...what happened to the fourth Champions League place the last time an English team won the thing. Plus, who would want to pay £60 to watch the current England team?
A Sunderland fan in the mailbox is surprised by Jack Colback's call up to the England squad. Plus, thoughts on Welbeck and Liverpool's Champions League draw...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Arsenal didn't deserve to win, but it was a huge victory for them. Everyone complaining about the way they celebrated but if any team had gone through the same few months of poor form, losses and dropping out of the title race, an FA Cup Final is worth celebrating. The squad is virtually depleted, they will need a bit of luck and some serious effort tomorrow to win against Newcastle
*A huge win for Everton to keep pressure on Arsenal. If I wasn't a Gunner I would love Everton to grab themselves a top 4 place, always liked the underdog, Martinez has given them a nice new bite too. But I hope City smash them...
*Liverpool should win the league, it is the best for football. They are playing exciting football, much like City at the beginning of the season. I do however ignore all the spending sprees because Liverpool have hardly kept their wallet in their pocket. I suspect next season they will find it a lot tougher...
*The Premier League is the biggest winner. 3 teams battling for the top. 2 for 4th. 3 for 5th. A relegation battle that changes weekly as well. While the Agueroooo moment may be one of the greatest few minutes in Premier League history, this season has to go down as one of the most exciting seasons ever. We don't have the best teams in the world, but it is the best league
*Swansea, Norwich and Villa should be very worried. With Palace, Fulham and Cardiff winning at the weekend, they can take some of that momentum onwards. Plenty of time for some twists and turns though..
*FA Cup is the second biggest winner. Only 1 of the top half Premier League teams in the Semi finals. Sheffield having a really good go at Hull. I fully expect Arsenal to go on and win it now but if you thought the FA Cup magic was gone, ask a Sheffield fan who went to Wembley yesterday
*Having said this, I expect Man City to still win, with Chelsea beating Liverpool at Anfield.
I'm starting to think they might actually win the thing.
...I know was sweating buckets, the fact that we were so close to ending a 24 year wait was amazing and terrifying at the same.
BUT WE DID IT.
Coutinho, Gerrard, Sterling, Skrtel, Sakho (though he had a few mares) and Henderson were immense.
Sterling's finish was absolute quality and showed today he was no push over no matter his size or stature.
Sakho impressed me even more and once he gets rid of the "kolo syndrome" he'll be a monster in years to come.
Courtinho has to go down as Rodgers best buy, I'm ruining out of superlatives to throw at him and the scary thing is he's still young and getting better with every game and every season.
The 1st half was fantastic, we absolutely terrorised man city but in the 2nd half we made some very silly mistakes and need to address the switching off issue before it bites us in the arse but nevertheless time and time and time again we showed great character.
I've said it many times I know but it must be echoed, I am extremely proud to be a Liverpool Fan.
And finally, to the man that said he was worried about Gerrard, Shame on you good sir, shame on you.
Daniel (seeing Gerrard cry was very, very moving), LFC
...At the start of the season I had hopes, rather than expectations of finishing in the top 4. I couldn't see Man Utd finishing higher than 6th with Moyes in charge, but I thought Spurs would probably pip us to the final Champions League spot. My hopes have been constantly revised since then, finally, at Christmas, starting to believe we actually would finish top 4 - ironically as a result of the games we lost against Chelsea and Man City, because of the manner in which we lost, with all major decisions going against us, and still putting up a fine fight.
Come the middle of March I started to dream that we might finish in the top 3, and qualify direct for the CL group stages.
But now? Damn all that. I believe. I really, truly do believe. This is the year. I no longer have a shred of doubt. I trust my team and my manager.
We're going to do it: we're going to finish in the top 3!
Greg (anything more than that is a bonus...) Bishop
...After 90minutes I was a sweaty mess of emotion. I can't imagine what it would've been like for the players; it was amazing how Gerrard was struggling to gather himself in the post match interview - I don't remember him like that even after Istanbul.
If there were ever two games in the season to win without the strikers scoring it was the last two. The pressure was up and the team didn't simply look towards the stars for a solution as they might've done in the past. This is a very different team to the nearly rans of 2007/08 from the perspective of attitude and mentality. And in fact it was that January/February run of draws against low placed teams in 2008 which cost that team the title, where Torres and Gerrard couldn't find the winner and the sub cast weren't up to the task. This time around, West Ham away and Man City should've been our undoing but a supporting cast of Sterling/Coutinho/Henderson seems more up to the task than Babel/Benayoun/Kuyt were.
In Rafa's final season in charge, Lucas' injury led to relegation form in the second half of the season and cost the team their champions league berth and Rafa his job. This season, injuries to Lucas and Sturridge haven't derailed us and in the past few games both Lucas and Allen give me some hope that we won't miss Henderson during his suspension.
Before today I felt that a win here would give us a chance. But looking forward, Mourinho really is a masterful tactician and I can't help but worry he is going to make life very hard. He snatched a victory at Man City and my only hope is that his team will be tired/distracted from the first leg of the champions league semi final. The lack of prep time will surely work in our favour too.
Liverpool fans are usually an optimistic bunch but most of us didn't really expect to be here at this stage of the season. Now we are becoming weirdly superstitious, cautious and pessimistic - the pressure of this is all getting a bit much to bare. I've no idea how Man Utd fans coped with all their success for so long.
A United Fan Isn't Happy
As a "hate-filled neutral" (a Manchester United supporter) in the process of turning over the unanswerable question of "How on earth are Liverpool going to win the league?", I go through a range of emotions during the City game today.
Watching the Scousers run riot for the first twenty-five minutes is terrifying - so much so that you start looking for explanations for what you're seeing, excuses. How else were Liverpool going to come out? you think. This is their Woodstock. Why aren't City ready for them? Just stand up to it and shut out the noise. You're professionals! You've won things!
But then you realise how mean-spirited this is. Liverpool have done the same thing to so many teams this season that really there isn't a discussion to be had about it. Teams can't handle them. That's it. There's no need to always look for the negative justification for something. It's 2-0 after twenty-five minutes against their main rivals and it's an absolute destruction. For the first time this season, I realise Liverpool actually deserve to win the league. It's not just fate perversely balancing out David Moyes; they actually deserve it. This realisation gives me some peace. Logic is still playing a part in football.
But then towards the end of the first half City come back. Mignolet makes a couple of saves - both a bit flukey in my eyes - and I think; ah, hold on, City are going to score. Which they do. And then again. 2-2. I find I'm quite happy at this point, which is tempered somewhat by the realisation that I'm supporting City, and isn't that very strange. So I spend the next ten minutes pondering why I hate Liverpool so much, while City continue missing chances and not getting penalties. Still, they're in complete control. This is the one, I think. The match where Liverpool finally hit the glass ceiling.
Then Vincent Kompany mis-hits a ball more than I have ever seen a professional footballer do, and Coutinho scores. 3-2. Of course it had to be a scabby goal. The positive feelings about Liverpool from earlier are gone. I'm baffled, even more than I was before the game started. What is happening? Logic has been lost again. City, finding themselves in a position they can't explain, drift around aimlessly for the last fifteen minutes, while Liverpool defend with what could generously be described as competence. Jordan Henderson gets sent off. I watch him and his haircut trudge off the pitch, and in between worrying about his gait, I think once more:
How on earth are Liverpool going to win the league?
Stephen O'S, MUFC
All About Lady Luck
Two clear penalties not given, and a blatant second yellow also not given? 12 penalties awarded this season (5 more than anyone else)?
Liverpool are going to win the league - the best team throughout the season generally does. But in addition to playing great football, they've had about 5 season's worth of luck in one.
Having No Distractions Helps
I think if the results on Sunday teach us anything it's that the
Europa League and the domestic cups aren't worth much. Liverpool have
played all of five matches outside the Premier League this season--two
in the Capital Cup and three in the FA Cup and, crucially, none in
As a Spurs fan, it makes me wonder what would have happened had we
fallen out of the Europa League but still had Bale, much as Liverpool
held on to Suarez. Crash out of those pesky domestic cups early and
focus on the league.
Of course, Liverpool won't have this luxury next season whether or not
they win the league, and I would bet that the added stress of foreign
travel will keep them well off the title pace next season. Still, I
would trade all of those glorious nights in Tiraspol and
Dnipropetrovsk for one honest to God run at the league title.
Trent Hergenrader, New York
Suarez Was Evading The Foul. No Dive
First of all, brilliant game. I'm sure City fans think the game could have gone the other way and rightly so. Skrtel's handball could have given City a draw and how Clattenburg did not give a penalty for Sakho's challenge on Dzeko is a mystery. There were also at least three other debatable penalty incidents. Kompany on Suarez, Demichelis on Sturridge and Flanagan on Silva. All coud have been given. I think the reason they weren't is because of the media focus on diving and refereeing errors.
Mr. Stanger's claim in 16 conclusions (I still like you Matt) that Suarez should have got a second yellow for simulation is ridiculous. Not only did Demichelis fly in giving Suarez no option but to seek evasion or be taken out. Replays showed that he actually caught Suarez's foot. Referees now seem to fear giving calls either way because of the reaction they'll get if they are found to have been conned.
We have seen multiple instances of players getting book for simulation only for replays to show there was indeed a foul committed. Why are people so eager to see yellow cards brandished for what is in most cases a very subjective interpretation of a situation and then come back asking for leniency when a player commits a foul after he'd already been booked?
This witch hunt against diving is - contrary to its claim that it is for the good of the game - in fact often excusing bad tackling by questioning attacking players relation with gravity. As the Sakho on Dzeko incident shows, players are never rewarded for trying to stay on their feet and this is robbing the game from genuine attacking play in favor of a misguided sense of righteousness.
Gary Neville perfectly summed up the situation after Kompany brought down Suarez when he said Clattenburg "had eyes only for the theatrics". Should referees not be looking for nothing else but if a foul has been committed? Are we so eager to prevent players from diving that we are willing to condone what is, in the end, bad defending?
Nick, LFC, Berlin
Why Focus On The Arsenal Negatives?
While I understand that Arsenal have not been on their best form in the last few weeks, I find it jarring that the media (F365 included) chose to focus on the negatives of Arsenal's FA Cup win on Saturday.
Should we not give credit to Arsenal for showing the same qualities that the media has continuously accused them of lacking? - those of winning when not on the best form, grinding a win against an opposition that is defensive and well-organised, and showing nerve under intense pressure? Wasn't all this a 'sign of Champions'? At least it seemed to be when United and Chelsea were doing it time and again. The hypocrisy here is unbelievable.
Yes, it was only Wigan, a team not even from the Premier League. But it was the same Wigan that beat the mighty Manchester City (who are still in the title race). And it was the same Wigan that are defending champions of the FA Cup. They are not a bad team, and in a cup competition they are a handful for any team.
Of all the teams in the Premier League that are considered to have a great mental strength - Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool and City - none are in the FA Cup final. And Arsenal are, after having beaten Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton in succession. This is an achievement worth celebrating, especially given the injuries that the club has, their lack of trophy experience, and the negativity surrounding them currently.
I do not expect the media to lay off Arsenal (the same media that predicted Arsenal not finishing in top 5, let alone winning a trophy). But I do hope the Arsenal fans do not fall for all this tosh served up to them from all quarters of the media. This is the first year in a decade that Arsenal have a positive net transfer expenditure - and we may win the FA Cup and be in top 4. If we can achieve that, it will be a great start to the new era, and as of now, we are very close to achieving it.
Really Loving Wenger
Can't believe how negative today's press pack pricks are! We won a cup semi final, we've knocked out top teams to get here and Wigan can beat anyone on their day.
All semis are nervy affairs and if Arsenal had lost today would feel like a living hell for us. Needless to say ' the followers' are out in force slating the team, the very same followers who would drift away from us when a new manager didn't succeed as they are used to. We had half a team, the criticism of journos that Wenger was negligent leaving Sir Chesney and Giroud out was un fathomable to me. Fabianski never worries me anymore, he's been calm and a great shot stopper and didn't it work out well in the end? Giroud has looked annoyingly prone to hiding for the last 2 months and I was happy enough seeing Sanogo start especially as you would imagine a championship side getting weaker in the second half so bringing Giroud on then would give him an easier time and give them a new problem and Sanogo did cause them problems.
I can't believe Arsenal are in the final with so many players out injured and rather than it being seen as some sort of failure or under achievement I would put us winning the cup in these circumstances as one of my best memories in 42 years of supporting Arsenal.
Whatever happens, with a squad as fantastic as we have and just needing a few additions,the staggering amount of cash we have, the stadium and the profile I wouldn't trust many managers to handle them properly.
Imagine Wenger was at Real Madrid now and the situations were reversed. As an Arsenal director I would be trying to get Wenger to pull the pieces together. I can't think of any manager I would rather attract.
Luckily for us he is here already. The only man qualified to know if he has reached his limit is Wenger himself. Haven't we all had that moment where we know we just can't do something? Or when people do that ' are you sure you can do this? ' line of questioning.
He knows what to do and whatever he decides I won't argue with because he has always 'known'. Jesus, Che, Gandhi, Arsene. In no particular order.
...I have to ask what Arsene Wenger has ever done to deserve to be disrespected so much by the English press. It can't be Xenophobia because the Press fawn over Jose Mourinho despite him being Portugese as well as an arrogant little tyke. Why is it that someone who has won 3 Premier League titles (one of them unbeaten), 4 FA Cups and qualified for the Champions League 17 years in a row treated the way Wenger is?
Take the common thread in almost every Arsenal news story this past month. Is it time for Wenger to step down, pass the baton to a younger, hungrier manager. It makes no sense at all. Wenger put together a team which has led the League longer than any other team this season. Longer than Moneybags City and Chelsea. Yes his team has faltered in the past month but that was due to some very unfortunate and ill timed injuries. Would these stories be being written if Ramsey not strained his thigh in December? Or if Walcott had not twisted his knee in January? Or Wilshere not had his foot broken by Agger? Or Ozil not pulled his hamstring? Four of our most important attacking players missing at the same time in the most crucial part of the season. The truth is Wenger put together a Team which could win the Premier League, just not a Squad capable of winning it as well as challenge for 4 other cups.
I mean lets face it, the only reason Liverpool are where they are is because they have had little to no distractions in terms of other competitions. They have had longer to rest between games. Fewer games means less fatigue, means fewer injuries to crucial players at crucial times. Wenger was basically chastised for not spunking 30million in January like Chelsea did trying to solve their striker problem. But don't forget Chelsea didn't manage to find a striker either. Despite Mourinho lamenting his lack of a proper striker all season and having limitless cash, they still could not find one so how was Wenger expected to?
We are in the final of the FA Cup and still look well placed to secure 4th spot. Wenger WILL buy a striker in the summer, as well as a defensive midfielder he's not an idiot. He just has very high standards. He tried to buy Luis Suarez & Higuain in the summer. Suarez didn't want to force Liverpools hand by handing in a transfer request (all credit to the Kop for that!) and Higuain chose to go to Italy. Neither of those were Wenger's fault. He also bid £20million for Las Bender a defensive midfielder, Leverkusen wouldn't sell, also not Wenger's fault. My point is Wenger is constantly criticised to the point of insult yet we are still on course to win a major cup and qualify for the champions league. Calm down, leave the man alone!
Love For Sheff Utd And Hull
I know you'll get hundreds of emails about Liverpool vs. Man City, but how about some appreciation for another thrilling game - namely Sheffield United vs. Hull.
It seems to have gone unnoticed by most of the media and football fans underneath the hyperbole of the Premier League, but it was a cracking game featuring 2 teams giving it all to reach the final.
As a Sheffield United fan I didn't expect much, so to push a quality side like Hull so close was brilliant - especially as at the start of February we were 2nd bottom of League One. I've never known an atmosphere like it when Stephen Scougall scored to put us 2-1 up.
Fair play to Hull too - we made a couple of minor errors and they punished us, so good luck to them in the Final.
Oh, and if the FA want to keep the 'Magic of the Cup' alive, then they should ban other games being broadcast at the same time. Scandalous that Swansea vs. Chelsea was on too.
Change The Arsenal Badge
I would like to use this mailbox missive to campaign for the words Victoria Concordia Crescit to return to Arsenal's club badge.
In 2002 when our new badge was introduced we lost the famous words from our logo which mean Victory Through Harmony.
Amongst us Gooners there's precious little harmony right now and this was never better illustrated then by the confusion around the booing of Podolski's removal from the fray on Saturday.
Some gooners may well have booed Wenger's decision, I myself was shouting at the guy to get the hell off the field as quickly as possible. Podolski was absolutely rubbish on Saturday and Arsene was quite right to substitute him. In many ways he is the antithesis of Sanogo. While Sanogo doesn't seem to have any ability, he works harder than anyone contrasting with the amount of times Podolski exposed Monreal which meant he had to go and not Sanogo.
Credit must also go to Wenger. He did a tactic and it worked. He reverted to a 4,4,2 and we duly got the goal we deserved. And make no mistake about it, however rubbish we have been of late the stats show we did deserve to win this and win we did albeit on penalties.
This brings me back to the club motto. While I think Wenger should make way for Klopp in the summer, as a club we have a fantastic opportunity to end this barren run and get back into the champions league. Fans of other clubs and the media and pundits can mock us and tell us we don't deserve success but if we all stick together we can end this season with silverware and whether it's deserved or not, I couldn't care less - Victoria Concordia Crescit - we are where we are so let's get behind the manager and the players for our remaining games. Debates over who should be in charge come August are best left to the summer.
Graham Simons, proud Gooner, Norf London