Not a great week for Arsenal and it is better for all our minds to say as little as possible about it. However there were two big positives from those disappointing results to Watford and Barcelona: Alex Iwobi and Elneny.
I was extremely impressed by Iwobi during our FA Cup run this year but there was always this feeling that he was yet to be tested against a really good team. I was surprised when he didn’t start against Watford but even more so when he was named in the starting XI at Camp Nou. There literally isn’t a bigger test on earth for an aspiring 19 year old footballer than facing up to Barcelona and I thought he gave a good account of himself. He was tidy in possession, his control was excellent and he didn’t panic under Barcelona’s intense pressing. He worked hard and made the left flank relatively secure along with Monreal. He’s got a calmness on the ball that even established Arsenal midfielders such as Coquelin and Ramsey don’t possess and he looks technically miles ahead of Walcott. He lacks productivity in the final third but I am sure it will come as he plays more games. The way he wears his socks in something I’d definitely like to see more players do!
As for Elneny, Barcelona was his best game in an Arsenal shirt. Obviously the goal was fantastic but like Iwobi, he too impressed with his ability on the ball. He’s shown Aaron Ramsey what was expected of him in the middle with an all action display that didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. While I am a big fan of Ramsey, he is too indecisive and ponderous on the ball and it is not a great trait for someone who wants to play through the middle. Elneny’s decision making looks sharper and he was one of the main reasons why we looked better in possession in the second leg compared to the game at the Emirates. In the two games at White Hart Lane and Camp Nou, Elneny’s presence has improved our ability to counter the high press and he appears to be a great find by Arsenal.
Anyway, this weekend’s game is a trip to Goodison Park. A game I would have fancied us to win two months back but give how defensively poor we’ve been, I am dreading the prospect of Arsenal’s backline against Lukaku. Gareth Barry’s absence is huge for Everton and it is vital we win the midfield battle to capitalise on Everton’s fragile defence. Going forward, Welbeck should start as his presence has brought about our best attacking play over the past few games.
Ahead of the game, I got in touch with Josh Lindell from Everton Fan Site and read below to find out what he has to say about Roberto Martinez, whether the Everton manager will be an improvement on Arsene Wenger for Arsenal and much more.
- What’s your overall view on Everton’s season so far?
I think our overall season was summed up two weeks ago when we were beating West Ham 2-0 with 15 minutes to go, but end up losing 3-2. We have all the attacking ability in the world and know when to do it, there just has to be another option sometimes, another tactic – unfortunately it’s just been like that all season.
What is the fans opinion on Roberto Martinez?
Not good, I’d say the majority would like a change and for someone else to come in. He just doesn’t seem to be able to change and learn from the mistakes he’s made. Firstly though, he needs to admit to himself he’s made one and then we might start learning and getting better.
- Are you happy with the new owner who’s come in? Is Kenwright still the right man to lead Everton forward?
I’d say yes, Kenwright to still lead the way too? Possibly. He definitely needs to be kept involved in some capacity for sure in my opinion. Too often takeovers happen and it’s all change too fast, I suppose we can only wait and see.
- Everton have probably the four most exciting youngsters in the EPL in Lukaku, Barkley, Deulofeu and Stones? How have they performed this season?
Lukaku is quality, he can score all types of goals and has proven this season that with our attacking ability and with us creating chances for him, he will score goals. Barkley is getting better season by season and with more responsibility and maturity can achieve great things. Deulofeu had a good start to the season once he got in the side around September time but has since lost his way. Stones has all the potential in the world and we know that, not been as good as last season but he’s still great and has many quality years ahead of him at the top.
- Are you concerned their success could see the big clubs come calling in the summer?
We always have that anyway, nothing new there but maybe with the new owners coming in we may not need to sell players for money again. We hung onto Stones last summer so let’s just wait and see.
- Many Arsenal fans would like to see Roberto Martinez succeed Arsene Wenger at Arsenal? Do you think he’d be an improvement on Arsene?
Really? No I don’t, Arsene may have lost his way in recent years in a lot of people’s opinion but you can’t question what he achieved in those first 8 or so years.
- Your opinion on Arsenal this season? Are they still in the fight for the championship?
Even if they win every single game until the end of the season, they’ll still only have an outside chance I’m afraid to say. Once again been too inconsistent and since Christmas they’ve what, picked up three league wins from ten league games? Not good enough.
- One Arsenal player you’d love to have in the Everton team.
Bellerin has impressed me a lot this season but I still think I’d have Coleman ahead of him. Maybe Coquelin to replace Barry? If not, Ozil and Sanchez are obvious picks to get into any team.
- What’s your reaction to the recent announcement on the freezing of away ticket prices at 30 pounds?
Excellent news, about time something happened, £30 is close to half price for some away tickets this year!
- How will Everton set up tactically? Where will the game be won and lost on Sunday?
Same as our previous games but Barry will be a loss for us, but not as much as Cech is currently a loss for Arsenal. Chances a plenty for both teams, with goals to come too;
- Predictions for the game.
Goals guaranteed I’d say with neither team playing well defensively for most of the season, I want to say 2-1 Everton but I can see a 2-2 draw maybe.