Thursday, March 21, 2013

Strike Force!

photo by Axel Rouvinvia PhotoRee

In which Correspondent Ed drops in for a brief spell and imparts his pearls of wisdom on us:

Let me tell you something: it's not easy handing the boss-man a pricey beer at yet another staff party, thrown (as he would like us to believe) in his honor, when deep down your seething at his joy at watching yet another League title go to United, which in no small part was due to favorable refereeing like that we all saw this weekend against Reading.  Well, the rich get richer I suppose.  But other than two-handed shoves in the penalty area that are ignored, why exactly is United on top?

After seeing Spurs drop three in a row, the first against Liverpool after some ghastly mistakes, but this weekend against a pretty pathetic Fulham team, the answer seems pretty clear.  United is pretty much stacked with top class Strikers, to wit:  RVP, Rooney, Chicharito, Welbeck -- four players that could start on any team.  The rest of the squad is solid, but frankly lacking at some positions, particularly midfield and right back.  But United's strikers score like crazy, helping the team rack up 69 goals versus second best Chelsea at 58. 

In fact, if you look at the top of the table, it's almost a direct correlation between position and number of top strikers on the squad.  Man City has Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko and is in second.  Chelsea has Torres and now Ba, and has crawled back to third.  Spurs have Bale (he's the number 10 now, like it or not), a top European player, but that's it, so fourth.  Arsenal has Walcott (part time striker) and, maybe, Giroud, so fifth.  And Liverpool's resurgence -- the addition of Sturridge and a surging Suarez -- sixth.

Is it that simple in the EPL?  Is it just about assembling the best strikers to win?  Can you literally fill in the rest of the team with guys who are simply good enough?  Would Chelsea, for example, be in first place if you swapped Torres and Ba with United's four?  Well . . . . . what do you think?

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On a similar note, we've seen Spurs drop three in a row, and even the amusing writers at have now jumped to the conclusion that the reason is Bale is not on the left where he should be, like Ronaldo.  This followed an article about Parker being incompatible with Dembele unlike Sandro, who was just perfect.  I will admit that Bale is neither a traditional number 10 nor a particularly effective number 10 because he is not a distributor but more a player that can run at defenders, beat them, and score.  I also think that part of the reason he is put up top is because Spurs play him where he wants to play in an effort to keep him.  That said, he may be better as a straight number 9 (which he's kind of playing by default), and it may not be a terrible idea to put him there with Gylfi or Holtby behind him and the other at left back. 

But these musings are beside the point.  The problem with Spurs is and has always been their paucity at Striker.  I am a big Defoe fan, but he's run a bit cold lately and has found himself making or getting chances but putting them right at the keeper.  Adebayor has been a complete waste of time up front, never finding himself in the right place and always appearing to loaf without care.  One wonders if he is only able to summon the will to try when he's in a contract year.  Regardless, Spurs strikers don't score enough, and Spurs are completely reliant on their new number 10 putting it in.  This can win you games, but it's not going to be easy holding on to a top four position.  Arsenal, despite all the wailings of its fan base, is only four points behind and has both scored more and conceded fewer than Spurs.  Hopefully this Spurs team can put these losses behind them and rally for the last eight games.

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Did I just say last eight games?  How depressing.  Love the season and am so sad when it ends. 

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On a final note, I was shocked and surprised to see the silence of FOF following the absolutely amazing performance of Barcelona against AC Milan.  In the game, Barcelona played at a level rarely seen, making Inter look like a local adult league team.  Messi in particular was unstoppable; games like this should end comparisons to Ronaldo who, while immensely talented, is simply not in the same class.  Barcelona has had a bad run this year, particularly against a Real Madrid team that after five or so years may finally have figured out how to cause them trouble. That said, Barcelona continues to change the game as we know it, and continues to make me wonder why there aren't more copy cats in the leagues around the world.

This is farlieonfootie for March 21.

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