Arsenal ‘dodginess’ delivered their best display in years…

Date published: Sunday 5th July 2020 10:03

Shkodran Mustafi Arsenal

Send your thoughts on Arsenal and anything else to theeditor@football365.com

 

Best performance in years?
It’s the 93rd minute in the Arsenal vs Wolves game and as a longtime fan of the Gunners have to admit that it’s been years since we’ve seen such a performance.

The Londoners seem to be doing really well and it all boils down to good coaching. There’s a system to how Mikel Arteta’s men play and what I love most is the dodginess with how they go about their business.

Wolves would have never seen this coming having won several league games coming into this game without conceding and I thus sense a reawakening soon.
All Arsenal fans should get excited. Up the Gunners!
Baba Neema, Nairobi Kenya

 

 

16 Conclusions: Man Utd v Bournemouth
Dare I say it, but this United side is actually exciting to watch. Here comes Manchester United 16 conclusions

1. The decision to give Ole a long term contract was premature. Many fans wanted Ole fired and replaced with Pochettino once he became available. But Ole has done everything to be given more time with the team playing consistent exciting football for the first time since Ferguson left and showing improvements all around the park.

2. I keep thinking Fernandes’ run of luck will continue and he will prove to be another dud like Depay, Di Maria and many more before him. But boy of boy. What an exciting player he is and United has looked completely transformed since his arrival. When commentators begin comparing a player’s impact to Cantona, you know you got a special player on your hands.

3. Rashford and Martial have both received a lot of stick since they have joined while Greenwood was deemed too young to be a contender for the first team at the start of the season. However, the three have been a revelation. While Rashford started the season spectacularly, Martial has been in red hot form from the restart becoming the only PL player to score 10 goals in 2020. He is also the only player to have scored a hattrick for United under a manager whose name is not Alex Ferguson. Not many may have noticed, but the three have already scored 55 goals this season, 4 ahead of Liverpool’s attacking trio.

4. A few weeks ago, United were being linked with moves for both a striker and right winger. On the evidence of the last few matches, they may not need either with Mason Greenwood starting to put similar numbers to Jadon Sancho in the goals department. To be fair though, Greenwood does lag far behind in the assists department with only 2 assists this season compared to Sancho’s 15. A front 3 of Martial, Rashford, Sancho with Greenwood itching to get in could be a welcome problem that most managers could only dream about.

5. One area that United has struggled with this season is goals from midfield. Though the stats have improved since Fernandes’ arrival and Pogba finally back in action, almost 70% of United’s goals in the PL have come from the trio of Rashford, Martial and Greenwood compared to just 47% for Liverpool. If United expect to compete for the title next year, this area is where they need to improve most.

6. Since Ferguson left, United have struggled to score goals. In the last 4 years, in terms of goals scored, United have finished 5th, 8th, 5th and 5th and a major reason why they have struggled to qualify for the Champions League. Under Mourinho, United did finish 2nd in the PL but still scored only the 5th most goals in the league. After finishing 32 points behind City in the PL last year, the gap has narrowed to just 11 points this year. However, they have scored a massive 25 goals less than City this year.

7. The midfield pairing of Fernandes and Pogba has worked spectacularly from the get go. For years, fans have been saying United need just one more key player for Pogba to fulfil his potential and Fernandes may have done just that. For once, both club and Pogba seem happy with each other and Pogba extending his contract is starting to look like a real possibility.

8. Since Ferguson left, United has seen a number of players and managers come and go through the revolving door. Few players however have shown improvement or fulfilled their potential in a United shirt. Under Ole, that seems to have changed. Under his tutelage, Martial, Rashford and Greenwood have all improved immensely and finally starting to look like world class players. Fernandes has excelled from day 1 while Pogba and Matic have both never played better in a United shirt. Further back, Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Brandon James are starting to excel and providing competition for places.

9. While Matic has been excellent over the last few games, he will be 32 years at the start of the season. If United are to buy just one player over the summer, finding his replacement must be the top priority.

10. Bissaka has always been defensively excellent, but was derided initially for being weak in attack particularly when crossing the ball. The improvement in his attacking prowess this season has been remarkable and he is now easily among the top 3 left backs in the league.

11. Speaking of Bissaka’s ability to cross the ball, nowhere is Ole’s training in evidence than in this area. In past years, United posed absolutely no threat from corners and free kicks whatsoever boasting atrocious conversion figures. This year, they have been far more lethal with Rashford, Pogba, Fernandes and multiple other players capable of scoring from a lethal free kick and able to cross the ball effectively

12. With the left back and right back places pretty much sorted for United (and people seeming to have forgotten whether Dalot still exists), the centre backs position still remains a conundrum. United still boast only the 4th best defense (tied with Man City) in the league and while Maguire and Lindelof have often been excellent, they have equally been capable of amateurish mistakes. Maguire is often too slow while Lindelof has often struggled to clear crosses. Having spent over 100 million on the duo, deciding what to do with the pair may be Ole’s biggest heachaches.

13. Spare a thought for De Gea. From being United’s only shining light for years, he has often become a liability over the last 2 years. De Gea’s weakness has always been not coming outside the goal enough but made up for it by being the planet’s best shot stopper. United may do well to look at the curious case of Guardiola and Joe Hart on how suddenly some keepers can decline. Henderson’s superb form this season gives more urgency to the De Gea decision.

14. Some interesting stats for the last 4 conclusions. Sir Alex Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge of Manchester United was the last time Manchester United scored five times in a single match until today.

15. For years United fans and critics have been saying they need a striker who can score 20 goals per season. Both Rashford and Martial crossed the 20 goals mark for the season today

16. United are now unbeaten in their last 16 games  having drawn just 4 of those games.
Adeel

 

Rivalry v pragmatism
Having just watched the very entertaining United v Bournemouth game, I have a question for fans of the former.  Given what you now know, would you have preferred the season to be declared void and Liverpool not properly won the league, or is United’s current form and potential Champions League qualification more important to you?

Answers on a postcard please.
Rob

 

Premier League medals…
Just to say, I completely agree with Klopp that the whole squad should get a Premier League medal, as football is a team game, and everyone at the club earned that win.

I can always remember there being a rule that you had to play a certain amount of games to qualify for a league medal, which I guess makes sense in a way, but since they brought in the rule where you have to name the squad, as in a 25 man squad list (not including U21 players), anyone named on that list should qualify automatically, as they are a listed member of that Premier League squad. Why have a squad list if they don’t count as members of the squad come the end of the season?
Neill, Ireland

 

Reasons why the bottom five deserve relegation
Hi,

I wish there was an option to relegate more than 3 teams this season. While we can moan about the season the likes of Arsenal and Spurs are having, it really is nothing compared to the dreadfulness of the Premier League’s current bottom five.

Norwich deserve to be relegated for spending next to nothing following a promotion, while already having a thin squad that also lacked quality, especially in defence and central midfield. That is half of your team’s spine. You just can’t place all your survival hopes on the shoulders of one player and hope they bail your ineffective team out of trouble consistently. Speaking of which…

Aston Villa deserve to be relegated for doing a full Fulham/QPR and expecting they could make it work. Imagine buying 17 new first team players (summer + winter) and expecting them to gel and look like a cohesive team. Is it any wonder they completely rely on Grealish, who can only do so much, aka get fouled.

Bournemouth deserve to be relegated for years of bad recruitment, that has been well documented in the mailbox previously. Perfect environment for complacency to fester.

Watford deserve to be relegated for sacking their manager every year and thinking they can get away with it. Worked wonders for Sunderland. Watford even took it to the next level by re-hiring their previously sacked manager. Genius!

West Ham deserve to be relegated for repeating the same mistakes year after year. A club with a vision to grow and to fill a stadium with which neither the fans or the team identifies with. A club without a plan to fulfil the vision. A club with an identity of failing to live up to the expectations. If David Moyes is the answer, then the question must be: “relegation?”  Worked wonders for Sunderland.

It’s an absolute shame that 2 of these teams will avoid relegation and therefore get (yet) another chance to “get it right”. It’s clubs like Wolves, Leicester and Sheffield United that put the teams listed above in shame. There can be no excuses for this level of inadequacy.

PS. Newcastle would also deserve to be relegated because of Mike Ashley, but credit to Steve Bruce for wielding the turmoil as a weapon and making the most out of a sorry situation.
Tommi, Finland

 

Mike Dean…
Can we find a way to stop Mike Dean from refereeing United games? Ideally I’d say all games but if we can start with the United ones I’d be grateful.

Wirral’s own professional scouser Dean just cannot help himself. His agenda is as brazen as it is ugly. Two big calls in United’s destruction of Bournemouth: Bailly handballing outside the box and Rashford level with the defender for the offside. Both fine margins but both backed with video evidence that supported a ruling in United’s favour… and both ruled against United by the plastic scouser Mike Dean.

I haven’t seen ABU365’s take on the contentious decisions yet but I am confident that – even with their own anti-United bias displayed so proudly – that Dean will receive justified condemnation.  At least for that pathetic Santa beard attempt if nothing else.

We are fortunate that Bournemouth were such accommodating guests or else Dean’s agenda could have had a serious effect on the chase for Champions League qualification. But really, the real loser here is football… and fans of football. For anyone who thought they were tuning into Manchester United versus Bournemouth, it soured a seven goal thriller into just another episode of The Mike Dean Show.

In a footballing world that is constantly seeking to better the experience of the game, surely any improvement begins with the removal of Dean.  It’s time.
William Douglas Foster, Stretford

 

Fraudiola…
Yes, City beat Liverpool right when it stopped mattering more, but are we just going to ignore how Pep failed to muster a title challenge?Being second doesn’t necessarily mean that you were a genuine title challenger.

Liverpool have been extremely good, no shame losing to a monstrous team like that but 20 points, even after that win? That’s an embarrassing fall after amassing 100 and 98 points in the last two seasons.

Yes, I understand they lost Laporte, their best center back, to injury but after losing Kompany, they knew what they were in for. It was their mistake to not act swiftly and fill the gap.

But most of all, it’s the fault of Pep who moved Fernandinho there for most games which in turn weakened two positions instead of one. Even playing Eric Garcia more would’ve been better as the drop in quality would’ve been in one position but at least with everyone in their natural position. The lack of Fernandinho from the midfield simply took away the balance of the whole team.

For me, that stubbornness on the part of Pep cost City the title challenge, if not the title itself.

But it seems we are not allowed to criticize Pep and just nod in agreement when people eulogize over him being the best coach in the world. José is derided for not being what he once was but it seems Pep is allowed to feed off his Barca success forever.
The Vocal Minority

 

Next season…
What a last few weeks we have in store as Utd fans. While Liverpools season is practically over with an amazing title win that raised the bar for relentless winning, blowing away even such a good side as City (well done pool – thoroughly deserved), Utd still have a top 4 place to hopefully secure, Europa cup (yes it grinds that we are chasing those first 2) and the FA cup. The latter of these will probably be the most difficult given the sides left in although it is only 2 games to glory.

Who knows what will happen with all the other teams in the mix but I’m looking forward to these games as they come in thick and fast.

However, my main reason for writing in is in anticipation of a fast approaching next season. When this one ends, we won’t have long before the next one starts so who’s going to try and live with pool and city next year?

I’d say Chelsea and Utd are the next most likely. Lampard seems to be doing good things there and I’d love to hear what their fans think? And Utd have gone from an absolute shit show under Jose to having a solid defence, a great counter attacking side and now we actually have a team with no major weaknesses and talent on the bench. AWB, Maguire and Solskjaer instilling confidence and allowing players to play fixed the defence, Pogba and Fernandes fixed the midfield (that Fred and McTominay had stabilised) and that front 3 is pretty damn good right now, just lacking on experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’re title contenders next season unless we sign Van Dijk, Messi and Mbappe in the summer but I do think that 2 or 3 good additions could put us in a place where we might be there or there abouts to push the top 2 close for a good part of the season and maybe be ready to mount a serious challenge in 2 or 3 years time.

Realistically, Matic and Mata are getting on a bit and are not for the future, the defence lacks cover and the attack lacks experience. I like Ighalo but he is clearly not as good as Harry Kane, Mo Salah or Aguero (not many are). 2 or 3 players need to come in to ensure there is more competition for places and a deeper squad than we currently have. Oh and there is a small problem of Liverpool, City and Chelsea also probably strengthening. I do feel the most positive about the team since SAF left and I don’t think 2 or 3 losses in the wrong games this season would change that much.

Any thoughts about your teams future fellow mailboxes? Who else might upset the top 2, top 4? Who might kick on from mid table?
Jon, Cape Town (Jose out, feeling sorry for Spurs fans, that guy is poison and ruining Pochs good work – I cannot fathom why Utd or Spurs even considered him)

 

Jose out…
Good morning,

Jose has lost the plot. He must go

Kind Regards,
George

 

 

Fair props to them, it’s been a good two year run, with some notable highlights and a CL final, but it’s nice to see Spurs finally reverting back to being a bigger mess than us.

Hiring Mourinho has to be one of the most obvious hidings to nothing in the league; the moment St Totteringham’s Day became a distinct possibility again.
Tom (sent as of Saturday morning, watch how we get hosed by Wolves and this mail looks immensely stupid by tea time) Walthamstow

 

Coaching golden era…
I have been thinking about the quality of coaches that English clubs have and am wondering if we are in the greatest ever era of coaching at English football clubs. There is a long history of great coaches winning the English top flight from Chapman to Busby, Shankley, Paisley or Clough And many others pre premier league to Ferguson and Wenger more recently. However, did any of these or any other retired/past managers face as many league, European Champions managing bottom half teams?

From 11th place to 20th place you can find ten national top flight league titles, three champions league medals and 4 managerial cup winners medals (3/7/20). If Mourinho messes up Spurs much more this could increase!

Further down the pyramid is a coach some consider the best in the world tops the championship in Bielsa. I find this astounding and think it means that the quality of football in the top flight should continue to rise along with the England teams future prospects. Calvert Lewis seems invigorated by Ancelotti and Ferguson at Everton while Foden could not be in a better place with Guardiola. Even a mid table team like my beloved Gunners can snag a great coaching prospect who is improving his players (thank god).

I also wonder if this trend will benefit the next generation of English coaches coming through as they learn from the worlds best coaches or if it has begun through Mourinho teaching Lampard. Maybe there could even be an Englishman coaching the premier league winners again one day. Nah, that seems as likely as it finally being Liverpools year, oh wait…
Balham Gooner

 

Pot and Kettle
James Outram, Wirral.  And you accuse me of poetic licence?  Wow.  Just Wow.

On point one:  Google ‘Man City team coach attacked by Liverpool fans’ and three separate videos will be at the top of the page.  I recommend watching the 55 second video posted by The Independent.  But for the best perspective, watch the YouTube footage next to it taken from inside the City coach and THEN tell me it was “A few dickheads lost control and lobbed a few bottles”.  It was serious enough for LFC and Klopp to apologise unreservedly.  Oh, and wasn’t the club fined by UEFA as a result as well?  If you’d (correctly) pointed out that the whole thing need never have happened but for the incompetence of Merseyside Police, then I would’ve been far more sympathetic.  Regardless, the crowd’s behaviour that day was a f*cking disgrace and I’m sure every right-minded supporter would agree.

Point two: Sunday 23rd August 1998.  Second or third matchday of the PL season.  The United coach had been severely delayed (can’t remember why) and, as a result, arrived as the roads around the Boleyn were fairly full.  Word got around and people stayed in Green Street to wait for it.  Consequently, the United coach got pretty much the same reception from West Ham fans as the City one did at Anfield.  Muggins here was part of a Serial tasked with keeping the crowds back from the gates of the club/players car park so that the luxury coach could physically make the left turn into it as this was tight at the best of times.  Spending five or ten minutes (seemed longer trust me) using batons, whilst massively outnumbered, to keep a baying mob back whilst your reinforcements can’t get to you because the crowd in front of them is so thick is not something you tend to forget.  Although I can’t find it, I know it was captured because we ended up having to put a tv crew behind us for their safety when the ‘Lads’ took exception to being filmed (ITV I think.  Not sure).  Some Irons later claimed that it was an outburst of anger directed at Beckham for getting sent off after the Simeone farce.  No, me neither.  So, stick that in your Jesse Lingard sponsored pipe and smoke it.

I’m afraid James that you appear to have focused on just two points in my original mail without context.  I rather suspect that you reacted to the sentence about the City coach and completely ignored the rest of the mail which was generally about ‘respect’.  Allow me to assist by quoting just one part of it:

“Accordingly I was extremely pleased, but not in the slightest surprised, that Guardiola and his senior coaching staff made a point of joining the players in said guard of honour as I think it amply demonstrated the correct amount of respect due to both Klopp and this Liverpool squad.  My point is that there are some LFC mailers on F365 that still don’t get what they’re doing that fuels the fire (“Loving the haters” etc) and I can recall only one LFC fan who wrote in to thank the many supporters who had written in to congratulate their (Liverpool’s) achievement.”

Oh, the irony.

No brackets for you mate.
Mark MCFC

 

So, James Outram, you don’t think those cuddly scousers congregated to attack City’s bus? If that’s the case, how come that, in Manchester, we knew it was going to happen? It may have slipped your memory or (to quote you) “you’re talking out of your arse”.

Everybody knew that a bus greeting was on the way. There was an organised social media campaign to get those innocent scousers out with their flares (I don’t mean ridiculous trousers), displaying their ‘passion, etc. The scouse plod changed City’s bus route and then told everyone which way the bus would now be taking to enable the crowd to ‘greet’ it. We all know what ensued.

I’m aware that Liverpool fans have a certain way of seeing history (it’s almost Trumpian, in fact) but, the problem with bullshit is, if others know the truth, you’re scuppered and you, Mr Outram, are most definitely scuppered.

Now, onto the other mailbox favourite, howls of protest about VAR. Those Spurs fans whinging and wailing about Kane’s should pipe down and remember their joy when Gabriel Jesus ‘winning’ goal was VAR’ed against them, at the Etihad, at the start of the season . I distinctly remember Hugo Lori’s laughing his tits off when he was told the goal had been disallowed because it brushed Aymeric Laporte’s arm on the way through. It was unintentional and did not alter the balls trajectory. However, that ridiculous rule meant that our third goal was wiped away and you left Manchester with a completely undeserved point. Ditto, Mahrez’ goal against Liverpool, the other night.

In essence, don’t whinge too much when you’ve already benefited from the same scenario, elsewhere.

Just trying to help
Levenshulme Blue, Manchester 19

 

Artificial crowd noise
Isn’t all that bad. Of course it doesn’t come close to the emotional backdrop a full stadium provides, but as a (hopefully) temporary solution it definitely does work.
Ryan B

 

Withdrawal symptoms
I am having withdrawal symptoms from my bi-annual fix of international football tournaments where England are massively overhyped and play exceedingly averagely . I shamelessly get caught up in the hype , mainly due to the midfielders and strikers, even fullbacks but never for our clunky defence . Listening to rose-tinted views of how great our defence was at Duetchland 2006 I beg to differ .

Sol Cambell was good , not great , Terry had leadership qualities , good again but not great .The captain at his club ( how many England captains were an overrated club captain made to look slow of mind and body at international tournaments ? ) . I´m looking at you Messrs Adams, Thompson, Wright , Butcher , Hughes et al .

Carragher had a good attitude , he definitely wasn´t a great central defender . Although the best of this bunch Rio Ferdinand was good but great ? I do not think so . Upson got relegated then played , and I use the term loosely, for England´s world cup defence 4 years later

This period doesn´t fill me with hope either . Our current England manager was a central defender and he surely knows, though perhaps doesn´t publicly say , that we are seriously limited at centre back .

John Stones was supposed to blossom, he hasn´t , Joe Gomez ? The jury is still out . Micheal Keane ? Tyrone Mings ? Do me a favour .

The two clowns at United who have multiple caps were in the OK category at best ,  so a move to Roma has probably done one of them good but, alas, not international quality .

First on the team sheet is another captain , nobody really rates slabhead but he gets picked automatically .

Please, can somebody bring my attention to young English centrebacks that can usurp our current international wishywashies ? Or a fullback destined to move , with finesse ,  into the middle ?

Wracking my memory I can only say that Johnathan Woodgate and Bobby Moore were great .

(respectful nod to Kenny Burns , Alan Hansen, Paul McGrath – undoubtedly classy ).

Perhaps the answer is to only think about the bright young prospects in other positions (minus the goalie) , dream of an over adventurous 3-3-3-1 formation .
Peter ( is Tomori a centreback with a bright future ? ) Andalucia

 

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