Mail firstname.lastname@example.org with every single one of your thoughts.
Anyone able to remind me what Einstein’s definition of insanity was?
Mark / Dave (Please; no more) MUFC
Arsenal’s attack is a problem
The Flamini-Mertesacker axis of ineptitude on Tuesday night has predictably (and rightly) drawn criticism from Arsenal fans.
Yes, Mertesacker is slow and past his best. And yes, it’s an embarrassment that a club with £180m in the bank is still calling on Flamini with such depressing regularity.
But it feels that the blame directed towards Flamini or Mertesacker masks a wider issue – Arsenal’s much vaunted attack is really, really struggling.
While the Arsenal defence has let in the second least number of league goals this season, we’re only the fifth highest scorers. We’ve failed to score in ten games this season (26%) and have been shut out in seven league games alone (already two more than the whole of last season). We’ve failed to score in 5 of our last 8 games in all competitions, and the three teams we did find the net against were Burnley, Bournemouth and ten-man Leicester. While defence is important, you can’t win matches if you don’t score goals.
Given that he once managed a side that scored in 55 consecutive league games, this toothlessness in front of goal is a relatively new problem for Wenger. But it’s one he needs to solve quickly if our season isn’t going to fall apart in spectacular fashion. Let’s hope he has some answers, and fast.
The ‘Arsenal way’ = b*llocks
Can we put one thing to bed today, “the arsenal way” and how Barcelona play have nothing whatsoever in common.
Every time Barca come to town it’s met by the players and fans alike as if it’s a return of a brother in arms in the good fight for the beautiful game. In reality, Barcelona probably see arsenal as a walk in the park against a far inferior opposition that has effectively sacrificed the tie before it’s even begun.
Arsenal fans preach to the rest of the premier league about “the arsenal way” and how all teams in the prem are spoilsports from preventing them from replicating what Barca do. Leicester playing attacking football? It’s not done “the arsenal way”. A team plays defensively? Its not “the arsenal way”. City buy some of the greatest attacking players in the world? It’s not “the arsenal way”.
Ignoring the fact that Barca spend astronomical amounts of money themselves they seem to hold on to this link to Barca when there is none. If there was such a romance between the two then no doubt pep would have waited or even talked about them in his decision to pick city.
Don’t be fooled, Barca are as cheeky, coniving and ruthless as every other team out there. That’s because they’re winners. They don’t spend their press conferences gushing praise on their opposition, they get their game face on.
Arsenal talking about Barca is the equivalent of someone ordering a glass of house red in a wetherspoons and then preaching to everyone else about the tannins. Stop focusing on praising them and start focusing on beating them. The “Arsenal Way” seems to have blinded many of you as to the actual point of the game.
Feeling sorry for Ozil and Sanchez
Disappointed as I am with yesterday’s result, there are some key aspects I felt are being overlooked.
I feel sorry for Sanchez and Ozil, they’re under all the pressure from us Arsenal fans, the media, Wenger and even their other teammates. By the way everyone speaks, you’d easily think we start every game with two outfield players. The bottom line is that we need a massive squad overhaul. Flamini, Arteta, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain all need to be moved on. Giroud is fit for purpose as a back-up striker, so he can remain under that pretence. None of the players I have listed are fit for purpose if we have an iota of honesty in our apparent aspiration to be consistent title winners/challengers and a legitimate threat in Europe. A combination of being physically knackered (Flamini, Arteta, Mertesacker), a lack of a footballing brain (Walcott, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain), or a unique combination of both (Flamini) renders us as absolutely pointless right now. Our title challenge is within the most unpredictable season of the last decade, and even then, our supposed advantage of ‘having ‘been at the top of the league for the last 10 years’ leaves us currently two points behind a team that were in the Championship a few years ago, and behind a Spurs team that are still in their embryonic stage of the ascension to the big clubs league (new stadium and whatnot).
Oxlade-Chambelrain is a fantastic representation of the mediocrity that is now nurtured and embraced by Wenger. His progression over his career with us has been minimal, and he clearly hasn’t learnt how to make a pass (or even look at what is ahead of you before attempting to break away), nor how to shoot either (one goal in the last year, if I recall correctly). Comparing him to Julian Draxler, of a similar age (a one year difference) and supposed talent, he has impressed immensely in the CL for a few years with Schalke (even scoring in an imperious performance at Stamford Bridge), before completely dismantling Genk away last week with Wolfsburg. We were linked very strongly with him for what felt like years, but alas, nothing came of it, after all, we have Oxlade-Chamberlain.
This really isn’t good enough, and hasn’t been for a long time. Wenger really should have left in 2014 after the FA Cup win.
Stewie Griffin, you have a new ally.
A happy Arsenal fan
I am an Arsenal fan, and yes, while I am frustrated at the seemingly endless exits at the first knock-out round and at the team making the same mistakes over and over again (missing chances, getting caught on the break, etc.) despite all that, I had a great time at the match.
1) I (along with my son) got to see one of the greatest ever attacking front 3 play at the Emirates
2) We got to see Arsenal put in a disciplined defensive display against said trio
3) We had some edge of the seat excitement as Arsenal missed chances and Cech made some great saves.
In short, we got to watch a fantastic football match. Isn’t that what’s its all about?
(p.s., I have some painful memories of watching Arsenal at the Emirates in the UCL: 3-1 to Man U in the semi-final and 3-1 to Monaco come to mind. This is not even close)
They could still qualify
Hear me out.
Let’s go back to the moment where arsenal arsenaled up last night. Score line 0-0. Less than 30mins to go. If the game ends like this arsenal only need a draw in camp nou to qualify. How on earth did arsenal allow themselves to get into a situation where barca could counter them?
What was oxlade-chamberlin still doing on the pitch after half time? He should have been the first sub and Walcott or welbeck brought in to help form the defensive pyramid with Sanchez at the top. Either of Walcott or welbeck have the pace and the finishing to link up with Sanchez on the break. Everyone else including wenger should have concentrated on keeping the score line at 0-0.
That was all arsenal had to do to manage the game and they would have won the game with the score line at either 1-0 or 0-0.
Apart from these points arsenal did everything else correctly.
Their pressing and covering of space was flawless.
Giroud was a dream to watch for 60 mins. Sanchez brough out the evil side of barca which we hardly see. Ozil was marking and attacking at the same time. Monreal kept Messi quiet for 60mins. And barca looked like Newcastle. For 60mins.
Arsenal can do it. Let’s look at the reverse fixture.
Oxlade-chamberlin would not play.
Walcott would start.
Maintain everything else. Barca will start the game on the back foot. Arsenal have a high chance of Getting the early goal which I think they just might? Then it would force barca out into offense mode. Any rested senior players would have to be introduced. That crack would let arsenal back into the game. And they just could nick it.
If you don’t agree with my analysis then let’s look at the history of arsenal performances which suggest that they will win the second leg away from home. Barca lost 4-1 twice this season. I think arsenal will be the third team to beat barca this season.
Paul (but they will still draw Chelsea and be eliminated) CFC.
A thing of beauty
I know you will be inundated with emails stating that Wenger is rubbish/a genius or that Giroud is very good/not good enough etc, etc and the invevitable ones that will proclaim that Barca ain’t all that and Messi is over rated etc.
But I have to just say one thing, Barca’s first goal was a thing of beauty. It made me leap round the room much to the amusement of my kids. The header by Pique the flick on by Iniesta, the turn and pass from Neymar, return pass from Suarez and to cap it all Messi rolling the ball with his studs, his studs, bamboozling Cech and putting the ball in the net. All of this done at lighting pace. I could watch that goal on a loop non-stop for 24 hours.
Head. Nail. Hit. On.
On. Nail. Head. Hit.
Whenever I read one of your Top Tens I always have a think about what players/incidents I deem worthy of the list. When it came to bad substitutions as a Livepool fan there was only one choice. It wasn’t the first one, nor the second in your list and I got all the way to the bottom in mild disbelief that you hadn’t selected it. Your Liverpool choices are totally eclipsed by the one you missed.
In 2002 Liverpool were in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen. Leading 1-0 from the first leg Liverpool got the crucial away goal, were 2-1 ahead on aggregate with Leverkusen needing to score twice in the last half hour. In this sort of situation you could do a poll of Liverpool fans about which player you would not remove and I guarantee about 90% would say Dietmar Hamann. Take off Gerrard. Take off Owen. Take off Heskey. Take off the bl00dy goalkeeper but you don’t take off Dietmar Hamann. He was the glue that held the team together, he provided solidity and presence that allowed the rest of the team to play. You might remember a few years later him coming off the bench at half-time with Liverpool 3-0 down in some match or other resulting in a turnaround for the team.
Sadly on the hour mark Gerard Houllier decided to replace him with Vladimir Smicer and suffice to say it took all of 8 minutes for Leverkusen to score the two goals they needed. Liverpool put themselves back in front on away goals but couldn’t hold out for the last 10 minutes, conceded another and went out. Still to this day I just don’t understand how it happened, looking through the list you can at least see some logic for most of them but not taking off Hamann. Liverpool didn’t need two goals, they just had to stop the opposition scoring two. Boggles the mind.
Juve 2-2 Bayern conclusions
I chose to watch the Juve-Bayern game last night as I thought it would be more compelling – did nobody else do the same? By the sounds of it the Arsenal game had some intrigue in fairness, even if the result was predictable. But I was treated to a highly enjoyable game and I think you need some commentary on anything that isn’t Arsenal this afternoon.
* By the time Muller scored Bayern were dominating and could have been a few goals up already, and I feared for the hosts. But Juve improved and Bayern got tired, it seemed. The draw was certainly fair in the end.
* Their second goal was absolute vintage Robben, receiving the ball on the right of the area and cutting back inside, and inside again, until the best shooting chance opened up. I knew he was going to bag it the moment he received the ball (even though it was from a poor pass that sent him wider than necessary, it should be noted).
* The following is hardly new information, but figuring out the make-up of a Guardiola Bayern team is bloody difficult based on the nominal line up alone. Other than a handful of players who only ever feature in a fixed position (Benatia, Alonso, Lewandowski etc), many of them are frequently selected elsewhere to their natural or strongest position. The opposition are kept guessing right up until kick off what the formation will be and whether certain players are in defence, midfield or attack. It’s obviously very difficult to make plans for.
* That said, I believe Guardiola’s arrogance in this regard cost them. Clearly, Bayern are a superior side to Juventus, but it transpired that Bayern went into the game with a back four containing two young left backs, a right back and an inexperienced defensive midfielder; all of them technically excellent, but none of them troubling 6 foot and all quite slightly built. Against Mario Mandzukic. Not that I am qualified to question Guardiola in any way, but the young lad Kimmch in particular was a bit shaky and perhaps the smart choice would have a been to start Benatia, an experienced specialist centre half, or even Rafinha, in the knockouts of the Champions League? [Just a quick mention here that the equivalent lineup for Pep’s Manchester City would probably see Clichy and Zabaleta at full back and a central defence of, say, Alex Kolarov and James Horsfield]
* All this means that the tie is still there to be won. Still expect Bayern to steamroller it at home but it’s certainly not a given and there’s something to look forward to in the second legs at least. You never know, of course. In Pogba, Dybala, Mandzukic (arguably Cuadrado, Hernanes and Morata) Juve certainly have a handful of players capable of breaking a game wide open.
Chris, SAF Stand
After an all Arsenal mailbox I thought I’d try to chip in with something different. Someone wrote yesterday about possible football implications of the a “Brexit”. I thought I’d give it a bash and talk through possible implications.
The Bosman is the first and most obvious one. Theoretically, this rule would no longer apply but I’m not really sure what effect it would have. I would imagine the status quo would continue unless one of the clubs challenged it in the UK courts. It’s hard to see a different decision being reached however and my hunch would be that players would still move on a free.
An interesting impact that it could have would be on work permits. There are clear rules in place and standards that non-eu plays must meet in order to get a work permit. If Britain left the EU this would apply to all of them foreigns. The premier league might not feel this as much (as the players would tend to pass the test) but the lower leagues surely would.
Another significant impact could be on quotas. With the never ending discussion on home grown talent showing no signs of ending, quotas would surely be considered. At the moment a mandatory number of English players is not allowed (hence terms like “home grown” and “trained at club”.) But if Britain left the EU they could do what they liked. Match day squads or first 11s could all be affected by quotas of required English players. I’m not suggesting this is a good idea, but it would be legal. The PFMs would love it anyway.
Can’t think of any the implications off the top of my head but I’m sure there are more.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
Club fans as individuals
Slightly bewildered at what has gone on over the last 10 years. Likely to claim Bell or Kinky as the best ever player despite Sergio, Big Dave, Vinny and Yaya. Does a secret fist pump at 40 points every year. Loves the fact the United are struggling, but won’t say too much in case it goes pear shaped. Most other fans don’t begrudge City fan his time in the sun.
After being the most passionate fan of all time, has suddenly lost interest in football. Claims it’s because of other teams buying the league which is disgusting. “United have never done that, they’ve done it the Busby way, and it grinds my gears”. Is likely to say ‘grinds my gears’ instead of ‘gets on my tits’, which is very annoying. Other fans find the current state of affairs hilarious.
After years of really struggling with failure, Liverpool fan has now embraced it totally. It will really mess things up if they beat City on Sunday in the CC final, he was just beginning to enjoy himself. Loves sticking it to the man and taking on the establishment (see the 96, the £77, and Statler and Waldorf). Other fans applaud this.
Generally likable and affable The Everton fan is a knowledgeable and interesting bloke. Only loses his rag when talking about “the red sh*te”. More likely to use a soundbite from Storey than Shearer. Other fans marvel at this. Shares his red brethren’s passion for a scrap with the powers that be. Is called a Bluenose by Liverpool fan, and doesn’t mind. Which is endearing to the rest of us.
Smug and entitled, Arsenal fan is usually unhappy about something. Other fans are glad about this, because otherwise they would be insufferable. They claim they play the best football in the Prem but still they moan. Citeh and Chelsea are Jonny come latelys, and anyway everyone knows Arse’s rivalries with Spurs and United are the biggest in world football.Other fans think they are t*ssers.
Spurs fan is currently wandering around with a massive grin on his face and rubbing his eyes. This year might finally be the year! The year that they can put the whole Saint Totteringhams day to bed. Other fans think they are deluded.
Leicester fan feels he is in some drug addled dream, or a parallel universe. He doesn’t really know what the hell is going on but he’s absolutely loving every minute. Other fans pat them on the head patronisingly.
Chelsea fan is a d*ck. Every other fan thinks so.
Apologies that there are only 8 so far (got to go to work now). Any other people out there with other viewpoints? *folds arms and leans against wall expectantly*
Michael (Catty till I die) Catlow
Matt Stead: Forever on the drink
Has Matt Stead been on the bottle again? Claiming that Newcastle are the out of place name on a list of teams that beat Chelsea in 2004/05 and then a few paragraphs later he remembers that Man City were actually quite shoddy back then. Quick reminder that Newcastle had in fact been in the UEFA Cup quarter finals that same season and had finished 4th, 3rd, 5th in the seasons before and tomorrow’s mediawatch is writing itself for you.
Mike NUFC (Bring Back Ameobi)