Jesus walks among us and he wears Liverpool’s No.5 shirt…

Date published: Sunday 10th February 2019 12:14

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com…

Jesus saves
It’s hard to say if Liverpool were strictly better today or if Bournemouth were just worse than Leicester and West Ham have been. Our defence looked much more solid for certain and somehow Wijnaldum managed to make everything look better in the middle. He even made Milner look better at right back!

There was a time when Wijnaldum was a bit like the Christian version of God; you weren’t sure of his purpose but you felt like he was there for a reason, even if certain days left you doubting his existence. At other times on the really dark days you’d question why he exists only to let bad things happen. This season he’s been a bit more like Jesus; he’s walking the earth, he’s making a difference, you feel his presence (…if you lived in the Middle East 2000 odd years ago that is). I like this version of Gini much more.

Keita confuses me more and more. He looks technically brilliant but I am not sure he really does much serious influencing in games. He does pass and tackle but it never matters. I have a feeling he needs more games and could become very significant at some point. I do hope it’s this year but ultimately he’s a young man in a new league/country; we might not get to see the player we really bought until next year.

Overall a wonderful and much needed result, a team rediscovering their verve at the perfect time and we fans all owe it to this team to just enjoy it from here on. Who cares what the expectations were; this team is boss and could win it or fall short, but it would still be the most balanced and talented squad of Liverpool players I’ve ever watched in my life. And if neutrals would rather see some sketchy oil money with a shoddy human rights record buy the league then good for them, it will literally have no impact on the actual outcome of things. There’s literally no point worrying about all that crap when there’s so much about our own team to enjoy.
Minty, LFC

Another early loser
Spare a thought for the £52million midfielder who can’t make the match day squad for a match against the leagues leakiest defence despite Ole making 6 changes.

Either he is VITAL to the match against PSG (not gonna happen) or so out of favour he can’t be trusted even against Fulham.

It is hard to say whether Fred is a signing symptomatic of United’s recent (apparent) poor scouting structure and is simply not good enough or whether he is struggling to adapt to the league, his surroundings and his teammates.

When fellow Brazilian Fabinho wasn’t getting in the team we heard from Klopp about the need for time to adapt but we haven’t heard anything from Ole or his miserly predecessor about any such promise.

Considering City were also apparently interested I was starting to wonder whether his form was down to poor man management from Mou, but considering an up turn in form hasn’t arrived with Ole as with so many other players (barring Sanchez, but he’s still getting minutes vs Fulham) I wonder what has gone so badly wrong for Fred and if he’s just not good enough.

Whether he’ll be given the chance to come good next season or be shipped out ASAP remains to be seen.
Matt – Japan

 

United are back Pt XI
Watching Man United this afternoon the one thing that stands out more than anything about this renaissance under Solskjær is the spirit that the club, from players all the way to the fans have created. It’s a feel good factor that is clearly not just there because of the recent form, but because people are feeling good. It won’t last forever, it can’t. However there’s a strong chance that it will keep going for a while yet.
You see it every few years with a lower league team that get on an extended and unexpected cup run, or more memorably the recent Leicester title charge. It doesn’t involve the best players or manager, or the biggest transfer budget or stadium to do it. Just belief that grows and grows.
The reason for my mail is that with this in mind, how good can United actually get??? You don’t often get one of the top teams going on these feel good runs generally because the pressure ramps up as hope becomes expectation. Now of course everyone will rightly say that with United’ spending, they should be expecting to win, however I think anyone that has watched them play in the past 4-5 years will say that their fans should just be grateful to see a forward pass from their midfield!
I was dubious about the Solskjær appointment but to be honest if you can make players feel good about playing, what more do you actually need from a manager???
If they lose two or three on the spin, you’d think that having someone behind them, picking them up and motivating would be more beneficial than someone that would publicly roast them to preserve one’s own reputation.

I can’t help but feel that the Liverpool game against United is going to have a major influence on where the title ends up now.

Ps watching Paul Pogba running at full speed, I wonder if United will put him out to stud when his playing days are done????
Chris Hardy

 

And breathe
Crisis over? Or was it even a crisis. Was what Man City went through in December a crisis? No. Or is it just two of the best teams this league has ever seen going toe to toe and setting the bar too high for the rest to even think about challenging. Any person who even has suggested Klopp out, and I know you are out there hang your head in shame. This man has picked us up from nowhere, and built a side that is challenging the best team this country has ever seen. We may win it, they may win it who knows just bloody enjoy it
Ryan Liverpool

…After yesterday’s win, Liverpool’s ‘crisis’ is over. They truely are the bestest team the world has ever seen…unless they lose next week and then they’re a pack of scurvy dogs with 1 win in 4.

The media are often hyperbolic bellends, but maybe they’re also like someone who forces you to hold your arms up at the top of a rollercoaster…yes, they’re assholes but once it’s over you begrudgingly admit the extremes made it all the more exciting.
Aidan, Lfc (they’re still bellends though)

 

…Some thoughts on Liverpool.

1) A good time to return to winning ways following that mid-season blip. Dividing the Premier League season into three parts with 13, 13 and 12 games in each part, our record reads:
1st part: W 10 D 3 L 0- 33 points
2nd part: W 10 D 2 L 1-32 points

We have already played 7 out of 10 games against the BIg Six and 6 out of the remaining 12 games are against the current bottom six. It is an excellent position to be in and the run-in starts now.

2) Coming to the game itself, and it was interesting to see Klopp using the 4-3-3 against a lesser side. A formation that was typically reserved for the bigger games and one that relies heavily on Klopp’s pressing.
Klopp has constantly spoken of forming a basis to achieve our targets this season and I think that the defensive 4-2-3-1 formation ( 6 defenders and 4 attackers as Rafa would say) used in the early part of the season allowed us to accrue enough points without physically over-exerting.
I expect to see us use the 4-3-3 with Fabinho, Winni and Keita/Hendo our starting midfield 3. The return of AOC in the latter part of the season would also help.

3) It is about time Wijnaldum gets some recognition for the amount of work he does. He was brilliant as always and is currently a shoo-in for the PL team of the year. The stodginess that F365 constantly refers to was nowhere to be seen.

4) And that is because Keita finally had one of his much, much better games. ALways at ease with the ball. creating chances regularly and dovetailed with Winni well to support the attack. The 4-3-3 seems to suit most of our players barring Fabinho who may now hopefully get to grips with it.

5) The only negative about that performance was the scoreline. We could have scored way more and goal difference can play an important role in the end. 2013-2014 was all about GD and we imploded at Palace only because we were chasing more goals.
That and Man U’s form. They are playing so well at the moment and coupled with PSG’s injury crisis, may gain even more confidence if they beat them.
Sid, LFC, India.

 

F365’s early loser: F365
So the biggest losers are ‘the Liverpool have blown it brigade?’. Do you know how stupid that makes you lot at Football365 look? You were/are the leaders of the ‘charge’ of that very brigade !

Liverpool have quite an easy run in (four potentially hard games although I think you can flush Everton down the toilet). A we’ll see how the Citeh Chavski game pans out shall we?

It’s not over until the fat lady sings etc etc but Liverpool beat Bournemouth at home…. what an achievement !

I don’t want Liverpool to do it because I don’t like them but I never jumped on the 365 wagon!

Arsenal can actually still finish fourth you know, no matter how crap we are…. ever thought about that ?

Have a lovely evening xxx
Chris, Croydon

 

Arsenal’s defence
I am a long time reader of F365, an Arsenal fan who tries to remain fair and objective, and I’ve never taken serious issue with any of the articles written about us, until I read Mr. newkey-Burden’s recent piece, which, to me, was very one sided, narrow sighted, and unfair.

It begins as it means to go on, talking about the year 2023, attenpting, what I assume, is humour in suggesting everything will be much the same as it is now, as if any of the examples he cited are cars of history repeating themselves endlessly. It was poorly executed.

The next two paragraphs are reasonable enough, though I’d maintain Arsenal still has the worst fans in the league, and we are still prone to hyperbole and hysteria following any form of pattern in our performances. It isn’t as bad as the final Wenger years, but it won’t take much for it to come up from the depths.

It all goes downhill from there. It’s true that £70 million was spent on a new spine, and that’s exactly what they are – new. Each have come in and done a job, to various degrees. Sokratis seems to be exactly the kind of no nonsense defender we have needed, whilst Leno has been inconsistent, but shown glimpses of potential. Torreira has arguably been the outstanding signing of the summer transfer window, so his integration of those players can’t really be called into question.

Furthermore, our problem has been deeper than needing only to replace a spine. Culturally the players had become complacent, the squad lacked a depth of quality, and as a unit, we have been putting square pegs in round homes for quite some time. We arguably haven’t had quality wingers since the Invincibles era, and only recently have we finally gotten a front line together that is Champions League worthy.

£70 million on a new spine is about the same as what Liverpool spent on one centre back, Chelsea spent on a keeper, or City spent on a full back. It’s a mediocre amount of money by today’s standards, and no one thought that those three would be enough to solve our defensive issues. Eight months to coach them, to acclimatise to the Premiership, and compete against the club’s we are, is hardly enough time to say it’s never too early.

“What the frig is goin on?”, asks the author, and the answer is simple. Our issues are several fold:

1 – Injuries: there is nothing “inevitable” about an injury crisis. We have no had a steady back four for the entire season to date. Every single player has had knocks of varying degrees, and our three promising young defenders have missed months between them, with two now out for the season. Holding was begining to settle in whilst Koscielny was recovering, Bellerin has put in better performances this year than last, whilst Mavropanos is only just coming back. Added to that, the senior defenders have been going through revolving doors. Had any other top club had the injuries we had in defence this year, they’d have struggled. Letting Chambers go on loan at the start of the season was perfectly reasonable, he has come in at Fulham in new positions, and will return to us a better player.

2 – The Board: Kroenke’s teams are usually not challenging for honours, and our “self sustaining” model is code for more austerity ahead compared to our competitors. I doubt we will be going for the world’s best any time soon, and when you are spending in the £20-£30 million bracket, you’re likely to end up with as many duds as successes in today’s market. Emery stated we wanted defenders in January. The fact none came in seems to indicate he was hamstrung in the window. If Emery allegedly sees Mustafi as one of our more reliable defenders, that would be be necessity, not choice.

3 – Time: I’m sure Emery did come in with a forensic analysis file full of points on our weaknesses. I imagine they are as obvious to him as they are to Mr Newkey-Burden. I also imagine when he sat with the board and Gazidis he didn’t claim he would resolve it all by Christmas, no matter what injuries or financial restrictions arise. We have been shambolic at the back, but no more so than when Klopp took over, than when Guardiola took over and so on. How many windows sis it take for them to fix their defensive issues? How many hundreds of millions did they spend? Another article recently commented on how Klopp normally resolves issues by throwing more money at it, whilst City’s spending and money wasted in defenders over the last few seasons goes without saying.

When I see Emery, I don’t see someone increasingly baffled. I see someone who is frustrated with the combination of factors that have been holding us back. For sure, he has made mistakes, especially in how we begin matches, but he has been bold, and every players has commented on how the club feels different, more intense, more competitive. Though they are not quite like for like, compare Emery’s tenure to those who replaced Ferguson. Almost without exception, whenever you get a major change of management after a long time, there are growing pains. Other managers could have come in, and done far worse given the I juries we had.

That we are within touching distance of the top four despite the scale of change at all levels of the club should be applauded. If people are saying it’s “too early” in 18 months time, then fair play, by then we would have had more than enough time, and it would be ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

Comparing us to Its and Solskjaer is yet another example of selective comparisons to reinforce a false narrative. Utd were horrendous when he took over, with an almost fully fit squad, who, on paper, are better than us. He has gone 11 unbeaten, Emery went 22. He has largely had easy matches, and Utd now are finally playing at the level they should have, given their personnel. Utd were hugely underperforming under Jose, and there was always a feeling that morale was gone, and players were playing nowhere near there potential. At Arsenal, I’d argue that we are basically playing as well as can be expected given the players we have, and morale remains high. Cherry picking an apple to orange comparison to illustrate a non-point is poor form.

Since Emery has come in, we have developed a steel in our performances that we didn’t have before. Young players are getting s chance again, and improvements can be seen almost to a man. It’s not been a perfect season by any means, we definitely need further changes, and most of all, Emery needs time. The entire article felt a little pointless upon rereading, a shallow reaction that is part of the Twitter culture (even using one Twitter quote with 6th repeated a dozen times), with few mitigating circumstances being given enough weight, and almost all nuance or depth of analysis. Even the conclusion seems to hint that there was no specific point the writer was aiming to build to. It basically ends with “Utd like Ole, so be more like him.”, Finishing as nonsensically as it began, with a vague reference to philosophy. The author seems to make the same mistake your average ADD suffering football makes – to see and laud a manager’s philosophy when all is going well, then to question it and compare it to others as soon as there are setbacks. If you can’t see what Emery is trying to do, please research more.

I appreciate F365 for how thoughtful and reasoned it’s articles tend to be. This would barely have gotten a passing grade at GCSE. Please do better next time.

Warm regards,
Soheil

 

Saints’ defence
Yet to be released statement from that disgraceful Southampton fan…:

“Yesterday afternoon I was in a football stadium with some friends and I saw our photo being taken. I waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to zoom out and get a wider angle, and at the same time put my hands out wide.

“It’s been brought to my attention that frozen in a moment by the camera this looks like I’m imitating a plane. I can assure everyone I would never ever do that and any resemblance to that kind of gesture is absolutely coincidental.”
HJ

 

The St Mary’s Beckenbauer
It was inevitable after so much praise on Friday for Ralph Hasenhüttl that Southampton would lose this weekend. But the late late loss overshadowed the tactical shocker of the season: Jack ‘Der Kaiser’ Stephens repeatedly striding forward into attack like Franz Beckenbauer in his prime. He was even wearing number 5!

Sadly, it had no real effect on the outcome, unless it inspired Stephens to get a late game-tying goal and then give the ball away to help Cardiff get the winner.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA

 

…I want to take a few seconds to commend and thank F365 for their consistently excellent content. This is inspired by a read of the latest Peter Goldstein piece on Southampton under Hasenhüttl. The article was extremely informative, particularly as I know next to nothing about this current Southampton team and how it plays. Also, this excellence is always maintained across the regular articles (e.g. Mediawatch, Big Weekend, etc…).

Keep up the good work!
James Jones, STFC

 

The problem with sin-bins
Most people seem to think that sin bins will lead to some spectacular displays of football whilst one team is down to 10 men. I actually think it will ruins matches.

Here’s why: Let’s say Utd are playing Brighton and Pogba gets 10 mins for abusing the ref. Utd proceed to sit back whilst Brighton run themselves into the ground trying to take advantage. As soon as Pogba comes back on and the teams are level, Utd will resume playing and Brighton will be too knackered to resist. People already complain that the spectacle of a game can be ruined when a player is sent off, I fail to see how this will be any different.

I’m all for anything to stops the constant complaining to the referee, but the rules are already there, they just refuse to enforce them regularly. If the idea is to avoid having a player dismissed for dissent then why not have the offenders name recorded and suspensions for repeat offenders? In the same way that a player might be warned before being booked they could be warned that if they carry on during the game then their name will be taken. No need to ruin the match in progress and whereas fans might not be bothered about their player being binned for 10 minutes aslong as they get a result, they’ll be more bothered if he’s constantly getting suspended.

At the end of the day the idea is that once they start enforcing the rules(with whatever punishment they choose) the offences will gradually stop. I’d just prefer the punishment to be one that can be implemented without ruining individual games whilst the message filters across.
Steve(Insert witty nickname here)

Modern day Bergkamp and Henry
I had this question posed to me by a friend, he saw it on some forum or other and some of the answers given were atrocious so I thought I’d put it to the esteemed minds of the F365 Mailbox.

The thing that makes it interesting is that Henry and Bergkamp were not exactly a “strike force duo” so you have to find the other play who is in between that number 10/second striker role. Or alternately work the other way and start with an elite striker.

Unfortunately the best I can do with this exercise is something like Mahrez/Vardy a few years ago or Harry Kane/Alli when Alli was in his pomp (although maybe you sub in Eriksen or Son these days?) Anyone else care to take a stab or to explain why this comparison won’t work in 2019?
Chase (Arsenal ’til I die) Jaycox, Brooklyn


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