Manchester United delivered another Sunday morning hit of JOY. They drew at home to Southampton.
I would never use another footballing entity to support my secret agenda, but there are no managerial silver bullet solutions in the Premier League. Chelsea hired Tuchel who inherited a squad good enough to win the Champions League. He’s closer to 4th than 1st. Hard to say he’s moved Chelsea on this season considering the squad investment. The idea that any manager was going into United with that mess of a squad and moving it inside 3 months was fanciful. Rangnick needs to tear it down and rebuild over two seasons. The Premier League is just far too strong these days to allow a ‘star name’ to click their fingers and have a team competing for the league.
Throwing money at a squad without strategy might have teenage boys online clapping moves, but it doesn’t pay dividends unless there’s a strategy and a vision behind it. The two best clubs in the world right now are Liverpool and City. They have a clear vision, a clear strategy, and they build with an idea in mind. Two of the worst in world football? United and PSG. They throw money around like they’re taking advice off of Twitter. It might work domestically for PSG, but do you think Pochettino is happy there? No. He’s dealing with a complicated mess of egos. United fans were doing cartwheels for Ronaldo, everyone thought he was the next level… but really, he was their version of Willian and he’ll be gone this summer.
Just go back to the summer and remember this: United fans were laughing at Arsenal for signing Ben White. They’ve conceded 7 more goals than us and have 5 clean sheets to our 11. Varane on paper looked the better deal, but Arsenal were looking at a different paper. I know who looks better value to me 6 months in.
Back to the league.
That draw puts Arsenal 1 point behind the top 4 with two games in hand. Spurs sit 3 points behind us in 6th place. They play their extra game tomorrow when they host Wolves early doors. West Ham plays Leicester, a team not exactly having the best of seasons, so I don’t hold out hope there.
However you look at the table right now, it feels like the winds are finally blowing in our direction. It’s hard to call anyone a favorite right now, but it’s starting to look like Spurs and Arsenal might be battling it out. The good news is that we’re in the mixer. As the season plods along, we have complete focus on the prize, other teams have to wrangle domestic cups, Europe and the Champions League.
I know it’s wild to even talk about it, but if we do win our games in hand, maybe 3rd is in play for the chasing pack, which looks likely to be Spurs and Arsenal.
We have 9 days to think about what we’re going to do against Brentford when we play them at home. They are a well managed side, but they’ve lost their last 5 games, and are currently drawing to Palace. This needs to be a win.
Brentford was such a weird game at the start of the season. We were ravaged by COVID, which turned out to be a problem for most teams, and we had some shocking decisions go against us. Cal Chambers getting clobbered in the face for one of their goals and Bernd Leno having his arms pinned for another. It’s also forgotten that we have over 20 attempts at their goal, even with a less than ideal starting 11.
We need to deal with them at home. No one bullies us, so I’m not worried about that. Ivan Toney is a problem in the air, but that might be less of an issue now Ben White and Gabriel have settled. The only concern is about us taking our chances. I’m sure there will be more of them than we had against Wolves, but the point being, we have to finish them.
Alex Lacazette has come in for a lot of criticism for missing his chances. Look, I’m there with you, we need to upgrade our firepower this summer… but you can hold that idea in your head and also fully embrace the idea that this guy makes the rest of the team tick.
What is this table that has been spliced since December 6th?
It’s the table since Auba was dropped. Look at that goal difference. We’ve scored 16 goals, joint 2nd best with Liverpool and Southampton. Who was starting as our striker during that period? Lacazette my friends. The idea that he is a negative in our starting 11 is just a gross misunderstanding of what Arsenal are doing at the moment. Someone tweeted me that ‘our top 4 rests on his goals.’ Errrr… no it doesn’t. It rests on the whole team. Goals come from everywhere at Arsenal because he binds everyone. My biggest fear is if he gets injured because he really is the heartbeat of this team from a leadership perspective and there’s no simple solution to replace him.
Back to that table. To think there were conversations about Arteta not being right for Arsenal over the last two weeks. We’ve conceded 3 goals since we dropped Auba, scored 16, amassed the 3rd most points, with the two teams behind notching up two more games than us.
Above is an appearance I made on the Latte Firm Youtube channel. Take a watch. I cover off some of the weirdness in our fan base, especially for the people that talk about ‘elite level’ who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
Back to Arsenal…
New England Revolution announced the worst kept secret in football, we’re signing Matt Turner, their keeper, this summer. The player is highly regarded in the States, some say he’s the most valuable player in MLS. He has elite attributes. He’s an unreal shot-stopper, he saves a lot of penalties, and he has a Premier League frame. My one concern is there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest his kicking is where it needs to be. I thought we’d prioritise that in our backup keeper so the system doesn’t break. That said, some people said Ramsdale wasn’t good on the ball, but the club had done a deeper dive there and they were wrong.
It’s nice to see we’re now tapping the MLS for talent. America grows some of the best athletes in the world, the coaching is top class over here, and the production line of top players coming through is a restatement to that. I feel like America is basically where France was when Wenger took over at Arsenal. Some gems to be had. No doubt the game here will just get better and better as parents opt for the safer sport for their kids to play.
Right, jump on the latest podcast or video. We broke our record for downloads yesterday and 3100 watched our streamed video. Thank you for tuning in, commenting, and being a part of a different type of offering. I say this every week, but podcasting is so, so hard… so to have you following along means a lot. x