You know what to do – watch Man United and then mail firstname.lastname@example.org
This is what you get from The Ox…
Has The Ox ever played this well? Yes, a couple of times for Arsenal seeing as you ask. In central midfield too. In bigger games like the Champions league game against Milan from memory.
Its just that this would be followed by 6-7 games where he was largely terrible. Nobody thinks he’s a terrible player because he isn’t. He excellent when he wants to be. It’s just you never know when that will be – somethign you will find out over the next five years.
So to answer your other question: Alexis Sanchez. He’s one of the best players in the League.
…As a disgruntled Gooner I didn’t really look forward to the mailbox this morning, but it actually wasn’t all too horrendous, painful reading. I do have a couple of things though:
Oxlade-Chamberlain. Now The Ox is still, legit, one of my favourite players and I genuinely wish him all the success in the world at Liverpool on a personal level. I hope Klopp can unlock what’s in there with him. However with The Ox you have to know that, historically at least, he’s prone to lose that form as quickly as he achieves it – usually through injury. I remember he ran the show against (I think…) Milan in the Champions League in centre midfield. He also had a barnstorming run at wingback for Arsenal where he was genuinely incredible. Both runs of form were cruelly halted by injury.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, like Wilshere, has a ‘matador’ style of play which, when he hits form, is devastating and in the end is only stopped by a hamstring or a ‘reducer’ from the opposition. He was probably the best player on the pitch against City, and will probably continue in this vein through January, but I think by February he’ll be out again through injury. Always happens, and then you’re back to square one with him – tentative and confidence drained.
I honestly don’t want this to happen. I wish Wenger had played him in that position more often for Arsenal seeing as this is what he can do, but at the same time it’s happened all too often before.
As for Bournemouth vs Arsenal, I’m sat there speechless as we drop three points in the last portion of the game, however the only thing that struck me about the team is that six of the starting 11 are injured or out. Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Cazorla, Ozil and Sanchez. Ramsey was on the bench (that’s seven starters) having just come back from injury, and Giroud’s out too. You can point the finger of blame at Wenger for this too of course, but as for the team itself, sadly, this was probably the right result.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite
Arsenal – Ozil/Sanchez = Wilshere
The sad thing about Arsenal is that there is a lot more wrong than just the manager, but I think we can only start to fix it when we have a new one. If that ever does happen (and it probably won’t), the new man in charge is going to have a massive job rebuilding this team. Once you take Ozil and Sanchez out, there is very little left to work with.
Wilshere is the only really top-level player there. You could maybe put Ramsay in there too if anyone can work out his best position. Bellerin too if he regains his form from the early part of his career.
Other than that it’s just a bunch of average players. I know a team can’t be made just of star players (unless you are City, PSG, Real, Barca or Bayern) and that you need some solid performers to provide a base for the better players, but most of ours don’t even do that. This decline is perfectly summed up by Cech’s section in Winners and Losers today. The fact that the best keeper at the club was allowed to leave instead of becoming the number one is damming evidence of what is going on behind the scenes. Hell, I would take Fabianski over Cech at the moment.
As for people saying that Wenger will probably keep his job by winning the Europa League, have they seen the teams that are in it this season? It’s not like last season where the best team was Ajax’s under 13s. I can’t see us winning that trophy at all.
Adonis (And what Szczesny said about the goalkeeper coaching at Arsenal is even more damming) Stevenson, AFC
Arsenal are only going to get worse…
This isn’t peak Arsenal. This is going to get a lot worse.
We’ve gone from moaning about being also-rans in the Champions League to inevitable UEFA Cup fodder for the Champions League teams dropping down into the Europa League.
This season we’re worrying whether Sanchez and Ozil will leave us. Next season, we’ll be worrying whether Welbeck and Ramsey wont renew and whether Wenger will.
What should be worrying the board is the lack of any protest from the fans over this sh*tshow. There will be swathes of empty seats at the Emirates before the end of this season and not because the fans are angry – it’s be because they’ve stopped giving a sh*t.
Oh and to the Middlesex Wanderers fan in the mailbox this morning – we’ve been in North London longer than you.
Graham Simons, Apathetic Gooner, Norf London
Surely it makes sense now…
Intrigued by this recurring line that Gazidis and Kroenke are sticking with Wenger’s mediocre management for financial reasons. They’re out of the Champions League picture, seemingly for the long-term, their Premier League position is on a downward trajectory and the engagement of the club’s supporters is the lowest it’s been in decades. The club’s earning power must about as low as it feasibly can be at this stage? A new manager would struggle to do worse than 6th (and if they did so what?) and the TV money is a given. Even looking at the economics of the situation, surely we’ve now reached a point where it’s financially sensible to remove him?
Even Fat Man Scouse enjoyed that game
On Sunday I was a pilgrim in an unholy land. When a family member offers you the chance to go to the game, especially after the latest Everton capitulation, you think “why not?”.
So I went with my brother and I have to say that was the best game of football I’ve ever seen live. Seven goals, all from open play, all really well taken goals (some incredible finishes) and no bus parking.
Essentially, that game showed how we all want our teams to play. Just attack each other and see who comes out on top. Magnificent.
The next time someone parks the bus and one of these teams doesn’t win, can we please just keep our heads intact and just remember this great game? City and Liverpool have the two most exciting teams in the league and yet people were still complaining on talksh1te on the way home. Baffling.
Fat Man Scouse
Stay away Ronaldo
So it appears (as per the Mirror) that CR7 wishes to return to Manchester. I seriously hope that doesn’t happen. He will suck away too much of the wage bill, and at his age, we’re not going to get much change out of him. If his form improves, he might still be worth a shot.
Till then, Ronaldo, please stay at Madrid, aka your ‘dream’ move. We don’t need you back just when the nightmare of the post Fergie drought is seemingly coming to an end.
Reservations about Sanchez at Man United
Ok, I have to admit I have some reservations about the potential for Alexis Sanchez to join us. While there is no doubting that he is an amazing player, there are one or two things about this potential deal which just don’t sit right. Of course, the following is all assuming he was to sign, which is by no means a foregone conclusion at this point:
1. Where is he going to play? Sanchez seems to work best either on the left or in the middle – indeed, that’s where all of his appearances this season have come from – and while we are crying out for some inspiration on the right side, Jose seems to prefer inverted wingers/wide players, so I don’t see him on that side. Sanchez’s arrival means that one of Lingard, Martial, Rashford and potentially even Lukaku have to make way. Arguably, his potential replacement, Malcom, would be a better fit for United, with 7 goals and 5 assists coming from 22 appearances on the right. He would be a longer term option and would have less of a negative impact on our other young attackers. I’d be more inclined to bring in Moura or Mahrez for similar (or slightly more, in Mahrez’s case) money.
2. The finances are staggering. I can see the value of paying a little more than you would expect to for a player nearing the end of his contract, if it’s in order to secure his signature ahead of a rival but the potential deal we’re seeing mentioned is worrying. If you believe the reports, it could be anything from £25m to £35m and there has been talk about Mkhitaryan being a part of that deal. Then there is the consideration of his wage demands – £350k a week plus a monumental signing on bonus is unbelievable money for a 29 year old with less than six months on his contract. If we were getting him on a free transfer then I could understand it, but the total cost of this deal would be enormous and he can only really help us win the FA Cup this season at best (let’s be honest, we’re not even going to get close to the Champions League, with or without Sanchez) and at his age, you’re not really looking at the long term; it’s all about immediate impact.
3. Is he really going to fit in? Jose is going to want a lot more discipline from him than Wenger has required, and if he does play in a wider position, he’ll be expected to track back a lot – is that really playing to his strengths? He’s not a target man either, so if he was to play up front then we won’t be able to keep smashing long balls up towards him and expecting him to make something happen. This potential signing seems more like one being pursued because he’s available and because our rivals want him, rather than him being what we really need. Does he really want to join United, or is he more intent on simply leaving Arsenal? I’m not saying he’s a mercenary or anything, but it seems to be more about the money than any particular desire to play for United. Originally, it seemed for all the world that he was dead set on moving to City, now it seems like it’s a case of any port in a storm.
Like I said, there is no doubting that he is a fantastic player, but the long-term effects his arrival could have on the squad need to be carefully considered before committing to it. If Mourinho is hoping for another summer shopping spree north of £100m, which is almost guaranteed based on his recent media remarks, then signing a player on enormous wages isn’t exactly going to grease the wheels there. Especially not when said player is going to have vastly less sell-on value than we’re considering shelling out.
A “phenomenal” player he may be but I think that his signing could do more harm than good in the long run.
Conte needs to change things at Chelsea
Storey was bang on the money today: ‘Conte’s response to setback is to pick the same (or very similar) attack with players in the same (or very similar) roles and hope that something clicks.’
As we are constantly reminded, Conte’s big tactical innovation last season was the switch to three at the back. This season it has been to move away from 3-4-3 and use Hazard behind Morata, which worked well initially. However, other teams have learned to play against this set-up and leave Morata isolated, knowing that he struggles in the lone frontman role that previous Chelsea strikers (Costa and Drogba) excelled in.
Three 0-0 draws in a row illustrate just how predictable our shape and attacking patterns have become. Surely it’s now time for Conte to shake things up and break this malaise. In the next games against Norwich and Brighton, why not try going with four at the back and giving the opposition something else to worry about?
Azpilicueta – Christensen – [Luiz/Cahill/Rudiger] – Alonso
Kante – Drinkwater
Pedro – Hazard – Willian
Advantages: tried-and-tested fulcrum of Kante and Drinkwater in midfield; presence of Pedro and Willian (who are relatively fresh given their minutes played this season) lessens creative burden on Hazard and their darting runs can help create more space for the striker; Fabregas/Moses/Barkley can come off the bench to offer something different if this isn’t working.
Disadvantages: this may leave us somewhat more exposed, particularly with Alonso as a conventional left-back, but it seems a reasonable risk to take against weaker opposition – alternatively Zappacosta could play.
Another idea would be to play our two strikers together, at least in the second half when we are chasing a result, as is often the case lately. Clearly this is an approach that has gone out of fashion (as was the case with three at the back – until recently…) and you may ask why Conte should play two out-of-form players when he could play just one – but arguably neither player is best suited to playing as a single striker and they could mutually benefit from the space created by the other. Again, a risk worth taking in the next couple of games?
Considering Liverpool and Spurs’ form at the moment, now is the time to act to hold on to our position in the top four…
Tributes to Cyrille Regis
Just wanted to say how saddened the football world should be for the passing of Cyrille Regis. Today’s Sky-driven, cameras everywhere, 24-hour football coverage, and the rise of social media have helped to push down the weeds of racism, although it does still rear its ugly head. But to be a black footballer in the 70’s and 80’s meant running a gauntlet of hate, bile and bigotry every time you stepped onto the pitch to do your job.
Well done Cyrille for bringing nobility and class to the game. I remember one of my first away games as a Villa supporter when Ron Atkinson was in charge and we won 2-0 at Everton in 1991. Regis and Tony Daley scored but most of the talk was about the fact that Villa had seven black players in the line up (McGrath, Small, Blake, Atkinson, Daley, Regis and Yorke).
…Growing up in the 70s my team was Man United, but as a black fan my hero and the hero to all the black kids I knew was Cyrille Regis.
At a time when seeing a black face on a TV show was rare, seeing three black players on the same team was like spotting a Unicorn, and there in the foreground was Cyril.
Growing up as a kid and hearing the unmistakable monkey chants and other vile abuse thrown their way was hard, but here was a player who did everything we were told black players couldn’t do. He was intelligent, he was skillful and, contrary to the mantra of sport journo, pundits and certain managers, he could play in cold weather.
When people started talking about the first black player to put on an England shirt we all said the same name: Cyril Regis. He was the icon. He was the guy you pretended to be when you scored a goal in the playground.
It didn’t matter who you supported at that time, Cyrille Regis was OUR PLAYER.
I won’t say too much more as it makes me well up thinking that he’s now gone. All I can say is rest in peace big man. You were the start for so many to accomplish their dreams and the reason for so many to start feeling included when it came to the game we all love.
Israel, watching United 3 – West Brom 5 all over again (MUFC since1977)
Ed’s Palace thoughts
Just glad we left after lunch, and didn’t wait to watch the big game with my Liverpool-supporting father-in-law and his Manchester City-supporting partner.
* Football genius Peter G wrote on Friday that Crystal Palace versus Burnley was the most intriguing match of the round, with the resurgent home side and the slumping away side on the verge of meeting in the middle. In the end, it was far from the most exciting game you’ll ever see, which was most people’s expectations of the fixture based on their perceptions of the team.
However, it’s fair to say that both sides are examples of overachieving on meagre resources – Burnley by being seventh despite having a fraction of the budget of the teams above them, and Palace by having an incredible thin squad down to its bare bones and still managing to beat Premier League opposition.
* Roy Hodgson told the media that he has been working with the board (and presumably Dougie Freedman) on potential transfers ever since he arrived, but to his credit, he has performed minor miracles with the players left at his disposal, who for their part have been brought into the side and played far better than could have been expected. Jairo Riedewald, seemingly frozen out of the side, has been a quietly effective defensive midfielder in the middle of a 4-3-3. Martin Kelly looks like a Premier League defender, and caught the eye with a tremendous sliding challenge to prevent a cross coming in. Ideally, he wouldn’t be near the starting XI, but he deserves praise for his application.
* Bakary Sako scored the winner and could have had another equally stunning strike, had his volley gone the other side of the post. He’s another player who had been starved of playing time, but he has definitely seized his opportunity. He was an obvious signing when he joined, having scored 15 goals for Wolves in the Championship, but a series of injuries stalled his career at Selhurst Park. This only made it funnier when he scored against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. By Hodgson’s own admission, Sako has only been playing because of a lack of other options, but the Malian has impressed this season. Like Kelly, he isn’t good enough to be a long-term first team player, but he’s been something of a godsend this season.
* Sean Dyche said after the game he felt his side deserved a draw. I can’t say I agree, not least because Palace’s xG was double that of Dyche’s side, but also because it was only 1-0 thanks to some heroic defending from the likes of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski. The Clarets don’t give much away, and like other upstart sides in recent seasons to differing degrees of success (Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City, Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton), they are full of players devoted to the cause and prepared to put their bodies on the line for the good of the team.
* This win means the Eagles go up to 12th in the table, which means we have temporarily leapfrogged Brighton and Hove Albion. Expect this to change next weekend, when Palace travel to the Arsenal.
Palace have 15 games left to play this season, from which they need just five wins to get to the magic 40 points mark. They are also at the point of the season where the fixtures spread out, so after next week’s game against the Gunners, they have a ten-day break before the next game. Recruitment is still vital but players will have time to recover between games should they need it.
How about this for a great game?
On the Top 5 games of the season so far, as expected those involving the top clubs (Mainly Arsenal and Liverpool) dominate but surely Bournemouth v West Ham has to be in there? The definition of an end to end game with a chance seemingly every minute. Add in three goals in the last 10 minutes, a farcical keeper blunder and an injury time equaliser bundled in with a hand in an offside position. It’s hard to think of a game that had more in terms of pure entertainment.