Mails: 427 things we learned from the NLD

Date published: Sunday 6th March 2016 11:37

Don’t forget to read 16 Conclusions then send your mails about why there are no mails on Leicester to


Glorious failure. Twas ever thus.
Dave (this season has been the straw that has broken this previously Wenger supporting back) Sutton


A happy Gooner
Back in the title race. not so much the point gained, but the demonstration that we can be competent in a big game and that with a sensible strategy we are a better side that Tottenham. Momentum with us, not hopefully the seeds of self-doubt with Spurs.

11 vs 11 Lamela’s was Spurs’ only real chance. Despite the utter rank stupidity of Coquelin today we need to start the same system away to Everton in our next huge game. TBF Lamela, Dier and then Bellerin exhibited the same rank stupidity. Plane Cowardice from the usually excellent Michael Oliver that none of them got a 2nd yellow.

A narrow midfield of Ram-Coq-Neny is robust. An Attacking trio of Ozil, Sanchez and Welbeck is ideal for the counter. If Ramsey and Alexis have just a little bit of confidence back in front of goal we won’t need triple the chances of our opposition. Away to Man City last year we found an effectively conservative way to approach big games, and the confidence needed to approach them too. Despite only getting a point, today needs to be the same springboard. Game on
James Gooner


Spurs are knackered
Big conclusion: Spurs are very very tired. Dier and Eriksen could barely move today. The fatigue was evident and we were very lucky to come away with a point. More points will be dropped unless fresh legs are used.

It’s going to be a white knuckle ride…
Eric Breitman, Spurs, NYC


Pochettino bottled it
I’ve just watched the North London derby and while the Spurs players look up for the fight at the end of the season, Pochettino doesn’t. Spurs had Arsenal on the ropes, but instead of putting them out of their misery, Poch bottled it and brought on Mason. It was a safety-first substitution that killed Spurs’ momentum and let Arsenal back into the game. The subsequent substitutions weren’t bold enough to rectify his mistake and they ended up with a result that just isn’t good enough. I’m convinced that Spurs have blown it now and that Poch isn’t ready for a title push. Sorry Spurs fans. Maybe next year.
Kirk (a hopeful Utd fan)


They both did
It’s not just an Arsenal thing. Maybe it’s something in the North London Water.


Leave Mesut alone
I can’t understand the pure hate that journalists and rival fans have for Mesut Ozil. A decent performance and criticism is raining down on him. An average performance where he doesn’t do anything extraordinary and he is called invisible. An average performance may i add where he could have easily have had 3 assists through the 2 brilliant through balls to Welbeck and the other very good cross field ball to Alexis which eventually lead to the equalizer.

Why do people expect Ozil to have a massive influence when he had 2 players marking him all game? 2 players who have been two of the most in form midfielders in the league and were full of energy from minute 1. All logic goes out the window when people talk about Mesut. In the eyes of a surprising number of people Ozil is incapable of having an average performance, he is either invisible or world class. If a player like Payet or Silva put a performance out like Ozil did today then there wouldn’t be a word against them, people would accept that they were solid but didn’t have much effect on the game. The double standards that people seem to have is petty and embarrassing.
Matt, Arsenal fan


Why is no-one calling out Lloris?
He needs to spend some time on the bench whilst he spends time in the naughty corner for CROUCHING DOWN when he needs to be on tiptoes when shots come in.

To my mind, he cost us 2 points at the Emirates, 1 point at home versus Newcastle, a point (and the game atmosphere) versus West Ham, and two points again against Arsenal today.

He is a good player, but this crouching low thing needs sorting out. Who is our goalkeeping coach? It is so obvious, he needs to re-train to stop this happening over and over again.
Dave (probably a bit harsh but so be it), Winchester


Referees read the papers too
Sarah Winterburn is far too generous to Michael Oliver. On Oliver refusing to show Dier a deserved red card: “For some inexplicable reason, he simply got it wrong.” Well actually it’s very explicable… Oliver didn’t want to send off a Spurs player and he knew he’d get minimal criticism in the media for failing to do so. In fairness, I’m currently watching Leicester get some similarly “inexplicable” decisions from Jonathan Moss and I’m sure he’ll escape criticism too. We all want to see an “underdog” win the league; refs aren’t immune to the romance. (Just please don’t let it be Spurs…)


It’s all Ramsey’s fault
Big weekend put a look of onus on Ramsey to pull up his socks and I’m sure a lot of the faithful would claim his cheeky back heel proves he’s got it still.

But. 92nd minute, Sanchez plays him though on goal. He takes one touch, then another, then shoots only to win a corner. For a true box to box midfielder that wants to score goals, the first touch should have been enough. He should have tapped that ball into space with only one intention in mind… And that would be to see the ball behind the net.

Pires woulda scored that. Ljungberg or Vieira woulda scored that. Heck, I’ll go as far to say that even Flamini woulda scored that. Sometimes, just putting your boot through it and hoping for the best is better than waiting for the perfect moment.

He might not have done much wrong today, but I still blame Aaron for tonight’s draw.



Neutral conclusions
From a somewhat neutral’s (man united) perspective:

– How Spurs didn’t win that game is beyond me. Although Arsenal were somewhat comfortable in the stretch between their first goal and the Coq red card, Spurs were by far the better team.

– You could see from the opening whistle that Arsenal were petrified of losing. Their trade trademark possession game was nowhere to be found and they were extremely lucky to not go behind early on.

– Credit to Arsenal, though, for their goal. Completely against the run of play, great hold up and vision from Welbz and nifty finish from Ramsey.

– Le Coq – I was having this conversation with my mate last week. I simply don’t rate him. The seed of that opinion was planted many years ago (somewhat unfairly) during the 8-2 drubbing at OT. His propensity to dive into unnecessary challenges and play on impulse is something that, for better or worse, you can’t really coach out of one’s game. He’s essentially Flamini 2.0 for me (Clive). The red card was fully deserved and utterly stupid, considering he had decent cover on the play.

– Why Wenger didn’t immediately make a substitution following said red card is absurd. You are up 1-0, away from home with over half an hour to play. It’s almost as if Arsenal don’t practice these types of scenarios during the week. Any coach worth his salt doesn’t trust a midfield of Ramsey (who isn’t dynamic enough to anchor a midfield) and Elneny(of 2 prem appearances, the 2nd of which was today) when down a man, and rightly so. He was asking for it, and it he got. Quickly.

– Spurs first goal was probably about what they deserved up to that point in the game and a solid, snap finish from Toby Alderweireld. But the pick of the litter was obviously Harry Kane’s. My word. If Spurs had won, and should they go on to win the league, that seriously might be Goal of the Season. Great show of technique and confidence.

– Spurs really should have buried that game. Especially considering Wenger continued to sit idle in his enormous jacket. They should have scored at least once more, and probably more than that.

– With that said, shocking defending and goalkeeping for Sanchez’s goal. Spurs were lethargic to the pass from Bellerin and Lloris was slow to react to the shot. Arsenal were just about to crumble within themselves (if they hadn’t already) and Spurs let them right back in it. Game on.

– Dier absolutely should have seen red. The only thing keeping him on the field was the challenge’s proximity to his yellow card, which suggest Michael Oliver bottled it (although he had a decent game, to be fair).

– It was a nervy run in, to say the least, but Wenger FINALLY made the subs needed to see out the match. Huge result for everyone in and around the top 4. Arsenal have now taken 1 point from their last 9, Spurs 1 from their last 6. Can’t wait to see how this whole thing shakes out.
Seth, Birmingham, AL, USA


Take a moment…
Just take a moment and think about it. It’s very nearly a certainty now that at the very least, next year we will be seeing the likes of Jamie Vardy, Danny Drinkwater, Andy King and Wes Morgan(!) in the bloody Champions League.

Tom (beautifully befuddled by it all) London


Little Leicester
Somewhere in Leicester, in a cupboard under the stairs, there’s a vacant-looking kid with bottle-top specs and a scar on his nog, furiously waving his magic wand and shouting for Lineker to let him the f**k out.
Ian, Northampton

Oh, Roberto
Martinez is a terrible manager tactically. 2-0 up with 10 men and brings a striker, Niasse, on for Lennon instead of shoring it up with Barry. Idiot.

As a neutral made for a great game though.
Payet is a joy to watch.

Cormac, Galway


Arsenal youth
Isreal, MUFC since 1977 makes a good point in wondering where Arsenal’s ‘local lads’ are and why they aren’t pushing the first XI.

What should be more concerning however has to be Wenger’s (or whoever’s in charge of this sort of thing at Arsenal) ability to identify the right players from his youth squad and bring him into the team. I say this after having seen LvG giving game time to at least twenty youth players in two seasons, most of which have carved themselves a role into the squad; I’m completely prepared to accept that most young players can not make this transition as easily as United’s seem to have done recently.

The biggest examples of ‘young players promoted to the first XI’ at Arsenal at the moment are only Wilshere (disappeared), Gibbs (can’t push Baines or Bertrand out of the England line up), Bellerin and Le Coq. Chambers and Ox are in the category of players who looked promising at his previous clubs but have now been turned to cr*p.

Bellerin is class and will continue to be so no real discussion there except if he’s even an Arsenal prodigy or Barcelona’s (not that it matters really). Coquelin is the one that really p*sses me off. Coq was almost let go of before Wenger realized that’s the player he’s needed the whole time (never forget). Even then, Coq was limited but b*llsy enough to step up. However, then Wenger shot himself in the foot by not signing another midfielder… you can insist its because there wasn’t one available to his liking but (and here’s the kicker) I believe that Wenger’s weak(ening) character assessment led him to believe Coq was good enough for the season. Genuinely. He even had swathes of Arsenal fans convinced that Coq is ‘world class’. Again, he’s decent but too rash, positionally indisciplined and tactically naive for the first team of (what should be) a Champions League calibre team.

Wenger has a decent (somewhat) record of giving game time to young players but his success rate has to be ridiculously low (if you do the math… I haven’t). For every Bellerin, there have been four or five Iwobi’s. But perhaps more frustratingly, its the four or five Iwobi’s who get called up into the starting XI as opposed to the Coqs or Bells, who only get a call up when injuries force Wenger’s hand.
Emad MUFC Boston


Davids and Goliaths
There’s a terrific book by Malcolm Gladwell called David and Goliath in which he examines various situations in history where underdogs have prevailed, and the circumstances under which they have done so. Essentially, his focus is on how perceived strengths become weaknesses and vice versa. For instance, David v Goliath should always have been a no-contest – for David. A large, plodding warrior made even slower by his heavy armour versus an agile contestant with a deadly ranged weapon should only have ever ended one way. Yet Goliath was the formidable warrior while David was a shepherd boy, and the perception of who had the advantage was very different.

Its an apt way to look at this years title race and the perceived “strengths” of the big clubs. Take the most obvious one, having lots of money. Money can theoretically buy you better players, managers and facilities but its existence also attracts a particular kind of person – those who want to make more money. in that sense, Manchester United and Arsenal seem to be paying the price for their past glories, having been bought by owners whose only priority is making money off them. The point here is not whether or not enough cash is available for the club to use their financial advantage in the transfer market. Its about whether or not the owners display, well, a sense of ownership, and act accordingly. Arsenal, for example, has been in stasis for years – perhaps a more involved owner would have gotten rid of Wenger earlier, or appointed a director of football who could help counteract some his innate conservatism.

Contrast this with Chelsea, Manchester City, or even Leicester, who were not big clubs when bought – they were bought by owners who appear to have something more than money invested in the club and seem to care about its success.

Money also brings conservatism. Justifying an investment requires a base case. United, for example, spent 25 million on Schnierderlin and 10 on Schweinstiger, both proven talents. Were they ever going to take a risk and buy Kante last transfer window? Or City buy Mahrez instead of Sterling? Yet Kante and Mahrez are simply better players than their counterparts.

Take playing in the champions league or europa league. You get cash prizes, it allows you to attract better players, and contributes to increasing your brand and therefore your fan base and therefore your potential revenue. On the other hand, you end up playing many more games than your rivals, and your better players are also typically regulars for their national team. Alexis played 58 games last season in all competitions, Mahrez played 32, and their performances this season reflect this. Money can buy you better players, but it can’t buy you superhuman fitness or endurance. Leicester have had their first team fit pretty much through the season. United have close to 10 first teamers out. Its an advantage that should not be overlooked.

The obvious retort to this is that more money allows you to have deeper squads, but it is not as straightforward as that. Good players are not content to be backups. Mancity have the financial resources to buy, say Aubemeyang, but he isn’t going to be ok sitting on the bench when aguero is fit. On the other hand, Bony represents a significant drop in quality when aguero is unfit. Even more so when you consider the team is designed to play to Aguero’s strengths.

Take having a massive fan base. It means you can generate more revenue but the pressure of expectation can lead to your work being considered not good enough or ignored. Di Maria and Ozil for example, had bright starts but were often pilloried as not doing enough to “justify” their price tag, which was a number they had no role in deciding. Anyone fancy a work environment like that? Would it bring out your best?

Of course, I’m not saying that a being a big club with superior financial resources wont win out in the long run. It’s just interesting to observe how many of these strengths can also be significant disadvantages.

Phew, I’m going to get lunch.
Anonymous (Gladwell is definitely worth a read), AFC, Delhi.


Van Gaal’s next job
I rarely let United’s woes keep me up at night but with all these mosquito’s the past week!….

How revolutionary would it be for the future if united gave the academy to Van Gaal
Instill his philosophy into those raw young minds and let Giggs and Butt preach the so called united way to whoever makes the first team

Why is this African summer so hot thou! Global warming is real people


‘Arry’s return
With Steve McClaren seemingly intent on piloting Newcastle out of the Premier League, surely it is time for Newcastle to press the emergency button.

But who to call ? Big Sam is already at Sunderland, Tony Pullis is at West Brom, Uncle Sir Bobby is dead, Alan Shearer is not dumb enough, and Felix Magath looked slightly unhinged last time we saw him.

There’s really only one option – top up the Rosie47 bank account and send for ‘Arry. What with a squad of over-paid, underperforming stars, ‘Arry should be in his element. A bit of running around a bit, a bit of Tactics Tim, a few lovely jubblies, and everything will be sorted…

Go for it boys…you know it makes sense…
Matthew (ITFC)

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