Tag Archives: Manchester United

A weekend ruined before it has even begun

The plan for the weekend was simple. Cricket.

And then Jason Holder hit 202 not out to give the West Indies a 628 run lead in the first test against England. 2 days still to play, it will be an uphill task.

The deluded optimist in me will be saying “the Windies were 415-6 when they declared. There are still 2 days to go. England have 50-odd on the board with 10 wickets in hand. The pitch has flattened out and the Windies bowling attacking is not great”.

But we all know how it will go. England will get to 80-odd. Lose the first wicket, then a couple more. Root and Butler will put on a battling 150, giving you that bit of hope again, before England lose the final 5 wickets for about 20 runs.

The match finished in 4 days, at least those out there will get an extra day on the beach instead of being in the cricket ground.

Hopefully the second test will be better.

Last nights defeat against Manchester United was certainly deja vu.

Over the last 10 years, under Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho and more, Arsenal facing Manchester United has often followed the same script.

Arsenal dominate possession, have chances, miss chances, United score a couple on the break and win the game. And that is exactly what happened last night.

The Gunners were not poor yesterday. The statistics show we dominated the game. xG had us winning about 9-0. And that is why statistics are ultimately pointless. The only one that mattered was Manchester United scored 3 to Arsenal’s 1.

Manchester United scored 3 goals from their 4 shots on target. Not only do them seem capable over withstanding our pressure, they also have a habit of scoring goals against us without many chances.

A bit like the defeat against Chelsea earlier in the season, there are plenty of positives to take out of the game.

Despite losing our 2 central defenders, we battled well and matched a rejuvenated Manchester United.

Manchester United certainly have a feeling of the Roberto Di Matteo’s about them.

Di Matteo took over from André Villas-Boas at Chelsea. The senior players, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, had downed tools. Made it clear they did not like the manager and got him sacked. Di Matteo came in and their form improved. It was nothing he did, it was just the players decided to start playing again.

They won the Champions League despite him.

The same is happening at Manchester United.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez clearly stopped playing under Jose Mourinho. They forced him out. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not made them better players. They were already top draw players. They have just decided to start playing again.

Like Di Matteo, it would not surprise me if Solskjaer  led the team to a trophy, and even top 4. He will then get the job, the shine will rub off and he will be sacked in November. He will return to the manager that was sacked by Cardiff after 9 wins in 30 games.

You have to feel for Unai Emery at the moment. It just does not stop at the moment.

Some will say we have now lost 5 in 10, and he has to shoulder some of the blame for that, but we must stick with him.

It is not Emery’s fault that Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny suffered injuries last night. Koscielny’s was a freak accident. The pair have also had extended time off this season.

You then have Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding – both out for the season.

Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal and Saed Kolasinac have also spent time in the medical room this season, and Kostadinos Mavropanos has not been seen. Ainsley Maitland-Niles broke his leg in the first game of the season.

The only defender not to suffer an injury this season has been Carl Jenkinson.

To have so many defenders consistently out injured is just unlucky. We went into the season with 5 central defenders, and all 5 have spent time injured. You simply can not legislate for that.

So we have a race for 4th (I still think we will finish above Spurs) and the Europa League  left to look forward to this season.

Two chances to return to the Champions League, one chance to lift a trophy.

Emery will get things right, it will just take a couple more transfer windows.



Manchester United “killed” the FA Cup, Pochettino fails again, Arsenal transfer news and Henry disappoints

FA Cup 4th round tonight as Arsenal face Manchester United.

There is a bed sheet going round on Twitter which states “Friday night TV, 4000 stolen tickets, The FA + Arsenal killing the FA Cup”.

Whilst I understand the sentiment and frustration of the fan, it is extremely misguided.

The FA have not done much to help the FA Cup. They have sold their soul to TV companies at home and abroad meaning that we now have Friday night and Monday night games. In the 3rd round, games were moved from 3pm to lunchtime despite not being on UK TV. This was to give foreign broadcasters a wider choice on who to show.

The rest of the banner is laughable.

Let’s take the tickets firstly.

Manchester United have not given 15% allocation for years. They have hidden behind health and safety and supported by the FA, so to talk about “stolen tickets” is a joke. Maybe they should petition their own club first to give away fans the right and proper ticket allocation?

Once Man U begins doing so, they might find other clubs doing the same to them.

Also he needs to question his fellow fans.

One of the problems at the Emirates is club level and executive boxes between upper and lower tier. This means that on FA Cup games, you could have away fans above and below Arsenal fans in the middle. This would be OK if fans could behave themselves, but they can not.

There have been numerous stories over the years of fans in club level being spat on, coins being thrown and, disgustingly, cups of urine dropped from the upper tier. If you can not behave yourself, do not expect to get a full ticket allocation.

As for killing the FA Cup, let me take your mind back to 1999.

Manchester United had just won the Champions League, completing a historic treble. They were due to take part in the inaugural World Team Championship. It take place between the 4th and 15th of January, meaning that they would miss FA Cup 3rd Round day.

Mancheaster United accepted an offer from the FA to not play in the cup.

The FA wanted United to play in the new tournament in Brazil – because they believe it could aid England’s 2006 World Cup bid. England lost their bid and Man U did not even make it out of their group.

It was that day the cup died.

Both Man U and the FA decided that the competition was low priority. That teams could just “skip” it to play elsewhere. So if United fans want someone to blame for “killing the FA Cup”, by all means blame the FA, but also blame your own club.

Manchester United are more to blame for the dying FA Cup than any other side.

In other news Tottenham confirmed it would be 11 years without a trophy last night as they crashed out of the League Cup to Chelsea.

I had to laugh during the game as the caption came up on the screen when Sky showed Maurico Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri.

Pochettino’s said “252nd game in charge of Spurs” whilst Sarri’s said “Still yet to win his first major honour”. It was the same captions in the first league.

This highlights the pro-Tottenham agenda within the media.

Yes, Sarri is still looking for his first major honour, but so is Pochettino. Why is it relevant to mention it about the Chelsea manager, but not the Tottenham? It is almost like the media are trying to hide the fact the Pochettino is in his 10th season as a manager, his 5th at Spurs, and has nothing to show for it.

As for those saying “he is only 46”. Well before Unai Emery is only 47-years-old. At 46 he had already won 3 Europa League’s with Sevilla and 7 trophies with PSG in France.

It is clear who the serial winner is…

Arsenal have been lined with PSG central midfielder Christopher Nkunku.

I would normally have written this off as his agent linking his client with Arsenal to get him in the British press – with the hope of a move to a Premier League club. However the move has been confirmed by David Ornstein.

A few have said “but what abut Ainsley Maitland-Niles”., and they do have a point.

On paper Nkunku and Maitland-Niles do seem similar. Central midfielders who are versatile, and the same age. But we should not see it as Nkunku replacing Maitland-Niles, but repalcing Ramsey.

Emery clearly likes playing 3 central midfielders. As it stands we have Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny and Maitland-Niles. We ideally need 6 if we are going to play 3, so we need to buy.

Rather than go for an ageing talent in Ever Banega, we are targeting a youngster with talent. This is the type of recruitment we need to get back to. Players under 25 who can develop, rather than on established players who command a high wage and have no sell on value.

And Nkunku would also be a replacement for Elneny.

We get Nkunku, we then have 4 central midfielders who are 22 or under – with Xhaka the elder statesman at just 26. It would then be an area of the park that we would not have to invest in for a couple of years.

Finally sad news from France.

Thierry Henry has been sacked by Monaco.

It does not come as much of a surprise. Monaco was a sinking ship having got into bed again with Jorge Mendes. They moved away from what had won them the league – signing and developing bright young talent – and returned to signing ageing has-beens.

It was a tough job for Henry to take. One that he was always likely to struggle at. He has not helped himself with some of his comments, however you can see his frustration with some of the overpaid senior players.

Some people are saying “thank god we didn’t employ Henry” but to judge him on his first job would not make sense.

Henry clearly loves the game, and has a lot to give. Monaco was just the wrong job.

He could do with going to a club filled with young talent, where he can develop that talent – both the bodies and mind. A bit like what Frank Lampard is doing at Derby. I hope he gets another chance.


The Truth: Mertesacker’s “absence” and Manchester United’s ticket allocation

First thing to do this morning is nip something in the bud quickly.

Per Mertesacker went the NBA London Game on Thursday night rather than to Arsenal v Tottenham in the FA Youth Cup.

This decision has led to huge criticism by many uneducated members of the media and fans. Most are looking for easy hits or RTs on Twitter.

Mertesacker is the Academy Manager.This means he oversees the operation at Hale End – where members of the Arsenal Academy train.

The U18s are not considered part of that academy. Once you reach U18 level, you move across to London Colney to train with the first team

You can not expect Mertesacker, Unai Emery or whoever to go to every game, every time. They have other things to concentrate on, and are allowed a life outside of work.

Going to the FA Youth Cup does not fall within Mertesacker’s contract parameters.

Now he might have gone out of interest, or to see how an U16 performed if they are stepping up a level, but on this occasion he decided to go to a basketball match.

A huge basketball fan, the NBA London Game is a once or twice a year thing.

So let’s just ignore the white noise and fake news surrounding his “absence”.

In other news, Arsenal are set to donate around 600 tickets for the FA Cup fourth-round tie against Manchester United. This after a dispute between the clubs over ticket allocation.

FA rules dictate that home clubs must make 15% of tickets available for the FA Cup. This is 9,000 tickets at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal have given Man U just 5,000 tickets, citing safety concerns.

Every club must get a safety certificate for every game. They must have this signed off by the local council and the police. In the past (when we play Tottenham in a mid week cup game, for example) the police have stopped us giving away the full allocation as they can not guarantee the safety of all fans.

Whether the council or police are behind the drop in allocation, or Arsenal are just hiding behind Health & Safety is not clear.

There is also a bigger story at play here. One which is rarely written about. And that is the fact that Manchester United never give visiting teams a full allocation for cup games.

The FA have approved Manchester United to give visiting teams a lower allocations for FA Cup ties at Old Trafford, where around 11.7% of the 76,000-capacity is handed over to the away team. This usually happens without much comment from the media.

This is potentially tit for tat with Arsenal. “We do not get full allocation when we visit you, so why should we give you full allocation”.

The same happened against Tottenham in the League Cup.

Spurs never give Arsenal their full allocation, yet a lot of fuss was made when we failed to give them theirs.

One problem with the 9,000 tickets is they are then lower and upper tier, with club level and executive boxes filled with Arsenal fans in between.

In the past when away fans have got upper and lower tier, there have been stories of those Arsenal fans in the middle tier being spat on, coins thrown and urine poured over them. This is clearly unacceptable and Arsenal’s first priority is the protection of its own fans.

Back in 2014  Everton (a club with a reputation for throwing urine) only got 9%

The FA responded to complaints stating the 15% was “subject to the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) agreeing to that ticket allocation number.

“The SAG is made up of services such as the local council, police, fire brigade and the club amongst others and issues the stadium’s health and safety certificate.

“In regards to the Arsenal v Everton Sixth Round tie at the Emirates on Saturday 8 March, the local SAG has chosen to allocate just under 9% to the Everton supporters.

“Although we appreciate the disappointment in the SAG not granting the full 15% allocation, it is nearly double the amount of tickets that Everton would have received for the Premier League fixture at the Emirates back in December.

“The FA does not have any input into the decision of the SAG and cannot change it as this is a matter of health and safety.”

So here is an idea. If you want to have 15%. Stop throwing coins, spitting on, or throwing urine at fans below you.

Today is Chelsea. Not much to say except we need 3 points.