The difference between Arsenal and Liverpool’s captains…

Date published: Wednesday 30th October 2019 10:00

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Fan mail
Seb your piece is garbage and a personal attack on Roy Keane. You don’t state anything about Keane, you just make up comparisons to belittle him and say he’s not relevant, very easy to dismiss everything anyone says by attacking there relevance.

Yes Keane is harsh and cutting with his comments and sometimes wrong. But you look at anyone at the very top of their game whether it be sport or industry there is a ruthless streak very similar to the traits seb double barrel seems to hate in Roy Keane.

Make no mistake Roy Keane is a winner. What’s wrong with taking your profession seriously? Seb seems to want it to be one big happy fun time but the truth is this is elite level football and only the most dedicated will rise to the top and Keane stresses this in his not so wishy washy love everyone kind of way.

There’s winners and losers in this world. Roy Keane is a winner, seb double barrell, who talks about it instead of doing it, show a bit more respect. From a Liverpool fan.


It’s fascinating watching an F365 bugbear form from it’s caterpillaresque origins in the F365 WhatsApp Group, through to emerging, like a predictable, rouge tinted butterfly, from a chrysalis of football wokery. Firstly, we have the initial piece from Matt Stead, logical, calm picking gently hinting that the team aren’t happy with something Roy Keane said. Then SeB piles in with a real hatchet piece, slightly giving himself away with the line “You hated him, of course,” .

Not sure we all hated Roy Keane, Seb. A lot of us enjoyed how he played the game and found his directness of approach and scraps with Vieira utterly enthralling, not too mention the fact he was a truly fantastic player – but I digress. The gripe is in full flight, now, gathering speed as if a snowfall becoming an avalanche, with poor dear Royston now facing the full wrath of F365’s withering might.

I’m guessing that appearances in mediawatch, maybe a John Nicholson piece on how ‘destructive a force proper football men are on the modern psyche of the beautiful game’, whilst always publishing the readers letter that back up this view, will be the next steps.

I’ll add that this is all written with a degree of fondness for a site I’ve been visiting for a decade now. And hey, if the format works, why mess with it

All my love
John Collins, Wolves, London

P.S. These metaphors were all dreadful, weren’t they.

(MC – there’s no chance we’d let Steady in the WhatsApp group)


A defence of Xhaka
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”  Mark Twain.

I’d like to offer a defence of Granit Xhaka.

It is a well known and accepted fact that he is a dedicated professional, who trains well, and has earned the trust and respect of his colleagues and bosses in the professional game, both at club and international level.  He is clearly committed to both his club and country and is trying his best.

He does not sh*g grannies, go AWOL for months on end, refuse to play when asked, get pictured falling out of nightclubs and does not gamble.  He is a family man, committed wholeheartedly to his profession, lives a clean life, did not choose to be captain and does not choose to be selected in the starting 11.

He may not be of the required standard for Arsenal, but neither was Carl Jenkinson, and we all loved him.  Jenko always tried his best too.  Booing is merely a method of confirming that you are a neanderthal and unable to articulate yourself verbally.
Naz, Gooner.


Despite his inappropriate behaviour, one has to feel for Xhaka. He’s merely a symbol of the decline at Arsenal and the result of a vacuum in leadership at the club since Dein left 12 years ago.

He is not good enough to play for Arsenal. Never was. Not his fault – he doesn’t have the right attributes for CM in the premiership at a big club. No pace, agility or athleticism and no ability to Think Clearly Under Pressure – as Sir Clive Woodward would put it.

Yet we bought him. Poor management. The fans could see his was inadequate. They aren’t stupid. They have done to him what they did to Eboue, Gervinho, Walcott, Mustafi and Santos. They see players unfit to wear the shirt and they react quicker than the club. Not quickly – just not at glacial pace like the leadership. They have standards. The club doesn’t. The players are victims.

A lack of ambition and ruthlessness has lived at Arsenal for a long time – and it is the root cause of this.

So Xhaka is the latest example  of a victim player – except we then made  him captain. Can you imagine Man City or Barca or Real having a captain that isn’t really good enough to get in to the team on ability?  Kompany, Silva,  Pique and Ramos. Standards. We have none. Same for ambition and ruthlessness.

if it is true that Emery let the players choose the captain then this shows not only his lack of leadership – it also suggests that the comfort zone that wenger created at Arsenal is still alive at Colney. Players voting for their mate as skipper. A nice fella. Works hard. No leader and not a winner – but that’s okay. We aren’t about success here.

Arsenal have had Gallas, Cesc, RVP, Henry st al since Adams and vieira moved on. All ended up bringing drama. Heck, even kos – a cardboard cut out of a man – left under a cloud. Perhaps only Arteta showed real leadership- maybe that’s why Pep wanted him.

We do leadership very badly because we have no idea what it looks like. Until we figure it out – we are going nowhere, with or without Xhaka.


And the prosecution
Have we sunk that low, that some Arsenal fans defend a player for playing average (against Crystal Palace he wasn’t that bad, but neither good). This has been Xhaka since he has joined, apart from 1 or 2 games early on, he has never excelled. However Xhaka, is not just a player, he is captain, our leader, he should be setting an example, making a difference.

I know the fans reaction was quite damaging for club and the player, but have we set our standards so low that a captain of Arsenal is defended for being average?  Do you think Tony Adams or Patrick Viera would have accepted what they saw unfold against Crystal Palace?  As a leader in circumstances like that, you would expect Xhaka to make a difference, be it a thunderous tackle, a defence splitting pass or even verbally balling your own players, something to get the fans going, but he has never done that nor never will.

He simply is not a leader, and if you accept a player like that to lead this team, then our standards have dropped to the point where mediocrity is now accepted at Arsenal.  We’re just crying out for leadership and some passion, maybe Emery is to blame aswell, but we expect more from the captain of Arsenal.


The difference
There is an interesting contrast to be drawn between two of this weekend’s protagonists: Granit Xhaka and Jordan Henderson. Both have been criticized for their performances as players and their roles as captain, at various times to varying degrees. Xhaka can be seen as an example of why criticism of Henderson is unfounded or at least overblown, while Henderson can be seen as an illustration of Xhaka’s shortcomings.

As a player, I cannot recall Henderson ever costing Liverpool a game. He doesn’t tend to make many mistakes, especially ones close to his own goal. He is criticized, possibly fairly, for not creating enough chances and goals, but this is clearly a lesser evil than players who shoot their teams in the foot. Xhaka’s penchant for costly mistakes makes Arsenal fans’ criticism of him more valid.

As a captain, Henderson has never been anything other than exemplary. Being a captain or manager at a global club like Liverpool (or Arsenal) is completely different from doing the same at smaller big clubs, like Basel and Gladbach (or Sevilla). You have a lot of influence over and responsibility for the club’s image. The bigger the stakes or the more difficult the situation, the more important the captain is. The job Henderson does with Hillsborough-related topics is especially commendable as a non-scouser. This is where Xhaka really failed on Sunday – it’s completely understandable for a player to react the way Xhaka reacted. But it’s completely unacceptable for a captain to react that way. If you’re not the type of person who can keep yourself under control and perform as a captain at all times, you should be turning down the armband.

As a sidenote, I think Premier League fans should keep in mind that Xhaka is actually a very good footballer. He has been one of Switzerland’s 2-3 best players for most of his career. Switzerland is a very consistently good (not great) international team. It is clear that Xhaka is ill-suited for the Premier League, and a terrible pick for Arsenal captain, but dismissing his quality as a whole is taking it a few steps too far. You can also contrast this to Henderson, who seemingly has never played well for England, if reports are to be believed.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland 


Chelsea’s grade for the first ten
Could not agree more with Marc from yesterday’s Afternoon Mailbox, 10 games in is exactly how I measure how the season is going also, now I won’t bore everyone by looking at each of the 20 Premier League teams, I will look purely at my own team, Chelsea.

10 played, 6 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats – Defeats coming against Liverpool and United, played quite well against Liverpool and that United fixture was such a fluke as time as gone by, but it taught us some lessons, frustrating draw against Sheffield United and another against a very strong Leicester side, so far so good, fully expect us to challenge for the top four.

23 Goals Scored – Now before Southampton decided to gift Leicester 9 goals on Friday this would have meant Chelsea sat only behind Manchester City for goals scored this season, now that alone is something to bring a smile to all Chelsea fans’ faces, who doesn’t want to see their own team score loads and with ease?

16 Goals Conceded – Now this is where a problem arises, as a team fighting for top four we should not be conceding this many, we seem to have slowly adjusted our defence over recent fixtures and set pieces are becoming less of an issue to defend, however clean sheets are something we need to start chalking up in the next 10 games before we hit the halfway stage.

Overall we are sat 2 points behind arguably one of the best attacking and complete teams in the world in Manchester City, 4 clear of 5th place and looking like a team to be excited to watch again, academy players are starting and performing, playing as a team instead of relying on a single individual, a few defensive issues to resolve but overall not many fans when the transfer ban was confirmed, Eden Hazard’s departure confirmed and Frank Lampard installed as the new manager would have expected us to be in this position at this stage.
Mikey, CFC (Transfer Ban and Losing Hazard look like positives right now)


Naughty Winks
It’s not too surprising to hear comments as to what Harry Winks does, this season hasn’t shone many at Spurs in a good light  What Winks does well, and will do when he has competent midfield partners is to keep the play ticking over whilst others enjoy the benefits of his simplistic approach to ball retention. Currently his outlets are Rose, Aurier or Sissoko – not one can claim to be a calming presence in possession.

I’m definitely not saying he’s comparable to Modric but I do remember for a while a good many Spurs fans asking what Modric did because he “neither scored nor assisted” which is a little fantasy football isn’t it? Pair him alongside Ndombele and Lo Celso and the theory might well be that three players with excellent close control and eye for a pass will gel together nicely.

I don’t know any Spurs fan who hasn’t been painfully aware of Dier’s limitations either now or previously but for two season his ability to play as a defensive midfielder dropping into a back three was pivotal to allowing the then functioning Danny Rose and Kyle Walker show to rampage up and down the pitch securing Spurs 86 points. Even then no one thought he was Franz f***ing Beckenbaur.


Paul, London – it’s very easy to miss exactly what Harry Winks does because he’s not flashy in the slightest, but then I’m not surprised (no offence) because his style of play isn’t one that’s greatly appreciated in English football.

Forget Tottenham for a second, when England come up against a top side at international level, what’s always their downfall? Ball retention, and that’s whether we’ve had Lampard, Gerrard, Henderson, etc in midfield, doesn’t matter.

Winks is so good because he rarely loses or wastes the ball. Doesn’t appear to be doing a lot but he always offers an outlet from the back line, collects the ball and immediately moves it forward without hoofing it or stalling to find a pass.

Stats don’t lie. Winks has a 90.8% pass success rate this season, more than any Spurs regular. He also completes an average of 62 passes per game, more than anyone outside of Vertonghen and Alderweireld who have the option of knocking back to the keeper.

Basically he’s got the potential to be the English Busquets and it’s sad that more people can’t see he’s far superior to an all-action but hugely flawed player like a Henderson.
Scott, Nuneaton


‘Bedding in’? Pah
Matt from Sheffield, I think you have indeed been watching a different Man United to everyone else. I can’t speak for myself as I have only seen Utd play twice (against West Ham when they were sh*te and against us when they were decent) but according to the life long Utd supporters in my footie WhatsApp group they been quite useless on a good number of occasions this season. A point behind City, are you serious? What about all the points other teams ‘could’ have acquired, have you factored those into your imaginary league table?

Norwich have conceded 24 goals this season. If you are using them as a barometre for your forward line looking like an entirely different proposition then God help you…never-mind the fact that Norwich themselves have had to deal with a far worse injury crisis than Utd. “…not many Brazilians arrive in northern England and start pulling up trees immediately.” It’s not like he arrived in northern England fresh from Copacabana beach still wearing his flip flops drinking pina colada out of a coconut now did he? He had been playing in the Ukrainian league with Shakhtar Donetsk for 5 years. Also, it’s Manchester, hardly the wilds of ‘northern England’ and I would argue more hospitable (warmer at least) than Kharkiv.

“The past few games Fred has looked to me like a decent run in the side away from becoming the nearest thing to the player Anderson could have been.” Where to even begin with that sentence? He looks like he might be as good as someone who wasn’t any good might have been. You haven’t compared him to any of the great midfielders Utd have had down the years no, you’ve compared to him to one who never amounted to anything. Damning praise indeed. Funnily enough, that ‘could/might’ (Your fav words) turn out to be the most accurate thing you’ve said.

Fred may well turn out to be a decent midfielder but to say, “he’s still bedding in,” I mean come on, pull the other one. He’s been there for a year and a half! Still bedding in? I guess Fabinho is still ‘bedding in’ as he arrived at Liverpool a month later than Fred did at Utd. What about Rodri at City? He only signed last summer so must still be at the airport waiting to be picked up, dreaming of next year when he can finally start ‘bedding in.’ Preposterous.

If in 18 months the Utd midfield is McTominay, Fred and Pereira then I for one will be laughing heartily.
Maurizio, LFC, China, (Har har har)


I do love the emails like yesterday’s from Matt,Sheffield that state how if this and that happened their team would be way further up the table.  In this case it was Man U basically not being rubbish at penalties and being a bit…er…better at holding leads they’d be 3rd a point behind City.

Can I also add that if my team Arsenal had not capitulated against Watford, had not had VAR goals ruled out v Spurs and Palace and had been given a VAR penalty v Sheff Utd then we’d be 7 points better off and taking our rightful place in 2nd place a point ahead of City!  I’m sure every fan of every team in the league has these ‘woe is me’ tales of how their team aren’t getting the points they deserve.

Man U are exactly where they deserve to be thanks to terrible performances against Palace, West Ham, Newcastle and Southampton, picking up a single point in those 4 games.
Rich, AFC


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