Not getting carried away by Arsenal… but Saliba is the defensive Haaland, and Partey peerless in the Prem

Date published: Monday 7th November 2022 9:13 - Ian Watson

Arsenal’s William Saliba and Chelsea's Jorginho react after Gabriel scores the opening goal.

The Mailbox has reaction on Sunday’s big games, with Arsenal praised for their quality but panned for the histrionics. Also: Klopp’s Liverpool are becoming Rafa’s, and United look knackered. 

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Arsenal’s histrionics 
Watching the lunchtime game, I found myself asking a question – has there even been a more histrionic team than this current lot at Arsenal? I understand getting over excited at big decisions such as penalties etc, but this bunch of divas completely lose their minds over the slightest thing. My two year old daughter is more even handed than some of the Arsenal players and staff and she is a complete turd.

Be it Arteta’s pirouetting nonsense on the sideline, that gurning ape in goal or the likes of Xhaka, White, Jesus etc surrounding the referee demanding punishment for EVERY. SINGLE. FOUL.

Watching this lot, reminds me of the Mitchell and Webb Nazi sketch “Are we the bad guys?”
Are rugby fans actually right about football, some of the time at least?
John, Shropshire (that last sentence made me nauseous)


…Why is Arteta just allowed to be permanently outside of his technical area? He’s basically on the pitch 85% of the game and the fourth official or referee never seem to do anything about it.
Calum, MUFC, Wokingham


World-class Partey
Three key takeaways from the Chelsea vs Arsenal game:

1. Partey: Can we just agree that Partey is the best DM in the premier league? Possibly the world? He was flawless today. Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Auba etc. were bouncing off him like he’s a brick wall. The Chelsea ‘press’ couldn’t get anywhere near him. He’s the best we’ve had in that position since Vieira (the original one).

2. Jesus: I hope you can all see my point now about Jesus vs Auba earlier this week. No doubt that another striker could have scored more goals than Jesus, but I will take him over almost anyone in the PL because of his ability to create, chase, and grind. He’s so critical to our game.

3. The Title: I think 95% of Arsenal fans accept that we’re not serious title contenders. But while we’re on top, would the rest of you just let us enjoy it? The ‘celebration police’ are possibly the worst kind of fan in football – their happiness is contingent on others being unhappy, which is just sad. When Liverpool made their first title challenge in 30 years, the footballing world united around them, hoping they’d give a credible challenge to city. Why won’t people do the same for Arsenal?


Saliba the Haaland of centre-backs
Everyone is talking about how Halaand is making the EPL look like a farmers league but how about Saliba eh? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this guy break a sweat. Effortless! It’s easy to talk about Halaand’s ridiculous numbers because he is a striker and goals are an easy metric to judge performances but we forget that defenders don’t get this luxury.
Side note – England would be foolish not to take White to the World Cup.

Let’s talk for a moment about this insanity called VAR. Cucurella clearly handles the ball. If it’s a foul on the line it’s a penalty but if is a handball on the line it’s not a penalty?! I don’t get it but ok, let’s move on. If it’s not a penalty, why is it not a freekick for Arsenal on the edge of the box? I’m a dangerous area. What stupid rule says VAR cannot give legitimate free kicks?

All of these grey areas are what make implementing what is supposed to be a fantastic tool so difficult. It’s been almost 3 years now and even babies no longer have teething problems at this age.

Finally all these talk of Jesus not scoring is just funny to me. I didn’t know football was an individual sport and all about personal glory. I guess being top of the league (as a team counts for nothing anymore). Man is the hardest worker on the team and the only team he wouldn’t get into right now is City. So stop the bullsh*t.

#COYG #OneNiltotheArsenal
Damola Bremen (I wish we didn’t have to break for the World Cup)


Gunners need a goalscorer
I’m sat here watching us against Chelsea and can’t but think that we need a proper centre forward.

Jesus is playing well and I love his commitment. But he’s not a good enough goal scorer. If he could finish we’d be ahead in this game.

I know clinical strikers are hard to find and expensive to buy, but we’ll not win silverware without one.

I don’t have the answer but I can see the problem. Also no idea how to fit a new striker and Jesus in the same team, but I’m not paid to worry about that!

All that said, Gabriel has just scored! We don’t need a striker…
Stu, a happy (after 65 minutes anyway) Gooner in France.


Let’s not get carried away
Caught the Arsenal game, and I loved a lot of the things I saw. But, to be fair, Arsenal were there for the taking, if only Chelsea has more quality and composure in key moments. It would have been a smash and grab like the Man U game.

Saliba is something, isn’t he? Ben White’s mentality is starting to come to the fore. I like a lot of what I’m seeing, lots of leaders in the squad, but Arsenal didn’t really take the game to Chelsea in the first half, they lacked a certain bite, as if a bit arrogant (or nervous).

Someone really needs to be on Martinelli to release the ball quicker in certain situations, or drive those players to the wall and leave them there. His end product is not productive enough, which is a shame, as he has all the necessary ingredients. He should be doing better.

Great leadership from Xhaka, he’s shown great maturity this season. It’s a shame to see Chelsea like this, but great performance from Thiago Silva, he stood head and shoulders above every Chelsea player out there today.

Arsenal only really came to life after the goal, that was some real football there. But please, don’t let us get carried away. Great performance, but was also filled with flaws.

PS: West Ham were the architects of their own downfall (along with Antonio.) There’s no logic in chasing a risky win when there’s a point in the bag. This is a league, not a cup game. Steady the defence, even as you attack. Both teams were guilty of the same, it just worked out in Palace’s favour. Should have settled for the draw, West Ham, especially considering the time.
Iyanu, Lagos Nigeria.


Klopp’s Liverpool morphing into Rafa’s
This team is starting to feel a bit like Rafa’s Liverpool. Turning up and getting wins against the big teams but losing to the bottom placed teams in the league with an inability to break them down. Looking like world beaters one week and then clueless the next.

Rafa used to finish 4th every year because the rest of the league was terrible. Unless these guys can start to turn up every week then I don’t think they will manage that feat.

Lot of positives but ultimately Spurs were very poor for 65 minutes which gave us the result. Thiago usually sets the tone and in the second half he seemed to struggle to just keep hold of possession which was the trend for the whole team in the end.

This result is a shame because if we had won against Forest and Leeds we would be sat 5th and look resurgent into the World Cup break. Instead we are just clinging onto an upper mid table spot until the next weird “blip” game.

Optimistic and pessimistic in equal parts right now! For every positive there’s a negative lurking right now.
Minty, LFC


Watching Liverpool
The combination of not contending for the league, being generally toilet and occasionally brilliant, makes this season a lot of fun.
Aidan, Lfc (Nunez is the epitomy of this season)


Watching Spurs
I came to a conclusion today that if I just watch the 2nd half of Tottenham games and don’t care about the result it is a lot more rewarding experience.


When fouls aren’t fouls for pens
So Sessegnon is pushed off the pitch with force in the box vs Liverpool. It stopped him playing the ball. Not given.

Contrast to the KDB penalty vs Fulham. Here the guy taps his leg yes, but that doesn’t impede him whatsoever. He could stay up if he wants but instead De Bruyne simply jumps up and makes the most of it. (Seen them given).

Then you have penalties given for the most minimal contact because they are for some reason ‘more allowable’ to give – e.g. an arm across which often doesn’t stop the player at all but this allows a player to dive and which is more often than not given.

How come blatant arm pushes – like at Forest, like at Spurs – aren’t given when they have a real impact on whether the fouled player can play the ball, when other types of ‘fouls’ are given but which have no bearing?

Are some fouls more acceptable to give?
Dave (enough of Emerson now, please), Winchester Spurs


Tired United
Before the game, I feared that this United team would be tired after weeks of multiple games in a week and that the new manager bounce would happen for Villa and sadly I was proven right after this disappointing performance.

The first 25-30 minutes were shocking from United. Every player was equally bad and no one can take any positives from it. The last 10-15 minutes of the first half were much better as we started to find our groove and that resulted in a great deflected goal for Shaw before the half which was nice to see as last season and even early this season if United were to have conceded early they would have been down by 4 at the half so its a nice change to see a bit of fight to this United squad. Villa played well in the first 25 minutes with Bailey looking like a real threat. It could easily have just been from the new manager bounce that almost every squad gets but they just were all over United in the first 25 minutes. Once we started clicking you could see that Villa were looking shaky which is what resulted in our goal and made the game interesting going into the second half.

Going into the second half, I was slightly optimistic that we may be able to at least get a draw if we started the second half the way we ended the first but 4 minutes into the second half we did the same thing as the first half and get caught on a counter and leading to an unmarked Jacob Ramsey to score. For the rest of the half Villa just went on cruise control while United were just running around like headless chickens. This was the perfect time for Villa to play United as they have their new manager in and had a week off while United have had two games since Villa last played and had the same players besides a suspended Bruno that played on Thursday.

Overall, This was just a disappointing team performance. No player deserves any real praise and no player deserves to be considered the worst today. I feel that Eriksen looked tired just like he did on Thursday and feel he might need a game or two on the bench as he needs some rest but it seems that Ten Hag sees Eriksen as the key to the style he wants to play which I believe he is but not when he is tired. I would put Donny in the 8 position as I don’t think he’s looked bad in the two games he’s played I just feel he is too far forward to where he does not get to be involved which I feel is the same when Bruno plays and how our attackers must feel as we just leave them in a graveyard shift as we hardly put crosses in for the attackers or play a good ball through to the wingers. But hopefully, this shows the manager and the board that we need more squad depth and should be spending in January and we need to work on getting our attackers involved in the play.
Max Of Whitegate

Gary Neville speaks about Arsenal
Waiting for Neville
Let’s be honest, everything about this world cup is about money. How much money does it take for a country to temporarily set aside its morality laws? How much money does it take for presenters, pundits and commentators to set aside their own beliefs? The mistake Gary Neville made was exposing himself to people who aren’t also taking money from the Qataris. It’s easy to sit in a football studio and say what Neville said and have nobody question you because they’re all doing it too.

The thing to look out for with Neville is whether he follows through on what he says. Watch to see if he calls out the Qatari government’s stance on homosexuality while commentating for a Qatari TV station. If he doesn’t then that should tell you everything you need to know about him, that his morality has a price. So any time he takes to Twitter to talk about whatever Tory policy he disagrees with in that moment just remember that given enough money he’d quickly change his mind.

Everyone’s got the right to a career but that’s not a defence for a multi-millionaire taking a second job to go and work for a repressive regime when nobody would have raised an eyebrow if he’d quietly decided to sit this one out. Being incredibly rich gives you freedom so we should be very attentive to the choices that incredibly rich people freely make because those are the things they want, not need, to do.
SC, Belfast


Choices and consequences
Love that Ciaran, Ireland managed to contradictory himself in one sentence. “Fans should boycott” but also “include camera men and pundits who allow us all to watch the game”. So are we not watching it to know that Gary is there if we had decided to watch it and enjoy it.

Do whatever you think is best. I will be boycotting, that’s my choice. Gary, the players, the managers all want to go as you rightly say it’s the pinnacle of the sport. But it’s perfectly acceptable to call them hypocrites if they say they will speak out and are against the world cup and then take money for it and subsequently dont, as Gary still hasnt. Its not black and white, you can hate Qatar hosting and play/spectate because you want to for sporting reasons, but don’t pretend you then have the moral highground whilst your there if you takw the money, turn up and you don’t speak out.

Gary has made a californian king sized bed for himself. If he doesn’t speak out, he will be forever remembered as the biggest sell out in football. If he does speak out, he’ll be fired, be a hero and people will be less likely to hire him. Either way it’ll be interesting to see.
Rob A (most involved are rightly just keeping their head down and saying its the world cup, Gary should have taken notes) AFC


…Mike, LFC, London makes some very interesting points about boycotting the world cup but I disagree with the suggestion, which I see and hear repeated everywhere these days, that it is hypocrisy or ‘virtue-signalling’ to take a stand against one bad thing, if you don’t also then take a stand against all possible similar bad things.

Let’s say I’m worried about the impact of smokes and junk food on my health but I find it too hard to give up both, so I just give up one. Am I virtue-signalling? Or a hypocrite? Maybe if I gave up cigarettes but went around telling everyone that they should eat at Mcdonalds then I could see the issue but it’s perfectly plausible to recognise that two things are bad, but only have the strength or capacity to take action regarding one.

If that example is too far removed, let’s use the one mentioned in Mike’s mail e.g. if you’re going to boycott the world cup, then you should boycott products made by the oppressive regime in China etc. I see the point but isn’t taking a stand against one thing that we feel able to take action on better than doing nothing at all? We’re being shamed by weaponised whataboutery into taking no action in case someone points out that we’re not perfect. I’m not saying a boycott is a good strategy or that we shouldn’t point out issues taking place in other countries, but just that we remember, we’re human, it’s hard to always make the right choice and just because we can’t do it in all situations, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it in any situation.
Amro, Irish Gooner (Graham Simons asked where can Arsenal be strengthened – I present to you messrs Sambi Lokonga, Mo Elneny, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Marquinhos)

Read more: 16 Conclusions – Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal | Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool


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