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An early weekend preview
Obviously, the lunchtime game is where we’re all looking. There’s not really been a dull match between teams at the top of the table this season, with even Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea creating an intriguing plot and surprising performance. Both managers are missing a player or players that hugely benefit their style of play in these games.
Pogba, Fellaini and Carrick (while I know Carrick may not be first name on the team sheet missing midfielders will hurt Jose’s tactics) mean it will be harder for Jose to choke the game and slow Liverpool down to walking pace, though the loss of Mane will be felt as sharply. Mane is in my opinion definitely Liverpool’s best player, and has the Arjen Robben ability of letting the defender know he is going to check in onto his favoured foot to shoot but also leaving them unable to do anything about it, see the goal against Arsenal.
At the moment Liverpool’s midfield is capable of slowing itself down, so making the most of any room the front 3 get in the game will be huge to the outcome. Salah will score a lot of goals this season but he’s going to miss so many chances as his composure needs a lot of work; this seems like a game where he may not get enough chances to put one away when it matters.
Obviously, there is some unrest amongst Liverpool fans, and I think I’ve seen Klopp trying to G them up this season but a stubborn Mourinho team can easily frustrate the crowd as quickly as the players and if Liverpool struggle to create then I can see the crowd getting annoyed and J Hendo trying to win the game himself as an example (see S Gerrard after the Ba slip). As the old cliché goes, it’s going to be so important who scores first.
With City playing Stoke at home, Chelsea at Palace and Spurs playing Bournemouth it looks like Arsenal have the hardest job. Watford are almost the anti-fairy tale, going about their business in a way the rest of the Premier League like to say is the wrong way, but getting results. It’s a similar strategy to Chelsea, on a lower level, whereby everyone shouts for the longevity of managers and that there should be more loyalty in football, but chopping and changing is working so why stop?
I think we’ll see a real test of Arsenal this weekend, and maybe it will help show what team Arsenal actually are, the one who played against Stoke or the one who played against Chelsea. As Paul Merson said, Watford even found a way to “dig in” against West Brom, so the attractive football is married to a bit of attitude; will Arsenal show us they are the same?
While Liverpool United maybe the most ‘important’ game of the weekend (obviously subjective though), I think the game to watch will be Brighton Everton. Neither team is shy about conceding so this could have a decent scoreline. Comparing the form of these teams Brighton’s early season start has been impressive and a record of DWLWL in their last 5 games is decent form for a promoted team.
Everton’s form looks like a small Welsh village at the moment reading LLLWL, this is a big game for Koeman and while Anfield may get restless if the game goes against Pool, the away supporters at the Amex may just turn on Ronnie if another L is added to the list.
DBM (Berahino to score a hatrick this weekend to prove football is impossible to predict) MCFC
A lovely story about moving to England for Arsenal
Earlier this year I left Australia (after 13yrs, 18yrs in Sri Lanka before that) to move to England.
Believe it or not a large factor in that move was to come and spend some time supporting Arsenal at the frontlines. I even tried (and failed) to find a suitable flat near Emirates. After attending a few games towards the end of last season, I was fortunately offered the option of taking up a friend’s Season Ticket for the new season, which I gratefully accepted (he was sitting out a year as part of a #WengerOut protest).
Yes it was v.expensive, yes I could barely afford it but for me this is an absolute dream come true. WengerIn/Out, Sanchez/Ozil drama etc etc it doesn’t really matter. I have been a fan from afar for decades and finally I am able to experience it up close and personal each week.
Football ‘tourists’ and ‘plastic’ fans from across the world get a lot of stick however given the chance many would love to be in my shoes supporting the club they undoubtedly love. I am one of the lucky few that get to do this for at least 1 year, for some it may only be 1 game, and most may never ever get the chance at all.
We all know sport has the ability to bring people together like nothing else. Sri Lanka winning the Cricket World Cup ’96 during a time of civil war did wonders for the country. And for many in Asia, Middle East, Africa it’s a bond formed with adopted clubs in the Premier League/La Liga/SerieA that bring them the joy, friendships & competition that enriches their lives.
The fear that the community aspect of modern football clubs is ending is valid, for people that grew up in Europe across the last 30-50 years yes things have drastically changed. However the core passion/pash’un felt by the supporters, be it sitting in the Emirates, Highbury before, or gathered around a T.V across the world is the same. Believe me.
We are just a couple of decades behind when it comes to growing up with the club, and associating ‘our’ clubs to our life experiences. With football on the T.V and Internet (and everywhere else) new fans from across the world will be exposed to football and develop a bond for a club at an earlier stage.
In 20 years the majority of the fan base overseas would have grown up with their club alongside the local fans. The match day experiences may differ but the love is the same.
Hatim A (Sri Lanka, Australia, England, Arsenal)
Roy Keane is great, but also…
I seldom agree with what Roy Keane says but I gotta say I’ve always enjoyed his quotes. I don’t think he’s ever said something which I wouldn’t enjoy. He has this amazing way of expressing himself which makes it enjoyable even if I don’t agree with it.
That being said I do believe he’s a bitter, insecure sociopath. And I can honestly say that I love him. We need characters like him in football.
Also this video.
Vish, AFC, Melbourne
Sticking up for Keano
Let me start by first admitting that Roy Keane is and always will be my favourite ever footballer. That choice was never going to go any other way as an Irish Manchester United fan, whose first ever football game was Ireland 1 Holland 0 in the old Lansdowne road aged 10. Keane was indisputably the best player on the pitch that day, and his early crunching tackle on Overmars is still remembered as an huga statement of intent on a great day for Irish football.
Now that I’m done being nostalgic, I feel that I need to write in to defend my hero. In the last week, Daniel Storey bracketed him as part of the “man up culture that exists in men’s football” in relation to his chess comment after being asked about Kevin Doyle’s retirement. Then Steven Chicken references Gabriel Heinze’s story of being knocked out by Keane, also citing that he “never really understood the cult of Roy Keane.” Finally, in another news piece today, you simply state that he is an “angry man.”
In Daniel’s piece, as brilliant and important as it was, he’s taken Keane’s quotes out of context. Overall, he wished Kevin Doyle well and stated that more recent evidence was definitely needed in relation to football. In my view, the “chess” comment referred to footballers knowing that there are multiple injury risks involved in playing elite sport, and that players development and success will be impacted if they become preoccupied with these risks.
In Steven’s article, he correctly alludes to Keane knocking Heinze out as totally inappropriate, and there’s no defending that. However, I will add that Heinze said he didn’t remember and simply replied “Yes, yes.” when asked if he was knocked out, and I’ve yet to see the story corroborated by anyone else.
That’s not to say it didn’t happen, as Keane had previous form for this when he had a fight with Schmeichel and once ended up arrested after winning the league in 1999. As for the “angry man” reference, I assume this is simply tongue in cheek to provoke a response from the likes of myself, which is fair enough. I do find the thought of an angry Keane screaming at his kids about their homework “being sloppy” and “not putting the effort in” rather funny though, as if he’s just angry all the time.
Personally, I think these three examples highlight the general perception of Keane; infinitely quotable, always striving for perfection and sometimes negatively or jokingly misunderstood as broody or a loner because if his incredibly high standards. Also, particularly as a player, he was undoubtedly liable to aggressively boil over and lash out at others out of frustration, often with himself.
As someone who has idolised him, I know this and reiterate that it is inexcusable, but would point out that it also shows that he is, like everyone else, flawed and human. Fans loved this because he truly cared and was seriously affected by failure. The media love nothing more than a flawed hero, and I notice you regularly have news pieces quoting him when he’s on ITV.
Overall, I would just ask that this brilliant website try not to slip into a mainstream media narrative when writing not just about Keane, but any football person. I find that when you dig a little deeper they are often much more nuanced and layered than a few anecdotes and soundbites will ever project.
The Ox should have just chosen Chelsea
I agree with the excellent observations on Ox and his stalling career. I would like to add that he brought this misery on himself and it was a big mistake to have selected Liverpool over Chelsea.
At Chelsea he would have challenged Victor Moses from day one, and got lot more chances to play. He has started only a handful games as midfielder, so why on earth he thought Conte or even Kloop will put him in midfield than on the wings I don’t know.
At least Conte was honest about his vision for Ox. It just seems like a missed opportunity for Chelsea as well as Ox. I think he would have done really well at right wing in Chelsea.
Another mediocre Premier League XI
Inspired by Gautham’s entry this morning, I have attempted my own Mediocre XI – an All Time Premier League Mediocre XI
Not bad players – many of them have honours listed on their Wikipedia pages, and all have multiple top flight appearances under their belt. Nor are they great players, though. They “do a job”, they are “reliable”, “hard working”, they “put in a shift” and many other back-handed ways of saying that they’re not likely to be first on the team sheet.
GK: Shay Given – Sat on the bench as Blackburn won the league, did his best behind some awful Newcastle defences, left Man City just before they hit the big time, joined Villa just as they started their decline, finished solidly in mid-table with Stoke (he may be there still).
RB: Tony Hibbert – Occupied a shirt at Everton for nigh on two decades in much the same way dust occupies the top of a wardrobe.
CB. Richard Dunne – A colossus of mediocrity. Want the ball headed out from an in-swinging corner? BOOM! Want a clearance to Row Z under pressure? *BANG!* Want to mark that run of the guy travelling faster than jogging pace? *tumbleweed*
CB. Ryan Shawcross – A fixture of a Stoke City team that have finished between 9th and 14th position across the past nine seasons. They currently sit in 13th place.
LB. Paul Konchesky – Who has played – without distinction – for Charlton Athletic, Spurs, West Ham, Fulham and Liverpool.
RM. James Milner – Useful. Like a mug tree. Captain.
CM. Joey Barton – A lynchpin of a mediocre Man City team, a playmaker in a forgettable Newcastle team, a dynamo in an awful QPR team, a leader in a Championship-winning Burnley team, a dick everywhere.
CM. Steed Malbranque – A very personal choice because until recently I had no memory of him remaining in the Premier League for about five years at Spurs and Sunderland after leaving Fulham.
LM. Stewart Downing – A career built on “meh”, he famously peaked with his Invincible Season at Liverpool in 2011/12. Having transferred for £20m to an attack-minded team with Top 4 aspirations, he managed to complete the season (~30 appearances) without a single goal or assist. Take that shirt with pride, Stewie!
CF. Emile Heskey – I like to imagine him in retirement completing everyday tasks about the house in the same style he spent his career; steadying the ladder whilst somebody else cleans the windows, chopping the veg whilst somebody else cooks the meal, holding that ball thing up whilst somebody else fixes the flushing mechanism.
CF. Gabriel Agbonlahor – We need a speedy striker to play off Emile’s shoulder. Gabby is quick and direct and scores goals. Well one. Every fifth game.
Picking all of them in their prime; there is a team for a twelfth place finish and a League Cup quarter final exit.
Paul (strived for, yet never quite reached, mediocrity) Glasgow
Pulisic was brought up through the US ranks
Ermias, another commentator of US Soccer who doesn’t have his facts straight. Pulisic was brought up in the US youth system. He spent a year in England at the age of 7 because his mom won a Fullbright Scholarship. He played with the PA Classics from 2008-2015, one of the best club teams in PA. He then went to Borussia Dortmund. Played in their academy for 6 months then went straight into the first team after their winter break.
The US youth system is catching on. You have a lot of young kids joining European clubs. McKinnie, Weah (George Weah’s son), etc etc. I could name a bunch.
Get your facts straight before you started plodding out false narratives. Lord knows there is a bunch of those going around these days. And F365, try not to publish every bit of garbage that comes out of people’s fingers.
Brian from Wilmington, NC
Degsy’s alternative cousin
As a regular reader of the site, and with particular interest in Degsy’s Cheeky Punt feature, after his 20/1 call doing the business, I decided it was high time I look into the man’s stats. His win rate and his ROI for this season and last.
So after 18 rounds of last season I got bored and the outcome is fairly in-keeping with this season. (Profit based on equal ten pound stake for each bet – I know this is unrealistic – but the only fair test.)
Bets Won 51
Win Rate = 29.82%
ROI = -3.25%
Bets Won 17
Win Rate = 25.37%
ROI = 5.76%
So the most interesting aspect here, is that the win rate for this season is lower, but the return outweighs the investment. This is largely in part due to the 20/1 2-2 draw that Degsy called between West Brom & Watford.
Now, presuming this gets published of course, I will be taking on Degsy – I’ll start the analysis off on a clean slate and the mailbox can decide who they’d rather back. I have my list of bets for each premier league game and I’m presuming there is room for that mail in the mailbox. That is of course down to whether Degsy can handle the competition.
So please welcome me with open arms.
Begsy Dilton. (Started this season with 70 pound in his account, now operating at circa 200)
(MC – We might allow this, but please don’t all send your bets and tips in. In the nicest possible way, we don’t care)
We led the way on paper areoplanes
Is the paper aeroplane at the top of the page part of the new F365 logo now they are as emblematic of football matches as the ball?