Bring Giroud back to Arsenal, and if only Liverpool had bought Nabil Fekir…

Editor F365
Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring for AC Milan.

The Mailbox rues a missed opportunity from 2018 for Liverpool, while an Arsenal fan craves the return of a former striker. Also: Chelsea are the new Everton; Bobby Martinez, VAR.

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Chelsea are the new Everton
New owner, lots of money, getting their pants pulled down by all agents and clubs, paying way over the odds for average and/or injury prone players and lots of aging players past their best.

Sounds familiar to me: Everton

Chelsea’s form is no surprise to me but I just want to check some facts that may be crucial to this malaise – Marina Granowskaia and Michael Emenalo left the club did they not? Were they not responsible for recruitment? I mean, Chelsea of old would never have bought Koulibaly or Wesley Fofana, or even Raheem Stirling. They are all players on their way down.

Look at how Newcastle have done their business. Look how City have done their business. Look at smaller clubs like Brighton, Brentford and see how thier recruitment is their key attribute.

I don’t blame Potter for any of this, like I don’t blame any of Everton’s previous managers (save for Rafa).

If you buy sh*t players, you will get worse. I mean laid out like that it seems obvious right? But there appears to be lots of idiots with too much money and very little knowledge about what makes a good player. We all disagree about what makes a good player but why do some get it right and some get it so consistently, horribly wrong?
Fat Man (Kenwright out – ½ billion spent on a team full of absolute crap)


Chelsea’s scouting
Do Chelsea actually ever have any transfer plans or targets of their own, or do they just see who the other Big 6 are targeting and then try and gazump them?
Andrew goonerabroad Brown


Bring back Giroud
I know he’s 36 but watching Arsenal last night labour to open the scoring with a frontline led by an overworked Eddie Nketiah, I couldn’t help thinking that Olivier Giroud could be the solution to our problems.

Hear me out – yes, Ollie has won the Champions League and Europa League but he’s never won the Premier League – narrowly missing out the year Leicester won the title.

He also must be thinking about his end game and coaching – so could this be an opportunity to take the pressure of Eddie and benefit from Giroud’s knowledge of the game when he hangs up his boots?

I’m not saying sign him and get him to lead the line right away – but he could do a job until Gabriel comes back and he knows what’s needed to win European silverware.

Maybe this is just a stupid idea – but I can’t be the only one thinking Arsenal are running the risk of everything going to heck if we lose Eddie to injury at the end of the month just as the window closes.

Ollie won silverware as an Arsenal player but doesn’t fit the criteria to be considered an Emirates legend yet in my view – if he returns, he could cement his place in Arsenal history and a place on the walls of the stadium.

Time to return? yay or nay?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Portuguese Bob
A couple of thoughts: First, how well does Roberto Martinez interview?! Talk about failing up.

Second, reminded in the top January spenders that Everton were 4th(!) at Christmas two seasons ago. I’m shaken to my core. That is as dramatic a slide as Martinez’s Wigan, or Everton, or Belgium.



For Fek’s sake
It’s clear that Liverpool have been struggling this season for various reasons i.e injuries, regression,loss of Mane, Nunez missing chances etc. But I just wonder what if we had bought Fekir? Obviously selling Coutinho for that fee was a masterstroke but failing to replace him less so. Fekir was supposed to be his replacement but failed his medical and somehow we didn’t bother to bring someone with a similar skill set? Klopp once said the best playmaker is the gegenpress but considering our press is suspect at the moment we aren’t gaining from that. The other playmakers in the team our fullbacks are struggling especially Trent(just the one assist so far). I think the brilliance of our attack in the last few years overshadowed the fact that our midfield was limited with few match winners if any. We are paying the price now as we don’t have a plan b( no one to score worldies, super sub Origi is gone). It’s clear the midfield will be addressed but given we’ve lost with fine margins over the last few seasons, I can’t help but wonder what could have been had we bought Fekir or a game changer in midfield.
Philip C

Read more: FA Cup weekend was the break from football’s self-importance that we all needed

Still up for the cup
The imminent death of the FA Cup has been predicted for at least the last two decades.

Has it though? Every season we get the same articles and comments saying this – maybe it’s just the places I get my content from are more pro the FA Cup than others, but the vast majority of comment i’ve seen over the last few years is pro FA Cup and I can’t really remember much comment predicting its imminent death recently. All for positive coverage of the competition but can we concentrate on the merits of the games without the backdrop of what seems to me to be a straw man argument to prop it up. It’s ok to like the FA Cup on its own without using it as part of a discussion that doesn’t actually seem to exist.

VAR inequalities 
A very frustrating weekend of football for more than one reason, but I’d like to touch upon VAR and specifically a couple of key decisions made at Anfield.

First off, it’s an absolute nonsense that VAR was in operation at only the Premier League grounds this weekend. You either operate it for all games or none and hopefully the FA will look at this and make a change in time for the 4th round (although I’m not sure how many 3rd round replays will be at Premier League grounds? ).

With regards to the Salah goal, for me he’s got to be offside. Toti only made a play for the ball in an attempt to stop it getting through to Salah, who was in an offside position from the original pass. This rule has been in place for some time though and actually pre-dates the introduction of VAR to English football. Liverpool themselves fell foul of this rule in 2018 iirc, in a game against Spurs at Anfield. A through ball was played to Harry Kane who was offside however Dejan Lovren tried (unsuccessfully) to intercept the ball. The ball made it through to Kane who then won a penalty as he was trying to take the ball around the keeper (Karius I think, remember him?). It seemed absurd at the time that the penalty was allowed, just as absurd as Salah’s goal standing at the weekend. This rule has been in place for some time though and is not a failure of VAR.

Lastly, concerning the Wolves “winner” that was disallowed, it’s interesting that John N quoted the following: “Liverpool of course do have VAR but not enough cameras to discern whether Matheus Nunes crossed the ball for Toti Gomes’ goal from an offside position. So it turns out that VAR itself is not an equal system from ground to ground. What can’t be seen at Anfield may be seen at the Emirates.”

Interesting because EXACTLY the same thing happened at the Emirates earlier this season in the game between Arsenal and Liverpool – you can read about it here if you wish – where Saka was possibly offside for the opening goal. What goes around comes around? I’m sure Liverpool would rather the Arsenal goal was disallowed as much as Wolves would rather their goal stood! It just goes to show that there are still wrinkles to be ironed out in the way VAR is applied – as long as these lessons are being learned and things are done differently in the future!
Duncan (Liverpool)


Anfield fallout continues
In reply to Rob, Neil and Marcel, is it really that simple with the offsides?

Firstly the Wolves. Nunes looks likely offside but it seems close. Now VAR have a camera on the 18 yard line as standard for offside decisions. When Nunes sends the ball in the second time the camera footage is there. Two seconds earlier they do not have the same angle. That’s a horribly inconvenient tech failure. It’s a static camera, so why would they switch it off for a corner? Literally never heard of this kind of VAR failure before. Maybe someone can shed light on this.

For the Salah goal. It does seem to be the correct interpretation of the rules, as the defender deliberately played the ball, playing Salah onside but offside rules in this case are far from simple. This seems like a case where the rules are shown to be flawed, which I am sure Liverpool fans won’t lose any sleep over in this case. To contradict this odd slant to the rules, if the defender had been blocking a shot rather than what was a direct pass to Salah, it would have been offside.

Think about this for a second. They have intentionally closed out the loophole where an offside attacker can score from a shot blocked by a defender, but have opened up another one where he can score from an offside pass to him blocked by the same defender.

And what about how an offside player chasing the same pass as a defender is offside even if the defender gets there first and plays the ball. They have clearly shown with this rule and the blocked shot rule that they do not want an offside attacker to gain an advantage from being in an offside position initially. The exception seems to be addressing defenders executing poor passes and attackers getting penalised for it, which this was not.

Seems a bitter pill for Wolves fans to swallow on both counts.
Nick (should really be getting back to work)


…So smug Neil, from the US of A, calls anyone who disagrees with the awful decisions during the Liverpool game numpties, and says to go read the rules of football re offsides. Well if I was being pedantic I would tell him that offsides are actually covered by the laws of football not rules. Nevertheless, we know the offside law Neil as we can all read or we wouldn’t be able to contribute to the mailbox. The issue is around the interpretation of the law.

The law says the defender has to deliberately play the ball. Well arguably Neil, the defender didn’t deliberately play the ball to Salah, it deflected off his head and he had no control over the situation or direction of the ball. Had Salah not been there, in an offside position, the defender wouldn’t have had to try to clear the ball. It should have been considered the same phase of play and clearly offside.

Ask yourself this, why was the offside law introduced? It was to ensure attackers do not gain an unfair advantage by standing much closer to the net than the defence. This is exactly what happened, Salah was miles offside and gained an unfair advantage. Would you be happy enough had it been a Wolves attacker and they scored from it?

As for the second one, Neil suggests the corner taker was offside. How do you know this Neil, because VAR couldn’t prove it either way? And the TV replay suggests TAA was playing him onside. I do hope you use your special ocular powers for the good of humanity. Or even just to make up for the lack of VAR in that part of the Anfield pitch in future. Ridiculous.
Garey Vance, MUFC


…Lots of apologists in the mailbox on Monday morning, particularly defending the Salah goal call. And in this case, they’re correct – by the letter of the law, because the ball was purposefully headed on, Salah wasn’t offside. Of course, if Salah hadn’t been positioned where he was, the ball likely wouldn’t have been headed on.

Salah, being in that position – offside – caused the defender to get involved as you would naturally expect them to. Without the defender being able to be sure that VAR and assistant would flag Salah offside, then he’d have had big balls to let it go.

Clearly, the law is the issue here, because in the desire to create more nuance in what qualifies as offside, it’s made a stupid situation. I know, surprise, huh. I go back to my previous recommendation – keep it simple. If you’re offside when the ball is played in, you’re still offside, let’s say for at least the next two phases. It pretty easy to police, and stops ridiculous situations like that. Or you just call it offside when someone is offside, which is even easier.