Liverpool must ship ‘full-blown disaster’ to Saudi, not Gomez; Arsenal should have dodged Rice

Editor F365
Liverpool should try tempting Saudi with Trent Alexander-Arnold

Never mind Joe Gomez, Liverpool should try and get Saudi Arabia to pick up Trent Alexander-Arnold. And Arsenal have messed up with signing Declan Rice.

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Cry me a river, Trent
A few thoughts on Sunday’s classic at St James’ Park:

It WAS a red card. Could have been a yellow mind you but no complaints.

Trent should have gone. Yes Gordon fouled him on the first but the petulance (however justified) earned him a yellow.

Pulling down Gordon (ok, saying “pulled” is a stretch but even so) should also have been a yellow.

The less said about the goal the better.

Tbh He might still be young but should still know better. The lad is no longer becoming a liability but is instead a full blown disaster. We’ve thrown out the whole team to accommodate his short comings and the trade off of value over calamity is coming up short.

The win though is about as sweet as it gets. Great to see Captain Chaos delivering. If he can keep it up….

Anyway, whatever about Salah, if Saudi come in for Trent then we should bite their hand off.
E, Ireland


During the match yesterday, I was grumpy as. Trent getting booked for being rightly annoyed by the referee seeing the blatant foul on him. Originally with the Van Dijk tackle I thought it was clean and he clearly won the ball (he didn’t, it was a clear foul and therefore red card), Joelinton getting more last warnings than a child getting warnings that there’ll be no ice cream if he keeps flicking his sister’s head…

But, at the final whistle, none of it mattered cos we won and it was joyous. Ok, so we’ll be without VvD, but maybe that’s not a bad thing right now.

Quite honestly, happy as Larry.
Rob, Worthing.


Virgil’s sending off was correct and Trent was lucky to stay on the pitch.  What a magnificent win!

For the loud unhinged minority, the next time you pull your heads out of your a**e long enough to yell something, take a deep breath of the air outside before you ram your head back up there.  It smells better on the outside.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA 

Darwin Nunez, Liverpool, August 2023
Darwin Nunez celebrates scoring


Semi knee-jerk Arsenal reactions
I was going to wait until matchweek 10 to forecast how I feel about Arsenal’s season because that’s a realistic point at which it’s still early enough that it’s stilll a “prediction” (i.e. things can still go terribly wrong after that) but also sort of starting to become the point where we can think about formulating real conclusions. F365’s Angeball craze would be a prime candidate to be in a completely different light 2 months from now but somehow even I’m buying in (so far).

I’ll preface this by saying that this is my current feeling – which is under the impression that Arteta plans on playing Havertz as some sort of LCM/striker hybrid in our 4-3-3 / 3-2-4-1 (3-3-3-1? 3-2-5?) for the rest of the season and Partey as a right back. If he comes to his f***cking senses anytime soon (i.e. on Sunday) and starts a midfield of Partey, Rice and Odegaard then we might be able to disregard this mail. But Kai starting at LCM – this is not going to work. We all know Kai is talented but Kai should not be starting and I feel bad that I salted Declan’s name as potentially a bad purchase (he was overpriced but who isn’t nowadays?) when Kai is the much bigger culprit in this regard. And this is where Arteta’s primary flaw really comes into focus.

I’ve questioned Arteta before many times but the Kai purchase is something I don’t think he’ll end up shaking.I really do not believe in this purchase. For 65 million – I’d expect some guaranteed goals. Especially given our 1-2 punch of the the league’s worst finishers last season. I love what Jesus and Nketiah bring to a team but when your competition has better players, man for man, and on top of that a cyborg born to score goals then you’re going to have to come up with a better strategy than beating that team at their own (previous – more on this later) game. It seemed like a pretty clear weakness to handle – we’ve outscored our xG significantly the last two seasons – will that hold up?

I would get the Kai purchase as a gamble for half the price. But for 65 million I’m inclined to believe it would have been money spent on a less naturally talented player who knows what they’re doing (like Xhaka) rather than a theoretical preternatural savant who in reality has no idea what they’re supposed to do (and it’s showing). Instead, we possibly weakened out goal output from that position. Kai had the potential to flourish but Arteta risking his floor was a terrible decision in my opinion…so far.

Arteta clearly thinks he’s the one who can unlock the obvious talent Kai has. I had a feeling he was adopting him as his pet project and his unwillingness to take him out in the first match let alone keep faith and start him over the criminally underused Trossard the second match was mind boggling. This is the worst 40 million “upgrade” in central midfield history. Why would you take that gamble now? We needed someone who was going to provide consistency and maintain the patterns/standards of last season (if you would have told me at any point before the turn of this year I’d be pining foerXhaka back…) in that position.

The foundations of the squad were more than set – that was made quite clear regardless of our poor finish to the season. We needed sure players (I think Mount would have been great with us actually plugged into the Xhaka role – his struggles with United are the fact that he’s adapting to a team that is still figuring out what exactly it is) whose output we could rely on in the summer. And even though I think Declan was overpriced I do think his floor will end up making the 105 million not a crazy amount. Kai’s floor was far too low for the price. And, again, we had/have options there.

READ MOREOver-thinking Arteta has to make obvious Gabriel, Havertz decisions and go back to basics

It’s also interesting that Arteta is leaning into strategies his mentor clearly tried to go away from last season. Arsenal are indeed a one-trick pony now – stay compact in a low block to stymy the midfield play and bust your a** to double team Saka/Martinelli when we spread out wide. It’s actually not as easy as it sounds but when done well it definitely works and we definitely have no plan B. Tierney was the only fullback we could really rely on in that position to consistently beat a man and cross it in. Arteta has decided he does not need such a player as we can purely just invert our play with intricate short passing play through the middle (tell me I haven’t been here before…) and rely on our wingers to 1. not only get inside the box and score but 2. be the only reliable crossers looking to get out wide.I have 100% been here before.

It’s one thing to employ this strategy when you have the use of half-space kings like the Silvas. It’s another to do this while experimenting with a new midfield set up. What we needed from Arteta was to build upon last season and instead it seems his reaction is to overthink things. Given his two biggest managerial influences, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Anyway, fellow Gooners may hate on this take but I think for this reason – not all the other BS about whether or not certain young players fluked last season – will be the reason Arsenal will finish solidly top-4 but not really challenge for the league.
MAW, LA Gooner



Been meaning to write this for a while, work has died down, so here goes…

There needs to be some calm around Arsenal. Pre-season garbage saying we ‘must win the title’ etc blah was just that. First, the PL is now so competitive I don’t think any team ‘must’ win it or ‘must’ be in the top four. Recent seasons have shown that a crucial injury, a few games’ poor form or other teams suddenly coming good can drop you from title contenders to the Thursday night slots. The margins are very slim.

Last season was a huge step forward and massively ahead of schedule. I think most sane Arsenal fans hoped for a top four or three finish last year. A title push ended by City’s excellence, soma naivety and fatigue was not anticipated. So, this season, I think a realistic aim is to solidify top three whilst also introducing our squad to the CL. Hopefully we can get out of the group and make a fist of a last 16 round. We might get a decent draw and go through to last 8, but as long as we don’t get our pants pulled down by a Harry Kane-led Bayern (shudder), that will be decent enough for a very young side with little CL exposure.

It’s still early doors in the season, so some rustiness is to be expected. All conquering City nearly dropped points against Sheff Utd. No one is in their groove yet. We also have some other points to address. We sacrificed a senior player in Xhaka for more younger players and Arteta is trying to evolve our style of play again. Personally, I don’t think this move is ‘overthinking’. We are seeking to emulate the CL and treble winners and team who bashed us off the park multiple times last season. By using one, if not two, inverted full backs we can put an extra ’10’ on the pitch – if they are hard working.

Currently that extra ’10’ is Havertz and it’s clear that he’s not come in and looked great. He seems to be lacking confidence and is not on the same wavelength as the other players yet. That’s not surprising having come from the Chelsea mess. It could well take him several games to find his feet. But then look what happened with Bergkamp once he got going. I’m not saying Havertz is the second coming of Dennis, but no one scores 13 goals in 37 games for Germany by the age of 24 without having something about them. I wouldn’t be surprised, when Jesus is properly fit, to see Havertz play in his best role. At Bayer Leverkusen he was a false 9 with fast players running beyond him. He was very creative and scored 36 in 118 mainly as a teenager. That’s also excellent.

The success of the new system and Havertz’ integration will need half a season to gauge. It’s a real shame that Timber got injured – both because he was looking our best summer signing and he was important to the new team style of play.

But that brings me to my bone of contention. Transfers. I know that people will have been reading my mail so far and shouting ‘200m’ at the screen. Fair enough. We’ve spent money, of course. But without wanting to become a tiresome Liverpool ‘net spend’ bore, as the transfer window closes other big clubs’ summer spend is moving more in line with ours, and Arteta/Edu created the possibility to spend by massively slashing our wage bill for two years and now qualifying for the CL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see player purchases drop off in the future as our squad is fairly complete and we have baked-in expenditure on players.

But it’s not this that concerns me. I don’t understand why we have moved away from the ‘Arsenal way’. We have a happy wheelhouse. We’ve never been the richest club and we’ve done well on developing our youth and buying young and developing purchases. It’s not an easy path but Arteta, Edu, the scouts and academy were doing a really good job. The biggest dud over the last few seasons was imo Vieira who was 35m for not a lot of contribution. Though he still has a bit of time to come good. Timber is a prime example of the kind of transfer that’s our meat and drink. Havertz, as I’ve said has the potential to come good, but there’s no doubt we overpaid based on recent form and the tax of buying from a PL rival. 15-20m less would have been fair business.

My big issue is Declan Rice. This is not our kind of transfer. Whenever we go and try and play in the big leagues we get burned. Pepe (horrendous transfer), Ozil’s second contract, Sanchez second contract, and so on. It’s very hard for anyone to get transfers of this size right. Because for 100m plus salary Rice needs to win us the PL probably a couple of times and a CL as well. For 85 and 100m, that’s the expectation on Bellingham and Kane, for example. It’s a hugely tough task. I agree with Roy Keane – Rice is decent but absolutely not worth 100m. He’s not as good as Rodri or Casemiro (though younger). Is he better than Enzo or Caicedo? I’m not sure about that. Put another way, why is it that when City and Madrid have spent 100m on players in the last two years they’ve swerved him? Madrid have bought Tchaoumeni, Camavinga and Bellingham instead.

I don’t think he’s good enough on the ball. A bit slow and allows passing lanes into him to be too easily blocked. Look at any number of England performances. His main attribute is supposed to be recovery runs and interceptions, but he was badly out gassed by two Forest players for their goal and then lost control of that game for the last twenty-five minutes. He was at fault for losing Palhinha’s run that got Fulham their equaliser. Tonali looks a classier player to me and cost only half as much.

Anyway, I think we will improve over time as we settle into the system. I hope I’m wrong and Rice turns into Paddy. We will need to up our game significantly for when Utd visit on Sunday compared to the Fulham performance which was all sorts of sloppy. Hopefully, we use it to kick-start our season.
Josh, AFC, Dubai


Well, Stewie is back, and he actually has some points (no, really, hear me out). Admittedly, in much the same way as a broken clock is right twice a day, but still.

Obviously, the back line in Arsenal are a shambles. OK, the loss of Timber could not be foreseen. The red card of Tomi was a disgrace. But: Partey at right back is clearly not working. Why insisting? The best defensive partnership in the whole PL last season was Gabriel and Saliba. Now, Gabriel is nowhere to be seen. Why?

If all of this is to shoehorn Havertz into the line-up, then he is surely a bad signing. On the other hand, people judging Havertz on his performance on the pitch need to take a step back. Much like Mr. AsWas Harry Hooler wrote in the comments, he is “tarnished good”. In psychology, it is called Fundamental Attribution Error. In short, it goes like this: if you like someone, then you think that they are fundamentally good, and if they aren’t, it can only be due to some kind of circumstance (for Havertz, read: played in wrong position, new to the team, etc). However, if you think the they are fundamentally bad, then when they are good, it can only be due to some kind of circumstance (for Havertz: it is a fluke game, the opponent was shite anyway, he got lucky this once, etc.). So, many people have their minds made up already and retrofit events to support the narrative.

I think the same goes for Arteta. If you think he is good coach (and there certainly seems to be evidence that points to this), then bad results are only happenstance (he is still young, learning, ref was an eejit, …). If you think he is not a good coach (I fall into this category, to be honest. Mostly because he is younger than me, a whole lot more handsome, infinitely richer, and has hair on the top of his head. So yeah, I am sour grapes, sue me) then all his errors are magnified. Like playing Partey as right back. Or not playing Gabriel at all.

Yet, as Gooner, I am not too worried. It’s a game, people. Enjoy it. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose, sometimes you draw. Sometimes you shine, sometimes you are a shambles. Just go with it 🙂

András (researcher in chemistry, not in psychology), Sweden


Big managers
Person McPerson makes a good point about Pep managing a smaller club and challenging himself
. Given his resources at Man City (albeit based on a stellar run at Barcelona) Pep should sort of win most games and most trophies barring an heroic display by the other team (my own Leeds won at the etihad despite being down to ten men but in another world would have been smashed 5-1. Bielsa – what a man). The real aim of (working) life to me is doing new things and stretching yourself with new experiences.

Roy Keane said the real trick for big managers is picking the big club that matches their ambition and backs them (I may have simplified what he said) rather than pick a smaller club.

I think the answer is somewhere in-between. I’d love a big manager to rebuild and develop a smaller club but they have to want to be there. My guess is that Pep wouldn’t last 6 months at Brentford and Brighton (budget, balancing sales etc) or Spurs (budget, Spursiness) as the realities of managing a smaller club would mean he would to have coach players to be better than their level (until it went shite and we were found out, Bielsa did this at leeds) rather than spend.

Also I wouldn’t want a big manager to be at my club and just moan rather than do their job ala conte and mourinho at spurs. My guess is that Pep would never take a smaller job – next stop PSG then early retirement or director of football somewhere.


Useless football round-up
I write a stupid football roundup for my friends on Monday morning and thought I would share with Football365 readers.

Premier League: Everton have yet to score a single goal. Sean Dyche’s team may become worm-food before Christmas. Which is great for Dyche, because he likes worms.

Championship: 5 teams are without a win in the first four games. Two of those teams, disastrously, are 2022 Playoff Contenders / Barely Missed-Outers, Huddersfield (3rd) and Middlesborough (7th).

League One: There were five red cards across League One this weekend. Proper football, that. One team that didn’t get a red card was Oxford, who are undefeated since an opening day upset to ivy league rivals, Cambridge.

League Two: Three teams are undefeated in League Two. None of these early stage Invincibles are in the top three due to an inability to win games. Notts County (2nd in Conference Last Year) sit above the undefeated teams in 4th, while rivals Wrexham (Conference Champions) are uncomfortably mid-table despite all of their games taking the shape of a Hollywood production.

What’s my opinion? Isn’t football marvellous. Love F365, been reading since Jesus (Gabriel) was a boy, who was born the same year as F365.

Joe (Ireland, Manchester United Fan)