Arsenal Fall to Man City but seriously people it was Man City

Manchester City dropped 14 points last season.  They lost two matches and drew four.  I knew they were amazing last year but I hadn’t really thought about that run.  Arsenal’s Invincibles season they had 12 draws aka dropped 24 points.  I’ve included a quick graphic of ManCity’s roster below.  The text below the image links back to their Wikipedia page.  

Manchester City First Team Squad 2018-2019

When you look over ManCity’s roster there are a few things that stick out immediately.  First for me is the talent.  They are stacked everywhere.  They have multiple starting-caliber players everywhere.  I’ll hear an argument for Fernandinho being older with no clear replacement.  The tale of finding a replacement 6 is long and storied.  The next thing that I see is the experience.  They have bags of caps.  Seven guys on the roster with over 100 appearances for the club.  They have multiple scary goal threats.  They only have a handful of guys who run out of contract at the end of the current season.  Three that I see.  One is a youth player so his deal will essentially just roll-over.  One is Kompany and I’m sure they’ll let him play on one-year deals till he wants to retire or they will allow him to sign a big money deal elsewhere at the end of the season.  The City Football Group owns several other clubs throughout the world so if they wanted to let Vincent go elsewhere they could or he could go to a deep-pocketed club for one last pay-check.  The other on the final year is Mangala and he hasn’t really lived up to the hype or the transfer fee.  I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he walks.  There is always hope he could find his game and renew.  No one can pay him more than City so there is that too.  The last thing that sticks out to me is the transfer fees.  These are just the reported fees on freaking Wikipedia.  Only nine people on this roster have come to the team for less than £10m, yeah you read that correctly £10m.  One of those was Komany who transferred to the team in 2008 when fees weren’t quite to the current level.  Four (Denayer, Diaz, Foden, and Grimshaw) are academy graduates.  One came on a free (Gomes) and is a youth player.  Two were acquired at the end of their respective youth contracts (Sandler and Zinchenko).  The ninth player acquired for less than £10m is Fabian Delph who came to City from Aston Villa.  Villa was in the midst of major financial turmoil and Delph wanted out.  That’s a talented, experienced, dangerous and spendy roster.  The depth on this club would start at most clubs in the Premier League.  

I played soccer when I was younger stopped in my middle school years and came back to it via a good friend in college.  When I was getting back into soccer in 2002 my teams where Arsenal, Manchester City (my non-big 4 club) and DC United.  (Side note if you haven’t seen Rooney’s play from last night get on it.)  I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for City for years.  I used to get tapes of Claudio Renya bossing for City sent to me from my now father-in-law then girl-friends Dad when I was in college.  Haven’t been a huge fan of the City Football Group coming in and spending boatloads of money but that’s soccer and we all need to accept it.  Me not getting too worked up by a loss to City is because I see their roster, their manager, the cycle they are currently in mid-crest of and the infrastructure the team has put in place behind the first-team.  They are good, scary good and it should be exciting to watch them run through the Premier League this year.  I hope they can hold their own in Europe too.  

Last year in the same fixture Arsenal lost 3-0 at home to City.  When the City machine was humming.  This year going into this fixture I wasn’t expecting much to be honest.  I wanted to see a draw.  I assumed Arsenal would still be feeling out their balance under a new manager and City would be starting to prime the pump on defending their title.  What I expected is essentially what happened.  

I haven’t done a right and proper preview for Arsenal yet this year.  I should just so I can get my thoughts out of my head and really focus on the roster.  There is legit talent on this roster.  There are holes, clearly and areas where reinforcements are needed.  I was glad to see a few key pieces picked up over the summer and I’m also glad to see that Emery hasn’t done a wholesale changeover.  This way Emery should be able to feel out of the squad completely and start making moves in the subsequent transfer windows.  When I saw the lineups I was surprised and excited to see new faces.  Left-back was going to be a worry with the current injury situation.  The reports out over the weekend that Welbeck has been training at left-back turned out to be a smoke-screen that I’m guessing Pep didn’t bite on anyway.  

Arsenal v Manchester City Lineups

The match wasn’t nearly and clean and crisp as one would hope for two teams vying for the top end of the table.  City makes sense to me because its a long season and they don’t want to grind down guys that played deeper into the World Cup.  Arsenal also made sense due to the number of new faces.  As I’m not really focused on City here is where I stop breaking down their game closely.  I’ll mention some things but mainly I’m focused on Arsenal herein.

The line-up deserves some ink.  The back-line will be a question all year long.  As Koz deals with injuries the center back pairings will have to be more creative.  Koz is coming tough injury with the achilies tear.  Sadly, his best football might be behind him.  Even when he returns to “full” health I’m hoping the team doesn’t play him twice a week and basically gives him ample time between matches to recover.  In the center of the back-line Mustafi becomes the most important player.  His health, form, and performance will be a tell-tale for the club this season.  Sokratis Papastathopoulos got his first cap in this match.  I didn’t hate what I saw for the most part.  There were a few timing issues early.  Set pieces seemed much cleaner than we’ve seen in years for the Arsenal defense.  Sok mistimed a tackle for his yellow but at least he did it outside of the box.  The other options at CB are Rob Holding (who I’m good with rotationally), Konstantinos Mavropanos (who I haven’t seen), Nacho (currently injured and better outside), Sead Kolasinac (currently injured and I’m not sure if he’s better outside or inside), Carl Jenkinson (who is hopefully still getting loaned for playing time) and Stephan Lichtsteiner (who is new to the club but is primarily known as an outside back).  I didn’t list Hector Bellerin as a potential inside man because right now in his career he’s an outside back or a flanker.  Bellerin’s pace is one of his key weapons, putting him anywhere in the lineup that doesn’t allow for him to blaze limits his potential.  Would I rather see him in central defense than say Ramsey or Welbeck, yeah sure.  At that point in time I’m hoping we’d just be going into the youth squad for bodies over playing midfielders out of position.  

Playing midfielders out of position is what we did do with Ainsley Maitland-Niles by sliding him over Welbeck into the left-back spot.  I had assumed Lichtsteiner would take the left-back spot with Nacho and Sead out injured.  That’s probably what will have to happen with Ainsley getting hurt during this match.  The reports seem to be that its minor and he should be back soon.  While I will agree that Ainsley has more to give in terms of top-end talent to reach at this point in their careers.  Lichtsteiner represents a defender who is known for having great fitness.  To me when you are lining up against a team with weapons across the pitch getting another solid defender out there makes some sense.  I also understand the vibe on getting Ainsley minutes regardless.  It didn’t work this time.  Ainsley made it 35 minutes.  In that time Kyle Walker gave him a few fits, including the play Ainsley got hurt on, and Ainsley didn’t really show much in the attacking half.  Mahrez most dangerous play came when he had cut inside but there was still space for Mahrez to attack because Ainsley wasn’t going to allow himself to be beat long.  

Sokratis got the nod in central defense.  I think the more interesting aspect was that it was a back-four and not a back three.  There are so many talented midfielders on this team that I had sort of assumed that we’d see a back three with Bellerin and Ainsley/Lichtsteiner at the wingbacks.  Who would lineup in the back three?  The two we had and then I’m not sure. Maybe Lichtsteiner would’ve been the sensible third in the back.  Bellerin seems much more comfortable in a back-four.  That doesn’t really make sense to me as I see him as a threat getting forward.  Maybe I see a wingback as having more flexibility than they actually do.  The initial lineup sans Ainsley made sense given the options. 

The midfield and forward pairing I understood too.  Aubameyang got the start.  If the 3-5-2 had happened then Auba and Lacazette together would’ve made some sense.  In the 4-5-1 variation Arsenal lined-up, Auba was solo up-top.  The real surprise was Guendouzi starting in the second holding role.  Guendouzi next to Xhaka shielding the defense showed a lot of faith in the young Frenchmen.  Did it really make sense to play Guendouzi against Man City on the first day of the season?  For as solid as he looked he was involved in the ManCity goals but if he wasn’t they would’ve been set-pieces or completely blown assignments.  If you watch the Silva goal you won’t see Guendouzi and that’s because he wasn’t sprinting back into his position.  Xhaka is there to shield on the right-side and Guendouzi is late to the scene.  Not saying the space Silva found to score from was clearly Guendouzi’s but if he had busted it back it might’ve been at least a more difficult goal.  On the first goal, Bellerin passes Sterling off to Guendouzi and its all happening on the edge of the box and for me that’s a guy not completely confident to get stuck-in in that position on the field.  This is the first match I’ve watched Guendouzi but before I had taken him more as a creative midfielder or as a box-to-box or number 8 not as an out and out 6 in the holding role.  That speaks to how difficult it is to really know a player until you’ve seen them.  For the initial lineup, I would have assumed Torreira would’ve been paired with Xhaka to give the spine to players with real defensive attributes.  Xhaka hasn’t really lived up to the hype of his arrival but he’s shown quality and the ability to expand his game.  As it was constituted I’m not sure who the water-carrier for this team is when Ramsey isn’t on the pitch.  Ozil linked up with the defense but he didn’t nor does he boss the midfield.  Ramsey is a competent 8 but making runs into the box is a strength of his when he’s on form.  Guendouzi as the 8 would slide Torreira into the second 6 role or just take the formation from a 4-2-3-1 to more of a 4-1-1-3-1.  I’m guessing that is more of the plan.  I’d still prefer to see Torreira on the pitch with either Xhaka or Guendouzi in that 8 role.  I don’t dislike Mkhitaryan but I am not sold on him to date.  Last year I felt like he came in as a guy that was being under-utilized at ManU in that part-swap for Lexi so Wenger had to play him to show why the trade made sense.  The money spent on him in transfer fees and wages to me would still feel better spent on Mahrez and possibly Mahrez was never willing to come.  Mkhi just feels like a good footballer that doesn’t have that world-beater quality just a lot of great qualities.  Ozil can outpass just about anyone on the planet.  If Mkhi’s best quality is passing isn’t that a bit of an overlap?  Wouldn’t pace on that flank change games more too?  Give more interplay with Auba?  Laca or Auba could start on that left flank and give a goal-scoring threat with pace.  Ainsley could also slide up that high in the formation.  Granted I need to give Mkhi a few more matches to see really what he is all about and I hope I’m eating crow in a month or two.  

The attack is where I felt Arsenal were going to hang their hat this year.  Auba, Laca, Ozil, Mkhi and Ramsey to name a few create option in the attacking third that not many teams have.  Granted City does but as I covered before City dropped 14 points last year, and they are a unicorn.  We can’t hold ourselves up to City today as an apples to apples we can aspire to beat them but the talent isn’t level today.  When the talent isn’t level the game plan needs to make up the difference.  I didn’t see the plan to put City to the sword.  I didn’t see the plan to stifle them either.  While I still like our attacking talent on the roster I want to see more creative means to apply the talent.  We need to stretch the capabilities to reach the top four.  Mere 10-goal seasons from Auba and Laca won’t cut it.  

Starting off the new era against ManCity and Chelsea sucks.  I don’t think we’ll see the real formation till after those fixtures.  After those two fixtures the Gunners get some air and a little bit of room to develop an identity.  I had hoped to see a plan from Emery to snuff out City.  Play on the counter, use speed to switch the field or just suck up as much of the possession as possible.  Instead I felt like the team came out at home to play their brand of football.  Honestly, there is something to be said about this strategy too.  When you are at home you play your game.  City is a juggernaut but when you are at home you play your game.  I think Emery was saying something here too.  There were chances.  Ramsey miss-hit a ball early that ended up just dribbling on frameAuba had a chance when it was 1-0 and put it five yards wide of the frame.  Then when it was 2-0 he had a similar look and found the same result.  Chances like these will get converted as the season progresses.  Not at 100% rate but they’ll become goals instead of frustrations.  The plan through the midfield and the attack will have to be defined.  Will this be the beautiful passing game Wenger initially brought or will it be more of a probing slower build that I saw from PSG most recently.  Emery gets time and space to develop his Arsenal brand.  Game one against City will not be where he is judged.  Game two against Chelsea won’t be either.  Chelsea are in the midst of a chaotic run.  A new manager who was hired late into the summer.  The first choice keeper sent out to Real only after a young unknown was brought in for insane sums.  I’m looking for more tactically from Emery into match-day two than I felt I received in match-day one.  Some of the tactics may have been shaped by the available players.  I like Ramsey more than Mkhi so I’m biased there but taking Ramsey off for Laca felt like the wrong play.  Maybe I didn’t see a knock or a few questionable plays from Ramsey.  I’m not watching the entire field so I’m not sure if players are in the positions they have been coached to be within.  I saw a lack of midfield presence until Torreira came on in the 70th.  Torreira’s presence from the 70th on had me feeling like he’s a starter if his fitness is where it needs to be.  

I didn’t see a plan B once the plan A wasn’t working.  The play off the bench in the attack seems to be to just add more of the same.  Iwobi and Welbeck are both fast less proven version of Laca and Auba respectively.  The past few years Arsenal have had Giroud and that’s a clear plan B option.  If you start Giroud putting on pace is a clear plan B.  You don’t have to roster a battering ram to have a plan be.  Just moving Ozil and Mkhi from the attacking wing position into a 10 role changes things too.  Putting the pace on the outside is a change too.  Once Emery saw that Ozil and Mkhi weren’t going to break-through I would’ve like to see a reshaping of the midfield.  They both worked more centrally by the numbers but then the team lost its width and became easier to funnel.  

Going forward let’s hope we have a little different focus in the midfield.  There are lots of potential attacking options but we need to find our 8 and we need to see if we have depth.  If we don’t have depth we need to realign the midfield.  If there isn’t faith in Ramsey and Xhaka the fall back is Elneny and youth.  Youth got run on Sunday but it didn’t positively change the game.  

The final thought goes to the keeper.  I didn’t see the horrible errors that Twitter was spotting in Cech’s day.  The odd clearance in front of the goal-mouth was questionable.  Doesn’t really make sense to give Leno his first start on the opening day against ManCity either.    When Arsenal signed Leno for £19.2m he was brought in to push Cech.  Cech is the vice-captain so with that he gets the nets to start.  Cech has been a great addition for Arsenal.  The last few years he has saved the club from a worse fall from grace.  Until our central defense is squared up and we have the holding midfield sorted I’m fine with Cech getting burn.  If Cech has some howlers then we have Leno to push him.  Leno will get plenty of time in the various cup competitions.  The last few years Ospina has seen plenty of caps when he wasn’t worthy of it anymore.  Let’s let Leno and Cech work it out together and find the better keeper in due time.  Making a switch in the first week just would’ve felt panicked.  

Premier League Preview – Arsenal F.C.

  • #WengerOut
  • Unai Emery IN!!!
  • Players movement
    • Per retires
    • Santi moves to Villarreal with an epic reveal
    • Cap’n Jack leaves for West Ham United and says a lot of stuff in the process namely that Wenger  got sacked
    • Chuba didn’t work out
    • Lucas Perez decides being the 8th choice striker on huge wages isn’t fun even if you have huge wages
    • Stephan Lichsteiner comes on a free from Juve (they had to clear someone out to make room for Ronaldo)
    • Bernd Leno strolls over from Bayer to push Cech between the sticks
    • Sokratis Papastathopoulos is brought in for CB cover
    • We have a 6 as Lucas Torreira makes a move from Sampdoria after getting his braces and World Cup showing settled
    • Matteo Guendouzi from Lorient is an interesting creative midfielder
Transfers In
Loans Out and Overall transfer activity

Premier League Preview – Newcastle United

  • Does he stay or does he go? Rafa edition
  • Is Mike Ashley out of money again?
    • Selling Mitrovic for £22m seems like good business
    • Not bringing in anyone to replace Mitrovic outside of Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto seems like a lot of faith is being placed in uncharted waters.
  • I’ll enjoy the midfield regardless

Premier League Preview – Leicester City

Getting these up a little late but its better than never. 

Leicester City have had a well-chronicled path through the Premier League.  Promotion in 2014 to a title in 2016.  2018 saw a 9th place which was an improvement of three spots from 2017.  What will 2019 bring? 

  • The lead-up to the season saw Harry Maguire star for England at the World Cup.
  • Riyad Mahrez finally depart heading to Manchester City for £60m
  • Several additions
    • James Maddison from Norwich City for £25m
    • Ricardo Pereira from Porto for £22.5m
    • Danny Ward from Liverpool for £12.5m
    • Caglar Soyuncu from Freiburg for £19m
    • Jonny Evans from West Bromwich Albion for £3.5m
    • And several other free or undisclosed players

On that list there were no true reinforcements behind Jamie Vardy.  The talismen clocks in at 31 to start the year but his January birthday will see him finish the season at 32.  Vardy’s pace and timing of runs are scary.  Will age slow him or will he just transition to a different style of scorer?  Vardy’s first year in the Prem is his only sub 15 goal season.  For Leicester to stay relevant it would appear Vardy needs to stay healthy and in-form.  

The defense looks to be in capable hands with no worrying departures.  Robert Huth left on a free but his departure should be more than offset from the additions and by not losing Maguire.  

With the opening fixture of the year being a 2-1 loss to Manchester United that saw Vardy start on the bench and score as a sub.  Leicester won’t really be a known quantity until they are starting their full squad.  Depth will be a question all year long.  If they can perform in an above the midline fashion for the first three months I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few reinforcements come January.  If things aren’t looking great look for a reboot with the hopes of staying clear of relegation.  The quality should see them to a mid-table finish.  I don’t see anything higher unless they bunker and find a midfield combination that can snuff out the life of the higher powered Prem talents.  

BOOP – Hero Hunters Ep2

Hothead games is back at it with a new Hero and a new update.  The layout is cleaner.  We no longer care about UAF and we are now completely locked in and focused on the Morlocks.  The update added a new hero Ifrit.  That brings the Morlock faction to 7.  Maven, Razorback, Ghoul, Callidus, Phoenix and Heimlock have a new leader (strength-wise) in Ifrit.  We start by breaking down Maven and Razorback in this episode.  

BOOP – Hero Hunters Ep1

Aaron and Jeff are geeking out over Zencastr, podcasting and have settled in on the new topic of Hero Hunters.  The MMORPG for iOS and Android.  We talk about most of the basics of the game.  Just a surface level introduction with subsequent podcasts delving into the nuances of the game and our personal tactical approaches.  We were going to add a lot of text and images to this podcast post but instead I’ll make a seperate post with all of the screen shots from the game and maybe we’ll even get creative and upload a few video captures too.  

Alpha Test of Zencastr

Aaron and I are getting back into the podcast game.  We just recorded a test episode on Zencastr.  Couldn’t be easier.  The only thing to do other than click the link is run the health-check within the webapp.  Aaron needed to turn on notifications to be able to allow for his audio to record locally.  Slick and easy.  

Once we were done recording 90 or so seconds of audio we ended the call.  Instantly the MP3 from each of our individual calls was put into my Dropbox folder.  I wasn’t planning to do this today so I didn’t have a halfway decent mic at my office.  I recorded on some five or more year old Skullcandy earbuds that have an inline mic.  Tinny at best man.  The ease of use really needs to be called out.  I put the two files into Audacity real quick, threw on our 3-2-1 intro (that is dated and non-specific), made it an MP3 and uploaded it.  I haven’t done any post besides adding our lame non-intro intro.  The ease of recording and having the MP3 files essentially instantly is amazing.  Here is to hoping this helps us get our show recorded a little more regularly.  

My Welcome to the Gutenberg Editor a Piece in Many Parts

When you install the new Gutenberg editor this page is generated for you.  I’m keeping it around just so I can go back and play with it.  Nothing special really.  

Initial Thoughts

  • The look of the editor is a game changer.  It has a clean aesthetic that hasn’t been WP for as long as I can remember. 
  • Getting used to blocks might take me a few days.
  • Wish I had kept on this development cycle so I wouldn’t have posted stuff this week before upgrading/changing the editor.
  • I can’t wait to put together a post.
  • I don’t expect this to drive more traffic to my site on its own (also don’t care about traffic) but I think my ability to make more dynamic content will probably catch a few more eyeballs. 

Here ends my initial thoughts

Of Mountains & Printing Presses

The goal of this new editor is to make adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable. This whole post is composed of pieces of content—somewhat similar to LEGO bricks—that you can move around and interact with. Move your cursor around and you’ll notice the different blocks light up with outlines and arrows. Press the arrows to reposition blocks quickly, without fearing about losing things in the process of copying and pasting.

What you are reading now is a text block, the most basic block of all. The text block has its own controls to be moved freely around the post…

… like this one, which is right aligned.

Headings are separate blocks as well, which helps with the outline and organization of your content.

A Picture is worth a Thousand Words

Handling images and media with the utmost care is a primary focus of the new editor. Hopefully, you’ll find aspects of adding captions or going full-width with your pictures much easier and robust than before.

Beautiful landscape
If your theme supports it, you’ll see the “wide” button on the image toolbar. Give it a try.

Try selecting and removing or editing the caption, now you don’t have to be careful about selecting the image or other text by mistake and ruining the presentation.

The Inserter Tool

Imagine everything that WordPress can do is available to you quickly and in the same place on the interface. No need to figure out HTML tags, classes, or remember complicated shortcode syntax. That’s the spirit behind the inserter—the (+) button you’ll see around the editor—which allows you to browse all available content blocks and add them into your post. Plugins and themes are able to register their own, opening up all sort of possibilities for rich editing and publishing.

Go give it a try, you may discover things WordPress can already add into your posts that you didn’t know about. Here’s a short list of what you can currently find there:

  • Text & Headings
  • Images & Videos
  • Galleries
  • Embeds, like YouTube, Tweets, or other WordPress posts.
  • Layout blocks, like Buttons, Hero Images, Separators, etc.
  • And Lists like this one of course 🙂

Visual Editing

A huge benefit of blocks is that you can edit them in place and manipulate your content directly. Instead of having fields for editing things like the source of a quote, or the text of a button, you can directly change the content. Try editing the following quote:

The editor will endeavour to create a new page and post building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make it easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or “mystery meat” embed discovery.

Matt Mullenweg, 2017

The information corresponding to the source of the quote is a separate text field, similar to captions under images, so the structure of the quote is protected even if you select, modify, or remove the source. It’s always easy to add it back.

Blocks can be anything you need. For instance, you may want to add a subdued quote as part of the composition of your text, or you may prefer to display a giant stylized one. All of these options are available in the inserter.

You can change the amount of columns in your galleries by dragging a slider in the block inspector in the sidebar.

Media Rich

If you combine the new wide and full-wide alignments with galleries, you can create a very media rich layout, very quickly:

Accessibility is important don't forget image alt attribute

Sure, the full-wide image can be pretty big. But sometimes the image is worth it.

The above is a gallery with just two images. It’s an easier way to create visually appealing layouts, without having to deal with floats. You can also easily convert the gallery back to individual images again, by using the block switcher.

Any block can opt into these alignments. The embed block has them also, and is responsive out of the box:

You can build any block you like, static or dynamic, decorative or plain. Here’s a pullquote block:

Code is Poetry

The WordPress community

If you want to learn more about how to build additional blocks, or if you are interested in helping with the project, head over to the GitHub repository.


Thanks for testing Gutenberg!

👋

UA Lightening 2

I ended up writing a bunch of BS not related to the actual shoe review.  If you want to skip ahead to the review click here.

Not a great runner. Overweight. Two ACL repairs in the left knee. A bad sprain in the right ankle that hasn’t been right since I was 18. Yo and I’m 36. Calling myself a runner is a stretch. I prefer the elliptical. It leaves my joints happier after 5 days in a row. I still put in miles.

Motivation isn’t hard to find. I want to be in better shape. I pick my 2-year old up every morning and know I need to be around as long as I can be. New shoes aren’t motivation they are a perk. That cushy relaxed feel.

I got into this running game about 10 years ago. My dad needed a stent for his heart my wife had just been told she had higher cholesterol and I wasn’t in great shape. I knew nothing about running shoes. I bought a pair of ASICS and thought I’d figure it out. The first pair were ASICS 1150 and I quickly realized gel was cool but more gel was better. I found the Brooks Ghost 3 and the Nike Lunar Glide 2. Those were my shoes for almost three years. I put 5-10 miles a day on 5-days a week that first year. Mainly because my wife and I bought an elliptical. The elliptical wasn’t cheap and I decided I needed 320 uses to make it under $5 per run.

Again I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d listen to iTunes playlists and run. Everyday. Eventually, I started wearing out shoes so I got another pair.  My job at the time had me on my feet constantly.  I talked myself into a few expensive or nicer shoes. Lunar glides were onto the 3. It wasn’t the same. I tried style of ASICS (Kayano 10s) again but more supportive ones. I still wasn’t a serious runner just looking for comfort.

I settled on cushy natural shoes.  I haven’t been a brand loyalist as much as a specific shoe loyalist.  The thing I’m most loyal too is…the sale rack.  I’ll try just about anything if its 50% or more off.  Or if its just coming in under $50 in general.  Having been out of the shoe game for a while it took me longer than it should’ve to realize the cycles that running shoes go through.  They aren’t every fall and Christmas like basketball shoes.  They are geared toward the marathon seasons.  I was trying to find new running shoes after the season so I was buying just before new shoes came out.  I wasn’t buying an older generation I was just buying the current generation a few weeks before the new tech came out.  Finally, I bought a pair or some flywire Nike’s that just didn’t fit so I took them back to the local running store.  Side note I don’t look like a runner.  When I go into a running store they treat me, somewhat justly, as a non-serious customer.  They took back the flywire Nike’s and sold me a pair of last years Kayano’s at about a 40% discount.  What the f Jeffrey why weren’t you doing this all the while.  You aren’t serious enough to try to win a race let alone care about the tech in the shoes.  You just want your feet comfy.  Now, this sent me down the path of affordable shoes.

The most recent pair I acquired was from Scheel’s in Fargo.  Scheel’s is great they have an entire section of the men’s shoes that is clearance.  Pretty much everytime you stroll through there are different shoes in this area.  I wear a size 14 so this isn’t the most plentifully stocked shoe locally in the first place.  Of the stores in town none of the basketball specific stores stock the 14 outside of two styles (which is odd but whatever).  Two weeks ago we were at Scheels and they had four pairs of size 14 running shoes.  Two different pairs of Nikes, Brooks Ghost 10s and Under Armour Lightning 2s.  I already have a pair of Ghost 10s.  The Nikes were intriguing but the UAs were half the cost and I’ve never worn UA shoes before.  I got them no questions asked.

THE ACTUAL REVIEW

I’ve heard a lot about UA basketball shoes.  I’ve seen all of the different Steph Curry shoes.  I assumed they can’t be horrible if they’ve taken the market by such a fierce storm.  Since I’ve never actually owned them myself I wasn’t sure.  The other thing I’ve noticed about UA is that they seem to have lots and lots of different models.  This isn’t horrible because it allows people who have different bodies and running styles to find the correct shoe for them.  As a dude at the clearance rack who hasn’t research UA before I had more questions than answers.  The main answer I had was the $35 price tage with $110 crossed off below it.

I throw the shoes on.  The initial fit is fine.  The tongue is more traditional and not the sock liner that is the current rage.

I’m not currently sure what type of tongue I like the most.  The built-in bootie/sock liner is nice.  The tongue that isn’t fused all the way to the toe-box is nice at times too.  I like having more than one option in the closet.  Depending on what I’m doing sometimes I like a specific feel.  

I lace up the shoes after the tongue not being a bootie I realize there is an internal sockliner it’s just not part of the tongue.  Then I feel the cushioning and I’m sold.  I have narrow heels so I need a snug fit in the heel to feel locked in.  Even though the cushioning is amazing I need to walk around and see if I slip and slide a lot.  When I put on shoes I tie them tight because I need to keep my foot back in the heel.  This is probably the wrong way to do it.  I probably need half a size down instead of cutting off the circulation in my forefoot.  This is how I’ve always done it.  Unless someone teaches me otherwise this is what I do.  That’s when I finally notice this is a knit shoe.  Not sure why it took me this long to realize that the shoe was knit and not mesh, leather, or layered plastic overlays.  This is sweet.  My toes can be locked in pretty tightly but still have room to wiggle.  The heel is locked in, the foot is in securely and the cushioning is buttery.  The sole is a pretty straight-forward waffle.  The sole is mad-flexible though.  Before I looked at the pattern I assumed it was something similar to Nike’s free flex deal.  The midsole is cushy but there isn’t the feel of a shank or anything to help transfer weight or energy from front to back or to absorb impacts.  The side to side is wide-open too.  I don’t feel like I’m getting support or restriction – this isn’t something I care about but I notice it.

I’ve had the shoe for about a week and I’ve used it exclusively on the elliptical.  I’ve put 30 miles on them so far.  The shoes are springy, cushy and light.  I haven’t run outside nor do I plan too.  I’m down with these for the elliptical right now.  I need to get something over 10 miles on them at one point in time.  So far so good.  At $35 I’d buy them again so far.