Weekend Preview: Everton Toughest So Far?

Everyone is expecting Arsenal to easily beat Everton but I have a feeling that it’s going to be the toughest test for the Gunners so far.

We have 17 points from 8 games while Everton have 16 from 9 – and we’ve both scored 15 goals this season.

Considering we’ve been in free-scoring form and Everton are usually defensive the fact they already have 15 goals this season is impressive – especially when only Manchester United have scored more in the league so far.

Andy Johnson has been huge for Everton and fits in perfectly to their 4-5-1 formation with his pace, scoring ability and handy knack of winning a penalty!

And with Arsenal looking slightly frail from set-pieces at times this term Tim Cahill could cause all kinds of problems.

But of course, Arsenal were stunning against Reading with our own 4-5-1 (but more like a 4-1-4-1 I suppose) with Hleb, Rosicky, Fabregas and Van Persie linking well with Henry. I hope Arsene doesn’t change too much and plays the same attacking 5 against Everton.

Teams always play deep at the Emirates and Everton will be no different, looking for the quick break lead by Andy Johnson. Don’t be surprised if he wins a penalty!

Both teams will go into the game full of confidence which will make for an excellent game with probably a few goals.

Prediction?

3-1 to the Arsenal!

Wenger’s Delight: Happy Birthday Boss…


Fantastic Four…

I’ve had a day to get over yesterdays game and I still think the performance was absolutely stunning – some of the play was the best I have seen from this Arsenal team this season.

And the additions of William Gallas and Thomas Rosicky this campaign should not be underrated.

Arsenal went with the 4-5-1 formation which played more like a 4-1-4-1 system with Gilberto happy to sit in front of the defence while Van Persie, Rosicky, Fabregas and Hleb all made forward runs to support Thierry Henry.

Reading had no chance!

The brilliant movement of all the attacking midfielders caused all kinds of problems and with only 58 seconds on the clock a fantastic run and pass from Fabregas setup Henry with his 168th Premiership goal in an Arsenal shirt.

And from then on Arsenal proceeded to give a footballing masterclass.

Chelsea and Manchester United had stuggled at the Madejski Stadium in the previous weeks but Arsenal were the ones who displayed the performance of a team who want to be serious title-challengers this season – and why not?

Arsenal got their second goal just before the break, when Hleb and Rosicky combined well on the edge of the box for Hleb to smash the ball into the roof of the net!

And the most amazing thing was Hleb had a shot! Yes, it’s the only option he had left in that position but it was a shot nevertheless…

The Gunners could have been even further ahead if it wasn’t for wastefulness in front of goal from Van Persie but his goal would come.

And after the break Arsenal were still in devestating form as Hleb played a one-two with Henry to set up Van Persie with the third.

Henry stroked in a penalty on 70 minutes to make the final score 4-0, and after that Arsenal took their foot off the gas and saw the rest of the game out.

So a convincing win and a very happy birthday to the man that made it all possible…

People will give Fabregas all the plaudits and rightly so, but I have to say that the attacking 5 – Fabregas, Henry, Hleb, Rosicky and Van Persie combined so well it was frightening. The movement, understanding and combination play was simply outstanding – does anyone else on the planet play better football than we do when we’re on song?

Arsenal Robbed But Probably Deserved To Be?


A Tough Night In Moscow…

A more than difficult night in Moscow for Arsenal tonight.

Before the game Arsene Wenger said it would be a hard match with the travelling, jeg-lag and the conditions over in Russia and the pitch proved to be hard for Arsenal to play their slick, quick passing game.

And CSKA Moscow packed the midfield and played deep which didn’t give Arsenal any space in behind and in the first 60 minutes Arsenal were pedestrian at best.

The only (allowed) goal of the game came on 25 minutes when the poor Djourou hauled down Dadu on the edge of the area. CSKA’s Brazilian Carvalho stepped up and smashed the freekick past the wall and straight into the Arsenal goal.

Arsenal had patches of nice passing but didn’t have any sort of threat in front of goal.

The best opening for Arsenal came just before half-time, when Robin Van Persie was released on the right hand side but failed to pick out Kolo Toure or Thierry Henry in the middle and ran straight into the CSKA keeper. Kolo was furious and so were all the Arsenal fans watching!

Cesc and the rest of the midfield finally found their feet with about 25 minutes remaining and Arsenal began to make a few half chances.

The introduction of Gael Clichy gave Arsenal extra impetus and Arsenal’s late pressure seemed to have paid off when Henry coolly controlled a long freekick and slotted into the far corner.

But amazingly the Spanish referee ruled to goal out and gave Henry a yellow card for handball!

Maybe he’s a Barcelona fan but after numerous TV replays it wasn’t clear that the hand was used at all. If anything it just looked like Titi cushioned the ball with his midriff.

Lehmann Might Not Be So Crazy After All…

We’ve all heard about Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini and how they were badly injured at Saturday’s game at Reading, and the Walrus has even offered to loan Chelski a keeper on loan while they are struggling in that position.

And Jens has aired his views, saying:

“First of all let me say that I hope both Carlo Cudicini and Petr Cech recover quickly. When it happened I really felt sorry for both keepers. It made me really, really angry too. We’re here two days later and I’m still upset because it happened to Schwarzer and Shay Given. Now it’s happened to Peter Cech and Carlo Cudicini. All of them are great keepers, very brave, they never went to challenge or harm the striker but all four of them got knocked out due to ‘clumsy’ challenges.

“This word clumsy makes me really angry as well because these stupid pundits on TV they say sometimes ‘it’s clumsy’ and ‘it’s a man’s game’. Yes it is a man’s game but what you have to consider as well is these men have children and wives and their children don’t want to see their fathers end up with lifelong damage, driven around in a wheelchair or not being able to work anymore.

“I’m worried because my game is based on coming off the line so I’m a potential target. I know that people sometimes laugh about me when I make them aware ahead of corners or prior to free-kicks when people only come into challenge me, to push me or to elbow me but now you see that for these keepers it was a really bad outcome.”

What Jens said made me think – do goalkeepers get enough protection?

Yes, people (me included) always laugh when Lehmann is causing a fuss in his penalty area – even resorting to pushing over the oppostion if they get too close – but does he have a point?

Cech and Cudicini suffered serious head injuries, Shay Given was involved in an incident with Harewood which was ‘likened to a car crash’ by his doctor and Mark Schwarzer has to wear a protective mask over his face.

Goalkeepers will always go for the ball with their hands in a 50/50 situation but inevitably the outfield players will attack the ball with their studs, legs and sometimes if the ball is in the air with their elbows.

The question is what is acceptable and what is not.

Obviously if outfield players go for the ball in the 50/50 then they are entitled to slide or use their arms if the ball is in the air – but the goalkeepers usually go in with their hand and face.

Maybe ‘Crazy Jens’ is making a big deal about nothing – but then again he might just have a valid point…

Videos: Walcott Smashes Through Germans!


Walcott Was Bamboozling A Different German Keeper Last Night…

I said I hated the International break and to be honest, I still do. But when Theo Walcott scores two great goals against Germany then it can’t help bring a smile to your face!

Theo’s first goal came on 83 minutes after he latched onto a long ball over the top from England U21 left-back Leighton Baines and he coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

And then on 91 minutes, Theo picked the ball up on the halfway line and well – you’ll have to watch the goal to believe it!

Quicker than Henry? I don’t know, but he can finish like him!

And at 17, he can only get better?

God help the rest of The Premiership!

Theo has praised Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie, saying training with them has helped his finishing. On Henry, he said:

I train with him every day, Robin’s the same, too, their finishing is unbelievable. But it’s great to be able to learn from the best.”

Videos

Theo Walcott – 1st Goal vs. Germany [watch video]
Theo Walcott – 2nd Goal vs. Germany [watch video]