He is one of a number of solid shouts for players that look old before their time. We also have the final words on lovely D-Beck and a rejection of end of season playoffs...
That's one opinion, but others give their thanks to the man. We also have ideas for a relegation playoff, happy memories of the season and a defence of Liverpool's campaign...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
It was with much trepidation I looked forward to the Saints vs Gunners match. With four wins under our belt and going to a club in the relegation zone...all our history suggest we would drop points.
Think we actually delayed Blackburn's under-threat manager from the sack by losing a 'easy win' game some seasons ago.
So all the usual lack of creativity and no answer to Saints' pressing game was evident...never seen so much stray passes by Arsenal before, or at least since the Norwich game. There were times I would have thought such passing would get good telling off in practice...much less in an actual match.
Why AW doesn't rotate his squad escapes all reason to me...with Rosicky back and Arshavin (yeah remember him) still yet to feature for a start in the BPL when there are games every three days.
And it didn't help that Sagna chose to dish out his worse performance in an Arsenal shirt in the longest time.
Thus one point was actually more than I had expected...
Aanan (don't get complacent Arsenal) Singapore Gooner
Why Does Wenger Hate Counter-Attacking?
I simply don't understand it. Does Wenger not want the team to score goals?
Time and time again we get the ball, with the opposition having committed men to attack, and our players time and time again slow down in the middle of the pitch to pass sideways/backwards/wander around aimlessly. It seems that the only goal the team is permitted to score is after a stringing together of a dozen or so passes in around the box before someone slots in a goal from a couple of yards out.
The problem is that we do not have players with the finesse or ability to break down a packed box (something which any team managed by someone with an ounce of tactical nous does against us); we are not a team who scores from crosses (considering there's usually a maximum of one player in the box); and we simply aren't a team who passes the ball around very well nowadays.
Every four or five games there seems to be the odd player who tries to attempt an attack on the break but presumably they are fined upon return to the training ground and I'm left to watch another impotent performance the next game. To exacerbate my irritation even more is the insistence of commentators and pundits at expressing surprise at our lack of shots and inability to cobble together a decent attack. What Arsenal have you been watching for the past few years?
Wenger has got to be one of the worst managers in the league in terms of tactical skill and awareness. He's just lucky we've had some penalties in the past month to paper over the cracks with. I won't even comment on our defence. I don't see this getting better anytime soon.
Greg Benham, AFC
Spurs 2013 = Liverpool 2008
After reading the article on how close Spurs are to achieving something a bit (well, very) special, I had a sense of déjà vu.
Think back to summer 2008. Liverpool had finished fourth and were lacking in some easily identifiable areas (wingers in general and strength in depth) but had Torres, Gerrard and arguably Alonso at their best. Back to the present and Spurs only have Bale and perhaps Lloris who you could class in a similar category to those players, however, their squad is much better than the Liverpool one circa 2008/09 and they have considerably more money at their disposal and are under no obligation to sell their best players (Alonso to Real) due to looming financial catastrophe. In short, they're nearly ready for a title challenge.
AVB has his Mascherano - Alonso equivalent in Sandro and Dembele, a top-class keeper, a solid centre-half partnership but up top is where the team falls short. They are missing their Torres and perhaps Gerrard equivalent. The trouble is this is the most expensive and hard to find piece of the puzzle and could very easily go wrong. Moutinho seems to be AVB's Gerrard and I assume that they'll go back in for him but to make this work, Spurs are going to have to find their Torres, as Nick Miller pointed out.
Back to 2009 now and Liverpool can't beat all the small teams but will happily knock four past United and Real Madrid (and Arsenal) which is nearly the predicament Spurs find themselves in. Liverpool couldn't beat them as they were relying on David N'Gog as back up but Spurs' problem is that they're strikers aren't quite good enough. They need a world-class striker. So, that's that really.
AVB needs to somehow woo Daniel Levy into spending roughly £60 million this summer on two players with the promise of at least a title challenge as the outcome. Good luck.
Thank you F365 for falling into the trap of using the most pointless cliche in football.
Spurs won 3-1, but it 'could/should've been double figures'.
Like all those other teams that do take all their chances and score 10 or more?!
Teams to score 10+ in 1 game in PL history - 0.
Is This United Team Good Enough For You?
Was that good enough for you? Four goals, clean sheet and a lesser team swept away effortlessly. All we hear these days is constant criticism of united's title credentials, whether they're a 'champion' side, even though everyone well read in football knows that we really come alive after christmas, as we've showed with six goals and two clean sheets in the last two games. It's no coincidence that united have started pulling out solid 90-minute performances, and we will only see us getting better and better.
Yet all I seem to read on F365, especially from Matt Stanger, is that United have been poor this season, but look at our points tally this season compared to seasons of the past, and you will see that we're better placed now than we have been in many a year, so I'd pay closer attention to facts before looking down on United's performances this year compared to previous years, and watch out, as it's only going to get better.
Hamzah, MUFC, Manchester
P.S. The myth that there are more City fans in Manchester than United fans is absolutely ridiculous.
It's The Beard That Done It
Evra's beard is the best lucky mascot ever.
Losing Your Shirt
I read a stat recently that said Manchester City picked up more bookings for removing their shirts than any other Premier League team in 2012. With the recent rash of naff personalised t-shirts, is this trend wise? Now I couldn't find which of City's squad were the worst culprits but surely a team's management should be advising against this lest it lead or contribute to automatic suspensions? Does anyone know of a player whose suspensions have come from too much, ahem...shirt lifting?
Stevie G (Keep calm and have a gitane) Dublin
Is Being The Best Of The Rest Good Enough?
I've been a Leeds fan ever since I can remember, around 1970. Feel free to insert your own thug and hooligan joke here.
There have been successes and failures along the way, the last big win being the league in '92, followed by the Champions League dalliance in '01. Then came the dark times, the financial implosion and relegation.
However, since they were relegated there has been a clear goal in sight, and likely an attainable one at that - promotion. Even after the relegation down to League One it just meant that it became a multi-stage goal, whereby promotion to the Championship was required before the eventual promotion back to the Premier League.
Leeds currently sit in eighth place in the Championship and I genuinely believe they will make it back to the top flight. If not this year then maybe next, but certainly at some point the goal will be attained. But what then?
Over the last decade the face of football has changed and I'm genuinely not certain what can be expected if they come back up. It seems unrealistic to think that they might challenge to win the league again, and I'll tell you why I think so.
Everton have been in the top flight since the mid-50's, but haven't won the league since '87. Are they building towards a championship? It doesn't seem likely. In recent years they have sold Wayne Rooney, Mikel Arteta and Jack Rodwell to 'bigger' teams, and now there are rumblings that Marouane Fellaini may leave.
Spurs last won the league in 1961 and briefly flirted with title aspirations last year before dropping off and finishing fourth. They could possibly have built on that except Luka Modric wanted to leave and now there is talk of Gareth Bale going to a 'bigger' club. The current set-up allows richer clubs to buy the best players from other clubs who exist simply to make up the numbers.
Sir Alex Ferguson referred to Newcastle as a "wee club in the north-east" the other day. Maybe he's right, I don't know that Newcastle can compete with the wealth of ManU, Chelsea or Man City. So where does this leave all the other teams in the league?
If you're in Scotland or Spain and not a fan of the big two (ok, one in Scotland now) you've probably been used to this for a while now. What do you hope for? Survival, a decent league finish and European competition, a good cup run? What aspirations do you have if you support Fulham, Stoke or Norwich, or like all those losers on Oscar night is it just an honour to be nominated?
If Leeds do finally make it back up to the top flight I wonder whether I should hope for them to soon be relegated again. That way at least I'll have the realistic goal of promotion to dream about.
Glad Demba Ba Not Joining Chelsea
As I awoke this morning and browsed your fine website, I was pleased to see that the the talks between Chelsea reps and Demba Ba's agent were 'unproductive'. I suppose that would be a polite way of saying "not on your life, mate" and no move will be forthcoming. Brilliant I say, Ba has had a good season for the Magpies thus far, but I feel he wouldn't be a good fit for Chelsea for two well thought out and practical reasons, viz:
1) Coming from a side like Newcastle, whose aspirations are seemingly to stumble from one season to the next, pleased with simply being good enough to be mediocre, would Ba be able to step up to the level of pressure and expectation from a top club of Chelsea's calibre? The phrase 'big fish in a small pond' comes to mind.
2) He ain't Spanish. Unless his name was Dembagio Batinez, I would doubt that Rafa could get the best out of him to challenge for Nando's spot on a game-by-game basis. It seems that Benitez and Torres have a symbiotic relationship, not unlike the little girl and the bunny in the movie 'The Last Mimzy'. Rafa manages to bring the best out of his Spanish charges, of which Torres would be his favoured child.
Airtight logic, that.
Only my second mailbox contribution in eight years, I look forward to continuing my 100% publication streak.
Chris M, CFC, New Zealand
Football Lessons From 2012
Thus endeth 2012's calendar year of football, with much griping and moaning, bitching and agonising interspersed with the occasional football match. It feels as though I am a great deal more cynical about the game than at the start of the year, an (even more) embittered and reactionary husk of the strapping young man I once was. To account to how I became such a husk, here are the footballing lessons imparted throughout 2012:
Lesson 1) Missing months of work is just fine as long as you bugger off to play golf in Argentina and not give a solitary f*** about your employer, who will welcome you back with open arms out of desperation.
Lesson 2) People hate very good footballers. Many, many people get very, very angry about footballers who are excellent, but not quite the best in the world - Rooney (inconsistent), Modric (not sexy enough), Zlatan (too sexy) and the like all get an absoloute beasting for not being 10 out of 10 every match. We want our footballers to have a 100% pass completion rate, five key passes per match, ten deft touches, five assists, 14 Cruyff turns and the provision of a breakdancing turtle or they are pony. In the world of the internet there exists only two definitions of a player's ability - brilliant or horse-s***.
Lesson 3) Hashtags and similar inane bollocks footballers incorrectly refer to as 'banter' is almost enough to provoke murderous spasms.
Lesson 4) Europe is leaving the Premier League behind. I don't think it's a personnel issue - outside of Madridcelona, Juve, Munich and arguably Dortmund all the Premier League teams have talent of equivalent, if not greater, ability (although I think that Dortmund's strength is predominantly due to Jurgen Klopp's brilliant design for a style of play for a team who, for the most part, don't have the quality of footballers of their counterparts). Chelsea should not have been beaten by Shakhtar, impressive though they might be, and City's struggles have already been talked to death. Premier League teams just don't look as hungry for European success as their opponents, or are unable to click into gear and perform to the level that they are capable of.
Lesson 5) Wearing gambling pants is worse than racism. Bravo Uefa, bravo.
Having ranted all this I must admit that it's not all bad tidings. This year's goal rush has been a colourful shade of mental, some of the league's players are a privilege to watch and, for once, we can have no complaints about another quarter-final exit on penalties...
...Other than the fact that we are still steadfastly rubbish at penalties. It's an almost reassuring constant in the ever-changing football world.
Smyth, MUFC (Off to Betfred to buy some New Year's pants, take that Uefa)