By Bulldog Drummond
There is an article in the Daily Telegraph today by Chris Bascombe headlined “The inconvenient truth for Liverpool: world class players no longer want to move to Anfield.”
It represents a remarkable shift in media attitudes, for although it is not replicated in every media outlet by any means, it does in itself symbolise a seismic shift in media attitude, suggesting as it does that rather than one simple change being needed at Liverpool (or indeed any of the clubs that form part of the standard media love in which irrespective of results get the unending adulation of journalists) some serious work is needed.
Certainly most of the time a quick glance through the media would make one believe that year on year Liverpool! are indeed “Liverpool!” complete with exclamation mark, and are odds on to win the league, up, other cup, Euro cup that they are not in, the little Euro cup that they were in, and the fair play league.
The notion that in the last 25 years – during quite a few of which Arsenal have been boringly reaching the Champions League, and actually winning the League three times, Liverpool have a set of positions that is somewhat worse than Arsenal’s, is rarely encountered. Here’s the Liverpool! 25 year receord…
- 2nd: 3 times
- 3rd: 5 times
- 4th: 5 times
- 5th: 3 times
- 6th: 3 times
- 7th: 3 times
- 8th: 3 times
I suppose on Merseyside they are now starting to say that “8th is not a trophy”. But they did win the Champions League in 2007, (which of course we haven’t ever done), although then if we take their figures since, they come in as
- 2nd: 2 times
- 3rd: 3 times
- 4th: once
- 6th: 2 times
- 7th: 2 times
- 8th: 2 times
It was, of course, a remarkable achievement to win the Champs League, and yes of course I wish Arsenal had done it, but if the price had been six seasons in which we came sixth or lower, well, it puts a bit of a strain on being a supporter. However, that, it seems, would satisfy the aaa.
So the media has stayed with them much of the time, faithfully refusing to print details of their owner’s boastful speech about how he conned the media over the £40m transfer affair. But now as shown above, we have a headline a bit like that and it is a change. The article continues…
“They need a proven goalkeeper. They need a proven centre-back. They need a proven striker. They need bigger squad. And they needed it in January.” It reads as if an editor had taken the regular media reportage concerning Arsenal, and placed it in the Liverpool pile by mistake. The piece continues…
“Instead of paying £80 million for an established midfielder, Liverpool have been searching for those players who can be developed and whose value will soar to such a level with top class coaching. This approach has been the subject of repeated appraisal and re-appraisal during the course of seven years.” (Only seven – after 25 years without a title? It seems a bit late to me, but I am sure they know best).
But, the article continues, there is a bigger problem. “The most sought after stars are showing no desire to move to Anfield. That, more than any pre-meditated decision not to target such individuals, is the hindrance facing Klopp this summer.”
Now we know (‘cos they often tell us) that the Liverpool! “financial package” on offer was often better than anything Chelsea, Man City, Man U and Arsenal would offer – it is one of those awkward things that the club owner tends to say (like the boasts in a public meeting about conning Arsenal over the Suarez affair). As it raises the question, “if it was so good, why don’t players want to go to Liverpool?”
It is an interesting question because during Mr Wenger’s reign it has rarely been the case with Arsenal, although because of the uprising of the two AAA’s (the Anti-Arsenal-Arsenal and the Arrogance, amnesia and assumptions of the journalists) it can feel as if it might have been.
So Liverpool need to buy smarter, and we might think in this regard of people like Ospina (£3m), Koscielny (as a complete unknown in the French lower leagues), Holding (£3m), Mustafi (not on anyone’s radar at all despite 110 transfer rumours last summer), Bellerin (nicked from Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (picked up cheap in a fire sale), Le Jeff (not quite there but showing extraordinary ability), Iwobi, (a stunning development), Coquelin (signed at 16 for nothing). And that is just for starters from the current squad.
Anyway, moving on,
This is Mr Wenger’s 50th game against the exclamation mark but as the BBC commentary says, “A win here, a big display against Bayern and a cup victory against Lincoln won’t silence Wenger’s critics. They should be wary of what they wish for.” It was the problem with Herbert Chapman’s teams, with George Allison’s teams and it is the problem with Mr Wenger’s teams. The assumption that anyone else could do better is simplistic and untrue.
But… and this is the big “but”, Liverpool have been doing far better against other teams in the upper reaches of the league than against little teams. However this clearly gives us hope since according to the aaa (the Anti-Wengerian version) Arsenal play like a little team. On that basis we ought to win.
Besides Giroud has scored five goals in his last seven games against the exclamations.
On the other hand Liverpool’s only league win in their last nine home games against Arsenal was in February 2014; the rest have been five draws and three defeats. And the “5th (or lower) is not a trophy” team have managed to let in no goals in just two of the last 22 games in the league between the two – and none in the last ten played at Greater Anfield.
Here’s another. There have been 16 goals in the 90th minute or later in this PL fixture, which is a record. Or, if you prefer to be miserable, Liverpool could become the first team to do five Premier League doubles against Arsenal.
I could go on, but I shall save the rest for the regular (or invariably wrong) team prediction, which will appear shortly.
Liverpool v Arsenal – all the bits you didn’t want to know
- Liverpool v Arsenal: how the world has changed for Liverpool in recent years
- Liverpool! v Arsenal: the facts, the figures, and the other bits that we made up.
- Arrogance, amnesia and assumptions: how the football media deals with Liverpool
- Liverpool v Arsenal 4 March 2017 (Matchweek 27) – The Match Officials
- Liverpool v Arsenal – how Arsenal can win, how the ref will reverse himself and long is cut short
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.