Old Futbol Buffet–Labor Day Weekend
What a window!! Friday at work was spent trying not to get sucked into the Transfer Window shame spiral as every time I checked the interwebs some deal was on or off or confirmed or denied. Essien to Real Madrid. What the what? Bendtner to Juve. Ugh. The Joey Barton saga. By far the busiest team was Spurs, getting in Lloris, Sigurdsson, Dempsey, Vertonghen and Dembele in and Modric, Kranjcar, Pienaar, dos Santos, Rose (loan) and VdV out. City were also active as Mancini tries to build his squad for important season, including defense of their title and a Group of Death in the Champions League.
Tons of business was done and it was hard to keep track of it. Surely magazine editors and writers must be used to their preview issues doomed to the dustbin the moment they are printed as late transfers completely change forecasts. I’m looking at you Fulham. Several Americans were involved in this window, with Dempsey finally getting out of Fulham, Bocanegra going Racing and Edu going to Stoke.
Miguel Delaney ranked each team’s performance in the transfer window for ESPN FC, noting that Chelsea, Spurs and Everton all made strong moves while Norwich is just hanging and Liverpool were not able to overcome the mistakes made previous windows.
Miguel Delaney was on hand at White Hart Lane as more points were dropped. He examined the situation for AVB and gave his comments on the situation. (At least AVB was back to the suit and tie).
Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2
Sunday morning rolled around and I got up for my first viewing of the 2012-13 versions of these two teams. Let’s start off with the kits. Liverpool’s home is sharp. A striking color of red and not cluttered with stripes or accents or anything else. As for Arsenal’s away strip, #PurpleReignPain isn’t awful on TV, with the purple fading away to create an almost black kit.
The first half was hard to watch, with lots of energy but very little finished product. Thought Liverpool looked tasty although not nearly sharp enough in the final third, as Suarez was not at his best. The Reds saw the passes and the runs but could not execute. As for Arsenal, the Gunners looked all over the place and were not organized defensively. Going forward, everyone made the same run and complicated things.
The opening goal came down to two points: Gerrard turning the ball over (looked like simple miscommunication) and then Glen Johnson not tracking back. Just lazy and allowed the German, who started the counter to get in and squeeze a tough shot past Reina.
The second half saw a little better from both sides, especially Arsenal. Cazorla started making a bigger impact and Diaby continued his dominance. Thought Giroud was wearing the invisibility cloak but couldn’t tell if it was a lack of movement from him, lack of service or something else. For the visitors, Gerrard really struggled physically and in possession and surely the confrontation is looming between him and Rodgers. Can’t see Jose Enrique being on Merseyside next year. His form has plummeted over the last 12 to 18 months. I really enjoyed watching Sterling, who was very lively and almost earned a pk against Mertesacker and was a constant threat on the outside.
The game was killed off when JohnJo watched the Cazorla walk in, receive a one two and then blast a shot at Reina, who should have done better. My tweet at the moment summed up the game for me: for all of #LFC possession, defensive lapses are killing the Reds. #LFC #AFC #EPL
The stat at the end was thrown out that this is Liverpool’s worst start since 1962-63. not time to hit the panic button yet. They are a decent side that just needs some fine tuning. Joe Allen was class (first time I had every seen him play). Get rid of Gerrard and kick Suarez up the back side, and a top six finish is not beyond them.
Following the match John W. Henry wrote a letter to the fans. Pretty interesting reading as he articulates the management style of the club.
Zonal Marking analyzed the game, focusing on the shape of each team—Liverpool’s pressing 4-3-3 and Arsenal’s 4-4-1-1. Cazorla was able to find space inbetween the lines and his movement led to both of the goals.
Ed at The Liverpool Offside was not in the greatest of moods: The football might be changing and the personnel are somewhat different, but Liverpool still present as the same indifferent, ineffective squad that’s stumbled and stuttered their way through the past two seasons. He made sure to call out Gerrard and Reina while also looking at the few options Rodgers has at his disposal. Time will tell if LFC can turn it around.
The Arseblogger was very happy with the defense, from the back four the reading of the game by the group. Also, the midfield is starting to come together which should allow the Gunners to push on after a slow start. I would still be concerned about squad depth although it sounds like several players are on their way back.
Finally, somehow Manchester United won their match at Southampton. I followed the game on twitter and thought for sure the Reds were done for, but RvP came to the rescue.
Doron at the Stretford End tried to keep everything in perspective after three games for Manchester United. Six points out of nine, but there is still a lot of work for Sir Alex to do as this season progresses. The game against Southampton featured a defense that had not played together since January 2011 and a midfield that needs to gel. Had it not been for RvP, this would have been a loss.
Michigan State University 0 University of Connecticut 1
The temperature at kick off (1pm) was 90+ degrees so both teams sat in to conserve energy. Whether by design or by accident each team attacked in an unbalanced 4-4-2 with both left wingers pushing high into space but not seeing much of the ball. UConn went with small combination passes while the Spartans challenged them over the top and out wide with driven balls.
UConn came into the game #1 in the country but have to say wasn’t that impressed. They rotated a number of players across the front of their attack, with Allando Matheson being an absolute beast. Strong, nimble and aggressive, he was the Huskies’ best attacker, eventually netting the only goal early in the second half. In the back, their central defender Sergio Campbell was a rock, combining size, strength and speed.
For the Spartans, I was disappointed by the constant play into pressure. Rather than play a possession pass, they almost always tried to play over the top or to a teammate with a defender right on them. They had two quality attacks in the second half, one of which went to the right hand channel but the cross was over hit and the run mis-timed, while the other was a perfectly weight through ball but Domenic Barone couldn’t outmuscle #4 and hit a weak shot.
The visitors eventually stuck one man up top and just parked the bus, which invited the Spartans on to them. Several half chances went begging and the game closed out 1-0 to the Huskies.
Uli Hesse put together a two part post of the on beginnings of the Bundesliga, with next year being the golden anniversary. The league is far younger than most of their European contemparies, and the real story is how the league was formed, as German clubs dealt with two issues: instituing professionalism and deciding who form the inaugural first division. Very interesting articles on the formation of a league that didn’t even include Bayern Munich at the outset.
Finally got around to listening to John Gregory’s appearance on the Beyond the Pitch. They covered the future of English managers (in essence becoming more sophisticated in terms of continental players), the power of the player in modern football, and the way forward for Aston Villa Football Club. Gregory is honest, forthright and clear, and it is well worth the listen.