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Arsenal are back
Since Bruce Rioch’s sole season in charge of Arsenal, we have always finished the following season within 3 places of the last season. In fact over that quarter of a century we have only finished more than 2 places different than the previous season twice.
What does this mean? Well purely based on historical data I think it means it’s unlikely we are going to go from finishing 7th to finishing 4th, we will probably finish 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th. Of course football does not work like this but watching us play the last 2 games I’m very confident we will squeeze into the top 4, the top 4 of London teams that is, Chelsea, West Ham and Spurs look comfortably better than us and I think it will be too much for Brentford or Palace to catch us…
Paul K, London
…Well, lots to write about from that Everton v Arsenal game last night. Two pretty poor teams fighting it out to see who was the least worst. Everton will feel they deserved it due to a couple of offside VAR goals but that would miss the only really big error decision of the night was to not to send off Ben Godfrey for stamping on Tomiyasu’s face! I mean how is that not a red card? By the way when was the last time any opponent playing Arsenal was sent off for serious foul play – it simply doesn’t ever happen. But if you want a ref arrogant enough to dismiss his colleague asking him to look at the video and double down on his own decision then it is Mike Dean. I didn’t see much made of the over the top of the ball late studs to the shin of Tavares by Gordon either, I’ve seen reds for those and remarkably Dean didn’t even see it as a foul.
Ultimately Arsenal had a shocker, far to passive through the whole game. Arsenal have only actually played well this season when they have played high tempo, high press and attacking aggressive football. At the moment it seems they are simply not brave enough to do it. Instead we are inviting poor teams to pressure us, win second balls and build attacks unchallenged.
How Arsenal have lost the last two games is beyond me, they’ve lead both, had a really bad call from the ref in both (Maguire pulling back Tomiyasu was a penalty at Old Trafford) and simply stopped playing and invited teams to take the lead.
Add to that two absolute sitters from Nketiah and Aubameyang. Nketiah’s was harder to miss than score, that should have been the 3 points there and then for Arsenal but instead they contrive to lose the game.
If any team is on a long winless run, just pray you get Arsenal at home because we’ll get the crowd on your side and you can beat us through simply being a bit determined, its far too easy.
4 goals conceded, 2 ruled out. Iwobi should have clinched a third. Sod it, let’s call it 5.
Auba on the bench. Partey playing in Doc Martens, Xhaka still wondering where the ball is. Auba missing another last minute sitter.
This is against Everton.
Arteta out. I’ve seen enough.
Great result to beat Arsenal, especially considering the contrast to Wednesday’s dismal showing against Liverpool. Some conclusions:
-The Goodison atmosphere dug deep and roared the players on to new heights for this season. That was down to the players. Grit, resolve, fight, passion. They showed it all tonight and can be justifiably proud of themselves.
-Gutted for Yerry Mina. We need him back and being re-injured is an unwelcome thing to happen, least of all on his return to action.
-Arteta got it badly wrong tonight. Everton set up to be tough to break down, battle hard and win things in between the lines. Arsenal didn’t seem to have much answer apart from using their width, and when that didn’t work they lacked answers.
-That said Saka should have buried his gilt edged chance and the game looks a hell of a lot different if that happens. Small margins make big impacts. Arsenal lacked the ability to capitalise and got punished. Arteta will be wondering what he has to do to shift that balance.
-On the other hand whatever has happened to Everton in the past five days is a miracle. Whether this is (to quote Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker in ‘The Thick of It’ self raising Lazarus and the players have got themselves up for this, or whether Rafa’s read the riot act, both players and manager can be happy with how Everton bounced back tonight after being at a crushingly low ebb this week.
-That doesn’t change much though. A good amount of fans left briefly at 27 minutes, and even more applauded as that happened. The club still has systemic problems and the awareness is that Rafa and the lads will only paper over that crack, they won’t fix it. Moshiri may have earned a reprieve from the discontent but it won’t stay away permanently unless he continues with the rumoured restructure of the board and gives Rafa some financial support in January (somehow)
-I mistakenly blamed Brands for Iwobi, whereas one of the key leaks from his exit was that he had nothing to do with Iwobi. Apologies Marcel. Iwobi should have buried his chance tonight and made it 3-1, and yet again it underlines how there are players getting regular games who just aren’t good enough.
-And finally, another minute’s applause tonight, for the tragic Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, the beautiful young boy horrifically murdered by his evil father and stepmum. Last week we had applause for Ava White, the young girl cruelly murdered in the city centre. It’s breathtakingly upsetting and tragic, and I’d like to see more done at grassroots level to encourage these young children to speak up if they feel they’re not being treated correctly by family or peers. I’d rather not ever clap again at Goodison for a murdered child. Heartbreaking.
Joe M, EFC
…Was that a Director of Football bounce at Everton last night or simply Everton showing what they can do against opposition not at the extreme level as represented by Liverpool, City or Chelsea?
Did Benitez do against Liverpool what many pundits suggest, going at them as staying back you are bound to lose? And pay the price. But at the same time convincing his team they can do better using the same tactics against more moderate opposition in Arsenal?
The sacking of Brands shows how selecting the right people at all levels in an organization is critical these days. In fact, his role was probably the most critical given it was supposed to provide the higher level direction and consistency for the club, while managers may come and go. United finally did the right thing in brining in Rangnick, who can be both a manager and Director of Football, ensuring continuity beyond any managerial role he may have.
Chelsea are the poster child for having people in senior roles overseeing the ongoing direction, hiring, training and academy, while managers come and go. While each manager may have a completely different style, it can be accommodated.
We never know exactly what is going on behind the scenes – even at clubs where they do documentaries as it always looks like playing up to the cameras – so we can only assess based on actual performances. But It would be far more interesting to understand what is happening at each of Everton, Newcastle, Villa and West Ham to get an insight into their highs and lows. I think we have seen rather a lot about the other ‘big 6’ clubs.
Maybe it’s because I’m paying more attention, but surely this season has more big storylines than most…
1. Man U (up 2): Ole Out
It was inevitable that Ole would get the ar$e, but the interim to the interim thing was pure Woodward-era United. The new storyline centres on whether a temporary (for now) Rangnick will be able to turn a team with Ronaldo, Pogba, Maguire (maybe harsh?) into a pressing side – with success dependent on whether the above buy in to the plan, or stay happy on the bench. And Woodward being OK with the social superstars not on the teamsheet…
2. Newcastle (down 1): Richest side in the Championship
I think we are very close to the point where we stop making a big deal of the Saudi thing and start to focus on the January transfer window and relegation battle. I don’t see the Hazard-type players wanting to battle relegation under Howe, so I think it is a matter of paying silly (relatively speaking) money for your Lingard / Henderson / Ake types. But will they trade a title run / opportunity under a new manager for the Newcastle show?
3. Spurs (down 1): Spurs are effed
It’s been a good month for Levy – vindicated for nailing down Conte when he did given the above, and a bounce in form. It still will go sideways, but if there is enough time between the start of this season and the inevitable blow-up, maybe Levy survives without being the new “Kroenke-out”
4. Arsenal (level): Arteta in
The gulf in class to Liverpool is still just about OK. Losing to United eroded a lot of goodwill amongst fans who grew up watching the vintage Wenger/Fergie battles. Losing against an Everton side whose last victory was against Norwich in September is almost enough to get the Arteta out crew back. Lose next against Southampton (H) and it’s a full-blown crisis… again
5. Everton (up 2): Finish higher than 7th
They might yet go on a run, but the level of discontent amongst fans and executives is an issue. If not Benitez then who?
6. West Ham (down 1): Finish higher than 7th
They might yet have a slump, but the good vibes keep rolling
7. Villa (up 4): Actually good
Knifing a club legend and bringing in an England legend (too much?) with great storylines of his own is box office. Best part of the Dean Smith thing was learning how much money Villa’s owners have
8. Chelsea (down 3): Win the PL
Has a three-way battle for the title received less coverage than this season’s race? The first of the contenders on the list given that, of the top three managers, Tuchel is most likely to get the ar$e and they’ve dropped 7 of the last 15 points
9. Liverpool (down 1): Better than last year
Would have been no. 1 by a mile if Klopp had punched on with Arteta
10. Leicester (down 1): Rodgers as next man up
Eeesh… Does Everton count as a step up?
11. Leeds (down 1): Out of gas
Let’s see how much juice Bamford gives them…
12. Watford (up 4): How many managers
Brentford (A), Burnley (A) and Palace (H) – followed by a 5 day gap – followed by 3 fixtures in 8 days – followed by a two week PL break. If Ranieri makes it past those two gap periods in his post I’d be stunned…
13. Wolves (level): Staying up
Results indicate they are a good side. Coverage by the media (in general, not a shot at F365) indicates that no one cares…
14. Norwich (up 6): Care about staying in the PL
Norwich did something exciting! Level with the richest club in the PL after 15 matches! Still going down, but hey at least somewhat watchable now
15. Burnley (level): Continuing to defy gravity
Ruh-roh… Level on points with Norwich and Newcastle who are both likely to improve. Last match of the season is Newcastle (H) – if relegation is on the line they should move the game to Old Trafford, give the entire town free tickets, and fill the rest of the stadium up with people there for the bantz of watching Newcastle go down…
16. Palace (down 4): Finish between 10th and 15th
Beat City and Wolves, lost to Villa, Leeds, and United (lol)…
17. Brentford (level): Staying up
On track! Surely there are 3 worse teams… right?
18. Brighton (down 4): Top half
Probably a bit harsh, but a well-run inoffensive south coast team in mid-table isn’t really that interesting is it
19. Southampton (down 1): Do something interesting
Still appears highly unlikely – will this season be ‘remembered’ for beating and then losing to Dean Smith in consecutive PL matches?
20. City (down 1): Need a striker
After seeing Dortmund’s defending against Bayern, Haaland might even decide to sign in January…
Simon – formerly of London
The United Way?
Utd have done many things wrong since the great one hung up his boots but watching the game last night, we ended the game with Rashford, Greenwood, McTominay and Elanga – 40% of outfield players made it through the academy to the first team to play in a EPL game.
Say what you want about the state of the team and where we find ourselves but I can’t be alone in thinking that is pretty impressive along with the ridiculous stat about the Utd matchday squad including an academy graduate since the dawn of time.
Perhaps that is the fabled the Utd way we hear so much about and if it is, I’ll take all the rough with the smooth.
Where Leeds go, Man Utd follow
Nothing makes for an appealing Sunday afternoon like a meeting of two bang-average midtable sides, and so it was at Old Trafford.
*Appointing a manager admired for his intellect in some circles and decried in others because the extent of his knowledge of Oldham or Walsall is being able to point to it on a map, then stealing a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace; much like signing Eric Cantona and winning the league, where Leeds United go, Manchester United will follow.
*For Palace, this was rinse and repeat from the other day. Unable to really take control of the game, they didn’t create many chances, and didn’t take the one they did. At that point, a Manchester United victory was inevitable.
*Luka Milivojevic obsolescence update: having previously lost penalties to Wilfried Zaha, free kicks to Eberechi Eze and Conor Gallagher and his place as defensive screen to Cheikhou Kouyate, Tyrick Mitchell has proven himself to be a good corner taker; hopefully he gets the job again.
*The commentator on MOTD2 pondered whether Jordan Ayew would see his miss again later that night. A bit weird, but we can go with it. I wouldn’t have thought so: if you have a Google Chromecast and leave it on standby, you will eventually see images a second time, but it has a large catalogue to cycle through.
*In and of itself a defeat by a single goal away to Manchester United is not a disastrous result, but the manner of the defeat (a third in a row) was disappointing. The hosts were clearly out to impress a new manager, but they are not a hugely fearsome side and most teams who take the game to them have reaped some sort of reward. For the Eagles, the next three fixtures (home to Everton and Soton, away to Watford) are the perfect opportunity to reignite the season. But this is Palace – they could get zero points, nine points or any number in between (apart from eight) and it wouldn’t be especially surprising.
*Ralf Rangnick putting down roots at Old Trafford should have the rest of the Premier League’s top teams a bit nervous. Even while they’ve been below their previous standards, they have been able to attract talented players, but what Rangnick brings is a long-term plan. Combine this with the club’s spending power and they should be able to put together a squad of some of the best possible players for the various roles in his tactical setup. By starting this process now, even if it takes a while to properly bed in, they will be further on in the rebuilding cycle than either Liverpool or Manchester City, both of whom have seen their managers begin to drop hints that they will not be in their current roles forever. It’s lucky for Manchester United that their fans don’t have a track record of being a bunch of Veruca Salts who need constantly placating with a series of new and ever shinier baubles. Oh.
I’d just like to clarify if I’ve got the current protocols for writing into both Monday mailboxes correct. Is it now the case and, indeed, for the next six months that, if City Liverpool or Chelsea lose a single game then, obvs, the mailbox will be full of they’ve blown it, their managers are frauds and look at all that money they’ve spent/wasted etc.?
In contrast, if either West Ham, Arsenal, Spurs or Man U (and ESPECIALLY Man U) win a single game then the following Monday mails will hail the fact that each of these teams are ‘plucky underdogs punching above their weight’, ‘on the march’ or genuine title contenders with a PL winning squad and are, indeed, guaranteed to sweep the current top three aside with ease?
I only ask because, if so, it would save a lot of us on here a huge amount of time to just skip F365 on the first day of the week (For Christians that is) and do/read something very much more productive instead.
Oh, and for those that have written in with the view that City are ‘boring’? Well. You are certainly entitled to your view. On the other hand, if you saw Bernardo Silva’s last two goals along with Rodri’s screamer and more importantly, the build-up to all three, and you still think that that constitutes ‘boring’ football then I give up and can’t really add anything to that apart from collecting my jaw from the carpet.
Mark (Blue Moon!). MCFC.
Great piece on long balls from Johnny Nic, though it does beg one question;
Why if a defender tugs on my plums would I get a three month ban? Seems a bit backwards that.
However, a friendly tug would certainly help to encourage long balls….
Dom (yup, a ball gag) Littleford
Just one day of normal Barclays
Ok, I guess I’ll bite then, seeing as no-one else has. Im a bit confused by Dave Tickner’s witticisms about ‘Vintage Barclays’. Im not entirely sure what its supposed to mean, other than some vague rose tinted view of the past when Barclays actually sponsored the league. Because Dave, they dont any more. They are apparently the ‘Official Bank of the Premier League’ but it is no longer the Barclays Premier League and it hasn’t been for some years now.
So what is the meaning of ‘Barclays’ as an adjective? Im genuinely at a loss.