The Weekend: Live Commentary

Mario Balotelli vs. Tim Ream, anyone? Ream’s second Prem examination is about to get under way.

Creamed at Citizens?

69 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2012/03/03 at 6:04 AM

    It’s remarkable that Liverpool don’t know who they are still. Today they seem to have misplaced their memory of Suarez and have been thwonking long balls at him.

    Man, and they miss a penalty. Snakebit too, I guess.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/03 at 6:09 AM

      Koscielny really sucks. By my count, that makes three really average or bad starters on the field for Arsenal–Koscielny, Rosicky, Benayoun.


      • Posted by liz2 on 2012/03/03 at 8:45 AM

        Koscielny actually has been solid this season, the problem is that his boneheaded moments are a lot more noticeable as a defender. You want to see sucky, wait til arsenal bring out Squillaci. And Rosicky was MOTM against spurs last week.


      • Posted by Mitch on 2012/03/03 at 9:38 AM

        Yeah, I mean, last season Koscielny had a rough settling in process, but he’s been Arsenal’s most solid CB all season. I mean, maybe that’s saying something in itself, but he’s shown a ton of improvement and had an off game today. Also, whoscored has him down as the Prem’s fourth best CB this season based on average performance, though that’s equally as subjective as our eye tests, and again probably says something about the quality of defending in the league.
        Rosicky’s never regained his Dortmund form, but he showed his value last week, at least. So he’s going to start while Ramsey (who’s been equally average with occasional flashes, but I prefer because of youth) is injured and/or needs a rest.


    • Posted by Bode on 2012/03/04 at 6:57 AM

      I know this isn’t a popular opinion in a world where mainstream commentators see “Andy Carroll is tall, so he must be good in the air; Suarez is short so he is not.”

      However, I think Suarez is FANTASTIC in dealing with long balls (he was even better last year). Though he is not a great header of the ball and doesn’t normally jump, he does a great job of using his body to make the defender miss their header. After the defender misses their header, Suarez typically is either through on goal or has created a dangerous situation for himself. Watch closely and you’ll see him create at least one or two “breakaway” situations per game this way.

      I’m much more confident when a long ball is launched to either Suarez or Kuyt than Carroll because they tend to be able to do something more proactive with it.


      • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/04 at 10:17 AM

        Heading the ball is a skill not unlike rebounding the ball. And if you follow
        basketball at all you will see that height, while helpful,is not the be all and end all.
        Two notable short reboounders, Wes Unseld (6’5″) and Barkley (6’4″).

        Michael Owen, Rooney, George Best were all short guys who were/are excellent in the air. Kenny Cooper Jr., Georgio Chinaglia, Peter Crouch are all
        big guys who are not.



        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/03/04 at 3:43 PM

          Not sure I would ever consider Michael Owen excellent in the air – and not sure he’s ever done enough in his entire career for somebody to een suggest so TBH with you. If I were to name shorter players who do have a very good leap, I would suggest Jean-Pierre Papin, Tim Cahill and Paul Scholes [c1998-2006]. A lot of this ability is natural and a lot can be aided by specific plyometric training. As a keeper, I used to do a lot of this when I played compitively, as I am on the shorter side [6’0″] for a GK.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/04 at 11:08 AM

        Suarez isn’t bad at dealing with balls in the air, but it’s a waste of his talents–because he’s best with the balls to his feet.


        • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/04 at 2:25 PM

          Well, I’m sure anyone playing a ball to Suarez will try to put it at his feet but that may not be an option. After all if you know that then so do EPL defenders and managers.

          Gerd Muller used to preach that if you were in the box the majority of the chances often came to you with the ball at uncomfortable heights and angles
          (i.e. somewhere between your knees and your shoulders).and often from odd angles (like behind you ) and with a man on you somewhere.

          This meant it was often not clear whether using your feet or your head was the best option. In practice, You frequently saw Muller use volleys, half volleys, diving headers, really, any part of his body he could get on the ball to direct it, legally, goalward.

          Dempsey must have read that quote somewhere.

          The best strikers are the ones that can handle whatever kind of goal chance comes their way, no matter where their particular strengths are.


  2. Posted by EFG on 2012/03/03 at 6:53 AM

    Rumors that Super Mario may be left on the bench as he was seen “breaking curfew” at a strip club Thursday night, though he wasn’t drinking because he doesn’t drink.


  3. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/03/03 at 8:29 AM

    It looks like Coyle has Ream man marking Toure and playing DM. I don’t understand what makes him think that will go well.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/03/03 at 9:48 AM

      Ream actually played well all things considered. I underestimated him.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/03 at 11:32 AM

      Why wouldn’t you think that would work well?


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/03/03 at 2:15 PM

        I didn’t think Ream could cover Toure. He has a mix of speed and power and I thought it would overwhelm Ream particularly the power. Plus with any new spot on the field positioning is a concern and Man City has the offensive talent to make you pay. I rate Toure very highly. I think of Ream as the US 4 or 5 CB and I have never even thought of him at DM.


        • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/03 at 4:42 PM

          Using Ream there is a fairly standard tactic, especially when you consider the offensive firepower City has.

          Boca used to be deployed there for Fulham on occasion for similar reasons..


  4. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/03 at 10:58 AM

    its becoming quickly obvious to me that owen coyle maybe should become part of the us mens team setup in one form or another. this guy has the magic touch with american players. so ream was playing like a roving monster back ahead of wheater and knight, or what?


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/03 at 11:03 AM

      from the box score, it looks like it was a 4-5-1, with 2 defensive mids, ream being one of them, over fabrice muamba. i can only do my best eddie murphy, “get the f^%k outta here”.


    • Posted by sea-soccerballer on 2012/03/04 at 10:59 PM



      • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/05 at 8:56 AM

        really, somebody made a good point that boca has played defensive mid in the epl and so has spector, but you gotta like that owen coyle seems to have good instinct about american players.


  5. Posted by dth on 2012/03/03 at 12:20 PM

    Bayern loses and Dortmund look to be on track to win, giving Dortmund a 7 point cushion at the top with ten matches left. Looks like they’re well on track to go back-to-back with the Bundesliga. Hoping they get a chance to put it all together in the Champions League.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/03 at 8:06 PM

      Unbelievable considering Bayern’s start and all the injuries Dortmund has suffered. Awesome! Hopefully like you said Dortmund puts it all together in Champions League next year.


      • Posted by bmullis on 2012/03/05 at 9:30 AM

        Schweinsteiger’s first injury seems to have kicked off the inconsistency at Bayern, then coming back and getting hurt again didn’t help.

        Adding Reus next season can’t hurt BVB’s prospects either…


        • Posted by dth on 2012/03/05 at 11:19 AM

          Adding Reus helps, but hopefully they can keep Kagawa and Goetze. Goetze stays, I think, so the question is Kagawa–who’s presumably even more attractive because of the marketing possibilities in Japan.


  6. Posted by dth on 2012/03/03 at 3:15 PM



  7. Posted by dth on 2012/03/03 at 6:27 PM

    Luis Gil has looked very good in preseason in so far. Big things may be coming this season for him.


  8. Posted by dth on 2012/03/03 at 7:52 PM

    Why hasn’t a team made RSL an offer it can’t refuse for Chris Schuler? It’s not as if good, young, American centerbacks are that plentiful.


  9. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/04 at 7:16 AM

    AVB is gone. Abramovich should be ashamed for not backing the manager that he brought in to transition the team from the older players to newer ones. What did he think would happen in a transition season?

    The players at Chelsea are a disgrace as well and have been living in the past longing for Mourinho. He’s not walking through that door any time soon.

    I just hope this is the beginning of the end for them with Spurs moving up, Arsenal claiming to have money to spend and City rising. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of players to see them finish out their careers in the Europe league.



      As much as I hate to see someone lose their job or have any rooting interest at all in this… I really felt this was coming… I really really really felt this was coming

      I started writing the above article in November of 2011 and actually stopped writing it at one point because I thought it might be too early. However, all the signs were there.

      Bon Voyage AVB, and may your trenchcoat signal life into the otherwise staid shiny puffy coat scene of Italy at some point.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/04 at 9:14 AM

        Don’t feel too badly for AVB, personally. It’s my suspicion the move was a calculated gamble on his part: if he wins, awesome! If he loses, everybody says “Man, those Chelsea punks” and AVB gets another good job plus all the cash money from getting bought out by Abramovitch.

        Does manager money count for financial fair play?


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/04 at 9:47 AM

          I’m sure it does as it affects their overall accounts in terms of profit and loss. I thought the only exempt items were things like improvements on physical items such as new stadiums or academies.


  10. Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2012/03/04 at 9:32 AM

    Deuce with 2 more. The Pogrebnyak acquisition seems to be working out ok. Wolves suck.


  11. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/03/04 at 9:34 AM

    Dempsey with a brace. Moves him to 12 on the EPL season he is currently tied for 7th this season with Balotelli and Adebayor. Plus remember he likely will get credited with another when the dubious goals committee looks at the own goal from earlier this year that went off the goalie. Also the top MF goal scorer in the EPL this year.


    • Posted by mathmatics on 2012/03/04 at 10:40 AM

      That own goal will remain an own goal. Just like it will for all the other players who ‘scored’ that way.

      Won’t diminish the incredible season Dempsey has put together.


      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/03/04 at 11:45 AM

        Either way Clint is having a great season. At this point stats are helpful in making sure Clint gets the recognition he deserves. He is having the type of year that should get him in the EPL XI at the end of the season and a decent money transfer to a big club if he wants. As opposed to people saying he couldn’t start for Liverpool (a team that is 3 points above Fulham in the table).

        Cut and pasted this from another great soccer website.

        Directly from an EPL spokesman back in 2006:

        “As a rule, if the initial attempt is goal-bound, it is credited to the player making the goal attempt. However, if the deflection means that a wayward effort results in a goal then it is attributed to the player who had the last definitive touch of the ball.”

        I’d now love to see anyone argue that Clint Dempsey is not owed one goal. By the way, I’ve also learned the Dubious Goals Panel does not meet at every reviewable instance, they meet periodically to review several goals at once.


        • Posted by mathmatics on 2012/03/04 at 12:38 PM

          Once Dempsey’s shot hit the bar and began moving away from the goal, it was no longer “goal-bound.” It has become “wayward.”

          A comparable scenario: Dempsey shoots hard from point blank, the keeper saves the ball with his legs but the ball the ricochets off a defender on the six and into the goal. Own goal.

          Same thing here only in this case the keeper makes the save AND is the player the ball ricochets off of.

          This situation comes up quite a bit and I’ve never heard of the own goal ruling being overturned.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/03/04 at 3:17 PM

          Here is my take:

          It is not that Dempsey is not good enough to start for the *current* Arsenal or Liverpool sides. But that in itself illustrates how far these teams have fallen from being genuine title contenders. It’s not that I do not think that Dempsey could not replace Ashavin, Benayoun or Kuyt etc. I think none of them are good enough for Arsenal or Liverpool [if they want to be considered genuine title challengers].

          Even if you were being generous, and took Dempsey’s current form and applied it in all of his time in the Prem, can you honestly say that he starts for a Championship winning side? I have no doubt that he would be a squad player, but have serious doubts regarding him being an automatic starter.


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/03/04 at 4:08 PM

            I think the idea that Liverpool and Arsenal are genuine EPL title sides it a stretch. I just don’t see that in the next 3 to 5 years. Currently Liverpool is 27 points off first and Arsenal is 17. That is a massive gulf.

            With City coming in and spending the way they are I really don’t think anyone but Man U has a chance to compete with them year in and year out.

            I agree with you that Dempsey isn’t a starter for either of the Manchester sides.


            • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/04 at 4:18 PM

              dempsey starts over antonio valencia. there should be little doubt about that. clint dempsey is in rarified air right now. “its a foolish dog, that barks at a flying bird”.rnm 10

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/04 at 7:02 PM

              Little chance that Demspey starts over Valencia for Man Utd. Dempsey would not even play wide for Man Utd as his skill set is not what Man Utd looks for in wide players. He’s not enough of a winger for the system that they usually play.

              He might play wide for them in Europe when they go 4-3-3/4-5-1 away from home but not in the usual 4-4-2 they play in the Premier League. I also wonder if he and Rooney would get in each other’s way.

  12. Posted by dth on 2012/03/04 at 9:53 AM

    Luka Modric is so brilliant. Can’t believe the we-won’t-sell-him thing early this season worked, but credit to Spurs for pulling it off.

    Stray thought: if Redknapp to England, AVB to Tottenham?


  13. Posted by dth on 2012/03/04 at 11:10 AM

    The divergence of quality in the big club moves from Aston Villa recently is pretty interesting–you never hear from Milner anymore, Downing is blah, Young has raised his game a level.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/03/04 at 3:58 PM

      That’s a great point DTH that people miss in their zeal for recognition of an American talent. Two things that have given Demps the opportunity to succeed at Fulham: 1- low expectations for the sqad mostly focused on not being relegated 2- as one of the top 3 talents on a mediocre squad he’s had a ton of freedom to find his best spot and, as with the US, is free to roam the MF and box looking for goals.

      you put him in a system with a big squad where he is forced to play a role and I don’t think you get the same results.


      • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/04 at 4:06 PM

        Similar to his role in the middle of the Bradley era? Interesting.


      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/03/04 at 4:13 PM

        I agree that he is given freedom that he wouldn’t get at a larger club but he would also get better service and less defensive scrutiny.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/03/04 at 4:20 PM

      They were all put up as the next big thing when they were in the England youth set up. Especially Milner when he broke through at Leeds Utd. I was actually surprised that a better team didn’t take a gamble on Young when he was a Watford. You could tell he had real talent even back then.

      They’re all very good PL level players, but England aren’t winning tournaments with this guys as starters.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/03/04 at 4:28 PM

        Should clarify: my major gripe with Young is his consistency. If he had sorted this out he would more than likely start for England.


        • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/04 at 4:59 PM

          I used to drool over AY when he was at Villa because he was great going at defenders 1v1. Always had the curler in his front pocket too.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/04 at 7:08 PM

          Young is very inconsistent. He was very good early in the season for Man Utd then was awful and is now back to doing well.

          I think Milner just ended up in a bad situation similar to say Scott Parker at Chelsea. The club was going through major changes and bringing in new big money players regularly.

          England are definitely not winning tournaments with any of those guys as starters or with any of the current group of players that are available.


  14. Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/03/04 at 2:13 PM

    AVB gone…Di Mateo as interim


  15. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/04 at 4:04 PM

    Does anyone have any idea what position Kljestan plays with Anderlecht? I know he occupies one of the middle spots in their 4-3-3, but I don’t know how his position functions. Something tells me he’d be perfect for Caleb Porter’s u23 rendition of the 4-3-3.


  16. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/04 at 7:52 PM

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/04 at 8:15 PM

      He should look at the stats to see if Bradley’s team was actually defensively solid in his last 2 years. I remember a lot of bunkering and still conceding goals.

      Leander does know that it isn’t just a coIncidence that the Italians were offside that much. He doesn’t seem to be a fan of Klinsmann based on that article or of intelligent discussion.

      I hope he watched the U-23 game with Mexico to see exactly what Klinsmann has been preaching.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/04 at 8:41 PM

      I think it makes some fair points, as a matter of fact.

      I think Klinsmann needs to reinvent the U.S.’s style of play–there’s a natural ceiling to the smash-and-grab lifestyle, put it that way.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/07 at 10:39 AM

        dth, if there is a natural ceiling to the smash and grab, or counter attacking style, then it is pretty high, because this is the game italy plays. and there is only one other team in the world with more world cups.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/03/08 at 9:39 AM

          The distinction is that one team plays counter attacking football, soaks up pressure and gives very few chances away. The other team rides their luck somewhat, comdination of over reliance on keeper and woeful finishing.

          Guess which is which?


          • Posted by dth on 2012/03/08 at 10:39 AM

            It’s also hard to call a country that produced an Andrea Pirlo a smash-and-grab side. Sorry, but true.


            • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/08 at 10:55 AM

              i dont know, it sounds like a weak explanation. smash and grab is just what the italians want to do to their opponent and history suggest just as much. i guess michael bradley is more like de rossi than some people wanted to believe.

    • Posted by crow on 2012/03/04 at 10:13 PM

      I agree with the majority of the comments on ESPN. The USA goal came after a nice buildup of touches and the USA did not go into bunker mode until late in the game. We’ve been discussing since Wednesday how the game had a completely different feel compared to similar games in the past. I completely disagree with the observations and suggestions of the article.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/04 at 10:18 PM

        There were some passages of play that looked advanced–but then again, while the touches were nice leading up to the goal, it was hardly a long build-up of sustained possession. We weren’t often a lot of great sustained possession and towards the end of the game when we needed some in order to kill the game and ease the pressure.

        It takes time, of course–but at the same time I wouldn’t say this was a great victory for style.


  17. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/05 at 9:06 AM

    this past week and weekend should give us a good chance to reflect on the state of US soccer. such a monumental difference between the landscape of today and that of just twenty years ago. in truth, it is hard to really grasp. guys not just scoring goals in top leagues, but getting ready to get voted into the best eleven of some of the best leagues in the world.

    it is clearly time to raise the bar, not just for the team and players, but for everyone, and maybe even most important, for the fans. i think a lot of fans are trying to reconcile their feelings about what they think they know, and its all good, but if the people want to have a winning program, then a winning mentality is a must.


  18. Posted by dth on 2012/03/05 at 12:37 PM

    Bedoya and Bocanegra to be cut from Rangers?:

    Apparently a possibility of an MLS move, which would be highly interesting. (watch Bocanegra somehow end up on the Galaxy.)


  19. Posted by dth on 2012/03/07 at 6:26 PM

    This Toronto-LA CCL game has started out fun, no?

    Guess all those worries about no Gonzo have been justified.


  20. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/07 at 6:42 PM

    im gonna laugh my ass off when la erase a two goal lead. hopefully they will still lose though.


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