Send yer thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, won’t you?
Coulda been a contender
Has Brabantio, Venice been in hiding for the last decade or so to suggest Arsenal “never receive this pressure”.
Put quite simply, they are not being touted as premier league contenders because a) Man City really are head and shoulders above anyone else b) People have been watching Arsenal for the last few years and aren’t convinced by a run of 3-4 wins c) The pressure exerted by the media has been as intense at Arsenal as pretty much anywhere.
Quoting Shakespeare in your argument doesn’t stop you getting in a pickle.
Very quick one to address Brabantio (great name), ignoring that whenever Arsenal lose it is a full blown crisis in the media. Recent coverage of us reflects that we’ve been going quietly about our business, not being spectacular but doing enough while also having beaten no one surprising, outside Tottenham.
To suggest that there is a concerted media effort to help Arsenal is actually pretty funny, am sure that Huddersfield thought they had it in the bag against us after reading the S** on Tuesday morning.
James, North London
I read Brabantio’s (awesome name BTW) missive about how the media somehow have an interest in hyping up the next team to play Arsenal and how Arsenal are title contenders with a bit of a smile. Sorry me old mucka, Arsenal have no hope of winning the league this year. 12 points behind after 14 games, 6 points off second and the two main stars will be subject of offers in January as both are out of contract in the summer. Unless the City wheels fall off and Pogba gets injured again, I doubt Arsenal will catch the top two, their form is actually all over the place as per usual. Drew with Belgrade, lost to City, beat Spurs, lost to Koln, beat Burnley and Huddersfield, will probably lose or draw with United at the weekend.
As to hyping up, that’s what the media always does to the top 6, it’s nothing new. Build them up and knock them down has always been the British way and not just in the press, although they do elevate it to new depths. In fact, the reason Arsenal don’t get the hype, in my opinion, is that Arsenal are so consistently inconsistent that the press risk looking foolish whichever way they lean and try to predict. It is also this up and down form that reduces the pressure, if any other club in the top six loses two on the bounce, the press keyboards are automatically set to only accept the letters C-R-I and S but because Arsenal have lurched from awesome to awful so much in the last ten years, no-one is particularly surprised when they do it again.
There is also the ownership at Arsenal, money is first, football is second, that is why Wenger is still there, an economist who won’t ever break the transfer record as there is no value in doing so, to his way of thinking. The club and manager are perfectly suited, tight owners and tight manager, for whom the top six represents success, as it keeps the money flowing in while not breaking the bank on transfers. That reason alone is why I am glad I support United, we’ve been up and down in recent years but at least I can get excited about the likelihood of more Pogba’s coming in and an ethos to keep up with the best in the League, not settle for a positive bank balance and dusty trophy cabinet.
Paul, Man Utd
Brabantio, Venice, I see what you’ve done there – clever, throwing in a Shakespearean reference to distract from what is otherwise one of the finest loads of nonsense I’ve read on this site in many a moon. There’s a very clear reason why an unwillingness to admit Arsenal are title contenders persists in the media. It has quite a lot to do with the 12 point gap between City and Arsenal in early December, the former team looking like one of the better club squads in world football this decade, with the added twist of the non-zero probability that Arsenal’s best player will move to City in the January transfer window. Your professed bafflement with the lack of pressure around Arsenal is rather easy to explain away with these factors in mind.
In fact, there is a very clear method of assessing whether or not a team faces pressure or a bar of high or low expectations, and it has nothing to do with media coverage, though media coverage does play off of it: bookmaking provides a keen insight into what is expected of a club. At the start of this season, Arsenal were sixth favourites to win the league; in the last two weeks, they have moved up a whopping one place, to fifth favourites. That’s why expectations and pressure are generally lower for them than they are for the other clubs at the top – just as was the case for Liverpool for most of 2013/14, Leicester in 15/16, Chelsea in the first 10-15 fixtures of last season and Tottenham basically every year until this year
I’ll give you a glimpse of a possible future – if Arsenal beat United this weekend and manage to get through the Christmas fixtures by making up ground on City, the pressure will, in fact, build. Just like it always does when Arsenal gets within touching distance of the top. But this is where I really had to laugh at your email, particularly the bit saying that ‘Arsenal never receive this pressure’: you seem to forget that every time Arsenal do get a head of steam and move up towards the top of the table, the pressure in fact does build up on them and they, inevitably, blow it. Which is perhaps another way to explain the current, low expectations. That and the 12 point gap in early December – that actually explains most of it.
Happy to help,
United a must-win
Arsenal’s record against teams who are quite decent this season has not been great. They got thumped 4-0 by Liverpool. Lost 3-1 to Manchester City and also went as far as to lose to Stoke. They did however put in great performances against Chelsea and Spurs even with the former being a team which have not worried Arsenal TOO much in recent times and the latter going through a terrible period over the last few games.
As an Arsenal fan, I have kind of resigned my expectations altogether. They are never high, they are never low. I go into the season not expecting much, anything else is a bonus really.
I don’t think they’re title contenders this year. They will have to prove they can achieve some form of consistency by beating Manchester United over the weekend, anything else would be considered a failure in my opinion. Even if they do beat Manchester United, I am fully expecting them to collapse around January anyway because that’s just what they do.
I prefer it this way, though. Before I used to take defeats and eliminations from certain tournaments way too seriously. Having no expectations makes the games all the more enjoyable. I don’t even care if Ozil and Sanchez leave to be honest, and it feels great.
Let’s pour some iced water on the City d**k-sucking that’s going on in the mailbox! First and foremost, as if I should have to, let’s start with the obvious: Palace can feel aggrieved it’s not them 8 points clear at the top of the table, West Ham can, Brighton can, Watford can, in fact any smaller club can. There’s nothing special or, more importantly, particularly surprising that City, 10 years after being taken over by a sugar daddy billionaire are the best team in the league.
Sterling scored an absolute beauty that is worthy of winning any game, in any minute. As if a football fan couldn’t celebrate that, why does it have to be United fans who are crying themselves to sleep? It makes no sense, until you look at the bigger picture. Why do Liverpool fans suck City’s d**k and cream themselves when they’re having good results? Answer that and you might understand that it isn’t fondness for one club but more bitterness for another. Even the title mail the other day: “except United and Southampton fans.”
It’s actually pathetic that you think United aren’t big enough to rise above City demolishing all in their path. It matters not to me because I know that it could easily be Hartlepool. In fact there’s not much in the way of a sense of achievement either. Spend a billion: win a handful of trophies. Part and parcel really. F***, even Chelsea won the Champions League 9 years after winning the lottery. It means nothing! I could name any plaything: PSG, CSKA, Shenghai, Monaco blah, blah, blah. A toy for the rich and powerful! In some cases a laundrette to clean their ill-gotten money!
It’s not the d**k-sucking that surprises me, it’s the United fans who bite, who can’t see that we are in fact the intended targets. No one gives a s**t about City, they all give a s**t about United. I could ramble on but I think that covers it.
Beefy, (I’ll say it again: what a great goal from Sterling worthy of winning any match, just so happens he could have been playing for Sheffield Wednesday) Manchester United
The Everton debacle
Given the summer optimism at Everton, the unmitigated disaster that has been this season so far has been an irritation, to put it lightly, and I can’t think of many times when the mood at a club has shifted so dramatically, so quickly. With the brief moments of euphoria thrown in to the extended nightmare – Rooney’s second debut matchwinner, the Niasse renaissance, the Watford comeback – being a fan this season has felt like one big acid trip, culminating in the signing of Fireman Sam, and I’m ready to come down.
Back to reality though, and as much as I don’t want Allardyce as manager of Everton, I understand why they went for him (beyond the failure of the Marco Silva poaching project). He has a record for stabilising sinking ships, and Everton were sinking fast. The ambition of the club is no doubt still there, but morale was so low that ambition was quickly being lost over the horizon as the tide rapidly turned. Nautical metaphors aside, this is a crucial moment for Everton. It’s hard to say what exactly went wrong this season, in the sense that so much went wrong all it once that it’s hard to pinpoint a disease for the symptoms. You can point at the transfer money being spent on the wrong squad requirements, unhealthy balance between well-past-it experience and still-just-potential youth, a manager who didn’t have the passions for the club etc. But ultimately I think it was precisely Everton’s ambition that let them down.
This morning James made a good point about not altering the club’s ambitious mindset due solely to this poor start to the season. Everton still have a very good squad, better than most in the league; but to target top six is unreasonable, and to be honest it was at the start of the season too. There are six teams far and away better than the rest of the league (though Burnley are doing their best to stick two fingers up to that) and any attempt to break in to that was always going to be a long term project for any club. But the attitude around Everton seemed to be “hey look, we’ve got this great manager, spent loads of money, Rooney’s back, wahey this sh*t’s just going to happen isn’t it?!” Somewhere in there a wholistic plan for exactly how to do that seemed to somehow go missing. But the players seemed to believe it would just happen as did the fans, so performances were dictated by a team acting like they were superior to their opposition, but it ultimately not being the case in practice due to a non-existent tactical plan. The result was a bunch of decent players playing like they’d never seen each other before and a plummet of confidence when things didn’t turn out like they thought it would.
The message should always have been, “this will take awhile, but we have a great youth setup and have signed good, young players, so have patience and we can really build something here.” Which brings me to the final point, Allardyce. His appointment makes a bit of sense given the current circumstances, but how does it fit with the long term plan? While I expect he will bring a strengthened defence, better results and thus galvanise morale for now, I worry about the direction this leads the team. Eight players under the age of 23 featured in the drubbing of West Ham, five of them starters. With Sandro and Keane also showing potential if given the right support and the likes of Onyekuru and Dowell, who are tearing up their respective leagues, to return from loan, this youth is where Everton need to invest, nurture and develop. Rooney has shown he is still capable of great performances, but only as a bit part player. Jagielka and Williams both look very much the wrong side of 30 and Baines, while still consistent, is also fading. I worry though that Allardyce will see them as proper experienced English football men and over rely on the likes of them. I hope I’m wrong, and perhaps fans of other Big Sam affected clubs can point me to moment where this wasn’t the case, but either way it’s safe to say the acid trip will probably go on a little longer.
If you got this far well done. Not particularly interesting for anyone not an Everton fan but it’s been such a weird season I had to release it all somewhere
Will (still the only team to have taken points of City) Wymant, EFC
Picking on Pickford
Pickford – I paid specific interest when he played Arsenal earlier in the season.
Assessment was that he parried everything back into play, couldn’t catch, kicking wasn’t great (Usually a strength), couldn’t command his area, and let in 5 goals.
He’s had 3 seasons playing in the top flight, spent 95% of it in the bottom 5 I think…cant be a coincidence.
Exempt, he aint.
Rooney the real winner
I am surprised nobody is talking about the remarriage of Sam Allardyce and Wayne Rooney simply by imagining where Rooney will play…after all he is Rooney he can play anywhere he wants!! Roll on to the team formation!
Pastor John (a real pastor)
In response to Jimmy (Climp) Sham
Rookie error on the mention of Paul Konchesky. Has he not seen him in his recent iteration of stylishly barneted left back for Billericay Town? In fact, he had a full set of hair when playing for Leicester a couple of years ago,
In response to Jimmy’s mail regarding a bald XI, I present to you a long haired XI that would give them a game…
GK – René Higuíta – Bats**t mental, but that perm…
CB – Sergio Ramos – The early, greasy rat tailed incarnation
CB – Carles Puyol – Enough said, best of his generation, not a bad centre half either
CB – Paulo Maldini – Those eyes, that hair… swoon… makes you weak at the knees
LM – Chris Waddle – There is always room on the left for that glorious Marseille mullet
CM – Carlos Valderrama – Captain – and founding member of the Hair Bear Bunch
CM – Andrea Pirlo – Those who don’t believe in higher power have never seen the ex Azzuri star’s locks
RM – Robbie Savage – World class w*nker
CF – Roberto Baggio – “Il Divin Codino”, magnificent
CF – Gabriel Batistuta – Once left out of the Argentina team after refusing to get a hair cut
CF – Edison Cavani – Luscious
Notable mentions/Subs –
David Ginola – L’Oréal, for clean, healthy, controller-able hair
Mauro Camoranesi/Patrick Berger – Alice bands are sometimes an essential
Alexi Lalas – No words needed
Birkir Bjarnason – That viking mane
David Seaman – Sporting a 2002 ponytail
Jay (Nothing better to do at work on a Friday…) LCFC
A long haired 11 versus a bald 11 for your perusal.
Bald 11 would consist of
Thuram Campbell Lebouf Gallas
Lombardo Charlton Zidane© Robben
And that’s a hell of a side to be fair. Especially with a bench like Barthez, Stam, Vieira, Letchkov, Ljunberg, Cambiasso, Vialli, Julian Dicks and the great Danny Murphy.
Would they beat
Puyol Ramos Marquez Maldini ©
Best Seedorf Petit Cruyff
And that leaves a very debatable bench of Batistuta, Pires, Baggio (?), Ibrahimovic, Pirlo, Socrates, Cannigia, Ginola, Davids, Zico, Hoddle
I suppose it depends whether or not Collina is reffing…….
That was fun.
Doug, AFC, Belfast
Hopefully I’ve got the balance of lots of hair and good hair about right:
Hargreaves David Luiz Pellegrino Blind
Beckham Gullit Ginola
Benedict (I want curly hair too), London
Maldini Ivanov Ramos
Waddle Petit Valderamma Gullit
Henrik Larsson Mark Hately
Now that’s an XI. Craftf, Guile and bastardry and madness.
Lar, LFC, Dublin
Having seen the bald XI in the mailbox, I couldn’t be bothered to think of a long haired version*, but here’s an all time team of bearded beauties. As a man of much beard, I have time for each of these true heroes of the game.
GK: Tim Howard
RB: Bruno Saltor (c)
CB: Olof Mellberg
CB: Alexei Lalas
LB: Paul Breitner
DM: Andrea Pirlo
CM: Adam Clayton
CM: Joe Ledley
AM: Raul Meireles
CF: Olivier Giroud
CF: Romelu Lukaku
There’s an obvious weakness in CM here but I couldn’t drop either of Clayton or Ledley. Players like Alonso and Fabregas could’ve come in but their beard game is nowhere near as strong. Players like Henry, Cantona and Pires developed decent efforts late on in their career/life but it doesn’t match up to Giroud and Lukaku in their prime.
Naz, Staines (* Couldn’t be bothered = it was too difficult)