Mails: How is this Arsenal team winning?

Date published: Tuesday 10th January 2017 8:00

If you have anything to say on any subject, you know what to do: Mail theeditor@football365.com

 

FA Cup the best competition in the world? Really?
First off I must say I am a Liverpool fan who hates the FA Cup. Not because it’s done anything dreadful to me like sleep with my wife or stole my dog but still I hate it. I can say when this hatred began. But I think it started about 3-4 years ago. Now that I think about it, it’s not even the tournament itself I hate but the media coverage. Being a fan of a top-flight club in the FA Cup sucks. First is all the god dam cliches like “The best cup competition in the world” seriously!!! Watching Liverpool reserves and League Two Plymouth play out a turgid lower league does not qualify as the best. Let’s compare say the Champions League where you can watch Barca, Real, Dortmund, Bayern, City, Atletico, PSG or let go for the World Cup where you can watch Brazil play Germany or Spain, France, England, Portugal etc etc. The FA Cup is barely better than the League Cup and at least they had the sense to get rid of the replays.

The FA Cup is outdated and has for a long time need something to make it great again. Instead Premier League clubs play weakened teams and now no one cares anymore. I remember the outrage of people for managers picking weakened teams now it’s expected. How can anyone try and selling this as the biggest and best competition in the world when no one cares about the standard of teams in it? The thing is I blame top teams from doing it. The media and FA advertise the miracles for the back of top clubs’ humiliation. Is it any wonder that top clubs have decide that they might as well negate that humiliation by giving youngsters and reverse players games instead.

I think the real reason I hate the FA Cup is it should be great considering the history but instead it’s not it’s just blah, instead the FA Cup third round, which should be an awesome football weekend, turns into a slightly better version of international week where the football is crap and means nothing at all because does anyone really care!

Rant over!
Joe LFC (Off to the cinema to watch a film called Silence, ironically) Milton Keynes

 

How to make the FA Cup great again…
You asked in your 16 Conclusions how to make people care about the FA Cup again, here are some suggestions:

* Greater bonuses for teams in the lower leagues who get to the third round.

* The winners get to have a play-off with the fourth-place team in the league for that Champions League spot.

* Moving the League Cup earlier in the year giving the opportunity for a winter break and reducing the need to rest players.

* Remove League Cup altogether and start the FA Cup earlier, spacing it out so it has less impact.

* Greater prize money all round – find a sponsor that can make the revenues for the clubs a bit closer to what they can make in the league.

That’s all I could come up with I really can’t understand why the teams between 7th and 14th need motivating what else have they got to do. I’m open to better suggestions.
Timi, MUFC

 

Arsenal are stressful…
I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy to support Arsenal right now. We make everything harder and more stressful than it needs to be. Conclusions:

* When will Ramsey and the Ox learn to do the small things well first, then you can go go for the spectacular.

* Mustafi does not like playing with Gabriel. He looked permanently unsure. Proves how good Kosc is.

* Iwobi is OK in number 10. Better out wide where he can’t run down dead ends all the time and lose the ball.

* Xhaka can, and still does. Nice and tidy.

* Holding is an infinitely better defender than Gabriel. Everything I’ve seen makes me feel this is the case.

* Almost no rotation at all from Wenger and it showed. We have plenty of good youth players who haven’t had loads of matches in the past week or so. Such a shame and a poor decision.

* Preston deserved the cupset. They played with a great intensity. Loved watching them have a proper go at Arsenal.

Has any team ever played so badly and kept doing OK?
Rob A (seriously miss Wilshere when Cazorla is out…) AFC

 

On Man United and Barcelona…
Unfortunately I had to miss the FA cup game so I’ve only seen the highlights, but I did manage to get a bit of culture this weekend…

* Firstly, I’m a little late to the party but I have to say bravo to Peter G. The statistics pieces are thorough, well written and very interesting. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

* To deal with the elephant in the room, it’s good to see Rooney finally get number 249 but more importantly to put in a good performance by all accounts. With the experience he has he’ll make an excellent squad player and his passing range makes him a good option for the bench. Not sure I can justify wages like that for a bit part player but Man Utd are hardly struggling financially are they?

* Also really glad to see Rashford and Martial picking up goals that should boost the confidence. Both showed precise finishing and decisiveness that can only improve with age – I’m very excited to see how these two develop.

* Anyone else think Ashley Young could’ve walked rather than get a booking? I think if he keeps his studs down and is late to that challenge a yellow card is fair, but he’s got his studs showing and is off his feet somewhat.

* Since I missed the game on Saturday I thought I’d catch the Villareal vs Barcelona game. I don’t watch much football that isn’t Man Utd so it’s probably good to broaden my horizons. It was weird watching a league that is more focussed on technique rather than the physical side and it was an enjoyable change of pace.

* The first thing I noticed was the speed of the passing from both sides. Barcelona’s movement in the final third is something else and with Villareal defending deep the quick passing interchanges were almost impossible to follow.

* Villareal’s goal was a thing of beauty. Once they intercept the pass they fire it into Pato’s feet and he turns sharply and reads the situation exactly right – running directly at Pique but moving the ball slightly left and right so he can’t make the challenge. He waits until the perfect time to play the pass and gets the weight just right. Once Sansone had to adjust his run I thought the chance was gone but he managed to twist, hit it first time and put it right in the bottom corner. Lovely stuff.

* I also got a stark lesson in just how good Messi is. He somehow squeezed a shot from between four players that hit the inside of the post and the accuracy on that free-kick was ridiculous. His acceleration with the ball at his feet started to cause Villareal problems as they got tired late in the second half and he was about the only Barcelona player who was up to their usual standard.
Dave, MUFC, Manchester

 

On Pep’s problems
Pep Guardiola said that he came to the EPL to be changed, or rather challenged. This means Barca and Bayern were to structurally sound and too strong that he really wasn’t challenged. It’s one thing cheering on for Messi and to act like a lunatic for Robben, when it’s a dead rubber, and it’s already 4-0, but to challenge Chelsea’s Conte, and Klopp must be a daunting task. I remember a point where city looked invisible, they won the first 6-7 games and Pep was king, but they lost and haven’t recovered yet.

If Pep had this Man Utd squad, I swear he would be walking this league. So it really is a challenge, he doesn’t have the players to execute his perfect plan, and he is surrounded by managers who are not shy of challenging the big man. I don’t know why but I feel it’ll be a Pochettinho vs Mourinho league after this season.
Dave (Pep has been found out), Somewhere

 

Some conclusions on the Spurs game
Might as well try this conclusions format, since Spurs weren’t even mentioned in the 16 FA Cup Conclusions or I missed it. I’ll have to be picky, I guess. I think that’s how you do it…

* Villa played defensively and compact for the first hour or so, and especially in the first half. In the end, Spurs managed to score two goals in the last 20 minutes in an easy fixture, made easy mostly by good defending. CCV rightfully got MOTM on Whoscored, although Winks got it on Spurs social media. At 19 years old, he was the better performing centre-back of the three, and he has a really promising future with the club.

* For some reason, Danny Murphy gave MOTM to Trippier, who didn’t really do anything this time and was also rightfully frustrated by the lack of runs on the flanks by his teammates, constantly pointing for one to make a run down the right. The formation made it that way, and Poch ended up changing it to a back four, bringing on Dele for his much needed movement off the ball, and then Nkoudou for added width. Sissoko and Son suddenly started to have more options than a constantly pressurized Janssen and more space to run into. I’ll go more into that later. Murphy gave a mention to CCV, though, so I won’t dwell on his weird choice as MOTM much, but he seriously isn’t really a good commentator overall, is he?

* Janssen will definitely be slated by some fans and pundits for yet another poor performance. Lineker harshly said Janssen was a “poor man’s Soldado”, and while the comparisons with the Spaniard will always come back, I can’t help but disagree. Villa parked the bus and frustrated the striker who had little help in creativity from the midfield. Soldado was supposedly a proven goalscorer with experience who was to become #1. Janssen is 22 and has the pressure to perform just as well as Kane as the #2 option. Sissoko and Son decided to play with more intensity only when Janssen got subbed off. Stop with the needless comparisons, especially if you can’t even spell his name right.

* Speaking of Sissoko and Son…Why did Poch think that was a good idea? There is just no creativity there. They’re Tottenham’s two most one-dimensional players, and they were supposed to feed a confidence-lacking Janssen up front? Spurs need a more creative player for depth because whenever Dele or Eriksen don’t play, there’s just no chances created, especially against teams that park the bus (71% possession and only three shots before the 60th minute when Dele came on). Eriksen creates with passing and movement, while Dele creates with clever runs to become an option or by opening space for teammates to run into by making defenders track him. A defensive back three might be useful against good Prem oppositions, but the lack of width just made it harder to create space for runs, and Poch realized that by the hour mark by putting Sissoko wide on the left and introducing Dele and then NKoudou to play a sort of 4-2-4/4-2-3-1 hybrid without an actual striker. 3-4-2-1 can be useful, but it has its shortcomings too. It relies on more long balls and counter-attack than 4-2-3-1 since there is less width on the flanks from midfielders (to support the wing-backs). Spurs’ usual 4-2-3-1 is in possession a 3-1-5-1 because the full-backs are able to make the runs down the flanks and overlap the opposition’s defense, and one of the two midfielder fills the hole in defense to get a back 3. It is a possession-oriented formation effective against teams playing defensively since you can fight the opposition with more numbers in midfield and get more runs forward down the flanks to open up space. Credit to Poch for making the appropriate changes and having effective tactical alternatives.

* Despite a goal, Davies is still so far behind Rose in every aspect it’s like last season’s early ‘debate’ about starting him or Rose comes back in my mind like an embarrassment. Before the hour mark, he was the worse Spurs player on the pitch. His goal was made possible because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be to begin with. Either sell him this summer, Poch, or do the same magic you did with Rose a while back.

* Poch said in his post-match press conference that Winks was a special player and understandably so. 93% pass accuracy. 89 touches. Poch praised him also after the West Ham game earlier this season before adding he needed to play consistently at this level and raise his game even more to get further within the team. He’s doing just that. Quality option, and the only midfielder or attacker creating something in the poor first 60 minutes.

* Pau Lopez was on the bench which means he actually exists! Can’t wait to see him not play for the remainder of his loan spell.

* Overall, the game was interesting to see the second string play and notice what Spurs are lacking: a better second-choice left-back (unless Davies dramatically improves) and a second-choice/impact-from-the-bench creative CAM. Onomah could’ve been the latter in a way, but so far hasn’t done anything that makes him close to the first team, and Edwards is too young and lacks the physicality (aside from currently being injured). A clever cheap buy could be quite useful before the January window ends, but it won’t happen.
John Blakeway

 

West Ham are a joke
I wasn’t going to write in this weekend, finding the FA Cup 3rd Round rather underwhelming, but then I read your 16 conclusions on the subject and it got me thinking about West Ham. Is there a more laughable club in the Premier League right now?

They messed up Europe League qualification and their shiny new stadium is clearly not suited to football, apparently only serving to alienate many of their fans. Their summer transfer policy seemed confused, reeking of trying to build a squad on the cheap with the result being they haven’t improved the first team from last season at all. The clear loss of cohesion due to so many new signings and forgetting the defensive solidness of the Allardyce era has meant that they appear doomed to a mid-table finish and any chance of a cup run to brighten the gloom was surrendered pathetically. This all serves to make even more of a mockery of the owners’ claims of wanting Champions League football on appointing Bilic as manager.
Alan Ewens

 

Will Wayne be remembered fondly in future?
Well done Wayne, you Red lad! I find it to be a deserved landmark from a player who I am certain will engender much more affection in later years.

He will never be loved perhaps, but I stand by the belief that in retrospect he will be more affectionately remembered and fondly mentioned at any moment where a conversation about English football requires the insertion of some ‘passsssshun!!’ in to the debate.

I for one have certainly appreciated the chasing and chugging along after the ball.

Wayne’s is a personality not exactly built-for-purpose when it comes to winning over endless masses of fellas so football hasn’t always been to blame, specifically in recent years, for wanting more from Wayne. He has made some poor choices as a bloke and a husband earlier on among any other issues he has faced that I have no idea about, so do not misinterpret this as a call for him to be knighted or given a sainthood for services to humanity.

Just that, as F365 pointed out not too far back, he has been both the generous beneficiary and now the slightly-hard-done-by recipient of the media hysteria and fanboy mania it inspires in ever increasing amounts of people it seems.

It appears only logical that he be judged in totality only after some passage of time, as surely what is to follow will inform your final and complete opinion of the prior?

This is to say, if no English player ever gets to Rooney’s personal milestones regarding club success and goals scored, will he be ever-increasingly lauded in the histories of English football, or will the lack of international glory forever temper the adulation?

Does he have his rightful place amongst the elite, in the historical hierarchy of English football is my question? Note: Amongst, not above.
Manc in SA (One has to wonder how Rooney has scored this many, being so apparently awful when compared to other legends, who did not achieve much then, since they were playing so much more consistently than Rooney has for their careers?)

 

Ed’s weekend thoughts
* I don’t have much to say about Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Crystal Palace, other than to congratulate the Trotters on an admirable draw. A colleague’s partner is apparently good friends with Wanderers’ assistant manager Steve Parkin (small claims court).

* There are three people for whom even a goalless draw against a team from two divisions lower can have some positives: Loic Remy made his Palace debut, playing his first game since April. He was withdrawn at half time, but by all accounts was quite lively and had a couple of decent chances; Sullay Kaikai came on as a substitute for his first appearance since being recalled from his loan spell at Brentford; finally, Julian Speroni played, and in doing so, claimed the record for most appearances by a Palace goalkeeper. The man is a bona fide club legend.

According to Matt Webb (@doctordubbs) on Twitter, Speroni also played the last time Crystal Palace kept a clean sheet away from home, which was in pre-season.

* Wilfried Zaha made his Cote d’Ivoire debut yesterday, in a friendly against Sweden, who coincidentally were also the opposition on his England debut. Zaha made an immediate impact by getting an assist.

* Peterborough United may have lost, but still got to enjoy one of football’s greatest schadenfreude moments, when John Terry got sent off.

* The Sun excelled themselves reporting on Steve Mandanda. They said he was ‘dropped following the game against Burnley after a string of errors’. That was his last appearance, but he’s been injured since then, rather than being dropped; also, as for ‘string of errors’, when you search for ‘Steve Mandanda error’, the entire first page of results refers to his time at Olympique Marseille; a search for ‘Steve Mandanda mistakes’ shows just one result from his Palace tenure, which is a match report from the Sun of Palace v Burnley. It’s almost as though in their desperation to publish something for clicks they didn’t have time to do any research or fact-checking.

* Well done to Sky for still managing to be the most talked-about network on a weekend when all the principal live games were on other channels. Mediawatch did a stellar job, but there’s a couple more points to make on this. To borrow from Taylor Parkes’s review of an Alan Brazil book for When Saturday Comes, it’s not the xenophobia that stands out so much as the aggressive ignorance.

We can’t judge Marco Silva yet, as he’s only been in charge for one game, but there are a few possible reasons why he got the job and it didn’t go to a British manager:

1- British managers weren’t considered, because previous British managers had not done very well.
2- They wanted someone with top flight experience – no matter how good Gary Rowett (or ‘Rowlett’, as Paul Merson actually calls him) is, he doesn’t have prior experience of a top flight anywhere.
3- Viable British managers didn’t actually apply because they have concerns about how the Hull City is being run. The owner is unpopular, the fans are rightly restless, and the team is in a relegation battle.
4 – Viable British managers did apply for the job, but their applications were considered inferior to someone with no Premier League or even English football experience.

My suspicion is that the answer is the second or third one. Phil Thompson suggested that Silva doesn’t know how to ‘dig in’, but that a British manager instinctively would. It does beg the question as to why some ex-pros who fancy having a go at management are waiting around in the comfort of their sense of self-entitlement, rather than going out and proving they can actually ‘dig in’ by looking lower down the pyramid.

* Thompson’s suggestion that anyone in the Championship or below should be putting themselves forward for the City job provided an amusing juxtaposition with his and Merson’s promotion of Rowett. Rowett apparently upset the Birmingham City board by expressing interest in jobs at other clubs – Daniel Taylor reported that Rowett, while at Burton Albion, a seemingly well-run club ascending the divisions that has often favoured the young, ambitious manager, made it known he would be interested in the Blackpool job, even though they had a manager (Jose Riga) at the time.
Ed Quoththeraven

 

Well done Sunday Mediawatch
I just wanted to doff my cap to Mediawatch on Sunday; whoever wrote that piece was right on the money. I also watched that segment of Sky Sports on Saturday, and could barely believe my ears – the absolute horsesh*t coming from Merson and Thompson was one of the most incredible PFM rants I have ever heard, so it was wonderful to see such a well-structured take-down of the inane babblings of two of football’s biggest morons.
Ted, Manchester

 

Should we be promoting Merse, though?
While I must say your Mediawatch piece is consistently great for highlighting the gutter level of punditry and journalism currently pervading the game, the caveat is that there’s a part of me that believes you’re also inadvertently promoting the very thing you expose.

Any sensible person knows that Paul Merson is a buffoon who struggles with basic concepts. He’s not alone in that regard as Sky seem hell bent on offering careers to ex-pro’s who have the depth of a cream cracker. It’s part of the wider dumbing down of society.

This is all perfectly fine because each person chooses the medium of discussion which relates closest to their own view of the game/world etc.

I made a decision some time ago to watch the every game minus the before, halftime, and after match discussions. I did this because I felt that messieurs Thierry and Redknapp were insulting my intelligence with cringe levels of banal insights. It’s the same level of ‘lads bantz’ that makes god awful shows like ‘League of their Own’ successful.

In short. stupid will always be stupid just like Merse will always be Meres, and a fat man making wisecracks about Redknapp’s injury proneness will always make those lacking the necessary mental faculties laugh.

That is to say Merse and co will continue to make silly unfounded claims lacking any thought or insight and so your Mediawatch will section has a motley crew of permanent contributors.

What you’re doing is noble but I guess it’s like when someone tweets something about what a c**t Katie Hopkins is with a link to one of her racist diatribes. Is that not promoting her? That’s not a rhetorical question, food for thought I guess.

Keep up the good work.
Diarmuid AFC (absolutely sickened Storey was right about Xhaka)

 

How can my wife predict the ‘expert’ analysis?
Top work, Johnny, on continuing to put to task the poor expert analysis we are subjected to on a weekly basis.

Occasionally my wife is sitting next to me while watching the football. She hates the football but occasionally Liverpool’s breathless football will peak her attention and she will make the odd comment.

Overwhelmingly she will say two things. If all football matches were played in the manner Liverpool play she would watch more regularly and if the match analysis was more intellectual and less shouty she wouldn’t feel the need to throw something at the TV.

One night she even provided me with a list of eight expert comments she thought would come up during the analysis. Six came up.

It’s a multi billion pound sport. My football-hating wife shouldn’t be able to predict the analysis.

Let’s try and be better please.
H (ignore the result, Liverpool’s future looks bright)

 

Sorry…
Much as I love F365, and Mediawatch in particular, how about including the word ‘Weekend’ in the headline ‘Mediawatch Special’ so muppets like me don’t open the F365 homepage on a Sunday morning and brick it thinking they’re late for work.

Lots of love
Aidan, Irish Liverpool Fan in London (five words, three stereotypes)

 

The big one
Why does Neil Warnock have no eyebrows? And is anyone else mildly freaked out by it?
Robbo (asking all the important questions) Robson, CFC

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