Posts Tagged ‘suarez’

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.

The Six Pointer – Expensive Toys, Retro Formations & more…

07/02/2011

That was the weekend that was. Newcastle vs Arsenal deserves a post in itself!

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1. Fernando Torres certainly had a Chelsea debut to forget and it will be interesting to see how Carlo Ancelotti fits him in for the rest of the season. The switch to a diamond midfield with Torres and Drogba playing as a pair up front wasn’t a surprise but it was strange to see Nicolas Anelka given the nod in the hole behind them.

I assume the theory was that Lampard’s strength is arriving from deep, something which would be negated if he played at the head of diamond. Chelsea’s success over the past few season has come through playing 4-3-3 and you can’t fit Torres and Drogba in that system and get the best of both.

Torres of course needs time to adapt; despite his price tag you can’t just expect him to instantly understand his new team-mates way of playing. But, given how Chelsea are quickly becoming involved in a battle to maintain a top four position as well as trying to engineer another attempt at the holy grail of the Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti will have his work cut out to solve this conundrum quickly.

An inauspicious start.

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2. In contrast, Torres’ old team are on quite the run of form at the moment. After overseeing a defeat to Blackpool, Kenny Dalglish has quickly turned things around with some innovative, or should that be retro, tactical moves.

Three at the back has long been out of vogue but Liverpool have used it successfully to stifle the aerial bombardment of Stoke, and now the technical probing of Chelsea. Contrasting attacks but the same result – a convincing clean sheet. The beauty of playing 3-5-2 with wing-backs is that in theory it can work so well – they offer solidity in defence by forming a five but options in attack when pushing forward.

I don’t see Glen Johnson working well long-term on the left but it seems to be successful for the time being.  Of course Dalglish has the same problem as Ancelotti in trying to fit £50m worth of strike force into his team but you feel it will be a little easier with the players at his disposal.

Close enough. Though if this was Stoke they'd play all four.

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3. Niko Kranjcar’s winner for Spurs against Bolton should give Harry Redknapp some reminder of the talents at his disposal. Notoriously poor at rotating, Redknapp is very much one to stick to the same players until the they get injured or he just doesn’t fancy them anymore. Kranjcar has been one of the unlucky ones this season with just six appearances to his name, totalling a measly 235 minutes.

So much so that ‘Arry bought a similar player in Pienaar in the transfer window, simply because he was available rather than any great need for him. The whole point of a 25 man squad is to use it, not least when you’re competing at the top end of the table and the Champions League. Perhaps he’d find that when he does have to turn to them, they might perform better if they’ve had a few games under their belts.

Niko Kranjcar, Spurs player. Sometimes.

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4. Following Chelsea and now Man Utd losing to Wolves this season, Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Molineux is looking better and better. It must be frustrating that Mick McCarthy can get fantastic performances against the big sides but then lose to those around him. As with last season, it will be a close run thing whether Wolves go down but there are certainly worse teams in the league this season. They have yet to play either match against West Brom and those two games look like being crucial in determining which of the two sides will be relegated. I certainly don’t think both will stay up.

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5. Bolton have now lost six straight away games. What was looking like a promising Europa League push is turning into a mid-table season. Part of the reason must be that the previously red-hot partnership of Elmander and Davies have one goal each since late November and Chung-Yong Lee, who had six assists has been away at the Asian Cup. With that in mind the loan signing of Sturridge looks to be a good move both for player and club. Already he’s taken on some of the attacking responsibility with two goals in two games.

He’ll be sure to want prove that he’s good enough to be at Chelsea next season and that motivation can only benefit Bolton. After all, this time last season Jack Wilshere was embarking on a similar loan and is now a starter for Arsenal and in the England squad. If Sturridge can get the goals to fire Bolton to 7th, Bolton may even have a shot at keeping him permanently.

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6. Ten games produced 43 goals this weekend. As ever, Blackpool played a big part in that and their 25 games this season have seen 87 goals at just three and half a game. I wouldn’t want Ian Holloway to change his approach at all, but for the sake of Blackpool having another season in the top flight, I’d love them to get a 0-0 away from home once in a while!

They'll need an updated version after this season.

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T.

World Cup Roundup

14/07/2010

So suggesting a bet on Holland in the final meant the bet of the day running total ended 0.77 units down, which isn’t awful considering two-thirds of the group stage were missed. In better punditry many of the pre-tournament tips came off. Of the more impressive ideas, I suggested Germany to reach the semi-finals @ 12/5, Argentina to get nine points in their group @ 12/5, Uruguay and Mexico to go through in group A @ 13/1 and Uruguay as an each way bet @ 66/1.

I wrote that England could well suffer a second round knock-out, while tipping Holland @ 9/1 almost came off. The goalscorer tips were a touch unlucky too with each way suggestions Klose (33/1) and Suarez (100/1) just missing out on the top four.  Enough gloating (there were plenty of dud tips too after all) and time for a few highlights and lowlights.

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Best Game: England vs Germany had controversy, some great football, good goals and it dispelled the hype surrounding so many of England’s stars.

Worst Game: Most of the ones in the first week.

Best Goal: Tshabalala’s in the opening match was great for the moment and Van Bronckhorst in the semi-final was great for the pureness of the strike but I think Villa’s first against Honduras tops both.

Worst Miss: Yakubu vs South Korea. Dear oh dear.

Most Dramatic 5 Minutes: Spain vs Paraguay gave it a good try, with three penalties in the space of a few minutes, but you can’t beat the end of extra-time in the Uruguay vs Ghana match. Goalmouth scramble, handball on the line and red card, missed penalty with a semi-final place up for grabs, undignified celebrations by the man sent off and then a penalty shoot-out shortly after. Wow.

Best Pundit: Clarence Seedorf. There weren’t many to choose from but he was insightful and refreshing. Some good features too.

Hero: Paul the psychic octopus.

Villain: Take your pick from Suarez, the Jabulani ball or the French team going on strike. Oh and James Corden too.

Best XI Of The Tournament: Casillas; Lahm, Puyol, Lugano, Coentrao; Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Sneijder; Mueller, Forlan, Villa.

Worst XI Of The Tournament: Green; Otamendi, Terry, Cannavaro, Evra; Melo, Kaka, Ribery; Anelka, Rooney, Torres.

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T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 30

10/07/2010

Running Total: -0.57 units

Spain put in their best performance of the finals so far in beating Germany on Wednesday and it means we’re almost back in profit. I was looking through the betting post I wrote before the finals started and there’s plenty which has come true. I’ll do a full write-up after the final.

Tonight we see the 3rd/4th place playoff between the losing semi-finalists Germany and Uruguay. These games are traditionally very open as neither team cares that much, having fallen so close to the final. Indeed Germany will be looking to finish third for the second straight World Cup having beating Portugal 3-1 in 2006.

Betting on over 2.5 goals should be a given – the last playoff to feature under three goals was way back in 1974 when my Polish brothers beat Brazil 1-0 with a goal from top scorer Grzegorz Lato. Justifiably the odds on this are only around 4/5. Over 3.5 goals is about 15/8.

Uruguay do have a reputation as quite a defensive team but with Diego Forlan and to a lesser extent Luis Suarez still technically in the running to be top-scorer you’d have to think they’ll come out and play. Germany of course are the top scorers in the tournament and themselves have two players after the Golden Boot; Miroslav Klose and the returning Thomas Mueller.

As much as I’d like Suarez to get a couple of goals and win my bet on him to be in the top four goalscorers @18/1 I think it will be a bit of a stretch. On the flip side, Klose needs just two goals to be all time record top goalscorer ahead of Ronaldo and I think Germany will be doing all they can to ensure he gets it. He’s 6/1 with BlueSq to score twice and beat the record (quite tempting) while he’s 6/5 to equal it.

Bet of the day:

Miroslav Klose to score two (or more) goals vs Uruguay @ 6/1

Edit: Klose isn’t starting due to an injured back so let’s go with over 2.5 goals at 4/5.

T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 26

06/07/2010

Running Total: -2.2 units

Hurrah! A tip came through. Once again Miroslav Klose deserves thanks as his two goals helped Germany score the four that were needed to win our bet of over 3.5 goals in the Germany v Argentina match. The running total is still in the red but looks a bit healthier.

Today sees the first semi final between Holland and Uruguay with the South Americans a massive 6/1 to win the match in 90 minutes. Even them qualifying is a generous 3/1. The bookies obviously feel that the suspended Suarez and injured Lodeiro will not be adequatley replaced. Captain Lugano is also a doubt.

Holland are no real value at 4/6 but I’ve seen worse odds this World Cup. It’s also very difficult to work out exactly how good the Dutch are, as I wouldn’t say they’ve been at their absolute best in any of the games so far. The handicap bet could be interesting with Holland -1 goal at 11/8. This still isn’t that good and you may be better off trying to forecast the score.

In that regard, I think there’s a good chance of it ending either 1-0 or 2-0 to Holland (5/1 & 13/2) – I think Uruguay will struggle to score without Suarez but their defence has only conceded twice all tournament.

Can Sneijder score again? 13/5 says he can. You can get 13/8 on Van Persie too, despite his relatively lean tournament thus far.

All in all I’m a bit stuck but I think Holland will have too much for Uruguay so will go with the -1 goal handicap bet. At least if they only win by one we don’t lose any money.

Bet of the day:

Holland -1 goal to beat Uruguay @ 11/8

T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 22

02/07/2010

Running Total: -3.8 units

Hmm it seems any bet I suggest on here is bound to lose. Spain had to wait until the second half before taking the lead against Portugal, therefore scuppering day 19′s tip.

Today we have Holland v Brazil and Ghana v Uruguay. The former should be a good match but I’ve lost count of how many times that’s been predicted. I don’t think Holland should be as high as 7/2 to win that match but Brazil have looked very good so far.

Ghana have done brilliantly so far but in the interests of my Suarez top goalscorer bet I’ll be hoping for a Uruguay win. Let’s go with him to score anytime.

Bet of the day:

Luis Suarez to score anytime vs Ghana @ 2/1.

T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 19

29/06/2010

Running Total: -2.8 units

The last tip before I left didn’t win as Spain shockingly lost 1-0 against Switzerland but plenty has happened since then. Lots of my each-way top scorer bets are potentially looking good (Klose, Suarez, Fabiano) while Germany have reached the quarter finals thus putting some money in the bank.

Back to the matter at hand and it’s two tricky games to call today – Paraguay v Japan and Spain v Portugal. I didn’t see much of the first two teams while on holiday so I think I’ll leave that game well alone (though over 2.5 goals @6/4 would be the choice if forced).

The evening game looks like a potential classic, though Spain are heavy favourites at 11/10. It’s tempting to put a small bet on Portugal given they’re as high as 10/3 to win the match, however I think their lack of a proper striker will be their downfall again. David Villa is the man in form for Spain and you could back him to score but I’ll take a risky bet and go for Spain to be winning at half-time and full-time.

Bet of the day:

Spain to beat Portugal at half-time and full-time @ 9/4.

T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 1

11/06/2010

A feature I’m going to try and do every day, at least until I go on holiday. I’ll keep a running total and see how it ends up at the end of the tournament.

Today’s pick is Uruguay to beat France in the evening game. I wrote earlier about how I thought France were a decent shout to get knocked out in the group stages and thus I think the price on Uruguay is far too high.

The French have been experimenting with a new formation and a 1-0 warm-up defeat to China suggests it’s not quite settled.

Uruguay have a great strike partnership in Forlan and Suarez (almost 80 goals between them this season) and I think the two of them can cause some serious problems for the French defence.

Bet of the day:
Uruguay to beat France @ 14/5.

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T.


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