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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

More Than Three Points at Stake For City & Battle Glasgow (Re)Opens

Written by on March 19, 2011 | 15 Comments »
Posted in General

Premier League

Chelsea v Manchester City

This is a very important test for Manchester City and Roberto Mancini that goes beyond three points. Three points, or even a point, are important for City but there is a large dollop of credibility hanging on this one.

A win over Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final and a subsequent win in the final might be enough to maintain the fans’ admiration just as a Europa League would have been.

But what the fans heard loud and clear at the beginning of this season (and last season when you come to think about it) was that a top four place was the primary objective.

Success in the FA Cup may provide temporary cover but failure to finish in a Champions League spot would be nothing but a gigantic failure for all at the club.

It would also call into question City’s ability to get onside of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations – something that some suspect might even be a balance sheet too far even with Champions League money flowing.

Any interesting side note to this one is in relation to the run in City faces and it offers some good news. This will be the last time Manchester City leaves the North-West of England on Barclay’s Premier League business this season.

After this Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge City has four N-W “derbies” away, two games at home to London opposition (Spurs and West Ham) and visits from Sunderland and Stoke.

Chelsea finally seems to have turned that almost infinite corner alluded to so often by Carlo Ancelotti. With a two-legged Champions League quarter final match-up against Manchester United to go along with a Premier League visit in May Chelsea will be tested over the next few weeks.

Can Ancelotti rally his troops to scale the equivalent of the twin peaks of Kilimanjaro – the Premier League and the Champions League?

Liverpool overtook Sunderland a few weeks ago and travels to the Stadium of Light on Sunday. Sunderland maintained realistic hopes of an Europa Cup place but four straight losses and a draw appear to have put paid to their ambitions.

Liverpool are now in a position where they are unable to control their destiny and they have to hope for a cataclysmic collapse by a team ahead of them in order to return to Europe next season. At present the only legitimate route to Europe for Liverpool players seems to be a summer holiday on the continent. 

SERIE A

Udinese v Catania

There is close to a full schedule in Serie A with eight games on Sunday. The team of the moment is not Milan or Inter or Roma or Juventus but little Udinese.

Udinese moved into 4th place last Sunday with 4-0 away win at Cagliari – that brought their unbeaten run to 12 games with 9 wins and 3 draws.

The goals have flowed with Antonio Di Natale and Alexis Sanchez leading the way. Di Natale scored 29 league goals last season and is again Serie A’s top scorer again with 24 goals from 29 games.

Strike partner Alexis Sanchez has 12 and looks to have successfully filled in the weakest part of his play this season – scoring goals. The pair has scored 15 of the last 17 goals for Udinese.

The defence has done a much better job over the last few matches as well – 5 consecutive shut outs.

Once the face of it this weekend’s opponents Catania should put up little resistance. They are without an away win this season and a limp wristed attack has only scored 7 goals away from home in 14 games.

LA LIGA

With Real Madrid and Barcelona both playing on Saturday attention will likely fall on Valencia v Sevilla (3rd v 8th) and Athletic Bilbao v Villarreal (6th v 4th).

SCOTTISH LEAGUE CUP FINAL

Another opportunity for Celtic and Rangers to play out centuries of perceived injustice and wrongs this time with the League Cup Final as a backdrop. There were the usual outcries from the authorities when these two “clashed” literally just a few weeks ago. Rangers finished on the losing end of a 1-0 scoreline in a Scottish Cup replay and with only nine men on the field.

Players get sent off and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the most hostile of games for that to happen. We know that and can accept it as being part of the game. What was most disturbing was the coaching staffs getting ready to mix it up with Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon the chief protagonists.

These two have been around for too long to be excused their behaviour and showed as much brightness as two black light bulbs.

MLS

The Los Angeles Galaxy will play their second game of the new MLS season and their first home game against the New England Revolution.

A reminder that if you watched or attended a MLS game this weekend can you post a quick comment and nominate a player of the game. I can then take that under consideration when I vote bright and early on Monday morning on the MLS Player of the Week.

Thanks in anticipation

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15 responses to “More Than Three Points at Stake For City & Battle Glasgow (Re)Opens”

  1. Grant says:

    Do I detect a Monty Python allusion in your “twin peaks of Kilimanjaro”? If so, did Chelsea buy Torres to build a bridge between the two peaks?

  2. Grant – very good.

  3. Bryan says:

    Don’t recall Ancelotti talking about turning corners ,rather being in a good moment or a bad moment.
    But how long a moment is in Italian I have no idea.

    I’m expecting a freak goal ,again ,in tomorrows Sunderland/Liverpool game.

    In my considered opinion ,Neil Lennon is a nutter.

    And did I ever say how much I think rugby is a stupid game?

  4. Gus Keri says:

    Suarez and Carroll are starting for the first time.
    Agger is back from injury.

  5. Gus Keri says:

    The PK is a strange decision. Initially, the referee called it free kick, then the AR made him change his decision to PK. It turned out that the referee was right.

    I don’t like what Liverpool becomes when Carroll is on the field. They employ the long ball to Carroll’s head a lot.

    It seems there is no understsanding between Carroll and Suarez, yet.
    Suarez is showing his frustration with his teammates a lot.

  6. Soccerlogical says:

    Gusey – Granted, the Suarez & Carrol pairing may end up being counter productive.

    But I gotta be honest, as much as I loathe the long ball game, if there was ever a player designed to make long ball effective and interesting to watch it is Andy Carrol. He makes every header he goes for a real chance to make something outta nothin’.

  7. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby or anyone, take away the silverware and who do you think deserves greater lionization at their respective club, Giggs or Del Piero?

  8. redfan says:

    A moment in italy = un momento

    If Carroll is to be effective it will be for set pieces with out good wingers and whilst long balls are always a strategy for defences pushing up, it should not be the only strategy. With out the wingers with pace we need, Carroll needs to be very good at bringing the ball down and holding it up where he has no obvious opportunity to go for goal. Time will tell and I think Carroll will be more confident once the first goal goes in.

  9. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    I am not completely against the long ball. Sometimes, it works well for the team.
    But I don’t want them to change from what was successful against Man Utd.
    This long ball method didn’t work agaisnt Braga.

    Any way, I thought Liverpool deserved the win, in spite of the unjust PK call. This could be a pay back for the famous beach ball.

    A great goal by Suarez, ala Donovan against Slovenia.

  10. SL – I don’t see how or why you would try and judge one over another.

  11. Coming down to Spurs v Manchester City for 4th place for a second straight season?

  12. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – Aren’t both players evergreen stalwarts of their respective clubs and still making a real contribution when you consider their age (Del Piero won the game for Juve today… again)? I was just wondering who you considered more “special”. 🙂

    Why is every other commercial on FSC a Marines or Army ad, not to mention the promo announcers for every soccer game sound like drill sergeants. What’s the connection between people who appreciate an international and somewhat socialst game like soccer and the US military ad campaigns that Murdoch and right wing FOX constantly shove down our throats?

  13. Rahul says:

    it would be hilarious if Man City finished fifth. nothing against playing tough d, but setting up not to lose every big game, its so disappointing with the firepower City has.

    it was interesting to see how calm Carson and West Brom were when the ball was flying around in their area versus the panic Arsenal have…

  14. Al Harris says:

    Bobby, I realize he only played 39 minutes and others may be more deserving, but if Charlie Davis doesn’t deserve an honorable mention at least, there must be some other VERY inspirational stories out there this weekend.

  15. redfan says:

    Great goal by Suarez and a counter to the long balls to Carroll. A good way to stretch and confuse any defence.

    Can we catch 5th now is the question? Will one or more above us melt down?
    With the squad we have 20 points from 10 games is pretty reasonable imho.

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