The mailbox reminds Liverpool fans they haven't won anything yet, while the crisis at Spurs continues to hog our inbox. At least there are no more jokes about a wet night at Stoke...
Because football did not start in 1992, basically. We are exasperated by the hundreds of 'wet night in Stoke' LOLs but what remains is pretty decent on Spurs and...
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
United Only Outfinished Swansea
Did anybody else watch the same United match as me? It wasn't 'incredibly comfortable', and there was plenty to criticise.
Simply, United didn't outplay Swansea, they outfinished them. Basic statistics demonstrate this: United scored four goals from seven shots. They won't do that every week, and there was little in the performance to suggest that United are likely to become more fluent, creative and dominant than they were either against Swansea, or last season. Until they properly deploy and use Kagawa (who did, admittedly, fly back from Japan on Thursday, United won't have a play-maker of the quality of Mata, Hazard, Oscar or Silva, to link attack with midfield. Until they drop Valencia and play either Nani or Zaha, they won't pose any consistent threat on the right wing, in sustained possession or on the break. And until they buy a genuine, specialist holding midfielder, United will not have the defensive strength and tactical coherence to play well against teams equivalent to them in quality.
Van Persie isn't going to score an acrobatic volley, and a 20-yard screamer, every week. If relying on van Persie to score wonder goals satisfies United fans, then I suggest they go and buy a Spurs shirt. Welbeck's goals were, for differing reasons, encouraging, as they showed instinct, intelligence and technique. But the record of his career thus far suggests he isn't going to be regular goalscorer. Hopefully he can improve, maintain his goal-scoring form, as he'll be a fearsome player, but for the moment great faith shouldn't be placed in him.
United remain a good, functional team, with an extraordinarily good striker. But Moyes has inherited an ageing, unbalanced squad, and to pretend otherwise is a delusion. Of Chelsea's bench today, Essien, van Ginkel, Mata, and Schurrle would all walk into United's first team. Could the same be said for Ashley Young, Valencia, Anderson et al.?
Bigging Up Danny
This summer has been a time of change. Moyes, Mourinho and Manuel have freshened things up at the top of the table, Tottenham have finally bought a striker and some of the lower-half teams have made purchases that show real intent to push on and take advantage of any uncertainty up and down the league.
The biggest change however appears to have come from one man - Danny Welbeck.
His first half hour on the pitch was pretty typical of what we have come to expect from young Daniel. He worked his socks off, got the ball to RVP on a few occasions and covered Giggs on the left wing well. Shortly after however, he was presented with a decent chance on the edge of the 18-yard box. The choice was obvious - first time to Giggs on the left, or have a crack yourself. Instead, he fumbled about for a bit, and fed it out wide far too late. Typical, hesitant Danny. This brought a telling off from Giggs, as one would expect in such a situation.
Yet the way he reacted to this was totally different to what you might have expected.
Instead of shying away from his responsibilities as a striker, Welbeck got himself into an actual goalscoring position, which led to his first goal. Remarkable. Not only this, but late in the game he made yet another goalscoring run, and actually went for the shot without hesitancy or looking for someone else to lay it off to! Now this... This is the Danny Welbeck that we want to see. Tactical flexibility, good link up play in the opposition half, and genuine confidence in the box.
So, congratulations Dan. I always knew you had it in you. Keep up that kind of performance and Ashley Young will never get a game again.
Wayne Rooney thinks he has it tough because he has to compete/play alongside RVP...
As I type this, Barcelona are 6-0 up at half time in their first home league game...where is their brand new 50 million forward Neymar? Sat on the bench!
Cesc is having a blinder by the way, no way he is going to leave that club!
Glad Welbz scored a few goals this weekend, hopefully he continues to score more as his all-round play is fantastic. Also hope that Kagawa was benched due to his international with Japan and not because Moyes doesn't fancy him!
Orts (Can't wait for the first home game against the chavs!!) Mufc
Mata didn't play, Rooney didn't appear to want to play.
Wouldn't swapsies make everyone happy?
Some Weekend Conclusions
* United were solid, if not spectacular (save for Van Persie's first and Welbeck's second). The rhythm of the team doesn't appear to have been disrupted by the manager change. A bit more level-headedness at the back (Jones needs to improve his positional awareness a bit) and we'll be fine.
* United's biggest problem was holding the ball in midfield. The number of times we tried to bring it out of defence, only to be stopped by Swansea's very effective setup and style, was frustrating. After watching Dembele's performance for Spurs, it only further demonstrates that we missed a trick not signing him.
* Bony W looks a decent player, Laudrup must have been cursing the international break.
* Not sure how Valencia managed to get a yellow card for trying not to run into Canas after a genuine 50-50.
* The referees in the United, Arsenal and Chelsea matches didn't really impress. The refs for United and Arsenal's set themselves up for a fall by giving out two early yellows for not terrible challenges and it escalated from there. Torres should not have got a free-kick from that non-foul either.
* The second penalty Villa got was definitely a penalty, but I don't believe the referee could have possibly seen the actual foul (which Shearer, of all people, pointed out). Right decision, probably for the wrong reason.
* Spurs looked decent without Bale. A few flutters at the back but generally their new signings impressed. Paulinho looked efficient, but I get the feeling he'll start to shine once he's settled in more. Also, how many chances does it take Sigurdsson to score? His conversion rate can't be pretty.
* How in the hell is Paul Merson employed in a job where communication is key? The number of times Jeff Stelling asks him what just happened and, after a spluttering, stuttering mish-mash of (what I presume are) words, I still don't have a clue. He can't even get the name of Sky programs right (Saturday Night Live, Paul? Not sure Chevy Chase knows much about football).
* Speaking of which, one thing Sky was definitely missing is some more 'Bant-awh wiv the layds' type programming. Good to see they duly obliged with 'Saturday Night Football'. Look forward to more of that.
Stability Has Become Stagnation At Arsenal
I am not sure the people running the show at Arsenal have a clue what they are doing. This is a great club going completely in the wrong direction, and more so towards oblivion. I am an Arsenal fan, I spend a lot of money to travel half the way around the globe to visit the Emirates, but there is a point where things stop making sense. For all I care Wenger can be a great CFO, but he's completely lost it on the pitch. While everyone is moaning about the lack of signings, the lack of depth in the squad, we're missing the point that Arsenal are a complete mess tactically. The defensive organisation is nothing short of mediocre, any set-piece is as dangerous as a penalty kick, the team has no aerial capabilities (the fact that Giroud has the physique doesn't make him a good header of the ball); and worse of all Wilshere is all over the place. This is a team that has pace in abundance but is not using it, instead of playing in an effective direct style (which definitely is more suited to the current band of Arsenal misfits) Wenger is insisting on a cheap brand of the tiki-taka, that if anything is painful on the eye.
I don't think Arsenal are having problems landing new signings because they aren't willing to pay, I actually don't think any A-list player would be in his right mind to consider joining Arsenal at this stage. Why would a world-class striker want to wait in the box for sub-par crosses from Jenkinson, or impossible back heels from Wilshere, or to train with Mertesacker. This is the season unfortunately when Arsenal's luck streak will come to the end, no CL next season, that's guaranteed - realistically there might not be CL this season even if Fener decide to give it their all.
Unlike what Wenger and his choir preached early in the season, the managerial merry-go-round in England benefited everyone else except Arsenal. This is a case where stability has become stagnation, and in this era of football, if you're not moving then you are light years behind.
Mohammed M. Fahmi
Some Arsenal Optimism
I would imagine that the mailbox is going to be a fairly depressing place to be for Arsenal fans on Monday morning so I thought I would jump in early and provide a non knee-jerk, Arsenal are sh*t, everyone hates Wenger response to try and provide some balance. This mail was generally inspired because yesterday the head of the Arsenal Supporters trust made a twitter 'quip' about Wenger not having 'earned' his wages and I worry that stupid comments like this are starting to effect more and more Gooners.
Lets get one thing clear, In the 17 years that Wenger has been in charge, he has never EVER failed us. In case you hadn't noticed, we always qualify for the Champions League despite fierce competition and spending from our rivals. Let's also remember that there are some big clubs (Liverpool, Spurs), who wern't fortunate enough to gain completely undeserved financial rewards, who could only dream of being in our situation (60,000 seater stadium, Champions League footy, £150 mil in the bank and mind blowing commercial deals about to come into play). Wenger has given us this, so despite the lack of trophies let's not pretend that he hasn't done a great job over the last eight years.
In terms of the game on Saturday, we weren't great. Obviously a poor decision from the ref cost us but we were not at our best and we didn't create enough in the final third. Having said that, it was the first game of the bloody season, a season in which we cannot be expected to win the league because the players to push us to that level are not available. Chill out guys, I'm sorry to break it to you but unless we bring in Suarez and a top-quality midfield player we are not going to get near the league title. Wenger knows this and that is why he is not spunking our money on footballers that will not make a difference to our final league position. He is trying his best to bring in the best and if he can't get them then leave the cash in the bank and qualify for the Champions League anyway. Seems rational to me.
I am well aware that we are going to have another season fighting for the top four instead of challenging for the title, and I am also well aware that we are near enough dead certainties to achieve this given that Arsene Wenger is our manager. If the big signings are not available then lets all re-adjust our expectations accordingly and be delighted that our manager has the miraculous ability to guarantee us Champions League football and at the same time earning the club money in the transfer market.
Tom (that transfer budget is only getting bigger, the next few years will be exciting ones for Arsenal fans) Goldenballs
What Is Arsene Really Thinking?
I was thinking, as I watched Arsene struggle and grimace through the post-match interview, that by a quite considerable distance (Moyes definitely leads the remaining field though) he's the Premier League manager I'd pay most to hear what he really, truly thought about things. I almost can't stomach the idea he might tell you that yes, the 40mill+1 bids and Higuain chatter really are designed as good business, conceived to go around in circles until enough season tickets are sold, and that never in your wildest dreams would he pay that much for a football player. Maybe he'd say, 'But do I not have a sense of humour - did I not buy Sanogo?' Maybe he'd explode into a half-hour rant about his sense of a future when Arabs and Russians have tired of their toys, that he really is noble enough to be working to make Arsenal the champions in 2025, when Man City are reinstating Gareth Barry to player-manage them out of League 2. Maybe, which seems as likely as anything, he'd say 'I'm just sick of this whole thing.'
Why Wish Defeat On Your Team?
Mark 'going down like the Forest' Johnson is right that we haven't approached this season in the right manner, repeating mistakes from previous campaigns. I don't think anyone in their right mind would dispute that.
But why would any supporter wish their team to lose any game? This loss to Villa might have severe repercussions in our Champions League qualifiers, which we cannot afford to lose at this point.
How on earth would we attract the best players if we added a Champions League exit to our bad start in the league? Joining Arsenal would be even less attractive and we would say goodbye to our chances of signing the likes of Suarez and Rooney. No doubt, some of our better players would soon start considering leaving for a Champions League team.
If you cut off your nose to spite your face, then what you end up with...is a really ugly face that's beyond repair. So if you want your team to improve then you would hope they win every match, because nobody likes to join a losing team.
Aaron, Singaporean Gooner
Thoughts On Arsenal-Villa After Sleep
The Arsenal-Aston Villa game kicked off around midnight my time on the weekend. I woke to the noise when Giroud knocked in the first of the game. But why was I asleep? Yes, I had understandably nodded off during the Liverpool-Stoke game, but this was my team's first game of the year. Shouldn't I have been more excited?
Therein lies the core issue. I wasn't excited. My team wasn't going to win the league. It's been a while since they were (for an Arsenal fan) entertaining to watch. Their style of play doesn't stimulate the intellect. And it's been a while since I've wanted to share the experience with one or more fellow fans. What is there to talk about when it's groundhog day? If football isn't a bonding experience, a source of pride or a source of entertainment, what purpose does it have?
Towards the end of the game, I felt envious of the Villa fans Whose club narrowly avoided relegation last year and are destined to finish around tenth this year. However, they have some promising players, new signings, a goalie who is substance over flair, a smart manager who cuts a dignified presence on the touchline and fought tooth and nail for a well-deserved win. In contrast, we had only two or three players willing to fight, no new first-team signings (despite the bold talk at season ticket renewal time), Szczesny in goal and a manager who routinely acts like a petulant three-year-old on the touchline.
Wenger's post-match musings were craven. Yes, the ref was shocking, but he was bad for both teams and Villa simply adapted better and outplayed us. And Wenger's comments seemed less concerned with deflecting criticism from the players, as any referee rant should be, than with defending his own mismanagement.
The team clearly needed reinforcements in the summer. That Man Utd didn't strengthen is not a justification - they finished 16 points ahead of Arsenal and nine ahead of their nearest rivals last year and have no glaring weaknesses. For Arsenal, there were and are obvious deficiencies in goal, defensive midfield, playmaker, striker and defensive cover If Wenger is unwilling to address these areas, he should leave. If he is unable to, as he has suggested, he should also leave.
Wenger and the Board must act in the interests of the club and its stakeholders - foremost among them the players, the fans and the owners. Were it not for the majority owner exploiting the club and English football for profit, they would be failing on all counts. Something has to change, and that won't be achieved by another last-minute shopping spree to paper over the cracks.
Lastly, though this argument appears to have ebbed, people cite Wenger's club legend status as a reason for no change. He was and will remain a great man, but he has won seven trophies in 16 seasons (I'm not counting Community Shields). The previous long-term manager, George Graham, won six in eight seasons. Yes, Wenger presided over the construction of the remarkable new stadium but what good is it if you don't reap the rewards? May as well have stayed at Highbury, which saw years of success and had a heart which hasn't been replaced.
Chris Johnson, Brisbane, Australia
...No doubt there are many many angry Gooners in the mailbox this morning. There was a near riot where I was sitting, and this just cannot continue. A few thoughts on a pretty shocking afternoon at the Emirates.
- I'm really not sure what kind of sick world we live in where your first choice LB gets injured. Your second LB gets injured. And then your third choice LB fill-in also gets crocked.
- I've written in (a number of times) about my total contempt for Szczesny. There are some prominent bloggers spouting nonsense about how he is on the verge of being 'world class'; well I think that was safely laid to rest on Saturday. He should be absolutely nowhere near the spot for our club right now. He is, in effect, a perfect example of everything wrong with the club. Pushed into the first team too soon, over hyped beyond belief, and not anywhere close to being good enough.
- I know a lot of bile is being thrown at the ref for his rather 'interesting' performance, but Koscielny had his semi-annual "won a fan prize to play at the Emirates" game on Sat. The second tackle, although not a foul, really was a brainless piece of play when you KNOW the ref is rather trigger happy.
- The third goal was just keystone cop material, and classic Wenger. There's 10 minutes left of the game where there is still time to fix things. Instead we attempt this kamikaze all guns blazing approach with all of our defenders on the edge of the penalty box, who then get caught out with the simplest of blocks and pass to send Villa clean through.
- Ultimately, this was the perfect storm for the absolute shambles that was this Summer. We look rank amateur, delusional, and guilty of negligence of the worst kind. Surely the man who created one of the greatest ever teams in our lifetimes can see the error of his ways and fix this, right?
Sandeep (I'll stick my twitter name here for once - @Sandeep725), London
Chamakh The Bowler?
There was moment in the last ten minutes of the Palace - Tottenham game where Palace won a corner and Chamakh deftly rolled the ball to towards the corner flag like some kind of elite bowls player. Although the Palace player made a cursory move to reposition the ball before taking the corner, it had in fact already stopped in the ideal position.
It made me think that maybe there isn't anything actually WRONG with Chamakh, but maybe football just isn't his sport...
Spurs Need A Spaniard
Absolutely agree with the sentiments of Matthew Stanger regarding Tottenham's performance at Palace. Spurs are slow starters, the amount of times we didn't score in the first half last season was ridiculous and that pattern already looks likely to continue in this one, giving the opposition time to organise and play their way into the game. In games where we run into banks of defenders, the impetus that Lennon offers is largely lost - he has no idea what to do when he can't get beyon dhis man.The answer to this last season was inevitably for Bale to load up and win the game from 30 yards, but with that option lost to us this season (probably), we need someone who can operate with guile in between the lines - Dembele, Capoue and Paulinho are all fantastic centre-midfielders, but, to put it bluntly, they're also obvious.
Basically, we need a (cliche alert) continental type. Whether it's Mata at Chelsea, Cazorla at Arsenal or Silva at City, all our immediate betters bar United have a Spaniard who can produce some magic and create in the final third. When set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation as we were at Palace, we lack this. Sigurdsson, playing behind Soldado, is essentially another goalscoring threat, rather than a creator, and there isn't another option in the squad to play there at present. Unfortunately, bringing in the requisite creativity (Pastore was linked a while back but seems unlikely, Lamela would be great, though is more of a winger) will probably depend on Bale leaving.
On another note, why is it that when there's no obvious outstanding candidate, the man of the match award inevitably goes to the centre midfielder on the winning team? Paulinho looked promising, but hardly deserved the award. Lloris, Vertonghen, Rose and even Capoue were all much more impressive, but for me it was churlish not to give it to Mile Jedinak, who was an absolute beast in the centre. As an Australian who has watched him flatter to deceive for us on the international stage many times, I was doubtful when he was regularly touted as one of Palace's only 'Premier League' quality players, but he absolutely rose to the occasion yesterday.
Max, (SO glad the football is back) Sydney
Referees Are Cowards
Towards the end of the Liverpool v Stoke game game, Stoke probably should have had a penalty when Huth had his shirt pulled from a corner but it wasn't given and BT cut to Mark Halsey who stated that the ref got it right because refs don't want to go looking for trouble.
Is it just me or is this an absolutely disgraceful attitude for the refs to have? A foul is a foul no matter where on the pitch it happens.
The authorities, be it the FA or even UEFA or FIFA, have to start doing something about this. Corners are basically wrestling matches now and seemingly referees don't have the balls to deal with it.
Sam (It was only Northern Ireland eh Fabio?) Newtownabbey
Fanmail For Matt
I read with some amusement Matt (angry young man) AFC, London/Lancaster's emotional 5am email who felt compelled to 'drown his sorrows' following the 3-1 spanking by Villa.
Then young Matt suggested that Stoke could have put five (really?) past Liverpool and that we should re-consider our performance.. Well OK Matt, I've re-considered like you asked. And nothing has changed. Stoke could have put five past Liverpool, and Liverpool could have put ten past Stoke. But they didn't. They put one past them and took all three points in the first game of the season.. It was great, no injuries, no boos, just exciting football and a great game that had me glued to the box for the full 90 minutes..
So now that my re-consideration is done I find myself asking the question 'What was the point Matt was trying to make?' and I realised there wasn't one. He's just sad and sour that Liverpool are not a feeder club like Arsenal. He's sad that Liverpool refused to sell their best player to a rival club.
So cheer up Matt, it's not the end of the world. There are 37 more PL games to go, I'm sure ye'll be challenging for the Champions League qualifier at the end of the season along with Liverpool and Luis..
Dazza LFC (Petitioning to increase the goal size to help Liverpool score more goals)
...Haven't written in for ages, but sometimes some people's ignorance, no doubt generated by a dislike for another team, is astounding. Matt (angry young man), AFC thank you for your message. I understand your anger at the ref in your Arsenal match, and indeed you did not appear to have luck on your side at all.
But, I'm sure there will be other perplexed Liverpool supporters responding to your last few comments. Yes, I have thought on the fact that STOKE could have put five past us. In fact it could have been six, as that was the number of shots they had on target, out of a total of 11 shots, including being the first to hit the woodwork.
But, as requested, I have considered our own performance. 11 shots on target out of a total of 25 against man-of-the-match Begovic, and hitting the woodwork three times. I therefore believe it is reasonable that we won the three points and that any 'online sane-head' would agree that we were not lucky in any way. And that is all. We won at home against a team we would hope to beat, and we are satisfied with that. For an opposing team to have five decent chances in a game is going to happen to most teams in a lot of their games.
We are not shouting from the rooftops that it's a new era, this is our year, blah, blah, blah. Our expectations are, like most supporters at the start of a season, reasonably optimistic and hopeful that things can improve, but accepting that it is not going to be easy and that things can turn against you in no time at all. It's just the first game. Lets wait and see what happens, especially in the games against the big boys.
Worry about your own team (oh, you are) and stop spouting nonsense on others.
Mike Woolrich, LFC
There Is Hope
To all the Arsenal fans who are panicking after the weekend, relax and don't give up hope. Last season Liverpool lost the opening game 3-0, but still managed to turn it around and bounce back to claim 7th, and I reckon you also have the players to achieve that this season.
Filip Korn, LFC
That is All
We have spoken about this before but it seems a combination of ignorance and an influx of newbies has perpetuated the cretinous habit of finishing emails with the infuriating and tiresome 'THAT IS ALL'.
When you finish an email with this overly used, flogged to death and contrived statement you do not make people laugh, instead you make yourself appear to be a massive c**t.