Mignolet's bad kicking is the reason for Liverpool's success, whilst one man keep notes on F365 mails. Plus England excitement, Arteta and a bad Walsall experience...
There are some harsh words for Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini in the Mailbox this morning, as well as some rather nicer ones for Tony Pulis and his magic hat...
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Why Arsenal Fans Aren't Excited
Following the over-reaction to the last two Arsenal defeats it seems strange that there has been the reverse following the victory against Liverpool.
Having read the excellent Winners and Losers - I thought that I would add a few thoughts in explanation about why Arsenal fans are reluctant to view ourselves as genuine title challengers.
Both the 'April. This is Arsenal,' and squad depth concerns are valid. The lack of strength in depth is also an interesting point. The credentials of the team will be tested over the next two months especially as they won't have the opportunity to buy before January where you'd expect some cover to be brought in.
Having said that the cover for injuries so far this year has been impressive leading to the re-discovery of Flamini and elsewhere Wilshire, Carzola, Arteta etc have not being missed and have been able to come back at opportune moments. With the 4 wider options of Walcott, Podolski, Ox and Gnabry out but due to return -it's not all doom and gloom but another center back would be good to offer cover if there are any injuries.
A loan striker from abroad is the perhaps the most likely scenario in January and maybe another purchase based on the injury situation You'd hope so - although recent seasons have seen players bought at the very last minute which given then stakes this would be a risky approach.
I'd say that the April/ it's too early - argument reflects two main concerns one is history and the second linked into that is the way the fixture list has come out. There is still some evidence of a glass jaw ready to be ruthlessly exposed by a savvy opponent both in the short and long term both within a game and a season.
Lapses of concentration such as Jenkinson's recent episode against Chelsea and even more recently against Liverpool (Jordan Henderson was allowed to walk in from the half way line all the way into the penalty area and whilst a lot of credit has rightly gone to Szczesny - his gift to Sturridge was close). It still seems the case that if you stay in the game, sit back and wait for a mistake Arsenal will more often than not duly give you one.
On a wider scale since the Birmingham collapses in the league in 2008 and the league cup final have 2011 have been indicative of an increasing ability to quickly and efficiently get knocked out of any competition by March. More recently this has been followed by a late resurgence to win the 4th place cup. The mentality hasn't been tested yet but we have felt close before only to see things go quickly downhill.
The final point and determining factor seems to be the fixture list. It's been interesting to hear complaints from Moyes Mourinho about this, when arguably two of the toughest away games any English team has to play in the Champions league's toughest group - Dortmund and Napoli - are followed by away trips to Man Utd and Man City and then Chelsea at home.
Many times before Arsenal have turned up to Old Trafford to roll over and let them cruise to any easy win. Chelsea also seem to have the measure of Arsenal and without these games under the belt there is still huge areas of concern.
With all that in mind it is also important to note that there will be a period around March next year when Arsenal look to line up against Spurs, Chelsea and Everton away with Man City at home in between - possibly and hopefully in between some cup games. The squad depth at the moment looks like it could struggle.
It's not a bad position to be in but it's still too early to start thinking about the league.
Andy Badman - Ghana
More Everton v Spurs thoughts
A couple of points on the Everton-Spurs match in response to and in addition to the opinions from this morning's Mailbox..
Firstly, Soldado. How do you solve a problem like Soldado? Which should be framed as - how do you stop Andros Townsend thinking he's Alvaro Recoba? Which is a trite way of looking at the overriding issue with our attacking play this season - ruddy inverted sodding wingers. This is a phenomenon which has existed at White Hart Lane ever since a certain Welsh chap decided that being confined to the left wing wasn't really his bag, which has been inexplicably continued in his absence by his inferior former teammates/replacements. In yesterday's match, messers Townsend and Lennon provided countless examples of how operating on the opposite wing to your strongest foot - unless you're A) extremely two-footed (C. Ronaldo et al.) or B) Pre-loaded with thunderb*stards to spare (Bale) - introduces two restrictions to a team's overall attacking shape - the element of predictability and compression of space.
As a result of both this, Vertonghen being a centre-back playing on the left wing and Kyle Walker (whilst vastly improved defensively yesterday) going through a crisis of confidence which seems to be limiting his charges to the byline, opposition centre backs are able to operate far closer both to one another and two their respective full backs, which messers Distin and Baines did especially well on Sunday, shepherding Townsend into a congested central area on countless occasions. They were able to do this because there was no wide threat coming from our full backs, and because Andros seems incapable himself of doing anything other than letting fly from 30 yards every 30 seconds. I have no doubt that when AVB shapes us into a cohesive attacking unit (which demonstrably takes far longer than the average football fan's patience is willing to stretch) then Bobby Soldier will be able to prove his worth, and our attacking verve will match our defensive parsimony.
Secondly, in response to Joe, AFC, East Sussex, in not overly worried about the time it is taking to work Lamela into the first team. He is a 21 year old learning a new culture and language (which Andre has already stated he is struggling at), and who had to deal with his brother being kidnapped by carjackers within a couple of weeks of arriving. As has been shown by Bale, Modric and Lloris amongst others, it can take over a season for some players to find their feet at Tottenham, and early underwhelming form does not preclude a player from fitting in eventually. AVB handled Lloris exceptionally well despite the press farting their disapproval until he became a permanent fixture in the first team, and I am sure that the same method will bear fruit with young Erik.
Finally, whilst I did wring my hands somewhat at our medical/coaching staff's inability to put their put down regarding taking Lloris off permanently, it did bring to my attention once again a major footballing irritant - illogical booing. As far as I could tell, Everton fans (who I count amongst the best in the Premier League in terms of self-deprecating humour and knowledgeable passion) booed Lloris for having his head nearly (accidentally) caved in. This goes hand-in-hand with Stoke fans booing of Ramsey (don't try to justify it), Chelsea fans booing of Rio & Anton Ferdinand and so on. I'm not trying to points score, as every team does it to some extent, I just despair when it doesn't make any ruddy sense, especially when football fans are eminently capable of levity.
Alex, THFC Manchester ("You're just a sh*t Bradley Wiggins" aimed at Leighton Baines is a good example of the latter. Even he grinned)
...I agreed with Joe, AFC, East Sussex this morning when he said simply signing more attacking players is not going to solve Spurs's lack of cutting edge. Soldado is a proven goal-scorer and we have plenty of other attacking options that should be able to open teams up. The problem is not with the personnel but with the way we play.
If you just looked at the stats from the league you would be forgiven for thinking we were a pretty defensive team. In 10 games we have kept seven clean sheets (earning an impressive 19 points from those games) but only scored nine goals (including three pens) leaving with us with a goal difference of just +4. But I would not have said we were a defensive team. Yes we play with one striker and two deeper midfielders but our full backs always get forward as do the midfielders. We have lots of possession and take loads of shots so its not as if we are not trying to score or aiming to use possession as a form of defense.
For me I think our problems are two fold. First, we shoot from distance far too much. Last year this was not such as issue as we had one of the world's most consistent scorers of thunderb*stards who thumped in many a 30 yard screamer. Townsend et al are simply never going to score from distance with enough regularity for our constant shooting from outside the box to get us the goals that we need.
The second problem I think is that we are too static. Whenever we get the ball in the last third and the opposition gets men back there just are not enough runs off the ball. We don't pull opposition players out of position and create space for other players to attack meaning that often our best and only option is the long range shot. Movement and one touch passing in the final third is something that needs an excellent understanding between players to pull off. The fact that we have so many new players and that our forward line up is always changing from game to game makes this hard to achieve.
I would like to see a settled attack of Lennon (played on the right so we can actually get behind defenses instead of the endless cutting inside and shooting), Lamela and Erikson behind Soldado given a run of games together as Joe suggested. If we are still not scoring goals then perhaps we will need to change systems completely.
Oscar (still, 20 points from 10 games without scoring isn't such a bad return) THFC, Geneva
The FAI Cup Final
Sobering up after watching an excellent FAI cup final yesterday, and it was a bloody exciting game between Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers (my own papa's boys). Thought I'd flag this one up for ye with my quick capsule review of the closing moments... Drogheda struck early, and what followed was a fairly open, frequently frantic, and largely frustrating affair, as the quality on show was rarely high... but entertaining enough.
Then the real fun began. Drogheda had what seemed a legit goal chalked off, and with 12 minutes remaining Danny North struck in a volley to level the scores. With 5 minutes to go Sligo took the lead with a goal surrounded by controversy- Joseph Ndo scooping a freekick over the wall for North to volley home again, twas a lovely goal to watch. But had they asked to take it quickly? Was scooping the ball like that legal? Drogheda's captain complained a wee bit too vociferously and found himself on the receiving end of a second yellow. A goal down, a man down and just a few minutes on the clock, it surely looked like the end for Drogs. But Sligo were soon reduced to ten also, this time due to injury and with all three substitutions having been made.
And as the game went into injury time Drogheda struck an equaliser! Heartbreak... Seriously lads, why is there a gaping hole in the middle of the defence in injury time in a cup final!!! Fair play to the lad, he took it well, slotting home from a flick on. But then the final killer blow even deeper into injury time, A cross into the box chested down by North and a great finish on the turn from Elding. Cue wild (not actually wild at all) celebration from the three, possibly even 4 Sligo fans in the pub
Leave Tan Alone
I'm not usually one to get all sweary on a Monday, but seriously now, can you shut the f*** up with all this Vincent Tan b******s please? Us Cardiff fans are trying to revel in an enjoyable and somewhat unexpected win and it's hard enough to stay positive in the Premier League with out you lot harping on and breeding further negativity within our fanbase.
I genuinely looked forward to reading nice things about the game of FOOTBALL we won yesterday yet all the focus is still on the boardroom. I thought you were a football website?
Rich CCFC, Bridgend
I do wonder what the media reaction would be if Joe Hart got clattered during a world cup game for England, gets ko'd for a bit and then refused to go off to help the team, walking back onto the pitch jelly legged & pie-eyed to make a match winning save.......
I'm pretty sure the newspaper & web pages would be filled with Hart being some kind of demi-god whose blood & guts attitude saved the world
Martyn (Also sure if Harry was still in charge it would have shown us he instilled the bulldog mentality to our French buddies) THFC
Is A Fact Really Fudging?
Whilst Daniel Storey is correct when he stated that Arsenal has gained "25 points from their last 27 available in the league", it is also true to say that have gained 25 from a possible 30....given that they lost their opening game of the season.
I expect readers to start fudging numbers t prove a point but not F365's acclaimed writers (still a great read though).
Owen (F365 since 2002), MUFC
After reading Daniel Storey's Winners and Losers piece, one particular line stuck out. "Steve Bruce isn't paid to be my mate, and he isn't paid to be liked", it said, and I have to say that I couldn't agree with that statement more. Premier League managers are not hired because they entertain the fans or have humorous post-match interviews. What they need to do are make teams win games.
Jose Mourinho is probably the most annoying man you will ever see in your life. But in the footballing world, he's a god because he wins at any club he goes to. Often times, us fans and the media forget that a manager (Andre-Villas Boas) doesn't have to accept that his team have no creativity, and can go on blaming the fans or the mascot or his hairstyle or whatever he wants for his team's troubles. He's not paid to tell the media what he really thinks- he's paid to make his team win.
The bottom line is, it doesn't matter if a manager is smart, funny, or entertaining- if he doesn't win, he's sh*te.
Sam (Dortmund are going to spank Arsenal) Langley, Japan
Regarding the questions about the why's and what's of substitutions I think that it is a question of allocating them equitably for keepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers respectively. Basically, I reckon that various FAs assumed that one substitute keeper would be more than enough while two substitutes each for DFs, MFs, and STs would be appropriate. I guess this has to do with each of those positions being occupied by both central players and wingers (except for strikers who have the traditional number nine and the ten-and-a-half or what have you instead), that is players with considerably different attributes so maybe that was on their mind for not limiting each position to just one player for their sub.
True, different formations require a different set of substitutes. Most of the time, managers use three substitute midfielders to cater for defensive midfielders, wingers and attacking midfielders instead of just two, and leave just one striker on the bench. But the magical number of seven seems to have been chosen with a view to pick a line of best fit for all the different formations that those "wacky" managers could come up with. Thanks for reading my inane ramblings and sorry for the mind-numbing boredom experienced.
Serie A Subs
In Roma's game with Torino they fielded 12 subs to Torino's 9. Is it common in italy to have that many subs? Are there no real rules on it?
Someone tell me!
They really do have options from the bench in Serie A.
Jamie (Attempted Hipster) AFC