Poor decisions, thin squad, Arsene Wenger: all the reasons Arsenal have f***ed the title…

Editor F365
Aaron Ramsdale reacts after Arsenal draw with West Ham.

The Mailbox sifts through the wreckage of Arsenal’s title bid – because that’s it now, right? Also: Manchester City are still worse for having signed Erling Haaland.

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com


Not to be for Arsenal
OK, it’s only just into the second half against West Ham, but Saka missing that penalty is the sign that we won’t win the title. The cracks started showing against Liverpool and continue against West Ham.

We’re starting to look shaky at the back and when we get the chance to restore a 2 goal lead against West Ham, why doesn’t Jesus take the penalty? I know Saka has scored a couple already this season but would he have taken them when Jesus was fit? So why now?

Poor decision making is what’ll cost Arsenal the title – not poor play.

All that said, I watched City smash Bayern last week and realised that Arsenal are still well short of City’s level. They just looked so good.

We’ve had a brilliant season, but not keeping our heads (OK, I’ve not really had too much to do with it if I’m honest) is going to cost us. It’s the experience that comes with winning that we’re lacking. Need to get something over the line to convince them that they can do it.

The game is still going but I’m guessing we’ll not win today.

It’s the hope that kills you. Of course, if we do win today then please disregard the above and know that I was always confident.
Stu (A knee jerk Gunner) France


…Told you.
Stu – Disappointed but realistic – Gunner in France


Wenger’s fault
So. The inevitable will happen and Citeh will win the title. It was just incredible to me there was anyone out there who genuinely thought Arsenal could win it? Was never going to happen.

Now to be fair, Arsenal have had a superb season. They’ve played great stuff and kept pace with Pep, which in itself is some sort of achievement. Ask yourself when the last time was that Arsenal were in with a chance of winning a league title, with just 7 rounds of matches left? (Answer is 2004). So there’s definite progress there.

However, reality check time. The same ability to throw away matches and an inability to learn quickly from costly mistakes is why Arsenal didn’t win it this season. That was not “one point gained” at Anfield, it was an alarming collapse! Liverpool are dead this season and at 0-2 that match was over. It isn’t Xhaka’s fault, it is an inability to ruthlessly kill games when a team is on its knees. Arsenal will Always offer you a route back into any match. Whereas when Citeh take an early 2-goal lead, they turn the screw and chase the 3rd (see Leicester). Meaning Pep can drop their intensity and just play gentle keep-ball training exercise for the remaining 60 or so minutes as the opposition folds. It’s the reason Citeh are able to be deep in the three big competitions at this stage of the season. They’ve had key injuries too but they manage games far better.

Arteta should have learned from Anfield, as should the players. Arsenal had a whole week to rest and prepare, whereas West Ham had just two days. I’m now hearing a new Arsenal fans’ excuse which is “we lose rhythm by only playing once a week”. Shouldn’t have lost in the Europa at home then I guess?

Arsenal at West Ham, repeated the exact same shitshow from Anfield. Dominated the match, early “unassailable” lead, before conceding a cheap goal right before the stroke of half-time…and then spending most of the following half frozen in fear, dominated and just waiting for the opposition to equalise. Two things are missing: proactive subs and leadership. Odegaard is a sensational player but at Anfield and at West Ham, his quiet Nordic demeanour wasn’t needed. Vincent Kompany, he is not. “Leaders” can be overdone but Arsenal have missed it for two straight fixtures now. Arteta is f****g up the substitutions too now. At Anfield he brought on an extra CB, and invited pressure. At West Ham he didn’t stop the opponents getting a head of steam, and Trossard clearly had to come in earlier.

Arteta has proved himself to be a superb manager this season but his youth might have cost Arsenal here. He will learn from that I hope, although Arsenal won’t ever again have a better shot at winning the title.

They absolutely need to sign a Caicedo or Declan Rice this summer, and they actually need an extra attacking option because the over-reliance on a knackered Saka isn’t good. They need a ruthless finisher with pace (like an Osimhen, though they clearly won’t get him).

One thing I hope this season has showed once and for all, is that the Arsenal fans who spent years excusing Wenger’s ineptitude with the “You cannot compete with oil money” bollocks, are basically now the intellectual equivalent of Brexiters who claim “it’s all the EU/Remainers/Woke tofu eaters’ fault”. Leicester won the PL. Liverpool beat Pep’s Citeh once to a title. This year Arsenal ran Citeh close, with a far lower wage bill and squad cost – and only self-inflicted mistakes cost them a first league title in almost 20 years! And look at how much Chelski have spent? 🤔

So please let’s absolutely not hear the standard Arsenal supporter lowering of the bar now, which posits that “I’d have bitten your hand off for runner-up if you’d asked me 6 months ago so we’ve overachieved” 🙄. Those are excuses. Scenarios change and Arsenal could have won the title this season. The Arsenal fans should aim for those standards, instead of the usual “Top 4 is great” nonsense. Wenger is gone. No more Loser-mentality rubbish!
Stewie Griffin (Arsenal did f**** this up though)


Squad game
I really didn’t expect Arsenal to give away ANOTHER 2-0 nil lead, this time against West Ham, especially given West Ham played in the Europa Conference League on Thursday and have a pretty thin squad overall. It looked like a case of Arsenal scoring too early and getting overexcited, a bit like there title challenge charge this year with some fans saying they had won it by mid-February. The nerves are coming in, but they are still in control for now.

I like Arsenal and they have such a young squad, so given they are fighting for the title with such a young manager too is great to see for the league itself in terms of competitiveness. Saka should have scored yesterday, game would have been wrapped up at 3-1, but Arsenal are in this position at the top of the league because of him. As for Arsenal & Arteta, its better seeing them challenge than seeing Klopp & Liverpool challenge for it. I used to like Klopp, really positive and lots of charisma too, but has genuinely been a self-entitled dick since winning the league in 2020. Yes it was a big achievement at the time given it was 30 years without a title, but get over it. Just seems very upset and angry when speaking to the press now playing the victim card most of the time, too emotional and if you aren’t happy with the resources being handed to you, leave and go manage Germany or someone else.

Do I think Arsenal will win the league now? Maybe so given its still in their hands technically by points, but it all comes down to the game at the Etihad on the 26th April, Chelsea game on the 29th April & Newcastle game on 7th May. It will be the biggest week and test in Arteta’s managerial career so far, and a lot will be learnt either way it turns out. Given the momentum City have currently and these next few weeks will just be another next few weeks for them, they aren’t going to feel any HUGE amount of pressure at all, and Pep has such a big squad to pick from. When players like Mahrez & Bernardo Silva sometimes don’t play, that says it all. In my opinion, Arsenal will lose it by a few points I think and take it to the second last or last game week. Arsenal may have a very good starting XI, and Saliba’s injury has been very noticeable too. But when Holding is your backup CB as well as Tierney is the backup LB, then its a matter of a lack of quality as well as quantity overall for the Arsenal squad.

Either way, they are finishing in the Top two and securing Champions League football next season for the first time in 4-5 years if I stand corrected. They need to be able to sign 2-3 world class played in the summer, starting with a CB & CM.
Rami, Manchester


Getting some serious Homer Simpson airborne “pig on a spit” vibes from Arsenals title challenge.
It’s still good, it’s still good.
It’s gone.
I know.
Eoin (season 7, episode 5 if you’re wondering) Ireland


Crystanbul didn’t matter
Such a tiresome requirement this, particularly when correcting a professional journalist like Matt Stead. Needs must though.

Despite the tabloid/banter worthy moniker, Crystanbul had no bearing on the title in 2014.

Had Liverpool won rather than drawn that match they would have finished the season on equal footing with the Abu Dhabi sportswashing enterprise and would still have lost the title due to the massive goal difference.

If we must pinpoint a match (which is weird when points are dropped over the course of a 10 month period) then the title was lost at Anfield when Chelsea scored in injury time of the first half and of the second half. A dark irony about the merits of the visiting team’s tactics being solely to break up play and waste time which lead to the time added on in which they scored.

The point that Arsenal gained or the 2 that they dropped today may or may not prove pivotal in the title race this season. Let’s not pretend that the 2 Liverpool dropped at Selhurst Park in 2014 were, despite the narrative.
James Outram, Wirral


Johnny Nic’s curse
John giving Sabitzer the kiss of death injuring him straight away.
Nikunj ‘MUFC’ Solanki, Mumbai.

Read more: Marcel Sabitzer is the Bryan Robson-style all-action man Man Utd need


Forest flattened
The first half was solid from United especially considering how many injuries we had. We created some good chances in the first half and were quite unlucky not the get a few. Antony looked good in the first half. He was creating a good amount of space when dribbling and was able to put in some good through balls that cut through the defence of Forest which with a classic number 9 I feel will be great to watch. The goal came from a good press from Martial to make the Forest player lose the ball which fell to Fernandes who plays a perfect first time ball back to Martial who has a shot which gets saved but Antony was there to tap in the rebound. Dalot at left back looks quite interesting. He has experience playing there when he was on loan at Ac Milan so he can definitely fill in there until Shaw is back.

The second half was solid again from United. Forest had a few chances but nothing you can really say they should have scored. Casemiro was able to do all of his defensive work while not getting into anything crazy that could cause him getting booked which was good to see as I can’t deal with seeing any more reds from him as he is too key to our team to be out. Eriksen looked really good in midfield which was great to see considering he only started because Sabitzer injured himself during warm ups. The second goal was fantastic. United were passing the ball around until they got it to Antony who cuts in on his left and plays a well timed through ball to which Dalot gets to and tucks it away neatly. That put the game to bed which after midweek is what we needed to do.

Overall, This was a good result to get after a disappointing midweek game with some really bad injuries occuring. Martial looks sharp which is good and Ten Hag is being very smart with him by not keeping him on too long and taking him off when he is not needed to not risk him getting injured again. Dalot and Wan-Bissaka both looked really good especially Dalot considering he was playing as a left back. Our midfield was fantastic with Casemiro as the holder which let Eriksen and Bruno run wild with the ball to create multiple chances. Antony had a really good game getting a goal and an assist. This performance from Antony is what I think he will grow into doing every week as theres been times this seasons he has made good runs and playing good passes with no one ready for it but the more he grows and trusts himself and his right foot he will be a real problem. Sancho looked ok today but just looks not bothered when he has the ball which is not great to see as nows a time for him to prove he should start as once Rashford’s back he is back on the bench. Now we got to go finish the job against Sevilla on Thursday.
Max Of Whitegate


Haaland – good or bad?
Following up on Matthew, Belfast’s email re. Haaland where he asks “Remember when Haaland was making Man City worse?” – I think rhetorically, because he scored two goals! But what’s your thesis – are you saying that before Haaland City were incapable of putting three past Leicester?

Anyway, in answer to his question – yes, Man City are worse with him in the team than last season.

After 30 games City have 70 points, scored 78 goals and conceded 28 (gd +50). After 30 last season, they had scored 7 fewer, but conceded 10 fewer, for a superior goal difference of +53. They had three more points (73 total) and, crucially, were first in the table, not second.

Now, the comparison is slightly artificial – the circumstances are obviously different in myriad ways so the crude assessment I’ve made above ignores countless variables and is thoroughly unscientific. But, fact is, City are (very marginally) worse off this season this season than they were last at the equivalent stage of the season.

City are not better for having signed Haaland.

Then you’ve got to assess whether it’s healthy to switch from an incredibly effective set up where goals are spread more evenly to one where two thirds of your goals come from one player, whose acquisition was funded by shifting out one of your very good strikers and a very good left back and, in the process, vastly improving the team that bought them, transforming said team into challengers who might, just, pip you to the PL title…

Look, Haaland is a freakishly good goalscorer, no question about it. He’s smashing records for fun. Maybe next season he’ll take it up a notch, the rest of the team will get back to the numbers they were scoring before he arrived and City will clock a record 130 goals.

But this season, are City better of for having bought him? No, they aren’t.

Matthew smugly criticised “groupthink” when reaching his conclusion. But here’s one for you Matthew – one player scoring lots of goals personally isn’t the be all and end all in a team sport (see Ronaldo at United, who had good numbers but visibly made the team worse). Your logic is incredibly reductive and, I’m going to go ahead and call it “Richard Keys-think” – and no, I don’t love it.
Andy (MUFC)

Erling Haaland celebrates

Some thoughts
City fan here. Some random points in no particular order.

Max: He of the ‘Arsenal haven’t earned it’ mail. This is the latest incarnation of ‘Barry Fox/Stewie Griffin’ isn’t it? Ridiculously OTT mail about Arsenal. No brainer surely?

Man City v Leicester City: Another three points in the bag but not sure whether the second half was glass half full or glass half empty for either side really. For me (Clive) Leicester’s ‘resurgence’ in the latter stages of the game was simply down to the fact that Guardiola made five substitutions. Something, I believe, he’s never done before.

Now we’d like to think that any substitutions would be seamless, but we all know that that’s not guaranteed. Pep took off half of his first-choice outfield players. That’s bound to have an effect and the team clearly weren’t as dominant as they were in the first half. On the other hand, definite reasons for optimism for Foxes fans. Well, compared to some of the teams above them that is.

West Ham v Arsenal: In the end, that was a thoroughly interesting/enjoyable game. But Moyes just has to go, doesn’t he? I thought, as I suspect the vast majority of everybody else watching did, that the game was done and dusted with two goals in ten minutes. The space given to Arsenal was ridiculous. No urgency or intensity from West Ham at all. In the first half that is. Why does Moyes need an existential crisis to stop him playing so f*cking negatively all the time? As they demonstrated, they are clearly more than capable of taking it to their opponents when let off the leash.

As for Arsenal. It ain’t over until my ex-wife starts to sing and you just know the knee-jerkery will hit fever pitch in the next couple of days. Arteta has done an outstanding job and, barring absolute catastrophe, are pretty much guaranteed CL football which was their main target at the beginning of the season. The fact that they have been top of the PL for so long, and rightly so, and might win the bloody thing yet, (let’s not forget), can’t be anything other than a massive plus. In short, no need to panic just yet.

Chelsea: Oh Dear. Oh dearie, dearie me. Would somebody kindly explain to me why they’re not about to do a ‘Leeds,’ a ‘Southampton,’ or a ‘Pompey’?

Finally, Neil from Glasgow who wrote in about (ahem) ‘one of the greatest derbies in world football.’ You replied that somebody should tell me that last week’s Old Firm derby didn’t have any away fans and, therefore, there wasn’t any hate chanting.

Fair point. But would you care to explain precisely WHY there weren’t any away supporters? I only ask as, after the game you described as ‘cracking,’ the referee concerned received death threats and had his personal contact details posted online. This prompted Sky news to report that SPL refs and Line-Os were considering going on strike in protest. (Quite right). This, on the same day Rangers Women coach Craig McPherson, was banned for six games by the Scottish FA over his headbutt on Celtic Women boss Fran Alonso. Oh, and a headbutt from behind by the way.

The Old Firm. You stay classy you crazy cats. Because you’re not in any way hate-filled sectarian and religious bigots at least fifty years behind the rest of Western society. No sir. Not at all.

Tottingham: Has there ever been another PL team that has consistently promised so much, and taken their fans to the absolute brink, only to leave them with f*ck all every time? It’s one thing to never even get close to silverware, let alone fight every season to avoid relegation (that’s Man City for decades) but quite another thing, and perhaps a unique form of torture, to get to a CL final, have players like Bale, Erikson, Modric, Kane and Son and still come up empty handed year after year. Respect to those Spurs supporters that, regardless, still go week in and week out because I think I would’ve lost the plot a long time ago. Kudos.
Mark (Since 2008, this is the strongest City team I’ve seen but, in April, and as our colonial cousins would say, “Don’t mean nuttin’). MCFC.


Chelsea job share
Given Boehly appointed Frank as a purely populist measure as he hasn’t the remotest qualification for the job and that Chelsea are this bad, why not go a stage further and allow – maybe just restrict it to season ticket holders say – to nominate their pets or favourite snack even to manage a game before the end of the season?

We could have a cocker spaniel one game, then maybe a hamster and followed up by a tube of pringles the following week. They certainly couldn’t do any worse and they would look less clueless also.
Steve McBain, Singapore


…It’s a beautiful thing seeing Frank Lampard turning in to a Mark Hughes!
Luke (young English managers are not very good)


Firmino thinking
Bobby to midfield, outlandish, Jesus wept. Reminds me of the bit in madmen where the main dude acts like he’s the first person to marry his secretary.
Finlay x


The technology is there
Just wondering whether Dara O’Reilly has heard of Hawkeye or goal line technology which accurately measures the location and positions of objects in near real time to millimeters.

Pretty sure that with all the money in football, this technology could be used to measure a specific point on a player to establish whether offside, would very possible.

It’s probably more that the money doesn’t justify the means. Yet.
Rob, Worthing.