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7 Conclusions (we prefer 16)
1. Lovren: what is there left to say? The goal wasnt necessarily his mistake but he has been involved in the last two goals we conceded and that is a worrying trend. Seems to have limited positional awareness and loves to overcommit. If he is keeping Gomez out of the team he must be doing something right in training or Gomez doing something horribly wrong.
2. Salah’s selfishness: this thought has never crossed my mind until the mail on Salah this week. After that, everytime he shot I made sure to check the replays to see if there was someone obviously in a better position, and more often than not there was. Not sure if you can classify this as selfish or Salah just having blinders on because he himself is not in a too bad position. each time he was justified in taking the chance, though one more pass may have led to a goal.
3. Great finish by Kane. That was some proper athleticism. once again though Van Dijk was slow to react to something like this. You can see him slowly walking back toward goal while Kane confidently strides forward. Great defender when he see’s something coming but not very reactionary me thinks. Also Henderson charging back to make up for his mistake caused problems for TAA.
4. Henderson was strange. Giving the ball away a few times while creating some delicious passes before scoring the equalizer. Love him but also wary of his performances.
5. Gazzaniga: take a bow. Should keep Lloris out of the team for sure.
6. Time wasing. Starting at minute 1? Shows a lack of confidence and if i am honest, a lack of big club stature. You have 89 minutes to play and you start time wasting? Ridiculous. Looked like Burnley of the good old days for a while.
7. Unlucky to concede the pen as there is no intention to foul but a foul it was nonetheless.
Nik (nothing clever to say), Munich
From the ridiculous to the sublime
There was a moment in tonight’s game where I had my head in my hands.
It wasn’t when Kane found the net after about 7 seconds. It wasn’t the fact that Dejan Lovren was inexplicably in the starting lineup for the second game running. It wasn’t even when Gazzaniga made his 91st save of the match.
No. It was the brief moment when Serge Aurier went down with a potential injury in the first half, and I feared that we would be stripped of our best and most reliable route to goal. Fortunately, he was able to play on and despite about 74 minutes of clusterf**k free action, he duly delivered soon after.
He’s proper shite, isn’t he? Moving on:
Exactly one year ago to the day, I wrote into the mailbox saying Fabinho was the most important player at LFC. Given the title of the letter was ‘Fabinho Knee-Jerkery’, it was admittedly an attempt to play up my excitement at the early signs of what he could become.
But 1 year later, he stands head and shoulders above everyone at the club, and arguably the Premier League. Bobby Firmino may be the fulcrum of our attack, but the entire team pivots around Fabinho.
When he isn’t chewing through opposition possession before they can start an attack, he’s flying back towards his own goal to mop up counters and cover for his teammates. And that’s just without the ball. Watch, next time, how despite him being the ‘defensive’ one of the three – that both Wijnaldum and Henderson’s first instincts are to find him. For he is far more comfortable on the ball than either. His ability to burst through blockades in midfield or find our fullbacks with first time passing is absolutely crucial to keeping out moves flowing.
I have no idea what the definition of world-class actually is, but as far as midfielders go he has to be approaching the top of the rankings. There’s been plenty of talk lately about our increasing option around him, but considering he’s only 15-16 months or so into his Liverpool career, it speaks volumes that the thought of our midfield without him is a terrifying one.
Ryan C, LFC
Oh Liverpool. You made that one interesting. I’d barely settled into my seat and we had conceded, then I whimpered helplessly for VAR to come save us but Kane managed to be wildly open, miles ahead of everyone and totally onside. What were we doing?
But the rest of the game was pretty great except the finishing. Fabinho kept dinking those cute little passes up and over and our attackers kept forgetting they were supposed to kick the ball at a part of the goal in which the keeper wasn’t stood. It felt like with better finishing we might’ve been 2 or 3 ahead by half time.
It feels like Trent and Robertson aren’t getting the chance to be involved as late in the build up anymore. They’re getting pinned a bit further back which means their final touch is tending to be a cross more often than it is a pass. This is a bit of a negative because you won’t often fancy Mane and Salah to compete and win headers. It also negates the wide forwards ability to turn and beat a man, plus it gives the wide defenders a 1 on 1 rather than an overload to worry about.
It also occurred to me during the game that people always talk about goals scored or conceded from corners but perhaps it would be better to look at percentage of corners leading to goals. Liverpool might’ve scored the most goals from corners last season but we might’ve had the most too. Who in the league is the most effective with the set pieces they get is a much better question. This might be bad for the viewing action as I think fewer than 5% of corners do result in goals.
Surely now, poch just goes for broke, and simply starts Ndombele and Lo Ceslo from the off. Eriksen and Ali are miles away from any form whatsoever. Spurs looked OK when going behind, with Ndombele looking assured and very positive in possession. Lo Ceslo only had another 5mins or so, but still offered more than Dele or Eriksen (maybe).
I get why poch sticks with the players who have got spurs where they are (which I guess is regular top 4), but they’re quickly losing any credit built up.
Another big away game coming up, against a team similarly struggling with a manager under pressure – time to get back on front foot and go all in…….
Laughing at the Gunners
I laughed at the full time whistle. I laughed at Emery for taking off Xhaka, I laughed when Emery made Xhaka our captain, & I will laugh when they both leave the club. Absolute joke of a manager, a joke of a player. If you can’t improve from critism than you have got to take a serious look at yourself, because everyone else can see it, yet he & Emery seem to live in denial, or complete arrogance. Nothing has improved. I applaud Henderson for stating his mistake led to the Spurs goal. You think pretty boy Xhaka would say that, hell know!
His excuse would be “as a team we need to improve”. OH Ok, “so how are you going to improve? Less rash challenges, better tackling? focus? Does the manager really work on defending in training? please enlighten us?”
Jay AFC (it’s the same shit just a different year)
They were saying boooo-aka, boooo-aka, 619
Fans who boo their own players tend to justify it by saying that they pay their money (often too much of it) and are thus entitled to express their opinion. Which is true. But although I can see the logic in their reasoning I am against the spirit of it. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Booing your own players, unless they’ve exhibited extremities of terrible behaviour (fighting one another, say, a la Bellamy and Dyer) is miserable. It’s miserable for the player being booed, most obviously, it’s usually miserable for his teammates (as it seemed to be yesterday – Xhaka is by all accounts a popular player), and it makes the atmosphere inside the stadium miserable and toxic. When it happened to Eboue a decade or so ago, there was a sort of collective guilt trip in the wake of it (his reaction, which was more nakedly emotional, seemed to provoke this) and he became something of a cult player (“You’ve only come to see Eboue,” was the chant, if I remember rightly). I can’t see this happening to Xhaka, but I hope at least it doesn’t become a regular occurrence each time he plays a home. Because who the hell does that help?
And aside from that, isn’t there something just a little bit…stupid, about grown men and women booing in public? Where else, outside of parliament, does that pass for normal behaviour?
Probably mailbox will be flooded with this stuff, but here’s my whole opinion on the Granit Xhaka v Arsenal Faithful debacle that happened yesterday.
I think the jeers from the crowd are justified and I find it quite funny that a lot of Arsenal fans online are calling out the Emirates faithful as ‘pathetic’ and ‘toxic Arsenal fans’.
Oh, really? So it’s ok to talk sh*t about players and managers behind a keyboard yet as soon as you say it to their face, it’s uncalled for? Give me a break. Arsenal fans have been giving Xhaka and Emery a hard time for almost a year. Now the people who are actually paying money to watch an inept coach and his persistence with an out of form player (played in the wrong position) are making their voices heard and they are the ones who are pathetic? Please.
Remember when Arsenal fans stopped showing up to games during Arsene Wenger’s final year? Yeah, they weren’t called toxic. They were praised for finally making their voices heard. Yesterday was the same.
I don’t see Granit Xhaka coming back from this. His Arsenal career is over. At least with the fans.
Oh my word! Granit Xhaka done a swear – how dare he – send him to the Tower! The Queen’s a gooner apparently so surely she can execute this order.
Or maybe certain fans are just being big babies, who can’t take someone biting back.
If Granit Xhaka is stripped of the captaincy due to Sunday’s events, I’ll be annoyed.
If anything, no better player sums up Emery’s tenure that Xhaka – a man who doesn’t know how to attack or defend properly and shouldn’t even be in the squad – nevermind be given the captain’s armband.
I imaging given the Rams were in town this week that the Kroenkes were also in the capital – time to get rid of the manager and the captain but let’s ensure it’s due to their inept performances rather than Xhaka’s Hulk Hogan impression.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
I am betting that we are going to need a separate Xhaka mailbox this morning….
Sorry Emery, but it’s time to go.
I don’t want to be that person, I was one of the last people to join the Wenger out brigade but I don’t see anything under Emery to make me smile or get excited about. For me, its his man management, or lack thereof, which is the final straw.
Ozil, for all his faults and massive wage packet is still a very good player and can offer something to the team (I don’t buy the whole club is sat there thinking they couldn’t have more points with him on the bench). Xhaka, for all his decent work, needs a break from the first team due to poor form (his and the teams) and is now the scapegoat for fans. Torreira was one of our best midfielders and now, after a short run of poor form is benched. Players like Saka, Willock and Reiss are being brought on expecting to pick up the pieces and win us games after a few decent games.
Adding this to the complete lack of strategy or tactics, not changing a team or formation that isn’t working at all, not getting a tune out of the 3 of the best attacking players in the world (in theory) and complete lack of progress under Emery, I can’t see him being here by Christmas. I wrote in a month ago saying judge him when Bellerin and Tierney are in the side but I am struggling to see a future under this current team.
We have Wolves, Leicester, Southampton, Norwich, Brighton and West Ham coming up. On current form, I see us getting 6 points. That can’t be enough to keep him in the job…
Rob A (hate watching football again…) AFC
* will you look at that one, who knew 4 points from two games could change a a club from languishing in 14 to 7th -apparently everyone but it was fun to put iout negative comments because it was Utd* Just like that 2 away winns and more than one goal, you’ll need to dig up new stats at this rate , One thing I’ve found funny is some of those who have been recommended to replace Ogs (Hassenhutl .Poch) have worse records than him since they arrived.
* The Margins are very fine lose next saturday we start looking at how many away from relegation UTd are, win and they will finish the week either at least 6th or 4 points away from a champion league spot with more than 1/2 a season to go so lets not all be so knee jerk.
* So it turns out Martial may actually be integral to the way Utd want to play ,That fluid movement was what we have hoped for all season, let’s hope he maintain interest till January so we can get a back up ,Whoever has Sanchez please keep him ,the more James plays the less relevant as an option he becomes.
We need to talk about penalties though ,there is no point getting them ,if they are going to be missed, Only succeeding with two from 6 is atrocious , we could have maybe least 4 more points, but for the 1st two we missed (wolves Crystal Palace , More practice maybe the best bet because on form Mata shouldn’t be a first teamer simply because of pens.
We aren’t out of the woods yet, this is still the worst Utd squad of the premier league era, but l at least we won’t be mentioned as relegation candidates for a week.
Just when you think VAR has reached the depths of incompetence it goes deeper. Based on the var remit being to correct clear and obvious errors I would love to understand what the var ref saw in order to disallow the arsenal 3rd goal yesterday. I’ve watched it plenty of times and it is Chambers being fouled more than anything else. If what chambers did is deemed a foul I’d also like to ask the refs what they thought when Sokratis had his shirt clearly pulled in the area last week at sheff Utd.
It is clear that var has been told to not over rule anything in the first 9 weeks, then they took so much stick and various stats came out they’ve now decided they must intervene in matches and must have an influence. How else can anyone explain how there were no var penalties given in 90 odd games then there are 3-4 this weekend alone.
Mike Riley has a lot to answer for, his arrogance at deciding the Prem will run var to different rules than everyone else is bad enough but now him and his refs are actively deciding matches and ruining fair football in this country.
Arsenal shouldn’t have needed that 3rd scrappy goal to win, the performance once again was shocking, Arsenal have not played well in the league this season. My fear is the board will wait until emery fails to deliver champions league football before he’s sacked. Really you need to sack him now to even give us a chance of champions league football. He’s had a huge turnover of players, money has been spent, a good crop of youth players as well as some damn good players left by wenger and he is only taking arsenal backwards. He’s failed to improve anything that was a problem before and he’s made us worse in any sort of creative and attacking output. He’s in out of his depth and Arsenal must cut ties immediately before we end up mid table. Can anyone actually say what the typical arsenal game plan, tactics and attacking shape is?
We were terrible, the Ref was worse, it was a penalty, it wasn’t a foul and Xhaka mate, the feeling is entirely mutual.
But my biggest take away form the game is that withing a couple of years I will go see the glorious Arsenal. i will cheer, sing and boo as the action unfolds, then go home. 2 days later I’ll get an email telling me the result. Every other sport can use video quickly effectively and well. Really, a 4 year old could come up with a better system than the prem are using right now. I’m starting to think it might be so they can sneak in ad breaks.
David (Emery is awesome at reminding us Wenger was a legend) AFC
The problem is not VAR
I have deliberately avoided inflicting the mailbox with my opinion of VAR until a decision went in favour of my team.
As a Manchester City fan, this does of course allow me to say that I am at last able to write this once the clocks have gone back and to the sound of leafblowers. I couldn’t have done this on sunny afternoons in August and September. I am here all week.
On Saturday, we were lucky against Villa with one of those marginal calls that have always happened and always will and where endless replays didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know or David Silva had freely admitted. On the other hand, if the goal had been chalked off, Villa would have dodged a bullet just as much as fortune smiled on us. So it goes – and kudos to Villa fans for largely dialling back on the moaning. Many of them have correctly preferred to focus on the fact that allowing Kevin de Bruyne an unchallenged cross into the penalty area is not a recipe for defensive success.
Anyway, Saturday was a net benefit for the Blues, so I am hoping the following is considered rather than just an unhinged rant.
We need to ask quite a deep question. What do we want VAR to achieve? What does success look like?
I think we’ve all worked out that getting every decision objectively correct is impossible. So let’s not ask it to do that. Great, but that does ask people like me and you reading this to be reasonable. Raheem Sterling is often very close to being offside and very close to being onside. Sometimes, the call is going to go one way, sometimes another, and we’ve got to live with that because we live in a chaotic world.
Tight decisions are what they are – tight – and there needs to be acceptance of that rather than recrimination and conspiracy theorism. Equally, the League and the referees need to cut out their massively overconfident claims of accuracy with immediate effect. There isn’t an objective answer to whether Sterling was or was not offside against West Ham on the first day of the season. We need to get back to accepting the lino’s decision and agreeing that it was extremely close.
What VAR can help with is obvious mistakes. Referees and linesman are human and are also sometimes unsighted. They also, like me, screw up. If it had only been used once this season, to correct the offside call in the United vs Arsenal match, you could argue that it had been a net benefit. Everything else had carried on as before, but there was a human error in a marquee match, the officials were given the little bit of help anyone watching electronically had immediately and justice was served. What’s wrong with that?
Therefore, we should explicitly say that it is there for clangers and howlers, to minimise matches distorted by refereeing mistakes or officials being hung out to dry and in a way that should make us feel deeply uncomfortable. How is that defined? Good question and that again demands civilised behaviour from you and me – but here is a thought. Limit VAR checks to 30 seconds. If they can’t find a reason to overturn the on-pitch decision in that time, then go with the ref. That’s easily long enough to detect a senior moment, but avoids the whole thing descending into a Conclave of Cardinals over whether someone’s little toe is offside. If you really must, sling some dollar at Channel 4 and get the Countdown music to enhance the stadium experience.
The challenge is then thrown back on all of us? Are we civilised enough in a world of Brexit, Trump and rampant populism to accept sometimes we benefit, sometimes we don’t on close calls and there is no conspiracy or pattern as to why – but that in exchange we can reasonably rely on a system that will largely eliminate bad errors?
The problem is not VAR, it is us and the society we live in. Time not to look at the big screen, but in the mirror.
After a weekend where VAR has, in some instances, veered off into new, shambolic territory of overturning correct on field decisions, does anyone else think that perhaps the whole concept has been deliberately hijacked to fail? For it to crash and burn?
The process seems to be getting sabotaged by a bunch of white, middle aged, often bald men who want to go back to a time when they controlled everything. And they’re being aided by unaccountable characters in the shadows.
It has a familiar feeling for these times, I just can’t quite put my finger on it…..
Liverpool and United both won this weekend, so I am pre-empting what I assume will be yet another VAR-heavy mailbox, particularly with Arsenal being denied a winner by the VAR and what an injustice and outrage it all is, yadda, yadda.
I may be wrong, but was VAR not introduced because moaning bastards were screaming out for it? Now it’s here, even more moaning bastards are screaming blue murder about it and how it’s not fit for purpose and should be swiftly kicked to the kerb ASAP.
I don’t know. It’s almost as if this country is full of moaning bastards who refuse to be satisfied with anything.
In my eyes, VAR is a handy device to perfectly illustrate the folly of giving in to the whingers of the world. It feels like since the turn of the century, the world has gone to seed because the powers-that-be started listening to the professional complainers, instead of simply dismissing their grievances, no matter how petty, out of hand, like sane civilisation ought to. The “one complaint” culture springs to mind. What has this route ultimately led us to? Brexit, and now VAR in football, to name but two things which absolutely nobody is happy with. On the contrary, it’s only intensified the sour feeling and people appear angrier than ever.
Here’s the deal: VAR is scrapped and never spoken of again. But here’s the kicker: You are never allowed to complain about a refereeing decision again. Ever.
No? Can’t manage it? Oh. Oh well. As you were then.
Lee, amateur complainer
How bad was VAR over the weekend. A previous contributor went over the ridiculous penalty given against Everton and the one Everton didn’t get which was a stonewall penalty. The decision to disallow Arsenals goal was just incredible and in the Norwich v Utd game we had Krul clearly off his line for both penalties and neither was reviewed. On looking at replays of all five incidents above they were so clear and were easy decisions to make so it begs the question what is going on with the VAR officials.
Ken, Cork, Ireland
VAR is like a constitutional monarchy
Today I’m on holiday but also marking the second anniversary of my first Grantham Town game. Nothing major, just a beer or two probably.
*VAR was the main talking point from The Arsenal v Crystal Palace. There are a lot of analogies that have been made, but I think it’s getting to be a bit like a constitutional monarchy. Hugely expensive, but even more expensive to scrap, even if it’s a bit of a national embarrassment sometimes – not least because most of us haven’t got a clue what they’re up to. Though in the case of Prince Andrew, that’s probably for the best.
*When we look back at this season, the moment that will stand out for a lot of Palace fans on Twitter will be VAR overturning a referee’s rash decision to book Wilfried Zaha for diving and instead adjudge the Ivorian had actually been fouled.
*The Eagles lined up in a 4-1-2-3, not a formation I’ve seen very often. This meant Luka Milivojevic as the deepest midfielder profiting from a bit of space in front of the defence, with the Arsenal not really pressing. Meanwhile, Andros Townsend returned to the starting lineup, presumably to keep the full backs pinned back.
*Wayne Hennessey had a Wayne Hennessey game. He made some excellent saves but was directly responsible for the first goal, because he came for the corner and didn’t get there, then took so long to get back to his feet and recover his position he looked like he needed a Zimmer frame. Then, on the second goal, it looked like the defence left space for him but he didn’t come. There’s just more assurance when Vicente Guaita plays, but he’s injured at the moment.
*This was stage two of a five game nightmare run for Palace, in which any points will be a bonus. Having got one yesterday, it means with a quarter of the season gone we are sixth. It’s still a false position, but one we’re pretty chipper about for now.
*A brief round-up of fixtures from Saturday:
Nottingham Forest P-P Reading
Lincoln City P-P Bolton Wanderers
Boston United P-P Blyth Spartans
Grantham Town 5-3 Rushall Olympic
I don’t know if it’s the Meres’ microclimate but it does seem like an incredible effort by the Gingerbreads’ ground staff to make sure the game could take place.
I decided to write this because of something my dad (Evertonian) said. We were on the train and he asked me to check the Brighton/Everton score. Brighton had just made it 1-0 after 15 minutes. He then told me with complete confidence that Everton would not win the game. I asked how he could be so sure, and he explained that under Marco Silva, they’ve never come from behind to win a game. Even when they were winning 2-1, he was just waiting for Brighton to score. Everton proved him right by going on to lose 3-2. I was actually really surprised to hear this, although a bit of digging showed that they did actually come back from 1-0 down to beat Lincoln City 4-2 in the Carabao Cup in August, but that’s hardly inspiring.
So, what’s one fact/statistic that you couldn’t believe was true when you heard it?
Why The Athletic needs to be stopped (disclaimer: F365 quite likes The Athletic)
So, despite my insistence on beginning this sentence with a conjunction, I am a journalist.
Not a football one. Outside of a few subjective, ire-fuelled rants in local fanzines I stick to my wheelhouse. Tech, mainly. Tech businesses, specifically.
I’m alright at it actually; no great, deep, investigative works but I’m the editor at my particular little corner of the internet. I must be doing something right.
Which is a long winded way of saying that I don’t just love good journalism. I am qualified to love it. When mixed with my passion of choice, football, I am often awed.
Local writers are a special joy. Whether it’s my team or not, a person that writes with skill, with knowledge, and with the passion that comes from fandom will invariably impress.
It’s like watching a player so good that it doesn’t even matter that they’re playing against you. You cannot help but admire it.
You can see why these writers inspire their own kind of fan worship. Thousands upon thousands of followers, globally. Checking up on the latest point that a journalist like, say, Phil Hay has to make…
The Athletic needs to be stopped.
Paid for sports content is nothing new. Indeed in football ‘paid for content’ often includes the games themselves.
We are right to rally against that. This site is right to consistently criticise the removal of the sport from the eyes of the people who make it what it is.
But why is a similar level of scrutiny not levelled at this latest effort to strip a community of its access?
I am often required to defend football. For all the myriad (mostly valid) reasons that football fandom is attacked…
(Brief sidebar: to any non-football lovers who wish to talk about player wages – I’m all in for a strong word on late-stage capitalism and how such a system can be overthrown – I just think football is an odd place to start)
… But my key defence is always the same. Community. In a post-thatcherite, individualistic, increasingly non-religious society, sport is the bunker in which communities have survived.
It’s where you know people from, it’s why you can nod and say hello to person you would otherwise never know. It’s how you met the plumber that sorted out the loo under the stairs. It’s where you found out about that local charity. It’s how you know your friends, how you met your partner, how you connect with your family and your neighbours. In all that and more, it is glorious.
Local sports journalism is important.
For most of us it is the only place to access regular, well thought out opinions and inside information about our clubs. 30 seconds of analysis from whichever pundit they’ve got on whichever streaming service currently owns the football league rights is… not enough.
The Athletic is only going for the bigger names right now. Those who write about the bigger clubs. But, if they’re successful, they will come for the rest of our beloved journos.
Over 50 football journalists in the UK have joined The Athletic. Their pay has been doubled, they have been given equity.
Local papers cannot compete with that. It’s yet another in-road to the complete alienation of fans without the cash for subscription services.
Now. In my tech industry-based opinion, I’m not entirely sure The Athletic will succeed. It’s well backed but the model is somewhat… optimistic. Although, not turning a profit doesn’t seem to be much of a hinderence to tech companies these days (hi Uber!).
The house of cards won’t fall, though, unless we make it. We can choose to not take up the offer. And I think we should.
It means I won’t be seeing much of Phil Hay for a while (I’m not even a Leeds fan) or of the brilliant Daniel Taylor (investigative journalism behind a pay wall, cool), but given the battles we’ve already lost as fans, I think we need to suit up for this one before it’s too late.
Geraint, Swansea (’til I die)
After last week’s mix-up in Belgrade with the written interpretation of United’s player names, it reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to write in for a while.
I was listening to TalkSport a couple of weeks ago and Stuart Pearce was on commentary (I think it was Newcastle v Man United). For the life of me I have no idea why, but he kept pronouncing Joelinton as ‘Joe Ellington’ every time. It conjured up an amusing picture in my head of a bruising centre forward from South Shields, rather than the cultured, albeit slightly naff Brazilian currently toiling up top. Damn those pesky foreigns and their not-at-all-difficult-to-pronounce-unless-you’re-lazy names.
So without further ado, I present the mailbox with the ‘If only they were British this would be so much easier PFM Pronunciation’ XI. I’ve crudely crowbarred them into a no nonsense 4-4-2, because that’s how PFM football should be played.
Will E. Bolly
Philip A. Anderson
Can mailboxers do better? Can anyone do the opposite?
Lee (Hope this breaks the tedium of VAR and the Sack Race™)