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I’ve had enough of Granit Xhaka
I know the dust has settled somewhat on the whole Granit Xhaka Vs the supporters issue but after watching him against West Ham, I can’t help but feel he’s never going to belong at Arsenal for reasons within his control and reasons beyond.
Firstly, from the moment it looked like we were signing him (rumours had been going around for a while), he’s been fighting a losing battle. Why?
Because we all thought we were getting a defensive midfielder that we had so desperately needed for probably 10 years. I’m not going to pretend I knew anything about him, but on the wonderful world of social media we were getting told that he’s the man to protect our back four blah blah blah.
It became clear pretty quickly that this was not the case.
However he did score two long range shots early on in his career so maybe we had a player that wouldn’t just “walk the ball into the net” as was a big gripe of those Wenger days.
Unfortunately, although he’s scored a couple from range, he’s no Recoba.
Then we were told he was going to be a box to box midfielder, again no.
So straight away, before he’s even got a chance to establish himself, he’s on the back foot because none of us (manager included) seem to know what we are going to get from him. And that’s not even to mention that fact that we spent £35m on him which for this club was a huge outlay at that time (second most expensive player after ozil for a while).
Then there’s the stupidity. And that’s being kind. There was a stat going around earlier this season that he made more errors that lead directly to goals than any other player in the league. I mean, that’s absolutely astonishing for a player from one of the so called big teams to do that. As a supporter, I’ve seen him constantly give the ball away (he has been lucky that we haven’t conceded from his carelessness in the Brighton match AND the West Ham one), I’ve seen him give away stupid penalties and into his fourth season I STILL don’t know what he gives to offset this.
And then (and this one is 100% on Emery) we have the captain debacle. If he’d have just been appointed captain after Koscielny left, there would have been a bit of “him? Really?” but nowhere near as bad as it was when Emery waited well into the season, let the players choose etc.
So when it comes to that moment against Palace and his number comes up, I was there and although I wouldn’t want to put words in anyone else’s mouths, but for me it felt like all that frustration over this player, mixed with the frustration of the team at present he then decides to stroll off when we need to get the match going to try and win, the relationship broke and we let him have it.
Now, if he’d have done what every other player would have done and run off the pitch, this whole scenario wouldn’t have festered and gotten so ugly that it actually shames the history of this club that he’s still there. It was handled badly by the player and I’d say by the club.
His statement on Instagram showed no regret but instead threw it back to the supporters. He mentioned the abuse he gets on social media and the horrific things that has been said about his wife and child.
Clearly, whoever said those things about his wife and kids deserves to be exposed and punished – it’s disgusting and has no place in the society let alone football. But to tar them with the same brush as the match going supporters who have just had enough of a player who must have cost us more points than he has won, is not fair.
And then finally we get his first captain notes in the match day programme and it’s a word for word repeat of his Instagram statement. Absolutely pathetic not to even try and move on and shame on the club for letting it happen.
So here we are where he’s back in the team, not exactly showing us his worth and I’ve had enough. He certainly doesn’t deserve targeted abuse, especially regarding his family (no one does), but he definitely doesn’t deserve the honour of wearing an Arsenal shirt.
Dave (Arsenal) Herts
*Not* another Arsenal loss?
Bloody hell. Where to start with Steve’s mail this morning?
Anyone would have thought Arsenal lost with Ozil giving away the game defining goal the way he banged on. And the vitriol for Ozil just appears unhinged. Then he signs it all off by announcing he’s not even an Arsenal fan. Outstanding.
Look, I am an Arsenal fan, and while I spend a whole lot more time than I should complaining about the state of the club, the one thing I definitely don’t do, is get that worked up about Arsenal football club and especially not any club I don’t support. Someone in the mailbox yesterday brought politics into the discussion, and while I’m not here to open that box it is clear there are more concerning things for those of us in the UK and US at the moment. There was also another disgraceful racist incident at the weekend, which bar a handful of mails hasn’t got the amount of comment I’d have expected. These are just two of the things I’d be losing my shit over *slightly* more than a player from a club I don’t support ‘phoning it in’ or even more bizarrely ‘going to collect the ball after scoring’(!?)
Onto the match last night and the Arsenal performance. I text my mate at half time and said ‘this is the worst performance I’ve seen all season.’ His response? ‘You’ve say that every game.’ And well, it’s true. That first half and some of the second, Arsenal were woeful, as bad as they have been at any other point in the season.
No one was expecting miracles when Ljungberg came in, there was a slight relief to see Emery put out of his misery but then as Ljungberg seemed to make the same or similar mistakes in personnel, and have a playing style not too dissimilar to Emery’s, it looked like even a new manager bounce would be beyond us. Last night wasn’t the perfect performance, no one would ever claim that. But it was a performance where the team looked down and out, dead on its feet and they summoned something from within. Whether that came from the manager or the players themselves, I don’t particularly care. The team was in a rut and staring down the barrel of a relegation fight. As long as that win came, and more importantly players such as Torreira, Pepe, Martinelli and even Kolasinac performed well and boosted their confidence, that’s all that matters.
Finally, onto the point of Ozil and the polarising opinions of him. I admit, I’ve always firmly been in the ‘Ozil must play camp.’ He’s not perfect but he is a player that can make a huge difference and add a little something extra to a team fully purring. I was one of those who called for him to be brought back in by Emery. However I’m happy to admit that for 55 minutes at least last night, it was done. He couldn’t control the game, he couldn’t get on the ball, he couldn’t pick a pass. With a player like Ozil you accept the languid body language, the lack of defensive effort for the moments of attacking brilliance he can provide. But what he doesn’t give you is a scruff of the neck performance. When a team is lacking in confidence and needs to grind out a win, Ozil isn’t your man. We all know his salary, we all know it’s a big outlay for a club like Arsenal. He is the ultimate luxury and I fully understand why fans would be angry at that. But let’s be clear, the side is so lacking in confidence at the moment that no single individual can expect too much praise at the moment and especially, for a player like Ozil, when he has a front line that are afraid to make the runs in behind he thrives off, or a midfield who don’t have the confidence to punch quick transitional passes into him through the lines, then it’ll never end well.
What I will say of him though, is that while he may not have got an assist last night, he was crucial in the last two goals. Both times he picked the ball up from deep, drove at the West Ham defence and then picked the right pass, at the right time which enabled Aubameyang and Pepe to assist one another. I very much doubt either of those chances would have occurred had Ozil not been the one in possession. What do we take from that? Well after the first goal went in, suddenly the whole side found a slightly higher level of belief and were more willing to take risks. It comes as no surprise in my opinion that, the moment that happened Ozil came to life.
Anyway, it’s a win. A first in the league since the start of October. Yes things are bad and yes this may be a false dawn. But after 2.5 months of Arsenal fans having to watch turgid shit, please lay off the critiques and let us all just breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the relative success.
JDF (previously Joe but there’s apparently too many of us contributing to the mailbox to now know who’s who), London
Firing a manager for sitting down?
Steve, Los Angeles
I agree that Freddie hasn’t been “vindicated” by the win, but I do not think its fair to criticize a manager for just sitting down.
Managers do a lot of things behind the scenes. It may be hard to believe but they *gasp* talk to the players before the game and after. They also set a lot of the training regiment, game plans, motivation speeches, PR protection etc.
Also there was a half time talk, where its pretty easy for him to give them new instructions and motivations. And teams don’t need to do all instructions immerdietly because some instructions can be “wait for a moment like this, then do this”. Jose Mourinho for example, sometimes instructs his team to reserve energy while their opponents wore themselves out, after which they release their energy for a surge.
Sitting down only shows that the manager thinks the current plan was still the best plan. Maybe if they were two or three goals down I would agree (since you never do that on purpose), but they were only down my one. Sometimes you’ll have to just sit down and trust that the instructions and drilling for the last week was enough.
Also West Ham scored by a deflection not long after a set piece. Not the best defending in the world or anything but you get those sometimes. What was the instruction going to be, NOT block the ball next time?
Freddie rightly got some blame for the draw and loss cos he didnt change the trajectory. But by that logic he also deserves some credit for this win. I don’t think he is the right man for Arsenal but its certainly not because he sat down while they were 1-0 at a team he was leading for only less than two weeks.
Rafa, Arsenal need you…
The Rafa Benitez Monday Night Football after the West Ham and Arsenal game was nothing short of brilliant.
For those overly serious types on these pages his explanations of players, tactics, and man management was terrific.
Although I fully accept his word about not breaking his word or contract, I just wish Silent Stan would spend the £20M too buy him out of his contract and make him Arsenal manager for the next five years at last,
Yes it will take that long to change the footballing culture:
Re organise the youth teams
Develop a winning culture
Tell Xhaka, thanks but your brand of careless football is not needed
Ozil you are the toxic lighting rod for the club whenever things go wrong and the premier league is no longer suiited to your style.
Sokratis, Mustafi and Saed it is time to move on as Arsenal need better players
Telling Maitland Niles you do no turn your back on ball on way to goal; save your team and let it hit you in the face and prevent that goal. When you get knocked down by opponents get up and run back
Mr Pepe expect no sympathy from Refs and opponents. Get up after being fouled or knocked down and get back in the game. Learn to be more defensively aware
Teach the art of defending against footballing transisition – Gary Neville is a world class pundit in a planet of frauds who stated David Luis is uncoachable, but Rafa explained from working previously with Luis that is wrong. I know whom I would trust.
Explain to midfield players and defenders they must work better to reduce the shot count against th team, defend with more intensity and run harder.
We need Rafa and the management of Arsenal must make itt happened
Tony Laforce, Hackney, London
Jose’s Inter and Spurs
Too early to tell but I am starting to see some similarities between Jose’s Inter and Spurs first teams:
-Maicon provided threat from the right back position and you could often see him in the opposition box(Aurier).
-Chivu was a solid, world class ball playing left back who could also play as a center back (Vertonghen).
-Sneijder was mostly excused from the defensive responsibilities but was the creative spark (Dele).
-Pandev played on the left and was a hard working, managers dream player who was also highly skilled (Sonaldo)
– Zanetti was a versatile hard man defender who played in the midfield (reaching here but Dier/Sissoko)
– Cambiasso linked the play, shielded when needed (Winks)
– Milito was a world class center forward who scored goals but could and did drop deeper often for link up play. Was also a bastard. (Kane)
Spurs fans you will take that won’t you?
Here’s what’s going on…
What’s that Alay, you don’t know what’s going on anymore? Let me try and help you, MUFC are 22 points behind the league leaders after 16 games and 9 above the relegation zone, ergo Tottenham are 17 and 8 and Arsenal, 18 and 7! To try and paint 5th place, 1 point and 1 point as some kind of “what’s the big deal” is definitely you not understanding.
These 3 teams are accepted as part of “the big 6” and European Football is considered a must by both supporters and board/shareholders. I suspect that THFC and AFC were probably the highest placed teams ever to sack their Manager and should results go against MUFC this weekend and I’m not saying they will, they can be overtaken by 5 teams and be 10th, this may be a clue to what’s going on.
At the current rate, Arsenal will finish on 52 points, the league leaders will pass that in 3 or 4 games time. Whilst these 3 clubs have some excellent players, their results and performances (by and large) have been disappointing to say the least, no one who supports these teams can, hand on heart, say with any confidence that they will win their next game. if on the other hand, mid table mediocrity and win one/lose one is acceptable, then yeah, what’s the big deal.
Howard (I’ll take 95 points right now) Jones
Of course Chambers came into CB after my email and showed the goods. Pepe is clearly a confidence player. Best time to play City?
Rob A (revenge City is scary…) AFC
Sound of music
Just seen your Top 10 Premier League Managers of the decade ladder. When did Harry (brown paper packages tied up with string) Rednapp join the writing staff?
Proper PFM sound of music.
Klopp < Poch
I know lists are subjective and I really shouldn’t take the bait, but I’m not having Pochettino above Klopp. Klopp seems to suffer as a victim of his own success at times. Criticised for losing cup finals the team were never expected to make, or supposedly ‘bottling’ the title when you won your last 8 straight and finished on 97 points. I think sometimes people forget where Liverpool were when Klopp began.
Both Klopp and Pochettino performed incredible turnarounds, but I don’t see how in any way you could rate Poch higher. Liverpool had finished 6th before Klopp took over, being hammered 6-1 by Stoke on the final day of the previous season. They had recently lost 3-0 at home to West Ham, were outplayed by Man United and failed to beat Norwich at Anfield. There was barely a player in the squad that would have been considered good enough for a title challenge,
Fast forward and we have a Champions League win (understand this is about the PL, but still) a mind-boggling 97 point season and a current run where the team hasn’t lost in 11 months and has picked up 73 out of the last possible 75 points.
All this on a modest budget. Liverpool have had the 6th highest spend on transfer fees in the PL and the 16th highest net spend since Klopp took over, Pochettino spent £350m at Spurs, Klopp has spent £390m. If you’re willing to consider net spend, Klopp’s is actually lower.
Taking out tribal loyalties, I cant imagine a single club choosing Pochettino over Klopp. Pochettino did a great job, no doubt but Klopp has done what Pochettino couldn’t and create a world class team who are genuine title contenders. Klopp 4th? He’d be at least 2nd for me.
Mike, LFC, London
On the Premier League’s official website, under “minutes played”, there are a number of players (mostly goalkeepers), who have played every minute of every game. And so their total minute count is currently at 1440, after 16 games.
However, and this is possibly a daft question, why is it that stoppage time isn’t counted in this tally? In the Arsenal game yesterday, there were 12 minutes added on in total, but this doesn’t seem to go towards the “minutes played” total. Anyone know why that is? If a player is brought on in stoppage time for a debut (or to run down the clock), it’s still considered to be an appearance, so why would those minutes be omitted from the final count?
DJ, MUFC (clearly a slow day at work today) India