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Arsenal fans quite happy with fifth; Man City and Liverpool need players

Football 365

We called Mikel Arteta a loser but actually, Arsenal fans seem quite happy with their lot. Plus, Liverpool and Manchester City debates rumble on.

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Actually, Arsenal are okay thanks
Being an Arsenal fan is a strange experience at the moment.

We’re being told by rival fans (and Stewie) that we should be disappointed at not having qualified for the Champions League, that our season should be regarded as a failure and perhaps even that our fans should have cleared off early rather than stay for yesterday’s lap of appreciation as they would have done during the darkest days of Wenger’s reign.

There was none of that at the Emirates on Sunday. You had people basking in the late Spring sunshine enjoying their team’s romp to a resounding victory and fans actually applauding their team for achieving the main goal at the start of the season.

Champions League would have been great but given the ages of our better players, perhaps the 2023/24 season would be a better opportunity for them anyway after another season playing in the Europa League. And look, if we fail to qualify for the Champions League next season then yes, maybe Stewie will have a point.

But as yesterday showed, Arsenal’s fanbase isn’t full of Stewies. At the Emirates, at least, it’s full of fans cheering their team on and who have shown understanding to a group of players who didn’t quite hit the lofty goal of reaching the Champions League.

It isn’t the end of the world. Given the age of our squad. This is just the beginning.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

Arteta as loser? Really?
I reckon you’ll probably have a few emails of the like in response to Arteta finding himself in the Losers column.

Given the situation he was in at the beginning of the season (especially after first three games) I think he would consider it a successful season and himself a winner.

He’s built a young, charismatic, fun, driven team, demonstrated he has the man management and tactical nous to earn a new contract, created a togetherness in the ground (whatever whiners on Twitter say) and there is a coherency at the club that has been missing for years.

I was disappointed we didn’t add to the squad in January, but it was clear that no-one was available who met the calibre of what we were trying to achieve.

It’s become pretty clear this season a lot of people were very keen for Arteta and Arsenal more generally to fail, and it’s been quite satisfying to see the club broadly throw that back in their faces. All this revisionism now that somehow fifth is a disaster stems from that.

So yeh, I’d say to balance out him in losers, maybe also stick him in Winners. And also include Arsenal fans, who have a team they can love again.
Tom, Walthamstow

 

…’Their ruthless January squad cull meant Champions League qualification was no longer the aim but the minimum target’.

I think it is exactly the opposite. I think the target was top six, they were comfortable for top six, had a chance at top four and thought let’s gamble, let’s get rid of players and wages we don’t want and see what happens. Not the gamble the fans wanted, we got close but you get punished in the Premier League.

Anyway, onto reviewing the season.

Expectations & Results: European football was what I requested, no specific flavour and that’s what we got. Results have been hit and miss though. I think we are definitely playing better football but we aren’t finishing the teams we should be beating. We need to turn some defeats into draws/wins. Should have had top 4, cup runs bad. Another way of looking at it, we are 11 points ahead of United in 6th and 5 behind chelsea in 3rd. C+

Transfer Windows: Summer had some incredible ins. White, Tomi, Ramsdale and Oedegaard all start and have improved team. We need to start making money when we sell though. January, we should have signed someone. Everyone knows, the club knows. We didn’t, not a good window. Still, squad is better overall than when we started last summer. B-

Player improvement: think most of the team has improved, Saka, ESR and Martinelli (needs to finish more) have all progressed. Still a problem with tackling and discipline as the red cards show though. C+

Player of the season: Saka clearly, even when he is knackered and just wants a break he is one of the most dangerous players on the pitch. Love his directness. Sign da ting.

Runner-up – Ramsdale with some big saves in big games

Game of the season – 2-1 against Wolves, for so many reasons but mostly because it was the only game (I think) we came back from defeat which has a feel good factor like few other games.

Goal of the season – Xhaka vs United. Glorious

Manager – hopefully another year of intense learning for Mikel. The team are playing a brand of football which when it clicks, it clicks very well indeed. But he has no plan Bs and many games we have been left questioning his substitutions. Still played Xhaka at left back. Minor progress. C-

Kits – Great, A

Overall an average C+ for the season from me. Good progress, met expectations, fell short of what was possible and still some gaps. My biggest takeaway from the season is for the first time in, what 9/10 years?, the fans and the club are (mostly) as one, the atmosphere in and around the club is great. If we start next season well there are some great foundations to build on. Let silly season begin.

Expectations for next season: Top 4, a cup Final. Regardless of what happens elsewhere Arteta needs this to prove they are still going the right way.
Rob A (Since Mbappe is staying, I suspect a knock on Sons or Salah’s door is inevitable) AFC

 

Tired of stats
The most tiring argument in football is basing players based of goals and assists. Of course, productivity is important but why do people forget that we can use our eyes too. Last season, there was so many people arguing what does Thiago do. It’s such a lazy thing to say because he doesn’t score or assist many but also isn’t overly defensive. The same argument could be made against Modric and Kroos. It’s just so dumb.

The POTY and YPOTY arguments are embarrassing too. I’m an Arsenal fan and I absolutely love Mason Mount. I think they obviously deserve to be up there for contention but Foden has just quite simply played better than them. I don’t care if he has less combined goals and assists. He plays with a better team too but that’s just how it is. I love Saka but he’s not been fit for a while and is gassed. Has scored very little from open play lately too.

The Diaz vs Kulu debate too bores the hell out of me. Diaz isn’t being measured by his goals or assists. Everyone loves Diaz because he makes things happen. He’s been amazing at the absolute highest level, cup finals vs Chelsea, in the CL and vs Man City. Kulusevski is class and it’s mad that he’s the same age as Foden. He’s made a great impact and is a key factor to why Spurs got top 4. From what I’ve seen of both of them, I’ve thought Diaz has been better. Diaz looks absolutely world class. Kulusevski looks very good and promising. Sorry if the combined G&A say different but I’m talking about how they play overall not just their productivity.
Dion, Arsenal

 

January Reds
Just a quick one (I honestly skip the essays). I’m not sure which people are calling Luis Diaz the best January signing. He’s not even Liverpool’s best January signing. Coutinho, Suarez and some fella called Van Dijk were all signed in January.

Diaz is a helluva player, but he needs to do it for a while before he can even be considered.

Anyway, this is already getting too long.
Si (LFC)

 

What about this summer?
While there are many who are ending the season with elation or at least solid happiness (at both ends of the table), and there are some who are ended it in heartbreak, I think we can all safely assume that this summer could be quite interesting on the transfer front.

Obviously, City have done their main business (you’d assume) with landing one of the top strikers in the world for a ridiculously low price (let’s stop including wages, to inflate numbers – this transfer is incredible value).

Liverpool will have their own struggles, to retain key players or replace them. If Salah goes, that will leave a very large hole. Amusing Wenger-esque links with Mbappe are now put to bed so who will come in? Or will he trust his youth talents (for a change)? If he doesn’t get it right, Liverpool’s quad-wannabes may be left reminiscing on this year.

Arsenal need to invest in a number of positions, but particularly up front.

Everton need something of a rebuild, and they’ll do well to hold on to some of their better players.

Spurs will need to build on their surprising success in securing their place at the big table. Conte won’t want to sit on his hands, I’m sure.

Leeds could see a few major players depart, which will be problematic for them.

Villa may be beneficiaries of the struggles of others.

Brighton will be wanting to keep people’s hands off their assets, United in particular. They certainly have a good number of players that United and others will (or should) be looking at. I hope they keep them all.

And then we come to United, which is where this was obviously all heading. Clearly there will be a revolving door at the club. Lots to be shed, lots to be brought in. And not just playing staff. Links to De Jong are massive, as are the potential canny signings already being discussed. But to be honest, the biggest challenge is not making the right signings – I have strong faith in Ten Hag to build something good – but how we can get rid of the poison and not just keep players who are likeable but offer little (like Fred). This could be the busiest season at United ever. Possibly at any club. And if it’s not, it will be a calamity. So no pressure! Either way, being shot of Rangnick will be good – he is a terrible man manager, who while having revealed some major issues, has also created a number himself in his player treatment and favouritism. You’d have to say, things really can only get better.
Badwolf

 

Broken but Liverpool go again
Typing this on the sh*ttiest Monday there could be for a Liverpool fan. When Villa went 2-0 up, for once I believed that it was possible but credit City for nicking it away by a point, again. Can’t imagine how demotivating it could be for the players rn who have been absolute monsters but thankfully it’s a Nirvana-attained Jurgen Klopp that’s leading this team.

We lost the league by a point before, have lost a Europa final when we thought we had it in control, and THAT final against a familiar foe in Kyiev.

It’s a miserable feeling, but we have one more game, probably the bigger one, old Big ears who has proven to be elusive to the self-proclaimed ‘legends’ Guardiola team. Imagine PSG describing themselves in a similar vein in their league.

Let’s get no. 7
Mihir. Mumbai. LFC. (This Madrid side come without their juju stadium, there’s no such thing as fate, but what we make for ourselves)

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hangs his head

 

…Well that was a hell of a final day, but I’m surprised to find myself remarkably sanguine about the result. Personally, it massively helped me that at no point were we actually top of the league. It seemed that the football gods really were writing the unlikely script of the ex Liverpool lads handing us the title – but by the time we scored our second, City had completed their absolutely amazing comeback. The title and indeed the quadruple, were tantalisingly close to our touch but we never held them fully in our hands.

It’s disappointing, of course it is, but City have seemed a shoe-in for the title since Xmas – so I’ve had more than enough time to get my head around them being champions. And they deserve to be too, the table doesn’t lie. I believe that they’re ever so slightly a better team than us, based on our head to heads – which is reflected in the tiny margin of their overall victory. And be it one point or thirty between us, a win’s a win and the closeness all added to the extraordinary drama of the final day.

It’s fascinating how incredibly close all the competitions have been so far. One penalty between ourselves and Chelsea in the two domestic cups and one point in the League. If City had actually made it to the Champions League final, you can only assume that it would also have been excruciatingly tight. There are such fine margins between teams of this quality.

Whether this continues next season is slightly more questionable though. It seems ridiculous to say that a team that’s just won 4 titles in 5 seasons has a glaring and obvious weakness and yet City’s lack of a striker really is one. There’s an awful lot of gilt edged chances that have been missed this year and it’s a big problem that needed fixing. Unfortunately it emphatically has been solved and Haaland is one hell of a solution. You have to assume there will be a bit of a bedding in period but he’s too talented not to come good in a big way.

What we obviously do to counteract this is…..not immediately obvious to me. There’s probably room for a quality upgrade in the centre of the park next to Thiago but that’s about it? We’ve got to do something though because standing still is akin to going backwards against Pep.

However, we still have Madrid, a Champions League final and a potential cup treble to look forward to – it’s hard to feel life’s all that bad.
James, Liverpool

 

Thoughts on that Liverpool performance
Yesterday’s conclusion was ultimately what we all expected despite the “fun” that was had during the 90 minutes. A lot has been said on that already and as I was in the ground yesterday I thought I’d send in some conclusions on the performance itself with a view to the match on Saturday.

– Liverpool can occasionally look very nervous at the back. It happened yesterday but it also happened at Villareal even when VVD was there. They are mentality monsters but far from mentally invincible. Konate has had a great season but that mistake after 2 mins was inexplicable. They need to be on it immediately on Saturday.

– Henderson really is underrated. He’s no beauty to watch but his positioning and reading of the game is quite something.

– Thiago is on another level to every other midfielder we have, and not just for his passing and flair. He is / will be a massive loss and if Fabinho is missing too I will be very worried about what Modric will do to us.

– Salah: most assists, joint most goals and yet he looks very low on confidence right now. Hopefully the scruffy goal will snap him out of it.
Also, Son is a brilliant player and the goals in open play metric is interesting but penalties really do count just the same. Just think if penalties were easy then Salah wouldn’t have missed one against Leicester and today might look very different.

Keep up the great work.
Josh, LFC

 

City are not legends
Firstly congratulations to the owners of Man City, Pep, the players and fans on winning the EPL title for the 4th time in 5 years.

That is quite an achievement.

However, that does not make City players or Pep, legends.

It is understandable that Pep was emotional because in reality his team just managed to pipped Liverpool to the EPL title on the last day and that was the only trophy left for him and City to claim after being knocked out of the FA, League and Champions League cups.

But that’s not what makes legends.

Legends are made when clubs have won titles many times and ruled domestically for a decade or more and in English football, that is the history of only two clubs.

Legends are made when clubs after winning the league title go on to the European stage and world stage to win the cups there.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Bayern Munich and in England, Liverpool are legends here.

For all the excuses that Pep or City players or fans come up with for their failure to win the European cup or any European Cups, in their 4 years of EPL dominance, City has failed to rule over Europe.

The Champions League are meant for champions and make no mistake, it is a league as well though there are only 4 teams in each group that play home and away games.

It is the arena where Champions of countries show off their quality and mettle with the best of the best.

For city to deride it, is a sign of just being sour grapes and losers.

Domestically they may be kings but on the European front and world arena, they are minuscule.

It is a fool who believes that the EPL is what makes a team successful or legendary.

It is embarrassing to win the domestic titles even for a decade but have no dominance on the European and world stage.

That is where City is – just an excellent domestic built title-winning team.
And that is what city is based on their history with Pep, his players and their fans.

To boast and brag extensively about how winning the EPL or league is the most important trophy for any team, yet City has built a mega-billion dollar team with the best players that oil-rich money can buy and has bought, just to win the league year in and year out, is such a waste of money and is such a tiny vision for a club of City’s abundant riches.

Yet that is what Pep, his players and city fans have implied in winning the league and how they celebrated it!

It is gonna get boring every season then for city and fans. Every season winning the EPL but being kicked out of the Biggie, the Champions League!

That’s an achievement? That is what a successful club with the world’s best manager is about?

Is that what being a legend or legendary is all about?

Come on Pep, city players and fans don’t kid yourselves.

You don’t have history yet, but above all the owners probably have a slightly bigger goal for the club and that is to become European champions and dominate Europe and the world.

Legends? What an embarrassing statement to make and for fans and players to be deceived by.
Lionel Z

 

Thank you Man City
From every football supporter of their local team that has to work alongside people who have selected Liverpool as the team the wish to ‘follow’.
Tom – South Wales

 

Fanmail for Minty
Minty can’t seriously believe City only won because they “relaxed into their normal game” in the “knowledge” Liverpool weren’t going to beat Wolves?

Assuming he is serious – I’ve got news for him. We were 2-0 down – beginning to look a little desperate and bedraggled – and not ONE person in that stadium was relaxed. Not ONE.

City fans, players and Villa players and fans (who were weirdly but predictably celebrating as if THEY were going to win the league – and yes, I heard the chants of “Liverpool” from a section of your fans) ALL OF US expected Liverpool to score. Some including myself feared an Aguero style 92nd minute winner to complete the circle.

No, our comeback was done entirely under our OWN steam – and what a comeback. At 2-0 I thought the game / title was done – but it truly is amazing what a goal can do for confidence and belief in players. To get the second so quickly after the first – and Rodders stroking that ball into the net was a thing of beauty – raised the roof. Three g…

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