Keep those emails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Refereeing is a welcome distraction for Arsenal
Instead of worrying about the referee , particularly one with whom we have had countless problems in the past, Wenger should be addressing the situation where we, a team aiming for the top four, struggle to hold onto an extremely lucky one goal lead against the team bottom of the league.
At one time performances and results like yesterday and others before would have provoked anger and frustration in us Gooners but now most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing will change until Wenger leaves.
Everyone, apart from the Arsenal board, knew we would be in the current unacceptable situation if he stayed on at the end of last season. Did the powers that be really believe that after 10 stale years he could turn it around in a further two years?
We can now only hope that a new manager will be appointed at the end of this season not next season and while we cannot expect instant success from a new man we can hope for some freshness and forward thinking after the recent years of boredom.
Incidentally, there is no chance of refereeing standards improving as long as they are governed by Mike Riley, without doubt the worst referee of his generation.
All is still not well at Manchester United
Did I just watch Nemanja Matic try to assist an Everton goal then Holgate comfortably shove Pogba into the stands? Yup, something isn’t right at Man Utd.
A good result and some pretty play every now and again from Martial, Mata and Pogba (who I can’t help but feel would all look world class at different clubs right now). De Gea brilliant as always, and we were one unbelievable tackle from Rojo away from conceding first. My god, even when we’re winning, we’re horribly unconvincing.
French Alex (from Le Toon)
Mark Hughes: A man who gets angry at the ground
As a Newcastle fan I am overjoyed at that imperative victory. However, the highlight of the game was when Mark Hughes was shouting (at his players I assume) and slightly slipped as he did it. He then angrily turned around, looked down and kicked the ground. What?
Hahaha what an angry, absurd man old Sparky is. What kind of psyche does he have to lash out at the ground? Hilarious.
Storming out of his press conference is also an absolute cracker. Please don’t sack him. He’s gold.
Ederson is now ahead of De Gea
As a United fan, based on the last few years performance, I have considered De Gea to be the best goalkeeper in the world. However, watching Ederson this season, I am forced to reconsider my assessment.
Don’t get me wrong, De Gea is still the best shot stopper in the world bar none but Ederson has shown other traits to the game which you rarely see goalkeepers doing:
– He tends to play quite high up so his approach is more proactive. Too often with De Gea, I find he will be joined to the hip with the goal line when he should be coming forward to stop the cross.
– His passing is exceptional and is like an extra outfield player in the team.
– His throws and kicks are brilliant. While 99% of the time De Gea will just kick the ball as far as he can, Ederson will throw or kick the ball near the halfway line right to his team mate at times bypassing several players in the other team in the process.
I have never seen any goalkeeper like it. I recall at least one occasion where his throw from the goal line helped create the subsequent goal.
– Last of all, he’s not bad as a shot stopper either though possibly the only area where De Gea wins it over Ederson.
Granted, it also depends on the manager’s style of play and of the two, Ederson may be more suited to the current city team and De Gea for United’s shaky defence, but given the choice, I would definitely pick Ederson as first-choice.
On the wonderful job Roy Hodgson is doing
As I’ve said previously, sometimes it feels like Crystal Palace are single-handedly keeping this season interesting.
* The festive period often throws up some bizarre results, and while a 0-0 doesn’t seem that unusual, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Let’s not forget that one team who kept a clean sheet had Eliaquim Mangala at centre-back, and the other had Wayne Hennessey in goal. That’s probably a little bit unkind to the Palace keeper, who actually made some tremendous saves.
* Jason Puncheon rarely watches penalties, presumably because he’s a Palace fan and is conditioned by experience to expect the worst. His foul on Kevin de Bruyne was not nice to see but I think people overreacted to it. Normally sensible journalists like Phil McNulty and Paul Hayward (I say sensible, he supports Brighton) were calling it a potential career-ender. Given that just a few minutes later de Bruyne was walking – though shaken up – mercifully it was nowhere near as bad as some people would have you believe.
I thought it was firmly in orange card territory, so the yellow card Puncheon received seems lenient. However, given similar fouls by Harry Kane and Dele Alli were recently punished with cautions, a red for the Palace man would have been harsh.
*The penalty was similarly in the “seen ‘em given” category. Raheem Sterling got in a bad position and Wilfried Zaha drew a foul from him, in the manner of a basketball player taking advantage of poor defending and earning themselves a free throw.
It wasn’t a dive, and had a penalty not been awarded, there wouldn’t have been too many complaints. It was the sort of call that sometimes goes for you, and sometimes goes against you.
That said, it does feel like there is a campaign determined to label Zaha as a diver, even though both times when he’s been fouled for a penalty this season the FA panel has cleared him in short order. Most of the people – whether Twitter users or pundits – insisting he had dived were gobsh!tes, such as Chris Sutton and Graham Poll, although it was disappointing to see Jacqui Oatley (your heroes always let you down) suggest that Zaha “doesn’t help himself with the way he celebrates ‘winning’ penalties”, as though he’s the only person who does that, and was actually celebrating successfully conning a referee.
*James in the Monday mailbox mentioned me defending Roy Hodgson. Can’t remember if that was actually me but fair play to him for being open-minded enough about our manager. My father-in-law is a Liverpool fan who can’t stand Hodgson, which I understand even if I don’t agree with it.
On the other hand, countless WBA and Fulham fans adore the man for what he did with their clubs. The general feeling was that he was a sensible enough option for the Eagles in the short-term, but his two-year contract basically started the clock on the search for his successor.
What Hodgson has done well during his tenure is to keep an even keel – there’s not been any sense of panic when things haven’t gone right, and he’s not got carried away when they have. He also appears to have everyone in the squad onside.
Jairo Riedewald came back into the side for the first time in ages, in a midfield role, specifically to man-mark de Bruyne, who barely had a sniff by his standards. Similarly, Patrick van Aanholt has found his playing time limited, but played against Manchester City and had a superb defensive game. The Palace squad still lacks depth but all of a sudden the depth players are responding to the carrot being dangled before them.
*During the long stoppage at the end of a game threatening to get a bit heated, it was really nice to see Pep Guardiola and Hodgson sat chatting in the Palace dugout. How far away from the needlessy chippy, bullish, aggressive personae projected by so many other managers.
Accusing media bias because we didn’t have a massive pop at Manchester City
Man City finally didn’t win an EPL game, expected at some point and nothing to be ashamed of against a Palace side who are playing very well under Hodgson. City were nowhere near their best but that not why I’m writing this but the press reaction or complete lack of one is.
If Man Utd/Liverpool/Arsenal/Chelsea had drawn after not playing well against Palace even if any of them were 15 points clear at the top every news outlet in Britain would have a field day. (Ed – No they wouldn’t have a pop at any team for drawing after 18 straight wins and a 15-point lead. You have created this ‘if my Auntie had balls’ construct to fit your argument).
The headlines would be claiming their manager is cracking under the pressure, the team has lost its touch or worse. Check any newspaper or website today and there is nothing, no editorial criticizing the manager like you get about Mourinho, Wenger or Klopp after every draw or loss.
No manager or player receiving blame nor much if any praise for Hodgson’s game plan in articles or some of the blandest match reports you’ll ever read about a game that was very entertaining. I think one match report mentioned the City players appeared tired but nothing else has been written with any kind of real opinion as to why City didn’t win that you would get in every other instance.
If you woke up today, hadn’t followed the games yesterday and didn’t make a point of checking the table you probably wouldn’t even have realised City didn’t win but you’d certainly know that the situation at Man Utd with Mourinho being likened to the Titanic sinking.
The excuse might be made that is a holiday and journalists deserve a day off too (they certainly do) but every outlet published many football related articles today just none that I could find critiquing City for not winning their first EPL game of the season like it somehow isn’t news, was there no drama in the game? Serious injuries to key players and a late penalty miss suggests otherwise so would attract a microscope if it was any other top team.
Arsenal drawing = News, Benitez talking about transfers = News, Klopp talking about Liverpool’s win = News but the runaway leaders who the press can’t wait to spunk out articles lauding their brilliance every time they win are not news today for some reason. I think I know why but I’ll leave everyone to form their own opinion since the editor here is probably long past sick of reading about my conspiracy theories regarding the British media and a certain Spanish manager.
If we can’t rely on the British press to over-react and attack every EPL club even over the tiniest things anymore then there really is something awry in this country!
Klopp doesn’t have a choice but to rotate
Slightly surprised to see the consternation caused by Klopp’s wholesale changes yesterday before kick off. Players have to rested with the extreme speed and physicality of the Premiership these days. It was a tough game too and I would have been more than happy with a draw. So to win was a serious bonus, especially since most years we’d have lost that one.
Given the amount we’ve faded, Cup finals lost etc in the last 2 years – surely rotating the squad gives us a better chance at being at the sharp end come the end of the season.
I think we’ve dialled down the extreme pressing/speed of our game this year for much the same reason. To finish the season strongly rather than limp to the finish line. Klopp’s adapting, even though the man looks insanely stressed these days.
Adding Virgil Van Is Going To Fix Everything Instantly won’t hurt either. Though watching our defence not only play pretty well but combine for the winner was slightly disconcerting. And Mignolet not only playing but being captain? 2018 – off to a weird one.
Also – *so* happy to see the return of the Coutinho saga. All credit to the lad, he’s played out of his skin recently, so he’s not downed tools in the slightest. But not another month of this eh? His price is only going to go up, Barca will still come back in the summer – they crave the marquee signing. So agree something now, fleece them out of every penny and put the issue to bed. Then watch him play with a clear mind for the rest of the year. But Nike can sod right off.
On a final note, is it wrong to enjoy hearing smug Sam Allardyce being booed already? No, no it is not.
Why people don’t like Mourinho
I think I’ve worked out why everyone hates Jose Mourinho.
He is that kid with the rich parents that bought him everything he wanted and gave him more opportunities than anyone else.
When he initially had some success due to these massive advantages, he rubbed it in everyone’s faces, but then when he didn’t make it because he reached a level where others were simply better than him, he always found a way to blame someone else for his ineptitude.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
2018: The year of the Nev
This isn’t going to be a long one but can I just point out that Neville Southall is an f’ing hero.
The one time greatest goalkeeper in the world has joined twitter and all he does is try and promote equality.