Mails: This shows how vital Santi Cazorla is

Date published: Thursday 3rd March 2016 3:06

Keep those sexy mails coming in to


On Blind and United’s defence
There has been a lot said of Daley Blind and how Wednesday was the worst game of his season. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Blind as a CB. He is far too short to win headers consistently in the PL, is too slow and can be beaten for pace by, well anyone it seems, and unless
he does some brilliant reading of the game to make an interception, he can’t do a thing once his opponent already has the ball. He is not strong enough to win it back.

All these deficiencies have always existed in his game right through the season. They have also been masked for the large part by the presence of an in form Smalling. Usually, he is the covering CB, while Smalling is the one to go in and make the tackle, or challenge for a header. He sweeps the second ball, and that’s how that partnership has worked. And it did work.

Without Smalling, there is no one to consistently win headers and prevent the ball from getting to the opposite striker first time. Fosu Mensah was excellent against Watford, but being on a yellow, Blind had to occasionally take the responsibility which he cannot, and that meant Deeney or Ighalo kept getting the ball. This isn’t isolated to yesterday.

You also have to take into account the sheer number of games Blind has played so far. He has been there practically for every one of our games this season. So, maybe it might be time to rest him. A rest could really help him out considering his defending style of reading the play and simply being sharper than his opponent to get to the ball first would require him to be fresh.

The question the becomes who do you play instead, and that is where our problem lies. Long term, a partnership of Smalling and Fosu Mensah is the best option for me, but for now, I would like to see McNair and Fosu Mensah as our two CB’s, untill Smalling is back.

I guess my point is that I don’t think Blind should be playing as a CB anymore to be honest. Maybe as a LB, or even as a CM when our current 2 need a rest.


So United’s senior players were to blame, not Van Gaal?
A thought occurred to me earlier, on an issue relating to the senior players missing in action at United, which I am certain has not appeared on your esteemed website yet. It is regarding the recent relative success of this juvenile Man Utd side. Does this suggest that the bobbins performances from earlier in the season are down to the “senior” first choice players at the club, and not the manager as first thought?

It does seem highly suspicious that Man Utd were by and large shite prior to the rather large injury list, with all the blame being heaped on LVG, yet now the kids are in they/LVG are receiving praise and there has been a definite upswing in the level of their performances?

I haven’t really noticed any major tactical shift from Utd, and LVG doesn’t seem the type to do so, which suggests to me that his senior professionals, all top level internationals, are not really giving their all. The manager can often be blamed, in fact they usually are, but it seems to me like they either aren’t playing for LVG, or they are all so rich and comfortable that they have lost all hunger and can’t be arsed. See Man City too.

At which point does it become the fault of these highly paid professionals, instead of the guy asking them to do what he coaches? I think the way the kids are playing is a very damning indictment on the likes of Rooney, Schweinsteiger et all.
Ian; Oxford Comma student, and generally talentless oik, Stavanger


The importance of Cazorla
If Arsenal’s current lack of form shows anything it is the importance that one player can have on a team functioning. Arsenal’s startling drop of form has coincided with Cazorla’s injury more than anything else. We muddled through until Christmas with poor performances but scrapped a few wins along the way. Since Christmas though our performances have been woeful and the results have matched them as we all know.

The return of a plethora of players from injury hasn’t really solved these issues mainly because the issue that is holding us back is that we don’t have a midfield. The Cazorla and Coquelin axis which Wenger came upon by fluke more than anything else worked because Coquelin did the heavy lifting and Santi dictated our play. Coquelin is a fine passer but does not have the ability of Cazorla to keep us ticking over. Ramsey is a completely different player to Cazorla and similarly is unable to dictate play.

I find Ramsey an infuriating player as he does not seem to have an understanding of a central midfielder. He goes in search of goals and assists to the detriment of all his other duties. The amount of times either of our centre backs look for a midfield option and there is no one to find is startling. Coquelin is usually being blocked off and Ramsey is standing where a No. 10 would be. At other points he’s making runs beyond the striker leaving Coquelin so exposed that I weep. His faults are indulged by Wenger’s laissez-faire approach to tactical management and the whole balance of the team is thrown off.

To a certain extent I actually think that if Wilshere was fit (if my Aunt had balls etc etc) he could fulfil the Cazorla role with his passing ability and ability to get out of tight situations being similar to the strengths of Cazorla but as we all know, to have faith in his fitness is a foolhardy endeavour. So instead of going out to buy an adequate replacement/backup in January (or the summer for that matter) Wenger went and bought a player who he seems to think is no better than Flamini.

For a manager who prides himself on having technical players at his disposal we were one injury away from the team falling apart. All the talk of team cohesion over player signings pre-season from Wenger only infuriates more day by day as relegation battling teams display greater understanding on how to play than our team. We should be cruising to a title victory this year given the issues that the other big teams have faced but Wenger has presided over one of our most shambolic seasons in recent memory.

Hoping that he gets sacked is pointless though because we all know he is in control of when he leaves and with mutterings of new contracts emerging nothing will change.
Cathal (Anyone in China want to buy Walcott?) Ireland, AFC


I enjoyed the Arsenal only mailbox, in that I knew it was there and ignored it and read the ‘Any Other Business’ mailbox instead, free from the usual caterwauling.

It does, of course, point to the potential for simply shunting the entire screaming mass that is Arsenal fandom into a completely separate entity: Arsenal365.

Regular columns could include:
– Portrait of an (Arsenal) icon – in which Arsenal fans can get misty eyed over the exploits of Ray Parlour and co, back when it was different
– Arsenal people on TV – where the varying levels of success of Thierry, Alan Smith, Sol, etc. can be discussed and the subject assessed for being a PAM
– Losers & Losers – self-explanatory
– Big Weekend (only runs for half a season)
– Stoic Punt – basically a self-insurance service whereby Arsenal fans are encouraged to place large bets on the manifold depressing outcomes that will surely afflict them, thereby earning themselves financial compensation

Just get Stewie in as editor to regulate the site with an appropriate number of #WengerOut pieces, and you’re golden.

Meanwhile, the rest of us can just get back to enjoying Leicester.
James, ReadingFC, Leeds


Mo problems
Is it just me, or is there a strong whiff of Park Chu-Young about Mohamed Elneny?
Carolyn, (almost beyond speech), South London Gooner


It’s a valid point

It’s all relative.
Yuri B


Defending Trippier and Davies
As someone’s who’s every waking thought in recent weeks has been concerned with Spurs, I opened the Midweek Winners and Losers full of apprehension. For the first time in a long time, we’d played poorly, at least for 45 minutes, (against an admittedly strong West Ham side) and looked like the number of games and the new pressure of expectation was finally catching up with us.

However I do take slight umbridge with the criticism of Davies and Trippier, and the idea that they represent the lack of strength in depth in the squad. Yes, if you compare only the stats between Sunday’s game and last night’s game, you’ll come away with the impression that the two of them represent significant downgrades on Rose and Walker. But as someone who has been to pretty much every one of Spurs’ last 15 games, let me reassure you that our best two full-backs were on the pitch last night. There is very little in it, and Rose and Walker are both exceptionally talented, but the recent performance (last night not withstanding) of Trippier and Davies have both been excellent.

A better comparison to the Swansea home game is surely the recent Watford home game, where Trippier scored the only goal of the game and Davies was a constant menace down the left. Whilst Danny Rose’s recent performances have been improved – he was good away to Man City as well as the home game against Swansea – I still find him defensively suspect compared to Davies. He jumps in and concedes needless fouls, his judgement about when to go forward and when to sit is often poor, and I always want my full backs to tear back down the pitch when they are out of shape – something Rose definitely doesn’t do. And I’ve long been a fan of Walker.

But the recent game time of Trippier has exposed his limitations. Trippier’s delivery is so so much better, and this is crucial in a team where the full backs provide such an outlet. And the man still has a tendency for a brain fade in key moments. Against Palace at home I thought he was genuinely terrible.

I don’t question the idea that both had poor games yesterday. But I think following Rose winning the penalty against City and scoring on Sunday, its slightly easy to get caught up in the narrative that Trippier and Davies are unsuitable back-ups. In my humble view, Trippier in particular is very unlucky not to be starting pretty much every game. Only last week, at home to Fiorentina for example, both were excellent.

Sorry, I know it’s a slightly long mail on a relatively unglamorous topic. But I wanted to make the point that if anything, the availability of 4 genuinely good full-backs is one of the arguments in favour of why Spurs are having a good year.
Mark, Watford


Manchester City and BT
BT seem to have some hoodoo over City in the league this season

12:45 pm V Spurs Live on BT Sport – lose 4-1
12:45 pm V Stoke Live on BT Sport – lose 2-0
12:45 pm V Leicester Live on BT Sport – lose 3-1
8pm V Liverpool Live on BT Sport – lose 3-0

Not only lost each of these games, but been abject in every one

Coincidence? No Premier League games Live on BT Sport for us now until May (as far as BT tell me anyway) so maybe…
JR (city)


Newcastle have no fight
James, NUFC from this morning’s mailbox, I like your optimism buddy. I’ll be there on Saturday shouting like a dooley and willing the mighty Toon on to victory. However, I fear our goose is cooked. We have 11 games left to get 16 points (which will get us to the ever so magical 40!) 5 of which are away from home, so no points there. That 6 games to get 16 points or 5 wins and draw.

There is too little fight in the team and they are certainly not playing for the manager or the fans or even each other. I wish Janmat had shown as much spirit on the pitch as he did having ago at the away fans, who have witnessed 10 defeats out of 13 games and been rewarded with 7 goals for their loyalty.

Can they do it on a cold, wet night in Stoke? Can they sh*te.
Paul (buying mercenaries since 2007), Newcastle


Referees: Always biased against your team
I have to say, I wasn’t expecting so many mails from Man Utd fans in this morning’s mailbox. I guess I underestimated their propensity to jump to conclusions following a scrappy (read: lucky) 1-0 win over a mid-table, newly-promoted team.

Some of the mails were realistic, admitting that it wasn’t a good performance and that they had De Gea to thank for keeping them in the game (as well as Ighalo’s profligacy), while others seemed to imply that this was a vintage performance where they thoroughly deserved the win.

None of them, however, made reference to the actual difference between the two teams – refereeing decisions. Watford were denied a clear penalty when Blind brought down Capoue, before Martial dived to win the free-kick from which Mata scored the only goal. I’ll admit that it was risky for Britos to slide in on Martial. He was never likely to win the ball, given how much slower he is than Martial, but you still need to actually make contact with the player for that to be a foul.

It’s been a while since anyone has said, “That’s just the way it goes at Old Trafford”, but it did feel like the referee was influenced by it being a Man Utd home game. It was almost like Fergie was back.
Jimbles, Watford FC


Sterling reflects City as a whole
I’m a City fan and I’d just like to address Danny B’s point about Sterling. I think it’s a little harsh to call him rubbish, he’s clearly not, but his performances this season do seem to have mirrored City’s as a whole.

That is to say against those teams outside the top 6 or so he’s played fairly well, sometimes very well, and I do like the fact he gives those teams someone else to worry about other than Silva and Aguero. However against the top 6 he’s not done so well, and neither have the team as a whole. In fact we’ve been pretty appalling.

Some of it I think is definitely down to Pellegrini’s tactics, he’s got it consistently wrong, and some if it is down to the players attitude. Far too often this season we’ve just not looked bothered and against Liverpool that was obvious. I wonder if we’d have been more energised if they’d beaten us in the League Cup and not the other way round?

It seems clear to me that Manuel’s priories were the League Cup and now the Champions League. The danger now is that we may miss out on Champions League football next season. As someone mentioned to me the other day we now have an slowly aging team and phase one of the City ‘project’ is complete. We’ve won more trophies in the last few years than I ever expected in to see in my lifetime. The challenge now is to continue to build on that, find a new spine to the team and bring it through. Fingers crossed for Pep.
Mark, Brighton


Icon love
Bit late with this, but congratulations on another tremendous icons piece; favourites so far have been Baggio, McGrath and Cruyff but they’ve all been unerringly well written and many are genuinely affecting in terms of both nostalgia and the very human stories behind these legends.

I had a thought – when the series finally concludes (and I hope it runs for a long time but stops before people start to moan about who is/isn’t considered an icon), it would be fantastic if all the pieces could be compiled into a volume, or maybe an ebook (to include clips?). It might be a logistical headache, especially re. copyright issues, but it would make a great book I reckon. I’d buy that for (more than) a dollar…

Anyway, keep up the great work.
Rich, “the Eire”
(MC – My idea is to put them all into a book which could be sold for charity, probably Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Doesn’t seem right to get paid for writing them and then make money selling them).


You’re not getting us with that one again
Sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m in a terrible situation. I came down here to Manila Philippines for a program, last night on my way back to my hotel room I was robbed at gunpoint, my wallet and other valuables were stolen off me, leaving my passport and life safe. My luggage is still in custody of the hotel management pending when I make payment on outstanding bills I owe. I called my bank for a wire transfer but it has proven almost Impossible to operate my account from here as they made me understand international transactions take seven working days to be effective which i can’t wait.

I need you to help me with a loan to pay my hotel bills and get myself home. I will reimburse you soon as I get back Home. I will appreciate whatever you can assist me with. Let me know if you can be of help.

All hopes on you.

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