Mails: It’s hard to hate this Arsenal side

Date published: Wednesday 11th November 2015 10:52

This mailbox is dominated by Arsenal because that’s what we received, but please do feel free to write about anything else and mail


Let’s not pretend Ozil isn’t flawed
I wanted to respond to the mail regarding Ozil and the reasons why he was criticised so harshly.

Personally, I was so sick and tired of the fawning over him when he signed and the stat (most assists over an arbitrary period) that there was just a want for him and his lovers to fall flat on their faces. I genuinely can’t remember seeing so much love declared on a single player before they had actually kicked a ball. Just do a search on F365 to see what I mean, it was almost to obsession levels.

His form was okay to start with, provided some great assists but equally did let games pass him by. His fans would be so smug when he got any criticism and trotted out the self-superior (you just don’t understand or you must be a PFM rollox) which of course may have been to balance out his detractors as well.

He is a €50m footballer and he didn’t live up to that for a decent amount of time. He did still go missing in too many of the big games and his style was and still is lazy when his team are under the cosh. He’s flawed, he’s a match-winner but a flawed one.

He’s been in great form and is recognised for that now and is receiving the plaudits. Bizarrely his biggest fans are continuing the critique by dredging up comments made when he played badly and somehow feeling they are relevant to the player right now, and then laughing at the same time. Maybe we should share a tweet about Harry Kane going out on loan, I mean it was right two years ago so why not apply that to today’s player?

I also think it was a chance to aim an elbow to the financial experts in the Arsenal ranks who always had the net spend to excuse their failings, it was time to deliver and for a year or so their most expensive recruit just wasn’t doing it.

So, I think he was the most over-hyped player we have seen over here, possibly the most criticised, amazing match winner but flawed to be in the top bracket of the world’s best. Maybe he’s so infuriating because he does the hard stuff so well, the stuff that you can’t really teach, but then doesn’t do what many of us would consider as the basics. Maybe he’s too big and so we expect him to work harder when he’s required to defend, I don’t know. But when his career’s over I don’t think many gooners will see him in the same bracket as some of their real worldies. I still just think he can do more.
Steve (Going to be called a xenophobic PFM 80’s throwback)


…For the love of Fowler, will F365 and Joe, AFC, come down from their high horse when it comes to Ozil.

Yes, some people go over the top on criticising him, particularly given the British (yes, Scots, Welsh and Norn Irelanders, I put you in this bracket as well) tendency to like someone who runs around a lot more than someone who is a bit more languid. However, the attempt to paint Ozil as some sort of demi-god above all criticism is getting a bit silly now. And Joe’s idea that people always wanted him to fail is almost bizarre in its ridiculousness – here was a genuine world star, one of the very few to come to England in their prime, and an all-round decent guy by all accounts. I’d say the criticism is due to exactly the opposite of Joe’s point. People were desperate for him to be unbelievably good from day one, so when it turned out he couldn’t instantly play like Messi and Ronaldo’s love-child whilst displaying the tenacity (if not the biteyness) of Luis Suarez then it was a huge let-down. Now you are getting the opposite reaction, where some people find it impossible to change their opinion based on the evidence, and others (F365 or Joe for example), go miles the other way and pretend that Ozil is more than he is.

As for Carragher’s comments, can someone explain why saying someone is a great player means that they can’t also be criticised for being a little frustrating. Or would people rather that the minute a player is deemed to be doing well, they instantly come above any criticism or ability to improve? I would have thought that, rather than Mediawatch and Joe getting their knickers in a twist, they might actually read the comments and stop trying to make it fit your narrative that there is some sort of anti-Ozil agenda.

As an aside, Joe’s crtieria of ‘he’s never been consistently awful for us. The odd game here and there yes’ kind of exactly proves Carragher’s observation. Interestingly, the view held by Carragher is also one held widely in Germany, and largely for the same reason. Ozil was always seen as the shining light, and yet for some reason there is a sense that, whilst superb, he hasn’t quite dominated as people thought he might. We’re talking the difference between being top 10 in the world and top three here, but then again on F365 or Joe’s basis I guess once you are top 10 you are above any criticism…..
Nick Smith


If Rooney had Ozil’s record…
With all the hullaballoo over both Rooney and Ozil it got me thinking about a Freaky Friday type switch but in this case all you need to imagine is that Rooney has performed exactly as he has over the last 2.5 years (since Ozil turned up on these shores). The difference being is that Rooney is the German captain as opposed to the English captain.

Can you imagine the headlines as United continued to spank £300k per week on Herr Rooney whilst he is playing so poorly (with no signs of improvement)? I believe the fury emanating from Fleet Street would cause such a concentration of vitriol that it’s likely the world itself would dissolve.

Conversely of course, Mr Ozil would be feted by the press and held as the reason why English clubs should stop relying on overpaid useless foreigners.
John W, #who needs brackets#, Belfast


It’s hard to hate this Arsenal side…
Normally, people will admire the team that is on top of the league, and after a while this admiring will turn to jealousy and hatred.

We can see this down the years with Man Utd, Chelsea, and som ewhile ago, Arsenal.

Also you don’t need any second invitation to hate Man City for all their money destroying football, Ctrl c/ctrl v.

But however, should this current Arsenal team win the league, it will be pretty hard to hate them.

In it, you have the player that every fans want to be, Alexis Sanchez. Sheer grit and determination. Coupled with moment of brilliance, oh how everyone wished to be one.

Mesut Ozil, although always been regarded not working enough for the team, I believe the stats shows otherwise. I don’t know either those pundits were blind to see this. But the fans loved him. Quiet, and get the job done.

And Giroud? He’s no world beater, everybody knew that, but when he smiled, by the Hammer of Thor, the stars will just aligned and the world is one big happy place to be. Heck he should go and smile at the Gaza border – I believe he can sort things out there.

Plus the club are well run, Wenger is senile in a way, but he did produce the results, on and off the pitch. New stadium (nine years on now) is doing great too. Debts are being paid, and the club is moving towards a good direction.

It’s hard to hate Arsenal. Thoughts?
Syfq Amr (a biased Gooner)


Perhaps some actual evidence in the Giroud debate…
It has become fashionable for Giroud detractors to dismiss his impressive goals/min ratio by explaining it away as a function of playing for a team that creates lots of chances. See Winty (‘For all the talk of minutes-per-goal ratios’), Squirrel (‘playing in front of Ozil probably has something to do with this’), and Olly Cole (‘the fact he gets any goals at all is more down to Ozil and his other teammates relentlessly creating chances for him’). It’s a reasonable enough point. The kind that makes you think that maybe thoughtful appreciation of the nuances of statistical analysis isn’t beyond your favorite pundit/mailboxer.

And then you remember what they’re leading up to: the inevitable conclusion that Giroud is really bad at finishing his chances. For this, they’ll rely either on no evidence at all, a tiny sample set (usually shots taken during the last game, inevitably one the guy’s team just lost), or, worst of all, an intentionally misleading statistic (such as Ms. Winterburn’s unforgivably deceptive use of nominal chance-wasting stats instead of rate-based ones; of course the number of chances Giroud has missed should be high, after all, as she has been all-too-keen to point-out, he has Ozil presenting him with loads of chances every game. Wanna know who missed the most chances in the League last year, in nominal terms? The same guy who took the most shots, Sergio Aguero.).

I can make this generalisation about evidence because I know that when you look at a large enough sample, Giroud’s finishing reveals itself to be right in the mix with the rest of the best strikers in the League:

Among the top 15 goal-scorers in the League last year, his non-penalty conversion rate was bested only by Costa and Cisse, both of whom had careers years. It was 20%. For some perspective, that’s considerably better than Aguero (14%), Kane (17%), Bony (12%), Sanchez (13%), and Benteke (15%). And it was WAY better than the league average of 10%.

(In other words, when Squirrel writes that Giroud ‘needs about five decent chances per game in order to score one goal,’ he’s exactly right. It’s just that he draws exactly the wrong conclusion from that observation.)

We should note that last year was a better-than-average year for Giroud in this regard. Looking at the five seasons leading up this one, I have his average conversion rate at about 14%. That’s not off-the-charts, but it’s right in the mix of the ‘top BPL goal-scorers’ pack.

And remember that because strikers on good teams tend to take only about 100 non-penalty shots per League season, an upgrade from Giroud’s lifetime conversion average to someone of ‘deadliest-finisher-in-the-League’ levels would improve Arsenal by maybe 3-5 goals over the entire year, all else being equal.

Outside of signing a Lewandowski-level player, the evidence plainly shows that Giroud’s finishing is not holding Arsenal back much, if at all. Anyone who says otherwise is the kind of person beloved both by their editors and their fantasy football opponents – really good at hyperbolic rabble-rousing, really bad at prediction and analysis.
Daniel, AFC


Another week, another Arsenal (over)reaction
After a brilliant weekend of football, and in view of the fact that the international break is coming up (being from South Africa is hard during the internationals), I’d like to vent on something that’s been bothering me for some time now.

I remember some time ago F365 did a Top 10 Knee Jerk Reactions. I quite enjoyed that. What I am now starting to grow weary of is the reactions that are thrown about after every Arsenal game.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my fellow Arsenal fans telling all and sundry that the end is nigh after every bad game, but it irks me when the ‘experts’, commentators and writers display an aptitude for kneejerky reactions which tend to change with every Arsenal performance. It’s either that Arsenal are finally challenging for the title, or have one of the top squads in the league, or they are far from a title challenge and do not have a deep enough squad to challenge depending on each performance they display.

I think this is best exhibited by the reactions to our games v Bayern. After the home win, the praises were flying in from every direction. It was said that Arsenal are finally showing mental strength and maturity for big games. It was said that this squad is easily one of the top two squads in the EPL. It was said that Arsenal’s defensive strengths have increased significantly and that they can win even without the ball (on the South African feed at least). Fast forward to the reactions after the away game. It was said that this is peak Arsenal. it was said that we felt all along that Arsenal were not deep enough and that Wenger was a fool for not buying and outfield player. It was said that Arsenal do no have a strong defence and that they are tactically immature (some of which may be true). And then the draw with Spurs, which means that Arsenal are s**te now.

No wonder the team has been accused of lacking in mental strength. Just reading the back pages of a newspaper or tabloid after grinding out a result (something that was praised not too long ago in English Football) or after one loss in eight games (catastrophic) would have players curling up into the foetal position waiting for poor old Wenger to wake them up from this nightmare, and that’s without the wonderful witticisms of mssrs. Redknapp, Carragher, Keane and crew.

I know this mail wont change a damn thing, but hey this is the internet and venting is a way of life here. In any event, I highly doubt that anyone outside of the ed’s mailbox will see this as I never seem to get published (ed, whats up with that?).

I think everyone should strive to be like Spurs fans, who are quiet certain of their opinions on Arsenal. (even though they don’t get much right, at least they’re consistent).
​Pherain (it was getting quite hard to continue hating Kane until he scored against us…again) Durban


The ugly truth
In response to Alex and his theory about Giroud and his looks. I think he’s on to something, I’ve been banging the “Rooney is the best player in the world” drum for years, but no one agrees with me. Superficial b**tards.
Samwise (my mum says I’m handsome) MUFC


Comparing Chelsea to 90s AC Milan…
Chelsea fan here. The literary Ed…said in a mail that ‘the fall of Chelsea’s title defence this year is the most remarkable of modern times’. I don’t necessarily disagree, but it’s interesting to compare our demise to AC Milan in the 1990s.

In 1995-96 AC Milan won the Serie A, finishing eight points ahead of Juventus. They had also won the Scudetto in three of the four seasons before that, and appeared in two Champions League finals, one of which they won. This was a strong team.

In 1996-97 AC Milan finished 11th in Serie A. Considering there were only 18 teams in Serie A back then, that’s a dramatic fall from grace. (Hopefully Chelsea can yet manage a slightly less disastrous finish this year.)

Are there any lessons Chelsea can learn from this?

The context is quite different – after 1995-96 Capello left and was replaced with the relatively inexperienced Tabarez, whereas Chelsea have had managerial continuity since last season In other ways, though, there were similarities. You could compare the ageing Baresi to Terry (though that’s a bit generous to Terry). You could certainly compare the Milan signings – Blomqvist, Davids, Dugarry and Reiziger – to some of Chelsea’s transfer flops (Cuadrado et al) – they were not bad players but just didn’t perform at that time. You could certainly look at the squad list (Maldini, Desailly, Costacurta, Baggio, Weah, Albertini, Savicevic, Boban) and wonder how they could be underperforming so badly.

What is particularly relevant is that Milan changed manager mid-season, turning to a former manager, but this didn’t help avert the crisis. Tabarez was sacked in December 1996 and replaced with Arrigo Sacchi, hugely successful with Milan previously, but results did not improve. Surprisingly they then brought Capello back for the 1997-98 season, but they only finished 10th (and then sacked him).


– When your club is in crisis, changing managers mid-season and re-appointing a former manager may not be a good idea.
– You can’t necessarily spend your way out of it – Milan signed Kluivert and Leonardo – excellent players – for the 1997-98 season and still finished tenth.
– In the Premier League we’ve become used to seeing relative stability at the top. These slumps are a little more common in other leagues (apart from the Spanish duopoly of course). Ominously, a crisis like this can actually carry on for two whole seasons The positive note is that Milan bounced back from tenth in 1997-98 to winning the Scudetto again in 1998-99.
– Our depressing season has definitely got me reminiscing about the 90s more.
James Bruschini


One off the Hrist
Hristo Stoichkov
. Pfft, he’s just a poor man’s Juan Anotonio Pizzi.
Drew Peacock, MUFC, Manchester


It would be lovely…
Some TV producer should get Roy Keane and Graeme Souness on the same panel. All that testosterone would make the studio explode.
Robert, London

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