At least he wasn't in Bayern's defeat to Real Madrid, says one chap in the mailbox. Plus, more excitement over Van Gaal at Man United and thoughts on FFP...
Man United fans know who they want to replace David Moyes, with Louis van Gaal the favourite to take over at Old Trafford. Plus, thoughts on Real Madrid v Bayern Munich...
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Arsenal Don't Need To Beat Top Teams
I agree with the overall assertion in W&L this morning that Arsenal need not overreact after a narrow defeat to one of Europe's best sides, and a limp defeat to a £250 million reserve squad (literally).
However, it certainly does give credence to the criticism so far this season that Arsenal, whilst looking good against small teams due to our overwhelming midfield talent, can not beat better teams which can defend adequately and break quickly. Of the 4 'better' teams we have played this season (all at home), we have won 2 and lost 2. Not good, and seemingly a continuation of a theme (last season, in the 10 games against the rest of the top 6, our record was W1 D4 L5, pretty awful). However, accepting that we need to do better against top teams (and Dortmund and Chelsea aren't necessarily evidence that we can't), what really stymied us last season, and in numerous previous seasons gone by, is dropped points under stupid circumstances against smaller teams.
Villa, Southampton, Fulham, Sunderland, Stoke, Swansea and Norwich all took points off of Arsenal last season. Turn those draws and wins into victories and it gives us 16 extra points - enough to win the league (or lose it on goal difference, depending) - despite a crazy 7 losses.
I know this is in many ways a stupid argument - manipulate statistics enough and anybody could win the league. But my point is this - we don't need to beat the big teams. We need to beat the small teams, all the time, and that's what we seem to be better at this season than in those gone by. Don't panic.
Or, Just Beating United Key To The Season
For the last few season's Arsenal were know for dallying around the opposition's area and neglecting to remember to shoot and instead always opting to try a thread-the-needle pass which mostly didn't work. Against the better opposition the results were even worse as the defensive unit was also not as good as the sum of it's parts should have made it. Since about March this year the team have been better organised defensively and the combination of getting rid of some of the disruptive personalities has left a more streamlined squad of team players who all appear to be pulling in the same direction.
This run of good form in the league firstly started at the back by grinding out results but the style of play in the middle and forward thirds of the pitch has also improved as some struggling players have improved and the new players have bedded in well. The point I'm trying to make is that a few years ago Arsenal had all four full-backs injured at the same time and results suffered. Presently all of the wingers, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Gnabry are all out meaning that central midfielders must occupy the wide berths. These players tend to cut inside and the team becomes narrow hence that the recent good results that utilised width and pace will now revert to the tiki-taki around the area.
As Arsenal are about to play three very good teams in a row any negative results will probably be grabbed by the press as Arsenal's inability to perform against the top and in- form teams. I think the reality is that on current form they are capable of beating Liverpool and Manchester United were at least two wingers (not to forget Flamini) fit. Unfortunately they are not and so I forsee a struggle over the next few weeks. People may say that Arsenal don't have a large squad but the depth is there as they have four wingers and only two can play at a time but the injury gods rarely smile on Arsenal these days.
I believe that a win and two draws would be a good return and a win, draw and a loss would not be catastrophic but it is the fine balance of confidence that could be the problem. Even if Arsenal lose against Liverpool and Dortmund I think mentally beating Manchester United is the key to their season.
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
Football Fans Are Fickle...Who Knew?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London's mail is a perfect illustration of the football fan's-but most commonly the Arsenal fan's-double standard. Although a player leaving Arsenal in his prime in search of, you know, trophies and success is a tosspot, a player leaving another club for Arsenal should apparently be welcomed with open arms. Is Giroud any less of a greedy, loyalty-deficient mercenary than Van Persie for leaving Montpellier for the (ever so slightly) brighter lights at Arsenal? Same goes for Cazorla, who was Malaga's best player until you lot poached him.
Hey, I'm all for lobbing stones at the extremely odious human being that is RVP (and I'm Dutch-go figure) but Arsenal fans really do seem to have a complex about this sort of thing. Even the Scousers didn't moan this long after Torres left, and United fans were actually very mature about Ronaldo's exit.
Let it go man, all this cropped up hatred is unhealthy.
The Reverse Midas
"We have started strongly, have put a marker down showing we are going to be consistent and I think we can only get better from here."
I'm sure a lot of people have noticed that as soon as Brendan opens his mouth with stuff like this Liverpool preform pretty badly in the next game. Put your house on Arsenal.
AFC Wimbledon Are An 'Open Relationship'
Naz's e-mail about AFC struck a chord with me, as I also have a big affection for AFC Wimbledon, generally going to a couple games a year.
However, I think myself and many other premier league club supporters wouldn't see it as a "naughty affair", but rather as an open relationship. I've been a Chelsea fan since Wimbledon were in the Premiership, and to lose your football club is a feeling I don't want to imagine, so for me it's been great seeing AFC rise up thanks to the dedication of their fans. So whilst I am not a Wimbledon supporter, I enjoy the atmosphere there and genuinely want them to do well.
My significant other has become kind of a big deal since then and that's fine, because I love her and accept her new suitors, but equally she doesn't ask questions when I spend a few weekends away.
Jimmy (Oxford game was awful) Sham
Your Club's 5-A-Side Team
All this talk from yesterdays mailbox of who to have over RVP, Giroud, Cazorla, Ozil, Fabregas and Nasri etc etc... got me thinking about a 5 aside league.
So, you pick the 5 best players from your team, maybe one sub and who would win a 5 aside tournament. I'll start with my beloved Chelsea.
I would have Cech (obviously), Luiz, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Torres.
Luiz would be good in 5-a-side as he's good on the ball as well as being able to defend (lol). Players like Ramires, Terry, Ivanovic etc miss out as 5 aside is all out attack for me. (maybe that's why we lose so much).
I'm sure everyone has their own, but who would you pick as your 5 and what league position would you realistically say they'd finish?
I'd have ago at Arsenal being pretty decent with their passing and defo give Southampton a shout judging by their recent performances.
T, CFC, London
Just a thought for ex-Rangers player Fernando Ricksen, who it has emerged has been diagnosed with the terminal illness Motor Neurone Disease.
He broke down on television last night when revealing the news.
With all the bad press footballers get (and in many cases deserved), this brings it all home that they are as human and infallible as the rest of us.
I am sure F365 readers will spare a thought for him when supporting their teams at the weekend.
Neymar. He's Good. And He's Young
A bit random but quite incredible, Neymar, 21years old, has 44caps for Brazil.....
And finally... A Friday Game
if you could pick only one player for each position on the pitch - what would that team look like?
I would go for:
A defence of Ivanovics
A midfield of Pogbas
A front line of van Persies
Ivanovic might be a bit weak at left back, but at least he can play centre half or at full back and he provides a goal threat from set pieces. The midfield of Pogbas would be physical, energetic and creative and the van Persies up top would link up well, could hold the ball up when needed and would be clinical on the break.
I wouldn't go for an entire front line of Ronaldos. They either wouldn't pass to each other, or they'd be too busy admiring each other. The front line of Messis would be great, but could they do it on a wet Wednesday at Stoke?
So there you go - now you really can have 'your Rooneys, your Gerrards and your Terrys' if you wanted.
Completely pointless and irrelevant, but whatever. It's Friday!
Mr G, AFC in Bristol