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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 and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Manchester United Win But Fail To Convince; Chelsea & Arsenal Fail To Defend

Written by on October 30, 2011 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Arsenal, Chelsea, English Premier League, Everton, General, Manchester United

Everton 0-1 Manchester United

United got all three points but it was hardly a convincing particularly in the second half. Rarely does a David Moyes side put together a poor 90 minutes and so it was in this match.

United had the better of the first half but the second 45 minutes was very different.

As Everton pushed United back they were able to play more passes in the final third of the field. The first half United had pressed the Everton defence and midfield and had made it extremely difficult for Everton to cause the United defence any problems.

A couple of breaks from midfield from Jack Rodwell was the closest Everton came.

Nonetheless, Everton still struggled to unlock a United defence and midfield screen.

The only goal of the game came off a cross from Patrice Evra. It was a flat delivery that was just high enough to clear the Everton defenders but low enough to stop Tm Howard coming to collect.

However, it proved to be the exception rather than the rule as United’s crossing effectiveness was poor.

Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal

A lot of talk of Chelsea’s high-line and how defensively it failed. But as far as attempts on goal are concerned Chelsea had the edge 14-13.

Andre Santos was pin-pointed as a weak spot in the Arsenal back four as you can see by the number of  angled passes played out to Daniel Sturridge in the 62 minutes he was on the park.

As it turned out it was more a case of Sturridge flattering to deceive. His passing in the final third was poor with only 6 of 12 finding the target. Sturridge was also culpable on Arsenal’s second goal scored by known other than Andre Santos. It hastened the departure of Sturridge from the match.

Santos had an “interesting” day. He made more successful  tackles than any other player (6) but he also lost more tackles than anyone else (5).

Of the 10 defenders who stepped onto the park on Saturday the stand-out performance came from the often maligned Laurent Koscielny. He was spot on with his tackling and his reading of the game was exceptional.

There have been more than enough games over the last year or so where Koscielny has looked ill-equipped to handle the often physical play of the Premier League. But there are has also been times when his reading of the game and anticipation has been outstanding.

Finally to finish on the issue of defending with a high-line. Often the success or otherwise is determined more by the discipline or lack thereof of the opposition forwards. Here is how the offside calls went.

Any thoughts on these two games from Saturday?

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6 responses to “Manchester United Win But Fail To Convince; Chelsea & Arsenal Fail To Defend”

  1. J Rob says:

    Was Leighton Baines at fault for Man Utd’s goal? He seemed to lose Hernandez in the six-yard box just as he lost Andy Carroll in a similar situation against Liverpool recently at Goodison.

    Was the turning point in the Chelsea vs Arsenal game the non-sending off of Szczesny for his challenge on Ashley Cole? Also, everyone has been keen to lambast Terry for his slip that led to the 4th goal but Malouda’s pass under no pressure which preceded it was shocking. Walcott scored a great goal but what of the Chelsea defence? When Walcott slipped there were three players who could have cleared the situation. None intervened.

  2. shmish says:

    I was multitasking while the game was on, but it seemed like Santos had a couple of runs down the center of the pitch, as opposed to the typical wide Sagna/Clichy runs that we saw over the past several years. This seemed to have a positive effect. If I’m not mistaken, one of the goals involved this type of play. It reminded me more of Ashley Cole when he was at Arsenal. Not a bad thing to have in your offense…

  3. Ed Gomes says:

    Man United has looked bad for while now. I know that good teams win matches when they aren’t at their best, but Man United is pushing it.
    For me Rio is done.
    The midfield isn’t getting it done going forward or defending.
    Some talk out of Portugal that Man United is looking hard at Benfica’s Nico Gaitan. For me the winger, that could play the middle, doesn’t fit the Man United mold. He’s horrible at tracking back, but then again so is Nani. If it’s true, it would certainly mean that Nani is gone.
    Everything is coming the hard way for Man United. They should notch an easy win vs Otelul in the Champions League, but could still find themselves finishing second in the group. If Benfica wins at home vs Basel, they have the right away, even if Man united beats them at Old Trafford.

    Arsenal did Man United a huge favor this weekend.
    A few things struck me in this one;
    The Chelsea fans aren’t used to losing at home. AVB will feel the heat.
    For me Terry, very much like Rio, is done. That being said, the last goal wasn’t his fault. Malouda’s pass was shockingly bad.
    Boswinga was also shockingly bad on defense. He was unable to stay with anyone directly in front of him and kept getting turned around. I know that he’s good going forward, but his defending was nonexistent in this one.
    Sturridge also had a bad game. He had a bad defender, Santos, on him yet was ineffective.
    For me, Meireles should have been brought on earlier.
    As for Arsenal, who was that guy impersonating Walcott? He made his usual runs, but the passing was good and the shooting was on the mark. Is this an aberration or could Arsenal rely on him. They better hope on the latter.
    For me Santos will prove to hurt Arsenal as much as he may help. Not a very good defender, in an already shaky back line.
    RVP has earned himself a nice pay hike. Arsenal has no option but to pay.

    I was reading that Anzhi was putting together a big money deal for Bale. If it’s big enough, I find it hard for the Spurs to say no. That would also mean big money for Bale himself. I wonder if the promises of riches will derail a promising career.

    Newcastle could slide into 3rd? It seems wrong to think it, never mind write it. I know that it’s early, but they’ve managed this while pocketing over 25 million pounds in the transfer market last season, and another 528,000 pounds so far this season. They’ve spend none of that Andy Carroll money. I still refuse to root for them until Newcastle Brown Ale is back on the jersey.

  4. Roberto Manita says:

    Love the analysis with the graphics via opta Bobby. Keep it up.

    Rio is done. Check.

    Terry is done. Check. Also agree that the embarassing slip that resulted in a RvP goal was created by Malouda’s wretched back pass. Terry didn’t need that kind of pass from a team-mate considering what’s going on in his life these days.

    Hay-ho! 3-5 to the Arsenal! Love the ring of that sweet music. Especially when it’s at the Bridge. To be honest, I wasn’t even banking on a single point let alone all three. We’ve learned this weekend that we cannot count AFC out for a top four spot (it’s a long season) and that Chelsea will be battling for the 3rd and 4th UCL spots with AFC, LFC, and the Spuds (I’d say the two Mancs have got the top two spots pretty much sealed up).

    As an Arsenal fan, I’d like to see Le Boss stay with Santos as his first choice LB. After all, he was the starting LB for Brasil in this past summer’s Copa America (albeit that was because Marcelo had been punished by the national manager for his missing out of international call-ups with ‘fictious’ injuries). And Santos performed reasonably well in the Copa. He made some impressive crosses leading to goals. That’s something that’s been lacking from Arsenal FBs for quite some time now. And what’s the alternative? Gibbs? The same Gibbs who was so horrible in a key UCL SF leg at home against ManU? I’ll take the Brasilian over Gibbs, thanks. You may not get stellar defending from Brasilian FBs, like Alves and Maicon, but they more than make up for it going forward. And it looks like this lad will pot a few too. After all, once Sagna comes back the right hand side will get sealed up as Bac is a stout defender. I’m also quite sure that RvP, among others, will appreciate the service from Santos.

    As for Jonny Evans, I’m glad Fergie had him on the pitch yet again. I hope Fergie selects the lad as much as possible from here on in. For the only thing surer than a Jonny Evan’s cock up is for the sun to rise in the morning 😉 Cock-a-doodle-do!

    Like many others, I too believe the Barcode’s English version of Levante will soon be coming to an end. Beginning today, on Halloween, the EPL’s version of the Addam’s Family, Stoke City, should play a nasty trick on Pardew and company. How fitting is that? Newcastle must be experiencing vertigo from their lofty heights and are set for a proper tumble down the ladder. On a positive note about the Toons, I did have my first Brown Ale in almost a decade. It was as brilliant as I remember.

  5. John Bladen says:


    I’d like to say that this represents a huge upswing in Arsenal’s fortunes… but realistically I don’t think it does. They finally took some of their chances, true, but this win had far more to do with Chelsea adopting a “disinterested grazing herd” defensive structure than anything else. Cech was also uncharacteristically average.

    Funny thing, Bobby, there have been a couple of games recently where Koscielny might have been AFC’s best defender… I don’t know what to make of this (though it is a somewhat suspect honour to receive), as generally speaking he deserves the brickbats that have come his way.

    Nice to see Song back in front of the defense… he looked horrible attempting to be part of it. Not really surprised to see the Brazilian left back be more adept at going forward than defending… Not a particularly good day for Mertesacker either… I guess Arsenal fans can be thankful that Sturridge looked bad and Torres continues to look disinterested and overly expensive.

  6. Roberto Manita says:


    Let’s not get overly pessimistic now. We should enjoy the ride while it lasts. The Gunners are on a bit of a tear now and who would have thunk it after, “The Day Which Will Live in Infamy” at The Old Toilet? I know I sure didn’t. Top of their UCL group after three matchdays and back in serious contention for a top four league spot.

    Vermaelen is coming back any day now. LJW will be back in about February. So too will Sagna (I think he is a massive loss at the moment considering the adventurous back four). Things seemed to be falling to pieces just before the transfer window deadline day and I admit I was calling for Arsene’s head. And I still submit the whole management team really showed massive dithering and ineptitude during the summer. But if Wenger can somehow capture a top four spot this season it will probably be his greatest feat since winning the double and I’ll be happier than a pig in mud!

    As those Scottish and Irish fellas like to say, “It may be a false dawn”, that Arsenal and their supporters are experiencing at the moment. But their upcoming fixture list is rather favourable. So, ride the wave and hope that this momentum keeps perpetuating itself into some real team confidence and unity. Maybe they have circled the wagons during the moment they were staring into the abyss? I don’t know. They haven’t yet convinced this young stingy curmudgeon. And I admit that being bipolar may be a prerequisite for any Arsenal supporter. But I do know this — I will enjoy this ride for as long as it can last.

    Up the Arse!!!

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