Not Just A Friendly. This Had Meaning…

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 12:11

Not Just A Friendly. This Had Meaning...

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Jose And Arsene…Sitting In A Tree
I think I know what the issue is between Jose and Arsene. You must love each other so much to hate each other the way they do. They are both acting childish now and to be honest it’s getting boring and embarrassing. Just kiss and be done with it.
Tobi, Gooney Boy, London

Not Just A Friendly…This Meant Something
Generally I would agree with you guys that the Charity Shield does mean very little.

Last season we tonked City and I have to say even while joining in with a Poznan at Wembley it was a hollow victory as City’s manager doesn’t seem to give two sh*ts about the trophy, if you could call it that.

But this is Mourinho and make no mistake about it, he wanted to win that game. What was at stake wasn’t the shield but rather his record against Wenger. And it bothered him that record has now gone.

I love Arsene but the fact remains, there’s no way in hell he can out-think Mourinho tactically. The fact we won anyway should bother Chelsea as that says to me we were better than them and as well as being more tactically astute, the other thing Mourinho has always had over Wenger is a better team – yesterday that was not so.

Yesterday wasn’t just a meaningless pre-season friendly, it was the day the classiest manager in the Premier League got one over on the most classless manager and boy did it feel good.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

That Was Lovely
So finally the jinx is over. Wenger managed to beat Mourinho at the 14th attempt playing very similar to how we’ve seen Chelsea play under Jose.

Compact in defence, not allowing the opposition time on the ball in our half, quick breaks and slide rule passes.

Of course, Jose would never admit to this and so did his usual trick of giving the papers something else to write about rather than his team’s shortcomings. Chelsea, although outplaying Arsenal for much of the second half, didn’t offer much of a threat all afternoon. Devoid of ideas in the final third with misfiring players, he must be worried because his playacting at the end was classic misdirection.

Of course reading anything into a pre-season game is very foolhardy, but there were very encouraging signs for Arsenal. Cech in goal showed his class keeping composed when needed, dominating his area like the top keeper he is. Ox had a great game out wide. Almost the perfect game for a winger. Quick, sharp, inventive on the few occasions he got the ball and obviously the winner on top.

I came out of the game encouraged by what I saw from Arsenal. Hopefully this will transpose over a full season!
Mikey, London

The ‘Friendly’ Conclusions
– There are few things as obvious in the world right now as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s deesire to score goals. If ever there was evidence needed of how an influx of quality benefits the squad, one need only point to The Ox as an example. The arrival of Alexis and Ozil and the reinvention of Cazorla as a deep midfielder has seen The Ox’s place in the squad come under threat. At least for now, with Ramsey, Wilshere and Cazorla competing for the slot alongside Coquelin, The Ox’s most direct route into the squad is on the right wing. I personally feel he should start there ahead of Walcott. The way things are going that isn’t entirely impossible and Walcott’s desire for a central role may just backfire.

– Speaking of Walcott’s desire for the central role, there are enough stats on the internet that show Arsenal were threatening the goal a lot more when Giroud came on yesterday. Wenger said after the game that if Walcott gets space in behind the defence he can cause major problems. Unfortunately for Theo, Arsenal often come up against teams playing the low block, like Terry and Cahill today, so unless he figures out how to become more effective against such defending he’s going to have a tough time holding down that place. I personally find Giroud’s movement a lot more clever and even in games where he frustrates he always makes it a point to give the opposition centre-halves a problem with his movement.

– Having said all that there is no doubting the psychological impact he had. The threat of his pace forced their centre-backs to play a lot deeper, giving our playmakers more room to operate against a rusty Matic and a headless Ramires. Cazorla and Ozil were rusty today but on other days they will benefit from the two defensive lines being stretched so far apart.

– There has been a lot of questions as to whether Arsenal are risking their chances of a Premier League challenge by refusing to bring in another defensive midfielder. Only time will tell whether that is the case. In the meantime let us just keep enjoying the re-emergence of a player who is becoming, according to me, one of the most likeable footballers in the game. The words ‘against all odds’ don’t do justice to Le Coq’s story and he’s definitely come a long way from being played out of position at Freiburg to becoming a part of Arsenal’s spine. Long may his ascendancy continue.

– I am a fan of Szczesny’s and Ospina was very good last season, but if I’m being perfectly honest neither of them would have reached Oscar’s free-kick. It’s great to see a man-mountain like Cech in goal for us. Cazorla, Ozil and Alexis are incredible players who add a great deal of glamour to our club. Petr Cech, however, is the most surreal signing I’ve seen in my time supporting the club. I still find it hard to believe the Chelsea suits decided they would allow him to come to Arsenal. That being said, Thibaut Courtois’ performance yesterday will ease the heart-ache Chelsea fans must be feeling. The Belgian is immense and his saves from Cazorla’s and Gibbs’ attempts were vital to keeping the contest alive till the end.

– I’m a little tired of everyone terming it as just a ‘friendly.’ Agreed, the result from yesterday has absolutely no bearing on where these teams finish come May. But there is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that both teams and managers wanted to win yesterday. Despite Mourinho’s best efforts to literally dress down the occasion, it is just not in his nature to not care about a game like this. I don’t, for one second, buy his studied nonchalance about his record against Wenger and I have no doubt he coveted it greatly. On the other side, despite Wenger’s claims that the record didn’t play on his mind it most certainly did and he more or less admitted to it when he said the team were aware of the psychological hurdle that needed to be crossed. Perhaps the best way to put it would be to say that had Arsenal lost we would have a fair few headlines about how Wenger has fallen to Mourinho again. This result won’t derail Chelsea’s season and they are still favourites for the title, but it sure feels nice depriving Mourinho of his treasured record.

– Wenger’s big game management needs to be praised this time around. Yesterday’s performance was definitely one for the kitchen, rather than for the soul. While there were flashes of silken football, the overarching theme of Arsenal’s performance was to be solid at the back. Mourinho, in his post-match comments provided us with a parody version of every manager that has ever faced him. But in a way, it’s a compliment to Wenger in that he beat Mourinho at his own game. Though Arsenal got the win yesterday, I fully expect the two league games to be goalless draws. Mourinho will no doubt react to this result by strengthening the resolve of his team to not play football.

– I don’t care if people thought it was petty, but Wenger not shaking Mourinho’s hand was brilliant television. Given Mourinho’s propensity for crossing the line when opening his gab I think it is time the media ignored his antics. There’s only one way to deal with petty sexists who threaten to hit children and it does not involve giving them respect.
Pranav, AFC

…* Is it 12 points? Petr Cech will make a huge difference. He’s a marginally better shot stopper than Szczesny, but his distribution is far, far better. And his leadership and experience are valuable, as well. Big upgrade.

* Will Bellerin and Coquelin fade this season? Or prove out? Both performed well, especially Bellerin who kept Hazard quiet most of the game. Le Coq gifted possession a couple of times in dangerous positions, but otherwise did his job pretty well. No guarantees. Both have growing to do, but Gunners can be optimistic.

* My dad said the Community Shield was meaningless for Chelsea, but marginally meaningful for Arsenal. He’s right. Don’t read anything into Chelsea’s loss.

* Arsenal’s attack is built around Giroud. It’s not Giroud’s fault he’s only 90% of the striker Arsenal needs. When he came on, the passes into the offensive third began sticking to feet, connecting and combining. Arsenal are contenders. With an upgrade at striker, I think the bookies would have us right up there with Chelsea as front runners. Maybe ahead.

* Theo’s not the upgrade. He simply doesn’t fit into the centre of Arsene’s attack patterns. He does fit nicely into those patters from the wing. If he stays healthy (I know), he’s worth the new contract.

* Arsenal didn’t need to win so much as avoid losing to Chelsea again, and Jose, AGAIN.
Robb (job done, no handshake needed) AFC, USA

…a) Well done, The Ox. Stepping up with the winner. He looks a genuinely fantastic prospect for this season. The competition between Walcott, Welbz and him will do all of them a world of good.

b) Arsenal looked very solid in defence for the most part. Credit to the trident of Cech, BFG and Koscielny. Cech’s presence has made a difference already and Koscielny was immense.

c) Arsenal were over-run in midfield at times and that was worrying. I’m going to put it down to the imbalance caused by Ramsey on the wing. Wenger’s got to play two wingers and not dodge the big questions.

d) Ramires, Hazard, Santi and Gibbs should’ve all scored.

e) This has laid down a blue print for how future games between these two will be played. Cagey, tense affairs that will be decided by the solitary moment of brilliance.

Bring on the new season!

Three And Out
So Arsenal have already won three trophies and the season hasn’t even started. Winning the Premier League or the Champions League would just be greedy now so I propose we take the season off to prepare for next year’s pre-season and defending our trophies.
Adonis (all about the selfies and the six-pack (of beer)) Stevenson, AFC

Awful Stuff From BT
Though it’s nice to finally beat a Jose side, I’m happy to let others draw conclusions from the game/result/performances. Instead, I’d rather talk about the coverage BT Sport offered, seeing as a lot of what we see this season will be coming via this channel.

“The key thing was to learn the value of economy with words and to never insult the viewer by telling them what they can already see” – so said the legend Richie Bernaud once upon a time.

So, Michael Owen, where can you start? He literally states the most obvious things going on during play, before throwing in a completely stupid statement. Here were some of my favourites today:

“Oxlade-Chamberlain will be looking to have a good season,” Oh really Michael? Thanks for that. Here was me thinking he’d be hoping to have a sh**ter, get injured again and fall out of favour for the Euros next summer.

“If I was the striker then I’d want Ramsey to be cutting that one back across.” Well yeah, because rather than scoring from a ridiculously tight angle, he carved one into the crowd. It was clearly the obvious wrong option.

“Falcao has done more there than Remy did all of the first half,” he said, just as the Colombian skewed one towards goal two minutes after half time. This was completely wrong, as the forward set up their best opening (for Ramires) and yes, he was offside too often, but at least he was making the runs. Falcao then preceded to completely disappear until he wanted a fight late on. Based on the last 12 months, including today, I know which one I’d rather have at Arsenal.

And my favourite: “Most of the teams have all strengthened.” Sorry Michael…What?

Ah, football. Thank the Lord you’re back…
Joe, AFC, East Sussex

He was an absolute bundle of joy. Rafa was United’s best player (bar Van Persie) in Fergie’s final season. He was developing into one of the best RBs in the Premier League. Unfortunately, constant nibbling injuries and Fergie leaving meant he would never be given a fair chance again.

It was clear right from the beginning that Van Gaal suffered from the bane of the modern society, stereotyping, as far as rafa was concerned. A couple of red cards five seasons ago does not make him reckless, especially when he was only 20 when it happened against Bayern Munich. We are so much more patient when it comes to midfield and attacking players, but when it comes to defence, that patience goes completely out of the window.

If he stays fit, I hope he proper rips the French league apart and develops into the player he can so obviously become. He is and will be my favourite United player of recent times.
Adifool (utterly disgusted that it’s happened at the altar of Valencia).

Who Knows What Will Happen At Liverpool?
I can’t help but think this is going to be a hugely difficult to predict season for Liverpool.

On the one hand, you could argue that Gerrard leaving is a good thing; his leadership on and off field seemed to be counteracted by his passenger like performances in the middle of the pitch. Sterling’s desire to leave must’ve been in the minds of a fair few players too and I suspect it hurt our performances too. Our transfer business looks to make more sense on paper this time too; lambert and Balotelli were both risky and didn’t match our style of play resulting in our biggest issue last season; a lack of goals. The same can’t be said of Benteke or Ings. Firmino and Milner both seem to have boundless energy so that also makes perfect sense and pretty much anyone who can breathe would’ve been an upgrade on Glen Johnson at right back.

On the other hand we’ve clearly done a Spurs two seasons in a row; buying a bucket load of players and hoping they work out. The team will probably feature three new first XI players next week (I expect Firmino and Benteke to be eased in because of fitness) but It could be as many as six new faces that have never competitively kicked a football around together. Not ideal for a gameplay which depends on quick movement and fluency.

When you add in our ugly fixture list my cynicism kicks in and I struggle to see us having a coherent and decent run before Christmas. If Man Utd lose De Gea it’ll be interesting to see how they perform as maybe theirs is the only top-four berth that still feels a little fragile.

I suspect a position between 4th and 6th with a heavier weighting on the lower two positions is most likely, but holy balls I hope I’m wrong and we get off to a flyer.
Minty, LFC

I Am A Football Fan And I’m Tired Of Being Screwed
Now you are an independent media company and not owned by Sky Sports, perhaps you’ll print this. I’m a Spurs fan living in the UK, and I’m tired of being screwed by the current media carve-up of our game that costs me an arm and a leg and still denies me the opportunity to watch what I actually want to see, namely Spurs games.

I used to live in Hong Kong, and on TV, they show every Premier League game live. So, as a Spurs fan, I could watch every game if I wanted to. Admittedly, being able to stay up til 2am before a work day to watch Spurs get pasted 6-0 by Man City was a mixed blessing, but at least I could watch the game in its entirety, have my view on the performance and the manager, and not rely on the crap pundits to describe what happened.

What the Premier League has utterly failed to understand, in its quest for ever-bigger TV deals, is that football fans support teams, and want to watch those teams. If the choice is West Brom vs Spurs with little at stake or a title decider between Chelsea and Manchester City, at the exact same time, I would watch West Brom vs Spurs. If they are on at different times, I’m even happier because I can watch both. I’m a Spurs fan, I want to watch Spurs.

In almost every other country, I can see every Spurs game, but not in the UK. In other countries, their national leagues are broadcast in their entirety – for example NBA TV allows any match to be seen at any time, even as national broadcasters focus on the prime offering.

It is insane, that in 2015 with a gazillion sports channels, red buttons and bucket loads of bandwidth, I’m not able to pay for the right to watch all Spurs matches live. The FA rules protecting 3pm kick-offs are anachronistic and need to be swept away, but right now there should be nothing preventing, say, a post-Europa League Sunday game being shown on the red button alongside the main Sky Sports early kick-off.

I’m sure thousands will still tune in to watch Jeff Stelling and Co on a Saturday afternoon, and many thousands more will instead go out and play football, or go and support their local team (my local team, Yeovil, charge £25 per ticket at home, in League Two…so let’s cut out the romance about lower league football, shall we).

I am a Spurs fan, I don’t have a season ticket and am not on the 45,000 waiting list, I don’t live in London and don’t have the money to spend the weekends traversing the country supporting Spurs away. However, I would gladly pay a monthly fee so I could watch every Spurs game either on TV or on my laptop, especially as I don’t particularly like to use illegal streams as the quality is crap, the websites are full of viruses and you have no idea what sort of shady characters you are funding.

So instead, I’m reduced to maybe five or six minutes on Match of the Day, some uninformed punditry and then 10 minutes of highlights on Spurs TV on Monday morning. It truly is pathetic, in this day and age of instant everything.

Meanwhile, even though I’m not able to watch any more Spurs matches, the cost continues to go through the roof. My Sky package has gone up by a fiver a month – yup, let’s all cancel those movies – and now has LESS football, as they’ve lost the Champions League to BT, as well as La Liga. Meanwhile BT, whose line rental has gone up by a pound since I signed up nine months ago and whose call prices are about to be jacked up, will now no longer show FA Cup or Europa League for free, which is one major reason we signed up.

All they offer for free, on a service called BT Sport Sh*te, I mean BT Sport Lite, is one Premier League match a week and fag ends like Brazilian football and Aussie Rules. I am being charged an extra £5 a month – on top of £16.99 line rental and £16.00 broadband – for the European offering. And that is not even HD. The worst thing is that they automatically added it to the bill, rather than sought any consent – surely the consumer regulator has something to say about that sort of shoddy tactic?

I get it, nice things cost money. But the cost of football is getting ridiculous – either attending games, travelling to games, watching in the pub or watching at home. And it’s not like lower league is all that much cheaper either, especially down south. The icing on the cake is that, even if you pay full whack for everything, you still only get to see perhaps one third of your team’s matches.

People say that, if the money went, English football would collapse. But you know what, I don’t really care. Has the standard really gone up in the last decade? Certainly not compared to our European peers. And do we really care if we can no longer attract all manner of international stars? Sure, us Spurs fans loved some of them like Jurgen Klinsmann and David Ginola, but we love Ledley King and Harry Kane a hell of a lot more. I’ll support Spurs in League Two, or wherever we ended up after the great post-TV crash.

So Premier League, FA, or the clubs, please listen: pursuit of revenues is all well and good, but us football fans are really starting to get tired of paying through the nose and not getting what we want. I’ve reached tipping point, and I bet thousands of other have too. Time to start thinking about football fans, before we start thinking of watching something else.
Charlie, THFC, Somerset

Getting Excited Now
Sat in Morrisons in Wincanton three hours early for my meeting. But it’s given me time to reflect on the game yesterday and the excitement for an up and coming season. I’ll let the Goonerettes enjoy there moment in the sunshine. But it’s partly their performance that has me excited about the up and coming season.

As a Chelsea fan yesterday was more a ‘meh’. You saw a performance of a team that had played a gruelling US schedule and travelled through too many time zones. Arsenal deserved their victory by virtue of being slightly more efficient in attack and at long last Wenger has understood that football is about pragmatism, an amalgam of attack and solid defence. They will definately have a big say in the title.

Chelsea will not be the team you saw yesterday, with the addition of Rahman allows Azpilicueta to move back to right back we’ll have pace, power and balance. The player I’m truly excited about and I pray he gets his permit is Kenedy. The boy has the pace of a Walcott but is an absolute beast at 6ft 2″ and has skill dripping from his fingers. This lad we will give Hazard the support he needs.

With City, Liverpool and United strenthening the season promises to back to its best.
Pete Borota

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