We do have a little bit of Chelsea but we’re largely still picking through the bones of Arsenal. Do the Gunners now need to win the Premier League to save Arsene Wenger’s job?
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Oh, this is fun…
Top of the league, bright young things ripping up Old Trafford, profoundly accomplished German captain running midfield, solid defence, and best goalkeeper in the league.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have accelerated their annual collapse from February to October, Chelsea are in the worst form of Mourinho’s tenure, and Liverpool are as entertainingly hysterical as ever.
Football, I’ve missed you.
…This morning’s mailbox was fun!
Blame the pathetic Arsenal players
Arsene, the only thing farcical about last night was the performance.
Wenger is getting stick left, right and centre this morning (and a lot of it deservedly so) but the players conversely are getting off relatively scot free. Compare that to the Chelsea game where even on your own website Ivanovic is getting the stick for Chelsea’s defeat and Mourinho gets away with a few lines. Talk about shaping a narrative.
Where is the outrage at Ospina’s performance, rather than his selection? I mean, this is the same keeper that ended last season as our number 1 and was lauded for his performances in Copa America. He’s an experienced international and he made a blunder you wouldn’t expect from an under 12!! What about Ozil running away from goal with no hope of getting the ball for the first goal and the Ox merely dangling a leg rather than standing strong? What about Gibbs pretending he was a winger rather than a defender for the third?
My point isn’t that Wenger should be criticised less but the players more. In the two Champions League defeats the teams we fielded should have had enough in them to win the games and didn’t. The players have to step up and take responsibility for those defeats. They disgraced themselves, the club and the competition.
Seán (anyone want to buy my tickets to the Bayern game?) AFC Dublin
Wenger must win the league now…
Like Tom AFC, I try to let the initial emotions die out before mailing in. But they haven’t calmed down, or changed this time…
For me there are a two reasons to be angry. The players simple weren’t good enough, despite being equal or better in terms of ability versus their opponent. Secondly, if Wenger can’t kick/scream/cuddle/assault his team into beating Olmypiakos, at home, then something is seriously wrong (especially given that some of these were fringe players).
Is there a chance at redemption? Only with a win against Man Utd this weekend.
The problem is, Arsene and Arsenal are now in a lose-lose situation. If they drop out of the Champions League, they have, HAVE, to win the Premier League. Players like Alexis and Ozil and any prospective players don’t want to win the FA cup/4th place trophy every year, nice as it is. If you’re not competing in Europe, you better be top of the league.
I believe, but I don’t see it.
Rob A (last night, we didn’t deserve Sanchez) AFC
We could, you know…
Something for the mailbox debate! We were shocking last night and I suspect will go out of Europe (pending a shock 4 points over Munich). Two things about our season so far though for me;
· Finishing bottom in Europe would be better than third so we can focus on the league.
· If you had said at the end of Sept we would only be three points from first place in the league I would take it.
So it’s not all bad, I think we have just gone from not scoring or conceding, and gone a bit overboard and the balance is slightly out, but nothing we can’t fix. Don’t forget, we have more points than anyone since Jan and going out of Europe may well be a blessing that allows us to challenge all the way for the league this time, if not then maybe Wenger should stand down…
Also Theo’s goal record is actually pretty good by any striker.
Arsene: The pros and cons
There seems to be a competition between the ‘Wenger in’ and ‘Wenger out’ brigades, so I thought about this and put the case for each forward, hopefully to spark a reasonably sensible debate about the best way forward for Arsenal Football Club, ignoring the director’s perspective which is purely financial and making the case overall.
Wenger has to go – because…
1) He’s no longer taking the team forward.
2) He is making the majority of Arsenal games painful, frustrating, nerve-wracking and annoying to watch.
3) Denying visual evidence/statistics that show the squad needed improvement in the last transfer window.
4) Silly excuses for failure, refusal to accept blame or blame players.
5) Failure to adapt the team’s formation/substitutions to react to the oppositions tactics/formations.
6) Over loyal to mediocre/constantly injured players.
Wenger must stay – because…
1) The club is bigger because of him, and without a sugar daddy to throw money at him.
2) When on form, Arsenal are still the best in the Premier League to watch.
3) He can still develop very good players without massive risk/outlays of cash.
4) The next manager will have a massive transfer fund.
5) Loyalty to him deserved by him sticking through the financially tight days and maintaining 4th on a tight budget.
6) He annoys Mourinho more than everyone else (despite always losing to Chelsea).
I’m not sure which side I sit on – perhaps give him the season to see what happens, and let him walk of his own accord if Arsenal fail to improve again – with the money available, there are no excuses this year, but sacking him would be wrong.
Paul, London (formerly Outrun on the boards, bring back the gamertag names!) AFC since 1982
Wenger out…but gracefully
It doesn’t really bother me that we (Arsenal) don’t challenge for the league anymore or that we rarely progress very far in the Champions League because I’ve come to accept our place in both English football and world football. We don’t spend as much as the big boys and therefore shouldn’t be entitled to expect to be finishing top of the league or winning the Champions League. (Apart from the very occasional exceptions to the rules football is largely determined by balance sheets.) However, these are not glass ceilings that we’re unable to break through.
Arsenal could yet challenge for these trophies again but it will take spending wads of cash on a couple of world-class players. Due to the limited amount of world-class talent available the premium is high, seemingly too high for an economist like Wenger, but therein lies the problem. Arsenal will never be truly competitive in the transfer market whilst we have a manager who thinks like a board member. He thinks too much about resale value and bemoans the ‘lack of value in the market’ and whilst it may be true, that sort of attitude and thinking isn’t going to cut it going forward.
I haven’t been part of the Wenger Out brigade but I can’t help feeling that this squad and our club, might fare better under someone else. I, like most fans I know, wouldn’t really want a short term appointment like Ancelotti would be, but would prefer a long haul candidate. It’s tricky, certainly having watched the hilarious sh*t storm that has been Utd over the past few seasons I wouldn’t wish that for us, but I think, maybe wrongly, that we have more of a footballing identity than Utd both in personnel and in playing style, which would lend itself well to continuity.
Wenger cooks rice in a toaster
Have to disagree with Tom, AFC this morning regarding Kieran Gibbs as the worst left-back ever. The truth is, he’s an able back-up to a slightly-better-than-average first-choice left-back in Nacho Monreal. He has fully bought into Wengers game plan of pushing his outside backs as far forward as possible (probably to mask their defensive vulnerabilities) and seems like a non-sh*t stirrer who’s happy to pick up a nice pay cheque for him and his twin brother at the end of the week.
However, and I hope my fellow Gooners will agree, the bigger concern is the walking asparagus that is Per Mertesacker. He is brutal and he legitimately cannot sprint. I’m sorry but that’s a MASSIVE part of your job. Like turning up to a construction site but you have no arms. He can’t even try. He can only jog. At least Paul McGrath and Ledley King had chronic injuries but could sprint on game day. Per should not be on that pitch, and no, Chambers is not the answer. Not in the long-term nor short. Monreal should now be first choice left-back AND third choice center-back. I’d have Kieran every day over Per.
Now to my main point, I think Wenger must go home and cook his dinner in the toaster. Sure, it might work in theory, and it may taste good for all that hard work. But why in the name of Rocky Rocastle don’t you just use the perfectly good, trusty stove top to cook your rice!? Here’s a clue: your stove wears a helmet!!
And to answer the question posed of whether we want him to stay out of belief in philosophy or fear of uncertainty on the club’s future, it would be Brendan (yes, it’s an adjective) of any Arsenal fan to suggest the former.
Analogenius (analogies – you dirty burgers) , AFC (still)
Wenger will die on the job
1. Fail to sign any outfield players in the summer, citing ‘cohesion’ as the makeweight for this oversight.
2. Fail to sign a competent defensive midfielder or a striker, two positions that have needed strengthening for several years.
3. Fail to establish a reliable/predictable defensive pattern for years (clear lack of training in this aspect).
4. Fail to address the mental weakness in the side for years.
5. Fail to respect the opposition by benching Cech for arguably the most crucial game so far this season. Predictably, Murphy’s Law obliged with David Ospina making a big, big mistake. This instance being the latest example of Wenger taking opposition for granted for years.
Arsene Wenger is guilty of gross negligence at Arsenal. Surely he should be taken through some kind of disciplinary process or he should at least be questioned by the Arsenal board; a test for senile dementia wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
As an opposition fan, I dread the day Wenger leaves Arsenal because that will be the day when their talented squad will be exposed to some proper coaching. I doubt that day is coming any time soon though, Arsene Wenger cannot be sacked and will not leave. He will probably end up leaving Arsenal because of illness or death.
Mandisi (16 million for Welbeck? Your generosity knows no bounds, Arsene – you are a gentleman and a scholar); MUFC
The Emirates would be full but…
Adam Dewar’s comments about the empty seats at Emirates last night are spot on.
The Champions League games are part of your season ticket. The prospect of travelling across London in rush hour, on a Tuesday or Wednesday night (next year maybe Thursday!) is not appealing. Especially not appealing when the opposition is supposedly, a second-rate European team, just making up the numbers in the group.
Many ticket holders simply don’t go. I suspect a lot of them don’t realise they can offload their tickets on the Arsenal website to a Red member, who pays £30 a year for the privilege of purchasing these cast off tickets.
In fact a couple of days before the Olympiacos game you could have bought a seat virtually anywhere in the ground.
If these games were not part and parcel of the season ticket, the game could first be offered to the seat’s regular occupant. If declined, then the Red members could purchase. Any remaining seats could then be put on general sale and I would think the ground would be full.
Incidentally, they stopped announcing the attendance figures over the tannoy, as no matter if only half full the figure quoted would always be 60,000. The jeers received at these announcements, week in week out, were obviously heard!!
That’s me done for midweek tomfoolery, definitely not going to see Bayern Munich tonk us by five or six goals.
We’re in a lull…
I’m glad someone pointed to the dead, dead crowd at the Emirates last night. I was part of it, I was as useful as a mute with a megaphone. I think it’s telling that the performance from the fans and the players were both quiet, subdued, overly expectant, entitled even.
Truth is, Olympiakos aren’t good enough to beat us, we beat ourselves last night. The problem has been getting properly motivated for an annual slog that we’ve waltzed through easily for the past few seasons. Of course our knock-out performances have made the group stages pointless, lulling the whole club into even more of a Champions League slumber.
Point here is the hand wringing over team selections might be over the top, form says we win these games. Each English team have a campaign like this occasionally. The problem is, as pointed out on Arseblog this morning, the competition now feels pointless to us. And unless we either have years out of the competition (god forbid for financial reasons) or a run at least to the semi-final, then pointless we shall remain in it, and neither fans nor supporters will get properly motivated for the occasions.
Would losing a Champions League place be that bad?
With English teams in the Champions League appearing at various times to be, I believe the technical term is, hot bobbins, it seems like the Premier League’s coefficient may be affected to the extent that we lose a Champions League place. If this happens, which of the following scenarios is most likely:
* The Premier League becomes like La Liga, whereby Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – the three biggest spenders – cement their places in the Champions League year after year, with a hegemony the rest cannot break due to the perpetual cycle of increased revenue. This enables them, like Celtic, to cream off any and all good players from other teams.
* Arsenal, who for too long have defined a successful season as qualifying for the Champions League and banking the prize money for playing in the group stages and the round of Arsenal, are forced to spend big across their whole squad, realising that the only way to achieve their previous definition of ‘success’ will be to challenge for the title and, like everyone else, accept CL qualification as a consolation prize.
* English teams start taking the Europa League seriously as a) a means of qualifying for the Champions League, and b) as a competition they could actually win. This could be linked to a team drawing Gillingham away in the FA Cup Third Round and all of a sudden realising a remote outpost of Eastern Europe isn’t really that bad.
I just wonder if maybe losing a Champions League place may not be the worst thing to happen to the Premier League, largely because of the potential wake-up call for certain teams; however, there is also the possibility of killing the Premier League as a competition for the majority of clubs, unless there is a drastic change of attitude from just about every club.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven, CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
Ed of the class
Considering that he gets a mail printed in every mailbox, and now seems to be contributing to Mediawatch, when are you going to employ Ed Quoththeraven full time?
Some Chelsea conclusions
I’ve noticed recently there’s been a lack of mails from Chelsea fans commenting on our games, the shocking results and awful football we’ve been playing, so I thought I’d write in with a few conclusions from last nights and some from this seasons games & results.
– I’m not a fan of Mourinho, never have been, his tactics, his deflections in post-match conferences, his ability to make our club the most hated in the land, but I’ve stuck by him because he normally sets us up so well and wins us games. This season though, The Happy One has well and truly lost his magic touch. I dont understand his tactics anymore, the amount of times we were pulled out of position last night was unreal, no-one seems to stay in positions, no-one tracks back and no-one seems to put much effort in to stop anything dangerous.
– Speaking of which, John Terry needs to start against Arsenal, alongside Zouma and then show him what it means to put your body on the line for the sake of saving a goalscoring chance. Too many times he half-heartedly threw a leg or jumped in the way of a shot, it cost us for the first girl where he should’ve stopped the shot Begovic saved, and it cost us against Newcastle last weekend too.
– The only players to cover themselves in any glory last night were Willian, Begovic and Costa. Willian was tireless, running everywhere and was our most potent threat to breaking their backline. Only some rigid Porto defending stopped any supply to Costa. He was immense in the first 20 mins, then either ran out of steam, or got annoyed at being the only one chasing to stop the ball from coming out of defence/midfield. Does need to learn when to pass and that he doesn’t have Hazard like skills of dribbling? Begovic was just unlucky for the goals, saved us a number of times, he’s been an able deputy and to be honest I dont think either Courtois or Cech (if we had kept him) would’ve done anything different
– Some players need to not play, for a while. Ivanovic, Fabregas and Pedro were all anonymous. At the middle of last season F365 wrote a piece on declining players and listed Ivanovic at number 1, I remember at the time thinking it was stupid because he looked great, he then went on to be in the team of the season. Oh how I laughed F365. But no, you were right, I apologise, all hail.
– Fabregas has lost his ability to dictate games on the quick, he takes far too many touches and always needs a few yards of space to do anything decent, he can’t dribble, he can’t turn quickly and release players anymore, he’s fast becoming the Spanish Tom Cleverly (TM Brendan).
– Pedro made some decent runs and then he had the massive chance that he fluffed (on current form no Chelsea XI wouldve scored) and then he seemed to stick to the right flank and stay there, he didn’t take anyone on, he didn’t cut inside, he didn’t do much, but pass back to Ivanovic who hit the first man on his atrocious crossing.
– The team looks shot of confidence, and you can see it resonating, when a team is in a rut, mistakes starts happening, I’ve been there, you try too hard to make up for your teams and teammates’ shortcomings and end up trying too hard. Too many times did we see last-minute tackles from Zouma and Cahill where they were missed. Azpilicueta saved us a few times with his pace, and but for some better finishing or worse goalkeeping and the score could’ve been out of reach.
– Jose needs to sort out the confidence, I dont think that means changing the whole squad but it does mean playing people in their right positions and ensuring the tactics and team formations are stuck to. It does mean changing a few things, play people in their actual positions, so Ivanovic in the local nursing home, Azpi at right back (can’t say how frustrating it is to not have anyone crossing from the left anymore) Baba Rahman at left and leave Fabregas to sit and see Loftus-Cheek show him how to boss a midfield.
– Onto Loftus-Cheek, Mourinho says he would play him if he can trust him more, well I and many other Chelsea fans can’t trust Fabregas or Matic at the moment so why not play him and Ramires?
– One mailboxer said yesterday why isn’t Ramires regarded higher by Chelsea fans and I think to most fans he is, and we see frustration when he’s not used/first one subbed off. From midfield he seems to be the only one to make forward runs drawing out the defence to leave space for our strikers and attacking wingers, his tireless running helps constantly. We can overlook the terrible tackles and poor decision-making because he actually causes a lot of trouble for the opposition when he plays.
– I don’t think Jose will be sacked but I also don’t think he will be here at the start of next season if we dont win any silverware. I’m all for the change, I really hate the man and I know I’m not the only one. I can see him leaving at the end of next season and us getting Pochetino in.
– Southampton at home next. Can see us giving Koeman and his team three points.
– 16 conclusions is hard.
Sorry for the long mail, I had to gripe after a frustrating game of football.
Stefan (CFC London)
On the inconsistency of John Nicholson
While I don’t share John Nicholson’s views on seeing English teams lose in the Champions League, I can draw a comparison with why I still read his missives even though they generally make my blood boil. I was glad that Thayden called him out earlier this week but now it’s my turn.
The bit that got me was cheering on English opposition in the Champions League but doing the opposite in Europa – I don’t see any logic behind this considering the main reason for this was ‘because it’s a kick in the nuts for the rich dudes’. Surely this would apply even more in Europa, where it is smaller teams from the smaller leagues who get considerably less revenue than the Champions League counterparts, meaning EPL teams have even more of an advantage in this competition?
The real reason for Johnny’s cheerleading seems to be more aligned to the much-maligned ‘football hipsterism’ phenomenon, or maybe he is pining for his school days when it was very easy to be anti-establishment with just a pair of Doc Martens or a dodgey haircut (no bad thing – I’ve been there, done that, bought the Hendrix t-shirt).
F365 always talks about why we need more real analysis of football – tactics and all that – but sometimes all we get is just a higher form of clickbaiting aimed at a more discerning audience. I am putting my hands up that I am falling for it.
Not everybody agrees…
He got in there before me so I’ll just say this; No, John. No it isn’t.
James F, BCFC KRO (First time I’ve 100% agreed with a JN piece. Does that make me a hipster or just plain curmudgeonly?)
…Agree wholeheartedly with Johnny Nicholson’s schadenfreude at seeing English teams fail spectacularly most years in European competetitions. With some notable exceptions such as Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho it has exposed wonderfully the inadequacies and tactical naivety of our usual representatives in the Champions league and Europa league.
More interestingly however I think it exposes the hype surrounding English teams and how this in itself becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy in the Premier League. This works in two ways. Firstly we saw how with Fergie’s United that they were perennial champions/contenders in the Premier League. Fergie’s team and his own personal reputation were formidable and often destroyed opponents before they set foot on the Old Trafford turf, yet often in Europe this counted for little, Fergie and his friends were regularly handed they assess on platters for consumption while his notable triumphs were hard-fought battles in Juventus, against Bayern Munich etc, well earned against sides who did not fear their reputation. Last ten minutes at Old Trafford, home side pouring forwards, let’s just defend these teams seemed to say in Europe and defend they did.
Meanwhile back in the Premier League hype bubble Arsenal are guaranteed their 3-4 place finish every year but no more. This seems like another problem whereby the hype becomes self-limiting. Arsene’s teams just don’t seem to believe they can win the Premier League and other teams believe they can “get at them”. And so inevitably very year they have an injury-plagued stumble and settle into their well rehearsed Champions League berth finish and first stage knockout pattern.
Othe managers like Rodgers are just shown up for their extreme tactical and organisational naivety at European level getting humiliated annually.
I think this is why I enjoy the Euro-spankings so much. They expose the Premier League hype bubble for what it is, a load of horse manure, lovely.
…Interesting piece from John Nic on cheering on foreign teams. I admit that I do it rather a lot, but for me though it’s more to do with technique and tactics than grumpiness about the modern world.
The Premier League is played at such a breakneck pace that it often becomes headless: Skill and poise get lost because the opposition are bearing down so quickly on the player in possession of the ball. Now, many European sides play fast as well but it tends to be more measured, as though both the manager and players have just been a bit smarter in terms of tactics, overall tempo, transition etc.
So for me the enjoyment of seeing the smart European outfits in the Champions League is twofold: I get to see a more intelligent type of play, and the brainlessness of the Premier League gets to be shown up a bit.
It acts like a domestic league version of England looking a bit thick at international tournaments: Sure, it’s a bit frustrating…but it’s also pretty funny.
Stu (by the way, if JN has a dislike of modern reality and likes a underdog who’s unlikely to win anything, there’s this conference in Brighton…), Now EC-something
Johnny Foreigner to blame? Oh do give up…
I’m going to send Glenn Hoddle the bill for cleaning my sofa as I spat my traditional post Champions League cocoa over the sofa following his analysis of the problem with English clubs in the UCL.
Apparently, we have to remember there are a lot of foreign players in the league, and they need to take some of the blame.
Clearly Johnny Foreigner with their funny accents and ‘culture’ are putting off our ladz Rooney, Walcott, Cahill et al and preventing them becoming world leaders.
Let us not forget that the best teams in Europe lead by their own best homegrown talent. The famously Spanish Messi and Naymar, the French Ibrahimovic, the very Italian Pogba and that big German hulk Lewandowski.
Maybe he should have had a look at the last Champions League final line-up. Barcelona (4 Spanish players) beat Juventus( 5 Italian players). English players in Chelsea’s triumph in 2012? Four.
Go home Hoddle, you’re drunk.
Gez Errico, Sheffield
Can’t wait another minute
In a scene reminiscent of Elliot ringing in to question the band Five Star on BBC Flagship kids’ show Going Live, I’d like to see a journalist flip and then ask Mourinho “Why is Ivanovic so f***ing crap?”
Ted Maul (You could even get Sarah Greene to try to cover up the embarrassment)
I’m fairly sure that Paul Walsh’s glasses do not have lenses in. Very odd.
Pretty soon we’re gona be having Winners and Losers Europa League.
Muhammad Peer (At least our horizons will broaden!) LFC, Durban
The curious case of Joao Carlos Teixiera
I admit that this may be a niche topic but there are only so many emails from cry-w**king Arsenal fans that I can take. Plus, you always say the mailbox could use some more diversity.
Mr. Teixeira was brought to the Liverpool academy after impressing at youth level for Sporting Lisbon and despite some injury setbacks produced some eye-catching performances at age-group level. Some may remember him coming on for his competitive debut for Raheem Sterling in Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Fulham in 2014, playing a part in the winning goal. The following season saw him loaned out for the season to Brighton in the Championship, impressing for the struggling side eventually being awarded their young player of the season despite breaking his leg towards its close.
After a frankly remarkably quick stint of rehab, he rejoined Liverpool for this pre-season once again impressing albeit against sub-standard opposition. Perhaps not quite ready to push for a role in the Premier League match-day squad, with Liverpool’s participation and attitude towards the Europa League and CoC I expected he would get a chance to impress in these ‘lesser competitions’ (much as Jordan Rossiter has). Then came the baffling news that he was left out of the Europa League squad entirely and in our CoC game he didn’t make the matchday squad.
My point is this: What exactly is Liverpool’s plan with him? At 22 he is hardly an academy player anymore and is probably wasting his time playing infrequently for the u21 side. Surely a loan to a Championship club would have been more useful if he wasn’t going to make the Europa League squad? It smacks of a lack of forward planning and will probably see his young career stagnate for another season.
Any other clubs have players similarly ‘mistreated’?
Osric the Brave, Somewhere in South Africa
What I miss about F365…
Given that the mailbox will be dominated by the words ‘Arsenal’, ‘Wenger’, ‘incompetence’ and ‘coefficient’ I thought I’d offer up something different, even if it does pander to the egos of the writers of my favourite website. Did I mention I love you guys?
I’ve read a lot of articles and features on this website over the years, and have suffered through some terrible mailboxes. Every once in a while the mailbox almost becomes a chore (obviously through no fault of your own, you only print what you get, yadda yadda yadda) and then I crack a smile. Whenever the editor decides to bless us with comments, either defending content (mostly Storey recently for some reason) or rubbishing terribly one-eyed mails it cheers me up no end. (Gee thanks. We love you too – The Editor).
That actually led me to lament the loss of Whingers and Losers, where the right to reply to a reply was executed to perfection (Only Pete Gill could be that petty – The Editor). While I do miss many features that have graced the hallowed F365 website over the years, including the Neviller Diaries (Not something we could do at Sky, odly enough – The Editor) and Ref365, Whingers and Losers will be missed most by this humble reader.
Although I did also enjoy the absurdist brilliance of the alternative Euro 2008 (was it really that long ago!) featuring England’s non-c**ts and their roller-coaster ride to the final to meet their c**t alternatives. Dean Windass will always remain my favourite England international striker because of that!
Are there any other features that mailboxers miss? Oh, and sorry for the length of this…something I’ve unfortunately never had to say before!
Dan ITFC (I also miss the contributions to the mailbox from ‘Name Withheld’ and his exploits in refereeing the lower reaches of the football ladder)
And one from Twitter…
@f365 but wengar for up yestarday
— oscar959 (@oscar9592) September 30, 2015