Introducing Arsenal’s new defensive mid: Sead Kolasinac

Date published: Friday 2nd February 2018 2:46

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Jordan Defenderson
While I am not by any stretch a huge fan of Jordan Henderson and would like Liverpool to buy an upgrade, I do feel the need to defend him after mediawatch’s unnecessarily snarky comment (MC: Whaaaaaaaaat?!) about him.

1) Phil Thompson has a right to an opinion. If he feels that Henderson is better he can put him there. It was just an unbelievably condescending line.

2) Jordan Henderson does the job that’s entrusted to him quite well. That is recycle possession, switch play and make sure we keep the ball moving at pace. If you noticed last season he was quite good at it when he was able to settle into a rhythm. Unfortunately for him he has been picking up regular niggling injuries over the past year. He makes good use of his athleticism, presses well and is decent while challenging for the ball

3) It’s not like moussa dembele produces world class performances every week. He is just a lot more stylish than Henderson while doing it. Henderson does not have the natural flair and I think that this also contributes to a more negative image. Above that whenever I see liverpool play well, Henderson is normally playing well. Besides you are not a fool if you can boss N’Golo Kante in midfield.

4) I always get feeling that he suffers just because he is not steven gerrard and for some reason think that people are biased against him cause he is English(and I am not even from England). He is always up against a bar set too high for 99% of players. 
A Reasonable LFC Fan, India(LFC Spurs is going to be a cracking game)


 Planet Sport recommends: Meet Roy Erskine, Andy Murray’s grandfather and former pro footballer (Tennis365)


Sliding Kolasinac into DM
I once wrote in suggesting Coquelin as Arsenal’s solution to our DM problems and was generally laughed at.

But you know after Wenger gave him a go I have to say he did okay in the role.

Though Coq’s gone and that position remains our biggest problem – mainly because we need someone in their to compensate for all of Xhaka’s brainfarts. It really is a problem as goals are scored so quickly in the Premier League so one mistake and the attackers are in. I defy even the top defenders trying to cope with Xhaka constantly giving the ball away.

But once again I think the solution can be found in-house. Why don’t we just play Kolasinac in there? Against Leicester on the opening day I saw how he scared Leicester’s wingers so much they ended up switching flanks. He’s played the position in German and I honestly think attackers would hate to come up against him in midfield and Xhaka would be too scared to give the ball away if he’s got Sead barking orders at him.

This would also give greater confidence to the defence, have an actual defender in there that can drop in when necessary rather than a makeshift one like Elneny and mean we can actually play Kolasinac, who quite frankly is being wasted sitting on the bench.

Please write in and tell me I’m wrong as I don’t honestly see any problems with this.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Lies, damned lies and spending statistics
Now that the January window has slammed shut. Let’s take a look at how much clubs spent on their squad and also net spend, for the season as a whole.

Newcastle Utd are the second lowest spenders with only £36 million being spent on permanent transfers. Only Bournemouth have spent less with £30 million. Now, you could put the Cherries spend into context, in that they sold nobody and gave Defoe a massive contract & signing on fees for his ‘free’ transfer, so could be seen as more than £30m, but there we are.

If you look at Net spend (everyone’s fave) then there are 6 clubs below Newcastle in the “table” who themselves had a net spend of a putrid £11m. They are Liverpool, West Ham, Burnley, Arsenal, Swansea and Southampton. Now, let’s look into that for all of two seconds. Coutinho £146m, Ayew £18m, Michael Keane £30m, Oxlade-Chamberlain £35m, Sigurdsson £45m and Van Dijk £75m.

Each of those clubs had at least one major sale which drove down their net spend massively. Some had more than one. Whereas Newcastle didn’t. They sold their prized assets last season after relegation. The only option they had this year was to spend. To put this into some context, if you look at fellow promoted teams in Brighton & Huddersfield who also have no prizes assets to sell. They spent £57m & £49m respectively, with total net spends of £57m & £43.5m. This places them 5th and 8th in the net spend table. This is where you would expect them to be given their lack of selling power. Brighton sold nobody for eg.

All of this means one thing. Mike Ashley has drastically under-funded his business that he is supposedly looking to sell. To the point that if NUFC were to go down, it will be worth half as much and he will have cost himself millions. He will also be unable to receive the total amount he has invested in his time at the club. Around £250m. So he will have lost money if and when he sells. In the last two occasions that NUFC have gone down, he has been obliged to pump in his own money into the club to keep it running. The only time he has ever spent something himself. So even if he doesn’t sell, he will cost himself millions by needing to spend to keep it running and there is no guarantee the club will bounce back up.

So to conclude, not only will relegation mean the business he is trying to sell will be worth half as much than if it were in the Premier League, but it will cost him a fortune to keep it running…again. People say Mike Ashley is a sound business man. They base this totally on his supposed wealth and Sports Direct. When it comes to running a football club, he is arguably the dumbest owner in football history. At least when other idiots make mistakes, they sell up and leave. The bloke has been here for 11 years!!! He has learned nothing over that time. Nothing. What kind of a moron would act the way he acts over and over again? How dumb can you be? He said if he couldn’t find a buyer before Christmas he would invest in January, he lied. He spent nothing. He said he turned PCP’s £250m offer for the club down because he has other people willing to pay the £350m. He lied, he doesn’t. The man is a compulsive liar and has been proved to be so in court, when Keegan took him to trial.

Yet, amongst all of this, his chosen mouthpiece in Sky still hire people like Craig Bellamy, Simon Jordan and Dennis Wise, plus others, to tell the viewing nation he has done a great job and that they really like him.

It’s a disgrace that this man isn’t known throughout the world of football for exactly what he is. A liar and a terrible football club owner. One of the worst, if not THE worst in history.
Bano (damn this is long!)


Romelu wasn’t built in a day
I for one hope Lukaku doesn’t play against England… he doesn’t score against elite teams, but he loves banging in a brace against a crap team!
Mike (hoping for recalls for Benteke and Origi) Bournemouth


The truth hurts
Henderson is better than Moussa Dembele.

You’ll get there eventually.
Aaron, London


To Rex Conlan I say that Trippier’s cross was awful. It didn’t get past the first defender.
Parm AFC


Hunting for some free bargains
As a Palace fan, a cursory glance at the free agents list follows an underwhelming deadline day in the same way night follows day.

Once again we have yet another window of the South London Levy playing hardball over fees and losing out on at least 4 targets for various reasons, including; leaving it too late for other time to find replacement; arbitrarily lowering the offer after agreeing a higher one; refusing to up the offer by 2m after the player had passed the medical and agreed terms; and – my favourite – convincing a player to travel to England by train who had already been told he wasn’t allowed to leave.

Because of this, we have a squad that is very light, due to lack of signings, high injury rate and the fact one of our squad players is Jordon Mutch, meaning free agents will be needed if anyone else gets injured or suspended. Thankfully there are some promising players on there:

Ben Watson
Alex Song
Jermaine Jones
Gabriel Paletta
Jeremy Toulalon
William Vainqueur
Diego Capel

For those of you who love former Liverpool third choice keepers, there is even Diego Cavilierri and Charles Itandje, who would arguably be a step up on Hennessey!
Joe, Midlands (someone needs to tell Parrish the window shuts a day early)


Bloody Palace
I am not really sure why I am writing this mail, other than it piqued my interest and maybe some Crystal Palace fans know the answer.

The coach of Danish club Brøndby complained yesterday of a very late request in the transfer window for their keeper. The player was interested, but the club had to turn it down, because CP had left them no time to find a replacement.

Not so unusual, except CP did the EXACT same thing at the end of the summer window and for the same player. Brøndby found it unprofessional.

Then today I see the following in the gossip columns:

Celtic rejected a late enquiry from Crystal Palace on deadline day about the availability of French striker Moussa Dembele, 21. (Scottish Sun)
Crystal Palace also made an offer for Dendoncker, 22, but it was too late to work out a deal, according to Anderlecht general manager Herman van Holsbeeck. (Sporza – in Dutch)

Now, do CP think they are only allowed to do business just before the window famously SLAMS shut or is there another reason for this ineffective behaviour.
Andreas (nothing to add), Brussels


Anecdotal evidence
Back in the day I used to work on the south coast and played 5-a-side with the blokes at lunchtimes.

The leisure centre we played at organised a 6-a-side out door league one summer and we entered.

All the teams would play a game on a Tuesday evening, one match following the next.

One week we were playing in the second match.

I got there early and settled down to watch the first game of the evening that was already in progress.

One of the teams only had 5 players, and one of them was not in football kit but was wearing jeans and flip flops.

Sitting on the other touchline was a really bored looking kid looking after an equally bored looking dog.

I surmised that the flip flop wearing dude happened to be passing when one of the players persuaded him to fill in the numbers.

Flip Flop Dude was just mooching about up front while his team got battered, and he looked even more bored than his kid and dog combined.

Eventually one of his defenders managed to hack the ball clear and it headed towards Flip Flop Dude.

There was no over head height rule in this tournament and Flip Flop Dude killed this ball stone dead in a Berbartov-esque move, then he turned and walloped one of the finest goals I have ever seen, before he returned to looking as bored as hell.

Then one of my team mates arrived and said to me “Bloody hell, that’s Guy Whittingham!”
Paul Watson, exiled Shrimper, living in Surrey.


In regards to DB (humorous brackets)’s email this morning, up until a month ago, I was actually playing in the same league at Goals Leicester, and I thought I’d share some experiences as well.

Me and the lads I played with actually started by playing in a tournament, where we destroyed everyone, scoring 34 goals across 5 games, before getting knocked out by a bunch of thugs in the semi-finals (not bitter at all). Buoyed by this performance, we decided to see what it would be like playing in the league. Pique Blinders started in the bottom league, where it was a fairly successful season, finishing runners up and gaining promotion. The second season was even better, remaining undefeated all season en route to winning the league. Confidence was high and on to the next league we’d go.

This is where it all started to go tits up. The third season was a rude awakening where we struggled for any form at all. Over the next year and a half, we bounced around the leagues due to a combination of injuries, no players and lack of skill.

We also played in the tournament for a second year running, where we were undefeated in the group stage, even gaining a measure of revenge on the thugs from the previous year (still not bitter). 1-0 up in the quarter finals with a minute to go and everything looked good. That’s until the referees decided that the wrong teams were playing each other. 10 minutes of confusion followed before the referees returned, deciding that we were playing the correct fixture, but we would have to restart from 0-0. Annoying but fair enough. 1-1 with 2 minutes to go, one of their players clashes through our player, leaving in a heap on the floor. Here’s were it gets messy. The referee actually blew his whistle, but the other team played on and scored whilst we stood around waiting. The ref than allowed the goal despite blowing his whistle for a foul! Arguments followed, which meant we ran out of time to try and find equaliser. Needless to say, a lot of expletives were chucked in the officials direction on the way out.

However, I’d like to share some highlights from this time. One of my favourites was when on our giant, burly striker went rogue, shouted “FAKE BOARDS” then proceeded to play a 1-2 off the boards to himself. Bemused everyone on the pitch, including himself. There was our classy, small, middle-aged centre-back (whose dad played for Blackpool I believe) who had such a low centre of gravity, that he would go on marauding runs from the back, and leave everyone falling over themselves, stunning everyone. There was a team that gave up at 7-0 down and only ten minutes gone, so walked off the pitch. Or there was a time when a bunch of 16 year olds tried to kick us off the park, but were so small they just bounced off us. Then one of executed a Nigel de Jong-style karate kick on our skipper, and the striker ran into defend him with more love on his face than I’ve ever seen from anyone, a look as if to say “no one is gonna hurt my friend”.

All in all, it’s a right laugh, and look forward to when we can pick it up again. Oh, and it helped us form “4 pint club” on a Monday night, which was nice.


In response to DB I play in a six a side team and a few years back we were short, the coach (the player that organises it) got his older brother to play to make up the numbers. It was against a team where the games always become very physical and feisty. To add to the atmosphere it was a different referee from the usual.

As the game progressed tempers flared and our ringer saw red at a refs decision. Now usually they might get sent off but he’d had enough and walked off the pitch in anger still shouting his mouth off. Game carries on and next minute he’s back on the side lines still huffing and puffing so unhappy with the official he saying he wants his match fee back, so he goes into the ref’s bag on the side-line, into his wallet and take a crisp £5 note out and walks off.

At this point the ref stops the game and goes after him and threatens to press charges, thankfully coach and the offenders brother is a police officer, calm the situation down and returns the money to the referee.

Fair to say it’s one of the funniest incidents I’ve seen at football.
Eddie AVFC


DB’s mail this morning inspired me to share my own experience of Uni 5 a side footy. In my final year we put together a half decent team which included students from Italy, India and Russia. Our 2 best players were our goalie and striker, who both played for the Uni team.

Two moments stand out from that season. The first was when we got to the semi final of our university’s knockout cup competition. As the normal 3G pitches were snowed over, we had to play indoors on a small pitch on a hard gym floor. Our opponents were known for being aggressive, but I was still shocked by what happened next. It was the most brutal game I’ve ever been involved in – in fact it felt more like a game of ice hockey. Every time you ran down the line you’d get a full-on shoulder charge into the wall, and you’d routinely get smashed late after passing the ball. It was carnage. For some reason there was no ref so there was no way to calm things down, so all we could do was to try and match their aggression in order to defend ourselves. At half time our keeper walked straight off the pitch and out of the building, and after a couple of minutes of chat the rest of us agreed to join him, thus conceding the “match”. I’ve never been happier to walk away from a game in my life.

The other one that springs to mind was an end of year charity tournament. We’d all finished our exams, most of us had just got back from an epic road trip to Euro 2008 in Switzerland, and it was a sunny Saturday afternoon – everyone on our team was feeling great. Everyone except our star striker, who for some reason was in a terrible mood. In our first match he annoyed everyone by stopping play every time he thought he’d been fouled (which was any time anyone had the nerve to tackle him). In our second match he actually did get hacked down, and spent the next 10 minutes following the offending player around the pitch swearing at him. But in our third match he totally lost it – someone fouled him so he got up, gave the guy a shove and full-on gobbed in his face. As you can imagine, this sparked a massive 10 man brawl and we were thrown out of the competition. I might remind you at this point that it was a charity tournament. Still makes me chuckle 10 years later.


DB’s message made me laugh and reminded me of my worst amateur 5-a-side moment…

Me and my mates were signed up in the Sheffield Hallam Uni league, and we were absolute toilet (2nd bottom, our only win being a default against the bottom team).

We finally thought we had our big chance, when one evening the opposite team only had 4 players turn up. We had 6 and sportingly offered them our sub “to make a game of it”. They declined which should have set the alarm bells ringing..

Turns out they were 1st team members of Hallam league team using the league for training.

15-1. To them. With 4 players. They took their foot off the gas after the first 5 as well…
Gez Errico


DB (humorous brackets) email brought back both one of my favourite 5-a-side memories.

Being in first year at uni, and not knowing how to get an 11-a-side team together; we decided to join the local Powerleague. We were in a bit more of a fortunate position that the leagues just kept the uni teams together so we thought we could avoid a good kicking.

Midway into our first game, the ball went out of the 5-a-side pitch and actually completely out of the Powerleague compound (not sure compound is the right word). Getting it back would have involved going out of our cage, right around the rest of the pitches, out through reception and across a main road.

Fortunately for us, as man, probably in his mid 40s was walking past and retrieved the ball for us. He walked over, and before he could throw it back he produced a small plastic pot from his back pocket and asked if any of us could “piss” in it for him. A bit taken back, we obviously questioned why and his response was that he had a drugs test that afternoon and needed a clean sample. We obviously weren’t too keen on the idea and wondered if he could just throw the ball back.

Turns out the answer was absolutely not, he dropped the ball and carried on with his day. So there you go.
AM (Manchester)


We’ve had a couple of mails the last couple of days about pupils who became football stars. But I’d like to go the opposite route. It was about 1990,  at the school I attended (Matravers, Westbury) one of our supply teachers was ex England and Bristol City player John Atyeo.

And I have to say one of the loveliest people you could ever meet. I think he won 5 or 6 England caps. He always told us the highlight of his international career was missing a penalty against Brazil.

He was  stand in teacher for any lesson but if you got him for PE then it was the greatest lesson. Most of the time we would just play football (his skill was still in a different world) but he also enjoyed cricket.

The only time I saw him get angry was when a kid flicked an elastic band at another boy. But he  calmed down so quickly and almost apologetically explained that he knew someone who lost the sight in his eye from the same thing.

The village I lived has an Atyeo Close and he is still so highly regarded in the area.

After a quick google search i see he got to play alongside Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews and Nat Lofthouse. I wish we had been slightly older to really appreciate the legend in our school.

Love the website by the way! Long may you continue.
Peter LFC (currently living in Namibia)


In response to DB (humorous brackets) request for bad amateur football tales, I would direct him to my current Monday night 6-a-side team. We entered fairly confidently into the league, until we noticed that every other team was, on average, 10-15 years younger than us. 10 games in, no wins, 24 scored, 106 conceded. Set a record defeat for the league of 23-3. Scored an own goal by smashing a teammate in the face with a clearance. Had one team member attempt to nut another. So far it’s all a bit of a shower. Still, this Monday could be the day we turn it all around, maybe!
TheOneTrueGaz (the results would be less embarrassing if we didn’t turn up and took the automatic 5-0 defeat) 


Hi DB,

London GK  who has recently moved to Leicestershire and could do with the challenge

Credentials :

· 3 League titles and one cup runner up medal in the AFC Saturday leagues

· Was one the 5 a side keeper for Football 365 ‘s original 5 a side team “Rule 1 United” and played in the first Rule North vs South match (up the southerners!).
RH from Barrow

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