Arsenal too eager and over-aroused with echoes of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool…

Editor F365
Arsenal players after conceding a goal
Arsenal collapsed last season

The Monday Mailbox discusses the parallels between Arteta’s Arsenal and Brendan’s Liverpool. Also: the FA Cup semis; Moyes; and Newcastle as the story of the season…

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com

 

Bet on Victor
It’s a bit of a surprise seeing people criticise Lindelof in the mailbox after listening to my family criticise him during the game today. I actually think Lindelof, unlike Maguire, is a very good footballer and that shows when Lindelof is played with Varane or Martinez. Given that I can’t recall any obvious mistakes he’s made to give away goals in games, I wonder where this ill-deserved reputation comes from. I can understand of course that he is tarred with the same brush as Maguire from being part of the Maguire-Lindelof partnership, but to be fair I think we’d all be a) massively nervous in games if your partner was a huge liability b) in two minds as to whether to prepare to cover for him or stick to your man. Does no one remember one of Martinez’ worst games at Utd when he was partnered by Maguire? Brentford 4 – Manchester United 0.

It seems pretty unfair to Lindelof’s reputation that he’s dismissed so wantonly presumably because he’s not English and isn’t very flashy. And to be fair, he’s neither, but he is reliable, he’s good on the ball, he’s a decent passer and he’s pretty solid positionally. He’s not fast but he reads the game well and ends up in the right position more often than not. He’s calm, he doesn’t get many cards, and he bangs away penalties. I think with a run of games and form he’d be a solid CB for most teams in the league, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he leaves in search of more regular football and goes to a very good club in the summer.

To compare him to Maguire right now is probably a bit harsh, because Maguire must be feeling at rock bottom (it’s never so bad it can’t get worse though) but Maguire’s lack of footballing skills can be adequately summarised in the goal he gave away against Sevilla. De Gea got some stick for it being a “hospital ball” but the only blame De Gea should get is for forgetting that Maguire is basically awful when running on such low confidence. If Maguire were a better footballer, he could have simply let the ball run and he’d have been safe. If Maguire had knocked the ball into the spaces to his left and to his right, past the oncoming players, he’d have been in loads of space to play the ball. Instead, his first instinct was to play the ball backwards and sideways to Wan Bisaka and he passed it to En-Nesyri instead showcasing a lack of confidence, a lack of passing ability, a lack of situational awareness, and a lack of footballing skills. There won’t be many teams looking to buy Maguire this summer, and I’d be very surprised if any of them will be playing in the Champions League next season. Personally I don’t think Maguire should start for us again this season – it can’t be good for academy prospects, even at squeaky bum time, even with injuries to watch the club captain shit the bed so hard and still be picked. If I were in the academy I’d be thinking “I could do better” and I probably could.

Lindelof besmirching aside, I thought today’s game was excellent. To borrow a stock line from PES, both teams went at it “hammer and tongs” with both teams playing some good football and creating chances without really having the quality and/or composure to finish. I don’t really think either side could really say they’d done enough to earn it throughout 120 minutes and when it got to penalties it’s always a lottery. From a Man Utd point of view, I thought Wan Bisaka, Fernandes and Antony were excellent and I want to single out Antony in particular. He’s received a lot of flak this season for his high price tag (not his fault) and his showboating (his fault), but over the last few months he’s actually been playing very well, his decision making has been more reliable and he’s been far more effective as a result.
Daniel, Cambridge

 

Erik’s plan
First of all, hats off to Ten Haag and the players for reach another Cup Final, especially Ten Haag given its his first full season in the top tier of English Football. For him to have reached both domestic cup finals when only one player has scored more than 10 goals this season (Rashford) is a very good achievement no matter how you look at it and I hope will give him enough leverage to go after some players in the summer he knows can improve the team.

As I said in my previous posted article, United did need a bit of luck yesterday, given De Gea can’t save penalties in shootouts, but the majority of the penalties from both teams were very good in terms of quality and looked like both managers prepared the players well on this. I do feel for Solly March, I think he’s a great player and has been Brighton’s Top two or three players this season and has always been one of the first team regulars since Brighton got promoted in 2017 without having received any real recognition, but he will bounce back from it for sure. I think he would even cut it at United as a squad player, certainly better than some current attacking players at United’s disposal currently and works hard for the team too.

Its another final to look forward to and given how moany some United fans have been recently after 2-3 bad losses since United won the League cup at the end of February, fans need to look at the positives and be a bit more realistic given the resources Ten Haag currently has at his disposal. Are United at City or the previous Liverpool teams in the last 4-5 years level under Klopp currently? Of course not and still a bit far away from that. But has Ten Haag transformed improved the physical & mental capabilities of the team in less than a year by actually f*cking coaching them and am 99% certain United will grab a Top 4 spot after Spurs got wrecked by Newcastle in the first 21 mins of the game conceding 5 goals. If United beat or draw to Spurs in the next league game and beat Villa at Old Trafford on 30th April, Champions League football for next season is secured.

But will Ten Haag be satisfied with just Champions League football? I don’t think so, and neither should the team. Given the platform Ten Haag has created for himself and the team having reached both domestic cup finals, United have to try and go for the league next season OR sustain the success they have had this season. In my opinion as realistic summer transfers (Although I think the whole United ownership situation with the Glazers may caused some issues in the summer), this is what I think United need to do in terms of action:

To Sell:
Martial (£15-20 million max) – If United are lucky!
Maguire (£20-25 million max) – If United are lucky!
Van Der Beek (£10-15 mil max) – To possibly to go back to Ajax?
Elanga (£5-10 million) – Young player with decent physical ability, but not going to break into the team.
Bailly – I don’t care for how much, just convince another club to sign him!
To Buy:
Kane (£80-85 million) – Won’t be a better chance to sign him and worth the risk given he can score 30 goals in an average Spurs team, can play as a 10 or 9 as well.
Kim Min Jae (£40 million) – Could form a decent partnership with Martinez/Varane. Would have Tomori too, but think he will be too much in term of price.
Ruben Neves (£35-40 million) – Too good a player for Wolves, Fernandes & Dalot can have a word with him in the national team!
Unfortunately, I don’t think United will be able to make much cash from current players in the squad, but if United could sign 2-3 top players in the summer, it will help the team accumulate 80+ points in the league as a starting point.
Rami, Manchester

 

Ref justice
I’m glad I can say this now that we’ve won but yesterday’s semi-final refereeing was bang average. I’ve seen Craig Pawson have good games as a ref, but yesterday he randomly ignored a lot of niggling fouls on both sides, almost as though he was evening out his own errors. But more importantly, Wan Bissaka was rugby-tackled and although he escaped, no yellow card was shown. Anthony Martial was pulled to the ground – I think by Webster, preventing a counter attacking move – again no yellow card. Mitoma went into De Gea at the end when clearly he wasn’t going to get the ball. No card. Admittedly Mitoma was on already on a yellow so that could have been a mitigation as it was nearly at the end of the game – a red card at that stage would have felt a tad unnecessary. But the other two flummoxed me. No doubt Brighton supporters will have picked up their own instances of injustice from the game. Verdict: could do much better.

PS I feel for Solly March. Missing a pen against the De Gea hologram is a career blot.
Ved Sen (MUFC)

 

…After some of the awful mistakes made against them this season, I think it was really good that the PGMOL and Craig Pawson activated the ‘no calls against Brighton’ mode. Pretty good to balance the ole karmic scales.

Bit weird to do it in a cup semi-final though.
Ryan, Bermuda (DDG has never saved a spot kick in a shootout. If he stood still at least one would have just hit him by now)

 

Wembley sh*tshow
Probs not the mail you’d expect to get at 90 mins in a cup final, but it’s just taken 20 mins for Wembley stewards to get a paramedic for a suspected heart attack in the crowd.
20 mins.
Pathetic enough having to come down to the “national stadium” manned with gormless G4S and obese/inept police. Risk lives, f*ck the FA.
Simon MUFC

 

Liverpool fans knew
Remember back when arsenal were flying I sent a letter talking about how city would still win the title?

I talked about how as a Liverpool fan we’ve experienced the machine that is pep’s city and that at times perfection is required to beat them to a title. That just two or three slips and the pep machine slips into gear and goes on a 13 or 14 game winning streak and steals the title.

At the time people just said I was a bitter Liverpool fan, perhaps now you can understand what I was talking about. It’s not a coincidence that the one time we beat city to a title we had to gain such a massive lead that even if they did win their last 13 in a row they still wouldn’t have caught us. Pep and city don’t get the credit they deserve when it comes to tenacity and resilience.

We can call arsenal bottlers (to an extent they are) but in reality they just didn’t know what they were up against but Liverpool fans knew.
Lee

 

It’s 2014 all over again
This Arsenal team reminds me a lot of the Brendan Rodgers Liverpool title push in 2014. Amazing football, smashing teams, then a slip and an over emphasis on goal difference against Palace led to glorious emotional failure as the finish line was nearing.

Arsenal didn’t bottle it against Southampton, it’s just they were too eager. From the first kick off it was heavy metal full throttle headless chicken football. They wanted it too much. Arteta needs to keep them calm but he’s also got caught up in the mayhem and emotion.

Arsenal have spent the money, got the squad and been brilliant this season.

Playing city will actually do them a favour as they know they are the underdogs and will need to be focused.

They will not lose to City, they don’t even have to win but a cheeky punt on 2-1 Arsenal is worth it…..
Hong Kong Ian (send me 20% of your winnings) LFC

 

Arsenal and failure
Long time reader, no timer writer.

Not even an Arsenal fan but my lord Miles you made my blood boil! You’re calling Arteta a bottle job in the still very early stages of his management career despite already winning an FA cup. You use Ferguson and Mourinho as points of reference but at the same age Arteta has been equally if not more successful depending on how you view certain leagues.

The man has changed Arsenal massively for the better and you complain! Are they perfect? No. Will they win the league? Maybe not. Possibly the ridiculously high bar of Man City may pip them to the title but I mean at this moment in time that’s not a bad thing. The thing about sport is there’s only one winner. That’s means everyone else is a loser right? What a world you must live in! Modern fandom truly bemuses me.

To also highlight the miss of a young man who at 19 had the balls to take a penalty in a pressure situation such as that, oh and at West Ham too, is just ludicrous. Same as winners and losers, sometimes penalties get missed. Saka is a star and anyone with any concept of football can see that.

Oh and to top it off you refer to the World Cup winning bottle job Per Mertesacker as a measure of failure. Anyone at any decent level of sport will be nervous about games, occasions etc. As soon as the whistle goes it all melts away and it’s about the game. Breaking news, footballer cares a lot about winning that he gets nervous about it.

Sweet Enola Gay I shouldn’t have bitten!
Alan, Dubai.

…I understand Arsenal fans being frustrated by the last few results, but I feel as though calling Arteta and the players “bottle jobs” or whatever is unhelpfully reductive.

If you look at teams that successfully develop a winning play style and mentality and sustain it over multiple seasons, whether that is City in the Pep era, Liverpool in “mid Klopp”, or the historic Arsenal and United teams of the early Premier League, they all had setbacks, but the personnel (and sometimes the fanbase!) bought into the plan and in hindsight the progress was easy to see.

Obviously it remains to be seen whether this Arsenal team will remain on an upward trajectory, but going from 61 points in 2021 to 69 last year and what will presumably be at least 80+ this year is hardly a *worrying* trend, and it’s a young team that clearly believe in one another, so I don’t see any reason they can’t push higher.

So if you’re an Arsenal fan feeling down about how things are going, I totally get it – I am a Liverpool fan with one league title to enjoy after three 90+ seasons – but looking at your situation dispassionately, you seem to have all the makings of sustainable progress. Whether that turns into trophies mostly depends on how many billions City, Newcastle and Chelsea dope their teams with, but that’s another story for another letter.

As for Per Mertesacker throwing up or whatever that was about, Zidane threw up before scoring a winning penalty against England. The body doesn’t always obey the mind. I dare say Arsenal’s youngsters are probably more interested in and inspired by Mertesacker’s World Cup Winners medal.
Tom

 

…I’ve been a Gunners fan since primary school days; when Ipswich, Coventry, Derby and the likes were in the top flight. We’re still in the top flight aren’t we!?

To paraphrase W.S.C., we shall go on to the end; we shall fight in our six yard box; we shall fight in our 18-yard box; we shall fight in their half and in their box whatever the cost. We shall win the EPL and much more and we shall never surrender!
Gordon

 

…Hi Miles/Stewie/Spud (to be fair think Stewie hasn’t been too bad of late).

Whoever you support (if you are a Gooner it appears you’ve supported Arsenal since they beat Liverpool in 1989 after that miraculous victory at fortress Anfield after supposedly ‘bottling’ (can’t stand that term) the title.

I’ve been a fan for fifty odd years when we weren’t a top of the table side.

DNA? Stupid term. Arteta’s a loser? At Everton he repeatedly won player of the season at the club and if I remember correctly he won Premiership’s players’ of the Season at least once. Also, as a player, he won two FA Cups with Arsenal and Cups and and league titles with Rangers.

He’s won an FA Cup as manager of Arsenal and has been voted Manager of the Month four times in one season putting him alongside Pep and Klopp even though he’s a newbie.

He has brought the team and the crowd together. The atmosphere is incredible at the Emirates now.

Also, if you’re going to mention managerial legends, why can’t you mention Le Professor… you’re not Arsenal.
Chris, glamorous Croydon

 

…Any real arsenal fan knew the title was beyond us this year. Yes I’m disappointed after leading the line for so long that we’re starting to falter (again) but any real Arsenal fan will appreciate the progress we’ve made this year and the fight we’ve shown as only team in the league to come close to city. Miles made some valid points in using B4, it rendered his email not worth the paper it was written on. Away back to bed miles
Mark Burton, Belfast (real Arsenal fan)

 

…What kind of a “lifelong fan” writes the kind of venomously critical, negative and destructive trash that was spewed by Miles?

In August of last year any true Arsenal fan would have given pretty much anything for the kind of season that our hugely talented young team has had so far. And the fact that they still have the Premiership title within their grasp, however tough it may look, at this point of the season, is far beyond what anyone could have expected. They have way out performed what any reasonable person had a right to expect.

As an Arsenal fan since the early 1950’s, when my dad took me to my first Arsenal game, I say: if you’re a supporter, enjoy the ride and revel in where we are right now. If not, please get off the bandwagon and stay off it.
Martin

 

…What a hilarious pile of pathetic guff. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

You’ve got one of the youngest squads in the league, many the players have come through your own academy, who at the start of the season you would have said should be years away from challenging for the title: and they’re still in it. It’s still in their own hands even! And you two “supporters” have thrown in the towel already? Those players deserve better. Just because you’ve given up doesn’t mean they have.

Only one side can win the league each season. Not winning the league doesn’t mean you have “failure in your DNA”.

Alf, (Not even an Arsenal fan), Lancaster

The real triumph
Happy St Totteringham’s Day everyone. Mind the Gap.

That is all
Exiled Gooner (still don’t care about titles, am happy about Champions League footy next season)

Read more: Spurs might not even have hit rock bottom yet despite historic humiliation at Newcastle

 

Toon tonking
20 minutes gone, 5 up! This is beautiful
Ratt Mitchie – NUFC (do I not like this)

 

…This weekend has left me with a lot of thoughts about the league in general (I’m happy to see the same is true of your staff), but if I could be allowed a postscript on my ill-timed mail of Friday last, here it is:

P.S. – The English press has broadly treated Newcastle’s absolute axe-handled beating of Spurs at SJP as a story about Spurs abysmal failures as a team and a club. I can’t deny that there’s a story there, but I don’t think it’s the right one. Right now, if you want to look beyond the title race, Newcastle has to be the story of the season. Nobody, but nobody expected this. Look at that goal differential: this, from a club that almost never had more than one healthy striker until after the World Cup (which is of course when we took what I hope was our one real downturn for the season). But that was my whole point: the story is always about the Big Club.

If Arsenal manage to win it now, theirs will be the most compelling story; I hope they do it, if only in the name of disruption. If City win, it’ll feel like Thanos winning: inevitable. But Newcastle have been a joy to watch this season, and I can’t help loving it, despite the owners. No matter what, NUFC deserves big role in the story of this season.
Chris C, Toon Army DC

 

Reasons to be cheerful
Has any article in the history of football ever aged as badly as this one?!?
Stew, Chicago

Cristian Stellini looks frustrated

Moyes deserves more respect
Wanted to write in for quite a while about this, but I think David Moyes deserves significant reevaluation. There’s something about David Moyes and unfashionable underachievers that just fits. Don’t put him with a top club like Man Utd, a random pairing with Sociedad or a circling the drain for years Sunderland. In Moyes’ first partial season with the hammers he did pretty well and I thought it was kind of a missed opportunity to keep him on, but that never really seemed on the agenda, it was all very “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” behaviour. As Gold and Sullivan opted for the sexy cosmopolitan choice that would take the club properly into the 21st century, Moyes being relevant became irrelevant again, his reputation moderately enhanced but still muck, treated like a complete calamity who sometimes does alright.

Fast forward a couple of years, and again Moyes is brought in to mass disinterest and comedy inspiring analysis, and he ends up on a great run that has a couple of good seasons, GREAT for West Ham standards.

All season however, there’s been an entire “Sack Moyes” vibe. As soon as things drop a tiny bit, people (in the media) are just done with him, they’re bored so they want something to happen, preferably starting with a replacement. It’s insanely cruel, it happened with Roy Hodgson too, sure, he committed the atrocity of not being up to the highest level when tested, but there’s nothing wrong with being a good mid table manager. People just got sick of him that I feel he retired and Palace were okay with going another direction because of nausea over them. The media just seems to get bored of certain people’s existence (happens to players too, Mason Mount recently became one of those “everyone’s bored of him now” types) and unless they do something positive in their next game the overall feeling is “uuhhhhh, we’re bored, we’re so bored, get out, get ouuuuuutttt” and usually that’s what ends up happening, not right away but it usually winds up that way, unless sudden unforseen changes happen like the team building up for years suddenly starts progressing (Brighton, Brentford), stuff that couldn’t have been anticipated!

Under the current run of Moyes West Ham have done something I’ve never seen in my lifetime, have two concurrent seasons of considerable length in Europe. I’ve thought this season Moyes has been getting particularly misjudged among most because last season particularly, it was very well documented, how much West Ham were being competitive domestically and internationally with a squad absolutely whittled down to it’s bare bones. They brought in fresh recruitment in the summer, more in than out, but that team absolutely tired themselves out the season before. It was always going to be hard, especially with another European campaign, but seeing how they take to Europe is seeing the character in his management. West Ham, trying to win something in Europe! Two seasons in a row, from being a fan of football for about 30 years, that’s pretty good going for a club who famously have nothing to play for. Relegations are a quickly rebounded hiccup, 10th just seems like the place they’ll hang about, maybe a couple of decent seasons where they finish 7th within a decade! That’s the West Ham I’ve known, but in the last couple of years the West Ham it’s been have had legitimate European aspirations. It’s crazy, Moyes doesn’t get enough credit.

Next season Moyes and West Ham will be even better. He’s basically doing for them what he did for Everton, actually give people at the club a reason to get up in the morning. A guy like that deserves respect, not repetitive mockery and mistrust.
Dave, Dublin

 

Monday musings
More random points: Excellent article on the Mighty Os. Superb club with outstanding supporters who, as the piece describes, have been right through the wringer since Eddie Hearn left. More of these please F365 and warmest congratulations to Orient who were confirmed as Champions on Saturday.

City v Sheffield United. Nowhere near our best, but through we go, nonetheless. As for the Blades, if they play anything like that next season, then they’ll be fine. As I type, the BHA v United game has just kicked off. In a bit of a quandary as I’d rather face Utd in the final than Brighton but wanting ‘them’ to win makes me reach for the Dettol.

Arsenal. I still don’t see any reason for Gooners to panic just yet. If you’re ‘glass half-full’ then you have the youngest team in the PL who will be a formidable platform to build on for the future. If you’re ‘glass half-empty’ then it’s this very youthfulness that is, perhaps, not used to dealing with the weight of expectation and the pressure that comes with it. Personally, it seems to me that some of that pressure will be off on Wednesday night, and I think Arteta can ‘go for it’ without fear of major criticism. As I’ve said before, it ain’t over until my ex starts to sing.

Spurs. Holy crap on a digestive biscuit. Where to start? I wrote in last week praising Spurs fans for turning up week in and week out despite the shenanigans on and off the pitch and said that I would’ve lost the plot ages ago. Then they go to St James’ Park. It was 14 minutes past three when I got the first version of the “This is the UK Emergency Alert System. Spurs are sh*t” meme.

Funny if you’re not a Tottenham fan but what else can you say? If that wasn’t a team looking to get Stellini sacked, I don’t know what is. Oh, and I’m also not having it that Lloris didn’t appear for the second half because he was injured as reported by Sky. Injured my ar*e. Who on earth is going to take over at the second craziest, bat-sh*t club in the Prem? (Chelsea are way out in front). Sam Allardyce? Because it sure as sh*t isn’t going to be the likes of Nagelsmann etc.
Mark (La la la la la, Oi!) MCFC.