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16 premature predictions (you might want to read as many Conclusions too)
1) Liverpool with comfortable canter to the title this year
2) Man City may not necessarily be the best of the rest this time, and it will be Guardiolas’ last season with the club
3) Lampard will not start next season as Chelsea Manager – he may even be a good shout to be 1st manager out the door if they dont click when all his shiny new toys become available. Abramovic is not known for his patience
4) Pogba will be out of Man Utds 1st choice 11 by Christmas as poor start leaves them searching for a better balance and defensive contribution from their midfield
5) Arsenals will continue to improve under Arteta and they will finish in top 4
6) Leicester will once again gatecrash the traditional top 6 but fall short of top 4.
7) Everton may do likewise though they are an injury or 2 away from Walcott and Iwobi on the wings so I think top 8 is more realistic and represents solid progress
8) 3 at the back systems are here to stay and alot of clubs will converting pacy wingers into attacking wingbacks this season
9) Tarik Lamptey will be chief among this new wave of attacking wingbacks, and will feature in Young Player of the Year shortlists at the end of the season. He will also get an England call up despite England being overloaded with right-sided defenders
10) Leeds will be safely in midtable come the business end of the season.
11) Aston Villa will the surprise package and might push for a top 10 finish, if you can ever describe a club that has spent 200million in last 2 summers as a surprise package
12) WBA will go close to unwanted record of most goals conceded in a 38 game season (89 goals) in the process of getting relegated
13) Mourinho will implode at NDombele as he concedes a late penalty when VAR adjudicates him having committed a handball despite him knowing nothing about it. Resulting fallout will see him lose the respect of the dressing room and his inevitible sacking will follow after 3 further months of discontent
14) Someone will hit 35 goal mark (lots of teams with 1 striker system and there will be a shit-tonne of penalties for the likes of Salah, Vardy, Aubameyang to feast on)
15) Speaking of penalties, we will see more of those awarded than in any other season by a long way
16) Phil Neville will come out of retirement and earn a spot in Englands 2021 European Championship squad as cover for both 1st choice wingbacks (Tariq Lamptey and Bukayo Sako since you ask)
Liverpool are good
I don’t know about other fans but I was very nervous about the game tonight. Arsenal had beaten us twice in a row and have looked outstanding in their early games this season. A lot of the pre-match focus was on all the ways they could upset us.
But I guess that to some extent I just forgot how ridiculously good this Liverpool side is. The first 25 minutes were so dominant; they had no shots on target and we were creating great opportunities. It felt like we had chosen to evade their press by playing some long balls and VVD and Gomez are so adept at playing those long diagonals into the full backs or wide forwards.
The goal we conceded was silliness but this team just don’t seem to get swayed or rocked by anything these days. Did anyone ever doubt we would score at least one? The fact Robertson scored the second was testament to how focussed this team is on constantly improving and fixing their mistakes.
People often say our midfield is just functional but today the three were all so good. Keita took the more advanced role from the right and Fabinho broke down so many counters and swept up so many loose balls that resulted from our press. In the first half Thiago might’ve helped us penetrate more through the middle but ultimately Arteta wanted to be compact in the hope they could break at speed so perhaps he would’ve struggled too.
Mo Salah…I used to think if he could pass he would be as good as Messi. Then last season Mané got mad at him for not passing and he started trying. It was dreadful watching someone try to pass a ball for the first time in 28 years, he was dreadful at it. I wonder if he could perhaps not tackle his own team mates though? Joto was great and could’ve wrapped the game up five minutes earlier if it wasn’t for that moment.
Leeds, Chelsea and Arsenal in our first three games; has anyone had a more difficult first three games? 9 points is an amazing return from those three games and I don’t think many will achieve that against those same three opponents this season.
Incidentally there’s so much talk about our back line being so advanced but it’s a massive advantage. First of all we compress the pitch and make it easy to press higher up and with more aggression. Second we play offside and that’s the one thing VAR is actually good at seeing for the most part. Finally, if you do get through there’s a long way to go to get to goal and our entire defence has pace to burn. If you play deeper and make a mistake it’s harder for your team mates to recover because the opposition is already closer to goal. Today we saw Trent and Gomez play poor passes out of defence straight to Arsenal players and it came to very little each time because they were losing the ball near the half way line.
Today the press got beaten twice and it took Robertson completing fluffing his lines for Arsenal to score. If it wasn’t for that then all we saw was AMN running out of options and playing a poor cross to his one option and missing his target. The chance that Lacazette missed at 2-1 was actually a much bigger chance based on actually playing through us but when that happened Arsenal had possession anyway so it can’t be blamed on the high line it was just a great pass by Ceballos.
The odds are ever in their favour
There was an entry to the mailbox before the season started asking why City were the favourites for the title, rather than Liverpool. Well, 3 games into the season, they no longer are. Whether it’s due to a flurry of bets on The Reds, or just an observation of the opening few weeks, Liverpool are now odds on favourites to retain their title. That of course, is not to say they will. The season is long, there will be injuries and dips in form along the way, and as of now City have only lost 1 game. However, it is clear that based on last season and the first 3 games of this, Liverpool are currently miles ahead of every other team in the Premier League.
They were simply phenomenal last night. It was one of the best performances I can remember watching in recent months. The press was suffocating from first minute to last. Every player did their job magnificently. Conceding the early goal was an irrelevance, the Red machine simply kept on coming. Robbo atoned for his error and Jota put the game to bed.
Anyone thinking Liverpool’s post lockdown form was a sign of things to come must be revising their opinions right now. They seemed better than ever. On top of that, the few worries we had last year: cover at left back & depth up front, have been addressed. Then you can throw one of the world’s best midfielders into the mix, just to make the team even more formidable. There are no certainties in football but if anyone finishes above Liverpool this year, they will have done something special.
To finish, a quick word for Arsenal. They were really good and made a good game of it. They just came up against a team that has been together years, playing at the top of its game. Arteta is clearly building something and being dominated at Anfield takes nothing away from that. Under Klopp we lost 5-0 to City and 4-1 to Spurs. There are always going to be bumps along the road but Arsenal are clearly headed in the right direction.
Mike, LFC, London
After Mo Salah got “in the way” of a Diogo Jota goal scoring opportunity, it made me think about if other players who have attempted to take a ball from a team mate and try to score instead, a Ronaldo and Kuyt naturally come to mind, but does the mailbox know of any other moments in history in which a team mate did this to another?
I’m not saying Salah was intending to take the ball off Jota, but the reaction afterwards from both players was interesting, least Jota got his goal in the end.
Mikey, CFC (Now could someone take the gloves off Kepa please and force themselves in goal?)
What the ref?
Liverpool were far better, the result was not surprising, and as far as important games go for us this was down the list so not bummed about it at all. It doesn’t confirm anything we didn’t already know and we’re still heading in the right direction. Now that I’ve got that out of the way…
Mané should have been off, the refereeing was horribly inconsistent throughout, and Jota handled the ball.
Matt (FACTS) Wright, Gunner in Aus.
I thought your 16 conclusions covered the Liverpool v Arsenal game very well and summed up the main talking points in a balanced way. As an Arsenal fan I would agree that even had Lacazette scored ‘that’ chance I think Liverpool would have likely found a way to win the match, the result was a fair one on the balance of the game.
One area that is worth further thought which you did seem to gloss over was the potential red card for Mane. The conclusions noted even if it had been given it wouldn’t have changed the result….that is a huge call to make for a 3rd minute red card! Is there a more game changing and game defining decision possible?
I agree that it should have been considered excessive force and endangering an opponent (Mane looks for him) but I also agree that it is incredibly rare to get a red card for that, at the home of the champions in the 3rd minute! I think what irked me more was that it wasn’t even considered worthy of the microscopic, frame-by-frame VAR review. We’ve had countless times where it seems the video ref is literally trying their hardest to spot an infringement however minute, and this Incident would have benefited Arsenal in the ‘always looks worse in slow motion’ way. Is there a precedent for Liverpool still going on to win matches comfortably when playing the entire game with 10 men? We don’t know how the game would have turned out but to say it would have been the same at 10v11 is naive in the least.
Similarly, Jota’s goal also didn’t seem worthy of detailed VAR review. I wouldn’t mind if it was reviewed, considered almost too close to call and the goal was given, I hate the handball rule, but it is frustrating that it wasn’t even considered for review or if it was reviewed it was too quick to be certain and the on pitch ref wasn’t asked to look at his monitor.
Overall the game was what we already know, Liverpool are 3-4 years ahead of Arsenal. Arsenal desperately need a central midfield. Considering Liverpool have strengthened and every other top team has problems, major weaknesses, small squads, managers who don’t effect games, I already think it would be one of the biggest upsets in Prem history of Liverpool don’t walk the league by 15-20 points again.
Final thought, how un-injury prone are Liverpool’s key players? I think I heard them say Van Dijk has played 90+ straight league games. Trent and Robertson have been virtual ever presents for 2.5 seasons and the front 3 have only missed about 15 games between them over 3 seasons since salah was signed. Credit to them and the medical team for avoiding the muscle injuries (that’s not luck) but to not get the sort of unlucky injury at all, an awkward fall, dead leg, bad tackle, turned ankle – these happen all the time but not to these 6 key Liverpool players.
Sensationalist journalism out of Matt Stead and all round poor analytical consideration of facts re the Mane booking.
Firstly, the arm was raised which is bookable but he didn’t lead with his elbow. Tierney got caught but tried to blow the whole thing out of proportion by feigning injury.
It was the second minute of the game, with an over zealous attacker demonstrating too vigorously his intent to win possession.
A straight red? F**k off Matt.. Go write for the S*n with that garbage mate..
Dazza, LFC, Dublin,
Klopp v Keane
I found Klopp’s reaction to Roy Keane quite rightly pointing out that Liverpool had some sloppy moments very strange and surely a little counter productive from his point of view. Liverpol were very good last night but its undeniable they had some sloppy moments, highlighted by the fact they went behind and Lacazette should really have equalised later on in the game. I can understand him wanting to praise the team to keep their morale up but surely you can do that whilst accepting there’s still some room for improvement in some areas.
If you were working in an office and your manager gave you a Very Good on your staff appraisal, but then highlighted things you could do and improve to become even better, you’d say thank you very much and I’ll keep those things in mind and work on them. You wouldn’t get snippity and start arguing back that you were the perfect worker. It would quite rightly be viewed as extremely arrogant.
Which is why Klopp’s reaction to Keane was strange from a usually very humble man. As I say Liverpool were very good but Klopp said it was against an Arsenal team that have been brilliantly recently. As an Arsenal fan I can say we’ve definitely improved by are still far from great and were lucky to win at home to West Ham last week. He said having Leeds at home for the first game of the season was a very tough test. Really? Leeds are obviously a very good side, but they are still a newly promoted team, and you’re the Champions. It should surely concern you even a tiny bit to concede 3 at home to anyone, let alone a newly promoted team. As for the Chelsea game, again they were very good and to win away at a team many consider a title challenge is a very good result. However, it was against 10 men for half the game.
Yes Liverpool are an amazing side, the best in the country and possibly the World. However like all great teams they aren’t perfect and theres still things they could improve and you’d think it would be in Klopp and his teams best interests to accept that so they can maintain the unbelievable standards they’ve had for the past 2 seasons, rather than getting prissy when someone points out they’re not perfect
A blast from the past
Been a while! I was going through my archives and found the following missive from Stewie, back in 2010.
“The longer Wenger is allowed to continue all-powerful as Arsenal manager, the more chance there is his incompetence will harm the club for years after he’s finally disposed of.”
Arteta seems a decent prospect of a manager (although his team selection and tactics tonight were beyond diabolical. Xhaka + Elneny?! Holding with Luiz? Dropping Gabriel? No Saka or Pepe for pace on the break?). But Arteta decent though he may be, isn’t a magician.
It’s clear to everyone Arsenal need to sign both Partey and Aouar as a minimum. The reality is, they’ll probably end up with neither. But why is that? After all it’s a combined outlay of approx £85m. Should be affordable for a club of Arsenal’s stature – right? But wait what’s this? There’s a whole host of talentless grifters rinsing the AFC wage bill, meaning Arteta can’t sign anyone decent until they’re gone you say?
So. Who are these big useless earners, and who signed them?
1. Mesut Ozil. A £350k a week mercenary being paid to not turn up to work. Contract awarded by Wenger.
2. Kolasinac. On a reported £180k p/w as he was signed on a free. Not one club will pay him a quarter of that. Signed and paid by Wenger.
3. Mustafi. On over £110k p/w. Wouldn’t get a game at your local dog park. Contract awarded by Wenger, cannot be shifted
4. Elneny. Another useless waste of space chilling in London on £80k p/w. Not going anywhere fast (since he’s slow at everything). Signed by…yep, Wenger!
5. Calum Chambers. A crock who wasn’t good enough for Middlesbrough and was part of a Fulham side that shipped a record 50+ goals. On over £60k p/w. No chance he’s leaving to go anywhere. Signed by Wenger.
6. Xhaka. A millstone at Arsenal. Lauded for managing to look like a pro for 2-3 matches in succession. Is actually garbage. On huge money. Not one club will touch him. Signed and paid by….
Rob Holding is a so abysmal he isn’t worth mentioning. And before the excuses are in, it’s well documented Wenger had the final say on every single one of those contracts – said so himself on record.
If Arteta has been able to shift just Ozil, Kolasinac and Mustafi from that list, Partey and Aouar would have been Arsenal players weeks ago. As it is though, Arsenal fans will have to pretend Willian was a competent signing and settle for 5th/6th. SAD!
Stewie Griffin (still enjoying the last laugh over the AKBs since 2006)
I’m very angry to live in a world that allows a useless punk like lacazette to make in a week what I could only dream of making in a handful of years even with a professional degree. I’m a liverpool fan.. and watching his exceptionally poor finishing got me really upset. Can’t imagine the vibes coming from north london…
Raúl H. García (footballers can be a health hazard)LFC-YNWA1892
Putting this in just to link to both of them tbh
Yesterday’s Gossip section was two Manchester United stories, no other stories from anywhere else in the world of football. Today’s is THREE Manchester United stories and no others from anywhere else.
Nothing anywhere from the 92 assorted football league clubs?
Not even United care about Pereira leaving, let alone two days in a row!