Am I back? Arsenal vs Chelsea

December 27, 2010

After Holland lost in the final, I just haven’t had much desire to write about football. WordPress doesn’t offer detailed traffic reports, but I’m surprised by how many page views I’ve had in the last few months.

I actually have some posts written about the World Cup, but it is unlikely that anyone cares about them at this point in time. Heck, even after it was over, people might not have cared.

The reason I remembered this blog is because today Arsenal plays Chelsea. It’s a pretty big game in terms of seeing who will test Manchester United for the title. Despite ManU not really looking like a great team, they still haven’t lost. They have a ton of ties, but somehow have avoided losses…even with Rooney having only a single goal (off a penalty kick, if I recall correctly, so he really has zero goals that are due to him) in the Premiership.

Chelsea should have run away with the title but a few key injuries and some horrific form of late have seen them drop. I think they’ve taken like 2 out of the last 18 possible points? Crazy.


What’s the deal with Manchester City?

July 26, 2010

The Premier League begins play on August 14, and on September 1 all clubs must submit a 25 man roster. They can add players unlimited players under 21. 8 of those 25 players have to be English. Here’s City’s roster, but keep in mind that they are still chasing James Milner, Fernando Torres, and Mario Balotelli…among others:

Goalies:
Shay Given
Joe Hart
Taylor/Gonzalez

Defenders
Aleksandar Kolarov
Jerome Boateng
Wayne Bridge
Vincent Kompany
Joleon Lescott
Micah Richards
Nedum Onuoha (27 starts season before last)
Kolo Toure
Pablo Zabaleta

Midfielders
David Silva
Gareth Barry
Nigel de Jong
Stephen Ireland (City Player of the Year season before last)
Yaya Toure
Adam Johnson
Michael Johnson (23 City starts season before last)
Patrick Vieira
Shaun Wright-Phillips

Forwards
Jo
Craig Bellamy
Carlos Tevez
Roque Santa Cruz
Emmanuel Adebayor
Robinho

I didn’t doublecheck, but I’m fairly certain none of these players are under 21.

City has to sell. That’s over 25 right there, and all fairly big names in their own right. Jo obviously is out the door, and there are a few names that are significantly less likely to be there than others. But City isn’t even done buying, as you can practically guarantee Torres and/or Balotelli. And Milner looks probable as well.

UPDATE: I forgot Robinho, of all people, the first time around. I should probably note that I have a soft spot in my heart for City because Claudio Reyna was captain there.


Howard Webb is a name that shall never be spoken in my presence.

July 11, 2010

A horrible performance from Howard Webb.


Final pre-game Spain v Holland thoughts

July 11, 2010

* Sergio Ramos is really the Achilles heel of the Spanish team. If the Dutch fail to exploit the space he creates on their attack, it’s hard to see how they win.

* Puyol and Pique aren’t super quick. I’d like to see some attempts to play a through ball to Robin Van Persie or Arjen Robben.

* If you’d told me that Robin Van Persie had only one goal, I’d have assumed the Dutch didn’t make it very far. Sneijder isn’t really a finisher, despite his 5 goals this World Cup (if neither Sneijder or Villa score, the two will share top scorer honors with Uruguayan Diego Forlan and German Thomas Mueller). Van Persie has to make life difficult for Pique and Puyol. Interestingly, Van Persie and the Dutch coach had some serious feuds in the early part of this decade.

* Interesting matchup to me will be Dutch holding midfielders Nigel De Jong and Mark Van Bommel against Xavi and Iniesta. De Jong and Van Bommel need to be careful not to pick up any yellows early that could lead to reds later. Referee Howard Webb is not a guy afraid to give marginal red cards or penalties in big games, if my memory serves.

* Spain really should try to counter the counter-attack once in awhile. One of the few great things about playing Spain is that they seem to think it is unsporting to counterattack when an opponent turns the ball over. The Dutch can bring people forward with a little more confidence than against Uruguay.

* Dirk Kuyt is the un-Dutch Dutch footballer. He’s all hustle. Yet he’s pretty vital because his work rate sets the tone. He’s a bit less valuable if the Dutch try to out ticky-tack the Spaniards.

* Do you switch Robben to matchup against Sergio Ramos? Or would matching up against Robben make Sergio Ramos more likely to stay at home and not get out of position? And while Sergio Ramos is overrated offensively, he does bring something to the table, meaning that Kuyt gets back against him better. I bet we’ll see the status quo — Kuyt on the left. I’d consider Ryan Babel, but why bother thinking about these things when van Marwijk obviously isn’t going to do it: he hasn’t put Ryan Babel on the pitch for a single minute this tournament.

* Iker Casillas has occasionally looked shaky, I’d like to see the Dutch try from distance. The Uruguay goalkeeper had had a pretty good tournament until today, hadn’t he? I wouldn’t mind seeing a Schweinsteiger-esque 45 yard strike that Casillas fails to parry and leaves it on doorstep for someone crashing for the rebound. Nope, wouldn’t mind that at all.

* There is some truth to the idea that Spain plays a more classically Dutch game than this Netherlands team does. That’d be cruel if it works for them.

It is always true that the first goal is just massively crucial. Against some opponents, the game completely changes. Not really against Spain, who play the same game up 1-0 or down 1-0.


It’s not the Jabulani combined with altitude

July 11, 2010

I just ran the numbers, and there’s pretty much no evidence that the Jabulani is to blame for the low scoring of this World Cup. So this is essentially a teaser post. I’ll put up the numbers after tomorrow’s final.

I admit it: I was wrong that it was likely that one of the reasons we had a low-scoring World Cup was the Jabulani combined with the altitude. Call me gullible. It was a theory advanced that seemed plausible.


Hup Holland Hup

July 10, 2010

It’s a very strange thing to be such a Holland fan when I’ve never visited there. I do have a distinctly Dutch last name, but in alot of sense that is it. Except maybe not, because I’ve noticed that alot of Americans of Dutch descent have cultural markers that identify us.

The Netherlands isn’t a big country; I think it’s something like 18 million. Yet few nations have impacted football like they have, and if they’d ever won the World Cup, we might debate Johan Cruyff or Pele as the best players of all time. I have had my Cruyff shirt on quite a bit (with an undershirt, mind you) over the past week.

I just checked a major online Euro sportsbook and they have Spain as a fairly large favorite, which surprises me. I am actually tempted to make my first sports bet ever, but I won’t. It’s almost definitely a good bet, but how painful would it be to pick Holland to win the World Cup before the tourney began and only bet on them in the finals, if they lose? Ouch.

It’s the 3rd final for Holland. The previous two times were 74 and 78, where we lost to the hosts both times. Such is variance, it’s pretty clear both times Holland was the best team. Heck, in 78 Cruyff didn’t even play because he didn’t like Argentina’s dictatorship. Pretty bad decision on his part, of course: if he’d played, highly unlikely that Argentina wins in 78, which definitely could’ve led to a dictatorship collapse earlier.

One thing I don’t see mentioned very often: the Netherlands is currently setting the all-time FIFA record with 14 consecutive wins in official competetions (that is, this World Cup and qualifiers). That speaks to the quality of this Dutch side, doesn’t it?


2010 is not the lowest scoring World Cup

July 10, 2010

I have just run the numbers and 2010 will not be not the lowest scoring World Cup in modern history. Post-group play the number of goals per game is above average.

It’s still awfully close to being the lowest scoring World Cup, but 1990 will remain the king of low scoring. 1990, of course, was when Argentina made it to the finals against Germany despite scoring 5 goals in the entire World Cup. Yes, that’s right…Argentina scored less than a goal per game and made it to the finals. Pretty amazing, huh?

Edit to note: Graphs and charts to come tomorrow after Holland wins and we have final numbers.


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