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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12 Conclusions on Arsenal v Everton
* Though Arsenal didn't get enough credit for the 1st half. Everton dominated but didn't have a chance.
* Rambo and Wilshere had stinkers. Ramsey definitely needs a rest before the City game.
* Great to see how un-bullied our centre backs were against Lukaku.
* Shame about how Barkley was able to dominate our midfield. I just don't have the superlatives to express how much I rate him. At least I can't see him heading to United any time soon....
* Speaking of which, considering how good Oviedo looks, if I were Everton I'd look to see who'll take Baines for £20 mill. Reckon Utd are that desperate right now.
* Liked Arsene's triple substitution a lot, this is a luxury we now have with our improved squad. Can't wait to add Podolski and Oxlade to our already luxurious bench.
* Despite the more equal stats I felt Everton were much more of a threat 2nd half, especially in that frantic few minutes before Ozil's goal.
* Amazingly intelligent header across goal from Theo. For his time on the pitch he wasn't the outlet I expected, but conducted himself wisely, which is unusual for him.
* For the equaliser both Gibbs and Szsz could have done better. Both of their parts are highly excusable as it was bloody brilliant by Deulofeu. He's the next Iniesta and not far off already. Questions must be asked about how he could have Gibbs isolated. Someone should have stopped the counter, someone else should have dropped in to cancel the threat.
* We could have snatched it late on, and I think should have had a penalty to Jagielka throwing his body in the way of Flamini trying to get to a loose ball. Those one's are never given though.
* Just imagine if the Giroud goal went in. Would have been very unfair on Everton though, 2nd to Dortmund they were the next best team we've played this year. Shame I don't think they can make top 4 this year. City and Chelsea have the resources, Liverpool have Suarez.
* Disappointing from an Arsenal point of view, but the great thing is that when you've got a 5 point lead you can accept those draws. Stifle City to a nil nil and we're set up really nicely. We clearly can the in the league, whether we'll actually do depends on both our head to heads with the big boys, and whether any other team can manage any consistency. Still, onwards and upwards, there's a huge amount to admire about both teams on show today.
James, Gooner in Cardiff
Digging At Gibbs
I hope yesterday put to bed the myth perpetuated by some of my fellow Gooners that Kieran Gibbs is a great left back.
His faults were there for all to see for the Everton goal. Ball watching as the ball came across the goal, not getting out to Deulofeu quick enough when he did get the ball and not shutting him down to block the shot. It was all utterly inept and cost Arsenal 2 points. (I'm not for one moment saying Arsenal deserved the win but when you go 1-0 up in the 80th minute, champions see that out.)
"But he supports the attack so well" is often a retort from the people championing his cause. He's got 1 assist this season and no goals. Everton have 2 left backs in their squad with more goals and assists than that. 1 assist from 42 attempted crosses. What generally happens is he spanks the ball into the defender's legs then stands around or ambles back as the opposition breaks at pace.
On a side note, could anyone confirm this for me - are Arsenal the worst team in the league for heading the ball accurately - every defensive header seems to drop at the feet of an opposition player!
Maybe Whelan has been right all this time. He's always said Martinez was a brilliant manager. Moyes left a good set of his own players behind. But Martinez has seemed to have taken them to another level. I must agree with Arteta that was definitely the best team I've seen Arsenal play this season. I think a point against the team that has beaten both Chelsea and united, and taken points off Liverpool and Spurs and only 1 loss to their name is a good result.
Would like to see how Martinez will do when he has to start replacing some of the players he had inherited.
Tobi, Gooney Boy, London
The Now Customary Moyes Out Mail
I am diehard United Fan, and given the current circumstances I can't wait for Mr Moyes to part ways with us, lets face the facts here, the dude is failing. Records are being broken since his arrival.
His team selection sucks most of the times. Fergie had success with the same players he's got, why is he failing to cook a winning combination? Until when must we wait to see better results coming in? I say MOYES OUT.
So, here's a question for Man United fans, after 15 games which one of the following statements is most worrying?
You are 13 points behind an Arsenal team which have started the season very well.
You are 8 points behind a Liverpool side which have started the season very well.
You are 8 points behind a Chelsea side who have spluttered a bit this season.
You are 7 points behind a City team who can barely pick up points away from home.
You are 6 points behind an Everton team who have started the season very well.
You are 5 points behind a Spurs side who can't attack and only shoot from 30 yards.
You are 4 points behind a team managed by Alan Pardew, who have started the season very well.
You are a point behind a Southampton team who are only in their second year back up. And they deserve to be ahead of you.
Genuinely interested. Would personally say, in terms of the title race the Arsenal and City statements should be. Generally I would say the Spurs and Newcastle statements. Thoughts?
Mark, Cambridge (2 points off playoffs - nose bleed time for us Tractor Boys!)
Is Moyes Fearful Of Fergie?
I know you'll get a lot of United traffic over this week, but I've been mulling over this for too long and need to get it out of my head. I think the main reason for United's faltering start could possibly be Moyes' fear of insulting Fergie. We all know what Ferguson did for United and what he meant to the sport in general, no-one needs reminding of that, but I think there is almost too much respect for the man. I will always regard him as the greatest of all time, but that mantle and reputation shouldn't stand in the way of Moyes stamping his own mark on this United team.
Coming in and changing the backroom staff is one thing, almost considered natural for new managers now to bring in the staff they feel familiar with, but I think Moyes is actually scared of changing the team (Fellaini was desperation rather than careful planning). We all know the United midfield hasn't been at the standard required for years now, but Fergie still won titles with it and was far too stubborn/arrogant to admit he had let United down by not replacing Keane or Scholes. In doing so he has essentially left Moyes a cast of actors that all won Oscar's for the original because of the directing rather than the performing, and then left before the sequel. If Moyes starts his tenure by selling Anderson and Young as well as loaning out Cleverley in order to bring in top-level replacements as we all want him to do, he is essentially simultaneously saying "Fergie your team isn't good enough" and "I as a manager am not good enough to achieve with these players".
In order for Moyes to do right he basically has to say, literally or otherwise, that Fergie did wrong. Which is something that no-one would expect him to do, especially with the old gaffer still being part of the club's infrastructure, but I think it's exactly what Moyes need to do. Everyone respects Fergie for his accomplishments and his legacy, we get that, but I would respect Moyes a lot more if he showed the backbone to put results and performances ahead of niceties and remaining bessie mates with Ferguson. I bet the remaining players would respect him a lot more too.
Ben (Powell looks better than Cleverley) Gleeson, Cardiff
The Alternative Isn't Tearing It Up
I seem to remember - around the time that Moyes was named as the recipient of Fergie's poison chalice - quite a few, mainly Man U fans, fretting that Chelsea would walk to the title this season unchallenged. Chelsea are still in with a realistic chance of the title but I think it is fair to say that the predicted annihilation has failed to materialise.
Of course, Chelsea are only 5 points off the pace, but surely with the squad at his disposal, Mourinho's season would be seen as competent rather than conquering. Anyway, seeing as Jose seems to have lost a little of his shine since his first visit to England, I was wondering how many Man U fans would still swap Moyes for Mourinho without question, or if many feel, as I do, that even with Moyes, they dodged a bullet missing out on Mourinho.
Jeff Sims, Melbourne
Spurs' Christmas List
Following Paul McCole's Liverpool Christmas list, here's the note I have written to the gravel-voiced Spurs boss in green pen with some of the letters back to front.
Dear Mr AVB,
1. No more inverted wingers. Why buy a striker who has scored most of his career goals on the first touch, then deprive him of balls from the byline?
2. Lock Kyle Walker in a room and don't let him out until he can pass a ball accurately from 5 yards away.
3. Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen to eat only horse placenta over the festive period (hide it in mince pies if you have to).
4. Send SandroBeast out to mark Luis Suarez next week with the instruction: 'Only one of you comes back.'
5. No more ganja for the boys before big games. Or at least not the strong stuff.
6. Luke Shaw.
7. Also, could you come to my birthday party at Garfunkels please. My friends would think I was really cool. I'll let you play with my Optimus Prime action figure (not a euphemism).
Rob Davies, THFC (Steffen Freund dressed as an elf...shudder)
Chelsea Should Be Favourites
I've been banging on about this for some time now and feel like no one's mentioning it so I need to turn the world's largest forum to air my views.
I've grudgingly accepted that Arsenal are in fact quite good this year. The fact that the other usual suspects at the top of the table can't seem find any form surely helps their status as league leaders but consider:
* In 15 games, Arsenal are 11-2-2 but only 6 games came against opponents in the top half of the league.
* In their 6 games against the top half they are 3-1-2, which isn't bad but all 3 wins were against Liverpool, Spurs, and Southampton--not the traditional top four--and were all home games. For top half teams they've faced away, they've only had Manchester United, a game they lost.
* City is in a similar position. They've played 7 against the top half and are 4-1-2 but all those wins came at home and they've lost 2 of their 3 away matches against top half opposition.
* Liverpool are 2-2-2 but are erratic; they beat United at home but lost away to Southampton and Arsenal. However they've also only had 2 home games of those 6.
* Compare this with Chelsea, who are 5 points off the top: they've played 7 teams in the top half and went 3-2-2, but have already faced Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham, and Newcastle away from home.
Now look, I understand that teams can only win the games put in front of them and at the end of the season everyone will have played each other home and away and all that. But if stereotypes are to believed, Arsenal struggles when the weather turns and Mourinho churns out 1-nils at home through the festive period and spring. More objectively, Chelsea has had a tougher schedule and can look forward to welcoming their title rivals to the Bridge.
In short, I predict the title is tipping Chelsea's way despite their recent form. As a Spurs fan this doesn't bring me any joy either, but I want to get this in a few months ahead of the hand-wringing "what's suddenly gone?" letters from myopic Gooners and point out that champions grind out results against good opposition away from home, something their team hasn't had to do yet. It's better to be top of the table with a 5-point cushion than not, but I suspect that gap will be gone by Feb 1--and there's a small matter of a four-week period starting mid-March where they face Spurs, Chelsea, City, and Everton with 3 of those games away, not to mention the tough Champions League fixtures that will be piled on. Those who have been claiming that Arsenal are title favorites might have been just a wee bit premature.
Trent, New York
Make Football Chants Using Local Bands
You know the song now, whoever you may support, Crystal Palace rocked it to good effect on opening day, Tamworth Town used it to welcome Bristol City in the FA Cup, United fans have sung it for the last couple of months, I heard it at Arsenal the other week, Cardiff sung like they invented it last weekend, Spurs, Sunderland, Derby, Wolves... In every ground you'll hear a version of that same song, it's spreading like a plague. It was cool for about a week until everyone ripped it off and now it keeps me awake at night monotonously repeating through my tired brain.
Why are we so bad at generating our own chants? why are we so good at nicking them from others? I'm embarrassed for us all, how unimaginative us fans must appear. Can we please try harder. No shame if you can't find something really clever and obscure, how about you identify a half decent band from your area, go through their albums, find a catchy chorus and twist the words to your needs. It's the UK, you can hardly go 5 miles without finding a band that appeared in the charts. Even the crap ones have the odd catchy chorus or two. If we all lay claim to bands in our area, we'll see the end of the use of the same 5 songs by every club in the football league. Apologies if your club already has a unique set, or if they started one of these ubiquitous chants. With a league or cup game on TV pretty much each night of the week it's be nice not to hear the same drone, and could done wonders to the atmosphere and entertainment.
Austin Maguire, MUFC
Group G Is The Group Of Death?
Ok, I haven't read that much about the World Cup draw from Friday, so I may have missed the meeting that decided which is the Group of Death. However, I have determined my own. Using the raw power of mathematics I've devised a simple points scoring system to work out which is the dreaded Group of Death. Looking at the current FIFA world ranking, if I add together the rankings of each team from each group, then each group will be given a score. The lowest score is the dreaded Group of Death. Employing this method sees... wait for it... Group G as the Group of Death.
Germany - 2
Portugal - 5
Ghana - 24
USA - 14 (ha ha, but still)
This give a total of 45, which is 12 scarier than England's Group D, which is second place. Therefore England are just in the Group of Severe Pain. Belgium are in the Group of Fluffy Bunnies and Ice Cream with 113.
Also, while we're on the subject, we could use the same principle in determining which shows get shown first on Match of the Day. I.e. top of the table clash (say Arsenal vs Liverpool) gives a score of 3, which means the game definitely gets shown first.
And while we're now still on this slightly newer subject, there's been a lot of discussion about how rubbish the quality of the analysis is on MOTD because they have around 74 seconds to talk about each game (that's the excuse anyway). Has it not occurred to anyone to extend the length of the show to allow us more discerning viewers a greater chance to appreciate fine analysis? Just a thought.
Pantillimon Goes Up In Our Estimation
Based on the game at St.Mary's on Saturday Costello Pantillimon deserves to keep his place in the Citeh goal. Not because of his performance which was solid enough but because after needlessly shanking the ball out for a throw the Saints fans chanted "are you Joe Hart in disguise?".
His response was to turn round to the fans behind him and pretend to wash his hair in a 'head and shoulders' style. Good lad. I like him and his bantz.
Jon Tucker, Southampton
Listening to the commentary on match of the day for the Man U v Newcastle match, when Cabaye scores the winner the commentator states "It got a deflection there, did that help or hinder De Gea?"
Given that it was a goal, I'd wager it didn't help De Gea much.