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Arsenal need to look at themselves…
To all the Arsenal fans who’ve been berating Leicester City on their playing style (rough and aggressive), can you please explain me what you really expect them to do? It seems you want all teams to play nice Arsenal-style football (which of course you guys are best at) so you can beat all the teams – always.
Every team needs to find a way to win within the rules. If by being ‘in your face’ is an effective way to beat Arsenal then so be it. It’d be foolish for teams to go to Emirates and try to beat Arsenal the Arsenal way. In case you follow cricket, the T20 has forced fast bowlers to completely alter the way they ball – from being aggressive, body line and ‘in your face’ style of bowling (often now in Test matches only), these bowlers are now defensive, bowling wide yorkers and slow bouncers.
Now if we call that cowardice and say they are being negative, well you know that is what works now. Teams/players look at their strengths and weaknesses of others and then plot and plan. As long as it’s within the rules it’s perfectly fine. Is it entertaining or not? that’s another debate. Persistent fouling leads to cards (Simpson) and you get punished. What’s all the crying about? If Leicester found a way to stop you and you couldn’t figure out a way (till the 95th minute) please look at your own players. They knew what was coming and they should have prepared better. Simple.
Khurram Alvi – Islamabad (I miss Xabi Alonso)
In response to Tim…
A) Players complaining that they were fouled but the foul wasn’t given is called frustration, not baiting. Sanchez, Ozil, and Ramsey were brought down on several different occasions and they were well within their rights to complain about it. Giroud’s reaction was over the top – yes, but if you’re trying to defend Mahrez’s dive (which we’ll get to), then you cannot complain about Arsenal fans defending Giroud’s reaction.
B) The ref knows very well that fans and players are going to get on his back to get decisions. It’s called pressure and home advantage. Show me a game at the King Power where the fans haven’t whinged about a foul not being given and I’ll change my name to Justin Bieber.
C) For the pen – Vardy’s left leg flings unnaturally wide when he turns. He should probably have that checked out. Having said that, I don’t deny that it wasn’t a penalty, he just made the most of the situation, fair enough.
D) Mahrez dived. It’s clear as daylight in all the replays. Why he did it only he knows. You cannot claim that as a pen, it’s embarrassing.
E) I think you’re just upset with Arsenal and their fans because they won it at the death in a high-intensity match that I think Leicester did deserve to get some points from.
What you’re feeling is bitterness after losing to a title challenger. Arsenal fans know all about it and I hope that you get to experience it in many more seasons to come. It’s the worst best thing that can happen to a football fan.
…To Tim the Leicester fan, it’s very easy to feel generous towards defeated opposition and so, so much easier to feel grumpy towards opponents have just turned you over. Arsenal fans know this only too well.
They’re called emotions and we footy fans know all about them, but griping on the way home and into your beer is a little different to pondering on them for a bit, watching MOTD and then writing in to gripe about them when you really should have calmed down and accepted being beaten on the day by the better side, then looked forward to the next game of this incredible season.
Still, must be a sign of Leicester really arriving once your fans are behaving just as capriciously and ungraciously as the rest of the top six after a defeat. I still hope you win the league if we don’t, anyone but Chelsea. Or Man U. Or Liverpool, Tottenham, Man City… who are we hating this week again?
Ivor (I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour) Beard
Hoping Leicester become A Thing
I’m like most of your other correspondents in that I’m truly enjoying the rise and rise of Leicester City this season. The only downside that I can see is that it will be extremely difficult for my own team, Manchester United, to pry the likes of Mahrez and Vardy from a team that, even if they don’t finish in top spot, look raging certainties to finish in the automatic Champions League positions. If they were to finish in the lower half of the league, or even bottom three as was predicted pre–season, it would have been simpler to wedge those two out of Leicester and get them playing for United (although I’m sure other clubs would have a say in that). The assumption here is that their quality would still shine out even if the rest of the side was below average and results were poor.
Well let’s just consider that for a moment; in previous years, ‘when United come calling’ (how I hate that phrase) both players, and probably the club, would have jumped at the financial gain to all parties. But major success may well tip the norm upside down and Leicester will quite probably tell United to go and jump – politely, of course. Leicester may well become a ‘buying club’. I mean here a buying club of quality players, not just average types simply to round out squad numbers.
Just on that, I’ve been looking at one site in particular and their prediction is that Leicester will earn 90.9 million pounds from TV rights this year if they finish on top of the Premiership as opposed to 71.6 million last year. That’s serious money and, spent wisely on better players or improved contracts to fend off big spending clubs like United, could help Leicester maintain a high position in the years to come. The site goes on to say that the current TV rights for the years 2013 – 2016 is just over 5 billion pounds but the new, already signed, contract for the period 2016/17 – 2018/19 is around 8 billion pounds. If Leicester were to hang onto their better players now and actually improve their squad each year, they could well become a serious player when the new, improved, TV take is divvied up. Who knows, it may well become ’when Leicester come calling’. I actually hope that happens because the Premiership is screaming out for more elite clubs to squabble over the top positions and inject more competition into a League that has become more than a bit stale in recent years. And I haven’t even mentioned the money from the European competition.
But also look at Spurs. They’ve finally managed to get themselves into the mix at the top and I’m well pleased at that because they’ve been my second team for decades. Well, OK, West Ham have also been my second team for decades. But who’s counting?
So this year more than most, at least when United have not really been a player in who’s going on to win Premiership glory, I’m sort of hoping one of the new, previously non-threatening clubs will win it. You know, like Arsenal! (Sorry, Gooner Carolyn, it was just there).
Arsenal: Seen this before
I don’t buy the nonsense about how this Arsenal team is somehow completely different from the ones gone by. I’m sure the van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri era would be doing a lot better than this lot.
They have the same blind trust in average players, the same refusal to accept their own shortcomings and the same inconsistency. The only reason they still may win the league is because everyone else is so sh*te.
With Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea in disarray, Liverpool in transition (next year is their year), Spurs only really challenging for the first time and Leicester punching above their weight, an Arsenal team that has reached its peak should surely be running away with the title but they aren’t.
Sasank (Really hope Leicester or Spurs can do it) MUFC
Laughing at the little Englishman
Haha: Danny Mills. Bless.
…With many footballers you hear that their off-field persona is different to how they play but that clearly isn’t the case with Danny Mills. He was a nasty, niggly player that tried to pick a fight with anyone around him and he seems to have carried that right into his new role as an ex-footballing mouthpiece.
On Pires, if you think there was no diving in the English game before he came along, then you really didn’t watch much football before the millennium.
Adonis (Pires was just very good at it) Stevenson, AFC
Villa fan happy to share Champo TV rights
As a fan of a fellow ‘big’ Championship club and arguably the ‘biggest’ Championship club now, I am quite happy with the TV rights being distributed evenly. Football, I feel, is at its healthiest and most competitive when the playing field is as level as possible. I feel this is particularly the cases at Championship level where an uneven distribution of TV wealth would lead to an elite group of clubs like your Leeds and my Aston Villa yo-yoing between the formerly Barclays Premier League while the rest of the smaller clubs (such as Bournmouth if they were still there or were there, again) are handicapped further in their pursuit of promotion. Variation, they say, is the spice of life and I do enjoy a newbie to the Premier League, as I’m sure many do.
Also, and juat as importantly, I think these dubious owners have enough ways of screwing the fans over without also having complete control of TV rights as well. Cellino would probably have it that all Leeds matches were only available live on his iPhone at a time that suits him on the day, and Randy Lerner and his oddball pack of inpet underlings at Villa would probably just raffle the rights of Villa’s games off to one of those dodgy Nigerian streaming sites. And you haven’t seen Aston Villa play until you’ve sifted through 26 pop up ads only to be met with what looks like a game of Italia ’90 on the Commodore 64 such is the poor picture quality.
So, no…it’s an interesting topic but I don’t think that Cellino has a point at all. Whatever point he thinks he has or whatever alternative he might have to the present system would only turn out to be self serving and chaotic. like everything else he does.
See ye next season, anyway.
Kevin Walsh, Luimneach
Thank you Daniel
Hi, I just wanted to say thank you to Daniel for the wonderful piece on Johan Cruyff who is, in my opinion, the greatest footballer who has ever played not just for what he did on the pitch but what he achieved off the pitch as well.
The 1974 World Cup is the first tournament I remember watching and as an impressionable eight-year-old, with a vast appetite for all things football, I was totally captivated by that Dutch team and the incredible football they played. At the centre of it all, pulling the strings, was the man with the number 14 on his back. As a West Ham fan Trevor Brooking has always been my favourite English player but, Johan was, and still is, my hero. His and the Dutch team’s style of play lessened the disappointment that England weren’t present at the tournament. I remember all the Dutch games in that tournament but my favourite was the 2-0 win against Brazil on a rainsoaked pitch where the Oranje put the raining champions to the sword and Johan scored a wonderful stretching volley.
Their loss to the mechanical Germans in the final is still the biggest football disappointment in my life and remains the only time I have cried after a football match. To my eight-year-old self it was the devastating realisation that the best team does not always win. I have since gone on to respect the Germans for the football they played at that tournament and what they did in the final but my heart is still orange. Since 1974 I have always supported the Dutch as my second team at every tournament they have attended, first if England didn’t qualify, and that is all thanks to Johan.
I wish him well with his current battle and hope that he wins the fight.
PS. It would be remiss not to mention Johan Neeskens, Rob Rensenbrink, Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol and Wim Suurbier from that 74 team.
….I have been waiting for this icon profile to land ever since the series began and I am now off to read and no doubt enjoy it.
My personal favourite player of all time based on aura, style, physique, legacy and the fact he only wore two stripes on his Holland adidas kit due to a disagreement over sponsorship money.
He comes across as a wonderful and typically awkward Dutch so and so but I can testify that he is a thoroughly decent man who humoured my (thankfully) sober gushings and ramblings after I SAT NEXT TO HIM on a KLM flight from Rome to Schipol after the 2009 final!
Plato – MUFC (Counting Johan as a personal friend since 2009, whether he agrees or not)
McClaren = Trump
As a side note, is it just me or do Steve McLaren and Donald Trump look quite similar?