Watch some weekend football and send some lovely mails to firstname.lastname@example.org
Arsenal set to win the real league
What with all the Van Gaal nonsense, Arsenal shenanigans, and Klopp love, the question of who’s going to win the calendar year league has been nearly completely overlooked. With only four games to go, the race really is on for the statistically pleasant and yet utterly pointless honour of being the best of 2015.
Except it isn’t – Arsenal are miles ahead and could even sew up the title this weekend:
1. Arsenal, (GD) +38, (Pts) 72
2. Man City, +35, 65
3. Man United, +21, 63
4. Leicester, +16, 60
5. Spurs, +18, 59
6. Liverpool, +4, 57
7. Chelsea, +7, 56
It’s exactly the type of thing you’d expect Arsenal to win, to be fair. In other news, Leicester have been good for quite some time (Champions League good, that is), and Chelsea have done monumentally badly.
James, Reading FC, Leeds
Giroud: An option, not the option
Since his mid-week hatrick antics the Handsome French bloke’s love in’s got going again. Quite baffling since I think a lot of Arsenal fans had just moved over to the view that he shouldn’t be central to our aspirations.
I was one of the many AFC followers who threw all my toys in the direction of the assorted F365 and ESPN writers who said we couldn’t hope to win big things with Oli G at the focus of our attack. These views came about at the back end of a run where he had scored 8 goals in around 8 games, but then missed around 200 chances against Monaco.
After this point his performances regressed, then this season we saw how much freedom the team gained with a mobile striker like Theo. I was then re-convinced that Giroud was the type of substitute, not starter, who would win you things. It also became very noticeable that his presence blunted Alexis’ output to quite some extent.
Now, more than ever I agree with the sentiments, first espoused by Nick Miller I think, that he is an option, not the option. Invaluable as a game changer from the bench, or at times when Alexis is injured. Looking back at the Man Utd team of 99, finding a player who’ll score a goal every other game and still be happy to sit on the bench might be the best key to success. If we win the league this year, I reckon long in the future we’ll remember Oli G, like they remember Ole Gunnar
Do high-scoring strikers matter?
I have followed the conversation here with some interest, but this is my first mail. The topic that really gets me thinking is the often quoted view that Olivier Giroud is not a good enough to lead a title challenge for a team with title aspirations like Arsenal.
It gets me wondering if the contribution of strikers to title challenges is overrated. The obvious example being Cristiano Ronaldo who scored a basketful of goals last season yet Real Madrid failed to win anything. of course let us not forget Sergio Aguero who won the golden boot last season yet whose Manchester City side failed to win anything. Chelsea literally strolled to the title last season despite not scoring so many goals especially after January. And while we are talking about Arsenal how many times did Thierry Henry win the golden boot by a country mile during the lean years yet Arsenal still ended the season in 4th place? And I also remember that a certain RVP tore up the league scoring charts in his final season at Arsenal before jumping ship to Manchester United.
Of course, I am not arguing about how important a high scoring striker is to the team, and the maxim, about not being able to win a game if you can’t score goals is still as true as ever. I think however, that winning a title, is more than having “A striker good enough to lead a title challenge”. Incidentally despite having only signed a goal keeper this season, Arsenal have a real shot at the title, despite the ” lack of quality” strikers. Fellow mailboxes what do you think?
Bayo (I think it is fairly obvious who I support) Nigeria
Leicester can(‘t) win the league
I have no problem with pundits saying we can’t win the title as it’s highly unlikely but what I do have a problem with is the reasoning.
Firstly, the easiest stick to beat our title or european credentials with is that our squad depth isn’t good enough, an easy remark to make but who’s squad depth is good enough? A quick look at Manchester United’s bench from saturday reveals the footballing luminaries: Depay, Carrick, Young, Roomero, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson, Pereira.
Title favourites, Manchester City:
Caballero, Navas, Delph, Clichy, Iheanacho, Garcia Alonso, Humphreys-Grant.
Arsenal, admittedly relatively strong but we all know they’re broken.
Debuchy, Gibbs, Gabriel, Ospina, Walcott, Chambers, Iwobi.
Toure, Henderson, Sturridge, Lallana, Origi, Bogdan, Randall.
Son, Vorm, N’Jie, Trippier, Onomah, Wimmer, Winks.
King, Schlupp, Okazaki, Wasilewski, Benalouane, Schwarzer, Inler.
Totalling over 400 international caps, hardly nobodies, eh?
Another criticism is that we’ve had easy fixtures, despite their being “no easy games, Jeff.” as we all know.
The easy fixtures like Newcastle away where Liverpool lost and we won 3-0? Or what about West Brom away where Spurs only mustered up a draw and Arsenal lost but again we won? Or how about Norwich away where again Arsenal drew yet we won? Stoke away, easy right? Ask Manchester City after losing 2-0, in the same fixture we were 2-0 down and yet still drew. As for playing the better sides, yes we did lose comprehensively against Arsenal but we drew against United and Spurs so we’re not exactly flat track bullies.
The worst argument is that we’ll be heinously scuppered by injuries, what will you do if Vardy or Mahrez get injured? Obviously it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that our key players may get injured but we’ve suffered one long term injury to a first team player over the last three years due to having an excellent sports science set up. One. Even if they did get injured you can say the exact same thing about a Manchester sans Aguero and Kompany lost that easy fixture at the Britannia.
We’re probably not going to win the title, our squad hasn’t been in a topflight title race before so I think they’ll struggle with the pressure and coupled with our criminal ineptitude at defending set pieces we’ll inevitably lose points but they’re real reasons not straw man arguments.
Joe, 18, Leicestershire (1st in league 1 to 1st in the premier league in 6 years).
Was it all a dream?
Last night I watched Spurs beat Monaco in the Europa League. No, scratch that, outplay and dominate Monaco. Yes, they may not quite be the same team who humbled a certain other South London team who play these days in North London, but they are still a formidable squad who needed to win themselves to have any chance of progressing.
That they weren’t given the chance to even sniff victory was less down to anything they could do themselves and more down to the phenomenal performance put in by Spurs. From back to front there wasn’t a bad performance from any Tottenham player, with even more new exciting youngsters in Carroll and Onomah making a claim for the first team alongside more established players like Dier and Lamela, both of whom were faultless.
The Argentinian in particular put in a wonderful performance, not only scoring a brilliant hat-trick but defending both from the front and the back, even popping up in the full back slots to make big tackles when needed. He even scored with his right foot; I didn’t know he had one of those.
Imagine my surprise then when I logged onto this very site and saw not a mention of any of this on the homepage! No match reports, no comments that maybe Lamela is better almost everyone gives him credit for, that Spurs seem to have a never-ending supply of exciting young players coming through, that even our second string team without a proper striker on the pitch is enough to blow away last year’s Champion’s League quarter-finalists?!
Instead I got more on Utd, more on Liverpool/Klopp, more on Arsenal and more on Chelsea. Come on, people, give credit where it’s due!!!
Glen (actually, on second thoughts, under-the-radar might be okay after all) Ocsko
MC – Links have been provided for all of the above on site. Stop fretting, love x
Brought in and bettered? Bullsh*t
Tarutr – MUFC “However, he still brought in and bettered Shaw, Herrera, Blind and Rojo, all important squad players”
Shaw was targeted before LvG arrived, has loads of potential, is only 19 and plays at left back which is a reasonably easy position to train and educate a player in.
Herrera was targeted before LvG arrived and has been marginalised and messed around to my almost apocalyptic exasperation! We have 2 real creative footballers in the team, both Spanish and both played out of position. They both seem like decent guys and have got their heads down and worked away regardless.
Blind has not progressed at all since he arrived. No fault of his own due to the squad injury problems ensuring that we have had to utilise his ability and willingness to play in a number of positions. Phil Neville springs to mind.
Rojo has disappointed. Rumours during the Brazil WC that he would join the scousers,….”Fair enough” I thought. No great boon to them and no great loss to us if we don’t get to sign him.
My opinion of LvG is very, very low after a huge surge of optimism when he arrived. Let him see out his contract and move on after 3 years of mediocrity dressed up as “philosophy”.
Having said that, wouldn’t Giggs benefit from working under Pep during one of his 3 year wonder stints, starting next season?
Plato – MUFC
More on Monk
Thanks to Adrian (Coventry City fan) for this morning’s mail in which I think he hit the nail on the head. I appreciate we all have an opinion on everything in football, but Swansea aren’t like a Man United or Liverpool in that plenty of non-supporters watch a lot of their football and have more evidence to make a judgement on. I would think that most fans of other PL teams would only see us when we play their team or watching match highlights on TV. So Man United fans would probably think we’re crazy to get rid of Monk given we’ve beaten them 3 times in a row, while Leicester fans would completely understand the decision after watching our last game. It’s extremely rare that our fans seem to form a consensus opinion on anything, but I don’t think I’ve yet seen one Swans fan disagree with the decision.
I’m in complete agreement with Minty, LFC that sacking Monk to appoint Poyet would be a terrible thing. Thankfully I don’t think it will happen. I think Poyet was genuinely in the running when we appointed Brendan and so the media/bookies always make the lazy link. I completely agree that PL clubs make mystifyingly stupid decisions at times and Swansea City certainly aren’t exempt from this, despite the widespread praise our club has received in recent years. One thing we can’t be accused of though is prioritising top flight experience when hiring a manager, just look at our recent history in this regard.
I have no inside knowledge of who’ll be the next manager, although I have a hunch Huw Jenkins would love to have Brendan back. He’ll be looking for something more glamorous than us though. I think it will be another young ambitious and inexperienced type like Bergkamp or similar. We have in the past been linked to Marcelo Bielsa who left Marseille at the start of the season and I’d love it to be him. Would probably end in tears, but at least it would be entertaining.
Neil, SCFC (was strangely thrilled to find the literary Ed Quoththeraven and I are on the same page)
Really Cheeky Punt
Seeing that Degsy has the Midas touch in reverse and everything he touches turns to wood, I decided to take his predictions and do the opposite and see if I can do better.
Norwich City v Everton – Deulofeu to be absolutely pants probably substituted as well
BP (Pleaseee, pleaseee, pleaseee… Degsy, predict that Liverpool will not win the league this year) LFC Joburg, South Africa
Stick or twist
When it comes to the resting of key players Arsene Wenger increasingly resembles a man playing pontoon who’s got to 19 and Twists instead of Sticking.
He bust with Sanchez and it looks inevtiable that he will Twist again with Ozil.
The last on Paul McGrath (we mean it. Stop now.)
One bonus of growing up in Ireland is that you, basically, had free choice of what English team you would like to support. You were not bound by geographical obligation to support your local English Football League team becausw, well, there aren’t any, so, if your six to ten year old self can expand his/her imagination beyond supporting Manchester United or Liverpool or just following who your Dad or older brother supports, the possibilities are endless. Kind of…
For instance, I played under 12’s with a Sheffield Wednesday supporter who started following them when he was younger because he was a massive Simpsons fan and Chris Bart-Williams played for them. I knew another kid who started supporting Q.P.R. because they were called The Hoops and although slightly tenuous to say the least, was enough of a link to his beloved Celtic (also The Hoops, of course) to commit to a lifetime of supporting one of the most dysfunctional clubs in English Football. There was my best mate was a Blackburn Rovers supporter, the odd Everton fan, Nottingham Forest, Spurs, Leeds United and so on. All outnumbered about 45 to 1 by Liverpool and United fans, but they were out there. Never knew of any Chelsea or Man City fans, mind. Strange, eh…
There was something kinda cool about supporting someone other than the main too. Different kits to the Liverpool United kids, different chats and generally, I’d say and different perspective on watching football and football in general. It was a bit like, in modern terms, watching Bundesliga highlights on your phone while your two mates in the living room with you watch Match of The Day. It was a bit more your own thing and bit more fun.
For me, my non-Liverpool United team was a tidy but not too showy outfit from Birmingham called Aston Villa. I loved their slightly different to everyone else (except West Ham and Burnley) kit, I liked the name, I liked the players at the time, Tony Daley, Dalian Atkinson, Shaun Teale, Kevin (same name as me!) Richardson. I was under no illusions that they were a major force but was aware that they had won the European Cup the year before I was born and they always had a few Irish players like Townsend, Staunton and Houghton too. So, all in all, a good choice of team to support, I thought. As well as a six year or seven year old could think about these things…
My biggest and mainest and biggestest reason to support Aston Villa, however, was a player and man who has gotten a few mentions here over the course of this week, Paul McGrath. he was my hero. I absolutely idolised him. My favourite Irish player, my favourite player full stop. I know a lot has been written and said about his addictions and personal problems, including by the man himself, and I read the book and my heart broke for the fella, it really did, but I will always remember Paul McGrath the footballer who made me want to do pretty much nothing else but kick a ball about, rain, hail or shine. Mostly rain…
Being an Aston Villa supporter isn’t the easiest thing to do at times but if nothing else, no matter how much worse things are going to get this season or next, I’ll always support them and it will always be my own little homage to the greatest player to ever pull on an Irish jersey.
Kevin Walsh, Luimneach.