That's the advice from a Liverpool fan who knows a thing or two about joshing from rival fans. Plus, Andy Townsend as eye candy and answers to Martin's question...
Yes, that means we have some cracking mails on Andy Townsend. We also have a selection of the dozens of retorts from Gunners to a Liverpool fan and much more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Ozil Is Key For Arsenal
Dave, LFC, New York, I don't know which Arsenal you saw last season, but if you think we're engaged in a game of "let's see how many attacking midfielders we can shoehorn into our team" I suggest you consult an optician. Jack Wilshere is a box to box midfielder, not a no.10, as illustrated by his 3 assists last season. Cazorla, much like Silva, works much better starting left and drifting in. The only player Arsenal have who can play behind the strikers with any sort of conviction is Tomas Rosicky and he's 32 and made of plasticine.
Arsenal failed to score more than one goal in around half of their games last season, yet had the second best defence in the league. When Arsenal needed to go on a long unbeaten run to scramble for 4th place, they did it by adopting a cautious, defensive, almost George Graham-esque approach. They didn't do that because they're littered with diminutive playmakers. This isn't the Arsenal of 2004, 2006 or even 2010 anymore. It's time to drop the stereotype. (Next you'll be telling us that Arsenal's season was derailed by their dislike for playing bogey team Bolton).
Arsenal regularly used to take the pitch with Pires, Bergkamp and Henry, all at or near to the top of the assist charts. 3 years ago we had Cesc, Nasri and Arshavin in the same starting XI. Prior to Ozil we only had Cazorla, that was it. That was why we couldn't beat big opponents, because it was easy for them to double mark him and voila! You've cut off all of the service to Arsenal's strikers- Podolski, Walcott and Giroud don't magic chances for themselves out of nothing, they need to be played in behind.
I don't doubt Arsenal could do with another CB and the pursuits of Suarez, Higuain and ultimately Demba Ba tell you we need another striker too. But these are arguably issues of squad depth. We never replaced Cesc and desperately needed a playmaker like Ozil for our starting XI, there's nobody in our squad like him. That we got a playmaker of the quality of Ozil is just a (huge) bonus.
Tim Stillman (for what it's worth, Sagna is actually a pretty good centre half too).
Arsenal's Defence Is Grand
Kudos to Dave, LFC, New York for pointing out the glitch in the Arsenal hive mind. We'll get right on it. Something seems to have gone wrong and it's almost as if different people are having different opinions and expressing them at different times.
While we're at it, could you tell all Liverpool fans that they need to brush up on their reading comprehension? Yes, Ozil is a better player than Flacao and Cavani. Dave seems to have misunderstood what Matt Stanger said so I'm assuming that's the case for all Liverpool fans. That's how it works isn't it?
Last year Arsenal had the second best defence in the league. Bacary Sagna has proven himself a very capable stand-in centre half and allows us to give Carl Jenkinson some valuable play time. Oh the ignominy.
SC (Won't somebody think of the children), Belfast
...In response to Dave,LFC,New York's mail about fickle Gooners, I would like to ask you which Arsenal fans think this is the best transfer windows ever? I for one do not know a single one. Some issues remain unsolved in the team, but signing what many consider to be one of the top 3 playmakers in the world is nothing to scoff at. Sometimes you need a player that give the team a lift in terms of both talent and spirit. At the age of 24, Ozil ticks way too many checkboxes for Arsenal.
I digress though, What I am really worried about is the trend that says that teams should have two top quality players for every position. While this works in theory, it isn't really realistic. Having Vermaelen, Mertesacker and Koscielny with Sagna as backup is nowhere near as bad as people will have you believe. What happened to having some youngsters getting their chance in case of injuries?
Finally, I would like to dispel the myth that Arsenal have defensive problems. Arsenal conceded the 2nd least goals and had the 3rd highest amount of clean sheets in the EPL last season. So far this season, Arsenal has conceded a grand total of 4 goals in 5 games with 3 goals coming in a single game. Given this, I would like some explanation to what exactly the issues with the Arsenal defence are.
Tobi, AFC, Toronto
...I'm sure this will be covered with greater eloquence, however in reply to Dave, LFC, New York, I don't think Arsenal fans are being fickle about the Ozil transfer (Well some are, but there's always a few). All along Arsenal have needed a creative midfielder the most as Cazorla has always been more of a winger (that drifts a lot) and Arsenal have played their best when he has been on the wing with Rosicky as a number 10, as Wilshere isn't really a number 10 this leaves only Cazorla as cover to Rosicky, and a front three of Podolski, Giroud and Walcott are far too direct when Cazorla (the only real creative force in the team) gets marked out of the game. Ozil should solve this problem by providing more goal threat than Rosicky and providing additional depth to the position
Arsenal's defence is fine, as proved by last seasons record, the problems were a lack of attacking threat when defending deep and any injury to Arteta. Arteta dictates play and sits back to prevent a counter attack, Arsenal's other midfielders all have a tendency to bomb on so even though they could do a job, they'd be open on the counter, this is solved by Flamini, tackles, sits back, organises the midfield. Although underwhelming it's exactly the type of cover Arsenal needed, and he can cover the full-back positions too.
Considering Arsenal brought in an experienced keeper too, the only major disappointment was the lack of striking cover but hopefully Sanogo will shape up to look the part. An extra defender would have been good, but Sagna is a more than able 4th choice centre back (despite what Dave says) with Jenkinson and Flamini as cover.
Too long; didn't read - The purchase of Ozil solves a lot of offensive problems, the squad is quite shallow, but not to the extent that people make out, Arsenal's defence is fine~ish.
Peter (It should be fine as long as injuries stay away from a single position, unlike the great full-back crisis)
Simple Answer: No
I know you don't normally try to encourage endless discussion of your Winners & Losers section due to it's subjective nature but I feel your inclusion of Arsenal in the Winners section a bit strange. I understand Arsenal fans will be over moon with the Ozil signing (until they get an injury to one of their strikers/centre halves) but the list was about *teams* who have done well in the window... and I just can't see how they've made the cut.
Matt Stanger himself states that Arsenal "still have problems", "the squad as a whole still looks short" and the team is "stunted by the lack of reinforcements in other areas"... if only there was a transfer window allowing them to address these issues. Of course there was, and they didn't. But they're 'winners'?
Matt's arguement seems to rest soley on the fact that the signing of Ozil was unexpected. Unexpected because it is the opposite to what Arene Wenger normally does in the transfer window. So has Wenger's policy changed... or was he simply forced into going agaist his morals due to pressure from the press and the fans (and by Ivan's earlier comments about their war-chest)?
If Newcastle has done a deadline deal and brought Gazza out of retirement paying him £200k a week would they have made it onto the winners list on the basis that the deal was a surprise?
Paolo, fridges>TVs, ACF Fiorentina.
B+ For Effort
Can I just complement Tom, London (Moyes for Rogers, lads ?) on his analogy. Man Utd's transfer window has indeed been a bit of a slow-motion car crash; slow-motion of course, allowing you to see (and in your case, relish) something that momentarily goes wrong in some detail. It is, of course, an interesting contrast to the time-lapse photography of Liverpool's mediocrity, which some of us have been enjoying for 20-odd years; time-lapse, of course, allowing you to see (and in my case, relish) something that goes wrong over a life-time.
Ben, (We did look like utter chumps though, I will admit) London
No Way He Sent All That In A Text
To Steven, LFC
You sent all that in one text message, but felt the need to shorten "because" to "bcos"?
Fr Gds Ske .
On United Switching Tictacs
Any team with attack minded full backs and mediocre wingers will, at some point, be advised to revert to a 3-5-2. It seems to make sense - your wingers aren't pulling their weight and the fullbacks contribute more going forward than in defence, so take out the wingers, push the fullbacks on, put in a third defender to cover the gaps and bang, a more rounded team AND an extra player to put in midfield/attack.
Sounds great. Isn't.
The problem is that 3-5-2 struggles against teams set up in a fluid 4-3-3, due to the overload of CBs and the chasms on the flanks. For Utd this might not be a problem against the 'lesser' teams, but certainly would be in the big games where tactical decisions often make the difference. Would any of you fancy lining up against Chelsea in a crucial late season title decider with three centre backs uselessly clustering round Torres and Rafael left alone to cover an entire flank against Hazard and Cole?
Any strong team will ruthlessly expose this weakness. You can get your outside centre backs shuttling across to help cover the gaps but this requires mobile CBs and also Cafu-esque full backs, neither of which Utd have. The only team who are able to make a 3-at-the-back look reasonable are Barcelona, and it only works for them because their attackers are good enough that the defence is rarely even tested (and on the odd occasions when it is they crumble, see Bayern).
Finally, Rooney when paired with another striker usually ends up dropping deep and in this formation he'd end up getting in Kagawa's way all the time and being no use to anyone (insert your own joke here).
In summary, this formation would make Utd look amateurish and confused, so they'll probably give it a go.
Jon Gibson LFC
Pardew Is The Problem
Just wanted to offer a quick response to the optimistic Geordies writing extolling the virtue of their squad.
Newcastle's issue is not with their team. Their first 11 is more than capable of finishing in the top half. The problem, as F365 pointed out, is the manager. Pardew has a habit of causing teams to regress. He came into the Newcastle and did well on the back of Chris Hughton's good work and the excellent January transfer business last season papered over the cracks, creating optimism despite poor performances. He did the same thing at West Ham, having a very good season while riding a wave of confidence generated by the play off promotion (credit where it's due). The following season West Ham were dire and he got sacked. At Charlton his record was awful too, resulting in his sacking with the club in the bottom 3.
His default response to a tough game or poor performance is the long ball tactic and now Ashley has lumbered a side with great potential with a sub par manager for the next 6 or 7 years unless he's willing to take another financial hit. Add in the whole bizarre Kinnear scenario and you have a club that needs the kind of common sense approach that Hughton had offered all along.
Until Pardew goes, Newcastle will struggle.
Since we all agreed that Dortmund are now too hip and are now in fact square, who is going to take their mantle as the hipster's choice?
Early contenders for me are Spurs; (young manager, great "in the know" signings, lovely kit), and Napoli; (great signings, a manager "who has always been excellent" and a lovely kit).
What say you mailboxers?
Also, where are all the United fans who in the summer were singing the praises of Januzaj as the saviour of United's midfield? Fellaini is a very good signing, as is Zaha, who has only just arrived too. 30million for Ander Herrera would have been a massive gamble.
No Worries For England
In reply to Luca James Sparks; Jack Wilshere isn't an attacking midfielder who'll be in direct competition with Ozil. Just because he's the next great hope for England, people infer that means attacking.
Watch him play. Where he's best is dominating the centre circle and turning defence into attack. I'd liken his position on the pitch to Modric.
Currently i'd have Rooney play that role that you have earmarked for Wilshere; Cleverley can do-one until he puts in consistent performances for his club.
Also, I'd say the man who should be most worried about Ozil's arrival at Arsenal is the man who was so quick to issue a press statement about how "excited he is about playing alongside Ozil", ie. Walcott. He couldn't have got that statement out to the press any quicker! But Walcott hasn't progressed as a footballer in 6 years, so the net impact of Ozil's arrival on the England team will be zero.
Gary (FF is a nightmare this year) McClean
Pleased With Fellaini
Whilst I remain morosely sure that Fellaini's acquisition presages an outbreak of long-ball fever at Old Trafford, as Moyes manfully takes up the baseball cap of hoofball left vacant by Tony Pulis, there is a merit to getting Fellaini.
Firstly, he can't be any worse than the alternatives. TClevz is efficient and tidy, but doesn't offer enough to justify a place as one of a double pivot, and is a joke defensively. Anderson is fat, and Jones doesn't offer enough offensively. Herrera would have been wonderful (he was excellent against United in 2012), and I hope the rumours of a January or summer 2014 bid are sustantiated, but Fellaini should be a reasonable shield for Carrick, and foil for Kagawa.
Secondly, Fellaini has been signed on potential as much for what he offers in the short term. Despite looking like a relic from a Don Revie side in the '70s, and having suspect passing, Fellaini has shown flashes of real talent. Yaya Toure was widely thought to be over-priced and lacking finesse when bought from Barca, and has confounded expectations when given a different role, in which different talents are required. Fellaini has shown enough technique and intelligence to suggest he can similarly refine himself.
Also, what was needed this window was a stellar attacking midfielder. Kagawa is wonderful (really, he is), but otherwise the cupboard is bare, particularly on the wings. United have a congerie of one-footed mediocrities, converted strikers, green youngsters, Nani, and a geriatric. Given van Persie and Hernandez' chance conversion rates (they're extraordinary, they really are), what United need is a player to complement Kagawa and Nani, pose a goal threat, create chances, and (like Kagawa and Nani), be able to play on both feet and beat a man on either side. For whatever reason, Hazard chose Chelsea in 2012, and Fergie didn't pursue Oscar or Mata, and United's goal threat has contracted to van Persie, and from set pieces.
The best European teams typically have goal threats from across the front 3 or 4: Barca, Madrid and Bayern all play attacks in which every player is a genuine creative and goalscoring threat, and Chelsea have a fearsome battery of attacking midfielders. United, at their best, had Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney, Nani, and Berbatov. This allows them to pin the opposition fullbacks back, diminish the ability of the opposition to press higher up, and therefore gives their midfield space to create. Nani, whatever his faults, does pin his full-back to the defence, and he and Kagawa alongside another decent attacking midfielder (Ozil, Willian, Lamela, Eriksen, and Ljajic all moved) would improve United hugely across the pitch.