Plenty of fall out from Manchester United's shambolic 4-0 League Cup defeat, plus thoughts on Van Persie, Arsenal strikers, Benik Afobe, Celtic and Astroturf...
A couple of Spurs fans have broken rank to admit that they are bloody excited about things down the Lane. Plus Glen Johnson, Arsene on strikers and Moreno...
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One Cup Final Conclusion
I think there's pretty much 1 conclusion from that final. Money = Success.
Weekend Musings For Di Mailbox
* Well done Degsy for the "you get me blud?" line. It made me chuckle.
* Saying that, he had a mare of a weekend. One tip came through (Spurs to be leading after 30 mins) and even that was a near-miss.
* If Saturday was anything to go by, March is gonna be a long old month for Arsenal.
* Jack 'ASBO' Wilshere seems to have channelled the the persona of Vinnie Jones and is intent of clattering everything in sight.
* Like most people outside of west London, I can't stand Chelsea but in Eden Hazard they have one of the best players in the world. He is the only threat to Suarez for player of the year.
* Pardew was stupid and over-reacted. It wasn't a real headbutt but it was more the intent. Having said that, the Hull player pushed him for no reason and deserved some sort of retaliation. A backhand maybe. Pushing a manager who didn't have the ball and was shouting orders to his team was out of order. Hopefully the s**t-storm won't last and people will realise that Robbie Savage and co are hypocritical idiots.
* Chris Hughton probably won't last the season. Even if he does, he will be gone in the summer. Likeable but maybe a bit too nice? Hence the lack of fight in the Canaries.
* Fergie says Moyes "needs more time". While I am well past the point of finding United's situation funny, I will still happily endorse this suggestion. Which means my final point will be against the common theme of the mailbox this season...
* MOYES IN!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rich Pryce (almost daring to dream) LFC
...- Like presumably all Palace fans, I was delighted when Glenn Murray scored his first Premier League goal. It might not have seemed like much, but the man with the best nickname in English football was so instrumental in the Glaziers' promotion last year, so for him to be injured in the play-offs and miss most of his first Premier League season was cruel. Glad to have him back, anyway, although it is bizarre that Cameron Jerome is ahead of him in the pecking order.
- Swansea fans - you may feel the penalty was a bit harsh, but if it's any consolation the only person more upset about it than you is Adrian Durham, who started a campaign last season to stop the Glaziers getting any more penalties.
- Why do commentators and pundits insist, following incidents such as Alan Pardew earning himself an expensive rest, that "no one likes to see that sort of thing", when almost everyone wants to see these things? I don't mean see them more regularly, I mean when something like the Pardew headbutt happens, we want to actually see it so we can make up our own minds as to how awful it really is.
- While I never ever want to think of Robbie Savage as a voice of reason, he did have a point about the timing of the incident on the likely punishment. Pardew is, according to Savage, facing a ten-game ban - if this transpires to be correct, the uncharacteristically valid point from Savage is that with Newcastle have 10 league games left, no cup competitions, and are effectively coasting to the end of the season assured of where they'll finish. If ever there was a time a team could be left to autopilot for a quarter of a season, this is probably it.
- Savage chose 10 games based on the reasoning that Paul Ince got a five-game stadium ban. Quite how Pardew's one headbutt is twice as bad as repeatedly calling the fourth official a c**t and threatening to knock him out, isn't clear.
- Usually when we're all hoping for football to be on its best behaviour, we can rely on Pardew to let us down through extreme anger. His shoving the linesman has been mentioned elsewhere, but it happened because he thought he should have had a throw-in - not a goal, or a penalty, but a throw-in. It should also be pointed out that this was the first day of the season straight after the Olympics, and a slew of tiresome "why oh why can't footballers behave like Olympians" pieces. Prior to that, on the day Gary Speed died, we were rightly told by the football media that this was a time for putting things into perspective. In the first minute of the subsequent Match of the Day 2 highlights package, we were treated to the image of Pardew, purple in the face from shouting at a defender who had fallen over and conceded possession. If anyone is going to overreact to anything, ever, it's probably Pardew. If he can't get another management gig when his Newcastle contract expires, he can always write for a tabloid newspaper.
- Good on David Meyler for staying on his feet like a British player rather than clutching his face and writhing on the floor like a dirty cheating foreign.
Ed Quoth the Raven (I know Meyler is Irish, it was a joke), CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
Weekend Thoughts Of A Chelsea Fan
* Dear dear Jose, probably along with Fergie one of the best motivators in the game. From "he spoke for 10 seconds" to "I chose silence" Jose managed to motivate the boys after a painful first half at Craven Cottage.
* Andre Schurrle had a nightmare first half (did anyone see that free-kick go into the stands - ridiculuous) to an amazing second half (he is probably our best finisher based on evidence).
* Talking about Schurrle's finishes, why isn't Nando making such runs to receive the ball? At least the first two goals looked strikers' instincts from Andre. Reminded me of Nando of his heydays.
* Oscar had a much decent outing compared to his recent performances. In fact the only times during the first half when we looked fluid was when Oscar came to midfield and with his amazing one-twos, we looked like building from the back. Though his final balls during such moves were disappointing, there was some evidence on his fluidity in our squad. I hope Jose saw those flashes and integrates it as a part of our game to build from the back (which we're not quite good at as of now)
* Nando must've scored from that amazing cross from Hazard. Cant believe he missed it!
* I must also applaud Felix, for Fulham were the more aggressive hungry side in the first half. Heck, even the last team in the division wants to press and win the ball and be aggressive (David Moyes, this is a shot at your team's performances). Pity they'll most likely go down barring a miracle.
* On Pool's game, I earlier wrote an email applauding Brendan Rodgers for what he's done to pool (after the Arsenal game, which went unpublished), and I write again saying the same. Make no mistake, of all the teams in the world and given the nature of some of the fans of that club, I would wish them to never win the title again but what BR has done is highly respectable.
* On seeing the diamond midfield (which if you have the apt players can help (a)build from the back (b) counter attack at will (c) prevent opponent from counterattacking, contact Jonathan Wilson for more details), I knew pool'd win the game and I chose to sleep than watch the game (the game was at 11pm Indian time), with no disappointment with the result come morning. Brendan is proving to be tactically astute in setting up his teams.
* I want Pool to finish top four at least so that we can see their lovely football and atmosphere in Europe again (Rather than watching Moyes' get it wide, boot it to the center football).
Aravind, CFC, Chennai (Come on you Blues, we have more points at this stage than in 09-10, let's win the title)
Shush Arsenal Fans, You Ingrates
Dear Kireca (and the multitude of others who share your gloom),
Please buzz off. You support a team which plays outstanding football and every year is there or thereabouts. They probably won't win the league this year. But there's always next year. And the next. And the next.
You do not support Spurs, or Everton, or Newcastle, or Ipswich, where being good, but not quite good enough one season is the end of the line - regression to the mean kicks in and next season you're nowhere. This is not the lot of the Arsenal fan. The loss of your best player (Fabregas, Henry, RVP in recent seasons) does not doom you to a return to mediocrity (Bale and Cabaye, this season alone, show how damaging that can be to a less fortunate team).
At the start of the season, and even for much of the run at the top, no one expected Arsenal to hold off the financial juggernauts for long. Yes it's been a barren run, but cup competitions are, to use a description applied to baseball play-offs, a crapshoot. Over six matches (for the FA Cup), random effects are oversized. The same is more true over individual games. So your 'prescience' about Ozil missing a penalty, or Arsenal losing to Stoke, is nothing more than morbid pessimism.
Arsenal fans should be upset by a lifeless display against Stoke but the whining and moaning at every setback is obscene. Arsenal fans follow one of the only teams where the answer to the questions "are we going to be up there this year?" and "are we going to be up there NEXT year?" are always yes. That is a privilege, and it is Wenger's true legacy to this bunch of ingrates. Ask Southampton, Newcastle or even United how much jolly fun it is in that midtable minileague and whether joint second with ten to go being 'typical Arsenal' is a cause for despair.
Giroud: Not Good Enough
I noticed in a few forums that I frequent a bemoaning of the performances of Podolski, Rosicky and Wilshere on Saturday. That might not be the case here but I felt I should write in nevertheless.
Firstly, how are people not understanding that Giroud is pointless? He's been at Arsenal for long enough that now we are all pretty sure that he's reached the maximum of his ability, and from this point on will offer nothing but;
- a tap-in here and there
- a flick-on here and there
- a long-range shot that looked good and makes people second-guess their criticism of him
Why do people insult the supporting cast when the main striker is incapable of doing anything significant? Özil was close to crowning at Madrid and at Arsenal he's lacking. Santi Cazorla was being praised week in week out for his performances at Malaga and Villareal but at Arsenal he only contributes in inconsistent patches. Rosicky is a Dortmund legend, having won titles and such there but at Arsenal he's nothing more than a fringe player (granted he's 33). Then Jack Wilshere, who in my opinion could be the best midfielder in England, is frustrated just 20 minutes into a match (this was on Saturday).
Do people not understand that the striker is an integral part of the team? Özil is leading in chances created and yet is slated for not doing enough. There is a clear problem here: Olivier Giroud.
He's quite simply not good enough. He's unproven himself many times yet Wenger sticks with him for I don't know what reason. Bendtner in one season, I'm not sure which, had similar numbers to what Giroud has now and was dropped from the line-up. Now Giroud has similar numbers and the only reason he gets dropped from the line-up is infidelity (breaking curfew)? Then the highly unproven Sanogo starts ahead of Nicklas.
I've had enough, I could go on but we're going to beat some easy team, fans will get deluded, then some big side will dismantle us and people will complain. There's an obvious cycle.
Joshua, South Africa
It's Okay To Celebrate Good Luck
In response to Daniel (Hazard and Handballs) on the penalty Arsenal vs Stoke etc.
No need to get annoyed at Walter's fist pump. You have to celebrate good luck along with bad. Someone I know recently took up the beautiful game and got their first goal as a cross gone wrong - kicked it straight at the keeper who fumbled it into the goal. They were a bit sheepish - I pointed out to them there will be times they do everything right - hit a sublime shot and see it cleared off the line ect - so don't be sheepish celebrating the times it goes your way, as anyone who plays knows - there are times it doesn't.
Also don't think you need to worry about players aiming for hands - doing a Lampard (hitting it hard and hoping for a deflection) sure, but a hand is a very small target that can be moved easily - the goals on the other hand...
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide
Call That A Headbutt?
I'm a Newcastle fan, I didn't watch the game at the weekend, was expecting us to lose to be honest, checked the internet, Oh lordy, he's done what? When I read the match reports was expecting a Yosser Hughes/Begbie effort, a Zidane moment of madness or even a Duncan Ferguson type effort. After seeing it was all a bit embarrassing, for everyone but especially for a man in his fifties. Obviously he should know better, I am in no way defending Pardew.
However there seems to be an increasing amount of these incidents every season, usually players mind you. They go head to head, a slight neck thrust and a light brushing of heads, sometimes a player will go down, clutching their face, roll on the floor, it's all a bit pathetic all round, especially compared to rugby and ice hockey. The point I want to raise is, If we want to get rid of this from the game, the media needs to stop calling them headbutts or violent contact, since the Premier League is such a man's world, a hetrosexual playground, with no openly gay footballers.
The media (and the FA) needs to come up a new way of labelling these incidents, something that would stop footballers doing them. The photo that's been doing the rounds, of the Pardew incident, looks like they are embracing after a bit of man on man love. Imagine discussing the incident, 'did he headbutt him?' 'Nah it was just a bit of buffty head mincing', or a bit of 'Colwyn Bay courtship' - if the papers included this in their reports and stats were compared, like assists and pass completion, I'm pretty sure no footballer would want to top this chart. Can any other readers come up with a better name?
Microwaveman, (or Jobby Jousters tango) Newcastle
...I've noticed a few media numpties have been saying that Pards will be unable to impose discipline on the players because of what he has done and his position is untenable. I'm sorry but what? Adult footballers need to be told, seemingly constantly, not to head butt people and to be disciplined? And these people are role models are they? **** me!
Taking Issue With Sol
I have to take issue with Sol Campbell's statement that he was overlooked as England Captain because of the colour of his skin. During Sol's England career, Shearer was captain until 2000, that is two after SOl's first England game, is Sol saying he should have been installed as captain ahead of Shearer? Is he saying he would have been a better captain than David Beckham who took over from Shearer, with Michael Owen as the vice-captain, so normally vice-captains become captains if the normal captain doesn't start, Beckham retired as captain in 2006 when John Terry was named as captain and at that time Sol wasn't even a first-team starter due to numerous injuries allowing JT and Rio to form a partnership, not forgetting that Sol's contract was not renewed at Arsenal in 2006 and he move to Portsmouth. So not good enough for Arsenal, but he thinks he should have been England captain.
Paul Ince had seven games as Captain as did Rio Ferdinand who would have had more except for injuries, so much for not picking captains because they are black. Ashley Cole has famously said he doesn't want to be captain, so that ruled him out. There are far more better players in England's past and present who are a damn sight better players than Campbell who have been named captain about the same amount of times as Campbell, the likes of Bobby Charlton, Billy Walker, Martin Peters, Alan Ball, Terry Butcher, Gerry Francis and Mick Mills, all who never reached double figures as captain.
But I would say the main reason Sol Campbell wasn't a full time England captain is because of David Beckham, not because he was black.
People who use the colour of their skin as an excuse really annoy me, they should have been around in the time of Viv Anderson and Paul Cannonville and others - they had it hardest.
Tom Neale, Surrey
...Sol Campbell thinks he wasn't England captain because he was black.
I'd argue the fact he's introverted, self absorbed and has questionable loyalty would be a more credible reason.
Andrew, Woodford Green
QPR Fans Know The Truth
For the third time in as many weeks Nick P, Burnley FC , has a letter published having a pop at QPR.
Nick, every QPR fan I know agrees with you that we are a terribly managed club, are playing poorly and don't deserve promotion. You really don't need to remind us every week. I think most QPR fans also admire what Burnley have achieved this season and agree that you deserve to go up. I'm sorry if this is not the response you were looking for but I can't even pretend to be outraged by your regular criticisms.
On a lighter note why does Tim Sherwood always look as if he is about to start giggling uncontrollably every time he is interviewed? Weird.
David Rowe, QPR (not as good as Burnley), Singapore
Cat Football Dreams Of The Season
Sometimes my 12-year-old boy cat sleeps on my head. His name is Tico and I have spent 7K keeping him alive.
Last night I dreamt that he got appointed the new Blackburn Rovers boss. I should have been suprised when I woke up, but at least the Venkys were trying something new. I can only assume my cat's lack of English would mean I would be some kind of translator (most new head coaches have them).
Around Christmas time I had another interesting dream, Martin Jol was giving a Fulham an after-match press conference where he showed off my cat and grabbed one of its paws and said "He hasch pawss, piggle pawss". Laughter. He sniffed the paw and said "Mmmm. They schmell gooood."
This kinda thing happen to any other footie fans, or should I be worried?
Leicester fan foxiled in Texas (five more wins til the Prem!).