Keep your mails coming to email@example.com…
The case for the prosecution
Completely agree with John Matrix AFC and Michael from Tipperary – in the NFL you can get binned from the game if you rough the kicker deliberately. What was Neil Maupay’s aim when tackling Leno other than trying to injure him? OK, so he was trying to get the ball, granted, but he knew the keeper would go in with his hands and he still goes in feet first, studs and all. So either Mr Maupay hasn’t considered the outcome of his tackle or he has intentionally tried to injure the goalkeeper. I prefer to believe the former, as does Mikel Arteta. With a few exceptions today I don’t think there are many professional players who are out to hurt other professionals unlike in seasons past. So, if players are tackling goalkeepers without considering the impact it will have on the health if the goalkeeper, which they clearly are, then the referee must afford the ‘keeper some form of protection. Had that happened on Saturday, I submit that Mr Maupay wouldn’t have been on the pitch to score the 95th minute winner, or be grabbed around the neck by some young French hooligan. The prosecution rests y’honour.
Exiled Gooner (currently watching Suits. Can you tell?)
Couldn’t agree more with John Matrix AFC. Aside from Maupay clearly jumping with the intention of bumping into Leno mid-air (with no intention of heading the ball) I found myself screaming at the TV at the ref more than my Arsenal. My boy Keown’s pick for man of the match committed three of four yellow card offences and went unpunished. Each time the ref looked like he was more focused on what he might be having for dinner later. Adding to John’s list it’s worth reminding people that Rob Holding was our best defender last season until Marcus Rashford “cheekily bumped him over” at Old Trafford. Not to sh*t on Rashford right now as, off the pitch, he’s the hero of the hour (and rightly so). However, it was another game in which it was clear the opposition were instructed to rough up soft old Arsenal. Rashford went into Holding with a shoulder-to-shoulder, which he knew he’d get away with, with the sole intention of knocking the Arsenal defender over. Holding was robbed of year of his career. I’m sick of pundits defending the Maupay incidents with “he never meant to hurt him”/”it wasn’t malicious”. It was intentional cheating with the possibility of inflicting injury factored in. I hope Maupay gets what he deserves.
Simon (Norf Londoner in Oxford)
In support of the mail this morning about Arsenal getting a rough deal, watching any highlights video of the team from the last decade always makes me sad. The amount of players who were/could have been incredible (Rosicky, Cazorla, Ox, Ramsey, Wilshere, Diaby, Walcott (don’t laugh), Eduardo), all genuine upgrades on what we currently have, and were kicked about all the time and injured is maddening.
In 2014 there was a lot of criticism of our physio room and manager approaches, but even when that changed, there never seemed to be a massive impact.
There was a tackle earlier this season which to me encapsulates the sort of tackle Arsenal players seem to get. I wrote an email into F365 at the time on it; Google Aaron Creswell on Nicholas Pepe and you’ll see a needless lunge. Pretty much any Arsenal fan will have a list of tackles they remember at the time being like ‘What the hell?’ and whilst obviously we have players who have gone in stupidly, I do think there are a lot of teams who think ‘Beating Arsenal is about kicking them’.
Even the humility nonsense from Maupay is indicative, as is anything Deeney always says about the club. Few people think Arsenal are a ‘superior’ club these days, but there persists amongst opponents a vibe that you have to do one over on them to get anything from the game.
Tom (confirmation bias baaaaaby) Walthamstow
Case for the defence?
John matrix AFC… or arsenal players are just made of glass.
Micheal, Tipperary… what about EVERY goalkeeper that jumps for the ball with their knee out to ‘protect’ their body & clatter anyone that jumps with them?
It’s not a conspiracy against arsenal, they’re just a team of bottlers & crap medics/physios & maybe should train on toughening their players up a little.
Marcel G, LFC
To John Matrix AFC and Michael, Tipperary
If we start giving out red cards for those type of challenges, you’ll be seeing a few red cards every game. You also can forget about air challenges and headers. Unlike two footed challenges, air challenges are more broad and less easier to control (two footed are rarely accidental). You will of course be late sometimes in your air timing but that happens with normal challenges too and nobody disputes that this incident was a foul.
Unlike rugby, football is mostly played with your foot which limits your ball play to the ground a lot most of the time. Air challenges and air attempts (headers) opens up a new dimension that’s almost as important as the ground for a game that is mostly played on the ground.
Also definition of a foul is very broad in football (this is the reason why EPL VAR foul decisions, including penalties, tend to be controversial because you have two different referees doing the subjective interpretation). The referee decides when it happens and “excessive” force is used. Leno’s landing may be bad but the foul itself isn’t excessive, a yellow for being late at worst.
Football is a contact sport, injuries happen and these players know that – they’ve been playing the game their whole life. Many actions that can injure players, including ordinary clean tackles, are usually legal. Should we also be giving straight red cards for any ground tackle that is slightly late too?
The problem isnt an anti Arsenal conspiracy, the problem is with Arsenal medical team, fitness regime, playstyle, etc. Afterall, Arsenal lost two players through non-controversial injury in the first 20 minutes vs City. One small sample sure but Arsenal reputation on this is not new and its not just about serious injuries either but repetitive minor injuries.
If the same problem keeps happening to Arsenal, and only Arsenal, for many years then the problem is not football, it’s Arsenal. It is up to Arsenal to adapt to football, not the other way around.
Just weighing in on the Maupay-Leno tackle, after reading Will Ford’s winners and losers.
Look, Maupay may not have intended to injure Leno when he made his challenge, but I bet my life that he intended to disrupt Leno’s play and spook him into cowardice, what did Maupay have to lose at that moment? All he had to do was go for an aggressive challenge and hope for the best.
Maupay may have apologised, but I highly doubt that he regrets his actions, it was a calculated gamble that worked in his favor at the expense of his opponents.
As a consequence, Leno is now out for a whole year, while Maupay gets to bag a win, bragging rights, toss a meek apology somewhere in between before dashing off knowing full well he may have just destroyed somebody’s career.
It’s not your intention that hurts somebody else, it’s the direct consequence of your actions that do.
Also, on the subject of mental toughness in times of adversity. Imagine one of your friends getting broken by a gang of thugs while they try to rob you, how would you feel and react? I’m not sure if trainers and coaches should prepare their players on how to react when somebody gets seriously injured, because serious injuries should be prevented in the first place.
Why the ire at Maguire?
That Harry Maguire really has had a shocking season hasn’t he? What a waste of money. I mean, did you see that mistake he made against Spurs; first game back after no competitive football in three months and the buffoon has the temerity to misread a situation which led to a goal. Utd must have conceded loads with him at the back. What’s that, they have conceded 1.03 goals a game which is a vast improvement on last season’s 1.42 goals a game? And you say they have conceded the same amount of goals as last year’s champions and only Liverpool have conceded less out of the traditional big 6? Well don’t I look foolish for making statements which are baseless and bordering on idiocy.
We can all agree that VVD is the best CB in the PL right now (possibly the world?) and Liverpool have the best defence in the league so using him as a point of reference and talking cold hard stats, this is how Maguire compares to VVD (VVD’s numbers are on the left in this list with Maguire’s on the right – all taken from PL site).
Minutes played: 2,700 – 2,700
Blocks: 11 – 15
Interceptions: 30 – 58
Tackles: 22 – 33
Tackles won: 12 (55%) – 20 (60%)
Last man tackles: 2 – 0
Clearances: 137 – 138
Headed clearances: 67 – 84
Aerial battles won: 153 – 144
Goals scored: 4 – 1
Pass completion: 89% – 86%
Pass forward: 753 – 629
Pass backward: 96 (11%) – 60 (10%)
Now obviously possession stats will impact on how much defending has to be done and Liverpool’s possession has been higher than Utd’s (59% – 53%) but those stats don’t look too shabby do they? And if you look on whoscored, Maguire and VVD both currently in the season best 11 based on ratings (VVD is ahead of Maguire as you would expect). Furthermore, Utd have only conceded 3 goals from counter attacks (the same as Liverpool) so has Maguire’s lack of pace really cost us many goals this season?
In terms of criticisms, we have conceded more from set pieces than I would have liked and Maguire has to take some blame for that. I also think he could have used the ball better at times, as some passes have gone astray, and scored one or two more. Nevertheless, he was brought in to improve our defence (which he has done) and his stats are actually pretty good when compared to the best in the league/world right now. Some of the best defenders in history didn’t have pace so it doesn’t count for everything, and most of the criticisms aimed at Maguire about his lack of pace have been generally baseless or ill-informed.
Garey Vance, MUFC
I know this is a few days late but I seen it mentioned in mediawatch and the partnerships article as well as mails. I’m talking about Maguire not turning for Spurs’ goal on Friday.
The problem wasn’t him not turning, the problem was his positioning (although turning would definitely be a benefit). When Bergwijn broke through, Maguire should have back-tracked two to three steps towards the centre, cutting the option off for Bergwijn and sending him wide. Then he either tries to cross, or stops and plays it back to centre or you make a tackle on the sideline. Turning and making a tackle in the centre is still the most dangerous option, and therefore the least desirable thing to do after what Maguire actually did – made himself thinner sideways and offered the direct route to goal.
Relegation scrap tactics review…
The fella who wrote into the mailbox this morning about the villa has spurred me into action to do the same and try and mix up the usual clubs that people write in about.
Firstly – while Dean Smith will be the ideal man for us back in the Champo he has shown a Uber mega massive lack of knowledge and learning in the prem. He says he’s watched every game played before lockdown during the lockdown. So how he has stuck with the same formation he has used for 90% of the season so far is beyond me. We are definitely more resolute defensively but our lack of ability to hold up the ball up front and create anything offensively is down right embarrassing. To me this has been created by moving Jack out to the left wing (where the best player outside the top 6 is turned into standard mid table player) and sticking with one up front supported by El Ghazi or Trez – both with seemingly the combined heart of a pea. Surely SURELY the answer is to stick Jack at the tip of a diamond with two up front? What think you Villa fans or anyone who actually watches them regularly??
For other supporters who have teams in the relegation scrap – what tactics are your managers completely not seeing and getting wrong?
Duck (BLM = Black Lives are Equal you pillocks)
Arsenal and penalties…
There is something that is really beginning to bug me. Not only do Arsenal seem to concede more penalties than anyone else, but every opposition team always seems to score the penalty too. No one ever misses against us. I can’t remember the last time any team missed a penalty against Arsenal in the Premier League. Does anyone know who last missed in the Premier League against us? I reckon it must be at least 10 years ago.
David N’Gog, the former Liverpool reserve striker, has retired aged 31. He joins an elusive pantheon of nearly men who promised so much yet leave fans with only one or two warm memories and a bad taste of missed opportunity. For some of these players, their careers are cut short by injury or illness, for others the downfall results from laziness or a lack of interest in the game. For N’gog it is difficult to know what went wrong, however there are two great moments that come to mind when recalling his Liverpool years. Firstly, his goal against Man Utd to help Liverpool to a 2-0 win, which prompted Pepe Reina to sprint the length of the field to celebrate with him in front of the Kop. Secondly, his smart goal against Arsenal in a game that is more memorable owing to Joe “Better than Mess” Cole getting himself sent on his Liverpool Premier League debut.
After a hiatus at V followed by pretty strong W team I am really looking forward to the X and Z teams – don’t you go copping out and making a combined XYZ team!
Hi John LFC,
I have to ask this. What’s wrong with having prawn sandwich at games?
The Vocal Minority (Love their sandwich)
We could not keep away from the camera for long so we made a Football365 Isolation Show. Watch it, subscribe and share until we get back in the studio/pub and produce something a little slicker…