Keep your emails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
So losing to Chelsea was annoying but not totally unexpected. What felt a bit frustrating was that we seemed tactically outclassed completely. It was a bit weird because Karius kept rolling it short and they would immediately press us very intensely. We couldn’t handle the press and it meant we couldn’t really build attacks. I wonder if Karius felt he couldn’t go long because we would’ve lost all the aerial duals given their height. What was even more annoying was that when we did break the press we faced two deep lying banks of 4 and they were so organised and we had no idea what to do.
The issue with breaking them down lay with our midfield. This was a game in which AOC and Lallana were sorely missed. Either one would’ve broken the lines and played in the half space to break up the Chelsea banks but none of our midfielders were moving and so it was very easy to get organised against us.
It was a shame because Wijnaldum had a few games where he became creative, forward moving and generally non-anonymous but he seemed to revert to type in this game. TAA couldn’t cross for toffee and Clyne was horrendous. I can sympathise with them really; they just be mentally and physically exhausted from this season but it’s annoying that now there will be a lot of focus on the Brighton game next week (barring Huddersfield doing is a big favour).
A Bridge too far
When I was able to get ahold of some tickets to the Chelsea/Liverpool game from a gracious Chelsea member and friend, I was truly delighted. They’d be a birthday present for my Liverpool fan of a husband.
I’m American and I’ve been here for two years… I wasn’t ready and my delight was so very naive.
I began to tell people at work what I’d be doing at the weekend, like you do, when I started getting all the scariest advice. “Sit on your hands and don’t you dare let on that you like Liverpool!”. You see, our seats were in the lower shed, not that I had any clue what that meant. I came to understand that in this sport, fans are kept away from each other. It’s a completely foreign concept to me as the mix of the crowd at any number of American sports I’ve attended has always been a nice aspect. A chance to find other fans when something good happens and high-five. Sure, you might give a sympathetic smile to a fan of the other team, but call them a “c**t” or a, “murderer”… not so much.
I almost skipped the game altogether after hearing the horror stories from my colleagues but I also didn’t want my husband to see his wife skip out for fear… of a sporting event? Of entertainment? Of a source of joy and escape from the other boring platitudes of daily life? Surely, it couldn’t be all that bad.
To be fair, it was just as I was told. I pinched my husband’s leg when Liverpool did something great but nothing beyond that. I clapped with vigor when Chelsea scored and tried my very best not to show signs of disgust on my face when the father clasping his three year old next to me screamed a slew of profanities at a 19 year old player.
It didn’t take long to realize that these, “fans” spent about 80% of the game slagging off (and I mean CRAZILY slagging off) the other team and when they finally remembered why they were there, they would muster a song far less creative than the insulting ones. “Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelseaaa, Chelsea.”
As we left the game unscathed a man screamed, “murderers!” one last time right into my ear. I asked loudly if that was necessary with the hope that maybe he’d have a moment of reflection and instead I was told, “if you don’t like anger, don’t come to the football”.
If that’s your bag, football fans, then I’m bagging this sport. It’s a shame as it seemed like fun… on TV anyway.
Giroud’s sale was the right call
I’m reluctant to rush to defend Arsenal over the sale of Olivier Giroud for fear of being seen as just another rabid fan reacting to a perceived sleight, but, hey, that’s the risk I’ll take.
Daniel Storey, who is great, calls it “farcical”, but on this occasion he’s going way over the top. It’s not hugely complicated: in order for us to sign Aubameyang, Dortmund needed to get Batshuayi, and in order for that to happen, Chelsea needed Giroud. They were the ones at the end of the chain, calling the shots, and without them, our window to sign a younger, better, more suitable striker probably would have closed. Giroud has had a good start to his Chelsea career, but Aubameyang most certainly has too, and it’s the latter who you’d expect to have a much bigger impact on his team next season.
When that glorious French adonis was at Arsenal, it was basically accepted he was a Plan B+. The truth is he didn’t possess the game to bring the best out in his teammates over 90 minutes – the irony that Arsenal only crossed the ball when Giroud wasn’t playing pointed to them also functioning better in those circumstances – and while it’s possible Chelsea’s tactics and personnel will see him impress as a starter there (and it’s weird wanting to see anyone in that shirt do well, as I do with Ollie), it doesn’t change the fact that it wouldn’t have happened with us.
Both Arsenal and Chelsea benefited from his sale. It’s hardly the take to launch a thousand clicks, but sometimes the truth is just nice like that.
Best wishes for Sir Alex
I started following football in 1965 when a young man from my home town was becoming famous for his performances at a United team managed by the legend that was Sir Matt Busby. Since then, a lot of the moments of pure joy and despair have resulted from the performance of the team in red. The disappointing 25 years without the League title, the ups and downs of this manger and that. Then he arrived.
Another three years of what is going on then. Years of simple bliss. New young players, Cantona, the Class of ’92, the Treble and more.
These are highlights in my life. Those that don’t get football don’t get these moments of pure ecstasy. Emotions tugged, pulled, beaten up, raised to the highest levels. The last minute victory, the endless conversations that arise from supporting a team
And all if this for over 25 years was down to one man.
Thanks Sir Alex, and get well soon.
Well done, Warnock
I’ll start this by admitting my own hypocrisy: 10 years or so ago, the sight of Neil Warnock and whatever bruisers he was managing at the time was the ultimate nightmare for Dave Jones’s skilful teams of bottlers. Indeed, when we played Sheffield United in August I took a sharp intake of breath. Bound to be tough…but…what? Oh yes, course, silly me! But give the man his dues, he is a legend!
Cardiff City were 11th favourites for promotion, 33-1 last summer, with a team of free transfers from Rochdale (Mendez-Laing), Walsall (Etheridge), and the scrap heap (Bamba, Hoilett). And now we’re back in the big time! I love the unbreakable spirit of our team – Bennett and Morrison both turned down transfers and therefore pay rises to stay – and that can only come from one source. To call him the ultimate Championship manager is arguably damning with faint praise, and yes, next season will be tough, but who knows? After all, we’re already used to winning games with 35-40% possession, so we won’t need to change tactics much!
And forget Fulham ‘deserving it’ for that long unbeaten run, we came second because we won more games, irrespective of the order of the Ws, Ds and Ls. I also like to picture their fans a few times recently, feet up after Friday night wins, expecting us to lose tricky away games! Sorry boys, we had too much sheet balls to do a Cardiff this time! As it goes, I hope Fulham go up too, but for now, it’s a great day to support Cardiff City! Neil Warnock’s barmy army!!! The game needs a few characters; it’s got enough uber-serious foreigners with their look-at-me beards and bottomless transfer pots. Plus, he’s a qualified referee you know!
Gareth Dix, CCFC fan in Sutton
Best league in the world?
A few days ago someone wrote in to the mailbox suggesting this is the weakest Premier League ever in terms of quality.
There were some replies with stats and stuff but for me I have to agree with them when I look at the table and see that every team bar the top six has a negative goal difference.
That is really rubbish!
The logical Clasico conclusion
Well done Liverpool, you have been guaranteed winning the Champions League tonight and here’s why.
Barca couldn’t beat Madrid so they are as good as Madrid.
Roma beat Barca so they are better than both Barca and Madrid.
Liverpool beat Roma so they are better than Roma, Barca and Madrid.
So Liverpool do the right thing, lose against Brighton, let Chelsea finish fourth and England can have 5 teams in the Champions League.
Bernard (think of the co-efficient) MUFC
Football. Bloody hell.
Football, beautiful football.
Going into the last game of the championship season, Bolton needed a win against Nottingham Forest to survive. They also needed Burton and Barnsley to lose or draw against play off chasing duo Preston and Derby respectively.
I was fairly confident that Preston and Derby would help us, but was concerned that with just 1 point in the last 7 games we just wouldn’t have the heart of fight to get the win we needed.
Kick off. Burton and Barnsley soon concede and Barnsley start imploding against a strong Derby side. Despite Bolton really going for it, we couldn’t score, with 38 year old sole striker, Aaron ‘Wilbrahmovic’ Wilbraham toiling unsuccessfully. Cometh the hour, cometh the substitute and fan favourite Adam Le Fondre to make it 1-0, the crowd go wild etc etc..within 2 minutes it was 1-1. Burton also equalise and are all over a now 10 man Preston. The stuffing is well and truly knocked out of us.
Soon after it’s 2-1 Forest. Us Bolton fans have seen these defensive collapses all too often. Game over we thought as we waited for news of the inevitable Burton goal that would sink us for sure. We could never score 2 goals in 20 minutes would we? On 86 minutes, makeshift striker David Wheater calmly slots home from inside the area. Hope. It couldn’t happen could it??
A few minutes later, a long ball, a flick on, a lobbed cross and Wilbraham stoops to head home to make it 3-2. Mayhem ensues as Wilbraham, who had previously scored 1 in 22 becomes an instant fan favourite. News comes in of Preston scoring a winner and before long our survival is confirmed and Burtons relegation sealed.
Just 5 minutes of football in two stadiums confirmed Bolton’s safety and Burton Albion’s relegation. Fans of both teams going from heartbreak to ecstasy and back to heartbreak in minutes.
Dave C, BWFC
Where will it all end?
I just notice the back of Alberto Moreno’s shirt says “Alberto. M”. I speak Spanish, so can confirm that “Alberto.” is not the abbreviated form of Alberto. Personally, if I were going for inappropriate punctuation on the back of my jersey, I’d go for the question mark, but that’s just me (exclamation point feels too obvious).
But, in reality, I think we need to agree to stamp out incorrect punctuation on the back of player’s shirts completely. A stray full stop might not seem like a big deal to most people, but I’m concerned we’re now full-on the slippery slope down to emojis on the back of people’s shirts. And… f*ck that. Also, not surprised something like that would be all Alberto Moreno’s fault.
Ian, LFC (will change my mind if Alberto. M changes the full stop to a poop emoji) Hartford, CT USA
Top five tedium
So the top five managed one goal between them this week in the league.
I can’t be bothered to look it up as it’s been a mental week but that must be rare.
Come on guys. Early: Friday night, winners: Brighton. How could you miss this? Under the radar has been great all season but surely the seagulls deserve the love right now!