Mails: Arsenal and City both tipped for title

Date published: Wednesday 3rd August 2016 2:34

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This is going to be sodding wonderful…
You know me, I like to be positive (generally) and find the positives in a given situation (while acknowledging the negatives).

With that established, could this be the best season of the Premier League since its conception?

We have a collection of the best managers around: Klopp, Wenger, Allegri, Guardiola and Mourinho, along with some wild cards in Hiddink, Pochettino and Ranieri.

All the clubs (aside from Arsenal and the striker blind spot, although they could have signed two or three) seem to have done or be doing good business where required.

We have added some wonderful players in Ibrahimovic, Sane, Gundogan, Xanthi and others.

The top six positions could really go any way, with local rivalries a’plenty (Klopp v Hiddink, Pep vs Jose and Wenger vs Poch in particular whetting the appetite).

And of course, Rooney will likely become United top scorer and firmly cement his second position in league all-time-scorer charts.

I know the Euros was the inevitable damp squib and nest of recriminations, but is it just me that’s really excited even though it’s going to be bloody hard to win anything?
Guy S (Ibra may be Rashford’s biggest fan)


Predictions time
My full league standings prediction:

1. Manchester City
2. Manchester United
3. Chelsea
4. Arsenal
5. Tottenham
6. Liverpool
7. Everton
8. West Ham
9. Leicester City
10. Southampton
11. Stoke City
12. Bournemouth
13. Middlesbrough
14. Swansea City
15. West Brom
16. Crystal Palace
17. Watford
18. Burnley
19. Sunderland
20. Hull

Notable points:

I think Pep will finally get the very talented City squad running at maximum efficiency and will stride to the title with ease, United have made some quality signings and with Mourinho leading the team I expect them to be vastly improved from last year but not good enough to win the title.

Bournemouth and Middlesbrough to stand out amongst the ‘smaller’ teams, Middlesbrough’s transfers seem to be fantastic but only time will tell.

Can see Palace and Swansea dropping off this year, I think they are becoming too easy to play against.

Similarly I feel Watford will replicate their end-of-season form and fizzle out.

Hull and Sunderland seem like nailed-on relegation candidates here.

Would like to hear people’s thoughts and their own versions!
Dom, London


An Arsenal rallying cry
Almost every mailbox there is an mail either decrying, lambasting, praising or admonishing others for their views on Arsenal or about the plight/luck that Arsenal fans have. Let’s get one thing straight the fans all love the club and Arsenal will both continue to invoke positive and negative feelings towards how it’s being managed, how the players perform, ticket prices, quality of play at all times. I think this is the same feelings fans have for most clubs.

My own personal opinion is that Wenger is and has been one off the best coaches of the game in the last 20 years, he has also proved to be one of the greatest club managers in terms of club development in the last 20 years. The last 10 years performances have been consistent but not spectacular from a winning trophies perspective. I think almost every fan I know would agree with that statement, so what we Arsenal fans disagree on is in one corner we have fans who believe he has been not ruthless enough in terms of the winning mentality i.e Not spent enough money, holding on to ineffective players too long, playing players into injury etc. and the other corner believing that we have performed better year on year these last three seasons, Wenger deserves loyalty, spending money doesn’t equate to success etc. I think these topics or opinions won’t change until he either wins the league or drops out of contention for at least one season a la Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, Spurs (this is in the context of having at least one non challenging for title/European places season in the last 10 years when they were expected to be in the mix). Though there are fans saying they can’t hack another year of top 4, collapse in February etc. I say off course you can, you don’t want it but you’ll just have to accept that that could happen, move on and the debate will reach fever pitch again for the proceeding five months. For now though accept it won’t change in terms of management, give it one last Hurrah, we all know that no one wants to have a crap season but let’s believe that this won’t be like the last 10 years in terms of the league and acknowledge that although what our manager is doing may be stubborn, sometimes frustrating and repetitive that it’s also virtuous, romantic, and human i.e we’ve had 57% off our 33 player squad at the club before they were 23 years of age.

I’m not saying we don’t have an evil corporate, cynical side but I don’t think it is that which motivates Wenger. At least give him that much. Also give him your unwavering support and the team until at least the first week of May next season. Be proud of the fact that we don’t buy our way out of the proverbial s**t (if we’re actually in it), we try to work our way out…

Let me be the first to predict the league top four for the new season. 1st Arsenal, 2nd Man City, 3rd Chelsea, 4th Spurs/Man Utd.
Christy M (#thisyearisouryear #believe)


[of_poll name=’Who will win the title?’ id=’157427′]
Dear Football365 poll,


Tottenham Hotspur.
Alex G, THFC (I actually prefer it this way in fairness, but still)


Moving out of the armchair…
In pursuit of something different for the afternoon mailbox, I though I’d share why I’m particularly looking forward to this season.

For the last 30 years I’ve supported Tottenham mainly from the comfort various armchairs and sofas, listening to Capital Gold, venturing out to pubs with friends, and eventually scraping together the money for a Sky Sports subscription. Actual attendance at White Hart Lane over the years has been rare, to say the least. I simply could never afford it, not helped by moving out of London and further and further away from N17.

As of this season, though, I’ll be going as many times as I can. Our last ever season at White Hart Lane, only our second ever season in the Champions League, my eldest kid being old enough to come with me – and they’re excited about it! – all mean that I have to be there. Even if it’s only for a handful of matches, I’ll be at the Lane and at Wembley as often as I possibly can. I can’t wait!
Michael C


A United fan on that bugger King Kenny
I thought I would give you a United fan’s perspective on Liverpool’s King Kenny, I hated the bugger, I hated the way he glided past our defenders like Messi now does, I hated the way he cleverly won free-kicks and penalties by leaning into defenders then falling over, I hated the way he made scoring goals effortless and from some ridiculous angles too, most of all I hated how bloody good he actually was the jewel in the crown of a team who comfortably beat every team put in front of them. Incidentally United had a bit of a hex on Liverpool in that era, stopping the treble in 1977, Jimmy Greenhoff’s winning header in the semi-final, second best in almost every position we somehow managed to scrape together wins against the scouse juggernaut. Kenny Dalglish was the outstanding performer in a team of stars as skillful as Messi/Ronaldo as lethal as Henry/Ruud he was (and this sticks in my throat) the best player of his generation and to top it all his dignity and strength when dealing with the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy was a credit to both him and the club. Fair play King Kenny you weren’t that bad lad.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


Collective nouns for football fans
Thank you to H, (hope we give you an absolute tonking next week)(Prem’s back double brackets). In the mailbox recently who wrote in about moaning Arsenal fans.

In it H used the collective noun of ‘bunch’ for whingebags, which is ok but I felt could be improved upon. After much consideration, and taking into account the implied suggestion that all Arsenal fans are unthinkingly alike in their whingebaggery, I’m going to say ‘bleat’ as in the noise sheep make, would have made a better collective noun in this instance. It also has a pleasingly similar sound to bleep which perhaps a little naughtily suggests a swearing word. To stay on point, H’s sentence becomes: ‘So what exactly are you complaining about you ungrateful bleat of whingebags?’

Which then made me think of appropriate, current day collective nouns for supporters of various clubs, such as:

An entitlement of Man U fans.
A delusion of Liverpool fans.
A beard of non-German Dortmund fans.
A veneer of Real Madrid fans.
A recency of Chelsea fans.
A flower girl of Spurs fans. (Perhaps takes a bit of explaining. Certainly not the bride, and not the bridesmaid, in fact not even in the official bridal party but still there – almost – in an official capacity and one day will grow up to be a bride, surely…)
A dismay of Newcastle fans.
An escape of Sunderland fans.
A cyclops of Stoke fans.
A predictability of Barca fans.
And of course, a bleat of Arsenal fans.

Bet you can’t guess from that who I support, but I’m sure you can improve on my efforts.
Dr Oyvind, Earth. Probably a bit bored


What I want from Arsenal
I’m bored so f**k it;

I figured, since the mailbox has been pretty dry of late, I’d write in.

I’d like to share my hopeful/wishful (and, at a stretch, realistic) additions to my team – Arsenal – by 31 August.

Here we go:

– Mauro Icardi (He’s young and looks as if he can regularly find the back of the net)
– Shkodran Mustafi (quite a bit of speculation of a move to Arsenal – surely better than Per)
– Julian Draxler (Exciting young player and news came out that he wants out of Wolfsburg and that he’d prefer a move to Arsenal – Come on Arsene)

I believe that the aforementioned signings with our current group (here here AVB), could really challenge for the title.

Any thoughts?
Zak (couldn’t think of anything cool) du Toit – Cape Town


Wenger just didn’t evolve…
I think Chris MUFC hits the nail on the head when he talks about why we as Arsenal fans can be frustrated. The first 10 years of Wenger were revolutionary and they brought about success. Training methods, diet, scouting – he nailed it all and it gave us some fantastic times and memories – and players for that matter.

The second 10 years – the post-move days – have simply been a year-on-year disappointment with the odd nice moment chucked in. Not exactly the relative success we’d become accustomed to.

What annoys me most is that it’s still the same guy in charge. Wenger was that guy – the ideas man who wanted to put his stamp on the club. But that’s how I look at Klopp or Pep now, as the new blood who are the next generation and seem to understand today’s game better. Wenger unfortunately just didn’t evolve, and a world where £100m transfers fees are being chucked around for a laugh is one in which I cannot see him being successful.

He was great, he’s been very good, but now he’s simply been outgrown by football. We pine for those ‘two players we need to challenge’ but still the frustration remains. I truly believe that if we’d have just gone full Sir Alex (when he nicked RVP) and just chucked £40m at Everton for Lukaku in January we’d have won the league. Had he done that, we’d have been relieved, got that title-winning monkey off our backs and he could have walked away with his head held high.

I’ll be stunned if the coming season is any different from what we’ve all seen before many times. Thankfully Oxlade-Chamberlain looks sharp though…
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


Rights v expectations
Slightly academic (in all senses) analysis from Chris MUFC (this morning’s mailbox) about Arsenal fans and expectations. Most fans judge success according to expectations and that is based on a mixture of historic success and a perceived view of the quality of the team. The difference in the mood and frustration of Spurs and Arsenal fans this past year has illustrated this never better, yet Arsenal still had the more successful season (albeit closer than for a few years). As for ‘right’ to be frustrated, that is absolute nonsense. The only ‘right’ any of us have is to be able to watch our team if we pay for the privilege. No more nor less. As for frustration, that’s purely down to what you expect.
Peter, London


When all this was fields…
Fans are obsessed with money because it directly relates to how much we pay for tickets.

Less than 20 years ago I paid a tenner for the opportunity to see Ian Wright break Arsenal’s goalscoring record against Bolton. I would be very lucky not to pay at least five times that much these days.

Admittedly a ticket in the North Bank was almost twice as much in those days, mainly because the Clock was frequented by nutters, who liked to bang the steel walls at the back of the stand. But back then the North Bank always had that bloke that would bring an inflatable sex doll to Arsenal Spurs games. That always made me laugh – now what was my point?

Can’t remember – probably how it was much better in my day and football has sold its soul – I’m sure the MC can work his/her magic and put a decent title on this letter.

The fans were funnier back then too – always remember the ‘There’s only two Ian Wrights’ chant going around when Boa Morte took to the field on the day Wrighty broke the record. And the “Ah boo hop” chant when Abou whathisface missed the penalty against us when playing against West Ham.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


City are fine for defenders, thanks
Pelumi – thanks for taking such an avid interest in my club. It must be nice to delve into the affairs of a well-run club and distract yourself from the train wreck of Man Yoo’s last couple of seasons <<insert smiley face here>>

I don’t think Pep desperately needs any defenders although you could argue an upgrade at left-back is overdue. Elsewhere he has 60 million quids worth of talent in Otamendi and Mangala alongside the club captain and some promising youth players (Denayer etc..). With regard to the aforementioned first two they haven’t become bad players overnight. Perhaps they just need to be coached differently/effectively. Right-back is sewn up with Sagna proving immense and capable support from Zab.
Banjo, Prague


Some mailbox thoughts
You asked for mails so…looking ahead to the season:

Having read your article about the most expensive XIs in Europe’s leagues I see that Otamendi and Mangala are the most expensive defenders in the Premier League. As it’s fair to say that the purchases haven’t gone that well you’d think that City would hesitate to (reportedly) buy a central defender for £50m that was part of the one of the worst defences last season. Why not go for a safer pair of hands (boots)?

I’m interested to know how Mourinho gets on with the media this season, sure Chelsea were a big club when he was there (thanks to Roman), but Man Utd is a different level in terms of public interest. As the media in general lapped up everything he said and rarely questioned him (his impromptu appearance on Goals on Sunday to further push his claims of referee bias without question was at best embarrassing) I imagine it will get worse.

With Man Utd, Man City, Leicester, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs all with aims for the top four/title, as one or more of them will be at least as low as seventh come Nov/Dec (or any time) will we see a major sacking before Christmas?
Kevin G


Why f*** da Pulis?
What is wrong with playing four central defenders if it works? When Pulis pulls off one of his famous defensive shut-outs it is a thing of beauty. I admit it is not as easy to appreciate as the tika taka of Barca, but there is an undoubted skill and preparation to make this possible. There is a reason the Johnny Evans has been linked with Arsenal, Pulis has made him a world-class centre-half. Defensive football is great when it works. I love it when we are hammered from start to finish (although the other team may actually only have a couple of attempts on target) and win 1-0.

But back to the four central defenders. This is also a little bit of a myth. Pulis’s first-choice left-back last season was Chris Brunt. Brunt has always been a left-winger. Furthermore although Craig Dawson is a centre-half he was one of our best players last season. He actually contributed more goals and assists then his predecessor Billy Jones, who was seen as a dashing attacking wing-back.

Finally, Berahino. Pulis has never been anything but supportive of Berahino. The truth is that the lad is not actually that great. He is a good finisher in most circumstances. He cannot however head a ball and he is not even remotely quick.

So back off Pulis. He works with the toughest chairman in England. The Albion had the poorest squad by a mile last season, yet stayed up comfortably. We would have been relegated with any other manager.

Long live the shut-outs.
Ben The Baggie


How can Newcastle fail this season?
It is an often-repeated view that the Championship is very difficult to get out of and that teams that have been relegated will struggle. I am not one for over-optimism when it comes to all things Newcastle, but surely we are going to walk it this season? We appear to have the best players and the best manager. Our support is galvanised under the Rafa banner (literally it would seem as we are to have a flag corner in with the singing corner which is where I sit..oh deep joy…). Most of our challengers have one or two really good players, whereas we look like we have loads of experienced and battle-hardened players who are (supposed to be) reaching their prime with a smattering of exciting youngsters who are all hungry to play for us and our manager.

Of course, it won’t be that easy because we are basically one step away from shooting ourselves in the foot and then calmly reloading and shooting the other foot to take the pain of the first one away.

Not since the last time we were relegated have I felt so positive and have I been looking forward to a season. If we get promoted, we become one of the also-rans with all the faux hype and sh*te media attention. This season we get to play at being the big boy everyone wants to beat. Which is nice.
Paul, Newcastle


A focus on Blackburn
Ok, so with f365 apparently desperate for mails and the Championship about to start, how about a few Previews from those in the know about their teams? Would be interested to know how people view things – I’ll kick things off with my beloved/ beleaguered Blackburn Rovers:

Manager: Owen Coyle has come in replacing Paul Lambert who was disappointed by the investment put forward by Venkys but seemed to be hinting at leaving from day 1. Has good experience at this level but has also been a bit of a failure in his last two appointments – has a reputation for playing good football. Burnley/Bolton connections don’t seem to have pleased local fans. I think he could do a good job if he has the patience to build with little cash.

Transfers: Blackburn are definitely a selling club these days but this summer has been particularly disappointing. The bad – we’ve sold Jordan Rhodes (Jan) and Grant Hanley for big money and only brought in free transfers, with several key players in the last years of their contracts there is worry more could leave, if we lose Marshal and Duffy we’re screwed, though perhaps worse if we lose them for nothing next year. The Good – the frees look promising, Danny Graham did brilliantly for us on loan last year, Anthony Stokes and Gordon Greer are solid and Jack Byrne on loan from Man City could be a great signing.

What we still need: At least one more striker, a left-back and preferably a centre-back. We have a lot of mediocre centre midfielders and so I can’t see us signing anymore. Would be nice to actually buy someone too.

Style: OC’s sides have been ‘pleasing on the eye’ (remember when people linked him to Arsenal) and it looks like wingers will be used which suits our players. The pre-season reports show some flexibility and the players are saying all the right things. Bennett, Marshall, Conway and Stokes are good options on the wing, though Marshall and Stokes may play more central. If they all stay fit and firing…

Players to look out for: I expect Danny Graham to score 15 goals if he can stay fit after good pre-season form and he has plenty to prove. Jack Byrne as mentioned above, Darragh Lenihan also came in from the academy and did well last season. Jason Lowe and Adam Henley face really important seasons if they are going to push on.

Hopes for the season: Will depend on transfer business done and realistically if we get a couple of players in on loans that work out. In the Championship you can’t help but think that if you have a good run of form it’s possible to sneak the playoffs and this always has to be the aim. However, realistically there is a lot of money in the league now and a mid-table finish would be taken by most fans, we’ll probably end up 12th. Lower if we sell.
James (A lot of fans would say this was optimistic!)


Worried about the Canaries
We (Norwich) rightly went down last season after stinking up the league from January onwards. Following relegation we sold Nathan Redmond, one of our most valuable assets, to Southampton for £12m. That sounds like decent money until you realise that Jordon Ibe went for £15m despite being nowhere near as experienced or proven as young Nathan. We also look likely to lose Robbie Brady and Martin Olsson which would leave us with nobody to play on the left.

Up front the situation is no better as Dieumerci Mbokani’s loan has finished, Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel have been sold and Kyle Lafferty continues to be frozen out. This leaves us with only Cameron Jerome and his sizeable arse to play up front – you don’t need me to tell you that’s less than ideal. Bids for the likes of Ross McCormack and Britt Assombalonga have as yet come to nothing as so far it appears we’ve been unwilling to match those clubs’ valuations for their players.

In order to have any chance of finishing in the top six this season the following will have to happen:

· We sign another striker, but this time one who isn’t absolutely bobbins (RvW) or a complete nutter (Laff)

– Somebody has to step up and share the creative duties with Wes Hoolahan – Steven Naismith, I’m looking at you pal.

– Big Timm Klose stays fit and stops our defence from being an omnishambles again.

In summary – it ain’t gonna happen. How do other Mailboxers rate their teams’ chances outside the Prem?
BR, Norwich City FC


Ross McCormack: Always the (expensive) bridesmaid
Long time follower, first time mailer! I’ve been waiting for the right moment to break my mailbox hymen, and I think I may have found it –

Seeing Ross McCormack linked with a move to Aston Villa for £12 million silly English pounds, I find myself thinking that this is astonishing for a player that has never played in the highest level of the Premier League. Approximately three minutes of research (Wikipedia) confirmed that he has only ever played for championship teams. But he has transferred three times, for varying amounts of money (Leeds Undisclosed, Fulham £11 million, potentially now Villa for £12 million)

This had me thinking – if the Villa move goes through, will this make McCormack the most expensive British player (in cumulative fees) never to play in the top tier? I’d be interested if someone can find another player who has commanded more in fees.

Keep up the stellar work. Mediawatch gets me through my slow afternoons.
Lee (My Dad is a Leeds fan so I’m aware McCormack is good) LFC


A new game for the Mailbox
~With the plea for mails this morning (and my system not working in the office), I came up with a time-wasting game.

Try and make the worst squad possible of 20 players, using one person from every Premier League team. The player you pick has to be a starter. Choosing Man Utd as an example, that means no Tyler Blackett etc. However, I’ll accept either of Antonio Valencia or Matteo Darmian (if that’s who you think), when there’s no obvious first choice.
Joe, London (imagine that, a telecoms company with terrible communications devices)

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