Mails: A Moreno defence, and a Sturridge loan option

Date published: Friday 24th November 2017 2:38 - Matthew Stead

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Arsenal need more b*stardry
Arsenal’s Europa League “performance” didn’t get too much coverage in this morning’s mailbox and it might be too late, or too boring, to stick it in this afternoon’s. For me though, the performance yesterday shone light on a longstanding issue at Arsenal fc under Wenger’s management. The issue of the competitive nature (or lack thereof) in our squad.

My earliest memories of the Arsenal team were under George Graham and then the beginning of Wenger’s tenure but that wasn’t “my” team. My team was the Fabregas team. This was when I was old enough to understand football rather than just enjoy it. We had so many young players this period that the key words were confidence not competition. The pressure was shouldered solely by Wenger.

The problem is that we’ve never escaped that mentality and last night’s loss was a result of it. When you look at successful teams like City, Chelsea any team managed by old Mourinho (not the MU version, yet) one thing you notice is that they are b*stards, hyper-competitive b*stards. When faced with a weaker team, they destroy them. Not just by one or two but by 5 or 6.

These competitive teams are drilled in such a way that they revel in embarrassing weaker opposition. Their mentality is so strong that they can’t turn it off. They relish kicking an underdog while its down. We may have a giant squad but there’s no competition in it. Even when we thrash teams, we tend to relax once we have the lead and start doing ridiculously unprofessional, and spineless, “no look” passes.

I would love to see Wenger just hook one of our players immediately after a no-look pass but, unfortunately, I know it will never happen. This lack of a b*stardry starts in the board-room and flows all the way through the club. These days, it’s hard to argue against it being the Arsenal way.
Liam Gabriel Hoskins (Everyone at Arsenal Out! Except you Kolasinac) Afc


It’s not often I disagree with something Daniel Storey writes but his Arsenal and Europa piece I have taken some exception to.

On the subject of trophy winning, and the ‘irony’ between Arsenal fans questioning Spurs he says ‘Arsenal measured its success by finishing in the top four…..’ which may be true of the actual club. But the fans, and certainly the media, did not measure by the same yardstick. If you’ll remember, for nine years we were the running joke of football, unable to lift any silverware, with Spurs even squeezing in a League Cup of their own. Without real honours, the Wenger In/Out divisions transpired.

He also says that expecting Arsenal fans to appreciate Pochettino’s work is to misjudge us. This is also unfair and untrue. It doesn’t matter who you support, if you can’t see what MP has done to the club and the way he’s improved the team, you’re not watching properly. Spurs, unfortunately cannot be ignored, particularly when they’re full of English players and are largely media darlings. That’s a big reason Saturday was so sweet, because it was nice to see that despite their progress, they’re still not able to turn us over as expected in our own back yard on any given Saturday.

Personally I think the plan for the Europa was to progress with the minimum of fuss, which we’ve done. Now we have three months of league action to focus on, and if we’re struggling, I fully expect attentions to switch towards the Europa League and hopefully winning it. I’ve got no problem with this approach, and I’d bloody love to win it. And not because it comes with a Champions League place attached.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


Leave Alberto alone
I couldn’t help myself but write in and reply to Brett’s opinion on Moreno and LFC on Saturday.

I found it to be utter nonsense. This witch hunt against Alberto Moreno has go to stop. How can Klopp be accused of loyalty to a player who he only gave 300 minutes of Premier League football to last season? He has improved beyond any expectation this season and has been a stand out for me personally too. He made a mistake on Tuesday, but the pitchforks need to be kept in the cupboard for now.

Also, the claim Hazard will “tear him to shreds” holds absolutely no weight. He doesn’t even play on the right, his time is spent between left forward and the centre of the field. Is Conte going to suddenly move his most effective forward to “prey” on him? Baffling if so. In fact, the only thing more baffling is the claim Robertson or Milner should play. Why should they? Why would you want 31 year old James Milner to try and combat Eden Hazard? Robertson has played 2 games, why is he the answer to stifle one of the worlds best? Its just pure hyperbole to a single incident midweek.

Just a few little tid-bits (Premier League) on Moreno’s season thus far:

The most tackles made
Least fouls commited
No defensive errors
No yellow cards
Most chances created

These are the stats of a man in good form, a new leaf turned, there is no way he should be dropped in such a rash way. He simply doesn’t deserve it and is our best left back at the minute. I can think of other defenders who’ll probably start who I think deserve a bigger lambasting than Moreno.

Let’s also point out Klopp getting “another loss against a big team”. Does he mean against the big 6 teams in the league? The ones Klopp has comfortably gotten the better of since he took over? This is all because of the Spurs and City results, conveniently forgetting the 4-0 tonking of Arsenal the week before City.

These knee jerk, Paul Merson-esque, no effort views have got to stop. Start Adam Lallana if fit?! He hasn’t played a minute of football all season!

The problems at Liverpool FC run deeper than blind player loyalty.
Craig (LFC)


A Chelsea preview
Games between Chelsea and Liverpool over the last 4 to 5 years have been ironic.  Both teams have an exceptional away record and an awful home record versus each other.  When I stretch this fixture over a longer horizon of about 10-12 years, there are spells where one team failed to beat the other for awhile and then the roles reverse.  Recent history aside, I also strongly believe Chelsea are due for a win (and a big one) versus Pool.  They’ve been an awful bogey team for us.  We should’ve won at Anfield earlier this year if not for a missed penalty.

What is interesting is, Conte has produced some big wins when under extreme pressure or backs to the wall this season.  I’m reminded of the build-up to the Tottenham game, the United game when we were supposedly in crisis.  Yes, we lost to City and on another day could’ve lost to Arsenal, but those were games where Conte made some personnel errors.  He is also beginning to successfully bluff to the media.  Take for instance the game before Wembley when he pointedly mentioned Luiz is seen as a CB and not a midfielder and there was a surprise for Spurs.  Before our game vs Qarabag, he was all about this is our most important game of the season, yet rested Bakayoko, Morata, subbed Alonso, Hazard and Kante early.  Won’t be surprised if he comes up with more narratives today in his presser and show something else entirely tomorrow.

Our main XI this season contains a 3 man midfield of Bakayoko, Kante and Cesc with Hazard Morata up front.  This is likely to remain static and will be visible at Anfield also.  Also duly expect Moses to start alongside Cahill (sic) and Andreas Christensen.  What I would like Conte to do is this – play like we played Spurs.  Don’t attempt to build from the back.  Liverpool have a frightening front 4, but with our defense and midfield, we can control them.  Also, our forward line and runs from midfield is something I’m quite sure Pool can’t live with if we play reactively.  Let them have the ball, have a low block and hit them on the counter attack must be how we approach the game.

Also, the game will come down to how well we can move the ball using our Wing Backs.  Should our WBs have enough freedom to move upfield, we can cause a lot of chaos.  Also, the more the game remains 0-0, I see a Chelsea victory possible.
Aravind, Chelsea Fan.


A lovely Celtic view
Probably a bit late on this but I’m a Celtic fan and wanted to follow up on Daniel Storey’s comments on our spanking from PSG.

Agree that Rodgers has been tactically naïve in the games against PSG – I understand trying to maintain an attacking threat but it’s ludicrous to go toe-to-toe with a team significantly better than you. That’s 3 times in the last 2 years Celtic have been battered by a top European side and you wonder if Rogers has the ability / inclination to set up a team defensively to keep us in the game at this level. Still love him though.

Also agree with his view that Celtic are caught in ‘football purgatory’, however I think there are / will be a lot more clubs who fall into this category going forward. With the financial gap between the top leagues, and the Champions League seeding system being increasingly geared towards the same clubs reaching the latter stages every year, going forward Celtic will be one of many clubs from the second tier of European Leagues who are caught between wanting access to the money available at the top table, whilst being unable to realistically compete and being essentially irrelevant to the competition (I appreciate that Besiktas won their group, however they were drawn without a big team from one of the big 5 league in their group and are very much the exception to the rule).

I’m not sure the ‘Champions League’ would have the same appeal if it was simply a knock out between the teams from the Top 5 European Leagues and we didn’t bother with the 108 group stage warm up games, which is increasingly the way things are going. If it keeps moving this way I suspect a European League will gain increasing traction amongst the countries locked out of the latter stages of the Champions League (Portugal, Russia, Holland, Belgium, Scotland etc.) to give them something they could package up and sell to generate similar interest / revenue as the big boys.

Regarding Celtic fans losing interest, I’d say that’s unlikely while Rodgers is in charge – even during the bleak early / mid 90s years the games were well attended. Beyond that, who knows! I’m convinced there’s an alternate reality where Moyes was appointed instead of Rodgers in 2016 and Celtic finished 3rd last season behind Aberdeen and The Rangers. So things could be worse, and I’ll always take Celtic being part of the Champions League Winners and Loser than not, even if it’s reflecting on having our pants pulled down by Neymar, Mbappe, Cavani et al.

Kind regards,


Sturridge to…Celtic?
I’m just reading the article on Sturrdige, and in particular, Brendan Rodgers’ comments about him being a confidence player.

If Sturridges main aim is to get in the England squad, and he’s a player who thrives on confidence… would his ideal move right now be a loan move to Celtic for the rest of the season?

Everyone seems to be a winner. Sturridge will be reunited with the manager who they both experienced the best times of their careers together, a manager who knows him well and how to play to his strengths. I imagine he would also score a bucket load of goals in the SPL (it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that), and Liverpool could also reassess their options and get a proper transfer fee for him in the summer.

I’m sure the mailbox will come up with a million and one reasons why this wouldn’t work, but it’s Friday and coming up with this idea is all the thinking my brain has capacity for today!

Great site guys, keep up the good work! (although tone down the liberalism a bit please, it’s a bit nauseating and we get it!)


Old weekend
As a fan of one of the bigger clubs (Liverpool) I know that I will usually be catered for in the Big Weekend column, but I do miss the old format from before last season where you did not restrict yourself to one club/player/manager/match. The old format allowed you to ensure that the whole league was adequately covered – and in doing so allowed your fine website to better bookend the weekend’s action between Big Weekend and Winners and Losers.

For example, this week’s Big Weekend discusses Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Mesut Özil, Manuel Pellegrino, Kevin de Bruyne and Aaron Mooy. So just Pellegrino and Aaron Mooy outside the big 6.

Positives for the new format is that you have introduced discussions about games outside the Premier League (European and Football League games) which does spread the domain of discussion.

But the negative listed above does mean that the Premier League discussion is usually restricted to the big clubs/players/managers/matches.

Otherwise, keep up the good work!


You’re among friends here
With Mediawatch‘s assistance, I think I’ve finally determined that enough is enough, in reference to the bullsh*t being espoused namely by tabloid newspapers, but also TV pundits etc. This week threw up two very different examples – the ‘analysis’ of Roberto Firmino scoring from a yard out, and a headline suggesting Hazard is ‘leaving’ Chelsea (in an article where he says he is staying). I think this may have all now reached a nadir in my own mind because Phil Neville has happened.

I am totally, 100% done with how this mindless b*ll*cks shapes the opinions of the public, my friends, my colleagues; everybody. There is enough wrong with football as it is and I should be able to worry about it freely, without being fed this constant stream of energy-sapping, depressing, hate-fueled vitriol.

I was wondering if the Mailbox knew of any movements that are out there who are actively campaigning against this, or would be interested in setting one up? I literally want to be part of some sort of ‘Anonymous (for Sports Writing)’ movement. I’m not joking, I’ve f***ing had it.

Anonymous (obviously)


Mo problems
For all his performances and goals, the true test for Mo Salah is coming up.

Not Chelsea on Saturday but on wed 29th November Liverpool travel to Stoke.

It will be a Wednesday night and according to weather reports, it will rain.


Lawro, Lawro laughs
Beyond the dad jokes and occasional air that he is being forced to watch a game against his will, it’s easy to forget that Mark Lawrenson is an accomplished on-air presence.  Usually if someone describes a Youtube clip as a person’s “finest hour”, it’s something banterous.  This, on the other hand, is a superb short film Lawro made during the 2010 World Cup about the Battle of Spion Kop.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.
Ed Quoththeraven


The date: February 21, 2012. The match: Napoli v Chelsea in the 1st leg of their round-16 clash. With John Terry out injured, Andre Villas-Boas is left with no choice but to hand Gary Cahill his Champions League debut.

With Cahill looking unsure of himself at the back, the commentator pointed out how nervous he looked. Up popped Mark Lawrenson with one of his funniest remarks in the commentary booth: “Wouldn’t you be if David Luiz was beside you!”

Loved him ever since – always calls it as it is and rightfully slates anyone who dares to go down like they’ve been shot.
Killian, Limerick


Good article about “Lawro” by John Nicholson. Personally I find him (Lawro not John) a bit cynical and sometimes snide, last time I heard him on the radio, he was competing with Alan Green to be the most ungrateful. I bow to the weight of praise for him, though.

Article worth reading just for learning the word “punditocracy”.


Degsy’s dinner
Having freed up some time on at lunch today and being somewhat nerdy with Excel, I decided to track Degsy‘s record over the first 12 games of the season. As I’m sure no-one is surprised to discover it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Some interesting stats / observations:

– On a standing £10/bet stake, Degsy returns an average of £9.38, so had you followed all 114 predictions you’d have lost about £70 to date (which is actually not bad for a betting predictor!).

– His most profitable type of bet is a correct score, which is also his lowest correct prediction strike rate (£340 won to date, from 2/11 correct predictions).

– The majority of his winners come from prices between evens and 2/1 (18 in total) but his most accurate predictions are those at odd-on (73% strike rate).

– Similarly, the majority of his winners come from what I’ve termed “Win Specials”, for example “Win by more than one goal” (14 in total), but his highest strike rate comes with both teams to score bets, with a whopping 56% correct (5/9).

– Despite being one of the form teams of the season, Watford have not been good to Degsy (although did redeem themselves with his biggest win in a 2-2 draw with West Brom at 20/1.

So what are the takeaways of this? Well, from what I can tell his wins come in bursts (three weeks of profits followed by three weeks of losses) and he seems to be at a low ebb going in to this week (£146.50 back from £290 of bets in last three weeks). This would suggest he’s due some luck.

Secondly, if you’re going to follow him the stats suggest shorter odds or odds on bets where he’s backing a “Win Special” or BTTS are where you’re most likely to get a return.

So this week, you should be following his bets on Leicester, Newcastle and Liverpool. A £10 treble will return a rather lovely £192.50….
Alex, (these could be the best bets of our lives but I don’t think we’d be living very wise), Ayr

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