We all owe Arsenal a debt of gratitude, and Leeds should consider rehiring their old boss…

Editor F365
Martin Odegaard embraces Erling Haaland

Arsenal haven’t bottled it – they deserve praise for stopping a Man City procession. Also in the Mailbox: Leeds should consider reappointing an ex-manager. Not that one…

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com.


Marsch In
I truly believe Leeds should bring back Jesse Marsch. I believe if they did this they would stay up and otherwise I think they will be going down.

I am full aware of how crazy this sounds.
Greg, Tampa


Rampant and wretched
This season Liverpool have won 9-0, 7-1, 7-0 and 6-1 and yet its been a completely bobbins season. Football is weird sometimes.
Mike, LFC, London


…This season’s Liverpool are like a dodgy box of fireworks.

Sometimes it’s a beautiful, if somewhat random, display.

Sometimes it’s just a damp squip.

Leeds were unlucky to be hit with the former.
Aidan, Lfc (every trough is surrounded by two peaks)


Salah’s trash is Rashford’s gold
30 Games, 15 Goals, 7 Assists

29 Games, 15 Goals, 4 Assists

A gentle reminder that one man’s greatest, bestest, most awesomest season ever “that should apparently be in the Balon d’or conversation according to United fans” is what is basically considered another’s worst season, a sign of his decline, downed tools after getting his big contract.


All about next season for Arsenal’s title hopes
Last season the goal was Europa League football which we achieved and narrowly missed out on the top four.

This season the goal was Champions League football which I think we’ve achieved and we have actually challenged for the title.

Next season the goal should be challenging for the title.

I’m as disappointed as the next Arsenal fan but Arteta, the players and the fans now see the virtue of coming together and being on the same page.

It’s been a beautiful ride – onwards and upwards!
Graham Simons, Gooner, (If Emery gets top four, he should be manager of the season), Norf London


… “Arsenal’s transfer window was ok”
– “Arsenal won’t make top 6”
– “Arsenal won’t keep it up till Christmas”
– “Without Jesus they won’t be able to score goals”
– “Arsenal always collapse in February”
– “Arsenal are too young, they don’t have enough experience”
– “City will eventually go on one of their runs, they have a better team and squad”
– “Hahaha 2 draws in a row they bottled it, I knew it was going to happen, watch City win, I’m a genius”

I understand narrative changes but this whole “you should win because your top i April and if you don’t you bottled it is b******. Nobody thought we could do it and now there’s a high chance we won’t. Well done everyone, you might finally have got it right after expecting us to fail all season.

We are the only team stopping City being 15 points clear with 8 games to go. The team have been incredible, some players are having phenomenal seasons at 21. When Saka and Saliba sign new deals we will have 3 of the best young players in the country tied down. We have only lost 3 games all season. I am nothing but proud of what Arteta and this team has managed to achieve and the atmosphere they have brought back to the Emirates. When we come second, by however many points, that won’t change. We are by far the second best team in the country, potentially the best, and that feels great. Would any of the traditional top 6 change their current position for “bottling it and coming second”? I doubt it
Rob A (genuinely excited for the Etihad, scared for a Rob Holding) AFC


…This narrative of Arsenal bottling the title is becoming very wearisome! Imagine, if Arsenal weren’t having an extraordinary season, how boring this title race would have been. City, (with their petro-bajillions) would’ve had the title sown up by February. If anyone “bottled” it, its Liverpool, Chelsea and United. For some context, Arsenal won the title in 1998 with 79 points, in 2002 with 87 points and the Invincibles won it with 90 points. So, if Arsenal were to win the title, they’d have to get close to, if not better peak Wenger Arsenal – and do it with a novice coach and a bunch of kids. That, to me is Tim Sherwood levels of bottle!

In saying that, please please please please Arsenal, can you win the league!
Hans (Irish Gooner in Cape Town)


End of days
A well reasoned and level headed mail about Arsenal from F365’s resident Wenger detractor. The end is nigh.
Andy, Norwich


Saka > Jesus
Just to give Stu a little bit of context as to why Jesus might not be the man you want on penalties instead of Saka.

For Manchester City – Taken 10, Scored 5, Missed 5.

For Brazil – Taken 2, Scored 0, Missed 2.

Saka has taken 5 in his Arsenal senior career and yesterday was his first miss.

Saka took it because he’s proven up to now he’s the guy, especially after the lows of missing for England in the Euros.

As a City fan, whenever Jesus stepped up for us to take a penalty, we were watching through our fingers, the guy never inspired confidence from 12 yards.
Mark (still not over that England loss)


Seagulls can save us
With the Man City v Arsenal game being touted as the title decider, don’t forget City have to play Brighton away, as long as VAR doesn’t screw them in this game as well, it could be the title decider.
Sarn Smith (Arsenal fan for 47 years and proud of this team regardless).


Prem’s worst > this Chelsea
Derby County in 2007/08 amassed the lowest ever points total since football was invented (aka since the Premier League began). They managed just 11 points across the season having spent a net of just shy of 4 million since being promoted the previous season via the play-offs.

However, as shit as the Rams undoubtedly were, I’d challenge whether they are in fact the worst side ever if you factor in that they were expected to go down. There has been some serious transfer spending from Everton in past seasons that has seen them only just avoid relegation but I challenge any mailboxer to find a team who has underperformed as much as the current Chelsea side. Even Man Utds wasted spend over a number of years has seen them still finish between 2nd and 7th every year since Fergie hung up his hairdryer.

Chelsea finished 3rd last season. They then spent the most in the league at around 250 million to bolster the squad. Then followed that up by spending 300 million in the winter – with money received their net spend was a mere 480 million. To put that in some context, only 4 other current clubs in the premier league (Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal) have a total squad that cost what Chelsea spent on this season with Newcastle (in 4th) having a squad that cost roughly what Chelsea spent.

Chelsea currently sit 11th in the league sandwiched between Fulham with a net spend of roughly the fee for Benoit Badiashile and Crystal Palace spending about the same as Chelsea spent on Noni Madueke, 2 players I’ve never heard of but on googling they seem to have played a few games for Chelsea since being signed.

While the penalty for Derby’s terrible season was simply to get relegated, I have to wonder if the repercussions for Chelsea’s ridiculous spending might harm them a lot more in the long run. How many more transfer windows can this spending continue? And if they bring in more players, who are they going to have to let go which clearly they will lose a lot of money on. On the other hand, the last time Chelsea finished in a lowly 10th place, they won the league the following season.

Can anyone think of a team any worse? In any league? In any country? There must be a few challengers surely?
Jon, Cape Town (not having a dig at Chelsea BTW, I’d assume the blues fans are pretty pissed off at their own situation and would each give their left nut for Abromovich back)


Contempt for fans
I appreciate that Monday morning is not the best time to send this in, but I was very frustrated whilst watching Spurs v Bournemouth on Saturday, and that’s without mentioning the actual football.

The Premier League has little more than contempt for the fans that actually turn up to watch the matches. The most obvious demonstration of this is VAR.

There were a few occasions on Saturday, similar to many games I’ve been to this season, when something happened on the pitch, players of one side or the other appealed. There then followed a pantomime of between 10 seconds and 3 minutes where players surrounded the referee, who tapped his earphone, and let the game continue, or if the ball was out of play, simply stood there fending players off. Occasionally, but not always, a purple screen would appear with ‘VAR check’, sometimes with a very vague reason, or sometimes more specific.

After this free kicks were given, penalties awarded, goals disallowed, but virtually no communication given to the spectators. No proper explanation, and we are left sitting there in our very expensive seats wondering what has happened. The Tottenham Stadium has some of the most sophisticated screens at a football ground in the country, but heaven forfend that they would actually show the fans in the stadium the detail of an incident. Presumably the Premier League can’t face the embarrassment of the howls of laughter/derision that would greet many of the decisions. Even as a Spurs fan, I would love to have eavesdropped the conversation where VAR decided against a penalty after Hojbergs trip on the Brighton player last week. Whilst Brighton fans would have had an opportunity to express their anger, it would surely have been drowned out by Spurs fans clutching their sides while laughing themselves silly.

If you’re lucky enough to have the internet on your phone, and there is decent response time, you’ll find out quicker than other people. But for the vast majority we just sit there, like it was none of our business. I’ve been at matches which were being broadcast, where my sons have texted me the explanation to the problem. People at home are better informed than the ‘fans’ at the stadium. So long as Sky/BT get time for their dreadful commentators and panel to review things a dozen times, the Premier League are happy. Those of us who actually turn up are of no concern.

I am not sure if I will renew my season ticket on this basis, and I know other people who sympathise. My eldest son is going to his only game of the season on May 6th, the ticket cost £60 for a category B fixture agains Palace. £60 to get treated as a ‘customer’ of little or no worth.

The Premier League needs to bite the bullet, and learn a lesson from rugby union. Mike up the referees, and let the people in the stadium hear what the issue is, and the outcome. Going forward a goal is awarded, the defenders appeal. So Ref to VAR “The on field decision is goal, is there an offside in the build up?” Then let us in the stadium watch the replays as would happen in rugby. Let’s hear these mystery men in Stockley Park explain what they are seeing, and let us hear the conversation as to how the final decision is reached. This might help these guys to up their game, and avoid the stupidity of our match against Brighton.

VAR was supposed to improve the ‘product’, and used intelligently it would. Unfortunately the Premier League doesn’t have confidence in exposing their referees to scrutiny, so has hedged its bets, by implementing VAR primarily to aid the chattering heads on BT/Sky, and the fans in the stadium as usual are of no importance.
Jim French (Spurs since ’59) Herts


Toffees in trouble
Well, I don’t think we’ll perform the miraculous escape we made last season. Looking at our last seven fixtures, we have:

Palace (A)
Newcastle (H)
Leicester (A)
Brighton (A)
City (H)
Wolves (A)
Bournemouth (H)

Let’s just cut to the chase and be completely honest here. I don’t see us winning any of those and draws won’t help. All those teams listed above are currently better than we are, even Leicester who are below us in the table. Yeah, we may sneak a win in that group but where? I’m just not seeing it.

You can’t even point to one of those games and say, “Well we might get one there.” Wolves away? No. Perhaps Bournemouth at home? Haha, no.

And EVEN IF we somehow pull off another miracle and stay up, does anyone believe we won’t be in this exact same mess next season? I think relegation is inevitable for Everton Football Club but is this any great surprise? An inept owner. An inept board. Financial problems. Poor player recruitment. Bad contracts. This is a train wreck that has happening in super slow motion for years now and has been pure agony for Evertonians to watch. No club can survive that for very long. Worse? This club could easily “do a Sunderland” and drop straight down to League One. We’re that bad. When Fulham tear you apart at home (no disrespect to Fulham as they were clearly the better team,) you really don’t have a leg to stand on.

I’d love to hear from mailbox contributors who’ve experienced relegation to give me hope that there will be some light at the end of the tunnel. Anything, grasping at straws here.
TX Bill (no, getting Doucoure and DCL back won’t help) EFC

Sliding doors
Reading that article on title collapses on Planet Football made me painfully remember one of the ultimate sliding doors football moments.

Easter Sunday, 2012. Man City lose at Arsenal and Man United are 8 points clear with 6 games to go. In the bag, right? Next game, United lose 1 nil at Wigan. Very annoying but still, a 5-point lead is pretty good. United recover in the next game, and beat Villa 4 nil; normal service restored you think. The following week, Everton at home. United are 4-2 up with 10 minutes to go. 81st minute; Rafael sends over a great ball and Evra smacks a header against the post. The width of a post. We all know what happened next. Everton score twice to grab a 4-4 draw, and City beat United in the next game to move ahead on goal difference. If Evra had just headed that ball a few inches to the right though. . . surely they wouldn’t have come back from 5 – 2 down.

The width of a post, and there’d be no such thing as the Aguerrooo moment in the last game. United would have wrapped up the title and who knows how that might have affected City’s overall development.

What are your sliding doors moments, F365-ers?
Kevin, Dublin

Read more: RANKED: The ten biggest Premier League bottle jobs of all time, as Arsenal cling on for dear life 

City myth
There is a myth that keeps circulating about City and their ability to be able to “field two world class XIs” (see AFTV after yesterday’s game) or as per Rami’s earlier missive “they aren’t going to feel any HUGE amount of pressure at all, and Pep has such a big squad to pick from”.

Does he? In what way? Please elaborate or are you just regurgitating bollocks you’ve heard down the pub or on social media to make yourself feel better?

Fans of other clubs have been conditioned into thinking that City have a full and deep squad of full internationals to choose from, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got an unbelievable core, but it’s quality over quantity and the numbers back it up.

City have used the FEWEST players in the league this season. The least. Lowest. 22 players used. Arsenal by contrast have used 26 (12th in the list). It should be no surprise to anyone that Forest (33 players) and Chelsea (32 players) are at the top of the list – a collective shitshow of recruitment from them both by know-nowt, Football Manager impersonating owners.

Back to City, out of the 22 players used there are some big caveats too. One of those players is the sulky pain in the arse that is Cancelo, shipped off to Bayern nearly 3 months ago and unavailable as an option since. Another is the out of favour, pushing for a move, sad faced Laporte…total number of appearances this season – 8/645 minutes. After you pass John Stones and his 18 appearance there is a wasteland of kids and fringe players none of whom have played a significant number of minutes. As evidenced by a pretty horrible 2nd half display against Leicester on Saturday a few of these players aren’t really up to the requisite standard other than Rico Lewis (a player whose name didn’t exist from a squad planning perspective in fans or even Pep’s mind 9 months ago).

We’ve got Palmer (139 minutes), Lewis (542 minutes), Gomez (166 minutes), Phillips (102 minutes) and Perrone (a whopping 8 minutes). After a core of 15 players who are playing A LOT of minutes across multiple competitions, that is the back up list, a huge drop off in quality and if I’m being honest, trust by Pep. So yeah, oil money/financial doping cheats/chequebook manager/blah blah whatever juvenile witty retorts you might have that are irrelevant to the wider point – it’s an absolute fallacy that City have a large squad full of quality and depth.
Mark, SK2 Blue


Haaland effect
In response to Andy’s (MUFC) mail yesterday, besides it being funny United fans are commenting upon how good Citeh are with and without Haarland, of course Citeh are better with him. They can now properly play on the transition (break-away in old money), which is music to KdBs ears and gives us a whole new dimension of play (see third goal against Leicester).

It also means he can send secret heart messages to his former team mate Jude Bellingham when he scores. The bromance, it appears, is real.

Question to Andy (MUFC) do you think we will be worse off playing Bellingham next season? I’m in two minds but would welcome your thoughts…
Rosie Poppins


View from the Palace
*The last Premier League team to lose to a club managed by Frank Lampard was Crystal Palace on 22 October.

*Timing is everything in football. Patrick Vieira was sacked after a tough run of fixtures and before some games he would have expected a decent points return from. Similarly, Roy Hodgson has taken nine points from nine since returning to Crystal Palace, something that would have been unlikely if he had been appointed on 1 January and faced Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United first up.

However, to solely ascribe the change in fortunes to playing easier opponents, as some pundits have tried to do this week, is overly simplistic. Comparing Hodgson’s three opponents from 22-23 to corresponding fixtures in previous seasons shows the real story: Palace had drawn with Leicester twice, conceding a late equaliser in 20-21 and coming from two down in 21-22, but dominated possession and came from behind to win two weeks ago. The Eagles had lost on their last two trips to Leeds, creating very little in the process, but weathered a storm and blew United away in the second half. Vieira did lead his team to victory over Southampton last season, but Hodgson increased the margin of victory.

*Someone on the Totally Football Show last Thursday speculated that while Palace have surprised people with their new approach (and the results they’ve reaped), Hodgson would eventually revert to type, starting with their trip to Southampton. There was no indication of this from the lineup, which was the same as the previous two fixtures, suggesting that although Eberechi Eze would start on the right of a midfield three, he would be encouraged to play ahead of Cheick Doucoure and Jeffrey Schlupp.

*The Eagles were much more conservative in their approach than they were against Leicester City. They had only two shots on target and scored them both, but unlike two seasons ago, they didn’t look like a team settling for a draw. However, it took almost an hour for a genuine clear cut chance to arrive.

When it did, Eberechi Eze took centre stage. He started a move midway into the Soton half on the right hand side and played a diagonal pass to Jordan Ayew on the left wing. Ayew cushioned the ball on his chest and waited patiently for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to attempt to close him down, before dribbling round him and centring the ball. Eze, meanwhile, had made a run to the penalty spot and met the ball without a single defender in a position to make a meaningful challenge.

*Fourteen minutes later, he went even better. Taking possession 30 yards out from goal, he deceived two defenders before dribbling past a third and letting fly from about 25 yards; the ball arrowed into the far bottom corner. A goal of the month contender from a player of the month contender.

*Eze is definitely benefitting from being allowed to start regularly and to play in the role he is most comfortable with. While this cannot work for every player in every Premier League squad, it was definitely not happening for Eze under Vieira, who was trying to convert him into a Conor Gallagher type player, but not giving him enough minutes to properly learn how to do it. Hodgson, meanwhile, has given him freedom to move across the pitch and link up with all of the front three; they in turn are creating plenty of space for him to work his magic.

*Hodgson said to Match of the Day that he was hoping for a couple more wins to take the club past the 40-point mark so that he can “start enjoying the games and stop worrying that one mistake is going to cost us the match”. However, compared to his previous stint or Vieira’s, Palace now look far less likely to have their results decided by one moment. They have gone behind in two of the last three fixtures and come back to win; they have defended in an organised fashion to minimise the likelihood of the opposition capitalising on any mishap; they have attacking threats from open play and set pieces; most of all, they play with confidence and the belief that they can come out on top. Put simply, the players are not encumbered by the same anxiety as their manager.

*The upshot of the weekend’s fixtures mean that Palace are nine points clear of the relegation zone and just three points behind Chelsea (with worse goal difference). Next up for the Eagles is the visit of Everton. Expect to see Palace sit very deep and try to counterattack, with at least one Toffee breaking a long goal drought.
Ed Quoththeraven


Getting technical
Rob, Worthing, doesn’t seem to know what either Hawkeye or GLT are. Neither of them are GPS systems, but in fact they are multi-camera systems that use a software algorithm to estimate, with a very high level of accuracy, whether the trajectory of a ball will take it over the goal-line, or outside the foul line on a court. And you can do that with a goal, or a boundary line, because it is a fixed point. And you can do that with a ball, because it’s a uniform shape that behaves in a uniform and expected manner when force is applied to it.

Footballers, on the other hand, MOVE. Not only that, but, because they are controlled by a person, they move in sometimes unexpected and unpredictable ways that can’t simply be explained by the application of a force in a direction. And they come in lots of shapes and sizes, with different shaped feet, or heads, and varying lengths of arms and legs. In order to determine whether a qualifying extremity, for example, is offside, you’d need an external input, from a person evaluating the multi-camera system, to make the decision.

And a multi-camera system with a person evaluating it to see if an infringement has taken place is what we have just now, to nobody’s particular edification.
Dara O’Reilly, London


Initial conclusion
1) Why is it that coaches or managers (whatever) have their initials printed on their kit? Do they think that people don’t know how who they are. Entitled bullshit we don’t need.

2) What is it with clubs thinking that employing someone completely random to wave a flag when a goal is scored makes the experience better? It is not and will never be anything but hugely cheesy.

Sorry only two for now, but maybe something for light hearted discussion.

Take care all, as ever.