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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 – Premier League Saturday

Written by on December 16, 2011 | 22 Comments »
Posted in Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, English Premier League, Everton, Fulham, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Stoke City, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers

Blackburn v West Brom

Dropping more leads than a careless detective – West Brom have dropped 11 points from winning positions this season – only Blackburn are worse they have dropped 12.

Everton v Norwich

Over the years Everton have earned a reputation as a tough nut to crack – even for good teams. Not so this season – 15 of their 16 points have come against sides currently in the bottom half of the table.

They have also failed to score in four home matches this PL season and have lost 4 of 7 at home.

Landon Donovan cannot pull on that blue jersey quickly enough Everton have failed to put a shot on target in their last 2 games

With Norwich this weekend’s opponents it is a case of heads-up – with ten goals coming from headers Norwich City lead the Premier League in that category 

All four goals in a 4-2 win against Newcastle last weekend came from crosses

The twin peaks of Grant Holt and Steve Morison have scored a total of ten goals in Norwich’s last seven PL games.

Fulham v Bolton

Bolton are in a very uncomfortable position in the Premier League. Such is their predicament they will look at a point against Fulham as a positive. If they do it will their first draw of the season.

Bolton have only led in 3 games this season out of the 15 played and they won these three – 4-0, 3-1, 5-0.

Bolton have lost 17 of their last 20 Premier League games.

Ivan Klasnic has been involved in some way in 11 of Bolton’s 20 goals this season and he currently has a phenomenal conversion rate of 41% goals to attempts on goal.

Shoot – Fulham’s Clint Dempsey needs no such encouragement this season – only 3 players in the entire league have attempted more shots on goal.

Newcastle v Swansea

Injuries have taken a toll and Newcastle has now allowed 7 goals in last two matches after allowing only 12 in first 13 games.

Newcastle had a make-shift centre back partnership of James Perch and Danny Simpson against Norwich last week and it failed – 4 goals allowed and three of them headers

Swansea with two points have the poorest away record in the Premier League.  

But it hasn’t stopped the Fantasy Football bargain of the season Michel Vorm from recording 7 clean sheets in 15 games and saving two penalties.

Wolverhampton v Stoke

Stoke beat Spurs last Sunday at the Britannia but away from home their record is poor.

They did beat Everton at Goodison two weeks ago but that was only their  2nd win in their last 17 away PL matches.

Wolves are the worst 1st half team in the league – only led once after 45 minutes

Seventeen of the 28 goals Wolves have conceded have come in 1st half – scored 5 vs 11 allowed in second forty-five minutes

Wigan v Chelsea

Back to back away wins for Wigan for the first time in 5 years at West Brom and Sunderland but this game is at the apparently unfriendly confines of the DW Stadium – Wigan are without a home win since August.

Wigan’s win at West Brom moved them out of bottom three for first time in 2 months but Sunderland comeback win over Blackburn win returned Wigan to the bottom three.

Wigan have only beaten Chelsea once in the Premier League in 12 attempts but on a number of occasions Wigan have pushed Chelsea hard. There again there have been some real blow-outs as well!

Chelsea have two London derbies coming up Spurs on Thursday and Fulham Boxing Day.

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22 responses to “Open Thread – Premier League Saturday”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Tough day as Christopher Hitchins passes and we may have finally seen the last of an English unfulfilled talent as QPR midfielder Kieron Dyer has been ruled out for the rest of the season following a foot injury in a reserve game.

  2. redfan says:

    Looking forward to the Villa game myself but the season as a whole looks so unpredictable in the Premier League. It will be down to the wire again this season not just for the top 4 but also for the relegation battle. Many surprises are yet to come but for us to ascend to second spot may well depend on who Kenny signs in the transfer window to replace the injured Lucas. I still think City will win the league but with the Christmas/New Year schedule coming up it will be interesting to see where things stand come mid Jan. It was my prediction that we would get 2nd spot (between my avid sons and myself) and I still think Citeh will win it.
    Chelsea are at the start of a rebuild and I doubt they will finish in the top 4. Much of tomorrows fodder is incidental to the battles in hand save only for Dave Whelan’s fear that his holiday in the Premier league is about over. I doubt they will survive and I can’t see them winning tomorrow. Time will tell for sure but for this pundit that is about as much as I have said in two seasons.

  3. Max says:

    Liverpool won’t make it in the top four as RedFan thinks. It’s between City and United for the title. I think United will kick into form during the second half of the season and win it, but it’ll be tight.

  4. Watched the Newcastle – Swansea match. Newcastle the better side but Swansea defending away from home as effectively as they do at home in this case.
    West of Scotland manager update
    CONCACAF 2-0 Bolton – Coyle up to his neck now, same goes for Kean as West Brom scores late to win 2-1. Blackburn v Bolton on Tuesday
    David Moyes gets a late equalizer from Leon Osman to scratch out a point against Paul Lambert’s Norwich.

  5. J Rob says:

    Feel for Kean at Blackburn. Limited resources, unpopular owners and doing the best he can but loathed by many Blackburn fans. I wonder who they fancy as a potential replacement. Perhaps more pertinently who would want to manage Blackburn currently?

    I scratch my head re: Bolton. No Chung-Yong Lee or Stewart Holden but you would think that Owen Coyle could have made some improvement in their defending during the course of 16 games.

    Can’t wait for Man City vs Arsenal tomorrow. Will be interesting to see what Wenger decides to do with the team formation having watched City’s recent games vs Chelsea and Liverpool. Should be a great game.

  6. Soccerlogical says:

    J ROB – I don’t get all this “limited resources” excuse. Show me one side in the bottom half that wouldn’t kill for a Robinson, Scot Dann, Samba, Dunn, Hoilett, Gamst and a Yak up front… is that a weak spine?

    As for Owen “Nasal septum deviation” Coyle, I never rated him and there is still enough quality on that side and NO EXCUSE for being dead last. He keeps yalking about getting the club on the right financial footing and competitive for years to come as if he is managing Arsenal. The only intelligent decision Coyle has made was releasing the overrated one trick pony which is Elmander and sticking with Klasnic (a Gary Megson buy) up front.

  7. J Rob says:

    SL – fair point on Blackburn’s spine.

    Feeling good about the Arsenal tomorrow?

  8. J Rob says:

    So much internal fantasy conflict. Would love to see Chelsea continue to be held by Wigan but also would love it if Mata scored for my fantasy team.

  9. Sunday preview will be up later today. A lot of good matches in prospect.
    Dundee on the cusp of a big win at Ross County. Down to ten men and leading 1-0 but they gave up a late equalizer.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    J ROB – I’m interested to see how Wenger’s “thrifty” CB purchases of Mertesecker and to an extent Kocielny/Djourou defend against MC and more importantly against Milan. Should Mertesecker get turned into a pretzel by the likes of Aguerro and Pato, and Kocielny/Djourou look like deer in headlights against the likes of Mario and Ibra then it’s yet another season of “penny pinching a few million, team is maturing, young players need time, blah blah blah..”

    The only thing more disappointing than teams’ title challenges being held back by lack of cohesion is teams’ title challenge being held by by either the manager’s/owner’s/board stubbornness and hubris.

    Arsenal are the perfect example of the famous saying “A team can’t win the league in the early stage of the season BUT they sure as hell can lose it!”

  11. Gus Keri says:

    Arsenal has the habit of collapsing sometime in the late February or early March. Last year, uncharacteristically, they collapsed in early April, as I recall.

    This year I predict they will go back to their true form. Their collapse will come a bit earlier than last year. They will collapse in the early March.

    PS: “Arsenal collapse” according to the Webster is “exiting all cup competitions at once and losing any ground in any league positional fight at the same time”

  12. J Rob says:

    I have been impressed by how Wenger has turned around Arsenal in the last 3 months. At the end of August they were shockingly bad. Can’t remember the exact stats but they have barely lost since then.

    As Bobby has pointed out they seem to defend a lot better with the confident, authoritative presence of Vermaelen. Think he might be joining my fantasy team after this weekend. Don’t think there is a better CB in the opposition’s penalty box either. At 5.11 he has great timing and a great leap in the air.

    So here is a question? Watching the end of the Wigan vs Chelsea game with a friend. He asked a great question: what would Roberto Martinez be able to do if he was given a Chelsea or Liverpool budget? Wigan really do play some nice football at times. Likewise, Brendan Rodger’s at Swansea (maybe a tad premature) or David Moyes?

  13. Gus Keri says:

    Knowing how the FSR always ranks the long distance goals ahead of the dribbling ones, I can bet that Ronaldo’s goal is going to be the goal of the week, unless someone dares to score a goal from a longer distance.

    A fabulous strike.

  14. Koscielny has been one of Arsenal’s better players in Europe. He reads the game as well as nay defender around and his anticipation is terrific. His problems usually come from more physical forwards.

  15. John Bladen says:

    JRob:

    I don’t think it’s down to Wenger’s influence that Arsenal are a better squad now than they were in August. Last summer they were a squad with 5 (or sometimes more) new faces regularly in the first team and more than one key defender out injured. (As an aside, look at the squad that went down to the infamous 8-2 defeat… despite all the howling and crying at the time, is it any wonder that that 11 lost that badly? Not to me).

    As discussed at the time, even good clubs need time playing together to gel into a team. The Gunners were always going to be better come the end of November (injured players back, new ones having had 12 games or so to work out tactics, positioning and responsibilities). When a club makes that many changes (forced or otherwise), it takes time to discover what they have and don’t have.

    Now, for some alleged Arsenal fans, it was piss and moan in the summer when they were terrible, and it’s still piss and moan now because they aren’t leading the league. This belies a complete lack of understanding as to how clubs are built, even at the elite level.

    For the rest of us, it’s just a fact: This Arsenal team isn’t a title challenger. We all know it, and adding two $30m players isn’t going to change that (despite what you may hear from the peanut gallery). It’s about rebuilding the club after years of talent sales (and a couple of outright defections).

    Take a look at Man U’s defense these days. We aren’t the only ones facing a rebuild…

  16. Soccerlogical says:

    John Bladen – The main difference between Arsenal’s and Manyoo’s “rebuild” is Fergie’s success in RECENT years. More importantly, a defensive depth of Mertesecker, Santos, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Djourou, Squillaci, Kocielny and Vermaellen DOES NOT compare to Rio, Vidic, Jones, Evra, Smalling, Rafael, Fabio and Evans.

    Sometimes “peanut gallery” fans need to voice concern and not drink the Wenger “bug juice” and follow blindly like peasants.

    Don’t tell me, now is the time you bring up financial stability and FFP which mean absolutely nothing whatsoever if you read the details and account for all the creative bookkeeping and FFP loopholes which are provided to clubs.

    PS Arsenal are the only club with 2 Billionaire shareholders where either the manager or board (but most probably the manager) chizzled a few million on a desperately needed CB and FB during the summer transfer window which cost us a proper run at the EPL title.

  17. John Bladen says:

    SL: Your pining for a Cahill signing is overwhelming you… You aren’t his agent are you? You seem to be the only one dying on that particular ‘hill (pardon the pun, everyone)

    BTW, do you enjoy asking and answering your own ‘questions’ (even attributing those questions to others)? Apparently so. Such behaviour is the refuge of the small minded, of course.

    Actually, the main difference between the Man U and AFC rebuilds is that Arsenal is a couple of years further into their rebuild. If you’ve watched Ferdinand lately instead of dreaming of new ways to insult Mertesacker and co, you’d know that. If you understood anything at all about building a club, you’d know that “a CB and FB” would not put Arsenal into a run for the EPL title.

    Are you old enough to remember how the AFC squads of the early 2000’s were built? How about the Man U teams of the mid/late 90s? When made, high profile signings were undertaken to buttress the developing core of top quality players and mould them into a championship side… not as a panacea to whining pseudo-fans.

  18. John Bladen says:

    Bobby:

    I think your comments about Koscielny could also be applied to Mertesacker (albeit that it’s still early days for him).

    The physical side of the EPL game is the biggest adjustment for those coming from continental europe, imo. I still believe that both can make that adjustment in time, but we’ll see.

  19. J Rob says:

    To try and adjudicate here as a neutral I was surprised when Wenger didn’t buy a CB last January. After the loss to Birmingham in the League Cup Final and the capitulation to Newcastle at St. James Park the heart seemed to go out of the team. Even more frustrating given if I am correct both RVP and Fabregas were free of injury for the last few months of the season.

  20. Soccerlogical says:

    John Bladen – An extra few million in the summer for a Samba, Hangeland, Baines or even Maynor Figueroa of Wigan would have made all the difference to our start. Any EPL experienced defender would have given us a few points as opposed to saving a few million on a slow aging German defender and a chubby and risky Brazilian LB.

    As for Arsenal’s advance rebuild to that of Manyoo. Other than missing Cleverly (who has shown his worth both on loan at Wigan and Manyoo) and refraining from buying a proven creative mid a la Sneijder, Manyoo has shown that it can compete with the loss of a few vital cogs. Are you actually saying that Arsenal’s defensive and overall team depth is further along in development than Manyoos? Not to mention that a vital cog like Arteta has another year or two left in those legs and we have shown time and time again that without Vermallen and RVP Arsenal are as impotent in scoring as Liverpool and as leaky as Bolton.

  21. John Bladen says:

    SL: 27 is ‘aging’? Really? quick, tell Guardiola…

    Off the Cahill bandwagon, I see… perhaps you’ve noticed (belatedly) that no-one else was interested in buying him at the advertised price…

    J Rob: Fair comment. But we don’t know who Wenger was in the running for… just that he didn’t get the major name that some fans demanded. I’m absolutely sure he tried, but you don’t always get those you bid on. And if someone (or someone’s agent, more correctly) gives reassuring comments/commitments and then goes elsewhere, you can easily be left holding the parcel as it were.

    None of us can know, but I strongly suspect that is what happened to Wenger last fall. And it happened to other managers too.

  22. Soccerlogical says:

    JB – Mertesecker was becoming a liability at leaky Bremen and has lost his starting berth (and legs) for the German NT.

    Cahill is a good defender.. any intelligent fan knows that a good player doesn’t just become shite overnight and he would still be a great asset at any top team. I guess you’ve reverted to putting words in people’s mouths. Sorry for assuming you actually knew what you are talking about and were familiar with the likes of Samba, Hangeland and Figueroa.. next time I’ll just stick to big bold font headline names on SKY and BBC… keep it simple for ya!

    By the way, if you follow Arsenal you would know that most of the “frustrated” weren’t demanding for the likes of Hazard or Goetze but a proven EPL defender (or two) which would have cost an extra 5-10M… which is peanuts except for the fact that Wenger’s hubris and principles preclude him from paying premium, even if it’s and extra 5M and would cost Arsenal a true run at the title as it has this year… AGAIN.

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