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North West v London
Who gave John Blakeway the can opener? Never give John Blakeway the can opener. There are worms every f**king where.

There are so many issues with your North West team. De Gea, yes. Clyne, absolutely. Otamendi and Kompany? Wow. Poor Joel Matip, Eric Bailly, even Phil Jones on current form. Surely one of these are your choice on the bench…Stones? Good God man. What have you been watching? Shaw, OK (left backs in the North West are sh*te, it seems). You also have three defenders and no midfielders on the bench. Surely Darmian can cover both full backs and one of the above come in instead of Stones.

Pogba, Fernandinho, granted. Again a surprisingly sh*te selection to choose from in a midfield two. De Bruyne, of course. Coutinho, yes. Silva? On current form? Lack of goals and assists (as noted in the mailbox this week). A shift to start with 4-3-3 here surely plays more to their strengths with Fernandinho sitting in a Henderson role, Pogba being Pogba and bringing in Lallana to be Lallana.

Cannot complain with Aguero though. Even if he is a d*ck. Coutinho and De Bruyne as narrow wide players, if that makes any sense.

First XI: De Gea, Clyne, Matip, Bailly, Shaw, Fernandinho, Lallana, Pogba, Coutinho, Aguero, De Bruyne.

Bench: Bravo, Darmian, Kompany, Henderson, Mané, Firmino, Sterling
Lar, (Gigi is this team’s Ronnie Whelan), Dublin

I saw John Blakeway’s email and thought to myself it would be fun to play along, it’s Friday so why not.

I decided to go with actual managers rather than made up ones so for my London 11, sticking with the same teams John selected,  my side is managed by Conte in his preferred 3-4-3 formation

Lloris, Bellerin, Alderwiereld, Luiz, Koscielny, Alonso, Kante, Dembele, Sanchez, Hazard, Costa

Subs; Cech, Rose, Vertonghen, Walcott, Matic, Carzola, Kane

I think this side would concede few goals as Conte knows how to get the best out of this system defensively and with two specialized full backs in the wing back position I think would make Conte giddy with excitement.

My North West 11 is managed by Guardiola using 4-2-3-1 formation

De Gea, Clyne, Matip, Bailley, Shaw, Fernandinho, Henderson, Pogba, Mikathariyan, Coutinho, Aguero

Subs; Callebrero, Kompany, Zabaletta, Lallane (or Mane), Toure, De Bruyne, Sturridge

This side, to me, would be very energetic and entertaining with quite a solid centre and a very potent bench.

I think the North West side may just edge it.  The issue I have with the 3-4-3 formation is that an attacking midfielder like Ozil (or Fabregas) may find it hard to flourish in that system (hence their omission) whereas 4-2-3-1 system allows these players to fully express themselves and I’d argue the three attacking midfielders of the NW team would unlock any defense.

That really was fun!
Peter, Norf London, LFC

Great post by John Blakeway, in all likelihood the London team would come out victorious. However the northwest team’s defence would be vastly improved by including one Joel Matip. Far superior to Otamendi and possibly even Kompany these days. His reading of the game is outstanding and his ball control and passing make me swoon multiple teams per game.

I would imagine most of my fellow Liverpool supporters would agree but I guess that’s to be expected when your central defence of the last few years has been occupied by the likes of Toure, Skrtel and Lovren.
Cian LFC (FIFA games taught me that he would be class)


Are Arsenal the only bottlers?
Derby, NY Blues wrote into this morning mail claiming Arsenal deserved the criticism they faced this week, in part due to their lack of mental tougness in “any of the last dozen years”. I will assume he is referring to the lack of an EPL trophy during these “last dozen years”. If that, then mister, your argument is bollocks at best.

To claim Arsenal deserves criticism of not being mentally tough ‘cos they have not won the league in 12 years is one-sided if the high-flying Liverpool with tough mental character has not won it in more than 2 decades. Why havent we been hearing of this lack of mental toughness in Merseyside. Oh! What of Arsenal’s neighbour, Spurs? How many league titles do they have in that “last dozen years”? I could go on…

I feel it is lazy and stereotyped to throw the accusation of lack of mental toughness at Arsenal. They havent won the league in 12 years, yeah! We know…so is more than half of the team in the league this season. Why it is only Arsenal, consistently making top four (not easy as it sounds, ask Manchested Utd fans) who lacks mental toughness, i will never understand. Rant Over
Dare, AFC (As if you couldnt tell), OOUTH, Nigeria.

Magic Gini
Have to agree with Brian, DC this morning regarding Gini. He reminds me of the days when Joe Allen played well for us, popping up in good places, making nice angles
and consistent harrying of the opposition. Taking the time to watch him properly you would see that he consistently appears as a link in our best play. I have been wondering of late about the composition of our midfield when Can, Gini, Henderson and Lallana are all fit. Henderson and Lallana are undroppable, while Can and Gini always add to the team performance in different ways. Can gives us more physicality in the middle, and is adept at getting the team going forward with his driving runs. However Gini is tidier in posession and knits things together excellently. If he’d stop taking an extra touch in the box he’d surely have more goals. Always like to see those players who are overlooked get a bit of credit, magicians need their assistants after all.
Paul, LFC, Monchegladbach.

Love for a ref
I just want to highlight the refereeing clinic put on by Jon Moss this week. His two play on decisions led to goals and he didn’t make himself the center of attention.

He was a joy to behold.
Brian (I like Wijnaldum but he needs to contribute more in the goals/assists column) LFC


Ronaldinho red
Good Lord, Mills. Late but not a red?

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He was there first. He put his studs on the ball and went over the top. It was a red card every day of the week. He knew what he was doing, and he knew he was caught.
Andrew, Ireland


Kai > Wayne
Reading Mediawatch today about Kai Rooney playing for City’s youth team and a thought struck me, has there ever been a son or daughter of a top (top) player that has gone on to replicate or surpass their parent?

There have been a few father son pro’s alright, Johan and Jordi Cruyff as an example, but have any of the kids been as good as or better than their world class father? Elite son following elite father?

The only one I can think of is Cesare and Paulo Maldini, Cesare was a very decorated player and managed Paulo when he was captain of Italy at France 98. That’s an overachieving family.

Any others?
Mark (hopefully my kids are better than I was at everything) Williamson