You might notice that we haven't included a single mail about teams in pubs, because most of them were terrible. Instead we have a disgruntled Fulham fan and Scouse maths...
Villa are the latest team to get the pub treatment, while the morning mailbox also includes missives on Tony Pulis leaving Stoke and Chelsea's future under Jose Mourinho...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
I have this sneaking suspicion that Gervinho might come back after the AFCON and show what he can do.
He's always shown glimpses of his quality dribbling by going past two players then shooting wide/falling over like a baby giraffe. Hazard said he was the best player he's ever played with, and many people scoffed but he's always looked like he could be pretty good. He's put in a couple of good performances in AFCON and scored some goals, so I'd like to be the first to say he might return and do well.
An optimistic Gooner (awaiting ridicule)
Who's Better: Zabaleta Or Rafael?
While commenting on a story on Man City's page, one of my counterparts from the red side of Manchester decided to inform me that Rafael Da Silva is better than Pablo Zabaleta. After a while, when my blood pressure had dropped back down and I had cleaned up the coffee I had spat out when I saw this...I had to ask this person if they were actually serious. To my mind, comparing Rafael to Zabaleta is a bit like comparing a Pot Noodle to a Lobster Bisque.
I do appreciate that to neutral and United fans, my opinion of Zabaleta may seem biased given that I am a City fan....so can I please canvas the opinion of some neutrals to see who they think is better?
Toon Fans Disagreeing With Bano
That's it, I can hold it no longer...Bano as the regular toon mailbox rep is more and more frequently making me shudder and worry how big those toon-sized blinkers are!
To vote Krul as his number one current PL keeper is quite frankly pish! I won't disagree with the shot stopping and general presence but it's his awful distribution that means there's no way he can sit top.
I can't be arsed to check the stats to back this up, I'll just use what I see week-in week-out watching us play. We've just about managed to sling one half of our trusty long ball specialists (Mike Williamson) but the sooner Tim gets a grip of himself and actually puts some effort into improving his long balls with a bit of concentration and practise the sooner he could conceivably be ranked in the top 3 PL keepers. Either that or playing a short pass once in a while would be nice.
After hearing the glowing praise of Fraser Forster earlier for his development at Celtic it would be great to see Krul do the same.
...In response to Bano's email regarding the best goalkeeper in the Prem, I have to take issue with Krul being #1.
As a Newcastle fan I do rate him highly and his shot stopping and one v one success is very good, particularly for a player still 5/6 years from his peak. However, his kicking and general distribution leaves an awful lot to be desired. I can think of 3 occasions this season alone where a poor clearance has directly lead to a goal and dropped points, Swansea's opener at St James' the most blatant.
Always a difficult one to argue as there are so many variables, namely the quality and consistency of the back 4 in front of a keeper but based on this season, I'd put Mignolet close to the top based on how many games he's kept Sunderland in and been MoM.
Agreeing With Bano
Bano is bang on regarding Jaaskelainen, he really is Jussi-less. Dreadful puns aside, he just doesn't make that many saves which is kind of why he is there. Most of the time he just ends up on his knees as the ball goes in to the top corner - why would you go on to your knees if the ball is going high in the goal? Almost makes me pine for Rob Green. Now Ludo Miklosko, there was a keeper...
Andy the Hammer (my name is Ludo Miklsoko, I come from near Moscow and I play in goal for West Ham)
The Stats Say Jussi's Not Bad
Not that I like relying on fantasy football stats to backup real world views, but I think Bano has done a grave injustice to Jussi Jaaskelainen by sitting him at the bottom of his "top 20 ladder" of Prem keepers. A quick check of the official PL fantasy football tells me that (based on their scoring system) Jaaskelainen currently sits in 4th place, behind Begovic, Mignolet and Hart. Bano's "top slot", Tim Krul, is a lowly 12th.
Now I'm not suggesting this is the be all and end all of football opinion - but the reason I mention it is that, given that West Ham have kept precious few clean sheets this season, one has to ask where exactly this monster fantasy football score has come from? The answer is that he has regularly made a large number of saves in every game he has played, which despite him still letting plenty in has helped him rack up a beefy points total.
To answer Bano's question more directly, I'd say the last time I saw him make a stand-out save was the last time I saw him play (which was admittedly a while ago) against Norwich in the Premier League in September. Despite Norwich racking up a frankly astonishing 14 shots on target, the final score was 0-0 which says a lot for Mr Jaaskelainens goalkeeping abilities (as well as West Ham's defensive frailty... but that's a subject for another time).
I'm sure West Ham fans will be able to point to more recent examples but that game is the one that jumped out at me as Jaaskelainen single handedly earned his team a point with a phenomenal performance. Perhaps Bano is still bitter that back in 2007, he chose to sign a new contract with Bolton rather than move to a certain north east club..?
Terry Hall, Switzerland
It's telling that in Bano's list of goalkeeper qualities prior to his Top20 list, he fails to mention distribution or passing ability. I presume this was done on purpose to rank Pepe Reina as close to the bottom as possible, as I can't imagine someone being ignorant enough to fail to consider such an important part of a goalkeeper's job. I've been complaining that Reina hasn't really been good enough for Liverpool since 2009/10, so don't mistake this as a devoted fan writing in to defend his favorite keeper, but Reina belongs several ranks above 18th due to his distribution, which is arguably best in the league.
I also feel that a lot of Bano's rankings were based on reputation, rather than anything objective or substantive. I'm also not sure whether they were made regarding form, or regarding long-term ability. To make a few brief comments:
Vorm belongs on the list despite being injured, Jaaskelainen has 7 clean sheets this season, and while Cech has improved this season I don't feel he's close to being second-best in the league,
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
So Dan in Camberley isn't sure why Julio Cesar joined QPR - lucky for him I managed to find Cesar's pros and cons list when considering the move. Here we go:
Anton Ferdinand as my centre half
Prospects for honours
Clint Hill as my centre half
Armand Traore as my left back
Jose Boswinga as my right back
Money. Lots of it.
Quite a pragmatic chap is Cesar.
Mike, Saint in Manchester
...Can't believe that in the debate about the best 'keeper nobody's mentioned Morris dancer extraordinaire Manuel Almunia!
*runs away sniggering*
Andy, Gooner (Sir Chesney might not be the new David Seaman but neither is he Manuel Almunia) in Colchester
Two responses from the mailbox this morning. I'm not going to slate Bano's mail but one thing I wanted to respond to was him saying that nobody saves more one on ones than Krul. That could be right but the point is when a keeper plays in front of a poor defence then they're going to get more one on ones to save (only Wigan, Villa and Reading have conceded more this season than Newcastle) whereas in front of a team that is strong it takes a lot of concentration for those rare times where you are called into action. This is why Given seemed brilliant at Newcastle but then was found out at City.
My other point is this debate about Sol Campbell. Now I'm not going to defend his actions however when Spurs fans say why did he have to leave for free and cost the club millions, well he could've gone to United a couple of seasons before for about £14m I believe but Spurs turned it down and Campbell didn't kick up a stink because he was under contract. So his contract ran out and he could do what he wants. If Campbell had gone to United for a big fee you can bet your life the Spurs fans would still have abused him when he went back to the Lane.
I guess what I'm saying is if you're a great player for a club you're going to get abused by the fans unless you stay there at the club for your whole career (and that's incredibly rare, footballers are human so will naturally want to try something different) so Campbell was never going to win (he went to Arsenal though which is why I won't defend him) and did the best for himself. Alternatively fans will abuse a player that they think is rubbish and won't relent until that player is gone. Why do fans expect a player to be loyal when they're not?
From yesterday afternoons mailbox by Chris MUFC. 'Bryan Ruiz is wonderfully laconic to watch'
Er, that's b*llocks Chris.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
In response to the mail from Mark, Watford this morning. Sol Campbell's decision to leave Spurs for Arsenal, was completely vindicated once he started winning medals with Arsenal. That is why he left Spurs - to play for a club that was then at the peak of their powers.
In the same way RvP will be vindicated if Man U win a few pots in the upcoming seasons - it hurts but it's the truth.
Peter (no, not THAT one) Parker
...I found Mark from Watford's "poppycock" letter about Sol Campbell's decision NOT being vindicated by his success at Arsenal really quite bizarre! Campbell certainly didn't need money and he ended up with the double as well as playing and scoring in the Champions League final!!
Besides, if it was about (quote) "screwing the club you were meant to love and the fans who adored you", I give you RVP! 6.5 out of 8 years injured & posting pictures of himself as a young teen in an Arsenal shirt (Google it)! What did HE give back other than carrying Arsenal for one season? Question is did he bugger off for the trophies or the £250k/week? Only he knows!
It happens to us all. Get over it and move on Mark! Sol has!
Chris (what is a poppycock anyway...sounds rude?) Charteris, Brighton
Praise For Bale
It's a few days after the weekend games, and I feel there has been a point missed by the mailbox massive thus far; the performance of one Gareth 'Is that a wombat on his head' Bale. I feel it's only right to praise the lad on his change in attitude. He was quite obviously targeted by West Brom. He had a number of very hard challenges, ball and man type ones, thrown at him. He got taken out a few times, including that obvious arm across his face. He was also almost assaulted just a few seconds before picking himself up and shifting inside his marker and unleashing that beautiful left foot of his for the winner. Not once, did he play act, dive or simulate in anyway. Good on yer Baler.
I would also like the mailbox to consider how blimmin' good he's been again this year. I'm not sure I like him playing in the middle as much as out wide, but you can't argue with the goals he's scoring. And you can't argue that he's probably coming inside more as he's learning to deal with being double or treble marked. He produced 3 or 4 brilliant surging runs on Sunday, scored the winner, and yet that was just an OK game for him. This run of form will make it almost a certainty that he'll leave us if we don't get Champions league football this year, and I don't think any Spurs fan would be-grudge him going if that's the case.