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The only way to save Man United’s season
It’s been a truly awful season, but if Marcus Rashford can keep Crimewatch’s Jamie Vardy out of the England squad, then at least some pride will be restored.
Get angry, Theo…
I have to say Theo’s response to not being picked really annoyed me.
He’s not been picked for the second successive tournament – is ‘oh well – never mind eh? good luck to the team’.
He’s 27 years old and supposed to be nearing the peak of his powers and he gives this mild-mannered rubbish response?
It reminds me of that scene in Rocky III where Apollo is shouting at Rocky asking him what the matter is with him and telling him that there is no tomorrow.
I want Walcott to be angry and to vow that this will never happen again, that he will fight for his England and Arsenal place – that he’s going to speak to the boss, hammer out his place in the team – on the wings – he’s not a striker and shoot for the stars next season.
You guys were right – no player sums up Arsenal better than Walcott – a resigned shake of the head is our reaction to defeat, while Spurs, as was seen at Chelsea, get really angry.
Walcott has two years to resurrect his England career or he’s going to find there is no tomorrow.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
One defender and a whole lot of Hart
Agree with you that Woy has picked the best players we have got. Two-thirds of the team look pretty good but oh dear where have all our defenders gone? All this youth development and we are going to a major tournament with one decent defender. This is borderline negligence.
Hart better have the gloves he wore for the Barcelona game because he is going to be a busy boy.
Having said that we look pretty awesome going forward. Not sure anyone can stop us scoring. I suspect we will need to score ALOT.
I still find it hard to believe that Kane is THAT good but he is! People seem to forget he is our one hope of winning this.
H, (got the Euro tingles)
Why does international form not count for anything?
When I first saw Roy’s England squad, I didn’t think anyone could have too many complaints (Mark Noble’s cheerleaders aside).
Reading the comments and looking on Twitter, it seems I was wrong, but I do have one question. Why do we not place as much importance on international form as we do on club form?
Now, I understand that with the gaps between games international form can soon be forgotten, club form is far more immediate. But I still think more people should take it into account before writing off Roy’s selection.
Depending where you look and who you listen too either one, two or all of Rooney, Wilshire and Delph shouldn’t be in the squad. Nonsense.
Before his injury, Wilshere was man of the match in his last 5/6 England games, and generally playing pretty darn well. Rooney bagged a load in qualifying. Delph was a regular, and at least seemed to offer as much – if not more – as Henderson has.
Yet because these players have played poorly for their club (or hardly at all in Wilshere’s case) they shouldn’t go to the Euros. Rubbish.
The routine, build-up, preparations and pressures playing for England are totally different to playing for your club (I’m not saying they’re easier or harder, just different) and these three have all shown they can adapt and turn in solid performances in these conditions. So shouldn’t their performance in these circumstances count for more than their recent league form?
To be honest, I’m not totally sure I buy my argument, but I felt like someone needed to stick up for Delph!
Ben (Noble played some of his worst football for us in the first three months of the season. But since then….) WHUFC, Godalming
…The England squad recently released is not exactly the most inspiring set of 26 players in the world, but the criticism Hodgson is getting is unjustified. Many are saying Wilshere, Delph and Townsend just haven’t played enough football to deserve a place in the Euros squad. Whilst I can see their reasoning for wanting these players nowhere near the England squad I disagree with them. All three players are experienced in the England set-up, they are all familiar with Roy and his tactics and have all performed well for England when called upon (7 MOTM awards in 8 qualifying matches for Wilshere, Overrated?). Why would Roy select players he can’t trust, who aren’t familiar with his tactics? There is no evidence to suggest the likes of Mark Noble can perform in a tactic like the one England play, and surely even the most Anti-Wilshere people have to admit that he was brilliant in qualifying. The only real reason not to select Wilshere/Delph is their injury problems in the past, yet both are currently match fit so why not select them? I’d rather risk it with Wilshere than have Mark Noble playing against the best midfielders Europe can offer.
Onto Rashford, Defoe has more goals and more experience. You would trust Defoe with a big chance much more than you would trust Rashford, but let’s be realistic if Defoe got into the final 23 players there is very little chance he would have played even a minute of football. If Kane is injured Rooney starts up front, if Rooney is injured Vardy starts up front etc until you reach Defoe. Now as bad as England’s injury problems have been in the past, there is no way four of our strikers will all get injured at the same tournament. Defoe would have been useless in the 26 and useless in the 23. At least by selecting Rashford in the 26 he can gain some vital experience and hopefully improve himself as a player. Better to have a good young player in the squad getting experience than a 33-year-old who will learn absolutely nothing by sitting on the bench for a few games.
Matt, Arsenal fan
The mood is high at Liverpool…
Biggest Liverpool game for a number of years on Wednesday, if we win the season will be remembered as a success, if not, well, we’ll be eighth with no European football which doesn’t sound great. But regardless, we can be optimistic going forward, as the last few months in particular the whole mood around the club has become extremely positive, which seems to be Klopp’s raison d’êtré to an extent; just to make the whole endeavour fun and enjoyable.
But it’s not as if Klopp’s arrival immediately made things 100% wonderful, despite his early big wins, after defeats such as at Watford and Newcastle lots of negativity and recriminations would return from the supporters. The mood is great recently, what in particular has caused this?
It’s obviously improved as home form has in recent months, since Danny Sturridge has been back fit as we’ve remembered scoring goals is great, and obviously the Europa run is a huge reason for the positivity returning.
But I also think the club backing down on the ticket prices can be seen as a huge turning point. Here’s the numbers, all comps, so PPG is a bit random but it’s the easiest way to compare.
Under Klopp, pre ticket price reductions announcement:
Under Klopp, post ticket price reductions announcement:
So well in FSG and the club, we need to have the club, manager, fans and players do their bit equally to maintain this environment going on at the minute, these numbers show the importance of the mood which the club helped improve by backing down.
Arsenal a step up from Leicester
Is it just me, or was William suggesting that Leicester are now the fifth biggest club in the world? Only four clubs would be a step up for a Leicester player? I do hope that was hyperbole!
Yes, they are the champions, they played brilliant football and it is football romanticism at its finest. But – and I don’t particularly care for Arsenal – even I admit that signing for them would be a step up for any Leicester player. For what it’s worth I’d like to see most of their players stay put, if only to find out whether it was a one-season wonder or if they’re the real deal, but don’t go getting ahead of yourself; as of right now, Leicester have only emulated the achievements of Blackburn Rovers, circa 1995, and we all know how that one panned out.
How can Wenger and Giroud be losers?
Surely you should’ve picked someone else to write the Losers piece if you wanted to go with the angle that Arsene and Olivier Giroud are ‘losers’?
I had a quick check, what were Daniel Storey’s predictions for the season?
Daniel Storey:*Flicks through last season’s predictions* Oh I got this right last season. So I’m allowed to not have a clue this time around. No really…no clue. You know what, I’m going for Chelsea again. And I didn’t think I would.
(Next morning): I’m going City, with Chelsea second.
Daniel Storey: Can I just say now that I really think Liverpool will be much better? Thanks. I just don’t know if they can be better than any of the rest. Chelsea second, Arsenal third and United fourth. I’m totally unsure about that, too.
We were not favourites to win. We had better odds than we have had in recent years, a few more pundits and commentators stuck their necks out and said we had a chance – but we were never favourites. Even those that did back us did so rather hesitantly, almost as if there was a perfect storm brewing in our favour.
(The point is that expectations change and when Arsenal were top of the table at the turn of the year, they really should have won the title – Ed).
As it transpires there was a perfect storm, but the storm was not dedicated to anyone. No top four team performed. Arsenal were victims, not beneficiaries. Turns out this season was the perfect storm, but Leicester were the ones who navigated it.
Back to the point: Nobody expected us to win the league at the start, nobody thought Olivier Giroud was a good enough striker to win the league at the start and nobody thought Arsene had done sufficient work on the squad to challenge on multiple fronts.
We knew this at the start of the season, so by what logic are Arsene and Olivier losers? They’ve done exactly what, if not better than most people would have expected at the start of the season. Arsene guided us to second when Storey himself thought we’d be third. Giroud is about as good as anyone thought he was, but actually scored more goals this season than last. Nobody thought we had sufficient cover, and we didn’t – but Elneny and Iwobi both look reasonable enough to be in the picture.
This was not a bad season for Arsene or Giroud. It was a bad season for Arsenal. So bad that we finished second. Above most people’s expectations, but below what we dared to dream.
If Arsenal fans seem insufferable to the majority at the moment, ask yourself this: How many places below us did you finish? What opportunity did we miss that you didn’t?
BrixtonGooner (Any Leicester fans who want to mock are welcome, the league doesn’t lie. They are better than us.)
…I’m getting seriously sick of hearing how Arsenal should have won the Prem this year because Man U, City, Chelsea and Liverpool(?) all underperformed.
Well Arsenal also underperformed. Just less so than the other ‘Big’ clubs. So why was it our failure and not theirs?
I, like most Gooners, will continue to enjoy the Sp*rs implosion and the late but sunny St Totteringham’s Day this year as any right-minded football fan would if it was they and their local rivals in the same position. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t.
Arsenal played sh*t, failed, and still came second – our highest finish since 2005. Spurs played the finest football known to man (TM), yet still failed and finished below us.
Let’s see how summer pans out before making any judgements about shifts in power or whatever.
For what it’s worth I reckon Wenger will go through the usual cycle of summer – go in for players half-arsed, miss out, buy some French guy, mention the tough market and the shortage of top top quality players, talk up the benefits of squad stability, promote youth, L.A.N.S overload, buy someone from Germany, say how tough the market is, top top quality, market tough, youth, top, buy some French youth with dodgy knees, lose to Accrington Stanley on the opening day.
Alay (sigh), N15 Gooner
Give Chelsea more of a kicking…
There were a few glaring omissions from the Premier League Losers list. Because I’m such a nice guy, I’ll do it for you:
– Eden Hazard
– Cesc Fabregas
– Branislav Ivanovic
– John Terry
– Nemanja Matic
– A detailed piece on how utterly rubbish Chelsea have been this year (and the Mourinho part doesn’t count – he’s such a tw*t that he deserves his own Losers section)
I don’t know how any of these were missed – I think Roman must be funding Storey’s quest to cut off one of Lukaku’s gorgeous locks.
Conor (Big Chelsea fan), Sydney
…Long-time reader, first-time contributor.
I think I have seen the biggest oversight I’ve ever seen on a Daniel Storey article: Why isn’t Chelsea on the loser’s list?
We have witnessed the biggest fairytale in the history of the EPL but we have also witnessed the worst defence of the title in my lifetime. We saw players who dominated a whole season turn into wimps. I love Eden Hazard more than the average Chelsea fan, but all of a sudden he got scared to dribble & despite his four late goals, he just had the worst season I’ve ever watched of a PFA Player of the Year winner.
The tenacious and creative Oscar became a shell of himself. Diego Costa got fat and couldn’t score again until Hiddink came. Fabregas got timid. The defense I thought would last at least two or three seasons of dependability has been cut through more times I’ve ever seen Chelsea cut through (can never forget Harry Kane destroying JT & Cahill at the Lane on New Year’s Day 2015) and you decide of forget all this & give a weak ode to Chelsea’s season with five small paragraphs blaming only Mourinho? If you think he’s the only reason Chelsea fell from grace then I couldn’t disagree more. EVERYONE IN THE CLUB IS RESPONSIBLE!
Roman Abramovich is responsible for not splashing the cash to upgrade what he had. Mourinho is responsible for never rotating enough during the title-winning campaign, which made him give the players a longer break than usual before pre-season (explains the lack of sharpness) & didn’t stay on them to keep the winning mentality (Fabregas said it), & the Eva episode was completely unnecessary. The players are responsible for being complacent after winning.
I believe Conte’s strict approach should help the flair players vary their movement a lot more rather than just dropping deep to get the ball all the time. I hope he can buy a top-class center-back, at least one defensively competent attacking fullback, a replacement for Mikel who can defend and attack from central midfield & a quality back up who can bench Diego Costa for a big game or two. I hope we return to the glory days because the financial health of the EPL has made it more unpredictable than it has ever been, so it is not a certainty that we do, but I believe we will.
…leaving Chelsea out of your Losers List was a huge mistake.
Yinka Adebiyi, Lagos, Nigeria
Is possession football really a loser?
It’s probably a bit pedantic, but I think to say ‘possession football’ is a loser from the premier league season is a bit extreme. After all, the stats indicate the top four teams in possession terms were Arsenal, Man City, Spurs and Man Utd – the (likely) rest of the top five, apart from Leicester (18th in possession).
While possession wins most of the time, the lesson is that it’s not the only way and teams that can’t compete with the ‘big’ teams in terms of quality and a possession-based game should look to play a different type of system that plays to their strengths, and the bigger teams’ weaknesses (particularly in games against the bigger teams).
Pulis, to his credit, has always tried to do this (and West Brom were 20th in possession this season), and you could say the success of Dortmund and Athletico in recent years has been based on similar principles. If you have the most money and the best players, a possession-based approach probably has the best chance of success. If you’re not in that situation, it is sensible to try to innovate tactically – this contest of better players against innovative systems is part of what keeps football so unpredictable, and addictive!
Tottenham’s decisive moment: Arsenal’s equaliser
Actually the decisive moment in Tottenham’s season came at 75 minutes against Arsenal at the Lane when they equalised, much though it pains me to say it. Having come from behind and gone ahead with a glorious Harry Kane curler, we were top of the league on an ‘as it stands’ basis for 13 glorious minutes and threatening to run riot against a much inferior if motivated local rival, who had had a man sent off. We ended up just about holding on for the draw. After that, we continued to win plenty of games but catching up with Leicester was always a case of ‘if we win that and they lose that…’; it never looked like happening because Leicester were too durable.
I didn’t catch the last round of games because it’s the cricket season now and I was enjoying the sun at Worcestershire v Sussex. Did I miss anything?
Andrew (and Gloucester Rugby let me down too) Warmington, THFC
Man United’s decisive moment: Luke Shaw’s injury
This is my first time writing in so I am not holding out hope of being published given the excellent exploits of others.
I may be clutching at straws, but for me the decisive moment of United’s season, was Luke Shaw’s injury. Maybe LVG wouldn’t have needed to chop and change so much if that didn’t happen. Another pretty s**t moment was that 0-3 Arsenal result and hearing talk about being the better team in the 2nd half…FFS!
Anyway enough of that rambling. What are the odds on a 20-0 United win this evening?
Wayne NotRooney, Trinidadian in Equatorial Guinea
Yeovil’s decisive moment: A 0-0 draw
Although we only get mentioned in the mailbox as a punchline for minnow team premiership clubs are inconvenienced by having to face in the F.A Cup 3rd round, I’m going to write about my team’s decisive moment.
I feel it all turned on a 0-0 draw with Plymouth in late February. They were second in the table and we were very much threatening to suffer a third relegation in 3 years. We’d been haemorrhaging goals all season. But what followed was four 1-0 wins on the spin which saw us ease away from relegation.
The longest run of clean sheets I can remember the club having in a long time.
Hopefully Darren Way can get the club looking up again after a couple of dreadful seasons.
Rob, Éire, (We’re too small to even do a Leicester) Yeovil Town F.C
Some end-of-season awards (to add to F365’s)
Best Performance in a Horror Film: Spurs.
Nostradamus Award: When he arrived at Sunderland, Sam Allardyce said 38 points would be enough to stay up. In their next-to-last game, Sunderland clinched survival with exactly 38. Style points deducted for reminding everyone of his prediction.
Scoring at the Right Time: Nine of Salomon Rondon’s ten goals in all competitions gave West Brom the lead. The other was a stoppage-time equaliser.
Long John Silver Impersonator: Cesc Fabregas, who took 41 shots with his right foot, 0 with his left.
Individual Moment of the Season: Etienne Capoue’s triple nutmeg.
Save of the Season: Hugo Lloris on Jonas Olsson.
“It’s the Toughest League in the World”: Aston Villa 1-1 Leicester City, Week 22.
Superman Award: Almen Abdi, who actually finished ahead of N’Golo Kanté in passes blocked per 90 minutes.
Player Most Fun to Watch When Things Go Wrong: Marko Arnautovic.
Artificial Intelligence Apocalypse: Joleon Lescott’s cell phone takes control.
Stat of the Year: Leicester City engaged in an incredible 260 more aerial duels than any other team, but finished dead last in percentage of aerial duels won. Remind me, where did they finish?
Best Touchline Event: Louis van Gaal’s dive, degree of difficulty 2.6.
Boaty McBoatface Award: Christian Fuchs of Leicester City, whose last name means ‘fox’ in German.
Sit Back and They Can’t Beat Us: Norwich City, who finished last in both tackles and interceptions.
Leave Them Alone, They’ll Beat Themselves: Norwich City, who by a large margin were fouled less than any other team.
Special Citation: Tony Pulis, who said out loud he wanted Leicester City to win the title, then proceeded to get draws with both Leicester and Tottenham.
The Game Really Is For the Fans Award: Newcastle United supporters, suffering horribly under Mike Ashley, giving so much love to Rafa Benitez that he now says his heart tells him to stay on Tyneside.
Headline of the Year/Decade/Century/Millennium/Geological Era: ‘Arsène Wenger frustrated with Arsenal’s failure to win the title’ (Observer)
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA