That's the difference between him and someone like Cristiano Ronaldo - his body just isn't right. We have mails on him, Sparky, Brendan Rodgers and the Europa Lge...
Nice one UEFA, but not far enough. We have some ideas to make the Europa League better as well as more views on Wayne Rooney, Vermaelen in midfield and...
If you have something to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Arsenal Are Out Because They Will Not Learn
Following on from your excellent Top 10 Commentaries, can somebody please dub Barry Davies' commentary for Italy v South Korea over the second Spurs goal?
Jim Barnett, THFC (how many times did Gary Neville say dear oh dear?)
This Arsenal team are officially the worst squad on the face of this planet at defending counter-ttacks.
That is all.
Derby Day Reflections
Judging by reports, you'd assume it was a hammering, which it really was not. Chances for Siggy and Defoe in the second half should have made it slightly less nervy, but it was close and the overall difference in quality everywhere (aside from in defence) is minimal.
I can't think of two more old school Wenger signings than Lloris and Vertonghen. Both are players that would strengthen Arsenal and were well within budget considering their ever expanding war-chest.
On Lloris. Much is made of the Bale/Wilshere world-class discussion. The only truly worl- class player in their position was Lloris. He's an extra defender, his distribution is firsst class and has the ultimate trust of those in front of him.
He might be top of your laddery thingy, and the glimmer of hope in Arsenal's eyes - but when Wilshere is your best player, you are likely to finish outside the top four.
Through ball aside, Scott Parker looks woeful.
Amazing to have Defoe back. And let these last three months be a lesson to anyone considering giving Adebayor more than a season-long loan. Similarly, I hope Arsenal renegotiate Walcott's contract every six months.
Before anyone starts using any well-known phrases from the underground, please please look at the fixture list. Of the three chasing third and fourth. Arsenal have by far the easiest fixtures. Whilst Arsenal's defensive performance gives me some peace of mind, there was still plenty on show to signify that they will still be there right to the final day.
Steffan (if you don't print this, it will be because I dissed your laddery thing) Trousers
...Tottenham looked extremely good and I feel like a slightly bad person for feeling like one of the positives I can take out of the game (as a Liverpool fan) is that Dembele might miss the game against us next week. They really look very strong and given we've not been brilliant against teams above us in the table I think we'll need all the help we can get if we're going to pull out a result against them next Sunday.
Season-defining moment for Arsene Wenger/Arsenal? How many attacks died at the feet of Ramsey/Giroud yesterday? I also thought it was interesting that for all the love Arsenal fans have collectively spaffed over the feet and talents of Wilshere he really didn't show up yesterday. Not a criticism you find yourself levelling at Gerrard/Lampard (a few seasons back)/Rooney. Sure he's young but Gerrard was busy showing up in the big games and winning Liverpool five trophies by the same birthday that Jack last celebrated.
I wonder if Arsenal will feel they have nothing left to play for and you'll see a decline in their form between now and the end of season - if that does happen it will surely seal Wenger's fate. It would be a shame to see him leave English football in this way because I really do think he deserves credit for being the second best manager the league has ever seen, gulfs ahead of the third too...whoever that award belongs to. There possibly will be another team that goes unbeaten some time in the future but his team will always be the first. And when they did it, they did it with bucket loads of style.
I had an interesting chat with some friends during the Liverpool game. Joe Allen kept getting fouled when on the ball and I wonder why refs have never said to a team, "Right, the next person to foul so and so will go in the book"....it would surely help when a team is targeting an individual whom they perceive as weak and would stop persistent fouling on an individual by a variety of opposing players in a way that never warrants a booking for anyone even though it's clearly a devised pre-game tactic. Thoughts?
Spurs Just More Clinical
Did Tottenham end Arsenal' season? No. Sure they capitolised on a couple of very poor defensive errors and were the clinical ying to Arsenals wasteful yang, but to say the season is over is total rubbish.
Spurs still have Liverpool, Chelsea and Swansea away and Everton/Manchester City at home, plus a few relegation scrappers and an away day at Stoke. This one will go down to the final day.
One question for the Mailbox though, because of the pretty poor defending/attacking with gaye abandon. Is the North London Derby the most exciting game in football? Classico games almost always end up a dud, Milan games are alright but the stadium is half-empty and Manchester games are hard to get behind because both teams are so utterly detestable for different reasons. There's a mystique to River Plate/Boca Juniors, Galatasaray/Fenerbache and Benfica/Porto but very few of the people who bang on about how exciting these games are have ever even watched one.
Luca James Sparks
Leaving Arsenal To Their Turd
It's sad it's come to this but finally after eight long seasons - Arsenal's fans will finally have their say on the future of the club.
I'm sure among the many missives from Spurs fans, who let's not kid ourselves won because they're the better team, will be some guff from rival fans, probably Liverpool supporters, who will tell us to stick by Arsene and you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.
But it's been eight years and I'm sorry but there isn't a club in Europe who would have stuck by their manager as long as we have, given the resources of this once-great club.
The owners and the manager will no doubt kid themselves the fans will sign up for more of this guff - but as they say you can't polish a turd and we are currently the biggest turd in the Champions League and no amount of marketing and transfer speculation will change that.
We have lost faith in the manager and the ownership and it's time for both the manager and the owner to go away - it's either that or find your shares in the club are worthless because you won't be able to attract anyone through the turnstiles.
The north London derby is supposed to be a highlight of the season - the capital's greatest inter-city rivalry and contest but most gooners I know aren't even upset at yesterday's loss - we expected it and expecting to be beaten by that lot down the road is the saddest indictment on our manager and our club's owners -it's your turd and from next season you'll be carrying that turd on your shoulders without any support from the fans.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
No point describing what happened yesterday, better to move on and see if there is hope that some phoenix of hope rise from the flames of despair that come from the realisation that they are better than us. In a particularly understated way Arsene did 'know' yesterday in the summing up of his post-mortem:
"We were not efficient in the zones where it matters: at the front and at the back."
What I hope he also knows is that this statement unearths to two parallel issues afflicting our team. Efficiency at the front seems to represent the standard 'spend some money' argument for our woes. Efficiency at the front is surely a shorthand for how our most attacking players are good but not great and how the simple way out of this would be to get an oilwell-sized chequebook out and try to bid for the Cavani level of polished talent that it has not been our policy to capture. For efficiency at the front a £1.5 billion takeover might help to some considerable level.
Efficiency at the back is an entirely different issue however. A back line that cost more than £30m is not bargain basement by any stretch, and unlike many of my gooner kin I don't think the personnel are lost causes. Defenders being drilled in one-touch passing routines rather than actual 11-a-side defending makes them play like amateurs however. Midfielders in front of them showing similar lack of rear guard nouse does not help.
So in conclusion this debacle has so much in common with other failings against those who we should compete against. Unless AW can revive his talent for sniffing out an affordable world-beater we need to spend. Unless he can reform his approach to tactics and training we need to change our manager. I'm not confident on any of those things happening soon.
James, Gooner in Cardiff
Podolski: A Bit Of A Let-Down
When looking at Wenger's signings last summer, I was excited by the trio of big acquisitions in Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski. Over the season, I think that both Cazorla and (to a lesser extent) Giroud have both acquitted themselves well, proving their class and justifying Wenger's faith in purchasing them. Maybe it's because I had higher expectations from Podolski, but I think he's come up a bit short in his first season of Premier League football.
Early on in his Arsenal career, he showed glimpses of quality and the superb technique that marked him out as a top talent in his teens, and it looked like he would be a key player in the season ahead and for the future of the club - especially in the wake of Van Persie leaving. But as the season has worn on, he seems to have shown his mental frailty and has not shown up for Arsenal in the biggest games. He did score against Munich, but his performances and general influence on games has faded and he didn't start the derby game against Spurs, something that would be unthinkable for a mainstay like Van Persie.
It hasn't been a terrible season for the precocious German, and he has all the attributes needed to excel in the league in his second season, but he needs to show more steel and determination for me. I've followed his career from and early age and while I think he's always shown the odd flash of brilliance, he's never fully delivered on his early promise. To be fair, Arsenal have bigger fish to fry - considering some of the defending that's been on show this season (seriously what happened to Vermaelen when he got given the captain's armband?) they'll do very well to be playing Champions League next season. I hope Lukas does prove me wrong, bang in a hatfull before the end of the season, and go on to play a key role at Arsenal; but I won't hold my breath.
JRF London (Not even an Arsenal fan)
Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
When I saw Arsene Wenger's quotes earlier in the week about not preparing to deal with any specific (Gareth Bale) threats from Spurs, I thought it was just false bravado on Wenger's part. A bit of BS for the press. But here in the colonies the derby telecast we receive featured Tony Adams sitting in with the usual suspects Alan Curbishley and Andy Townsend. During the pre-game I was astounded when, in a response to a query about this by John Dykes, Adams admitted that this was in fact true of Wenger. He never prepared his sides specifically to counter a threat from an opponent. And in fact Robin van Persie had in years past gone to Wenger and asked (pleaded?) that they start preparing game plans when playing certain sides.
Then, during the half-time talk, when one could read the progress on Tony's face of the ulcer that was gnawing away at his guts while analyzing the shambolic Arsenal defending, I couldn't help but wonder what the heck Steve Bould is doing? Surely he must think as his old mate does? Surely he must see that this policy of Wenger's is well beyond his usual arrogance and careering off into almost criminal naivte? So what is Bould doing about it? Why is he still sitting there next to Wenger? Why does he not resign? It can't be the money can it?
Not that I really care of course. Just curious. In fact, the Arsenal should give Wenger a lifetime contract as far as I'm concerned. But really, you'd think someone at the club would grow a pair and end this tragi-comedy.
Canuck LFC (Like Curbishley, Townsend out)
Two Tangential Questions From The Weekend
* There's something brilliantly reckless about Fergie excitedly beaming 'both teams will score' ahead of the Madrid game. Yet given 0:0 puts Utd through, surely it's worth at least a try?!
* J ust wondering how many of those 'What was the point of buying Lloris?/AVB doesn't have a clue what he's doing!' mails you've been getting recently...?
Simon (Less is More) Paisley
RVP > Bale
I just want to wade into the Gareth Bale discussion which will inevitably be taking up the space of mailbox after the Spurs win. I'm sure everyone will be foaming at the mouth at yet another special performance but I wanted to take the time to write a mail about how I don't think he's a brilliant as is being made out to be and how pundits and fans alike a far too quick to jump on to media created bandwagons.
On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of listening to Stan Collymore on his talksport show. I don't rate Collymore that highly as a football pundit and some comments on his show on Saturday proved to me that he is just another ex-player who earns money based on just recycling what the media has already said. Collymore was asked who he thought would be the Premier League player of the year and without hesitation he said Bale, now that's fair enough I'm sure lots of people believe Bale is worthy of that title if his current form continues. However, what I take exception to is when asked "what about Robin Van Persie, Stan?" he spoke of how RVP has dropped off the boil in recent weeks and has done much compared to Bale. What Mr Stan Collymore means is 'he hasn't been in the news that much, which means he hasn't done anything compared to Bale, who has been in the news every week for the past month'.
It's just lazy punditry and it's a prime example of not only lazy punditry but lazy football observation as a whole. Lots of people do it, how many times have you heard from mates or around the workplace "yeah RVP has gone off form a little recently hasn't he?". People just read or listen to s**t spouted out by the media and relay that point to others. For f***'s sake people, form your own opinion and have some quality independent thinking time rather than go by what you hear from others. So here's how I know that Stan Collymore is a media parrot;
Bale's purple patch began on January 30th away at Norwich and he has scored in every Spurs game since. Yes it's impressive, but before this good bit of form he was his usual self, popping up with the odd goal here and there with an occasional assist. So really the head turning has been done in the last month or so.
Robin Van Persie has been consistently scoring goals and assisting goals all season. He, like Bale, went on a phenomenal purple patch from the 28th November - 20th January. In this time ten games were played he scored 10 goals and weighed in with fpir assists during this period. Also during the period that Bale has had his impressive vein of form, RVP has scored one goal and assisted three goals in five games. RVP also played only 40 minutes and 65 minutes in two of those games due to the ongoing rotation policy at United.
I'd like to think that Stan Collymore reads the mailbox, but he probably doesn't. Stan, go do your homework before you begin talking such garbage to the nation. You're in a privileged position so how about actually researching a specific topic, finding a position on that topic and then formulating your OWN argument on the matter.
Bale has been good people, but he's not in the same bracket as Ronaldo and Messi, he's also not in the same bracket as Iniesta, Xavi, Ozil, Falcao and RVP, he's further back. A purple patch doesn't change that.
Leon, Basel (I think Suarez will actually win the Premier League best player)
Chelsea Cheering On Spurs?
Before the weekend, the question was asked, who are Chelsea fans cheering for in big game this weekend?
I can't speak for others but I cheered on Spurs and wouldn't begrudge them finishing third place ahead of us. They deserve it based on the season so far.
Despite the media's general opinion, I think AVB has a lot of potential, and that he may fulfill with Spurs. If he had been given the quality of signings the previous summer that we got this summer his revolution might have stuck.
On Rafa, some fans like to have a go at us for protesting a manager we don't like. Even the managers we do support don't last a season, why wouldn't we think we can hasten an early exit. We have ten years of knee-jerk reactions suggesting it doesn't take much.
Mike, the south side of Chicago
On The Weekend's Games
Chelsea V WestBrom:
* Typical of Chelsea, domination for most of the game; not reflected in scoreline and almost threw it all away. Yet three vital points.
* If Rafa's rants were to get the crowd behind the team (than himself obviously), then I'd say job well done. The atmosphere at the bridge was much better than the recent games.
* Real rested Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria, Alonso, Khedira (five of their starting eleven) and started with a second string eleven which had Modric, Essien and Kaka. And they deservedly beat a first string Barcelona (sans Xavi alone). Should Man United fans be worried?
* Having said that, one should also note the difference between the two Spanish giants. While Barcelona beat the crap out of teams that try to play their own game and attack them (the two Champions League finals against United, a couple of games against Arsenal et al.), their rivals Real on the other hand just struggle when the opposition plays Real's game which is suck up pressure and hit on the break. Should Man United fans be worried after all? We'll know soon.
North London Derby
* I had the option of watching a local comedy show or this game. I chose this game - as Arsenal's defending I felt is more entertaining than most of the funny shows these days. I was rewarded with a fantastic first-half performance by Arsenal's defence.
* That Spurs didn't have to do something extra ordinary in this game to take the three points suggests the difference in quality and mind set of the two teams.
* For Spurs second goal, Parker won the ball near the half line mark in Spurs' own area, eased into loads of space for 20-30 yards, took time and played a through ball to Lennon who eased past the goalie. Sums Arsenal's defending in one instance.
* Despite what AW and co may claim about another fabulous second-half performance, I felt Spurs were quite in control during the last 20-30 minutes and in fact missed chances of their own (Siggurdsson should have taken a shot perhaps?)
Aravind, CFC (All in all, an entertaining weekend!), Chennai
The Next Chelsea Manager...
Even despite a win against West Brom; it looks inevitable that Rafa Benitez is off. The Chelsea fans don't want him, he's not delivering the results with the performances that the owner wants and if the tabloids are to be believed (I know, I know...) the players don't want him. So it seems, to me, that there's only one choice - to go back to the man who this all began with.
He's a man that since his time at Chelsea has enjoyed time in both Italy and Spain, he built the nucleus of a squad that went on to dominate, even after he left, some of whom remain today. He was a popular man and presumably feels, deep down, that he has unfinished business.
The only question is; would Monaco be willing to let the 'Tinkerman' leave?
Just This Once...
Just read Barry, MUFC, Crumpsall's story about getting shat on by Sir Bobby Charlton and noticed that a swear word wasn't censored. So have we got the all clear to swear now?
If so, buffalo cock.
Lawan Hawizy, San Francisco
Jurgen Klopp featured on Football Focus.
Hundreds of football hipsters have burnt their Dortmund shirts.