Writer: Galway Gooner
Date:Friday December 6 2013
So another game done and another 3 points on the board and low and behold we finally have a MOTD pundit recognising us as potential league winners! Ladies and gentlemen we have arrived and anything we achieve after this will be a bonus.
Joking aside the game against Hull went the way I think most of us expected (even if a few team selection issues caught us unawares) and the team won by playing confident and professional football. We didn`t run up a cricket score but I think on another night we could have and it was great to give Nicky B some game time, the goal and his overall performance was a bonus. This weekend however, we face a very different type of challenge when high flying Everton come to visit.
The centre back pairing of Jagielka and Distin is very good. They are both players that I rate very highly and ones that we have been linked to in the past. Giroud is going to really have a tough physical battle from these two and will have to really put in the work to create chances for his team mates. It will be a very difficult game from him to score in himself but his running and work rate will at least create space for others. Tactics wise Everton line up 4-2-3-1 which but unlike last season those occupying the positions wide on their back four are really encouraged to get forward as much as possible. It`s telling that these positions have contributed a total of 25% (5 goals) of their overall league tally (20 goals). Baines is likely to miss out and while Oviedo was their hero during their midweek win over United he`s not as good a player as Baines and is a weak link in their back line
They can get forward down the lines safe in the knowledge that they have a solid pairing of Barry and McCarthy who sit in front of the defence and are a good mix of guile and youthful energy. Barry is playing more games than he has in the past few seasons at City where he was, for large parts of his time there, a bit part player. He was never the fastest player on the pitch but he`s experienced and willing to resort to less savoury means to stop a player when he has to. I`ve been honestly surprised at how good he`s been this season. McCarthy followed his old boss from Wigan and despite costing a few quid (£13m I believe) has settled in very well to the Everton team. He has amazing energy levels and simply never stops running. I don`t think he has the skills to make it at a very top team but I think he`ll prove an excellent purchase for Everton and will benefit for greater exposure at International level. These two mightn`t offer a huge amount going forward but they allow others to do their job and both put in a solid shift.
Further forward their attacking 3 is made up of Mirallas, Barkley and possibly Osman (I think Pienaar will be used as a sub as Osman offers a bit more defensively) all working to support the loan front man-monster that is Lukaku. Barkley is starting to deliver on the promise that was shown in his few appearances last season. He`s already a good player but is not quite there yet. He`s solid and strong and has a nice turn of pace about him but he is also inexperienced and I think prone to the odd lapse of judgement particularly when it comes to tackling. Smart players will buy a lot of free kicks from him. A player, possibly a big one, for the future but not quite ready for me as yet and maybe has been over-used lately. Osman we know about, solid, dependable professional. He lacks the speed and directness of Pienaar but I think will start against us so that Martinez can keep the South African in reserve should he need to chase the game.
Mirallas is a very interesting player and I think the stand out one among their midfield 5. He`s still relatively young at 25-26 so you can excuse some levels of inconsistency in his play and without doubt he most certainly has the talent. If he`s on song Flamini will have to watch him very closely. He`s a dangerous player without a doubt but I can see Arteta and Flamini being able to keep him quiet. I expect both Flamini and Arteta to start with one coming off as the game opens up.
Up front, the real stand out star of this team is Lukaku. A real gem of a player and one that Everton fans must cheer each of his goals with a heavy heart - he is getting them wins but also making it less likely that he will be back next year. I don`t think that there is any chance in hell that Chelsea will sell him, like even Jose couldn`t be that pig headed surely? While his goals grab a lot of the attention I think his work off the ball, his willingness to go wide and chase to the corner flag doesn`t get the attention it deserves. He is a frightful prospect for our defenders to be facing and his direct style of play (no turning to play the ball back for this guy) means that Per and Kos are going to be in for a rough or at least a rest free day!
Matrinez I think has answered those who questioned his ability to take the step up. He has shown a level of flexibility in team formation compared to how he played at Wigan while at the same time staying loyal to the quick passing game philosophy. I like him and have always felt he would be a good fit at Arsenal for when Wenger steps down. While he hasn`t fully managed to drop the dirty side of Everton`s game (they`ve avoid a fair few red cards over the past few weeks) he has instilled a real sense of excitement in their play that was missing for years under Moyes (regardless of how "successful" they were).
Everton are doing well sitting in a lofty 5th position and I think they will among those 3-4 teams chasing 4th position down at the end of the season. But I think injuries and suspensions will mean that they will finish towards the bottom of this pack. That`s taking nothing away from Matinez and the great work he has done in replacing a club legend (David Moyes take note). He`s come in and taken the best aspects of the team (hard work, great attitude) and mixed them with his own creating a team very much in his own image. They`ve only lost once in the league all season (away at City) and their six away games have yielded 11 points which isn`t bad when you consider they`ve played both Manchester sides. Matrinez`s approach means that they create chances as a team but they also give them up, so they will be goals.
We had a nice run out midweek against a tired Hull team and managed to give 3 of our first 11 a well deserved rest while Everton had a tough 90 minutes of running in a game that really, on chances created, they should have lost.. That extra energy could be vital when deciding this one. They are on a high after a great result as were Hull but just like Hull they didn`t face a midfield that kept the ball like ours will. We also have the advantage of having a far superior bench (Renelofeu and Pienaar are good options but not in the same class as what we have). We will grind them down and I`d expect late goals in this one as legs begin to tire and impact players come on. Yellow cards could be issued like confetti and I just hope we avoid any injuries - some of the Everton players have a nasty streak!
It`s going to be a tough game for us but I can only see one winner here.
Arsenal win 3-1.
Date:Friday December 6 2013
Stats: Bayern Munich v Arsenal (Tuesday March 11 2014)
Team News: Bayern Munich vs Arsenal (Tuesday March 11 2014)
All Wenger Wants Is a Fair Crack Of The Whip (Tuesday March 11 2014)
Arteta Wants To Invoke The Spirit Of '89 (Tuesday March 11 2014)
Injury News: Gibbs Out, Koscielny In (Tuesday March 11 2014)
Wenger: Ozil Is Over Bayern Penalty Miss (Monday March 10 2014)
With Commitment & Belief We Have a Chance (Monday March 10 2014)
Match Discussion - Bayern Munich (a) (Monday March 10 2014)
It's Now Or Never As Wigan Stun City (Sunday March 9 2014)
City or Wigan In The Semi-Final - Cheers Wrighty (Sunday March 9 2014)
|4. Man City||26||18||3||5||+42||57|
|6. Man Utd||28||14||6||8||+15||48|
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