Mails: Arsenal are not among Europe’s elite

Date published: Thursday 17th March 2016 10:33

You know what to do – mail


Let’s start with Stewie
1. Will Arsene get a trophy for 6 consecutive CL last 16 eliminations?

2. That Suarez chap looks decent eh? I reckon Arsene should bid for him. Shall we say £95m + £1?

3. Can anyone explain what the Carling Cup team was doing in the Nou Camp? Iwobi, Flamini, El Nanny and Welbeck who needs 100 shots to score. Can I be reminded why top 4 is important please? Is it to witness the same gangbang year on year?

4. Arsene built Arsenal FC apparently. There’s a rumour going he built the Nou Camp too, and the Sistine Chapel. Can someone confirm?

5. That summer transfer window where 365 and every sane person pointed to Wenger’s pathetic inaction…would Arsene’s Politburo like to provide me with some comedy laughs please as to why Arsene is “irreplaceable”?

Stewie Griffin (He built this city…
He built this city with…
Mental Strength…
Nope. Couldn’t build a sand-castle)


Arsenal are not a top, top club
So Daniel Storey has wheeled out his boilerplate eulogy for Arsenal, again. Every loss is met with reams of press on how tedious it is to see the same flaws exposed year after year, and how it’s a mystery that they’re not competing with the European big boys. Well let me tell you that it’s just as tedious to read the same old tired editorials about us. (And for that matter, apologies to non-gooners, for what will surely be another ‘Arsenal’ mailbox).

There’s a salient point that needs to be addressed by press and supporters alike, and that is that Arsenal are in the second tier of clubs. Expectations and achievements should be aligned with that.

So much of the criticism has come from the lack of top quality brought in, but let’s be honest on two points;

* Top (‘top, top’) players go to either the excellent clubs (Barca, Real, Bayern) or very good clubs who can afford to pay them a lot of money (PSG, Man City, Man Utd etc.). It’s a basically a mix of ambition and money. Arsenal don’t have the prestige of the big 3, and from the perspective of the board, are not about to compete with the money clubs. Who knows why? Arsenal chose Kroenke over Usmanov, and so we’ve got someone takes money from the club rather than puts it in. Maybe the board thought FFP was going to be an actual effort to cap expenditure, rather than a fart in the wind. Maybe they really like the idea of not ‘buying the league’ – despite having multiple billionaire share owners. Perhaps it’s some perverse morality play? Maybe there’ll be a great academic journal article about it one day, and we can all sit around in our leather chairs, and clap about fiscal responsibility. Regardless, there are only two types of clubs who can have a full squad of undeniable top tier talent, and we’re not one of them.

* The last few seasons (in England) have shown us that spending big on players is no guarantee of success. Arsenal have spent less this season than Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool etc. – all of whom had good squads to begin with- and are arguably doing better (now watch City win the Champions league, and Liverpool win the Europa!). Looking abroad, spending lots of money on players has not always worked for Barca or Real, but they have the squad depth that a 30-40 million euro flop is not a big deal. As Leicester and Tottenham are showing, squad stability counts for something. Maybe Wenger isn’t so crazy, given that he can’t get the absolute best, to not gamble on expensive second tier players.

The point is that despite Daniel Storey’s (and others) surety that if Arsenal had just spent more they’d be sweeping up, there’s no evidence that they actually would. If, and probably when, they decide to become a money club, we can see how Arsenal stack up to your Barcelonas and Bayerns. Then we’ll REALLY be able to be disappointed!
Richard Hell


The difference
Over the past few weeks we’ve seen and read plenty about the state of Arsenal football club, it’s board, manager and playing squad.

I have no interest in the self flagellation required to read or write anymore about it.

Barcelonas goal scorers were Neymar, Suarez and Messi.

Arsenal had Elneny.

That says it all.
Eoin (Arsenal…..footballs Sisyphus) Ireland


Wenger’s biggest crime
Whilst I totally agree Barca would got about 8 goals if they score all their chances, we actually could score at least 5.

Also if we consider the way that the chances come and go, it could easily be Barca 2-5 Arsenal before it could end Barca 8-5 Arsenal, which brings me to my point – Wenger is guilty of not adding a World class striker during the summer. The complexity of the match, i mean any match would turn on its head should we convert the chances that you have. I doubt even the great Barca could comeback should a team scored that many.

Which brings us to the main point; Giroud is not a world class striker. For me the definition of a WC striker is when youre a.very good and b.The main man, the source of hope and something special when your team is flying high, or under trouble. I mean he is still on the bench when Lewandowski clawed his team out of 2-0 deficit last night at the Allianz Arena. What does that tell you?
Syfq Amr, a bias Gooner


Can’t fault Storey’s write-up, largely because I went home not unhappy with losing 3-1. Last night shouldn’t be damnation of Wenger, the water off Gooner ducks backs is though.

The finishing. Amongst everything else, it’s been the finishing that’s really been the buttress for Arsenal’s 2016 collapse. To beat Barcelona anyone needs to take their chances, course we bloody wouldn’t. Ozil, Theo, Giroud, Ramsey and especially Alexis have been well below their usual finishing form. You get the feeling even a world class finisher would lose his confidence if part of this collective

Now to a must win game, about the 17th this season that looks set to define it. Question now being, is this ‘glorious failure’ glorious enough to be a springboard? Does the trick even work season after season after season?
James Gooner


Another reason not to appoint Giggs
Thoroughly enjoyed your 7 reasons why Ryan Giggs should not be put in the Old Trafford hot seat. I reckon there’s one more big reason though – opposition fans want it to happen. Almost every City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea fan really wants to see Giggs get the job, so certain are they of his failure.

As a Liverpool fan, I compare it to us appointing Brendan Rodgers – the little Ulsterman and his not-yet-porcelain teeth didn’t strike any fear or envy into Mancs and Evertonians. Contrast that to the grudging respect or downright jealousy from those same fans upon Klopp’s appointment.

He could prove us all wrong and be Pep mark 2, but personally my fervent hope is that Giggs becomes United’s very own Graeme Souness – clearly incompetent, but with enough good will to be afforded the time to properly set the rot in.
Pete (yes, I am that petty) Singapore


St. Arsenhole’s day
I’m just curious if (when) Spurs finish above us this season, even if they don’t win the League, will their fans celebrate the occasion the way Arsenal fans celebrate finishing above them every season with St.Totteringham’s Day? As an Arsenal fan I’m actually embarrassed when I see posts about how ‘it’s now mathematically impossible for Spurs to finish above us’ like it’s some massive achievement. I understand finishing above your fiercest rivals is important but to me it just shows our standards of achievement have fallen. In the days when we’d win or at the very least challenge for the title coming above Spurs was just a by-product of our success, not a success in itself. To treat it as if it’s a Cup win shows just how much they’ve bridged the gap and how much we fear them now.

I enjoy Spurs failing but I’d prefer it that we were too busy being successful ourselves to even notice. Mocking Spurs for failing despite our own failures is like being a kid who regularly pisses himself then mercilessly mocks a kid who shits himself. Case and point when Spurs finished 4th in 2012 but missed out on a Champions League place because Chelsea won it. Instead of focusing on the fact that another of our fierce rivals, a team I actually hate more than Tottenham (at least Spurs play attractive football and their success isn’t bankrolled by an Oligarch) had just become the first from London to win the competition we’d been competing for many more seasons, resoundingly confirmed that we’d been overtaken and allowed Cashley Cole to get his hands on the one trophy that alluded him, many of our fans just focused on the Spurs missing out on the Champions League part. It’s obviously impossible to predict but had Spurs qualified for the Champions League they’d probably have got to the Quarters at the most. For Chelsea however it was a way to sneak back in and allowed them to hold onto a lot of top players that would probably have left without Champions League football on offer. Effectively it’s like celebrating a guy you hate striking out with the girl you fancy because she’s just got engaged, to another guy you hate.

Spurs fans will obviously have bragging rights if they finish above us, even if they do miss out on the title to Leicester, and given how much stick they’ve been given by our fans with whole St.Totteringham’s Day I won’t blame them for gloating. However I’m just curious if they’ll take the mocking to the same level some of our own fan’s have. Will they celebrate St.Arsenhole’s day?


Has Pep under-performed?
I think people are going to think I’m slightly mental, but is it possible that Pep Guardiola has underperformed with the teams he’s had? So I’m saying he might not be the super manager that everyone makes him out to be…although I don’t doubt he is very good, just perhaps he’s not top 3, rather merely top 10.

With Barcelona, the Enrique version is probably better than the Pep version. They won the treble last season and the threat seems more dispersed which makes them harder to defend against. Bayern Munich won the treble the season before he joined, a level which Bayern haven’t really achieved. They’ve been good in the league but no better than usual…Bayern basically win the league every season pretty much.

I appreciate it’s not all about trophies and ultimately it took huge balls to build the Barca team that he made (selling Ronaldinho/Eto etc) but I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

Tonight Bayern were pretty lucky to not get knocked out; a legitimate goal was disallowed and Morata also fluffed a huge chance in the second half at 2-0 up which could’ve also killed the tie. And this is a Juventus missing three first XI players. Maybe it’s the effect of knowing Pep is off at the end of the season but Bayern looked vulnerable. Perhaps next year will be the ultimate litmus test for Pep and this little theory of mine.
Minty, LFC


More Bayern v Juventus thoughts
Thought I’d offer my thoughts on the Bayern v Juventus game in the hope that there’s something other than Arsenal/Leicester in the mailbox.

* The game was an absolute mirror of the first leg. Away team on in complete control for 70 mins, take 2-0 lead, get pegged back in a frantic last 20 mins.

* Morata is some player. Fast, skillful, strong, good in the air and tidy in the finish. If Lukaku is the best young striker in Europe then Morata must be next.

* Cuadrado never played like that for Chelsea. Cool, disciplined with a soupçon of flair, this wasn’t the headless chicken we saw in England.

* Bayern’s defending was awful at times. We’re talking Aston Villa bad.

* Neuer, apparently the best keeper in the world, was beaten very easily at the near post for Cuadrado’s goal. Maybe the real best keeper was at the other end?

* Ribery was, as always, poor in a big game.

* Douglas Costa was superb. The cross for the Lewandowski goal was so perfect it makes my winky tingle.

* I had forgotten that Sami Khedira exists. He played well until he came off.

* Thomas Muller did nothing for 90 mins but was in the right place at the right time to score. Some things never change.

* Kingsley Coman was fantastic coming off the bench. His introduction for the disappointing Xabi Alonso changed the game. I don’t think it’s too bold to state he is going to be quite good in the future.
John (I will always love Italian football) Porter


Watching bayern-juve I just had a thought. Who were those idiots calling for Fergie to sell Evra for his last three or even four years at man utd? Oh, and where are they now? I don’t hear them.
Zdravko Tashev


No doubt you will have lots of emails on Arsenal, but I decided to watch the Bayern game as it was the only one likely to be a contest tonight.

I sit here at half time, and all I can think is – not impressed with Bayern at all. I can’t see what Guardiola has improved in this team in any way. Guardiola is going to come to England with a lot to prove after his spell in Germany. Can he deliver the Champions League at Man City? I don’t know. He may even find the Premier League harder to come by than simply inheriting the best team in either Spain or Germany.

Open to being proven wrong in the next 45 minutes, but am happy to say I will be eating my hat if that’s the case! Love to see an article looking at his time at Bayern when all the crying over Arsenal dies down again.
Niall, (wait for my second email in 45 minutes time) London


Later that evening…
*Eats words*
Niall, London


Chelsea sold their soul
I’m kind of surprised to have not seen many Chelsea mailers so far this week write in, given that the season is now over sooner than it ever has since Roman founded the club in 2004.

There was one on Monday saying that this summer had poor signings, but I honestly think it goes deeper than that. Chelsea decided years ago to jettison talented players if they aren’t cutthroat and ready to win now. That policy has remained in place regardless of the manager (and is clearly still in place even under Hiddink), and while it’s led to titles, it’s also led to a toxic locker room that’s lacking in leaders.

I understand why we’d be keen on this kind of policy. Lampard, Drogba, and Terry were not just talented, they were vicious winners who’d as soon kick their own mothers as lose a match. I understand why they could be your model professional. But as they’ve left or gotten older, that type of mentality off the field has remained while the ability on the field has faltered, and I don’t think the two are unrelated.

Just look at the personnell decisions from the past 4 years. Charistmatic, talented, and enthusiastic (albeit flawed) players like Mata, David Luiz, and Cech who could have taken over the leadership at Chelsea have been driven out. So too, are talented-but-still-green young players like Lukaku, De Bruyne, Bertrand, and Romeu. Every single one of those players is either on a team higher in the table than Chelsea, or started last week for a team that knocked them out of a cup.

Instead, we have other players who are talented, but who either are so mental as to be self-destructive, or are completely self-interested to the denigration of the team. Within the right environment, Hazard, Diego Costa, Matic, and Courtois could be among the best players in the world. But I don’t believe a single one of them cares about the club in any way other than just a job, and I fully expect that each of them have already put in calls to their agents about moving on to another team. That’s fine, it’s their prerogative. But it’s also why Chelsea’s season could be best described as “half-hearted”.

On paper, Chelsea are a team without much to rebuild. But mentally, I think Conte has a big job ahead of him.
Derby NYBlues
PS – Nicely done to Peter G, even if I hope DCU never win another f-ing game


Liverpool fan backing Spurs
I’m a Liverpool supporter from some 14 000 km away from Anfield. Like many fans of the Premier League based outside of the UK, I ‘chose’ who to support at a young age, without any geographical reasoning – Liverpool is just as far away for me as London, Newcastle or Manchester. As such, within my local area you will find a wide variety of clubs being supported (especially the top 4/5/6). For the most part, I get along well with the various supporters of other clubs and often watch football matches with them, whether Liverpool are involved in the game or not.

Over the years, I’ve even grown a soft-spot for other clubs – most notably West Ham, Newcastle and Tottenham. A club which I have no strong feelings towards (either good or bad) is Leicester. I don’t know any Leicester fans, and as most of their recent football was played in the Championship, I wasn’t able to watch them often. Leicester, as we all now know, are favourites to win the league – and with that will probably come a host of new foreign supporters/fans. If/when they do indeed win it, it will be thoroughly deserved if only for their remarkable consistency – in team selection, tactics and most importantly results.

However, their path to the top will be seen as a minor miracle and it will surely be a long time before we see another ‘small’, recently-promoted club win the league. And that is why I really want Tottenham to beat them to the top and win the Premier League. It is selfish on my part, but if Tottenham can pull it off, surely it gives realistic hope that Liverpool can do the same in the not-too-distant future.

Liverpool, like Tottenham, have recently found their place outside the top 4, usually fighting for a Europa League spot. They have both recently broken into the promised land, only to have their best players (largely responsible for clawing them up a few places) sold to the Spanish giants. They have both recently replaced ‘young’ British managers/comedy figures with likeable foreign managers who want to/have instilled a high-energy style of play. Tottenham have trusted their manager to bring in (comparatively inexpensive) players that suit his system, and he has shown a great deal of faith in young players. I would love it if Klopp is afforded the same faith. Both clubs are forced to perform in the media spotlight, and have large international fan-bases to appease. They both find themselves in Europe’s step-child competition, and yet are taking it seriously.

What I feel Liverpool are lacking when compared to Tottenham are consistency (there’s that word again!) and a strong spine. We all know that Mignolet is nowhere near the required level, especially when compared to Lloris. Alderweireld has deservedly received many plaudits for his defensive exploits, whilst Vertonghen and Wimmer have been both been solid alongside him. Dier, Dembele and Alli are currently far more dynamic and threatening that Can (who is rapidly improving under Klopp in midfield), Henderson and Milner. The attacking players are at a similar level in my opinion (Coutinho = Eriksen, Firmino = Lamela with perhaps better current form and more of an eye for goal and Lallana = Chadli). It is just in Kane that Spurs have a goal-scorer that they can rely on, rather than a collection of strikers who are either unfit or unsuitable. Hopefully Klopp will get to bring in some new recruits in key positions this (Southern hemisphere) winter.

If all of the above is too long to read: sorry Leicester fans (wherever you may be), but I really want Spurs to win the league so that they can show us the way.
Elias (will probably have to mention Arsenal somewhere for this to get posted today) Johannesburg, South Africa.


Leicester defence
Very interesting letter from M (Anything to tie Mou to another league title) Yass on Leicester as a Mourinho team. I agree up to a point, but there’s one big difference between the way Mourinho’s teams play defense and the way Leicester do.

Mourinho’s teams play a passive defense, with a very low block. In both 2013/14 and 2014/15, Chelsea were dead last in tackles + interceptions. Tackles were in the middle of the pack both years, but interceptions were so low that combined they were still last.

On the other hand, Leicester City play an active defense. They do their share of pressing, and remain aggressive even when dropping back. They’re second in the league to Liverpool in tackles, and first in the league in interceptions. Their combined total is first by a large margin.

It’s this that for me makes Leicester more fun to watch than Chelsea under Mourinho. They’re exciting on the counterattack, but also entertaining in defense.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


BT Short
Like many of your readers, I have been forced to subscribe to BT in order to see some of the biggest games of the season. The general guff of their coverage has been well documented here but I felt compelled to write as for me part of last night’s commentary on the Barca training match was the final straw.

Luis Suarez scores one of the goals of the season and McManaman insists he’s shinned it in! Shinned? Shinned? It was a superb volley you fool. He even started chuckling to himself about how “they all count don’t they”.

McManaman’s self-righteousness and “oh yes I am really so intelligent for a footballer” attitude annoyed me when he was a player and annoys me even more now I am forced to endure his waffle. He moved to Real Madrid for money and to mostly warm the bench so don’t make out he was the reason they won so much please BT. You’re getting him confused with ZZ. Our Macca was cleaning his boots.

Rant over.


Fan mail
Just a quick one to say the last few days of work at F365 has been excellent.

The Guest articles are brilliant, especially Peter on MLS, the Garrincha piece the best of the icon series so far, and the Harry Redknapp jokes in yesterday’s mailbox? Dale’s made me spit my beer out while sitting on a packed train. No one was impressed.

Keep it up etc.
Ollie, London


I’d just like to comment on the wonderful insight provided by mailbox regular Peter G, Pennsylvania. The article strikes me with more than a degree of poignancy because it just reaffirms my belief that no one fan is better than the other and that we all have our own footballing love story and reasons for supporting a team.

What a lovely tale, especially when I was under the impression that Peter was to write about why highly trained and physical MLS players were ready for the Premier League. Perhaps we’ll hear why another day?

I can’t be alone in applauding F365 for going ahead with this feature and have enjoyed all three pieces for a variety of reasons. I hope this can continue as I’m currently sitting on my own piece, waiting for the perfect time for it to become more topical (The Euros).
Conor, Drogheda

More Related Articles