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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

FA Cup Weekend and Table Top Action in Serie A – Open Thread

Written by on January 28, 2012 | 10 Comments »
Posted in General

The title says FA Cup but with the build-ups to the games at Anfield and Loftus Road you could easily think we have two cage matches in prospect.

On one hand I still look forward to and enjoy FA Cup weekends but on the other I am constantly frustrated at not quite knowing the players that will be picked. It is almost as if cup upsets should now come with an asterisk that indicates full strength or weakened line-up. 

Perhaps Spurs set an example on Friday by putting out a strong side against Watford although you would not have known that by the performance.

Saturday

Liverpool v Manchester United

QPR v Chelsea

Blackpool v Sheffield Wed,

Bolton v Swansea,

Derby v Stoke,

Hull v Crawley Town,

Leicester v Swindon,

Millwall v Southampton,

Sheffield Utd v Birmingham,

Stevenage v Notts County,

West Brom v Norwich,

Brighton v Newcastle,

Sunday
Sunderland v Middlesbrough,

Arsenal v Aston Villa,

A surprise in the making Derby at home to last season’s finalists Stoke City. Arsenal should not think that Villa are going to role over either.

Serie A

Arguably the best league match in prospect this weekend in Europe in Juventus at home to Udinese. Juventus have still not lost in Serie A but they have drawn over 40% of their matches. Udinese is only three points behind.

Women’s Olympic Qualifying

I did not catch the USA win over Costa Rica on account of Friday’s Fox Soccer Report. The common view appears to be an average performance but it is one of these situations where the result trumps performance.

At the time of writing I am about to sit down to watch Canada and Mexico with the winner joining the USA in London this summer.

Update – Canada joins the USA in London after what was a deserved 3-1 win over Mexico. Player of the Match – Desiree Scott for Canada IMO.

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10 responses to “FA Cup Weekend and Table Top Action in Serie A – Open Thread”

  1. J Rob says:

    Bit perplexed that everybody including even Gerrard and Kuyt thought that Man Utd were the better team.

    Yes, they dominated possession but how many chances did Utd create? If this wasn’t Anfield and the FA Cup lots of people including their own fans would criticise them for being flaccid.

    Fact is they were facing a side who played a Cup semi-final four days ago and looked very fatigued at times. Utd had what – one corner to Liverpool’s 5? In the 2nd half, tell me if I am wrong did Utd create one clear cut chance? And it’s obvious who finished the stronger side something you can usually count on Man Utd to do.

    Granted they were missing Rooney, Nani, Jones and others but Liverpool were missing Lucas and Spearing and were forced to play Carragher as midfielder.

    Parse out the stats, forget the hype and the 60-odd passes that Paul Scholes played 5 yards sideways and you have a deeply unimpressive performance from Utd.

  2. J Rob says:

    One other observation – going all the way back to Jim Leighton has there ever been a tougher manager on goalies than SAF?

    If you don’t want to guarantee you’ll destroy the last shred of a young goalie’s faltering confidence what worse game could you play him in than a FA Cup tie trip to Anfield?

  3. John Bladen says:

    Bobby;

    For my money, Scott has been the revelation of the tournament for Canada. I don’t remember her from the WWC (though I may have blocked the entire tournament out for reasons which must be obvious…), but she has a wonderful ‘motor’ as coaches would say. Can’t believe I would have missed that in the WWC… has she improved since then or did she not play alot?

    A fine win for our Ladies, but I still struggle to see them closing the gap to the elite teams (particularly on defense… they seem to have improved in movement away from the ball and creating space etc).
    Unless neither side cares about the final (both are in the Olympics already), I expect them to lose quite badly to the US tomorrow. They simply don’t have an answer to the US attack as near as I can tell.

    Kaylyn Kyle… what do you think of the idea of moving her back to central defense? I don’t know if she’s ever played there, but the skill set she displays (strong physical play, clears the ball fairly well) appears to me more suited to that than the midfield role she presently holds.

    Perhaps there’s a good young CB already up and coming. If so I don’t know who it might be. In my view Candace Chapman is our best CB, but she will presumably be retiring internationally after this Olympics?

    Nice moment with the squad dragging Kara Lang off the rostrum to join their celebration. Tough luck for Brunt that they ignored him…

  4. John Bladen says:

    J Rob: The psyche of goalkeepers is a law unto itself. I don’t think it is unreasonable for Ferguson to expect that the players he signs should be ready and able to play in big games in the first team when named.

    If they aren’t ready, they should probably be on loan to a Championship side until they are. Sorry if that seems harsh, but it’s top flite football at a big club. No excuses.

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    J ROB – I doubt SAF can destroy ANY Spaniard’s confidence (GK or other). All they have to do is be directed to one Gerard Piqué. 🙂

    PS Something very interesting is happening at FC Schalke & Athletic Bilbao!

  6. J Rob says:

    John – it seem more and more obvious that De Gea may need to fill out before being an asset in English football. While a fantastic shot-stopper he is easily bullied on crosses and corners.

  7. J Rob – don’t think it was a case of Liverpool being forced to play Carragher in midfield – that was an informed choice.

    JB – Desiree Scott didn’t see much time at WWC as I remember – essentially a squad player. Kyle in back four – worth experimenting with. However, she has struck me as lacking positional discipline at times. I might be unfair in the assessment – just a feeling I have had in the past.

    I will be interested to see if Herdman continues with the idea of Sinclair playing at the top of a midfield four just behind two strikers. My thought is that if he does and the USA are up for the game the Canadian midfield will be out-passed and probably out manoeuvred.

    I have heard and read what a great success the Sinclair switch has been. Is it just me or is that not a bit premature? You could play Sinclair at centre back against weaker opposition and she would impress. The issue surely is whether or not it works against better opposition not against poorer opposition?

    Sorry to pour a little bit of cold water on the thoughts of so many Canadian pundits.

    I hope the final on Sunday is a good game and both sides don’t ease off because they both have secured their Olympic spots.

    The US and Canada has done what was needed but overall the tournament has been of very poor quality – a throw back to pre-2011 World Cups in many ways.

    Teams badly outgunned and many thrashings administered with ease.

    Nonetheless I don’t go along with the conventional wisdom that blow outs are of no benefit to anyone. History tells you that clearly that is not the case.

    Teams improve when they play better teams – even when they get thrashed in the short term. Take a look at international results from a couple of decades ago and you will see lopsided scores in the men’s game. Emerging teams and countries don’t improve by playing each other and avoiding the heavyweights.

    Save us from the “poor dears we can’t have them in this tournament they were so humiliated crowd,” – go check the history books before echoing that piffle.

  8. John Bladen says:

    Bobby;

    Yes, the talking heads have gone a bit overboard with this… I mean it’s a good result for Canada but surely it should have been expected? The CWNT is now 17-1-1 against Mexico, so this hardly qualifies as a major upswing in form.

    As I recall, Morace tried Sinclair just behind the striker (Tancredi?) in the 2nd half against France @ WC (ok, to the extent Canada had any formation at all in the 2nd half of that one…). Against perhaps the best midfield in Women’s football, she did not singlehandedly win the game…

    To be fair to Herdman, the move back into MF for Sinclair was done to keep her away from the fairly hard tackling Mexican centre halfs. At least that’s what we were told.

    Scott sitting in front of the back four has allowed Schmidt to move into a more attacking role… hard to judge performance based on the quality of the opponents on offer thus far, but I do think there’s some benefit to using Schmidt’s skills in a more offense oriented role.

    I didn’t see much of Herdman’s early games (Pan Ams), so perhaps he’s already tried it, but any thoughts on a 4-4-1-1 w Sinclair behind the striker? Yes, formations, sorry… w Scott at DM, maybe that should be a 4-1-3-1-1 or ……..

    Agree on the ‘occasional thrashing’ benefits. The most beneficial game I’ve seen the CMNT play was the hammering at the hands of Maradona’s tactically quaint but far superior Argentines a couple of years ago. One thing I’d add is that when playing equally middling opposition, the tendency is for teams to think “Oh, we didn’t get the breaks and lost a squeaker”, when in fact luck had nothing to do with it. We should be playing the very best teams we can convince to accept a match.

  9. John Bladen says:

    JRob: Like many other youngsters, there are holes in De Gea’s game. Haven’t managed to watch a great deal of Man U of late, but it seems to me Lindegaard has been getting the bulk of the work. Is that your understanding also?

  10. J Rob says:

    John – Yes. Lindegaard looks good at times less so others.

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