Old Futbol Buffet–White Knuckle Sunday

A rough week really got in the way of growing my soccer knowledge.  Late last Sunday night I started getting sick, but I went to work and was in a fog, which didn’t help because I actually had work to do.  By Wednesday I crashed and stayed home.  When I went back to work I was so behind that I really had to get on it.  So no midweek games, no Copa games, very little in the way of reading.  Not good.

Saturday morning I woke up to start a busy day.  In checking scores and texts and twitter, I knew something was happening at the Emirates, but my god, what a performance by the Gunners.  My guess is that they were inspired by my Strip Club post on Friday.

This is how sad I am.  I went to pub, with the family, to watch a game . . . online.  I watched Athletic Bilbao against Espanyol as I nominally put in Family Time, and I didn’t even bother having the bartender turn on the City/Fulham game because a) I didn’t want to be distracted any further, b) I have not caught Deuce Fever, and c) I was hoping that by not watching, somehow the Cottagers would further dent City’s title charge.  No dice.

Sunday morning I headed back to the pub for Chelsea v United.

Chelsea 3 Manchester United 3

In the lead up to the game, all I could focus on was United’s poor form at Stamford Bridge and their injuries, so I wasn’t very confident heading into the game.  But the game kicked off and the Reds were in control, not necessarily dangerous but having Chelsea in their pocket.  And then it went sideways.  Sturridge skinned Evra and his cross went off de Gea, struck Evans, and then fell into the back of the net. Chelsea and United traded blows and I felt that if United got a goal before halftime, they would be fine.  But to score you have to shoot and for some reason, the Red Devils, in particular Rooney, wouldn’t pull the trigger.

After halftime I expected United to move through the gears and maybe get a point but instead the Blues added a second.  As I tweeted right after the goal: wow. as scrappy as 1st goal was, the 2nd was absolute class.  Torres’ cross was inch perfect and Mata’s finish was spectacular.  From there things went from bad to worse, as Rio didn’t get tight to Sideshow Bob, who headed in to put the hosts up 3-0.  At this point, I was having flashbacks to the game against City in October.  Even the first penalty I felt was nothing more than a consolation but from there United pressed on, winning the second penalty.  At 3-2, I started shaking and went white knuckle as United tried to find the equalizer, which came from the Little Pea.  After that my nerves were shot as both teams had chances to win, especially Mata’s free kick, stunningly saved by de Gea.

The game was not fantastic on a technical level, with both teams guilty of loose passes, poor positioning and lapses in concentration but more than made up for it in fire and finishing. Chelsea are ashambles.  Malouda and Essien were simply passengers, especially for the last 30 minutes.  As for Torres, he was great in the link up play but man is he struggling in front of goal.  How does a player that short of confidence try to dribble three guys in the box?

As for United, their performance as a whole was good.  The move of Welbeck to the outside is a waste.  (Not was a waste because it’s happened before.)  Not sure why Sir Alex does that.  I would have brought in Park for that position much earlier.  De Gea got off to a slow start came into the match, culminating with fantastic saves on Mata and Cahill.  Rooney was muted for most of the game, but the penalty conversions seemed to wake him up.

Couple of thoughts about Howard Webb.  If he is England’s top ref, then that’s not good.  Several very questionable calls and no calls and a couple of dodgy penalties.  Inconsistent game to say the least. Chelsea didn’t deserve to win but the ref of the 2010 World Cup Final did not help.

In the end, United dropped two points but in an away match at a tricky venue, down 3-0, and your best player is not on song, I’m ok with it.  My final tweet of the game was: great fightback but shouldn’t have been in that hole. regardless stay within touching distance.

The comments from The Republik of Mancunia were spot on, especially regarding Fabio, Rooney and Fergie. Make sure to check out the post.

The post game comments from Zonal Marking were informative as well, as he focused on the tactical permutations during the game.

The panel on the Manchester United Redcast contributed a lot to the swear jar this week in their recap of thrilling game against Chelsea and their preview of the game against Liverpool.  Add a little talk about Suarez and Terry and this pod was not for the faint of hear.

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Transfers

I really missed the boat on transfers.  Zamora and Cisse to QPR?  Saha to Spurs?  Some Belgian guy to Chelsea?  Everton brought in a load of players in their effort to finish tenth in the EPL.  Of course Arsenal were involved as well, picking up Thomas Eisfeld from Dortmund who, as Amy Lawrence noted on Football Weekly Extra, ticks all of the boxes, “young, technical and injury prone.”

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Stuff

The boys on Men in Blazers reviewed the week that was in the Premier League and FA Cup, with Rog on a high after Everton’s week and Mickey at a low asChelsea continue to wallow in fourth.  They interviewed Gerry Baker, who was the firstUS player to score a hat trick in the English First Division.  Sounds like he was a pretty decent player as well.

Uli Hesse looked at the situation in the middle of the Bundesliga table, in particular Hoffenheim,Stuttgart andLeverkusen.  I wish I could make time for German football, but unless I give up Juventus and Serie A, don’t see how I can make that happen.

Marco and Aaron reviewed another solid effort at home against Siena from the Black and Whites.  Unfortunately they only gained a point, and it may be these sorts of results that cost them the title.  I’m hoping to catch the game against Bologna this weekend and see how they are doing.

Tim Vickery gave a quick preview of the Copa Libertadores on the SI.com soccer page, pointing a couple of key players and clubs to watch, including possible swan songs for Riquelme and Ronaldinho.

The SI Soccer Podcast panel looked at transfer deadline day and the goings on at the Philadelphia Union.  Plus Grant Wahl interviewed Jay Demerit about his time thus far in Vancouver.  Still have not seen The Jay Demerit Story.  Hoping to pick it up this

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    • Samuel Long
    • February 6th, 2012

    Some tidbits regarding the game that I found on the Arsenal board:

    Feb 5th 2011, Newcastle come from 4-0 down to draw with Arsenal.
    Feb 5th 2012, Man Utd come from 3-0 down to draw with Chelsea

    • that’s crazy. so many year over year things lately. gunners have sunderland this wkd. could be tricky before big game v Milan.

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