Posts Tagged ‘ Arseblogger ’

Old Futbol Buffet–Spuds Smashed

This weekend was hit and miss in terms of footy.  Saw some La Liga action on Saturday but missed the North London Derby and United’s shock defeat at Norwich.  Did manage to catch the second half of the Juventus game though and was 0 for Sunday due to working the concession stand at the MSU basketball game and then having church.

——

Arsenal 5  Tottenham Hotspur 2

I wanted to see the game but due to the 745am EST kickoff and life intervening, I missed it.  I woke up and checked the score: 3-1 to the Gunners.  Scrolling through the updates, Adebayor scored the opening goal and then got sent off 18 minutes in.  Several people tweeted that it was the striker’s best performance for Arsenal and that the Gunners should have evened things up by putting on Andre Santos.

The Arseblogger was content to ignore the tactics of the game and focus on the result.  The former Arsenal striker was the focal point, both of the blog post and the match.  As for the Gunners themselves, Cazorla and Wilshere were picked out for praise and Giroud was amongst the goals again.  5-2.  That is all.

For a Spurs perspective, I read Spooky’s latest post at Dear Mr Levy.  The fragility of Tottenham Hotspur—caused by missing players, the chopping and changing of the defense and the mismanagement of the transfer window—was exposed as the Gunners took Spurs apart.  Spooky was happy that AVB went for it even with ten me but the crucial period before halftime meant there was only going to be one result.

Zonal Marking examined the game noting that AVB surprisingly went with a 4-4-2 that used power and pace going forward and a high line defensively.  The Portuguese manager stuck with the approach, moving to one forward but his team tired, conceding the game just before the interval.  He switched to a 3-4-1-1 in the second half, but after the initial pressure wore off, the Gunners picked off the visitors.  Special mention was given to Walcott, not only for his goal but for his play on the right hand side, combining with Giroud and allowing Sagna to overlap.

——

Juventus 0  Lazio 0

I watched the Old Lady for the first time this season, catching the second half on Saturday.  A couple of things: loved the all black kit.  The numbers and names are sharp and really pop off the back of the kit.  Loved the 3-5-2 formation.  Wingbacks getting involved.  Center of the pitch under control. Juve dominated the proceedings, although they did seem susceptible to the counter.  Despite their energy and chances, the ball would not go in, and that led to two dropped points.  @agiamba tweeted after the match that it was a good performance but the goalie made three great saves.  Agree to a certain extent.  They were in control but poor crossing and some poor finishing kept this game from being won.  The bianconeri have bounced back from defeat and still lead the league by four points over Inter.

——

Finally, what a weekend for MSU soccer, both varsity and club.  The Men’s team travelled to South Bend on Sunday after defeating ClevelandState on Thursday.  The Spartans fell 3-0 but finished the season strong, winning the BIG 10 Tournament Championship.  As for the club teams, tweets came across my timeline late Saturday night that both the Men’s and Women’s club teams won their respective National Championships.  Amazing accomplishment.  Congratulations to Scott, Dan and all the players.  Make sure to read Dan’s recaps of the women’s games.

——

Articles and Pods

Gabriele Marcotti joined Anto on the Beyond the Pitch to discuss current storylines in Serie A, including Juventus’ European challenge, the success of new Inter manager Stramaccioni, the problems at AC Milan, and De Rossi’s future at Roma.  Highly informative as usual.

Jonathan Wilson profiled Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu for SI.com.  Very interesting backstory as he moved from the pitch to player manager to challenging Steaua’s dominance in the 80’s.  Now he has the Ukrainian champs on the cusp of the round of 16 of the Champions League and poised to make a run in the competition.  Although Lucescu favors youth, he has a veteran backline that may make the difference this time around.

Finally Steve Rushin wrote on entertaining piece for SI.com contemplating the question: What if life was more like soccer?  The possibility of extra time, brandishing red cards, “diving”, and moving your focus on to the next challenge are all possibilities.  Have to say my favorite part was this:

After all, the single greatest existential quandary that humans face in life also bedevils soccer: Once you leave the game, you are not allowed to return.

Advertisements

Old Futbol Buffet–Gunners shoot Blanks

Manchester United 2  Arsenal 1

After a night of moderate drinking, making it to the bar for an 8:45am kickoff was a struggle.  Not as much of as struggle as watching the Gunners in red socks with the #PurpleReignPain jerseys, but anyways . . . Couldn’t have asked for a better start as Rafael’s early cross wasn’t dealt with by Vermaelen and RvP punished his former teammate three minutes in.  From there a drab match unfolded, with Arsenal holding onto the ball but doing nothing with it, while United were not very dangerous.

“The ball doesn’t lie” sums up the PK before halftime.  Cazorla went to cover his face, which resulted in the spot kick, dutifully missed by Wazza. A stat floated around the interwebs that RvP is the better option in that circumstance.  The second half saw more of the same with Podolski and Ramsey having almost no impact on the game.  I am struggling to remember any influential moments for the Gunners.

The nail in Arsenal’s coffin came from the head of Evra.  Short corner, cross from Rooney, the tallest player on the field jumped and missed, the captain did not, 2-0.  Wilshere’s second yellow was crap but not undeserved.  He had a decent game on his return, yet several rash challenges caught up with him.  Anderson came into the match for the Reds.  I read that he had a good match against Chelsea in midweek and he played a solid thirty minutes but boy is he fat.  Cazorla’s consolation goal was a fine piece of finishing but AFC left with no points again and with draws by CFC and MCFC, United went top of the table.  Still not hitting the heights but hard to argue with the results.

Dan at the Red Rants blog saw United win comfortably, using the same lineup as the one against Chelsea last Sunday.  He concluded that it was “the Gunners who were flattered by a score line that could have been much worse, had United not played with the handbrake on for most of the match.”  I’ve seen comments like this in the aftermath, which shows how far Arsenal have fallen.  Chelsea treated the Gunners in much the same way at the Emriates, letting them have the ball and then picking them apart.

The Arseblogger’s headline said it all—Worse than last year.  Last year a disjointed Arsenal has a bad day at the office; this year was the realization that they are no longer one of the big boys.  He asked that Vermaelen be dropped for a lack of form and lack of leadership.  He also saw a limp attack that never got going.  Finally, Andre Santos did not have a good game but the team the Brazilian is not the only one to blame.  At the end he wrapped up by saying that this was “another disheartening day, more proof that our squad is too light in key areas, and another day when the team looked sluggish and not ready for the fight.”

My brother shared a post with me from Boris Mellor at the Arsenal Times.  Echoing the Arseblogger, yes the score was better, but the result was the same and even more disappointing.  Over the last couple of weeks, the Gunners have lost to Norwich, lost to Schalke, beaten QPR (barely) and recovered from 4-0 against Reading to win 7-5.  Now they have lost to rivals (maybe) Manchester United.  Boris sees a troubling sense of underachievement at the club, ending his post with this statement:

Without a change of ethos, the insertion of a real backbone and leadership this club will continue to decline. A fish rots from the head, the tragedy is that many can’t smell the rot as it is hidden by the rose scented aroma of Champions League Qualification.

Finally Zonal Marking watched a “subdued” affair as United attacked down the right hand side, with Valencia and Rafael overwhelming Santos and pulling Vermaelen out of the middle.  With Giroud isolated, the Gunners did not generate much offense, even with the introduction of Walcott.  In the end, Fergie got everything pretty much spot on as Arsene slumped to another defeat.

Old Futbol Buffet–Being: Screwed

This weekend was filled with football from Spain and England.  Saturday I managed to catch a couple of La Liga games in afternoon, and then Sunday started early with Liverpool hosting Manchester United, which was followed by Manchester City v Arsenal.  This was followed by my Over 30 Semi Final before some beers and pizza and then bed.

——

Saturday

Went up to the pub for Real Betis v Espanyol and FC Barcelona v Granada.  Haven’t totally collected my thoughts on those matches yet, but the first match was dire.  Not many chances and rarely held my attention.  The FCB match was fascinating as the Blaugrana could not break down the visitors until El Capitan made the breakthrough minutes from time.

After that I headed to Lansing’s Old Town for the Bluesfest.  While down there I listened to band while watching the first half of the Michigan and Notre Dame game.  No skin in the game and I was ready to throw my beer through the TV as Denard threw pick after pick and put pressure on the Wolverine defense.  Ugh.

——

Sunday

Liverpool 1  Manchester United 2

The Reds from Liverpool got hosed.  Even as a fan of the Red Devils, there is no other conclusion from the game.  Halsey had a howler and these things happen.  He missed a trick though.  For Shelvey, if he had gotten a yellow for his challenge on Rafael towards the beginning of the match then gets a yellow (and so does Evans) and then he is off.  As for the penalty, very little contact and Valencia forced the referee to make a decision.

United were not sharp. Maybe it was Liverpool, maybe it was the Champions League virus, maybe it was the personnel.  The defense was in shambles, with players getting tackles wrong and constantly letting Suarez run at them.  In the midfield, Giggs was wasteful in possession and Nani was awful.  Can’t get him on the bus out of town soon enough.  Kagawa was decent in possession but not incisive enough.  There wasn’t a killer ball, a direct punch at the opponent.  Scholes came on the second half to get hold of the ball and pushed Giggs outside for Nani.

LFC were still dangerous after the red and deserved the lead and probably a little more from the match. Glen Johnson owned Rafael and the hosts should have exploited that more. Probably the biggest revelation of the match was the Spaniard Suso.  He was fantastic and an upgrade on Borini.

The Red Devils win was less than satisfying, as they were poor and probably didn’t deserve anything from the match.  Again the question remains:  Will LFC stay with Rodgers?  They played well but the results are not coming.

Doron and Nik focused on Fergie’s lineup for their post at the Stretford End.  The gaffer didn’t get it exactly right and was forced into changes, especially in midfield, but, in their opinion, the back five were solid and proved the manager correct.  Issues remain for United despite the three points, which they are quick to point out.

Ed at The Liverpool Offside remains optimistic despite the loss and increasing injury list for the Reds.  Suso’s performance gave him hope as did Liverpool’s performance before and after the red card.  Unfortunately the club is in the relegation zone after five matches.  A run of results will get them clear, but when does that run start?

Manchester City 1  Arsenal 1

Don’t know what to make of this match, other than Joe Hart is an amazing keeper.  City played well after the midweek disappointment but were missing a gear.  Yaya never got going and Aguero was just a half step off.  In the end, City’s directness compared to Arsenal’s patience made for a nice conflict and a fully rested side might pose more problems for Londoners.

As for the Gunners, I have started a paypal account to buy Gervinho a first touch.  Old joke but never get tired of it.  Several times he got in and just gave it away.  Then at the end, he created some space for himself and put it in row Z.  How good is Cazorla?  This year’s David Silva, we’ll see if he can do it for an entire season.  Jenkinson looked confident and was a presence both attacking and defending on the right side.

The Arseblogger was pleased with the performance, which saw the Gunners go to the home of the Champions and get something from the match.  The teamsheet was quality with a couple of quiet performances from Diaby and Poldolski.  The team was assured in possession (a little too assured for me—shoot the damn ball) and earned a deserved point.

Harkiano at Bitter and Blue still cannot figure out if the Citizens start to the season is solid, sluggish or poor and is looking to the next five matches to make a conclusion.  Again City played well but Silva and Yaya did not have enough of an influence and the strikeforce could not finish off the limited number of chances they had.

Finally, Zonal Marking looked at the 4-2-2-2 of City against the 4-4-1-1 of Arsenal, although to be fair, the formations were fluid and unbalanced times.  He focused on the match-ups around the pitch and each manager’s second half substitutions.

——

Podcasts

Uli Hesse joined Anto on Beyond the Pitch to discuss the current storylines in the Bundesliga, including Dortmund’s attempt to win three league titles in a row and Bayern’s signing of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao.  They also touched on the German National Team and their mentality heading into the next competition.  Finally, Uli has written a great piece on the founding of the league at ESPN FC, which I highly recommend.

The panel on the Lovely Left Foot pod gave their thoughts on this summer’s transfers and also commented on the early rounds of games across Europe, while revealing boredom with the current Champions League set up.  Have to say, Match Day One was not short of excitement.

——

Other stuff

My Over 30 team, CCFC, reached our tournament final for the third year running.  We destroyed our opponents and now go for the double next Sunday.  Our opponents ground out a win against a team that one my teammates described our version of Chelsea from last year.  Hard to watch and the beers only helped a little.  Sunday we go for glory.

Currently I’m reading Philippe Auclair’s book on Eric Cantona.  Can’t recommend it enough as he tells of Le Roi’s rise through French football to his days at Leeds and United.  Learning a little bit about the history of Ligue Un and the Les Bleus as well.  Good stuff.

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.

——

Weekend’s Games

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

Rounded off Labor Day weekend with a trip to DeMartin Soccer Stadium for MSU v UConn Men’s Soccer.  Sat with the Red Cedar Rowdies for a game marked by two things: heat and lack of sharpness.

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.

——

Podcasts

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.

Part 1  Part 2

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.

Advertisements