Keep your emails coming to email@example.com…
Does anyone actually enjoy supporting Arsenal any more?
Credit where it’s due – that was a pub team playing out there.
And that pub team is through to the Europa League last 16.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
…That was absolute s***.
While watching the game, i couldnt help but notice how poor Chambers and Holding were and I kept trying to figure out why. Chambers played pretty well on loan as a regular premier league starter. Holding has also shown in some games, including a cup final against major opposition that he is a good defender. So why were they so bad last night? Clearly they need an experienced partner but you have to wonder how bad the coaching at Arsenal must be for them not to have improved at all by now.
Welbeck was shocking. Showing all the reasons why Utd let him go and why he should only play on the wing. Even that would be an injust reward for the past few games. Welbeck ongoing survival is ruining the possibilities for players like Nketiah. This has to stop now.
Our midfield, until Xhaka came on, was all over the place. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the players, although they didn’t perform well. I don’t think the team was set up well tactically and it all looked a bit disjointed. There was always too much space for the opposition in midfield as everyone seemed to either push too high or drop too deep. That lies somewhere between lack of football intelligence and coaching. Probably a bit of both but I will lean towards poor tactical instruction…
I honestly would have played more youngsters. There was almost no desire from that starting 11 and seeing Nketiah, Reiss-Nelson and Willock start the game would have gone some way to adding some real impetus to the team. Yes youngsters are a risk but they are likely to be far less pedestrian then your bench warmers, it gets them a game and they play together more often so should work better as a team.
And obviously well played Osterlunds, they were unlucky not to go through.
Rob A (we were a few goals away from Wenger gone) AFC
…Arsenal defeat yesterday was just about the worst European loss and performance in our history. It was lacking in professional pride, real effort and the necessary skills to win a match. All the players last night let the club down. The fact that we just scraped through to the next round is no consolation for me.
The defeat is a reflection of the lack of management and coaching at the club. The footballing culture is weak an as long as the manager is leading us we will continue our slow slide into footballing irrelevance.
As a season ticket holder for years I want the best for the club and have put my money where my mouth is. This can no longer continue and there must be a root and branch emptying out of players and coaching staff to start the long road back to mattering in the premier league.
Tony Laforce, Hackney
…One annoying habit commentators have when assigned to Arsenal games is them expressing their shock at our frequent clusterf*ck, such as being 2-0 down at half times to Östersunds.
“Who saw this coming?!”
Every single Arsenal fan. We all did.
Have you not watched us play since we left Highbury?
Greg Benham, AFC
…I bet Man City are sh*tting their pants after watching us play tonight.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
Some Europa League conclusions
* Lazio are one of my favorites to go all the way to the final. They seem to have given up on Serie A already and just might focus all their energies on winning a European trophy for the first time since 1999. Felipe Anderson is an absolute nightmare, he can breeze past any defender with that pace and those twinkle toes. He is (almost) as fast as Sterling but with actual ball control, and as tricky as Alexis but knows when to pass and when not to. Immobile’s third goal (and Felipe Anderson’s contribution to it) was just pure filth. Dominant performance all round and that 5-man back line will keep out most attacks remaining.
* Arsenal are one hilarious team, you would think they would want to maintain winning momentum before a cup final but who are we to think logically. I realise it was mostly the bench players that started but their level compared to Ostersunds should have brought a win. Chambers does not look like he has any further room to grow, the English CB scene was so promising just 2 years ago but now I wouldn’t trust any of them to stop Oprah Winfrey from dribbling past them. As for Welbeck, let’s just hope Norwich, Leeds, Brentford etc bid for him because the Championship is his level and Premier League clubs probably won’t pay real money for him.
* Napoli scored in the first half but for some reason did not keep up the intensity and search for a second goal before the hour mark. Coming into the game they knew they had to score 3 goals but I guess the coaches failed to instill in them the desire to pressure Leipzig from the go all the way to the end. That shows worrying levels of management from Sarri although he won’t be too angry at going out considering their small squad and Serie A being their goal.
* Hoping Leipzig and Salzburg draw one another just so UEFA/FIFA somehow get confused yet again about their own regulations concerning two clubs under the same ownership in a football competition.
* Dortmund scraped through with a late error from Atalanta keeper Berisha. Some say that is the stuff of champions. I think if they meet a better counter-attacking team like Lazio or Leipzig, they won’t stand a chance.
* Lyon look set to reach at least the semis if they don’t draw any of the big guns. Fekir needs to go to Man City or Liverpool where his creative talents will be even more refined by coaches and notable by global fans. Liverpool would be perfect for him playing behind the front three and supported by Naby Keita and Can/Henderson.
* My team Milan is unbeaten in their last 10 games in all competitions, guess the madman Gattuso isn’t so bad after all. They have gotten better tactically and now create chances more frequently than under Montella. Defensively they are stronger now as their preferred passing area is past the centre circle while under Montella it was in the space between the centre circle and their own box and too easy to counter (see Serie A first leg v Lazio). Small tweak of offensive passing options that improved the defence. Passing options are also now perfectly spaced (not too close and not too far), minimizing risk of loose or high-risk passes being punished by counters.
* Final note involves Atletico because that’s where I think they will be this season. Their defense keeps them in just about every big game and it will be crucial when they meet the likes of Dortmund, Lazio, Lyon and Arsenal. They’ve only conceded 9 goals in 24 league matches, which is just mind-blowing. A final between Atletico and Lazio would probably make even the centre referee fall asleep but the counter-attacking would be amazing to watch.
The duty to entertain
The Mailbox has been full of people either criticizing or defending Mourinho’s tactics against Sevilla. Personally, I agree that it is not the disaster it is being made out to be; but the fact that the watching the game gave me no joy is also true.
I read an article by Sid Lowe from The Guardian titled ‘Do managers have a duty to entertain?’ and that got me thinking. On the face of it, a manager’s only duty is to get results. Like it or not, football clubs today are businesses and the only obligations the managers have is towards their employers – who want results. Or do they?
Businesses actually want money. Also, Businesses want more money each year. The driving factor for revenue for football clubs, especially for the elite ones, is the number of fans. Ironically, Manchester United are the greatest example of this. One might argue that what won Manchester United their 600 mn odd followers is the success on the pitch,
I would agree it that it was a major factor. But there is something more that helped propelled Manchester United to be the most popular club on the planet – the mythos of the club. They were the team that proved ‘You can’t win anything with kids’ embarrassingly wrong. They’re the team that never gave up and ‘they always score!’
This is a team where supporters bayed for blood with chants of ‘Attack!’ raining from the stands and duly obliged by some truly legendary players. The club that became the most famous, did it not only by winning consistently but also entertaining while doing so. The pride of “supporting” United stemmed not only from winning but also winning the ‘so-called’ United way.
If Manchester United, the business, wants to grow; it makes utter sense for them to entertain. Sport is an entertainment business after all.
It is too early to start judging Mourinho (comparisons to early SAF are valid), and entertaining will never be prioritised over winning. But yes, managers do have a duty to entertain.
As someone who sat through the Sevilla game, I hope Mourinho gets to it sooner than later.
Anuj (Pool/City comparisons right now don’t help either) MUFC
Some fine thoughts on Salomon Rondon
We have won five games all season. Rondon has played in just two of them and one of them was against Exeter. He has scored four goals despite playing pretty much every game he has been available for. The only time Pardew has left him out was the Liverpool cup game which was our best performance of the season. It has now at least become accepted he is not a goal scorer but with only 1 assist I don’t think it can be claimed that he is creates chances for others.
Those blind to his uselessness in the past blamed Pulis for his poor performances and the fact he didn’t get enough chances. That myth has now been well and truly busted with the arrival of Pardew and a supposedly better style of football. I have heard some say he leads the line well. Well I shan’t get started on what that meaningless phrase actually means but the evidence suggests he doesn’t lead it that well as we are bottom of the league and scored the fewest goals and isn’t creating chances for others.
The man is a complete coward, against West Ham last season he ducked and covered his head when a ball went high into the sky. And against Chelsea last week, he ducked a header. His lack of goals in many cases has been caused by his lack of willing to put his body on the line. When the ball flashes across the goal he never gets their before the defender.
Rondon is not the sole reason we are getting relegated but he is a core reason along with Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Krychowiak. These 3 were constantly picked by Pulis and Pardew has done the same when both are fit. They have provided a stodgy and static midfield and not one of them does the disciplined job that Claudio Yacob does. The number of times there has been a huge Yacob shaped hole in front of our defence and the opposition have scored this season is criminal, when he has been left out for the ‘more mobile’ Jake Livermore. All I can assume ‘mobile’ means is that he can do nothing in more areas of the pitch.
McClean is a great player but has made high profile mistakes that have cost us points at valuable times. However, if he had been shown the same patience and support shown to Rondon or indeed the other midfielders mentioned above he may well have had a much better domestic season. J Rod was on fire, but then Pardew dropped him after the Liverpool game to put Rondon back in. Guess what has happened since? On top of that it also appears to have effected J Rod’s confidence. Never has a man been given so much faith as Rondon and delivered so little time and time again.
Rondon has almost destroyed the little enjoyment I have had this season. His two biggest profile highlights have been giving an Everton fan his shirt last season and crying when the Everton player broke his leg this season. Well Everton are welcome to him.
He is not fast, wins nothing in the air, his first touch is abysmal, he panics when can’t see where the defender is, his decision making when he has time on the ball is shockingly bad. The man is a huge, huge bottler. A centre forward who doesn’t take penalties. Evidenced by despite being on the pitch for 3 shootouts in his time with the Albion he only took part in one of them and all three were against lower league opposition. Surely this ‘wonderful’ striker would be a natural choice for the first five?
Albion fans who think Rondon is good are the same as those who invaded who did Mexican waves and had a celebratory pitch invasion after we were relegated in 2006 by Bryan Robson. That night should have been about protest and disgust. Well Rondon has disgusted me for three years.
Is he fit to wear the shirt? Well I would certainly question his fitness. Of course events in the last week mean, that there is now worse than he at our club, which is a truly rotten state of affairs.
Ben The Baggie
Another good missed match
Continuing the theme of missed great matches, there is only one that stands out for me.
I had finished work late after a long and exhausting shift in the bar I manage. Already tired and pissed off that I had been forced to miss kick off because one of my student staff had slept in for a 7pm start, I trundled off home to watch the remainder of the 2016 Liverpool v Dortmund Europa League match.
I switched on the tv to find us 2-0 down and decided that the last thing I needed was to watch us take a right royal spanking from Dortmund and decided I’d just get an early night in preparation for next day’s early start.
As you can imagine my mood wasn’t exactly lifted upon waking the next day to find I’d missed one of the greatest Liverpool European come backs of all time. I then had to endure a day of everyone in the pub discussing how amazing a game it was. The previous day’s shift was a breeze in comparison.
I also have a friend that has an uncanny knack of going to the toilet and missing important goals during games. Only to come scurrying back through, trousers half done up and caked in piss, just as the celebrations die down.
Off the top off my head, he’s missed Don Hutchison’s winning goal for Scotland against England in the Euro 2000 play-off, Zidane’s wonder strike in the 2002 European Cup Final and Salah’s peach in the recent Merseyside Derby. Anyone else regularly miss important/world-class goals due to a need to drain the weasel?