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16 Conclusions on hating Mesut Ozil
* If Ozil is on the teamsheet away to a big side, you know what will happen. Our only two decent results in recent years – 2-0 against City and 0-0 v Chelsea coincided when he’s been dropped.
* True, few Arsenal players ever turn up away to the big teams. But the inclusion of Ozil disrupts the team. We can’t play like we did against Chelsea with him in the team.
* This Arsenal era is symbolised by Ozil. I’ll call it the Goldilocks years. Everything must be just right for this team to play. He is the personification of it. This team is built for Ozil. Tim Stillman put this argument perfectly on Arseblog, better than I ever could. Rumour has it we failed to sign Cesc back (for all his faults, far more a game changer than Ozil) due to the German. Yet he still flatters to deceive.
* The main reason he is in the team is for his final ball. Yesterday, he wasted at least three decent positions on the edge of the area. Every other time was a sideways pass.
* His petulant kick before the final whistle, to display his pashun because he was missing for the preceding 88 minutes.
* His one game in 15, after which everyone talks about how he is a Rolls Royce player in a functional team. If every team were as bad as Everton, he’d be player of the year.
* The snobbery surrounding him – if you don’t “get” Ozil, you’re a Neanderthal. In that six-month period after we beat United 3-0 in 2015/16, he was world class and rightly up for player of the season. Then, even us stupid football fans saw what he could do. Personally, I prefer the visible Ozil to the subtle Ozil.
* The flirting with United. Never that much smoke without some fire.
* The stories in the media about his annoyance at being played on the left. He should need to earn his right to choose his position. (He actually doesn’t have to earn it under Wenger – see above – but that’s a whole other story).
* His social media presence #neinmesutnein
* His defenders saying how we have wasted his talents due to his being surrounded by dross. Coquelin looked a cracking player next to Cazorla. Any decent player looks good with top class players round them (ahem, Eric Dier). Proper world class, £300k+ demanding players should be able to lift their team, not the other way round.
* Those chance creation stats. The wonderful Amy Lawrence posted these the other day. He’s created the same as KdeB this year (pre-Sunday) apparently. It’s funny – having seen every Arsenal game, I can think of one good chance his useless teammates failed to convert that would have meant something- Iwobi v Watford. This was overshadowed by a far more heinous miss a minute later. By, er, Arsenal’s number 11.
* The fact he gets more defence from Arsenal fans than a homegrown youngster like Iwobi. No-one says “surround Iwobi with world-class players like Silva and de Bruyne rather than Ozil and see the real Iwobi”.
* His finishing. I’d say both our wing-backs are better finishers than him, our third main attacker.
* His running stats being improved by that annoying 50% jog he does all game.
* Those ridiculous highlights in his hair.
Jaimie (I could’ve done 16 more) Kaffash, AFC, north London
Fixing Arsenal’s attack
In the manner of all things quintessentially British, I’m going to focus on minutiae to ignore the cavernous structural issues off-pitch at Arsenal.
In that vein, I’ve solved our attacking conundrum given the Alexis/Ozil era is over. Alexis can be replaced by Fekir – build, style and as of this year…output. Plus he’s mates with Lacazette so that’s good.
Ozil is more Lemary, so given that we ballsed that up in the summer, we’ll probably sign him for three times the price.
I don’t want to hear any of your negativity about why promising youngsters would want to come to a basketcase club, or how we don’t have anyone who can negotiate transfers or hoe we’d only ruin them anyway. I’m currently in my happy place for 30 mins – let me enjoy it.
This afternoon, I will fix defence and midfield. Tomorrow, I’ll work on GK once I stop weeping about Szcz. Watch this space.
Lots of love
Rich (Like the band playing on the deck of the Titanic), London, AFC
What the hell is going on at Man United?
What is Mkhitaryan’s problem? I understand Pogba isn’t there to give him the ball in good positions and that he struggles when he’s low on confidence, but neither of those things add up to how badly he’s been playing. Jose could quite literally have put a Sunday league player in his shirt yesterday and the performance would have been indistinguishable.
What type of striker is Lukaku? Before he signed, I got the impression (without really seeing him play) that he was a Drogba type player – fast and powerful. But he hasn’t got the ball control (or seemingly the strength). So is he a bigger version of Michael Owen? Quick and lethal? No, he’s not. I’m really questioning whether he’s a Champions League quality player (never mind a £75m player). Andy Cole may be a good analogy? Quick, profligate but always in the right position to nick a goal? Nope. He’s too static to not get marked out of the game for that comparison. Bad buy or just poor form?
On Pogba. I cannot think of a team whose deficiencies were masked so well by one player as Man Utd are under Pogba. I forgive him his dabs, official emoji and his stupid haircuts, he really is world class.
Rashford has been blowing cold and warm. He’s rarely been red recently. I’m a big fan, but he really needs to kick on. This is probably a temporary blip, but why are so many players having dips in form at the same time?
Smalling and Jones. Consistently useless and consistently inconsistent. Neither merit a place at United. I’m hoping Rojo comes back flying from his injury because Bailly needs a partner who knows how to defend.
Young and Valencia. I can’t believe that it’s 2017 and they’re still at Old Trafford, never mind being the two best outfield players.
Matt (please blame the length of this email on the number of underperforming players at Utd)
…Can a professional analyst please tell us what the heck Man U’s gameplan is this year? If it’s counterattack where are the pacy outlets, the baiting of teams, the obvious loaded switches etc? If it’s playing for set-pieces then where is the direct play and placement of bodies around the box to compete and win free kicks and corners. There is no short passing game exploiting 3rd man runs, no striker link up play – generally they are a nothing team. They scored against Spurs from a nothing long punt and a defensive error and then a scuffed finish.
Man United have an average attack
After Man United’s good start to the season, there was talk of this finally being the year they win the title after Ferguson’s departure. I however had my doubts due to a number of reasons but the most glaring being Man Utd’s poor attack.
This becomes clear when you compare their attack to that of the other top 5 sides. All these sides play with three up front.
On the left wing, the top five sides have Sane, Mane, Alli, Hazard and Sanchez. All these five players are heads and shoulders above Rashford/Martial.
On the opposite flank, the story is the same. Salah, *Sterling*, Ozil, Eriksen and Willian/ Pedro have all shown their class in the Premier League. The same cannot be said of Mkhi.
In the centre forward position, I am not Lukaku’s biggest fan due to the many noticeable flaws in his game (poor first touch, poor hold up
play,etc) but won’t be too hard on him as he showed he belonged last season among the very best strikers in the league that he is one of the best strikers in the league.
Other than Lukaku, who let us not forget has had fair criticism cast on him about his play, the rest of Man U’s attack is average at best.
Man U never stood a chance of winning this league due to the fact that two-thirds of their attack cannot get into the squad of any of their other top six rivals.
Livero, Kisumu, Kenya
Morata the difference
Completely agree with the consensus that Chelsea dominated midfield, but Morata’s influence in this was the difference, we you play the ball to your striker and he can hold it and either bring others into play or draw a foul, you can play on the front foot. United’s midfield never got on the front foot as neither Lukaku or Rashford were capable of holding the ball. Am I the only one who doesn’t quite see it with Rashford (yet!) he is still very much moments and usually against poor sides. I don’t think his touch, awareness close dribbling control or body position are anywhere near where they need to be compared to his contemporaries (Jesus, Mbappe, even Martial). Lukaku is getting a lot of heat at the moment but for me the whole United ‘attack’ doesn’t do enough for the rest of the team if they are not in counter attack situations.
Calm down, Man United are a work in progress
As a United fan, I fully expected us to come unstuck at Chelsea yesterday, so why is everyone so surprised/upset about it? I and several other United fans posted in after our brilliant start to the season to say we hadn’t yet been tested and don’t be surprised when we lost against other big sides. We’re a work in progress and anyone who can’t see that, despite the large outlay, is mad or delusional. Look at the squad Jose inherited, Blind (average), Borthwick-Jackson (young), Carrick (good but aging), Darmian (average), De Gea (world class), Fellaini (average), Fosu-Mensah (young), Herrera (good), Januzaj (average at best), Johnstone (young), Jones (average), Keane (young), Lingard (average), Love (young), Martial (very good), Mata (good), McNair (young), Memphis (average at best), Pereira (young), Poole (young), Powell (average), Rashford (very good), Riley (young), Romero (good), Rojo (good), Rooney (aging), Schneiderlin (average), Schweinsteiger (aging), Shaw (good), Smalling (average), Valencia (good but aging), Varela (young), Weir (young), Wilson (young), Young (good). Also factor in the awful, confusing management of Moyes and Van Gaal and it’s not exactly a recipe for success.
You can argue that he hasn’t developed the likes of Shaw, Lingard etc and has spent a significant sum on Lindelof, Bailly, Pogba, Lukaku, Ibrahimovic, Matic and Mkhitaryan but Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is still a significant portion of the old squad at the club, mainly, in my opinion, because you can’t change the entire first team in a season and a half and expect any cohesion, just ask Everton. I am expecting outlay on a left and right back, an attacking midfielder (or sort out Mkhitaryan if that’s possible) and a right winger at least before United have a squad that can compete. I expect Carrick, Darmian, Lingard, Valencia, Shaw and possibly Jones to leave, depending on what shape Rojo and Ibrahimovic come back in, over the next year or so. Until then, League Cup, FA Cup and knock out rounds of the Champions League will be about it. I’m fine with that, Jose has had two seasons, won two trophies and has overtaken Liverpool, potentially Chelsea (over a season, not a single match), Arsenal and maybe Spurs if we can get back on form. Engage with reality United fans, Mourinho is doing just fine.
Paul, Man Utd
Tempering Man City excitement
Can I just point out it’s still just November and City have won literally nothing so far? They *are* playing wonderful football and it *is* hard to see anyone catching them.
But Pep is not reinventing football. They aren’t guaranteed to waltz to anything and in no way, shape or form are they definitively playing the greatest football this country has ever seen. And while I’m not saying this website is claiming that, God knows plenty are.
Liverpool in the 80s. United in the 90s. Arsenal’s Invincibles. Serial winners. Bloody good football teams too as it happens!
So let’s gush over City when they’ve actually won the sodding title shall we?
We need to talk about Tony
I was a West Brom fan at Huddersfield on Saturday, and I have a feeling that Tony Pulis has crossed the point of no return with our fans now.
But first things first – Huddersfield was great. From the warm friendly receptions at pubs and excitement tempered by humbleness in their fans, they are a club that deserve to be enjoying the results that they are at the moment (your away toilets need some improvement though, an outdoor shed doesn’t scream Premier League). They played better football, stuck manfully to their task, and with 10 men certainly deserved the 3 points they earned on a chilly evening.
There’s a saying that I’ve been hearing around football far too much lately…when the fun stops…stop! Well the fun has been over for a long while amongst Albion fans and yet the eye-bleeding tactics continue. I could bore most of the mailbox with intricate details of West Brom’s team set up problems but it boils down to the following: Best players to provide width benched, three holding midfielders, and isolated forwards, nobody daring to venture beyond the ball. The really frustrating thing is all the fans can see that the quality is there but it is just not being utilised properly. Like buying a Bose CD player and then expecting it to be good at making toast, or like getting Jamie Oliver over to make Sunday dinner and then instructing him to make you a sh*t sandwich, which you force 24,000 other people to eat with you. We all know away support is usually the most loyal, and I’ve seen reports written that there were a few voices complaining about the performance on Saturday. There wasn’t, there was an enormous chorus of frustrated Baggies telling Tony Pulis that his football is indeed a Jamie Oliver sandwich and that he should consider alternative employment.
Now this was all in the emotion of the game, in which I have to say the players themselves were supported, the manager berated, and the opposition applauded off the pitch by our fans. However in the bar at half time, and the pubs after the game, the conversations all seemed to be of a similar vein. Should we pull the trigger now and risk confidence sapping thumpings against Chelsea and Tottenham? Can we get anyone better from the managers available? Are we prepared to go down for the promise of better entertainment?
For me one of the more interesting points was that if you took any other club in the league and put them in our position, they’d want to recruit without doubt Tony Pulis and his magic cap, putting West Brom in a catch 22 situation.
I personally think Pulis should stay and be given the chance to fight his way through this, but he has to realise he needs to change his style of play against teams not in the top 6/7. Defending 0-0 and hoping to steal a win against teams around us isn’t working anymore, so it needs to change, but would Tony ever turn his cap backwards? I doubt it, and that will probably lead to his downfall and the clubs continued slide towards trouble.
Whatever happens, I want to feel the excitement again, because lately my team has me feeling numb, and that’s the last feeling football should ever give you.
Rusty (build a bonfire!) Gray, WBA FC
Even Tony’s biggest fan wants him out
I have always been a huge fan of Tony Pulis. I can appreciate and take great delight in ultra-defensive tactics. Despite lengthy spells of poor results at the Hawthorns the overall result of each season he has had has been largely positive and understated over-achievement. Tony has given us some good memories and I feel he still has a lot to offer. He is not blocking progress for younger managers he is a man in a job who up until recently has done relatively well. The honest truth is no one cares about style if your winning. The anti-Pulis narrative on this site conveniently overlooks what he has achieved. That all being said…
As distressed callers to the splendid BBC WM football phone in (90 minutes every night, no adverts and it starts at 5:30, and offers real quality fan debate) Pulis has ‘gorra goo’ (got to go). At the Hawthorns he has cannibalised himself and his stubborn insistence on a wrong combination in midfield and continual perseverance with the coward Rondon (who had cost us two goals this season against Stoke and Southampton with his weak hold-up play) means the ends are no longer justifying the means.
He has dropped the lynch pin that is Claudio Yacob to play ‘the more mobile’ Jake Livermore. What this means is that there is now a huge hole in front of our defence. Neither of the goals against Southampton and Huddersfield would have happened if Yacob had been playing. He would have been stood in front of both scorers and as the song goes “you’ll never get past Claudio”. Instead Livermore of no goals, assists or few tackles was off somewhere else being more mobile.
For many games this season, Tone’s team selection has meant we are playing with nine men when Livermore and Rondon are on the pitch. Just this week he has been touting Livermore as a future captain and when chasing a game against ten men brings on a guy with three goals in the last 11 months. Hugely unfair on the bustling and hard working Robson-Kanu who if he doesn’t score within 60 minutes will be subbed and condemned to the bench again the following week. Gareth Macauley would have been a better option up front than Rondon.
So there you have it. It is team selection why even Tony’s biggest fan thinks he should go. We will not improve until Livermore and Rondon are far away from regular first-team action and these for some reason now appear to be his first names on the team sheet.
The final nail in the coffin….the total disappearance of Oliver Burke. Potentially our most exciting signing of the last decade. It has I think already become apparent that Pulis won’t pick him.
Do the Albion need rid of Pulis? Yes. Can he do so splendid work at clubs such as Swansea, West Ham or even Stoke this season? Yes. He is the man to keep a team in the Premier League but just not this Albion team. A fresh start for both and Pulis’s modest but against the odds achievements with the Albion mean he is well worth another go elsewhere. Just a change of scenery is required.
Ben The Baggie
Yes, THAT David Sullivan
I frequently forget that West Ham’s David Sullivan is the same David Sullivan who appeared on Brass Eye. Chris Morris asked him if he would sentence somebody to the death penalty if they murdered somebody, but didn’t kill them.
And now he runs West Ham.
Allardyce is the right man though
Now, I agree with a lot of Johnny Nic’s column. But… Given their current situations, Everton and even West Ham would be mad not to go for Allardyce in the absence of a top-calibre alternative.
The only real blot on his record is Newcastle, but – as with the Venky’s at Blackburn – dubious ownership led to his exit and both clubs were semi-swiftly relegated. Otherwise, his record is:
Bolton – miracles.
Newcastle – see above
Blackburn – bottom three to mid-table in 18 months, sacked by Dimitar Berbatov
West Ham – Championship to top half in 2 (or 3?) years
Sunderland – not relegated (against all logic)
England – Mr 100% and a pint of wine
Palace – not relegated
Okay, the football might be atrocious, but he guarantees survival and delivers an immediate improvement – something Everton and West Ham need right now; any long-term plans they had have been shattered by woeful transfers (what does an Arnautovic actually do?) and managers who visibly gave up months ago.
To be clear – I’m not signing up to the “he doesn’t know the league Jeff! Olympiakos? Olympiakos?” brigade, it’s just that ‘on paper’ and unlike David Moyes, Allardyce has a record that can’t be overlooked, no matter how smug his f*cking enormous head may be.