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Mind the gap
TGWolf(4th place trophy, we’re coming for you)THFC
Are you going to write “16 Conclusions” every time a top five team beats a mid-table team at home?
Ron (Wenger Out) Jeremias, Washington, DC
Just to add on, that’s exactly why United sold Mikhitaryan, he’s another Kagawa, not consistent enough in the Premier League for whatever reason. Cech looks so, so shaky but saved Arsenal from being embarrassed today. Dembele is a magnificent athlete. That is all.
James, Ireland 🇮🇪.
Spurs beat Arsenal, Harry Kane scores – no big shocker. Player moves to Arsenal, has great first game, fans get excited and he sh*ts the bed against top opposition – no big shocker. Just like Welbeck moving to Arsenal from United, he started well, and then fell off like all Man Utd fans expected him to. He wasn’t good enough for Utd, Arsenal thought they could bring out of him what the biggest club in England couldn’t. A club he had been at since he was a kid and whom the entire club knew inside out. He wasn’t good enough and still isn’t, not even for Arsenal. I wanted Mkhitaryan to work at Utd, I was giddy when he joined, and he delivered very little.
I am no fan of how Jose treats some players, as I smugly remind people how good I thought Salah was when he joined Chelsea and laughed when they sold him, Jose was spot on with Mkhitaryan. It is quite clear Jose will target mentally weak or suspect squad members, put them through the ringer, and if they survive his hazing, they get to play or stay. Shaw has seemed to weather this storm for now, and Jose has had some vastly improved things to say about him. As for Henrik, I expected him to do well on his bow for Arsenal, and he did exactly what I thought he would against Spurs – the square root of bugger all, like he did so often for United, especially in big games. Lots of ability, but doesn’t train on – like so many of Arsenal’s squad, perhaps they are a perfect fit for each other.
I was sorry to not see him work out, but not sorry to see him leave, his ability in a Utd shirt disappeared for one reason or another and couldn’t even put simple passes together, his mental fortitude was shot. As 16 conclusions has remarked, Arsenal’s front four on paper looks quite sexy, but I feel those pieces won’t come together as they are expected, at least not against the best. Arsenal are in really, really big trouble, and just like when SAF left Utd, it will get a lot worse before it gets better once Wenger leaves. I can’t wait to see Keown implode over the next few years and Garth Crooks wind him up endlessly.
Red Devil Dub
Doubts over Koscielny
Wenger will undoubtedly bemoan the validity of Kane’s winner, and cite a possible foul on Koscielny in the build-up, but a bigger concern for the Frenchman should be the reliability of his compatriot.
I am constantly amazed by the high regard for Koscielny in so many quarters. This is despite him being as culpable for a game-altering mistake as much as anyone in the league, and it’s certainly too common an occurrence for a supposed top quality centre back. Kane’s leap above him for the goal is just the latest example of his lack of a mean-streak. He is simply “bullied” far too much in aerial battles. He also has the occasional tendency to lunge into a tackle on the half-way line whenever he finds himself facing a counter-attack, which is careless some of the time, but brainless every time.
To my mind, he wouldn’t have started in any previous title-winning teams (certainly not any of Arsenal’s) and wouldn’t even make a huge difference in the current Liverpool and Chelsea back-lines despite their well-publicized deficiencies in that particular area.
Yet he is constantly regarded as being in the top bracket centre-backs in the Premier League. If anything, that is indicative of how the quality of defending has regressed just as tactical innovation has advanced. In fact, it isn’t a mere coincidence that his status as an ever-present has dove-tailed with Arsenal no longer being genuine title candidates, and indeed struggling to even stay within the top four race.
He is the walking embodiment of Arsenal’s struggles.
Brian (although relying on Iwobi as a game-changer from the bench isn’t helpful either), Wexford
Peak Kane v peak Suarez
The real comparison should be:
Peak Kane vs Peak Suarez. Both phenomenal strikers with very similar attributes. Both are big game players with the ability to score from all sorts of situations, link-up play and tremendous work rate.
Suarez probably just about nudges it. For now.
Dembele is everything Jack Wilshere wishes he could be, yet BT Sports commentators wouldn’t stop going on about how good Wilshere was. Mousa parted the Red sea time and time again today. What a player.
Best individual season
Just a quick question for the mailbox…
What player has has the best individual season of the last few years?
I say this after watching Kevin De Bruyne again on Saturday tear it up, and to my mind he’s having one of the greatest seasosns I’ve ever seen from a player.
Ronaldo in the year he won his first Balon D’Or is up there, and Suarez 2013/14 is there too.
But who has had the best individual seasons over the last few years?
Did Chelsea only sign Giroud for Barca?
I just want to present a theory I have regarding Chelsea’s target man’ chase and subsequent signing of Giroud.
Does anyone else think that this signing was made first and foremost with Chelsea’s tie against Barcelona in mind? When you look at Chelsea these days, you see a team of slight, technically proficient forwards supported by an energetic midfield sprinkled with a dose of passing and link up play. I know Chelsea are going through a rough patch, but putting current form aside, this is an accurate profile of their front 6.
Barcelona have a very similar make up these days. Paulinho and rakitic provide that energy in midfield sprinkled with the extra class of busquets who keeps the tradition of the great Barcelona midfield of iniesta and xavi alive. The difference is that Barcelona have all of those things to a higher degree than Chelsea. Morata vs Suarez is not a comparison tbh,, and messi is everything that hazard would love to strive to.
Chelsea needed a difference maker for this tie. That one player who could tip the scale in their favour. It is apparent on paper that Chelsea cannot go toe to toe with Barcelona. They need a player who will allow them to have that plan b of hoofing the ball to when Barcelona are applying consistent possession based pressure at the camp nou. That player who will hold the ball up and give Chelsea a leg into the game. Crouch, benteke and Carroll all fitted that role to varying degrees. Although not top drawer strikers by any measure, they all possessed the quality that I speak of above. Giroud is arguably a gem amongst that breed of striker due to his superior touch and link up play in relation to those mentioned. Also the fact that all these guys are aged 27 and above tells me that this is a short to mid term plan.
The fact of the matter remains though, that I am confident that Barcelona will blow Chelsea away and will March towards a third treble in the last decade. Followed by messi winning the world cup and capping off the greatest year of his career.
Watch this happen.
Johnny Wicky, LFC loyal from Toronto
Fish out of water
This is probably an overreaction to Mkhitaryan’s abject performance versus Spurs, but we’ve seen it all before.
Somewhere in Europe, hell even in the UK, a coach and his team start doing really well. The players buy 100% into their coach’s vision and system of play and, the stars aligning nicely, the coach has exactly the right players for his system. He bought some, got some from the academy, whatever the means, he has enough of the perfect players to fit in his system that the team takes the local league by storm and do nicely in the European competitions too.
We’ve seen it at Dortmund, with Klopp building a superb team with Lewandowski, Kagawa, Hummels, Mkhitaryan, Gotze, Reus, Blaszczykowski and co. We’ve seen it at Monaco, with Leonardo Jardim building a great looking attacking team around Falcao, Fabinho, Mendy, Mbappe, Lemar, Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva. Diego Simeone is doing it, and has done for a while (remarkable in itself) at Atletico with Falcao, Aguero, Costa, Griezmann, Felipe Luis, Koke, Gabi, Diego Godin, and many more.
The team’s success means the players look great. And so they get offers from other clubs, but what we find is that in general they really struggle in a different environment. Kagawa tried really hard at MU but it didn’t work. Falcao was a big failure in the UK. Bakayoko at Chelsea doesn’t look right, he doesn’t seem to fit. Felipe Luis was never great for Chelsea. I would argue that Gotze hasn’t quite delivered at Bayern even if he hasn’t been rubbish. To me, it looks like Mkhitaryan won’t quite succeed either, even if it’s way too early to judge his Arsenal career.
In some rare circumstances, the player can move on and adapt well to his new environment: Falcao was successful at Atletico first, then at Monaco. But it didn’t work very well for him at MU or Chelsea, now, did it. Back in Monaco, he is back to his old self, showing that the system there suits him well. Lewandowski clearly has the class to be a success anywhere and is thriving at Bayern, and would probably succeed were he to end up at Real Madrid or anywhere else. Sergio Aguero is an undisputable success at Man City.
Anyway, this long email was just to say that we often underestimate how some players are made for a specific system, and will struggle outside of it. Not all players – Zidane, Ronaldo, Messi will shine anywhere under any coach, but even someone like Kante will work well in any midfield, and I would guess that most goalies and defenders will adjust more easily as they’re less dependent on possession patterns. But in midfield and attack, it’s not just the change of country that can be problematic for some, but the change of system.
Mike, Chelsea fan in Auckland, happy for Falcao doing well at Monaco.
Driving a wage
Something that’s always confused me is why do we only talk about players wages per week when generally if you ever talk about jobs and money we talk about a yearly salary?
For as long as I remember this has been the case and especially now it’s used as a stick to beat certain players with but it has always struck me as strange that we don’t refer to player X earning Y amount over Z years like any other profession.
The only thing I can think of is back in the day players would get their wage packet once a week (maybe they still do)but the modern game with the numbers involved it seems now like it’s used to shock and sensationalise. Maybe I’m thinking about it too much.
Lee (trying to think of anything other than the NLD) AFC