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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

Caught the Eye – Hoilett Does Double-Duty, Tiote & Cabaye Double-Trouble, Liverpool Double-Yellows

Written by on September 18, 2011 | 4 Comments »
Posted in General

1. Junior Hoilett rebounded – if that is not an insensitive description – after a horrific collision with Mark Schwarzer late in the game against Fulham last Sunday.

Hoilett not only started against Arsenal but he also played a pivotal role (two roles really) in Blackburn’s win. In the first half  his pace caused Bacary Sagna some nervous moments.

Until Yakubu’s goal against the run of play Hoilett looked like the man most likely to create something for Blackburn.

Come the second half Steve Kean dropped Hoilett into midfield and although he saw less of the ball his contribution may have been even greater. Hoilett started to play in the areas that Song and Arteta had exploited in the first half and suddenly Arsenal were not only less threatening but also frustrated.

2. Yakubu was a surprise starter for Blackburn and it paid off with two goals. But before Blackburn fans get too carried  away they may want to have a few words with Pompey, Boro and Everton fans.

Yakubu’s talent as never been in doubt but his application and focus has. In order to maintain his goal production the  Blackburn coaching staff are going to have to have a box of motivational tricks on hand.

3. The camera cannot pan to Marouane Chamakh without a commentator stating that he lost form after a good start and that Wenger has lost faith in him.

Chamakh was signed to give Arsenal another option but for much of last season Arsenal  used him as if he was Robin Van Persie’s twin.

If Arsenal is to get value from Chamakh they have to be willing to deliver better quality crosses into the box. It was too late  and too little but Chamakh’s header was a reminder of what he can do when he receives good service.

4. Newcastle were extremely unlucky not to leave Villa Park with three points. Villa seemed to take their early goal as a sign of a home win without the need for  further application.

Newcastle dominated the second half with the exception of the closing moments when Villa pushed forward and threatened .

Tiote and Cabaye were outstanding in the midfield and they are forming a partnership that many teams will envy.

At the moment Cabaye must be considered one of the best signings of the summer. Industrious, combative and a fine passer he also rattled the crossbar just seconds before Leon Best equalized.

5. Wolves’ battle to avoid relegation last season was based around a solid work-ethic, a never say die attitude and  resilience in the face of often heart breaking losses. On Saturday QPR went to Molineux and out-Wolves Wolves.

Right from the opening whistle QPR played with a commitment and energy that Wolves were unable to match. Wolves showed a marginal improvement in the second half but nothing close to what was needed to overturn QPR’s lead.

6. Perhaps it was the fact that both teams had been on the receiving end of thumpings in midweek CONCACAF Champions League action but the first half between Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids was anemic.

Things improved in the second half with the Rapids paying the price for allowing crosses to be played into their penalty area.

Nonetheless the Rapids would have escaped with a point if the excellent Richard Eckersley had not cleared off his line with only seconds remaining.

7. On paper the ingredients (the players) were top class so perhaps we have to blame the chefs (the coaches). Inter and Roma rarely rose above the level of what you would expect to see from a second tier league.

Players seemed bemused by the roles they were being asked to play, there was little or no flow to the game and turnovers were a constant feature.

With the exception of a flurry in added time the standard got worse as the game progressed – although using the word “progressed” gives the wrong impression, “wore on” might be better.

Inter will come in for the greater criticism as the home side. Watching the European Champions of two seasons ago you sensed that there were far too many players being asked to play roles that they are either not capable of playing or no longer capable of playing.

Diego Milito is a good example. He  was too involved in the build-up play rather than allowing him to operate in and around the penalty box where he does his best business.

8. Liverpool have been at their best this season when they have played a high-tempo game. Tottenham, however, turned the tables and never looked like losing the Sunday encounter. The ball movement was swift and incisive and always carried a threat in and around the Liverpool penalty area.

Any chance of a Liverpool resurgence was hampered by yellow card trouble that turned into Liverpool playing with only nine men. With a full side it is doubtful Spurs would have scored four but nonetheless on the day they were yards better than Liverpool.

9. Rangers 4-2 win over Celtic in the first Old Firm derby of the season was emphatic. Celtic had gone in at the break leading 2-1 – a McGregor howler giving Celtic the lead – but Rangers showed far more drive, energy and self-belief than Celtic.

USA internationals Maurice Edu and Carlos Bocanegra both started for Rangers and put in solid performances.

10. Manchester United’s latest win followed the pattern of others that have come before. A swashbuckling performance that saw them score 3 but still give their opponents chances to get on the scoreboard.

In fact the biggest surprise was that we only got 4 goals when we could easily have been in double figures. Nani contributed a goal, a very fortunate assist and was brought down for a penalty that Rooney subsequently missed.

The Portuguese winger was brilliant and was rewarded by seeing out 90 minutes and by having the cameras follow him off the park at the final whistle! Surely a sign that his time has now come.

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4 responses to “Caught the Eye – Hoilett Does Double-Duty, Tiote & Cabaye Double-Trouble, Liverpool Double-Yellows”

  1. rahul says:

    good point on # 3 Bobby.

    Chamakh had a few bad games in Dec/Jan 10-11 and he has barely played since then… It would be nice to see a 4-4-2, but what do I know?

    United looked great. They are so clinical….

  2. J Rob says:

    An excruciatingly painful game for this LFC fan. Spurs are top 4 bound if Adebayor continues in this form and Scott Parker stays fit. Another day it could have been 6 or 8 to Spurs. LFC were completely lethargic.

    Moreover, Dalglish picked the wrong team and got his tactics completely wrong. Flanagan or Robinson would have preferable to Skertel at right-back. Adam’s slowness was really shown up against a first-class midfield and Henderson’s inexperience was glaring. I remember the last time Liverpool played against a team with Parker in it using a 4-4-2 formation away from home. Lost 3-1 to West Ham.

    Anyone else agree that Spurs starting midfield of Parker, Modric, Van Der Vaart and Bale is close to a match of those of Man City and Man Utd on a good day?

    Also, Spurs fans have to be delighted with Adebayor. Spurs’ biggest weakness of a true cutting edge up front has been eradicated. He played in the same form as the 2007/2008 season when he scored 2 goals every 3 games for Arsenal. In addition to scoring he did a great job of closing down the Liverpool supply lines.

    I am humbled and depressed tonight. Well played Spurs.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    What’s more amusing… Roberto Scarfini claiming he doesn’t have enough central midfielders after Man City’s away draw to Fulham or the lack of transparency at Arsenal where a club with 2 Billionaire shareholders actually penny pinches a few million on defenders which would make the club a legit title contender?

  4. J Rob says:

    Amusing / bizarre that Scarfini took off Silva (Man City’s best creator) at 2-1. Can you imagine Fergie doing that?

    The title will come down to small margins – will this be one?

    Also, I think that Man Utd have spent a lot of time practicing set-pieces, crosses and shooting.

    Someone who love stats could probably confirm that their goal to shot/header ratio has never been greater.

    Overall, I think the EPL is getting tougher and tighter. I know that Alex McLeish thinks that the gap between the top clubs and others is getting bigger but below that top three or four I’d disagree.

    Look at Swansea, Norwich and QPR. You’d hardly say that any look like obvious relegation targets.

    Beyond that Newcastle look very good and Stoke have definitely improved on paper.

    The results that Liverpool, Norwich, West Brom and Stoke suffered this week have a common thread. When you come out the gates lethargic, with poor-tactical awareness and underestimate your opponents you are likely to get thumped.

    I am really enjoying the season thus far.

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