Did Mikel Arteta let Spurs get close just to prove a point about ...

29 Apr 2024

Arsenal were too casual and then they showed some gumption at last. What a match. Plus, some views on Salah, City and more.

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Gosh, what a match!
If ever you wanted proof that we are not THAT Arsenal team anymore, there you are. It’s almost like Mikel wanted them to get close just to prove a point.
Adam (Happy saint T’s day ????) gooner in France

…Well that became more tense than it needed to be.

It was a weird game, although not quite the one-sided onslaught for Spurs that Gary Neville was trying to tell us it was when it was 0-3. Spurs should’ve scored through Romero and then of course did score through Van De Ven. It was very tight and honestly, if they’d have said onside I’m not sure we could’ve argued it. But, as ever, that euphoric high of a crowd thinking it was 1-1 played a massive part in us being 2-0 to the good so soon after. The psychological impact VAR decisions has is so huge and I’m convinced it played a part here. Again.

I’m not moaning; the second an absolutely brilliant breakaway. Firstly, neither piece of contact is a penalty and I find it rich Spurs fans accusing Saka of diving in a key spot not a month ago are so aghast at today’s non-decision. But after that, the intricate play, Havertz’s vision and pass, before Saka’s impeccable first touch. It was, by quite some distance, my moment of the season in a season of great moments.

Again, the commentary did it no justice, with Neville focusing on what could’ve happen as opposed to what did. Honestly, the price of a subscription is a joke at this point. Then we exploited them from another set piece. Is there a push? Possibly. Is it soft? Relatively. Way to look at it is: would it be a penalty the other way? No.

Second half I honestly felt like we were in total control, with the period between half time and the 63rd minute probably our best spell and it felt like a fourth was coming. Vicario made an incredible save from Saka, but our overall play just felt so controlled. My little one was making faces from the garden at me and I was making them back – that is not normal NLD behaviour.

And then Raya Ramsdale’d and everything changed. Without that moment, I think the post-match discourse is very different. It was completely unnecessary and really far too casual, sort of summing up how the game was going at that point.

As expected, the crowd got back behind Spurs and there can be no complaints about the penalty they did get. Michael Oliver not giving it first time is poor, but I’m not sure about the Spurs fans screaming CORRUPTION when VAR rightly called him to the screen to overturn it, which he did after a single replay.

Ultimately, we got the three points, which was the only thing that mattered. At 3-0, we should’ve seen it out differently, but we didn’t and hopefully we (Raya!!) learn from it.

And then City won anyway, so none of it will probably end up mattering!!

Three to go.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex

???? 16 Conclusions: Stupidity, set-pieces, perfect outcomes and inverted centre-backs
???? Arteta admits Arsenal outcome bias as Postecoglou tired of ‘waiting for somebody down the road’

Is Declan Rice a hero or villain?
I pass to you the following debate.

Is Declan Rice a villain of yesterday’s game for giving away a penalty by kicking a Spuds player in his spuds, or is he a hero for kicking a Spuds player in his Spuds more generally?

Answers on a postcard!
Gooner who wishes Arsenal wouldn’t be on TV at my child’s bedtime, Dubai

It’s written in the VARS
To manufacture the ‘best league in the world’, a little scripting is needed. Keep it exciting, down to the last point. Liverpool fell off, but here’s a new challenger Arsenal and every bit of help was offered to make sure the ‘excitement’ go down to the wire.

Spurs were not allowed to score (VAR offsided their goal), were not allowed a pen (Kulu) and were blocked off illegally by Arsenal players (Vicario) and thus, it was written in the VARS, that Arsenal will win at Spurs away to maintain the title challenge.

Please tell me fans did not see through that.

Meanwhile, real excitement is happening in the Bundesliga, in La Liga, in Serie A, even the Eredivisie with the regular winners falling off and a new world order coming to play. Their excitement is real, authentic, and something the Premier League is trying to bring in after allowing cheat code Chelsea and Man City into the League.

You reap what you sow, and until the financial playing field is leveled out for skills and luck to triumph, there will always be these glitches in English football matches that does not seem real.
Vinnie Pee

If you poke the tiger…
City fan here. I have often read on here that the current City team are a ‘soulless machine.’ Well, back in the day, when United were in their pomp, I remember, all too painfully, what it was like watching them. Whilst we were, more often than not, fighting against relegation, they were playing every game as though they had an extra player on the pitch.

Every team raised their game against them because, you know, it was United. But even then they, seemingly, always found a way to win.

Our biggest game in those years was the derby. It certainly wasn’t for United. They had far bigger fish to fry with the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea. In the rare event we scored first in the derby, I always had the feeling of “Oh sh*t. We’ve just poked a sleeping tiger with a sharp stick.” And all too often, that view would prove correct.

And that, folks, is Manchester City circa 2024. The Manchester derby has interest for City fans solely for bragging rights in the City itself. They are not a threat. Liverpool and Arsenal, are.

Forest yesterday were excellent. They had some 15 shots on target against City’s 10. They didn’t take them. And if failing to take your chances is not the essence of football, then what is?

Make a mistake? This City team will punish you. Score first? You’ve just poked the tiger.

Soulless? Not on your Nelly. Machine? Absolutely.
Mark (I said it last week and I’ll say it again. This PL ain’t over ‘till my ex-wife starts to sing). MCFC

UNIQUE TO F365: Mediawatch | Mailbox | Winners & Losers | Bespoke Prem tables

History tells us Slot could fail at Liverpool
Paul says that because Liverpool successfully handed the reigns over 40 years ago that means it can happen today.

Which is mostly wrong.

Firstly those were the exception to the rule. Since then: Souness failed to succeed Kenny, Evans failed to succeed Souness. Houllier then did a great job for three years before successfully being replaced by Rafa. Rafa was then succeeded by Hodgson, Kenny again, Rodgers before being (somewhat) successfully replaced by Jürgen.

That’s 5 times (out of 7) since the glory years in which we have failed to find the right guy and watch him succeed at the club. And it’s not just this club either, it’s happened at United, Arsenal, Newcastle (Souness again following a Liverpool legend in Keegan), Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Juventus…

History tells us you are more likely to succeed when there is little to no expectations and the higher the expectations go the less successful you will get. It’s what makes the truly special managers like Ancelotti, Fergie, Sacchi, del Bosque really great. They handle the pressure and do even better.

We also have to consider that all those coming from the famous bootroom did it in a time of less publicity, and when the public had no voice beyond singing at matches. Much as you might not like to admit it, from a pressure standpoint it was easier back then than now.

I want to be optimistic about Slot, his record is pretty good; though we should temper that by also saying it’s a record in a league where Steve McLaren took FC Twente to a league win over Ajax and PSV as well. Steve McLaren is now assistant manager to the last Dutch coach out of Holland…Ten Hg. Also there hasn’t actually been a single successful Dutch coach since Cruyff. They tend to be decent cup managers and not much else.

So be optimistic but not blind.

Sympathy not hate
Whilst there is a smorgasbord of ways to unpick the latest version of the same email Calvinho writes on a bi-weekly basis, which basically boils down to ‘why can’t everyone say the same thing that I think about my club because they are the biggest and bestest’, the fact that he wrote the following line without even a hint of irony is a remarkable achievement.

I find this is a result from our modern tribalism, social media algorithms favoring negativity and toxicity, but also as a channel for football fans to direct their rage.

The reason you believe all stories are about Man Utd is because of your echo chamber. Last week the big story was the Forest penalty refereegate – nothing to do with Man Utd. Today I wake up to 1) Chelsea’s disallowed winner, 2) Anthony Taylor randomly stopping play, 3) Klopp/Salah spat – again none of them Man Utd. I don’t even see any stories about Andre Onana punching someone in the head for what feels like the 4th time this season.

But on the point of ‘hate’. I assumed that people had moved beyond the hate of the 90’s and 00’s.

The feel now is just hilarity – that the vast majority of decisions in the last 10 years have been disastrous. That the once great team that walked over all opponents are now routinely outplayed by inferior teams.

And dare I say it, is sympathy making an appearance? Sympathy that they do not seem to have any competent football people behind the scenes, Sympathy that the dead man walking manager comes up with new ways to make himself look silly after the latest subpar performance, Sympathy that the new goalkeeper drops at least one clanger a game, sympathy for having to watch Antony, sympathy for the defensive injuries (ok that one is genuine), sympathy for the forlorn hope that sir big Jim and the (in no way of a result of dubious methods) cycling genius will immediately turn the tide despite being bound by PSR.
J Belfast (pitied, adored, sometimes ignored, sometimes not)

An England XI for the Euros
Given the Euros are starting in around 6-7 weeks, I am sure Southgate has an idea of what his starting line up will be, and truthfully apart from defence, he could field two different teams upfront and in midfield. He isn’t short of options at all in that aspect, but has to pick the most effective and tactical team if England want to reach the final again.

GK: Pickford – Quite self explanatory, Ramsdale isn’t even playing currently and Pope been injured all season.

RB: Walker – Will possibly be his last major tournament with England, but he is the best RB for England and the Premier League currently (Can’t say I blame Ben White for choosing to stay at home if he is just going to be on the bench all the time.)

CB: Maguire – He has tournament experience and has somehow been United’s best defender this season (Which says it all about United really). He could definitely have a clanger or two if playing against a top side, but reliable for England nonetheless, no better option currently.

CB: Stones – Very important he stays fit, quite possibly the most important defender for England.

LB: Gomez – Honestly, I can’t think of anyone else, both Chilwell & Shaw are made of glass and Tripper is past his best too.

CM: Rice – No real explanation needed, he seems to be getting better and better and developing his game very well at Arsenal. Possibly England’s most important player after Kane.

CM: Trent Alexander Arnold – May as well pop him into midfield now right? He can’t defend for shit, but can shoot and pass pretty bloody well. If Southgate plays someone like Henderson or Gallagher, really have no sympathy for him if it all goes tits up (Only other CM who should be considered is Ward Prowse, but maybe too slow to play in a major tournament)

CAM: Bellingham – I was thinking he could play deeper for England, but honestly I think it would be a waste and he is currently linking the midfield and attack so well for Madrid. His performances in this similar position have been World Class and is on course in winning three trophies for Madrid this season, and practically has La Liga secured making that two trophies in his first season at the club.

LW: Grealish/Foden – Now the reason I say Grealish is because tactically I think he is smarter than people give him credit for. There must be a reason Pep is playing in LW in some of the bigger games for City, but Foden is a much better player overall and can add more for England than Grealish, I suppose it depends on the opposition, but given both these wingers play for City, both are as good as each other for England when fit.

RW: Saka – He has a combined total of 33 goals & assists in all competitions for Arsenal this season, played very well for Arsenal in the UCL this season and could still win the League title. Palmer has definitely stood out for Chelsea, but Chelsea are a midtable team and are shocking. Palmer is certainly unlucky not to start, but he will be on the plane to he Euro’s and he would be a bloody great impact player off the bench if one of the wingers or Bellingham is having a stinker.

ST – Kane – He can clearly play in any team in the world, he just knows how to score goals and provide assists for the team as well, but unfortunately the man is cursed. Watkins won’t ever start if Kane is fit.

As a United fan, it pains me that the only England player in this line up is Maguire. How times have changed! Shaw and Rashford have bits of quality, but unfortunately one is always injured and the other is just very lazy and overrated as well. Rashford is a good impact player off the bench, but England now have better options than him in Palmer, Watkins and yeah probably Grealish as well.
Rami, Dubai

On the Salah shenanigans
Salah is a great play maker and scorer. He needs intelligent players around him like the departing Firmino , Sadio Mane and Henderson among others. Unfortunately the club went for inexpensive replacements. And in my opinion, this is the reason behind the manager departure.

…Hey Mo, you were a football journeyman up until Klopp took you under his wing, he changed you, he made you the footballer you are now, how DARE you disrespect him especially in public. You have no right to disrespect him behind closed doors.

Shame on you
Hide your face
Come outside only at night
Shame on you.
Tom Enright

???? Liverpool legend Carragher labels ‘angry’ Salah ‘daft’ after Klopp argument
???? Salah ‘should never play for Liverpool again’ after ‘disrespecting’ Klopp in a way Ronaldo wouldn’t

Nobody cares about the facts
As much as some of us appreciate the PSR and City breakdown, people here don’t care. Football fans in general don’t care. They want to know who are the good guys and who are bad guys and that’s it basically. Due process and the rest are boring and complicated and that is not a world that they want to live in.

Frankly, reading Mailbox these days with the type of unbelievable delusional arrogance displayed by Calvino and Rich AFC yesterday is just tedious. Apparently one thinks the entire world revolves around the football club he coincidentally supports. The other who supports the 4th richest club in the entire country (out of tens of thousands of clubs) who joined the Super League and asks that the current Champions go and join the Super League because he’s bored of losing.

These are not normal and rational people. Football is not a hobby here, it’s a channel for the impotent rage that they feel in their lives.

Today I read a post from the top Liverpool forum with a long term well respected member claiming that he hopes there’s a terrorist attack on the Etihad because his football team will probably not win a league title this year. Social media manages to be even worse than that.

If City are cleared yet again, which would be the 4th time now, people will call them cheats because its not about evidence, it’s not about process, it’s not about “the soul of football” (and certainly fans of PL teams are certainly not the ones who can lecture anyone upon that), it’s
just politics by another name. Some people wear the same colour tie as me and that means that everything they say is correct and just and right and competent and some people wear a different colour ties and that means everything they say is wrong and evil and grotesque and they’re attempting to kill everything that I love.

This site used to mock these type of people but somehow has become part of the problem over the years.
Paul, Manchester

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