‘F*ck Arsenal’ – Mikel Arteta’s men ‘haven’t earned’ the title like runners-up Liverpool

Joe Williams
Jurgen Klopp and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

One Liverpool fan in the Mailbox is annoyed that Arsenal are potentially going to win the title after their first ‘decent season in a decade’. Plus, Ruben F**king Dias, Andy Robertson, handball solved and much more…

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com

 

Arsenal haven’t earned it…
I have had a real dichotomy with Arsenal this season. On one hand, you have a pretty well run club that (finally) decided to give a manager enough time to see his vision through, and on top of that, there are some young, talented players coming through and playing an integral part in the club’s success this season. All of these are good positive things.

However, as a Liverpool fan that saw my club get 95+ points in three seasons and only win the title once, it rankles in an admittedly petty way that Arsenal’s first decent season in a decade might see them win the league. It’s not that I want Man City to win it – I’m not getting into the dubious debate about where their funding comes from, but it’s their victim mentality nonsense that comes out every time they get charged with FFP infractions because everyone knows they have been taking the piss there – but I can’t get past the feeling that Arsenal just haven’t earned it properly.

I am not seeking to defend this opinion because I know how flawed and childish it is.

However, having seen them practice the, sigh, “dark arts” like they did on Sunday, killing any momentum that Liverpool were trying to build up by faking injuries etc, and for it to be such a distinct game plan, well, I can’t get past this. It insults the game, the fans, and abuses the rules that we have in place to protect players from actual injuries. I don’t remember seeing anything like that since uber cheat Jose Mourinho was at Chelsea the first time around. It was shit then, and it’s shit now.

So fuck Arsenal.

Oh, thanks to all the posters who replied to my last email about Potter/Lampard for proving my point that the vast majority of posters here have the critical thinking skills of a grapefruit. It wasn’t about the sacking of Potter, it was about sacking any manager and replacing him with Lampard, especially doing this at Chelsea, where Lampard had abjectly failed not very long ago. How’s that working out for you chaps?
Max (Keyboard warriors of the World fill yer boots)

 

Ruben F**king Dias
Just watched the City vs Bayern match and wanted to call out a player who I feel gets ignored by the media, RUBEN DIAS!!

I find it hard to understand why Ruben Dias does not get the plaudits that he so evidently deserves. He has been immense since he joined City in 2020 but you barely hear about it. Is this because he plays for a team whose attackers get most of the plaudits or is this the case of the media appeasing to the larger audience?
Kishan, India (MCFC)

 

Andy Robertson x Constantine Hatzidakis
My two pennies on the Andrew Robertson elbow thing:

1. If he has meant it, then absolutely right the assistant referee is stood down, but in my opinion, brought back in after some support and training etc. Even if not, a break to take him out of the storm won’t harm.
2. This was coming – through a combination of gamesmanship against your team, footballers being sore losers (as most of us are) and a lack of communication and clarity regarding rules the pressure and stress is cranked up. This won’t happen every week but the root cause needs to be looked at. The lack of protection for assistant referees and inconsistent refereeing/use of VAR needs to be addressed first.
3. Andrew Robertson is a little shit from what I’ve seen – fantastic footballer but full of fouls and the ability to wind up other players. Sometimes funny admittedly (especially against Barca) but cannot take it. Not gonna say he deserved it but there is a bit of karma there.
Tom

 

Handball solved…
Morning

Have been banging on about this for years anyway (am sure I have written in about it) and now VAR is what it is surely we can solve the handball rule in about 10seconds

Make it essentially like Hockey feet..! Hits hand. Free kick!

If the ball hit a players hand and changes the outcome of the balls delivery or trajectory   then its handball, regardless of proximity or intention.

If the ball is stopped or changed from its course by a part of the body that is NOT ALLOWED to play it. Free kick. Simples
No arguments, No grey areas
Dont care if your hand is an inch out from your body or in a natural position, it shouldnt make 1 iota of difference, You cant play the ball with your hand!

Yes there maybe a small increase of people attempting to hit players hands in the box..  Good luck to them.. The (massive) goal is surely easier to hit than a (small) hand though….

And we all know when the ball has been deflected to the detriment or sometimes benefit of the team who played the pass.

Job done, 1 rule
Everyone understands it
We dont care you didnt know, we dont care you were falling over, we dont care it was an accident.

You CANNOT play the ball with a hand or arm.

Done!

I just cant understand why we try and worry about whether it was too close, or whether a player meant it.
We all know they almost always mean it, despite the claims of innocence, lets stop pretending.
Al – LFC – Problem solved. Anyone?

 

Embarrassed by your own side (and I’m not talking about footballers…)
When it comes to expressing opinions, a sign that someone has had a “bad take” is when they are expressing a viewpoint which is aligned with your own, but still makes you cringe and feel embarassed by association. On that subject, we have this morning’s two lead mailbox entries, from Dave LFC and Ash (Rashford noooo…):

Dave LFC: I am also a Liverpool supporter. I also thought Liverpool played better yesterday. But where the f**k did this notion that yesterday represented a radical change in tactics come from?  I’m not going to comb through line-by-line of the tactical non-analysis but every sentence is a best-case-scenario which holds no water when placed under any scrutiny. Sure, Trent playing in midfield could create football nirvana where everything goes right for Liverpool and our opponents are flummoxed. Alternatively, it could all go terribly wrong and not work at all next game. Or somewhere in the middle and it works for a few games before opposition managers figure out how to counter-act it. All that aside, the thing which really sticks out is that this (a 2-2 draw vs Arsenal) is “the first time in two years Dave LFC has been excited about this team under Klopp”. We are talking about a team which literally won two cup finals last year, played in a third, and went into the final game of the season still in the title race. What. A. Ridiculous. Thing. To. Say.

Ash: I’m pretty left-leaning and have a lot of time for pointing out inequalities in the world. But this attempt at simplistically associating refereeing/policing with an attack on the working-class is ridiculous. First of all, at the very least, the situation is far more nuanced and complicated, because (please correct me if I’m mistaken!) referees and police are from the same socioeconomic background as footballers/everyday people. Refereeing/policing is not golf, it’s not formula 1, it’s not polo. There probably still is an element of classism which plays into the situation, but it’s a lot more difficult to put your finger on and describe than that. Secondly, on what planet are “referees treated as gods”? Thirdly, back on planet Earth, we have a lack of referees at grassroots level, so while it’s true that there should be the same clear rule about referees not physically touching players, that doesn’t make the instances of player-on-referee violence over recent weeks any less problematic.
Oliver (cringe) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

 

Liverpool’s “Genius” Strategy
……………. so the Anfield strategists have finally seen what the Liverpool support base has been proposing for months – good lord !!!! – it’s been standing out like the proverbial sore thumb !!!

For heaven’s sake move TAA int the (woeful) midfield in spite of Gary Neville’s doubts – give Hendo the Fabinho role.

Until recently the attacking full back replacement was the obstacle with Joe being perhaps not totally adequate, right now, to step up.

…………………. so what price Kyle Walker who Pep says can’t “give him what he wants” – well he can give LFC what we want – extreme pace – physicality – doubles as a central defender if required – has a good attitude – he is 32 so City would probably unload him for a very reasonable fee and he could be precisely what we need for at least 2 years. C’mon you geniuses – move in and do the deal !!!

Oh – and one final thought – I hear the dye is cast but offer Bobby whatever he wants to (do a Denis Bergkamp) stay another year – what a man – what an inspiration !!! Jurgen – make a plan as we say in South Africa – follow your heart and instinct and do what every scouser wants – Bobby’s last Harrah !!!!!
Alan Hatley – Lifelong Pool Fan – YNWA

 

Crystal Palace
Dear Football365,

It’s been a fun couple of weeks, hasn’t it? I’m enjoying football again for some reason.

*I had mixed feelings about Roy Hodgson returning to Crystal Palace. At the end of his previous stint in charge, I think everybody was ready for a change. He had left the club in a very solid position, but had achieved it with some of the least exciting football possible. It felt like the game was entering a new era, one of teams wanting to have possession, create chances and entertain the fans who hadn’t been able to attend games properly for a couple of years. That Hodgson came back to management at Watford, where he, his tactics and his results did absolutely nothing to endear himself to supporters, justified the decision Palace made not to renew his contract. This was further validated by Patrick Vieira’s successful first season, something he repeatedly attributed to the foundation he had inherited.

However, results have not been good in the first three months of 2023 and performances have got steadily worse, with “every game being against someone above us in the table” only a partial and very flimsy excuse. Asking Hodgson to return looked for all the world like Palace saying they were going to bore their way to Premier League survival and deal with everything else at the end of the season. This still seems like the lack of imagination that led to the rumoured frustration from Vieira over transfer dealings: just as how the club couldn’t identify a viable replacement for Conor Gallagher who wasn’t Gallagher himself, it’s curious that the first person they called to take over as manager was the man they had previously decided they’d had enough of.

*Hodgson should not be considered a long term appointment, and if the club have any serious ambition of matching the achievements of the likes of Brentford or Brighton & Hove they will be making efforts to identify his successor: someone whose tactics can build on Hodgson’s platform and who can start in June, ensuring the players have a full preseason with the new manager. An alternative is someone less experienced with Hodgson and Ray Lewington mentoring them.

*While he’s here, though, Hodgson is certainly taking the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong. It was brilliant that his team came out all guns blazing against Leicester City, even if Typical Palace TM meant that we eventually went behind to Ricardo Pereira’s well-taken goal. It was also great to see that, unlike so many times in his previous tenure, this wasn’t the cue for the Eagles to shrug and give up. They redoubled their efforts in attack, and while there was an element of fortune about the equaliser, it came from a superbly struck free kick that, had it gone straight in instead of hitting the crossbar and the goalkeeper’s back, would have been a goal of the month contender. Still, you make your own luck and it clearly gave Palace a confidence boost, as they continued to look the more likely to find a winner.

When it arrived, it was made by one of Hodgson’s favourites, Jordan Ayew, who picked the ball up on the left just inside the City half, and dribbled inside past two opponents. His pass found Jean-Philippe Mateta, whose control on the turn was perfectly weighted to take it away from the defenders but not too close to the goalkeeper, allowing him to fire home. Had he not scored, it would have been an interesting decision for the referee: Harry Souttar clearly had a handful of his shirt in an attempt to impede him, which would surely have meant a penalty and a red card for the City man.

As a sidebar, I should probably apologise to the bloke in the Ship Inn, Porthmadog, whose dog I startled, despite trying to suppress a shout of “Mateta” upon learning the goal had gone in.

*After the match, Brendan Rodgers incorrectly suggested City had done enough to get something from the game, but when you’re outshot 31-3 by a team previously bereft of confidence and organisation, managed by Roy Hodgson, you most certainly haven’t. Perhaps that was part of why City decided enough was enough and dispensed with his services. There were rumblings about transfers but City had been going nowhere for a while and, just like Palace with Vieira, it was time for someone else to have a go.

*Palace’s fate is still in their hands, they have a lot of games against their relegation rivals, so each and every game has to be a statement of intent. Away at Leeds United this Sunday, it looked like Hodgson had reverted to type: sitting deep and inviting the United press, though conceding the first goal when they failed to defend a corner was a nice nod to the Vieira era. Patrick Bamford headed home, which probably felt quite sweet for him after his disappointing loan spell at Palace. I don’t think we’ll ever solve the mystery of why Alan Pardew couldn’t get a tune out of him but Marcelo Bielsa made him one of United’s most important players.

*The Eagles equalised with a set piece routine, as Marc Guehi, fast becoming a Hodgson favourite, finished off a move also involving a flick-on by Jeffrey Schlupp. Right before half time is as good a time as any to level things up, and it certainly changed the momentum of the game. Palace had all the energy in the second half; Eberechi Eze was encouraged to make more forward runs and he combined with Michael Olise to devasting effect on multiple occasions; United simply had no answer to them. Their combination led to Olise’s cross for Ayew to put Palace ahead, then Eze doubled the lead by beginning a counterattack, passing to Olise and prodding home the return ball. Olise, after a long look at Eze (using him by not using him) would then play in Odsonne Edouard to make it 4-1, before Ayew rounded off the scoring by pouncing on a shot from Will Hughes that had been partially blocked.

This was, simply put, the best half game of Crystal Palace’s season so far. Olise becoming the youngest player to record three open play assists and Ayew’s first career Premier League brace get the statistical headlines, but in truth, from front to back the team were superb. They defended in numbers as United chased the game, then sprang forward in numbers to exploit the space.

*After Vieira left, the squad was not broken, it just needed a confidence boost and a bit of organisation. Hodgson has certainly achieved both of those, based on the results and the sources of the goals. There is still a lot of football to be played before the end of the season, starting at Soton on Saturday, but for the moment, South London (and a corner of rural Nottinghamshire) are smiling.
Ed Quoththeraven

 

Dele Alli
Slightly perplexed at F365’s suggestion that Delle Alli might be struggling with mental health issues. Why should he be? Because he’s been snapped doing laughing gas? Wouldn’t this just make him a very silly boy? Why does every young person’s misjudgement have to be explained away these days by allusion to their mental wellbeing? It seems to me this just robs young people of agency and gives them an excuse to indulge in any amount of irresponsible behaviour. If I were Alli’s mate, I’d tell him to stop acting like a prick, face up to his responsibilities and stop wasting his God-given talent before it’s too late.
Matt Pitt