rested all of the team who will play today with the exception of Petr Cech. On the other hand Everton could only afford to rest a couple of players and fatigue could play a part in their performances today. However they did get the better of the fight against Lyon on Thursday night with the help of their fans who joined the melee behind the goal despite one of them having a child in his arms.

I could go into what went wrong at Watford ad nauseam, but it's such a recurring theme that it seems pointless at this stage. The cures are another thing we could discuss forever too, but I think we won't see the real cure until a complete change of mindset at the club and that will only come with a change of management. With the imminent departures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez next summer it looks like it could be a real low point for us and it would be the perfect time for a new man to step in. We all know it won't happen though as the status quo seems to be what we do best.

Anyway I digress and it's back to today's game and what we need to do to win. For me I don't think the three central defenders are working in terms of how it affects other areas of the team. I think we need to strengthen our midfield and given the players we have the best way would be to add another play to the two we are currently playing.

When you look at the players we have available at the moment our defenders and attackers look up to the task of fighting for a top four place to me, but the centre of the park is where we are struggling. Maybe redeploying Francis Coquelin to protect a back four would give us more control in midfield, but it would require a change of tactics from the manager and the chances of that happening are slim to none. I don't see why we have to stick to the same system in every game and our approach should surely come from the tactics required to win each individual game.

It looks like Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez will all be fit to return today and I expect them all to play. Mesut Ozil is available too, but whether he plays or not is a different matter. There has been much debate about whether he should play or not and his overall contribution to the team, but I think you leave a player of his quality out of the team at your peril.

Comparisons have been made between Ozil and Alexis and the fates of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie in the past. Both of those players left due to under investment in the team in my opinion and it seems the same will be the case with Ozil and Alexis. If the stories are true they both have become disillusioned with the lack of investment in the team compared to the promises made to them. It's perfectly believable and it would be a damning indictment on the club considering our financial position since we came out of our "stadium building" era.

Anyway back to Everton again and a game we could and should win despite all of our shortcomings. We have better players than them and we're in better form than them despite some of our results. The problems will come if Everton score first or pull a goal back because that's when we lose our confidence and our way. That's something they're short of too and we need to exploit their position by outplaying them from the start.

Our away record this season is dismal with one point and one goal from four games and yet that point came at Chelsea. The defeats at Stoke and Watford were hard to take and the joke performance at Liverpool still hurts when I think of it. With the manager saying he sees no reason to explain why a team are different away from home than at home I would love him to explain the difference in our home and away records this season.

I'll leave it there for today and despite our dreadful away league form I still more or less always believe we can and will any game we play. Realisation usually kicks in when I see the performances being put in by the players, but it would be a sad day for a fan not to believe his team could win a game before a ball is kicked. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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