Mails: The decisive moment in your season?

Date published: Monday 16th May 2016 2:14

Keep them coming to


‘The icing on a cake made of sh*t’
Well that was a predictable morning mailbox.

Us Arsenal fans have been pretty miserable for the past few months. In typical fashion we absolutely bottled it as soon as the pressure was slightly on, and the post mortem of our season has been conducted at length since then.

We know it was our best chance to win the league in years, and probably our best chance for years to come. That frankly depresses us all.

To compound matters, Spurs have looked terrific for most of the season and have a tactically aware manager who can make his side greater than the sum of their parts. I still feel that Spurs were the better side this season on account of maintaining a title challenge until the last few matches, something we embarrassingly haven’t been able to do for over ten years.

Most gooners had accepted that we would be finishing below Spurs. We’ve had a couple of months of having to quietly accept all the jokes and digs Spurs fans saw fit to throw at us, along with fans from other teams getting in on the act.

So is it really so awful for us to enjoy finishing above our greatest rivals on the final day of the season in such an improbably fashion?! All Tottenham had to do was get a point, instead they ship five goals to a relegated side with ten men. That’s fucking hilarious in my opinion. My best mates are unfortunately all Chelsea fans and they thought it was very funny too.

We know it’s been a bad season for us, we’re just taking our enjoyment where we can. Why do people assume that this equates to all Arsenal fans having no ambition and being happy with just finishing above Spurs? Having a laugh and some fun yesterday does not equate to Arsenal fans being entirely satisfied with how our season has gone. I’m frankly amazed that this needs pointing out. I’m sure you all must have read countless missives from Arsenal fans whinging about our season in the past couple of months, but it suits better to forget all that and paint Arsenal fans as only caring about finishing above Spurs and nothing else. It’s just patently untrue.

Finishing above Spurs is the icing on a cake made out of shit. We know it’s been a really bad season, we don’t need reminding. Let us enjoy the moment, we’ve had precious little else to make us smile this season.
Jakey, South East London


Celebration police
To Eddie Q. Raven and the rest of the anti-celebration saltpeters: Stop. Just stop.

At the top, top level we have the STRIP celebration. You head off to Vegas for a long weekend of drinking, gambling, drinking and whatever other hedonism your budget allows. And drinking. It’s name derives from the fact that there may have been public nudity performed either by paid professionals or exuberant amateurs.

The STRIP celebration has its budget varieties available in most towns with party after party followed by bar after bar followed by shot after shot. Then there’s hair of the dog Monday when you call in sick, and a miserable Tuesday and Wednesday when you go in actually sick.

These STRIP celebrations are reserved for truly memorable life events, like your favorite footie winning the league or, even better, the Champions League.

On the other end of the spectrum lies the CHEERS MATE celebration. This is when you’re already out with friends and something of minor note happens. You turn to your friends and, with a drink already purchased, raise a glass and say, “Cheers, Mate.”

So some Gunners had a CHEERS MATE moment after St. Totteringhams Day. Get. Over. It. And if some of us went a bit more boisterously up the celebration scale, so what? Nobody went STRIP-ville. If Sp*rs had won, our lovely neighbors up the road would have had some un-STRIP celebrations of their own, and good for them.

All of us (should) celebrate the large and small events each season with well-calibrated levels of celebration, always on the lookout for and praying for a STRIP celebration opportunity. And we should always overindulge in celebrations, not under. Or we’re stupid.
Robb, AFC (Down with the Celebration Temperance Union and their god-awful Prohibition!!)


I just wanted to say thank you to the fun police for telling me that, as an Arsenal fan, I should carry on being miserable.

There was me, embarrassing myself just because my local rivals – whose fans I live among, went to school with, work with and have to listen to day in day out – lost 5-1 to a relegated team playing with ten men when they only needed a draw to finish ahead of us.

I feel ashamed to think there was anything enjoyable in the fact that, in our worst season for ages, when we have been mocked on all sides, we still managed to finish on top of Spurs’s greatest team in 50 years for the 21st year running.

Now I realise that this means nothing, and the only enjoyment anyone should get out of football is if their team wins a trophy and/or exceeds expectations. Otherwise, YOU MUST NOT ENJOY FOOTBALL.

But then I thought, even if my team wins a trophy, can I celebrate that? I mean, it’s just 22 men kicking a ball around, none of whom care in the slightest about me. Why are Leicester fans allowed to celebrate winning the league? How does that reflect on you personally?

In conclusion, we all work and then we die. Thank you fun police for showing me the way!
Jaimie (not at all still laughing about yesterday, honest guvnor) Kaffash, AFC, Enfield, north London


As predictable as night following day, you can bank on the misery police to let Arsenal fans know what they should and should not be celebrating. Just like it was “how dare you celebrate your first trophy in a decade”, you just knew “how dare you celebrate finishing above Tottenham who have clearly been better than you all season?” was forthcoming. The reaction was so predictable, you saw the headlines as soon as the final whistle went off at St. James Park to put Spurs out of their humiliation.

If you seriously don’t get it, you’re watching the wrong sport. Arsenal fans are not celebrating another year of mediocrity. They are not even celebrating finishing in second place. They are reveling in the fact that despite being told Spurs were so much better than them all season and how Spurs were challenging for the title instead of Arsenal, they STILL conspired to finish below Arsenal. Yet again. In the most hilarious fashion. It takes a special kind of ineptitude to bottle it so bad, you finish third in a two horse race.

While there is no divine right to win the title, Arsenal fans can both be unhappy at how badly the season has progressed AND enjoy Spurs always being Spurs. In fact, this is only more natural as the gooners have faced nothing but criticism for the last 6 months while Spurs have been praised to the high heavens. Football is ultimately escapism from the daily grind and if you can’t find joy where you can, you better be packed in for a bumpy ride as there are a lot more lows than highs.

St. Totteringham day was never more than something you rub in your poor Spurs supporting mate’s face for a couple of days every year. The vitriol spilled out today will honestly only make us gooners enjoy it even more.
– Falooda in NY (guess Villa fans like Andrew have grown used to football being miserable)


Arsenal have done Spurs a favour
My brother is a Spurs fan and sent me all manner of expletive filled messages regarding their non-performance against Newcastle and Ryan Mason, but none of the messages mentioned Arsenal. I imagine I’m not the only person who knows a Spurs fan and had the same experience. It certainly seems that Arsenal fans care a lot more about finishing above Spurs than the other way around… which is an embarrassing display of small club mentality from the larger club.

That’s not what I wrote in to say though, as it’s already been covered in the morning mailbox. There were also plenty of people mentioning that Arsenal’s recent triumph (ha!) will prevent the club from making much needed changes. I think there’s a good chance of that but, conversely, Spurs’ last minute disaster might well have the opposite effect. To clarify, I think that Arsenal have actually done Spurs a favour by finishing above them. If Spurs had finished second, even by stumbling there, they could be more than satisfied with the season and remain content with their lot. Obviously there would be some strengthening to cope with the step up in Europe, but I think they would have kept faith with many of their squad players and just added one or two around them. Their horrendous collapse since the Chelsea debacle should leave no doubt in the minds of Poch and Levy that their squad is nowhere near good enough for their ambitions. The first 11 is fantastic and only going to get better, but the rest are clearly not fit for purpose.

Arsenal’s victory could actually be Spurs’ victory if it leads them towards clearing house of all the player who will never be good enough… at least that’s what I told my brother to cheer him up. The other thing that cheers him up is the fact that I’m a Utd fan, so he’s going to be able to lord it up over me for the forseeable future.
Kirk, MUFC.


As a Spurs sympathiser, I couldn’t be happier with the end of the season. Yes, having Arsenal end second is as nice as a swift kick to the nether regions, but it’s the momentum this carries that is making me smile wide.

Arsenal had, by all accounts, and awful end to the season. As the Winners and Losers points out, the had a 14 point swing in the league to Leicester, had 7 teams end in better form than them, and got thrashed in the cup competition that most matters. However, then end in joyful celebration of finishing above spurs. Could this cue a season of not doing their transfer market homework? Oh please yes, let that be so!

Now, Spurs, having genuinely advanced on all fronts, with a young squad and a great manager, have the misfortune of falling short. But that was falling short from increased aspirations during the season. Actually finishing 3rd, getting straight into the CL and showing that they can take anyone on on their day, is actually fantastic. But the poor end will persist in the mind for now. Will it do so long enough for them to then approach the transfer market with renewed ambition? One can only hope.

Bring on the next season, but before that, bring on the Wenger transfer market excuses!! Was he chasing Dembele and Sanches?? Of course he was 😉
André (fantastic PL, good job to everyone) London


The England squad
After a season where certain clubs performed above expectations (Leicester, West Ham, Southampton), it’s naturally to want some of their players to be in the squad for the euros.

But the mentality of “Leicester are top let’s take all their players to the euros or West Ham have done well let’s have their Englishmen on the plane”, isn’t one that will bring success. Take Danny Simpson for example, he’s had a good season and won himself a premier league medal, but he’s been rightfully left out because Nathaniel Clyne is simply a better footballer. Doesn’t matter that Simpson has done well and Clyne’s Liverpool are 8th. He’s a better right back so rightfully goes instead.

Delph is a strange pick but is a player that impressed in qualifying. The manager knows his quality but I don’t think he’ll make the final 23. I am biased and will defend our only player in the squad but Jack Wilshere shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. He possesses certain qualities that no other England midfielder has, ability to carry from deep and beat players in central areas. He got 7/8 man of the match awards during qualifying and has impressed for hodgson, no surprise he goes. Rashford is fortunate that he’s been in the public eye in recent months, shouldn’t go to France and I doubt he’ll get though to the 23.

Do feel sorry for Michail Antonio who has impressed at both right wing and right back this season but there really aren’t that many bad decisions.
Alex AFC


First of all, Happy St. Totteringham’s Day to all who celebrate. Nothing like a full Spurs capitulation to reinforce that this season was most likely a one off.

I woke this morning to news that Roy has chosen his provisional squad for the Euro’s. While there were one or two surprises there was plenty of disappointment. Seeing a useless Wayne Rooney and a broken Jack Wilshere in the squad filled me with sadness. Two years on from the car crash that was the World Cup Roy Hodgson has, apparently, chosen to go several Premier League games and not watch a single minute of the action. Excuse me while I pour one out for Mark Noble.

Wayne Rooney is not the player he used to be. He will never again be the player he once was. When I look at the potential lineup I see an England team that has the potential to be breathtaking in transition and on the counter attack. Where Wayne Rooney fits in is beyond me. He will only slow England down and play Hollywood passes that are esthetically beautiful but useless.

I would feel very aggrieved right now if I were Andy Carroll. The West Ham medical staff have done wonderfully well getting Carroll fit, playing regular and scoring. Not to mention his playing style could have been very useful if England is chasing a game late on.

Well played to Marcus Rashford for playing as well as he has and getting his call up but does anyone seriously expect him to get minutes? Now is not the time to call up a youngster who will not play. It is a waste of a spot.

Though I have to admit the selection of Marcus Rashford (more so if he makes the 23 man squad) will give us the wonderful opportunity to destroy his fragile confidence under the immense weight of the England shirt. No pressure son.
Brian (Cheeky punt: Sterling to be player of the Euro’s) LFC


Nothing on this planet would make me happier than Rashford somehow managing to put in some sort of incredible performance that results in him making the England squad for Euros at the expense of Wayne Rooney. I realise Rooney will never be left out of the squad (or the starting line-up for that matter) but forcing him in just makes England worse. I’d rather see the inexperienced but pacey and in-form Rashford who plays on instinct than the experienced but slow, dull and overrated Rooney who overthinks everything he does.

Also, Delph over Noble is criminal.
Gaaavie (experience means nothing when you aren’t very good anymore), Cape Town


Oooooohh. England squad’s out! Let’s take a look-see.

Strikers…lovely! In form and firing, lots of options.

Midfields…not bad that. If they stay on the pitch, that’s a decent Midfield. Things are looking up.

Defence…Ah. Bugger. Yeah. Roy, those centre’ve forgotten…oh, no. No you haven’t. That’s literally it.
Jeremy Aves


How to support England
In years gone by, the results of the club I support would stay with me throughout the weekend (and a good portion of the week too). We won? Yes! I want to read every match report, every opinion piece and every in-depth analysis about the Hows, the Whys and the Whats. We lost? F*cking useless, overpaid w*nkers, ‘don’t talk to me about that shower of sh*te’ and so on and so forth. England were exactly the same, but at a much higher intensity level due to the long wait between qualifiers and then the sudden burst of tournament football that followed. That feeling, through a combination of age, experience, cynicism and other past times has eventually dulled the feeling of ‘Being Bothered’. I can’t break free of it completely (I’m not a robot; I still cheer when goals are scored and games are won and applaud when consummate defending has denied an attacking threat), but the feeling of despair in particular that accompanies a defeat (because they happen more often than not) either lingers a lot less than it used to or in some circumstances, is not there at all.

England is where this lack of emotion started. I cried (and still do when I see it) when we went out of Italia ’90. I wanted to punch something, anything, really hard when Southgate missed the penalty during Euro ’96. I was one of the few not angry with Beckham, but more with Shearer, for his stupid pushing and pulling that led to Sol Campbell’s goal being disallowed during France ’98 and my blind loyalty to team and country made me see past Rooney’s stamp and focus solely on Cristiano’s gesture. Now? Not so much. I’ve come to the realisation that England, like my club, will always be disappointing. They may never win a tournament in my lifetime, will consistently raise hopes with good performances in qualifiers and friendlies, than crash and burn in the summer. That is England. But I live with it. I no longer buy into the flag-waving nonsense instigated by the press and the one-eyed view of some fans. I like to think I’m a bit more realistic about our chances and as such, the disappointment is less emotionally damaging. It helped immensely during the last World Cup (results notwithstanding, the performances against Italy and Uruguay weren’t actually that bad) and it meant I could take positives from a negative outcome.

England may do some amazing things this summer, they may not. If they do, I will cheer it loud and proud with everyone else. But when they go out this summer, either with a fight or whimper, I shan’t let it get the better of me. They’ve burned me far too often to fall down that pit of despair ever again
James F, BCFC KRO (Never mind the £90 version, £60 for a “stadium” replica shirt!? Is it made with Unicorn hide?)


The most decisive moment of your season?
Well Sean Peter-Budge, I would say the decisive moment for Leicester was when that beautiful moment when Wes Morgan lifted the trophy.

Honourable mentions go to:

– The 5-2 defeat at home to Arsenal. Without that I think we might still be playing with De Laet and Schlupp at full backs and would never have turned into the defensively resilient side we are now.

– The 3-1 victory at City. This was emphatic. I think this was the result where we really started to believe, fans and players.

It’s easy to say with hindsight but I don’t really think many Spurs/Arsenal results had much baring on us. We did enough in all of our ‘tricky spells’ to keep extending our lead. Any of the results individually you could look at for Spurs or Arsenal still wouldn’t have them anywhere near us at the end. Madness really, despite that I felt like Spurs pushed us all the way.

I guess in light of the above a third honourable mention should go to the midweek games where we drew with WBA on the 1st March on the Tuesday. Spurs had the chance to overtake us on the Wednesday and lost, if memory serves Arsenal also lost and City dropped points too. Correct me if I’m wrong but since then I don’t think there has been the possibility of anyone moving above us in a single round of fixtures. Mental
Ben {Curly brackets for the Champions (milking it while I can)}, LCFC


In answer to Sean Peter-Budge, I think the decisive moment for my team was losing to Arsenal in the last minute.

Arsenal posted dressing room selfies like they’d won the league, then went on a run of poor results.

THE LEICESTER won 6 of the following 7 games 1-0.

They showed hubris, we showed character.

In addition, champions of:
Spain = Barcelona
Germany = Bayern Munich
Italy = Juventus
France = Paris Saint Germain
England = Leicester City

Puts it into some kind of perspective doesn’t it.
Alex, LCFC


Sean Peter-Budge – my decisive moment of the season was when Rashford scored his second against us at Old Trafford. I knew we wouldn’t get back into it and I knew from then that we didn’t have to bottle to win the league. Losing at home to Swansea a few days later only added to ‘the banter’.

It’s a massively disappointing season really, with yesterday only being ‘celebrated’ because all we’ve heard this year are how amazing Spurs are. To be fair, it’s pretty amazing to finish third in a two-horse title race – I’m just disappointed we weren’t in it past February.

Glad to see Wilshere in. To the Villa fan: please just admit you don’t want him there because you think he’s a tw*t.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


In reply to Sean’s email from this morning, my personal opinion on the turning point for Spurs’ season is the first four games and taking 3 points from 12 available.

Had me not thrown away a 2-0 lead to Stoke (Spurs and throwing away leads!!!) and shown some ambition against everton at home then 4 extra points could have made more of a difference at the business end of the season.

Taking 4 points from games against Newcastle and West Brom is pretty woeful as well.

Slightly off topic but how has Wilshire got anywhere near the England squad? Still living off one good game against Barca 5 years ago
Jim Barnett, THFC


In response to Sean Peter-Budge’s question about a season defining moment for Arsenal, it has to be losing Santi Cazorla against Norwich. Coupled with losing Coquelin it meant we were relying on a piss poor Ramsey-Flamini midfield for far too long. After that we got (deservedly) spanked by Southampton, totally lost any fluency in our play and dropped waaaay behind Leicester.
Kevin, AFC, Baile Átha Cliath (far too optimistic about Ireland’s Euro chances)


You were right
I remember immediately after the play-off final F365 wrote an article saying Norwich had to be ruthless and reshape a squad that still contained most of those who were relegated two seasons earlier. I wrote in immediately after, full of bravado stating how much our players had improved and that we had a totally different manager to take us forward.

Unfortunately you were totally right. Watching us this season it has become painfully obvious that we have a team of Championship players struggling to play above their level. A lack of investment in the summer cost us and any team giving regular starts to a center back partnership of Seb Bassong and Russell Martin has got its work cut out. It was obvious in the Championship that we needed to invest in our defense yet only Andre Wisdom was added on loan. It is not exactly difficult to see that Cameron Jerome is not a first choice striker at this level yet only the inconsistent Mbokani joined to bolster our striking options. This led to a fairly depressing pattern in games where Jerome would miss a pretty decent chance or two before our defense managed to let in a soft goal at the other end.

This isn’t to let Alex Neil off the hook- far too often our players have not looked ‘up for it’ in key games- but it feels difficult to judge a manager who has essentially operated with one hand tied behind his back. This squad needs an injection of youth (unfortunately our best young player in Nathan Redmond will probably leave) and some fresh blood throughout to reinvigorate us. With our MD leaving in mysterious circumstances though it feels like the club is in some form of limbo currently. I can only hope it gets sorted soon.
Charlie H


A few more points
A few points that may be missed by others:

* Mitrovic should be banned for at least 5 games. More importantly, he needs to be reminded by his manager next season (whoever that may be) that if he is to make anything of his career, he needs to act less like a thug and more like he is interested in playing football first and foremost. ‘Tackles’ like that need to be clamped down upon; and hard.

* As much as it is hard to admit, Spurs definitely have a great first team. Some say they were lucky to have them fit for most of the season, but that would do a monumental disservice to the fitness coaches who have transformed these players into near-perfect specimens. Should they keep everyone together, they are a few good squad players away from being proper, consistent challengers.

* A word for Arteta, who in my opinion, was one of the most important players for Arsenal in the past 10 years. Rosicky will have no problem receiving plaudits, but that doesn’t make the Spaniard any less important. Arteta joined us just as he was beginning the descent from the peak of his career, but in terms consistent performances (the first few seasons) and calm authority, he was a big part of the club picking up the pieces from the summer of ’11. The squad needed a leader and Arteta was that man. Good luck to his coaching career wherever that may be.

* Hopefully, this is the fillip that will push The Arsenal next season to finally, finally grab glory instead of reaching, but failing. Wenger’s promise of ‘trying to sign 3 players’ better mean a centerback, midfielder and striker, all of whom are older than 18 and have played a top flight game before.
Girish (can’t wait for the Euros), AFC, Chennai


Flores in the window
In your Premier League 2015/16 Losers article, you mentioned that Watford supporters have hardly reacted angrily to Quique Sanchez Flores being fired (almost as a throw-away line), presumably suggesting that supporters agree with the decision. That’s not really true; it’s just that we’re not Arsenal fans.

For a start, there aren’t that many Watford fans around, so it’s difficult for us to make that much noise. On top of that, we still see ourselves as a small club so it’s difficult to grumble too much about the decisions the owners are making when we’ve just survived in the Premier League for the first time ever. But I haven’t spoken to a single fan who is happy about the decision or thinks it’s the right thing to do. Quique surpassed his targets for the season – a 13th place finish and an FA Cup semi-final is more than good enough for a club of our stature. I know our second half of the season was poor compared to the first half but in recent weeks we’ve improved again, so it’s not like he looks incapable of getting us winning again. Everyone agrees that he can feel hard done by.

However, there is a flip side, and a reason most fans seem to be reserving judgement. The Pozzos have made a few decisions which have raised eyebrows in the past, but they’ve shown they know how to achieve sustainable improvement in a club. Sean Dyche was unlucky to lose his job when the Pozzos took over but Gianfranco Zola took us to the Playoff final that year. Jokanovic was unlucky not to agree a new contract last year, but Quique has achieved everything asked of him. Other clubs have done similar in the past too – everyone agreed that Nigel Adkins was unlucky to be fired by Southampton but look how well Pocchettino did. So maybe the Pozzos have someone lined up who will take us to the next level. Only time will tell if this was the right decision.
Jimbles, WFC


I Kante believe it
Kante to Arsenal…Why????? Unless Kante’s main dream in life is to possibly win the FA cup sure. Obviously Arsenal want him, he’s exactly the player they need but moving to any club other than Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern or PSG wouldn’t be a step up so would be a massive waste for a player of his quality. The same applies to Mahrez, either move to a club who can realistically win the champions league or stay at Leicester another season. I’m fine with both players leaving but not to another EPL club as that would be selling themselves short and would rile a lot of Leicester fans like myself!
William, Leicester


Pilgrim age
YEEEESSSSSSSSS The Greens have made it to Wembley! There will be one almighty Pilgrimage from Devon with 35,000 tickets for us!!!!
Lee PAFC Hawker


The dressing room from hell
I’m wondering what would be a ‘good’ Big Egos/Contrary B*stards X1?
The spine of the team might be something like
GK: Oliver Kahn
CB: John Terry
CM: Roy Keane
CF: Zlatan

That’s already looking like one happy dressing room. Any other suggestions?
Stan Wyborn, Ireland.


Just you wait…
So chaps,

Few red faces when it comes to the relegation question of the Predictions review?
Kevin, (Liverpool to win it in Kloppage time)


No. 50
That’s that for England’s Euro 2016 dreams then – Philip Neville wasn’t selected.
Dominic, LFC, Singapore

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