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Still cold to my bones from the game yesterday at Wembley. Won’t be going over the top like some likely will but can’t remember a game since Man Utd in the 08/09 Champions League semi-finals where we’ve been so outclassed.
Unsure of what we were trying to do tactically considering the long ball was our best option yet we looked open to almost any kind of attack. Wenger’s comments about being unlucky are quite eye opening, sad as it is I think it’s time to board took the decision to cut him and stop him going full Brian Clough. He’s lost the right to leaving on his own terms when you stop delivering the level expected of you but continue to accept new contracts with pay rises and I think we’re looking at a long road back to what we once were unless we act decisively.
Fair play to City, but you didn’t have to get out of first gear yesterday.
James, AFC, Edmonton
…Being a paid up member of the AOB since 2009, it is easy to point the finger at Le Professor following that cup final’s shambles. But this time around, I think this loss rests squarely on the players shoulders.
Having heard his comments about the cup being an opportunity to give the young players some experience, it was refreshing to see him pick a strong squad for the game. Or so it seemed.For all the heart, desire or passion shown out there, Arsene Wenger might have been better off picking a squad of hungry youngsters. Perhaps they would have been up for the challenge.
While Wilshere showed a lot of grit and will to win, much of the rest of the team hardly seemed bothered. Mustafi pulled up lamely, having felt Aguero blow gently into the back of his ear, for the first goal. Bellerin is better off focusing on his modelling career, and it is instructive that the Barcelona chatter has distinctly quietened down in the past year or so. Granit Xhaka was who we know he is (crap), and while Ozil did put in a shift he was largely unimpactful. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will probably ultimately flourish in this system, but it was painful watching him totally shut down by Vincent Kompany and his 73 year old hamstrings.Most of the rest of the team barely merit a mention; then there was Ospina.
Count me firmly in the Rolling-Their-Eyes-360⁰ camp, when it comes to the recent hullabaloo around this whole playing out the back from the goalie thing. I remain skeptical about just how vital a five yard pass to a defender is to overall game plan. For me, Clive, a goalkeeper’s biggest asset would be his ability to keep the ball out of his net. But like seriously, Ospina, WTF?? Even on the rare occasion he actually found a teammate with his passes, it was invariably the tightest marked player, and we looked at risk of conceding a goal each time. Ospina had Claudio Bravo looking like Matthias Sammer out there.
So now our last chance at silverware this season (and Champions League football the next) is the Europa Cup. After the Ostersunds game, I wouldn’t be placing much faith in that happening.
But wouldn’t it just be so Arsenal of this team to turn around and thump City in the league this Thursday?
Andrew Mbogoh (Wenger Out!) Nairobi, Kenya
…How clueless and lazy/passionless were Arsenal today?
Man City are miles ahead. However, all I ask for is a bit of passion from them. Maybe show them all a video of that poor kid crying in the crowd and see if that flames any passion (I doubt it!).
Whatever Keane thinks about Jack he is the only one who showed passion today and had no protection today from the ref (Pep…pot, kettle!). However, that made no difference between the class of the two teams….. goodbye Mr Wenger.
…Well that was depressing. I don’t know who to feel most sorry for: the Arsenal fans for having to put up with yet another pathetic performance; the Arsenal players for wasting years of their career (yes they are paid a lot, but the correlation between wealth and fulfillment is not a perfect one); or Arsene for genuinely believing he can still turn this around. I suspect there are a number of readers, who will say that none is deserving of sympathy for various reasons, but I’m an Arsenal fan and I feel sorry for them all.
Having made my way through the stages of grief for Arsenal’s death as a serious footballing force, I am now in full acceptance mode. I still enjoy arguing Arsenal’s cause but whereas a few years ago (I was in the denial phase), the argument would have been about whether we were a spent force or not, I’ve now come round to arguing as to why we are a spent force instead. I do not disagree that we are shite, but don’t come here talking to me about your ‘leaders’ and your ‘hard-nut centre half’ solving the problem, because you’re wrong. And because of this, the biggest frustration watching that excuse for a performance at Wembley was listening to Gary Neville. Most of his points were fair and difficult to argue with, but his steadfast refusal to identify that Arsene Wenger is a huge part of the problem is an oversight. Yes Mustafi’s defending was embarrassing, Xhaka and Ramsey walking was disappointing, Ospina’s distribution unnerving, but these players are all signed, coached and selected by Wenger. Asking players to show professional pride is fine, but commending Guardiola, Pochettino and Klopp for their coaching on the one hand then skipping the criticism of Wenger is strange. I understand Neville doesn’t want to be drawn into WengerIn and WengerOut arguments, but still give us some insight on your expectations of a manager for a cup final.
And there you have it, the experience of an Arsenal fan during a cup final is so warped that the most emotive thing is the fact that the second commentator did not criticise the manager. What a sorry existence. Change cannot come soon enough.
Richard (AFC of course)
…Someone said to me Arsenal do not have a money problem…they have a management/coaching problem.
I agree with that and would once again like to add a weak footballing culture, lack of leadership, a series of weak characters, a desire to give 100% effort every and poor footballing organisation. The players have no love for Arsenal Football Club. I was told last week on these pages that I was lacking perspective However, after that performance against Man City (who were everything we were not) I am once again saying the manager, coaching staff and at least ten of the current squad need to leave now.
As a season ticket holder I will turn up to watch the game against City on Thursday..in hope rather than expectation.
Tony Laforce, Hackney, London
Neville is the disgrace
I will start this email by stating the fact I am not an arsenal fan but who the hell does Gary Neville think he is calling Arsenal players a disgrace? (they are currently being outplayed by a BETTER team, a team that has probably spent more on the starting squad today than arsenal have in there entire history but yeah lets ignore that)
Fernandinho should have been sent off and would have received a yellow if he hadn’t been on one at the point of hacking wilshere down (1.0 at this point)
As I said i am not an arsenal fan but at the same time i feel the need to email regarding the pathetic commentary from Gary Neville (calling players a disgrace)
Things I have found as a disgrace are England in South Africa and Brazil along side the pathetic performance Valencia put up under his management (one of the top Spanish teams)
I thought he may have realised after failing miserably in all coaching/managerial positions he had been given that football is not as easy as saying what a player should have done after the match has finished
Lets get Gary Neville back into managing so we can prove how clueless this idiot actually is
Everyone liked him (me included) but I cant understand how anyone can take him seriously after failing in every position outside of tv and lets face it anyone can say (after watching a game) I’d have done this differently
Russ the blade
Utd a better bet for CL
Being a Liverpool fan, i have no business is commenting upon the rivalry or greatness of the manchesters club. City might be winning premier league and may have won the league cup but somehow United look more poised to progress further in champions league than City. History says that most of the team which win champions league have a strong defense like United. They look on course for FA cup and top three position in the league. If the parameter to judge the class of team is not entertainment then sheer result oriented approach, assisted with scrappy yet effective football approach can win you games. United has progressed that too with players playing out of positions. They get bashed every week about their style of play but when the manager knows how to win trophies, he seemingly gets the best out of his team.
Arsh, LFC Delhi
Badly needed win.
That was Lukaku’s best performance in a United shirt. Power, pace and total commitment. Great to see.
I know the world thinks Alonso is brilliant but today showed how weak he is. Two of the challenges in the corner when United were attacking were just daft. Make him a striker because he is good at scoring goals.
Anyway, something to cheer about for a change.
…It was a pleasant surprise watching United get a 2-1 win after conceding first. Even more heartening was their response to going down in terms of work-rate. Watching Martial chase down the ball for a few minutes brought tears to my eyes.
Tough to argue Martial’s case for a spot on the left after a performance like that, but even here he came up with a calm assist under pressure and created a good chance for Sanchez earlier. Although they are worlds apart in terms of playing style, Sanchez and Martial are similar in how they can effect the game despite being sh*t overall.
Matic was immense, McTominay is impressing with every outing and Lindelof is coming back into the first team picture again. Almost makes you optimistic for the Pool game.
Still not sure what to make of Lukaku’s performance. He bullied the defenders., scored from his one proper chance and assisted another (after a beautifully weighted aerial ball from Scott). Does that mean he is coming into form, or were the Chelsea defenders ordinary after a tough game vs Barcelona?
Feel stupid about the mid-week mails, but still maintain my stance on Mou.
Before any misinterpretation of what is to come, let me make this clear – Antonio Conte to me is in the top 3-5 coaches of the world and I want him at Chelsea for as long as possible.
Now that the disclaimer is out, let me call out some criticism of Antonio which is why we are not within 5-7 points of Man City, but closer to the miserable Arsenal.
We start games well, score goals and then suddenly for no reason stop playing football. Players drop deep and tension builds up and we concede. This was most apparent at Watford (helped by Baka’s red). Make no mistake, United deserved to win last night, but we could have been out of sight and put them to misery given they were so bad in the first half.
The line up was ok. Moses is the player I’ve been craving for an upgrade this season (thank you 16 conclusions). He is just stupid, plain stupid and has nothing resembling a footballing brain. He was the weak link to me and it showed in 2-3 dangerous situations when we could’ve doubled or tripled our lead. So many instances when put through 1 v 1, his decision making has been horrendous. We paid duly for not capitalizing on our first half.
Andreas Christensen has chosen the wrong time to show his age and lack of focus. Comfortably his worst game as a Chelsea player. His body language was just not there last night.
You could replace Morata and Lukaku from the bridge game last night and it was same. The winning center forward holding the ball well, making good runs, scoring. The losing CF making fans go rage at why the club paid so much.
You notice further, you also blame the respective coaches. For Jose at the bridge, it is Conte at OT. Why buy these type of players if you’re not going to play to their strengths? Morata needs intelligent full/wing backs, midfielders who can play those diagonals. Lukaku likewise needs servicing to the sides of his body. Yet, the coaches sometimes ask these players to do something else and the poor players take lion’s share of the blame.
Yet, Morata is not without blame. The difference between Lukaku and Morata last night was Morata being a whiner while Lukaku meant business. If Morata does not change this soon, he may find himself struggling to justify the price tag and even lose a starting spot.
A question to Antonio – why so reactive in games this season? Why couldn’t Fabregas come the moment it was clear we were giving ball cheaply in the second half? What is the need for a third center back when the issue was in midfield? And why always wait till the 80th minute to make changes when game and mentality are out?
Antonio may have grievances with the board (who knows what they promised him) but this season is on him. Burnley, Palace, Bournemouth, Leicester, Watford – that is why we’re 5th. You can go and get beat at Old Trafford. Pep’s team can whack you home/away. These are valid excuses. Losing to Bournemouth (all due respect) 3-0 at home is not.
That does not mean we need to change coach (which is likely to happen anyway, pity), but like I said earlier in one of my mails, when City were in a similar predicament last season, Pep had board’s backing and he turned it around in style at this juncture. If Antonio needs the board’s backing (to me for what he’s achieved, he doesn’t), he needs to get at least 25-28 points in games where he has to visit Etihad (sic), play Spurs and Pool at home along with tricky bread and butter games. Can Antonio turn on the style like Pep did at the fag end of last season?
Final note, to that hilarious mailboxer who said I am an “arrogant” fan who believes PL is the most competetive for saying English teams can beat Barcelona, I am a documented troll of what English football patronises – strength, speed, lack of intelligence, running channels, Sam Allardyce etc. For the first time in ages, we have a Barcelona that is not that great despite their league position, and the likes of City, Spurs and Pool with clear attacking identities. I am many things, but not someone who brags about the competitiveness of English game as an excuse to say English teams will rock. Thank You!
Aravind, Chelsea Fan.
Why is the League Cup the poor relation?
Disclaimer: I’m not a Man City fan trying to glorify the league cup following yesterday’s result.
Now that’s out of the way, I’d like to ask why is the league cup seen as a lesser trophy than the FA Cup?
The League cup only consists of teams in league football, as opposed to non league inclusive, meaning in theory the teams are on average of a better standard.
Furthermore, two legged semi finals in which away goals (one of the facets of European knockout football which makes it so competitive) count after extra time to me, seems more difficult to negotiate than one off games until the final in the FA Cup.
Going overboard on Spurs
I generally enjoy F365’s reporting and coverage, but when it comes to Spurs, you guys are taking it too far now. I mean, I get that you are only human so a little bit of bias – positive or negative – is going to creep in every once in a while. I even get why Spurs are media darlings – young, charismatic, doing-it-right. But making them your early winners? Surely, that’s a step too far. They eked out a 1-0 win over a team that is absolutely racked with injuries. Palace is a complete patchwork at the moment. Considering their opposition, if they’d lost or tied they probably would have been in the running for “Early Loser” (no disrespect Palace fans).
It really seems like your scraping the bottom of the barrel, or just filling the slot with this one.
Curtis, Canada (give it to Hodgson for ALMOST getting the point)
Embarrassed to be a Red
As a Liverpool fan, I would just like to state how embarrassed I am at the chants directed at Patrice Evra yesterday.
As other mailboxers have pointed out, how do the people that give Evra stick for calling out racial abuse think Rhian Brewster will feel after he bravely did exactly the same thing. I’ve no doubt that if Rhian was targeted by Spartak Moscow fans those same fans abusing Evra would fully support him – so they absolutely have to drop this vendetta.
Suarez used racist language. He was rightly banned. His defense that he was not aware the language he used was racist does not stand. Supporting that defense opens the door for other plays to use the same excuse, including the player who told Rhian to “suck my dick, you nigger”.
It’s through taking such a stance that players of colour no longer have bananas thrown at them during games. If more robust action was taken fans would stop making monkey chants at players with UEFA only begrudgingly taking against when shamed into doing so. Players who suffer such abuse would be listened to rather than booked for taking a stand against it, and we could enjoy a genuinely inclusive sport setting a fantastic example for society more generally.
It’s time fans started supporting every player who takes a stand against racism and bigotry, regardless of who they play for. Fellow Liverpool fans can start this by dropping the agenda against Evra, and singing the Salah song instead 😉
Paul, (Sitting in the mosque), Brussels
There are idiots in every fan base
Ok, Israel, I’ll bite.
First off, I find it pretty reasonable for Klopp to know nothing and not comment on the situation – as opposed to deliberately giving a response that you describe as “weak as f***”. Klopp was at the height of his powers with BvB at the time of that incidentand joined Liverpool long after it had concluded. Why would, or should, he know enough to comment? The world does not revolve around the Liverpool – Manchester United derby, as much as us fans on both sides like to insist.
Secondly, on what Earth does a small section of Liverpool fans singing objectionable chants preclude the wider fanbase from feeling maligned or unfairly treated? I’m sure you don’t chant about Hillsborough, “Murderers” or “Victims” (actually, scratch the last one, as your email is one of the most blatant, poorly concealed demonstrations of the vile “Victims” argument and all it’s dog whistled connotations), do you? In which case, I’m sure you’d feel angry if I lumped you together with those horrid people who don’t know the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not.
How about a bit of compassion? How about understanding that there are a loud minority of idiots in every fanbase who will try and get a reaction, and not every fan of each club is the same?
And, by the way, Kenny Dalglish went to the funeral of every last person who was unlawfully killed at Hillsborough. That’s real leadership, regardless of what you think, and tells you the measure of the man. With Suarez, he supported the player. The t-shirts were a bad idea, but we operate on an innocent until proven guilty basis – or should do – and supporting his player is exactly the right thing to do.
Theo, LFC, Liverpool
…To go over very old and well-trodden ground, most people think the t-shirts after the Suarez-Evra case was ill-conceived at best. And most Liverpool fans who were booing Evra do so not because he was racially abused but because of his actions at the end of the game at Old Trafford which marked his and Suarez first meeting after that game.
But my goodness me, when you call Dalglish a “pathetic excuse for a leader”, you need shaking. Maybe you need reminding that this “pathetic excuse for a leader” personally attended many of the 96 funerals after Hillsborough including four in one day, he made sure the club were represented by players and staff at every single one of the funerals, and has been an active part of the justice campaign for the 27 years of pain, lies and deceit that followed that day. That man held a city and football club together through something far greater than two footballers calling each other names. That is not to diminish racial abuse, but instead to remind people like you that real leadership extends beyond a football pitch, when bigger things really matter. This “pathetic excuse for a leader” spent 27 years of his life bottling up every emotion he felt, all because he knew so many other people needed him. At the same time he raised and continues to raise millions for cancer charities through his wife Marina’s fund.
Keep things in perspective, Israel. Dalglish is a hero to millions of Liverpool, Celtic and Blackburn fans for footballing reasons, but is a big reason 96 families felt the strength and support to fight what seemed an insurmountable battle for justice.
Michael, LFC, Abu Dhabi
So I see the Suarez/Evra incident has reared its ugly head again and now Klopp is attracting criticism for not condemning the Liverpool supporters who booed Evra enough. In my mind there appears to be some logical failing here and it goes back to the details of the case itself. For those that want to bore themselves silly for 3 hours, it is published here
Now I did bore myself silly for 3 hours so have a fair understanding of the details although am not a Spanish language expert so have to take their evidence (which all seems completely fair) at face value. The key detail from the case is the differing accounts given by the two players. Language experts analysed Suarez’s version and stated (in paragraph 194) that it would “not be interpreted as either offensive or offensive in racial terms in Uruguay and Spanish-speaking America more generally”. They analysed what Evra told them and determined (completely fairly) that it most definitely was offensive. The panel then had to make their decision on who to believe and decided (using various methods) that Evra’s account was more reliable.
Now I wasn’t stood on the pitch at the time so simply cannot comment on who may or may not be telling the truth. Cases like these that come down to one word against another are never straightforward. What we know is that at least one of them is lying and in my view it is quite probable that both of them are (not that my view counts for much on this point). I personally do have an issue with judgements that condemn one party or the other without any real evidence though. Some people are simply more convincing liars than others (insert Brexit joke here). Having said that, in some situations credibility can be easier to judge and we are all free to form our own opinions.
But keeping this in mind we look at what is in the heads of the Liverpool fans who were booing Evra. They are not defending a racist, they are condemning the person they think lied in order to have him tarnished as a “user of racist language”. Are they right? Well not according to the FA panel but as I said this was a judgement made without any corroboration. I would like to think that if what Suarez had said was clearly caught on a microphone and there was no issue of it being one word against another that they would not boo Evra because that would be utterly unacceptable. Therefore I see no link to the situation with Rhian Brewster as the fans are not showing approval of the sort of language Suarez is alleged to have used.
Now my intention is not to wade through the details of the case again. Suarez was found guilty, I personally believe there is no need whatsoever to refer to the colour of someone’s skin but I’m merely trying to explain the circumstances behind the booing of Evra. Klopp has received criticism for his statement and I think that’s a bit unfair. The circumstances I’ve explained show the Liverpool fans aren’t supporting racially aggravated language and Klopp could have made a statement along those lines. But he’s right that he was unconnected to the incident. He’s the manager of the club and not the guardian of the fans, they make their own choices.
United have just equalised against Chelsea so maybe I’m being a bit touchy, but do you think if we all got together and asked Sky really nicely, they’d turn off that swishy scraping sound they use when they put information up on the screen? It drives me MENTAL.
Also, before a game, why does the coverage always show us a really nice elevated shot of the stadium and surrounding city (or a nice crowd shot) and then totally cover it with the team sheet? I don’t need to have the players walk and smile at me, I know what they look like.
Am I on my own with this??
Niall, Dublin (LFC)
What chance the Pulis Relegation Treble?
2. Stoke City
3. Crystal Palace
NPR (careful what you wish for!) THFC
I missed watching the last ever game at the Boleyn Ground because my daughter decided to arrive four weeks early… Tickets were rarer than a Ronaldo interview filled with humility but I was looking forward to taking it all in on tv and having a little cry in the privacy of my own home. As my wife’s waters broke it obviously wasn’t top of the agenda but as the initial part of labour can be quite slow my mind started drifting to that evening’s entertainment. In the end I had to make do with text updates from friends at the game whilst going through breathing exercises. The same exercises came in handy after hearing that Reid had put us ahead with only ten minutes to go.
Planet Sport exclusive: Simon Carr on a mission to become Ireland’s first big tennis superstar. (Tennis365)