There's some big talk in the morning mailbox, which claims that Man United were right to sign Marcos Rojo instead of Mats Hummels. Plus, one Gooner's happy Arteta's out...
A Mailbox that offers best wishes to a departing hero, defends Olivier Giroud, tells us to steady on over Calum Chambers and makes some amusing predictions...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com.
There Goes Liverpool's 'Advantage'
So can we officially end this talk of the Anfield chihuahuas pinching the EPL title as everyone else focuses on Europe?
Assad Mugenyi, Kampala
(Loving Robben's chutzpah)
In The Kompany Of Barcelona?
So Manchester City crashed out as expected against a less-than-impressive Barca side.
City continue to look out of place in Europe; players who have hit such heights domestically left to look like amateurs. Aguero can be exempt from criticism as he is still finding form and fitness after injury, but Toure and Silva offered nothing over the two legs. Given the amount of money spent, to have players such as Kolarov and Lescott in the starting line-up is indefensible.
And unfortunately for City fans, there might be a cruel poetic twist to the tale yet. With Barca publicly announcing their intention in signing a new defender following Carles Puyol's retirement, what better for club scouts to see in their very own stadium the commanding display given by Vincent Kompany.
City's captain has a great relationship with the fans, however, were Barca to offer him the chance to play for one of the true European greats, could he really turn it down?
Lescott Played Well? Really?
Nick Miller writes:
'Much like Martin Demichelis in the first leg, Lescott actually played pretty well until his error that laid on Leo Messi's goal.' Erm, well yes I guess, if you ignore the fact that Lescott should have been booked in the first couple of minutes for a pulling back Messi, and that he committed a clear foul on the same player in the box which should have been a penalty and possible second yellow card for him and ignore the moment in the second half when he gave the ball away to Messi for him to run through and have a shot that hit the post and then of course his error for Barca's first goal. Ignore all that and Lescott had a really good game.
Pardeep 'If my mum had been a man she would have been my dad' Singh
No Point Even Turning Up...
It's not even worth trying to play against Barcelona or Bayern.
They are both slimey, cheating and two-faced teams full of players whose lies, feigning of injury and harassment of referees goes unchecked (Yep, they can both play a bit too).
Send in the youth teams. At least the red cards won't impact the next league games.
I absolutely hate Barcelona. And Bayern. I will only be watching the CL in the hope they get Zlataned.
Only Makes Sense If You Read Wednesday's Mediawatch
I've just read a few match reports from the Barcelona vs Man City game. Oddly none of them seem to be criticising Sergio Aguero, who was of course hauled off at half-time after an ineffective first half. Why is nobody highlighting the fact that this guy is clearly nicking a living?
Defending Wenger Against Miller
I wouldn't normally bother to respond to an article, but I think Nick Miller has really got it wrong. Yes Wenger points the finger at external factors when the team lose. What manager doesn't? You are aware that they all do this? In many managers it's lauded as trying to create an 'us against the world' siege mentality, but in Wenger it's trying to find excuses.
Against Bayern, Arsenal were second best. Almost any team with a two-goal deficit to Bayern would look second best, and be second best because - as Nick points out, Bayern are pretty bloody good, haven't lost in their league in 49 games, have only failed to score more than one goal at home in about two years or something and oh yeah, are current Champions League holders. So not a bad team. Despite that I think Arsenal had them rattled for the first part of the first leg and were it not for a poor penalty, and a bad keeping decision, who knows what could have happened. In the second leg, again at times Bayern despite a two-goal lead looked a little rattled, and panicked. Had Arsenal got a quality striker then they could have done something. But all these ifs and maybes mean nothing. Arsenal lost, they deserved it. Does that make Arsenal a specialist in failure or unsuccessful? Not to me. Okay, let's measure trophies, there are only two successful managers in the entire Premier League then aren't there, everyone else must be specialists in failure and therefore be a bit crap?
Or, in reality, is it a little more complicated? What is a team's realistic aim? For the last few years (at least) the best Arsenal could really hope for was Champions League qualification. There is clearly financial restraints on Wenger (until this year) which have necessitate him selling his best players every year, since Vieira left really. Selling Henry, Cesc, Adebayor, Clichy, Toure, Nasri, Van Persie and numerous others who were less central shows without a doubt the need to raise funds/cut expenses. But, even as a selling club, Arsenal were better than all but two or three other teams in the country. Now there is some money to spend, this year has seen a massive improvement, hell a title 'challenge' lasting beyond December has been rare enough in recent years so there has clearly been an improvement on that front.
If Arsenal fail to win the FA Cup from this position, I will reconsider, and maybe agree Wenger is a failure, but frankly under the constraints he has clearly, if not publicly, been under I think he has done well. As shown at Man United this, and Liverpool over the last few seasons, it is very easy to drop out of but hard to get back into the Champions League positions, just ask Tottenham how hard it is as they have been there or thereabouts for the last few years but haven't been able to make that step up. And now, having sold their best player this year, seem as far (or further) than in recent years. To have done it so consistently is an achievement, and whilst the 'fourth place trophy' nonsense is cringe-worthy, all Wenger has done is achieve the required position to maintain the status quo while selling his best players. In that regard he has been successful.
Specialist in failure? No. Trophyless? Yes. Achieving his target? Clearly he has done. Over recent years he has done the minimum required, let's see if the targets are raised now the financial burdens appear to be lifting. Of course, City and Chelsea can outspend Arsenal massively but hopefully, Wenger can close the gap and get amongst it again.
Mark D, AFC (as if you couldn't guess)
...On the substance of Nick Miller's argument about Arsene Wenger's 'diversionary tactics' -
1. He was asked a question.
2. Everyone agrees that Robben is a diver.
3. He did, in fact, dive multiple times in the two legs.
4. The tie was decided by the 2-0 which was decided by Robben's dive (if any other team concedes only one to Bayern after playing 60 minutes with 10 men, I will build a temple to them).
5. Its not the first time Wenger has had a rank bad decision dump Arsenal out of Europe (remember the red card to van Persie for playing football?)
In other words, man gives frank, objectively justifiable, opinion in response to direct question. What a Mourinho.
On the style of Nick Miller's article - I think somebody has found a way to be even more intellectually dishonest than the average tabloid journo. The unwashed masses are eternally obliged to Mr Miller for his exhortation, at the end of a transparent wind-up piece, to 'make up our own minds'. Atleast when the rags push baseless opinions, they don't go out of their way to convince their readers that they aren't the agenda pushing types.
Ozil Saving United Some Grief
I'm a United maniac.
But even I can only wonder just HOW happy a guy like Rooney, hell RVP too, must be that Ozil is with us in the league this season?
Apparently, that Ozil chap is utter crap, but the attention seems to be disproportionate in relation to other 'superstars''who are performing like s**t while earning a stack.
Oh well, won't hurt my team much, just find the agenda a little sad.
Maybe, if we all try hard enough, we can get Ozil to leave the BPL! (ear-piercing cheers, screams of delusional joy ensue, it seems)
Who needs his guile and invention?
We have seen one bad patch, perhaps brought on by a mixture of slight disappointment and real fatigue, and that should define him for life, clearly.
Manc In SA (As a Manc, I've always wanted him, but not so sure Moyes would employ him correctly anyway)
Ozil: Must Try Harder
Re: Kernowpete, 'single-handedly' means 'working alone/unaided', as opposed to 'getting help from your mates, who make more of an effort than you'. So your argument that Özil 'only' needs a really good striker and enforcer on his team to single-handedly win the Champions' League/Nobel Peace prize doesn't really work.
Regardless, the problem with Özil isn't that he plays badly, since, as Kernowpete said, he provides a ridiculous number of assists and key passes and whatnot, but that it always seems like he doesn't look like he's playing to his full potential. Whether it's because he's tired, injured, or not interested I don't know (I don't mean just in the away game v. Bayern, I mean in general), but he looks like he's not giving it his all, which is probably why he gets lambasted in the media.
Anyway, love the site, Moyes in, etc.
Poldi Was Never Going To Work
Andrew's comparison of Podolski and Kagawa's is interesting in terms of how both players are viewed by supporters despite their performances. However Podolski was a deal that was doomed to begin with. He went to Arsenal after a scintillating season at Koln (who were relegated), before which he was a Munich where he had failed to make any sort of an impact after a big money from Koln.
If a player fails to make the step up to a bigger club in the same country, what made Wenger think he could do it in London? The day the deal was done I told my Gooner friend that the result was going to be mediocre at best. Wenger shouldn't be blamed for not playing him enough or out of position, but the purchase itself was highly questionable.
Obviously, everyone is entitled to an opinion. But to call Ribery 'vastly overrated' is more a brainfart based on ignorance than an actual opinion.
While I agree that, at the moment, Ronaldo and Messi are in a league of their own, and that Zlatan is arguably the only one to come close in terms of pure talent, Ribery is quite simply 'the best of the rest'.
He is the heart of the very impressive Bayern team. He has won everything with them (three leagues, three cups, a Champins League...) and was voted best player of the league by his peers last year, after getting 10 goals and 15 assists (highest number of assists for the second year running).
He is bound to have a bad game every now and then, but he has been constantly performing at a very high level since 2006.
Chris, plastic Arsenal fan from Serbia (your website is the only reason why I keep following the Premier League. Keep up the good work!)
Tim Is Losing It...
This is starting to get a bit uncomfortable. No-nonsense Tim is starting to remind me a wee bit of Michael Douglas in Falling Down. At some point between now and Sunday night he's going to:
a. Remove all his clothes and run across the pitch in a pair of Portuguese Y-fronts during the match against Benfica.
b. Admit during in an interview before the Arsenal game - 'I'm a Gooner, always have been, this has all been a massive ruse. Like Matt Damon in The Departed, I'm a mole for Arsene'.
c. Cry uncontrollably whilst mouthing to Daniel Levy 'I just wanted you to love me'. Daniel will remain stoic.
d. Say nothing in one of his interviews, instead sticking pins in his Glenn Hoddle voodoo doll alternating between uncontrollable giggles and humming Diamond Lights.
e. All of the above
Something is going to give.
Andrew, Woodford Green
He's A Real Football Man, Mind
I'll admit that I haven't been particularly impressed by Tim Sherwood's performance as Spurs' manager. I know, I know, he's won eight out of 13 and we are (allegedly) playing a more offensive type of game - although I would dispute whether offensive is used as a noun or adjective - and he's Jamie Redknapp's best mate and an all-round top top fella and 'a real football man'. But I genuinely can't recall watching a single game where Tim's been in charge and felt like we were convincing. And please don't say Newcastle because Loris played a blinder and they were pants. Anyway, I'm a Spurs fan so I'm well schooled in disappointment.
However, despite the fact that the football writers have given Tim an extended honeymoon with their usual jingoistic and annoying myopia and despite Tim showing the tactical nous of General Custer, after his press conference today I genuinely understand what is meant by 'a real football man'. Well at least in Tim's case. A real football man is someone who gives a ***t. A real football man can't abide pampered, preening little bitches who are either too good to play for the club (just p*** off already Verthongen) or too big to applaud their fans (Lennon). A real football man cannot understand why a footballer can't take pride in his personal performance and by extension, his club. A real football man may not have the tactical nous of a Mourhino but he sure as hell isn't going to make excuses and attempt to delude the masses like a lot of managers.
So kudos Tim. I don't really want you as my manager but I do want you at my club. You're a real football man.
Henry (I realise how ironic it is to say too big and Aaron Lennon in the same sentence) THFC
Penalties From The Right?
Right-back specialist penalty takers? Why don't you get them?
Loads of strikers and midfields are the dedicated penalty-takers for their clubs, with loads of examples being available to choose from.
Centre-backs, not loads but a few - Jagielka was a usual taker for Sheffield Utd and for us (Everton) in his earlier days, until his miss against Fiorentina :'-( . David Luiz is often a penalty taker if Lampard isn't on the pitch.
I can understand there being less centre-backs, as it is probably the position which requires the least technical ability. (If you can head, tackle, intercept, etc. well you make a decent centre-back. If you can play a bit of togger too, then you're normally the exception. Or not English.)
There have been tonnes of left backs that I can think of. I fondly remember left-back/centre-back David 'Rhino' Unsworth empty-headed smashing them down a goalies throat. And then there's our Leighton - the only player to have taken more than 10 in the Premier League era with 100% conversion rate. Other left -acks I can think of are Kolarov, Ian Harte, Julian Dicks. Pretty sure Riise took quite a few back in the day.
Even goalies have had a few penalty-kick specialist representatives, namely Chilavert and the German fella (Han-Jorge Butt, after a bit of googling).
But I struggle to recall any really good, consistent, dedicated penalty takers who are a right-back by trade. Some googling has lead me to Phil Neal, but that seems to be about it.
I can understand why a striker/midfielder would take precedence within a team as they are generally a bit more composed in front of goal and have better technique than a 'clogger at the back', but why makes the left-back/right-back penalty-taker ability so disproportionate?
Graeme (Having said all that, Phil Neville never missed one for us. Four in total I think.)
(At this point F365 will respectfully suggest Graham Alexander).