Chelsea V Arsenal Thoughts

There were a number of brutal tackles through-out this match. Has the Chelsea v Arsenal derby become a violent affair? I really hope it hasn’t but Eboue is probably done for the season, John Terry looks to have broken his foot and the match ended with Cesc and Cole slugging it out. Fabregas delivered a crunching tackle, but Cole didn’t need to take a swipe at his face. It was a brutal match through and through. I hope that neither Terry or Eboue is seriously injured but I’m not holding my breath.

The match opened up like anyone would have expected. Both teams trying to feel each other out. It was a cautious yet attacking game for the first thirty minutes. Then the tackle on Terry slowed things down completely till Arsenal’s corner before half. Cech misplayed the ball there is no doubt about it. Gallas was in the right spot at the right time to finish off the slop. Makes you wonder if Gallas new something from the training pitch about his old team mate that came in handy.

It also makes you wonder if Chelsea’s switch made sense. William Gallas comes through again. How does the Ashley Cole for William Gallas and cash deal look now. Gallas has become Arsenal’s Captain Fantastic. Cole has proved to be a more then competent left back, but has he been a true world class player? Ashley Cole wanted out at Arsenal and Chelsea’s depth at the time in central defense seemed outrageous. With all of the injuries Chelsea’s backline has sustained over the past year and a half moving Gallas looks like their most disastrous move. The thin back-line surely added to Jose’s demise. Wayne Bridge and Ashley Cole? I know they have both been extremely frail but did it ever make sense to own them both? If both players are healthy they should be on the field. Outside of those two Chelsea’s left-footed options anywhere on the field are slight. Adding left-footed depth made sense. I’m just not sure two left backs at or nearing their individual primes made sense. Gallas has been that last piece Arsenal needed this season.

For so many quality players this match was lacking in entertainment. I wouldn’t have missed a second, but looking back it could have had more. Arsenal’s passing was beautiful. Van Persie is quite the sub to be able to bring on. Chelsea probably have more overall talent on the pitch but Arsenal have more flair and they also have a passing style Chelsea can’t play or cope with at present. Arsenal’s beautiful game is extremely fun to watch and the sky is the limit for them this season. With Eboue out probably for the season they are going to have to probably add a left-wing. Chelsea need an out and out striker. I’m sure they’ll have options come January but I hope the Yakubu rumor is rubbish. Also, I love Sheva but he likes as if the game has passed him by. Attacking players need pace and his is all but run dry.

I hope New Castle fall into the Sea

Joey Barton’s PK was weak. Allen Smith got clipped but it was after he was out of the play and he totally went down. It was a harsh PK to give in extra time. Especially after Dempsey was rail-roaded on the other end not a minute earlier. I just thought it was weak sauce. Howard Webb came off as a bit of a tool. I imagine he’s got stock or something in New Castle.

Other then that the game was totally boring. Dempsey and Healy didn’t really connect together all that well. I wonder what Lawrie Sanchez is going to do in the January transfer window? I know I’ve heard rumors but it’ll be interesting to see who is finally chosen. Dempsey could always slide into a wing position or even into the 10.

Fulham probably needs to look more for a keeper then a killer forward. I’d even think they would be served to pick up a ball controlling or creative midfielder. I’d imagine a run at Landon Donovan wouldn’t be out of the cards. The LA Galaxy probably need to drop some salary and could probably use some extra funds to bring in some more youth. A Dempsey/Donovan combo in the attacking third with Healy in the mix should be solid.

New Castle seem to be at odds with themselves. I think its time to move Martins, I’d say he didn’t look inspired in the least. There are plenty of teams who would pay top dollar for his kind of proven quality. The only real detractor in Martins favor would be the upcoming African Nations Cup. I am sure Chelsea, Aston Villa, Real Madrid, AC Milan or pretty much any club in Europe would love to have him in their ranks. Time will tell but I think this is a good time for New Castle to move him because they’ll probably be able to find more money in return due to teams needing quality stikers for the stretch run.

On a whole this match was a bore from whistle to whistle. The PK was a horrible way for the match to end. I hope the Fulham can turn their luck around in the second half of this season. If not Sanchez might find himself back managing Northern Ireland.

The Joyous Manchester City

Hamann was all over the field today. For a guy who has looked a bit long in the tooth all season long he really showed up today. I know he was a real world class talent at one point in time, it doesn’t surprise me that from time to time he can show up and really put on a display. I was sort of surprised that he controlled so much of the pitch. It wasn’t a creative influence. When Bolton were starting anything Hamann seemed to be there to put a foot in the way. I just really enjoyed his play. Hamann has amazing headers.

This match was all over the place. There were enough goals for an entire day of matches, let alone one match. My favorite goal was probably Vassell’s back-heel, I couldn’t help but think of this lame dry manager at my college who couldn’t handle his players using the back-heel. Scott Mayforth if you saw that what are your thoughts?

Micah Richards is a great defender and so is Dunne but Anelka is just that good. I know he didn’t score but he put those boys under pressure quite a bit. Lots of open flowing play and Sven did a spot better manager then his Bolton counterpart Gary Megson. Megson has brought more passion to the pitch for Bolton, but I have to wonder why Bolton’s players aren’t clicking. Big Sam must have had some magic potions? Bolton are probably going to have to add two or three attacking players in January. I’d say two if they don’t move Anelka and three for sure if they do. I wonder if the likes of Mark Viduka would be available? Eddie Johnson would be interesting in a Bolton kit, there wouldn’t be too much pressure and they could assuredly use his pace. I’d think someone in Europe would be willing to give him a flier due to his form this past summer at the Major League Soccer here in the states.

In the end a very entertaining match that I’m glad I gave a once over too. That doesn’t mean I’m still not looking forward to Newcastle v Fulham or either of the two huge big four matches from this weekends run-out. I’m sure they’ll be more later.

Who’ll It Be?

England is closing in on a new manager. I had been hoping for Jose but it looks like Fabio. The rumor is England will announce sometime today that Cappello will be handed the helm. Cappello is a stern task master. I don’t know if I’m sold on him as England’s new manager. Maybe but I’m just not sure. I like that he’s going to bring stern discipline to a squad that tends to lack heart until the last thirty minutes. It’ll be good to see England as one of the most fit teams in the world. There are going to be an amazingly large number of inter-personal conflicts. Will Becks get sent home for good? I still remember when Fabio sent Becks to the bench the first time, what about now? If Fabio is crowned the next king of the English National rank and file I’m sure we’ll see a youth movement. I know I’ve been calling for a youth infusion but I’m not sold here. Time will tell but the FA should have gotten Jose and we all know that.

The John Terry rumors are juicy too. It seems Johnny boy has been running a bit afoul as of late. Terry might be out as the National Team Captain. Who’ll fill the void? I can’t stand Steven Gerrard so maybe they’ll hitch onto Rio? I hope they decide against taking the armband from Terry and focus more on fixing the national training system.

William Gallas is for real

I just have to give William Gallas some love today. Gallas plays with fire, his intensity it awesome. The way Gallas always meets a tackle, never steps down from a challenge, knows where to stick his nose on every ball played into the area and just plays the game in a physical yet exceptionally beautiful fashion. Gallas is calm over the ball, has tons of graceful moves away from pressure and seems to have a sense for where to play the ball at all points in a match. Today against Aston Villa Gallas not only personified a “captain” he also showed his passion for the game. The yellow card Gallas received was assuredly uncalled for but it was also a bit of a rallying cry for his side. I am far from going to call Gallas’ game flawless, nor would I want to say he played a perfect game today. With Gallas on the pitch Aresenal seems to be able to field as much youth as they like and still have the veteran presence and leadership needed to play a well focused match. I just purely love the style with which Arsenal are playing at present. Gallas’ flair, from his hair to the way he crunches through tackles, give Arsenal spirit-especially considering Cesc’s current injury. I can’t say enough about how amazing Arsenal’s 28 match unbeaten streak was, and I must also be quick to point out that they are still undefeated in league play. Could this be a repeat of the invincibles? More or less what I am saying is Arsenal are on quite the impressive run and at present and William Gallas is currently showing quite an amazing run of form.

Champions League Oops!

I meant to write up a bit about who I thought was going to make it through the group stage before these last matches started. That and I’m not blogging live on this one due to work. I’ve got it taping at home and I plan to tear through it later in the evening. When I hit that up I’ll throw down my thoughts on the current state of the Champions League. The group stage is usually interesting, but nothing real tends to happen before February. I hope today’s matches are good.

Scotland is going through a rough patch. I haven’t done any research yet, but they seem to have real finical issues. Their last two managers have left for big pay-days elsewhere. Its probably just due to the fact that the money in the Premiership is just that good. Its too bad when a manager is successful at a National Team Post, the Nation he is working for can’t fund his wages. I wish them much better luck then I wish England in their search for a new manager. It also looks like Russia might be in the midst of their own managerial situation. Looks like this is going to be an interesting January transfer window for both players and managers…Rafa Benitez might be out the door too?

Monday Thoughts Edition 1

I am just going to prattle off some of the things that have been bugging me…I’ll use numbered bullets so its easier to follow. I’ll try to follow up on some of these thoughts as the week goes on

  1. McClaren needed to be gone before he came. Steve was outmatched and outwitted in practically every match he managed the English team. England need a manager that can match tactical wits with the best of the best. Not, someone who understands the ins and outs of tea time.
  2. Jose Mourinho should be managing the English National Team by weeks end!
  3. If its not Jose then it should be Fabio Capello.
  4. The FA won’t pull the trigger and it’ll end up being a solid English Manager, but someone who doesn’t have the European experience to lead the team into the thick of competition.
  5. Players need to compete at a high level domestically to be ready for International competitions. A large part of high level domestic competition is inter league competitions. The Champions League being the prime example/model for the highest level of domestic competition. Players that participate in the Champions League are far greater prepared to partake in international competitions for their individual countries.
  6. La Liga has more competitive balance from top to bottom then England. That parity makes La Liga extremely interesting to watch no matter the match you have tuned in to see.
  7. It looks bad for Liverpool and Rafa. The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming and Rafa might want to throw his name in the hat for the next English manager because come December 15th if he hasn’t secured a spot in the next stage of the Champions League he’s out the door.
  8. If England hasn’t gotten off the pot and hire Mourinho by the time Hicks and Glazer come to town in the middle of December its going to be a lot easier for them to send Rafa packing. Mourinho would look awfully good on Liverpools sidelines.
  9. The MLS need to find a way to make their season competitively viable with all of the leagues from Latin America. The MLS should be able to pay comparable, if not greater salaries then most Latin American teams. With relatively equal rates of pay the MLS should be able to poach a fair number of Latin American soccer players. The MLS needs to continue their work developing young talent in the States. They also need to be able to have more club competitions their southern neighbors. Right now the MLS season runs all summer long and there is little to no way that MLS teams can compete with Latin Teams because they are not in season at the same time. The “champions league” rip-off they did last spring was interesting but it wasn’t on nearly enough American television sets and the MLS teams were extremely rusty to start. The soccer that this competition produced was no way near the level of soccer one sees when they watch the European Champions League. It was a nice start but it needs work for sure.
  10. Its too bad Billy Davies got axed. The players he has to work with based on their talent level are somewhere below Premiership caliber but yet above Championship caliber. Davies probably could have spent his transfer kitty a little more wisely, but he’s also had to face a lot of tough challenges in the first half of the season. I would look for Derby to make a climb out of the cellar, probably not all the way back to safety but I don’t see them as the 20th best team in the league.
  11. Derby has some youngsters that deserve an extended look. Why not now? Unless, they need to unload them in January why not play their youth from here on out this season? Derby is obviously looking to the future. I love the way Matt Oakley and company compete but maybe its time to sit down a few of the current squad to look at the futures squad.
  12. Birmingham and Bolton are all but completely written off for this season. I see those two teams going belly up sooner rather than later.
  13. Bolton is one bad day away from self destruct. Now, is the time to move Anelka. If Bolton go down his value will be decreased dramatically. With no Anelka, Bolton will only win by chance.
  14. Birmingham are going to be lost on the pitch, the training room and probably even around town. Their manager is gone. Their players soon are going to be completely caught up in the storm that is their managerial situation. If McLeish is installed at the helm, then maybe and this a huge maybe order can be restored. If things don’t get sorted out soon Oliver Kapo, the lone bright star this season and a chap I was singing the praises of this off-season, will be out the door.
  15. Manchester United need to shut-up and play football. They need to do their talking with their game. I loved watching them play last season. I think they are coming around and playing more as a team and more openly. I hate to hear them constantly screaming about meaningless BS.
  16. Arsenal are in position to create some distance. If they can get a ten point cushion by the middle of January its going to be tough for the rest to run them down. Right now they are three clear with a game in hand.
  17. The January transfer window is going to be crazy. There should be more moves and more dollars spent then any other transfer period. The wealth of the Premiership is getting to a ridiculous level. Now, its going to be interesting to see who they deem as needed.
  18. Are any big name MLS players going to head east this January? I think there are a few players in the MLS that would make solid additions to teams across Europe. Can/could the MLS cope with possibly losing three stars?
  19. Why do Essien and Mikel get so many bad calls against them?
  20. Who will be sacked next?

England V Croatia

  1. The line-up for England looked like a 4-5-1 but it seems that Jose Mourinho has slipped into England’s backroom. With two of his former charges, Shawn Wright Phillips and Joe Cole, play in advanced wide mid-field positions.
  2. The 4-3-3 pays off with an early shot on goal
  3. Horror as Croatia finds the net in the 8th minute. Scott Carson let in a long range blast…I thought I had called for David James…didn’t I?
  4. It is over with a second goal in just the 15th minute…how did the back-line look so bad? Scott Caron is going to have to be subbed out isn’t he? Wenger looks like even more of a genius with he Eduardo purchase
  5. England has better prepare for the estimated 1 billion pound loss to their economy if the National Team doesn’t qualify, because it doesn’t look good
  6. Corner in the 20th could produce something…Eduardo clears
  7. I am sure that all of Russia has breathed a sigh of relief
  8. Abramovich is probably already looking into purchasing Eduardo
  9. At present Russia have not scored…if Russia tie or lose England is in no matter the outcome of today’s match
  10. How long till one of the back four is subbed out to add to this attack?
  11. Croatia is in a complete defensive shell
  12. Kranjcar scored the first goal I don’t think I gave him credit yet
  13. Kranjcar and Eduardo are giving the English everything they can handle
  14. The English midfield is currently lost…this 4-3-/4-5-1 hybrid is not working. I wish they would have played a diamond with Gerrard and Lampard in the middle, Beckham on the right and Cole out on the left
  15. Lescott and Campbell confuse me and I’m just watching this. They assuredly are not on the same page with Richards and Bridge
  16. McClaren has done a disservice to all with his over-managing…name a squad a week ago and run the boys through their paces together to create/foster team-unity
  17. Cole or someone need to be moved up to support Crouch or they are going to have to sub someone in. Crouch is playing masterfully but he has no one to aid him
  18. England might as well have not put Crouch up-top if they weren’t planning on supporting him
  19. Save count Croatia 6- England 0
  20. The tackle on SWP for the yellow card was a rough play and if it had been a red I wouldn’t have minded it one bit. I wonder what will be said after the match and if there will be an extra measures taken
  21. Gerrard dives quite a bit at Liverpool and it goes in his favor, so I’m glad he isn’t rewarded for that one
  22. Russia have scored…all is but lost for England
  23. Close call as Barry shows why Beckham should have been capped in the 40th
  24. Two stellar tries for Croatia in the 40th and 42nd minutes but they just weren’t able to seal the deal on those two
  25. What will McClaren do at the half? My guess start shopping around his resume. I know that Birmingham are looking, but maybe something in the MLS is more his speed
  26. Its not even half time and England look like they would have been roughed up by Malta thusly
  27. What happened? The US v South Africa was a better match then this rubbish
  28. 99 and counting as Beckham is set to come on for the second half…he’ll be joined by Defoe
  29. I had written earlier in the week how Crouch and Defoe should have been teamed together up-top now out of desperation it looks like its going to happen
  30. For those of you keeping score at home England now only have one sub left
  31. Barry and SWP came off to make room for Becks and Defoe
  32. England had 51% of the possession in the first half…they turned that into a 0-2 hole
  33. The second half is under way…looks like Crouch is still playing by himself
  34. Life…Life…Life Defoe is taken down in the box for a PK and Lamps puts it away in the 56th minute
  35. More of the same with Defoe and Crouch on different planets
  36. Oh my god…oh my god Beckham/Crouch team up to possibly save England. Beck’s cross is smartly put away by Crouch
  37. I’ll grant that for the time being McClaren’s subs are the difference makers but they should have been in the starting line-up
  38. Eduardo is off and Petric is on in his sted…I’d imagine carrying that card Bilic wants to see Eduardo through to this summer with-out a red to his name
  39. The action is coming at a faster pace then in the first half…I’m not sure that England will have the stamina to see this one through
  40. Gerrard is a great player and will be forever known for his brilliance with England. That having been said I still don’t like him. Even if Lamps had a horrible World Cup I’d rather see him running around with a smile then Gerrard’s snear any day
  41. I would also like to point out that Lamps has a notch in this match…Stevie on the other hand has a few nice looking swipes at bouncing balls all for not
  42. The sky is falling the sky is falling…Petric scores with a cracker from the outside
  43. Joe Cole is off for Darren Bent…three on top…England need a goal
  44. The switch came at the 81st minute so with his ten minutes on the pitch for England today Bent will see more time with England then he will for the rest of his career at Tottenham
  45. The three Lions really need this three headed monster of Dr. Frankensteins to pull off some magic here in the waining minutes of this match
  46. Even if England pull this one out McClaren needs to be gone
  47. Croatia with the added defender…Croatia still look like they could add another
  48. Maybe Becks has another wonder-strike in him?
  49. I expect Gerrad, the car killer, to let me down…I know that Lamps gets excited…this is an important match and this is an important stretch and they both are killing me
  50. 3 minutes of added time…I almost can’t watch this…why’d he start Carson?
  51. I obviously could careless about Croatia but it has to be asked how could they let England back in this game?
  52. Big corner in the 91st…can England convert? Come on Becks!!! No, no, no, no, no!!!
  53. Croatia is into time wasting…not sure why they didn’t start that in say the 30th minute
  54. It is all over England lose
  55. Now, I’ve switched it over to Russia v Andorra its in the 90th minute and Russia is up 1-0
  56. England need a miracle to be saved and I don’t think Andorra is up to the task!
  57. They are in stoppage time but Russia isn’t showing much of the ball
  58. The game is over and Russia are through to the Finals
  59. England has just blown a golden chance gifted to them by Israel this past Saturday
  60. I imagine McClaren will step down before the weekend is over, if not during the post match press conference
  61. Beckham is sitting one cap shy of 100 and its just not simply going to happen. Unless, the next national team manager gives it to him just for one final run out. That would be extremely classy. I’d like to see a friendly against Scotland where Becks gets his 100th cap

I’ll write up my final thoughts on this match and the rest of the goings on in the Euro Cup Qualifying for today in a little while.

Bye Bye Macca

Steve McClaren was given the ax early this morning. I hate to admit it when anyone loses their job, especially here in the United States, but I’m glad. I haven’t seen anything convincing from Macca in his year and a half term. There are way too many amazing players in the UK to be able to manage them all, its not Macca’s job to know each and every player that’s why he has a staff. I found the English squad’s line-ups as of late to be lacking any imagination or constancy. The 4-3-3/4-5-1 hybrid was interesting but ineffective. England needs to know who their best five players at each position are at present, they need to know who their best five players on the rise at each position are, they need to know who their best five young players at any position are and they need to know who their best five players on their way out at any position are. Injuries happen, so do drops in form and its a managers responsibility to manage their players.

Bob Bradley drives me insane here in the US because he has been shuffling old, young and in their prime players. Bob Bradley knows who and what he has at present in the US talent pool. US players play all over the world, mainly due to a weak domestic league. Bradley has scouts all over the world. Get this he actually trusts non-American scouts. I know its crazy to even mention but some of the best scouts, coaches and back-room staff for the US national team are non-native Americans. England sadly could take a lesson from the emerging power that is US Soccer.

The English FA now has to go out and find a new manager. Will they look domestically? Are they looking abroad? Will they go European? Are they going to tap into the South American talent pool? What kind of contract/leash will this new manager be given? Is this a job anyone in their right mind would even want?

England need to make a short list. They need to take their short list, burn it. Get a pile of cash together. Find Jose Mourinho and make him and offer he simply can not refuse. Then they need to get back to basics, just like USA Basketball has done. They need to work on series of formations and bring players into the team that work best in their formations. If Gerrard and Lampard work well in their new systems they need to utilize them…if they don’t play well in the formation/systems that England is going to use they simply need to be dumped. England is bigger then their players. They need to play as a system in a unified fashion. That is part of why I wanted to see Beckham in yesterday’s match. Beckham is an amazing individual talent, but he also understands how the team concepts needs to work. I hope that England can have the fortitude to think of the Country before the Super-Stars.

I hope England hire a manager who can control the wildly out of control egos of the English players. I look for the English players to fall into line and accept their roles in the system. I hope England can focus on playing football, not making highlight reels.

Crouch me Please!

I love the rumor that has Harry Redknapp swooping in for Peter Crouch. Teaming up with Benjani Mwaruwari would be great for both players. Benjani is leading Portsmouth in scoring this season with eight goals, which is better then his previous season high goal mark with the club of six goals. Crouch is younger, English and a true fan favorite. Currently Portsmouth are in a three-way tie for second most goals in the EPl with 23. Crouch is wasting away at Liverpool not that he is the fourth or fifth striking option.

Let’s hope that Rafa Benitez doesn’t block the move. I’m sure that the 10 million pound price tag Crouch’s head would create some room for Rafa to bring in new blood.

I’ve got to run to check out the England match…I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts on that too come…