Arsenal silence would have been better than Xhaka boos

Date published: Tuesday 29th October 2019 9:49

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Xhaka positives
Am I the only one who sees the whole Xhaka debacle as a positive?

We have been crying out for Emery to drop him as he has not been good enough and his current form is poor. His reaction yesterday, while certainly not befitting the role of a captain, is further indicative of how badly Xhaka is viewed in the eyes of the majority of fans.

I for one am delighted with yesterdays events (Xhaka’s reaction only, lets not even talk about the result!) as it surely means that Xhaka will definitely not play for some time, if at all. That’s a win for the Arsenal faithful I feel. With Bellerin and Tierney fit and ready, get Torreira or Willock in there for Xhaka and lets get this season on track!
Dave (where are you hiding Mesut?), Toronto


Xhaka can’t
May I weigh in? Arsenal fans are within their rights at this point to boo Xhaka. We’ve had three years of this:

He can’t tackle. He can’t wriggle out of tight spaces or Burst away from any player – even giroud would catch him. He ball watches. He can’t dribble. He is very one footed so takes a while to turn and release on counters. He doesn’t block passing lines ala Carrick or ever intercept. He gives away penalties. He rarely scores. He can’t burst past people like Sissokho vs Liverpool the other day. He has the turning radius of an oil tanker. He’s easy to dribble or bypass. He doesn’t find space often enough to bring the ball out from the back.

What can he do? Pass well between the lines. Defend our box well from corners and free kicks. Take a decent free kick (sometimes)

We haven’t qualified for the Champions League since he signed. Our midfield has not functioned since Cazorla got injured.  We quite simply do not function with any fluidity with Xhaka in the team. I really do think hes one of the worst signings Arsenal have ever made (not just ability, but damage done by his signing).

This is a fan base that have witnessed the brilliance of Petit, Vieira, Gilberto, Fabregas, Rosicky, Arteta and Cazorla in midfield, have we really dropped our standards that much to accept this sh#t being served?

Also I have no issue with Xhaka’s response either. I just think all this was invetible, much like Emery being sacked before Christmas.
Strevs, Afc, Canada  


Silence speaks louder than boos
Since Xhaka debate is the new VAR debate for off-field discussions, I’ll bite:

Disclaimer that I am not an Arsenal fan, but I sympathize with them because I’ve quite enjoyed watching their football over the years.

Mind you, it was still entertaining what happened on Sunday but for the wrong reasons. Are Arsenal fans to blame for booing Xhaka? Was Xhaka wrong to mouth “f*ck off” to the fans while doing a very weak Hulk Hogan impression (at least commit to the act man!)? Answers to both questions is Yes, but that is an easy way out and being a centrist in today’s world is deemed cowardly.

So let me take a side. To put it simply, the fans were wrong to boo Xhaka because they started it. I have seen and read many opinions, chief among them was that fans pay for Xhaka, he represents them on the field, he should feel lucky to be even playing for Arsenal and respect the badge at all times. But… when did he disrespect it? If the Arsenal manager sees his efforts in training every day, and the way he is with the other boys, hands him captaincy and plays him week in and week out, that is not Xhaka’s fault. Xhaka for his part though, makes mistakes and shows incompetency on match-days on a consistent basis. But incompetency is not a crime nor is it disrespectful. Maybe Xhaka just isn’t made for Arsenal or even the Premier League.

So what should have happened? Should fans keep their opinions to themselves and keep quiet? No, but ironically that would have worked in this case. Because fans generally applaud their player who is being subbed off even if they were relatively unhappy with their performance, so yesterday if Arsenal fans had just maintained a pin-drop silence as Xhaka walked off, it would have sent a stronger message, and any actions from Xhaka then on would be completely on him.
Nikhil, LFC, Chicago


Sh*t all round
I am one of these foreign football fans (Australia in this case) who started watching the Premier League via a 1 hour highlights show on Monday night, and picked Arsenal as my team because of what I like to say was my admiration of Vieira and Petit in midfield but is just as likely because I liked the looked of their purple and teal lightning away jersey. So archetypal “not a real fan” even though I’ve supported the team for 20 years…

I now live in London, and my girlfriend and I decided to spend some dough and get tickets to the game on Sunday via the US website of a ticket re-seller (it is really hard to buy tickets – why?). We got there an hour early, stood as close to the pitch as possible during the warm up and pointed out all the players who we’d never seen in person smiling like a pair of idiots (“There’s Hector, he’s close to being back! There’s Guendouzi, he’s put every warm-up shot high and wide”). We then took our seats, and watched as everyone rolled in just before and after kick-off.

Pre-game: “VAR is only here to resolve clear and obvious errors” – Thanks Alan
10 minutes: 2-0 up –  awesome, maybe we’re a good luck charm.
15 minutes: Obligatory whining know-it-all Arsenal fan (you don’t need to be in London to be familiar with these guys) “Let’s f*cking batter ’em, get 7” – because yeah Arsenal do that all the time…
30 minutes: Penalty. Was sitting opposite, looked like a pen, but ref booked Zaha. Arsenal real fan going absolutely f**king mental – like weirdly disproportionately angry, odd that Zaha the cheating **** brought that type of behaviour out of him – calling him everything but a son of God. Then after a massive delay, nothing on the big screen, and an Australian VAR intervention, insert Rugby joke (yeah we’re sh*t, fair enough) and 2-1.
Rest of first half: List of people / things who suck: Martin Atkinson, Ozil, Xhaka, Emery, Zaha, Pepe, Martin Atkinson, Europa League
52 minutes: Balls…
Xhaka minute: Crowd cheers, from what i thought it was as much about bringing off a CM and bringing on a LW. Xhaka takes it badly – as my girlfriend said if 60k people boo you when you have a sh*t day at work then life would be a lot different – but throwing the armband on the floor in front of Aubameyang and wandering off slowly given we were at 2-2 is not the best idea. Definition of a fight you can’t win…
Later On: Crowd: “We’ve got Ozil, Mesut Ozil, I just don’t think you understand” – wait so he’s not sh*t now?
Even Later On: Goal!!!! Celebration finished, 2 minutes later no kick-off, no information, no goal.
Even Later on: How’s that for Rugby, give Guendouzi a job!
Walking Off: The players, to a man, looked miserable. A few wandered around and clapped but clearly were gutted at the display / reaction to Xhaka / levels of support generally. Hector and Sokratis did their best to perk everyone up, which was nice to see

I guess what I’m trying to say is that was just sh*t all round. Getting tickets was a nightmare, even though a bunch of seats were empty. Arsenal didn’t have a Plan A and with only 2 subs made clearly no Plan B – no-one played well other than Sokratis, but at the same time no-one played terribly. Getting a beer at half time took 10 minutes with everyone going mental at the poor “Team Leader” who couldn’t magic up a solution to IT issues or pour beers any faster. The crowd got there late and left early, and a loud minority b*tched for 70 of the 90 minutes. VAR made 2 calls which would have been nice to see, let alone understand. Of the last two issues, don’t know which was worse…

Call me a fake fan any day. But volunteering to listen to the same loud d*ckheads every week to have that sort of experience gives me a new found respect for the people who turn up every game (including the Europa League), and support the team. As a club, hard to escape the conclusion that there are issues with the playing group, management, and plenty with fans themselves who seem to enjoy having a moan more than supporting the team. Its a long way from here to anything approximating “success”

Anyways, went past the rammed gift shop on the way out and bought a scarf.


In your 16 Conclusions on the Liverpool-Spurs game, you branded Harry Winks as ‘ineffective’ and it has generally been acknowledged the difference Ndombele made when introduced. Which is a perfect opening for me to ask: what is it that Winks does?

He doesn’t seem to be too creative in midfield (in terms of creating chances) nor is he an all-tackling, intercepting screen in front of the defence either. Yet, I keep hearing about how good a player he is. If he wasn’t English, I genuinely don’t know if there would be any hype around him. Then again maybe I just don’t understand football-I still don’t know what a low block is.

All things being equal, and with everyone available, a Wanyama-Ndombele partnership in midfield seems the strongest by a mile.
Brian, Wexford 


Pochettino is Wagner in excelsis
We are all in the agreement that Pochettino is a top class coach, but the reason he cannot just view the sorry mess that Spurs are in and conclude it’s unsalvageable is pride.

David Wagner is a solid if not perfect comparison. He had taken Huddersfield from the championship and had them overachieving in the league for quite a while, and then the fairy-tale seemed to unravel in the last season, he recognized that he had taken the team as far as he could with the resources he was provided for and him continuing, would result in the teams falling backward even though he’s a very capable manager.What he did next was I imagine pretty hard for him emotionally, as he felt a part of Huddersfield family but, he recognized that his race was run and the team would not keep on overachieving.

But here is the problem, in Wagner he was a relatively smaller team with less media coverage and less popularity around the world. In Poch though, the whole world is watching his situation, and this to me is the reason why he can’t resign. Well you could say that Klopp did it in Dortmund, but he’d already accrued some Bundesliga titles and also let’s not assume that the Liverpool he took over was a behemoth in the game as it is now. So that means that quitting now may see Pochettino’s stock take a dip.

And no, taking over at United is a step down not a step up.
Vashow (CFC, Kenya).


Foul play
Probably worth caveating this by saying that I agree with the penalty decision in the Liverpool v Spurs game but having watched it a number of times, I do think the way this sort of foul is considered needs to be looked at.

In this situation, Aurier is the one trying to play the ball and Mane actually impedes him from his movement. Whilst I accept Aurier should know Mane is there and perhaps shouldn’t have taken as big a swing at the ball as he did but if you switched the two players around and Mane was about to take a shot and Aurier was the one sticking his leg in between Mane and the ball, I’m sure it would have still been a penalty awarded to Liverpool given there was no attempt to play the ball by the tackler.

I haven’t seen anyone else mention this so maybe I am by myself on this one but as a defender who has given away penalties in the past for doing what Mane did on Sunday, I think it’s incredibly unfair on a defender. Does anyone else agree (preferably not just Spurs fans)!
A concerned defender, London


Liking EPL VAR 2.0
​So basically a load of people have been moaning for months that EPL VAR bar when it comes to subjective decision is too high and have said they missed too many “clear and obvious” penalties.

Well, they decided to listen to the complainers and finally dropped that high bar. And I’m glad they did.

I wrote last week that while I understand their (now previous) implementation of not interfering in subjectiive decisions, I do wish they drop the bar somewhat and give VAR more overturning leeway for subjective decisions. They seem to have done just that.

Good job EPL, credit when it’s due. This is more of the system I wanted.
Yaru (I am not being sarcastic in case it isn’t clear), Malaysia


The way VAR has been handled by the EPL up until this weekend was what you described. Subjective decisions were almost always left to the on fiield with no overturning, or as described by the website a very high bar. EPL VAR usage has always been limited in terms of overturning unless it is objective type of decision.

Yet a lot of people complained about this because so many perceived “clear and obvious” penalties happened. I would argue in mind that fouls in football are never 100% objective except two footed tackles. Save that exception, there is no such thing as a “clear and obvious” penalty, it never existed and hence the field ruling was usually, if not always, kept.

Then seemingly after many months of complaints (and maybe a goal from a United-Liverpool game),  last weekend ago there was a clear change in how it was implemented. VAR team now gets to overturn decisions and we got to see that in a few games. I think the change should have been communicated better to teams and public but nevertheless I think the new method is generally better.

What I think is lacking from EPL VAR is transparency and communication, such as explaining this change to teams. For the most part, EPL VAR philosophy has remained consistent until a few days ago.

I am personally am a big fan of the new system of the VAR team getting to overrule subjective decisions and it is more closer to the type of VAR I wanted to see in thr EPL. I don’t expect them to get everything “right” but I do love the idea of officials getting to judge all incidents. Just hope thr FA or EPL make their minds quickly and not slide back and forth between the old philosophy and the new recent one. Pick one and keep it for the rest of the season.
Yaru, Malaysia



After throwing away a lead to lose to Chelsea, the Gunners needed to bounce back with a statement against their other title rivals – and they did so at home to a previously undefeated Man City side who hadn’t conceded a goal in the league this season.

A nervy, tetchy first half was almost over when Little slipped a through ball between City’s centre backs to play in Vivianne Miedema, who seldom wastes such chances and slotted away her 49th goal for the club. Arsenal could even afford to waste chances, with Nobbs firing wide in the 88th minute when it would’ve been easier to hit the target. Onto the home leg against Slavia Prague in midweek, which should see Arsenal progress after a 5-2 first leg away win.

The Blues are finally off the mark for the season, both points- and goal-wise. Doing it in a home game against the side immediately above you was probably the best time to do it, and Birmingham were good for the win as well, controlling the game and could’ve had more than the single goal in each half they scored. They’ve now leapt up to ninth (from twelfth), and still have a game in hand from the Reading postponement.

The best team on Merseyside at the moment have got back to winning ways after two straight defeats, easily overcoming a Brighton side who are usually stronger away from home. Future England left back Esme Morgan knocked home the second Street Chloe Kelly continued to print money for those of us savvy enough to put her as first goalscorer. I can’t see them clawing their way back to the top of the table, but they’ve got a decent chance of sending the Anfield crowd home disappointed when the men’s ground hosts the Merseyside derby next month.

At one point they were in the other section, responding to news of Man City going behind by going a goal down themselves. That only lasted ten minutes before getting back into the game and Ji So-Yun belted one in before Drew Spence rounded off a game they dominated. Chelsea are now top by a point over Arsenal and Man City; without European commitments they’re in a prime position to get their title back. The home game against Man City on December 8th looks like the next title six pointer.

Tottenham Hotspur
After generously allowing Bristol City to go a goal up, last season’s Championship runners up ceded control to Kit Graham who smacked home two screamers in 64 seconds to open her account, give her side the win and set them up well for the North London derby at whatever the new White Hart Lane is called in three weeks.

Manchester United
Fresh off a cup defeat of their local rivals last weekend, Man Utd were good value for an exciting win over a side who were expected to cause them problems – and when was the last time you could say that about the men’s team? Jackie Groenen showed why they bought her from Frankfurt as soon as their promotion was confirmed, setting up Sigsworth’s goal late on, and while this season might be too early for the WSL debutants, they’re not a bad shout as a dark horse for the title next season.

The FA
Every game not shown live on TV is available to stream via their FA Player app (and even the TV games have an audio commentary stream). No geographical restrictions either! It’s a great way to boost the league’s visibility, here and abroad, after a profile boosting World Cup for the national side.


Man City
With a perfect league record so far, and a clean sheet in every game, the side should have been full of confidence. Whether it was a morale issue after losing to Man Utd in the Continental Cup last weekend, or poor tactics, City didn’t look threatening until the 82nd minute when they started to attack with any great force. Perhaps they had an eye on their tricky second leg tie in the Champions League midweek, but it really felt like they were playing not to lose, rather than to win.

The “Losers” section has consistently included the 2013 WSL champions this season for good reason – Vicky Jepson’s side have been utter tosh. The draw against Bristol City remains their sole point this season, and the reds were clearly second best against Birmingham. With one goal in five games this season it’s hard to see them getting their heads back above the relegation battle.

A bit harsh on them to be in this section as nobody expected them to beat Everton, but they’ve still only scored in one league game this season (the 2-3 loss to West Ham a fortnight ago) and will need to start firing soon to hold off Liverpool below them.

West Ham
Losers only in that they didn’t live up to my high expectations for them – after causing Arsenal no end of problems on the opening day of the season they were noted as a side who raise their game against the bigger clubs and coming off the back of an away win at Brighton I thought they could cause Chelsea some trouble. On Sunday they were never at the races against their London rivals. The rumoured signing of Ruesha Littlejohn from London Bees would help to give them a focal point in attack, but they need to strengthen the defence to start challenging further up the table.
James Vortkamp-Tong, temporarily Mallorca


Athletic fit
I know 24 hours of comment have passed under the bridge at 365 Towers, but I did want to respond to Geraint’s email from yesterday morning; I did have to read it a few times to be sure that I actually understood the point he was making.

Which was, as I understand it, is that paywall sites such as “The Athletic” are poaching reporting talent from local newspapers, making their unique perspectives unavailable to the general public, and hastening the demise of the local “Pink ‘un”.

Firstly, I hate to say this to Geraint, but, from his experience of reporting tech in his “particular little corner of the internet”, perhaps he hasn’t noticed that paid advertising revenue, the lifeblood of print newspapers, has long disappeared into the Googlesphere and left even the giants of the industry struggling to keep their doors open (and their journalists employed)?

Secondly, he bestows “special joy”-ism on a beat reporter simply because that person writes for the local newspaper. I’m not sure that is quite true – most journalists worth their salt (and worth anyone’s time reading them) aspires to a national daily, a higher-profile gig, a job with – yes, The Athletic. The others? Sure, if a person is happy and driven to focus on their small corner of the sports world, all power to their elbow, but the Athletic is not forcing that choice on someone.

Thirdly, I’m still confused about the “sports is the bunker in which communities have survived”. In my “little corner” of the world, I got my plumber on a recommendation from the guy next door, I met my wife in a bar, I give to my preferred local charity because they put a flyer in my mailbox and I liked what they were doing, I connect with my UK family 6,000 miles away by telephone (my daughter and sister don’t care about what happened at Stamford Bridge on any day of the week, although my brother does!) and my neighbors and I connect mostly over, well, neighborhood stuff and dogs. Did this all happen in the halcyon days of black and white television, three local newspapers and everyone trotting down to watch Rovers vs. United at 3pm on a Saturday? No, it all happened in the last ten years in Los Angeles, that freeway-wasteland of urban helplessness.

The obvious point has already been made – if you want to read a local journalist, you have to get behind the paywall – you have to buy the newspaper. Then throw out the 99% of trashy local “news” culled from the TV or the wire service, skim the editorials and the letters, toss out the advertising-masquerading-as-feature and read the 1,000 words on “Melchester Today”. I think I know where my paywall dollars are going.

Closing, to give Geraint a couple of things to chew on – I pay for the New York Times for quality journalism. I don’t pay for my “local” LA Times because it’s as parochial as the “Melchester Gazette” described above, it gets all its news from the wires and I’m not that interested in baseball anyway. I’m not sure if I’ve put Bill Plashke out of a job because of that, but I don’t think it’s my fault. I donate to “The Guardian” because I admire their “pay what you feel is right” business model and I enjoy the quality of their content. F365 is a daily stop, and I tolerate the ads and the quite horrific (are you reading this, Sarah?) performance on my iPad because I read some great stuff, and some trash, but that’s for another day and another email.

And, pedant that I am, I’d hope that Geraint doesn’t have to use the word “hindrance” in any of his articles too often.
Steve (Pulisic!!!! Get IN!) Los Angeles


What is journalism

Shouldn’t there have been a question mark after “What is journalism”?

I think the suggestion is that Harry Maguire is so thick (in forgetting that he should have been doing the coin toss), that he needs to have his name on his washbag, so that he doesn’t lose it.

This does assume that he is bright enough to remember his own name.

Of course I could be wrong (again).

Best regards,
Dave Harrold

P.S. anyway, keep up the good work.


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