If Dortmund can topple Bayern, why shouldn’t Arsenal be expected to compete with City?

·21-min read
Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus looks upset alongside an image of Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller celebrating. Credit: Alamy
Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus looks upset alongside an image of Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller celebrating. Credit: Alamy

The Mailbox reckons Arsenal are getting off lightly with the narrative that they shouldn’t be expected to compete with City. Look what Dortmund are doing in Germany.

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com


Going viral
I woke this morning with an idea for an email, that City were a cancer in the game that needed to be eradicated, I know I know not very generous of me. But then I went back to first principles and examined my hypothesis, are they really a cancer? Am I correct in my diagnosis? What am I basing my diagnosis on?…meanwhile my daughter is trying to show me the kitty she drew as I pondered but this was important, the future of the game as I saw depends on this.

What is a cancer? It is an abnormal growth of cells in a hosts body that proliferates throughout the body with the ultimate effect of killing its host if left untreated.

And so I asked are City really a cancer? Perhaps not. They are not trying to kill football, at least I hope not. Is there something else going on?

What lives off its host with the intention of preseving its own existence at all costs, no no not politicians, viruses of course.

Are Man City a virus in the game? Lets examine it and see and if so ask are they a successful virus/football club from a virological perspective. Fun huh??

So if a cancers ultimate destiny is to kill or be killed what is a virus’ trying to do to its host? Survive and propagate.

The difference is a virus needs its host in order to survive. I virus cannot exist outside its host for any length of time. So by definition the virus does not belong in its host and so the hosts immune system will try to kill it off. If the virus is too deadly it will kill its host too often and limit its spread eg Ebola, deadly but limitable by containment measures, the most successful virus’ don’t kill their hosts en masse, they keep enough alive to spread and cause maximum havoc, eg covid. Bear with me.

And so what are City cancer or virus? From the above they are a footballing virus, not a cancer. They are from outside football, with no origin story we recognise or admire. They have arrived like an alien species into our game and are living off it, weakening it but will they ultimately destroy it or will the host (football) try to fight back and eliminate the virus.

The host has begun to fight back recently but to date the virus has been successful at expelling such attacks. However the immune system (fans, journalists and authorities) are beginning to increasingly question City’s presence in our game and what that means for the game.

A funny thing happens with viruses. As we know they can’t and don’t live within their hosts forever, although some low level viruses can survive for a very long time, some like herpes even go dormant for decades before reactivating, eg cold sores. But ultimately the stronger the virus gets the more likely the probability of a definitive outcome is, death of the host of elimination of the virus.

And so we find ourselves today. As City and its fans stand on the brink of an unprecedented treble, having knocked out and humiliated European royalty and left the best of the premiership trailing in their wake the stakes rise higher and higher. City and their fans are triumphant at their imminent success and why wouldn’t they be?

In a way I have sympathy with City fans when they say fans of other clubs would be no different if the circumstances were changed. I don’t think the majority would but some do have actual morals and principles as well you know. However I don’t judge City fans for defending their own club at all costs. Football is tribal and primal, that’s why we love it, but by the same token City fans don’t be surprised that the rest of football want you out and want you to fail. The same is true of any ultra successful club but even more if that club is deemed as not following the rules of the game, of cheating in order to achieve their success of essentially being an “outsider” virus invading an otherwise happy and healthy host and damaging that host for your own survival and success. Make no mistake the host will fight back to preserve itself and that’s where your jeaparody lies.

The stronger and more successful you get the more the rest of football will try to get rid of you. Usually this takes place in a football arena but with your club you have achieved your success by breaking the rules of sport away from the field and so this is where the battle will take place because you have created an unfair game by unfair means.

As they say in hip hop, stakes is high and somethings gotta give, virus or host, both can survive together indefinitely and I for one am on the side of football.
Dave LFC


Judging City
I’m always amused to see the mails crying out that City are cheats. One recently compared City to Lance Armstrong, because of offences that are nothing more than idle speculation. Compared to a guy who actually injected himself with performance enhancing substances. Jeez..

.But the Premier League accused them of breaking the rules. So let’s look at that. The EPL says City committed over a hundred transgressions over nine years. There is no information on what those transgressions were, except for one “leak”. Now, we know leaks are a common tactic used in political organisations (and they don’t get much more political than the Premier League) as a PR weapon. The leak is intended to show the public evidence that the course of action they are taking is justified. The leak usually represents the juiciest item, the one that will swing public support.

When the Premier League accuses Man City, they are accusing the most dominant team of the current era. Given their investment in facilities, youth development etc, arguably the most influential team of the current era. So it’s a big deal. So, a leak helps justify the PL’s action. What is that leak? Roberto Mancini was allegedly (and it’s important to remind everyone this is an allegation denied by City and Mancini, not an established fact) paid a shadow salary of some 1.75 million.

So the “juicy” leak involves a sum of 1.75 million. Let’s assume – just for argument’s sake – every one of the 100 allegations is of a similar amount. This is highly unlikely, as they wouldn’t have chosen that one if there were others more sensational. But for the sake of argument….. 1.75 million x 100 allegations equals 175 million. Now, that’s a lot of money. But no-one who knows diddly squat about modern football can argue that 175 million over a period of nine years was enough to buy a single trophy. In the modern game, that’s pretty small money.

What we have is a statement from the EPL that doesn’t provide much info. Anyone who’s run a large company will know that a tax audit with a hundred irregularities findings is common, and almost always a tactic by the tax authorities. Those audits almost always whittle down to very little of substance. But I see people writing mails, and I can pundits on TV referring to “cheating” without any regard for due process. We don’t presume guilty until proven innocent, do we?

I don’t know what will finally come out of this. No-one does. So no-one should be calling cheat until City have had the chance to respond and we know the final outcome. What I do know is that games are not won in boardrooms. They are won on the pitch, between players, coaches and support staff. Factually, City haven’t been anywhere near the biggest net spenders for year. But they continue to win titles. If titles were all about how much money is paid for and to players and coaches, why haven’t clubs like Man Utd been cleaning up?


The moral high ground, part deux
If I may be allowed to respond to Chris ITFC… Chris, with respect, your comments neatly encapsulate my point. Here you are as a supporter of a club that HASN’T had to make that choice, nonetheless, declaring what you would personally do, in such an event. On moral grounds no less.

Here’s the gig. I don’t know you and, therefore, like everybody else on F365, I have no idea whether you would follow through with your well-intentioned views. Much like those that felt the need to write in with the sole purpose of declaring their abhorrence of the World Cup and, consequently, their resolve not to watch a single game in that competition. On moral grounds.

But millions still did.

Like them, we’ll never know whether you would or wouldn’t. But what I can guarantee is that, in the event Ipswich were taken over by a petro-state, the vast majority of your Ipswich fanbase would absolutely NOT follow your lead. Quite the reverse. Why do you think Newcastle fans reacted as they did when they were bought? Because of the possibility that they were ‘going to do a City’. That’s why.

Morally harsh? Yep. Realistic? Definitely.

As was the main theme of my mail. Don’t take my word for it, wait until you see the fanbase reaction of either the Man Utd, Spurs, (or the latest reported target), West Ham supporters when Sheikh Jassim buys them. Then you, as I previously wrote, can join the group of those NOT bought in unleashing your missives as true moral crusaders.

Well done you.

Oh, and you caught me at “If you read moral philosophy….” Because which honest football fan doesn’t?
Mark (Three In a row) MCFC


Arsenal should look to Dortmund
Season’s end greetings. A few points

* Congratulations to Citeh. They are the best team, with the best manager and play the best football. They need to go ahead and do the Treble now. This team is so good it deserves it

* It’s hilarious seeing the bitter gracelessness and excuse-making from bitter Arsenal fans. I’ll just remind them that Citeh aren’t the reason Arsenal spent over 200 days top of the PL, highest points total by midway and on course for a 98-point season…come the business end, Arsenal collapsed so spectacularly that they are on a pathetic 81 points. And could finish 13 points behind Citeh. A pathetic implosion, no matter what new excuses they use! Ever since the Anfield collapse they are bottom 5 in the form table. With Citeh, the bigger the occasion and pressure, the better they perform. Arsenal are the opposite – sorry lads. The Arsene Wenger Loser DNA is now so firmly ensconced within the Arsenal psyche that it’ll take years to wear off. Some of us warned you that embracing the brand of failure Wenger served up would corrode the club for years to come!

* This is not, by any stretch, a “memorable” Arsenal team. 81 points they have. Brendan Rodgers Liverpool finished on 84 points, scoring over 100 goals. More points, more goals than this “special” Arsenal team. even the Spurs side under MoPo finished on 86 points, and had far lower pre-season expectations and a much lower wage bill. Again, more points than this “special Arsenal team”. Klopp of course, got Liverpool into runners-up on 97 and 92 points. So if you want an indication as to the Loser mentality at Arsenal FC, it’s the widespread “pride” and “joy” at finally having their first semi-competent PL season in 19 years! A season in which they’ve accrued less points than even the famous “Spurs choker” team they mocked! Imagine that.

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�� Credit: Alamy
�� Credit: Alamy
�� Credit: Alamy

* Speaking of Spurs: Arsenal fans like to mock them etc but the irony is that Spurs and Arsenal have a lot more in common than they’d like to admit: a lack of winning mentality and an incredible ability to choke, is a north London speciality! They are different sides of the same coin – Arsenal are simply the more glamorous chokers. Ultimately, both clubs will always provide opposition fans with comedy choke-moments for the ages. If there’s one thing to credit Arsenal for, it’s that.

* I’m laughing at delusional Arsenal fans writing in that “next year we will improve”. Saliba ain’t signed a contract. He will want assurances that his desire to win the biggest trophies will be met. The team plays with a Fake striker in Gabriel Jesus, who is one of the most useless “finishers” I’ve ever seen. They need a ruthless number 9, a top-level DCM, a top level right back, another top-level CB and another creative attacking option for the squad. A minimum of five first team players, just to touch the sides. So expect Arsenal fans to show off when the club pulls out Declan Rice alone, at 11:59pm on August 31 (whilst neglecting every other area)

* Amidst the wailing and bitching about Citeh from Arsenal fans and “oil money”, I would urge all the Loser-mentality fans to cast an eye over to Germany and what Dortmund are doing in the Bundesliga. Dortmund lost this pretty good player over summer, some Norwegian striker who is basically Ivan Drago. They have a wage bill and transfer budget nowhere near Bayern. Bayern in fact have poached most of their good players over the years, and Bayern sign the best players in Europe. One thing you didn’t hear from Dortmund fans at the start of their season, were d’avance excuses to justify their failure like “we cannot compete” blabla etc. Despite losing Haaland and seeing Bayern add elite players like Mané and De Ligt, guess what? Dortmund are on home win away from being crowned Bundesliga champions. A sensational achievement in a league where Bayern are peerless. So you see, as Leicester, Klopp at Dortmund – and now Liverpool – etc have shown. It’s very difficult, but it is achievable. Arsenal fans however, are wedded to bullshit excuses about “young team” (Dortmund has a very young team), and “if Hayley’s comet had only not been a thing, Arsenal could have won” etc etc.

Arsenal are tied to the mentality of being Specialists in Failure. And it’s the reason next season will be the 20th anniversary of them last being PL winners. And, until the “lower the bar” mentality is expunged once and for all – and that means calling failure, actual failure (not dressing it up as success because there were “no expectations”), Arsenal will continue to be nothing but PL also-rans, whining about how unfair it is that Brighton and Southampton’s oil money is distorting competition blabla.

Have a great summer all, and Peace to all!
Stewie Griffin (17 years on from writing my “Wenger Out” tirade that questioned the weak mentality of Arsenal fans, here we are, STILL asking how much lower the Arsenal bar can go!)


The modern hooligan?
As the dust begins to already settle on a strange season, filled with bizarre incidents, odd decisions both for and against each club in the league pyramid, great games, terrible games, and a whole World Cup squeezed in between Premier League gameweeks 16 and 17, I am left wondering why some of you lot even watch football?

Sorry to go deep with you on a Monday morning, it’s a serious question and very much not rhetorical. It’s a question based on the idea that, do those who hit up Twitter on a daily basis, or come here only to spout off on the message boards about the negatives of others’ rather than the positives of their great club, actually enjoy the game in front of them, or (as sometimes appears) is it always more about the confrontation before and after a game?

I’ve been there, I witnessed things that I am proud to say I managed to avoid getting involved in at all costs and I was sad to see the game I love reduced to a reason to meet at 2pm for a tear up and then 5pm for the rematch. In many ways those days informed my ability to distance myself from “elite” football, choosing only to support my local club. In my time I’ve been called weak for this, I’ve been graded as “not a proper football fan” because I refused to take a brick in my bag to the game, I’ve been told that the modern game is all the worse for it and because I have an opinion which I try to offer in a balanced and reasonable manner, I’ve been called all sorts on here too.

The internet has created a new form of warfare, and Lord knows it’s not just isolated to football, but in this fair game I find myself more and more left to wonder if the keyboard warriors of 2023 are just those same individuals that used to and still would if they could, take house bricks to games, the same lot then that couldn’t tell you in any tactical detail why their team lost 2-0 that day but could happily tell you all the best spots for jumping the away fans and “sticking one on ’em”. After all, I can tell you from experience that the homophobic slurs I used to receive for not getting involved back then definitely haven’t gone away.

I should add, this isn’t the Wild West, there are really good people out there intent on fair discussion and balanced call and response and some of the banter remains playful and in good spirit, it’s just that unfortunately the minority worst of us, usually have a habit of being the most heard of us.
Harold Hooler, Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk


Arsenal soiled their sheets
I know there’s a narrative in play here, plucky Arsenal haven’t bottled it, City are ruining football etc etc (yawn, tedious glory fans throwing their toys out). But objectively analysing the results, Arsenal have absolutely shat their pants. Beat the relegation fodder; Bournemouth, Forest, West Ham and Southampton and we have a last day finish to look forward to.
John, Shropshire


…I know much has been said about whether Arsenal bottled their title attempt or not as if the answer is a binary you bottled or you didn’t. I believe the truth, as in most things is nuanced and a mixture of both.

Arsenal do not have the same quality of squad as Man City in relation to squad depth. Meaning that when injuries (Jesus, Saliba, Tomiyasu & Martinelli) occur the drop off is more significant than Man City experience. This also means that in the case of a drop in form of players in Arsenal’s first 11 happens the team gets noticeably weaker, Partey being the most noticeable but Saka, Xhaka, White & Zinchenko amongst others have all lost form at times this season.

Arsenal also do not have the same level of experience in winning things that City do. A lot of Arsenal’s squad has won league titles (Xhaka, Jesus, Zinchenko etc), however Arsenal’s players have not won things together or experienced title run in’s and the pressures they produce. Mental pressure/ fatigue is in my opinion a factor in Arsenal’s season.

Arsenal were 5th last season and many did not tip them for top 4. I hoped but did not feel certain we would finish top 4 this season. Nobody expected Liverpool or Chelsea to not make top 4 and Man U & Tottenham looked serious top 4 candidates at the season’s start.

On the other hand, Arsenal could and arguably should have accrued more points. Drawing away to Liverpool is no shame but the West Ham & Southampton draws were terrible. There are other results you could include but these 3 draws were when I felt it wasn’t going to happen. I was at West Ham vs Arsenal and for a long time the game could have gone either way. If Saka scores the penalty he missed…. Who knows. It’s hard to know what to say about drawing at home to the bottom team but I believe most Arsenal fan’s knew we’d almost certainly lose to Man City after that.

For whatever reason chances which were going in earlier in the season failed to hit the target in the run in. Tackles which had previously been made were being missed and lapses in concentration occurred more frequently.

I suspect the cause of some of these issues was due to a lack of rotation which probably caused late season fatigue. Dropping 5% might not sound like much but its chances missed and goals conceded.

If like me you play fantasy football you find Pep infuriating as he rotates his team heavily and players who have scored goals or made assists are suddenly benched. However this keeps players fresher and probably reduces injuries. Arsenal have made the least changes to our starting 11 of any premier league team. This either means that Mikel Arteta is being stubbornly loyal or has a lack of faith in many of Arsenal’s squad players. My suspicion is a bit of both. Arsenal need to find a way to rotate more without significant performance drop offs in future to participate in the Champions League let alone challenge for titles.

Hindsight is a great thing and I like many wondered if Kiwior could / should have come into the team for Rob Holding against Southampton. I am sceptical that it changes the Man City result but can imagine it allowing a Win at home to Southampton. I could speculate using what if’s forever but there is evidence that Arteta is slow to make changes both to his starting 11’s and in terms of substitutions this season & last season.

Did Arsenal bottle the title this season? You can’t prove it definitively either way and anything I say is unlikely to change your personal view. I will say that I like Arteta’s approach of focusing on what Arsenal did wrong / can do better. This implies that Arsenal can improve and win rather than viewing Man City as some sort of unstoppable Death Star.

I’m very curious to see what happens this summer and next season for Arsenal. Can any team prevent Man City winning 4 titles in a row?
Croydon Gooner

Read more: Why Man Utd’s Treble in 1999 would always be superior to Manchester City’s in 2023


United’s Treble > City’s
I have been a Liverpool supporter of 40 years. I have often taken the moral high ground when forming opinions on characters in the game namely Messrs: Terry, Keane, Bowyer, Mourinho, Ferguson – in terms of their behaviour, as opposed to their considerable achievements in the sport.

When we made the mistake of signing Belamy and Diouf I made it clear I could not support them as players, but would continue to support the club. Suarez (greatest single season in the EPL up to this year aside), pushed me to the limits however I could never condone nor support him for multiple acts of violence and alleged racism.

If however we are taken over by a nation state, I have made a decision that I will not be able to support the club any longer. These gulf states have in my opinion all scammed the system and moved the goalposts in terms of what being competitive means in this day and age.

I am anti United as much as anyone. 99 is my personal nadir, however they did it off home grown talent and their big money signings were as a result of a brand that had been built up over many years. You cannot begrudge that.

If City win t he treble I have no doubt they will have a better team, a better squad, a better manager than United -but the achievement pales by comparison. Trust me – this hurts me to type!

Vinicius Jr accuses Valencia fans of racial abuse Credit: Alamy
Vinicius Jr accuses Valencia fans of racial abuse Credit: Alamy

Valencia shame
If there’s one team that deserves to get relegated: Valencia.

The club seem to think that giving two life bans out will show how serious they are about the disgrace that their fans were yesterday. The footage in the ground was awful, the videos of Real’s players arriving might be even worse.

Utterly, utterly contemptible.
Aidan, EFC, London

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