...is that the draw for the next round is pretty shocking. Blackburn v Stoke, anybody? We also have mails on LVG and ManUnited, who drew plenty under Fergie...
Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...
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Negligence Not To Buy Another Striker
Will Arsene Wenger ever learn?
No matter how much he talks about mental strength or crap pitches, you are not going to challenge for major trophies (sorry FA Cup, I do love you) starting decent but ultimately no more than above average players like Arteta and Giroud (and probably soon to be Wilshere).
The latter is incredibly infuriating. I appreciate he is not fully fit but a player playing in front of the likes of Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Chamberlain, Walcott should be doing miles better but he won't as he is very limited. I can see why Wenger is desperate for Sanogo to succeed, given he is much like Giroud but actually can run (at speed) and dribble a bit giving much greater flexibilty to how the front 3-4 can operate.
Basically, Arsene, go out and spend your money properly. You have two glaring gaps in your team in midfield and attack. Everyone can see it and given the resources you have available, it is bordering on negligence that you have done little about it over the past two years.
...Without wanting to sound massively reactionary, surely there's no Arsenal fan left who can argue that Giroud still deserves to be playing? If you were to make a compilation of everything a striker should avoid doing during a football match, it would pretty much look exactly like his highlights from the game against Besiktas. The thing with Giroud is that these sorts of abysmal games are becoming the norm, so much so that you couldn't even really suggest that yesterday's game was a below-par performance, because that's the level we've come to expect from him.
I actually feel bad for him because he genuinely does try very hard and obviously he doesn't want to be woeful but it's frustrating hearing people making excuse after excuse for him. When he was terrible in February, it was because he'd played too much football and now in August he's terrible because he's not played enough football. Even with the optimum level of football (a few warm-up games plus a run out against Switzerland), he still conspired to be garbage in the World Cup Round of 16 game. Seriously, watch that game against Nigeria again and you'll see a performance on par with anything Fred served up in the World Cup.
Then apparently he needed runners off him and people with pace to help bring out the best in him. He played with Ramsey and Wilshere running in behind and Sanchez providing pace, and he was still rubbish. All the parameters change yet the one constant remains; Giroud is crap. Some Arsenal fans will defend him to the hilt but deep down they know he's awful as well and while I understand it's always preferable to support your players rather than slate them, no one is going to have a go at you for coming out and saying Giroud isn't good. It sounds a lot better than fabricating half-hearted statements about how his ability to bring others into the game is crucial when it's clearly not. I guess my frustration is levelled at people who say Giroud is good more than the man himself.
I know Arsene has said he is happy with his forward options but surely he must've looked at the strikers in the two games so far and reconsidered? Wenger is often slow to rectify problem areas (evidenced by the fact Van Persie still hasn't been adequately replaced) so it's inevitable the lack of a good striker will come back to haunt Arsenal this season.
Brett (PLEASE don't give Giroud a new contract), AFC
...Je déteste Olivier Giroud.
Joshua, South Africa
Campbell On Right Please
While I'll take a 0-0 - I can't have been the only gooner calling for Campbell to have been operating on the right wing.
For me Sanchez, with his pace, will cause the greatest amount of damage in a central position. Yesterday he looked really dangerous but had to come in from the flanks when if he was deployed more centrally he could have had a better shot at goal.
Jack Wilshere hasn't stepped up to the plate in persuading the manager to opt for him over Ozil so perhaps we should have gone 4-4-2 with Sanchez supporting Giroud up front.
The advantage of Campbell is that he has both Champions League experience and knows these sorts of surroundings with the weather conditions and the hostile atmosphere through his time over the sea at Olympiakos. On a night in which there were precious few chances, his ability to shoot from range may also have paid dividends.
The weekend should herald the return of the Germans with a tough trip to Everton so how about giving Campbell a go next week in the return leg? Ramsey won't be available and Jack doesn't look as though he's about to spark into life any time soon so is there really need a for three in the middle?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Two below-par performances so far this season. When your best player in the last three games has been a 19-year-old centre-back with less than 30 professional performances under his belt, you know you need to step it up quite a bit. Giroud was utter pants. As were Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshere. Really starting to feel the absence of Ozil.
1) Arsenal were unfairly treated, no doubt.
2) Ramsey is exquisite, Giroud however is sadly not.
3) Despite one or two scary moments Chambers looks the real deal, exciting for England to see him at centre-half.
4) I miss Demba Ba and his mile-long smile.
Arsenal Draw Not So Great
In my opinion 0-0 is a really dangerous result to be taking into a home leg. The consensus here in Turkey is that Besiktas are looking like a strong outfit this season, and if they were to somehow take the lead in the Emirates then put ten men in defence - especially if the goal comes relatively late in the game - what price Arsenal scoring two? A score draw is not beyond the realms of possibility and if that happens we can wave adieu to Arsenal's CL hopes this year.
I expect Arsenal to progress, but the second leg is far from a foregone conclusion.
Jamie Bedwell, Antalya
Spare A Thought For TC23
Rewind to August 2011. United are reeling from two City goals and there just doesn't seem to be a way out for them in the Community Shield. In comes young Tom and with his mobility, tidiness and clever passing changes the game. Short passes, long passes, side-ways ticking over passes and crossfield balls; he had them all in his locker. He starts the season like a house on fire. Until, big brutal Bolton happened. His ankle was broken in a tackle. He returned a few months later against Everton and had a great game in which he made Park look like a decent midfielder. A recurrence caused him to return to the treatment table.
A mini-resurgence occurred under the great Purplenose before he, like everybody else, lost his way under Dithering Dave. Now he is faced with life as a backup midfielder nomatter the formation. Any new additions will push him down the pecking order but not out of the club. Everyone who has seen him play can see that he is a trier. Sometimes it seems like he is trying too hard. Now I have to admit, I have a soft spot for TC23. When he is in form and in full flight, he is a thing of rare beauty. The fluidity he brings is unparalleled. However, it looks like it will be long before we get to see him again in his pomp.
Such is the sad tale of TomClev23. Somebody save him!!!!
Nastasic For United?
This might seem a bit forthcoming and devoid of all senses.
But I think my beloved Manchester United only needs just one more signing for this summer window. An increasingly out-of-favor 5th choice left-footed CB that would fit the 5-3-2 formation that we have been currently employing which best suits the philosophy that Van Gaal wants to instill into the team.
Manuel Pellegrini wanting a well-established back-up for rotation when Kompany is missing from that backline and the Sheik gifts him with Eliaquim Mangala. This is where Nastasic becomes surplus to requirements and would be the right moment for United to swoop in and pull this transfer off.
He also bears a very uncanny playing style resemblance to a certain legendary captain that was the Serbian destroyer Nemanja Vidic.
Excellent positioning skills, consistently focused and reads a game pretty well, a more than good pass completion record and adequately a monster in aerial duels as well. All this at the ripe age of 21 who City would be willing to let go at 17 Mil pounds to 20 Mil pounds which I consider a steal.
A well settled back-line of Jones-Evans-Nastasic should be more than enough for us to be in touching distance of 4th or 5th place by the turn of the year and be in pole position to sign central midfielder (fingers crossed for Strootman's recovery by then) and a winger and charge on towards May to secure a Champions League spot for next season.
But oh well why would City be willing to strengthen the Red half of Manchester to be able to mount back a return to the top?
Sri Hari (Hoping for a divine intervention like the one in Moscow to turn this all around) MUFC, Madras, India
Freedom After ITKs
After reading Daniel Storey's article on ITK accounts, I have felt a sudden rush of release, a rush of endorphins that came with unfollowing the three or four ITKs that had been plaguing my life since the end of the World Cup. I am not even sure how I got sucked in, there was the low after the high of the World Cup being (mostly) amazing, and suddenly there was a void in my football consumption. And I got sucked in, I became a magpie with people promising that beautiful shiny jewels such as Vidal, or Hummels, or more recently Di Maria would shortly be joining my beloved team to fix our post SAF crisis. Hook, line and stinker.
Then a voice of reason through the cloud of bulls**t, and I was free. Free to spend time listening to the wife prattle on about Kim and her family, instead of ignoring her in the hope of a 'no news' update from Chile. Thank you Daniel. Free at last, God almighty, I'm free at last.
Mark (Freefallin') Williamson
I was talking to a blind guy yesterday who supported Liverpool. I asked him did he listen to the Southampton game at the weekend. He said no and that he boycotts every team associated with Glen Hoddle due to his comments about the disabled. Southampton, Spurs, Wolves and whoever else. He also wrote to ITV about Hoddle working as a pundit there.
I know this happened years and years ago, but he has been in the news a lot lately, and is now at QPR. As far as I know he never retracted his comments and may still hold those beliefs. Are there any other disabled fans who feel the same about Hoddle?
Having seen the first round of games, here are my ten semi-bold predictions for the season:
10) Connor Wickham will score fewer than five league goals.
9) Winston Reid will be West Ham's highest-rated player.
8) Fernando will start more games than Fernandinho.
7) Commentators will find at least four different ways to pronounce 'Koscielny'.
6) Rémy Cabella will register no more than five league assists.
5) Aston Villa will finish no higher than 15th.
4) Leicester City will stay up.
3) Emmanuel Adebayor will score no more than ten league goals.
2) Before September 15, a journalist will begin a sentence with, "At least under David Moyes..."
And, of course:
1) Arsenal will finish fourth.
PeterG, Pennsylvania, USA