Posts Tagged ‘offside’

The Six Pointer – Wounded Challenges, Slippery Slides & more…

07/03/2011

1. Liverpool convincingly dealt with Man Utd yesterday and Dirk Kuyt will never, ever score an easier hat-trick. It was very surprising to see Fergie start with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in central midfield – recent history has normally seen him go with three in the middle in big matches in an attempt to gain control and stop the opposition playing.

Neither Scholes nor Carrick are particularly energetic or mobile in the way Darren Fletcher is, but with the Scotsman left on the bench after his shift against Chelsea (he can only do one big game a week)  it meant United were unable to gain a foothold on the game.

As you can see in the Chalkboards below, between them they won only one tackle and the likes of Meireles would consistently run or pass around them.

Only one interception between them too.

The decision to give Carrick a new contract during the week was greeted with some derision but at the same time I don’t think Ferguson considers him a first choice player. He’s not bad against weaker sides and he has long been found out against the best – playing him yesterday was more out of necessity than want.

Still, with his continued mediocrity, Scholes’ potential retirement, Fletcher’s one game a week effectiveness and Hargreaves and Anderson’s consistent injury problems, Man Utd’s midfield will certainly need some work in the summer.

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2. Yesterday’s match could have easily seen two red cards, and probably should have. Carragher went in high on Nani and created quite the wound (see below) while Rafael was similarly lucky to stay on the pitch following his wild lunge on Lucas. There is something to be said for a referee to take into account the situation and the context, but really Phil Dowd made errors in giving both players just a yellow.

Red drawn, yellow given.

Interestingly, Rafael is developing quite a reputation as someone who may not have the temperament (or indeed the positional sense) to go with his natural talent.

A red card would have meant his third in under a year, while he was nowhere near where he should have been when Suarez tip-toed through the United defence for the opener.

Recently Ferguson has seemed to prefer someone more dependable in tough matches, with Rafael being omitted against Man City, Chelsea and Marseilles. It will intriguing to see when the Brazilian next plays again, I imagine he might find himself out of the team for a few weeks.

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3. In the context of yesterday’s result, it is difficult to say whether Arsenal’s draw against Sunderland is a point gained or more likely two points dropped.

Wenger’s team have struggled in recent seasons against Sunderland having won only one of the last six games, so it was always going to be tricky without out several players and against one of the best defences outside the top five.

Wenger had a similar problem to Fergie in that first choice midfielders weren’t available so he was forced to play Denilson and Diaby alongside Wilshere. They can usually get away with one of those in the team but having to play both meant it was one of those days where the team struggled to get going, Wilshere unable to do all the tempo setting himself.

The weight of the other two on his shoulders...

Sunderland were lucky to get away with Bramble clearly fouling Arshavin in the box and a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside but having said that they also had their moments and drew a couple of very smart stops out of Szczesny.

I would think that once Aaron Ramsey has a bit more fitness under his belt, he will swiftly move ahead of Denilson and Diaby in the pecking order. He might not have the same experience but he makes things happen, and in a game like Saturday’s and indeed for the run in, that could be priceless.

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4. Momentum at this stage of the season is key so it’s fascinating to see who is making a move at the bottom end of the table.

Just nine points separate ninth place Newcastle from bottom placed Wigan but realistically it’s looking like everyone from Blackburn downwards are the ones who should be worried.

Things are swiftly grouping together for a climatic last few games and as the old cliché goes, a couple of wins and “you’re right back in the mix” (© every pundit going).

I’m willing to condemn Wigan already to be honest, they’re tough to beat but they don’t win many either. As I’ve written here many times before, draws can be rather useless at times and a team like Blackpool who either win or lose has a far better shot and getting the points needed to stay up.

Almost good enough, but not quite.

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5. Of the teams not in that bottom group, Stoke are looking a little vulnerable. They’ve won just one of their last seven and still have to play four of the top five. They seem to have a slightly resigned air about them at the moment – certainly away from home where they’ve lost their last six (and not even scored in the last five).

The earlier point about momentum is key – they face Newcastle, Spurs and Chelsea next. Fail to win the first one and you could be looking at mid-April before they are favourites in a match, by which time they could be in a much more serious position.

I do think they should be ok, given the cushion they have, but it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them need something against Wigan on the last day.

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6. Jermain Defoe has only just scored his first league goals in a year. If he fulfils Harry Redknapp’s wish and gets to ten by the end of the season, then it will go a long way to ensuring Spurs finish in the top four again. As it is, the lack of a striker in double figures for 2010/11 may be what costs them. Van der Vaart’s ten goals should complement not lead.

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Gray and Keys

01/02/2011

Everyone’s favourite sexists this week. Personally I was quite glad to see them go – how nice will it be to have some smug free analysis on Sky for once. Or perhaps I’m being too presumptuous and whoever replaces them will end up maintaining the previous status quo…

Silvio certainly knew who his favourite TV presenters were.

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Plenty more here.

T.

Archive.

Adebayor – Final Thoughts

20/07/2009

With the Adebayor story officially old news now (except on Arsenal.com where it took them this afternoon to confirm it), I’ll just expand on what I wrote the other day about being glad to see him go.

The good old days

The good old days

His Arsenal career can be summed up thus:

  • Joins Arsenal as relative unknown with previous disciplinary problems in January of 05/06 and for the next season and a half integrates himself into the team alongside Thierry Henry. His inconsistency in front of goal is made up by constant harrying and hard work.
  • Henry leaves  in the summer of 2007 and Adebayor procedes to become the main man at Arsenal scoring 30 goals in 2007/08, finally finding the finishing skills to go with his pace and power.
  • His goalscoring exploits draw attention from the likes of Milan. Plenty of flirting goes on but no transfer is agreed. He does however get a payrise to £80k a week.
  • Starts last season pretending there were no talks with other clubs and in a completely non-ironic manner kisses the badge after scoring in a pre-season friendly.
  • A smattering of boos, indifferent performances and then this interview mid-season in which he blamed the fans for his new found laziness and poor form.
  • Still manages 16 goals including this beauty, but in the two biggest games of the season against Man Utd in the Champions League is completely anonymous and puts in zero effort.

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In those points lie the crux of the matter. As soon as he started to believe his own hype the end was nigh. The messy transfer attempt last summer could have been forgotten if he continued in the same vein on the pitch in 08/09. But he didn’t and injuries aside, was a shadow of the player who terrorised defences in 07/08. Once that Football Focus interview came out, his Arsenal career was effectively over as soon as a buyer could be found.

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In many ways, Man City are the perfect match. They have the money to double his wages again (for half the number of goals – work that one out) and he should form an interesting partnership with Robinho and/or Tevez (Santa Cruz being the backup when Ade doesn’t play). He should be motivated enough to start playing well again (probably), even though his attempts to deny the move was about money are somewhat laughable. Ultimately no one else wanted him (there were reports of him being hawked around even after the Man City fee was agreed) due to his lackadaisical performances last year. It looks like Milan and Beyoncé will have to wait, and even if they do come in again the grass isn’t always greener on the other side (as Alex Hleb has come to realise).

A shape of things to come

A shape of things to come

Arsenal will miss his physical presence up front somewhat, though Bendtner showed he is capable of holding up play and scoring regularly if given playing time (he does have Ade’s propensity for missing lots of chances too though). The biggest loss will be Adebayor’s pace which as Gunnerblog points out, is something none of the other current Arsenal strikers really possess (Vela and Walcott not being ready yet). Fabregas is a big fan of playing the early ball, so someone quick and strong would be the brief in terms of replacement.

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Oh and that someone should be able to score as regularly against Spurs too…

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T.

Adebayor Signs For Man City

18/07/2009

Finally. At least he won’t have to change his seat covers…

I guess personalised number plates aren't exclusive enough these days

I guess personalised number plates aren't exclusive enough these days.

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Plenty has been said over the past week or so but I think it’s a good deal for everyone involved. Arsenal get rid of someone who had irrevocably burnt his bridges with the club while receiving the best part of £25million. Man City get an established top four player while Adebayor gets untold riches per week.

I come here to make money and be offside.

I come here to make money and be offside.

Personally, I’m glad to be rid of him and perhaps I’ll write a bit more in depth about it in the next day or two. For now though I’ll leave Man City fans with the good and bad of the season just gone…

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T.


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