Arsenal didn’t bottle it, they ‘drowned’ as Gunners revert to type; Man City’s super villain squad

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Arsenal drowned under the pressure of the Premier League title race, while people need to stop ‘whining and moaning about how Manchester City have ruined football’…

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com

 

Not bottling, but drowning
That settles it, right? This isn’t a bottling — it’s a total glug into the abyss. Gameweek 29, Arsenal were 8 points clear, albeit with a City game in hand. Since then they’ve taken 9 from a possible 24.

Nine! DDDLWWLL. Not even the grouchiest Spurs fan would have predicted that. 15 points dropped, and when you’re salvaging bragging rights from beating a functionally-comatose Chelsea, you know it’s bad. Their form down the home straight has been a humiliation.

Barely six weeks ago, you couldn’t move online for Arsenal and their boosters (including some who write for this very site) giving it the big one. All quiet on the northern front now.

Whether City’s death march of inevitability and this young team being broadly ahead of schedule make this a quote-unquote conventional bottle job is going to be contested by Arsenal fans. They’ve played some lovely lovely ball. But to shrink and handle the title to City on a day they don’t even lace up is just so…meek. At least Liverpool put up a real fight – twice.

Can anyone now really argue against this being a full-on, paper-spined crumble under pressure?

Or, to put it another way: How fast can overconfident factions of a fanbase backpedal while clutching two massive forkfuls of humble pie in their hands?
Gabe S, NYC

 

Arsenal reverting to type
Since the halfway point of the season Arsenal have picked up 31 points. Averaged out over a season that’s 65 points, pretty much what they managed in the last 3 seasons.

They’ve been bad again for as long as they were good. If the early season run of form was just a blip what should their expectations be next season?
Sean, The North

 

Man City’s super villain squad
I read Ryan from Bermuda’s recent email with interest. Gosh what if Aguero was only at City because of a super secret second salary? The fact there is no evidence of a super secret second salary is clearly evidence that the super secret second salary is actually fact. Did 93:20 even happen? There was also that one time the ball definitely hit him last but Sergio claimed a corner. How can we live with ourselves?

cITy HavE No FaNs so how can they have so much money without cheating? How can they attract good players? Only by cheating like Neil Armstrong can Citeh afford the astronomical £15m Akanji. Only by cheating can Citeh amass 5 different left backs like £1.7m attacking midfielder Zinchenko. We had so many strikers that there was one entire season we decided to play without any of them. That’s what cheating your way to the largest squad in history ever does.

I’ll maybe concede that Bravo quickly got binned off in the replace everyone that has one bad game super stakes but Ederson is only the second first choice goalkeeper ever bought by Abu Dhabi. Older readers will also remember that one summer we bought some fullbacks (City fans dream of such largesse now) but I’m not really sure that it is fair to expect Bacary Sagna to keep putting on his boots just to maintain some illusion of fair play.

Out of City’s ten biggest transfers 7.5 still play for the team. Best replace those expensive flops otherwise we will have no chance of achieving success. Maybe it’s time for cheque book Pep who always gets what he wants to play Cucerella, Maguire, Kane, Sancho, Sanchez, Pogba, Messi or an actual flipping left back this season.

Of course to be totally fair I am deliberately ignoring Mendy and Mangala (and giving Kalvin more time) but I didn’t start the selective use of reality to advance an argument by using the medium of emails. And before anyone starts Robinho didn’t even mean to sign for us so doesn’t really count.

To be clear City have spent money on great players, good players and bad players. Some have been successful, some have been mediocre and some have been Javi Garcia but none of them have ever been Pepe and most of them signed since 2008 have left City with a trophy or two.

During that time though no team in history has cheated like City – there is absolutely no other possible reason they are able to compete unless there are secret payments and made up sponsorships. Look at all those fake payments from the Premier League and UEFA for a start. Even those guys must be in on inflating City’s revenue. Cheats!

Lots of love
Richard, nihilistically rewatching Aguerooooo videos in Manchester

 

I was amused to read Ryan from Bermuda saying City fans should be grateful in the last decade that United have spent similar amounts of money (which is true) but not wisely, and then in the next breath stating City have vastly outspent every one else every year. Even though we’re mid-table in the last 5 years Net Spend League.

Not to mention outbidding us for Sanches (on wages), Fred, Maguire and offering Ronaldo vastly higher wages than we were (allegedly) prepared to.

And of course, let’s not forget how Ten Hag is operating on a shoe string budget. Just the 225m last summer.

I was also interested to read United didn’t outspend their rivals in the 2000s, the decade when the existing PL transfer fee record fee was 15m, they smashed it in successive summers (Veron 28m & Ferdinand 30m) and later on would pay huge fees for squad players like Nani and Anderson.

I also remember Ferguson’s first few seasons, where United were throwing money at it, buying 3 or 4 hugely expensive (for the time) signings every summer, the likes of Webb, Bruce, Hughes, McClair, Ince, Wallace, Pallister etc.

But let’s forget all that, because Macheda once scored an important goal, so it’s all a fairy tale that City can’t match, so well done United.
Michael the Bert

 

Get over it…
Even as a MUFC fan, I am getting sick and tired of the whining and moaning about how City have ruined football. As The Eagles say “Get Over It.” Football has NEVER had a level playing field (metaphorically of course). MUFC dominated the Premier League during the turn of the Century by leveraging their commerical nous. Go a little furthe back and Juventus are/were OWNED by FIAT. Go even further back and Franco made clubs sell their best players to Real Madrid. I’m sure if you dug deeper, almost every club was founded by a rich benefactor. The only difference with today is that the decimal point has moved. Every major league has been dominated by a select few clubs. Heck, the same applies to most industries as well. There’s Hertz, then Avis and the rest are also-rans.

And let’s be brutally honest here, if Sheikh Al Thani does not buy United, every single one of your clubs would jump at the chance to be bought out by them. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU.

As much as I hate to say it, City created a superb infrastructure, then got the best manager in the world, and built smartly.  Remember, they didn’t set the Premier League alight to begin with. A bunch of clubs could have afforded Grealish but which could have developed him like Pep? Who had heard of Rodri, Cancelo, etc. I can’t even tell you the name of their Left Back. They even played one season without a recognized striker! In the meantime, Brighton found MacAllister, Caicedo and Mitoma, Liverpool found Firminho, bought Mane and Arsenal snatched Odergaard. There was, and still are, quality players out there, if your club does its due diligence. Look at the Sh@#show that is my club and how they bought whatever was the latest shiny toy, Sanchez, Cavani, Maguire, the list goes on and on.

No, City probably didn’t win all these trophies “fair and square” but you know what, Football has never been about “fair and square.” City have just gamed the system better than everyone else. Their current playing style may be similar to the Borg but how can you not admire the likes of David Silva, De Bruyne, Kompany and that of course Haaland.

Yes, I’ll be sick to my stomach if they do the treble but times change. Pep will retire, Haaland will go to Real Madrid. The remainder of the 20’s could be black and white!
Adidasmufc (Financial doping? There are no drugs or amount of drugs that could ever get me to run 100 meters in under 10 seconds!)

 

What happens if City and Barcelona are found guilty?
Dear F365

Well done Man City, well done Guradiola blah blah blah. One quick point, isn’t it amazing that Guardiola’s success is currently under investigation in two separate countries for different reasons. He literally could get 5-6 of his titles taken away from him either because of referee bribery or financial irregularities. Would that still make him the best coach in the entirety of sport ever?
Chris, London

 

Man Utd almost guarantee top four…
The first half was good for United. Casemiro scores early with a phenomenal bicycle kick of sorts. The defence was strong with Lindelof and Varane having a great partnership with Martinez out. Casemiro looked like he did before the suspensions which is great to see. Eriksen also works well in this type of game with Bournemouth playing a low block so he gets tons of the ball. Bruno looked sloppy but still was getting stuck in. The front three were quiet with Antony barely getting the ball. Sancho was taking on players more than usual but still looked lazy when helping out at the back. Bournemouth grew into the game and ended the half quite well but United were doing well to stop them.

The second half was exactly what United needed to do. Many times this season we have gone in at the half and completely stopped trying in the second half but today we made sure to stay alert and didn’t give Bournemouth much to bite at. Antony needs to become more comfortable with his right foot as it’s really causing him to suffer with him being easy to defend as he only uses his left. Good to get Garnacho some more minutes coming back from injury. He looked lively and a breath of fresh air compared to our other wingers.

Overall, It was a much win game to pretty much guarantee top 4 and we did it. The defence was strong with all of them playing their role perfectly. De Gea now has the golden glove which he deserves as he’s saved us too many times this season whether or not you like him. Even if we move him on or bring a young keeper to work under him you can’t act as if he hasn’t been a good keeper for us throughout the years. Casemiro looked really good today which is when United is at its best with Casemiro firing on all cylinders it gives every other player confidence and freedom to try their natural game. Now all we need is a point in our next two games which are at Old Trafford to make it statistically impossible for Liverpool to catch us and we have a Fa Cup Manchester Derby to potentially stop City from getting a Treble which we need to be ready for.
Max Of Whitegate

 

Hi Ed,

United can get 1 point from Chelsea and Fulham, right? Right? Squeaky bum time.

Rearguards,
Liam.

Bournemouth 0-1 Man Utd: Casemiro celebrates his goal Credit: Alamy
Bournemouth 0-1 Man Utd: Casemiro celebrates his goal Credit: Alamy

VAR from fair
Casemiro vs Southampton:

Casimiro makes tackle with both feet off ground and wins the ball.

Yellow card. VAR steps in, red card. “reckless play”

Today:

Cook makes tackle with both feet off ground and wins the ball.

Free kick. Yellow card. VAR does nothing.

If I wanted to control the narrative of the PL, and create the narrative every season, I think VAR would be the tool to do it.
Calvino (Someone needs to do a VAR decision analysis)

 

Time wasting
Was at Anfield today and was truly staggered at the amount of time wasting Villa were coached to engage in. The amount of injury time that was played raised eyebrows, but was actually far less than should have been played. I think a study was carried out recently about the actual time of play in games in top leagues around Europe, it was discovered that games ranged (broadly) between 53-61 minutes. I would put money on this game being less than 53.

Don’t get me wrong as a Liverpool fan, I was delighted Villa did what they did, because if they has simply played a normal game of football they would have won pretty comfortably. They were quicker to the ball, closed down better, were better in possession, created better chances, limited Liverpool and managed the referee quite brilliantly.

However, I think we have now arrived at the point where the clock needs to be taken away from the officials and as with pretty much every other major sport we need to make football a 30 minute each way game with the clock only running when the ball is in play.

The effect will be that it will dramatically improve the quality of the games, because spoiling, negative tactics will simply result in defeats. Teams will be obliged to recruit coaches who try to win and not those who try not to lose.

The game will be so much better for it. In no other major sport in the world is time wasting such a massive issue.
Dale Marlow

 

Kane’s next club
Kane to Brighton surely. I hope he doesnt get enticed by a Man U because of the Carabao.
Posab, Botswana 

 

MCFC and choices
Hi,

I keep reading MCFC fans’ letters, (like Mark ‘Just asking’ MCFC) which ramp up at the start as if they’re about to unload some killer argument. But it never quite comes, does it. It always ends with – the world is fcuked up anyway so what’s one more fcuked up thing, ‘I didn’t choose the takeover’ and ‘you’d do the same’.

If you read moral philosophy, I doubt there’s a footnote which says “you didn’t choose this, so do as you wish”. Almost none of the things in life that challenge us to act morally come about from our own choices. We don’t choose to be on the tube train when someone gets attacked, we don’t, on an individual level have much sway over who is in government, even less who they go to war with. If we’re absolved from reacting morally to things that come unbidden into our lives then we really are in trouble.

I’m afraid that if you are a moral person there is a moral imperative to react morally, period. I’m an Ipswich Town fan, I could not care less who wins the Premier League. But ITFC being taken over by human rights abusers and used as a way of entangling those governments in British institutions in order to make any future UK sanctions impossible, would be my worst nightmare. I’m aware we’re not high on their list and I thank God for that. Yes, I would walk away. I would cry myself to sleep and then I would walk away until they left.

Life sucks, its full of people who didn’t ask to be placed in difficult situations. It’s tough to leave your football club, but being good is hard sometimes. There are people going through worse for less. So, if you want to ignore the plight of suffering people, do so, but don’t pretend you don’t have a choice.

No-one wants to believe they’re bad, but some people really must be, because everything fcuked.
Chris, ITFC

 

Arsenal moral victory classics
A few of the Arsenal fan classics in the mailbox. Arsenal love a moral victory, probably as a form of sportswashing to cover a club that moved north of the river for money and magically appeared in the top flight. We of course have the return of youngest squad in the league whatever relevance that has. We had the best team in London, one that hasn’t been heard for a while, and of course the old favourite of top four trophy.

But my new favourite was that if we discount all the time that they lost to city, then they would have only lost to city by one point. So err… a good seven points then.

Looking forward to the return of first team to beat Bayern Munich in ages when they ignore getting smashed 7 nil in the first leg. Assuming that they can get out of the group stages of the CL of course. It has been a while.

For balance, its been a good season for Arsenal. I’m looking forward to Arteta and others getting suspended every other week for how he talks to refs. You cant bottle a title that was never yours. But dropping £200m on midfielders this summer will not a moral victory make.
Alex, South London

 

Europa Conference final
Ok, it’s the 3rd tier European trophy, ca UEFA Cup if you will, but the final played in a stadium with a capacity of just 20,000, that is pathetic
Andrew goonerabroad Brown

 

Q for Stead
Questions for Matt Stead:

Do you thing that it is acceptable for a player to feign a head injury in the pursuit of time wasting antics?

If not, can you define your use of the term ‘the usual methods’ when you refer to time wasting activities?

Don’t you think that you have a responsibility as a  journalist to call out poor behaviour rather than normalising it? If not, why not?
James Outram, Wirral

 

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