Patting Arsenal on the back for not rolling over at Anfield…

Date published: Sunday 25th August 2019 12:45

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Well done for not getting humped
I thought your 16 conclusions on Arsenal were perhaps a bit harsh. The took a clear step forward in that they went away to their current bogey ground and fought properly. They lost in the margins, on finishing and delicacy, but they never lost their heads or stopped competing.

It’s distinctly possible that Emery is making Arsenal play the way he thinks they need to, and is looking to see who adapts and who’s left all at sea. This isn’t the finished Arsenal, but it’s a much better team than the last time they went to Anfield.
Dan, Plastic LFC


…I’m sure it’s not easy for Matt Stead to come up with 16 conclusions, but isn’t a pretty obvious one that this is the fifth year in Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp cycle, compared to the second for Unai Emery, and that Liverpool are really playing at their peak as a result of long, hard work (with quite a few bumps along the way), whereas Arsenal are still very much a work in progress? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to draw conclusions between a team at a similar stage in its cycle to Liverpool, say, for instance, Spurs? Just sayin…

Kind regards,
Stozzer, London


Arsenal’s error
I couldn’t help but feel that Emery got his tactics a bit wrong today. He would’ve been better off mirroring our formation but having a disciplined midfield with some bite to it. Maybe Luiz would’ve been better in a midfield three instead of central defence today too. The defence and midfield could’ve formed a low block and punted balls upfield. It would’ve been dangerous on the counter attack and also would’ve caused either full back or a midfielder on our side to stay deeper to provide cover.

In fairness though I was really impressed with Arsenal. The first thirty minutes were pretty tense because we were definitely struggling to create anything clear cut. That was perhaps the fault of TAA and Robertson who were both a bit wasteful today.

Firmino could score no goals all season and still be utterly vital. But he’s so good that he will probably a bag a few for fun.

Is it really Man Utd fans who racially abused Rashford? Talk about wanting your own best players to feel unwelcome and unloved. Next time he gets a penalty the anxiety will be worse as he will have this in the back of his mind. Everyone knows a loss of focus can be costly. In short – great working supporting your own team.

It was only Norwich but Tammy Abraham looks very smart with the way he plays and pretty alarmingly lethal. Him and Mount could be huge this season.
Minty, LFC


Bargain of the season?
Would be great if we could hear from all those Arsenal fans who proudly proclaimed Sideshow Bob as the bargain transfer of the season…

Ta muchly!
Gregory Whitehead, LFC


…Funny how we all thought the clown car that is Arsenal’s defence would somehow become *less* prone to clownishness by packing another clown into it.
Jon Gibson LFC


Drop Dave
As a Gooner with lots of Palace mates I found that result cracking!

De Gea has lost his consistency, like the Cech who played for Arsenal! De Gea was keeping ManYoo from dropping into mid table obscurity but he’s not that great anymore and needs to be replaced.

My opinion.
Chris, Croydon


Penalty maths
There will be plenty to talk about United Palace game that I’m sure many others will cover. But one thing it would do it should really put that stupid penalty debate to rest.

Pogba career penalty record is 13 scored of 18, or 72.2%.
Rashford’s career record is 6 out of 7, or 85% – he dropped 15% just from that one miss.

Rashford conversion % is superior but also from much lower sample size, 2.57 times lower in fact.

If we are going from last season to today, Pogba has scored 8 out of 12 or 66%. Rashford has scored 3 out of 4 or 75%. Again, Rashford has superior concersion Pogba has three times more of a sample.

Rashford if given more chances and equaled to Pogba sample size, perhaps may turn out to be the better taker but based on current data there isn’t much separating them, Rashford is mostly untested.

Let them decide who wants to take what. OGS will also know who’s penalty form is better in training and decide too.
Yaru, Malaysia


United needed Mata
I’m sure when Ole subbed Lingard off for Greenwood, I was not the only one thinking the game was crying out for more creativity not pace or finishing. When Palace were sitting deep, we needed someone (Mata off the bench) to break them down, not another finisher when it was very clear we were not creating any chances. This, I believe, is where I believe we lost the game.
Little wonder Greenwood didn’t do anything of note the entire time he was on, and we scored once Mata came on. Coincidence? I think not!
Pertrique, (Bench Jesse, smh) Boston


Over to you, Ed. Again 
Mark MCFC makes some interesting points about United which I wholeheartedly agree with. As a City fan, he would know how choppy their own transfer record was before they secured a decent DOF.

Since SAF left, there must have been a bazillion articles on the state of the squad he left at the club. Indeed, the squad needed rebuilding but for the last several years since he left, almost all the money United have spent has been money down the drain. As a United fan, I can only hope that the club has learned from their mistakes and will appoint a DOF soonest so that they can have a more structured transfer policy, a better scouting team and a consistent philosophy where we are always looking at least a few years ahead instead of the next year only.

The good news is that this might actually be the first year United got their spending right. Maguire and Bissaka, although expensive, are both great additions and more importantly, could be permanent fixtures at the club for the next 5 years at least. I’m particularly impressed by Bissaka. He is a super super star in the making. His work rate is impressive, he’s all over the pitch and is equally impressive in attack and defence.

The lack of departures is a problem (so is losing Herrera on a free transfer) but almost recouping all the Lukaku money is a major coup as would be if they can get rid of Sanchez and his crazy wages.

So this is the year where United have actually started the job of rebuilding. The defence is sorted, though Shaw may prove to be the weak link. The midfield is a major problem and needs experience and depth. The attack has loads of potential though is lacking at least one experienced player as well as depth. Finishing 4th may well be the best United can achieve this year. Thankfully, they have the money to splash out. Appoint a DOF and get the next 2 transfer windows right and United can be competing again amongst the big boys.

Over to you Ed. You just have one simple decision to make. Whether you can keep your ego in check or not. The club’s future literally depends on it.


Eight conclusions
A couple of exciting games were broadcasted stateside and I was lucky that the torrential downpour in the southeast allowed me to put off my weekend yard work without protestation from the Mrs to watch both.

1. First match was Manchester United v Crystal Palace. I spent the first half rooting for Palace. I thought the tactics and setup worked well and they were rewarded with the Ayew goal. But that seemed to wake up United, and by the second half Palace played far too negative for me to continue to be in their corner. They were very lucky United wasn’t clinical enough to blow the game open and also extremely lucky with the weak VAR judgment on the potential Martial penalty. The ref had a poor view so no blame there, but the replay even in real time was damning.

2. As for the Rashford penalty, it was well struck hitting the inside edge of the left post. Not even Cristiano Ronaldo scores 100% of pens so I believe Rashford should continue taking them. It was less than an inch away from all of us fawning over how much better he is than Pogba on the spot.

3. Speaking of Paul Pogba, I don’t understand the hate so far this season. He did look like couldn’t be arsed in the final quarter or so of last season, but to Pogba’s credit, his focus and effort seem razor sharp despite his wantaway status and the advances of Real Madrid. His tracking back and tackle on Zaha to begin the sequence of the James goal was superb. He was often given the ball under pressure and often calmly escaped. 3 good games IMO despite the missed penalty.

4. That second goal by Palace… I want to start by praising Palace. Most teams in their situation would have taken in the disappointment and settled for the tie. But Palace restarted a real attempt at going for a goal for the first time since the opening half. Van Aanholt had to do a lot of running to get in position then crushed that ball on target. Considering the angle, De Gea and really any other Premier League keeper should make that near post save 100 times out of 100. He’s made some superb saves early in the season but it looks like he’s continuing the trend we saw last season. I can’t help but compare him to Lloris, a once WORLD CLASS keeper who is still excellent but prone to the occasional howler. At this point, I don’t think even the most ardent United fan can argue that De Gea is the best keeper in the PL. And if I was De Gea, I’d sign that contract ASAP. I don’t think Real Madrid or PSG are nearly as high on him as they were this time 1 year ago.

5. A final bit of praise goes to OGS. He has made huge changes to the tactics and style since taking the job and, though still rough on the edges, it seems the players have adapted well. It reminds me a lot of Klopp’s first half season when the games were enjoyable to watch regardless of the outcome and it was exciting to watch players improve within the system. To continue with this parallel, I think the United players will burn out by the second half of the season, which we already saw evidence of with United towards the end of last season.

6. Now onto Liverpool v Arsenal. The most standout observation is Emery’s first half tactics. I’m sure it wasn’t just me that was shocked at how narrow Arsenal set up, which allowed Liverpool’s fullbacks to just run a straight line up the pitch past the forwards and midfield into the final third every time they had possession. Literally zero pressure, especially on Robertson’s side. I’m not sure if Emery has heard but Liverpool’s fullbacks are pretty decent and dare I say WORLD CLASS at crossing in particular. I would be interested in hearing Emery’s thoughts if a reporter can still ask any real questions or if managers gave responses I would actually care about.

7. Having said all that, Arsenal had several great opportunities on the counter in the opening half. I hadn’t seen any of Pepe prior to donning an Arsenal shirt. Is he completely 1 footed? You don’t need to be a Cazorla to slot what is essentially a right footed pass into the right corner of the goal. He even had time for an extra touch if he used his right foot.

8. It would be unfair if I didn’t make at least 1 comment on Liverpool. They are extremely enjoyable to watch no matter who they play. A lot of teams in big games will score a first half goal then try to manage the second half to see out the win. Not Klopp’s Liverpool. They came roaring out of the locker room and stomped on Arsenal’s throat in the first 10-15 mins of the restart. I know Arsenal later scored a consolation goal but 3 points were secured with a full half hour still to play.

As a result, I don’t have 2 more observations for this game. Good luck coming up with 16.
JD, NC (the grass is going to be very long next weekend)


Searching for Batistuta’s statue
Some more on the Batistuta statue for the curious, dug up on some Italian websites…

It was commissioned by the Fiorentina ultras to commemorate Batistuta’s 100th game for Fiorentina, and was unveiled / presented on 5th November 1995 before Fiorentina – Lazio. Batigol scored a second-half brace to secure a 2-0 win for the ‘viola’, posing with the statue after his first goal. In Batistuta’s interview he says that he had planned before the game to go celebrate under the statue if he scored, and that it was well worth the yellow card.

The statue was built by the famous carnival float makers the Cinquini Brothers, and the unveiling can still be seen on their website. What Batistuta is holding isn’t a spear but a corner flag, following one of his trademark goal celebrations. The inscription at the bottom read “guerriero mai domo, duro nellalotta, leale nell’animo” (Never-say-die warrior, tough in battle, loyal in spirit)

By the time Batistuta left for Roma in 2000, the statue had been enduring the weather in the Artemio Franchi stadium for almost 5 years and ws much the worse for wear, and disgruntled fans finished off the job by gradually knocking off / tearing down bits of it, until it was eventually removed. Presumably whatever bits didn’t disintegrate or get thrown away ended up as private souvenirs in some Florence homes. It’s highly improbable that the whole statue ended up with some private collector because it simply wasn’t whole anymore.
James, Switzerland


History and Cologne
I get where Marc (London) is coming from. The airbrushing out of titles pre-92 isn’t a new thing and I do disagree with it.

But has the game changed enough with the Premier League (TV, dick loads more money, “foreign influence” – in a good way – etc) to warrant it being looked at as it’s own entity?

I don’t know the answer.
But that’s probably because I’m drinking alone on a work trip in Cologne, 6 pints deep and, truth be told, I’m not too bothered either way.

It’s probably also why I wrote “…it’s own entity” which I’ve not done before and might not do again.

The architecture here is lovely and I heartily advise a visit.
Paul, Hitchin Herts. (via Cologne)


Happened a lot lately
Shaun Wright-Phillips retires?! Honest to God, I assumed this had happened about ten years ago.
Matt Pitt


Balls out
I’ve no idea if it’s a good idea for them or not, but I’m greatly appreciative of all the promoted teams choice to commit to balls to the wall attacking football.
Dan, Plastic LFC



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