Arsenal vs Everton

Friday, 21 February, 2020 119comments  |  Jump to last
Match Preview

Theo Walcott is a doubt to face his former club with the knee injury he sustained against Crystal Palace

With the staggered winter break out the way, Everton are back in Premier League action with a trip to Arsenal.

Carlo Ancelotti has already experienced a couple of “Everton, that” moments in his short time as the Toffees' boss — the embarrassing FA Cup defeat to Liverpool's kids and the injury-time collapse against Newcastle were succinct examples of the mentality the Italian needs to change — but he has also knocked some things on the head, most notably the team's failure under his predecessor to come from behind to win in the Premier League.

He will get the chance to get one of the biggest monkeys off Evertonian backs next month in the Goodison derby but another is the Blues' pathetic record away at the grounds of the so-called “big six”. That, of course, includes Arsenal whom an Everton side hasn't beaten on their turf since the days of Highbury in 1996.

Ancelotti was made aware of his new club's litany of failure at the homes of that formerly elite six, where they haven't won since Bryan Oviedo's late winner at Old Trafford in December 2013 and said: “Not one victory? Wow! I'm going to cry! It's time to win, then.” Is it ever.

This weekend's trip to North London is the first of four successive games against those clubs, two of which are away, a run which can either be regarded as daunting or pregnant with possibility.

Ancelotti acknowledged the size of the challenge during his pre-match press conference he pointed out just how key it could be to Everton's European aspirations. Once they're out the way, the picture vis-a-vis the top six or seven will be that much clearer.

“Of course, we have to be focused on Arsenal but if we want to think about Europe, there are very important games after Arsenal,” he said. “We have to play against United, Chelsea and Liverpool so after these four games, we can see what's going on for Europe.

“We need to have confidence to our best, to try to win. I know that Arsenal have improved a lot, they have more confidence and they are playing better. It will be difficult but the spirit of [our] team is good and we have confidence.”

Theo Walcott looks likely to miss out on a return to his former stomping ground at The Emirates because of the knee injury he sustained against Crystal Palace a fortnight ago.

The winger had to be withdrawn after just 24 minutes of the 3-1 victory at Goodison Park, shortly after serving up the opening goal for Bernard, and while he has just resumed training, he is doubtful for Sunday's game against Arsenal.

Bernard has shaken off a minor complaint, however, and is fit to play while a decision on whether André Gomes starts his first game in almost four months will be made before the match.

The Portuguese played an hour-long practice match at Finch Farm over the winter break and has been passed fit to play but this weekend's fixture in the Capital will be his first taste of action since he suffered an awful ankle fracture dislocation in early November.

“André is available to play,” manager Carlo Ancelotti said in his pre-match press conference. “He trained well, properly, with confidence and without problems. My opinion is that he is ready to play.

“Before the game we are going to talk together and we are going to decide if he can start the game or if he goes on the bench.

“Bernard is okay. Theo had a problem 0- he started to train individually today. We will see tomorrow but I am not sure if he will play against Arsenal.”

The game sees two teams chasing European qualification go head-to-head just a few weeks after they played out a goalless draw at Goodison Park with their respective new bosses watching on from the stands.

Mikel Arteta appears to be slowly turning things around at Arsenal and they come into the game on the back of successive wins over Newcastle in the Premier League and Olympiakos in the Europa League.

Indeed, like Ancelotti, the Spaniard has lost just one League game since taking the helm but the Gunners are still not the force they were and defensively they can be suspect which will no doubt be an area that Ancelotti will look to exploit.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is likely to be ruled out, joining Calum Chambers and new signing Cedric Soares on the sidelines and Skodran Mustafi twisted a knee at the end of Thursday's game in Greece but could be passed fit to play. Mezut Ozil is expected to return after missing the Europa League tie for personal reasons.

With Everton having put their recent run form together with a depleted and often under-performing central midfield, the potential return of Gomes is a tantalising prospect but it does remain to be seen whether he feels able to be thrown back into the starting XI.

If it is decided that he starts on the bench, then Ancelotti will have to choose between Fabian Delph, available again following suspension but in unreliable form since his arrival at the club from Manchester City, and Gylfi Sigurdsson who has acquitted himself well in central midfield alongside Morgan Schneiderlin. The boss could also decide to drop the Frenchman — that would be harsh given his impressive display against Crystal Palace — and restore the Delph/Sigurdsson axis in the middle.

Out wide, Djibril Sidibé is the likely replacement for Walcott while Alex Iwobi could be preferred to Bernard on the left. At the back, Mason Holgate is expected to come back in for Michael Keane after sitting out until the later stages against Palace.

Kick-off: 4:30pm, Sunday 23 February, 2020
Referee: Stuart Attwell
VAR: Craig Pawson
Last Time: Arsenal 2 - 0 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Holgate, Digne, Schneiderlin, Gomes, Sidibé , Iwobi, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin


Reader Comments (119)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 21/02/2020 at 23:05:25
Well, that's that.

Can't even hope to compete without ol' Theo.


Jerome Shields
2 Posted 22/02/2020 at 00:28:43
Successive managers may select Theo, but most fans have been unconvinced.
David Pearl
3 Posted 22/02/2020 at 01:05:53
Without a doubt he is one of a host of players most improved under Ancelotti. The alternative will be Sidibe, and l can't be alone thinking that's not ideal. Must be great having selective memories but l'm sure he got the winner again Watford and provided a great assist in his last game... maybe he didn't and that was my imagination.

I'd hope for an unchanged team apart from Holgate returning. Gomes should start on the bench in my opinion. Then again, have to trust our manager.

Steve Brown
4 Posted 22/02/2020 at 01:31:51
Must be world class in training, but can't think of a one thing he does excellently on match day.
Bill Watson
5 Posted 22/02/2020 at 03:06:36
I'm not a great fan of Walcott but, to be fair, he'd come into a bit of form before he got injured.
Ajay Gopal
6 Posted 22/02/2020 at 05:45:21
Lyndon, I wonder why Ancelotti would prefer Iwobi to Bernard, who scored in our last match and would be full of confidence? Arsenal are not a physical side, so he would get more chance to play his natural game.

My guess/expectation for the starting XI is:

Coleman Mina Holgate Digne
Sigurdsson Gomes Schneiderlin Bernard
Richarlison Calvert-Lewin

Subs: Stekelenburg, Keane, Sidibe, Delph, Davies, Kean, Iwobi

Sigurdsson, though slower, is harder working than Sidibe, and his quality of crossing is better and more consistent than Sidibe, IMO. Expect Digne, Bernard and Sigurdsson to be putting things in the penalty box for Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin to head. Kean to come on with about 20 mins to play and create mayhem with Mustafi and Luiz.

Jerome Shields
7 Posted 22/02/2020 at 05:54:38
Season upon season, Arsenal under Wenger, who wasn't their best Manager, have been a barometer of Everton progress under successive Managers. Arsenal's last appearance at Goodison Park does not count, with Arteta in the stands. Arsenal have a new Manager this time and Everton have a Manager in Ancelotti who knows what he is about.

Midfield will be the deciding factor and how organised Arsenal are defensively. Naturally, Ancelotti has been thinking ahead, hopeful that he has alternatives in midfield and he needs them after the last performance from Sigurdsson. Walcott, who normally plays and avoids injury, played very well on his last performance and got Injured.

Arsena! are not above setting up shop and channelling Everton's attacking play and will have an effective counter-attack. It's a game after the dreaded break, thankfully it wasn't a warm-weather one, and Ancelotti has prevented Finch Farm from going into holiday mode. How Holgate and Bernard, who hopefully has recovered, play will determine the outcome, as will Gomes and how he has reacted to Ancelotti's coaching.

Another very interesting game for Everton.

Darren Hind
8 Posted 22/02/2020 at 06:43:36
I personally, see this as our most important game since we played Man Utd in the semi-final under Martinez. This game offers these players a fantastic opportunity to break through a huge psychological barrier.

Ancelotti is right, of course. The next four games against the bigger clubs are going to be crucial. If we win the first of them, we can approach the others with a totally different mindset.

I think by half-four tomorrow, we'll probably know whether these players are challenging for Thursday Cup qualification or if they have loftier ambitions.

Massive game. I'm already both nervous and excited about it.


Mark Andersson
9 Posted 22/02/2020 at 06:58:20
No prediction from me. Has Carlo been here long enough to help the players lose their loser mentality against the so-called bigger teams?

Yes, we have improved, rode our luck and got back in contention for a European place. However, it's all down to the confidence of this bunch of players and their hunger, desire to want to get into the top 6.

We need to win simple as that. My heart hopes my heads in doubt, just another Everton fan praying the players don't bottle it.

Derek Knox
10 Posted 22/02/2020 at 07:07:25
Great to have Football back, it seems like an eternity since we last played, let's hope we can get something out of this match. I watched the Europa League game against Olympiakos to try and gauge what we would be up against.

I wasn't very impressed by Arsenal at all, to be honest, and it looked like being a 0-0 until Lacazette found his scoring boots again; let's hope he has lost them for Sunday.

Team selection will be interesting, but it looks like Carlo likes to spring a few surprises, so the opposition don't know what to expect. I like that approach, and all of our players seem to be up for it.

I have been one of Schneiderlin's biggest critics, but I must admit Carlo has brought something out of him which I didn't think he possessed. While not being outstanding, he has been a big improvement on what he has shown in the past.

Jerome Shields
11 Posted 22/02/2020 at 07:26:23
Derek #10,

I agree regarding Schneiderlin. A performance like his last would be the ticket, though I thought he had to carry Sigurdsson in that game.

Mike Kehoe
12 Posted 22/02/2020 at 07:26:42
I am amazed at the progress since Ancelloti took over and feel that securing such a manager is a massive step in the right direction. This is an occasion when Moshiri has delivered big time as I would much prefer Ancelloti to Arteta.

‘It is time for a win there' — love it, his management and mindset is transforming the same players that lacked the guile or inclination to win a raffle under Silva to committed professionals we expect to achieve away to Arsenal. They have excellent forwards but are not solid defensively and can be got at.

Whatever the result, this is more like it and what we have been waiting for; when the intellectual Titan that is Rio Ferdinand, the ex-footballer cum professional conveyor of transcendent wisdom, used the medium of talking through his arse to demand of Evertonians “What do they want?” when we were somehow less than satisfied with another Allardyce horror show, his outrage that we seem to have ideas far above our station. A manager who can deliver results is what we want and have been waiting too long for, and Ancelotti seems to be that man.

Frank Sheppard
13 Posted 22/02/2020 at 07:35:14
I think it might be too soon for Gomes. Interesting selections for Carlo. COYB.
Steve Shave
14 Posted 22/02/2020 at 07:35:17
I agree with Derek @10 & Jerome @11 – Schneiderlin is radically improved under Carlo. I have at times felt utter contempt towards him but recognise this improvement and am more than happy to see him turn in good performances and finally start to earn some of that substantial wage we pay him.

I don't think he'll be here next season and we should be looking to get a fee for him in the summer; if he has a good end to the season, it works for both parties, so let's get behind him, lads. It may work under Carlo if he is paired with Gomes.

Derek Knox
15 Posted 22/02/2020 at 07:36:43
Mike@ 12, how right you are so about Anus Maximus, aka Rio Ferdinand, and his espousal of detritus seems never ending. I believe he is also known as Scrotumus Maximus too. :-)
John Raftery
16 Posted 22/02/2020 at 07:55:32
We have never won at the Emirates and have been rolled over all too easily in recent seasons. Ten years ago we ought to have won in a 2-2 draw in which Arsenal equalised with a deflected shot in the dying minutes. We were also the better side in the first season under Martinez when Deulofeu scored a cracker in a 1-1 draw.

Tomorrow our midfield will need to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. With decent service we have enough attacking power to unsettle the Arsenal defence. The question is whether or not our defence can keep a rare clean sheet. Bernard seems to be a man of the match player at home but ineffectual away. For that reason Iwobi may start.

Paul Tran
17 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:02:20
The key to this game is sticking to the truth that we are playing another inconsistent upper mid-table team. They have good strikers, so do we. Right now, we are as entitled as they are to say we're a big team. Nobody worries me in this league. The players ought to be thinking the same.

Time they showed it.

Mike Gaynes
18 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:07:12
DK #15... "Anus Maximus"????

It's midnight and I have two E&J brandies in me, and that hit just the spot. I can't stop giggling.

Bill Griffiths
19 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:18:48
Not sure how it's going to go tomorrow but I expect that if we do come up short there'll be loads on here moaning "same old Everton".
While that would be a natural reaction given our history, I think we should wait until after the next four games before making any judgements.
It's early days in Carlo's tenure here and he's possibly going to need more time to change and instil a better mentality.
Anyway here's hoping for a win tomorrow, though I'll accept a creditable draw.
Winston Williamson
20 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:19:16
Steve 14: I get the impression Schneiderlin downed tools on managers he had no respect for. Which is a flawed character trait. However, he can't possibly feel the same about Carlo.

We have a manger who most of this team would of previously only dreamed of playing for! No excuses now. If Schneiderlin (and a few others) can't raise their game for Carlo, they may as well finish with football at the top level!

Really hope we beat Arsenal. My boss is a smug cockney gooner! Utter delusional. Still thinks they are a top top side! Moaned about Wenger and then moaned when Arteta joined. Would love to wipe the floor with them! Can't stand southern clubs and their entitled fans!

Keith Edmunds
21 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:22:31
Isn't it 4:30 kick off not 2:30?
Keith Edmunds
22 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:31:43
Need to know what time to get upon Melbourne
Carl Manning
23 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:33:43
I think Ancelotti has seen away from Goodison Bernard is half the player! The worry for me is the right side where Walcott does a great job protecting his full back. Arsenal recently have been playing that tremendous young lad Saka at left back and he's man of the match every game. That's where the danger will come from as Aubameyang will likely he left side of a 3.

We will undoubtedly get at them defensively, and there is no question our set piece into the box, if it's as good as the last match, will cause chaos in arsenals box. We have to take our chances, as I said, we will get them.

Jay Evans
24 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:37:29
Echoing the thoughts of others, tomorrow's game really is massive. I'm also nervous/excited as this is the start of 4 huge tests for us and by the end of them we'll know a lot more about our progress.

That clown Luiz can be got at make no mistake, so he needs to be clattered and wound up at every opportunity.

As for the other end, we know who their 2 main threats are so lets stand up and be counted. Stop their strikers, frustrate and be strong.

It all sounds so simple doesn't it.

I don't think we'll break our Emirates duck tomorrow unfortunately but here's hoping. I'm going for a score draw.

Full support. Onward Evertonians. 💙

Hugh Jenkins
25 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:44:14
CA is showing, in his pre match pressers the essential difference between him and lesser managers.

He is clearly a strategist and is not afraid to look beyond the next game.

How often have we heard other managers (and not just ours) say 'we are not interested in Europe (or winning the league, or the cup etc. )- only the next match'?

It is refreshing to have a manager who clearly thinks beyond that and is not afraid to say so.

That, in itself, surely instills more belief and confidence in the players?

Martin Berry
26 Posted 22/02/2020 at 08:56:23
I am sure Carlo will have us tight at the back as Arsenal will no doubt try to pile on the pressure, however I can see us causing them a lot of problems on the break and from set pieces.
I think we will nick it by the odd goal and maybe another Mina moment ?
Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 22/02/2020 at 09:20:49
Lyndon, I've got to question your assertion “ Sigurdsson has acquitted himself well alongside Schneiderlin” just haven't seen that at all, if it wasn't for him taking corners and some of the free kicks he would be invisible, apart from getting in the way when another Everton player is dealing with a situation and cocking the whole thing up, Schneiderlin is a different player in the last two or three games, still leaving much in his locker, he has livened himself up and getting more involved and looks a better player than the one who played when he felt like it, for the last two seasons.

Until a lot of these players prove they have the same mindset as Ancelotti I will wait and see how we will cope, a draw tomorrow will keep me happy, a win will surprise me but make me happier still.

Martin Mason
28 Posted 22/02/2020 at 09:21:06
I thought that a win was a good possibility but Arsenal looked good in destroying Newcastle in the second half of their last home game. They have some very dangerous players and can play very fast on the break but they can also be vulnerable. A difficult game and no prediction from me only a hope that we get a result and continue our steady improvement.
Brent Stephens
29 Posted 22/02/2020 at 09:36:05
Keith #21 - 4.30 pm it is. Not 2.30 as per the Match Preview.
Tony Everan
30 Posted 22/02/2020 at 09:36:55
We've got the players and individual talent to beat Arsenal.

Which Arsenal players would you swap for ours like for like? One or two? It's going to be a tough match Mikel will have them fired up and they will be feel better after a couple of wins. Still, we have a great chance against this Arsenal team.

I'm looking forward to the next 4 games now, I certainly don't find them daunting. I definitely see them as pregnant with possibility. A win tomorrow will be another marker that this Everton team under Carlo Ancelloti means business.

An aside ; It's a sad state of affairs but I fear VAR and the officials more than I fear Arsenal's threat.

James Hughes
31 Posted 22/02/2020 at 09:43:54
Keith it is a 4.30 kick-off not 2.30
Darren Hind
32 Posted 22/02/2020 at 10:06:09
Speedo Mick Now on BBC news.

Said it before

What an ambassador

Tony Abrahams
33 Posted 22/02/2020 at 10:13:38
Some good sensible posts, and then a sentence from John R@16, which echoes my second biggest concern about this team, because I'm just not sure our midfield know how to boss a game of football, but if they can, then it might just help my biggest concern, which is something Paul T, constantly talks about, MENTAL STRENGTH!

Agree with Darren, that this game is like a semi-final, and also have a feeling that Ancelotti might start introducing Moise Kean a lot more, because he must be more settled and acclimatised now, and he has the pace to come off the bench and get in behind this Arsenal team, I hope.

Bill G, also speaks sense, but hopefully the man-management, leadership and knowledge of Carlo Ancelotti, can give our team a confidence that it hasn't had for years, because belief is everything in this great game, and that's all the players need to show our supporters, because if they do, we will do the rest! COYBB

Jimmy Hogan
34 Posted 22/02/2020 at 10:13:50
Jerome #7, that's an odd thing to say about Wenger. He won 3 Premier Leagues and 7 FA Cups. More than Herbert Chapman or George Graham. Some of the football from that Invincibles side was mesmerising.
Conor McCourt
35 Posted 22/02/2020 at 10:24:19
I don't expect Arsenal to be as generous defensively as this thread, led by Lyndon envisages. Under Mikel they have only conceded more than one goal to Chelsea and three goals in total in their five home games. They have also kept three consecutive clean sheets.

In assessing them as a mid table team brings in the work under Unai and Freddy which is irrelevant. They have played five home games under Arteta, won three, drawn one and lost one. In all of those games bar Leeds in the cup they were the dominant team.

I think we will need our best performance of the season to get the three points as our best effort to date in beating Chelsea may not be enough. I agree with Carl that stopping their left side will be the key to getting a result.

I would like to see Kean start tomorrow as when Saka bombs forward they defend with Luiz and Xhaka on that left side so there is a real lack of pace with Mustafi also not being lightning to cover. Hopefully Carlo will expose that area.

Dave Williams
36 Posted 22/02/2020 at 10:27:22
Start Iwobi against his former club. Walcott too if fit which I suspect will be the case. He does seem to have hit a half decent patch at the moment and they should both be well motivated for this one. I expect Gomes will start with Carlo ready to sub him early if necessary. If he is ready ( and only those two will know) he will give us more of the ball, otherwise I can see Siggy playing which would be like playing with ten men.
Seamus Yerry Mason Lucas
Theo Morgan Andre Alex
Richi Dom
Sam Hoare
37 Posted 22/02/2020 at 10:54:50
Darren@8, I agree. Huge game and a great marker of where we actually are. Very excited/nervous to be heading to the Emirates tomorrow.

My feeling is that Arsenal have been slightly better than their results suggest and we have been slightly worse than ours do. Both teams currently possess strikers on form and defenders prone to mishaps so you'd expect a few goals but equally it could be cagey from two well-matched teams.

If Theo is not fit then I hope its not Sidibe who gets the nod. Not that he has not been decent but playing a right back on the wing sends a very defensive message. I'd be tempted to start Kean up front and play Richie on the wing, where he always works very hard, to give us more goal threat though i'm loathe to move the Brazilian further away from goal. Tough one to call.

Robert Tressell
38 Posted 22/02/2020 at 11:19:38
As much as we're agonising over team selection and the opposition, Arsenal will be doing the same. Of the team that beat Olympiacos only aubameyang stands out as someone who'd definitely get in our first 11. Others, like guendozi and saka, look impressive but are pretty young and are inconsistent. Xhaxa is their schneiderlin and mustafi and sokratis would be nowhere near our first 11. They're mid table on merit and no better than, say, Wolves in terms of playing staff. Arteta has improved them but we have the much more experienced coach. Should treat this as a winnable game.
Bobby Mallon
39 Posted 22/02/2020 at 11:44:27
I would definitely play Holgate in midfield with Kean Mina at centre back. Stick Schneiderlin next to him as he has played very well lately. Team
Bobby Mallon
40 Posted 22/02/2020 at 11:49:02
But I would also go with Richarlison on left of midfield dropping Bernard/ Iwobi and start Moise Kean up top with Calvert-Lewin
Carl Manning
41 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:10:56
The idea of playing Keane not Holgate at CB is inviting trouble. Arsenals front 3 are very quick and and run with the play. Throw in Ozil with his slide rule passes into the mix and our cbs will do a lot of chasing and last ditch clearances. For pace alone, Holgate has to play CB.
Thomas Lennon
42 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:20:01
We lack a bit in goals still to seriously mount this challenge. We have plenty of pace to score on the break, a bit of guile and determination to score from crosses/dead ball crosses but teams are going to work out how to defend those we also need midfielders to score from a distance.

Arsenal is winnable if we can keep them out but over the next ten games we need to go up a level and stay there. We have already gone up a level or two so it is possible but...

Christopher Timmins
43 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:28:38
The next 4 weeks will be pivotal in determining our chances of being in the European qualifying mix at the end of the season. I think we would all have settled for this outcome on 1 December last. Great to have an almost full squad to choose from and it has to be a help to be playing teams who will have European engagements either immediately before or after they play us.

Here's hoping for 3 points and an improved performance on recent outings. It's definitely a winnable game and we should try to take advantage of their weaknesses at the back.

Jay Wood

44 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:38:23
An interesting comparison between Aubamayeng and Richarlison here.


As Arsenal's out-and-out striker as opposed to Richarlison playing wide or as the 2nd striker for most of the season, you would expect the Arsenal man to have more goals - 15-9.

But all the other numbers show what an excellent player we have in the Brazilian.

Richarlison - and the team - is one of the players to most benefit from Carlo's tweaks since he arrived.

Playing closer alongside Dom allows him to get more shots on goal, but of possibly greater benefit is how deadly the set up can now be on the counter attack.

Examples of this is his run and assist for Dom's wining goal away to Newcastle; the run and pass into Moise that enabled Walcott's winner at Watford; his run and excellent goal from Dom's flick on last time out v Palace.

This is no accident. Carlo has repeatedly said since arriving that the best opportunity to score is on the counter attack and has set the team up to do just that.

Dennis Stevens
45 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:45:11
I was thinking that after the next 4 matches we're away to Norwich City & the rest of the season won't be so bad, but then I glanced at April's fixtures!

So after Arsenal [a], Manchester United [h], Chelsea [a], Liverpool [h], we have the trip to Norwich. Then in April it's Leicester City [a], Spurs [h], Southampton [a], Wolves [h].

What a great run of nine matches!

If we qualify for Europe this season, reckon we'll have had to earn it.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what Ancelotti can get out of this squad through to the season's end. Thank goodness we have him, otherwise I don't think we'd be anywhere near contention for Europe.

Colin Malone
46 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:46:27
Carlo likes his two midfielders to stay deep and hold, to let the two wingers and two up front do the forward approach work. Will this suit Gomes? Hmmmmm....
Jay Wood

47 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:51:58
Or, to look at it another way Dennis, those teams will be wary and won't fancy playing Everton the form we're in.
Dennis Stevens
48 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:56:23
Aye, Jay & the better we do as we progress from match to match, the more daunting the prospect will be for the opposition. Nonetheless, any success we get this season is not going to arrive without a lot of hard work.
Derek Knox
49 Posted 22/02/2020 at 12:56:34
Thanks Jay for the link, managed to watch the Premier League World prog on The Architect (Marcel Brands) it was well worth a watch. One thing I did pick up on was that Brands mentioned his connections with Brazil.

So maybe there is still hope to get Cebolinha, but I would imagine there is a long list who have their eye on him, still his friendship with Richarlison may just tempt him to come.

David Hallwood
50 Posted 22/02/2020 at 13:12:00
Great summary. In the next four games we've got the chance to get at least 1 of 3 monkeys off our back; our away record against Arsenal and Chelsea and our abysmal record vs Liverpool.

Let's hope Carlo can bring some winner's arrogance to the proceedings because this isn't a great Arsenal side. My prediction is 2-1 to us.

Slightly off-piste, I see Zouma's only on the subs bench yet again.

Jerome Shields
51 Posted 22/02/2020 at 13:16:46
Jimmy #34,

The Invincibles were at the beginning of Wenger's tenure at Arsenal. The remains of Arsenal's defensive system still existed. Wenger did improve the attacking system, but the defensive system eroded away. Arsenal found it difficult to get results against top four sides. Their Premier League position was determined by points tally against middle- to lower-placed sides, which they were good against.

Wenger survived not being a league winning contender by hiding behind tight funds as the result of a new Stadium, and FA Cup that suited his system. Wenger was never going to win the Premier League again or the Champions League.

Having said that, a lynching should have happened at Everton for what happened there. Arsenal can still show remnants of the defensive at times.

Jay Wood

52 Posted 22/02/2020 at 13:19:22
Agree with you on that Dennis. A European place is no shoo-in. This group of players has consistently let us down in pressure games. Too early to call if Carlo has gone some way to exorcising those demons.

Derek, I am desperate to see the Brands documentary. Not arrived in my neck of the woods yet and my daily searches for it on YouTube and the like returns nothing. Do share with me any link you may find that allows me to watch it. Cheers!

I would hope Brands is developing his South American network. There are great bargains to be found. Porto in Portugal were masters of recruit low, win trophies with them, sell on for mega-bucks.

I'm not talking about the likes of Real Madrid's trio of Brazilian teenagers recently recruited - Vinicius Jnr, Rodrygo and Reinier Jesus who were all bought for £20 million plus. They were on every club's radar, so not difficult to source.

I mean players like tomorrow's opponents Arsenal recruited last summer, Gabriel Martinelli, for just £6 million.

Why was I impressed by that? Because, although he had trials a couple of years back with both United and Barcelona, neither showed interest in him.

I personally had never heard of him or seen him play. He has never played for one of Brazil's top clubs. Indeed, when Arsenal signed him he was playing with Ituano in Serie D - the fourth tier of Brazilian football.

Believe me, that isn't even National League level. It probably equates to the 7th-8th-9th tier of English football.

It also helps that, like many Brazilians if you look into their geneaology, that he could claim dual Italian nationality. Indeed, some reports say he is deciding whether to commit to the Italian or Brazilian national team as only last year after joining Arsenal was he selected for the Brazil U-23 team in friendlies.

I believe in Marcel Brands, and it's early days yet, but I had hoped he would have unearthed some diamonds in the rough by now. Hopefully this summer he will start pulling them out of the hat.

John Keating
54 Posted 22/02/2020 at 13:47:09
Nothing in football is guaranteed and anything we achieve Europe-wise, this season, will be hard-earned.

We have to remember there are a few teams interested in those European places, also a few teams wanting away from the bottom.

Just watching Chelsea and they'll be no easy game for us.

Since Duncan and then Ancelotti have come in we have done really well. If we maintain it, we will be very close. Hopefully we do well tomorrow.

Wherever we finish up this season our present management set up bodes well for next season.

Dave Abrahams
55 Posted 22/02/2020 at 14:03:40
Dennis (49), Dennis you've got those April fixtures back to front, the home games are away and the away ones are at home.
Conor McCourt
56 Posted 22/02/2020 at 14:20:12
Robert @40, I think you are over critical of our opponents. Saka hasn't been inconsistent, he's been their player of the season so far and his assists and motm awards will tell you that. Their front three is definitely in the top three in the league, We shouldn't fear them but they are real quality.

Jay @48, Spot on with regards to your assessment of Richarlison and how Carlo is using him on the counter and that his figures are so impressive considering he's often been misused by Silva.

However your comparison and it's conclusion I would take umbrage with. Aubameyang rarely plays as an "out-and-out striker" and is used from the left with Lacazette normally central though Nketiah played there against the Geordies.

This is why I rate Aubameyang so highly because, since he's came to the league, he's top 2 in goals ahead of some big names yet he's up against players whose teams are set up for them to deliver. He, like Richarlison, has had to work for the team mainly to accommodate Lacazette, though it could be argued he's best suited to that role.

Niall McIlhone
57 Posted 22/02/2020 at 14:26:12
Jay@56. That's really enlightening about players of Italian heritage in Brazil.

Isn't it also the case that quite a few top Argentinian players are also of Italian descent? I think I once saw a TV programme which had a story about Italian immigrant dock workers in Buenos Aires who, like the British, established football as a workers' game?

Returning to the Arsenal game, a safe journey to all our fans making the trip; here is hoping for a rare win. One thing we might benefit from in taking a lead is that the Gunners fans are notoriously fickle, and could make it difficult for their own team if we clearly have the upper hand.

Jay Wood

58 Posted 22/02/2020 at 14:45:34
Conor, take a look at the respective heat maps available from different games for each player.

Aubameyang's almost exclusively show him only in the opponents' half, either centrally on just wide of centre, occasionally on the flanks.

Richarlison's covers three-quarters of the pitch such is his work ethic and team work helping out defensively. You can throw into that as well him being critically important in our own penalty area in defensive situations, such is his heading strength.

Both good players. Both do good work for their team. Both with good offensive numbers.

The 30-year-old (31 in June) Aubameyang, or the 22-year-old (23 in May) Richarlison?

I know who I lean more towards.

Conor McCourt
59 Posted 22/02/2020 at 15:17:39
Unlike you, Jay, I'm greedy... I'd take both of them. I think they could play together also as the Arsenal man is more predatory and agile whereas, as you say, Richarlison is more complete and involved.

I take your point about potential but I don't think Aubameyang gets the credit that the likes of Kane and Aguero because he is just an assassin. I think he could play in any team; If we keep him quiet tomorrow, we will be half-way there.

Dennis Stevens
60 Posted 22/02/2020 at 15:53:13
Aye, Dave #59 You're quite right, although the general point still stands. Mind you, I do hope nobody's booked travel arrangements based on my post!
Tom Bowers
61 Posted 22/02/2020 at 17:15:13
It's as good a time as any to beat the Gooners on their own patch after their long trip to Greece. Having said that, we long-suffering fans know full well what can happen.

Carlo has injected a little more into this squad and, although still not playing great stuff, they are picking up points, which is always a good sign.

Hopefully Gomes will not be rushed in, rather eased in for the last 20 minutes, no matter what.

Neither team's defence has been impressive this season and it could be a shootout if both teams go for it as middle-of-the-table teams having little to play for except maybe an outside chance of the Europa League qualifying rounds.

Christy Ring
62 Posted 22/02/2020 at 17:29:05
Agree with Dave@27. Lyndon cannot believe your comment that Sigurdsson has been playing well in midfield, he's a total passenger, against Palace, Schneiderlin who played well, was a lone figure in midfield.
Steavey Buckley
63 Posted 22/02/2020 at 20:28:31
If Delph plays tomorrow, I hope the manager has told him not to tackle from behind. Most times when tackling from behind, he has been given yellow cards and free kicks in dangerous areas, that have resulted in goals conceded.
Paul Birmingham
64 Posted 22/02/2020 at 20:47:27
Hopefully the mindset, focus and attitude after the winter break, will be tuned and honed for a tough game.

I see André Gomes starting, in a view where I reckon Carlo will be looking for some early kills, in terms of offensive counter-play.

Last season, we should have been 3-0, up at half-time.

It's a game, let's forget the past at The Emirates and take the Arsenal to the cleaners tomorrow.

This is about attitude and belief. It's winnable and EFC can do it, and I'm optimistic. Get the win, and one game at a time.

Hopefully the squad won't be ring rusty after the break, and hopefully no self-inflicted mistakes tomorrow.

Focus, discipline and keep our shape.

Paul Tran
65 Posted 22/02/2020 at 21:10:33
Significant that Ancelotti has the sensible idea of picking the 'coming back' player from the start, rather than chucking him cold 70 mins into a game.
Andy Crooks
66 Posted 22/02/2020 at 21:23:24
I agree, Paul. If that approach had been taken with James Vaughan, things might have been different.
Jerome Shields
67 Posted 22/02/2020 at 21:25:27
David #27, Gerry #62,

I agree with your assessments of Sigurdsson against Palace. I dug out stats on his performance, which I posted on a previous thread, which back your claims.

Schneiderlin looked pretty pissed off at times; when you look at his stats in comparison to Sigurdsson's, you can see why. Schneiderlin carried him most of the game. A Sigurdsson performance like that against Arsenal would be punished.

I think that Ancelotti will be very interested in what Gomes can do.

Jay Harris
68 Posted 22/02/2020 at 22:01:08
Both teams have looked unconvincing while getting reasonable results, in fact Arsenal's results have been more impressive over the last 3 games where they have yet to concede a goal.

Personally, if Theo is not fit, I would put Richarlison there and give Kean a run against the slow centre-backs of Arsenal.

Out of interest, I did a Steve Ferns and did a predictor to the end of the season for those jockeying between 4th and 10th (except for Burnley). Now with my Royal Blue bias in full throttle, I forecast we would get another 23 points putting us on 59 points but above us Chelsea on 64 with Spurs and Sheffield Utd on 61 points. Man Utd, Wolves and Arsenal just below us.

So, with a fair wind, 7th place. Anything better than that would have to rely on a collapse in form of those above us and some shock results.

Anyway, let's concentrate on a 6-pointer with Arsenal. We have to be due a change of fortune although they are starting to get the crowd behind them now.

Jamie Crowley
69 Posted 22/02/2020 at 22:11:44
Arsenal have never, ever liked opposition up in them. They have a manager, one whom I love, but one who never, ever liked it up him.

I'd start Gomes and Davies in the middle. Gomes to distribute, Davies to just crunch around and get under their skin.

^^ that'll never happen.

"Pregnant with possibility" is how I view these next 4 games. Nine points from these, and not only is Europe on, so is a Champions League place.

Success beckons. Let's see how it goes.

Simon Harrison
70 Posted 22/02/2020 at 22:32:43
Jay Wood [BRZ] @52, One good turn deserves another.

Here is the link for the Brands program from the Premier League World program:

Premier League World – Marcel Brands Special

It played for me once, then I've had problems, but I think it's my PC.

Good wishes Jay, and keep the comments coming.

Robert Tressell
71 Posted 22/02/2020 at 23:07:20
Fair enough, Connor, about Saka, he's a cracking player but he's still learning (especially defensively).

And the point I was really making is that although it's Arsenal, it's not the Arsenal of Henry etc. It's a pretty average side overall and they're beneath us for a reason.

So, with our unflappable manager, I hope we treat them as we would, say, Wolves – ie, with enough respect to keep a few dangerous players quiet but not so much respect that we forget how good we are.

Lewis Barclay
72 Posted 22/02/2020 at 23:19:29
Let's win the next four games.
Geoff Lambert
73 Posted 23/02/2020 at 01:27:57
9 Points from the next four games?? Have you lost your mind? This is Everton we are talking about here, I would like to think we might get 9 points from our remaining games... but more than likely 6 points.

We have not played well since Chelsea and we have been lucky, 2 points from the next four games is about all we can expect at the moment.

Please, for a change, Everton — prove me wrong!!!

Eric Myles
74 Posted 23/02/2020 at 01:40:19
The Red Echo have published an article saying that us Blues hate Mikel Arteta for leaving us — I haven't read anything of that sort in these pages.

I hope those of yous that are at the match can give him a hero's welcome as being one of our best players of the Moyes and post-Moyes era — I reckon he deserves it.

I'll be listening out on the telly for a rousing "Best Little Spaniard We Know" and for the commentators to comment on it.

Let's show those red wankers we don't turn on our own (unless they're homegrown youngsters!!)

Edit: oops, I thought it was a home game, but our away support are always vocal.

Simon Harris
75 Posted 23/02/2020 at 02:00:19
Eric, spot on. Nothing but respect for Arteta. He's never once disrespected us and I wish him well. Apart from tomorrow, obviously.
Colin Glassar
76 Posted 23/02/2020 at 07:16:50
Take a leaf out of the Tyson Fury playbook and just go out and batter them from the off. Any pussyfooting around will cost us.
Steve Shave
77 Posted 23/02/2020 at 07:55:46
Good to see Carlo has some selection options ahead of this one. I agree he will no doubt spring a surprise in his team. God, I love that man!

As Theo is out (I never thought I'd say it but I believe he has earned the right to start under Carlo... for now), I would start Richarlison on the right. I know it's not his best position but he would really help Seamus out tracking back with Saka and Aubameyang. Let's hope Seamus can do a job on him, like he did on Zaha the other week. I'd play Bernard on the left, looking to cut in and start Kean up front.

I am desperate for 3 points today, it would be a real statement going into the final stretch of the season. COYB.

Derek Thomas
78 Posted 23/02/2020 at 08:26:27
The results yesterday have more or less gone our way. Times past we would then proceed to 'Everton That' it.

This is not times past; this is now – our time.

Odd times back when Arsenal were really good and we were on what passed for form... the Pienaar 2-2 game, we'd get called Arsenal-lite.

Arsenal are, at the moment, Arsenal-lite... and as has been said, they tend to not like it up 'em.

Over to you, Carlo... give them a dose of what we gave Chelsea – Glory beckons.

Steve Shave
79 Posted 23/02/2020 at 08:36:27
Love the positivity Derek! I must say ToffeeWeb is a much more enjoyable space to visit at the moment. If we do happen to lose today, let's try to maintain some perspective everyone – Carlo has a much bigger vision in mind.
Mike Benjamin
80 Posted 23/02/2020 at 08:59:17
It is likely that, once the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December this year, those hidden gems from any non-UK country are likely to be out of reach unless loaned out to overseas clubs. There will be no obligation for the UK to allow any players to come to the country, even those with EU passports. Only full internationals meeting certain criteria are likely to be allowed in.
Carl Manning
81 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:18:20
Nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning feeling good and reading comments like Geoffs! How can anybody be but positive after the run we're on!?

I will stay positive! The Arsenal centrebacks know they're in for a physical game and won't be looking forward to it!

Digne's delivery improved in the last game and he's flickering back into life and the Portuguese hunk may well be back!

More importantly, Hereford is no longer under water! Ashley is allowed to leave hospital for a few hours to watch the game with us, and Mr Wilder got his face punched in!

It's going to be a good day!

Eric Myles
82 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:18:42
Mike #80, are you saying that homegrown talent will have an environment to flourish? Just like it used to be?

English teams might even have more Englishmen in them than foreigners?? What will happen to those teams that cannot even field a single Englishman in their squad??

Jerome Shields
83 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:23:05
Eric #49,

I agree. I have never came across a whimper of dissent against Arteta on ToffeeWeb.

Eric Myles
85 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:28:45
Jerome, what about at the actual games as the only example on the article implies? Seems like only a bit of banter to me as an armchair fan.
Jerome Shields
86 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:32:22
In addition to #67,

What annoys me most about Sigurdsson is that, against Chelsea at Goodison, he performed as he should in his role. I find his other performances prior to and since then baffling and poor, especially since he is Everton's most expensive player.

James Hughes
87 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:46:38
Three points for us today and a decent performance. Just watched that Brands programme and a lot of people rate him highly. Throw in Carlo and a new stadium in a few years and we are on the up.

Get stuck into them early doors and we will win.

Carl #81, I hope Ashley gets to watch the game from home, good luck!

Jerome Shields
88 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:53:49
Geoff #73

I know where you are coming from. The Arsenal game is away from home, it's after the dreaded break, some players are not performing to Ancelotti's standard and Everton are playing Chelsea away in this fixture schedule on the rebound.

This game is the push-on game to progress up the table. Everton for years have bottled these type of fixtures, but Ancelotti has broken a few taboos.

Everton are performing better away from home and getting results, the break was not a warm-weather break and all players were available, Ancelotti came across as determined to work the players hard on their individual performances and his tactical implementation during the break, and alternate players are increasing competing for positions.

This is all feeding through on ToffeeWeb posts, but apprehension is still there.

Jonathan Tasker
89 Posted 23/02/2020 at 09:56:59
Let's assume that 5th is indeed a Champions League place. If so, this season surely represents a very rare opportunity to qualify. We are in a battle with I guess spurs, Sheffield United, Burnley, Wolves and Arsenal for that last spot. Chelsea and Leicester look nailed on for 2nd and 3rd.

Of our rivals mentioned, some are distracted by other commitments and some are also seriously weakened by injuries. I really think we can make 5th. A win today would demonstrate our ambition. Arsenal are 11th for a reason. Ancelotti will be well aware of our abysmal away record at the Sky Big Six.

Pickford, The English Lloris, is bound to concede at least one ... so can we score at least two?

Ray Smith
90 Posted 23/02/2020 at 10:01:17
Geoff @73,

You need to go and sit in a dark room this afternoon, mate.

Best case scenario is a win. Worst case scenario is a draw.

Jerome Shields
91 Posted 23/02/2020 at 10:03:36
Eric #85,

Of course, in the spirit of good gamesmanship, and as an ex-Everton player who always tried to give of his best. Arteta will be welcomed and applauded.

But we will still be hoping he isn't quite there as a manager yet. I'm glad Ancelotti is manager of Everton and not Arsenal!

Derek Knox
92 Posted 23/02/2020 at 10:59:28
A quick pre-match glance at the Premier League Table not only shows how tight mid-table is, but also highlighted that Burnley, by courtesy of their 2-0 win over Bournemouth, have over-taken us.

Let's hope this is only a temporary displacement, and a draw in the Man Utd and Wolves games would see us jump to 7th. Although that is being optimistic in the case of Wolves (v Norwich) a team scrapping for survival can sometimes be a genuine threat.

The same with Watford, since Pearson took over they have improved dramatically with basically the same set of players. A parallel with ourselves to some degree, and I hope both ourselves and Watford can get something out of their games.

I won't even try to predict a team or a score, because Carlo has certainly pulled some rabbits out of hats before, where we have been winning ugly when it seemed defeat was on the cards.


Ray Smith
93 Posted 23/02/2020 at 11:18:08
Just watched MotD and I'm hoping that the incompetent VAR operators don't ruin the game this afternoon!

I'm personally anti VAR and would rather have refs making honest mistakes.

I accept that it's here to stay; however, it's not VAR that's at fault, it's the inconsistency from the operators.

Jim Bennings
94 Posted 23/02/2020 at 11:19:25
1996 since we last beat Arsenal away??

That's just not even funny anymore.

Time this club really started to gets its act together big time.

Conor McCourt
95 Posted 23/02/2020 at 11:27:35
Jerome 86,

My theory on Sigurdsson is based around the managers. For some reason, he completely lost faith in Marco this season early on, despite the manager continually building the team around him yet the player downed tools.

The Chelsea performance and his effort under Big Dunc was probably based on a mixture of fear (Dunc) and relief (Silva gone).

Under Carlo, we have changed systems to maximise the output of what Carlo sees as our most important players Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison (and Kean when preferred). Players like Schneiderlin, Bernard and Walcott have benefitted but there will always be fall guys.

Sigurdsson and Iwobi will get frustrated, what they will see as 'sacrificing' their talents for the good of the team. They both operate best centrally in advanced positions and Sigurdsson seems like he is trying (unlike under Silva) but is a little lost and lacks belief.

With Walcott being out today, I wouldn't be surprised if Carlo went five at the back and three in midfield as it may suit the players at his disposal.

Brian Harrison
96 Posted 23/02/2020 at 11:57:26
With Walcott being doubtful, I hope Carlo doesn't revert to playing Sidibe in front of Coleman. Sidibe seems to lose concentration when he plays in that role.

The last home game when Walcott went off injured and with Iwobi and Kean on the bench, Carlo still preferred to bring on Sidibe, maybe because we were winning the game at that point and he wanted to hold onto our lead.

Arsenal are weak at the back and we need to be really positive against them, still think Luiz is a mistake waiting to happen. And Mustafi isn't much better, let's hope Dominic and Richarlison run them ragged.

Geoff Lambert
98 Posted 23/02/2020 at 12:07:45
Ray #90,

Keep the faith mate, you are going to need it.

Oliver Molloy
99 Posted 23/02/2020 at 12:19:22
There are football matches that can change the mentality of a team... today is one of them. A huge opportunity for the players picked today to really make a statement and show what they are about.

Make no mistake, this Arsenal side can be got at big time, we can win this if the players get right up for it and do their jobs.

Ancelotti will know with a win, the confidence will really start to flow in the team and set us up for a late charge for 5th place, maybe even 4th, this is that type of game.

Most of the pundits reckon we will lose – prove them wrong. It's about time we started to change this awful record we have against the top six. COYB.

Mike Benjamin
100 Posted 23/02/2020 at 12:29:43
If the players show the same level of bravery and commitment as Speedo Mick, then we will win.
Jim Bennings
101 Posted 23/02/2020 at 12:38:08

The next four matches will decide if there has been any kind of shift in the mentality.

Four huge games in the context of what the season may hold.

Two wins from this bunch of matches and the doors to Aladdin's treasure may just start to open for this club.

For far too long it's always been “next season we will be this or that”.

Maybe it's about time we started doing something NOW.

Eric Myles
102 Posted 23/02/2020 at 13:04:22
Ray #93, the VAR operators are those same refs that you think make 'honest' mistakes.

I say they're the same incompetent and bent refs that can't or won't do their job properly.

And they don't get fired for their mistakes like you or I would if we didn't meet our KPIs.

Jay Wood

103 Posted 23/02/2020 at 14:20:30
Simon @ 70.

Thanks for your attempted good deed, but every which way I try it, that link won't work for me.

Still searching for a viewable link. Cheers!

Jamie Crowley
104 Posted 23/02/2020 at 14:37:37
Whenever TW is overly optimistic on the pre-match thread, we lose. We choke, shit the bed, play crap. Whenever we think we should win a game, it goes south.

What I like reading this morning is the cautious optimism for today's game.

Everton 2 Arsenal 1


Jerome Shields
105 Posted 23/02/2020 at 14:49:51
Connor #95,

There is probably a measure of truth in your theory, because Sigurdsson seems to take the easier option and not appear to be involved for periods of the game.

The mentality of some of these players on expensive contracts is questionable at times, but going into a huff with Ancelotti as manager will be walking on dangerous ground.

Sigurdsson has other players around him putting in an improved shift, so the pressure will be on Sigurdsson to put a shift in his position to his utmost. He is not doing that at the moment.

Michael Lynch
106 Posted 23/02/2020 at 14:50:25
I'd be hugely (and pleasantly) surprised if we qualify for the Europa League this season, bearing in mind the tough games we have to come and how mediocre we've been throughout the season. But, if we want to even finish top half, we have to get some points from the next four games, and I'd say today is the day to get a few them.

I reckon Carlo would settle for a point, and if it's level at about 60 minutes I expect him to start withdrawing the creative players and bringing on the defensive midfielders and central defenders.

James Marshall
107 Posted 23/02/2020 at 14:52:22
It's funny how people on here say Arsenal are poor at the back – they're on a run of 3 clean sheets!
Ray Smith
108 Posted 23/02/2020 at 14:58:41
Eric #102,

I understand where your coming from, but VAR decisions are ruining the game, whereas an honest mistake is over and done with there and then.

You also sent a shiver down my spine mentioning KPIs. I've been retired for 17 years, they were the bane of my working life... 😂

Eric Myles
109 Posted 23/02/2020 at 15:04:20
Ray, I don't think anyone would agree that the honest (?) mistakes of Clive Thomas or Pierluigi Collina are over and done with!!
Filipe Torres
110 Posted 23/02/2020 at 15:21:01
I hope, with all these FFP rules at our door, that Kenwright might finally find the Arteta money under Tolstoy's War and Peace, in the romance section... Won't hold my breath though.
Filipe Torres
111 Posted 23/02/2020 at 15:22:33
ps: Bill, any old dusty tenner will do...
Jay Wood

112 Posted 23/02/2020 at 15:35:12
Big changes:

Sidibe Mina Holgate Baines
Sigurdsson Delph Schneiderlin Iwobi
Richarlison Calvert-Lewin

Gomes on the bench with Coleman, Keane, Davies, Bernard and Kean.

Jay Harris
113 Posted 23/02/2020 at 15:47:14
It's nice to dream and be optimistic but those suggesting 4th or 5th are being totally unrealistic. We will be lucky to get 7th.

There are too many teams around our above us and we can't expect everyone except us to have a collapse in form.

Let's just hope for 3 points today and put another statistic to bed.

Steve Ferns
114 Posted 23/02/2020 at 15:48:52
Jay, I think it'll be a 4-2-2-2. I expected to see some negative posts on the team selection. It doesn't fill you with confidence. We need a good summer window to be top 6. This team is not good enough.

BTW Jay, how impressed are you with Bruno? He's really found his feet and showed he can step up a level. I'm delighted I trusted my instinct and got him in my fantasy side for this game.

John Reynolds
115 Posted 23/02/2020 at 15:56:35
Interesting shuffle of the pack from Carlo today – just when we thought the 11 was beginning to pick itself. Cautiously optimistic.
Dennis Stevens
116 Posted 23/02/2020 at 16:01:16
You've been predicting that 4-2-2-2 formation for a while, Steve. D'you think Ancelotti has picked a good match to utilise it?
Steve Ferns
117 Posted 23/02/2020 at 16:02:50
Dennis, he's used it in most games? Don't be fooled by the fact that the Sigurdsson and Iwobi will defend wide, they are playing centrally in attacks.
Dennis Stevens
118 Posted 23/02/2020 at 16:05:57
A few matches have looked more 4-4-2 than 4-2-2-2 to me, Steve. But maybe just a perception from when we're on the back foot, as you've indicated.
Steve Ferns
119 Posted 23/02/2020 at 16:08:33
Dennis, look at Bernard, he's always on the ball centrally, not wide. Walcott was there too, but he likes to run into space wide.

It should be more obvious today as both Iwobi and Sigurdsson like to be inside and both will go there every chance they get.

The problem is, how does Leighton Baines provide width from left back? He needs to turn the clock back and show stamina and pace I believe he lost long ago.

Dennis Stevens
120 Posted 23/02/2020 at 16:11:09
Aye, Steve. I noticed Digne isn't on the bench either so is presumably unfit for some reason.
Joe McMahon
121 Posted 23/02/2020 at 16:13:39
The push for Europe is gonna be tricky, everyone else keeps winning. Now we have to against a team we last did on their place 1996. That's amazing in itself as "Winning is what David Moyes does".
Steve Ferns
122 Posted 23/02/2020 at 16:15:39
Carlo said he took a knock in training. It didn't sound convincing that he is injured, nor did it sound convincing that Gomes is ready, as Carlo hints that he didn't want to start.

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