Three main problems for Inter in 2-1 home loss to Juventus

October 31, 2011

Gian Piero Gasperini
“This was another amazingly open match – all the goals came in the first half. Juventus move top of the table. The away side weren’t completely dominant. Their first goal came against the run of play as Inter started strongly, but Juve had plenty of opportunities and for a brief spell midway through the first half, they were able to open up the Inter defence at will. Claudio Ranieri’s side lacked compactness and their defence still seems to be recovering from the early season experiment with a back three under Gian Piero Gasperini – their positioning is frequently poor despite the return to their favoured four-man defence. Lucio seems uncomfortable on the turn and Cristian Chivu isn’t a great partner for him, whilst he full-backs are both stronger going forward than they are defensively.” Zonal Marking

Internazionale 1 – 2 Juventus
“Juventus retained their two-point advantage at the top of Serie A and piled even more misery on Claudio Ranieri’s Inter Milan with a win at the San Siro tonight. Mirko Vucinic put the Bianconeri in front in the 12th minute, but Maicon levelled for the hosts in the 28th minute. Claudio Marchisio restored Juve’s advantage in the 33rd minute and he was unlucky not to earn a penalty just before half-time.” ESPN

Colombia’s rising stars and lost potential

October 31, 2011

“Like watching a sneak preview of future blockbuster films, the best thing about South American football is the chance to catch remarkable talent on the way up. Barcelona’s Argentine Lionel Messi tops the list but I have lost count of the extraordinary players whose early professional steps I have been lucky enough to witness. Inevitably, plenty fall short of fulfilling their potential.” BBC – Tim Vickery

West Bromwich Albion 0 – 2 Liverpool

October 31, 2011

“Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez showed more signs of forging a potent strike partnership as Liverpool strolled to victory over West Brom – and former Reds manager Roy Hodgson – at the Hawthorns. A Charlie Adam penalty and Carroll’s third goal of the campaign confirmed Liverpool’s superiority as they climbed into fifth spot in the Barclays Premier League. But it was the way that Carroll and Suarez gelled which would have given the most satisfaction to Reds boss Kenny Dalglish.” ESPN

Liverpool wait on Gerrard results
“Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will have to wait until at least Wednesday to discover how long his latest injury will keep him on the sidelines. Gerrard, who had only recently returned from a groin problem that kept him out of action for six months, missed Liverpool’s 2-0 win at West Brom on Saturday and was pictured leaving hospital with his right leg in a protective cast.” ESPN

Gritty Stoke subdue sizzling Reds but Suarez’s brilliance secures the win
“A wonder-goal from Suarez and a wonder-assist from Henderson (for Suarez’s second) ensured Liverpool left the Britannia Stadium bound for the next round of the League Cup. The Reds were good value for the win and we saw some fantastic early play from them before the game petered out into a somewhat scrappy contest.” Micro LFC

Questions being asked of Villas-Boas’ tactical approach at Chelsea

October 31, 2011

“There was one doubt about Andre Villas-Boas when he arrived at Chelsea in the summer. Astonishing as Porto was last season — it won a treble of Europa League, Portuguese Cup and Portuguese League (in which it dropped only four points) — it never really faced a test. Sporting is at a low ebb and Benfica looks much stronger this season, while in Europe it faced no side from England, Germany, Italy or France. Of teams from the top five leagues in Europe, Porto met only Sevilla and Villarreal.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Barcelona 5 – 0 Mallorca

October 31, 2011

“Lionel Messi’s hat-trick led Barcelona to a resounding 5-0 victory over Real Mallorca at the Nou Camp. The Argentina forward netted three times in 18 first half minutes as his side quickly took control of the game. The second half brought a first senior goal for Isaac Cuenca and a superb late goal from Dani Alves to round off the scoring. Barca hit their stride immediately and Seydou Keita’s header from Thiago Alcantara’s corner was saved by Dudu Aouate and Dani Alves’ long-range effort was blocked by Ivan Ramis.” ESPN

Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal: Chelsea’s high line ripped to shreds in amazingly open game

October 29, 2011

“Chelsea had a clear weakness coming into the game – their defence plays high up the pitch and are prone to pace in behind – and Arsenal exploited it to great effect. Andre Villas-Boas brought Branislav Ivanovic into the side for David Luiz, who was poor at QPR. Jon Obi Mikel played rather than Raul Meireles in the holding role – the rest of the side was as expected. Arsene Wenger continued with Johan Djourou at right-back and Thomas Vermaelen was fit only for the bench. This was a game with plenty of chances and some terrible defending – Arsenal were better at exploiting the weaknesses of their opponent.” Zonal Marking

Gervinho comes into form to fit nicely into Arsène Wenger’s grand plan
“Arsenal fans have a lot to look forward too if Gervinho’s first man-of-the-match in the 3-1 win over Stoke City is anything to go by. Daniel Jeandupeux, the man responsible for bringing Gervinho to Ligue 1 at Le Mans, tells Sabotage Times that “if he continues to improve, he could become one of the very best players in the world — like Messi.” It’s certainly a bold statement to make but Gervinho has the capability to be explosive. Fans complaining about a lack of high-profile signings in the summer cannot but be moved to stand in anticipation when Gervinho runs with the ball – he’s the type of player who gets bums off seats. His goal and two assists come at the right time; he’s effectively where he should have been three games ago were he not suspended in his first game at the club. But he’s slowly adjusting and his improvement can help take the growing reliance off Robin van Persie.” Arsenal Column

Chelsea 3 – 5 Arsenal
“John Terry and Chelsea’s nightmare week was complete as his slip and a Robin van Persie hat-trick handed Arsenal an amazing victory in an absolute classic at Stamford Bridge. Terry looked set to enjoy some respite from the Football Association and police probes into allegations he racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand when he gave the Blues a 2-1 half-time lead. But the Gunners staged a sensational second-half comeback to turn the game on its head and, though Juan Mata equalised at 3-3, Terry’s mistake allowed Van Persie to make it 4-3 before the Dutchman completed his treble in stoppage time.” ESPN

The Legend of Arsene Wenger
“If Arsene Wenger’s career was a kung fu movie, we would be in the part where the search is on for the villain who poisoned Arsene’s rice. Taking cues from the charismatic Frenchman, all eyes would be on the usual suspects, the media, referees, disloyal players, Roy Keane, Sam Allardyce, and the most obvious targets, those pin-stripe-suited figures throwing around Scrooge McDuck money for fun. But this film’s twist is that Arsene may have stubbornly poisoned his own rice.” Run of Play

Levante pulls off the impossible

October 29, 2011

“Raimon is the groundsman at Levante, a man who practically lives in the Ciutat de Valencia stadium and does everything from cut the grass to sweep the steps and paint the lines on the pitch. In a room under the stand he has, over the 24 years he has been at the club, constructed a mini-museum of all things Levante — including press cuttings and posters, shirts and photographs going back years. That is not all he does: under the stand he also collects old farm equipment — his other passion — and cooks. When Levante has a team meal, it sometimes hold it down there with the groundsman as chef.” SI