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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Open Thread – Focus Turns To Games This Weekend

Written by on February 11, 2012 | 15 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League, Serie A

What a week it has been. Harry Redknapp was cleared of tax evasion, Fabio Capello walks into the FA office as England’s manager and walks out as the former manager and Deloitte’s publish their annual money list. 

The good news is that the schedule this weekend looks very promising. The early game has the always combustible Manchester United – Liverpool encounter.

Then we have Everton at home to Chelsea. Everton wins over Chelsea have been few and far between but Everton have caused Chelsea a consistent headache for the last few seasons.

Arsenal travels to the Stadium of Light for the first of two meetings with Sunderland. Next week it will be the FA Cup but first the Premier League. A win for Sunderland would put them within four points of Arsenal and arguably within shouting distance of 4th.

On the other hand the Martin O’Neill turnaround has to run out of steam at some point.

Arsenal’s short-term  fixture list after this match

  • 15/02 AC Milan (A)
  • 18/02 Sunderland (A)
  • 26/02 Tottenham (H)
  • 03/03 Liverpool (A)
  • 06/03 AC Milan (H)
  • 12/03 Newcastle (H)
  • 17/03 Everton (A)

That is a very tough run.

The last time Spurs faced Newcastle they let a late lead slip and each team finished with a point a piece. After a tricky spell of league fixtures and a FA Cup exit to Brighton Newcastle has rallied and are still very much in the race for 4th.

The other games on Saturday have Blackburn Rovers at home to Queens Park Rangers, Wigan are at Bolton in a relegation 6-pointer, Fulham plays Stoke and two promoted sides, Swansea and Norwich clash in Wales. 

Sunday has Wolves at home to West Brom. Wolves are in a relegation fight while West Brom could yet slip down into the mire.

The late Sunday game has Manchester City traveling to play Aston Villa. If City have one concern it probably their poor away form of late. For Villa it is been their home form. The last six home games have not included a single win and a seventh would break a record set nearly a quarter of a decade ago.

If the weather does not impact Serie A this weekend the Milan at Udinese game is the one that stands out. No Ibrahimovic for Milan on account of his sly slap on Aronica last week.

Udinese’s home record is quite phenomenal with 31 of a possible 33 points and they have only conceded five games.

On Sunday Bologna will be the latest team to try and bring the undefeated run of Juventus to an end.

In Libreville, Gabon the 2012 African Cup of Nations will be played between the Ivory Coast and Zambia. Later on Saturday Shona Black will have an article on what will surely be one of the most emotional games of this other any other year. 

Any thoughts on this weekend’s games or particular games you are looking forward to?

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15 responses to “Open Thread – Focus Turns To Games This Weekend”

  1. J Rob says:

    Another pretty terrible game. To think I got 3 hours sleep in order to watch it. All goals came from mistakes. With the exception of about ten minutes in each half Man Utd didn’t play that well. Liverpool poor apart from the first ten minutes. Spearing’s mistake the decider. Oh dear. Stewart Downing..he plays a little worse with every game. Welbeck showed he’s poor on his left side. Valencia by some degrees the best player on the park. Thought Phil Dowd did very well on such a tough occasion.

    As for Louis Suarez..not fit to wear the Liverpool shirt. Desperately hope he gets transfered at the end of the season. He will only bring unnecessary controversy and besmirch Liverpool’s reputation as long as he is at Anfield.

    And yet again the last thing people will remember will the football match. What a season.

  2. Soccerlogical says:

    Can’t decide which makes me happier, my prediction that Fulham will be a force to reckon with by adding the formidable striker Pogrebnyak or Mark Hughes struggling at QPR! 🙂

  3. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    How about your prediction about Henry being a bust? How did that work out for you?

  4. Erik says:

    I picked Norwich to stay UP but never in a billion years did I think they would be a T10 side. NEVER! I think I had them 17th or 16th at the highest.

    Roberto Martinez is Rasputin. No other way to put it. EVERY SINGLE TIME you think this team is DEAD they stun you and get 3 points when you thought they wouldn’t get any. IF Wigan stays UP Martinez is my MOY. As for Bolton – 3 montns from now they might look back on this missed opportunity and regret it.

    Looks like we might be getting an update soon on this site: http://www.hasandrevillasboasbeensackedyet.com/

  5. Boris says:

    What a performance by Tottenham. Adebayor had one of those games….

  6. Soccerlogical says:

    AG – I guess Henry served his purpose in distracting certain birdbrain Arsenal fans…. as Arsenal lie 15 points behind a Manyoo side which is rebuilding and stricken with defensive injuries.

    For someone who thought the likes of Djourou was a good defender and Arsenal had a proper shot at the title… you really insist on flaunting your “insight” don’t ya? LOL

  7. KennyD says:

    —Just wanted to add in a comment to both Alberta and SoccerLogical (good name), to be fair the vast public hoped that Henry wouldn’t make a fool of himself. Any success was to be treated as great success. He wasn’t exactly fit when he showed up, scored 3 goals (I believe), 2 at the Emirates, 2 of them winners, and kept them in the FA Cup. He hasn’t delivered anything amazing, but he delivered something, and things could’ve been worse.

    Before being cast as a blind Arsenal supporter, i love Manchester United. However, I discuss sports as a neutral.—

  8. fabr04 says:

    I’m sure Liverpool’s owners don’t want to be heavy-handed after the Hicks/Gillett debacle, but I wonder how much more they can take before they step in. This has gone beyond a football problem; it’s now a branding problem, a business problem, and the owners didn’t make all their money by letting business problems fester.

    Dalglish assured the media that Suarez would shake Evra’s hand; he didn’t. That must mean that either (a) Dalglish lied to the media, or (b) Dalglish can’t control his players. Either one is a problem that the owners need to address ASAP.

  9. fabr04 says:

    Also, echoing J Rob above: credit to Phil Dowd for doing a good job with what must have been a tough match to officiate.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    KENNYD – My skepticism about the Henry loan was the ramifications on strikers Yung and Chamakh who were bought for long term and who have displayed talent and ability when given a chance.

    Henry was Wenger’s plan B (for the 5 matches) as Yung and Chamakh’s confidence deteriorates from warming the bench. Now Henry has departed, we are still in the same boat, fighting for 4th and 15 points behind a rebuilding and somewhat injury stricken Manyoo. Yet blind Arsenal supporters like AG keep parroting Wenger’s comments without showing an iota of original analysis or thought.

  11. Ed Gomes says:

    Suarez has instigated plenty of problems on the field. He’s always with the heavy pat to the opponents head when they’re supposedly apologizing to each other. Drawing a shove and then doing the hands in the air “what me” look.
    What he did is inexcusable. I have defended him since he went back at Evra in as harsh a manner as he had felt aggrieved himself. If he would have come out and said as such after his suspension and said that he wouldn’t shake his hand, I could have understood.
    This is a huge problem for Liverpool due to branding. People in Boston are already screaming that no money has been spent on the Red Sox this off season due to Liverpool spending. The fact remains that Liverpool needs Suarez to play at a high level. Not even sure if the jury is still out on Carroll and Dowing or even Henderson.
    Let me add that Liverpool just looked dead in the water. No fire or know how after going down 2-0. They actually have to depend on Bellamy. Really? Kyut has completely disappears as well. What exactly has Dalglish done with a supposed improved squad?

    As for Man United they did enough. I didn’t think they were great, but these mat he’s are rarely that. They got he job done verse an inferior squad and keep the pressure on City.

    Henry has been surprise to me especially since he wasn’t in game shape. I do agree that he was more of a distraction from their current issues than anything else. Anything they get out of him on the field and merchandising is gravy. If he even earns them points, like he has, it’s Wengerific.

    I to will be rooting hard for Hughes to fall on his face. I’m still baffled on how he dictates terms on any deal, even though he has accomplished nothing. A genius in his own mind only.
    Let me add that I was also hoping “The Quitter” O’Neill would have flopped at Sunderland. Now I just might get the irony of him leaving Sunderland on a lurch for Spurs and failing to reach a top 4 spot.

    AVB still has a job? That’s incredible.
    The loss to Everton was incredible. No excuse for such a preformance.
    Will see Abram on the bench itself, next?
    On a funny side note, AVB was even mentioned as an Inter possibility should he be let go at Chelsea. Lol.

  12. J Rob says:

    I for one will find it very hard to forgive Suarez. Dalglish, right or wrong, has backed him to the hilt for the last 5 months in affect putting his own reputation on the line.

    Yesterday he gave the appearance of lying about the non-handshake. It’s repugnant and humiliating he was put in that position.

    Suarez also let down his team-mates. I wonder if Liverpool’s flat performance in the 2nd half reflected this?I wonder how the owners feel? Interesting that Ian Ayre made a statement too. You have to wonder if this whole shabby affair won’t have negatively affected LFC’s ability to find a naming rights partner for any new stadium.

    And beyond that – Suarez has NOT been a success on the pitch. For all his wonderful invention with the ball and tenacity he does not score enough goals and frequently spurns match-winning chances. The latest example was against Spurs last Monday. The header from about 8 yards should have been a goal.

    Yes, Kuyt and Carroll are also at fault but his chance/conversion ratio just isn’t good enough. Where is the player who scored 4 in his last competitive outing for Uruguay or scored about 2 goals every 3 games for Ajax? Liverpool desperately need to see that player if they are to have any chance of a top-four finish. God knows Louis Suarez owes that to his manager Kenny Dalglish after yesterday and the prior 5 months.

  13. J Rob says:

    Have to give my 2 cents about Henry and Arsenal as a LFC fan who always likes to see the Gooners do well.

    Henry’s goal yesterday may be the difference between a #5 and #4 finish. Ironic as well the perfect cross that led to it came from a player as welcome as piles for most Arsenal fans – Arshavin.

    Moreover, with Gibbs on the bench Arsenal should be looking at playing a natural left-back in that position going forward which will allow Vermaelen to play in his best position too.

    I am sure most Arsenal fans of faith give a wee prayer every week for the continued fitness of RVP but beyond that there’s nothing to say they won’t go on a good run for the rest of the season.

    I can see Soccer Logical and other Arsenal fan’s point. They shouldn’t be scrapping for 4th place but for pole position especially since they are possibly the most financially sound club in the EPL (possibly all of Europe).

  14. Ed Gomes says:

    A question that I don’t thing has been posed yet.
    During the whole handshake debacle at Old Tradford, Ferdinand refused to shake Suarez hand as well.
    The question I have is;
    Was Ferdinand NOT going to shake Suarez hand no matter what, or did he refuse due to Suarez blowing off Evra?
    In watching the replays I admit in thinking that he was going to blow off Suarez no matter what. The irony of it all is that if Suarez would have shaken Evras hand and gotten blown off by Ferdinand, the upheaval would have been a bit different, no?

    It’s late Sunday and AVB still has a job? This is crazy. Even Scolari is wondering how come.

  15. KennyD says:

    @SoccerLogical I see where you’re coming from. I thought you were speaking from the view of an Arsenal critic, not a supporter. My mistake. Now that you mention it, I can’t think of any match play I’ve seen out of Park Chu-Young at all. I remember a slight bit out of Marouane, but thats how life is for him at the moment. I can see where your frustration is at the moment. You are looking for a better position in the table; can’t fault you for that. The problem is Arsene is approaching the last part season from a financial standpoint (i.e. Champions League qualification, bringing back a club legend), so the things for supporters to grab on to aren’t of the caliber as in years past, but honestly I credit you for not blindly grabbing on to those things.

    @Ed Gomes From the video, I don’t see what you’re seeing. Although this issuehas hit Rio close to home, it’s not as if he’s done it a clear, pre-meditated motion (i.e. Wayne Bridge), he’s clearly had his hand out in preparation. And judging by the video, he’s taken special interest to see what Luis has done. Plus, I don’t think it would have been worth blowing him off and then tweeting about it if he’d planned on it anyway. From today’s (Sunday) press, it seems clear that the only person unwilling to “tow the company line” was Luis, which I didn’t expect to hear at all.

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