Arsenal’s new nadir is for the best. And other mails…

Editor F365

Keep your mails coming in to…


For the best
I know for many Arsenal fans it won’t feel like it; but crashing out of the Europa League and potentially finishing the season in the bottom half of the table could be the best thing that‘s happened to the club… if (and it’s a big if) it catalyses KSE to sell up.

It’s clear that poor recruitment and player management has left Arsenal with an unbalanced and sub-par squad when compared with peers. It’s also clear that Arteta is woefully out of his depth managing a Premier League football club. However, both of these issues are symptoms and not causes. The cause is the totally incompetent leadership at the club.

KSE, the Board of Directors, Vinai, Edu, Arteta – none of them have any iota of an idea about how to run an effective football club, let alone one that wants to challenge for the top. It will stay that way too; until someone smart, capable and competent takes the lead.

I hope that person is Daniel Ek and I hope KSE sells to him imminently rather than leaving it until late summer or next season, inviting Arsenal to slide even further. If so, tonight and this season as a whole will have been worth it.
Ben (London)

Ridiculous statistics
Between August 2015 and August 2020, Arsenal were held scoreless five times at the Emirates

Between August 2020 and now, they have failed to score on TEN occasions

Arsenal won 14 PL matches at home in Emery’ first season. They won 15 PL matches at home and drew two in Wenger’s last season.

Contrast with Arteta whose team has been lost SEVEN matches at home and failed to score in EIGHT of 17 matches. 19 goals in 17 matches at home is PATHETIC. Arsenal scored more goals at home in the 17/18 season than they have in the ENTIRE 20/21 PL season

According to Opta data since 2003, Arsenal have managed THREE OR FEWER shots five times in the Premier League – FOUR of those have been games under Mikel Arteta.


F365 Says: Method in Arteta’s madness is scant consolation for Arsenal


City without talent
Watching Arsenal struggle tonight against what was a very well drilled, organised Villareal side, I saw the fury of people saying we need to get rid of Arteta. Our worst league season for decades, no European football, poor results, poor football, its not been great. Would another manager do better? Probably, almost definitely, but who would come to us right now. Arteta will be a good manager, but he has to learn a big lesson, fast.

What struck me most whilst watching though, over the season not just tonightwas how similar Arsenal want to play to Man City. Its an absolutely dire, uninspiring and completely ineffective version of City, but the pieces Arteta is trying to put into place are there. The slow careful build up play, playing out from the back, switching play to stretch the opposition, midfielders sitting to cover full backs and more.

Problem is, Arteta just doesn’t have the players to pull this off and this is his biggest of a number of downfalls. We don’t have a goalkeeper with amazing distribution, or intelligent players to move and create space for themselves to receive the ball. They aren’t technically gifted to play one twos to go through the gears in attack, we don’t have consistent goalscorers to attack the wide areas. We don’t have late runners into the box to receive deep crosses. We arent City and shouldn’t play like them.

Even worse, this strategy and tactic is being drilled into a team that can’t go and buy the missing pieces. We can’t afford a Fernandinho to stop counter attacks, an Ederson to start attacks, a De Bruyne to cut teams open or a Mahrez to add the final finish. So the process we are on won’t suddenly get better with a full pre-season as the players just aren’t at the technical level needed I don’t think and we can’t go and buy them.

So what do we have? We have CBs who are actually great at clearances and winning aerial duels, 2 full backs in Tierney and Chambers who can defend narrow all day long, we have 2 midfielders in Partey and Xhaka who can pick a long range pass, we have pace and dribbling with Pepe, Saka and ESR and pace and finishing with Aubameyang. We should be playing quick counter attacking football, letting the opposition come onto us and breaking at speed. But I don’t think Arteta would accept that. Or Arsenal fans probably.

Arteta, if he keeps his job into next season needs to start well or he will lose any goodwill he has left very quickly. It might be a good place to start by looking at what his team can actually do and not what he wants them to do. It worked well last season, maybe it would work well again…
Rob A (also, you don’t have to wait till the 70th minute to make a substitute) AFC

Good ebening
Genuine question for the Arsenal fans, is Mikel Arteta truly better than Unai Emery?

Three shots on target over 180 minutes of football, I’m no expert on the Gunners but you’re ninth, out of Europe and your former manager deemed not good enough knocks you out of the competition you needed to win to qualify for the Champions League, surely you can and do, deserve better than this.
Mikey, CFC (Graham Potter? He certainly has that attacking style)


…Well, at least I don’t have to watch Arsenal get battered by Manyoo in the final now…
Adonis (Predicting a Stewie Griffin email about Arteta/Emery) Stevenson, AFC


…Hi Arsenal fans. It’s so easy to laugh at you all, and hate to kick you all when you’re done but…what was that excuse you’d all perfected for years under Wenger? Aaah yes. “We cannot compete with teams with superior firepower”.
Villarreal wage bill: £40m
Arsenal wage bill: £235m

Here’s another one:
“Emery isn’t good enough for us”

Unai Emery has more European pedigree than Wenger’s entire career and more European trophies in 5 years than Arsenal have had in 50. Last night, the manager who made a European final with an inferior squad to Arteta’s and was 3 points off CL football, laughed last. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s clueless fans will “trust the process” of letting the work experience lad from Spain run their club into the ground, as they slump in mid-table. Hilarious. Richly deserved.
Stewie Griffin (incredible to see Arsenal stroll around for 90 minutes as if they were winning the tie 5-0 on aggregate).


…Having watched Man City and Chelsea school two of the top teams in Europe this week, and knowing Man United pretty much had their Europa League final place on lock from last week, I just knew Arsenal were going to be the weak link. Most of us knew.

But this was beyond bad. This wasn’t the chaotic but courageous exit on away goals I half expected, this was… nothing. A semi final tie we were already losing started with all the energy and urgency of a slug and barely picked up from there. Our most influential attacking players in recent weeks, Lacazette and Martinelli, were on the bench, waiting for…. I dunno, an important game where an early goal is crucial to settle the nerves and control the tie, maybe?

Villareal will travel back to Spain unable to believe how easy that was.

After enduring the not undeserved mockery for somehow being included in the ESL nonsense, Arsenal completely blew the opportunity to earn a tiny amount of redemption.

We have a long way to go.

…watched a few mins of Man U – Roma to see if it was worth it. It looked a bit like Man U would eventually get hold of the game so switched over while it was 0-0 thinking I can always come back to this if it gets exciting. After about one or 2 minutes of the Arsenal game though I could not face watching football at all, admittedly I was tired last night, but there’s just something entirely brutal about watching Arsenal that makes you think I can do so much better than this, even if it’s literally doing nothing at all.
Finlay x 


In summary
Thomas Partey is absolutely sh*te. This competition must be fairly lame if we can make the semi finals.

I could write more but maybe I’d never stop

Rob Holding reacts

The art of defending
Thirteen goals in two games. Between two teams trying to get into a final.

I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it’s a thing.

Football, eh.
Niallio, Dublin


F365 Features: Three questions for each of the Premier League’s Big Six


Falling empires
As I start, can I repeat that I am the only Blue in a Red family. 48 years of football ‘Bantz’ with those closest to you means that you are able to discuss all things United and City without having to smash the house up or disown your kin.

Bristol Blue beat me to it yesterday as I was also struck at how many mails were published, in the week we finally reached a CL final, having digs at City. A couple stand out. One was from a mailer saying he couldn’t watch City as they ‘left him cold’. Another saying, essentially, that Foden wasn’t all that and a third describing how he didn’t watch City v PSG but read a book instead. And yet, still felt compelled to write in describing his own ruminations as to why this was.

I don’t think you need to be Sigmund Freud to figure the last one out. Back in the day, when Utd were in their pomp, I wouldn’t watch Utd CL games either. Unless of course they were getting stuffed or unexpectedly behind, when I would view it with intense interest hoping they’d lose. On the other hand, I had absolutely no problem watching Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool CL games because, at the time, City’s main seasonal aim was to stay above the bottom four, and not always succeeding.

In addition, it is surely pure coincidence that all of the anti-City mails this week have been from Utd and Liverpool fans. The two things are, I would respectfully suggest, related. It’s a matter of threat. Liverpool, Arsenal and United have, in their own time frames, been Top Dog and, for two of them, for a long time. City, during all three-time frames were, frankly, crap although we had our own treasured moments and players at the same time. Not anymore. As I type, Arsenal have been dumped out of the EL, United might win the same competition and are second in the PL (not too shabby) and Liverpool are on course to win the poisoned chalice of the ECL.

City on the other hand?

If we used to be called ‘Bitter Blues’, then what name should we now use to describe the jealous ‘Reds’ (of both Cities?). Because, and let’s call it as it is folks, jealousy is exactly what it is.

Which brings me neatly to the OT ‘riots’ last week. It’s my contention that they were nothing to do with the ESL but rather because of jealousy and desperation. Why? Because when the ‘Green & Gold’ demos began when the Glazers took over, thousands of what I would describe as TRUE United supporters, didn’t vacillate or waffle. They acted on their principles. They walked out and created FC United of Manchester.

Want to know what their 5 founding principles are? Here you go:

1. FC United is a not-for-profit, community football club that is owned by and democratically run on a ‘one member, one vote’ basis by its supporters.

2. The club was established in 2005 in protest to Malcolm Glazer’s hostile takeover of Manchester United but that wasn’t the only reason and we’ve come a long way since then.

3. Thanks to our founding principles, the club is committed to delivering affordable football to as many people as possible and has developed strong links with the local community.

4. The club’s supporters helped to fund our 4,700-capacity ground at Broadhurst Park, Moston which opened in May 2015 with thanks also to Manchester City Council, Sport England and the Football Foundation.

5. During the pandemic, FC United has used Broadhurst Park to run one of Manchester’s busiest food hubs with volunteers providing food, supplies and comfort to hundreds of people who need it most.

Do any of the above five points chime with what MUFC supporters have been saying over the past two weeks? Well, worry no more you Red Devils, salvation is there waiting for you right now at Broadhurst Park! What are you waiting for?
Mark (City will not dominate for long, if at all. All empires fall). MCFC.

A rallying call
The ideas that the owners of football clubs, and the founders of the, for now, defunct Super League have of football fans were quite interesting to say the least and truly appalling and quite laughable. The ideas that football fans have of each other is also truly interesting and something that’s been intriguing to watch.

It also always makes me laugh that the go-to way to make sense of anything is for them to be listed or put into boxes and groups and have defining characteristics. Especially people, who are a myriad of things and feelings constantly (and hopefully) evolving. There’s always going to be someone or many who don’t fall into any of the boxes or is a little bit of everything or some of the things. An exercise that started off trying to find common things to unite groups then inevitably turns into a way to divide and separate and look for the “best” or the ‘top of the heap’. Funny way to socialize people eh? Doesn’t seem like the best way to promote diversity or community by dividing and rounding up all the same then saying go mingle with the others not like you.

We all have many different things that we love or loathe about football and our football teams and many different reasons why we started loving football or watching it but the underpinning common thing that unites every football fan is we love the game. Our perspectives and ideas about how it is and how it should be run by the governing bodies may differ but we all love the game itself, wherever and however we watch the professional game now.

I’ve noticed that there seem to be many English fans who have over the years on different platforms, made their thoughts known about fans from other parts of the world and while they seem to begrudgingly tolerate that the globalization of the sport has brought foreign money, players and coaches to the general improvement of the sport in England; it’s the fan from overseas that they really can’t or won’t seem to understand and very often ascribe it to being a somewhat childish need to be linked to serial winners so plastic fans or they just want entertainment on their TV’s and maybe they really like whichever football team they chose to follow. They don’t really care about that fan unless the Super League founders tell them well, that fan is going pay us more money so we’re changing the game to accommodate them when actually no such thing happened or was going to happen because of this fictitious “Global Fan”. They also don’t care about that fan until they feel the need to reply to comments or tweets about their football team with – you’re not even English, do you even speak English, you don’t understand, have you ever even been to a game? Have you been to more than one game? Making the supporting of a football team something that needs to be earned (can’t have anything unless you’ve earned it and we’ll keep moving the goalposts so you’ll just have to keep trying). Then the Super League was going to move the game to this Global fan (I’m assuming I can’t even remember if this was part of their Super Plan, but it feels like something Perez touted) and suddenly the traditions and roots and history of English football needed to be cared about by the Global fan…who not so long ago was told to watch football in their own country. Support your own teams they tell you.

Well, we do. So we also know about the ruination of the local football traditions and game in our communities or countries and continent, because European and English football has been hollowing out all the talent from Africa, The Americas and other smaller European nations for years and years and years and years. If we agree that football needs to be more equitably run we mean that for everyone, everywhere as well. We also know better than most that our battle is not as easily fought because it’s been this way for a very, very long time and there’s a lot more to it.

So when all the talent is in one place i.e. European football, we follow to watch. Why wouldn’t we? On the television, (or the phone or tablet or laptop these days) because well, it’s not cheap but it’s cheaper. A little more accessible than most avenues as well. You think travelling in Europe is expensive from England or other parts of Europe? Try doing it from Africa. We also have to watch it at whatever time it’s on the TV unless we have recording options but generally we want to watch the matches live, and really broadcasters are not pandering to fans in any section of the globe – they put as many of them on as they can so if you’re under the delusion that a Global fan is dictating when a match is shown that’s not true. There are certain matches from certain teams that are more watched (for many obvious reasons) and that’s the numbers they’re after. Out here in the world outside of England though, we do also have lives and jobs, other things to do away from the TV so we’re not going to watch every match and will watch the ones we think are going to be good so sorry if that’s ruining the game. We can’t do anything about UEFA screening quarter finals on at the same time also for no good reason. I mean this is just a perspective, not the only one which is my point – we don’t all have the same story. So painting a certain section of fans as the reason for what’s ruining the game is problematic.

The clubs and sponsors and broadcasters would love to make you believe that they’re packaging a game for YOU, the fan, the MOST important part of this game; but if you were naïve enough to believe that before, surely the Super League fiasco has opened your eyes. The fan definitely keeps the Big Money Machine rolling but it’s your money that’s the most important because they already know that your emotional investment is tied to the team so your money will follow wherever they take the game and the team. They also wanted to you to believe that there’s this global fan out there willing to pay to watch Madrid play Barça every week with no jeopardy involved and a Super Champion trophy at the end of it because they only want to see Galacticos play each other in some sort of soulless tournament over and over ad infinitum. There probably is this fan out there, probably many but I don’t think there is enough of them with the ready cash right now to make this a lucrative and sustainable option. Definitely not in the middle of a pandemic.

The fan that is out there, right now is the fan who came out to say the Super League is a shit idea. The fan who came out to say that the game needs reform. At every level everywhere, and that all the Football Federations globally have to step up and make UEFA and FIFA more accountable. That’s ALL of us. WE ARE ALL THAT FAN. We want the same thing. For football to be for everyone and for it be run better.

We’re all on social media (and sometimes we’ve encountered them in person…)so we’ve all also seen some of the truly baffling ridiculous takes from fans but I don’t think that’s the overwhelming majority of football fans or we’d be watching the Super League in August.

That’s the important thing to focus on – the thing that unites us as fans of the game. These greedy people in charge of football seem to be doing a good job of telling you that we’re football fans who want different things, that these things are not the same especially if you go to matches or you only watch on TV, and these things are becoming mutually exclusive and untenable in the way the game is run currently and that’s why they’re changing this and changing that and….FIGHT!!!! It baffles me how anyone is falling for it. In the age of social media where we all collectively moan and groan about FIFA and UEFA daily we cannot see that we’re all complaining about the same thing and they’re just self-serving greedy rich people who do not care about us the fan, or the players. Or is it just the thrill of being contrary that stirs the arguing of which fans are ruining the game? Whatever your reasons for loving football or how you came to fall in love with it and I’d really love to rather hear about that more, it’s not the fans who are ruining the game.

Or the fans who are the reason that there’s currently so much of it that we’re tired of watching it, the pundits are tired of talking about it, the journalists are tired of writing about it (I don’t know how they’re all keeping up with it seriously) and in the middle of a pandemic the players are dragging themselves (some with injuries) around the football pitch while being subjected to abuse and racist abuse and condemnation and even more intense scrutiny of how they perform and what they say and do. Because you demanded entertainment apparently and not that the paymasters demanded their product.

Or maybe we are all the reason and we should turn the TV off and stop tweeting about it– will they still make them play even if no-one’s watching? If they’re getting guaranteed money, you bet they will. It’s got nothing to do with you until you stop giving them your money. So stop and then make them earn your money like you had to earn it. Show them you really are an important part of the game.

Fans United!

Cheers for making it to the end of my waffling (if you did)


Capitalists and the law
Loved the crying missive from Prabashni. It should go without saying but apparently it must be said to Prabashni that capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any of the other “isms” combined. Is it a perfect “ism?” No, not even close. But it’s clearly the best of the “isms” and clearly the irony shouldn’t be lost on him (but apparently is) that the computer or phone he’s typed this out on wouldn’t exist without capitalism, that F365 wouldn’t exist without capitalism, and that football wouldn’t exist without capitalism (unless you think players would have always played for free in which case your issues are a lot more to do than with just capitialism, as we’re in to Economics 101 now.)

I could go on and on about his comments on the “law” or “wealthy white men” but suffice it to say, there isn’t any need. Ronald Reagan describe folks like Prabashni when he said “The trouble with our liberal friends isn’t that they’re ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

After reading that tripe, I’d say ignorance has a bit to do with it as well.
TX Bill (“Wealthy white men” are about the only class where discrimination is still acceptable) EFC


Key cogs
Re: Olu’s email: “Neat and tidy wins nothing important” is very much in the same vein as Cantona calling Deschamps a water carrier or Perez on Makelele.

These type of player will never get the plaudits but that stability gives license to the flashier players to express themselves.


Big Weekend: Chelsea v City, West Ham, Mason, Bruno


Team of the year – one per club
After reading the probably accurate, but nevertheless slightly depressing, Man City-dominated F365 team of the season, I thought that selecting a team of the season limited to one player per club might be a bit more interesting and hopefully provide some fuel for an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon mailbox. Can anyone beat this? The answer: probably.

GK: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa). Villa have been accused of being a one man team at times this season, which is 100% fair. Where would they be without their talismanic stopper?

LB: Kieran Tierney (Arsenal). The first of a few in the XI whose frequent absences this season have only strengthened their case for inclusion. Consistently excellent for Arsenal when available; Arsenal consistently dreadful when he isn’t.

CB: Ruben Dias (Manchester City). Signing of the season, strong Player of the Season contender (though likely to be overlooked for one of Manchester City’s flashier attacking stars) and the league’s best defender.

CB: Wesley Fofana (Leicester). Young signing of the season, strong Young Player of the Season contender (though likely to be overlooked for one of Manchester City’s flashier young attacking stars) and the league’s best young defender.

RB: Reece James (Chelsea). Looks like he could have been produced in a factory for modern right backs. Solid defensively, a great crosser, and still finds time to score the odd goal of the season contender.

DM: Declan Rice (West Ham). Destined to hold the record for most expensive English player for a couple of days this summer before Harry Kane moves somewhere. With good reason too.

LW: Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle). In this team for the same reason he is at Newcastle – as a complete wildcard who might just do something interesting.

RW: Raphinha (Leeds). First time in what feels like several decades that Wilfried Zaha hasn’t been the first name on the team sheet at right wing for a one-per-club XI.

AM: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United). Another great season from the Portuguese, Manchester United’s standout midfielder. Also the front two in this team are going to win a *lot* of penalties, so we’ll need someone to take them.

ST: Mo Salah (Liverpool). You’ve got to have someone from Liverpool in the XI, and the vast majority of the squad have either been injured or well below their standard of the last few seasons (if not both). Salah, on the other hand, has scored 20 goals and still walks into any of Europe’s top sides.

ST: Harry Kane (Tottenham). The league’s top scorer is basically an automatic pick, though putting him in a team without Son Heung-Min probably halves his effectiveness.

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti (Everton). Token inclusion because I felt bad about not finding a place for any Everton players.

Can anyone do better? Let’s see yours!
Steve (honourable mentions: Yves Bissouma… that’s about it), Nottingham


Scotland’s abundance of left-backs
I’ve been annoyed for a good few years that the 2 most clearly outstanding Scottish players (Andy Robertson+Kieren Tierney) shared the fairly strict position of left-back.

But what exactly has happened in last 12 months to elevate Tierney over Robertson?

I’m a Celtic man, so known Tierney’s quality for quite a while before f365 jumped on the bandwagon, but how does his (tbf injury impacted) stretch in a mediocre Arsenal side displace Andy Robertson – who is having a mediocre season after 2 phenomenal seasons in an incredible team?

P.S. McGinn doesn’t get anywhere near enough credit – he’s a better player and more important to Villa than Grealish & well on course to become Scotland’s all time top goal scorer.
Calum, Scotland