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Martial can turn us on again
Following yesterday’s article on ‘fallen angels’ I feel compelled to provide some form of defence for Tony Martial. I realise that you are merely pointing out that he hasn’t reached the same dizzying level of performance as he managed last season, and for that I’m certainly not having a go. However, as is the case for Rashford I don’t feel that this should just be ‘expected’ of him.
We need to remember that Martial is still only 20, the youngest player on that list – 2 years junior to his birthday buddy Barkley I hasten to add. When he signed last season none of us expected him to play anywhere near the minutes he did throughout our turgid campaign, let alone perform in the way he did as our stand out player (bar De Gea of course). Toward the end of the season this level of performance became expected of him. This was primarily because we didn’t have anyone else to get mildly aroused about. In reality this shouldn’t have been expected of Tony then, and I don’t think it should automatically be expected now.
As much as I want to see Martial week in week out, our current strength in depth should now allow for more of a natural and eased progression within our first team. Exactly the same can also be said for Rashford. As soon as we’ve seen the obvious talent and threat that they pose, we immediately want to see more and automatically expect great things. But why load them up with expectation, sling them straight in the deep end, and then burn them out before they’re 25? It has quite rightly been mentioned on this site that Rashford should be given some protection bearing in mind his age and allowed time to find his feet in the first team. I say we afford the same to Tony Martial as we now expect too much of him. Citeh have got it spot on with their integration of Iheanacho into their first team and they are reaping the rewards and will continue to do so.
I have no doubt that Martial will once again re-establish his form of last season, and hopefully better it. In the meantime let’s just let him get his breath back after carrying our entire attack on his shoulders throughout the whole of last season. He must be knackered the poor lad!
Can we keep Liverpool’s “brave new world” quiet?
Long time reader, first time writer. Not really, but apparently this helps to get published.
It was with dismay that I read a couple of pieces on Liverpool this morning (The Klopp effect and Coutinho lauds Mane). I liked it more when we were written off with a woeful excuse for a defence.
The fact is this: true Kloppites have bought into the regime. They understand the incremental journey and are more than willing to wait it out. There will be some dire moments ahead (which I hope does not include Mourinho running down the Anfield touchline in the last minute as if he’s won the league…) but that doesn’t matter. A creaky old door is slowly opening to a brand new vista.
I would prefer it if the inevitable footballing elixir just quietly evolved in a darkened room somewhere where the prying eyes of the opposition paid no attention. Then one day: the welcomed arrival of a brave new world. You will know it has happened because Hendo becomes undroppable and Sturridge becomes the definitive team player. The reason for this is because I want Klopp’s theology to mature, before the wannabes get above their station before their time, and the press have any idea of how good we actually are.
So please stop writing about the joy, the panache and the pure sexy intent. Keep to the fallibility, the wasted money on rank average players (irrespective of Klopp’s ability to make a turd top the stats list) and the endless harking to a bygone era.
Barry, Cape Town
Zlat’s too far…
So Guy, let me get this straight.
Zlatan, who scores a goal but doesn’t do much else all game according to you, is bad.
Rooney, who may score or assist and then spends the rest of the game vacating his position, slowing down attacks, disrupting the team’s flow, playing wayward passes and letting the ball bobble off his foot – should be signed to a 10 year contract and given the keys to Manchester?
He did snatch at a few shots in the derby but he’s a great player and you can see by his touches throughout the game how quality he is. Leave him alone.
Silvio (Definitely think Guy is a F365 shrill to generate clicks/discussion) Dante
…Whoa—Ibrahimovic just a poacher, says Guy S? Boy, do I disagree.
I started the season ready to dislike Ibrahimovic. An aging show pony, playing for one of the monster clubs, etc. etc. But I’ve come around very quickly. He scores goals from everywhere, and good ones. He also brings his teammates into the game with holdup play, deft layoffs, and headers. He’s just an all-around very good footballer.
And for all his reputation for megalomania, he’s a real professional. Sure, he moans a bit about refereeing decisions, but everyone does. Mostly he gets on with the game, works hard for the team, and gets the job done. It’s just a pleasure to watch him play.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
…I would like to award Guy S the goal for his mail on whether Zlatan Ibrahimovic is all that, and whether he should only be used in The Europa cup and maybe as a last option impact sub. I’d like to. But the dubious goals panel have looked into it, and considering how badly Wayne Rooney is playing at the moment they have come to the conclusion that his mail is the biggest deflection they have seen this season.
Verdict: Own Goal
Chris ITFC, (Unlucky Derby, you were mugged, we know what that feels like) Liverpool
…Is anyone else not that convinced by Rooney? It’s ridiculous right? I mean he’s scored a goal every other game and all have been above decent, no tap-ins. (He also blows really hot and cold in a game – which can also be game changing – but that’s not only why I’m not convinced by his place in the first XI.)
The why is that maybe we have better options. He is a classic ageing player, shouting but doing little else. I’ve known other players to do better and get more criticism.
Upfront Ibrahimovic, Martial and Rashford offer strength, pace and a danger that defenders fear…the ability to run at them and beat them with skill. Both Martial and Rashford were critical to us last year and yet both are on the periphery of the current first XI. Behind the striker/out wide Martial, Rashford, Mata, Mhkitaryan, Memphis, Lingard all offer some combination of physicality, industry and guile which would be more beneficial for the team than Rooney. Most importantly I think this could move Rooney out of the way to let Pogba off his leash and see what we really purchased! I’m not even going to mention center midfield.
I like Rooney. I like the way he squeezes the F bomb into every sentence, the way he passes to a center back, runs straight toward said center back and demands the ball back, his needlessly floating long passes out to the right fullback, the goals he’s already scored and that amazing goal against Newcastle, the Thunderbastard. But I like our other options more. Keep Rooney for cutting oranges and when we need a laugh. Like Guy S.
John (Sorry Guy, nothing personal. Just too easy) Australia, MUFC
Random Wednesday thoughts
1) PSG were terrible for approximately 75 minutes of yesterday’s match: the most pedestrian football I’ve seen for a long time in the CL. Arsenal should’ve won comfortably. And yes, there seems to be a massive difference between Cavani’s perceived ability and actual ability.
2) Celtic may have lost 7-0, but I’m willing to bet a lot of money that they showed outstanding character.
3) Mkhitaryan’s first league start was legitimately one of the worst I’ve ever seen. But play one of the most effective footballers in Europe only in Europa League? Beginning to think Guy’s just on a windup with all this nonsense.
4) What kind of a bellend do you have to be to get grouchy about the phenomenal skill from Payet on Saturday? Troy Deeney is clearly just bitter at the world because he looks like his face has been transplanted onto him from someone else.
5) Leicester appear to be listed as playing in the Champions League tonight, as Premier League champions. I outright refuse to believe that this is true.
Alex G, THFC (Wembley baby!)
Easy as A, B, C…
Wenger gets away with merde in France
So, hands up who saw that Arsenal line-up and
B) Knew it would fail
C) Saw it fail
D) Laughed wearily at those who said ‘Wenger would be mental not to change things at half-time’
E) Predicted no changes at half-time
F) Saw no changes at half-time
G) Wondered whether Mustafi had ever played in a team without a midfield before
H) Wondered whether Ibra would have scored 4 or 5 by now
I) Wondered exactly how bad Ligue 1 must be for Cavani to score 25 goals a season
J) Prayed that if Cavani kept missing chances, then the team that was supposed to start would be on the field by the 70th minute
K) Watched that team play quite well for 20 minutes…
L) … and then witnessed Wenger take ‘credit’ for the result?
Everyone? Very good. Carry on.
…Reading this mornings Mailbox about the various match reports the question suddenly struck me, do Arsenal have a game plan or are the players just sent out there to do their best under Wenger?
In so many big games it seems Arsenal are overwhelmed at the beginning and find their feet as the game progresses, by which point it is often too late.
I don’t have the statistics to hand but I’m pretty sure in years gone by Arsenal have an excellent track record at beating the lower placed teams, but in head to heads against the top teams they come bottom of this ‘mini league’. If players are sent out to try their best and play football then against the lower teams this does work as the superior talent will flourish. However, against the big teams where this approach needs to be sacrificed for team work and a game plan they come unstuck.
Every major team seems to have an identifiable game plan, particularly in big games. Klopp – overwhelm the opposition with relentless pressing. Mourinho – keep it tight and counter. Pep – overwhelm the opposition with relentless possession. Pulis – kick lumps and sneak a set piece etc.
Can anyone recall Wenger approaching a game with an identifiable game plan and the team sent out to execute it? Or is it simply hoping his players/team will be better and sent out to try their best?
Richard (London), CPFC
…An Arsenal fan told me that Wenger was resting players in the Champions League because he wants top 4 and this year will be more difficult than ever to achieve that.
The first thing I did was check the Arsenal fixtures. No disrespect but they have Hull City on Saturday. Yes Hull have started well but come on, this is Tuesday and they are flying back from Paris to London.
Let me get this straight. Arsene was resting players so that he could qualify for a competition he’s already in? What ambition.
Jimmy (Wenger’s philosophy: It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts) Spain
A pain in the Arse
What is all this nonsense Wenger bashing in the mailbox and the F365 article? Does nobody realise this was a really good result?!! The hatred towards Wenger has got so bad now that even when he does well he gets a bashing. Silly reasons are invented to try and back up the anti-Wenger argument, things like “This was a game made for a combative, disciplined midfielder”, as if Coquelin doesn’t fall into that category. Or, “He must face questioning for not starting his best midfielder in midfield”, as if Cazorla isn’t our best midfielder. The hypocrisy of stating that Wenger owes Cavani a debt of gratitude, when we all know that if Giroud had missed the chances Cavani did then it would be “same old Arsenal” and PSG knew they could rely on Giroud.
It was not a vintage performance, but we got a point in the hardest game in the group. Great result. Get over yourself Wenger bashers.
Never play pool with the Ox
Watching Alex Chamberlain for Arsenal last night I came to a realisation – we’re the same, him and me. Not the handsome, muscular or rich parts, sadly, but we’re the same where it counts. We are both bottlers.
I write this out of sympathy, not malice – Chamberlain seems a genuinely nice bloke and just a few years ago I regarded him as one of the most exciting young players I’d seen in yonks. That beguiling blend of power, pace and outrageous technique still resurfaces every preseason; scintillating palate cleansers, whetting the appetite just so before another season of disappointing sludge is deposited onto the pitch to a general gnashing of teeth. So what’s going on?
As a fellow bottler, it seems all too clear. Every time Chamberlain finds himself in space around the box a little knot forms in the pit of my stomach and I am back there. The location is some dingy pub, but the baize of the pool table is pure, vibrant green. The black is waiting. I know how to pot this – I sank the rest of them fine. I understand the angles, have a grasp of spin, can cue cleanly. Except right at this moment my brain is shouting at itself and all of these things seem as alien and obscure as four-dimensional calculus and everyone is watching oh god what do I do and I’m going to miss this well crap I can’t just stand there maybe this will work? Oh I seem to have spooned it. Again. And Alex, out on the pitch, will spoon it. Again. Then he’ll beat himself up about it (he, genuinely, smacked the ball off his own head last night after a poor cross attempt) and the cycle will repeat. I imagine I could never play pool against Chamberlain. We’d both get down to the black before becoming stuck in a groundhog day of rattled jaws, shanked shots and deepening self-hatred. Perhaps our exponential ineptitude would result in a wormhole opened into a bizarre hell dimension where Joey Barton is not an utter ******* (the last part is admittedly unlikely. Barton will always be a *******).
Whatever. The point is, I’m not convinced there is a cure for being a bottler. Unless Chamberlain can prove otherwise, his career is looking pretty ropey indeed, and surely even Wenger’s patience is starting to wear.
P.S. I bet Michael Owen is great at pool. Weird emotionless automatons always win at pool.
A mail for the “ballbags”
The recent mini-debate surrounding Payet’s novel use of skill, namely the Rabona, has brought to a head something that has bothered me about English football punditry and ex-pro opinions on such techniques for some time. Personally, I feel that if someone derides a player for attempting such a skill they are at best a horrible bore, and at worst a complete charlatan. For if you claim to love football, how can you not enjoy watching such a thing?
I may well be taking this too far, but I feel this repression of expression is endemic within English footballing culture and leads to less technically able English players. Phil Neville once suggested that if Tomas Rosicky had the temerity to perform a “no-look pass” on him in training, like he had just done in a match, he would be inclined to go in on him “two-footed”. Phillip subsequently claimed it was merely a tongue-in-cheek comment, but the sentiment was clearly there. Try something new, try something clever and you’ll get beaten down for it. Stay in line, do not innovate. Phil Neville, I would remind you, has been heavily involved with England Youth Team set-ups.
And it all seems such a contradiction doesn’t it? These PFMs and other ex-pros who pride themselves on the grittiness, strength, and stoicism of their playing styles have egos that are so fragile as to feel disrespected(!) that another player might try a piece of skill against them in a skill based game. To me it feels like there is an old generation of English footballers still hanging over the game, in various roles, who believe they have sovereignty over the way it should be played. Newsflash ballbags, football doesn’t belong to you and just because some piece of technical creativity and innovation scares you, it doesn’t mean it was done to offend or disrespect you.
Michael, AFC, Crawley
Pulis is recovering from a broken heart
So is the question this; why is Tony Pulis so intent on falling out with his bosses since Stoke burnt him?
He is often warmly lauded for his F365-famous ‘Magic Hat’, rightly so in my opinion, but he seems to not want to remain anywhere for nearly as long as he did at Stoke?
Is he perhaps just afraid to fall again, fearing the break up that follows years later just when he was ready to propose?!
Oh well, looks like he and his hat could be parachuted in to rescue Sunderland after they sack Moyes around Christmas time.
Manc in SA (Pogba is really good folk, let him settle will you. Either that or everyone actually involved in the game is clueless on what makes a good player. Yeah alright then, the armchair experts MUST be right again.)
Martin Atkinson is the new Mike Dean
Well at least in Holland. Last night I went to see PSV play Athletico Madrid in Eindhoven in an attempt to get some of John Nicholson’s sweet financial gravy to drip into a footballing country with a league that isn’t already so ridiculously rich that all it really needs is even more money…
What we got was a referring performance of incredible ineptitude. In over 40 years of watching football I’ve never seen a ref so roundly and extensively booed and whistled at for most of the game, and that despite giving us a very cheap penalty that we missed!
And as for the lure and excitement of the Champions league group stage, while the local support was 100%, Athletico Madrid could only persuade 80 (eighty) of their own fans to make the trip…
…Good to see the English referees enhancing their reputation in Europe yesterday. I watched the PSV game and I can only describe the referees’ (plural – there are 6 of them cocking things up nowadays) perfomance as dismal. First of all Atkinson disallowed a perfectly good goal by Luuk de Jong, apparently for pushing, but it remains unclear who actually did the pushing. Then, to make amends, they awarded PSV a penalty, when Narsingh should have been booked for diving instead. To cap things off, in the second half, Godin decides to start playing volleyball and hits the ball with his hand before De Jong can head it. No penalty given.
After that, I watched the highlights of the Bayern match and – surprise. surprise – the English referee decides to award a penalty because of jostling in the penalty area. Maybe he got it right, but it’s typical that the only penalty given for such an offence in all matches, was given by an English referee. The Dutch are always complaining that they can’t compete in Europe because the referees are so fussy in the Eredivisie that the physical aspect of the game has nearly disappeared (Dutch football has nearly become a non-contact sport, especially with the increase of artificial pitches). Is England heading in the same direction?
Guy Thomas, (NAC) Breda, Holland
Don’t let facts spoil the truth
I don’t disagree with Carolyn, (hope now extinguished, again) South London Gooner and her assertion that the team was wrong for the 2009 FA Cup semi-final, or again last night – however, Arshavin’s four goals against Liverpool actually came three days after that Chelsea game.