Quite a game, no? Nick Miller watched Arsenal's thrilling 1-1 draw with Everton and saw two teams who have improved, leaving certain others trailing...
In a Sunday Mailbox which is understandably dominated by Manchester United, there are a few little bits for the rest, specifically Chelsea & a Liverpool Christmas list...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
It Should Be Rooney OR Van Persie For United
'Rooney is having to come deep to receive the ball when he should be getting more support in the box from midfield.'
Ah, of course. That must be it. It's not as if Rooney playing behind Robin van Persie was a key feature in United's title victory last season.
I saw this in (a very enjoyable) mediawatch this morning and unfortunately I must disagree. Not only that, but I think breaking up the RVP/Rooney partnership will be the first major judgement that Moyes must pass in his Man Utd career.
Firstly, they didn't really work that well last year. Rooney was out of the team for large parts of the first half of the season and then was benched for many crunch games in the latter half of the season. On top of that, a few nice goals aside (thunderb*stard Vs Villa) , there has been virtually no evidence to suggest that they will strike up any type of partnership.
This brings me onto the more outlandish part of my email. The RVP/Rooney partnership is actually holding Man Utd back at the moment. 2 up top is a dying breed but it's still fair to say that it works on occasion. One only has to look at Suarez & Sturridge or Aguero & Negredo to see that it can be devastating. However, if you were to pick 1 attribute that is consistent in all 4 players , 'mobility' would be that attribute. Those combinations can cover ground across the top 3rd, they can stretch defenders and they can rotate positions. Now Rooney & RVP can do this but nowhere near as effectively. This problem is then only multiplied by the lack of pace in midfield if Carrick and Fellani are on the pitch at the same time.
RVP cannot (and should not) work the channels or come really deep looking for the ball. To say that he is redundant outside the box would be far too harsh, but it is fair to say that his best work happens in the box.
Now onto Rooney, a somewhat divisive figure amongst Man Utd fans. To me the answer is quite clear. He is no longer able to perform the no. 10 role to the level that Man Utd need. He does not have the close control, the ability to turn in tight spaces or burst of speed to unlock the tightest defences at the highest level. He also does not have the tactical nous to help out the midfield when necessary (or else just ignores the instruction). That said, I think he is still a world class no. 9 , a genuine striker. So here is the problem, Moyes has 2 relatively old school no. 9s that carry massive amounts of political and football baggage with them.
Most people's concerns when we brought in RVP, was that he would he would stunt Welbeck and Chicharito's development. People argued that we didn't really need him and there were other parts of the squad that needed investment more urgently. Well here we are, 16 months and 1 league title later, the chickens are coming home to roost. We have a no. 10 who we can't fit in the team , despite looking more fluid when he plays. We have creaking senior defenders, no actual left winger and STILL have a gigantic hole in midfield (Carrick is 32 also).
I don't regret buying RVP and he truly is a wonderful, wonderful footballer but he will be 31 by the start of next season and Rooney will be 28. If Man United continue to play the 2 of them up top, I can't see any dramatic uptake in the quality or style of performance by Man Utd. Granted, they will still score goals, and play well in isolation (see last week Vs Stoke), but we're about as liquid as a cement mixer at the moment and I think a lot of it stems from this key area of the pitch. Moyes needs to decide which one he will build around for the next 3 or 4 seasons. I do wonder how we would look now if we landed one of Hazard/Moura instead of RVP. One of them + Rooney,Kagawa,Januzaj sounds a lot more balanced.
For what it's worth, I think Fergie realized this problem too, which is why he cleared the path for Moyes to turf Rooney out this summer.
EF, TO, MUFC.
Tell Me What Makes A Squad
After Chelsea put my beloved Arsenal out of the reserves cup during the week there's been a lot of talk about squad depth. My question for the Mailbox is how many players should a team have in its first team squad?
We broadly play 4-3-2-1 and realistically we've got : four full-backs; three centre-backs; two holding midfielders; two box-to-box midfielders; two attacking centre-mids; five wingers; two strikers, and three goalies. I haven't included any of the real youngsters except Gnabry. That's a squad of 23.
It feels small but all of those players can contribute, there are no real passengers (except maybe Bendtner). Also, a number of those players can cover other positions : full-back can cover centre-back (Sagna); holding-mid can cover full-back (Flamini); box-to-box mid can hold (Wilshere) or go wide (Ramsey); wide players can come inside (Cazorla) or upfront (at a push Podolski). In theory that squad seems OK (except maybe upfront). However, we keep hearing that the squad is too small. So again, back to the question of how many players should one have in a first-team squad? We've got two dedicated options for each position (except at centre-back), an extra goalie and players who can play out of position if need be. Do we really need three options for every position?
This Man Wouldn't Cry If He Lost His Club
"...to lose your football club is a feeling I don't want to imagine..."
Really Jimmy? REALLY?
Leaving aside the debate of whether a football club, which only really cares about your wallet, is really "yours", am I the only one who would be a little disappointed at first, come to the relatively quick conclusion that "ah well, that sucks" and then just get on with my life? Might even free up some of that time I spend watching football to do other things. Like maybe looking for a job where I don't feel the need to procrastinate so much.
Is everyone else's mentality that engrained in their football club? Am I all alone over here? It's getting cold and I could use some company. *sniff*
Seriously though, if that's what being a fan is defined as then count me out. Not interested.
'Sick To The Back Teeth With F365 Readers'
I'm sick to the back teeth of re-iterating this point but some of your readers are just too stupid to grasp it.
You simply cannot compare Giroud with RVP.
If Giroud had had his career rescued by Montpellier as a teenager, then managed one full season out of 8 due to injury banging in the goals before leaving then the two players would be comparable.
As far as I am aware that wasn't the case with Giroud.
I have no problem with players leaving if the player has served Arsenal well. I was genuinely saddened when Vieira, Pires and Overmars moved on and I bear them no ill-will but RVP is a special kind of tosspot because he has no sense of loyalty.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Every Day Is A Schoolday
The next time your boss busts you looking at Football365 you can just tell him/her you are taking extra-curricular English lessons.
After all, other than a dictionary, where else do you see words like 'nascent', 'prescient' and 'self-fulfilling prophecy' on such a regular basis.
F365: Educating the world!
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire
Manchester United 5-A-Side
My stab at ManU's 5-a-side team would be:
1) De Gea: I reckon with his reactions he'd be a great 5-a-side keeper, good feet too.
2) Rafael: bundles of energy and pace to get up and down the pitch (if he can stay fit), powerful shot.
3) Evra: good on the ball, tricky, and sneaky... very very sneaky!
4) Rooney: picks himself really.
5) Hernandez: poacher, just what you need in a 5-a-side team, right place at the right time kinda guy.
Sub) Carrick: decent all-rounder, would help to shore things up at the back when defending a lead, or for his passing ability to find a winning goal.
I reckon that side would do pretty well in a league - top 2 or 3. Good attacking side, solid keeper, and with Rooney's engine you'd fancy him to harass and frustrate the opposition all day long. Van Persie would probably be too much of a luxury player for 5-a-side.
NOK, MUFC, CT CBD
The main stumbling point is keeps- Mignolet appears to be a great shot stopper, but lacks some of Reina's fancy footwork.. so i'm recalling Reina from Champions League glory to take part in this Power league 5 a side on the wet pitches of Catford..
Suarez (great feet, dribbling and will to win)
Henderson (boy has got some lungs on him and will do all the fetch and carry for the above 2)
Sakho (actually impressive passing, plus can benchpress a horse)
Sub: Sturridge- would be in the team, but shoots from anywhere..
I think this could be top 4...
For me, it's the unbeatable cat Hugo Lloris between the sticks. With Kaboul, Vertonghen, Sandro and Townsend completing the squad.
Reasoning behind this selection is due to many freezing cold Wednesdays over Basildon playing in sleet when your nipples can't cut glass because they've fallen off and you think it's alright we'll have a great game grab a cheeky couple of goals but then realise you're faced with the maintenance monsters featuring Audley Harrison and other man mountains.
There isn't much worse than being in a cage with absolute brutes that you cannot physically get around due the their massive frames complete with there own orbit so I have gone for stature over piddly passing and footwork.
Kaboul drinks diesel, Jan is beautiful and big, Sandro is the BEAST and Townsend fits the rules of not allowed in the area - therefore shooting from outside the area which is his current playing mentality.
Anyone beat that?
BC (Mailbox keeping me employed for years - couldn't relate to Dan LFC anymore if I tried) THFC
And Answers On The Friday Game...
I decided to give this Friday game a try.
I envisioned it to be 4-4-2, but
Goalkeeper: Neuer, Not sure about who the best keeper in the world is, but he will do fine.
Defence: Thiago Silva, Thanks to Wikipedia I know he started off as a right winger, as well as having played full back and in midfield, plus being Brazilian and fast I think he is the best choice. Lahm is another good one I reckon.
Midfield: Ramsey, On current form he can tackle, dribble past players, shoot from distance and create chances. I reckon many will choose Yaya Toure, but I guess I wanted to be a bit of a hipster.
Forward: Ibrahimovic, Big, strong, technical. Scores goals. He's actually quite good if you haven't noticed.
Grái Fíllinn Bjarkason
Defence of Lahms
Midfield of Yaya Toures
Attack of Suarezs
I think this team would be devastating. Lahm has played in DM for Bayern and I have no doubt he could do the job at CB. Also, imagine having 4 Yaya Toures. I admit having one Suarez is already enough risk, 2 or 3 could the extremely catastrophic or immeasurably brilliant. I'm a risk-taker so I say go for it!
...Probably the most boring football team known to man, but a team full of James "can do a job anywhere" Milner. He wouldn't be spectacularly brilliant or standout in any position, but he wouldn't be an abject failure.
James Milner is Stoke.
...A quick team for Mr G's 'one player per position' - I'd have
DF: Mark Fish
F: Bryan Ruiz or Carlos Vela
MF: Phil Neville
GK: Anyone featured in the last story of Mediawatch every day.
So that's Fish, chips, P.s, and a battered sausage. Cheers.
Dan (continuing to enjoy P Nev's ongoing residency at number 50 in the World Cup Ladder), Brighton
Yeah, We Had A Few Of These...
Following Mr G's email this morning, I assume you'll have been inundated with Liverpool fans and the following:
A defence of Carraghers
A midfield of Carraghers
A front line of Carraghers.
What a sight
Aidan, EFC, Strand
I'll take your Buffons, Pogbas and Van Persies and raise you an entire team of Boris Johnsons.
Matt 'Lamela = Postiga' Stafford