Also, Arsene Wenger has been proven right over his squad, and Ander Herrera and Kevin De Bruyne are lovely.
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Why the insults to the injury article?
I found the comparative article on the top teams’ squad strength really interesting. Not simply a fascinating counterfactual exercise (a concept that seems to have bemused some commenters), but also good journalism in terms of probing the veracity of the criticisms of Liverpool’s squad strength. Anyway, enough of the fawning, I was just intrigued as to whether this represented some of the most compelling evidence against the Arsenal fans who maintain that Wenger is unwilling to learn from past errors. I have some sympathy with their frustration, as I think every Arsenal fan does, but the fact is that the squad is relatively strong, especially compared to some of our rivals. AW was criticised for not purchasing a holding midfielder this summer but he was really caught between a rock and a hard place – does he spend £20 million on a DM and then stunt Coquelin’s frankly startling progress? Or, if Coquelin continued to go from strength to strength, as he has, how do you deal with having an expensive, shiny new player only getting game time in the league cup? AW patently doesn’t favour squad rotation, and these issues were only made more complicated by Flamini, Arteta and Bielik (whose not being loaned out I feel is indicative of AW’s faith in him playing a role at at least some point this season) being decent, if not equivalent, backups. On reflection, I think Wenger was right to keep the cash in the bank and review the situation in January.
Big Red, AFC
Judging by comments made, I’m the only one who thinks this article was a good idea? Like banks are ordered to perform stress tests, to see how much sh*t would hit the fan should some terrible things happen, this is the EPL contenders stress test.
I think this is useful because so often leagues are won and lost on the treatment table. Liverpool nearly won the league when all their best attackers stayed fit and firing for the latter 6 months of a campaign. From this exercise we see why City and Arsenal are the two favourites for the league this term. We see that Liverpool’s depth isn’t quite so bad. We see that squad building is not a forte for Jose. He preferred a higher number of stars to strength in numbers.
What this sort of exercise does not account for are the individual quirks of injury roullette. An injury to Roy Keane handed Wenger his first PL trophy, lest we forget. I think one of Arsenal or City should win the league this term. City have the edge with a greater number of stars. But big injuries to Cech, Coquelin or Sanchez will make that certain. Injuries to Hart, Kompany or Silva might send the trophy down south. They’re doing worryingly well without Aguero anyway.
Praise for United
I’d like to focus on the non-regulars of United’s side vs the toffees on Saturday.
Ander Herrera…finally put in the starting line-up in a fixture where United have really struggled over the past few seasons. His clean shaven grace was bountiful, and LvG’s faith paid dividends. Many a United fan are shouting for welly head to play Andy Herrera weekly (and wouldn’t mind seeing the seemingly undroppable Rooney on the bench every now and then with Martial at 9). 10 shots, 8 goals! Incredible stats!
After Luke Shaw’s horrific injury, Ashley Young coming in at left back was a bit of a worry (although I do like him further up; he was a huge impact against the Pool). There were question marks over Marcos Rojo’s fitness, as well as LvG’s faith in him, but he was quality at full back. Great to have a natural left footer there again, and what a cross to assist Ander’s header.
Smalling and Jones started together for the first time this season, and after Blind-Smalling forming quite a formidable partnership (bar the Arsenal game), Jones coming in and doing well was also a nice surprise, although his nose bleed wasn’t. Is there a centre-back in the PL as good as ‘Mike’ Smalling at present? Would love to see a Smalling-Stones partnership in the upcoming internationals..
Lingard also did well, and was brought in at h/t to keep Galloway at bay. Tracked back well and was sharp going forward. I’m not the only one hoping to see Wilson, Pereira and Lingard get minutes.
Thanks 365 for keeping me in touch with the football world as I am squashed onto Tokyo’s transit every morning.
Some weekend conclusions:
– I’m in love with Ander Herrera. Honestly, why does this guy not play every single week? I cannot understand why he doesn’t get more chances. His movement and his link-play before midfield and attack is top drawer. Depay is still young and was deservedly dropped on Saturday. I just feel happy that Herrera was nowhere near the pitch a fortnight ago at the Emirates.
– Arsenal would’ve got impatient with that Watford game 18 months or so ago. They’d have conceded, maybe scraped a draw, but actually showed good patience and didn’t panic. In the end, they got what they deserved. Still far from perfect, but they’re certainly showing better game management this year than they have previously – in the league anyway!
– Pardew! Haha, what a hypocrite. Two months ago, he lambasted the ref in the Palace Arsenal game for not sending off Coquelin for a couple of niggly fouls in quick succession. Saturday, he’s having a go because Gayle was sent off for exactly that. Nice short memory there, Al. For what it’s worth, I thought sending Coq off would’ve been harsh in August and I think Gayle was a little unlucky with his sending yellow this weekend too.
– Jamie Vardy looks absolutely brilliant for Leicester. I laugh when I see him get England chances – and F365 seem to agree that he’s not international class – but you cannot doubt his record at club level at present. I don’t know where it’s come from, as I watched a lot of the Foxes for work last year and didn’t see anything like this rich vein of form being on the cards.
– Chelsea won. Shame.
– Something about Klopp because we’re all so obsessed with him now. Excellent 16 conclusions by the way, I thought you covered BT Sport’s ***kfest over him very nicely.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex
We need to talk about Kevin
I’m hoping this gets in and isn’t drowned out by any Klopp in/out nonsense or latest Mourinho’s rant. Has he made another one yet? But I’d just have to say how good has Kevin De Bruyne been? Three goals and assists in the games he’s played so far, Hopefully many more to come, and in doing so has proved a few of ‘flop’ headline writers wrong. Class player!
I’ve also been impressed with young Iheanacho, who should have bagged his second for the year with a composed finish well beyond his years after being incorrectly flagged for offside.Had it rightfully stood he would have been up there for the best goals to minutes ratio in the league. One for the future
Also have to dispel some of this Pool injury crisis hype at the moment. Using an unscientific study of how many players have made the maximum number of appearances for their club in the league so far (9), it would appear Liverpool are pretty much bang in the middle having five players attain the maximum appearances so far. Six clubs have a better record, whilst nine have a worse. Poor Swansea and Stoke have not one single player who has played in all their games. They’re the ones going through the wars right now…
Martin Todoroski, MCFC
Righting a few wrongs
I’ve been reading the critique of FSG, and some factually incorrect statements being made by Liverpool fans.
Jonny Dance says “I’d love to know the annual savings on the wage bill over this period”
Fact is that Liverpool’s total wage bill has not reduced at all over the past 10 years – there has been an increase every year. I will also reference the excellent Swiss Ramble who wrote a detailed post on Liverpool’s finances.
In addition to this, the net transfer spend is GBP 135M (this does not include the latest summer of course, the numbers will be out later this year) from 2011 onwards. The central theme in his mail was that FSG have not invested their funds directly into Liverpool.
They have put in 69M of their money into the club since they took over (loaded onto the club). They also eliminated almost 400M in loans taken on by the previous owners.
All this information is a simple google search away – people are forming opinions without looking at the facts.
Jonny’s final conclusion that Liverpool has only a small chance of making the Champions League is a fair one, but the lead up to this conclusion is filled with factual inaccuracies.
Surely I’m not alone in thinking the “who should be England’s left back?” Poll is missing an obvious alternative choice.
50. Phil Neville
James CFC Gravesend
Joy of six
Has a team ever scored 6 after conceding 6 in their previous Premier League match?
Didn’t think so.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Does anyone else find it really annoying when OptaJoe tweets some statistic then follows it up with a one word sentence like “Clinical.” or “Unremitting.”? Can you imagine someone saying “Jose Mourninho has never been in a worse position in his career. Unsettling.” out loud and sounding anything other than a complete b*llend?