Are Spurs a Declan Rice of a transfer away from being Arsenal?

Editor F365

Spurs dropped more points v West Ham but are they just ‘two superstar signings’ away from joining the top three? Plus, views on Man City and Arsenal.

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The Big Ange conundrum
With his first season almost concluded, it is fair to say that the season, top four or not, has been far better than most had expected.

That said, and there are mitigating circumstances, long term injuries and international absences certainly cost the club momentum, but when that is all said and done, the past month has been quite enlightening; our midfield remains questionable; Bissouma nowhere close to the player he was pre-red card number two in December. Bentancur hasn’t recovered to his pre-ACL injury form, which is understandable, and Sarr is still only in his first full season.

Our attack, which is pretty good, could and probably should be improved upon this summer. Our back up full backs are nowhere close to the standard required…in fact, playing them changes our entire system.

Our best player, for the system employed, Van de Ven, has suffered two hamstring injuries, which is concerning given how we need him to play, covering the high line.

Conflicting reports will say that we’re going to flog anywhere north of six players (Lo Celso, Ndombele, Hojbjerg, Emerson, Kulusevski – whose form is another concern – a lovely player but so frustrating, Gil, Sessegnon and even Richarlison, are all of varying degrees, on the block).

The big question then is how do the club play the incoming transfers? Two superstar players? We have loads of money to spend so that isn’t absurd, especially should we be in the CL again, and supplement those with the likes of Dorrington, Phillips, Donley and Devine from the youth set up?

I’d love to see the elusive midfielder we’ve lacked since Dembele and Modric left – granted I’m talking about two exceptional players, and in Modric’s case, possibly one of the greatest ever, come in – maybe Kimmich although that seems fanciful, and a player of Kvaratskhalia’s calibre too.

With so many clubs in financial peril and Spurs thriving, now is really the time for the club to compete. I really don’t think we’re a million miles away from the three at the top, if anything, it’s similar to what Arsenal have done; identify the weakness and go large. Rice’s impact has been clear for all to see. Liverpool did it with Alison and van Dijk, too…

Anyway, we’ll probably finish seventh somehow.
Dan Mallerman

READ: Spurs grateful it’s only Man United pursuing them as they cheer on West Ham and Arsenal


Actually, Spurs nowhere near
Thoroughly enjoyed Dave T’s recent daydream reimagining of the past in order to award Spurs a couple of imaginary trophies. Let’s be honest, we all know Spurs will never win anything. Even Dave knows that.

As for this view of Tuesday night’s game, it was predictably one-eyed.

It is a peculiar thing with Spurs fans. They tend to have such an unrealistically inflated view of their club’s actual position and importance. From reading this review you might be excused for thinking that they were challenging for the title. The reality is that they salvaged one point out of 6 (having lost at home) this season against “their hated rival” in a game in which they did almost nothing to suggest that they are going to bother anyone looking to win a trophy, again.

West Ham were there for the taking, for any decent club. Moyes made zero substitutions. Spurs made 5. Take away Moyes’ ability to bring a DM on (Philips, even Moyes is now scared to bring him on) and he is completely lost. WH missed Alvarez and looked tired throughout. However, Vicario looked completely lost at every corner, and Spurs barely mustered a half chance all game.

Even playing Moyes Ball, in Bowen, Paqueta and Kudus WH had the best three players on the pitch. Alas, with Moyes Ball, we are playing with the handbrake firmly on and the last 20 minutes spent with 2 lines on the edge of the WH area were infuriating. Spurs were nowhere near good enough to warrant that much respect, as shown.

Let’s not forget that Spurs don’t even have the burden of playing any European games this season (ha!), whilst WH are in the quarter finals of the Europa League, having won the Europa Conference League last season, and reaching the semi finals of the Europa League the season before.

It is City, Pool, Arsenal, then everyone else. And yes Spurs, that includes you, sorry,
Mike – Moyes Out – Zero years since our last trophy


Never write off Man City
Ade in the previous mailbox might do well to think back to last season, where in the first half of it, City were considered to have regressed, and several long-read think pieces were circulating (including some on these hallowed pages) about how Haaland had caused City to compromise their style and effectiveness, that Guardiola was growing jaded and City were a team in decline.

Fast forward 5 months, and City became the second English side in history to complete the ‘proper’ treble. It was also their third Premier League title in a row. Guardiola was lauded for the tactical innovations he made, particularly in his adaptation of the roles of Stones and Rodri. Oh, and Haaland scored more goals than any player ever has in a 38 game PL season.

Most pundits still favour City because they are battle-hardened, and history tells us they have done it all before. Arsenal tripped at the final hurdle last year in their first genuine tilt at the title for a decade, and Liverpool, despite their excellence, have only once managed to break the City stranglehold on the title.

Add to that their current modus operandi is a highwire tightrope act that sees them teetering between defeats, draws and last minute wins, coupled with the injuries they have sustained, the youth they are depending on, and it is not hard to see why most pundits hedge and still go for City. They’ve won 5 of the last 6 Premier Leagues for f*ck’s sake. Since their first win in 2011-12, they have won 58% of all available PL titles. Doesn’t really take Sherlock Holmes to see why ‘The Media’ might opt for City.

And just don’t be a pri*ck. Being a world class player, or team, doesn’t mean that you never have a bad game or bad result. Again, look at your sample size. Over the season so far, Foden has been brilliant, arguably the best player in the league. De Bruyne could make a presentable case for having been the best player in the league over the last decade. They are not suddenly sh*t because they were below par in one game against a low block Arsenal who came with a plan to spoil, stifle and withstand and did it brilliantly.

Gascoigne had bad days, many of them.

De Bruyne IS a genius; time will tell if his star is fading with his age and injuries, but that does not negate what he has been, or why people think he is a genius. Also, being a great goalscorer doesn’t mean that you score in every single game. Even Henry took 7 games to get off the mark with Arsenal, and it’s far to say he worked out alright.

This City are nowhere near the worst they have been under Pep. The team in his first season contained an over-the-hill Clichy, Zabaleta, Toure and Sagna, an inconsistent Kolarov, Mangala or Otamendi as the options for partnering Kompany (or a raw, error-prone Stones), three GKs who were not fit for purpose for the way Guardiola wanted to play, and an underwhelming selection of options such as Nasri, Nolito and Navas for the third of the three behind Aguero.

I don’t disagree that the squad is weaker than last year, and it feels like too much change too quickly (especially losing Gundogan’s leadership and big-game acumen), but they are still a great team – just not quite as good as the history-making squad that preceded them.

For the record, I don’t like City, don’t enjoy watching them, find Guardiola irritating, and don’t agree with the clandestine financial strategies they have utilised to push themselves into the ascendancy. However, Ade’s self-appraisal as objective represents a Trump-level self-delusion.
D*cky Malb@lls

READ: Liverpool are kings of Premier League run-ins but Arsenal? Look away now


Arteta right not to risk it
People seem to be curious why Arsenal set out to not lose rather than risk it for a win. Well here is the current table:

Liverpool – 67
Arsenal – 65
City – 64

Well here is the table if we had lost:

Liverpool -67
City – 66
Arsenal 64

If we had lost we would need to win all our games and Liverpool and City both have to lose 1 of their remaining games. If Liverpool win all but draw one, even with a perfect last 9 games Arsenal wouldn’t win the League. City, with the easier run in, having to lose one of the last 9 doesn’t seem highly likely either. Losing would have left it in the hands of 2 teams.

With a draw, we only need Liverpool to draw one for us to be back in with a chance. City can match our results and it wouldn’t be good enough for them which is a huge position to be in, especially knowing how City are towards the end of the season.

Throw in that all the Arsenal players have said that sitting this far back defensively wasn’t the plan and they wanted to do more but City didn’t let us means that coming away with 1 point is absolutely a massive win for Arsenal and Arteta.

I still don’t think we’ll win the League, our remaining fixtures are rough, but anyone thinking that going to the Etihad under those circumstances and coming away with a point and being in a better position for the run in isn’t a great result for us isn’t looking at the bigger picture.

Oh and Tom G, shots on target for City -1, shots on target for Arsenal – 2
Rob A (can’t we just enjoy 3 teams being 3 points apart in the title race?) AFC

READ: Mikel Arteta has normalised Arsenal as title contenders and that is extraordinary


Boring, boring Arsenal
Lot of fans in the mailbox wanting to take a swing at Arsenal fans (seems the only narrative left) for deserting their ‘Corinthian spirit’ to embrace the dark arts/defensive block mentality.

What a stupid straw man.

All great Arsenal teams have been built on a strong base of assholes and bastards. Vieira, Petit, Adams, Bould, Keown, Campbell et al weren’t engaging in tickling contests. Henry, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp and Overmars all put it about at the top of the pitch.

Listen to the crowd at games, we’ve loved the 1-0 to the Arsenal return.

I don’t remember the hating Mourinho of the 00s to be about boring football, that Chelsea team could kick ass and play well too. We hated him because he was a POS, enjoyed belittling our legendary manager and Abramovic bought the league and superheated the destruction of the Premier League as an equal playing field.

So save your salty tears for Arsenal playing teams tough and smart, you’re all just griping because you know we’re here to stay just as it looks like you could be fading away.
Tom, Walthamstow


…I write in to defend the Arsenal. Watching a team tactically foul the skill out of City was a vicious delight. I know other teams commit tactical fouls too, Liverpool as much as anyone else, and I’m not going to criticise anyone but the officiating overseers for it. The rules guidance has been consistent for years, City have used this to their advantage for years, and watching someone finally put the boot on the other foot was a joy.

I hope the only outcome of it is that officials bring out cards for cynical fouls earlier so that we get more free flowing games at the top level, lest tactical foulfests become the norm in title clashes.

In the meantime I commend Arsenal for their guile and will to win.
Dan, Plastic LFC


Ten Hag v Klopp (Part 427)
Not sure what planet David lives on but he claims ETH spent as much as Klopp did in his first 2 seasons and “has done better”.

(Think it’s the Planet Sarcasm – Ed)

ETH has spent £400m in not even 2 years.
By the time Klopp spent that Liverpool were Domestic, European and World Champions.
They had made 2 CL finals.
Accumulated 97 and 99 points.

This is ETHS 2nd full season.
Utd are currently 6th.
They have a 0 gd.
Luton Town have scored more PL goals.
They were completely out of Europe before Christmas.

In Klopps 2nd full season:
Liverpool finished 4th.
Were second highest scorers in the PL.
Made the CL FINAL.

Stop comparing the 2 with lies.
We all have Google.
Gussy, Ireland

(But apparently no sense of humour – Ed)


Man Utd players need a threat or two
Ok, another email on the mess that is Man Utd. Not even angry anymore, just given up – and that’s kind of the point. It’s also glaringly obvious there’s no fear in those United players.

I know life and the world has moved on but United are symbolic of the worst parts of society these days – no one cares. No repercussions. Win lose run or walk they still get 300k. And its obvious to anyone that watches them.

Simply wouldn’t happen with Ferguson or Keane as everyone was absolutely held to account, if Ferguson didn’t kick you out the club then Keane would pin you against the wall. Say what you like, its effective. Ok the world has moved on but don’t tell me there’s not an element of fear if Klopp loses it or Pep pulls you up on not running. Even Arteta now has that about him, screaming at players and kicking out the bad apples.

Ten Hag and his backroom staff does not project the fear factor – even against Brentford Ten hag said we’re showing consistency and is ok conceding 31 shots!?

Commence millennials commenting on how archaic the above mentality is.
Big John Studd