Arsenal ‘bottling’ talk is nonsense; we should all cheer them on v Man City

Editor F365
Arsenal trio William Saliba, Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard celebrate a goal
Arsenal trio William Saliba, Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard celebrate a goal

Other football fans laughing at Arsenal need to give their head a wobble; after Liverpool, they are the Premier League’s only hope.

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Why we should all have cheered on Arsenal
I know it’s not exactly bombshell news but a worrying amount of football fans have lost all objectivity on the game, having had their brains steeped in clickbait, hot takes, fan channels, etc. I’ve seen Arsenal described widely as bottlers, lacking a winning mentality, naive and weak. I should just ignore it but it’s another one of those things that make football more difficult to enjoy these days.

I’m not an Arsenal fan but I was rooting for them to break the monotony of another City win. The got closer than I expected, pounced on some wobbles from City to top the table before, inevitably, getting reeled in. They went toe to toe with the most carefully constructed squad the game has ever seen. And they nearly did it.

This is not bottling. Letting a 12 point lead slip is bottling (I’ll never recover from that). This is not lacking a winning mentality. Winning 28 games this season (the same as the champions) after winning 26 last year shows that. Naive, weak… Nonsense. They kept the season interesting against this City machine.

Unless you are from the blue half of Manchester, you should be cheering on Arsenal or any team that can challenge City. Look at the heights Liverpool had to reach to stop beat them. Getting 26 wins from 27 games and 22 points clear with the title all but wrapped up before they finally lost a game. It was ridiculous run, lightning in a bottle stuff of a coach and squad hitting the exact groove the needed at the same time. It could not be replicated. Take that win out and City have won the title in the last 7 seasons. That sounds like a farmers league to me.

The Premier League has two hopes right now. One is that Arsenal grow incrementally again next season to close the gap completely to City. The other is that Pep, and a few of the squad, get bored and go find a new challenge.
Kev (I’ve been playing champ man 97/98 so I might be overly nostalgic at the moment)

READ: And now the media must pretend Pep is off and Arsenal ‘best is yet to come’


Are Arsenal on the verge of something special?
All I ever want from an Arsenal team is to give their all and to make progress on the pitch. That’s it.

If you win silverware then fine – but the only thing that truly matters is that you can look the fans in the eye and say that you’ve left it all out there on the pitch.

And Mikel has his boys have actually exceeded expectations.

We’d all read the script before. Arsenal were supposed to be beaten by United and Spurs and hand the title over to City way before the final day.

The fact we were even with a chance is a ringing endorsement to everything Mikel and the club are trying to do.

Kai Havertz has really come into his own. Timber returned to the team. And we haven’t finished second in successive seasons since the days of Arsene.

I can’t be the only Arsenal fan who thinks this team, who are nowhere near their peak, may be on the verge of something special.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


…As the final whistle went yesterday, as an Arsenal fan, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. We had done so well. We played better than the season before, we didn’t crumble when everyone expected us to, and we pushed the metronomic City team to the very end.

I thought about the insane Klopp teams that lost to this City team. I thought about how failing to achieve what we wanted for three seasons running was painful.

Then I saw Kai Havertz speak, and he seemed destroyed, they really believed they could win, and I felt a great affection for him. He’s only been here a season but he seems to have found a home where he can shine. I saw Declan Rice and Odegaard crestfallen. These players cared in a way I’d never seen during the last decade.

And then Arteta spoke. You could see the heartbreak in his eyes, his focus seemingly wavering, and then he said almost the perfect thing. He thanked the fans, as expected, but when he said “Don’t be satisfied. We want much more than that – and we are gonna get it.” – All disappointment evaporated. We have the right manager. We have the right team, and we have the right attitude. Take a breath, dust ourselves down, and get excited for next season.

We could all spend time going if… If we beat Fulham, if we beat Aston Villa. That way insanity lies. As the old Greek adage goes, if if if, if my grandmother had balls she’d be my grandfather. I’ve not enjoyed a season like this in a long, long time.
John Matrix AFC

👉 Premier League 23/24 season winners: Foden, Palmer, Emery, Arsenal, Klopp and Dyche all brilliant
👉 Arsenal miss out on Premier League prize money record with Crystal Palace the biggest final-day earners


Everyone owes Jurgen
So as City get four in a row, and six in seven, every football fan in the country should lament the departure of Jurgen Klopp. It doesn’t matter if you hate Liverpool and it doesn’t matter if you hate Klopp (although I doubt you find anyone in the latter that isn’t in the former). He kept things interesting against a financially doped team who are probably serial cheaters, and they are turning the Premiership into Ligue 1.

Football is a soap opera ; Jurgen has been the star and we are all poorer without him.
Mat (Arteta is doing a great job but he has to win something next season)


Best league in the world? Nah
Watching City’s state funded, billionaire team endlessly pass pass pass their way around 11 West Ham players encamped in their own area for 90mins, watched by a quiet, sterile crowd I couldn’t help but compare to the matches I see elsewhere in Germany, for example, with crazy crowds jumping and singing their way through the game.

Best league in the world? It certainly didn’t look it to me.


Sportswashing and Lance Armstrong chat
So, Monday’s Mailbox had Jimbo reminding us all that Man City is a sportswashing machine by those fellas who “sell oil” – the sheer gall of those dirty brown people selling something so bad.

Who’s buying this oil, then? People in the West from coloniser countries spend the most amount of energy and resources in the world. All this oil? Yeah, you use it!

Can we start saying Todd B is from the country selling the most weapons in the world? ‘The worlds arms dealers, USA’? Sounds pretty accurate hey.

Entire wealth of England has been pilfered from the rest of the world over the last 300 years, can you please get off your high horse you imbeciles? Can you not get so high and mighty?

Oil? Really, we’re giving em guff for selling oil? The same oil for which the UK needlessly and brazenly maliciously attacked Iraq and helped the USA kill HALF A MILLION CHILDREN?

How dare they sell us anything, we should just ‘take’ it hey? Same as what we did with some Russian billionaires the second we got the chance.

The UK is literally one of the most corrupt places in the world (it’s bigger than Switzerland in terms of money laundering and hiding illegal wealth).

This is a sports website, if we all start getting historical and political the only ones who will look stupid are these westerners who deep down will tell you they are better than the rest of the world.
The Brown Supremacist (United fan btw, not happy City are crushing everything but Jimbo needed a fooken tuneup)


…Firstly, congratulations on Eoin on recycling (two) jokes that are so overused at this point that they have millions of likes on social media and were even mentioned by Gary Neville. Cutting edge original humour, as always.

Also props to Jimbo for forwarding the idea that the UAE who are one of the most important powers in the world in geopolitical terms thanks to geography and geology, and own about half of the entire world, decided to buy a football club in the back arse of Manchester in order to launder their image which has done absolutely nothing other than produce hundreds of thousands of articles from journalists introducing this previously obscure (to the politically unaware) country who write extensively about their human rights and other misdeeds. Brilliant planning that. There’s also the unbelievably hilarious arrogance in assuming the UAE give a flying f**k what some football fans think about them. I can imagine the conversation.

Sheikh: We in the UAE need to create happy feelings about us and the way we operate. How do we achieve this?

Sheikh 2: Well we purchase a football club in England and then make them win. Because football fans are well known for their rational and non-tribalistic opinions and journalists in a 24 hour content cycle where they present simplistic morality tales will surely not mention all that slavery malarky?

Sheikh: Hmm. Are you sure this won’t actually HIGHLIGHT the bad things about our country and we’ll just be brushed away with the “rich Arab” stereotype that our region has been fighting against for the past two centuries thus being completely self defeating in our goal of making us look like good people?

Sheikh 2: Nope. Despite us employing some of the world’s best PR advisors, global strategists and after investing in a ton of projects worldwide then we somehow still have no idea on how the media cycle or fans work. This will all be great.

Sportswashing is the stupidest notion because it’s sounds like something that could happen until you think about it for about one sixteenth of a second then realise that it makes zero sense at all. Let alone the fact that the UAE is a collective of states and had nothing at all to do with City and it was bought by the third most important brother of one of those states, but now we’re getting into advanced knowledge so we’ll have to stop. Apparently knowing the exact motivations and purposes of the owner of City is perfectly possible without knowing who the City owner is or even where he comes from. Expert opinions these are.

Ultimately, all these mailbox pearl clutching rants (and my favourite “I don’t care about City and here’s a 1000 word essay why”) are normal psychology. You blame City to excuse the failings of your own clubs. It’s that simple, it’s always been that simple and it will always remain that simple. City didn’t win the title yesterday because in 2013 they brought onboard an external contract of Mancini’s worth £1.2m. They won the title because their rivals in the three horse race fell away where City didn’t, as happens every year.

And in 90 days the whole cycle starts again. City will start slow, as they always do because new players need to be bedded in and a lot of City players go deep in national competitions. There will be a surge of confidence from other fans that City have become complacent, that they got recruitment wrong this time, that a key player who left was the lynchpin, that Haaland is a League One player in disguise and Foden/Grealish/Doku/Insert Name are benchwarmers who threw their career away.

Then by Christmas, City might be 5-10 points back and after a dodgy result somewhere are consigned to out of the title race by overly enthusiastic fans who celebrate their downfall. Then the Champions League starts back up and City win every single game until the end of the season while others say that they can’t compete, about how it’s all unfair, 115, sportswashing, etc.

I look forward to having these exact same discussions and pointing out these exact same trends with you next season.
Paul, Manchester


…Here we go again with the lazy Lance Armstrong/Doping comparisons with City. And here I am again to explain the analogy doesn’t work.

For starters, most of the top 90s cyclists were on drugs. Therefore the analogy becomes that all the teams in the Premier League are cheats, which makes City the best out of all the financially stratified/cheating teams. And I don’t think this is what you meant.

Taking steroids gives a cyclist/athlete a direct benefit to the person competing, especially if no one else is taking them (the usual context for the comparison with City).

A football club allegedly cheating, so they have similar money as other top clubs is an indirect benefit, not a direct one. There are so many variables and factors beyond between having money and being successful on the pitch. Look at the shambles at United and Chelsea who have spent a fortune (I know United ‘did it the right way’ etc, the point is the money spent). So even if City cheated by sponsoring themselves, that didn’t have a Lance Armstrong effect, so the analogy doesn’t work, unless all the players have been juicing themselves on the quiet.

Have City broken PSR/FFP rules and cheated? Maybe. Are City financial dopers/Lance Armstrong wannabees/Ben Johnson copiers? No. Those analogies don’t work. I hope that is clearer.

I had a great day at the game yesterday and am now slightly sunburnt and slightly hungover. Roll on the FA Cup derby part 2.
Andy D. Manchester. MCFC

📣TO THE COMMENTS! Are Man City’s titles tainted? Or is it just bitterness? Join the debate here


Smashed it
I’m generally a pretty humble fella, but once in a while even the most humble of people get to brag. I emailed in on Aug 9th with my predictions for the season. Here’s my take on the first two questions:

As is traditional, tell me who will win the league.

It’s Man City isn’t it? Yep.

And the rest of the top four, in order. Which nobody ever gets right.

Arsenal a close second again. Liverpool somehow 3rd. Villa in 4th because I couldn’t sensibly put them third. What’s the point if you don’t believe at this stage in the season, right?

The rest weren’t too bad either. There was also some logic to this. It was essentially the 2022/2023 2nd half of the season table, with Villa stumbling just a touch to fall into 4th.
Gary AVFC, Oxford (Expecting the letter of employment/contract shortly


Fun at the Palace
As end-of-season parties go, that was a pretty fun one. Crystal Palace v Aston Villa was a game with nothing riding on it, but for the hosts at least, it was an opportunity to show off some tricks. Villa had several players missing through injury and were at the end of a season where they have impressed lots of people by qualifying for the Champions League, but part of how they’ve done so well is that they don’t make excuses when they don’t play well.

* Oliver Glasner has repeatedly made it clear he wanted as strong a finish to the season as possible, while also looking at options for next year. This weekend’s experiment saw Marc Guehi return to the side as a defensive midfielder. He acquitted himself well before going off with a knee injury. He was spotted with an ice pack on it on the bench, which is concerning, but also less concerning than being stretchered off or taken immediately to hospital. The entire England-supporting football public is keeping everything crossed he’s passed fit for the Euros so Gareth Southgate doesn’t pick Lewis Dunk.

* Meanwhile it was business as usual for Palace’s forwards. Jean-Philippe Mateta will not being going to the Euros because Didier Deschamps has chosen his forward corps exclusively from Serie A or PSG. This is a bold call from Didier Deschamps and we will have to see if il tends le bâton pour se faire battre. However, there is little more that the Palace man could have done to stake his claim. He scored a hat-trick against Villa: getting in behind the defence to lash home a through ball, prodding home a nutmeg cross, and profiting from a pocket of space caused by a creative attacking threat drawing in defenders. Looking at who is in the France squad, it’s not difficult to imagine him combining with those players in similar fashion with the same outcome.

* There are lots of different types of hat-trick, and the Gordie Howe is clearly the best, but they’re all good. What’s most surprising is that Mateta is only the second Palace player to register a Premier League hat-trick, after Yannick Bolasie in 2015. Not even Andy Johnson managed it, and he was magic.

* What’s been so great about watching Palace these past few weeks is that they are scoring goals in different ways. With defenders dropping deep to prevent Mateta getting behind them, Eberechi Eze was able to benefit from space to shoot outside the penalty area and helped himself to two goals. This game was an extreme example but it’s just been so much fun watching Palace these past few months. It’ll be interesting to see if any other clubs of similar stature take the same approach to looking for a new manager.

* Between them, Palace and Glasner face an interesting summer. On the face of it, everyone the club would want to keep is still under contract, but there will always be rumours of star players leaving, despite Glasner’s assurances he’d be able to keep all of his top men. Glasner has had one third of a season in charge at Selhurst Park and has got his team playing in Champions League form (24 points from 13 is equivalent to 71 in 38 games, Villa in fourth this year had 68), so has stated the best possible case to convince all of his players to stick around. However, any sale of Eze, Guehi or Michael Olise will be incredibly lucrative, and should any of those leave, there will be funds for Glasner to acquire his first choice replacements without too much friction between manager, sporting director and board.

* Speaking of disagreements between manager and board, Roberto de Zerbi has now left Brighton & Hove Albion. Life comes at you fast: not that long ago they were in Europe and pushing upwards, while their manager talked earnestly about his prospects of taking over at Liverpool. Then, they went the entirety of April scoring just one goal (an own goal by Burnley) and finished the season behind their biggest rivals. I don’t doubt things will pick up for them, but for the moment, I’m sure you can see why this is really, really funny.

* Overall I think it’s probably for the best Manchester City won the league this season. That way, all of the other big clubs can be together in hating it, talking about asterisks and making Lance Armstrong trend on Twitter on a daily basis.

* Match of the Day last night ended with a tribute to Ian Wright that had Gary Lineker choked up and almost brought some emotion from Alan Shearer. A lot has been written previously, and probably will again, about what MOTD means to Wright, but suffice to say it represented a huge victory for good over evil that he got to be on it so often for such a long period of time.

One thing I definitely identify with about Wright is that for a long time people seemed to think his not being serious all the time was him not taking things seriously; his punditry career definitely suffered when he was pigeonholed as some sort of clown, but thankfully in the past few years he’s been able to show his knowledge and combine it with his determination to enjoy football.
Ed Quoththeraven


Goodbye from the other side
Under your reign, Liverpool fans somehow found a way to become even more insufferable and entitled than ever before. You meant more. Your team eviscerated ours time and time again, and we wanted to hate you for it. The reality is that we wished you were ours.

Well done and good luck.
Akillies (Man UTD)