We have a long mail on where Jack Wilshere fits in for England and Arsenal. Plus, thoughts on Liverpool's poor form, Dave Whelan, and the historical county of Lancashire...
Somebody has done their research and concluded that the top teams in the Premier League concede more goals than ever before. It's interesting; it's the mails...
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Who would have thought that Frank Lampard could have had such continued success at the top level of football considering how freakishly big his upper torso is compared to the length of his legs.
A genetic freak in so many ways.
Sean (SISU out), Cov
...Another good player retires from relevant club football (sorry but it's true) and the revisionism over his career begins from those whom he served so well.
Frank Lampard was indeed a very good footballer, perhaps even great during a 1-2 year spell, but England's finest from 20 yards?
Being close to the World Cup, shall we remember the 40 shots and 0 goals in 2010? Surely this must be some sort of record. I don't mean to rain on a glittering career, Lampard made an artform of arriving late into the box, even Yaya Toure doesn't time it as well as Frank.
He should be remembered as England's finest from 20 yards-with-the-ball-being-layed-off-to-him-in-ample-space-and-all-opposing-defenders-being-occupied.
And good at pens.
Stan (the stars of my youth are fading...) Millworth, Portland Timbers
...Frank Lampard best from 20 yards? No way. I daresay there are a few players from the era of outside-right-half-forwards that I've never heard of who were quite good; but for those of us who don't remember anything pre-Italia 90, I'd put Frank in third behind David Platt and Bryan Robson.
And before long I'll succumb to the media telling me that my eyes were wrong and Paul Scholes wasn't complete ballbag for England, so Lamps will be in fourth place by then too.
It Was A Bit Weird
Interesting if slightly/very weird email from Sanjit (probably want to do some real scouting to be sure) Randhawa, Kuala Lumpur. Amongst the many flaws of his system is the fact that I can't imagine any sane minded Real Madrid fan (for example) getting too excited if Aaron Lennon or Kyle Walker were linked to their club can you?
Cesc Never Won Owt
In response to Conor (Honestly, I'm not carrying emotional baggage), Gooner, Dublin.
First of all, I totally understand the romance of bringing Cesc back. I even think we could make room for him because, after all, he is a fantastic player. My issue is with the idea that bringing him back would represent the return of some kind of talisman who bought us through so many "bad times". The idea that bringing him back would somehow return us to our former glory.
I'd just like to respectfully point out that we won absolutely nothing in the period that Cesc was our captain. It would be nice to heap some praise on those players who have put in the sort of performances that did finally break the drought. Mertesacker, Koscielny, Ramsey, Giroud - all players who came through bad times and now actually have something to show for it.
Nothing wrong with a bit of romance but let's have it right, as good as Cesc was, we never saw him lift a trophy.
Ben Smith - North Bank.
Silly To Swap Ozil
I would love nothing more than to have Cesc back in the side. Watching that goal against Tottenham again today reminded me of so many good times when he was at the club.
However, swapping Ozil for Fabregas would be silly. Top of our assist charts, one of the biggest summer signings globally, our catalyst for last season and a trophy. Selling him and bringing in Cesc will look (not necessarily be) a step backwards ...
So what are the other options? Adding without selling would mean we would be overloaded in midfield.
Cazorla? Love him to bits and would hate to see him leave but he is 29 now and Cesc certainly wouldn't be a downgrade.
Arteta? Not really a like for like replacement but I felt Arteta has been on the decline this season.. Still sometimes you do need someone to slow the pace of the game down
Wilshire? Tricky one this. If Wilshire can get over his injuries he could be world class but he has been out-shined by Ramsey and will surely get less play time next season as a result...However, you do need a certain amount of English players in the Champs squad. And he is very good
I think ultimately no matter how much we love Cesc, I don't think there is a space for him in the squad anymore (i would argue that the only choice would be for Cazorla). It would hurt to see him play for a different english club but I would hope that he would "be injured" whenever he played us
Rob (To be honest, I don't think Ozil looked like he enjoyed playing at Real that much either) AFC
To Jae, Tunbridge Wells, who had a pop at "God Save the Queen," just be thankful that you're not from the USA. We've got an anthem that is virtually unsingable (and the tune was written by a man named John Smith, for crying out loud), and whose words are so convoluted that maybe 1 out of 10 Americans can tell you what they actually mean. Almost nobody likes it. I'd be very happy with "God Save the Queen," and in fact we already have it here, only with different words and titled "My Country 'Tis of Thee." But we stick with "The Star Spangled Banner," because...well, because.
But what I'd really like is "Il Canto Degli Italiani," the Italian national anthem, an unabashed piece of militarism that's just flat-out fun, in a way that only the Italians can manage.
PeterG, Pennsylavnia, USA
To add to the Non-English and where we stand on supporting England.....
I am from Cardiff, the Capital City of Wales. Support nobody but Cardiff City and Wales but have lived and worked in London for about 5 years. I have just drawn England in my work sweepstake.
.............however I do get £16 as a losing finalist!
Addressing A Few Points
Conor, Dublin Gooner. Apart from not being sure how Man U are Arsenal's "ex best-mate" and how Chelsea are their "younger, richer, more successful neighbour", I didn't think we were allowed to do those "It's like when you're going out with/not going out with/meeting up with when too drunk to realise it's a stupid idea" analogies any more. I mean, it just isn't like that. It's like when a bloke who used to play for your football team went and played for another one. It most assuredly is nothing like having a real girlfriend who then, ah...I see.
Frank Lampard's "obscene goal output" is largely due to him taking about 150 penalties (guessed) over his career at Chelsea. Given just this, my goal output would be at least "creditable".
I'm with you Chris MUFC. I'd have preferred it if we hadn't appealed Rooney's quite-deserved 3 game ban and not taken him to the last tournament. I thought we were doing better without him. Of course, we'll never know but I think we might well be better off now if he were just another 9 as opposed to the supposedly essential and yet clearly detrimental axis around which everything else must be shoe-horned into orbit. In which case, Tom London, I heartily disagree. He's not our "best player" (subjective yet stated as fact). He's been the "essential axis around which everything else must be shoe-horned into orbit" for ten years and considering his position, he bloody well should be our highest goal-scorer and would still be even if he was one of those players who just did their job in a formation (clue, scored goals) rather than being all of that, the second-coming and Gazza on a cracker at the same time. I would rather see this than people (Wazza included) shunted out of position to accommodate him because I'm one of those sane men, women or children who don't believe we'd win the thing with 11 of him. Nobody thinks Welbeck is a better option. Inventing a ridiculous argument that nobody is having to juxtapose your idea doesn't reflect as well upon it as you think.
Jae, Tunbridge Wells (disgusted of?) I stopped at the Spanish not needing a good sing-along. Presumably you know that their anthem doesn't have any words (officially) and that quite obviously this is not the most important difference between the lavishly gifted Spain squad and that of the rather more workmanlike stylings of England. Beyond that, I couldn't really what sort of sensible point you might be about to make. Then the asterisks caught my eye and I might have done you a disservice. The bit in between was obviously bollocks but yes, this should be our new national anthem.
Ed, Weymouth. Do it mate. I've been to south Dorset. It deserves it. Besides, I like Fearne. Rather more thanks to your capitalised MIDDLE-NAMING of her.
Cheers, Jim (I know, not much constructive to offer) Essex
Best World Cups
Jim, Bali (Coming for your job, Degsy) is right. Get your money on Argentina. I've done a predictor as well and also have them beating Brazil in the final, although I have England going out to Columbia in the 2nd round (due to the stifling heat, Rooney playing like a hod carrier, and Glenn Johnson playing).
Regarding favourite past tournaments, Argentina '78 was great partly due to the ticker tape and dark flowing locks of Mario Kempes, but 1982 in Spain comes out tops for me. The atmosphere was intense, and Brazil were unbelievable to watch (all you tiki-taka fans would do well to spend time having a shufty at that team to realise what exciting football really is). I could rhyme off a list of their footballing gods such as Socrates, Falcao, Junior, Zico, plus plenty of their goals which could've been sold off as works of art, and this would easily make my point, but the player who will always stick in my memory was Eder, who made the spectacular seem the norm. Volleys, chips, thunderb*st*rds were almost to be expected when he played.
My favourite Eder moment was actually one that he missed, against Argentina, where he takes a lengthy run up not unlike cricketer Michael Holding would have done in his pomp (I can't find the Motson commentary but he chirped something like "And Eder is lining up what looks like a tremendous shot"), meets the ball with the outside of his foot and fires a curving, dipping piledriver which crashes against the bar, leaving Zico an easy tap in. Witness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCFL1UEJ47M. Mesmerising. Their lack of concentration on defence meant they went out to eventual winners Italy, and a Paulo Rossi hat-trick, in the semis, but at least the Italy/Germany final provided this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XOL8o-3TZ8.
I rest my case.
Steve Smith (LFC)
Re. Bernard (France 98 is still my fave) MUFC
Here's my stab at your one country represented world cup XI (plus the full complement 12 on the bench because I like a challenge):
GK: Thibaut Courtois - Belgium
RB: Pablo Zabaleta - Argentina
LB: Philipp Lahm - Germany
CB: Sergio Ramos - Spain
CB: Raphaël Varane - France
DM: Daniele De Rossi - Italy
CM: Yaya Touré - Ivory Coast
CM: Fernandinho - Brazil
RW: Alexis Sánchez - Chile
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal
FW: Luis Suarez - Uruguay
Subs: Joe Hart (England), Joël Matip (Cameroon), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switazerland), Nigel De Jong (Netherlands), Mile Jedinak (Australia), Luka Modrić (Croatia), Fredy Guarín (Colombia), Shinji Kagawa (Japan), Miralem Pjanić (BiH), Javier Hernández (Mexico), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana) , Igor Akinfeev (Russia)
Blue Tim (France '98 is also my fav; watched it in a bowling alley in Boulogne on a school trip)
...Bernard (France 98 is still my fave) MUFC's letter is one of those classic World Cup warm-up games. Although, when he said his one Brazilian was a defender I was definitely expecting their best defender. Dante ahead of Silva?!
An attempt (4-3-3):
Abate (Italy), Tiago Silva (Brazil), Kompany (Belgium), Lahm (Germany);
Iniesta (Spain), Vidal (Chile), Pogba (France);
Suarez (Uruguay), Messi (Argentina), Ronaldo (Portugal).
Ok, Akinfeev is very good but probably not a world beater. In front of him though are a back 4 with so much ability I think he'd be safe enough. Joe Hart instead maybe? A midfield with a mix of power, dynamism and brains. And those 3 up front. Might not pass to each other a lot, but shouldn't need to.
Paraic (Who should I support?), Ireland