Saturday, January 19, 2013

Three Teams: Thoughts on QPR, Spurs and Chelsea

Photo by Hub on Flickr

Ed liked yesterday's column so much, he thought he'd stick with the theme of three:


So Uncle Harry doesn't know much about tactics, huh? He just says "Go on."  Not surprisingly, QPR has looked pretty good the last two weeks. First they defeated Chelsea, and then they nearly stole one from Spurs, finally ending up with a point. Over at Zonal Marking, my favorite website behind both farlieonfootie and farlieonfracking, Michael Cox is providing some great insight into Harry's tactics against Spurs. First, they played with Taarabt as a false nine, basically coming back to help in midfield and then playing as a holding player on offense. Second, their defensive discipline was terrific. Third, Fabio really nullified Aaron Lennon and played what I think was his best game ever as a pro. Fourth, but perhaps most importantly, M'bia was able to wing he physical battle against Dembele, who without any space to operate in the middle was never able to take control of the game. Oh, and Gareth Bale really wasn't able to do anything either, though I'm not sure that was all the fault of tactics.

But of course in addition to tactics, Harry has already brought in a good striker in Marseille's Loic Remy, who he somehow stole from under the nose of Newcastle. I find it amazing that he was able to bring in someone from a top tier team (in its league) to the bottom of the BPL. But Harry's done it, and clearly QPR was in desperate need of someone at that position.

It will still be very difficult for QPR to stay up, and if they don't who knows what will happen with Harry. I imagine that he won't be willing to coach in the Championship Division, but who knows? If they do stay up, though, I would not at all be surprised to see an overhauled lineup make it to the top half of the division next year.


As for Spurs, taking only a point at QPR was disappointing. That said, the player I'm most disappointed with on the squad is Emmanuel Adebayor. While he definitely changes games due to the very threat of his pace, he often seems to be playing at half speed. He also stumbles over the ball in the box more so than you would think a world class striker should. Adebayor undoubtedly has the ability, but I suspect he loses interest for large spells in what he's doing out there, which is simply not good enough.

Gareth Bale also, I think, needs to find more of an identity. Against the lower tier teams and talent, the top players usually shine and take over the game. Bale didn't do that against QPR, and seems too streaky for me for someone with his talent. He should be a threat -- and look like a threat -- every week. Spurs need him to be in order to take a Champions League spot.


What a difference Demba Ba seems to have made already at Chelsea. He is so much quicker onto the ball than Fernando Torres, and has been able to confidently blast loose balls into the goal. If Ba stays healthy, he could elevate Chelsea into a real competition for the top spots. Mata, Hazar, Oscar and Moses all seem more of a threat with him in the lineup. Look for Torres to be brought in only on special occasions as the season wears on.

Also, let's not forget Frank Lampard. He has five goals in his last seven games from the midfield position. Sometimes players lose a step and become ineffective very quickly. However, Lampard simply has not done that. Last year it was his amazing play -- highlighted by an amazing assist -- that got Chelsea by Barcelona and into the finals. Little has happened since then to make the 34 year old someone who doesn't start regularly in the lineup. I can understand resting Lampard and/or keeping him out of FA Cup or other non-league games. I don't understand putting him on the bench or wanting so badly to transfer him at year end.

This is farlieonfootie for January 19.

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