Cowardly Arsenal are a unique kind of awful…

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Arsenal are uniquely awful
With apologies to the long-suffering Newcastle fans who obviously have the most entrenched set of (100% justifiable) grievances with ownership, Arsenal are currently undergoing an unique kind of awful leadership; cowardice and responsibility avoidance.

It’s evident Emery is not performing well at Arsenal. Stats show it, watching it shows it. The man has no philosophy, no capacity to energise/encourage or tactical nous. Less lame duck, more dead, stuffed duck. There is no clear path for improvement, no suggestion we’re at least working towards an end-goal. No clear future is articulated, so we’re treading water. Or more accurately, slowly drowning.

What is so frustrating though is this situation, and the cowardice of the board to take no action, is hurting the players. When Emery comes out and says we need to be patient as these are young players, he is hiding behind his squad. So are the board.

Because let’s face it, the only reason we’re here with ‘young’ players is that Emery has alienated, ruined or neglected older players, and our youngest players still have little exuberance/energy left. So obviously it makes sense to now deflect all the negativity onto them, because it saves genuine scrutinising.

Winners and Losers hit the nail on the head, I don’t think any Arsenal fan I know genuinely is angry at Xhaka. He’s not a top 4 midfielder, I don’t think he should be an automatic starter and certainly not captain. But he got hosed because Emery has no authority or grip, and then refused to take any ownership of the frustrations of the fans.

So a board refuses to make a decision, because they can hide behind a dead duck manager, and the manager in turn puts players in the front line of this shitshow.

It’s so easy to describe fans as fickle, or talk about trust and patience, but when everyone can see its just a smokescreen, any potential for long-term trust being developed becomes impossible.

It’s frustrating as I’d successfully checked myself out of these kinds of emotions regarding Arsenal in late stage Wenger. A brand with some fuzzy nostalgia going stale made it easy to detach. Then something new happens and it gets interesting, and I’m back in.

But this is so much worse. Wenger at least respected the fans. And loved his squad. He might have been past being able to fix the squad, but he cared about more than his own job.

So yeh, a unique kind of awful. Except United are in the same position I guess. But they deserve it.
Tom, Walthamstow


Kompany revisionism
There’s no hiding the fact City’s defence is a mess right now, but I’m getting a bit tired of the revisionism regarding Vincent Kompany. He’s one of the greatest players the club has ever had, on and off the pitch. But pundits being critical of Pep for not replacing Kompany are being very selective with the facts.

Kompany hadn’t appeared in more than 30 league games for City since 2011/12. In his final four seasons, his league appearances were 14, 11, 17 and 17. He had not been a part of the regular first XI for a long time – masked by the fact he had a longish run in the team at the very end of his final season.

The reality is that Kompany has already been ‘replaced’ by City, several times over, with a lot of money being spent on this. Unfortunately most of those replacements have proven to be below the standard of Kompany at his best, and the only one who is close (Laporte) now has a long-term injury.

Perhaps we can criticise Pep for not being able to get the best out of his defenders, the way he clearly does with his attackers. But regarding his transfer policy, it was a reasonable proposition to think that Laporte, Stones, Otamendi and the Fernandinho option would be sufficient going into this season. It’s only because of Laporte’s unforeseeable injury that we now question this. For what it’s worth, I still think not buying Maguire for an inflated price was the right call.
Richard MCFC


Pep v Klopp
A different take on City vs Liverpool…

On City’s defence. Its a lot more difficult buying defenders for a team that plays a more attacking game like City than say, Burnley. This is not a knock on Burnley, simply a reflection of team style. Same with Hodgson or Allardyce teams. Does it mean they can’t attack? No. But there is a bigger difference when teams play a much higher line like City and Liverpool. It puts more stress on the defence both in terms of the type of player required and the style of defending. City only had one defender unavailable due to injury. Laporte. So they should be able to manage with what else they have, given the amount they have spent on their defence. Which leads me to point number 2.

Pep plays to a plan – not to the other team. His famed 20 zone game plan that he has his team work within is intended to be able to take advantage of any opponent. It should allow them to exploit space left by the opposition while also protecting against counter-attacks. City nearly won last year (missed penalty) at Anfield by playing a much more conservative system. But this year, while looking the better team early on, City succumbed to 2 quick counter attacks. Sure, it took supreme skill to pull those off but that was the calbre of opposition they were facing. Pep says his team did not play badly, in fact he applauded their play, yet they lost – again. Is it that Pep has his players play so rigidly to his game plan that they are unable to improv when needed?

And to the last point. City should still have a great defence given the money they have spent on it. Also, if Pep is to be the greatest manager who ever lived, surely he can coach his players to be better. Is Sterling better for working with Pep, given how he was on that trajectory before joining? Clearly he can’t make Sane or Mahrez better as he doesn’t trust them to play enough. Same with several of his defence. Meanwhile Klopp has TAA and Robertson playing out of this world. He gets so much out of Wynaldum and Henderson. Fabinho was given time to learn how to play higher up the field and he was a monster on Sunday – again. And even the front three, all of whom were good or very good are now stellar. Klopp can also change tactics when needed to win games differently. Win games differently as his squad changes or improves or opposition dictates.

The season is not over and the league is no won but the game did provide an interesting contrast between the two managers. Klopp does seem to have Pep’s number, coming off better overall. Is this a reflection on how one style can trump another and in rock, papers, scissors? Or is this more a reflection on the man and the plan?

If City can continue to beat all else in the league continuing to use their core style – which they are more than capable – they may not need to change to win the one or two games against Liverpool each year to win the title. But perhaps this year may be different.
Paul McDevitt


Shades of Suarez
Jamie Vardy appears to be in the form of his life, and he’s the darling of the league now thanks to his points haul in FPL. However that’s not my point.

My point is this; am I the only one that sees the similarities between this Jamie Vardy and Suarez under Rodgers? The selfless runs, the getting hacked down, the hassling of defenders on the ball, the gambling runs off a defender making an error, the amount of goals, and above all the fire in his belly.

As I said, Vardy is in the form of his life, but Rodgers deserves a hell of a lot of praise too for getting him there.
Culk the Younger


Believe the hype?
A non-Liverpool/City mail (let both shock and horror ensue)

John is back berating the Premier League and its marketing campaign, creating a delightful article that can be surmised by the statement “not worth the hype”. Yes, we all know, but Sky need the money from people watching and thus will market the living s**t out of everything. That is what a business does. Everything is overhyped, Johnny, absolutely everything, not just the Premier League.

Here’s a list of overhyped things my brain conjured while writing this:

Christmas, New Years Eve, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, my birthday, your birthday, everyone’s birthday, smoking, losing your virginity, social media likes, avocado on toast, kale, Starbucks coffee, anything made by Apple, living in London, any and all reality TV…

I could go on but I think you get the idea. Everything is severely over-marketed to make money. That is what our society has boiled down to. They’re all meant to be mind-blowing in order for our small brains to become interested in them, but the hype doesn’t meet it. The Premier League is no different, it is a marketable asset therefore it will be marketed.

I’m not wholly sure of my point other than the point John is making really doesn’t need to have an article made about it.

Joe, London (it really isn’t worth the extortionate rent)

Click Here: New Zealand rugby store


…In reply to John Nicholson’s recent article, yes football matches get overhyped but so what? Personally I barely tune into the hype train during the week and on the day tend to switch on 5 minutes before kick-off and turn off 5 minutes after the end. The whole thing is entirely optional and is not worth getting so worked up over.

I actually thought the game was excellent. The attacking football on display was, at times, breath-taking and the goals were sublime. The defending was concerning from both teams at times, especially from City, but all it did was make for a fantastic game of football. Also, playing under the floodlights always seem to add a bit more and with this Liverpool teams seems to get the very best out of them especially at Anfield.

So I guess what I’m saying to John Nicholson (whose work I usually enjoy!) is to ignore all the hype and enjoy the game for what it is. That way you aren’t too badly let down when it’s a drab affair or a fast paced, end to end affair like it was yesterday. There is no middle ground with Sky/BT so don’t expect one!

I’d also like to add that the ‘penalty’ was correctly waved away – Bernardo Silva clearly used his hand even if it was accidental and the call wouldn’t have had to have been made if not for this.
Tim (still not believing we’ve won the league – it’s November ffs!)


…Jebus, Johnny has really pushed the boat out for his weekly diatribe on why the corporate/capitalist world sucks ass. This time its ‘Hype’; That most insidious and invasive of media techniques, that takes a lashing from Johnny’s socialist whip.

How dare they hype games! In my day we all knew instinctively when and where games would be and left the coal mines with just enough time to get to the stadium. There, northmen with gravel in their jockstraps and tobacco in their cheeks kicked a large brown stone around a mudbath and everyone was happy, until they had to go back down the mines anyway.

The argument wouldn’t be so redundant if it wasn’t so painfully obvious why BT and Sky hyped games. They pay billions of pounds for the rights. Billions of pounds, Johnny. It would be pretty stupid and irresponsible to pay that kind of money and then not hype a match between the current champions of Europe against current champions of England, the two best teams in the world, in a match that could very likely determine the fate of the Premiership. For all the other games, see billions of pounds as a sensible reason to hype games in the hope people watch and thus make the enormous investment appropriate.

Why are you even complaining about this? Is this was constitutes complainable content in your world? That media organisations hype (some would say advertise) upcoming sporting events. This is what you felt was worth the time and effort to drone on and on about? Or is it part of your very obvious and rather boring dogma that football has lost its soul and Johnny is the only one that can save it all. You try and ignore the sensible logical reason to hype a game of football (because it will attract people) for a much more outlandish and conspiratorial opinion that media executives rearrange the accepted market landscape to increase the importance of football, and by extension, their jobs. I simply don’t buy it, mainly because you don’t need to gather in some kind of secret coven and plan this kind of nefarious plot when football is just generally becoming more important by due of its increasing size throughout the world. This is the biggest league, in the biggest sport on the planet. That job is being done for them.

Your complaint is akin to standing in the middle of a boxing ring during the ring walks for a Heavyweight title clash and as Michael Buffer starts his booming introductions grabbing his mic and saying “Leave off, Michael. We all know who’s boxing, these are two greats, lets just run em’ down to the ring sharpish, whip off their dressing gowns and get going with the fisticuffs.” To a deafening silence from the crowds. “Fine, we’ll do it your way. Anyone fancy a drink after the game…? No me neither…”
Ed Ern


Football needs fireball tracers
Not everyone will have seen MOTD2 but they had fireball tracers on some of TAA and Robertson’s passing and it got me thinking. Instead of spending all this money on VAR why don’t we sack that off and put the money into live onscreen fireball tracers actually during the game. Now hear me out here, it’s not as mental as it sounds, they already basically do it in golf with sort of ball tracking thing, add flames, you are there.
I know what you are thinking, a bit like VAR it’s only any good to people watching on Tv. But no, I have the answer, like the old 3D cinemas when you arrive everyone gets special glasses that have the fireball tracer technology built into them. Liverpool fans get to see their amazing full backs launching rockets around the ground, Man U fans look on in awe as rashford knuckleballs an Exocet missile into the top corner. City fans admiring KDB bending a howitzer onto aguero’s head or even Balotelli torching a racist fan with an inch perfect blast.
Sure it would be controversial but think of the possibilities, you could have cartoon explosions when the ball hits the net, hilarious sounds like the waaa waaa waaaaaah sound when someone misses a penalty, Nelson Muntz saying “ha ha” when someone gets a yellow card. Seems considerably less controversial than wasting the money on VAR.

P.s. Sky are really going to have to think about the pundits they are getting in the studio, honestly you couldn’t get a more miserable bunch of grumpy old men if you tried, Keane, Souness, Jose and Kompany. Not one smile was cracked between all of them, its a game of football not a funeral lads.
Graham Kirk, Sunny Manchester


Arsenal fans have always moaned
JazGooner – I would have to agree with this
Took my stepson to see Roma play at Highbury a few years back (knew some kind people who gave up their tickets on the north Bank).
We were warned about a couple of moaning people just in front
At one stage the most sweary and unhappy of them shouted out ” oh for F..Sake Bergkamp, you’ve got no skill”
As Jaz says, it’s not a new thing
Steve LUFC (and we know a thing or two about moaning fans at ER)


Was Otamendi playing?
Re Minty LFC’s message about how there should be a bigger conversation about City relying on Otamendi against Liverpool, how he’s not a footballing centre half and how he’s not Pep’s type of player, a couple of points…

Otamendi wasn’t playing
Otamendi has proven to be an excellent central defender, voted into the PFA team 18 months ago, that wasn’t a sympathy vote
Otamendi wasn’t playing
Otamendi regularly tops the Opta stats for not giving the ball away
Otamendi wasn’t playing
Pep didn’t sign him, it was Pellegrini
Otamendi wasn’t playing
To summarise, he wasn’t playing.
Gav, Edinburgh


More conclusions
Another mail from a Liverpool fan to go along with the hundreds of others you have I’m sure..

A few not so brief conclusions from me:
1. The TAA handball, at first watch I thought it should have been given. However, per the replay it’s rebounded off B. Silvas arm and as of the start of the season any handball by an attacker in a goal scoring opportunity is considered a foul, and since approx 70% of penalties are scored surely that counts. (Yes I googled this to confirm).

I remember city having a goal ruled out vs spurs earlier in the season for something similar so should be familiar with the rule by now.

The most embarrassing thing is no pundits or even the referees twitter account seem to have a clue about this. Regardless the handball rule really confuses me, as Dele Ali and Engels got away with blatant handballs the previous weekend.

2. KDB is amazing and is the best player in the league comfortably. He would have won POTY 2 seasons ago if Salah didn’t score over 30 goals in the league and if he stays relatively fit should get it this year.

3. Leaving aside the penalty shout, Aguero’s misses were the game deciders for me. Hard to believe he has played 10 games in Anfield and never scored considering he is one of the best strikers to ever grace the premier league.

4. Salah was back to his flying best before getting the knock on his ankle, hopefully he can recover again over the international break.

5. Angelino seems to be taking the brunt of the blame for some or all of the Liverpool goals and this does have some merit. However throwing him in the dead end at Anfield is asking for trouble.
However what is Walker and Stones excuse, at least the young left back gave a threat going forward late on. They were really poor throughout with poor concentration, passing and losing numerous 50/50’s.

6. I thought Klopp was slow to react to city’s change of moving KDB out to play towards the right side with Sterling, they had numerous 2 vs 2 and as a result completely over ran that space creating numerous opportunities for city included the original incisive build up for Silva’s goal.

7. Despite the media making grand statements I don’t believe this title race is over, city could win their next 20 games and nobody would be surprised, hard to imagine Liverpool keeping up this ridiculous form forever.

8. Finally, as with the 2-1 city win last season this game completely flew by and the intensity was incredible. So many genuine world class players on show despite city missing Laporte and Ederson, leads me to think one of these 2 will win the Champions league this season.
S( Pep loves the peace sign)


Sounders rule all
So we had a tsunami of Liverpool vs Manchester City reactions this morning in the mailbox and for good reason, however I am going to pull you all away from that result for just a few paragraphs and talk about the MLS Cup, the Super Bowl of the MLS season.

Last night Seattle Sounders won their second title with a 3-1 victory over Toronto, a Toronto side that featured Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore (who got the goal for Toronto), Toronto dominated the possession part of the game however Seattle found a way as they have done all season and came away with the trophy, interesting fact Seattle Sounders have made the MLS Cup final three times, each time they have played Toronto in that final, the first they won on penalties in 2016, the second they lost in 2017 2-0 and of course last night they won 3-1.

This is a Sounders side who this season had to take on LAFC, arguably the best MLS team we have seen in recent years with Carlos Vela the jewel in their crown, in LA and come from behind to win 3-1, whether you take much notice of the MLS or not, it is certainly a league that in recent years has become a fun to watch and expect the unexpected league.

Naturally as a big NFL and Seattle Seahawks fan I do back the Sounders, but I highly recommend finding an MLS franchise to support, it is a fun breath of fresh air away from the Premier League, a league in which Vela has been better than Zlatan, it is worth the investment.
Mikey, CFC


As an occasional rugby viewer, what hit me in the World Cup was not just the superior video technology, or the players’ respectful attitude to the ref, which are two elements I have long wanted football to adopt, but also the commentators’ attitudes to refereeing decisions.

We all know VAR is a dog’s dinner. How professional referees, who have studied the game for decades and know the rules inside and out, have managed to tie themselves in knots this season is beyond comprehension. But let’s get real. If a player is a millimetre offside, he is offside. You either want 21st century precision or you don’t. And if your player handballs the ball in the opponents’ box, and the ball then ricochets and hits an opposing player on the hand, how on earth can you cry for a penalty?

If the Liverpool-Man City incident had happened in the rugby, the commentator would have noted there were two infractions, and the game would have moved on. In football, the commentators stir things up, the pundits whinge (regardless of their levels of knowledge of the rules) and managers make pointed references to possible refereeing conspiracies against them. Until that culture changes, any improvements to VAR are just going to be cosmetic. The ugliness of the game is that most of us don’t accept that the referees are the best at their job, and that football will not be improved by applying television’s forensic analysis to every last kick and shove.


Alex, Zurich… I don’t know if this is your first child bud, but I promise things will get better. The first few months are just about getting through it sometimes and not bonding immediately is perfectly normal.

You might start to resent yourself for not bonding and maybe even find yourself resenting the baby or your wife for the seismic shift in your life. If your wife is on maternity leave and your back at work you might feel sidelined too. She’ll have a routine with the baby and because you’re not there, you won’t be an integral part of it. What she does won’t work for you and it can all spiral into a big ball of frustration. You just need to hang in there and when the little bag of puke and sh1t starts to laugh and giggle and the tears and screaming subside it’ll all seem like a distant memory.

I’m on my second now, he’s 4 months old and screams bloody murder if anyone but his mum is holding him. It’s really hard and there have been times I’ve been holding him in one arm while holding a cushion to my mouth with the other so I can scream into it because he’s so frustrating.

But we’ve bonded through adversity.

I’d wish you luck mate, but you won’t need it. Just keep plugging away and you’ll be grand.
Doug, AFC, Belfast

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