I am not quite sure what people expected from the game against Liverpool on Monday.
Some of the criticism of Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal players is a bit over the top.
It ignores the fact that Liverpool are reigning champions, a side that finished 18 points ahead of 2nd place last season, and 43 points ahead of Arsenal.
They have not lost a Premier League home game since April 2017 – a run of 3 seasons unbeaten and 61 games. Of those 61 games, they have won 50.
Liverpool should be what we aspire to.
They have had no owner investment on the playing side, and have got to where they are through good coaching and good recruitment.
Jurgen Klopp is now in his 6th season with Liverpool. He did not turn them around over night.
They finished 8th in his first season, like Arteta’s Arsenal. And then 2 consecutive 4th place finishes. Only Sean Dyche has been at a Premier League club longer.
Anyone that thought Edu and Arteta would turn us into title challengers overnight is deluded.
As Liverpool have shown, building greatness (without throwing hundreds of millions at it) takes time.
The “new” handball rule has caused a lot of controversy over the weekend. I put “” around the word new as the rule is not actually new.
FIFA introduced a new rule for handball last year. The FA made the decision not to implement it. This year they have.
The only thing new about the handball rule is that IFAB have changed where the ball needs to hit a player on the arm for it to be an offence.
It is now only handball if the ball his you below the sleeve line on the arm, where as previously it was anywhere on the arm.
So the new handball rule will actually see less offences given, as the area on your arm that is counted has been narrowed.
Like whenever a new rule comes out, we will see a spike in offence given before players adapt how they play and things settle down.
We saw this when VAR was introduced, and it led to a lot of penalties given for tugs and hugs at corners. Players quickly adapted how they defend corners and now you rarely see a defender with his hands all over a striker.
The Bundesliga introduced the current handball rule back in 2018/19. This led to a spike of offence, and then last year a reduction as things settled down.
Last season, we saw Italy and Spain adopt the rule which saw penalties for handball increase. It will be interesting to track the data this year to see if offences now reduce.
It is all well and good Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher talking about “natural position” but the position of the arms has only become natural because it has been coached into players.
From a young age as a defender you were told to “make yourself big”. To stick your arms out which makes it harder for an attacker to run around you.
Defenders will quickly learn to keep their arms by their body, or not to jump with their hands above their head.
Eric Dier might have had his back to Andy Carroll at the weekend, but he had no reason for his hands to be away from his body, and above his head.
The defence of “he was not in control of his limbs” is not really a defence. It is Dier’s job to be in control of his limbs, his body.
It will take a few weeks for players, pundits and fans to adjust, and in that time we will see a spike of handball offences. But once players have learned what they can and can not do, we will see that number reduce.
Instead of “experts” demanding the rule be changed, they should take their time explaining the rule and what players can do to combat the offence being given.
Man City Defenders
Ruben Dias £65m
Nathan Ake £40m
Philippe Sandler £2.25m
Aymeric Laporte £57m
John Stones £47.5m
Nicolás Otamendi £32m
Eliaquim Mangala £40m
Martín Demichelis £3.5m
Matija Nastasic £12m
Stefan Savic £6m
Jerome Boateng £11m
Kolo Toure £16m
Joleon Lescott £22m
Since the signing of Vincent Kompany for £6.7m, Manchester City have spent £355million on central defenders.
It reminds me of the England cricket team.
Since Andrew Strauss retired, England have struggled to find a partner for Alistair Cook. And now Cook has retired we have struggled in our quest to find 2 decent openers.
Manchester City are the same with central defenders.
Firstly they spent millions to buy Kompany a partner, and now spending millions to buy him a replacement. Irony is after Kompany, Martin Demichelis was probably their next best defender.
By the time you add in full backs, Manchester City have spent nearly £600m on defenders in 12 years. An incredible amount
Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal improved defensively without buying a player.
Maybe City’s problem, like Arsenal under Unai Emery, is more to do with coaching rather than personnel?