Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Walk of Shame: BPL Round 20

post-oscars walk of shame
Photo by Skampy on Flickr

Chelsea vs Wolves was a nasty, brutish affair, long on sharp elbows and short tempers, the type of game one would expect to be populated with some of the more memorable characters from Bill Buford's defining work on British football hooliganism, Among the Thugs.  Even without Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis, though, Wolves gave Chelsea all they could handle on set pieces, as Chelsea' defense continued to look shakier than Correspondent Ed after the week-long Christmastime "Hill-a-day" bender.

o He may not be much of a motivator, but Andre Villas-Boas has already displayed a world class knack this season for taking his best players off the pitch right when they're needed the most. Yesterday it was Juan Mata who was handed the pink slip just minutes before Wolves managed to slip an 84th minute equalizer behind Petr Cech.   Luckily for Chelsea, AVB inexplicably forgot to pull Frank Lampard -- who saved Chelsea from going five games in a row without a win with his 89th minute side-footed winner.  The two make a pair of strange bedfellows, both clearly needing but disdaining the other at the same time.  And while many (including, apparently, AVB) have been quick to write him off, check out Lamps' stats: he's got 6 more goals this season than the £50 million bust Fernando Torres, and is in fact Chelsea's second leading scorer on the season.  Nice job, big guy.

o If Chelsea's dodgy performance vs. Wolves wasn't enough to make it obvious to even a casual observer, the full extent of the Blues' current weakness was shown when the same Aston Villa team that took them apart on Friday was manhandled at their own stadium by Swansea City on Monday. Yes, the very same Swansea City that had managed to go half the season without figuring out how to win a game away from home. This is not to say the Swans are poor -- far from it, the Swans are giving a heroic account of themselves in the League this season -- but rather that Villa is poor, and so too are the current incarnation of Roman's Blues.

o Meanwhile, the Swans' defense just keeps clicking along: another game, another shutout for Michel Vorm and the boys. Talk about a couple of Fantasy League bargains...  No one on this defense costs more than about £5 but they keep putting up the numbers.

o Quite a sight at Monday's London derby between Fulham and Arsenal: Le Professor sprinting across the pitch in full suit-and-puffer-coated glory. Based on his performance, I'm pretty certain the 61 year old could beat Per Mertesacker for pace if it came down to a loose ball.

o Theo Walcott is a genuine enigma. Sometimes I watch him play and he's brilliant. More typical, though, was his comprehensive non-performance against Fulham on Monday, in which Walcott was physically present but completely unaccounted for on the pitch. Is the speedy winger's inconsistency down to lack of real talent, or an unwillingness to put in the long hours required for greatness?  I'm thinking it's the latter, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

o Arsenal's gameplan exploded like a cheap cigar once Johann Djourou performed the red-tinged walk of shame after the contest's 75 minute mark.  Fulham were slowly getting their grip on the game, rattling posts as well as Gooner nerves in the second half, but Djourou's dismissal gave the Cottagers full license to run rampant over the Arsenal for the last 15-plus minutes of action. And run rampant they did, creating chance after chance, and being helped significantly by Wojciech Sczcesny -- flapping wildly at the first goal, and being beaten flat -footed on his near post for the second.

o All of which makes me wonder why so many in the British press are quick to hop on any mistake Manchester United 'keeper David De Gea makes, but then go onto extoll the virtues and qualities of Sczcesny, with one esteemed journalist going so far as to describe the Pole as "one of the best goalkeepers in the League." Complete London-biased double standards at play here....

This is farlieonfootie for January 3.

1 comment:

  1. The only difference between Sczesny and DeGea is that one needs a few vowels. Other than that, they're both the same -- second tier.

    -- Craig B.