Monthly Archives: November 2010

Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid: historic Barca win

Pep Guardiola
“Barcelona produced a truly legendary performance to go top of the table. Pep Guardiola deviated little from his favoured XI so far this season – the closest thing to a surprise was at left-back, where Eric Abidal played ahead of Maxwell. Lionel Messi started in the centre, with David Villa on the left.” (Zonal Marking)

Barcelona as Slime
“Poor Sergio Ramos — not to excuse or justify him, of course, but he’s an elite athlete, accustomed from childhood to running circles around other people, and now, before an enormous world-wide audience, to have people running circles around him — and so evidently enjoying it — well, that’s an insult not to be borne, I suppose. Everyone gets beaten sometimes: even Messi was dispossessed a couple of times yesterday. But to be humiliated for ninety minutes almost without respite, as Real Madrid’s players were yesterday . . . that doesn’t happen very often at that level of sport.” (Run of Play)

Barca teaches Real a master class
“Greatness is not measured in medals alone but in style. ‘Great clubs,’ Arrigo Sacchi said, ‘have had one thing in common throughout history, regardless of era and tactics. They owned the pitch and they owned the ball. That means when you have the ball, you dictate play and when you are defending, you control the space.’ There can hardly have been any doubt about the greatness of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, but beating Real Madrid 5-0 confirmed its place in the pantheon.” (SI)

David Villa strikes twice as slick Barcelona thrash Real Madrid
“José Mourinho always said that his side would lose one day but he did not expect to lose like this – not after enjoying the greatest start of any coach in Real Madrid’s history. His team, so impermeable before, were punctured. Five times. They were sunk. A 5-0 victory for Barcelona was described by the Madrid coach as a ‘historically bad result’ for his club – it was the worst defeat he has suffered in his career.” (Guardian)

No contest in clasico
“No contest. Those are the only two words that can sum up the clasico, a disappointing occasion if you’d been expecting an evenly-fought slug-out, a euphoric one if you’d been hoping that Barcelona could re-stamp their authority on the Spanish scene, after their rivals’ previously unbeaten start to the season. Whatever, the least one expected was a manita (little hand), the phrase reserved for games that end in a 5-0 scoreline. In some ways, they’re worse than a 6-0 result, because the latter has no nickname, no bruising synonym created to humiliate.” (ESPN)

Barca simply the best after Real rout
“It was said that Monday night’s game at Camp Nou – hyped like few other domestic league ties in the history of the game – would settle two raging debates: who are the best team in the world, and who is the best player in the world? If this solitary match could be said to be decisive in that regard, then the judgement was emphatic. It left no room whatsoever for argument.” (ESPN)

FC Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (El Clasico) – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – La Liga
(The 90th Minute)

Video of the Week: Only A Game, Part Two: The Manager

“We’re moving onto Part Two of the 1986 BBC series ‘Only A Game’ this evening, and this week’s episode focusses on the role of the manager within Scottish football. There can be little doubt that, at the very least between the 1950s and the 1980s, Scotland provided some of the greatest football managers that the world game had to offer. Unsurprisingly, this episode of the programme focusses in part on Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and Jock Stein, as well as taking a look at the swash-buckling young manager of Aberdeen at the time, one Alex Ferguson. Narrated by William McIlvanney, this video comes in five parts and our thanks go to the original uploader.” (twohundredpercent)

The Existential Reinvention Of Joao Moutinbo

“Round Twelve in Portugal saw one player return from whence he came, and put the exclamation point on his personal and footballing transformation. Ben Shave has the story.” <a href=”Round Twelve in Portugal saw one player return from whence he came, and put the exclamation point on his personal and footballing transformation. Ben Shave has the story.” (In Bed With Marabona)

Money Makes The World Cup Go Round

Sepp Blatter
“As the World Cup (excuse me, the 2010 FIFA World Cup) was officially declared open last week amid great colour and emotion, one man in particular beamed with pride. That man was Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, the long-standing President of FIFA, whose bold decision to award the most prestigious competition in world football to South Africa had paid off – in every sense of the term.” (The Swiss Ramble)

Panorama: The Righi Programme at the Right Time
“Have we completely missed the point? I watched investigative journalist Andrew Jennings’ Panorama programme on extensive bribe-taking among high-ranking FIFA executive committee members (unlike England 2018 bid chief Andy Anson, it would seem). So I find it hard to imagine that any of those named would vote for England to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and I doubt whether England will ‘get’ any World Cup in the lifetime of Sepp Blatter or his fellow-travellers in the FIFA hierarchy – present and future.” (twohundredpercent)

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool: Lennon wins it late

“Spurs came from behind yet again to record a last-gasp victory. Harry Redknapp continued with his 4-4-1-1 system, with Rafael van der Vaart off Peter Crouch, and Jermain Defoe on the bench. Wilson Palacios was chosen in the holding role – the rest of the side was as excpected.” (Zonal Marking)

The unseen LFC revolution
“It’s been a year of change at Liverpool Football Club. New faces in the dugout and boardroom have hogged the headlines, but away from the leer of the camera lens, along corridors where journalists rarely stray, a quieter revolution has been taking place. This summer, Dr Peter Brukner was employed to head a new sports science and medical team. His brief was simple: bring the methods which have earned him respect the world over – methods largely ignored to date within football – to Melwood.” (Liverpool FC)

IBWM Meets The Swiss Ramble

“At the moment we stand on the brink of a revolution. Football fans seeking something more than just the constant outpourings of The Sun about Fabio Capello now have a place to turn. The Internet has provided a platform for the enthusiast, the casual, the intelligent and the angry. Knowledge now has a platform once denied to all but a privileged handful and few are using it better than Kieron O’Connor, better known by many as simply ‘The Swiss Ramble’.” (In Bed With Maradona)

Rio violence has left its mark

“For much of Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, televisions in bars and restaurants were all showing the massive operation of security forces and their invasion of the Alemao group of favelas. By late afternoon, though, they had switched to coverage of the penultimate round of the Brazilian Championship. Viewers were transfixed by both.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Bayern Munich 4-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

“A quickfire second half double saw Bayern Munich leapfrog Frankfurt in the table and move to within 5 points of the Champions League spots. From the off, Bayern deployed their usual pass n’ patience tactics in the face of a 4-5-1 – part and parcel of being the visiting side at the Allianz Arena. Louis van Gaal had two playmakers on the pitch in Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, and two direct attackers in Franck Ribéry and Thomas Müller. With so many options in the Frankfurt half, it’s little wonder Michael Skibbe kept his banks set, rather than pressing Bayern vigorously and leaving gaps for them to exploit.” (Defensive Midfielder)

Marseille yet to hit on all cylinders

“When Didier Deschamps was appointed as Marseille coach 18 months ago, the club had not won a trophy since winning the Champions League in 1993, back when Deschamps himself was captain. He soon ended the drought: Marseille, known in France as OM, the acronym of its full name Olympique de Marseille, won the French league last season and this week, in beating Spartak Moscow 3-0 away from home, reached the Champions League knockout stage for the first time since 1993.” (SI)

El Clásico: más que un partido

“El Clásico is not just the biggest game in Spain; it is the biggest game in all of European football. A clash between two of the game’s most famous institutions, this is a derby that transcends the boundaries of traditional rivalry and a fixture which has come to represent regional identities and the quest for pseudo-political superiority. This Monday, in a city that will be feverish with civic activity in the wake of the latest Catalan elections, Real Madrid and Barcelona will once again take to the field to do battle, the spectacular Camp Nou providing a fitting backdrop. As Phil Ball writes in his excellent book, Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football, the context to any Clásico is a century of mutual antipathy. This is no ordinary game of football.” (The Football Ramble)

Yellow and Green in Haiti: A Footnote to the Election Crisis

“In the midst of the brewing crisis over the election in Haiti, I’m taking solace in small, containable observations. Jude Celestin, the ruling party candidate who now stands accused by twelve other candidates of having carried out fraud at the polls today, made a shrewd choice in his campaign colors. As Emily Troutman noted in a pre-election article on the candidates, the green and white of his posters and shirts are the same as those of the Brazilian national team.” (Soccer Politics)

James Richardson

“Cast your eyes skywards on a clear night and, if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of a small pod circulating in near earth orbit. Contained within that small capsule is a group of people who – twice weekly – produce a master-class in football punditry, namely, The Football Weekly. Rallying those troops together in an attempt to reawaken Blighty with some European footie news interspersed with the odd welcoming pun is James Richardson, AC Jimbo to his mates.” (European Football Weekends)

All the bases are loaded

“Essex Park. Try finding that one on the map of grounds in Europe and I bet your efforts at locating it will end in frustration after you have trawled through the English Non Leagues. You see it isn’t on these shores at all. It’s in Denmark, in the city of Randers to be precise and is home to Superliga Randers FC. Quite why it is called such I do not know, but when someone recently asked me I vowed to find out and that is why at 6.30am on a freezing cold Sunday morning I was boarding a Ryanair flight to the even colder area of Denmark known as Jutland.” (The Ball is Round)

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool: Lennon wins it late

Annibale Carracci – Paesaggio con il ritorno della fuga in Egitto
“Spurs came from behind yet again to record a last-gasp victory. Harry Redknapp continued with his 4-4-1-1 system, with Rafael van der Vaart off Peter Crouch, and Jermain Defoe on the bench. Wilson Palacios was chosen in the holding role – the rest of the side was as excpected. Roy Hodgson used a 4-4-2 formation, pairing David Ngog and Fernando Torres. Lucas Leiva replaced Christian Poulsen in the centre of midfield in the only change from last weekend’s win over West Ham.” (Zonal Marking)

Lennon strikes in stoppage time
“Aaron Lennon scored deep into stoppage-time as Tottenham completed another amazing comeback to beat Liverpool and stay in the Barclays Premier League title hunt. An incident-packed game looked certain to end in a 1-1 draw after Martin Skrtel netted at both ends and substitute Jermain Defoe also missed a penalty.” (ESPN)

Barca v Real: El Clasico tactical preview

“The biggest game of the season so far, and a clash between – possibly – the two best teams in Europe at the moment. The first thing to consider is the mentality of Jose Mourinho. One point clear of Barcelona going into the game, it’s entirely likely that he would take the draw if it were offered to him now. His previous trip to the Nou Camp saw his Inter side defend solidly for the entire game with little or no attempt to get a goal (granted, with ten men, and a two-goal advantage going into the second leg), which shows he knows how to stop Barcelona playing.” (Zonal Marking)

Juventus 1-1 Fiorentina: the viola fail to hold on

“Two goals from improbable angles from Juan Vargas and Simone Pepe meant these bitter rivals had to settle for a point apiece. Juventus continued to use Gigi Delneri’s favoured 4-4-2 system. Vincenzo Iaquinta was benched with Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Quagliarella starting upfront. Elsewhere, the side was unchanged.” (Zonal Marking)

A little frost and it all goes wrong

“Today’s football had been planned for week and was due to coincide with a nice family lunch as a starting point. CMF wanted to spend some of my money on Christmas presents and I had no intention of venturing into any of the 21st century cathedrals we have built in the South East of England. So I agreed to drop her off at Lakeside and pick her up afterwards, leaving me with a 3 1/2 hour window. I hate to say that I was turning my back on Lewes, who were playing at Ship Lane against Lakeside but there is only so many cars you can count on the M25 there. Instead I had two options. Billericay Town and Concord Rangers. So I went to the God of all decisions. Twitter. I asked which one I should go to, and within minutes I had my answer.” (The Ball Is Round)

Roda 1 – 0 Groningen: Lack of a playmaker breaks up Groningen

“Groningen went into this away match at Roda knowing that a victory would take them to the second place in the Eredivisie. Roda, on the other hand, defended their unbeaten-at-home status. A match between two clubs with fairly different formations was certain to be among the more tactically interesting of the weekend. Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond is unique in the Eredivisie and even playing two strikers is unique in itself. Once completely neutralized by NEC’s three man defense, Roda may be happy that most Eredivisie managers do not show the flexibility to install this system for their Roda games.” (11 tegen 11)

Striker Crisis?

“Many questions were raised when Jay Bothroyd received a call up to England’s National team for the friendly against France. Isn’t there someone else playing in the Premier League that would be more worthy of a call-up? Is a player playing in the second tier good enough for an International team as highly ranked as England? There are many blogs that have gone into the positives and negatives of Bothroyd’s call up, that is not the question I wanted to look at. Fabio Capello has himself questioned the number of English players playing at the highest level, limiting the pool of players he can pick his squad from. Does Capello have a point? If not who are the strikers playing in the Premier League that Capello could call on and are other countries suffering the same fate?” (gib football show)

La semaine en France: Week 14

“The big guns moved into position in Week 14, with no less than five teams leap-frogging former leaders Brest, while Marseille, Bordeaux and Lyon closed to within two points of top spot. Brest were beaten 2-1 at Rennes in the Brittany derby thanks to goals of real quality from Jires Kembo Ekoko and Jérôme Leroy, and it is difficult to envisage Alex Dupont’s men making a renewed assault on the upper echelons of the table now that their momentum has been checked.” (Football Further)

Honduras, El Salvador and the ‘Soccer War’

El Salvador defeats Honduras in Mexico City, 1969.
“Take yourself back to 1969. Richard Nixon is the new President of the United States, John Lennon is spending an increasing amount of time in bed, Thunderclap Newman are top of the charts and, in a far-flung corner of Central America, El Salvador and Honduras do battle in what has come to be known as the ‘Soccer War’. The cultural, political and historical narrative that lay behind the fleeting conflict was complex, but both countries had been locked into a series of economic and social disputes along their shared border for the best part of three decades.” (Equaliser Football)

Reina warns Reds over possible exits

“Liverpool’s future is a subject that has dominated debate over the course of two, traumatic years. Yet while optimism about the seasons to come has been restored now that New England Sports Ventures have replaced Tom Hicks and George Gillett as the owners, Jose Reina’s appraisal of events at Anfield included a few words of warning about the club’s prospects in the short term.” (ESPN)

Thirty years ago….when we were good

“When I get depressed about the latest plans at the club I have supported since I was a child I think back to time gone by. I was lucky in that I was the youngest in a family of West Ham fans, meaning that I spent a lot of time following the club to strange places with my Dad and brother whilst they were in the old Second Division. In fact by the time I was 12 I had seen West Ham play in over 50 different grounds – I mean who would do that today (well apart from Lolly who had seen 64 by the time she was 10).” (The Ball Is Round)

Video of the Week: Only A Game, the Story of Scottish Football, Part One: The Club

“This week we start a new series for Video Of The week with the superb five-part 1986 BBC series, ‘Only A Game – The Story Of Scottish Football’. Originally shown as part of the build-up to the 1986 World Cup, this series, narrated by William McIlvanney, takes the standpoint of five different aspects of the game for its five episodes: The Player, The Club, The Manager, The Game and The Team. In this episode, the focus is on The Club, but its strength is in its depth – not only Celtic and Rangers are talked about, but also some of the smaller Scottish clubs.” (twohundredpercent)

A Guide To Mid-Range Transfers.

“Using the data from the Transfer Price Index, Liverpool fan Andrew Fanko takes a look at the mid-range purchasing of the four most successful managers in Premier League history in terms of average points (minimum of two full seasons). Or, in other words, the managers of the ‘big four’ between 2004 and 2007.” (TomkinsTimes)

The Dissection of Dortmund

“Jurgen Klopp, sitting on the proverbial throne placed on the zenith of Die Südtribüne, has earned his position of Dortmund royalty this season. His tenderfoot squad has exceeded expectations, and after thirteen games lead the ‘World’s Best League’ by seven points. The path to seniority in the Bundesliga has not been through attritional, grinding football, but with an expansive and unrepressed style.” (Talking About Football)

Unhappy Liverpool fans want new boss now

“When this site and a number of other Liverpool FC fan sites ran a poll to find out the thoughts of fans about the future of Roy Hodgson it wasn’t a surprise to see the ‘winner’ of the poll was ‘sack Roy immediately’. What was surprising was how few supporters felt the club should at least wait. Reasons for waiting crop up from time to time in conversation and are often well argued. Yet just 3% of supporters in the poll said no to sacking Roy on the spot.” (Anfield Road)

Bayern Munich’s struggles in Bundesliga uncover internal rifts

Louis van Gaal
“‘This is a defeat we can live with,’ Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told sponsors and reporters at the official post-match banquet in the team hotel. ‘We’d all be well advised to deal with it in a serene manner.’ The Bayern Munich CEO has been around long enough to know that this advice will probably go unheeded. Germany’s biggest, brashest football club doesn’t do serenity — even when results are going to plan.” (SI)

Rangers 0-1 Manchester United: Rangers’ five-man defence works…up to a point

“A late Wayne Rooney penalty meant United eventually found a way past Rangers’ back five. Walter Smith’s tactics had worked well so far in the competition, but he was without two key members of his usual five – Madjid Bougherra and Sasa Papac. He was also dealt an injury blow when Kyle Lafferty broke a bone in his hand the day before the game, so Vladimir Weiss played on the left.” (Zonal Marking)

Ajax 0 – 4 Real Madrid: Outclassed in every aspect of the game

“If not for the UEFA millions of the Champions League, Ajax won’t have anything to look back on once these group stage games are done with. Their game against Real Madrid saw them outclassed in every department, highlighted to the extreme by the unique fact of two Madrid players purposefully upgrading their yellow cards to reds by delaying taking a free kick and a goal kick. The video of this sequence of events might serve to illustrate the gap between Europe’s top teams and a struggling Dutch top team at the moment. Tactics hardly played a role in the game, such was the difference in sheer player quality.” (11 tegen 11)

Why Bolton Wanderers Have So Much Debt

Italienische Szene, Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem
“Although this is the most open Premier League for many years, it is still somewhat of a surprise to see Bolton Wanderers sitting proudly in fifth place after just over a third of the season has been completed. Not only that, but they have achieved this with a brand of passing, attractive football that most fans thought beyond them. It’s a far cry from this time last year when Gary Megson’s team was being pilloried by Bolton’s own supporters for the awful combination of poor results and an ugly, negative playing style.” (The Swiss Ramble)

Tactics: Coleman, Stam lead full-backs’ forward charge

“Defensively adept wide forwards such as Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt and Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung have evolved out of the need for attacking players to prevent opposition sides playing the ball out from the back when their teams’ own attacking moves have broken down. The pressing exerted by Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi in Barcelona’s 2008-09 quintuple success was seen as one of the key factors behind the team’s ability to keep their opponents penned inside their own half, while a robust and hard-working wide forward is a particularly useful weapon against marauding full-backs of the Maicon or Dani Alves variety.” (Football Further)

Spartak 0-3 Marseille: Marseille progress

“Marseille were better all over the pitch here, and recorded an ultimately comfortable victory in Moscow. Spartak lined up with their usual 4-4-1-1, with Ari playing just off Welliton upfront, and Aleksandr Kombarov and Aiden McGeady either side. Yevgeni Makeev moved to the right, so Martin Stranzl started on the left.” (Zonal Marking)

MB 90 Donde: What’s Next For US Soccer’s Best Prospect ?

“Michael Bradley; he’s a household name to the frequent visitors of this distinguished soccer blog. It is kind of weird to actually type out the full name that Bobbo saw fit to give him though. Junior, MB90, Coach’s Kid, whatever you want to call him, Bradley’s a top performer for a Yank in Europe, and at 23 years old, he’s just entering his prime. So where will the future take the young midfielder? And why must he get out of Borussia Mönchengladbach as soon as possible? Let’s kick the ballistics.” (Yanks are coming)

Braga 2-0 Arsenal: Braga press, then win it late

“A classic Arsenal defeat – dominance of possession followed by slack defending.
Braga played a shape that was 4-2-3-1 when they attacked and 4-1-4-1 when they were defending, with Vandinho playing the holding role in front of the defence. They were unchanged from their weekend defeat to Vitoria de Guimaraes.” (Zonal Marking)

Roma 3-2 Bayern: Ranieri’s half-time switch from 4-3-1-2 to 4-3-3 prompts superb comeback

“Claudio Ranieri tinkered at half-time, and the change meant Roma went from 2-0 down at the break, to 3-2 up by full time. From the start, Ranieri chose the 4-3-1-2 formation he’s favoured in recent weeks, with Jeremy Menez as the trequartista. Francesco Totti was on the bench with Mirko Vucinic and Marco Borriello upfront, and Matteo Brighi started in midfield alongside Leandro Greco.” (Zonal Marking)

Uneasy feeling surrounds Chelsea

Carlo Ancelotti
“So Carlo Ancelotti is staying at Chelsea, for now at least, and with the club sitting top of the Premier League talk of crisis at Stamford Bridge feels slightly hysterical. Even if there was no substance to the reports — strongly denied — that Ancelotti was ready to quit on Sunday evening, though, something is going on behind the scenes, a lead that stood at five points three weeks ago has disappeared and the weakness of the squad’s structure has been exposed.” (SI)

Leverkusen 1-1 Bayern: similar formations, different styles, and an even game

“A decent game where neither side truly hit top form. Leverkusen kept the broad 4-2-3-1 system they’ve favoured this season, making two changes – Sami Hyypia came in at the back for Stefan Reinartz, whilst Erin Derdiyok was back in place of Patrick Helmes.” (Zonal Marking)

Barça-barmy press make first move in pre-Clásico media war

“The big, bold notices splattered across the morning Marca in the run up to a meeting between Real Madrid and Barcelona usually either bring La Liga Loca to blubbering, shuddering tears of desperation or have it clapping like a sea-lion given the chance to puke fish guts over Justin Bieber. Monday was very much the former for a tired and distressed LLL. But Tuesday sees the blog in much finer fettle and able to embrace the madness.” (FourFourTwo)

Belief returns for Braga boss

Domingos Paciencia
“As far as Champions League baptisms go, they don’t come much tougher than Braga’s. The Portuguese league runners-up up were humbled 6-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates in their opening group game. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise in retrospect, with the Londoners perpetually in the competition’s final stages and the debutants’ squad assembled for less than €3 million. Yet Arsene Wenger’s men will face reinvigorated opposition when they arrive in the Minho this week looking for a point to seal qualification for the knockout rounds.” (ESPN)

Spain: The Next Generation

“Since 2008, Spain, first under Luis Aragonés and then Vicente Del Bosque, have thrilled the world with their wonderfully aesthetic ‘Tiki Taka’ style of football. Reaping the benefits of a remarkably gifted generation, the likes of Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol and David Villa have driven La Furia Roja to both the European and World titles.” (Equaliser Football)

Bruno, the boo boys and Brazil

“A tragic, real-life soap opera unravelling in Brazilian football over recent months has been the story of Bruno, goalkeeper of Rio giants Flamengo, who is in prison accused of ordering the brutal murder of an ex-lover. Flamengo fans have found a way to extract some black humour from such horrific developments. Last year, Bruno captained the team to the Brazilian title. This season, they have struggled. And as they have slipped dangerously close to the relegation zone, the confidence of Bruno’s replacement, Marcelo Lomba, has seemed to suffer.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

The Argentine Renaissance

“To decide the national team roster for the Argentine national side is to paint a picture. The pigments are poignant, the easel world class, and the brush made of the finest hairs from a dark Arabian stallion. Yet, despite these brilliant starting points, an unskilled hand can still botch the promising masterpiece. Surround a wizard like Riquelme with bodyguards such as Cambiasso and Mascherano, and the setting trumps the figures. Field three genius-in-a-bottle strikers like Tevez, Higuaín, and Messi, and the characters fail to connect on canvas.” (Run of Play)

Boca win, River draw

“Boca Juniors recorded a much-needed win in their first match since Juan Román Riquelme’s latest injury, beating Arsenal de Sarandí 2-1 in La Bombonera thanks to goals from Martín Palermo and Sergio Araujo. Elsewhere on Sunday River Plate and San Lorenzo drew 0-0 in a dreadful match, Racing and Quilmes drew 1-1, and Gimnasia La Plata and Vélez also shared points to ensure Estudiantes will finish this round – which continues on Monday – at the top of the table. All the highlights are right here, and Martín Palermo’s goal, by the way, might just be the most Martín Palermo goal ever scored.” (Hasta El Gol Siempre)

Mastering the holding midfielder position

“Manchester City’s decision to start the recent derby game with a midfield of Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Yaya Touré was an extreme example of how much the ‘holding midfielder’ has become a part of the football scene. More than half of the teams in the World Cup used formations with two holding players, and it is just as common to see the same pattern in Leagues One and Two. Not bad for a position that Leeds United legend Johnny Giles describes as ‘a myth’.” (WSC)

Fulham 1-4 Manchester City: Mancini gets the better of Hughes as City run riot

“City’s superb first half display effectively won the game before half-time. Mark Hughes chose a 4-4-1-1 / 4-4-2 formation, with Clint Dempsey just behind Andy Johnson. Carlos Salcido returned so Damien Duff moved back into midfield, whilst Chris Baird replaced Stephen Kelly at right-back.” (Zonal Marking)

Premier League chalkboard analysis

“Last week, we looked at how Birmingham’s pressing of Manchester City’s centre-backs at goal-kicks forced Joe Hart to kick the ball long, losing possession on every occasion. Against Fulham, the situation was changed with the introduction of Jô. He offered more of an aerial presence in the City attack, despite being positioned on the left wing. The majority of Hart’s kicks were sent towards the left-hand side, where six of the long balls were won by the Brazilian striker. This chalkboard compares Hart’s distribution in the Birmingham game to the Fulham game, showing how the presence of Jô helps City win possession high up the pitch.” (Guardian)

Liverpool 3 – 0 West Ham United

“It was hardly a proper test of being able to cope without Steven Gerrard but Liverpool did more than enough to dispose of a woeful West Ham at Anfield. With the captain out for a month with a hamstring tear manager Roy Hodgson called for his players to step up to fill the void and the Barclays Premier League’s bottom side provide the perfect opposition.” (ESPN)

Woeful Hammers provide no test
“Humour, cruelty and piercing honesty can go hand in hand on the terraces. The greater a club’s plight, the more illuminating the insights from the supporters can prove, and the more absurd their flights of fancy can become. If it tends to be worth watching the side at the top of the league, it’s instructive to listen to the fans at the foot of the division.” (ESPN)

Liverpool 3-0 West Ham United – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
(The 90th Minute)