Mails: Time to prioritise the Europa League

Date published: Monday 8th February 2016 10:32

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Daley disagreement
I’ve got a few bones to pick with your 16 conclusions. Daley Blind was not that bad at all.

Fellaini started instead of Schneiderlin because Chelsea had Zouma, Matic, Costa and Terry as 4 prominent targets from set pieces. Even with Fellaini on the pitch, Rooney had Terry and Blind was the one man marking Costa. That’s a mismatch.

Yet, I think Blind played a very decent game. He made smart interceptions and actually helps us retain the ball better in tight defensive areas. He even tried to out-muscle Costa and almost gave a penalty when he nudged over the big guy (who mind you, has a Suarez-ish tendency to go over when its required).

The criticism for Blind comes primarily for the Costa goal, where he was rolled over in the build up. The initial fault was of (the otherwise excellent) Borthwick-Jackson who played Costa on side. And well for Daniel Storey, “…He rounded De Gea superbly before rolling the ball home.” that’s laughable. Costa’s effort was blocked by Jackson and it rolled kindly for him to hit an empty net. Simply because he worked hard all evening, you can’t just be looking for an excuse to shower praise on him.

Also, 16 conclusions is actually just becoming a minute by minute review of the 90 mins. A little more conclusions please.
Akshat Pande. Man United, India. (Wishes to Zouma – that was awful; and thank you for praising Darmian, the most handsome lad on the pitch!)


I disagree with your crucifixion or memphis and blind during the game their where lots of instances of players losing the ball especially after utd scored and chelsea still had to go the whole length of the pitch unfortunately since its those two it makes for a great narrative
Timi. Mufc


Memphis = Nani
31st October 2012, it’s Chelsea vs Manchester United in the Capital One Cup. United are leading 3-2 and we’re into stoppage time at the end of the game. The ball is up with Nani at the far end towards Chelsea’s corner flag. Rather than keep possession or give a simple pass, Nani’s ego gets the better of him and he losses the ball. Chelsea go up the other end and score a last minute equalizer to draw level 3-3 (they end up winning the game 5-4).

7th February 2016, it’s Chelsea vs Manchester United in the Premier League.
United are leading 1-0 and we’re into stoppage time at the end of the game. The ball is up with Memphis at the far end towards Chelsea’s corner flag. Rather than keep possession or give a simple pass, Memphis’s ego gets the better of him and he losses the ball. Chelsea go up the other end and score a last minute equalizer to draw level 1-1.

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but so far Memphis Depay has shown more signs of being Nani rather than being anything near the “rising star” everyone expected him to be.
Anthony Semaan, Beirut, Lebanon. (Genuinely hope the title goes down to the wire between Tottenham & Leicester, it’s an incredible breath of fresh air for Football)


Time to prioritise the Europa?
Just a few relatively brief points:

*To drop four points against a Chelsea side playing so poorly this season is very disappointing. I feel like this has been a weekend of acceptance, ie. Leicester are going to win the league and United aren’t going to finish in the top four. Therefore, the Europa League has to become the priority, assuming it wasn’t until this point.

*I find it ironic that van Gaal’s possession based game completely goes out the window when his team are ahead. Surely this is the time where it should be most beneficial. In the closing stages just before the equaliser, Sky informed us that Chelsea had 93% of the ball ten minutes previously. This is simply ridiculous, and completely goes against what van Gaal tells us is his “philosophy.”

*The practice of late Depay/Januzaj substitutions have cost United on a few occasions this season. It makes no sense to introduce this type of player as they aren’t disciplined enough to close out a game and they haven’t proved themselves in relation to coming on and making an impact when level or losing. Januzay giving the free kick away for Austin’s goal and Depay cheaply losing possession in an advanced position for Costa’s goal have proved very costly indeed.

*Finally, well done to Leicester. Although many will joke that nothing is real and so on, I was genuinely impressed with the defending against City and their ability to be dangerous almost immediately on the counter.

A glorious season, long may it continue.
Conor, Drogheda


More United thoughts
Memphis just cost United the 3 points. All my life watching football I could see the beginning of the Butterfly’s wing flaps turning into a s**t storm. That moment was the clearly under confident Memphis (I need to be better man managed) Depay kicking the ball out of play when an easy ball was on for a decent chance, or he could have just let time run down in the corner, Nope! I knew Chelsea would score when I seen that happen. It went back down the pitch, Costa is great man to hate ya know. I think I actually like him because it’s ridiculous now.

There’s a player in that young wing back of ours. A player who can really cross a ball and does many simple things well with little fuss. Lets not fully acknowledge that talent and try not to burden him until the weight and expectation crushes him into the ground he runs on. Competition with him and Shaw will be great.

Martial was kept disappointingly quiet, they did a decent job on him.

Rooney is playing like a captain, and that is all I want from him.

On the whole A fantastic performance from us, I didn’t turn it off crying or wake up with the golf on.
R.R Sofia BG


Arsenal are still terrible
The drought may be over but we were terrible yesterday.

I don’t know what the hell was wrong with Bournemouth but if they actually played with some belief they should have taken a point. Without Cech, they probably would have done.

The worst thing about Arsenal is our problems are actually quite easy to fix. We were once again way too sloppy – if we’d bothered to just pass the ball properly, the second half would have been a far more sedate affair.

Flamini was terrible – he should have been sent off – and like Ramsey, he kept giving the ball away.

It really is sod’s law that so many of our players get injured but Flamini’s always available.

Then you have Walcott – a decade ago, as a teenager, it would have been acceptable for him to come on for a meaningless cameo at the very end of a game, now he’s on £140k a week, that just isn’t the case anymore. The boy’s had 10 years, his chance in the middle – he isn’t going to suddenly turn into a world beater.

The bottom line is – in this season where no-one wants to win the league, we should really be giving it a go – especially as once Guardiola is in charge at City, no-one’s getting near the league for at least three years.

But it was against Chelsea at home that we gave up the ghost. So even if we beat Leicester convincingly next week, Arsenal aren’t back in the title hunt, because it will be then that they’ll find a new way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Leicester: The new Dortmund
A few years ago the football world noticed a small-ish football club exceed all previous achievements. Dortmund played an exciting brand of counter attacking football that enabled them to go on to win the bundesliga.

Are Leicester this years hipster choice? It’s very exciting for our league and I for one would love them to win. If not Arsenal, then Leicester.
JazGooner (does this mean we’ll see yet more beards?)


The Foxes make me grin
I read a mail last week from a Leicester fan, about the silly grin he’s repeatedly breaking out in, given the current situation. I’m happy for him – I think he should know though, he and other Leicester fans aren’t the only ones. Every so often, now, when I think of the Prem table, I get that default setting where your mind places the current order of City and Chelsea and Arsenal and United . . and then I get a grin, at the name perched atop it all. And then to be honest at my mind going looking for Chelsea.

The thing I like the most is, all that stuff you know – that Ranieri is so-so at best, a bit too eccentric, might scrape a few good results; that Vardy could probably grab some useful goals in the relegation fight; that Mahrez can’t be the new Iniesta, that the best you can hope for after escaping relegation by the skin of your teeth is to escape it a little more comfortably next season, that the top of the league is a closed shop and there’s a ceiling on what every team can do – you don’t know any of these things. Life offers no guarantees. And that makes me grin.
Toby Sprigings


What next?
One of the most interesting things about Leicester if they win will be what they will do next. Surely they will be able to bring in a higher calibre of player due to being the champs, playing champions league and having more money to blow. But they will be paranoid about breaking up the unit or upsetting the team chemistry. Although claudio and Co have done a good job recruiting thus far next summer will be the hardest. Buy top class players to oust the ones you have and upset the balance of the team players will be upset that they got them there and have now been tossed under the bus. Or decent players to fill the squad out, what if your current crop can’t compete in the champions league? Yes admittedly we’re not expecting them to get past the group stages ( well I sound foolish saying that when they’re in this predicanent) if they don’t capitalise on this situation then they will no doubt go back to mediocrity. I remember the Liverpool season and an anoying roomie who supported them and rubbed Uniteds demise in my face. I told him that if they didn’t win this year that SAN would be gone within the year (sturridge is basically gone) and that they would go back to there level. A team like United in the modern game can’t do a Liverpool . We just have too much money. So please Leicester don’t blow it but at the same time be careful what you wished for.


A bucketload of conclusions
Following a fantastic weekend of games, I thought I’d write in with some conclusions on the action. (You can read 16 from Man United 1-1 Chelsea here and 16 from Man City 1-3 Leicester here. They’re much better.)

Leicester City are surely the outright favourites for the title after a stunning performance at City. A mix of hunger and desire, coupled with skill and tactical nous, they dismantled a side who’s starting line up cost 10 times more. Mahrez and Vardy impressed once agin but an unsung hero once again performed admirably. Huth will more than likely grab the headlines for his work in the attacking box but he was equally as fantastic in his own. Alongside the ever impressive Morgan he marshalled Aguero easily out of the game, only giving him one sniff when the game had already gone. Leicester’s infectious attacking play has got them to the top but their newfound defensive stability has what has kept them there. Massive credit to an often underrated back 4.

Despite a frustrating afternoon in front of goal, Spurs managed to grind out a massive three points that takes them to a deserved 2nd place. They struggled to create chances against a well organised Watford defence, and when the managed to break through Gomes was in fine form to constantly deny them. But good teams find a way and that’s exactly what they did. A lovely cross from Alli tapped in by the unlikely scorer Trippier. A massive three points that keeps them well in the title race and sureLy means Champions league football will be at the lane next season.

In Saturday’s late game Victor Wanyama showcased why he hasn’t made the step up to a bigger side. His 3rd red card already this season showcases a severe lack of discipline that almost cost his team a deserved win. Wanyama is capable of sublime midfield displays, snuffing out even the best attacking players in the league. But too often recklessness costs him, with a wild and unnecessary tackle on Payet sending him for an early bath this time. A problem that needs sorted or else he’ll be at Southampton for a while longer.

A huge 3 points for Arsenal on Sunday means a victory in next Sunday’s crunch clash means they are well and truly back in the title race. A superb finish from Ozil is very pleasing for the Arsenal fans but seeing The Ox grab a goal is probably more satisfying. Too often this season oxlade-chamberlain has drifted in and out of games and has rarely impacted on results for Arsenal. A player with massive talented complemented by speed and strength, he has now a chance to put a run of poor displays behind him and cement his place for the run in. If he can hit form, he’ll be a vital asset for Arsenal in the final months.

In what was a disappointing game on the whole, 2 young English players prove to be the current bright sparks for Manchester United. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was very impressive at left-back, assured on the ball and largely comfortable in defence he didn’t look out of place in the United back line. It was his wicked cross that set up Lingard to fire home brilliantly on the turn to score a goal fitting to win any game, and it ought to have won it for United. Despite drifting in and out of the game for large parts, lingard stepped up when required to put United ahead. A 3rd league goal in 5 games is very promising for United fans who have found positives hard to come by this season. If only he stops the ‘dabbing’ when he scores….

Much has been spoken about costa’s upturn in form under Hiddink and he once again was the difference maker today, but another player has looked 10 times the player he was under Mourinho. Cesc Fabregas was Chelsea’s best player in what was a disappointing performance. He was Chelsea’s orchestrator throughout, becoming especially prominent following Lingard’s opener. Following on from an equally impressive display against Arsenal, Chelsea fans must be wondering where this fabregas was while Mourinho was in charge.
Alex AFC


Boring Ed
*Leicester, you brilliant foxy b#stards. While the details of their story are different to that of the 1977-78 Nottingham Forest team, there is some merit in comparing the two. City’s current squad features players plucked from lower leagues and non-league, adding in a 21st century evolution of a couple of players who flew under the radar of Europe’s elite, forming a squad of players whose whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

*It was a good weekend for Japanese footballers, one of my niche interests. Shinji Okazaki, who is impossible to dislike, had another great game for City, while Maya Yoshida not only looked like a defender but scored Soton’s winning goal too.

*For Palace fans, this was the best Premier League weekend of 2016. Bit of a tallest dwarf competition, but still. A goal, a point, and most excitingly, a first Premier League appearance for Hiram Boateng. He’s highly thought of coming out of the academy, and played well enough in his 20 minutes or so to earn another go.

People accused Alan Pardew of overdoing his celebrations. Presumably they also accused Pope Francis of being a Catholic. However, when you’ve been as rotten as we have of late, you have to take every positive. This was a point won the hard way, by digging in, being resolute in defence (coupled with some great saves from Wayne Hennessey) and nicking a goal from a set piece. Plenty of better teams than us have done the same this season.

*Next up for Palace is Watford at home. While the Hornets’ form of late hasn’t been as rotten as ours, they’ve been in a bit of a slump. Both teams will think they can win the game, but at the same time this can lead to nervous performances. Basically it’ll either be brilliant or dire. There is no middle ground.

*While this season hasn’t seen the clear separation of top and bottom half (give or take a couple of extra teams), as most of the early overachievers start to tail off (e.g. Palace, Watford, Stoke City), and the underachievers start to pick up (e.g. Chelsea, Bournemouth, Swansea), most of the league table is starting to compress. Perhaps the influence of recently promoted teams (last few seasons) getting themselves in the mix at the business end is that the top flight is starting to mimic the Championship, where a lot of sides find their league position drastically altered with each win or loss.

*I saw on Twitter that Manchester United have signed up 20th Century Fox as their “official entertainment partner”. This is the sort of open goal even a Crystal Palace striker couldn’t miss.

The literary Ed Quoththeraven (if I was really that boring, sub-human comments section types, F365 wouldn’t keep publishing me)


The Liverpool walkout
Whilst the walk out at Anfield on Saturday was admirable, it is ultimately futile.

The only way to stop the exploitation of fans is if, on season ticket renewal date, there is a complete boycott and no “customers” renew. Clubs would then be forced to re-evaluate ticketing policies.

Ultimately, this will never happen because the fan base of every club will naturally be divided. Some will see this type of boycott as disloyalty towards the players and club, while others will see it as a natural reaction to the disloyalty the club are showing towards the fans. Some will simply not be able to remove the addiction that is their weekly football fix from their lives.

Every elitist power structure rules through division, and fans of every club will always be divided in their thought processes. Therefore mercenary owners will continue to ruthlessly exploit the very people who make their club what it is.
Naz, Gooner


Start Hazard
What on earth is going on with Guus hiddink still playing hazard in the second half like some young blud?

I firmly believe that playing hazard as a substitute has cost us two points against watford and united. What on earth is wrong with staring a game on the front foot ? Hazard is our best player fit or no. It’s annoying to watch oscar faff around an entire first half. I know he does a lot defensively mainly by pressing the ball upfield and trying to link up with costa but He is far too wasteful with the ball when he gets it it attacking positions because he does not have the pace or power to execute dribbles in tight situations. In my opinion, oscars role should be changed to partner fabregas in midfield and matic dropped to the bench. Willian and hazard behind costa. That would be my starting lineup for the Newcastle game. We need to start picking up points now as we can no longer afford to be conservative in our approach. Nice goal from lingard, nicer from costa.

David de Gea is my player of the year this season. Those saves were impossible.
Paul from Nigeria.


…Regardless of what anybody says about Chelsea fans, is there any other group of fans in the elite division who so warmly welcome their former players who come back to play against them?
Lampard, Drogba, Cech, Mata…..
Dolapo, CFC.


Footballers as body parts
Thinking of ,rather aptly, referring to Simon Mignolet as ‘The appendix’ from now on – No longer serves any meaningful purpose other than the propensity to f**k you up at any given moment.
Also Marouane Fellani as ‘The Supernumerary’ (3rd Nipple) – Initially fascinating to look at but quickly apparent that serves no discernible purpose.
Martin, Lfc (other body parts are available)


Don’t get me wrong, there are few better men in the premiership than Harry Arter, a true example. And what I am about to say is not his fault.

But his name is not Harryarter. It’s Harry. Arter. What is it with comentators across the board that they’ll reel off the surnames of players involved in a move during a game then it has to be Harryarter.

Do they just love the fact that it sounds matey?

Irrational I know but it actually drives me mad. And I’m a Harry too.


Great question
Is the name Dembele the new Traore?

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