Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On the Spot: Ed on Spurs, Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp and More

Ed's on the spot with some timely commentary on Spurs vs Sunderland, Jurgen Klopp and Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund:

As you all know, Spurs tied Sunderland this weekend 2 to 2.  That's three two's if you're counting. But despite the let down in the score, Spurs were dominant.  Dembele got his first start of the season with Benteleb just returning from international duty -- or at least that's what was said.  In my opinion, Dembele is the better of the two, but Benteleb certainly deserves considerable time this year in the middle.
Erikson also seems improved; in fact, he seems a step faster.  And Lamela and Chadli (Chadli!) both continue to impress.   
In some ways Spurs coughed up this game, giving up a cheap goal quickly after their first, and choking one past in the end.  But they were also unlucky; a cross bar and a post were squarely hit after good attempts, and they dominated possession and the game.  One might say Sunderland Manager Gus Poyat was just looking to score on counters such as this, but the reality is he had no choice.  His team could only win if they took advantage of the very few opportunities they were given, which of course is exactly what happened.  All in all, a good day for Spurs as they look a team headed in the right direction.  And all in all, a Premeir League that's still looking a bit of a mess at the top.
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Is this man the best coach in Europe?  

It seems to me he's in the running.  Dortmund not only ran Arsenal out of the building, they looked man for man to be the far better team.  Examining the enormous changeover at Dortmund and the loss to injury of many of their starters, it's amazing how the team hasn't missed a beat.  It would seem that no one does more with less than this guy year after year.  Again, it's strange that he has less imitators -- though I'd say that Pochettino's style is similar.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Uninspiring: Aston Villa 1 - Liverpool 0

photo by Lucas Baissovia PhotoRee

Scott is just not feeling it:

Liverpool welcomed Aston Villa on Saturday and proved to be too gracious as hosts, allowing Gabriel Agbonlahor to skewer in a loose ball in the 6 yard box that was not appropriately cleared from a corner.  That goal ended up being decisive as the Reds, sans the services of Daniel Sturridge, were unable to equalize despite controlling the entire second half.
The first half, however, showed the Villans to be a high-energy, disciplined side as they had the greater share of possession for large periods of time and threatened repeatedly.  Philippe Senderos, in particular, should have widened their margin but was unable to put his open header on frame.  Perhaps his mind was elsewhere given his bullying of Mario Balotelli throughout the game.  The Swiss defender’s antics were shameful as he repeatedly harassed the Italian defender, resorting on more than one occasion to literally kicking out at him when the ball was nowhere close.  Understandably, the referee did not see these incidents so they went unpunished.  And while Balotelli did not retaliate, it seems the damage might have been done nonetheless as he was rather impotent on the day and was eventually substituted at the 70 minute mark. 
Raheem Sterling started on the bench, which to me seemed a curious decision given Sturridge’s absence.  But with a Champions League match on Tuesday and the lessons of Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen still echoing, Brendan Rodgers chose to rest the youngster at first before sending him on to inject some creativity for the last half hour.  It was too little too late and Liverpool’s teen sensation was unable to work any brilliance to equalize.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Humble Pie: Ed on Spurs

photo by The Gifted Photographervia PhotoRee

Just when Spurs thought they were good, just when they thought they could run with the big boys, just when they thought top four might actually be possible . . . . . down comes the hammer.  Oh what a tease this team is.

Not unlike last year, Spurs were pretty much violated by Liverpool.  Mario Balotelli really should have had 3 in the first half, but somehow blundered them.  For some reason this is always the case with this guy -- tons of raw talent that almost but never really materializes.  Wonder if that will happen at Liverpool.  Wonder if at the end of the day he's really just not that effective . . . . .

But, wow, Sterling and Sturridge were just way too fast for sSurs.  As was their new defender, Alberto Moreno, who promptly took the ball from Andros Townsend and rampaged 70 yards down the field before putting it in the back of the net.  These Spurs fought hard in the first half -- Lamela in particular -- but again showed that they were a cut below this tier, even if Liverpool isn't quite top tier.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Three Points: Liverpool 3 - Spurs 0

photo by lostajyvia PhotoRee

Although happy about Liverpool's win, Scott is now officially concerned about a Manchester United lineup that could feature Falcao, Di Maria, Rooney, Mata and RVP:

Now that’s much better.  Granted, this wasn’t the steady dismantling of Spurs that Liverpool achieved twice last season.  Rather, there were a few lucky bounces and calls but more than enough to secure the points and put defeat to Man City behind them.

Raheem Sterling, should he stay injury-free and under the careful nurturing of Brendan Rodgers, will be a global star in the coming years.  I am continually impressed with his ability to dribble past, around and through defenders with such pace.  Add to that his developing ability to be in the right place at the right time, such as at the far post to guide in Jordan Henderson’s cross in the eighth minute, as well as a still-improving sturdiness that allows him to shield and protect the ball, and he is well on pace to being one of Liverpool’s top stars of all time.  Still, I agree with Rodgers’ comment, which is consistent with similar comments that leave me hoarse on the training ground of teams I coach – he needs to work on his left foot.  After such a sensational dribble through the penalty area in the second half, all that was needed was a left-footed strike to bag his brace and match the score of last season’s second encounter between these two teams.  Instead, hesitation saw him then clunk the weakest of attempts with his right foot straight at a very grateful Hugo Lloris.  Two footed players can score double the goals, Raheem!

Mario Balotelli’s Liverpool career began with what has been described as a “solid shift.”  Despite his two missed headers and woefully wayward volley later, I agree.  He did his part defensively, was creative at times and seemed very willing to play with others.  Most impressively, he kept his cool better than I would have after an over-eager Eric Dier swept his legs from behind on a hard challenge that eventually yielded a bit of the ball, and should have further yielded a yellow for the Tottenham defenseman.  Subbed around the 60 minute mark, the Italian is bound to find his groove and, when he does and if he maintains his cool, he can prove lethal up top with Daniel Sturridge and Sterling, not to mention Henderson and others, to combine with.