Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t normally do this but I’m going to write this mail at half-time for Spurs v West Ham. It’s only marginally less dull than Leicester v Brighton but, Good God, not by much. Lots of huff and puff in both games but extraordinarily little in the way of quality.
As for the latter, one manager who looks to snatch a one-goal lead then defend it, versus another looking to do the very same thing. It’s insidious. Since last Wednesday night, how many PL matches have you watched and genuinely enjoyed?
Now I’m no gambling man (Thank f**k) and the reason I wrote that opening sentence is that the Spurs game may very well end up as a 4-3 classic (either way) but you know what? I really don’t think so.
And I’m sure I’ll attract the ire of those ‘enablers’ who say the players need time to get used to their surroundings and back to ‘match’ fitness and so on, but I call bullsh*t. And simply because, if any of you reading this have, or are about to, return to your own jobs after a 3 month absence and then operate at way less than you’re capable of whilst claiming that the new screens and social distancing are knocking you off your stride then, I would respectfully suggest, you’re talking b*ll*cks.
If Spurs v Wet Sham turns out to be a cracker in the second half then, as well as taking rightful abuse from the F365 faithful, I will pay £100 to the first footballing charity I find after googling same.
Mark (PL? Yawn. The League playoffs have been more exciting). MCFC.
I’m an Arsenal supporter, so admittedly I’ve got some skin in the game here, but even subjectively there are certain things to call out.
In the afternoon mailbox, Yaru states that ‘there isn’t an anti-Arsenal conspiracy’ and ‘the problem is with Arsenal medical team, fitness regime, playstyle, etc’ as ‘the same problem keeps happening to Arsenal, and only Arsenal, for many years then the problem is not football, it’s Arsenal. It is up to Arsenal to adapt to football, not the other way around.’
Well that’s not strictly true, a quick Google shows that last season (2018/2019) Arsenal were 6th for total injuries in the season. Clubs that had more injuries than them? Newcastle, Huddersfield, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man Utd. Ok, but maybe they had more season ending injuries than other clubs? Again, not really true is it? Off the top of my head I can remember Chelsea (12th in injury list) having a number of season ending injuries to their players (Hudson-Odoi, James, Loftus-Cheek).
While there may be a link with how teams train and the injuries they suffer or frequency, it’s disingenuous of the wider conversation to suggest this is the root cause and has nothing to do with how teams approach them. I watch basically every Premier League game available and as much more beyond that as my partner will allow, and there is a marked difference in how teams and officials approach Arsenal. Some is of their own doing (feigning injury, having more lightweight or less physical players who inevitably struggle with a more physical game), but others are more of a perception (to the former – they’re seen as a bunch of divers so officials ignore challenges, and to the latter – it’s perceived if you let them know you’re there early doors, they won’t fancy it and you’ve already won your personal battle).
Someone else mentioned Bissouma and it’s pertinent – only two players have committed 7 or more fouls this season without getting booked, the other was Ayew. On both occasions Arsenal were the opposing team and the referee was Martin Atkinson (who coincidentally has refereed over 25% of Arsenal’s Premier League games this season). There are also other figures which would leave Arsenal fans and players feeling aggrieved; on average, Arsenal players get booked for a lower number of fouls, and it takes a higher number for opposition players to get booked for fouls against. And that’s compared to literally every other team in the league over the entire season.
Moving onto Marcel’s mail, I’ve got to admit I had a wry smile when I saw he’s a Liverpool fan. It was roughly two years ago that a certain Spanish centre half pulled a star winger to the ground in a cup final and certain fanbase collectively lost their minds over it. Even after some camera angles suggested (note, before the pile on – I’m not saying is the case) the winger may have actually held onto the defender rather than the other way around. Again, an incident that happens a hundred times in a game and appeared even more innocuous than the Maupay challenge on Leno. There were few calls from Liverpool fans then for Salah to toughen up, or the medical team being crap at their job. Of course I’m sure now it’s been mentioned Marcel will be more than happy to lay the blame at Salah and the Liverpool medical team and they’ll all be issuing a formal apology to Sergio Ramos shortly…
Back to the incident itself – and if we really need to break it down anymore, Peter Crouch (who knows a thing or two about playing in the Premier League) was a pundit for the game and said at half time it’s ‘leaving a bit on the keeper,’ and he did similar himself. He even admitted that Maupay was in the wrong. And that’s a striker! As many others have said, challenging a player when both feet are off the ground is dangerous and outlawed in a number of other sports. No one’s suggesting banning all contact, and the comparisons to goalkeepers raising their knee or players contesting a challenge in central midfield are a false equivalence:
* ‘Leno / Maupay’ scenario: Leno had both feet off the ground, was at full stretch and Maupay was grounded and running in his direction. He didn’t need to jump into him but made the decision to do so, knowing it would ‘leave it on him.’ Yes it happens hundreds of times a game and it largely makes no difference but when it does, it can be disastrous, as we’ve seen at the weekend (a lot of ‘off the ground’ tackles don’t end in anyone seriously hurt, but they’re still banned because of the potential danger).
* ‘Goalkeepers raising knee as collecting crosses’ scenario: the majority of the time, it’s similar to the above in that the keeper is at full stretch with both feet off the ground. Only this time they usually have an opposition player jumping in their direction at the same time. The knee being raised is to protect their soft bits, rather than to attack the player running at them. Penalising keepers for doing this would increase their risk of injury.
* ‘Two players contesting a ball in the middle of the pitch’ scenario: Well both players are jumping at the same time so it’s ‘even’ if you wish. At worst they’re both coming at a standing or one or two step jump so there’s not much momentum. But if as one player was in the air and they were charged by another, they’d get a freekick as the minimum.
Basically, you don’t, or shouldn’t have to be an Arsenal fan to see the potential dangers of what Maupay did. I mean you literally don’t have to as it happened and the result is likely to be a player missing around a year of his career. You also shouldn’t have to be an Arsenal fan to objectively view how Arsenal players are treated and know that they do get different treatment to other teams. If you can hand on heart say that over the last 5-10 years you’ve never seen them next on the fixture list and thought or said ‘if we just get X to rough them up, then they won’t fancy it’ or something similar then fair play to you. But if the chances are you have, imagine what the players will be thinking, and in turn what the match officials will be thinking each and every time they step out onto the pitch.
Oh, and one final thing, related more broadly to the game and the afters with Maupay. The stories coming out about Guendouzi taunting the Brighton players over salaries is the biggest non-story of the week so can any potential faux-outrage be nipped in the bud? In every sport, at every level in every game that kind of shithousery goes on. In the ‘gentleman’s sport’ Cricket, they call it sledging. It happened when I played youth football and then semi-pro. It even happens in 99% of the industries all the people currently angry at it, work in. Everyone does it, the majority of the time no one cares because the person doing it usually backs it up with performances. Maupay got his final dig in at Guendouzi by being able to call him out on it. It’s only ever an issue or talking point when, like Guendouzi you prove to be all bark and no bite.
JDF (I miss it when we only had German football to watch), London
Annnnd just like that Arteta comes out and says Leno will only be out for 4-6 weeks. That aside, the point remains, it’s 4-6 weeks more than he should have been, had Maupay not deliberately ‘let him know he was there.’
Maupay the price
It seems as though Arsenal’s fans are just as pathetic and infantile as their players.
Exiled Gooner (watching Suits…) – “What was Neil Maupay’s aim when tackling Leno other than trying to injure him? OK, so he was trying to get the ball, granted, but he knew the keeper would go in with his hands and he still goes in feet first, studs and all.”
“Watching Suits” was the first red flag. Actually, “Exiled Gooner” was, but I digress.
Aside from being able to answer his own stupid questions, Exiled Gooner’s other talents include making sh*t up. I had to find and watch a clip of Maupay’s challenge (not tackle) again because I do not have the same recollection as EG. Quite different in fact. I think we call this “gaslighting” now.
Maupay was late but it was a mid-air shoulder barge, seen a dozen times a game. Leno just landed awkwardly. Maupay didn’t fly-kick Leno in the head as EG is implying. This was not the lovechild of Cantona and De Jong. If we’re going to start punishing players for consequence rather than the act itself then slippery slope, non-contact sport, etc, etc.
Arsenal and their fans are far too whiny and entitled than their ability permits, and they are where they are because of that.
The other item I wanted to raise – where has this notion that De Bruyne isn’t a smooth footballer come from?? I’ve seen it twice in the last few days on F365, first from Seb S-F and now from Will Ford, who said “he’s far from graceful” and “clunky”. I’m genuinely baffled. I haven’t seen a more elegant footballer since Adel Taarabt (don’t laugh, it’s all QPR fans have).
He does everything to perfection in about two touches; control, turn, throughball/ shot – how is he not smooth? He even looks like butter. Is it because he’s blonde and pale and mute? Someone help me out. Has Paul Pogba trademarked ‘smooth’? Who is smooth? Am I out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.
We’re probably all on the same page, we’re just using a different dictionary. I will leave you with that meaningless but nice-sounding Final Thought. Be kind to yourselves, and each other (sorry, EG).
Dan (QPR, Berlin)
Insult to injury
Because someone gets injured it doesn’t make the challenge worse than because someone doesn’t get injured it means the challenge was better.
Lacazette lunged at the Brighton keeper with his studs, it was a foul, the keeper didn’t get injured but it was reckless by comparison to Mapauy’s but no-one got hurt so it’s forgotten.
Weird that no Arsenal fan mentioned how upset they are at their own player could have caused a serious injury in a challenge we don’t see nearly so often.
Big Utd fan Garey Vance puts up a staunch defence of Harry McGuire and certainly his statistics when compared to VVD are impressive, but that’s what they are, statistics.
The old saying of lies, damn lies and statistics immediately springs to mind. Yes, many clubs are now (with LFC being maybe the foremost) using these to “consider” a player, but the final decision is made purely from a football point of view and we, as supporters, judge by what we see rather than what we read. And what we see, is a player who is perhaps not quite top tier.
I don’t think McGuire is a bad player, in fact I think he’s good, very good, but is he worthy of an £80m fee? Ok, if you have the money and he’s better than what you’ve got is a good argument, but could it have been spent more wisely?
I’d ask where he sits in the following list, Ferdinand, Vidic, Pallister, Blanc, Bruce, Jonsson, Buchan, McGrath, Stam and would suggest it’s at the end, I’d probably throw in Silvestre and Smalling (at his best) in there for good measure.
As an England fan, I’d hope that we don’t go into next years Euro’s or the 2022 WC with him as our no. 1, not sure who’s better but I would hope that Gomez continues to progress, Stones is somehow rejuvenated and maybe Tomori steps up with more game time. Even though he’s only 27, McGuire’s is not going to get quicker, I don’t believe his reading of the game will improve and he will always be likely to get caught as he did against Spurs.
Howard (can’t believe I let Phil Jones out) Jones
How football could change after Project Restart
Well we are a few games in to Project Restart, we have seen some interesting games, some surprise results and even a “Ghost Goal”, but what I have been pondering is how football will change either for the better or the bad come the end of this season and into the next and beyond, so here are my “5 Ways Football Could Change Post-Pandemic”;
1. Water Breaks – These mandatory breaks due to the 3 month stoppage of football and of course playing in the hotter months of the calendar year, this is the one thing I can easily see becoming the new normal, think along the lines of a “time out” like in the NFL, or where each game is split up into four quarters, the reason behind my thinking is due to not only managers being able to put across any change in tactics, as we have seen many a goal scored shortly after a water break has happened but also due to the potential for advertisements, time for a water break? we cut to a commercial break, this would certainly please potential advertisers but easily divide the fans whether they are for or against such a change.
2. No more Ball Boys – Right now the Premier League has implemented a “Ball-Replenishment System” which is basically a fancy term for multiple balls stacked around the pitch, this change permanently you’d assume would stop any delay tactics implemented from the ball boys to help out their team, now this does not happen as often as you would imagine but some iconic ball boy moments are like the ones involving Kyle Walker or Eden Hazard, but this change would also stop those moments such as TAA’s quick corner, it certainly wouldn’t stop a player from trying to waste time, but again overall could see this being put in place.
3. 5 Substitutions – There was a time when if a player was injured, well, tough, get on with 10 men no subs allowed, then it changed to when you could bring on the one sub for an injury, then the rule was relaxed to allow for a sub to be used for tactical reasons, over the many decades since the number increased from one to two, then to three, logically you would expect that five is now a strong possibility, or perhaps could be scaled in between at four.
4. 3pm Blackout Be No More – This has been argued over and over, whether you are for or against it, it does seem when nearly every country in Europe can watch a Premier League match at 3pm apart from residents in the UK that something will change sooner than later, the door has been opened and I cannot see it being closed firmly shut after this season concludes, it may take another year or two but the 3pm Blackout will cease to be.
5. Kick Off Times – This point is a bit more out there, but we have seen that due to many reasons they are spacing out the kick off times of games, where we are seeing up to four live games back to back, that is a lot of football even for the most avid of arm chair fan, however it could become a positive for clubs, fixture congestion is often mentioned as a hindrance, but with Project Restart showcasing this spread out form of games, TV and advertisers will see this as “more games live on TV, more money and more opportunity for advertising”, this point I feel is the most unlikely to happen but as I said at the start of this mini article it is how football “could” change.