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I’m not sure whether this will make it in midst the dissection of the weekend’s action but hopefully this bold statement will intrigue enough to read on: Manchester City are statically far and away the dirtiest team in the Premier League.
Allow me to elaborate… according to the FA disciplinary table, Manchester City currently rank as the second dirtiest team in the division, just behind West Ham. However, City are also top of the possession charts by a country mile (averaging 70%+, 15% more than Man United in second). That means the rate at which they have accumulated cards per minute of possession by the opposition is massively higher than anyone else in the division.
Why is this? Well something that is often glossed over in the (to be fair, justified) praise for Pep-football is the completely cynical approach to tactical fouling, which has been rife throughout his history as a manager (Busquets being the lead disciple). Because his teams dominate possession so much, any hint of danger from the opposition can be snuffed out with a deliberate trip, taking the booking if it comes. By having so much of the ball, if this happens only one or two times a match, it’s no big deal in the grand scheme. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that during a game, when dominating play, they’ll play a rare, errant pass and the opponents will be on the counter, about to run at the defence, only for, say, Fernandinho to come across and deliberately take the legs of the player with the ball.
Apart from the fact I’m a United supporter (and thus keen to pick holes in their success!) I’m also a striker when I play, and nothing annoys more than being tactically fouled. You do a bit of skill (rare for me) and beat a man, you’re running at a couple of ageing centre-backs and… the midfielder clips your heels on purpose and you get a free kick in a not particularly threatening area of the pitch. Maddeningly infuriating! So if I could change a rule in football it would be deliberate, cynical fouls where no attempt is made to play the ball, are automatic red cards. It would harm City and help me score a few more!
Lewis, Busby Way
I’m genuinely curious how City manage to do it – do we have any info on their PR department? Because it has without a doubt cast a spell over the media. I’m watching an absolute garbage fire of a match against Chelsea, in which the home team has managed an astounding 3 shots, of which I believe 1 has been on target, and was the winner. Fair play, typically that would be described as ‘professional’, ‘workmanlike’ or even ‘functional’.
Not so. Us listeners of the US feed have been treated to such gems as: “how much would you pay to watch their training sessions?” and “everyone’s dream final would be Barcelona versus City in the CL” and 3 reminders that City are on track to win the league at Old Trafford.
City will break the points record and deservedly will take the title as one of the absolute great top flight sides, but the coverage is absolutely nauseating for the neutral. I don’t even like Chelsea, but I wanted them to score by the end, just to hear the noises the poor commentators would have to make to explain it.
Ryan (reminds me of LVG’s United, but with 300m of talent up front)
Watching that “football match” has made me absolutely sick. What I have just witnessed would be like me turning up for work, taking a sh*t on my desk and just sitting in it for the day. I would not be paid for that and would probably be sacked. Are those players going to get paid this week?
I don’t care if they absolutely despise Conte. They need to remember they play for the fans and the club. Managers will come and go but we will not. That was an absolute disgrace and everyone deserves to be fined.
Conte should also not escape censure here. The way he setup and the tactics employed were absolutely laughable.
Are we West Brom? We are the bloody champions of England, have some bloody pride. Even if we played brilliantly we may not beat City but I would still have some genuine respect for those involved.
I genuinely can’t find the words to describe my anger right now.
Conor(Seething in Dublin)
…That Chelsea performance was a total disgrace. No Chelsea team should accept defeat but it seemed Conte did. His tactics failed and he was far too slow to change. Unacceptable.
He obviously wants out so thanks Antonio but bye bye.
…Should we just finish the league now? Honestly, what’s the point in a competitive league if that’s what’s served up? Champions elect Vs reigning champions. Pep has created a fantastic team, a team that is so good, the opposition teams give up before they’ve kicked a ball. It’s disgusting!
Wrap the league up now. City are deserved champions. The top 4 will stay the same and the bottom three deserve to go down. Spend the next few months revamping the league because this is unwatchable.
Maybe extra points for a comprehensible scoreline and points deducted if you don’t score. “The Greatest League in the World” my arse!
What could have been
In an alternate universe, the front six of –
Hazard – Lukaku – Salah
Fabregas – Kante – De Bruyne
would’ve been decimating the league.
Just before the 70 minute mark during the City-Chelsea game, Gary Neville wondered how teams in La Liga approached playing Barcelona. He said that’s what he wanted to know. The question was aimed vaguely in the direction of Thierry Henry.
I thought his time with Valencia would have left him able to have a stab at that but then a quick google search reminded me of a 7-0 Copa del Rey defeat, so maybe not.
Do you reckon he has his Valencia memories in a little mental box that never gets opened?
Paul the gamer
Give us a game
First off I’m a City fan so I’m happy with the result, but it feels like we just beat Burnley or Brighton (no disrespect) to those clubs, in fact they probably would have put up a better game.
This is Chelsea the Premier League champions, they have hazard, Willian, Giroud and Morata amongst others I wanted to enjoy beating a “big team” in a “proper game” what even was that……..??
In the last week we’ve played Arsenal in a cup final, Arsenal away and the champions at home without getting out of second gear.
Isn’t this league supposed to be competitive I’d had this down as our hardest week of the season not the easiest!
Does that say more about city or our competition. I honestly don’t know the answer……..
Arsenal are the new Liverpool
Arsenal are the new Liverpool. Owners who don’t care about the fans (Hicks and Gillet) or football success. A number of talented players losing the belief they can fulfil their aspirations at the club (Torres) and you keep losing to rubbish teams, often with someone who hasn’t scored a goal all season finding the winner.
I’m sorry to say that it can get worse, and it just may the way things look at the moment.
On the plus side you don’t have to worry about the teams above you trying to steal your players because I’m not sure there’s anyone at Arsenal who the rest of the big 6 would even want.
Arsenal are screwed
Arsenal are f*cked. And I don’t just mean now, but next season too, even if Wenger leaves.
While the squad isn’t dreadful – I think it’s a case of underperforming rather than not good enough, there is clearly some dross that needs to be axed. Not only will they need replacing, but the squad is still lacking in certain areas, mainly wingers for the current 4-2-3-1 system. But therein lies the other issue, what is our system? The Arsenal way of attacking possession has become too stale with the odd flutter, see Everton, and there doesn’t seem to be any actual game plan except to go out and try and win. We’ve too many number 10’s and deep-lying playmakers, with €100 million worth of strikers that should both start but don’t fit the system, and a bumper contract for Ozil, who has to play. He hasn’t even got the players for his standard 4-2-3-1 formation, let alone a tactical approach for them.
Any new manager will hopefully bring a preferred style with them, which may mean buying and selling players that don’t fit, thus meaning that we could be seeing upwards of 7 departures and arrivals – accounting for the replacing of the dross and some extra talent, all of whom will need to settle, with a new manager, not to mention the club entering a completely new era. All of which has to be done by the 9th of August. In a World Cup year.
If Wenger wants what’s best for the club, which he so often claims, he, or the board, need to decide and announce that he is living at the ned of the season before we play Milan. It will put to bed the uncertainty and potential saga, allow the club to start making plans for finding a manger and potential targets, give the players a much need stir while giving them and the club/fans something to play for – winning a European trophy for Wenger and giving him the send-off that he deserves, while he still deserves it!
Néill, (we all know he’s staying), Ireland
Throw the f***ing bottle
Have actively not been tuning into Arsenal games as most of the time it has been utter dross. But my word the 2nd goal against Brighton scored by Murray – when they panned to Wenger’s reaction – he sipped on his water. How can he just sit there so calm – even if you are leaving/will be fired – show that this is not acceptable. It is not, absolutely not. Throw the f*cking bottle, do something absurd – show you have the passion to not watch utter shit being served up by your by the employees you are managing. No one anywhere in the world will ever accept this performance from the people they are supposed to lead – anywhere in the world, any industry or size of business. F*cking disgrace.
In an era where ownership of a football club has led to increased public exposure for those individuals and corporations responsible for the safe custody, financial diligence and general well being of all our clubs no matter who you support I would just like to comment on how well FSG are “owning” Liverpool football club.
Let’s be very clear ,after the disastrous tenure of those charlatans Hicks and Gillette , which almost led to a Leeds moment at Anfield, FSG have behaved exactly how I believe an owner should. John Henry is the most visible part of the ownership structure but after some initial shows of face at various big games and a tendency to use social media to comment on certain issues he has largely become a ‘quiet ‘ owner who has overseen a dramatic rise in the fortunes of Liverpool football club.
Last weeks financial reporting from Anfield made impressive reading with not so much the headline number of 39m pounds profit being important but more so the debt levels ( eminently low in football terms) and how much the commercial activity has been improved at the club. Add in the investments in the increased capacity , new amalgamated training centre shortly to be built and comments along the lines of “we will invest further in the playing squad in the summer”must be heartening to all reds fans. The fact that these numbers have been achieved without regular European football and that transfers (Mo,Ox,VVD) have been balanced due to the sale of Coutinho it is arguable that Liverpool’s profit will be greater in 2018.
With a dynamic, young and improving team on the pitch , a manager who fits the club like a glove and importantly a strong , structured behind the scenes management it suggests to me that Liverpool are arguably in their best position on and off the pitch since the start of the premier league.
So give me our Yanks over your invisible yanks Arsenal, the ever lovable Dildo brothers at West Ham, a billionaire who’s not a billionaire at Newcastle and whichever country owns Man City or PSG.
Well done FSG, keep up the good work
DL, LFC, Geneva
So after Man City’s win and presuming Man United win at Palace then it will be an interesting dilemma for Jose’s approach to the Liverpool game. As I see it he has three options;
1) the Jose way – play it safe, they will be in second and is up to Liverpool to change that
2) gangbusters – nine points ahead of Chelsea it looks like champions league is pretty safe. Time to show people what this expensively assembled team can do and put Liverpool in their place
3) forfeit – play a weakened team in preparation for the Champions League and set up as option one but with a ready made excuse if it fails
I’m sure that there are other options the master tactician has up his sleeve but does anyone think he’ll do anything other than one?
Mark C, London
Thanks for the lovely list of ridiculous statistics about Arsenal.
I was having a good laugh anyway but, in one particular statistic, I had to chuckle because you seem to have mistakenly missed out one of the top four! I know these things happen sometimes. Ho, ho, silly 365! Anyway, I thought I’d help you out and correct the mistake.
You said “Arsenal have now lost five of their last six games in all competitions. By comparison, Manchester City have lost five of their last 53, Liverpool have lost five of their last 36, Chelsea have lost five of their last 29 and Manchester United have lost five of their last 23.” You missed out Tottenham despite the fact they are above Chelsea and Arsenal in the table. For the record, Spurs have lost five of their last 26. Just behind Chelsea and just in front of Manchester United… and quite some way ahead of Arsenal.
Father Dave, THFC, Maidstone.
A couple of comments on the weekend. In the Brighton v Arsenal game, Jack Wilshere hacks down Knockaert with a knee high lunge.
Alan Smith “I don’t think there was much to get excited about there. Knockaert made a lot of it.”
Replay shows Jack Wilshere hacking down Knockaert with a knee high lunge.
Alan Smith “Maybe it wasn’t a great challenge but it’s a statement from Jack Wilshere. He’ll be hurting with this performance.”
So he didn’t hack him but if he did he did it because pashun.
Where to start?
How many excuses can the football cognoscenti make for Jack Wilshere? One performance against Barcelona the best part of a decade ago does not a career make. I get he’s had terrible injury problems but he’s a petulant little thug who when things aren’t going his way shows how much cares not by rolling up his sleeves and inspiring teammates but by looking to kick whoever is nearest to him while whining to the referee.
I’m not even going to into the never ending defence of English players when compared to foreigners.
Finally, Martin Tyler starts the City v Chelsea with a love in of referees stating that “Mike Riley’s boys have had a great year.” Was he drunk? Refereeing standards this year have been appalling with VAR both highlighting but also amazingly exacerbating this. For him to make that statement after the lack of decision for Mo Salah in the Liverpool v Newcastle game the night before is just absurd.
Lindsay (Still snowed in), Dublin
Are we still doing perfect hat tricks? For a Palace fan there can only be one choice.
In January 2010 we’d gone into administration, dropping to the brink of the Championship’s relegation zone as a result of the points deduction. Our best player Victor Moses had to be sold on the last day of the January transfer window to basically keep us in existence.
Then on February 2nd we came up against Premier League Wolves in an FA Cup replay. Neil Warnock was forced to play the dependable but unglamorous right back Danny Butterfield up front, and all anyone really hoped was that he’d put in some effort and not embarrass himself. But incredibly in the 60th minute he scored with a close range header- his first goal in 6 years. Even more incredibly he scored again, this time with his right foot, less than 4 minutes later. He completed the hat trick with his left foot less than 7 minutes after his first and frankly I still can’t quite believe it.
Watch the footage here, and savour the sheer delight and disbelief on his face after each of the 3 goals. This is a prime example of the wonderful craziness that football can offer us- if you’d written it in a film script you’d be laughed at. But it actually happened, so thanks Danny.
Si, CPFC (PS – is this the fastest perfect hat trick ever?)
Goal difference difference
Right now, Sevilla sit in 5th place in La Liga with a -4 Goal Differential on 45 points.
Getafe (+8) sit in 10th on 36. There are eleven rounds to go.
Anyone know the highest position a club with a negative GD ever finished with? What’s the largest gap between a side with (-) above a side with a positive GD?
Ian, LFC (I was positive Girona was going down in August…) Hartford, CT USA