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Back to reality
Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City won. Liverpool lost.
All is right with the world again.
Spurs are very good
Its half time in the Everton-Spurs game. Ive no idea who will win and I’m not sure it matters at this stage of the season. What I am sure is that “on their day” Spurs are the best team in the Premiership.
I recognize that “their best day” isn’t every week, that they’ve drawn too many games and that Poch could run them in to the ground with the high press before May ( and they are after all, very “Spursy” at heart). But, man alive, do they ever look like an efficient machine when they are clicking. Organized, structured, intelligent, technically solid and huge. They have a game plan for when they don’t have the ball, and talent, pace and power when they do. Their recruitment across the board has been first class. They remind me of good Chelsea.
As an Arsenal fan, those words are practically stuck in my throat. Its been a while since we could say those things about our side.
Its also occurred to me that Hart, Clyne, Shaw, Stones, Smalling, Dier, Alli, Henderson, Barkley, Sterling,Kane is a young, gifted and really pretty decent England side that we call all get behind. Its noticeable that there a zero Arsenal players in that side. Given that Wenger made a big deal of having 7 young Englishmen on long term deals (including Corporal Jenkinson), thats pretty shocking. It speaks to something that Ive been thinking for a while- that those that aren’t permanently injured (and thats debatable) -namely Gibbs, Chambers, The Ox and Theo- are brainless and can’t play at that level, and that the two that can hack it at the top level – Wilshere and Welbeck- are in the treatment room. Watching the English Arsenal players constantly make poor decisions on the ball, run down blind alleys and panic in possession and is so frustrating. It speaks to what many ex players have said about Wenger – that he gives you the platform to grow in a self-determined way, driving your own development. He doesn’t intervene or over-complicate. Clearly, this is perfect for the likes of Bellerin, Monreal, Koz, Ozil and Santi (as it was for Cesc, Nasri and the Dutch Skunk before them), but not for the english lads. Shame.
I hope I’m being a classically pessimistic Gooner here but I am very concerned that our world is about to turn on its head -Spurs win the league, up is down, left is right, dogs and cats living in harmony- stuff of biblical proportions.
Arsenal can definitely win the league. Thats clear. In fact, its still theirs to lose. But if they have to rely on their collective abilities off the ball down the stretch to control games and their young English talent, they will fall short. In a season where “anything can happen” – that most assuredly will not. And, terrifyingly, Spurs appear to have those angles covered.
I want to talk about the insufferable growth of the individual ego in the 21st century, and the deleterious effect it’s having on football discourse. Just kidding – I want to talk about Spurs. Although it’s basically the same thing.
The presumption by those in the know (i.e those without a bloody clue) was that Spurs had fluffed their summer transfer business, sleeping at the wheel while all the other squads spent huge amounts to strengthen. I just wondered whether now, it might be fair to accept that Levy, Pochettino etc knew what they were doing better than the average punter shouting at his Twitter account. That is, they had a young squad who they believed in, and felt that what that squad most needed was to see that the club trusted in them – so, all through pre-season there were no destabilising transfer sagas of the kind United specialised in. And the result is – the team seem to trust each other and believe in their collective ability, to the point that they can go to Everton and for the first twenty minutes have about 60% possession.
The painful truth to accept is, that for 90% of armchair commentators out there, Levy and his team have a better grasp of how to run a successful football club than you do.
There was one more thing – I think the most interesting thing about the Prem this year is that, no-one seems capable of winning it. Arsenal are the best on their day, and on the 0-4 vs Southampton days, look as fragile and porous as ever. Leicester surely just can’t, City are about as hot and cold and defensively inept as they’ve been since the takeover, Spurs seem similar to Leicester in their potential to go all the way, United are a very silly team . . the obvious flaw in the logic is that one of them has to win it. Roll on 2016.
Patience, ‘Pool fans
There is a time for knee jerk reactions to poor performances, but Liverpool’s listless loss to West Ham isn’t one of them. It was always going to be a difficult game having West Ham away on two days rest and playing the early game. No teams covered themselves in glory on Monday when faced with the same predicament.
Liverpool are in the depths of an injury crisis with Sturridge, Origi, Milner, Henderson, and Skrtel all out. Add Ings, Gomez, and Jon Flanagan to that list and that is vital chunk of first team players not available. Injuries are never an excuse given the money Liverpool has spent, but it does make rotation very difficult.
Minty LFC stated Sunday that questions have to be asked. Those question have been asked and answered, it’s why Liverpool have a particular loveable German at the helm right now.
Klopp has come in with a new system and no preseason and has done well. West Ham was our first point dropped in the festive period and he has done well getting a response from his players after similar droll performances. Liverpool are involved in a vital semi-final against Stoke on Tuesday. A much more important game than an early away game to West Ham after two days rest.
As for the January transfer window, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Markovic is not eligible for return from his year loan and bringing Ryan Kent back from loan doesn’t fill me confidence an experienced winger is coming in. Liverpool do need reinforcements. A forward with movement would be nice as it would perhaps open Firmino and Coutinho’s game up, but with all the money just spent in the summer and FSG reluctance to be burned in the winter window again I would not hold my breath for anything.
Brian (Patience is the buzz word this season) LFC
Big summer for Klopp
So I did a little searching and discovered that after his first season at Dortmund, Klopp sold eighteen players over the course of a summer.
I think he might be genuine about giving players the rest of the season to prove themselves, despite the very valid arguments behind buying, but I think after this season he might be unforgiving in tearing apart what’s there in order to rebuild. Obviously it’ll be harder to sell some of our players because of higher wages in England but it could be one of the most significant summer transfer windows the club has ever seen.
Still want Mourinho at United?
So not counting the 0-0 at Old Trafford without Costa, Chelsea play 2 games with a first choice XI and are effective and entertaining. Anyone still want Mourinho at MUFC? *cough* Idiots *cough*
Eddie, ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby’ MUFC
P.S. Fully aware this means nothing unless it continues for a few months.
Rooney is still past it and LVG still needs to go.
(Happy New Year to the F365 team and all readers)
Give Hazard more protection
So, Hazard got fouled as usual and had to quit the game against Crystal Palace. I’ve been wondering how Hazard, and players like him, can be gievn more protection. You know they are going to be fouled half a dozen times a game; how can that be stopped? There is already a rule gainst persistent fouling but only regarding a single player doing the fouling, wh eventually gets a yellow card. It occurs to me that the same rule could be made to apply to an individual player being fouled, since defending teams’ players seem to take it in turns to foul Hazard etc. I don’t see why, if one player is persistently fouled, the ref can’t call the fouling teams captain over and say that the next player who fouls the targetted individual gets a yellow card, irrespective of whether he has fouled before. Unfair on the defender perhaps but so is persistent fouling of one player that goes unpunished.
New Year, same Ed
New year, same annoying me:
*Well done to Chelsea on their deserved victory. They’ve a squad full of players capable of winning matches on their own, and they were all bound to come good at the same time eventually.
Like most people, I’m especially pleased Willian scored one of his trademark goals. He’s been the one Chelsea player who’s stood out for positive reasons, and for a player as recently as last season was still being dismissed as all running and no flair, he’s blossomed into an all-round star. Also, I love his hair, is that weird?
*Chelsea defended well and withstood a lot of pressure from Crystal Palace, who had some good chances to get on the scoresheet but couldn’t take them. This is a familiar story for the Glaziers against a big club, they huff and puff but end up with their own house blown down – see the game against Manchester United towards the end of last season.
*F365 praised the performance of John Obi Mikel, who had his best game in years, finally allowed to be more than the human handbrake. However, it’s worth pointing out that three times in the first half-hour he committed fouls that could have been worthy of a yellow card, especially as similar fouls by the home side did result in cautions.
This is all an “if my auntie had balls” scenario, but contrast Mikel’s tenacity with that of Damien Delaney, whose name was taken early. Earlier in the season, he received great praise for the way he stood up to the physicality of Diego Costa, but had to play at arm’s length from the Chelsea agitator for the rest of the game. This meant Costa had more space against Delaney, or a second tackler had to come in, leaving someone standing empty. On the other hand, had Mikel been shown a yellow card early on, it would have restricted his tenacity up against the Glaziers’ jinky attackers.
*Above all this game highlights the difference between new money and old money. So far, new money has helped Palace and their ilk assemble a very good first XI, enabling purchases such as Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham for amounts that wouldn’t have been viable previously. However, old money helped Chelsea put together a squad with excellent depth, so that when their main men aren’t doing the job, someone else as good can come in.
*When Palace were promoted, having spent a fair amount of time atop the Championship before dipping, I genuinely thought the first XI would have been good enough for 17th in the Premier League, but that the squad was not deep enough to provide decent cover. This season, the same principle applies in relation to a European place. At full strength, the Glaziers have played very well, but this is the time of year when injuries and suspensions creep in, so backup players are rigorously tested.
To combine the previous two observations, the real test of the likes of Palace, Stoke, West Ham and Leicester will be whether they have the nous to recruit competition for their star players, and the mettle to spend sums approaching their respective record fees to do it.
*A brief aside on Connor Wickham, to liken him to Manchester United midfielders. A while back, it seemed like Manchester United midfielders (especially Michael Carrick) went up in people’s estimations in their absence, largely because most people didn’t notice what they did, only that their replacements weren’t doing the same. Similarly, Wickham’s 1 goal this season is not great, but his importance to the team is apparent given that he’s missed three games through injury and they’ve failed to score in any of them.
* Carles Gil, very much a scorer of great goals than a great goal scorer, was not trusted by Tim Sherwood. He’s about the only Villan coming out of that game with any semblance of credit.
*Jermain Defoe may well be one of the most overrated players in the Premier League. He’s clearly a good player, but he has scored 9 goals in all competitions. The only times he has scored more than one in a game are against Exeter City in the League Cup, and Aston Villa, who are basically a Championship side. Similarly to this weekend, his goal against Crystal Palace was a result of calamitous defending. I’m not sure any player’s stats are as easy to devalue as his. As I say, he’s a good player but he isn’t the prolific finisher he is often made out to be (by the PFMs).
*Finally, while Guus Hiddink’s impact at Chelsea is one example of a new manager bounce, he was outshone by another relatively new boss lower down the leagues. Chesterfield recently plucked Danny Wilson off the managerial merry-go-round, and he led them to a 7-1 win over Shrewsbury Town. According to Opta, this is the first time they’ve scored 7 (seven) in a match since 1979. The Spireites are now out of the League One relegation zone, meaning Blackpool have dropped into it.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
*Minty in yesterday’s mailbox..Darren Randolph is from the Republic of Ireland not Northern Ireland. We’re like a whole different country mate
*Roy Hodgson needs to be building that England team around Alli, Kane , Barkley and Stones for Euro 16, seriously I wouldn’t have Rooney next to near it…
*Speaking of Rooney, come on he just threw a leg at it..
*Is Jamie Vardy now crap again??
*Mahrez screwed me on my fantasy football team this week. It was a terrible penalty and a terrible mistake to make him captain..
*Arsenal really need someone in the transfer window, this is their best chance for a title since 2004, however if he keeps the same team-Ozil is going to break( he plays for Arsenal sure), Sanchez will be rushed back and then be busted again and Giroud and Walcott do not have enough to fire you to the title.
*That game right there….that’s why you signed Cech
*Man Utd fans be honest…when it went one all…..
*Fabianski Is a better header of a football than Benteke
*Every man and his dog knew West Ham where going to beat Liverpool ( I wonder what Degsey calls his mutt)
*If Klopp ends the transfer window with the same squad he’ll be lucky to get 7th this season.
*I’m going to miss Aston Villa.
* Yaya must be the most laid back lad in that dressing room, sitting there during the team talk with ear phones in, not giving a toss about tactics and wearing some sort of comfort slipper the middle classes couldn’t possibly afford and then smashes that in..
*I love watching Mangala, he’s like one of those crazy car crash compilation videos on youtube, you just sit there waiting for the carnage..
*I really hope that Atletico Madrid 1- nil it all the way to the Spanish title, just to p**s off these three lads in my 5 a side group who all arrive in Barca jerseys with each one sporting either Messi, Suarez and Neymar and insist on being on the same team…these are grown a** men, with mortgages and kids and stuff.
*John Obi Mikel…who knew??
Robbie DFC Eire ( Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland BOTH qualified but we’ll be in separate groups, because we’re different teams)
Its now official Leicester have prioritised WINNING the league over a cup run!!why else would they plan vardy’s surgery such that he misses the next game (FA cup?not sure) but be available for their next game (
epl)???its not just about survival anymore for the foxes….they want the damn thing!!a good time to be alive
Gerald(the next JM)mufc,MOLO,KENIA
Zinedine Kilbane (wtf?), is on MOTD 2, and has just referred to Chelsea as having a “much more fluid performance” against Crystal Palace.
It’s not the first time the word “fluid” has been used in this context by pundits/journalists. In fact, it’s used regularly.
Is it just me who finds the use of this adjective in this context irritating? Surely, “fluent” is a far more appropriate adjective, no?
Who has been paying attention, then?
Who is the only player to have played over 100 Premier League matches and received more red than yellow cards.
Think LOGICALLY before saying Patrick Vieira, you useless, cretinous morons. What are you stupid, or something, or what?
Alex Stokoe. Newcastle upon Tyne