Liverpool and Arsenal and Blow-It Sunday: The first angry Mailbox

Editor F365
Liverpool have five indispensable players
Liverpool have five indispensable players

Liverpool and Arsenal both faltered on Sunday in a brilliant day for Man City but not for the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp gets all barrels.

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What a day
The term ‘catastrophic, disastrous, almighty bottling’ is overused. But.


…Well, what a bloody great weekend that was!

City (finally!) beginning to look ominous again in both the League and Champions League, Liverpool continuing on the increasingly forlorn looking Quadruple season by…falling over again and Arsenal reverting to type and looking, dare I say it…Spursy?

Told myself on Sunday morning that I’d be happy with two draws but don’t be bloody stupid, Lev, it ain’t going to happen. Well, I was right, it didn’t happen! Woo hoo!!!

So, let me get this right…. last Saturday, we played away at Crystal Palace…and won 4-2. This Sunday, Liverpool lost at home, to Crystal Palace. On the 3rd of April, we leathered Aston Villa and, this Sunday, Aston Villa have gone to Arsenal and won…. what can we deduce from this? What’s that you say, City are the Real Deal and the others are just pale shadows? Pretenders, even? OK, fair enough, if you insist…

Hope this letter is OK by everyone because, you know, a City fan writing in…

Ever helpfully.
Levenshulme Blue, Manchester 19


…City fan here. Just wanted to write in and say what a thoroughly marvellous weekend of football that was.


Oh, and for the ‘Emptihad’ lovers, a special mensh to the very visible empty seats at both Anfield and the Emirates before extra time started.

Even more lovely.
Mark (I know but I couldn’t resist). MCFC


Liverpool have only five players who are ‘indispensable’
Well, that was quite the response, Jurgen. Just like after the United debacle.

What the f*** have we done to Szoboszlai? Dude was a world-beater in the fall. Did somebody have a word with him in training? No more of that, mate. Need you to start giving the ball away constantly and make stupid decisions, please. Not joking. Ok, boss, on it.

Blow this f***ing team up.

There are only 5 senior players I think are 100% indispensable: Trent, Mac Allister, Jota, Robertson, Alisson. The rest, frankly, are up for discussion.

And yes, that includes Van Dijk. The Van Dijk who nearly lost that game all by himself, responsible for the first one (has no sense of where the attacker is) and only saved by millimeters by Andy for a second. The slip wasn’t bad luck, either: he overcommits rather than just shepherding the attacker wide, then puts the brakes on when he realizes it. Ends up on his arse. And all those slow, rolling passes of his. So…slow. If he kicked an ostrich egg, it wouldn’t break.

We need an utterly world-class striker, like an expensive one, above all. Possibly two. Like break-the-bank strikers. We can’t score for shit (although way too much will be said about that when it’s really about much more – it’s the decisions and the quality of attacks and chances – most of our missed chances today were desperate, Nunez’s typical garbage aside). Don’t care who we sell, just keep Jota.

Salah, like last spring, has his eye on his own future. It’s possible we waited too long on him, actually, although the Saudis are probably dumb enough to still give us good cash for him.

We need at least two world-class centre-backs. Quansah is now our best central defender.

Amazingly, after what looked like an outstanding midfield rebuild, we desperately need a proper centre midfielder. Mac had to play all three positions today, no matter who partnered him. Our midfield has gone from domination to getting bullied all over the park in a month, sometimes by shite opposition.

(Has Curtis Jones actually released a pass yet, to anyone?)

And we need a captain. Hyypia was big enough to relinquish it to Stevie, even when he didn’t deserve to. VVD is not a captain. His casualness is contagious. If the skipper doesn’t have to run, why should I? Anyone who thinks captains don’t matter doesn’t know the sport.

All of this, ironically, makes Klopp’s departure much more easy to take. He is f***ing done like dinner. Unmotivated players, terrible selections, terrible subs, zero effort to make in-game changes, no apparent scouting of the opposition.

What a collapse this has been. One f***ing trophy. And thrashed all year by the worst United side in memory, with no response.

Get the new man in and get the f***ing chequebook out.
Scott, LFC, Toronto

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Calm down, Scott…
What a frustrating game from the LFC perspective. Created enough chances to win the match handsomely but also gave up enough chances to win it 5-4. That we ended up losing it is a credit to Palace and their application as much as it is a discredit to our forward players’ competence in high pressured goal scoring scenarios, notwithstanding the several ‘Dudek v Shevchenko’ moments.

The rest of the team don’t get off lightly either, the number of misplaced passes coupled with the general poor positional play and poor decision making was so uncharacteristic. Fatigue? Pressure?

It’s not all doom and gloom (although someone should check on Scott in Toronto) as we’re creating loads of chances and have important players coming back from injury. Just need a couple of ‘one of them days’ to also happen in North London and East Manchester….
James Outram, (enjoying our transitional season immensely, despite the past 7 days) Wirral

📣 Straight to the comments, is it? Come this way please…


On Liverpool donkeys and horses
Klopp couldn’t guarantee a result after Thursday night’s debacle, but he did promise a reaction. And the reaction has resulted in downsizing of a three-horse race to two (and as I write this, perhaps to one). Back in the day a certain Special One would’ve characterized his own horse a pony if he were so involved; perhaps the Normal One could’ve similarly assessed his own as such at several points this season.

Speaking of horses I’ve always thought Darwin Nunez seemed the wildest of wild horses, not a coachable one meant for captivity or any form of consistent productivity, but for the occasional untamed bursts of beauty mired deep in all that unpredictability. My wife has simply said, with admirable brevity, that he’s just stupid.

Some time ago there was mailbox chatter about best / worst tv commentators that too quickly fizzled out, and I reckon it’s a good topic for future revisits. American coverage of today’s fixture featured (whom I believe was) the always excellent Stephen Warnock calling the match. On or about 25 minutes Warnock relayed, by way of speaking to Michael Owen, that Darwin would never learn the instincts to make great decisions because that’s precisely what instincts are: natural, innate, unlearned and unlearnable. On 66 minutes off came Darwin for a substitution, with Warnock quick in pointing out the Uruguayan trudging by without offering Diogo Jota any customary respect of exchange.

Anyway it’s probably unfair to pin all this on our no. 9, as the entire team blindly fumbled for glasses while not wearing glasses or something like that. The glaring misses stacked up and were oh so generously shared. But if one is to live and die by the horse they choose to ride, I’d argue this might be embarrassingly close to donkey territory as our title tilt loses legs, horseshoes and all.
Eric, Los Angeles CA


RIP Gegenpressing
With Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool farewell ending in failure and Thomas Tuchel departing Bayern at the end of the season after a disastrous reign, is it time to say a not so fond farewell to Gegenpressing?

A couple of decades ago somebody in Germany, whether it was Ralf Rangnick or Wolfgang Frank or somebody else, looked at the total football model popularised by Johan Cruyff and asked “what if we took the pressing part of this tactic but removed all of the artistry and technical skill when we’re in possession, so that our entire game plan is based around creating goalscoring chances by pressing the opponent into mistakes?”

Klopp and Tuchel took this idea and ran with it, to much fanfare and praise. But it doesn’t make for an entertaining game of football, does it? Nobody falls in love with the beautiful game because of a successfully drilled counter pressing maneuver, we love to watch sweeping passing moves, creative flair and moments of individual brilliance. Yet as the quote from Klopp below surely confirms, Gegenpressing is the antithesis of technical skill and creativity,

“No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good Gegenpressing situation”

What a depressing way of looking at the game. Thankfully both Klopp and Tuchel’s success with the system has been fleeting at best, while Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti have continued to wow us over the years achieving consistent success with sides filled with those playmakers that Klopp thinks so little of.

I’m summary, goodbye Gegenpressing. You won’t be missed.
Keith B


Remember a few years back when people were expressing concern at a Man City hegemony only to face variations of, “Well Liverpool just won the league by 20pts, why aren’t you worried about Liverpool dominating the league for years?!”

Slow hand clap for those guys.
Will, LFC


…Hope you enjoyed the 32nd season of our top top vintage Barclays, and the extraordinary three team title race as a tribute to the 10th anniversary of that race between City, Liverpool and a London club (incl. the Crystanbul redux).

We’ll see you back in August for the next season of Who wants to challenge the Manchester 115ers.
Gaurav MUFC Amsterdam (That’s all folks!)


Heeeeere’s Stewie
First off congrats to Unai Emery: first season at a club that had narrowly avoided relegation, he has taken the same squad that narrowly avoided relegation under Stevie Me, and has them in the Top 4 and the latter stages of Europe in his Debut season!

Oh did I mention he’s schooled Arteta both home and away, without conceding a single goal to Arsenal? On a head to head basis, Arteta has been completely out of his depth tactically, Emery has been far too streetwise.

Weird, cos Arsenal fans tried telling us forever that Emery was useless – of course, as Arsenal fans often do, they’ll start revising history and claim they “never said them things”. Emery’s ability to get Villa in the CL without being handed £400m should absolutely shame Arteta. I won’t even mention that it took Klopp just three full seasons to win a CL, having also taken over a mediocre squad that wasn’t in the CL. Arteta isn’t as amazing as Arsenal fans claim. Who knew? 🙄

Things that are certain in life:

Arsenal choking at the business end of a season
Arsenal going trophyless
Arsenal fans searching for desperate excuses for failure
Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz performing like absolute muck and showing an inability to score a single key goal.

The Arsene Wenger Tribute act that started with that Bayern farce has now reached its natural conclusion, which is that Arsenal have yet again managed to throw away an entire season in the space of a few days.

That Wenger “Loser DNA” that’s so ensconced in the club’s fanbase will continue to be reflected in that team, until real standards are imposed. Real standards, means that court jesters like Jesus, Havertz, Zinchenko and Nketiah should not be anywhere near a serious club. I said it before I’ll say it again: Arteta threw Arsenal’s season away the minute he blew £65m on a mule from West London.

Arsenal played a Top 7 side so naturally, Havertz was absolute turd. He had this season, contributed Zero goals or assists against ManYoo, Citeh, Liverpool, Spurs and Villa. £65m for that?

It never ceases to amaze me that Arsenal fans spend every year mocking Spurs? Are they so blind that they cannot see that ultimately, Arsenal are a Harrods version of Spurs: come rain or shine, the one thing you can absolutely guarantee is that they will never win the PL, no chance of CL and that they’ll choke in the most hilarious manner when the pressure is on.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Arsenal and Arteta have done well, but ultimately, Arteta will never, ever get Arsenal over the line. He’s shown he can get them close to it but the minute the pressure builds, he and his team implode. Every major test has been flunked. Nothing has been learned from last season’s implosion.

Where are all the Arsenal fans who were quick to show off about “not needing a striker” after the latest flat-track Fake victory?🤔 Best CB in Europe “on form”, best CB pairing in Europe “on form”, best attack in Europe “on form”, the Top midfielder in Europe “on form”. And yet, “in real life”, Arsenal will win absolutamente NADA, yet again. 🥱

Remember the fans who railed at Stewie from saying that an ambitious club would absolutely have done everything to try and lure Xabi? Alonso to be clear, will not join Arsenal and will end up at Madrid – but the fact Arsenal fans are so deluded that they called Alonso quote from the mailbox, “Flavour of the Month” should give you an indication as to the misplaced levels of arrogance within that fanbase!

That “flavour of the month”, has just won a Bundesliga title at a canter, against a club with a wage bill higher than all the other 19 Bundesliga teams *combined*! Unbeaten all season, one foot in the semis of Europe and on the verge of a Treble – in his Debut season. How has Alonso managed to get to grips with such managerial adversity in such a short time? He didn’t have Arteta-money to spend did he?

Oh Dear!!! So we are currently on Season 21, Episode 1 of this hilarious Arsenal Truman Show. Maybe one day, they’ll finally figure out how to escape this never-ending, eternal shitshow.
Stewie Griffin (maybe the reason Citeh fans aren’t loudmouths between Jan-March is because come April-May, they’re actually winning big trophies, so don’t need to constantly seek validation)

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Have Arsenal and Liverpool really bottled it, or can they overcome a blip? Join the debate here

What Arsenal need
Arsenal really should take a look at signing Oliver George Arthur Watkins. Boyhood fan and all that.
Niallio, Dublin


The Library was awful quiet
Sky didn’t mention all the empty seats in the library after stoppage time. Must be old Trafford they save that for.

City still have to play Villa. We know Liverpool are guaranteed 3 points there so league battle not over yet, just for Arsenal.
Anthony, Dublin

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Up the Villa
That 2nd half performance was excellent. Almost faultless. Ollie for Player of The Season. Unai for Manager of the Season. Someone check those goalposts at the Emirates – not sure they’re regulation standard. No Kamara, Luiz, Ramsey, Cash, Buendia, Mings… Might have been even better than the Man City win at Villa Park.

Probably a different game without that Martinez save mind. Maybe just the one more pint for me tonight.
Gary AVFC, Oxford. (Annoyed we’ve helped out City).


Even Spurs were cheering on Villa
Never before have I cared less about a place in the Champions League. Aside from the fact 5thll get it. And it’s an absolute car crash of a competition to be in next season.

CUMMON VILLA, you beautiful brummie bastards.
TGWolf (razor blade attatched firmly to my cap) THFC


None of this is funny, F365
It appears to me that F365 is Richard Keys in disguise. On the one hand you’ve got the endless articles about hyperbole, disingenuousness, and its invasion of football writing, and on the other you’re right back into the Arsenal Bottlers narrative after they lost for the only time in the league on 2024.

Arsenal and Liverpool effectively checked out of the league title race today. It’s not funnier to lose to Villa. It’s not bottling it. It’s a loss at elite level that happens. But this publications addiction to a reporting-rhetoric that teams should just win because the game is important is childish.

Did you all bottle your careers by ending up at an average-traffic football site built on WordPress? Or is the route to the highest levels of elite accolade and position hard, along and competitive?

Maybe the site is now click bait. Infuriating, deliberate headlines to gain more engagement? Maybe the commercial team have proven a revenue correlation to such headlines and ad-rev?

I think it’s time you practiced what you preach and stop being the left-wing Martin Samuels.

With thanks


Bottle jobs
We both bottled it.
Aidan, Lfc (but still a few games left)


…OK, so in the ‘Arsenal Title Choking Sweepstake’, who had Mid-April? 🙂

Step forward and collect your prize!
MC, Brentwood


The referee’s a w***er
For those that don’t watch anything other than Premier League football be aware that the referee standard in the Championship is just as shite.

An abysmal penalty was given against my Huddersfield in the 100th minute to deny them 3 precious points in the fight against relegation. It gets worse and worse the more you watch it and the referee guessed at best, reacted to the crowd at worst.

Town have been awful enough without a bollocks decision like this costing them.

I’ve written in before about decisions against Wolves (who my partner supports so I watch them a lot) and asked then when a team is going to take legal action against a referee for career defining decisions. A relegation doesn’t just cost a team tv money. The knock on effect is people losing their jobs as costs have to be cut everywhere.

The solution? A few ideas

1) it’s been mentioned before that referees generally make their way up the ladder from grass routes. Why?? Looking at players, it’s very very few who actually do this and make it at the highest levels. The top players are hand picked at 3/4 and given the very best training. Same should apply to referees

2) mic then up. We’re all adults so can accept swearing but decisions have to be clearly announced, and referees then have to display their knowledge of the rules whilst relaying this to players and fans in the ground

3) have a table of referees with promotion/relegation. At the moment if referees fuck up in the premier league they get a championship match. Why? Their god awful decisions are literally ruining careers – the same should happen to them. Make them accountable for their decisions. Points are given by an independent panel of ex players/referees/managers. Top referees get to keep refereering. Poor ones get relegated. Win/win as referees in the lower leagues will up their game to try and get to the top tier

4) scrap VAR. it’s awful and totally unfit for purpose. See Wolves (too too many to mention) and Brentford first second goal being disallowed yesterday

As much as the penalty decision sticks in the throat one of the benefits of the Championship is when a goal is scored we celebrate. Football is meant to be enjoyed and VAR has sucked that euphoria away from a goal.

Tl:dr – referee standard awful in all divisions. Time for clubs to make a stand.

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