Arsenal are mentally weak and naive – they lost the plot as always at Old Trafford

Date published: Monday 5th September 2022 9:02 - Editor F365

Arsenal's Mikel Arteta and Martin Odegaard

Arsenal reverted to type away at Manchester United. VAR had quite the weekend. And Liverpool supporters realise it could be a little worse.

Read 16 Conclusions on Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal, peruse the Mailbox and then send your thoughts to


In a land VAR, VAR away
Do you know what VAR is?

It’s the equivalent of when you’re on a Tube train or bus, merrily making good time and then, lo and behold, you’re held at a station or stop, inexplicably, for three or four minutes.

Because someone in the managerial class watching a screen feels they need to justify their own existence by “evening out the service.”

The people on the ground are doing just fine, but Head Office needs to show who’s boss.

That’s VAR.
From Bob Crowe, Millwall, Heaven


So why has VAR been used and then not used for a foul?

Arsenal’s opener ruled out after VAR intervention. I might not agree but can at least understand it.

So in the 24th minute when Saka is fouled and had his trailing leg taken by Martinez and the ref does nothing, why has VAR not called it back? Clear and obvious error is what it’s supposed to be for.

What’s the point?


Why do we keep having these ridiculous mistakes even after VAR has been introduced?

Why aren’t you listening to the professionals who can assist?

They have played the game and totally understand – more so than bloody fools controlling it all behind the scenes


West Ham call was correct
I’m probably not going to change a lot of minds with this but here goes nothing. This is my take on Cornet’s ruled out goal and I’m obviously biased so feel free to disregard this if that’s a problem for you.

It was quite clearly a foul on Mendy and the referee was absolutely right to rule the goal out. When you see the part of the incident that the referee used to make his decision, there is clear contact between Bowen’s trailing leg and Mendy’s shoulder. Did Mendy exaggerate the contact? Yes, a 100%. The ref did not even consider that as despite all the acting, he gave the goal initially.

An interesting thought experiment is what if Mendy missed the ball and caused Bowen to fall over. That would have been a stonewall penalty as he had made contact and got none of the ball.

West Ham should be more aggrieved with the decision to not send Reece James off. I love that guy to bits but he clearly kicked Antonio and should have received further censure.
Nikhil N, CFC


Double standards
Just watching Alan Shearer rant on and on about refereeing/ VAR mistakes in Saturday’s games during Match of the Day.

“Shocking, abysmal, disgraceful, (beyond) terrible” were a few of his thoughts about the decisions and how they are costing teams points, how “hard working” players are being let down and how these decisions are costing managers their jobs.

After the Newcastle game Danny Murphy backs him up and goes further to say that Eddy Howe should have been more forceful in his complaints to “put refs on alert” in the next game. Similar sentiments seemed to be shared by just about every other pundit, including Jamie O’Hara on sky sports news, when talking about Saturday’s games. So, a clear message that when officials make mistake they are i) completely out of order, and ii) fair game for vitriol.

Compare that to the Match of the Day pundits’ comments on some poor errors made by players –  Che Adams making a complete balls up of a header and being penalised for “scoring” with his arm is laughed off, Maxwell Cornet missing an open goal (heading against the post) wasn’t mentioned in the post game analysis and various other unforced errors by players who are paid many, many times more than officials were ignored.

So official makes a mistake – pile on. Highly paid player makes a mistake – that’s football.

I’m not saying mistakes by officials aren’t an issue, though these apparently “terrible” decisions are rarely as clear cut as some may think. However pundits should have a professional responsibility not to lead the pile on of officials, especially when they are never as critical of players.

It’s getting harder and harder to get people to become referees in amateur football because of the level of abuse they receive – scapegoating of officials by pundits (and managers) will continue to make this situation worse.
Paul, Cambridge


Instant karma
Cannot wait for the Arsenal apologists comments (mostly F365  journos).Suck it up.
The Don.


Arsenal lost the plot
An engaging game to watch. In all honesty, there’s nothing particularly spectacular about this Man U team, but they managed to contain an Arsenal side who were their usual classy self, but ultimately a little too soft, too cute and too wasteful. This Arsenal side is guilty of overcooking and overplaying, and also show tactical naivety like their coach.

It’s obvious that Man U have a clear tactical plan from the get-go, and they did the basics really well, but Arsenal need an enforcer in midfield, someone who takes no prisoners. They need a McTominay, they need a Casemiro, an obvious defensive midfield.

The referee was a bit lenient with the United team, and from my perspective was too chummy with them. The very first tackle from Martinez on Jesus deserved a yellow card, no matter how little time had elapsed in the match. He got that call badly wrong. Fair enough officiating, but it was advantage Man U.

Lokonga was energetic in play, and had some good passing in him. Pressed well and high, but therein was the problem, he was leading the presses instead of following them. In the space of two minutes, he pressed high and United bypassed, they countered, and with the second opportunity, Antony scored.

Watch the second goal as well, he was dragged wide instigating play, ball was lost and United countered through the middle where he was supposed to be, Bruno to Rashford, goal number two.

Man Utd vs Arsenal

He was good on the ball, but poor in his positional discipline, and travelled too much with the ball for a defensive midfielder. (Perhaps Ramsdale could have been quicker off his line for the first two goals as well. He was a sitting duck for both, he wasn’t proactive.)

We’ve finally seen the resilient streak come to an end. Better teams will punish you, and this was just United. Don’t want to think about facing Liverpool or City with the same manner and attitude. They have the requisite quality to hurt you, (and a better bench.)

Back to pressing. Xhaka pressing led to the turnover from which Arsenal scored. This should have been the template, instead of Lokonga. It proved to be Arsenal’s undoing.

Arteta should have rectified this at half-time, but it seems like Arsenal do get carried away with themselves sometimes. Arteta, Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli were culpable. This is Man U, a point at Old Trafford would not have been bad. There’s nobody orchestrating these players on the field, the defensive midfield problem was so obvious that it could have been simply solved by asking Lokonga to sit deep and break up play. It’s weird that no one noticed, it was that obvious.

The three goals were a defensive midfield problem. You can watch it again and see the transitions that led to the goal. Lokonga was off the pitch for the third, but the problem remained because there was no one there.

Arsenal are a bit predictable at the moment. Saka needs a rest, (even with his special moments of class), Martinelli needs a talking to—electricity should shock, not dazzle. There’s no use killing your opponents if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net. Again, the captain and coach do represent the team in many ways: classy, but a little soft; classy, but a little naive. I hope we learn, we lost the plot at the end.
Iyanu Tokede, Lagos Nigeria.


Stewie’s back!
Remember that time ManYoo were rubbish under David Moyes and couldn’t buy a win? They still beat Arsenal at OT!

Remember LVG and his mish-mash team of jesters who the fans had lost faith with? Yup, they still beat Arsenal at OT.

Remember “settled” Arteta’s side last season going to a managerless ManYoo, with a full side? You guessed it, they STILL beat Arsenal at OT!

It was so glaringly obvious Arsenal were going to lose their first big test that I bet on the home win, which was like printing money. Season in, season out, the Arsenal Delusion Goldfish brain rides into town. This collective amnesia is fascinating to behold!

By all means, celebrate wins – but have the logic to contextualise those wins. Catching Palace cold on opening day, then beating Scott Parker, Stevie Me and Fulham is…well. Given the money spent, Arsenal should be judged on performances against their peers. And Arteta shows time and again, he’s mentally weak and scared of these occasions. The opposite of eg a Conte. Arteta’s cowardice is reflected on the pitch, and is the reason Arsenal under him will never win a PL fixture at OT, Etihad or even White Hart Lane. His big game management is shambolic. ManYoo looked like 1970 Brazil out there FFS.

Unfortunately Arsenal fans, you’re all going to be lining up the now-customary excuses come May. Obvious. Except there’s nowhere to hide: Arteta and Edu neglected the midfield, and released an attacking option in Pepe without replacing him. Literally nothing was learned from last January’s s***show! Hence watch poor Lokonga getting overrun in midfield, as ManYoo repeatedly had two men free on the overlap. Oh dear.

I said at the start of the season that Antonio Conte’s brilliance as a manager is going to expose the myth of Arteta and Arsenal “progression”. Spurs have CL football, Arsenal don’t. Yet Arsenal spend more on transfers and wages. Arteta has had far more time, money and patience than Conte – but Conte will outperform Arteta yet again, and Spurs are likely to be Citeh’s closest challengers. Nothing I’ve seen gives me pause to change that view.

Arsenal are a mentally weak team that will never show up at Old Trafford or Anfield because they’re petrified. Add in a fan base that’s generally been too easily pleased and isn’t demanding. So again, Groundhog Day is upon us with the annual capitulation at OT. To be followed by the customary Anfield thrashing (no matter how dreadful Liverpool’s form is). Then of course, no Groundhog season is complete without Kane embarrassing Arsenal in the NLD, followed by Arsenal fans like Tom from Walthamstow, writing in at season’s end to explain “why 6th place is actually fantastic progression and why Arsenal have the happiest fanbase in the PL”.

Stewie Griffin (didn’t Arteta play Joy Division on the sound system before sending the players out?)


This Means More
Dear Raúl Horacio García,

1. If you are burning with shame at serial loser Klopp’s and team’s performance and inability to score in finals, may i humbly and kindly suggest you find another club to support?

Such as Man City … who have reached many more finals and scored many more goals in those finals despite a net spend at least 4-5x as much. Oh wait…

Or ask any Man U, Arsenal, Spurs or Chelsea fan if they’d have traded any of their coaches for Klopp. U may be surprised how quickly you get a response, in the affirmative.

2. This season is a transitional season for Liverpool. Our midfield are shorn of numbers thru just 2-3 injuries. (similar to 2020-2021 where we were scrambling to qualify when we had to play 6-7th choice CBs).

3. How did we get here? Mainly becos liverpool’s owners have chosen to function on a tight budget, even as the club’s asset worth continues to escalate / skyrocket. No owner largesse, unlike Chelsea or City. No FFP flouting, unlike everton and possibly Arsenal.

4. Given those financial constraints, our squad isnt as large as the top teams we compete against.

Coupled with Ox and Keita being by and large failed signings (the only two big ticket failed signings), we end up with smaller tighter squad who’ve slogged through many high level games , over the past many season.

We have only one PL title to show for, but in the last 5 seasons, we’ve kept pace with Man City’s larger squad in 2 of those seasons, wiped the floor once with the same City’s ffp-flouting squad, and reached 3 ucl finals winning one.

That’s a ton of high level competitive games over an extended period of time. Unlike some other teams, our squad hasnt had many seasons to go on mental holidays.

The squad looks more knackered and mentally fatigued than mentally weak. Just look at firmy: missing many games last season, he came on against inter and scored the deciding first goal. Or luis diaz, so effervescent in his first few games, till his performances and verve tapered off toward the end of last season from being played twice a weak.

I couldnt be prouder of what Klopp and the squad are doing, running thru the wall on a regular basis, doing more with less.

Unlike Raul my friend, Klopp has restored the pride of Liverpool in 5 years, the utter disappointment and failured we’ve experienced in the past 25 yrs before that.

6. If there’s anything i’d wish for, it’d be that lfc’s owners could be less tight fisted, and invest an additional 40-50 mil/ season. But it isnt my money, and i cant dictate what others do with their money.

On the positive side, the lfc owners are building long term infrastructure to increase revenue streams (hello OLD trafford), havent loaded debt onto the club, or taking money out of the club to pay themselves (hello Man U!).

After 2010, when lfc almost went into administration and triggered relegation, possibly leading to the end of the club, i’m immensely grateful to FSG. Sure they could be more generous, but they’ve done a lot for the club.

They’ve brought on coaches (hello ETH having problems bring on McClaren), including nutritionists, psychologists, free throw and set piece coaches… all to maximize the performance of the small squad.

They’ve assembled a scouring squad that’s the envy of many (ask any Man U fan). Got a coach who gets the fans and connects with them.

7. So in essence, given 80% of what’s going right with the team, i’d daresay if we dare to dangle Klopp or FSG owners to the PL, i’d say 80% of the other teams would drool and bite your hand off.

My only unfulfilled wish is that FSG would loosen the purse strings that bit more, but they’ve done a good job managing the club otherwise.

8. Alternatively, if supporting this club which has brought so many of us LFC fans immense pride since Klopp arrived… brings you such shame, please feel free to look around for other clubs to support.

There’s Real, Barca, Bayern, Chelsea, City… i’d daresay none others will be / have been able to achieve a smidgen of the success we have achieved over the past 6-7 years.

Good luck.


Raul Horacio Garcia…my goodness. That was a long mail.

A few things…

The loss in the European cup final was not a shock. We were playing Real Madrid so it was always a coin toss who might win. Sadly it wasn’t us.

The entire game was poor, Real Madrid were dreadful too on the night, except for Courtois. Maybe because the game kicked off half an hour late which ruined pre-match preparation. Maybe Liverpool were more affected because players might’ve been getting messages from the friends and family they’d invited telling them they were getting pepper sprayed and told they had fake tickets (as Andy Robertson said after the game). They’re humans, some things are more important than football.

You must’ve only started supporting Liverpool two years ago because we were all sorts of shite for about 15 years before Klopp took over. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the trophies under Houlier and the ones under Benitez even more. But we were never a force domestically. We were a great cup team, maybe one of the most feared in Europe under a Benitez, but it only yielded a single European Cup in the end and two lost finals.

This year is either transition or too injury affected. We will only know which come May but this team has earned the right to have a a wobbly start and figure things out. I’d also never bet against Klopp, the laptop geeks and the coaches to figure it out. New system, new players…you can criticise but if you can’t enjoy the ride then get off the train mate. Man City offer the kind of relentless, boring wins that you think you’re entitled to expect. That isn’t Liverpool and we are blessed to have this team.
Minty, LFC


Gilmour girls
I could moan about our ridiculous disallowed goal against Chelsea but it’s all been said already and I’d rather write about something positive.

I liked JN’s write up on Billy Gilmour. Rather than try to break down his background or stats, I just thought it worth sharing a Declan Rice chat I had over the summer months with my WH mates. Knowing that Declan is headed to Stamford Bridge next summer (nauseating as that is), and also knowing that Broja was our main striker target at the start of summer, we threw around hypothetical swap deals which we would be mildly happy with, over a few beers of course.

Anyhow, we valued Rice at 150m (though none of us would sell him for any money given the choice). We threw around combinations involving Broja, Gallagher, Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek. Whatever. The only constant in the dozens of fake trades we came up with, was Billy Gilmour. We wanted him more than anyone else. That’s my story. Sorry it wasn’t more exciting.

Before I go (can’t resist), the point is that the VAR fool cannot just allow the ref to see the millisecond of the supposed “incident”. Whether Bowen brushed Mendy or not is completely irrelevant when you see the full 6 second clip, at any speed. Sickening.

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