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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

Monday Musings – Safety In Sight For Some; Streaky Stoke; To Tackle Or To Intercept?

Written by on February 6, 2012 | 6 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League, General, Serie A

Another three points each for promoted sides Swansea (2-1 away to West Brom) and Norwich (2-0 at home to Bolton). We have seen collapses before but with more than a third of the season still to go both sides only need another two or three wins to ensure Premier League football next season.

Realistically comfortable mid-table positions should not be out of the question.

Norwich dealt with Bolton quite handily as they carried more of a threat up front.

Swansea’s league position has had much to do with their home record which has seen them lose once this season. A 2-1 win at West Brom was only their second away from home but it might be an indication of better things to come.

The outlook is not so bright for last Championship Champions QPR. Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora were signed to score goals and they paid down some of that investment with a goal each on their debuts. What must be causing concern to Mark Hughes is that his side have now taken the lead in their last two games but they have failed to win either.

The loss on Saturday to relegation rivals Wolves must be particularly galling and potentially costly even though Hughes can point to the red card issued to Cisse as game-defining moment.

Two sides, polar opposite in terms of momentum, met at the Britannia and Sunderland continued their upward momentum while Stoke’s slide continues.The ultimate streak-side Stoke get themselves into good positions only to see the trap-door open

Then they seem to refocus and up the ladder they climb.

Five wins in their last six league matches has Sunderland up to eighth and a win at home against Arsenal next Saturday could have the Black Cats within four points of the Gunners.

There is, of course, the chance of consecutive meetings with Arsenal should Sunderland beat Boro’ in their FA Cup replay.

When Blackburn equalized through a stunning Morten Gamst Pedersen free kick even the empty seats looked worried at Emirates.

However, it only served to spark Arsenal and a straight red card for Blackburn’s Gael Givet made it even easier.

Many years from now when this Arsenal season is placed in a broader context the summation might go something like this.

“2011/12 was largely disappointing with the trophy drought continuing and some dreadful early season performances. For the first time under Arsene Wenger the club finished outside of the top four and failed to qualify for the Champions League. However, it is also remembered for the goal-scoring exploits of Robin Van Persie and the emergence of a player who was to become a corner stone of the team in years to come – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.”

Fulham pretty much rolled over and showed Manchester City their tummy at Etihad Stadium on Saturday. City were never in trouble after a very soft penalty awarded after Adam Johnson threw himself against Chris Baird’s leg. There was another attempt to gain a penalty when Johnson went down again – this time with no contact at all.

Referees around the Premier League will have taken note.

When Ya Ya Toure returns from the African Cup of Nations a rest and relaxation period might be in order. Manager Roberto Mancini might be advised to offer David Silva the same chance – he looks to have lost a little of his spark.

Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United provided no shortage of talking points for the Soccer Report Extra podcast and Monday’s Fox Soccer Report. While trawling through the game statistics I stumbled upon only one area that clearly differentiated the sides.

It may point to the work being done by André Villas-Boas in terms of re-tooling Chelsea and the “old-fashioned” work ethic of Manchester United.

Take a look at the spread between the team in terms of interceptions – very much in favour of Chelsea.

Now take a look at the comparison between the two teams in terms of tackles.

It was a dreadful weekend for the top five teams in Serie A.

The best on offer was two scoreless draws for Juventus and Milan. Both were playing at home and against Siena and Napoli respectively.

Lazio lost 3-2 away to Genoa despite a late but futile rally while Udinese went down to Fiorentina by the same score.

The best result of the weekend came at the Olympic Stadium in Rome where Roma dismantled a lacklustre Inter side 4-0.

Early in the game Fabio Borini made a left to centre run to create a good chance. It turned out to be a harbinger as Fabio Borini prayed on Maicon and plundered a couple of goals in the process.

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6 responses to “Monday Musings – Safety In Sight For Some; Streaky Stoke; To Tackle Or To Intercept?”

  1. John Bladen says:

    Looking forward to the discussion on Chelsea v Man U on the podcast, Bobby. No shortage of talking points indeed…

    For my money, I had no issue with Howard Webb waving off the penalty calls in the first half (though it’s hard to see how Cahill’s didn’t qualify). But if a match official is going to adopt a hard line on what is and is not a penalty, it’s tough to explain the penalty Evra drew…

    Not quite sure how the Fox desk anchors determined that it was a “dominant” performance by Rooney. I mean, he converted two penalties (as you would expect a multi million pound striker to do at least 9 times from ten) and the hair plugs seem to have taken root… but apart from that…

  2. Erik says:

    As one of the few who had Norwich staying UP I am happy to see that barring one of the biggest collapses (chokes?) ever the Canaries will stay up.

    But like most I had Swansea pegged to be relegated – I had them 20th and I know most had them no better than 19th.

    If Roberto Martinez finds a way to keep Wigan UP he shouldn’t be MOY but rather MOC (Century).

    Watching MM talk – does his jaw ever move? Maybe this is why it is so hard to understand a word he says?

    After the Chelsea/Man U game I said the Giants/Patriots would have a tough time beating that game as far as well played and entertaining. But the Giants/Pats did pull it off and their game was slightly better than Chelsea/Man U

    Bobby – the season is almost 2/3rd done. Who did you have being relegated before the season began (Gotta think Wigan and Swansea were 2 of the 3) and who do you think will be the other 2 teams joining Wigan in the LC in August?

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    The main thing that struck me when I saw the CHE v MI lineup was the lack of depth on Chelsea’s bench as opposed to Manyoo’s.

    And yes, I understand that a 7-1 thumping of a 19th place side is somewhat positive. But Wenger’s post match comments were totally ignorant of the fact that the guy is in a fight for 4th place…. he has somehow fooled himself (and many fans) into thinking Arsenal are an automatic top 4 side who are fighting for the EPL title.

  4. Ed Gomes says:

    I too thought that Rooney was just ok. In fact I thought he was wasteful on several occasions. Too many times Man United players were passing up shots, which were good looks, from the edge of the box. It almost looked like Arsenal out there.

    I am truly shocked that AVB is still managing Chelsea. Abrams words to the players will fall on deaf ears since they know they’re being turned over. The biggest question is, who thought they were safe and are not, and who will want to stay after the changes?
    Torres is now mobbed for an assist. I have a feeling that won’t be enough for Spain.

    Seeing Hughes fail brings a smile.

    I’m sorry that I didn’t see Wengers comments. I guess I can see his bravery sine Harry and Dalglish will help him.

    Speaking of Harry, the testimony in the trial is hilarious. Some of the things Harry, his co-defendent, and lawyers have said are truly laughable. He does time or just payback taxes plus fines?

    The only way Liverpool makes its money back on Carroll is if he somehow goes nuts and scores a ton for England in the Euros. Then again, will he even bet there?

  5. Erik says:

    Ed – you need to bookmark this site about AVB. PRICELESS and Hysterical

    http://www.hasandrevillasboasbeensackedyet.com/

  6. Ed Gomes says:

    I’m sorry, Harry doesn’t have to pay anything back or due time. LOL!!!
    I wonder if the decision would have been the same if he was a Championship manager?
    Also, if he was currently fighting relegation, would the club have fired him?
    The court transcripts that were put ou by Sky were great. From him being discriminated due to his accent to the many different excuses for the account, and lets not forget the “odd couple” testimony. LOL!
    I wonder if Jack Klugman gets any royalty checks due to the mention.

    Chelsea face a Napoli squad that will only have this seasons CL to fight for. Not easy, considering that Chelsea needs to advance and secure a top 4 spot. AVB could be out by the evening of 2/14. Maybe even halftime of that match. LOL!

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