Arsenal must swerve Mourinho and bring back Wenger…

Date published: Monday 4th November 2019 9:59 - Ian Watson

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No to Jose
First quiet day at work for ages and, as I haven’t written in / been published for months I thought I would weigh in with some Arsenal based thoughts. The main one – what the hell is going on?

So, by sacking Wenger, we set the frying pan alight, jumped out of it and into the fire. Now, apparently, not satisfied with being scalded and then burned we are considering hiring Mourinho and coating ourselves in his poisonous radioactive goo that has a half-life of a decade following his involvement.

First, let me say, I was in two minds over Wenger departing. Results and performances had clearly been slipping for a few years and it was right to prioritise finding a way back to the CL. But we went about it in the most ham-fisted way possible. He either should have left at the end of his penultimate contract (the summer before he was sacked), or, he should have gone at the end of the next one. Sacking him midway through a season but then leaving him in place until the end of it was about as botched as it can get. We also clearly had no plan for succession as was demonstrated by the interest in Arteta and Vieira before lurching toward Emery when he chucked his cloak in the ring. Wenger should have stayed in place to the end of his contract whilst the club engaged in proper succession planning.

Now Count Von Count has had 18 underwhelming months, what are we to do? If there is any consistency (judged solely on results / league position) then it appears likely that Emery will get his marching orders sometime in spring 2020 when it becomes clear that two seasons in charge will see us fail to return to the CL (as per the standard set when sacking Wenger). Of course if there is a turnaround and we do get into the CL then he deserves to stay (though this ignores any notion of attempting to compete for a league title as we have fallen even further behind that standard under the Count than Wenger). On all other metrics there is no evidence to save Emery. He is not a statesman for the club, he has seemingly poor man management skills (Mislintat, Ozil, the current Xhaka apology / non apology / captaincy issue being examples), recruitment appears hit and miss and his brand of football is supposed to be possession based with quick attacking movements but the stats show that he is doing this worse than Wenger’s teams. All stats are worse or roughly the same as Wenger’s last sesaon – goals conceded, expected goals against, shots conceded, goals scored and expected goals. Not much has changes even to the extent that our two best players are the last significant purchases made under Wenger – Lacazette and Aubameyang.

So what next? Please god surely no one can think that Mourinho is a vaguely sensible option? Because I am a fan I won’t burn my season ticket (or boo) but I will hate myself and the situation for being forced to support my team with that guy at the helm. I’m not a huge supporter of the Count and the rudderless feel that he’s brought to the club but he’s a million miles better than that odious, eye-gouging, trash talking, self-centred egotist who will only turn the club into a temporary sideshow for his own ends. There have been just nineteen permanent and caretaker managers of Arsenal since 1897(!) – why on earth would we want to go for a man whose very fibre and probably even his BO stinks of impermanence. Not to mention that his tactics, approach and man-management look extremely outdated and have a recent track-record of failing. I don’t want him to make Aubameyang miserable or ruin Guendouzi (though if he could teach Mustafi to not suffer brain fades I suppose that might be something).

In short I’m extremely worried about the direction the club appears to be heading. Even considering Mourinho is another wrong turn in the journey of Kroenke ownership. I wouldn’t seriously believe the stories on Mourinho except for the fact that this is exactly the kind of mistake the club has been making for several seasons. The last hope that I have is that Mourinho is using us as a decoy in a wider scheme to get himself back into the Madrid dugout. They are 100% welcome to him. I very much hope that if the Count is dispatched back to Transylvania then we go for a young, innovative coach with a chance to develop, rather than an ageing coach from yesteryear like Mourinho now is. If we could tempt Wenger back as a DoF or in an ambassadorial capacity that would also be a good move.
Josh, AFC, Dubai


Why teams try harder against Liverpool
In the Premier League, Liverpool plays a cup final every week.

The effort every team exerts when they play us is superhuman. Newcastle scores a worldie, United led for 80+ min after a slick move that’s never seen again, the hordes of Genghiz Khan wouldn’t have broken through Sheffield United’s 11 men, and this week it’s Villa’s turn. So why don’t they do that against Man City?

Psychology. We know money gets you things. We are dismissive of success when money is involved. That business that is successful at launch? Mention “it’s backed by serious money” and most answers will be, “Okay.” See the gorgeous model hanging off the cruddy old man? Money you say? I get it. Winning trophy after trophy? Oh, it’s money. Let’s move on.

But when it’s you (I hope a regular guy is reading this) walking in with the hot chick, your sleazy friend tries harder, extra charm activated, thinking he too has a chance.

Liverpool does it with effort and passion and not a lot of money, other players stand up and ask, “Really? Are they any different from us? Let’s find out.”

In Liverpool, teams see themselves, that with a little more effort and teamwork and luck, they are just as good. They feel Liverpool is not all that because they see Andy Robertson, they see Henderson, old man Milner, they see that kid Trent. They see a collection of okay players who are leading the league by 6 points… no way… wtf?

This is why we Liverpool fans love our club to death and support them unequivocally and unconditionally. Liverpool’s players are some of the most regular players believing in something collective, executed with discipline and tactics, fuelled by effort.

They make us believe that we regular folks, we all have a chance too.
Vinnie Pee
NB – Before some of you say we spent world-class figures on van Dijk and Alisson, please compare with how much City and United spend. Arsenal just spent 75 mil on Pepe, Spurs spent 50 mil on Ndombele, but we wouldn’t call them big money spenders. Same for Liverpool.


Eriksen on the phone
Christian Eriksen hasn’t so much checked out as he has checked out having taken all the small toiletries, the bathrobe, left the taps running and a steaming turd in the pan.

Christian Eriksen isn’t so much phoning it in as he is relying on a couple of postcards sent last year and a prerecorded robocall his agent set up.

Christian Eriksen isn’t so much half-arsed as he is quarter-bum-cheeked.

Christian Eriksen isn’t so much going at half rat power as he is going at full blowflie.

Christian Eriksen’s performances this season haven’t been so much half-baked as the ingredients are all still in the cupboard while he lounges on the couch vaguely gesticulating about the cake that could have been.

The writing on the wall that says ‘Christian Eriksen has checked out and we all know once that happens it’s all over as no amount of skill will compensate for a total absence of Will’ is so old it’s been graffitied and painted over so many times as to require an archaeologist to gently uncover and carbon date it.

Christian Eriksen hasn’t so much slacked off as he has untied the rope altogether, coiled it up and stored it away for some other time.

If only there were other optio…. oh right, there are. Poch is playing at getting sacked, isn’t he.
Dr Oyvind (scorched) Earth


Losing your football mojo
I get Sarah’s ‘mentality monsters’ article but I’m not sure that that quite explains why neither City nor Liverpool have been quite ‘at it’ recently. Neither were particularly convincing on Saturday especially and, whilst there is the narrative that not playing well but still winning, is a sign of champions (and I do get that) I am beginning to wonder. We all know that Klopp and Guardiola set ridiculously high bars in terms of the excellence and effort that they demand from every player for every minute of every game. But it occurs that it must, necessarily, be increasingly more difficult to maintain these standards as time goes on. For example, any ‘Pool or City player who has been in the first team since 2016 must have heard just about every hair-dryer rant and uber-motivational speech both managers have in them. How do they keep it fresh? How do they maintain the tempo of effort and professionalism? Isn’t there a perfectly good/simple reason why teams generally don’t retain silverware three seasons in a row? What I suppose I’m asking is, is can it be done at all?

Take Rashford, Sterling (at Liverpool) or Super Phil Foden. At some point, they’ve all worked their backsides off to attain their dream. Getting scouted by a top club. Their first contract. First time they’re sitting in the dressing room at OT, Anfield or the Etihad and thinking “Sh*t. I’m sat next to Stevie G/Aguero/Rooney”. Like every one of us, isn’t it human nature for the astonishing to become routine? When do the same lads stop being awed by their surroundings, or by TV interviews or being recognised in the street or playing at Wembley or winning senior trophies? When, if ever, do you listen to Mourinho, Klopp or Pep for the first time and think “Oh here we go” and not because his point isn’t valid but because you’ve heard it all before?

I’m not for one second suggesting that football players are inherently lazy, or lack commitment or anything like it. I just think that it must be equivalent, for example, to the effort and excitement of the rest of us learning to drive and passing your test, to nowadays not giving driving a second thought. Further, that the same point applies whether you are now driving an Aston Martin or a second-hand Nissan.

In both sport and my professional life, I’ve been privileged to be part of some amazing units/teams, but they never last. They never do. People get promoted or posted or get ill. Get married, have kids. Move on. I know that pride in your role and your own self-respect in both your work and reputation are THE major factors in why people keep themselves motivated, but it simply cannot be the same for every player in an elite squad (as opposed to a team) season after season. If it was, we wouldn’t be reading about football players drink-driving, shagging people they shouldn’t or battling addictions. They are, after all, humans like us. Something we supporters sometimes forget. If the tired and lazy narrative that City have ‘bought success because they have spent squillions and will continue to do so’ were true, then surely, they would win everything every season?

I think it is no coincidence that this is not (so far) the cut and dried two-horse PL race many expected. Nor that Leicester and Chelsea are two points off City. Out of the current top four teams, who do you think looks the freshest? The hungriest? Yes, I know that fixtures have/will play a part and that it is impossible to account for the infinite variables that can happen to players or teams during a season but I’m coming around to the idea that it might be wise for Klopp to prioritise the PL this season and Guardiola the CL. For me (Clive), (Oh, and ‘Entitlement’ alert!) my club doesn’t have anything else to prove to its fans in as much as we have won back to back to PLs, made a hundred points in one season, only two less the next and won the domestic treble last time around. Liverpool, with a smaller squad and this season, potentially more fixtures, scored just one point less, won the small matter of the CL and are currently, and rightly so, top of the League. Can either side keep this up?

Would I love to do it all again this season? You bet your backside! Do I think it’s realistic to expect the same intensity and effort required three times in a row? Nope. Not because I don’t want my team to yearn and strive for it but, even with the fitness levels and dietary, medical and scientific advances available in 2019, I’m not convinced it’s physically or mentally possible.
Mark (Everton v Spurs. An atrocious game on SO many levels). MCFC.


Why the Premier League is dying a slow death
Great article by Matt Stead today on the terrible ‘entertainment’ offered up by Everton and Sp*rs – that’s why football was not considered to be the past time of the masses like it is now – you get some awful matches – that’s the soon to be removed (by VAR) unpredictability of football (BTW – VAR is crap and should be binned!). Can you imagine going to a west end show, paying your 80 to 150 quid and getting a third rate performance – you would get up and walk out and not go back or failing that boo (yes even the hoi polloi boo!). Same for most forms of live ‘entertainment’ – this is where football differs, but recently the line has been blurred. You have got to understand that football is not ‘entertainment’ in that sense, I believe that’s why the atmosphere in most grounds has dived in recent years. Match day goer’s (not going to call them fans) sit and wait to be entertained – before the ‘entertainment’ mob started being the majority of crowds at football the atmosphere was being created before the game started and really had nothing to do with the offerings on the pitch. With the over saturation of the game now – see every game in full – on demand (and that’s the best leap forward in fandom ever) – it is being noticed how a significant minority of games are really crap!

Actors, singers and it seems every other form of live entertainment is consistently of a much higher quality then football players offer – the other live entertainers have to perform as often and have to train just as hard (if not harder) than footballers, yet so few footballers (and teams) produce the goods on a regular basis – I always have and always will find that very frustrating – and now they are all millionaires by the time they are 22 (or at least the best ones are) they should be generally producing better performances as most if not all of life’s struggles are removed – they plainly don’t. We would not put up with this in any other industry that was classed as ‘entertainment’ – yet footballers think they are the owners of our sport and so don’t really care if they have a bad performance – see Xhaka telling fans to Fuc* Off, prime example of the ‘I own this’ mentality of modern footballers. Point is this is just what football is, and with the application of technology in the sport it is just going to get worse not better.

That’s why a lot of people now don’t go to so called ‘top level’ football as it’s usually more entertaining and expectations are much more realistic when you go to watch lower league games (no not the championship – lower!).

Just trying to say our sport is getting bastardised and the lunatics are running the asylum –
Joe (The premier league can afford to get rid of VAR, it’s crap and I don’t want it in my sport – which of two sports do you prefer – VAR football or football – I know which one I prefer!)


…Well, that was simply awful. If VAR should be used for a anything, it should be allowed to rule a Eurovision style ‘nil point’ for both teams, and at least everyone would have agreed with it!

Nothing good happened in that game. Nothing (unless perhaps a boost in confidence for Alli). 2 very poor teams from the outset, struggling to string anything together at all.

Feels like just a matter of time before Silva goes, but Poch will undoubtedly get longer (until he quits maybe?).

Can’t quite workout what changes for either team will make a difference (maybe a run for Ndombele; Kane and Lamela to come back for next game; and Lo Celso and Sess to get some decent minutes. Not sure about the toffees.)

Onto VAR, which covered itself in glory again. Son made the most of it, both in the box and on the wrong end of a smash from Gomes, which meant ‘nothing seen’, and Alli clearly handled, which pre VAR never a pen, but post VAR, a clear one (as mud).

Then the red. Awful outcome and clearly a shock to all. All thoughts should be with Gomes, but, the ref made a decision based on what he thinks happened, which is totally understandable given the circumstances. However, this was a time for VAR. Atkinson ruled with heart, VAR could rule with head – yet it didn’t.

It won’t get overturned either, as I think the powers would be would say that it would give the wrong message (VAR overturned by VAR?!), which I can also sort of understand.

Not sure what’s next for both teams here. Maybe 1 change of manager and a 7th and 11th finish (you can decide who finishes where!)
Dan, Hornchurch.


It’s been emotional
I think I’m too old to be affected by these sort of things, but here I am, emotional. It started early Saturday with the South Africa rugby win and subsequent stories and pictures. I thought it was scripted, England should have absolutely battered South Africa, but the reverse happened. It’s when they started highlighting the individual journeys of the South African team that got me. Mapimpi and Siya Kolisi, 2 infividusls that had to fight and overcome society and poor management. That was closely followed by Bournemoth beating Man U, I’m not a Bournemoth fan, but to see a team, deep in relegation battle and defeat Man U was amazing, and finally, that Son Hueng-ming moment just galvanized it all. The reaction of Son, to see Aurier praying for an opponent to recover, to see the absolute care Tottenham players showed toward Andre Gomes was moving. Im no hero, but sport moved me this weekend. Footballer has a soul after all.
Dave(Can’t find a Neymar dive to save the indecency), Somewhere


Sins of the Son
Immediately after the horrific injury to Andre Gomez, I went on twitter to get an idea of how terrible the injury was. Was instead confronted with loads of tweets on how that was not a red card for Son and how VAR should have seen that…

…For God’s sake he went for a tackle that broke an opponent’s leg! I don’t care if it was unintentional. I don’t care if Son is not that type of player. I don’t care if it was a little tackle…Andre Gomez broke his leg. Any tackle that leads to a broken leg is a red card.

If that is not a red card then I don’t know why the referee carries it in his breast pocket.
Nelson, Lagos, Nigeria.


…Son didn’t know that the result of his foul on Gomes would be a compound fracture of the lower leg which would put the Everton player out of the game for nine months at least, and his future career in doubt. But that doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter whether Son got a yellow or a red card.

It certainly doesn’t matter that Pochettino wants to appeal the red card while Gomes is still in surgery in a hospital in Aintree, his playing career in question. It really, really doesn’t matter. Pochettino needs a quick course in “when to shut the f*ck up and behave like a human being”.

It doesn’t matter that Son was upset.

Son tackled Gomes from behind, deliberately, to bring him to the ground and stop play. The fact that Gomes shattered his leg bones doesn’t make Son’s offense any greater or any lesser. Son knew what he was doing in bringing him down, and just because the consequences outstripped his intent does not excuse the fact that Gomes is out of the game because of what Son did.

Would Gomes now be waking up from the surgery to repair his broken leg bones just about now if Son had not done what he did? No, he’d be heading home ready for training on Monday. Son would be heading for training on Monday ready to practice his heart-hands and throwing himself to the ground when someone breathes on him. Instead Gomes will be facing a painful recovery from surgery, months of rehab and a hope he can play again. Son? I don’t care what Son is doing on Monday.

Let’s see it as it is. Son perpetrated a cynical foul that has jeopardized another man’s career. I don’t care if he was crying.

Well, that was a fun weekend.
Steve, Los Angeles.


F*ck VAR
I have a crazy idea to solve these VAR offside problems. Get a man to stand roughly in line with the action then, when he thinks the player is offside give him a method to communicate with the referee, say a flag or something like that……oh wait, hang on
Graham Kirk


…Yes, once again, VAR makes the vaunted mailbox. This time it’s Dele Alli’s clear handball that is NOT given as a penalty against Everton, when Sissoko’s handball against Liverpool was given. Even the most unreasonable football supporter has come to the conclusion that VAR is doing more harm than good. Inconsistent application of the rules, inconsistent application of VAR. It’s an absolute joke and one that everyone is getting tired of. On another note, I’m absolutely gutted for Andre Gomes. A genuinely nice guy and has been a very good player for Everton. I hope that he overcomes this injury and comes back next season every bit as good as he’s been for us.

Well, until next time mailbox when Everton have been once again royally screwed by another VAR decision.
TX Bill (Not mad now, just numb) EFC


…I wonder if anyone can answer a question for me. When VAR determines an offside line, how does it determine where the vertical line down from the furthest forward point of an attackers body meets the floor? Is there any form of automation or technological guidance, or are we just relying on a human guessing the correct spot? If it’s the latter, the margin for error for a human must be massive.
Adam H, CFC, London


…The Firmino offside is an interesting one. It simply serves to reinforce, once again, that the offside rule is no longer serving its purpose in the modern game. Did Firmino really gain an advantage by having his armpit 2 inches closer to goal than Mings’ knee? It needs to be looked at to ensure that it stops players goal hanging without punishing players for having a marginally better reaction speed or a better ability to anticipate what is about to happen.

It’s hard to draw much from the game today and project it onto the Man City game next week. This week we seemed to struggle with balls into the box aimed at the far posts. This wasn’t simply because the full backs push up because it happened at set pieces too. Our midfield will be more dominant with Fabinho although I think Lallana did really well and recovered the ball a number of times.

I think next week I wouldn’t be shocked to see Milner get the nod ahead of Wijnaldum in midfield. Milner and Henderson will both need to take more responsibility in the wide areas of the pitch as Klopp will surely want to restrain his full backs a little. Given Milner played as left back for us and as a winger in a past life I think he’ll be more suited to the midfield role for next week.
Minty, LFC


…Finally, a weekend has come when Liverpool has been distinctly a VAR victim, rather than a VAR beneficiary. I’ve read + listened to a lot of reaction about the game, and I’m really disappointed in my fellow Liverpool fans railing against these decisions. After thorough analysis, VAR concluded that Trezeguet (not that one) was onside and that Firmino was offside. The replays available do not show the opposite, so I don’t know what anyone expected. A lot of fans (including in Sunday’s mailbox) have said if VAR can’t definitively conclude, “just let the f**king thing stand” – except the goal never stood to begin with, it was immediately flagged as offside by the linesman. If you watch back both goals in real-time without any replay, the Villa goal looks onside and the Liverpool goal looks offside. If you watch both goals back in super-slow-MO and try to VAR the decision, the Villa goal cannot be proven to be offside and the Liverpool goal cannot be proven to be onside. Where is the controversy? Yes, it took forever, but that is normal during this initial period when a new system is under scrutiny. It will only get faster. VAR did not affect the result of the scoreline whatsoever.

The one thing that cannot be defended in any shape or form, however, is the Premier League’s tweeted explanation about the VAR line being aligned to Firmino’s “armpit”. Who the bloody hell wrote + approved that tweet? Once identified, can those responsible please draw me a diagram which shows how an armpit can be someone’s furthest playable position forward? From one angle, the front of your chest would be further forward than your armpit. From another angle, your shoulder would be further forward than your armpit. Either of those explanations would have been entirely unremarkable. As soon as you tweet about an armpit, of course it’s going to go viral and cause controversy – because it’s absolute nonsense, but also because armpits are funny.

The only way VAR disappointed me at all on Saturday was how Mane got booked for a dive when he had actually been kicked (easily + clearly visible on replay, despite his ridiculous tumble). One day once the more pressing issues are ironed out, I feel VAR should be able to exonerate players who have been carded for diving when genuine contact has been made, even if they don’t overturn the entire decision and give a foul. I know it can be argued that Mane went down too easily, but as someone who regularly plays football for fun, the defender had no right or reason to kick at Mane’s legs from behind and I don’t blame him for making a meal of it. If it was the other way around and Lovren had done that to a Villa player, I’d be thankful we got away with one.

On a complete tangent, I refereed my first official match on Saturday morning. My first takeaway is that it is very boring and not nearly as intense as one might expect. 95% of the decisions you make are on which team gets the throw-in. I did manage to somehow give a goal kick instead of a throw-in to the defending team at the very end of the game, though, which just shows that it’s not as easy as it might seem (or, alternatively, that I am an idiot).
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


…There’s a certain irony that last week the consensus seemed to be that VAR was only working in relation to offside decisions. I was therefore interested in the email from Jacques from Oxford this morning, as I’ve been thinking along similar lines, only from a different angle (if you excuse the pun).

I don’t believe there is any issue with the angle by which the VAR offside lines are drawn. The PL may claim to have “complex 3D models” but frankly it requires only basic trigonometry with simple parameters: the relative position of the camera to the pitch, and the angle of the camera. Any A Level maths student could easily provide the required equation.

There real problem is human: where is the line dropped? And here, of course lies the answer. It’s not the about the players or the camera, it’s the position of Martin Atkinson. If he’s officiating on a Liverpool game the decision will favour the opposition. QED.

Currently it appears the biggest threat to Liverpool’s title challenge is Mr Atkinson, he should be banned from all of their games.


…Dreadful match at Goodson yesterday, in all respects. But having watched MoTD earlier in the day, I am struck by how players are playing for VAR. As soon as a player enters the penalty area, the slightest contact leads to a buckle of the knee and a penalty appeal. Watford obviously got away with it, whilst Liverpool (again…..) didn’t. In the Everton game, Richarlison did his best to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes on several occasions but failed and it is no surprise when all of the pundits are saying Son should have had a penalty earlier.

This is all truly depressing, contact does not equal a foul, it is impediment that is needed.

If we are ever to improve things, we need to stop acting like ‘little Englanders’ and get with the way all this stuff is implement elsewhere. ’Our’ way is not better. Refs looking at the screen and making their own calls, up to speed with the match makes more sense. It is much better in the Champions League and while we are at it, let’s use the multi-ball as well, beats a single ball that gets kicked out of the ground.

And as for the fans in the ground, the way they are treated, don’t get me started.
Rob (too deflated)


…After seeing the incidents in the Everton Spurs game that VAR reviewed I have to say I think the system is a mess.

I genuinely couldn’t wait for its introduction because I thought referees in real time were woefully incapable of processing what was going on in front of them. Unfortunately the PGMOL have managed to f**k up its implementation to such an extent that I think the game was probably better without it.

Maybe that was always their genius plan?
Minty, LFC


…Long time reader, first time writer…

I understand you’re going to be inundated with hundreds of VAR-ce mails this morning. However hear me out. I’ll keep this short.

A simple solution has come to me, the 30 second rule. Give the VAR team 30 seconds to make a decision on the initial foul. If they can’t decide within 30 seconds I would argue it’s not a clear and obvious error, and therefore the referees initial decision should stand. If the refs ever decide to use the monitors then allow them 60 seconds to review it (allow extra time due to only one person reviewing and operating the machine) again if he can’t decide in 60 seconds original decision stands.

I’d be interested to know peoples thoughts on this as everyone I’ve mentioned it to seems to think it would help speed up the game considerably.
Nick, CFC. Wishing Andre Gomes a speedy recovery.


The wounds reopened by Man Utd’s midfield

‘…like Satans lemon curd but the colour of a hearing aid and the consistency of misery.’

Despite the – granted privileged – fact that in SA we get to pretty much watch all the Premier League games, I never watched Bournemouth vs Utd (insert bottom of the table clash reference/joke).

Thankfully though Tim Sutton summed it up perfectly. That may have been the best letter ever to grace the F365 inbox, and it pretty much only had 8 footy related words. Genius.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer team.
Barry, LFC


…Here’s a lighter thought in these dark times – you know how Craigslist has a “Best Of” link? Google “best of craigslist 2 dozen free goats” and you’ll see what I mean.

I think you should have a “Hall of Fame Best Of Mailbox” – and I nominate Tim Sutton for the first inductee. I almost swallowed my bathwater reading his missive today, and when I later read it to my long-suffering wife who rarely shares my sense of humor, she spat her cocktail across the floor when I got to the denouement.

Steve, Los Angeles


Weekend conclusions
Happy Monday, all.
Thought I’d throw my two penneth worth in on some of the weekend’s talking points.

Let’s start at Villa Park…
1. Villa goal. I thought there was movement which indicated an offside. Not given; fair enough, it was marginal.

2. Firmino offside. I thought this looked no different to the naked eye than the Trezeguet strike, so I expected it to be given as a goal. To use the VAR lines in this instance but not the previous one was odd.

3. Mané dive. For me (Clive), not a dive, but I’m not suggesting that it was a penalty either. Michael Keane stood on a player’s foot last week and conceded a pen. I thought that was harsh. Anyone who’s had their foot stood on by a studded boot will attest to it being pretty painful, and a jump/hop after isn’t an unreasonable response. That said, not all contact is a foul, and I would therefore argue that neither were pens, but similarly that Mané did not dive.

4. Salah holding in the box. Engels has his arm around his neck and the commentator said he’s let go of him just at the right time’ which to me sounds as though you can foul anyone off the ball so long as it’s in the correct timeframe?! Just seems odd.

Later, at Vicarage Road:
5. Delofeu penalty decision. The FA Twitter said that there was a ‘clear trip’. Well, I’d argue Dele Alli’s handball on Sunday was significantly more clear and that didn’t get overturned. I thought that this was a dive. Not all contact is a foul etc etc and there was not enough to send him down like that.

Finally, at Goodison:

6. The handball decision. In my opinion, this was f**king mental. His arm’s up, it hits his arm on the full. Clear as daylight penalty, and the fact that it was missed fits the ‘clear and obvious’ criteria. Alas no, the consistency which we hoped VAR would provide has not materialised.

7. Son penalty decision. I think he may well have been fouled in this instance, but the way he went down, jumping slightly away from the challenge, made it look more like a ‘dive’. However, I don’t see a lot of difference between Mané’s recent falls for pens, so wouldn’t have been against that being given.

8. Son tackle. I’m not suggesting he’s ‘that sort of player’ but he did set out to revenge tackle someone. It looked to me as though he didn’t get the decision and took retribution into his own hands. It’s unfortunate that Gomes landed the way he did, but it’s Son’s responsibility and no number of tears changes that. Just goes to show that kick-outs can actually be pretty dangerous.

Anyhow, just my opinions and views; not trying to assert them facts!

Manchester United taking a rather large step back again was pretty funny, though.

Have a good week, all.
Stu, Southampton

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