Mails: On lovely United, Liverpool’s midfield and Arsenal

Date published: Sunday 20th August 2017 3:03

Read 16 Conclusions later from Tottenham’s meeting with Chelsea later on, and send your thoughts to


Keep it up, Rom
4 goals in 3 games.Not bad for a supposedly unintelligent footballer.

4-0 is the new 1-1


Martial the sub just works
Martial has been deadly with his finishing. Rashford has been tireless with his running. While it seems obvious that Martial should start, that is precisely what we should avoid.

When United face lesser teams, they defend with their backs to the wall. We need a Rashford or a Lingard to keep running them ragged for 60 minutes so they tire out. Once they tire, unleash your best weapons to take advantage.

Martial is intelligent and plays the efficiency game. He is not going to run into blind alleys when he knows nothing will happen there. And there in is the reason, he is unsuited to tiring defences out.

Mourinho has it perfectly. Play the kid to run them ragged. Bring Martial on to improve our attacking efficiency much later.
Sudarsan Ravi 


But a new right-back is needed…
Tony V is doing his best but i doubt he will survive beyond this season. While United are flying, one obvious gap in our game is the crossing ability of our full backs. And yes, Valencia is built like a bull and has the stamina but his crossing is so poor and has been poor.

Playing with inverted wingers lays on the onus on him and Blind. The thing i am most confident of is that Blind will get there and we have Shaw on the left side. Our right back on the other hand are just good defensively.

Mourinho knows quality so I can safely predict that this will be Valencia’s last season as first choice right back or wing back for United.

You heard it here first.
Sudarsan Ravi


Loving being a United fan again
Before all the “It was only Swansea”, and “Man Utd fans are so over the top” start chiming in again like last week, can I just say that it is fun being a United fan again. After the Moyesiah, two years of Louis’ Army, and last years draw-pocalypse, seeing a United team swarm forward with vigour and a touch of swagger, as the counter-attacking Fergie teams of old used to, warms the cockles of our hearts.

Mkhitaryan has already quadrupled his PL assist count of last year; Pogba has started like a train; Martial has scored 2 and assisted another in only 25 mins of action across two games. Players are playing with confidence, and it keeps bums on seats (both in the stadium and on couches). I’m under no illusions that there’ll be spells this season where Utd drop off, where they draw a few, or lose a couple on the bounce, and the knives will be out again, for this form can’t continue. So can we just enjoy this while it lasts?

I don’t know if we will win diddley-squat this year, it would be nice, but it’s too early to make predictions. And frankly I don’t care if we do or not. But God is it fun watching our team again. That’s why United fans are so giddy this year, and long may it continue!~
Jim (lost little Irish boy) Vancouver


The tests will come when United go up against top 6 teams. Where the plan will be 1-0’s and bus parking.

1. It feels good to see wins (4-0!) instead of draws (0-0…)
2. City steamrolled at the start and won something like 10 straight before the wheels flew off last season.
3. Different goalscorers and mkhi has 4 assists after 2 games bode well.

Plenty of positives but it’s still only August.

At least it’s gonna be a good weekend.
Clement, MUFC


It’s only Swansea.
Harry The Manc.


As a Man United fan the game against Swansea yesterday is the type that would have ended in a draw last season. It is early days yet and sterner tests lie ahead but it is important for the team to build a winning mentality. The United of old scored a lot of late goals because they simply believed they could do it and the hope is that this team also starts believing they can kill off a game despite the resistance offered by the opposition. Too early to say if we will win the league but happy to bag the points in this fashion.
Ryan, Cape Town


Another Milner
A lot of deserved credit to Robertson on his debut yesterday. Watching him play made me think how similar he is to Milner. We now have two Swiss knives.
Taz, LFC


That troublesome midfield
In the midst of watching my team Liverpool against palace. The reason why we will struggle this season is NOT because of a shabby defense. Remember Barca never had a good defense at their pomp. No, our issue is clearly the midfield 3. We have three very limited ability, slow, and not very good at passing, midfielders. Henderson, Çan, Milner and Gigi are never going to control the tempo of a game, drive forward and score us goals or even create much at all. Midfield is where games are won.  We have a distinctly average one. It told in the games against teams that sat back on us that we couldn’t break them down. Our midfield give the ball away far too much with rubbish passing.

As much as I love Klopp he’s got this really wrong. You can’t play those 3 together. Max 2, but we need 2 creative midfielders. So talk about the defense all you want but it’s not the real issue in my opinion.


Draxler for Coutinho…
Having seen another bid for Coutinho knocked back, surely Barcelona should say – ‘No bother’, and move on?

In fact, there seems to be a player available from a Eoropean competitor, for a fraction of the cost, and who would fit better in the Neymar-shaped hole in the team.

Of course, the player in question is PSG’s Julian Draxler.

Put a bid in for €40 m, then sit back and spend the next few months counting the leftover cash, and scouting the players that can really make a difference to an apparently failing team.

However, Barca have screwed themselves twice in this regard – they don’t want to be seen to lose their apparent number 1 transfer target (dick-swingin’), and PSG won’t be keen to sell to Barca after their recent behaviour and comments in the Neymar transfer.

So, due to Barca acting like kn*b-ends, they’ll either end up spending all their Neymar money on an inferior player that won’t fit their system, or have to accept that their cache in the transfer market is not what it used to be, and waste all their cash on an even less suitable player.

1st world football problems…
Craig (Coutinho comes out as ‘continue’ on spell-check – I think this saga might unfortunately) Gallacher 


As is customary now, it seems I watched a different Arsenal performance to the commentariat, which pundits both professional and lay throwing all deciding wild diagnoses are required for the second game of the season.

I only saw the first half of Utd play Swansea and it was a lot less one sided than the first half at the Brittania. Utd score from a set piece on the same stroke of half time where Arsenal have the clearest of penalties turned down. Both Arsenal and Utd relied on luck, and any adult analysis would say this is normal for an away game early in the season

Watchers say Arsenal’s structure left them wide open, I saw a game where the opposition only had one chance. Other viewers say we had nothing going forward. I saw turned down penalties, a wronlgy chalked off goal and Welbeck fluffing his finishes on multiple occasions.

Such is the long term stink surrounding Arsene Wenger we cannot avoid childishly dramatic conclusions like ‘Wenger rewards mediocrity’ when we narrowly lose the second game of the season. The defeat put ridiculous pressure on our next 2 tricky games, it also showed that after only one game we a not the fully polished article. Do wish a few more of the reactrionaries could acknowledge no team is a finely oiled machine by this stage.
James Gooner


Are Bellerin and Holding good enough?
I’m not good at intros, so I’ll just get into it. It’s really no surprise when young players rise from the academy at big clubs and immediately become fan favourites despite lacking qualities that would make them so if they weren’t home grown. The best current example of this is Rob Holding. He may have come in at a time in which Arsenal were desperate and needed a hero and was ultimately successful but any objective fan with interest can see how poor of a player and talent he is. By the way, this isn’t an over-reaction from an Arsenal fan, I don’t even support them or a Premier League team.

Rob Holding is painfully slow but that can be worked around. The main problems are that he is slow of mind, his reaction time is truly embarrassing, he is ponderous on the ball, he lacks any sort of athleticism, his jumping is poor, his intelligence when it comes to decision making is poor, he lacks composure, he can’t tackle, he has poor technique on the ball, he passes ambitiously but lacks the qualities to make that a redeeming factor and is the worst type of fearful in that not only is he scared of making mistakes, he is too scared to risk double embarrassment by trying again (when it comes to defending). To top it all of, his ‘ambitiousness’ seems to stem from a feeling of not belonging at that level and attempts to prove himself wrong rather than for the benefit of the team. However, the love for him and his potential still seems to exist only in the Arsenal fan base and I have no problem with that. My problem is when this carries on long enough for it to become common belief among football followers in general. My issue is with Hector Bellerin.

You can clearly see why he is loved among Arsenal fans. He is good looking, quick, charismatic, young, a Spanish man named Hector and was stolen from Barcelona. I just don’t understand why he is rated by other fans. The common consensus is that he is above average at defending but more than makes up for it with his attacking ability.

But what I see is a player that is poor defensively and even worse in attack. He is a fully signed-up premium member of the Arsenal Defenders Union of players that don’t like to tackle. He is perfectly content at running back to shield them from goal and that would be perfectly reasonable if he was capable of cornering them enough to prevent them from doing anything useful with it. Rather, he is the easiest player to simply run past and still he refuses to tackle. His style of defending simply seems to stand in an area between the player and goal and if that fails try to run back and do it again. His heading is absolutely abysmal. At 5’10, athletic and with a good leap, he isn’t short for a full-back defending a winger. The problem is that he has no appetite to directly contest for the ball but prefers to run forward and jump for it knowing that he can’t possibly reach it with no intention of heading away but rather hoping for it to fly both above his head and a winger that isn’t expecting it to come. This way he isn’t seen directly losing out and is out of position so can’t be blamed for what happens afterwards. The fact that since the switch to 3-4-3, he has been targeted aerially rather than Oxlade helps my point.

This is in the line with the Granit Xhaka school of thought that attempts to avoid blame by putting himself in disadvantageous positions and then trying his best from there. Xhaka has literally avoided having to tackle by running at players who are 10 metres away and can easily pass around him and run directly at the defence. This way no one talks about Xhaka’s poor tackling but focuses on Arsenal’s midfield exposing their defence and Xhaka being left alone while handily forgetting that shielding the defence is literally his job.

Back to Bellerin and we see a player that has foolishly bulked up for no reason related to football (See Klopp on Gomez for decisive action). A decision that has led to him losing both speed and agility. He is a player who, rather than fixing his poor utilisation of pace. poor dribbling and astonishingly terrible crossing by putting in the hours in training (it really isn’t that hard to learn), has decided to simply cut in every time and pass back into midfield and sees fit to joke about it. Add to that his willingness to shy away from trying to make a difference and happiness to pass and back off in crunch moments despite his pace giving him the opportunity to change games and it paints a picture of a player with a terrible mentality that is content with his flaws.

Basically, Hector Bellerin is a fraud. I don’t think there is another player with similar standing in this game that is as fraudulent. He may be the only player in the world that is worth upwards of £50m not because he is English, not because Arsenal know how to sell, not because the buying team is desperate and not because Daniel Levy is involved, but because Arsenal’s global legion of fans have decided that he is.

I am honestly perplexed by this. The fact that Wenger saw fit to put him on the left hand side knowing that wing-backs have to provide width and that he doesn’t bring anything to the table when cutting in shows that he didn’t see any value in allowing him to stay on the side of his preferred foot. This was the necessary hope I needed to see to push me to send this mail. I honestly need closure and I beg any football fan who watches him regularly to reply with their thoughts on him. I need either confirmation that I’m not the only one or to be proved wrong.

I know this mail is long but there is really no other place with enough intelligent fans to discuss this with. F365, please publish this (or article…), I genuinely desperately need answers.
Klaus, Munich


Wenger and youth development
Last week, Wenger made a comment along the lines of ”I’d rather play a 21-year-old player with more potential than a 28-year-old even though I know he will cost me points.” It’s an admirable stance to take, but only if you’re at a level in which a few extra points this season aren’t worth as much as the many more he’ll give you in the future if you develop him well enough to meet his potential or the money you could sell him for. However, it isn’t really acceptable at a club like Arsenal.

For example, West Brom hit the 40-point mark on February 25 with 12 games to go and their performances since then showed their was little appetite nor ambition to achieve more. On that same day, Arsenal were in the middle of a 5-team chasing pack separated by only 4 points. While it would make sense for West Brom to drop a disappointing and clearly unhappy Solomon Rondon to look into their academy and see who could make the step up in the future by testing him in a comparatively pressure free environment, it wouldn’t if Arsenal dropped a disappointing (at the time) and clearly unhappy Alexis Sanchez for Chuba Akpom.

Most, primarily the new contingent of Arsenal fans who seem keener than ever to talk about and defend Wenger the man rather than the manager, have taken to his comments in a positive manner. The pessimistic (read: realistic) b*stard that I am though can’t help but feel that this is the perfect explanation of what Arsenal has become. Wenger has basically admitted that he is willingly putting himself in positions that he is more likely to lose in. If this doesn’t confirm the comfort he enjoys at the club and the ambition of the club, I don’t know what does.

And contrary to popular belief, a young player can achieve way more by being dedicated to his craft, putting in the work behind the scenes and studying the best over months and years than he can from a 70 minute run-out once a week. We have seen as many dedicated and less talented players break through at 23 and play at a high level as we have 18-year-old wunderkinds (It’s not wonderkid) who had everything at their feet but failed.

Although I believe that having young players is important, they should be developed in a manner that’s good for both parties in the short and long term and as long as the player is dedicated enough (and if he’s not, why bother?), that middle ground is not hard to find.

And a word on Chelsea’s loan army: The problem with their plan has always been the final step in which they have failed to integrate the best performers into their squad (it worked with Courtois: he returned and proved he was better than Cech so he got his opportunity) but that seems to be changing this last year with the likes of Moses, Christensen and Musonda but I won’t accept that it is hoarding players. They are not blocking each other’s path. When you see players like 23-year-old Lucas Piazon be unambitious enough to extend to a 3-year contract with Chelsea to go on loan to Fulham for 2 years, why shouldn’t Chelsea keep him until someone sees fit to spend worthwhile money on him.

This mail is getting too long, so I’ll just list some of the best work being done at the big clubs: Varane, Asensio, Kovacic, Rashford, Winks, Pulisic, Coman, Kimmich, Rugani.)
Yeabsra A Ali (I know it’s long but just pass on Ed Q for once)


More Wenger complaints
Actually you know what, it’s getting really really hard to defend him. Why don’t we play a LB at, you know, LB (hint we bought in the Bundesliga LB of the year). You need to score so you take off Laca for Walcott (use that pace vs Stoke) and Welbeck, who couldnt hit a barn d…no he couldn’t hit a barn, stays on instead of bringing someone like Iwobi on who can break down defences. S*** id rather Nelson come on and show his stuff.

But its only one game. On another day we’d have won, some decisions could have gone our way. It’s not like any of our competitors are putting on some good shows…
Rob A (Matic releases Pogba, inspired signing) AFC


Lazy Ozil? Lazy punditry
For some reason after the game today the BT pundits decided to pick up on Ozil’s performance. Not Welbeck, the man who missed multiple good chances to score, nor Xhaka whose misplaced pass and bad decision making were the reason for the Stoke goal. Not Chamberlain, who gave away pass after pass and showed absolutely zero sign of any football intelligence. Instead Ozil, the main who created 4 chances and was the only person who tracked back for the goal was entirely blamed.

It’s astonishing how these idiotic pundits almost always make Ozil the scapegoat, no matter how we played, no matter how he played, you can guarantee that if we lose a game then Ozil is going to be blamed in one way or another. It’s unbelievably lazy, you have shocking performances all over the pitch, you have a bizarre team selection from Wenger in addition to the questionable decisions made by the ref. Yet they ignore literally all of this in order to further drone on about how “lazy” Ozil is and how he’s a “liability”.

If Ozil is a liability what is Welbeck? What is Cech? What is Mustafi? How is a guy with a combined 40 goals and assists in the past two seasons a liability? He’s created over 200 chances in the past two years, but he’s a liability because he doesn’t run backwards very quickly?

The standard of punditry just gets worse and worse year by year. And you can absolutely guarantee next time we lose a game Ozil will be blamed, regardless of how he actually performs and how much he contributes. Cliched moronic pundits will as always fall back on their “Ozil is lazy and a fraud” line, instead of actually attempting to come up with some coherent analysis. 
Matt, Arsenal fan

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