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For Foxes sake
I’m looking forward to the mails section this morning. No doubt it will be full of United fans telling us all how poor United were.
It’s ok though, us Leicester fans have got used to fans of other teams explaining to us that it was not that Leicester were good, more that they were so poor.
This run of ours has to come to an end soon, I mean how lucky can you be that every team that we come up against has their worst game of the season against us?
Arsenal. Arsenal. Arsenal
A lot has been said recently about Arsenal’s injury problems and why it happens every season. Personally I think the major problems are due to our squad depth. Looking at a full strength squad, Arsenal actually have a very good starting 11. When everyone is fit and firing we are up there with the best teams in the league as shown by good wins against Manchester United and Bayern Munich. However, Arsenal have major problems beyond the first team. Surprisingly Arsenal actually have a big first team squad with a number of players. However the Arsenal depth is made up of three kinds of players. Firstly we have young players, teenagers like Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Promising and talented players but ones who aren’t likely to make any impact with the first team and aren’t anywhere near ready for a regular starting place. Secondly, there are a number of talented squad players that are far too injury prone. Welbeck, Wilshere, The Ox and Rosicky are all very talented, international players regardless of what people say, but they all seem to pick up too many injuries to have a sustained run in the first team. Finally, we have a number of players in the squad who just simply aren’t good enough for Arsenal. Despite a number of international caps, Debuchy, Campbell, Flamini, Arteta and even Mertesacker, do not perform at a level good enough to play regularly for Arsenal.
This lack of depth then leads to our injury problems. Our lack of quality but regularly fit depth causes us to overplay the likes of Alexis, Coquelin, Koscielny etc even when they are unfit or carrying a knock. The players that are good enough to come into the first team are never fit and the players who are fit are not good enough to rotate the first team. It’s a vicious cycle that will not be stopped until Wenger buys quality, reliable first team depth that’ll allow us to rotate tired players orthose that are carrying knocks. He needs to be ruthless in the next few Windows and stop having blind loyalty to poor players or those who are rarely able to feature
After the gods of football ignored the warning you provided regarding Özil and Sanchez staying fit for Arsenal I though it might be worth digging into what seems to be quite a clear trend now: being an Arsenal player increases your risk of being injured.
Doing some brief bits of research on 5 random players – Podolski, Debuchy, Welbeck, Djourou and Özil shows that these players respectively increased their games away from injury by 177%, 612%, 425%, 550% and 100% respectively.
Just taking Özil as a special case. He spent 7 games away injured while at Schalke (2 seasons), 10 games away injured while at Werder Bremen (2 seasons), and no games away while at Real Madrid. At Arsenal he has missed 30 games (2.5 seasons).
Either players become instant hypochondriacs when they touch down in north london, or Arsenal’s physio team should all be fired, or maybe there is something in the water? Regardless, something is clearly diminishing Arsenal’s year after year.
Earl, London (North London Zubrons)
I’ve been a Wenger fan since he started but I’m getting a bit “Stewie”.
“He has a slight hamstring problem”
Ah f*** it, play him anyway.
With this squad, An FA Cup is not enough. And there is only one guy making the final decisions. This one was a really, really bad one.
Pep? Wanna job?
Al, Arsenal, Sydney.
It’s a long time since I felt the need to write into the mailbox, but with 72 minutes gone of this Norwich game, I’ve had enough.
I’ve never wanted to hate Arsene Wenger.. I’ve felt for a long time that he’s no longer the right man for the job, I’ve ranted to those that would listen about the inadequacies in the squad, the clusterf*ck that is our medical team and the mostly shambolic (lack of a)transfer recruitment policy. I’ve always tried to respect what Wenger has done for the club though. This evening I’ve given in and admitted to myself that I can no longer stand the man. The mere sight of him now makes me wonder what fuck up is coming next?! Because regardless of how good a run we go on, or how great the football is on a particular day, all Gooners know in their heart that the next fuck up is only around the corner. It’s a matter of when it’s coming, not if.
Seeing Alexis hobbling off the pitch clutching his hamstring, after Wenger admitted during the week that it was dodgy but refusing to rest him, has made my blood boil. It’s incompetence of the highest order, it’s nothing new, and I’m shit sick of it. Being an Arsenal fan these days is infuriating, and it’s down to Arsene Wenger and his absolute refusal to realise that it’s not 1995 anymore. Times have changed, Arsene hasn’t and it’s now gotten to the point where he is holding the club back.
Mark my words, we’ll finish 4th at best this season and our “title challenge” will be over by February… We will never win The League again under Wenger and I doubt that we’ll ever even mount a serious challenge for it as long as he’s around!
It was time for change 5 years ago, it’s now becoming essential if the club want to have any hope of keeping up(I’m not sure they do as long as they can milk the fans for every penny, but that’s a rant for another day!!). Spurs, Liverpool and Everton are all on the up with young, fresh thinking managers. We’re stuck with a dinosaur that doesn’t answer to anyone. Enough is enough!!
Ciaràn, London. Disheartened, Frustrated Gooner
Yeah, we’re sh*t, but who isn’t?
I defended aspects of our performance against West Brom, not this Norwich. They are a terrible team, they could have won today and deserved it. 3 moments of terrible defending last week, a norm of terrible defending this week. Two glaring chances missed last week, hard to remember the same happening this week. Ridiculous possession errors all over
Obviously the injuries were even worse than the result today, the focus will all be on Wenger for not resting Alexis. I’m switching between rage and understanding for this one. Such an obvious accident waiting to happen. But the alternative, Joel, Giroud Ramsey as the front three? Starting the ox just when he’s coming back from a twangy hammy himself? If our actual backup for that position had been fit, then it’s a no brainer.
The related criticism hurled Wenger’s way is not strengthening enough in some positions. People cite Jordie Clasie as someone we should have recruited. When he signed for the Saints Coquelin, Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshire and Oxlade were all fit. Does he really join us instead of being a mainstay under Koeman? To really improve our squad we need to clear out our very many injury prone players. It would be very tough.
Van Gaal no better than Pulis
I’ve been calling Van Gaal’s bluff pretty much since his bullsh*t started stinking; about 3 months into his reign. So I thought I’d write an “I told you so” mail to the esteemed F365 folk. I’ll cut a long story short –
If Van Gaal had taken charge of the likes of Aston Villa or Palace or the Republic of Ireland, then he might have been a relative success. He would have had no budget, but to play his ‘philosophy’ you don’t need a budget. You don’t need flair. In fact, he actively coaches against spontaneity. As a player you know that if you don’t follow his strict training ground instruction, you will be dropped to the bench even if playing well (see Herrera as proof). It’s not about winning for Val Gaal. It’s about winning his way or else, you’re dropped. Unless you’re Rooney of course.
All Van Gaal needs is a squad of adequate pros to rigidly sit in place, don’t give the ball away needlessly, be difficult to break down, be defensive minded at all times, be difficult to defeat and scrap for points. Other than his accent and his limited command of English, Van Gaal is no different to Pulis or Pardew.
If you put someone like Pulis in charge of United (or dare I say it, Moyes) then the football produced would be no different to what you’re seeing now. But the fans would be in uproar at an incompetent hierarchy appointing an incompetent manager. However because Van Gaal is old, Dutch, egotistical and stubborn, and has won stuff 20 years ago, fans sheepishly tow the party line and assume it’s all part of a grand plan. It’ll all work out because Van Gaal says so.
As a result Van Gaal is doing far more damage than Moyes ever did. He’s turning his own fans against the club with his boring philosophies and burning hundreds of millions of pounds in the process. As least with Moyes, you always knew his failures were never going to be given a chance to fester.
Couldn’t happen to a nicer club. Sean (LFC)
United should learn from Leicester
Vardy and Okazaki playing one-twos on the edge of the box, Mahrez beating players out wide and then driving towards the box, midfielders and full backs playing balls in behind, wingers doing winger stuff instead of routinely passing back to holding midfielders. And players who aren’t centre halves taking corners.
That kind of style is exactly what United should be doing. The players are more capable (with no disrespect to Leicester whatsoever – it’s not disrespectful to compare Mata favourably to Albrighton, or Schweinsteiger to Drinkwater, for example) and it should be noticed that taking a risk on a pass to a marked player, or a cross into a dangerous area that may or may not reach the forward, or trying to beat a man to force an overload, is NOT wasteful football.
Despite all that, a draw was probably a fair-ish reflection of the game – however Leicester had one or two more decent chances, and opportunities where a better final ball would have resulted in a big chance. In that respect it was probably a good point for United. And that’s a damning statement.
And for all the talk of solid defending, it was McNair failing to follow Fuchs that ultimately lead to Vardy’s goal. Tracking a man on a quick counter should be more important than getting back into position (at jogging pace) especially if you are one of three centre backs, as there should be enough cover given you will be slowing the attack down. All of this points to bad instruction from the manager and coaches.
Chris, SAF Stand
1st home league win at home since Villa. 1st league win after a Europa match. 3 wins in a week. 5 wins in our last 6 games (all comps). Everyone bar City droping points. 6 points off the top. Played Utd, City, Arsenal, Chelsea & The Ev away.
With only a dead rubber in Europa left a league cup match midweek and a number of “favourable” fixtures from here to the New Year, some might argue that the Reds are handily placed to move up the table.
A major part of our struggles at home have been the hangover from Europe and a lack of different options to break teams down. With the European hangover no longer a factor & players starting to come back from injury giving us strength in depth and different playing options, you should see our home form start to improve.
Hard not to be excited.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
Mourinho and Chelsea
Imagine having that much money and that little ambition
Some weekend thoughts
Lots of football, lots of random musings on it:
A few months ago Swansea would have done to Liverpool exactly what Liverpool did to Swansea. Slow, ponderous game, few chances created. Turgid game but three points desperately needed. The big difference now is that Liverpool can grind out a result.
The return of Sturridge and Henderson (both looked a little off the pace) is encouraging as Liverpool finally have the ability to rotate players. Also to change the system. With Benteke, Sturridge and Firminho there are three very different options. Seems Klopp can build a first eleven based on the opposition which is something he’s done with great effect so far this season.
Manu Utd vs Leicester….basically just read Matt Steads piece. Leicester really are the opposite of Van Gaals Utd.
Vardys run of form is becoming ridiculous. If (it’s a big if) he is still in this purple patch come the end of the season there’s no way Uncle Roy can not start him for England as a lone striker. At the very least he will provide a fantastic option as an impact substitute. Very little will be offered by shoving him out on the wing when England actually have a few very handy looking wingers.
Speaking of English talent, Sterling is looking like a genuinely excellent winger. Winning the ball in dangerous positions is an under rated part of his game. However both Sterling and Vardy really do need incisive passes played with awareness and vision to become a potent attacking threat, a trait England teams seem not to boast in tournaments.
Villa look terrible. Even when Richards scored it looked like a matter of time before they were picked apart. No matter who is in charge there just isn’t enough attacking quality to negate their defensive frailty.
Steve McLaren appears clueless. I’ve never been his biggest fan so maybe I’m not a great person to judge but there seems to be no change at all since his appointment. He criticises players but rarely rotates the team. At the risk of echoing Shearers comments, there genuinely seems to be no plan at all. No direction or “philosophy” (shudder). Send them out, watch them lose, yell a bit and repeat. They’ll scrape survival but McLarens tenure won’t.
Mourinho wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t lose the next 10 games in a row. I suppose it’s possible but they didn’t exactly look stunning against Spurs. If Chelsea finish outside the top 4 Jose can expect to get his marching orers (obviously) but if he gets to fourth spot despite the start they’ve had he’ll be unbearable. A new word for his smugness will need to be invented. He will be “world class, top top smug”.
Aresnal and injuries….I think that will be covered in depth elsewhere.
Martin (pre coffee ramble) Jackson
It’s Monday, of course I’ve written in about the Glaziers.
*What a result, and what a performance. After Monday’s capitulation it was important to respond positively, not least because we (well, Sunderland actually) had laid out the perfect blueprint of how to win at Selhurst Park.
*For last year’s Sunderland, read this year’s Newcastle United. A bunch of players (not a team) who just look like they can’t be bothered, and who don’t respect the manager enough to play to their full ability. As MotD highlighted, too many times United players turned their back on the ball – most obviously Paul Dummett for the first Palace goal. Isn’t the first thing you’re taught in just about any sport to keep your eye on the ball?
Sunderland’s ultra defensive setup on Monday night worked because the players – even the very limited technically ones – worked their socks off, and the reward for that was a defensive slip at the other end and an easy winning goal for Jermain Defoe. Newcastle fielded a mix of technical abilities, but the key theme was that they gave Palace’s attackers too much time and space, because they didn’t seem willing to put a shift in, as it were.
*Steve McLaren said afterwards that he was “hurt” by the performance. When he resigns, expect him to leave a note for his successor referring to his squad as his “empire of dirt” (not to be confused with how David Sullivan made his money).
Maybe it’s just me but I can’t imagine the hairdryer treatment from McLaren being too scary. I expect it starts with “look, I don’t want to get cross with you but …” in the manner of a supply teacher failing to break up a battle royale.
*Proving that some people are never happy, especially on the internet, there have been grumblings that Connor Wickham didn’t score, meaning he’s a waste of money. These people want the moon on a stick.
I’m still undecided on Wickham, but I thought he had an excellent game, arguably one of the best performances by a target man-type striker all season. He was a constant pest to the Newcastle defence, he held the ball up and created a lot of space for those behind him; he laid on three assists to the attacking midfielders; finally, his off the ball work was very good, the best example being Bolasie’s second goal, where Newcastle paid too much attention to Wickham and allowed Delaney a free header.
I’m no Jonathan Wilson, but I like to think I have a reasonable grasp of tactics. Another key to the success was moving James McArthur forward, changing a 4-2-3-1 into effectively a 4-1-4-1. Normally our most defensive midfielder, McArthur was moved ahead of Yohan Cabaye to exploit the extra space, and his presence helped the Glaziers win the ball back higher up the field. It enabled Palace to overrun their opponents’ midfield and control possession.
*Alan Shearer showed again why he is, on the quiet, becoming one of the BBC’s best assets. He isn’t in Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher’s league, but what’s good is that he isn’t afraid to stick the boot (or in his case, the elbow) in to players, clubs and managers playing badly. The fact that he will lay into the club he supported as a boy, became a legend for as a player and then failed there as a manager, only adds more brownie points.
He and Danny Murphy, with their visits to the same barber and outfitter, resemble blokes who spend all their time in the golf club bar, and whose physical similarities mean they are collectively referred to behind their backs as Right Said Fred.
*Away from the Premier League, some good news all round – Gazélec Ajaccio, the smallest club to ever play in Ligue Un, made it five games unbeaten with a draw at home to Lorient ending a run of four straight wins. I have a soft spot for Corsican teams.
The weekend’s big winners, however, were Chesterfield. Not because they got humped 4-0 at home to Swindon, but because they got rid of Dean Saunders. His appointment baffled me, given his record of late was relegated at Doncaster, relegated at Wolves, and relegated at Crawley. He then took a Chesterfield side that made the playoffs last season and left them 15th. The Spireites’ good times of recent years came with Paul Cook, who was untried in English football but who was garnering admiration for the way he’d got his team playing, but he did one to Portsmouth in the summer. Hopefully my second team (because my wife is a Spireite) can find another Cook-style boss, rather than someone off the managerial merry-go-round.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (only here in such quantity because of others’ lack of quality)
Newcastle are doomed
In May 2009 we were relegated for the first time from the EPL.
As of November 29 2008 we had played 14 won 2, drawn 6 and lost 6, 15 goals for 21 against and had 12 points.
As of November 29 2015 we have played 14 won 2, drawn 4 and lost 8, 14 goals for and 30 against and have 10 points.
We are even worse than we were in 2008 but now we have Steve McClaren as our manager.
Last time we came straight back up.
I don’t see that happening this time.
We’ve become Wolves, or Leeds, or Wigan, destined to wander the backwaters of the football league for an eternity.
And I thought it couldn’t get any worse than it was under Carver.
Go on, Degs
Degsy f*****g Bilton!!!!
Jamie f*****g Vardy!!!!!!!!
Nick C. (Still too stoned to come up with something funny. Would still be awesome if this got printed(not literally obviously)) (LFC, Thailand)
Big man, small man
Given the articles about Michael Owen and Sol Campbell taking about how great they would be defending now, can we announce it as an inverted-big-man-and- small-man-up-top
Spankypatt(would genuinely love to see van gaal call Owen’s bluff)
It’s quite remarkable really. He literally does what it says on the tin. You begin to think he is a cliche and a joke, and yet there he is, keeping teams up, getting results. After much consideration, I like him, the league is a better place with Big Sam in it. Well done mate.
Darren D, Belfast LFC (Come on Vardy! Do it to the mancs)
We’re keeping Garth in a job
I do hope you realize that by commenting more and more on his column, you are inadvertently driving traffic there. In turn, ensuring his employment.
In order to end the chaos perhaps call it a day on him?
Robert, Xiqiao, China.