Another Week Another Change

PRemier League is here again!

Another game weekend and it’s another change at the top of the table with Chelsea replacing Liverpool at the top of the league table, I have a feeling that’s not the last time we are going to see a change at the top. Chelsea seem to be the form team right now, 6 straight wins and no goals conceded and it gladdens me that David Luiz is at the heart of that miserly defence. I get a break from the over exaggerated phrase ” if Terry was there they wouldn’t have conceded that” from the pundits particularly on Skysports. They seem to be averse to anything that breaks the mould of a “typical English defender”.

Chelsea and Spurs face off next week at the Bridge, the form team versus the only remaining undefeated team in the Premier League this season. As an Arsenal fan I am a bit  conflicted but would rather a Chelsea win I kinda like Conte, he almost makes the boys in the blue more likeable since the “fighty one” moved up North to Manchester.
Talking of the fighty one it was ironic to hear him talk about respect before the Arsenal game. I am not sure he knows what that is even if it hit him right in the face! I could go on about this but there really is no need, the internet is awash with this irony when it comes to his antics in every league he has been in.
Yaya came back with a bang scoring two goals in City’s win at Crystal Palace, makes Pep look like he got it right with the timing of his re-introduction after the very belated apology, lets hope Yaya has his employee his mouthy agent on a tight leash going forward. Yaya’s value is directly related to his pitch playing time unlike his agent who just needs a phone and contacts.

I don’t know where Pochettino keeps getting them some other Harry scored for Spurs at the weekend on his debut, the guy has a thing for developing youth. It’s Monday night football today and I have three West Brom players in my fantasy league, don’t know what I was thinking!  It’s gameweek 13 next week here’s hoping Arsenal get back to winning ways.

Jack Wilshere’s Gamble not paying off

jackw

It was interesting to watch England’s friendly against Spain and see how fluid and resilient the midfield was without Jack Wilshere. There was a time when Jack wasn’t in the team the commentators would bemoan his absence and I can’t say I remember the commentators doing that today because there was no need to. I
was actually thinking to myself how the midfield looked solid without Dele before I spotted Jack on the bench where he spent the entire match.

Moving to Bournemouth because he was snubbed by Big Sam for an England call up looks more shortsightedness than foresight to me with every passing game week . I have watched him play at Bournemouth and he has looked quite ordinary to me.I can understand his need to play but he was coming back from injury and was always going to come off the bench till he was deemed fit to start and in an Arsenal team with a great track record for injuries he was always going to get a chance to stake his claim to a starting spot at some point in the season. I would have expected him to have stayed and fight for his place.

Reading this interview  I found this bit telling;
There were a lot of midfielders and the manager brought another one in,” he added. ‘I’d been injured for a while, and I was thinking I was at a stage of my career where I needed to play.”
Sounds like Granit Xhaka being added to the fold probably made him doubt his chances of playing even more.

Time will tell if going to Bournemouth is the right step and maybe I am being shortsighted by calling it a shortsighted move but with Adam Lallana in good form for club and country and Dele Alli to return I honestly don’t see a space for Jack in the England starting eleven at the moment, a major reason why he left to get game time at Bournemouth in the first place. He was in the squad this international break and didn’t feature in either game.

Beginning To Feel A Lot Like November

Bellerin

Apologies about my hiatus I have been having issues with my host server which took a while to resolve but I like to think such a blogging drought has now become a thing of the past.

What a time to be returning; the international break! With all the anti-Trump hysteria going on I was hoping for more but sadly there is not a lot happening football wise apart from the fact that it is really beginning to feel like November for Arsenal even on an international break. Alexis and Hector, are reported to be injured with some sources saying that Hector will not be available for the rest of November. I am crossing everything possible that it’s a horrible rumour and Hector won’t be out for that long. Alexis on the other hand is still being kept back by the Chilean FA with the hope that he could play the next international match which the professor hasn’t taken kindly to.
My own thought though is Alexis’ responsibility to himself, you should at least be able to say I can’t play if it is going to jeopardise your availability long term.

What is it about November and Arsenal?  I know they have a win and a draw since it started but these reported injuries feels like here we go again, especially knowing that Arsenal are facing “the one that likes to fight his players” on resumption from the international break.
Looking on the bright side it has been reported that Hector has extended his contract with Arsenal, although it hasn’t been confirmed by the club.

It was just important I touch base with you guys as soon as I could even though not a lot is happening, hoping I have not been completely forgotten. I plan on introducing a podcast, any ideas on what you guys feel it should be like or about?

Rooney’s criticism is ridiculous

Rooney

I always marvel at the short term memory of fans, pundits and journalists alike. Wayne Rooney is 30 and he doesn’t have the same “superpowers” he used to have. How many last minute goals has Rooney scored to win games and eventually the cup or title for Manchester United in the past? People can’t expect the same level of performance they are used to from Rooney, also Iet’s not forget he didn’t pick himself and the position he played in the last few games. I certainly think the reaction to Rooney borders on disrespectful and very short term memory, then fans wonder why players leave for the highest bidders.

Almost everyone today has attributed Manchester United blitzing Leicester to Rooney’s absence because it freed up Pogba, short sighted stuff if you ask me. Let’s remember that Fellaini didn’t play either and to this “Einstein” he was the dude hampering Pogba from doing a good job in the middle.
It’s only the 6th game but I definitely think it’s too early to confine Rooney to the dumps, he might not dominate games like he used to do but he still has a lot to offer the United team.

I remember in that average win against Hull recently it was Rooney that delivered the assist for Rashford. Lets be careful that we are not trying too hard to retire Rooney it’s really not an issue to give a 30 year old some time off on the bench.

Blame the Ref, the Players, and Luck but not Mourinho

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Jose Mourinho still doesn’t get it and I doubt he ever will as long as he continues to see himself as the most important parameter in any event.  If his fall at Chelsea taught him anything I assumed it would have been how not to publicly criticize your players.

In last week’s loss to Manchester City Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, were not up to the task according to Jose but very little to do with how he set up his team, Contrast his response to how Pep Guardiola handled the postmatch Bravo culpability questions.

Fast forward 1 week to yesterday’s loss against Watford, the referee, players and luck were all responsible for the loss this time but certainly not him, Luke Shaw got particular mention for not doing his job on Jamat. The last time I checked a manager is responsible for the team line up and how they are set up, something Jose hasn’t got right this season.
Like most of us I am an armchair pundit, never managed a team but common sense dicates that if you throw yourself under the bus for your players they will do the same for you. I am not against having a go at players they are not babies but there’s a time and a place.

It’s only 5 games in and Jose is already tossing his boys under trains and buses after losses, I am curious to see what happens if the heat gets ramped up any further.

Jose you can’t fire 11 players but you can get rid of one manager. It’s early days but he needs to learn from the Chelsea debacle very fast and someone should please tell him Fellaini next to Pogba is never going to work. Why buy a Ferrari and use it to tow a Fiat Punto all over the place?

Manchester United apparently won the transfer market but it takes a lot more than expensive buys to win matches.

Pogba and Jose the right fit?

Paul-Pogba

Pep drew first blood in an exciting Manchester Derby and I am still bemused by people who continue to doubt his management credentials and ability to win things playing the Pep way in the Premier League. So far it’s 4 in 4 and he has been to Stoke on a rainy day and Old Trafford too without the compliment of his full squad if I may add.

I was surprised to see Pogba playing in the CDM role in the derby a role he struggles with if i go by his performances there at the Euros.  Fellaini alongside Pogba in midfield in my opinion negates all the attacking attributes Pogba possesses, he is better in an advanced position where he is not shackled with too much defensive responsibilities. For Pogba to be all he can be he needs to know that he can play how he likes to play and not be berated when he makes errors, herein lies the problem with Jose as his manager.
Jose does well with finished attacking articles and makes the most of defensive talent/potential , but he is not the man to make the most of young promising attacking talents as his go to mantras are defence and discipline.  John Terry was 23 going on  24 when Jose took over at Chelsea, Michael Essien was 23 going on 24 when Jose got him from Lyon,  these two are just examples of young defensive minded potential that developed to be great at it under Jose. I also remember Varane who everyone raves about now was given his first team opportunity at Real by Jose although Zidane was responsible for his recruitment. Contrast that with Mikel Obi who broke out in the same youth tournament as Messi and was second only to Messi at that tournament. I wonder what would have happened to Mikel if he had opted to stay at United under Fergie instead of going to Chelsea where his attacking instincts were curbed under Jose as a 19 year old. I look at Arjen Robben who did well under Jose but struggled with the defensive work ethic at Chelsea but thrived at Bayern. Then you have Hazard who did well initially then lost his zeal under Jose but looks like a new player under Conte because Kante and Matic are dealing with the defensive side of things.

Paul Pogba has talent although not 89 million pounds worth of it, time will tell if the choice to go back to Old Trafford being managed by Jose  in his bid to someday win the ballon d’or is the right one.

Arsene Recruiting Leaders

Arsene recruiting leaders

Apologies about the missed posts, been struggling with server reliability and compatibility issues.  The transfer madness is over and thank goodness real football news can take centre stage again.

Talking transfers Arsenal signed Granit, Robert, Lucas and Shkodran,  all very good signings if you ask me. While I haven’t been entirely happy in the manner in which the club has gone about acquiring some of its targets I am pleased with the business done.  Looking at the new recruits particularly Granit, Lucas and Shkodran, they have something that has been lacking in the team for a while now; leadership and character.
I have always said more than anything I was more concerned about the mentality of the players at Arsenal FC than the price tag of players being recruited by the club. The collapse at Southampton on boxing day last season, the last minute draw at Liverpool last season, losing to an under strength Manchester United team at Old Trafford last season and the second half collapse against Liverpool on opening day this season are indicative of the lack of leaders in the team particularly when the team encounters difficult spells in a game. The acquisition of Granit, Shkodran and Lucas addresses these shortcomings in the spine of the team; at the back in midfield and upfront. This video of Lucas playing against Barcelona I came across reading one of Arseblog’s post  brought a very wide smile to my face. The guy is not shy to have a go at team mates when they are slacking and believe me the likes of the Ox and Theo need it! Not completely Diego Costa but he has a bit of it in there and that’s not a bad thing,  Granit and Shkodran are captains of their previous teams too.

From what I have seen of the new recruits and in theory there is a balance to the Arsenal team and depth( Mr Injury please stay away!). I still stand by my predictions for the season regardless but I am more comfortable with this team than the one that started the campaign

Jack has pushed for a move to Bournemouth to get more playing time, I think it’s a good move where the he will have to deal with the pressure of being the go to guy, the guy to make things happen. This will not only benefit his football playing skills but his leadership qualities too. I do wish him the best in his bid to discover his fitness and confidence, definitely in my fantasy league team post “interlull” (another arseblog contribution).

Pep dropping Hart not a big deal

guardiola

Manchester City kicked off their season officially last weekend and Joe Hart has been on the bench for their opening matches with Pep deciding to go with Willy in goal. There has been so much hullabaloo (my need to sound English) about Pep’s decision to drop Joe that in some quarters like those belonging to Joey Barton  it’s seen as disrespectful and disgusting.

Pep dropping Joe is not an indictment on him being a less than capable hand when compared to Willy it’s just that he doesn’t fit into the ethos of his kind of football presently. Pep has gotten rid of more accomplished and successful players in favour of less celebrated players that fit into the vision of his team. If we cast our minds back to Barcelona he got rid of Ronaldinho and Deco and promoted little known players at the time Pedro and Busquets from the Barcelona B team into the first team and the rest  they say is history. At the time nobody in their right minds would have brought in these inexperienced guys and sacrificing the likes of Deco and Ronaldinho. This same Pep who invested so much in buying Ibrahimovic, then sold him when he figured he didn’t suit his style of play or team ethos so I don’t get why dropping Joe is such a big deal.

He is England number one and has won the title with Manchester City yes, but the new man at the helm has a very clear picture of what he wants and has decided to go with Willy. If you ask me I am not convinced the Willy dude is such a great passer of the ball from what I have seen but if he is keeping Joe Hart out because of that passing ability then I would like to believe Pep who observes them everyday in training is in a better position to judge and is not being anti-English with some sort of agenda against Joe. I doubt very much there would have been so much noise had the roles been reversed as in Joe being the understudy being picked ahead of Willy if he had been number 1.

Pep has decided to start how he intends to go on and it is a bold statement to drop the England number 1 in favour of Willy, time will tell if it is the right decision.

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4, we all saw that coming except Arsene!

Arseneee

This post is going to be a bit long so grab a cup of tea or something a bit stronger.
I got up yesterday with some optimism about yesterday’s game I don’t know why… so I messaged my brother an Arsenal fan who lives in the middle east saying  “Arsenal would win today with a clean sheet too” his response was “have you been drinking port?”, because of my new found love of port he assumed I had to be drunk with such Arsenal proclamations. You see I tend to be one of those that err on the side of optimism when Arsenal is concerned maybe too much at times. So when Theo scored I was tempted to send him a message saying I told you so but wanted Arsenal to hold the lead to halftime before I engaged in some boasting although I did send him a message along the lines of “you can see Arsene is not mad he knows what he’s doing” . Shortly after that message left my phone Arsenal conceded that brilliant goal from Coutinho’s free kick then I got his message back saying watch and see them collapse and boy was he right with that second half performance from Arsenal. Then he threw my statement back at me asking if I was standing by my Arsene is not mad proclamation. Of course I am standing by it but ermm let’s see..

For the past 9 seasons I can’t remember a season where It hasn’t been a case of Arsenal need just 2 or three signings and they will be challenging for the title, that has been the talk since the Emirates move and the dismantling of the Invincibles. 10 years on we are still saying the same thing! Graeme Souness said yesterday you move to a big ground like the Emirates to compete in the league of the big boys, but seems to me Arsene wants to eat his cake and have it, earn revenues of the boys in the big league and bleat poverty like he’s still at a small ground like Highbury. As a Tottenham (pretend you didn’t see that Arsenal fans) fan pointed out to me  yesterday Arsenal’s matchday gate takings of 3 million pounds is the highest in any ground in the world, add to that the largest cash reserve anywhere in club football it just doesn’t make sense how they have gone about the transfer business in a season that’s looking to be the most competitive. The problems from last season were evident and a proactive club that meant business would have gone out and resolved these issues at the earliest, but it seems to me that since the xhaka purchase which is a good buy but not the highest in the scale of our priorities Arsene and Ivan are waiting for sales and bargains in the closing days of the transfer season. To me that’s just indicative of profits being prioritised over a genuine desire to be competitive in the league.

Yesterday’s result was expected by many Arsenal fans and they were waiting to give Arsene a piece of their mind. I have always backed him to the hilt and a part of me thinks he deserved what he got yesterday from the fans even if I feel sad saying it. He set himself up for that and he is playing an active part in turning the fans on the players so early in the season, those guys don’t buy themselves or pick themselves for the team he does. Considering he was backed by a majority of the fans in that protest game last season, I think he is taking that grace for granted. Arsenal fans are not asking Arsene to make Pogba like signings but to invest in the squad and make it competitive. A defender and a striker was a priority going into this season, with 16 days to go in the transfer window a club with Arsenal’s resources is still yet to secure either of the two positions. There is nothing wrong with trust in your players but there is something like misplaced trust. At times I wonder what has happened to Arsene. This is the same guy that got rid of Ian Wright and Patrick Viera because he had his own vision of what he wanted for his team and was ruthless enough to make the changes when he deemed it fit. Now the same man bought an old decommissioned  Sylvestre from  Manchester United when Arsenal needed a proper centre back, endorses mediocrity by letting players who have performed below par in the team ahead of players who have performed better when they have been called upon, I am talking of Campbell being on the bench for Walcott and the Ox.

Holding and Chambers should never have been at the heart of the defence yesterday it was all due to indecision and lack of planning. I have always said solving those problem positions is not enough either. The mentality at Arsenal needs to be fixed and the team needs leaders. Why was a team so compact in the first half disintegrate when Liverpool exerted pressure for 20 minutes? I am still wondering if it were Arsenal leading at 4 1 and it came back to 4 3 , would they have held on to still win? The 3 3 result at Anfield last season says no!

I end with this big players who want to win things and not just after a big pay packet will ask themselves several questions when approached by Arsene. Sanchez and Ozil are entering into the final two years at Arsenal and with the knowledge of how rich the club is and a reluctance to invest in the team I am not sure they will be itching to renew their contracts. It’s 16 days to the end of this transfer window and the summer bargains Arsene and Ivan were looking for is certainly not going to materialise now that the whole world is privy to their needs, whoever they approach they will have to cough up an extra 10 to 15 million pounds above what is already an inflated price tag. If you keep doing the same things and expect different result is the definition of what?…

Arsene is not crazy he is just stubborn, like the Tottenham fan said to me yesterday (sorry guys yes it has gotten that bad putting a spurs fans comments twice in my post) Arsene came to England and changed English football, the game has then moved forward since his coming and Arsene has refused to adapt or evolve with it too.

 

Leicester start their title defence with a loss

HullVLeicester
Photo courtesy vavel.com

Leicester lost their opening game against less favoured Hull to kick off the Premier League campaign and from the few minutes into the first half with the way Hull set up it is obvious Leicester are going to find it a lot harder this season. They come with a reputation now, I could say they are in the category of the “chased” and no longer in the “chasing” camp, teams are now going to set up defensively against them .
It looked like Leicester were playing against the Leicester of last season in Hull with the way Hull chased down everything and worked hard as a team. Well done to Hull and they deserved the win in my opinion they took their chances when it came and Vardy didn’t take Leicester’s when presented with two great opportunities. Hull eventually ran out 2 1 winners on the day.

Robert Huth’s hair pulling antics at Old Trafford last season came back to hunt leicester today with how unbalanced and shaky Morgan looked on the left side of the defence to accommodate Hernandez on the right side of defence, the intensity and coverage that Kante brings in the middle of that park was also missed.
It’s only the first game of the season though so I won’t be getting carried away with those observations I still expect Leicester to have a good season but I don’t see them defending the title successively, next up for Leicester is Arsenal at home.