How did the usualy immaculate Manuel Pellegrini end up wearing a hoodie? Alex and Andi have their ideas - starting with a gin y tonico at noon on Saturday...
Is it a sacking offence if Arsenal don't win the FA Cup from here? Is it the players, the manager or the board who should go at Spurs? We have a bumper mailbox...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Excellent Question For Gooners
With a few title challenger defining fixtures looming large for the Gunners, I present them with the following hypotheticals. If you had to chose one of the following options would you chose
A) To play both City and Chelsea and win one of those games (take your pick) and pick up three points.
B) To play both City and Chelsea, draw both games and only pick up two points.
Martin Todoroski, MCFC
Arteta Cause For Concern?
I was originally going to write this mail on Sunday after watching the Everton game but thought I may of been a tad harsh but after watching the Napoli game I had to write in about Mikel Arteta. Now I've always quite liked him as a player and thought he has been solid for us since his move from Everton but this season I have become a bit concerned about him in the starting XI.
He has looked very slow, sluggish and clumsy more often then not when I've seen him this season. His lack of pace is becoming more and more evident and he resorts to simply giving away stupid free-kicks or trying to take out a player once they have gone past him. His two red cards this season albeit maybe a tad harsh when you look back but both cards have been a result of Arteta giving away silly fouls or getting turned and then in attempt to stop the player has to give away a free-kick.
Ross Barkley had a field day on Sunday beating Arteta with ease on more then one occasion and we were very nearly made to pay dearly when Mikel lost possession on the half-way line only to be easily held off the ball by Lukaku who ran through but thankfully shot over the bar.
I'm not saying he is a terrible player but I feel he is caught in between two stools He doesn't have the destructiveness and or tackling ability of a Flamini as a defensive midfielder and yes he is a near passer but rarely does he do anything incisive going forward (he only made four assists all of last season) and if it's a straight choice between Arteta or Flamini in the starting XI I would much prefer Flamini in that role.
Nathan (AFC, Melbourne)
Fanmail For Gregory
Domestically successful but a joke in Europe?
Better that than a joke NOT in Europe, who hasn't won their domestic league in the last two decades. I'm surprised you can even remember what the Champions League is like!
None of the Gooners I know are getting carried away, just enjoying progressing from the group of death (which we had no chance of getting out of according to most pundits before the group started) and being top of the league while it lasts.
I'd still rather get PSG though.
Ian (I'll take five points clear, ta) Dorren, Essex Gooner
...Arsenal fans unbearable? From a Liverpool fan?
Sir, I suggest you get your own house in order first.
Adonis (Top of the league and in the last 16 of the CL in case you didn't know) Stevenson, AFC
...I am not really sure why Gregory Whitehead, LFC was so irked by Arsenal fans claiming that we can beat any of the potential opponents for the last-16 stage of the Champions League. I don't really expect a Liverpool fan to understand how Arsenal fans are feeling at the moment. After finishing 7th, 8th, 6th, 7th in past four seasons, and not being a part of this competition at all recently, I completely understand why you lot would approach these potential fixtures with pessimism. As for Arsenal, we have beaten Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund within past few years in this very competition. Why then we must believe that we stand no chance against these teams? We have been one of the most in-form teams in Europe this year and we know our abilities as well as our limitations.
No one is saying that we WILL win come what may, but we know that we stand a decent chance of getting through to the quarter-finals and that gives us confidence and hope. There is nothing arrogant about our reaction, we are just confident that Aaron Ramsey can hit a sweet half-volley from outside the box (once again) to send us through. Or that the Mertscielny axis has the ability to keep even the best of players at bay, as a certain Luis Suarez can testify. So Mr. Whitehead, please don't over react when you see a set of supporters exhibiting confidence in their team. I am sure LFC is lacking that at the moment, but with due time, and after a few decades of hardwork, maybe you guys can return to the glory of Europa League.
On a second thought, I think I do know why Mr. Whitehead was so irked.
Ahmed, Pakistani Gooner
...A Liverpool fan (Gregory Whitehead, LFC) claiming Arsenal fans are becoming annoying and that their club is 'a joke in Europe'.
As Bart Simpson once said "The ironing is delicious."
CB, Cheltenham, FORZA ROMA!
Planning To Panic On February 1
Right, it's the middle of the January 2014 transfer window. In a completely unexpected coup, David Moyes has out-spent Chelsea and City combined and has already scooped up the younger part of the Spanish international team and has also lined up several of the Bayern superstars. Oh, and Ronaldo is also on board. Giggs has finally retired but Scholes is making noises about another return. As is Michael Owen who believes he should get at least two or three solid Premiership games under his belt before triumphantly rejoining the England team as captain before winning the World Cup almost single-handed.
David Moyes is walking around Old Trafford finally talking in an accent most of us can now understand and he is also talking complete football sense. SAF decides to withdraw from football entirely, stating he doesn't want to be hovering over the new boy's shoulder. Somebody at Old Trafford finally realises that Cleverley, Young and Anderson (name your own players here) and quite a few others (and here) don't cut the mustard any more - if they ever did - and passes them off to lower-league clubs for a minimal fee. From game one after all these changes, United flow flawlessly, attack mercilessly and average six goals per game until the end of the season. They win the Premiership handsomely and make the final of the Champions League where they meet Barcelona. Who, once again, crush them.
And then the alarm clock goes off. (I bet you didn't see that one coming). How I hate alarm clocks! If only I'd been able to sleep for another five minutes or so, I feel sure we'd have brought Owen on in the dying minutes and he would have scored his usual hat-trick!
Look, I know this is bullsh*t, you know this is bullsh*t but a man can dream, can't he? After the awful non-transfer doings at the start of the season, I'm giving Moyes until the end of the January transfer window before I over-react and start panicking. I do a really good over-reaction and I'm told I give nice panic.
Oh, and the Michael Owen thing proves, I think, that it's possible to retain a sense of the ridiculous even when asleep. Hey, maybe I'll turn out to be some sort of prophet or something and at least some of these things will actually happen. Based on his first United transfer dealings, my money is on Owen returning.
The Big Lamela Question
How deep-set are Erik Lamela's eyes???
Can't decide if he looks more like a twilight vampire or a Lord of the Rings Elf. Or maybe some other sci-fi creature?
I've heard it being said that Ozil's frog eyes explain his great vision and awareness allowing him to be so creative...if this is true then surely this is not a good indication for Tottenham's record signing.
Nik (Tiote's fivehead [one bigger than a forehead] makes him scarier to opposition) NUFC, Liverpool
'Hate' is a strong word but whilst watching Bayern vs City earlier this week a new work colleague of mine described Joe Hart using exactly that word.
Expecting some irrational/petty reason behind these feelings (he lost him some money once, is jealous of his now perfect scalp etc.) I was pleasantly surprised when his explanation turned out to be perfectly valid.
Turns out they went to the same school together, both in the same year group, both were at Shrewsbury, both goal keepers. Except Joe Hart was better than him. When it came to being picked for the school team, the county team, the Academy team, Hart always got the nod this lad warmed the bench. When it came to sports day be it every long distance, short distance, Athletics or egg and spoon Hart always got gold whilst this lad got silver. When it came to being named prom king/head boy/most likely to achieve etc. Hart pipped this lad to every single thing.
Anyway, he apparently 'got his own back' by sitting with the England fans behind the goal a couple of years back with a banner reading 'Joe Hart, you're a cu*t!' I guess being the nearly-man hurts more than being the nowhere-near-man.
(I should caveat this story by saying that this lad is new so I have no idea if he is talking utter BS or not. I do want it to be true though!)
The Beginning Of The (Towns)End
I note that in John and Alan's latest piece on the analysis of analysts they have been confounded by the first glorious mystery of all football punditry - why is Andy Townsend in employment? I cannot provide an answer to this question, but I think you might find it interesting as to how Andy got his start in television.
The year was 1998, and our hero together with former Ireland team mate Niall Quinn were drafted in by RTE to act as co-presenters and pundits for the afternoon games during that summer's world cup. Both men were still playing at the time - Townsend was in the middle of his spell with Middlesbrough while Quinn would go on to line-out at the next World cup in 2002. Anyway, I point you to the following Irish Independent article by Vincent Gribben which provides analysis of the coverage of the opening games of the 98 World Cup. Enjoy.
P.S. After reading this article I cannot wait to read what John and Alan have to say about Alan 'You're guaranteed excitement from Cameroon' Hansen
The Best Of Townsend
I can't believe you managed a whole article about Andy Townsend without mentioning his three favourite clichés.
1) "Give the defence something to think about"
This is Andy in battle cry mode. You desperately need a goal from somewhere; just keep kicking the ball into the penalty area as often as you can. As Andy knows all too well, make someone repeat the most routine and basic aspect of their job (in this case clearing the ball) often enough and some kind of horrendous calamity is all but inevitable.
2) "He's hit that too well, if anything"
Another illuminating phrase. For the likes of Robin van Persie, a 'shot' is a precision attempt at the foot or so of space just inside each post. For Ireland's finest, it is a desperate, panicked swipe of the ball towards the general vicinity of the 'goals'. The nominative target is the very centre as this gives the best chance of the inevitable miscue still scuffing its way towards some part of the net (thereby 'giving the keeper something to think about') - but on those rare occasions when brain and feet are in harmony, the connection is clean and the ball is directed straight into the grateful arms of the goalkeeper.
3) "Fully thirty yards"
Any shot from outside the penalty area is said to be hit from this distance, whether from the edge of the box or the edge of the centre circle. It must be comforting for Andy to divide a complex world into nice friendly binary states. (The other state is the single 'yard', covering anything from a few metres to a few centimetres. For any offside or goalline decision involving distances too small for the human eye, he might graciously allow 'half a yard').
It's for these reasons though that you can't hate Andy Townsend, even though he is terrible. He tries his best and he genuinely loves his job - he is walking proof that ignorance is indeed bliss. He's the dog that no matter how many times you pretend to throw the ball never realises it's still in your hand, and enjoys the game just as much every time.
Don't ever change, Andy.
Jon Gibson LFC
Re: Andy Townsend - it's a bit like the question someone asked about Frank Lampard the other week. You feel that so many people seem to think it that there must be something in it. But I don't see it. Why does everyone hate Andy Townsend? For me(Clive) - I've never seen what it is that especially offends so many. He is a perfectly competent pundit and broadcaster. Granted I haven't studied his every word for tactical accuracy - I'll leave that to others more in tune with that sort of thing. But I certainly don't see the Alan Partridge comparisons. But each to their own I suppose. The article was a lot easier on Shearer last week I thought - that can't be right surely - he really is the opposite of what is required.
A 'box-to-box enforcer' seems to me to be another position made up of two distinctly different types of midfield roles. Whats next? The sweeper striker? The hard tackling trequartista? The inverted wi...oh wait
Just flicked onto Sky Sports News and spotted Gerry Francis doing coverage of Spurs v Anzhi.
Has nobody told Gerry that we are no longer living in the 80's?
No? Okay, I'll call him.
Paul, Dublin, 2013