Premier League Game of the Week: Arsenal 0-1 Everton

This season has been the one to banish old unwanted records for Everton. Earlier in the campaign they went to Liverpool and won at Anfield for the first time since 1999. This past weekend they beat Arsenal in London for the first time since 1996. Everton won 1-0 ultimately through an error by goalkeeper Bernd Leno but they will take it.

It’s been 25 years since Everton beat Arsenal away from home and we should take this into perspective. The last time Everton won Arsenal were not even playing at the Emirates Stadium. No Arsenal fan had heard of Arsene Wenger, he wouldn’t become manager until later in the year and the Gunners had Glenn Helder as a striker. For Everton, Duncan Ferguson was up front and he was on the side lines for this game as the clubs assistant now.

As for this match a quarter of a century on without the services up front of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette the Gunners were expected to struggle for goals and so that turned out. However Mikel Arteta’s team were asking all the questions, and were bullish and attack minded on the ball.

There was a certain amount of drive subtracted from Arsenal’s midfield as Martin Odegaard was deemed only fit enough to be on the bench after his return from injury. Odegaard is the new boy in town but has already proven his worth to the club and could be one of the greats for the Gunners over the next few seasons.

The teams only managed 1 shot on target each in the first half but in a sense you had to be disappointed if you are a fan of Everton. With some key players out it seemed to make little difference for Arsenal in the overall structure of the game and Everton looked fairly uninspired and that continued into the 2nd half. There was much hype over the return of their forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin but he did next to nothing, and indeed take out the first half of the campaign and there has to be question marks over him even if he has scored 14 goals so far this season. That consistency seems to have left the forward.

In the second half Arsenal thought they had a penalty when Richarlison conceded it, it looked fairly soft but the referee thought so too. But VAR had noticed an offside in the build up. Sure enough Nicolas Pepe’s shirt thread was offside and the penalty couldn’t be given. One does hope that this insane offside rule is abolished for the new season, not before, one suspects, that it causes havoc in the upcoming European Championships.

The game had changed and then Leno made his embarrassing error and Everton who offered a total of zero shots on target in the 2nd half went back home with the points and a very rare win away to the Gunners.

The victory for Everton means that there is a very small hope for a top four finish. They are on 52 points but have a game in hand, win that and they would only be 3 points behind 4th placed Chelsea. As for Arsenal all roads to a return to the Champions League have ended league wise and everything is now geared towards their Europa League semi-final which they will play this week against Villarreal.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 16

Liverpool are still in charge of the Premier League in 1st place but Manchester United have surprised everyone and they are 2nd on the same points as Liverpool with just goal difference separating the two clubs.

The inform teams are Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal look to have recovered from their disappointing start and have won their last 3 games in a row.

It’s a new year so let’s take a look at the team of the week in the Premier League.

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno- Arsenal 7pts

Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0 and Leno was very assured in goal to keep a clean sheet away from home. Despite a difficult season Leno has now kept 5 clean sheets for the season so far.

Defender: Toby Alderweireld- Tottenham 9pts

Toby Alderweireld had a very memorable last for Tottenham as they cruised past Leeds. Not only was he part of a defence that kept a clean sheet but he also scored the third goal which killed off the game.

Defender: Kieran Tierney- Arsenal 11pts

Kieran Tierney earned a huge 11 points for Arsenal which brings his total to 21 points for the season. Along with keeping a clean sheet he also scored the opening goal as Arsenal thrashed West Bromwich Albion and then assisted in another, for his best performance of the season.

Defender: Rob Holding- Arsenal 7pts

Rob Holding kept a clean sheet as Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0 and also made the assist for the Gunners first goal of the game. Holding has helped to keep 5 clean sheets this season and is valued at 6.5m.

Defender: Jeffrey Schlupp- Crystal Palace 9pts

It was a great week for defenders in the league and Jeffrey Schlupp helped Crystal Palace to beat Sheffield United 2-0 and scored a goal, that was Schlupp’s 2nd goal of the campaign

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne- Manchester City 6pts

Kevin De Bruyne put in an important and superb display as Manchester City beat Chelsea away from home 3-1. De Bruyne scored and assisted in a goal. The midfielder now has 37 points overall and has been involved in 11 goals for City.

Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes- Manchester United 4pts

Bruno Fernandes has now scored 11 goals this season and he got the winner via a penalty as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1 in a crunch game at the weekend.

Midfielder: James Maddison -Leicester 4pts

Alongside Jamie Vardy, James Maddison has been such an important player for Leicester this season and he earned another 4 points as he scored his 5th goal of the season and now has 27 points overall for the Foxes. Leicester beat Newcastle 2-1 in their latest game.

Midfielder: Neal Maupay- Brighton 4pts

Neal Maupay has impressed over the past few weeks and he scored Brighton’s 2nd goal as the Seagulls came back from 3-1 down against Wolves to draw the game 3-3 in a thrilling spectacle.

Striker: Alexandre Lacazette- Arsenal 8pts

It has not been a vintage season so far for Arsenal’s strikers but Alexandre Lacazette was the hero at the weekend as he scored 2 goals in 4 second half minutes to win the game for the Gunners as they beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0. Lacazette has scored seven goals so far and has 26 points this season for the club.

Striker: Phil Foden- Manchester City 6pts

Phil Foden will be wondering why he doesn’t start every game because he is getting better and better and would be a regular for any other side. Phil Foden scored his third goal for the club and has 5 overall and his value is 7m, as he earned 6 points over the weekend when Manchester City beat Chelsea 3-1.

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EPL Best XI – Week 30

sterlingThis past weekend we saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lose his domestic unbeaten run as Man Utd manager, with Arsenal triumphing 2-0 at the Emirates. Elsewhere, Liverpool maintained pressure on league leaders Man City with their 4-2 win over Burnley at Anfield, and Southampton caused something of an upset by beating Tottenham 2-1 on the south coast. There were wins for Brighton and Cardiff, with Newcastle also putting in an impressive showing with their 3-2 home win against Everton. With that in mind, we will now adopt a 4-4-2 formation and see which players performed the best for their clubs in England’s top flight this past weekend.

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Bernd Leno is starting to find his feet as Arsenal number one

A number of different goalkeepers have tried to fill the gloves of David Seaman in the years following the legendary Arsenal shot-stopper’s retirement. There was Jens Lehmann, who enjoyed a degree of success, but was prone to the odd blunder. Wojciech Szczęsny was given s shot, but never looked the part.

Much like Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski was brought through as a youngster and was eventually sold. The signing of Petr Cech was a shrewd one and the Czech held the number one shirt at the Emirates Stadium for a number of years, but even he has looked shaky in recent times. This is why the summer signing of Bernd Leno was hailed as so significant.


The German goalkeeper took some time to find his feet in England, with Unai Emery favouring the veteran Cech at the start of the season. But over time Leno worked his way into the team and has grown in stature with every game he has played. His performance in the North London draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday was his best to date for the Gunners.

Leno’s best moment came in a double save to first deny Christian Eriksen and then Moussa Sissoko. The second stop, in particular, was a stunner and the German struggled to explain how he made the reflex save after the match. I don’t know what happened, everything was so quick,” he said. “Sissoko shot, I didn’t see the ball, I just reacted. I think the best saves are always those when you don’t quite know what happens.”

It felt like a coming of age moment for the 26-year-old. Leno hasn’t always looked comfortable in an Arsenal shirt, making a series of errors earlier in the season. However, Leno has now made the number one place his own in recent weeks and if the Gunners are to salvage their season by finishing in the top four, you get the feeling that the German goalkeeper will have to play a big role.

Arsenal are still a long way from where they want to be under Emery, but the goalkeeper’s position was one problem that needed resolving. There are other deficiencies that have yet to be addressed, but with Leno now impressing between the posts focus can now be applied to other areas of the pitch.

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Petr Cech is undermining Unai Emery’s Arsenal revolution

Poor Petr Cech. At 36 years old, he is a stalwart of the Premier League, one of the best goalkeepers the English game has ever seen. He was won everything there is to win in the club game and is one of the few players in the Arsenal squad who can class himself as a proven winner.

And yet the Czech finds himself undermining the Unai Emery revolution at the Emirates Stadium. It’s not completely his fault. Cech’s weakness for playing with the ball at his feet has long been known and still Emery has stuck with the veteran as he attempts to implement a style of play that demands the Gunners play out from the back.


This has seen a number of calamitous mistakes from Cech over the opening few weeks of the 2018/19 season. Manchester City exposed the 36-year-old on opening weekend, but at least Emery could argue that Pep Guardiola’s side press higher and harder than anyone else in the Premier League.

Cech was similarly vulnerable against Cardiff City on Sunday, though. Under little pressure, he still looked extremely comfortable passing out from the back. This disrupted Arsenal’s entire game plan, with Cech eventually resorting to kicking the ball long. That undermined all that Emery had presumably worked on during the week in getting his team to play through the lines of defence, midfield and attack.

“Cech is one of the best goalkeepers the Premier League has seen, but that really is not his game,” Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster explained when asked whether Cech could play the way Emery wants him to. “His strong points have always been being big and commanding and making saves, but the way football is going now you almost have to be one of those Ederson-type of goalkeepers.”

All the while summer signing Bernd Leno sits on the Arsenal bench. He might not be an Ederson-esque goalkeeper either, but the German is almost certainly better with the ball at his feet than Cech, who at times looks more likely to trip over possession than play it out effectively to a full back or central defender.

Until Emery gets this right, it’s unlikely that his Arsenal revolution will start to fully turn. Look at how Guardiola had to replace Claudio Bravo with Ederson after just one season at Manchester City. His team were stilted in their possession of the ball until the arrival of the Brazilian goalkeeper from Benfica last summer. That proved to be the catalyst for a record-breaking title win.

This isn’t to say that finding a new goalkeeper will solve all of Arsenal’s problems, but Emery is currently building his team on shaky foundations. Until he addressees that, the Gunners will be walking on quick sand. Cech will go down as one of the best the Premier League has ever seen, but he is no longer the man for the job at the Emirates.

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Bernd Leno deserves chance as Petr Cech proves ill-suited to Unai Emery’s system


Much has been talked about the impact second-half substitute Lucas Torreira had in Arsenal’s 3-2 win at Cardiff City and deservedly so. The second biggest talking point that could have very well been the talking point in any of their games so far was Petr Cech’s performance in between the sticks.

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Can Arsenal play out from the back with Cech in goal?

The Emirates Stadium moaned and groaned until they eventually cheered in sarcasm. Their nerve was tested as they watched Petr Cech attempt to play out from the back for Arsenal against Manchester City in their Premier League opener on Sunday. Ultimately, the veteran decided to start playing it long, much to the relief of the home support.

Unai Emery wants his Arsenal side to take a cue from the likes of Pep Guardiola and build their moves from back to front. He tried to implement this style from the off, asking the Gunners to play the Premier League champions at their own game. It didn’t really work, though.


Cech, quite simply, isn’t comfortable with the ball at his feet. The Czech is a Premier League legend, one of the best goalkeepers ever seen in the English game, but this is his most glaring deficiency and Emery’s style is brutally exposing it.

So can Arsenal really stick with Cech for much longer? The inability to play out from the back compromises everything that Emery is attempting to build at the Emirates. Without that capacity, Arsenal are having to play it long from goal kicks and clearances, meaning they are reliant on winning the second ball in the centre of the pitch.

Of course, Bernd Leno was signed from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer transfer window and so Emery does have another option in goals. Given the way Cech played against Man City, and the way he has played throughout his career, it’s surely only a matter of time until the German is installed as Arsenal’s number one keeper.

This season will be a transitional one for the Gunners as they get accustomed to life after Arsene Wenger. Emery must ensure that the building blocks are in place before looking to take the club to new heights in seasons to come and one of those building blocks will concern his pick for goalkeeper.

“Leno is starting with us, he is working very well and played very good in pre-season. He can wait [for] his moment,” the Spaniard explained when asked about his choice of goalkeeper after the opening weekend defeat. “Petr Cech is doing very good. Today he played good also. He has experience of defending our goal.”

So for how much longer will Emery stick with Cech? Is it really possible that at 36 years old the former Chelsea goalkeeper will be able to change his game to take the ball more comfortably with his feet? They say leopards can’t change their spots, particularly this close to their 40th birthday.

Guardiola had to admit his mistake in signing Claudio Bravo from Barcelona in his first season as Man City manager, eventually replacing the Chilean with Ederson. Emery might have to swallow his pride too in admitting he got it wrong by picking Cech over Leno. Stick with the former and Arsenal might have to adopt an altogether different approach.

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Usmanov accepts Kroenke’s Arsenal bid – good for the club?

kroenkeChange seems to be the order of the day at north London club Arsenal. Not only are they about to embark on a new Premier League season with a new manager for the first time in over two decades, but there could soon be a change in the club’s ownership as well. Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has reportedly had a bid of around £550m – that’s two-and-a-bit Neymars – to purchase shares from Alisher Usmanov. The move would make Kroenke the controlling stakeholder at the club, and as a result existing shareholders would be legally obliged to sell their shares to the American billionnaire. Supporter groups have cried out, calling this a “dreadful day” for the Gunners – but would the move actually benefit the club on the pitch?

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