Mails: Arsenal despair, Man United delight

Date published: Monday 29th February 2016 11:03

Marcus Rashford Juan Mata Football365

Short Mailbox, this. Keep up the excellent work and send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com

 

Ad infinitum
We’re gonna finish fourth aren’t we?

This, like every other season over the past decade, really sucks.

Regards,
TK (South Africa)

 

16 conclusions – ours are better
United brought a stick to a gun fight. The stick was Marcus Rashford.

I want to get carried away but for every Nistelroy we have a Kiko Macheda. Good thing the kid is composed. I hope he does well.

While Marcus earns the plaudits, the real hero of the game was Mata. His intelligence to pull the defenders off in the first two goals was key for Marcus to find the space and exploit it.

The other key facet is his understanding with Ander Herrera. Their partnership is what we should build United on.

Can we applaud LVG for playing Marcus over Januzaj? He could have stuck to a player who has played as a striker before and has played many games in the first team. It’s a bold decision and he deserves credit for putting the kids in there. He sure trusts them more than we trust him as fans.

That walk over and theatrical dive. If it was not planned, it was endearing. If it was planned then it was genius. Either ways I like him more for his show of emotion.

Depay is playing better. He has potential and I sure hope he develops soon. It would be great to see a star in a couple of years time.

David De Gea inspires confidence and made us feel at ease behind that defence. He could have done better for Welbecks goal. That is probably a rare rare error, seemed to react marginally late.

Ozil is class. He should be playing behind a Ronaldo. Why he left Madrid is something that Ronaldo questions. Why he joined Arsenal is something the world questions. To play it to Welbeck, Walcott and Girourd should be super frustrating.

I started the game hoping for a draw and a 2-0 loss at worst. After all we were shit this season and clearly falling of a hurting ass. 40 mins and I remembered we were playing Arsenal after all. Nothing much changes there.

Czech is class. That we scored three goals against him surprises me. Funny game this.

Welbeck scored but bloody hell, isn’t he frustrating? Walcott played? Sanchez did play. He played crap.

Wenger bought on Elneny and maybe Arsene knows after all. He bought another flamini. He comes with the mandatory yellow card too.

The referee had a shocker. Too many stupid calls. He missed a handball and got a lot of calls wrong.

It was endearing to see Lingard yelling at Depay and Mata to take it to the corner. Feels nice to see a kid use his brains. We were after all the underdogs.

Can we relish the fact that Leicester and Tottenham are top two with 11 games to go. Feels wonderful to imagine that we may have a new champion this year. Go Leicester go.
Sudarsan (United should buy Mahrez and Kante next season)

 

That was sh*t
I’m normally one to say calm down, it wasn’t that bad. This time it really really was. Lack of striker signings and the such are a complete red herring today. The players who started for us are capable of serving up an 8-2 to utd. But instead we beat ourselves as usual.

Walcott comfortably had his worst ever game for Arsenal. Utd barely had a look in before he gave them the ball 40 yards out. Alexis is far too famous to help his full-back out, they score. Utd go down our left again, simple cross, Gabriel ignores, it they score again.

We get a goal back, should go on and win. Rashford shows himself to have utd blood running through his veins as he gets away with a blatant hand ball on the line. Leicester and Tottenham have a huge advantage in that when they’re allowed penalties. Arsenal and City players can be fouled in the box at will this season.

The in the second half we huff and puff and get absolutely nowhere. Sanchez is officially missing. Ramsey and Coquelin are a poor partnership when the onus is on us to have the ball. Mertesacker makes errors and gets dropped. Gabriel shows us why this should never happen.

The good news is that we’re 5 points off top and able to swing some deficit if we beat Tottenham next week. The bad news is that we’re awful right now. It often takes a particularly bad result around this time of the year to send us on a good run, either this is it, or we’ve given up on the most open-goal of a premier league title there has ever been
James Gooner

 

Oh, Arsenal
Right – am I supposed to be incandescent with rage right now?

Calling out Theo Walcott on his four league goals for the season? Jack Wilshere for always being injured? or perhaps the manager for overseeing this annual sh*t show?

You know what? I just can’t be bothered this season – I’m counting down the days until the cricket season starts so I can go and watch Middx.

See you all in August for more of the same. I’m out.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

3 things certain in life, death, taxes and Wenger failure.
Distraught Nash AFC

 

Pellegrini in
As inevitable as night following day.

Henry got it bang on – none of them looked like they wanted/thought they could win the title.

For me, Wenger has to go at the end of the season even if we win the league (or the FA Cup).

Pellegrini to replace him – he fits the bill. He’s nice and he might win stuff.

9 games without a win now at OT.

Rubbish.
Stu AFC

 

Incompetent board
I want to start by saying that I’ve been Wenger in for years. His brilliant title winning teams-the football they played was in my opinion the best ever seen in this country. During the barren years I understood the way we played and why we didn’t make no big signings. Even when we bottled it in 2013/14 I was upset but never joined the wenger out lot. But I do think now is the time for him to go.

Yesterday we played what has to be the worst utd side ive seen in many years – first time weve been favourites at OT for many-a-year. Yet despite this, we played absolute muck, and couldnt even get a point, let alone three which effectively kills our title hopes. The worst thing is these were standard tactics which weve faced many times – double up on alexis when he cuts in, force ozil to drop deep or pass sideways and watch as the rest of the team flounder about. Objectively, Walcott has to go, after what has to be the worst performance ive ever seen from him in a arsenal shirt, new CB and a CM who can actually pass the ball when cazorla isnt around. Ozil and Monreal are the only ones who can come away with any pride after that performance. And yet we all know wenger will keep walcott -second highest paid player, lets not forget- keep insisting wilshere will come good and stick with Mertesacker at the back. The same cycle of a good start, implode in February, or bad start and then a good run in the home stretch of the season is all we can expect.

What makes it even worse is it looks like Spurs may win the league this year – on a weekend we embarrass ourselves with our famed “mental strength”, they and Leicester both grind out wins, albeit against worse opposition. Despite signing cech and his winning mentality, we still cant turn up when the pressure is well and truly on. We have no leaders – Mertesacker, Cech and coquelin being the only players who have any leadership qualities whatsoever. Ozil has carried the team for a lot of the season – he will most likely break the assist record, but could anyone truly blame him if he leaves in the summer, or plays out his contract? And the incompetence of the board in missing out on Guardiola, Ancelotii and Klopp means there arent even any world class replacements for Wenger, I think Koeman would be a good fit, as well as De Boer from ajax, but Simeone would be a perfect replacement. We play spurs next week – win and perhaps were back in the race – but objectively i cant see any way we do win. Maybe if sanchez returns to his pre-injury form, Ramsey remembers how to pass a ball and Walcott is sent somewhere far away from the team we may squeak a win, but even then were looking at having to win all our remaining fixtures to win the league, and with this team and Wengers approach I cant see any way that happens.
Yusuf, Angry Gooner, London

 

Arsene Wenger: Comedian
It occurs to me that Mr Wenger may be retiring from management in the near future. He has clearly given this some thought and is already preparing for his next career move – Comedy.

With his clever catchphrase of “I did not see the incident with ” despite being a few yards away, he has already created one iconic, comic character. Adding his recent incredible, comedic timing with comments about mental strength and momentum just prior to team displays where these attributes did not feature; he has a real shot at being a star. Wirg a supporting cast of (soon-to-be-ex?) Premier League managers and Arsenal players and you have the makings of a lucrative variety show.

Walcott as the invisible man;
Sanchez and van Gaal as tumblers;
Giroud as the posturing strong man;
McClaren and Carver as football’s answer to the Chuckle brothers; etc.

Has anyone else noticed any potential cast members?
Matthew (Looking forwards to the next comedy installment from Wenger), Zurich

 

Happy birthday
First off, sorry. You’re probably inundated with mails about Wenger and this is another one to the pile, but I can’t help myself. I think the footballing gods are in the middle of an experiment with Arsene Wenger. Their thesis is this: “No matter the competition, Arsene will never win the Premier League again.” Their method: “Remove a Premier League winner year after year.” The experiment began three years ago in 2013. Manchester United won the title and phase one of the experiment resulted in removing Ferguson leading to the collapse of United. In 2014 Manchester City won the title, phase two of the experiment was a bit more complicated but City haven’t been the same team since. Last year, Chelsea won the title and we all know what the footballing gods did to them.

So here we stand three years into the experiment. Manchester City sit in fourth, Manchester United in fifth and Chelsea eleventh. Leicester are top and once they win it, the footballing gods will tear their team apart in the transfer window and so they too shall be removed. The experiment goes on.
Mark (You have to publish this nonsense, it’s my birthday today.)

 

Time to go
Arsene, please leave leave and leave again. You are worlds sport best and most successful “nearly man”. You couldn’t drag yourself past the finish line if you were one yard away with a one kilometer lead. You have a winning black cloud over your head that will never lift. Please go and instill your version of “mental strength” on someone else because we have seen it for too long….and quite frankly we’ve seen enough. Oh and please, on your way out take Kroenke with you!
Ken “seen it all before” B

 

The floor is Stewie’s
So which excuses will the AKBs be going with today? Someone wrote into the mailbox in Friday saying there would be NO excuses this time round at OT. After all last time Wenger sent a shadow team decimated by injuries he lost 8-2!

* Injuries? Oh wait. LVG had about 14 of them. No Martial, no Rooney, no Smalling.

* Experience? Walcott the the donkey on £130k a week made to look every inch the mediocrity he is by young Rashford. Take a bow Arsene.

* LVG team who can’t score in a brothel, with a shadow reserve team of kids, puts 3 past Wenger.

* That OT Complex – remember that Moyes United team that couldn’t buy a win against anyone in the top 8? Naturally, Arsene obliged. Skirt lifted.

* with Spurs and Pochettino building a new stadium and a wage bill half of Wenger’s, and a Leicester side who collectively cost less than Ozil alone – performing superbly with players that aren’t even theirs and having been given little time to build a side – can anybody please give me one justifiable way Wenger cab remain in his job?
Stewie Griffin (funniest thing is that such muppets still exist! Title challenge? LOL)

 

Acceptance
I’m finally accepting it. Arsene is wrong. Arsenal are mentally weak.

This season alone is full of examples. Every man and his dog beating Chelsea earlier in the season and Arsenal contrive to lose to them twice. Man U in utter disarray and Arsenal bottle it. Arsenal in a microcosm.

It’s defeatist and I am loathe to agree with that kn*b Stewie Griffin, but there will be no title in the year where it has at times seemed the easiest to attain. The spuds will finish above us. I’m rooting for Leicester to win the league, but only because we won’t.
– Matt (This does not mean “Arsene Out”) Wright, Gunner in Aus.

 

Varela, Depay, Herrera: Lovely
Before anything else, how dare you overlook the fact that Aaron Ramsey was a lucky boy for not seeing red? That is unacceptable – both him being let off the hook and f365 missing out!

Blind was error free and played like a proper senior player. I can be you all the mums that come to pick up the kids after the match will be keeping their eye on him!

I do think that criticism for Wenger / Arsenal is over the top. Yes, it’s that time of the year. Yes, it’s Barca. Yes, it’s United. But if they can even draw against Spurs and respectably exit Europe, a winnable run of games awaits.

Special mention for (I) Varela who I thought was destined for a Rafael-esque second yellow after picking up an early caution. He was caught out of a position a few times but he came through really well. Quick, good crosses, and a deep set of lungs. Made the most of keeping a subdued Sanchez quiet.

Special mention (II) for Depay who was crumbled after being subbed off at half time when Utd lost 3-0 at the Emirates. On Sunday, he suddenly seemed a yard quicker and that bit more stronger. And that first time rabona-esque ball control was …sexy. Onwards and upwards lad.

Special mention (III) for Herrera. He’s a fan’s player. He got lucky with his goal, but at that stage in the game, after tracking and harrowing Ramsey and Sanchez, helping Varela, it takes something to bust your lungs and make yourself available on the edge of the box the way he did. Loved the celebration.

Van Gaal and United, for once, showed less adherence to tactics and just more blood. More running, more guts. Mata in particular was out of breath scampering around closing Arsenal down throughout the match. Van Gaal’s gone from a Bond villain who is elegant and indirect, to the Bond villain who is hands on and desperate – all in the course of that dive and outburst. Oh Louis!

Just once more – Bastian, Martial, Rooney, Fellaini, Jones, Smalling, Darmian, Shaw, Valencia, Keane, Jackson, Young. Van Gaal surely has the empathy / sympathy of any logical football follower. I hope players keep coming back.
Akshat

 

Praise for young United
I imagine it will be difficult to get through all the mailbox traffic this morning between infuriated Arsenal fans and Marcus Rashford’s exploits.

But for the first time in a long time, a United performance has genuinely out a smile on my face. It wasn’t just the result, it wasn’t even Louis van Gaal falling over at the sight of the edge of his own technical area.

It was fantastic to see the traditions of the club upheld and another batch of youngsters coming through the ranks and adding to the first team. van Gaal has received a lot of criticism this season, but as F365 pointed out a few weeks ago, he must be commended for his willingness to place faith in youth.

He won’t be the one to benefit (hopefully that’ll be Giggs and not José by the way), but if we can keep these youngsters together, in two or three years time, we could well be back on top of the game again.
James, (Let’s please not crucify Rashford when the inevitable dry spell comes) MUFC

 

King Louis’s youth policy has been well documented but recently has been a bit of a stick with which to beat him with. Somewhere on this site someone wrote something along the lines of: well, LvG had nothing to do with all this trust in youth, with these many injuries this is enforced so really he’s got no option but to play with kids.

Nah, nope, wrong, incorrect, absolute b*******. A few seasons ago, Arsenal came to Old Trafford with a similar situation and I’d 8-2 go on about that day but you know the result. THAT was enforced.

King Louis has recently let go of most of the squad he inherited. He claims all that fat was trimmed to keep the door open for the youngsters. I believe he’d say the same thing had United secured one more top class forward and/or winger like they seemed to want. Tyler Blackett was one of the casualties of the firesales.

Blackett is a perfect example of a player who may have been kept around (and was an okay 6th choice CB) and used in a game like today if injuries ‘forced’ his inclusion; no one could’ve faulted LvG for playing him. Except for LvG, because Blackett was not good enough and so he was sold.

Paddy McNair, Andreas Pereira and Adnan Januzaj are three players who are frequently fit but not frequently featuring. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that Lingard is any better than Pereira except with the latter something is not quite right yet (whether that’s attitude, tactical nous, whatever).

Yes injuries are forcing LvG to hand out more shirt numbers than he planned this season but the ‘youth policy’ shows us LvG taking every opportunity to bring through as many players at once as possible. Those who are showing promise are allowed to a run of games; those who are not are sold or allowed to stagnate, but replaced nonetheless.

I wrote into the mailbox a while ago saying that IF LvG need be sacked (I was and still am an LvG-apologist), he should be replaced with someone like Warren Joyce who would air out the rest of this talented U21 team for the remainder of the season. LvG is doing that by design more than accident, and its telling as each young player is playing with the confidence of being depended upon, rather than the fear of being expected to step up.

As a result, look how strong a foundation Manchester United are developing beyond the first team. The first XI players have still not perfected the art of playing and winning a football game together but United coaches are fast developing a very good second and maybe even third string side. Sure, there’s no point of that this season but I do expect these next few years to be incredibly positive for Manchester United.

Louis Van Gaal doesn’t want to be missed by the United faithful when he’s done, he wants only to be thanked for his time here. And thanked he shall be for responding to on-field failures and injury crises by bringing in the class of 2016.
Emad MUFC Boston

 

Free-flowing football, decisive attacks, three goals, an 18yr old hero, and the inevitable embarrassment of Arsenal at OT. All this with a second or third string team filled with our U21s and U18s. Things can only get better when we have our full selection in March, right?

Well, not really. Apart from Smalling and Martial, every other player would make the team slower and less dynamic. Felliani and Bastian are too slow for any kind of quick transition. Valencia and Young would give us a standard 6/10 with limited creativity and a shaky defensive performance. Darmian is still not convincing and has massive issues against pace (Sanchez at Emirates is a reminder). Rooney.. well, less said the better.

So while Van Gaal loves to remind us of how strong our selection will be in March, it might mean a return to the sleep-inducing, 70% possession, 1 shot on target type of football. Apparently we had just 40% of the ball against Arsenal.

Instead, I really do hope that LVG or whoever the manager might be next year, keeps the faith in our youngsters. It really is an exciting time as a United fan. Martial, Depay, Lingard, Pereira, Rashford, Januzag, Borthwick, Varela, Riley and Fosu-Mensah! (Quick note on Fosu-Mensah, who is probably the least known of the lot, but heard he has been exceptional for our U18s over the last few months. Comparisons to Rio on composure, pace and strength).

In conclusion, all we need to become serious contenders and start winning trophies again: Build our team around this young crop, sign a good CB and a creative midfielder / winger this summer, while letting go of Felliani, Rooney, Carrick, Young, Valencia and probably Bastian too. And of course not sign Jose, the serial youth killer! And if the Glazers are listening, this isn’t just our best plan going forward but also the most cost effective one, by getting crazy salaries off our books and avoiding massive transfer fees.

Signing off now for a good night’s sleep after a United game (a rarity this season)!
Bharath (loved the hilarious Van Gaal dive and the related memes on the net – Best LVG moment at Utd)

 

It wasn’t just Rashford…
I am sure you will get a lot of mails praising Rashford, but I would like to bring your attention to a couple of other players yesterday. The first one of those is Varela. The boy has got a very good footballing brain and can really put in a cross. He has played last 2 matches with a very level head and has been responsible for at least 3 goals which we have scored. 1 against midsomethingland and 2 against Arsenal. In midweek, he had a clear chance to put in a cross with his right, but chose to took a touch, cut back inside and then put in a cross with his left which ended in a tap in for Rashford. Then against Arsenal, he provided the width by venturing forward and crossing the ball first time. None of Arsenal players were expecting that and that is one of the reason Gabriel did what he did. For the second goal, he ventured forward again and saved a loose pass from Mata which gave Lingard the chance to provide the assist. It might have only been a couple of games, but the performance show he can play at higher levels, especially yesterday, where he was booked quite early but still remained calm and completed all the duties which was asked of him.

Second player, I would like to mention is Morgan Schneiderlin. The guy was immense yesterday and disrupted Arsenal play end no. of times with his positioning and tackling. He was at fault for the first goal where he let Welbeck run free but being one of the senior players in the squad, he played with a right mindset and helped the youngster on both sides by doubling up when required.

Final word, If United has to move forward then I believe Rooney has no place in the team. Sorry Rooney, you have been great and all, but it’s time to bid farewell so that these young players express themselves and don’t play in your shadow. Please move to China.
Vatsyayan MUFC (Beating Arsenal is the United way)

 

United delight
I’m sure the mailbox will be packed full of Manchester United fans so why don’t I join the droves streaming in. Daniel Storey’s piece on the scorpion and the frog was sketchy at best but I get it and I still enjoyed it. That’s because my mood at the time was so elevated that I’m sure I could have grinned through his damning postmortem with my hair on fire.

There are so many reasons for the victory at Old Trafford being so sweet:

1. Marcus Rashford.
2. Six academy graduates played for Manchester United yesterday.
3. Arsenal’s starting striker was wait for it…….a Manchester United academy graduate.
4. Louis van Gaal got off his seat.
5. Loius van Gaal’s dive, complete with clipboard and pen still has me chuckling – Arsene Wenger wasn’t too impressed.
6. Memphis Depay’s “scorpion kick” control of the ball – never seen that before.
7. The famously gutless Arsenal performance once again gracing Old Trafford (complete with an obviously classy and equally frustrated Mesut Ozil).
8. The obvious meltdown which will ensue at Arsenal, groundhog day and all the rest of it. When one considers Arsenal will play Spurs next it looks rather grim. They now have a crucial run of games and surely must be reeling after this loss.

This game could not have turned out sweeter for United fans. No really it couldn’t.
Mandisi (Now We Know Why LvG Stays Seated) MUFC

 

Leicester can do it
Despite Leicester’s win on the weekend I’m sure there will continue to be a lot of negativity. “Surely they can’t win the league”, folks will proclaim. “They’re Leicester!”

As a counterpoint to this, I’d like to remind everybody of something similar that happened on the continent a bit over a decade ago.

During the 2002/2003 La Liga season perennial underdogs Real Socieadad mounted a title challenge. After finishing in a respectable mid-table position the year before La Real were able to kick on and with the help of two very in form forwards and a brilliant central midfielder they punched well above their weight.

Sound familiar?

Anyway, as we all know Sociedad won the league that year. Their best players maintained their form and didn’t leave for bigger clubs, they made constant progress and won a bunch more league titles and became European heavyweights. Oh, they also appointed a string of really great managers.

Who’s to bet against history repeating itself?

Best,
James

 

I had a little chuckle to myself reading Kirit, North West London’s reasons why Spurs will win the league from Friday evening’s mailbox. Just to recap:

“It is now clear that they are the only contenders this season who have the three things a title-winning team must have:
1. A top manager/coach whose game plan the players execute faithfully and without question, every time they go on the pitch.

2. A group of talented, and more importantly, hungry players who don’t know when to stop.

3. Players who all have absolute confidence in each other, on the pitch.”

Call me biased but if you didn’t know who he was talking about beforehand you’d surely be forgiven for immediately picturing a certain swarm of royal blue shirts.
Adam, LCFC (Wake up Kirit we’ll be doing the dreaming here ta very much!)

 

Poor Dan
I’ve been an ardent follower of F365 for over 6years and this will be the second time I’m sending in a mail. I just read the “glorious little Tinkerman” thing and I just couldn’t help but send a Mail. Saying that Matt “Hit the nail on the Head” about Leicester is saying the obvious! You are a great Writer Matt, and I know you’ll always Be!
Cheers from Nigeria,West Africa! Semmy(Sarah’s great too, Ofcourse !)Nigeria.

 

A warm and fuzzy Spurs fan
I was sitting up in the West Stand at White Hart Lane yesterday afternoon, watching Spurs absolutely pummel Swansea 2-1, and believe me that was a 2-1 thrashing, as even acknowledged (very graciously, BTW, well done Sir) by Alan Curtis.

Anyway, as I was watching this Spurs team go through the gears and get the result, I suddenly came over all warm and fuzzy…

And it was nothing to do with the game going on in front of me. The thought that crossed my mind, and made me go all giggly and girly, was how good is the spine of this Spurs team, namely:

Lloris—->Vertongen, Alderwiereld—->Dembele, Dier,Alli—-> Kane

WOW! How good is that!

Makes a mockery of all those ex-pro pundits, who keep coming out with the lazy “group think” analysis which says that “this is the best chance that Spurs will have of winning the title, because next year all the ‘big teams’ will buy players and take their rightful place ahead of Spurs in the league table.”

Well let’s think about that for a minute – so that means that all of the sudden, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea are going to find 7 players of this quality, between 1st June and 30th September, and hence be in a position to put out teams which better Tottenham’s spine, within 6 months?

That’s 3×7=21 players. So there are 21 players of this quality and class just lying around to be plucked from somewhere and put into these 3 teams? Really?…I don’t think so somehow.

So I have bad news for these so called experts – this season isn’t the best chance that Spurs have of winning the title, this season is merely the FIRST chance that this Spurs team has of winning the title.
Kirit, North West London (Cheer up my gooner friends…Spurs winning the title will the best thing that will ever happen to you, since even Wenger will not be able to explain that away to the Arsenal board and the AFC board will finally have to relieve him of his tenure and professorship…..I assume it’s “Wenger Out”, this week….)

 

Hello Liverpool darkness, my old friend
Winty’s thoughts were so spot on that it isn’t really worth writing much other than to wonder whether Moreno started because Flanagan isn’t really fully fit yet or because Klopp really thinks Moreno is better.

Moreno is not a good defender, I’d normally make jokey comparisons to Kyle Walker in terms of his ability to brainfart but Walker has, unfathomably, learnt how to defend quite competently. Given Man City obviously have better players we should have set up to play the best defensive players we have, particularly in the defensive positions.

Sad times. I really wanted us to win that tiny cup.
Minty, LFC

 

Almost, but not quite, such is the life I’ve grown accustomed to as a Liverpool fan. I’ve lost count of the amount of times the team has been at the cusp of something great, only to trip at the final hurdle and to see everything come crashing down (2013-14 season, League and FA cups last season, a chance to get 4th, etc.).

Man City were the better team all around, and had Liverpool won, it would’ve been a fortuitous one.

One thing is clearer than ever, and that is that this hodgepodge team of players assembled by Rodgers and the ‘effin transfer committee are a hot mess.

I don’t even know where to start honestly. Henderson and Sturridge look like shadows of their former selves, Moreno keeps leaving pockets of space, Milner’s corners are atrocious, Lallana just runs around a lot, 32M Benteke wastes away on the bench, and Mignolet continues to be simultaneously sh*t and brilliant. Lots of square pegs for round holes.

There is a spine that can be built around Coutihno, Firmino, Clyne (who was brilliant today), Can, Origi and Sturridge. But that’s it really, the rest are squad players at best (and Mignolet needs to **** off).

I have no envy for Klopp, he has a really hard job ahead of him, and as much as I love the man I’m not entirely sure he can pull it off. Fingers crossed anyways, because what’s life without a little hope?
CB, Washington DC

 

Liverpool’s English cowards
So, we’ve lost the COC final on penalties.

Our goal scorer and MOTM are the players to suffer the ignominy of missing pens even though common sense suggests your “best” pen takers go first so that they get you to kicks 4 and 5.

Meanwhile, the player who scored a pen midweek and another couple earlier in the season (therefore making him our designated penalty taker) doesn’t step up.

Our club captain, who threw a hissy fit over a penalty (making us look like a bunch of children) to exert his authority last season, also doesn’t step up.

Our 6 figures a week, back from the dead, main striker joins them in avoiding taking a pen when the chips are down.

In my opinion it’s our other big problem in a nustshell. Mignolet gets the column inches, but our English midfielders have been hugely underwhelming throughout the season. They coast through games misplacing passes, pulling out of tackles (hello lallana) and generally trying to be Stevie G, then getting an easy ride from the press cos they are “good professionals”. If they are they should be first up for a shootout.

These boys are going to the Euros. You’d better hope there are others willing to put themselves forward for the inevitable quarter final shootout. Our boys won’t be raising their hands based on current evidence.
Peter (I particularly like Milner less and less every time I see him play), Dublin, LFC

 

City thoughts
I think we may need to buy a trophy cabinet for all the trophies, as the mantelpiece is getting rather full.

Liverpool shouldn’t boo Sterling, they should cheer. You got £50 million for a waste of space who cant kick a ball or play a basic pass.
In any other business we could take them to court for selling us a dodgy product. He cost more than Aguero.

Willy has had his ups and downs but I was really pleased for him yesterday after the horror show at Chelsea.

Mr Pellegrini is a good man, Massive respect for keeping his word with Willy C. Many managers would have swapped him out.

I was unsure of the date on Sunday, then Arsenal helped me remember, It must be late feb as the annual collapse is well underway.

I went 25 years with City winning nothing and now we have 5 trophies the last 5 years. Good times!
DANNY B (One down, Two to go! MCFC) MCR

 

The Everton takeover
Please don’t overlook the purchase of 49% of Everton this weekend by Farhad Moshiri, a sale orchestrated by our often criticized chairman Bill Kenwright. You all rake in the billions of dollars in advertising so I’ll let you tackle the analysis…but I wanted to share that from my perspective as a fan, this is as much as we could have hoped for. Aside from mere association with the shady Usmanov…all first indications are positive in that Moshiri will invest heavily and supports fan engagement.

This of course is massive oversimplification of a complex reality, but the facts are:

1) Everton have a very good squad including at least a couple of Europe’s most promising young players
2) Everton has a large and passionate fanbase with international audience in-roads that feels their team deserve to be doing better both in terms of performance and administration
3) The team nearly desperately need a new or renovated stadium
4) Everton have been hampered by financial handcuffs. Whether these issues were perpetuated or worsened by the soon to be former administration is now irrelevant.

Moshiri has the potential to entirely fix the last two, therefore potentially funding the growth upon the first two strengths. And with those 4 facts in mind, remember that Everton have more or less been able to keep breathing down the neck of the Premier League big hitters. I’ve got to stop typing now because my cat has vomited likely from contagious excitement…but abbreviation is that this could be f*cking awesome.
-Tom (how is he still puking????)

 

Pardew, Palace and Berahino
If I didn’t write in, you’d only panic you’d gone to work on a Sunday.

*This game summed up Palace’s season, which has veered from brilliant start to abject floundering, albeit the other way round in this game. The first half was utterly terrible, with WBA steamrollering their visitors, but the second half was a tremendous performance.

*Quite plainly, Alan Pardew got his tactics wrong. WBA and their love of centre-backs in position other than centre-back hints at a robustness, and a susceptibility to pace. As such, starting two big centre-forwards, to match size for size, wasn’t the best idea. While hindsight is 50-50, I would have started Gayle out wide, if Bolasie wasn’t fit enough to start. Speed would cause problems for that WBA back line, and there wasn’t much of it in the Glaziers’ starting lineup.

*I said to my wife before the game that I thought the referee would be a factor. I meant because of ways players counter being outpaced, which is often to resort to fouling. If, I thought, the WBA defenders put themselves under undue pressure by picking up an early yellow card, that would affect how the game was played – they would have to play conservatively, and cede more space to the attackers; similarly, getting away with a couple of reducers would establish a precedent and the attackers would have less space in which to do their thing.

What I hadn’t envisaged was that (obscure James Woods reference alert), to get a penalty off Jon Moss, you have to do it the Hard Way. Apparently, he was “distracted” for the first one, which is a worrying indictment of an official’s ability to concentrate on the game. For the second one, he waved it off straight away despite having what should have been a good view of the incident. It was one of those occasions where doing nothing is baffling – in some respects, you could have understood if he had incorrectly believed Bolasie had dived, but to award nothing made absolutely no sense.

Having previously conceded a “10 a game” (“if they give that, Jeff, they’ll give 10 penalties every game”) or “speed camera” penalty against Watford – where you don’t have a leg to stand on if you get caught, but seeing so many others get away with similar or worse is hard to swallow – it’s infuriating when the inconsistencies of officials mean two clear-cut penalties are not given.

*The sole crumb of comfort at half-time came from Opta, who pointed out that the previous two occasions on which WBA had been 3-0 up in a Premier League game had finished 3-3. This hinted at a team whose confidence, even when they should be setting pretty, is still fragile. They conceded a goal from a Palace-esque defensive calamity just a couple of minutes into the second half, and were a little bit rocked. Had the foul on Dann been called as a penalty, it could have been 3-2, with a quarter of the game to play, of a team with nothing to lose against a team fragile on confidence.

*Other than WBA, the real winners on Saturday night were Newcastle United fans, like divorcees revelling in their ex’s new relationship strife, conveniently forgetting who they shacked up with. Pardew is in an unusual position, in that his ability to get his teams into a funk will prevent him ever moving up the pyramid, but he is unlikely to get sacked, by virtue of being better than both the man he replaced (Neil Warnock) and the man who replaced him (John Carver). I call it “Pardatory”.

*F365 frequently alludes to Theo Walcott being the perfect embodiment of The Arsenal. In a similar vein, I think of the embodiment of WBA as Chris Brunt, for some reason. Get well soon Brunty.

*That Saido Berahino looks useful doesn’t he? Where’s he been hiding? Amazing what playing Palace does for a striker’s confidence.

Couldn’t help noticing on MotD that Jermain Defoe missed a couple of chances on Saturday. I’m no Degsy but pile on Sunderland to beat Palace 2-0 with a Defoe brace and laugh all the way to the bank.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (malapropisms 1-1 neologisms, interesting points v f###s given, late kick-off)

 

More conclusions
*Magnificent from Leicester City. Not the performance (ordinary) or even the goal (pretty good). But the fact they never lost their cool. Faced with tactics designed to nullify their strengths, they never looked hurried, never resorted to hoofing it. Marc Albrighton, in indifferent form for the last month, just kept plugging and finally did what he does best. More of the same on Tuesday vs West Brom, please.

*Unfortunately for Swansea, parking the bus against Tottenham doesn’t have quite the same effect. Spurs’ possession-and-pressing game eats that sort of thing up. Just the 34 shots, then.

*Can we please please lay to rest the idea that Arsenal could really win something if Wenger would only sign the right players? Top-level football takes more than talent: it takes management. This weekend Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. They’re also ahead of Real in the table. That’s because Atletico have an exceptional manager, who a couple of years ago actually won the title, and came within a few minutes of winning the Champions League. Arsenal went to Old Trafford to play a crippled Manchester United and couldn’t even get a draw. With the regular suspects collapsing, Arsenal should be walking the title. Instead they’re in third place, and the simplest explanation is the best. Wenger is a third-to-fourth place manager.

*Sunderland continue to look just a millimeter away from breaking out of the relegation pack. Big Sam isn’t a favorite in these pages, but he’s transformed the side, both tactically and psychologically. If betting were legal where I live, I’d take a punt on their survival.

*I hope Ed realizes that’s going to be the highlight of Connor Wickham’s Palace career.

*Obligatory Rashford-is-a-god-and-Rooney-should-be-sold-to-China comment.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA

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