Are Liverpool the new Arsenal? Spurs v City is the real title fight

Date published: Thursday 7th February 2019 2:26

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Are Liverpool the new Arsenal?
A lot has been made of Liverpool being a few points clear in January as some sort of sign that they are a shoe in for the league. As an Arsenal fan I’ve seen this all to often.

In 2014 thanks to Gerrard’s slip it is forgotten that the real bottlers that season were Arsenal who were 2 points clear in February but managed to finish 4th.

In 2011 we were one point off the lead towards the end of Feb, in the league Cup final and on for the historic quadruple and ended up winning nothing and finishing 4th.

Then we remember 2008 when we had a 5 point lead in Feb, but drew at Birmingham lost our heads and finished 3rd again.

So I just wanted to put it out there that maybe the title fight this season is really between Spurs and Man City and that Liverpool could easily finish 3rd.
Paul K, London


Some of us are enjoying it
I’m a 46 year old Liverpool fan so for the first 17 years of my life I basked in the glory of some amazing Liverpool teams and the raft of trophies won. I’ve also experienced the last 29 years of hoping and praying for that elusive league title whilst enjoying, you know, the odd European cup triumph and glorious failure/slippage!

Daniel Storey’s article is spot on, it’s laughable how many fans have such unrealistic expectations of their teams. The players within them are, as Storey points out, not robots. The fairground carousel of teams lurching from the best thing since sliced bread one minute to worse than a dog p***ing on your leg the next based on the results of 2 or 3 games is nothing short of comical.

But we’re not all like that. I am loving this season. We’re performing way better than I hoped at the start of the season. Yes I’m desperate for us to win because it’s been so long and because we have never been in such a strong position. I’m desperate for my 10 year old son to experience the pleasure of his team winning the league for the first time in his life. The wailing and gnashing of teeth from some Liverpool fans though is just ridiculous, especially those who are calling for Klopp to be sacked (seriously WTF?!!). Guys, even if we lose our next game we are still level on points at the top of the league in February.

I am a terrible loser and Liverpool winning is everything to me it but I’m calm. It’s very likely that all 3 teams will drop more points before the end of the season. I’m hoping that the recent “blip” means that we can embark on a strong finish, once we have our defenders back, and lift the trophy come May. But if we don’t, I’ll still love Liverpool. I’ll still think that Klopp has worked wonders. And I’ll still think that our team running Man City close, probably scoring the most points we’ve ever scored in Premier league history, is a good achievement.
Adam LFC (Calm down)


More on tribalism
Dear Ed,

I have to admit I am not always the biggest fan of Daniel Storey’s writing. However, his piece this morning ‘Expose the Fraud’ on tribalism in football was excellent and perfectly summed up many of my own frustrations with modern football. Indeed, the fact that the very first reply (shout out to Lamidi Opeyemi) was the epitome of antagonistic tribal rhetoric only served the reinforce the points made in the article. Are you sure this commenter was not a plant?

However, I also think that Football365 has, of late, been a noticeable exponent – or at least promoter – of this kind of tribalism. I say this with as someone who has been an avid follower of the site for a decade or more, but it does seem to have noticeably joined the race to the bottom in this sense.

Take this morning’s mailbox for example. At least half of the contributions appeared to be about teams that the respective writers do not support, with the primary intention of the letters being to antagonise, diminish, mock or otherwise do anything except talk about the club they support themselves. While I understand that the mailbox editor can only work with what is sent it, I do not believe for a second that there have not been more interesting, considered and erudite contributions in recent days that could be published. It seems particularly disingenuous to post the Storey article first thing this morning then following up with a particularly mocking mailbox.

Now, I should caveat this by saying I am in my late 30s so I have been around long enough to know that tribalism in football is not a new thing. I saw some occasionally horrific clashes between opposition supporters in my childhood going to football, and more often plenty of light-hearted banter back and forth. However, the degree of tribalism we see today seems to be a very modern phenomenon. This of course has a lot to do with social media, which has given everyone the ability to throw their ‘opinion’ out there into the world, seemingly with no fear of recourse or concern about having to actually justify or explain them. “That’s just what I think”.

Opinions are not a bad thing, free speech is obviously a good thing, and neither of these facts should be in doubt. But society has progressed through thought-provoking challenging debate, and this seemingly modern disease of people thinking every opinion is equally valid regardless of their actual knowledge, understanding or empathy for what or who they are talking about is poisoning football culture. For a lot of people it seems the thing they enjoy most about football is insulting and antagonising other supporters, managers, players whoever. Fine, this is an important part of football culture but seems to be the dominant tone of football debate today.

There is plenty of excellent football media out there, and I would also not want to tarnish all supporters with the same brush. However, I long for the days when this kind of ‘banter’ was only one small part of the football supporter’s vocabulary. It does seem like the main joy a lot of people get from football is the idea that their ‘opinions’ have wound up a large number of supporters of another team. I find it quite sad as a reflection of modern society. Love football, not the modern circus.
Gaz, Suffolk


I’ve got to say Daniel Storey’s piece on “exposing the fraud” this morning was a revelation.

A true unveiling of the evolution of football, the unmasking of the extremities many associated with the sport have come to embody.

The level of accuracy that Mr. Storey’s description of the ugly face of the beautiful game adopts in this piece is just scintillating.

The draw at West Ham, which had every opposition supporter (predominantly of the Red Devil variety) digging out the old, Slippy G gifs was just sickening and one very small example of the greater point being made.

A game and result that should have had no interest for the Old Trafford faithful, no bearing on their aspirations this season, no impact on what I’ve been reading  is now a realistic hope that the points difference to the top of the pile has suddenly become a surmountable figure (Kevin Keegan) and no sudden invitation to what will surely be the most spectacular title race of the modern game.

Yet this result and its implications on Liverpool pleased this bunch so much that it moved them in their droves to any social media platform that would have them to remind us all of a man who slipped on a football pitch because that of course was the first time in the history of the game that such a gravity defying occurrence came to pass.

My Mrs, bless her, is an ardent Liverpool supporter and can hold her own in a footballing conversion involving a great range of topics, luckily for her this hasn’t occurred in the company of Greame Souness, hahaha!

Point is, it grated a bit last night, when at the final whistle the first thing she could muster was, “How will we  bear the United supporters tomorrow”? Not do you think we can kick on against Bournemouth and string together a run of wins, no observation that we’re really missing some of our first team regulars, no mulling over whether or not Nathaniel Clyne actually would have been a fallible or capable deputy for TAA. Just the resignation that the overwhelming smugness of the United contingent(who’s team I’ve been thoroughly enjoying of late) will be a hindrance in  an otherwise regular day.

“Man Utd supporters supporting City and Liverpool supporters supporting Everton. What a time to be alive!”, read one of the meme’s doing the rounds here in Cape town last night prior to kick off at Goodison and it really encapsulated how ludicrous it is perceived to the greater footballing masses to get behind a rival for any reason by any standard.

Begs the question doesn’t it? If Liverpool don’t win it how close will the open top bus parade be to your post code? How many more times would you like to experience that?

Lets collectively get the GPS on now and all try to locate some perspective.

We all know its tough wasting away into irrelevance, just have a bit of class FFS.
Rudi LFC (Now you’re gonna believe us……………………………………….should never be sung!)


Credit though it’s undoubtedly due to Daniel Storey, for a long and thoughtful look at the deranged overreacting of Twitter, I still think too often this analysis focuses on the symptoms as if they were the actual disease.  From that whole trees grow about the whats and the whys, as if when trying to diagnose HIV it makes sense to try to figure out why there are lots and lots of particularly bad colds going around.  It doesn’t.  For one because it gives too much credit to those reactions actually, if you know what I mean, representing themselves.  That people genuinely feel suicidal when they see Adam Lallana on a teamsheet, or genuinely think Klopp might be in the last chance saloon.

Of course they don’t.  They’re just addicts, and to a particularly noxious medium, one that demands a lorra lorra presence from you if you want to be a good Twitterer, and to have hot and spiky (and droll and knowing) reactions to everything, if you want your tweet to be noticed.  Imagine how you’d feel, having experienced the savage maelstrom of another day at the coalface of Twitter, to sit and type out ‘I guess on the one hand, you could say Lallana always brings decent technique to the party, but I suppose a lack of regular playing time and those injury problems have hampered him getting into a proper groove.’

Unless you were prepared to go the whole way and set up a parody acccount dedicated to being this tedious and balanced about everything, I doubt you’d think, when typing it, boy are people going to Like this one.  Instead, to catch their eye you itch for the aggressive, the dramatic, the poisonously trenchant, the earth-shatteringly vitriolic, all with that fun demon of how flimsy and pointless it is perching on your shoulder watching you do it.  Seriously, get into heroin, it’s probably better for you.

95% of these tweets are not based on anything, literally nothing, but the fact that people use Twitter too much, and are swiftly drowned by its toxic currents.  Certainly not on what they genuinely think.  They want you to notice them.

I’m not actually advocating getting into heroin is more fun, although . .
Best, Toby Sprigings 


Collectively we’re a bloody disgrace
I’ve, like many, always wondered why corners are so hard for professional footballers. I’ve not studied the data in detail but I expect about 105% of all corners hit the first man… or are just generally awful.

I’ve never sat in the corner area of a stadium but seeing the fan footage of the Salah abuse was pretty shocking and reminded me that actually that seems to be where the majority of the abuse happens.

I’m sure in the most part the players can ignore and shake it off but it must be a little distracting. Then if you consider the occasional racist fan it must be awful. The player is isolated in the corner with fans close by on both sides screaming abuse and racist comments. I can now understand why corner takers are inconsistent at best.

Individually us humans are quite lovely. Collectively we’re a bloody disgrace.


John Terry’s Butterfly Effect
In response to Frankie AFC’s mail on players being the catalyst for a meltdown, I’ve always directly blamed John Terry abusing Anton Ferdinand for Tottenham’s ‘negative spiral’ in 2011-12 that saw Arsenal beat us to fourth and us miss out on Champions League due to Chelsea winning the thing and Harry ultimately leaving the club. Stick with me.

·         Terry abuses Ferdinand

·         Terry found not guilty of racial abuse

·         FA remove captaincy from Terry

·         Capello quits as England manager as a result

·         Media tout Harry as next England boss

·         Harry has head turned

·         Tottenham’s form takes a drastic drop as a result

·         Tottenham finish fourth behind Arsenal

·         Chelsea reach Champions League final and win on pens

·         Terry dons full kit including shinnies

·         Harry is sacked

And the meltdown is complete. John Terry. What a hoor.
Damien (Still melting), THFC


Liverpool spent enough to win the league? Not yet!
Loving the mailbox assertion that Liverpool buying a goalkeeper and a centre back ought to guarantee the Title, because that is exactly how it works right? Lazy trolling at best, deliberately disingenuous at worst. Paul Tomkins has written tons about this in the past but bizarrely hides most of his content behind a paywall, so let’s look at a free, hopefully impartial source.

Transfer activity over the last 5 years. An arbitrary, but legitimate period as it takes multiple windows to build a squad, and if Chris (MUFC) can ignore net spend, I can pick a frame of reference longer than two feckin’ transfer windows.

According to this, Citeh and United have spent by far the most: 625m and 538m Euros respectively.

Then you have a clutch of clubs spending over 200m Euros: Arsenal (289m), Everton (253m), Chelsea (235m) and Liverpool (209m).

Spurs deserve a shout out for only spending 31m Euros – Poch really is a miracle worker.

Point being that it is plain wrong to use transfer spend as justification for Liverpool expecting to win the Title. By all means use Klopp’s braggadocio to beat us with, but not transfer spend. This isn’t even factoring in wages, since you ask.

In descending order of average wage per player: 1. United. 2. Citeh. 3. Chelsea. 4. Liverpool. 5. Arsenal. 6. Spurs. 7. Everton.

So basically if you want to laugh at a club for spending and failing, laugh at United – even if Saint Solskjaer the baby face messiah wins everything, it would only be par performance based on United’s largesse. City winning everything in sight – again just par for their ridiculous, overblown, totally unbalanced spend tilting the odds massively in their favour.

Klopp (but mostly Poch) deserve praise for enabling Liverpool and Spurs to even dream of the Title, let alone getting this close. I get that everybody hates Liverpool, but do it for the right reasons.
Gofezo (Citeh had Sterling, De Bruyne, Mahrez and Jesus on the bench last night FFS) Jesus


What makes this great for the neutrals
Hello F365, in my opinion, what makes this year’s title race great for “the neutrals” is that both Liverpool and Man City HAVE to win the title this year. Liverpool for outspending everyone, being the best football team TM and because it’s their year. Man City for having the best manager TM in addition to essentially having 2 or maybe 3 world class first teams. Anything but the title this year will be an abject failure for both these clubs so the neutrals can rest easy knowing that one of these teams will fail this year most likely via a meltdown leading to much hilarity.

Cynically yours,
Sagar, Boston


Dear mailbox contemporaries,

Please, can we all cease and desist with the ‘neutral’ rhetoric. I appreciate that relentless repetition across mainstream journalism has caused such a term to embed itself in your vocabulary, but such adjectives are entirely misplaced and inappropriate, particularly in a sporting context.

A fundamental symptom of the human condition is that we are all subjected to external and internal influence that causes bias, subconsciously or otherwise. It is simply unavoidable. These influences can be remarkably subtle and incredibly wide-ranging, yet they have an overwhelming effect on your self-perceived ‘neutrality’.

For instance, perhaps your preferred title winner has an ex-player of yours you remember fondly? Conversely, perhaps said player leaving has left you bitter? Perhaps you like/dislike a club based on the colour of their kit, their fans, their history, their culture, their songs, the way they are perceived to conduct their business, etc. Maybe, just maybe, you went on a stag do to (insert location) and shagged a stunning local, and your fond nostalgia for such triumphs sways your preference?!

The bottom line is, somewhere along the way, the choice of who you would rather see lift the league title is not the neutral preference you believe it to be. So please, I implore you all, refrain from engaging in this spurious perception. The only team you should be wanting to win anything is the club you love. If that is not a reality for you, then my suggestion would be to base your preferences in positive factors rather than negative. For example, ‘I want X to win because of Y’, opposed to ‘I want X to lose because…’ etc. That is a much more agreeable way of living life in general.
Rusty Blue, MCFC.


People saying Liverpool are expected to win the title due to their World Record GK and CB are being ignorant to the fees spent elsewhere.

Why should Liverpool’s expect ion be higher given that c£120m investment (or even the £383m investment being bandied about in the mailbox) when united have spent £165m on two players? Do we expect more from Alisson & VVD than Pogba and Lukaku because nobody spent any real money on CBs or GKs in a while?

Or what about City? Who have £50m full backs? Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy should be contributing as much each as Alisson does.
And overall, net or gross, take your pick, Liverpool have spent less than City and United in the last 4 years.
They were never expected to win the title over the bigger challengers/spenders, just expected to challenge.
KC (Morata cost more than Alisson)


I get it, Chris (MUFC), I do. Liverpool have spent a shed load of money so should be expected to win the league title. Makes sense doesn’t it? A club spends big money on addressing key areas of weakness, and therefore should be expected to win the title.

Only, whilst Liverpool spent £383m in 2018 (your figures, and no mention of net spend here thanks), it is kind of relevant to consider what went before, and how much money Liverpool spent in 2017 and 2016 and 2015 etc… and compare the cost of the whole squad to that of their rivals. Let’s say Huddersfield perform a miracle and stay up this season and go and spaff £300m on 10 new players next summer, should they be reasonably expected to win the league because they spent more than City in 2019? No, cos City already have 12 players in their squad who cost considerably more than £30m apiece and the rest of Huddersfield’s squad would still be terrible in comparison to City’s.

When you look at total squad costs, I don’t think anyone should be shocked to learn that Manchester City’s squad actually was the most expensive assembled, so why on earth should Liverpool, or indeed anyone, now be expected to win the league ahead of City – because, and do pay attention as this bit’s important, there’s only one league title to win each season. So if, by your logic, money spent = title win, well then it stands to reason that only the club who has spent the most money should win the title. And so a club that may have spent a veritable shedload, but not the most, cannot reasonably be expected the win the title.

Liverpool have the 3rd or 4th most expensive overall squad in the league (along with Chelsea and behind Man City and Man United – figures vary slightly between websites) and the second most expensive starting 11 this season (again, City lead that one), so by your logic, they’re actually over-performing.

Anyway, everyone knows that the best indicator of final league position is wage bill, not transfer spend. Liverpool are fourth on that score (again behind Man City, Man United and Chelsea), so again could be argued to be over-achieving.
Jonny (grumpier and older by the day) Dance


Transfer fees
I’ve been thinking for a while about how much transfers and salaries in football have changed over the last few years – and not for the better. Of course I understand as time goes on things (including football players) become more expensive. So when people say things like “I can’t believe they signed (insert name of player) for that amount, you used to be able to get Zidane for that”, it’s a fairly pointless errr point.

However, this isn’t just a case of inflation we are dealing with. We are seeing teams (expect Newcastle) spend around £40m -£50m for the likes of Gylfi Sigursson, Richarlison, Bakayoko and Fred. Not the worst players ever of course (although the latter two flopped it’s fair to say) but no way are these players worthy of these transfer fees. My own club Arsenal have shelled out stupid money on Mustafi, who I genuinely think is up there with Squillaci and Stepanovs as the worst centre back I’ve seen play for us.

There’s many reasons why transfer fees are getting more ludicrous (premier league tv money, oil backed clubs skewing the market etc.) but I believe there is one thing that could help solve this issue.

And that is to ban loan signings for any player over 21 and even then just limit it to a handful a season. In my eyes, a loan should be for an up and coming player who needs a bit of first team action – maybe at a lower level. The fact that Alvaro Morata is now at Atletico Madrid for 18 months is insane! He cost Chelsea around £60m and they’ve now let him go. They did something similar with Veron back in the day and they are not the only club to do it.

My thinking is, if clubs don’t think they can just sign someone and loan him out if it’s not working out, maybe they won’t be forced into paying vast sums for players that are not world class. I believe there would be a ripple effect then where clubs value all players at much more believable prices. Again, using my own club as an example I’ve seen many players who are clearly surplus to requirements go out on loan (Arshavin, Lucas Perez, David Ospina, Chamakh), this is less about the fees but more around the high wages that average players. I do believe that by taking away this loaning out safety net that clubs have, they will be much more prudent in what they offer.

On another point, where clubs have had a few injuries and suspensions during a season, instead of signing Denis Suarez on loan in January, perhaps it would open the door for a youth team player and providing a clearer path to these youngsters in the premier league.

And finally, it would stop the stockpiling of young players (Chelsea again are the worst offenders of this in recent times), depriving them of joining a club who may operate at a lower level but could give them the first team football they need to develop.
Dave (Arsenal) Herts


Grassroots rule changes
From the start of next season our local FA affiliated Colts League will be implementing sin bins for dissent. Mouth off at the Ref or Lino and you get 8 minutes to go and reflect on your actions. Two sin bin offences and you are off.

It’s also in use in Saturday afternoon football as well.

Anyone know if this is this common across all regional FA’s and more importantly, is this a trial before being implemented in the professional game?
Matt – Cambridge


Getting back to football…
Dearest Mailbox,

There’s a lot of mithering going on at the moment about frauds, bottling, which fans would be more annoying if they won/lost/bottled the title, etc. Not very interesting. So it’s time to work out which fixture, ignoring home/away/competition, has produced the best goals over the years. List your top three, off you go.

The first one that springs to mind is Manchester United v Arsenal, for Henry’s dink, spin and volley; John O’Shea’s outrageous (for John O’Shea) chip; and Giggs’s run in the FA Cup in 1999, which you may have heard about.

Newcastle vs United would be in with a shout if I could think of a third to accompany Rooney’s volley and Albert’s iconic chip. Honourable mention for the Luis Suarez vs Norwich exhibition matches, too.
Dan, (surely bottling is a sudden dip in form when approaching the final few games/minutes with a lead…?) Brighton


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