Arsenal 1-0 West Ham: Analysis of Arsene’s new-look midfield

November 2, 2010

“For the 2nd Premier League game running, Arsene Wenger chose to field a Denilson-Song-Fabregas midfield three but unlike the City game last weekend, Arsenal had to make do with playing against the 11 men of West Ham in a fixture that has been quite tight and low-scoring in recent years. As such, this was the first true test of this new midfield’s ability to break down a deep-lying defensive team. A similar system was in place against Partizan with Denilson the deepest midfielder and Song more box-to-box, but on that occasion Jack Wilshere played as the attacking midfielder in place of the injured Cesc Fabregas. Wilshere was of course suspended for this fixture and the one at Eastlands, had he been available it’s likely we may not have seen this novel midfield system in place.” (The Backwards Gooner)

Arsenal yearn for the drive of Alex Song
“For eighty minutes of the game, it looked like one of the most effective man-marking jobs in football. Given West Ham’s desperate position at the bottom of the Premier League, Scott Parker’s shackling of Cesc Fabregas was ever more selfless as Parker kept Arsenal’s captain as quiet as he’s ever been. It was like Berti Vogts on Johan Cruyff in West Germany’s 2-1 win over Netherlands or Michael Essien’s shadowing of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard in 2009. Except it seems Fabregas was playing with a handicap – a tight hamstring meant he was unable to, in his own words, turn or sprint without suffering great pain as he took part in his ‘worst’ first-half ever.” (Arsenal Column)


Milan 1-2 Juventus: Allegri’s side dominate early on, but weakness in wide areas costs them again

November 2, 2010

“Milan had more chances, but Juventus were more clinical and took three points away from the San Siro. Milan kept the same team that beat Napoli 2-1 in the previous Serie A round, in a fairly traditional 4-3-1-2 shape. Robinho started as a trequartista but drifted to the left. Luca Antonini was back at left-back, and got forward well early on.” (Zonal Marking)

Blackpool 2-1 West Brom: nine-man West Brom almost snatch unlikely draw

November 2, 2010

“Two men sent off in the first half hour put West Brom on the back foot, but Blackpool couldn’t kill off the game. Blackpool continued to use the 4-1-2-3 system that has won both points and plaudits so far this campaign. One change was made – Marlon Harewood did not start, instead Gary Taylor-Fletcher moved upfront and Elliot Grandin came into the midfield.” (Zonal Marking)

Match of the Midweek: Blackpool 2-1 West Bromwich Albion“The early season is over now. The clocks have gone back, which means that there will be precious few matches that finish in daylight between now and next spring, and in commemoration of this fact the Premier League rolled out the luminous yellow ball last weekend. There is something deeply aesthetically unsatisfying about the yellow ball. Marketing fools still doubtlessly proffer the argument that it is somehow more ‘visible’ than a white ball, as if we are incapable of seeing through their guff, but still they press ahead with it. The ball isn’t the only affront to the eyes at Bloomfield Road this evening, either. Both Blackpool and West Bromwich Albion have their shirts adorned with sponsors’ logos which defy all logic by making the companies – a payday loan company and an emergency insurance company respectively – that they are flogging even less unattractive than they may already be.” (twohundredpercent)

Biscuits, liquidators & drugs cartels

November 2, 2010

“Oscar Ewolo is a trained pastor. But most of his sermons come in the dressing room. The 32-year-old’s congregation is Brest, which incidentally is the team he captains, his church the Stade Francis-Le Blé – the unlikely setting of a football miracle on Saturday night. It was third versus fourth in Ligue 1, Brest against Saint-Étienne, a top of the table clash by default after Marseille’s eagerly anticipated match against Rennes was postponed following a rainstorm of truly biblical proportions flooded the pitch at the Stade Vélodrome.” (FourFourTwo)

Hughton’s future still undetermined

November 2, 2010

“There are times when football makes no sense. Two weeks ago, the initial reports that Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton was under pressure sounded absurd. Even more so when they were accompanied by rumors that owner Mike Ashley might be considering turning back to Joe Kinnear, an abrasive and unpopular relic of the 1990s who had been forced to leave the job in February 2009 after heart problems.” (SI – Jonathan Wilson)

Football Weekly: Mancini on the ropes as City fall to Wolves

November 2, 2010

“We start with the Premier League, and, with talk of a player revolt, we ask: is it all over for Roberto Mancini after Manchester City slumped to another defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers? Just what was going on with the officials for Manchester United’s controversial second goal against Tottenham Hotspur? And how come Kevin Nolan can’t stop scoring now that Newcastle United team-mate Andy Carroll has come to stay? Next, Paolo Bandini joins us to marvel at Lazio, who are setting the pace in Serie A, and we look forward to Internazionale’s visit to White Hart Lane in the Champions League. Finally, Sid Lowe tells us that it’s now officially a two-horse-race between Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga (and it might even come down to a shoot-out between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo), and we wonder whether Cardiff City and Swansea will grace England’s top division next season.” (Guardian – James Richardson)

Tactical view: How Spartak might halt the Chelsea steamroller

November 2, 2010

“Three wins from three so far for Chelsea, and a fourth would effectively seal progression to the second round of the Champions League. They start as odds-on favourites to win this game against a Spartak side who would unquestionably be content with a draw. How can the Russians contain Chelsea? Here’s five key tactical points.” (itv)