Posts Tagged ‘gerrard torres’

The Six Pointer – Spurs spanked, Benitez beaten again & more…

02/11/2009

That was the weekend that was…

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1. Robbie Keane will feel like the biggest mug after his supposedly superior Spurs squad got turned over with ease by the Gunners. Old twitchy eyes may have seen the result coming, as he went in to the game without arguably his best two players in Luka Modric and Jermaine Defoe. Nevertheless, Arsenal have their own injury concerns but showed the gulf in class. Early on it seemed that Spurs were getting all the luck, as David Bentley unbelievably managed to avoid even a booking for a rash and dangerous challenge on Vermaelen. They even managed to hold their own in midfield against Arsenal’s fluid 4-3-3. However, Arsenal were knocking on the proverbial door and only a super save from Gomes, aka rubber arms, kept it 0-0. Song made an awesome challenge at the other end to deny the bullshitter himself, Robbie Keane.

Wenger happy, Wenger dance

The game was effectively over the space of two minutes (42nd and 43rd) as Van Persie profited from some lazy defending to volley Arsenal into the lead. Then straight from kick off Spurs inexplicably gave away the ball and Cesc Fabregas went on a great run which ended in a sublime finish past Gomes. A comical third was put away by van Persie, as Arsenal profited from confusion over a foul on Diaby and a blunder by Gomes.

Such was Arsenal’s dominance that Eduardo even managed to waste two chances you would normally put money on him taking. It was a good overall team performance from Wenger’s men, with the two centre halves looking comfortable, penetration from the full backs and clinical finishing. the only disappointment was Arshavin’s limp display.

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2. Liverpool failed to follow-up their redemptive display against United. Fulham outplayed them and exposed Liverpool’s growing defensive weakness. everyone is focused, perhaps rightly so, on the injuries suffered by Gerrard and Torres. However, it is their fragility at the back which should be their main concern. Carragher was finally punished with the red he should have got against United and all-in-all, Benitez has simply failed to maintain an organised defence. Where he has allowed the likes of Johnson, Insua and Degen to provide an attacking threat, the lack of shape has been exposed. Bobby ‘I love to miss sitters’ Zamora even managed to profit, which has made me think. What is worse, conceding a goal to a beach ball or to Bobby Zamora? I think it has to be the latter.

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3. Top class Chelsea destroyed Bolton. OK, the Blues’ Carling Cup team had already disposed them in mid-week and it was 0-0 on Saturday until JLloyd Samuel deservedly got sent off. But Chelsea showed some classy football, with Drogba, Anelka, Lampard and Deco clicking in a way that reminded me of Arsenal when they had the Vieira, Pires, Henry and Bergkamp combo.  The pick of the bunch was the fourth, well taken goal  by Drogba. Phenomenal build up. Deco’s was quite special as well. If Ancelotti can sort out the Blues’ defensive frailties away from home, they should power their way to the title.

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4. Have Pompey finally turned round their season? Well, a convincing 4-0 victory against an in-form Wigan side was a good place to start. It is obvious that Pompey will ship a lot of goals but the ability to score them, especially at home, will ultimately keep you up. In Aruna Dindane and Piquionne, Paul Hart has genuine pace and quality in front of goal. Question remains whether they are consistent enough.

Aruna power

My name is Aruna, I am here to save Pompey with my golden boot.

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5. Man City drew for the third game in succession at Birmingham. Both sides had decent chances but it was Shay Given’s penalty save from James McFadden that ensured City got a point. Whilst it is impressive that Mark Hughes has only suffered that sole defeat at Old Trafford, it is the draws that can cost you (ask Wenger about his team two seasons ago). Lucky that he has a banker at home against Burnley next Saturday.

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6. Little Gorgon-Zola mustn’t have been able to believe his luck, as his lads raced into an impressive 2-0 lead at the Stadium of Light through Franco and Carlton Cole. Although fatty Reid pulled one back with a top-notch free kick, it still looked good for the Hammers as Kenwyne Jones was sent off for pushing over Herita Illunga. In a complete reversal of their heroics against Arsenal, West Ham surrendered two points when Darren Bent set up Kieran Richardson for the equaliser. All in all a point at Sunderland is a good result considering the form of Bruce’s team. However, Zola’s nice guy managerial style simply doesn’t seem to achieve the right results.

You may be wondering why Manchester United weren’t covered in this week’s Six Pointer. Well it was such a routine Old Trafford win that it wasn’t worth mentioning other than Berbatov had one of his best games yet for United.

Until next week!

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P.

The Six Pointer – Temper temper, goalscoring riches & more…

20/10/2009

That was the weekend that was…

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1. Liverpool were beaten for the third straight week and it’s starting to get a bit boring with how often we have to mention how thin their squad is. Of course any team would miss their two best players, not least when those players are Gerrard and Torres, but of all the big four sides they are least equipped to cope.

Dirk Kuyt toiled on his own up front and reminded us all why he has been playing on the right wing instead for the past 18 months. Meanwhile in the middle Jay Spearing was given his Premier League debut and looked a bit lost by all accounts.

Hilariously the jokers at the Liverpool official website gave him man of the match honours which must have been news to everyone else watching the game. Cana and Cattermole once again dominated for Sunderland and just taking a random cross section of national newspapers, Spearing was not even the best Liverpool midfielder, let alone the best player on the pitch.

The white one Jose, save the white one...

The white one Jose, save the white one...

As for the beach ball goal, it shouldn’t really have stood but these things happen. Sunderland fully deserved the victory. Ironically enough it was a Liverpool fan who threw the thing on the pitch in the first place! The title challenge is over, even if they beat Man Utd next week. There is just nothing to fear with this Liverpool team and I can see them losing several more times before the season is over.

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2. Jermaine Defoe needs to keep one eye on his temperament. You can’t be taking players to the World Cup who are liable to get themselves needlessly sent off. Fall out of favour now and it’s going to be very hard to get back in, what with so few friendlies left.

Defoe’s red card also provides a good opportunity for Peter Crouch to cement his claim for a spot in the Spurs starting line up as well as the England squad as Plan B/C. Fortunately for Defoe it won’t be at his expense. For now.

Dum dum Defoe.

Dum dum Defoe.

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3. Since James Collins was sold to Villa, West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet. That does over emphasise his importance somewhat but when you look at Villa’s form since he joined, it does illustrates that he is a good player.

I had big concerns over Villa’s ability to replace Martin Laursen this season but to be fair to Martin O’Neill he seems to have pulled it off, mainly by signing two players in Dunne and Collins. They exposed Chelsea’s (well, Carvalho’s) set piece deficiency at the weekend and have formed a promising partnership at the back.

Back at Upton Park, Upson has been left to do it on his own (Tomkins is not the finished article yet) and the lack of defensive options has been a big reason why the Hammers have struggled so far this year.

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4. Man Utd were controlled enough against Bolton and are back top. Away games against Liverpool and Chelsea are coming up in the next three matches and we should have a clearer idea of just how good they are this season after that.

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5. David Dunn now had four league goals this season, level with Fabregas for most from midfield. Easily Blackburn’s best player, how their season evolves will depend on him.

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6. Arsenal made heavy weather of Birmingham before eventually completing the job late on. After going 2-0 up they switched to cruise control and started treating it almost like a training match. When Bowyer got one back after the traditional Arsenal goalkeeper fail under a high ball, you could see the nervousness that was so prevalent last year creeping in again.

This was after a spectacularly mis-timed jump.

This was after a spectacularly mis-timed jump. Almunia has taught him well.

Fortunately class eventually told and Arshavin slotted home a nice goal to wrap up the points. Even though I’m not totally convinced by the defence, Arsenal currently have so many goal scoring options in the side that they could well last the distance. In eight games, 27 goals have been scored from 12 different players.

The number of injuries suffered at the Emirates means there’ll never be a situation where everyone is available at any once but as long as four of Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo, Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott and Vela are fit at any given time then a sustained challenge may yet be forthcoming.

Simples. Eventually.

Simples. Eventually.

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T.

The Six Pointer – Pocket aces, lazy Cascarino & more…

17/08/2009

That was the weekend that was.

After a three month break, the six pointer (© Sky hyperbole department) returns with the last word on the weekend’s action. Here are six thoughts on the opening games.

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1. After being many people’s tip for the title this season, Liverpool will be most disappointed with the opening performance against Spurs at White Hart Lane. Losing there for the second year running, Liverpool failed to produce much creativity of note. It was worrying how little imagination there was in midfield without Xabi Alonso. Of course, Aquilani may yet provide that but he’s a different kind of player. The game seemed a continuation of their sloppy pre-season, and though they could have had a penalty for the Voronin incident, it wouldn’t have glossed over the poor performance. While they should improve considerably for the first home game of the season against Stoke on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see whether the long term struggle to break down stubborn opposition has returned.

What will Liverpool get on the flop?

What will Liverpool get on the flop?

You could argue that at this point in time Tottenham’s squad is actually stronger than Liverpool’s. Their sub options yesterday were Cudicini, Hutton, O’Hara, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko, Naughton and Bentley. Liverpool on the other hand had Cavalieri, Spearing, Kelly, Dossena, Ayala, Benayoun, and Voronin. A few too many unproven youngsters and second rate Italian full backs there for my liking (some current injuries not withstanding).

I think Rafa could certainly do with another striker and possibly some cheap centre back cover too. He needs to remember that whilst having two of the best players in the league, you need credible backup options should they get injured. To use a poker analogy, it’s no use having two aces if someone else has three jacks.

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2. I don’t think even the most optimistic Arsenal fans expected to beat Everton 6-1 at Goodison Park. An encouraging start for Fabregas following last year’s injury problems while six goals were scored without any by Van Persie or Arshavin, their two mains goal threats this season. In truth Everton were awful but it still takes a good performance to clinically score six goals, whatever defensive mistakes might have contributed.

Solid debut.

Solid debut.

One of the most pleasing things was the debut of Thomas Vermaelen. He took his goal well having been in acres of space, but the defensive aspect of his game was encouraging. Facing the 6’5” Marouane Fellaini he was comfortable for most of the afternoon, timing his jumps well and attacking the ball. If he can continue this style of play then many of the defensive issues faced by Arsenal last year will have been solved.

One thing that l’ve seen from a few lazy pundits (Tony Cascarino and Stan Collymore who’s normally quite good) is “let’s see how they do on a wet night up north in February” or variations on that theme. The problem with Wenger’s side last season was not such games (they were unbeaten all of January, February and March) but the fact the lost five of the first fourteen – a time when pitches are still pristine and weather is dry. Let them say what they want, Arsenal are often at their best when written off.

Cliché.

Cliché.

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3. Talking of Everton, and their potential transfer buddies Man City, Saturday’s games probably showed that the Toffees would be better off selling Joleon Lescott to Mark Hughes and his money men. For a start I don’t think he’s worth £22million or whatever Moyes wants for him and even if he is, I think Everton could get a more than adequate replacement (or Phil Senderos) for about half the price and then invest elsewhere. While Saturday’s 6-1 defeat was a collectively poor showing, you could see that Lescott seemed somewhat distracted. We shouldn’t forget that Jagielka is their best centre back anyway.

Man City in contrast won their game 2-0 against Blackburn but the score line doesn’t tell the whole story. Blackburn had their chances and if Given hadn’t been playing then they would probably have won. Until that second centre back is signed I think most top teams will be capable of scoring against a partnership of Toure and Dunne. That said, City’s new look side did have something about them in midfield and attack, more than matching Blackburn’s physical approach. They are already halfway to matching last season’s total of two away wins.

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4. Impressive starts for two teams I’m keen to see a lot of this season; Sunderland and Wigan. Steve Bruce had an immediate impact and his new signings led the Wearsiders to a good away win over Bolton. Darren Bent scored the winner and looked lively while Cana and Cattermole formed an impressive partnership in midfield, providing high work rate but also some decent football. It will be interesting to see how they cope against Chelsea at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday.

Stunner.

Stunner.

Bruce’s old side Wigan meanwhile got one of the more impressive results over the weekend with a 2-0 away win at Aston Villa. Roberto Martinez was quick to establish his passing, attacking style on the team (who have a good foundation thanks to Bruce) and Hugo Rodallega scored an early contender for goal of the season. It was vital Wigan got some early points on the board to gain some confidence ahead of some tough fixtures coming up but if they continue as they did on Saturday, then a good season is on the cards. Their defeated opponents were booed off the pitch twice and Martin O’Neill has much to do before the transfer window shuts.

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5. Of the promoted sides I’d say probably Birmingham had the best showing but no one really disgraced or impressed too much. Burnley were missing some key defenders which led to some lacklustre set piece marking against Stoke. Their next four games could see them remain pointless though and Owen Coyle will do well to remind his players that the season lasts 38 games and they have plenty of winnable games to come.

Birmingham - blunt up front.

Birmingham - blunt up front.

Alex McLeish’s side was as expected, pretty solid but without much creative product. Though Benitez nearly snatched an equaliser, Man Utd weren’t especially troubled. That said, solid and but creatively ineffective is often quite successful in the Premier League so we’ll see how they get on. Wolves are missing several players so it’s hard to judge them quite yet. Mick McCarthy will need to cut out the naivety however and hope Kightly and Doyle return as quickly possible.

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6. For all Chelsea’s dislikable players, the questions about their diamond formation and whether the Premier League is the real priority, there’s no denying they are a great team at finding late ways to win. Hull played quite well but in an on form Drogba , Chelsea still have one of the best strikers in the game.

I do wonder how long they’ll persist with the diamond. It relies on the full backs pushing forward and providing width and we already saw last season that if you stop Bosingwa and Cole, you go a long way to stopping Chelsea. This was when they were still playing with wide midfielders so I can only think it’s even more obvious this season with a diamond that it‘s the full backs who need to be stopped. Still, it’s the mark of a good side that you play badly and still win.

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T.

The Six Pointer – Hughes’ Egos, Fat Frank’s Sex Face & more…

11/05/2009

Apologies for the recent lack of posts. We’ll be back to normal this week. Anyway, let’s look at the weekend that was…

 

1. We’re starting to see a lot of nothing performances from teams who have nothing let to play for. Wigan have been at the beach for around the past five weeks and are second bottom of the form table with one goal in five. Having started the year challenging for a Europa Cup spot, they are slowly sliding down the table. What I don’t get is with each place in the league being worth around half a million more than the one below, why Steve Bruce isn’t motivating them more. The drop from seventh to tenth could be worth as much as two million in prize money, which to a club like Wigan is a big deal. 

 

2. Gerrard and Torres have started 12 games together this season. Of those twelve, Liverpool have won nine and drawn three and got 16 goals from the two. They took just two minutes to unlock West Ham at the weekend and showed again what a good understanding they have. If Benitez can get them to play 30 games together next season, Liverpool may finally win the title. That said, Rooney and Ronaldo have only started 17 games together for Man Utd. The difference being that Fergie has Berbatov and Tevez to choose from too, while Rafa tried and sold Keane and must focus on buying another alternative option in the summer.  

This time next year we'll be top. Probably.

This time next year we'll be top. Probably.

 

3. Another listless performance from Man City in the Manchester derby. Is Mark Hughes more likely to be sacked for failing to finish seventh or failing to motivate star players like Robinho and Elano? If he can’t keep egos like that happy, what chance has he got with the proper superstar players who will no doubt be summer targets at Eastlands. You’d feel the Europa League is a must in terms of trying to persuade anyone world class to join and even then you have to wonder whether Hughes is a man capable of handling the world class talent it will take for City to break into the elite. 

 

4. Ten points ahead of Aston Villa in fifth but now nine points behind Chelsea in third. Arsenal really are in a league of their own at the moment. Clearly not good enough to challenge the top 3 when it ultimately matters (failure to beat any of them in the four recent games in league and Europe), Arsene Wenger finds himself with much work to do in the summer. You can track their regression from last season quite accurately. They had 77 points in third place at this stage last year, which is what Chelsea currently have in third this season. The 1-4 scoreline against Chelsea on Sunday was a touch harsh given how well they started the game but at the same it was what we’ve come to expect over the years – plenty of possession and chances but no killer instinct to finish the game off. We’ll touch on what’s needed in more detail later in the week but needless to say experienced reinforcements will be on the agenda. You only need to look at the impact Arshavin has had since January to illustrate that you sometimes need to pay for quality. It’s interesting too for the chasing clubs like Aston Villa and Spurs dreaming (literally in Tottenham’s case) of breaking into the top four. If you can’t do it when one has an off year then when can you?

Lampard's enjoying it, Terry too. Alex doesn't seem to be getting much pleasure though. Looks like Fat Frank is a selfish lover...

Lampard's enjoying it, Terry too. Alex doesn't seem to be getting too much pleasure though. Looks like Fat Frank is a selfish lover...

 

5. Could West Brom do it again? They stayed up in 2005 despite being bottom at Christmas and are making a pretty good fist of it again. I feel they’ll ultimately fall just short given they have Liverpool in the next game. That said, if Man Utd win the title next Saturday against Arsenal, Sunday will be a pretty good time to play Rafa’s side. I would be happy if they stayed up, even if they aren’t very good. They at least try and play decent football and Tony Mowbray is more likeable than many of the other managers in and around the drop zone (I’m looking at you Phil Brown). It so often comes down to form for the bottom clubs trying to escape and they currently are displaying mid-table form, unlike all their four north east rivals. 

 

6. Gareth Bale started for the first time since January 18th on Saturday. Needless to say Spurs didn’t win. I make it 24 league games without a win for the Welshman. Jinx!

The harder he tries, the more likely Spurs don't win.

The harder he tries, the more likely Spurs don't win.

 

T.


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