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 there's one loser in all the machinations at Man United, it's poor TC23. We have mercifully few mails on United, but lots on Arsenal and in particular Olivier Giroud...
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I came to one conclusion after the Arsenal game.
They must serve some pretty fine dessert down at Arsenal.
That mid season crumble must be especially good.
Eoin (......) Ireland
An early offside call against Chelsea showed exactly how the afternoon was going to pan out... Chelsea were going to press Arsenal high up the pitch, force mistakes and catch them on the counter attack.. Just like the City game, just like the Pool game..
That Wenger didn't see this coming, or happening, is totally unforgiveable. So too was his decision not to start Flamini. Honestly, what on earth was he thinking...
Why couldn't Wenger have kept things tight and aimed hit Chelsea on the break? Aren't Wenger's teams supposed to be known for counter-attacking brilliance anyway?
Granted Arsenal have been better this season, but that he remains so stubborn and not willing to adapt his tactics against big teams means there is no reason to keep him around beyond this season.
An FA Cup victory is the perfect time to bow out for the once great manager who has lost his way..
Jay (Gunner for life!)
...I need to unburden myself (and then move on forever). So:
- The most worrying aspect is the revisionism this game offered towards the victory celebrations at White Hart Lane. What at the time seemed like a moment from the team for the fans over the rivals suddenly took on the shape of this season's Newcastle away moment. Were we celebrating a top fourth last week then? Is this an autopilot until the SF? How dangerous would that be, to keep yourselves at a level of somnambulism? Ask Man City.
- Of course, whilst one can question certain tactical decisions (high defensive line, a more attack minded midfield instead of engineering an initial foothold etc), the players would do well to find a mirror large enough for themselves to look in. It was a betrayal to both their profession and their manager. Liverpool earned their victory with an opening 20 minutes very few teams would be able to cope with. Chelsea were not Liverpool and to not even make them work for it was perhaps the most unforgiveable of sins.
- As for that chance, Giroud looks either like a man who knows he has blown his chance or is aware that a deal is already in place to bring someone in come the summer. Even his work rate has deserted him, an admirable characteristic that for many masked the obvious limitations to his game. How much would it have changed had it gone in? Who knows. Would we have beaten Bayern had the penalty been scored? Who knows? Variables offer context in some games. Against Chelsea, the suspicion is that it would have just delayed the inevitable anyways.
- Of course it is the job now of Arsene to get the players motivated and psychologically prepared for Tuesday. Question is, can he get himself motivated to begin with? Had this been game #946 the lifespan would be limited until whenever the next story comes along, never referenced again until we travelled to the Bodge once more. Alas, this was a permanent marker and will forever be associated with both the day, the achievement and the overall career.
- Which finally leads to the question of any potential new contract. There is only so much fatigue a person can accumulate. Very few look more tired than Arsene on the back of a question mark placed heavily upon his team and he looked utterly shattered yesterday. His story with us has always come across as a movie needing and (in my opinion) deserving a satisfactory and validating third act. Should we win the FA Cup, instead of it therefore being the start it may well end up being the abrupt end to the middle section. Frankly, that performance might just be one gut punch too many.
On that day of all days. Against that manager of all managers. After those comments of all comments.
Brett (I think the players owe him the FA Cup now), Fife.
...Arsenal's balance between technical and athletic (pacey and/or strong) players is tipped too far towards the technical. This is fine when Walcott and Ramsey (our two most influential althletic players) are both fit, but without them the inbalance makes us useless against high quality, athletic and organised opposition, such as City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
When midfielders are on the ball there's no outlet ahead of them, as they're not physical monsters themselves they can't hold onto the ball and wait, as a Mr. Vieira might have done. Players like Wilshire, Arteta, Cazorla, Giroud, Ozil and Podolski and great with more physical foils around them, but like ants playing keepy uppy when they become the spine of the team. Oxlade of course fulfills the athletic criteria, but can't do it by himself and hasn't quite matured as a central midfielder.
Making up for this lack of outlet the full backs steam forward, but are then caught out like idiots when we lose the ball. Mertesacker's world class defending the 18 yard line, is then an oil tanker in the treacle see when caught up field without others protecting him.
So although my initial disgruntlement (pity my poor company on Saturday) lead me to think Arsene can no longer motivate the troops for the biggest games and is therefore finished, the truth is he was naive to think this squad would avoid shellackings like this with our perennial injury woes. This has softened the Wenger out impulses I was barely controlling yesterday. This is because I understand he doesn't want to clog up the squat with short termist Gervinhos and Chamakh's, who tick all the boxes except super super top quality.
Give him a summer to invest in a small amount of pace and power, let's hope that against City next week he spots the trend and plays Sanogo and Gnabry, prioritising key attributes ahead of skill, refinement and experience. You're on your last chance Arsene.
James, Gooner in Cardiff
Congrats on your 1000 games. Another trophy to go with the 4th place ones. People are being harsh on you but they're mistaken. You're valiantly fighting the good fight against inflated football salaries (as you continue to pick up £7.5m a year for winning nowt). I feel the Chelski game was a neat reflection of at least the last 500 games under you: start brig against big team, watch mediocre French carthorse miss sitter, watch manager with tactical plan outthink you, then watch your febrile ducklings totally fold under the slightest pressure. Superb.
I will say, Jose was wrong to call you a "Specialist in Failure". You're beyond that. You are a PhD, a a professor emeritus in failure! Still. It's all Citeh and their oil money's fault eh? I mean, quite how Rodgers has in 2 years taken a team that finished 8th, and turned them into title challengers...it's cheating!
Stewie Griffin (Arsene, call your book 1000 not out. Oh hold on, you're usually out of everything come March. Forget that)
Wenger As Putin
Putin once said 'anyone that doesn't miss Communism has no heart, anyone that wants it back has no head'.
Well pretty much the same can be said about Arsene. He brought revolution, high times, heroes, success and something new. Remembering the 'good old days', when, like Ghostface killer said 'everything was nice and smooth', is great. The invincibles were awesome and stealing Sol from Spuds was legendary. However, much like communism, Wenger also brought failed policies, propaganda, a consistent lack of willingness to embrace change, inability to hear criticism and an abject lack of respect for the public at large.
This was most acute as the wheels started to come off and the public, for whom he shown real disdain, started to lose belief. So I say to AKBs around the world, 'anyone who wants to see Wenger sacked has no heart, anyone that wants him to stay has no head'.
Alexander Tovey, Wenger Out since 2008
I've just seen Kevin Phillips is a squad member with promotion bound Leicester City. This is probably the 4th or 5th time, it's quite remarkable.
Question for the mailbox, is there anyone else you can think of that is a promotion specialist?
Dave (That Matic guy has been the perfect acquisition for Chelsea), Dublin
The Bright Side
I switched off after 20mins and managed to get half my fence out back up.
Thanks Arsenal, you gave me the gift of time.
Rooney's Goal - Average
It will no doubt be "goal of the season" but I don't get it. The keeper got it wrong (I'd argue it was a howler) and he only scored because of it. When Beckham and Suarez did the same (both with the ball on the ground which is also more difficult) they had to beat the keeper.
Quite frankly there were better goals scored this weekend, not just this month or even season. Hell, even I've scored a better one (since you ask, I was 13, returning a keepers' goal kick on the volley back over his head, the ball didn't touch the ground. Oh I was on the half-way line too).
But because it's Roooooooooooooneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey, let's all have a quick jolly with ourselves.
I surely can't be the only one who found Russell Brand's appearance on Match of the Day to be horrifically cringe-worthy. If we all donate more money to Sport Relief will the BBC promise not to invite him or any other comedians/celebrity fans on as guest pundits in the future.
I just want to see some goals, incident and a little basic analysis, not some flouncy, self-aggrandising git.
Or maybe the rest of the country found it charming and hilarious and i'm just a whinger.
Matt (was still recovering from the horror of glimpsing Piers Morgan on Football Focus), Manchester