In which Columnist Ed channels his inner Tom Petty:
For many years I've been hoping that Manchester United would come back to earth, but I just didn't expect such free fall and to be honest it's not very fun. One could make the argument that Southampton is better than United this year. Wait, that's not an argument that's a truth -- at this point in the season Southampton actually IS better than United this year. Uh oh.
I find the use of Marouane Fellaini to be the most interesting. Fellaini was not a very effective holder for Everton; he was physical enough but he didn't have the speed or quickness to close people down. He also lacks the fine passing ability that top holders have. Compare, for example, Sandro or Paulinho or Dembele or Capoue. Each of them close down with speed, and with the exception of maybe Sandro -- who is a far better defensive player than Fellaini -- each of them also are better at distribution.
Fellaini did, however, do very well at the number 10 position for Everton. His size and strength made him tough in the box. His footwork and leverage were good, and he and Nikica Jelavic made a team that could bully many if not most teams' center backs. But unfortunately for United, he's inferior by a long stretch to all of their number 10's, which forces him to the holding position, which once again raising the question "Why Fellaini?" To me there's no way to get around the fact that this was a desperation move by a GM who needed to show that he got something. Look for them to move him next season.
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Spurs returned to form this weekend and saw Roberto Soldado put in his first goal during the run of play. Soldado played well, though he still hasn't played to the level of his price. Ultimately Spurs are still a team that lacks a top tier striker. This will come to haunt them during the season if Soldado comes around.
On the bright side, who would've thought that Andros Townsend would look the part of Gareth Bale. Yes, that Gareth Bale who used to dominate the Spurs lineup but who due to injury hasn't been heard of much since he left Spurs. Townsend has been terrific at beating his guy and coming in from the right on his left foot -- the preferred tactic of AVB and, previously, Bayern Munich with Arjen Robbin and Franck Ribery. Perhaps more than any other signing, Townsend of late has been the spark to Spurs good form. He's also relegated Lennon to the bench, a position which is frankly suitable in light of his constant injuries and inability to finish. To clarify, that's not intended as an insult -- it's great to be able to go Lennon late in games as he's such a danger on counters.
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Arsenal are a terrific team, but Dortmund figured them out the other evening in the Champions League. Arsenal were the better team, but in the first half Dortmund's pressing and flooding the midfield with players put them on the defensive. The loss of Theo Walcott is huge for the Gunners, as he was needed to provide width and depth, and to generally scare Dortmund's defense back. Regardless, after Arsenal took control of the game in the second half, Dortmund played the counter and Lewandoski ultimately finished one mercilessly against the Gunners. Lewandoski continues to impress me with his ability to finish and his economical play. Never a touch too many, but often a lethal touch.
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This is farlieonfootie for October 25.