The Mailbox hails Arsenal and hammers Liverpool. Have your say by sending a mail to [email protected]…
Klopp and FSG kop it
It is often the first sign of a fragile mind that one’s arguments get more dramatic in the face of losses that really sting. These pages are often testament to that.
So I thought I’d write in on the back of the most innocuous of games tonight. None of us LFC fans care that much about the Milk Cup and even less about the game tonight. In many ways a paper cup this season would paint go-faster stripes on a downward spiral of what could have been one of our greatest ever LFC teams in our history, with the trajectory we were on 2 years ago! And arsenal are not particularly loved or hated in Liverpool, not anymore; they may not be serious competition on any front for some seasons to come. Plus, I kind of like Arteta.
But the game was perfectly illustrative of just how quickly Jurgen and his team is falling. I’m sure FSG are far, far too smart to be waiting to put succession plans in place already. So that at least gives me some comfort.
For the second time in a few months, we look impotent against a team of 10! Surely he’s had time to dedicate at least one of the 5-10 coaching sessions he runs per week to run drills with his front 6 of playing against 10 men?? This is a guy who has time for a throw in coach in his training sessions ffs!!!
But he’s been here a while now, loved by many, hailed as our new messiah. Sometimes almost rightly so. And yet without salah and mane, he hasn’t managed to build a back up frontline who can pose the slightest smidgen of danger against a mid table team of 10??? How long has he had??? I find that disgusting.
Hendo needs to find his inspiration again. I hope jurgen is at least working on that with all the time he has spare from NOT running training drills against 10 men and NOT recruiting back up attackers.
You’ll forgive my frank words. I’ve followed my club home and away for a long long lifetime and age gives me the luxury of being able to separate my emotions from facts
…Is there any other team that has this big gap between their championship winning team and the backup? If the squad members can’t get a look in due to brilliance of the 11 on pitch, why do we have players who need 2-3 games to find their rhythm? Ox, Keita, Minamimo, Curtis Jones have looked good enough when given a run-in but Klopp won’t dare think of rotating his first team so why keep them in purgatory?
Now waiting for inevitable announcement of Salah contract extension to hide from the shitshow that’s our transfer activity. FSG aren’t the first ones to do this and certainly won’t be the last. Remember Arsenal under Wenger? Top 4 was seen as an achievement and the Kroenkes plead poverty every window. With him gone, their spend has continued to zoom up and they still couldn’t manage top 4( this season might be their chance). Wasn’t it same with Glazers under Ferguson’s leadership? The greatest trick FSG have pulled off is convincing us to think that temper our expectations by pleading poverty. We’ve the greatest manager in our PL history and we blew up this opportunity to build a solid foundation to dominate for the years to come. All because FSG were too concerned with us not being sustainable enough
Vikas, LFC, India (Seems the way to stop us is going down to 10 men)
Liverpool find nothing ‘soft’ about brilliant Arsenal
Xhaka: the anti-Inzaghi
As an Arsenal supporter I’ve come to accept one thing from Xhaka. You can rely on him to have a Xhaka moment in almost every game with a possible booking as well. The only difference is whether or not it’s going to be a yellow or a red.
Although Xhaka is the gift that keeps on giving, the defensive performance last night and in the second half of the City game were both down to Xhaka being sent off. This shouldn’t be taken as a positive but atleast it was good to see the immediate impact made by the substitutes Arteta brought and how they worked together as a unit.
The problem with Xhaka is not just his level of bone-headedness physically, but also a mental one. Watch him every time he fouls a player and make a stupid challenge. He seems quite convinced that it wasn’t really his fault or that the foul wasn’t harsh enough to warrant a booking, let alone a sending off. Back when he threw his jersey and walked off the pitch, he still didn’t apologize for his actions and somehow felt he was being unjustly targeted by the fans.
This is not the type of leadership that is going to lead Arsenal forward especially in big match situations, and at this point it is entirely up to Arteta to make that call. He made his point known with Auba and I see no reason why he shouldn’t do the same with Xhaka. Given Partey’s absence, Xhaka has yet again put the team in a situation where he could’ve been available for crucial fixtures ahead and is out due to his own silliness.
I just hope that, in the same manner that Martinelli capitalized upon his chance to slot in for Auba, someone has the ability to do the same
and replace Xhaka, whether it is Lokonga, Tavares or a combination of both. Xhaka is just a walking liability and he is not going to learn from these incidents, just as he’s never done before. At this rate, the only milestone of his career at Arsenal will be to have usurped Vieira in the number of red cards given.
Xhaka is like the opposite of Inzaghi or an Anti-Inzaghi: He finds himself in the wrong situations and costs the team almost every time.
The only positive is that he won’t be available to jeopardize the team by another sending off in the North London Derby and the return leg of
the Carabao Cup.
…Can you imagine how good Arsenal might be if they didn’t play Xhaka every week? I think in his case we should’ve had the right to request that he be forced to play on; it would’ve been more of a punishment for Arsenal.
Sterile display overall from Liverpool tonight. Too many shots from outside the box. Too little creativity to break through the low block. How does Minamino not score at the end I’ll never know.
If there is a positive it’s that we hopefully didn’t waste too much energy because we had the man advantage.
If there’s a negative for the club as a whole I’d say we lost some bargaining power with Salah tonight. There’s no way that game finishes 0-0 if he’s on the pitch against ten men.
…We don’t come away from Anfield 0-0 with Xhaka on the pitch. Without him we had one job to do and we did it magnificently. Xhaka would have given away more chances. Now the NLD however is worse off without Xhaka…Arteta is going to have to show his managerial chops and get creative.
Rob A (1 shot on target…at Anfield!) AFC
…I take it Xhaka didn’t get the memo about the ‘No More Red” campaign?
Liam, Water is wet, night after day, Granit will Xhaka
…Your central defender and left back are out of position and there is a tonne of space (not all your fault) and you’re left tracking the runner. Do you:
A) Track Jota, sprinting to goalside and hold them up
B) Track Jota, he gets ahead of you so try and run around him or at least to his side while he’s bringing the ball down and make it difficult for him to take the shot – White was close to covering and Ramsdale was coming off his line
C) Track Jota and make a desperate lunge into his ribs as last man, (outside the box, thankfully)
If you answered C, you’re Granit Xhaka. A or B would have been fine. But Xhaka always chooses C, or the longest answer (Its what got him through university).
Finally, Arsenal did brilliantly last night, Chambers and Holding showed they are perfect for mid table sides sitting deep in a back 5.
As for signings, if there is a chance we can get Tielemens, I’m all for it. Vlahovic too. Central midfield and a striker are absolutely key to Arsenal moving up a gear. The clutch will always break with Xhaka in control.
Strevs, Afc, Canada
For a team that is often lazily called ‘soft’ whenever they lose a game Arsenal have silenced that last night. That was a display of character, fight and defensive organisation and the point was fully deserved. Restricted Liverpool to a single shot on target, in the 92nd minute, after playing for 10 men for 65 minutes with an already hugely depleted squad due to AFCON, injuries and Covid – no ‘false positives’ as far as I’m aware though.
It felt completely unfair that this was the way the game that was played. I’m not talking about Xhaka’s red, I’d want a red the other way round so no complaints there. My complaints are with Liverpool gaming/cheating the system to ensure they had Allison, Matip, Firminho and Trent all available for this match when they were the only 4 with covid at the time the first leg of this Semi-final should have been played. Klopp’s numerous false positives are such a statistical impossibility (1 in 8 billion chance of getting 3 false positives) show that something very fishy went on. And to rub salt in that particular wound it was then Arsenal who faced a real injury and covid crisis for this game but manfully went ahead with the game. No problem if Liverpool beat us, they probably still will in the second leg, but at least make it a fair and level playing field.
I wonder now whether Arsenal should ask for the Spurs game to be postponed, if only to highlight the unfairness of the system, because Arsenal only had 17 senior players for tonight’s game, they lost 2 to injury and 1 to suspension. Send Mari on loan or find a few extra injuries and hey presto Arsenal don’t have 14 fit players.
Back to the Liverpool game I thought every player was fantastic but White didn’t put a foot wrong and Martinelli, Saka and Lacazette put in a hell of a shift all game.
…I’ve always had a soft spot for Liverpool – mainly because of their fans. They were always pretty fair to Arsene and they hate United more than we do.
But all of this stuff around the false positive Covid tests and the controversial rearranging of this fixture makes last night’s result feel like a moral victory.
Well done to every one of those Arsenal players – apart from Mr Brainfart.
The weird thing is I couldn’t care less about the league cup and would rather Liverpool eventually put us out of our misery so we can concentrate on the league.
It’s a trophy managers can point to as something they’ve won but it always amuses me when one of the Champions League teams win just the league cup – it always makes their annual team picture look pretty pathetic.
For the record, the one time Arsenal won the league cup on its own – it didn’t look as rubbish as the traditional trophy does.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Well, I think we all know that by the end of their careers, the answer to “who is the best PL right back of all time so far” will be either Trent Alexander-Arnold or Reece James. But right now, it’s too early for them. In James’ case, it’s because he doesn’t have a long enough track record, while in TAA’s, it’s because his defensive improvement hasn’t had the lifespan to gain traction in people’s minds.
So let’s look back. Firstly, Gary Neville. I think you un underrate his crossing, which I remember being a depressingly good weapon. Cutting off the cross from Beckham just meant you got hurt by Neville. Similarly, you overrate his defending, imagining what was merely exceptional as inhuman. For all his hard work, Neville never really had the physical tools that some of his contemporaries had. Plus, he had an amusing propensity to drop gigantic bollocks. (Though this second part might just be me remembering him in Manchester derbies). There’ll always be this suspicion that he was a really good right back, but one that might have been carried by being in an exceptional team.
I think you missed Lauren. He was an exceptional two-way player during the peak of the Wenger years. He does suffer from the same curse that afflicts pre-Cafu right backs, in that being forgettable meant that you doing the job right. You could just as easily pick the man he replaced, Lee Dixon, who made himself an attacking RB in his thirties.
Finally, two people who aren’t the best but should be mentioned anyway: Pablo Zabaleta was perpetually not the first choice RB for money-bags city, yet seemed to still keep playing more games (and better) than his replacement. Lovely player. Sort of a classic defensive midfielder, just playing at right back.
Second: Steve Finnan. Two-footed with an absolutely ridiculous crossing accuracy tied to classic boring-right-back defending he quietly went about being exceptional from Fulham and Liverpool for the better part of a decade.
But let’s be honest: the answer right now is Gary Neville. He was as good in attack as any of the pre-TAA crop (yes, better than Walker) and better in defence than anyone post Dixon. And the title fights of the next decade will decide if Reece or Trent replace him.
Andrew M, London
…An interesting question posed by John (LFC) in Thursday morning’s mailbox.
I think it’s a tricky one to decide the best RB in Premier League history, especially when you consider how much the fullback position has evolved over the last 30 years. Comparing any fullback to Trent in terms of attacking output is completely futile – as you say, the number of assists that he creates are frankly ridiculous.
Having said that, my vote would still go to Gary Neville, and I take slight issue with him being described as shit when he crosses the halfway line. He was a very underrated crosser of the ball, and actually managed 48 assists in his career over 599 games. Compared with Kyle Walker (who as you say, contributes plenty going forward) who has 47 assists in 515 games, so not too much between them, and without even factoring in the very different demands of a fullback 20 years ago versus today.
…I’m starting to feel like a proper old man. Getting all worked up because some young whipper snapper isn’t entirely appreciative of one of my idolised 90’s footballers and says stupid things like Gary Neville “…isn’t that different to Wan Bissaka in quality”. I honestly want to reach through the monitor and throttle sense into them, “AGREE WITH MY OPINION OR DIE!!!”. This must be how gammons feel all the time.
As teens me and the lads would argue with the old fellas in the pub about ‘modern’ footballers, and I’d never accept that Steve Coppell was a better winger than Lee Sharpe “the little guy who’s boss at Palace, piss off you’re having a laugh”. Same goes for arguments about Keegan, Dalglish, Brooking and probably loads more. ‘That was decades ago, football has moved on, your dinosaurs wouldn’t have a chance against todays professionals’ was basically my attitude. Now I’m the ‘old fella in the pub’ except this pub only exists as code.
I think to some degree footballers are like music. The bands you listened to as a teenager are likely still the bands you listen to today and nothing will ever be quite as good as they were. So keep your assist records, and your goal involvement, and your ‘revolutionised his position’ nonsense, give me the squat lad from Bury with the mophead hair any day. Conversations about great footballers are as much emotional as they are logical, you can’t win with stats, you can’t compare across decades. Gary Neville is the greatest right back this country has ever seen and there isn’t a damn thing you can say to convince me otherwise
Dave, Manchester (young whipper snapper is anyone under 30, don’t care how grown up you feel you’re basically still children)
Just not good enough
That mail from Vikas might be one of the worst I’ve read. While it’s a good idea, I don’t understand how he’s arrived at the conclusions he has. I’ll start with Gollini. He’s quite simply not good enough. He’s struggled in nearly every game at Spurs and was poor for the goal last night. There’s a reason they aren’t going to make his deal permanent. In addition to this, Lloris has been in great form over the last 12 months and rumours suggest he’s going to stay again next year. Moving on to Van de Beek and I would agree that he’s been underused but he has Fernandes in his position. It’s obvious why he doesn’t play. Dalot is alright. Nothing special and I’m not sure he’s even better than AWB, who everyone was demanding an England call up for 12 months ago. I’ve seen Dalot play badly and I’ve seen him play well. United need a better RB than him if they want to challenge. Pulisic is obvious. He’s very injury prone. Tuchel rotates his side in general but he would be getting a lot more games if he didn’t keep breaking down. Nat Phillips isn’t good enough. Plain and simple. Matip has proven himself to be one of the best CBs in the league. Konate was signed for big money and was excellent in Germany. Gomez needs a loan to get minutes but people seem to forget he’s just back from a bad injury. Sometimes players don’t find their form back straight away. Phillips would have had a career in League One if it weren’t for Liverpool’s injuries last season. He did very well considering his ability but let’s not suggest he deserves to start for Liverpool. Mendy has got plenty of chances. Hes just alright. He has better players ahead of him whether that’s in midfield or defence. Nketiah would get a run of games if he impressed in the league, which he never has. Look at Martinelli. He was frozen out for ages. He got his chance and has taken it. Nketiah also just isn’t very good. Can’t imagine he will ever a Champions League level player which is what Arsenal need. Midtable PL career at best I’d imagine. I do like him but he’s just quite limited. Godfrey is the most obvious one of the entire list. Digne has been frozen out. Godfrey is better playing LB than any of the other possible players in that position. Keane, Mina, Holgate would not fare well if you moved them out wide. Godfrey is decent carrying the ball and will obviously move back into CB with the arrival of their new LB.
Pick in the Thursday morning mailbox says AFCON is awful and wonders why anyone would watch it. Firstly- the fact that he says it like it’s a brave controversial opinion is kind of hilarious. His view is actually pretty common outside Africa and we get these views every single time we have that tournament.
I agree that the games have been a bit cagey so far (is it really so surprising that so many teams will be cautious in their first game?) and some have indeed been outright crap. However I personally have been entertained and like millions of others will continue watching right up to the end. The random moments of chaos like the ref blowing early in the Tunisia-Mali game also make it all the more worthwhile as does watching all the teams which rarely or never make the tournament.
We will simply have to make do without Pick and while that’s a heavy cross to carry, I think we will manage it.
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda
…Pick’s mail this morning about the AFCON tournament being so far quite poor is sadly spot on, naturally it is live football and available on Sky Sports i have given it a fair watch because why not? live football is live football but it just has not served up much entertainment so far as we hit the end of the first round of fixtures.
12 games played so far, 9 have ended 1-0, 2 ended 0-0 and 1 ended in a 2-1 with both goals for Cameroon being penalties, now personally i had Nigeria vs Egypt marked down as the game to watch straight away from that first round of fixtures but it was not only a poor game in terms of quality, from my own perspective i have seen very physical battles on the pitch but in terms of technical quality it has been quite poor, the quality of some of the pitches i would assume have not helped that.
When it comes to big talking points so far it is not a player that stands out or even a team but the officials, the Tunisia vs Mali game which ended with Mali winning thanks to a Kone penalty is the talking point right now because the referee first signalled for full-time on 85 minutes, then ended the match when the clock showed 89 minutes and 47 seconds, there were two lengthy VAR calls in the second half one for a penalty and second for a red card offence yet no additional time was forthcoming, would be great to hear other thoughts on the AFCON tournament so far.
To quickly answer Vikas on players who seem good but never got a chance, when it comes to Chelsea it would be easy to bring up the classic names of Salah or De Bruyne so i won’t entertain those names, my suggestion has to be Thorgan Hazard he always showed on loan he had talent and continues to do so in the Bundesliga but was never given a chance like at all as his only appearance that i know of was for the U23 side.
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod
…The idea that Salah is exclusively a ‘systems’ player overlooks the fact that Liverpool, at full strength, have world class or near world class players in most positions. As a result, double teaming Salah would and has meant one of the other Liverpool players would score. Even Messi failed to exhibit his performances for Barcelona at international level. Clearly the amount of time being coached in a system at club level cannot be replicated at international level. Which is why most international teams play less complex systems and the very top clubs would likely beat most international sides.
Afcon has lived up to reality and not the ‘its being disrespected’ hype. Even the ‘magiic’ of having Comoros in these finals is a little skewed – they are the Jack Charlton’s Ireland of the Afcon, with only 1 of the squad being born in the Comoros. (At least Jack had 5 of his 22 man squad born in Ireland.) In fairness, with covid, injuries (which are more plentiful at this period in European leagues) and the very short time to prepare, it would be difficult for any team to shine. But Afcon has always been low scoring. While the teams are not high in world rankings, they are. for the most part, fairly evenly matched.
This will be the 33rd Afcon. There have been 21 Euros and World Cups but something like 47 Copa Americas! I have no idea what time table the latter works to anymore. If the World Cup moves to a 2 year cycle and expanded, we are going to be served up more dross. If Afcon thinks it’s getting less exposure and respect now, how much will it get with a 2 year World Cup cycle, yet it will be voted in due to Afcon FIFA delegates. Can the UEFA teams just say we will only enter every 4 years? The schedule will be massively over extended, with the clubs paying for the players and the players paying with shortened careers.
What makes a good rivalry?
As this Friday brings the next instalment of ‘the rivalry that must always be explained’, I wondered what do people think are the ingredients for a good rivalry? I would suggest something like this:
1) You must be in the same division.
Hard to be rivals when you don’t play each other. And while it’s fun to gloat, it’s not enough to keep the fires burning.
2) You must always beat them. The odd hammering doesn’t go amiss.
3) You can’t ever lose to them
4) You must finish higher in the league
* Bonus joy for a 2 & 4 combo
5) Last minute winners/equalisers are a must.
For, obviously. Against is just too gutting. Bonus joy if you’ve been absolutely battered but get a point/win.
6) Beat them in a landmark game, for example be the first team to beat them in their shiny new corporate stadium, a fact that will always be in the history books. But, even better that that…
7) Beat them in a massively important game. For example the Championship play-off semi-final. At their ground. In a game they expected to win. After they’d taken a massive shit on your dressing room floor. With 2 goals from the player they hate the most, largely because they know he’s better than any player they’ve ever had, and would have him in their team in an instant, but can’t possibly admit it.