Wednesday
Apr292015

Chelsea wins the worst Premier League of all time


Wasn’t intending to watch Arsenal v Chelsea on Sunday, now I wish I didn’t as I spent the whole game scratching my balls on the couch, yawning and wishing I was somewhere else.

Jose Mourinho played for a draw and got a draw; Arsenal played to win but Wenger played the same old crusty system and got what he desereved - one lame shot on target. For Mourinho, the point was as easy as taking candy off a baby.

Chelsea might have been more expansive had they had a fit striker, but Didier Drogba is 37. An unstoppable force at his peak, he now looks like a poor man’s Rickie Lambert.

As I speak, Chelsea have breezed past Leicester 3-1 and will beat Crystal Palace on Sunday to claim the Premier League title in what is the worst Premier League of all time, of that I have no doubt.

Seriously, the quality is appalling from top to bottom and a big reason for that is that players are grossly overpaid. When you overpay garbage, you get complacent garbage, which is three times as bad as garbage.

Players that are garbage are now paid double, treble or quadruple what they’re actually worth, giving them a distorted sense of their own value – and an inflated ego. Club chairman sack managers who can no longer motivate unmotivated players.

Money is ruining the game, and you see it all over the Premier League. As soon as a team has nothing to play for, the players give up because no other reason exists to motivate them.

Every team below 9th in the Premier League is utter pig swill, and nobody above 9th is worthy of a place in Europe – except perhaps Chelsea, and that’s only because Mourinho is an outstanding manager that knows how to handle big players and does not tolerate complacency for long.

How can a team as bad as Leicester City win four games in a row? Aston Villa are revived after appointing Tim Sherwood (??) as manager. Dire Hull won at the weekend; then beat Liverpool 1-0 last night. Why are these bottom clubs stringing win after win together? Because the penny has dropped for their overpaid prima donnas, who realise they will have to take a salary cut if their team gets relegated.

These days, players only perform when it’s in their best interest to perform and managers are hung out to dry, forcing Chairman to get a new manager in to re-energise players who fear that the writing may be on the wall. Once they realise that their over-exorbitant wage packets might be threatened, they start turning up in games.

Ask yourself, how can Man City be this bad? How can Newcastle lose seven on the bounce? Why have West Ham collapsed? Why is Tony Pullis is no longer having any effect at West Brom or Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace, who have completely drooped following their initial turnaround.

How can Man Utd lose 3-0 to a team as a dull as Everton has been this season? Because the players don’t care, that's why.

QPR has a wage bill of £78m, yet, like him or not, one of the best man-motivators in football, Harry Redknapp, could do nothing with them – neither could grizzled war horses like Mark Hughes or Neil Warnock.

Southampton on the other hand, have a lot to play for, Europe is a new experience for them. They have been the Premier League’s shining stars, but only in such a poor league can a team with such a small squad prove to be so durable.

In the FA Cup, championship teams are more frequently making it to the latter stages, because Premier League players don’t care anymore about what has become a poxy cup. Managers don’t care at the top clubs either, except Wenger whose neck is on the line because he cannot compete for anything else that actually matters.

Of course, you cannot say this is the case at EVERY single club, but this season more than ever it seems to have become an inescapable conclusion. Some might think it makes the Premier League more exciting if anyone can beat anyone on any given day, but the quality of the football we watch suffers when players don’t perform because they’re overpaid and can’t be bothered.

Personally, I think it will be interesting to see if what happened to Man City this season (have you ever seen a team so rich in talent so less motivated?) happens to Chelsea next. Will it be the case that even Mourinho will be unable to motivate a squad that has breezed the title in second gear despite having no fit strikers for a month?

It’s been so easy for him to win the title, but if Mourinho manages to win the Premier League again next season, he could go on to win it for another 10 years – or get bored out of his skull and leave.

—oo— 

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Thursday
Feb262015

Wenger – laughing stock of Europe, again



Some pundits were shocked by last night’s Champions League humiliation at home to Monaco, some fans were too. I wasn’t. I thought Arsenal would win 2-0, because half of Monaco’s first team was injured, but I wasn’t shocked at what happened – not in the slightest.

However, Wenger’s incompetence reached a new low last night. I didn’t think Wenger’s ineptitude could get any lower, but remarkably it did.

As soon as I saw the team sheet, I knew Wenger could easily mess this up.

I couldn’t believe the inexperienced Coquelin was left to protect the back four with only Ozil and Cazorla ahead of him. In a big Champions League game, a player who was playing for Charlton a few months ago was tasked with being the enforcer behind two clueless man markers that will never track a late run from midfield.

At the very least, Monaco were going to get chances.

As the match unravelled, it was plain to see how Wenger’s tactical set up was failing. Full backs Gibbs and Bellerin’s ineffective bombing raids forced Sanchez and Welbeck to come in-field, which only played into Monaco’s hands. And because both defenders were too far advanced, manager Leonardo Jardim’s wide players had more space and freedom to receive the ball at the other end, which gave Coquelin too much ground to cover in the absence of his full backs or fellow midfielders. Mertesacker’s lack of pace was frequently exposed as the centre backs got stretched.

Arsenal fell behind to a deflected shot, but Wenger is to blame for that for allowing his opponents too much space in a non-existent midfield.

Wrong players, wrong tactics - Arsenal were beating themselves, but I knew Wenger would not change anything tactically. At half-time, I thought the players would get a rollocking, redouble their efforts, but if Monaco could keep it tight for 5-10 minutes the game would sink back into the same pattern, and not only did that happen, but it got worse as Arsenal grew frustrated and lost what little discipline they had.

With no leadership from the manager and none on the pitch, Monaco’s counter-attacking threat increased. As Arsenal pushed up, Mertesacker’s pace became yet more exposed. If Wenger was going to risk a high line, he should of at least taken the German off and put Gabriel on. Instead, he made the worst substitution I’ve ever seen him make – he removed Coquelin and replaced him with Oxlade-Chamberlain, leaving the defence brutally bare.

That decision was an abomination. It ended up 3-1, but could have easily been 5-1!

Arsenal’s attack was completely dysfunctional. Giroud is an unpredictable finisher – even from 5 yards, Sanchez won’t hold his position, Ozil looked lost in the maze, Cazorla’s runs came from too deep, and he kept losing possession. None of the players could predict a pass or pattern of play; it simply didn’t work.

Ozil is an arrogant big-head, but so is Dimitar Berbatov. Neither have anything to offer unless you build half the team around them; a team that does all their running - because they shouldn't be running if you play them right; they're the metronome that the attack functions around. Only an intelligent manager can get the best out of either player, but Wenger’s tactics made that game perfect for Berbatov, while Ozil looked like a £42m joke. What’s more, Jardim had the balls to take Berbatov off – despite the player's annoyance, and his replacement scored. Wenger was too scared to remove Ozil – he chickened out!

Wenger is a colossal halfwit that’s so out-of-his-depth in the Champions League it’s embarrassing.

Did he scout Monaco effectively? No. Did he set up his team correctly? No. Having got it wrong, did he adapt his team’s shape to counter the opposition/rectify his mistakes? No. Did he provide leadership/instructions from the bench? No. Did he underestimate Monaco? Definitely; playing a 5-man attack tells you that. Pure arrogance.

I wouldn’t blame the players – they didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing. Even if some players should shoulder some of the blame, it’s up to the manager to sort it out at half-time; calm things  down, instil confidence, change the system, make substitutions, issue new instructions – but things only got worse.

Sanchez needs to get out – he’s too good for this shambles. Ozil can’t be happy – he’s going to ruin the rest of his career playing at Arsenal. Both players must be looking at Wenger and comparing him to previous managers they’ve worked with. One minute you’re working under prep kings like Mourinho/Klopp/Guardiola, the next a tactical dumbass like Wenger.

Can the Gunners turn this tie around? Only if the pressure gets to Monaco and they have some sort of horrible brain freeze.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Arsenal is the living dead with Wenger in charge. But I enjoyed the game, and laughed out loud when the third goal went in, because humiliation and embarrassment is exactly what Wenger, the board and his braindead supporters deserve.

—oo— 

Comments should be intelligent and well-written. All others will be binned.

Thursday
Feb122015

Arsenal Truth reviews Arseblog/ANR, et al.



We all read them, Arsenal blogs that its. Over the years, people have often asked me what I think of this blog or that blog, so why avoid the issue? Are the Arsenal blogs doing our great club justice or not? Here’s my quick summation:

ArsenalFanTV
https://www.youtube.com/user/arsenalfanstv
Fast-emerging blog that’s made its name on YouTube and is run by ‘Robbie’, who travels up and down the country conducting post-match interviews with Arsenal supporters. Its cult status has created numerous pseudo-celebrities including Bully (often captured by Sky looking bewildered in the last few minutes of an impending defeat), Claude (a perpetually stressed-out Wenger detractor with a failed marriage) and TY (a Wenger arse kisser that’s lost any semblance of autonomous, rational thought). The vBlog represents the feelings of supporters in the heat of the moment, but whatever their opinions, or delusions, you cannot deny their passion and genuine love for the club.

Pros: very likeable presenter, entertaining, allows fans to let off steam after a bad result
Cons: YouTube comments section is a bloodbath

Rating: 7

Gunnerblog
http://gunnerblog.com/
Written by James McNicholas and some bloke called Gilberto Silva – not sure if they’re one in the same – haven’t paid that much attention. Gunnerblog is a more personalised blog, although the author often features on Arseblog’s podcasts. Nothing fancy here, just rational commentaries on the club including some vBlogs on his YouTube channel, some of which are worth looking at for their humorous content https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO5nfQEqGOg. Rarely looks at the bigger picture, could do with being a little more assertive in his views, but at least he’s not fake.

Pros: balanced, calm, reasoned views
Cons: fairly unexceptional, voice sounds like a grumbling appendix

Rating: 6

Arseblog
http://arseblog.com/
Andrew Mangan’s baby and probably the best known Arsenal blog. Mangan’s done a good job steering clear of the club’s influence, but unfortunately his inability to be impartial has made it seem quite the opposite – although I can’t find too many examples of Arsenal.com using the word c**thound. Unfortunately, Mangan seems to be led by his readership. The comments section, a big part of the site, is overrun by neurotic AKBs whose general intolerance to anyone with an opposing view appears to control the overall narrative. This could be why Mangan is a ‘Wenger agnostic’, refusing to deliberate over whether the manager should stay or go. He likes to come across as the voice of reason, but really isn’t, his constant ref bashing, for example, is nauseating in the extreme. Could be a great blog if he didn’t pander to his extremist audience.

Pros: beautifully designed website, some good interviews with journos, very funny at times
Cons: too biased, lacks insight, post anything anti-Wenger and his audience is all over you like ISIS

Rating: 5

ANR
http://www.arsenalnewsreview.co.uk/
Good old Myles Palmer – a 60-something blogger who claims not to support Arsenal, yet is consumed with writing about them every day – and has even written books on the subject. Within Arsenal’s online community, Palmer is posited as the devil incarnate for his brutal and unrelenting criticism of Arsene Wenger. However, he’s right 85% of the time and his journalistic background allows him a gravitas that other bloggers lack. Because of this, Palmer’s readership is more intellectual than most, and he allows himself to be moderated by frequently publishing pro and anti-Wenger sentiments, if only to use his readers’ headlines as a source of advertising revenue for his site.

Pros: insightful content, no fence-sitting
Cons: wanders off mid-sentence with inane ramblings about 1970s prog rock or a chance meeting in 1965 with Umberto Eco

Rating: 8

Le Grove
http://le-grove.co.uk/
Primarily written by some bloke called Geoff, and other writers that give the impression of men in suits working in marketing consultancies in Hoxton that spend all day in meetings talking about search engine optimisation. On a more serious note, LeGrove has more recently come round to the conclusion that Wenger’s about as much use as a chocolate dildo, although after a string of positive results authors do have a tendency to sink back into daydream mode. The comments section is large, and probably the most balanced you will find on any Arsenal blog, even if contributors have a penchant for waiting hours on end for a blog to be written just so they can be first to write “1
stunderneath  it. A good, well-written, intelligent blog that proves that football has become more middle-class than working class, not that that’s a bad thing, because I associate the football working class with chavs whereas LeGrove is modern and inclusive, and would probably be accepting of chavs as long as they didn’t breathe on them.

Pros: rational analysis of why Wenger’s a lame duck, comments section mostly comprised of ‘normal’ supporters
Cons: some blogs are written by a Spanish agricultural farmer called Pedro

Rating: 8

Goonerholic
http://goonerholic.com/
An apt name for this blog, because the views represented by contributors appear to be those of self-loathing drunks. Author conjures up the image of a tortured Arsenal fan rocking backwards and forwards in an armchair reminiscing over 50s Arsenal, then extrapolating that nostalgia and failing miserably to apply it to the modern game. Posts are dull as dishwater and totally devoid of personality. Would recommend he creosotes the fence he’s sitting on before it collapses under the weight of its own boredom. Frightened to be critical of anyone or anything; a wholly purposeless and irrelevant blog with nothing to say.

Pros: great if you still listen to The Stranglers
Cons: banal, pelted with rocks for daring to use the comments section to reflect reality

Rating: 3

Untold Arsenal
http://untold-arsenal.com/
The most illogical Arsenal blog on the internet, and probably the daftest blog about a football club ever written. Untold Arsenal is the scientology branch of Arsenal blogdom. Probably written by an American conspiracy theorist that believes Area51 is run by the Sith Lord. Actually used the term “Lord Wenger” in its blog branding without a hint of humour or self-depreciation. Its bias is so putrid, that opening it in your browser is akin to being bundled into a cab and having your mouth smothered by a handkerchief drenched in Rohypnol. To explain a defeat, media and referees are attacked with sustained deliberation, and statistics twisted and manipulated until they emit electromagnetic radiation, which would be quite some feat if the information wasn’t simply used to build a very bad case to support its authors’ perverted views. In extreme cases, for example Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea - when four of Arsenal players should have been sent off, distortion of the truth may necessitate several weeks’ worth of graphs and tables stuffed full of flawed logic, created in a futile attempt to bewilder the reader into believing Arsenal were cheated, and Elvis is still alive.

Pros: unintentionally funny
Cons: treats Arsene Wenger like a long lost adopted father, mad as a box of frogs, website design is like first day of the internet

Rating: 0

Arsenal Truth
http://arsenaltruth.squarespace.com/
Initially part of the defunct OleOle.com franchise, before realising nobody bothered visiting the site, Arsenal Truth is the most undervalued Arsenal blog on the Internet. This is where you find the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, according to the author’s flawless logic. The website is treated with disdain by the majority of Arsenal fans, and because the author is no longer fazed by abuse and is about as patient as a five-year-old on Christmas Eve, most people are frightened to even comment. Readers are intelligent and perceptive, but have to suffer the author’s lengthy sabbaticals, which are usually followed by a predictable u-turn of some description. Posts are dominated by author’s boredom with the club’s malaise and suicidal unwillingness to repeat himself. 

Pros: always right, gratuitous yet deserved abuse of Arsene Wenger
Cons: occasionally obnoxious, wholly negative, disappears for months

Rating: 10

—oo— 

Comments should be intelligent and well-written. All others will be binned.

Monday
Jan192015

A truly shocking Arsenal performance



Many Arsenal fans will have been shocked by their side’s bizarre performance at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. The Gunners beat Man City 2-0, yet played with defensive resilience, intelligence and tactical competence. I was shocked, and I presume a lot of Arsenal fans who expected their side to be comfortably beaten were also shocked.

In games like this, it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether the result was simply down to Man City having a very bad day at the office or their opponents skilfully neutralising them and taking advantage of their mistakes. However, I watched the whole game, and although it was obvious that Man City were not at their best – it was certainly a game too soon for the returning Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany, Arsenal should be given huge credit for negating City from the first minute to the last and refusing them the time and space they needed to penetrate.

Although, you’d expect me to say this, considering it’s common knowledge that I believe him to be a tactical cretin, it’s questionable how much praise Wenger should receive for this performance, or the result. In terms of those picked to play, Bellerin only featured because Chambers has been an unmitigated disaster at right back, Monreal only played because Gibbs was unfit, Coquelin only played because Arteta is injured, and Ospina only played because Szczesny has proven himself to be grossly unprofessional.

However, what also helped Arsenal is that their players were playing in their natural positions and comfortably within their limits. Bellerin is a right back, Chambers is not, Ospina appears predictable and composed, Szczesny is not, Coquelin is defensive minded, has pace and a semblance of awareness, Flamini and Arteta are finished, Cazorla is a CM not a winger, and of course, playing deep allows Mertesacker to focus fully on his positional play without having to expose his lack of pace.

Play to the players’ strengths, and you might get a strong performance – it’s not rocket science, it's obvious.

So the team picked itself and the players took the responsibility upon themselves not to be beaten, encouraged by Man City’s wasteful possession – abetted by Arsenal’s pressing game - and the concession of soft goals. Indeed, Arsenal only had two shots on target, but both ended up in the back of the net due to self-inflicted errors. First, Kompany gave away a questionable penalty after minimal contact on Monreal. Cazorla converted. In the second half, Cazorla’s chipped free-kick was headed in far too easily by Giroud – Fernando’s marking was abject.

As the game wore on Arsenal’s confidence grew exponentially. It would have been interesting had Man City got a goal back, but Arsenal did not allow that to happen, thus avoiding a state of panic.

Arsenal’s work ethic was immense, and it seems unfair to give credit to any one individual, but Coquelin in particular showed the passion and motivation required of a player whose future is on the line. Listening to Wenger trying to claim credit for the performance of a player whose contract has been allowed to expire and was only brought back from his third loan spell due to a plethora of injuries is further evidence of his obnoxious narcissism. Meanwhile, Santi Cazorla’s skill and desire produced a phenomenal performance, one that even overshadowed Alexis Sanchez, yet once again Wenger couldn’t resist stealing the limelight to praise himself, citing Cazorla’s ‘vital’ ability as a two-footed pressure-pot reliever whose best position is central midfield. So why does he hardly ever play there?

This is a manager that doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. He just reacts to events. When the performance is drivel, he blames the players instead of himself, when it’s great he quickly takes the opportunity to ensure he receives equal praise. It just makes me detest him even more.

Whether this excellent result acts as template for the future, or is simply a one-off performance dictated by circumstance remains to be seen. However, Wenger would be a colossal fool not to take this opportunity to learn about his players. This game proved that Szczesny and Ozil don’t have the right make-up to play for Arsenal, Arteta and Flamini don’t have the legs, and the omission of Gibbs was a blessing; his lack of positional awareness would probably have cost Arsenal at some point. All five players need to be culled from the squad.

Most of all, this performance is a damning indictment of Wenger. How can it take a team a decade to put in this type of performance away from home against a top club? Because that’s how long it’s been since I’ve seen such a committed defensive performance. It was the performance of a side that respected the opposition, rather than being naively suckered into believing they only had to turn up to have a chance of winning. It was a performance to be proud of.

Now we’ll discover whether Wenger’s craving for self-aggrandisement forces the players to sink back into a system and style that is comically self-destructive, or takes the opportunity to prescribe a new path. Let’s not forget, we’ve seen this before. When Steve Bould and Martin Keown were allowed defensive input, the results were tangible, yet with the acknowledgement ebbing away from him, the control-freak decided he had to abandon it all and re-establish his failed philosophy.

—oo— 

Comments should be intelligent and well-written. All others will be binned.

Saturday
Jan032015

Grinning imbecile goes to Inter



That will be my abiding memory of Lukas Podolski. Not a footballer, but a grinning imbecile that seemed to spend most of his time Tweeting nauseating pictures of himself in changing rooms across the globe.

I never expected Podolski to be a success. In fact, I wrote the following shortly after he signed for the club in 2012:

“I’m not sure about this signing; I feel Podolski is capable of scoring an adequate amount of goals – but nothing like Van Persie. Technically, Podolski is not in the same class. My gut instinct is that Podolski will be a decent signing, but far from prolific – and if he’s stuck out wide, the goals might dry up as they have for Germany.”

Poor work rate, not very agile, the Premier League was a bad fit. At best, he was an impact sub. 

The striker scored 29 goals in 3.5 seasons. 6 of those came in the Champions League, 4 in the FA Cup and 19 in the Premier League, of which only 7 were scored away from home against 5 clubs: Fulham (2), Hull (2), West Ham, Liverpool and Reading.

Of the 12 Podolski scored at home, none were against a top four club.

Now we know why Podolski went from Koln to Bayern and back again. Podolski was a waste of £10.9m and approximately £19.5m in wages.

Inter must be desperate, but currently 11th in Serie A, the club’s five strikers have only scored 14 goals between them. A loan deal, Podolski could easily be back at Arsenal in the summer where he can suck up £107k p/wk for another 12 months before leaving on a free transfer in 2016.

Like so many Wenger signings over the last decade, Podolski was overpaid, overrated and sucked the lifeblood out of a wage bill that is full of grossly overpaid mediocrity, and starting to spiral out of control.

—oo— 

Comments should be intelligent and well-written. All others will be binned.