Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Notes, Asides, and Tuna Jumpers

photo by bucklavavia PhotoRee

farlieonfootie's favorite whipping boy Ed returns from a brief -- and failed -- attempt at organizing a strike with his latest piece of drivel:

Arsenal Mugs ChelseaWas the Arsenal squad that jumped Chelsea Monday evening even close to the same team that played against Manchester United two weeks ago? 

Arsenal showed something that’s been said before here at farlieonfootie, which is that sometimes the team that wins is simply the team that beats the other team to the ball.  Arsenal played with an enthusiasm and intensity last evening that’s it’s been lacking for most of the season; they pressed Chelsea at every turn.  They scrambled for the ball like it could be their last game.  In short, they played like Blackpool plays every game (yep, you read that right).  And for that reason, for what might be a first for me this year they were actually fun to watch.

Arsenal has plenty of talent.  Though they’re small up front – limiting their ability to be effective on crosses – they certainly have plenty of skill with Van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri, etc.  But I think that their style of play, while elegant, sometimes lends itself to losing sight of the intensity needed at this level.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that they smelled blood in the water from Chelsea, a team that has gone from the top of the table to one with seemingly has no depth and no real vision.  Drogba is still a beast up front, and in an odd turnabout, he seemed to be the only Chelsea player who was working hard and trying to win.  In the middle, Lampard was a non-factor, as was Malouda, who’s gotten icy cold in the last month after a feverish start. 

When Arsenal played United, they appeared to play not to lose.  No one was attacking the ball; passes were sloppy and defensive; and they ended up looking weak despite the fact that they’ve been near the top of the table all year. 

Let’s all hope that the man in the oversized down snuggy can keep them playing at this level.  It’s better for Arsenal and the league to see a good fight.

Tottenham, the Villans and the Pale Blue:  It was nice to see Spurs persevere over a stubborn Villa side this Saturday.  What’s happened to Villa is sad – seeing a team dismantled like it’s been is not good.  

Van der Vaart continues to show that he was the signing of the year.  His intensity never seems to wane, and it’s certainly catching on the other players.  Modric is also picking up his game right now, and he and VDV make each other better.  If Lennon continues to make progress and Bale keeps his form, they’re looking like a team with enough talent to make a fight of it.  The only issue – the big issue -- is defense, though the return of Dawson in good form (surprisingly good form, really) should help considerably. 

Ultimately, it’s nice to see success on the field, especially from teams like Spurs that aren’t perennial favorites.  I often wonder what it’s like to be a fan of teams like United or Chelsea; in some ways it’s enviable, though something about it makes me gag.  But that’s for another post . . . .

Regarding City, even farlieonfootie himself has it right (what is it about the blind squirrel?) about James Milner, who once upon a time led the Villans and now is being benched on days where Coach Beautiful thinks he doesn’t quite have it.  And how about Gareth Barry, the 12 million pound poor man’s Charlie Adam?  While the money may be right, I’m not sure playing for City is fun for anyone right now.  But we’ll see though at the end of the season where they end up – it’s far too soon for a final judgment.

Oh, Say Can You See!On the Americans in Britain front, Eric Lichaj (pronounced Lee-High) looked terrific against Gareth Bale in the Spurs game.  The former Tar Heel might be the fastest American soccer player, and played a confident game from end to end.  Could he be a star in the making?  The youth movement at Villa (also known as the “we don’t have the money” movement) should serve him and the US national team well.

Left Off the ListConspicuously absent from the farlieonfootie’s Worst of the Worst list was Manchester Manchester United’s own Wayne Rooney.  Let’s give Lil’ Wayne a shout out for going from the guy who couldn’t stop scoring (34 goals in 2009 to 2010) to a guy that needs personal time in Oregon and pounds PK’s into the upper deck (two goals in 2010/ 2011).  For those of you who are actually counting, Rooney’s two goals are less than half of those put in by Fernando Torres, who did make the Worst of the Worst list.  

Perhaps the “red-colored lenses” caused this slip up by the boss-man.  Either that or those nasty “Tuna Jumpers” he likes to scarf down during the holidays (Tunafish and red chili sauce on a Christmas-style green cookie).  “Woooeey!!!” he likes to shout, “Nothing like Tuna Jumpers!!”  

No boss, there is nothing like them. 

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This is farlieonfootie for December 29.

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