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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 – More Like Blinded By The (Manchester) Light

Written by on August 29, 2011 | 17 Comments »
Posted in General

1. The Villa-Wolves game was one I was looking forward given that I expect both teams to improve on last season’s positions. I still hold that view but the game was disappointing.

In attack Bent for Villa and Doyle and Fletcher for Wolves were starved of service. In the case of Wolves it was mostly down to a very conservative approach that emphasized the safe pass rather than an adventurous one – even now again.

Wolves fans might point to a flurry of attacks at the end but it really was too little too late.

For Villa it seemed to be more a case of having square pegs in round holes. * Emile Heskey may well have a role to play in this Villa side but as a support striker in the centre of a bank of three behind Darren Bent is not it. He doesn’t have a range of passes or the vision to take advantage of Bent’s runs of defenders.

Villa looked most dangerous when N’Zogbia started to cut inside from the wing. McLeish brought on Bannan but initially asked him to play wide right which seemed to be a waste of his strengths.

Stephen Ireland remained on the Villa bench but he ever returns to form the role of playing provider and support to Bent is made to measure for him.

2. On Sunday Edin Dzeko became the latest import to prove to the masses that he can actually play a bit and despite the “pace” and “physicality” of the  Premier League that it might not be all that different than other leagues.

Four goals was an impressive haul and although Dzeko has been tagged as the most advanced striker in the Wolfsburg and now Manchester City set up, the reality is that he enjoys dropping deep and often does. The linked graphic shows how mobile *Dzeko was during the 5-1 whipping of Tottenham Hotspur.

3. Going into this weekend there had not been a goal scored directly from a free-kick. Given that Ashley Young stood a foot from the ball and stopped it then it would seem that Wayne Rooney’s two strikes will not count as direct scores.

Having Ashley Young in the Fantasy Football pool and not Wayne Rooney I am very grateful for the loop-hole in the rules.

Over the international break I am going to give serious consideration to making an audacious bid to sign Wayne Rooney given that over three rounds Rooney and the captaincy is the only thing between me and top of the table.

So in the best Arsene Wenger tradition I am proudly boasting that I lead the Rooney-less and captain-less Fox “Experts” Fantasy Football league. And yes it is a marathon and not a sprint.

4. Sunday illustrated again how Manchester United focus intently on getting the ball out to *Young and *Nani in wide positions. *Cleverley and *Anderson passing stats were up with the best and you can see how United are always looking for passing angles and rarely if ever opting for the “north/south” route.

5. No Joey Barton in QPR’s line-up against Wigan. That means that as long as he is fit his debut will take place two weeks today (Monday) against ……..Newcastle United.

6.  Chelsea fans cannot help but be impressed by * Juan Mata after he was introduced into the match with only a quarter of the game remaining. The Spaniard managed to complete a pass at a rate better than one per minute – 26 out of 28 for a 93% completion rate. Even one of his misplaced passes led to his goal.

7. Liverpool had beaten Bolton in their last nine meetings, scoring 23 goals and conceding just four. None the less they had to rely on late goals to get both wins last season. At Bolton the winner came in the 86th minute from Maxi and Anfield it was even later – Joe Cole scored the deciding goal in the last minute of regular time.

There was no need for late dramatics on Saturday. Liverpool put on a smooth and fluid display with only a momentary lapse allowing Bolton to put a more respectable look to the score line – something they did not deserve.

A player who will probably not make the headlines but who has settled quickly and effectively at Anfield is Jose Enrique. Tidy in possession Enrique is always looking to press forward with backward passes only an absolute last resort.

8. The league table shows Swansea without a goal to their name and 4 goals conceded. What it doesn’t tell us is that the four goals all came in a 33 minute spell in the opener against Manchester City.  Anyone who picked goalkeeper Michael Vorm in their Fantasy Football Pool must be delighted with the two shut outs and a penalty kick save as a bonus .

Of course anyone who picked a Swansea player to score will sadly disappointed after three games. Only 10 shots out of 32 attempts have hit the intended target but none have yet gone in.

Next up for Swansea after the international break is a visit to the Emirates.

9. Commentators and fans make mention at the time but the record books don’t differentiate between spectacular goals and those of the très ugly type. * Franco di Santo scored both of Wigan’s goals against QPR with help of deflections. Wigan’s other goal this season came from a Ben Watson penalty after who else but di Santo was fouled.

Di Santo played the equivalent of 10 full games last season for Wigan and around 13 for Blackburn the season before but only scored twice on 39 attempts on goal. Already the youngster who Chelsea allowed to leave in the summer of 2010 has matched that output but on only 8 attempts on goal.

10. Newcastle headed into their third Barclays Premier League game of the season as the only team yet to concede a goal. Fulham were without a win or goal so far in the Barclays Premier League. Two of the three runs were broken when Clint Dempsey scored what turned out to be a consolation goal with a couple of minutes remaining.  Newcastle making an excellent start to the new season but a few worries perhaps for fans from Craven Cottage.

11. The Hawthorns has been a good ground for Stoke and that continued to be the case on Sunday. A Tamas/Foster mix-up allowed Ryan Shotton (the new Rory Delap? although he never took one during his 15 minutes of fame this weekend) to score his first goal for Stoke.

Last season I nominated players for the Player of the Weekend Award based on games I watched. Obviously the readership as a group gets through more games than I do some I am interested in your nominations.

* indicates linked performance graphic.

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17 responses to “Caught the Eye – More Like Blinded By The (Manchester) Light”

  1. eponymous says:

    Bobby,

    Looking forward to tonight’s (Monday) commentary regarding Manchester U v. Arsenal – should be interesting.

  2. Andre says:

    I usually take the patient “marathon not a sprint” view when good teams like Arsenal start off slow but I have a feeling this time is different.

    They had a thin squad because of injuries and suspension but realistically the only Arsenal defender of elite calibre is Thomas Vermaelen. For a couple of seasons now their backline has been mediocre or worse and they managed to get by. I strongly believe the departures of Fabregas and Nasri will expose just how weak the defense is. Obviously neither of them are known for their tackling or ball-winning abilities but they allowed Arsenal to defend in posession and dictate the tempo of play (at least against most opponents). The dominance of play Arsenal established when play went through Fabregas’s feet made the other team adopt a less aggressive posture and lighten the load on the backline.

    They aren’t going to get crushed every time out like they did yesterday but I would be shocked to see Arsenal in the top four at the end of the season.

  3. Gus Keri says:

    Most of the player of the week votes will go to Dzeko (4 goals), Rooney (3 goals) or Ronaldo (3 gaols).

    Some might go for Messi (?5 goals today)

    But I would still give it to Lucas of Liverpool. With all the glamerous attacking names in the team, he still does the best job of any defensive midfielder in the EPL.

  4. J Rob says:

    Hard to look past Dzeko. Each one of his goals was just different but his looping backward header was technically sublime. Rooney made his free-kicks look easy – amazing stuff.

    Good call on Enrique. Ashley Young likewise looks like he has been playing for Man Utd for years.

    Glad to hear you discuss fantasy football Bobby. Let me run a Man City idea past you. Would you agree that Nasri may be better value than Silva as a midfielder as he will score more and contribute about the same number of assists?

  5. J Rob
    More goals yes – so probably a good call.

  6. Blake says:

    Agree with Gus, Lucas played a great game this weekend. Love that some of the fox soccer crew finally got into fantasy as well. Anderson has been a great pick on my FF team as far as substitutes go, cheapish value on the premier leagues fantasy setup, not sure about foxsoccers. Rooney and Young had way too good of a pre – season to leave them off any team at the moment ala last year and Carlos Tevez. I just wish Odemwingie could get fit!

    Maybe you could do a weekly fantasy preview or something along those lines this year Bobby, I for one would really enjoy that.

    J Rob,

    Although you didn’t ask me i’d say Nasri. Arteta will pick up the same kind of stats for Everton along the way that Silva tends to pick up in FF and i’d suspect he is cheaper.

  7. John Bladen says:

    Shocking development Gus! You give PoW to an LFC boy!
    He did play well, no question.

    Andre: Good points re the midfield. It now has nearly as many holes as the defense has had the past 3 seasons.

  8. John Bladen says:

    Bobby: Forlan @ Inter. Thoughts?

  9. John – Inter was going to be interesting with Gasperini taking over – now it is extremely interesting. With the edition of Forlan it offers Inter to adopt a Uruguay type set up with Milito and Pazzini in attack with Forlan just behind.

    No it is a case of seeing how he uses Sneijder – can’t think of a time when he has had such a good midfielder available to him.

  10. offthepost says:

    I picked up Vorm for my fantasy team after having seen him play against man city and it’s hard to pick up good starting keepers for less.

  11. Andres Santos heading to Arsnal – not sure about that signing based on Brazil NT showings

  12. OffthePost – great pick up as it stands.

  13. Soccerlogical says:

    OK Bobby, enough with the Fantasy League tips, let em do their own homework! 🙂

    Should Wenger “take a piss” on all the fans and use the reported 70M transfer kitty to sign 2nd-3rd tier “good value” or “potential” players like Santos in the next 2 days to address our problems. I will be the first to start a petition to get the likes of Klopp, Pep, Garcia (Lille) or Martinez (Wigan) for the 2012-13 season…. even if Wenger manages to finish 4th which I doubt.

    PS Tell Eoin that was the best damn Beckham impression I have ever heard… Eoin truly has a gift… or an infatuation with the soccer player turned hair model. 🙂

  14. Erik says:

    Player of the Week – Tim Howard had to have merited some consideration. Saved a PK and made a few other unreal saves. Didn’t score a million goalslike the others but stood out with his performance.

  15. John Bladen says:

    Erik:

    Howard played very well. As is often the case, he was his club’s best player. I wonder if that doesn’t sometimes work against him in that his ‘base’ level of play is so high that he doesn’t often get ‘noticed’ as it were?

  16. jimsakeeper says:

    Bobby, perhaps this has been asked and answered elsewhere. I am wondering while Arsenal didn’t go harder after Mata after losing Fabregas. Am I stereotyping because they are both Spain MF with great passing skills?

    Could they not match Chelsea’s offer?

    It seems like everyone wants to second-guess Arsenal sitting on their hands after losing Cesc and Nasri. Now they signed a Korean attacker after having their second string back four shredded. Seems like being found pantless and buying a hat.

  17. jimsakeeper says:

    BTW Which of the myriad fantasy football games do you play — must be the Fox Soccer Fantasy BPL version?

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