Is This The Start Of The Arsenal Collapse?

That's the big question in the afternoon mailbox. Plus, everything's coming up Milhouse for David Moyes, Mata is not the new Kagawa - he's the new Cantona and more...

Last Updated: 29/01/14 at 15:55

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Good God
With the Tyne-Wear derby approaching I'd like to make a public plea for Joe Kinnear to sign a player immediately for the sake of Equine Lovers everywhere.

The last time the North East NEIGHbours met at St. James' Park a horse was punched in the face following an embarrassing loss for the magpies which left supporters feeling aggrieved.

The impending loan signing of a Striker who has fallen from grace and previously spurred the opportunity to join Newcastle (sound familiar?) will not serve to hearten the supporters.

I dread to think of the consequences if Newcastle were to suffer a 3rd derby defeat on the TROT and Joe Kinnear failed (again) to make a permanent signing, and replace Yohan Cabaye - the fans would go HAYwire!
Nik (can't think of any more horse puns) NUFC

Signing Mata, Van Persie back and scoring, Rooney seems happy and ready to commit his future, money in the kitty for more...

Dare we suggest that everything's coming up Milhouse for Davey Moyes?!
Dave, Dublin

Mata Isn't Another Kagawa
Ah, I see Silvio Dante has taken a well-earned break from explaining how bad at football Rooney is to tell us all that Mata is a basically a posh Kagawa 'cos Moyes ain't gonna know how to play him.

Based on 83 minutes of football. After training for a few days. Having just signed. What on Earth were you expecting Silvio? A glorious hat-trick and blue flame to shoot from his boots?

I sense that over the coming weeks comparisons between Mata and Kagawa will become annoyingly more prevalent - that Moyes, he don't know how to use Kagawa so he ain't gonna know how to use Mata. Because as we all know, they are essentially the same person.

I recall that someone else in the mailbox mentioned this before but it may have escaped those of Silvio's ilk - Juan Mata is quite a lot better than Shinji Kagawa, who frankly has been a bit of flop. If Kagawa can't force himself into the first team for the remainder of the season then he should probably be on his bike - in fact, I'm struggling to think of a player who's reputation has so far exceeded his performances. Some of our fans have wanted him to do well so badly that they seem to be wilfully ignoring many of his anonymous games.

I remember when Kagawa first signed from Dortmund and, whilst coming with a good reputation, was lofted to the status of Eden Hazard by United fans. I think this is likely because we signed him after losing out on Hazard and wanted to console ourselves, I got caught up in it at the time and remember thinking 'Yeah, that's right, and his girlfriend is fitter'. How wrong I was (not about his girlfriend though). I really hope he does come good over the next few months but he will never be as good as some seem to think he should be. And it's all Fergie's fault. Or Moyes' fault. Definitely not the player not fitting in and being a bit underwhelming.

He was quality for Dortmund but that does not mean he is going to quality elsewhere. Nuri Sahin was a high class central midfielder for Dortmund but was pretty awful at Madrid and Liverpool - is that Jose Mourinho and Brenda's fault?
Smyth MUFC (I have a suspicion that Klopp gets the very best out of a lot his players at Dortmund, many of whom perhaps would not be so impressive elsewhere - buyer beware)

...He's The New Cantona
I seriously think Mata could well be Moyes' Cantona purchase. Aptly modern slant too, being that it's the highest we've ever paid, and in January too... but taking him from a big rival, the potential impact he will have on our play and success, the chance for young(er) players to learn from his mercurial talent...

It may be a bit early but... Viva el Rey Juan
Guy S (so not getting carried away with our new hairy Wayne look-alike)

Same Old Arsenal
Flamini out for 4 matches, Ramsey our for another 6 weeks and Wilshere out for an indeterminate amount of time. This is more like the Arsenal we all know and love!

On top of all that, I have to hope that Tim Sherwood and Fat Sam do us a favour tonight. I feel dirty.
Adonis (It's ok, Diaby must be back soon right? right?) Stevenson

Wenger Needs To Spend
In response to George AFC, I've long thought that if Arsenal continue to spend big, then there should always be the intention to better what you already have...and in our current standing, Arsenal whilst not labouring with Arteta, need to look at his position, along with one or two others and improve them.

Then and only then, will it show that Wenger has the balls not to be concerned about upsetting the current incumbent of a position - he refused to do this for years as it would stifle a players development.

Arteta, Gibbs and Giroud could all do with top class competition, or be replaced and turned into squad players who aren't guaranteed of a current spot, week in, week out. It's worked with Vermaelen thankfully, as there was a time where being Arsenal's captain ensured you played.
Thom, Newport.

After reading about my team, Derby County, just about squaring away a victory against Yeovil after managing 35 shots on goal (sadly only 9 hit the target, suggesting we bought an uzi to a rifle range) and retaining 68% possession, it had me wondering if any team has managed to achieve such a statistical victory but go on to lose the match. I'm sure there are several examples of FA cup upsets where this has happened, but it'd particularly interest me if the teams were in the same division, or at least somewhat even.

The only one that really comes to mind for me is another 'almost' - City's last gasp victory against QPR in '11-'12. With 24 shots on target, that one would have been even more unfathomable (you could argue this one's a bit against my own rules too considering City's relative wealth of riches, but they were in the same division so we'll count it). Spurs United from last season also came to mind, but looking at the stats it was mostly possession United dominated more than chances created. Can anybody think of any interesting examples where a team has been absolutely battered but come out on top?
Mark, Warwickshire

Sherwood Worries
Great e-mail from Graham, MUFC, Singapore. I played football to a reasonable standard and played with good players who spent time with clubs in England and played semi-professionally here in Ireland. These guys were no mugs. Yet during 6 a-side games on the all-weather training pitch, the manager stopped the game with the ball in the right-back position. The ball was to go down the line, every time. Under no circumstances was it to be played sideways across goal. It was the essence of safety-first football. This man was the club's most successful manager. A proper motivating, no-sh*t taking old-school type who loved nothing better than a 1-0. A developer of players; not so much.

Speaking as a Spurs fan, Tim Sherwood seems to fall more, if not quite completely, under the Fergie, Harry, Pulis type Graham cites. A step above the 'just facking run about' Redknapp approach but cut from the same cloth. He impressed by showing some adaptability away at Swansea but worries me when he says he doesn't believe in holding midfielders and reminisces on Wilcox and Ripley ripping defences paart in the early 90's (what did these guys do when they didn't have Shearer or Sutton to aim it!). Not what you want to hear when we face City and Toure, Aguero et al again tonight. He seems willing to cast off Capoue despite only giving him 60 minutes against Utd where he impressed. Tim must be the only one who didn't notice how open we were after he went off. And what of Sandro? If fit he is arguably our best player but he is also a holding midfielder is he not?

F365's appraisal of Brendan Rodgers (ha ha I accidentally typed Todgers) highlighted a manger willing to learn and adapt from his mistakes. Tim's soundbites post-Arsenal have not been encouraging, even if the aforementioned Swansea result offers hope. Lack of willingness to learn and embrace change and new ideas has always been the most frustrating thing I have encountered in coaches and players. I hope Tim is more willing to adapt his gameplans than his public utterances would suggest.
Sean, THFC (This e-mail became more Tottenham-centric than I had anticipated but my mind tends to wander that way)

A Long One On Philosophies
In response to Gabriel's theory, that managers with a philosophy do better at big clubs, and man managers do better with smaller clubs.

I think it is a decent theory, but isn't fully formed.

The key point that at bigger clubs, managers with philosophies flourish as they have access to better players. Firstly, this is a moot point, as managers with better players would be expected to do better anyway. This is evident with arguments that David Moyes is under-performing at United, as his squad is (theoretically) filled with better individual players than his Everton squad.

Secondly, having "success" is relative - Martinez - a crucial point of reference for Gabriel's theory, had excellent success with Swansea in Leagues 2, 1 and the Championship. At the time, Swansea were not considered a big club and Martinez' philosophy was a central part of their success. Indeed, his Wigan were successful (mostly) against their goal of avoiding relegation. This is equally the reason why David Moyes is accussed of underperforming, again, because the goals and measures of success at Man Utd are wholly different to those of Everton. He has not yet achieved anything by those measures - whether he was playing aesthetic football or not, failing to meet those demands would consitute underperformance. However, let us not forget that when David Moyes was Everton manager, he was considered very successful despite never actually winning a trophy.

Thirdly, for the crux of the argument to be true, it suggests that there is some kind of "level" in players and clubs. Big clubs get better players. It's a sensible idea, however the framing of the argument implies that Big Clubs, Barcelona and Manchester United, have the same quality of player and therefore the games between the two, the only variables which would determine the success would be the benefits of philosophy over the benefits of man-management. Which, as Gabriel had previously stated, there were other things at work, such as tactics, formation, etc.

In conclusion, I would argue that your theory started out as an attempt to understand why David Moyes was underperforming and Roberto Martinez performing well with Moyes' previous club. What has been confused in the process is that these two managers are representative of an either or - if David Moyes' United team look like his Everton team, then it is clear that they are playing to his philosophy. Equally, lackluster performances by those players suggest a lack of motivation in those players, thus indicating that he is operating with a philosophy at a big club, and, by your theory, should be successful. However, having attributed him to be a "motivator" or "man manager", you have an excuse for the underperformance.

Sorry to go to town there - I have work to do and don't want to do it.

Also, in response to Alex, Spurs on the "Swapsies" piece - a swap deal that came good for at least one party was Aston Villa taking John Carew from Lyon and sending Milan Baros the other way. Don't know how Baros did, but Carew did pretty well for Martin O'Neill's Villa (another manager by the way, who is attributed as being a motivator, however imbued Villa with the "counter-attacking" philosophy we still see today and had relative success with that team).
Josh, AVFC

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

Wenger hails important win


s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

De Gea's Europa League target

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