Was Per’s the best individual Arsenal performance ever?

Matt Stead

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com if you want two Tuesday Mailboxes. Which we all do.


Already looking forward to next season
The mail from Spetsnat yesterday raised a mildly interesting tangential thought.

It’s surely no coincidence that the last 2 run away league winners had no Europe to contend with, which is also a likely factor in both Leicester and Chelsea’s relative lack of injuries in those seasons.

But next season all the ‘big’ teams will be in Europe with 5 all in the same competition. There is also no serious international tournament this summer (certainly the Spurs players looked knackered at the start of this season) and no African cup of Nations mid season (e.g. Liverpool losing their best player for weeks). And it’s quite likely none of the top 7 will have changed managers so no unknown quantities.

I think this level playing field (ignoring the probably very un-level summer spending of course) sets up next season quite nicely.
Tom, Spurs, Melbourne


More on the big six managers
Winning things. Winning things! That is why Pep and Klopp have let the big name managers down, exactly as Guy S put it! That is a barometer of success, not finishing in the top four! Klopp would spend money if he could! If he could spend the most, like Pep did, he would! I shouldn’t need to repeat it but some Liverpool fans don’t seem to comprehend. If Klopp could spend money on decent players, he f**king would! I promise you.

What is all this nonsense about using expectation to measure the success of a season, have you all gone mad? So Liverpool are sh*t? Been consistently sh*t for over a decade now and suddenly because you’ve finished the season without a trophy, (higher pitched voice) you’re not sh*t? 4 teams are in the champions league proper, you’re not one of them.

As you can tell, the ABUs did get to me a little bit before the European final, their absolute desire for United to fail sickened me to the core. We are the biggest, we are the pillar of this footballing nation! We are everything, we represent this country! Don’t you ever f**king forget that! We’ve proven it YET AGAIN! I apologise for the language, I really am far too angry for a Sunday afternoon.
Anonymous, (Manchester.) United


Lovely result in the final, should keep all top 6 fans smiling;

Chelsea – League winners & Conte. Yay.
Tottenham – Second and impressive, young team with Poch in charge. CL next year. Yay.
Man C – Got Pep & a new toy already. CL again. Yay.
Liverpool – Klopp and back in CL. Yay.
Arsenal – FA Cup. Yay.
Man U – EFL & EL. In the CL next year. Yay.

Plus lots of transfers for everyone to look forward to.

Happy summer all.
Welsh Londoner


I’m taking Guy S’s bait mainly because I wanted to get this off my chest: who cares who’s had “the better season”, can’t we just all enjoy the football? All the fans of the big six have something to be happy about this year.

Chelsea fans would have loved the double but I’m sure they’re all ecstatic at winning the league. Tottenham fans have the most exiting team in the league (seriously, the “put the pressure on” memes are absurd), the golden boot winner and finished not only second but above Arsenal. Man City had moments of shear brilliance this season, qualified for the Champions League and I’m sure their fans are eager for the start of the next. Liverpool fans (myself included) would have bitten your arm off had you offered us top four at the start of the season; even if we’d just missed out, I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty points we took in the “big six mini league”, those games were FUN to watch. Arsenal just won an actual real cup, surely they can sit back and enjoy that for a few days? As for Man Utd, sure the football wasn’t great but they won THREE trophies this year and are back in the CL next season.

If you support any of these teams and are seriously whingeing it’s time to start calling yourself Stewie Griffin.~


At the start of the season, i was giddy about the prospect of seeing six top managers going at each other. The thought was that there would be ONLY four spots for a champions league so fair to say that only four managers would win and two of them would fail. Looking back, this is probably the only way, none of them have failed.

1. Klopp, Pochettino performed above par. They got into the top four spots despite having the fifth and sixth largest budgets.
2. Conte won the league. Huge improvement.
3. Wenger won the FA cup
4. Mourinho won the Europa league
5. Pep retained the champions league space with automatic qualification

Next season is going to be even more interesting. Again, two will fail. This time, all competitions will matter. No longer in England does the Carling cup not matter. I expect all teams to take all cups seriously.

Arsene, Klopp, Jose cannot afford to lose. Their supporters arent fully onboard.

Conte cannot afford to lose. His boss is an impatient billionaire.

Poch and Pep are safe in this regard. They have enough capital in the stands and in the boardroom.

And the upcoming season will be won or lost in the transfer window. May the best man win!
Sudarsan Ravi


More Arsenal thoughts (read our conclusions too)
What an incredible afternoon that I’m still coming down from. Now that the dust has settled for all of a day, some thoughts:

‒ If there’s a finer combination of toupe and tash for the owner of a Premier League club, I’d like to see it. All hail Kroenke for this at the very least

‒ Whilst there’s not much to praise, I must say I find the ire to the owner a tad odd. He’s not the one who sets up the team the way it constantly has been, who concedes the same goals on the counter year after year after year, who oversees the post-Xmas slump, who makes the team always so ridiculously open, who oversees some bizarre recruitment etc etc. Personally feel it’s a bit straw man, and part of it is because (ignoring the minority) a large part of us just cannot fathom turning on the man who has been at the helm for so long. I literally can’t even imagine someone else’s name above “Arsenal Manager” on the BBC graphic. And such is the problem we have faced for a large part of the season. The squad is made up of players who can absolutely challenge for the league

‒ For Mertesacker to turn up with that after having such a serious injury. I cannot remember this ever happening before for any player in such a high profile game, and it must rank up there with one of the greatest individual Arsenal performances ever

‒ And so final words to King Arsene. Goodplaya said it best: “One of the great acts of defiance from one of the great managers. Incredible”

‒ Constantly torn down, ridiculed, lambasted, being told he doesn’t know what he’s doing, finished at the top level (by me and many, many other fans). Some of which may still be true in small parts. But ignore football, the man’s resilience is just a truly incredible feat of human nature

‒ He turns up in the tail end of the season, against three managers in Mourinho, Guardiola and Conte – all heralded as bring huge tactical innovations to football. Two of which any fan would have given up their right arm for to come to our club. And he manages to flip the switch and turn out performances of the very highest level

‒ Arsene has won 7 (S-E-V-E-N) FA Cups. Whatever his faults, that is truly astonishing and pure managerial greatness
Sandeep (I tried not to, but Spurs hahahahaha), London.


Chelsea’s summer
– Seeing the Arsenal line-up, especially with Welbeck (who is an archetype Jose Mourinho player), I knew Arsenal were going to press for the opening 20-30 minutes like they did at Emirates with success like they did at Stamford Bridge to abject failure. It was a question of which Chelsea turned up.

– I have mixed feelings on the game. We were poor for 20 minutes and were then as good as Arsenal till Moses cocked it up big time. Arsenal probably deserved winners overall.

– When will Antonio Conte (or is it the board?) realize that we just don’t have the right players across the back to the midfield to play the way Antonio wants to play? Ngolo Kante is Makelele reborn. But he does not have a good partner in midfield. Chelsea’s build-up play is crucial to the way we win games. A lot of it goes through our wing backs and center backs. The role of our midfield players is all about scrapping for the ball, winning it and distributing it. Chelsea needs 2 wing backs (on that later), a central midfield player alongside Kante, a center back or two and an attacker in the Pedro position plus a striker should Diego leave. This is regardless of whether we won or lost the FA Cup.

– Moses and Alonso have been ok and good sporadically (yes you heard it right). Like someone who mentioned in the mailbox, both are nowhere close to proper wing backs. I like Alonso for his game intelligence, but can be easily susceptible to pacy wingers. Moses for all his running is not a proper defender. We need upgrades in those positions quick.

– I’ve written a lot about Cahill so going to keep it minimal. Either Nathan Ake or some other new signing has to start in Cahill’s position and David Luiz has to become the captain.

– Please add Bakoyoko (or Veratti) with Kante also. I don’t want to see a Chelsea midfield bullied by Spurs or Arsenal (ha, despite that we’ve beaten both of them this season!) again ever!

– I think Diego Costa is the best center forward by a mile in this division. Yes, he does not have the technical prowess of other strikers like Kane or even produces Aguerooo moments, but every goal of his is worth points and trophies for Chelsea. Drogba was the same. He never looked aesthetically pleasing like Aguero/Torres but did a job that won the team trophies. Diego is better than Drogba at the same stage. And was comfortably the best outfield player at Wembley including the winning Arsenal team. It was a pity Conte got tactically outmaneuvered at Wembley (on that later) else I saw Costa causing a lot of damage. Chelsea needs to keep him at all costs. Kane and Lukaku score more goals but Costa wins points. The equation is simple. Plus when he doesn’t play, he occupies 2-3 defenders on his own.

– On Antonio Conte, I think he has two ways forward next season. If he wants to continue with the 3-4-3 system, he needs player upgrades in 4-5 of some aforementioned positions. That way Chelsea can play through the pressure of pressing teams like Liverpool, Tottenham, City (we beat them twice despite being not the best team!) and heck even those Sporadic Arsenal pressing. If not, Conte needs to change to a back 4 (I see a proper 4-4-2 succeeding with Chelsea. Not ‘arry’s version but the Fergie/Simeone mix version) and bring more tactical evolution over the season. Anyway, I think he knows best. I am guessing Abramovich will back him big time this summer and it must be enough to get things going.

– A final note on Conte not being a cup/knock-out manager, I point out to the man’s achievements in the Euro championship. It was only a penal shootout loss to eventual winners that cost his Italy the KO tie. He like any world class manager has improved (his visits to various clubs/managers to learn the changes in football a prime example) and can’t see a reason why he won’t succeed in CL/other KO competitions. Next season another top 4 finish would constitute a success to me given the nature of the league in the recent seasons!
Aravind, Chelsea Fan.


Defending Jose
I had enough of reading rubbish about how bad Mourinho was this season.

This is just total ignorance to even suggest that his tactics are negative. There is a huge difference between defending a lead and starting the match to draw. Mourinho’s typical match is a 2-0, and perfect examples are two last European finals he managed- beating Bayern in CL final and now Ajax. Both classic Mourinho. When the match starts he goes for goal. He plays attractive, agressive football. When the goal comes, he defends. But boy! How he defends!It’s such a joy to watch players literally throwing their bodies on the ball (Darmian) or players running more distance that they had been running for their whole carrers (Mata).

Then we have half time, United attack again, score early and…defend again. I love to watch my United play this way, love to see them fight for life. This is great football. And Mourinho can bring that kind of magic- remember Chelsea-Barcelona 4-2 or Inter-Barcelona 3-1…?

Different people have different football tastes. Some love Pep’s possesion based football- I find it boring myself but respect that, others love Klopp’s gegen pressing. I love Mourinho’s intense, efficient football and I find the balance between attack and defence quite perfect.
Cheers, Jack


He’s better than Cannavaro
Peter, you talk a lot of sense but for you to hint that Costa was potentially man of the match and showed Holding up for being the youngster he is was total guff!

From what I witnessed it was the total opposite ! Holding showed maturity and kept the immature Costa in his closet !

Holding has been outstanding in every game he’s played for Arsenal and I loved the way he rattled that egotistical bellend in the final !

Well played Rob !
Chris, Croydon


Derek McInnes
Yesterday was not only an exciting FA cup final but an enthralling, highly competitive Scottish Cup final as well. It marked the end of an excellent season for Aberdeen, where they secured and even enhanced their status as the number two team in Scotland at the moment.

I am a born and bred Aberdeen fan, and as I’ve said before here, they are my first and true club. I’m a Liverpool supporter too, but Aberdeen with always be No 1. Aberdeen are not often written about here, so I wanted to take some time to praise the phenomenal job Derek McIness has done at the club. At the time of writing, McIness is the bookies favourite for the Sunderland job but unless you follow Scottish football, you probably wont know why. Here I present – Derek McIness: The Ridiculous Statistics.

Before McIness took over Aberdeen’s previous 4 league finishes had been 9th, 9th, 9th and 8th. The four seasons he has been in charge have been 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd (It was only by conceding a goal in the last minute of the last game of the 13/14 season that this wasn’t four 2nd place finishes).

Before McIness took over, our record points total in a 3 points for a win season was 65. Only twice had we finished with over 60 points. Our last 4 seasons we have gained 68, 75, 71 and 76 points.

The last time Aberdeen had a season with more than 20 wins, before McIness, was 92/93. In the last 4 years we’ve had 20, 23, 22, 24.

He’s got us playing good football too. In the last 25 years, Aberdeen have had one season where they’ve scored 55 goals or more (excluding 44 game seasons). Under McIness, we’ve scored 53, 57, 62, 74. Look at that last one. 74. The last time Aberdeen scored that many goals (excluding 44 game seasons) was 84/85 when they won the league under Ferguson. There were 6 games this season where Aberdeen scored 4 or more. That is unheard of for Aberdeen in recent history.

We’ve not just been scoring, we’re tighter at the back too. In the 19 seasons before McIness we had 2 seasons where we conceded fewer than 40 goals. We’ve now done it in 3 of the past 4 seasons.

Now, there is a rather large caveat to consider here. This has all come under the period where Rangers have been working there way back from the 3rd division (although keep in mind the first season Rangers were not in the Premiership it didn’t really help Aberdeen as they finished 8th).

It’s fair then to look at how Aberdeen have done against the other clubs in the league. Excluding the McIness years, there has only been one time in the past 20 years that Aberdeen have finished 3rd. They finished 4 points clear of Hearts. Here is Aberdeen’s standings in the last 3 years compared the next best club:

2014/15 – 10 points clear of Inverness
2015/16 – 6 points clear of Hearts
2016/17 – 9 points clear of Rangers. 18 points ahead of St Johnstone in 4th.

McIness also brought Aberdeen their first trophy for nearly 20 years, winning the league cup. You could argue they should have won more than that, given their league form but they’ve been unlucky that the other 2 finals they’ve had have been against this years phenomenal Celtic team.

If you were being critical, you could say Europe has been mixed. Aberdeen have knocked out teams from the Netherlands and Croatia but been knocked out by teams from Kazakhstan and Slovenia. That’s being highly critical though.

It’s fair to say that McIness has absolutely transformed Aberdeen from a bit of a joke in Scottish football to being comfortably the second best team in the league. He absolutely deserves a job at a decent level Championship club. I’d love him to stay but a departure is inevitable and I’d love to see him succeed in England. My worry about him moving to Sunderland would be that they seem to be a total mess of a club. I’d worry that things would go wrong, through no fault of his own and that would be his shot at a decent sized club. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen though. Whenever he leaves you can be sure all Aberdeen fans will wish him all the best.
Mike, LFC (AFC), Dubai


Love for Totti
Dear F365,

As a teenager playing football manager (2004 – 2006 were the peak FM for me) I’d always attempt two transfers to my Liverpool team; Ruud Van Nistelrooy (as he was old and at Real – but still pretty good and a lot of the time the simulation was not giving him game time) (sacrilege – yes I know) , and Totti.

I’d sell who ever we had up front at the time and throw the boat at him.

We even won the league.

As I got older, and somewhat more mature, I realised how awful it was to drag Totti away from Rome. So I always started a Roma game alongside my Liverpool team.

My aim was pretty simple, to win the EPL for Gerrard and Serie A for Totti.

I’ve made a list of the better attacking midfielders / second strikers I’ve seen play on tv – who have now retired (old replays don’t count).

He comes in at number 1 for goals, and number 3 for goals per game.















He will always be Roma. He will always be fantastic. I wish him well.
Adrian, Perth, Australia


Do you think that Francesco Totti insisted on coming on in the 54th minute of his last game for Roma because that’s the age he’ll be when the concept of him no longer playing for Roma will stop feeling weird?


Of course not.

It’ll always be weird.
John (Watching his Cucchiaio compilations on YouTube eases the pain), Ennis


Simply astonished Roma didn’t start Francesco Totti this afternoon, and was even more flabbergasted that he wasn’t substituted after 10 minutes. Legend my arse.
Mark Horton 


Many questions
If Chelsea had won the FA cup, who would they play in the Community Shield? Would it be Tottenham (runners up in the league) or Arsenal (as runners up in the FA Cup)? Or do they win the shield automatically?

If you could be any footballer from history, who would you be and why? A young Michael Owen was incredible to watch.

How did Football365 happen? I’d love to know some backstory. I imagine it was a bit like Ocean’s 11 (or any other heist movie) with Sarah Winterburn driving around in a convertible recruiting her team, meeting the writers in dead-end office jobs, bars or writing 16 conclusions to a kickabout in a local park, and saying “I’ve got one last job…” Was it like that?

(MC: I’m unfortunately not the F365er to tell that story. Ask when Winty’s not getting drunk before watching Huddersfield win promotion.)

How does Peter G know so much about Premier League football? Is he a US-based “soccer” correspondent or a Brit in exile?

(MC: Peter G is a hero amongst men.)

Does Football365 have an office? Does it have towers? I like to think it has cocoon eggs, breakout spaces and Fifa 17 (I’m guessing you don’t read your own website during lunch breaks).

(MC: We’d rather not discuss our office situation, never mind towers. Also, Winty wouldn’t trust anyone with FIFA nearby, and what are lunch breaks?)

How are we going to cope with a summer without any live football? Does everyone have a second sport? Cricket, tennis and athletics are all a bit meh.

Is everyone happy with their goalkeepers? How about second goalkeepers? It seems these days the second goalie gets quite a lot of game time in a season for a top club. Ospina was a bit good on Saturday, wasn’t he? I was surprised City let Caballero leave as he’s better than most second number 1s.

And finally, in Winners and Losers, the best winner is at the top of the list, but is the worst loser at the top of the losers’ list, or the bottom? I’ve never been able to figure that out.

(MC: Dan does what he wants.)

Paul in Brussels


A question for the mailbox because I’m too lazy to do the research…

Arsenal have now won the last 8 fixtures at Wembley, (or at least, not lost in 90 minutes) as some victories were achieved after the 90 minute mark.

top sibig sAnyway…is this some kind of record? When was the last time a team went undefeated for 8 consecutive games at Wembley?
Naz, Gooner.