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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

Rear View Mirror – Chelsea Outthought and Outplayed

Written by on February 6, 2011 | 31 Comments »
Posted in General

After Saturday’s deluge of goals in the Premier League it was not surprising that the valve would be turned more towards the off position on Sunday.

The West Ham versus Birmingham played out as advertised – a tense, relegation battle with Birmingham beating West Ham in same manner as they did in the Carling Cup semi-final.

All season West Ham have had trouble dealing with crosses played into their penalty and in particular a ball to the back post.

It was their downfall once again with Nikola Zigic manoeuvring behind the West Ham defence and scoring. How a management team cannot see such an obvious problem and rather than addressing it they go out and acquire a left back whose greatest strength is going forward rather than defending.

It is displays like this one that makes you realize that West Ham are fortunate to still be in with a chance of staying up.

The Chelsea – Liverpool encounter moved from very cagey in the first half to just cagey in the second half. It was the context that made the game memorable rather than the quality of the play. Chelsea were totally stifled.

As good as Anelka looked against Sunderland playing behind two strikers he never looked comfortable as Liverpool swarmed the central midfield and squeezed his space.

Chelsea opted to keep Mikel deep which meant playing what was essentially five defenders against one Liverpool attacker Dirk Kuyt.

After a couple of early raids forward Bosingwa and Cole offered little or nothing in the way of a consistent wide threat.

The Liverpool defence survived a couple of early problems when they over played coming out of the back (perhaps the number of options they had available proved confusing?) and Skrtel looked shaky until settling down in the second 45 minutes.

Carragher’s block on the one chance Torres had was crucial while Johnson and the big boned young lad Kelly seemed to have a licence to go forward when they saw fit.

Credit is due to Dirk Kuyt for ploughing a very lone furrow. Chelsea had a couple of penalty shouts – Lucas looked guilty but had no need to, while the block by Johnson on Ivanovic was a better appeal and one Liverpool were fortunate to escape with.

The schedule lumps more pressure on Chelsea next weekend as they do not play Fulham at Craven Cottage until Monday evening.

In Italy Milan dropped more points with Genoa failing to cooperate this time. Milan are struggling to overcome injuries but benefited from a goal on the half hour scored by Pato and set up by Ibrahimovic.

Up to going behind  Genoa were playing like a side expecting a 2 or 3 goal loss but the Milan goal galvanized the home side. The wonderfully named Floro Flores equalized right on the break and Genoa actually had the better of the second half.

This is not the Genoa team of Gian Piero Gasperini for sure. Under Gasperini Genoa would play three at the back and press incessantly high up the park.

New boss Davide Ballardini has opted for a more considered approach although not nearly as exciting.

Man of the match for me was Slovakia midfielder Juraj Kucka who arrived last summer from Sparta Prague.

Until he tired late in the match he more than held his own against a combative Milan midfield of Flamini, Gattuso and Van Bommel.

The best was kept for last with Inter beating Roma 5-3. Wesley Sneijder was back to his best playing with the zest and imagination that had been lacking before his injury. He scored a goal (almost no backswing) from the edge of the box and generally made Inter tick.

Eto’o was excellent again (15 goals in Serie A now) and Leonardo’s decision to start Pazzini rather than Milito proved correct.

Full marks for a ten man Roma side coming back to 4-3 from 4-1 down but they could not manage a Newcastle+ comeback and Cambiasso sealed the win.

No stumble and fall for Real Madrid this weekend. The game against mid-table Real Sociedad was over by half time with Real Madrid leading 3-0 – and yes I did hesitate when the thought crossed my mind about insurmountable leads.

Madrid would go on and win 4-1 but the three half goals were all splendid. Lovely finish from Kaka to start the ball rolling, followed by a searing drive from Ronaldo and he added another from a tremendous header just before the break.

Stats Facts

Before Wednesday Sunderland were unbeaten and had a record of 9 wins and 2 draws when scoring the first goal. Subsequently they scored the openers against both Chelsea and Stoke but  lost both.

Forty-one goals on Saturday was not a record for goals scored in one day in the Premier League. It was, however, a record in a 20-team Premier League.

Others are quoting it as the greatest number of goals scored per game in Premier League history – it wasn’t. At 5.1 goals per game it was less than the 8 goals served up in a couple of Monday night matches down the years.

The most goals scored on one day in the Premier League remains May 8, 1993 when there were 47 goals scored.

Arsenal now has the unenviable record of being the only Premier League team to not win after leading by four goals.

Although Newcastle’s fight-back was notable it was not the greatest comeback in English football. That is generally credited to Charlton who in 1957 beat a Bill Shankly managed Huddersfield side 7-6 after playing with ten-men for 70 minutes and trailing 5-1 at one stage.

Going into the game against Blackpool only 5 of Everton’s 27 goals this season had come from strikers. Saha with 4 and Beckford with the other doubled the tally of the Strikers Union – Everton Branch.

There have now been 13 red cards in Arsenal’s 25 Premier League games this season – 7 for the opposition and 6 for Arsenal.

Matt Jarvis set up George Elokobi for the equalizer against Manchester United. It was the Wolves’ player’s first assist or goal since the last week in November.

By beating Atletico Madrid 3-0 on Saturday Barcelona became the first Spanish top division side to win 16 consecutive games.

Hat trick for John Pantsil – unfortunately of own goals. Pantsil joined Southampton’s Andreas Jakobsson who did it in the 2004/05 season as the only players to achieve such an embarrassing feat. If I had left the question out there  how many of you would have guessed Richard Dunne?

Roma became the first Serie A team this season to score three or more goals in a game and to not gain even a point. Milan and Udinese drew 4-4 and Juventus and Sampdoria drew 3-3 earlier in the season.

Player of the Weekend Nominees

Jermaine Pennant (Stoke City)

Joey Barton (Newcastle United)

George Elokobi (Wolves)

Lucas (Liverpool)

Juraj Kucka (Genoa)

Wesley Sneijder (Inter)

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31 responses to “Rear View Mirror – Chelsea Outthought and Outplayed”

  1. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    Bobby
    do you think this is the last time we see Torres,Anelka,and Drogba on the pitch at the same time?

  2. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – Any logical explanation for Genoa selling Sculli to Lazio (who finished below Genoa last season) and loaning Prince Boateng (a player who showed his class at the WC and occasionally Portsmouth) to a top side like Milan. Seem like two self destructive moves.

  3. Bryan says:

    Just when you think you’ve seen it all ,they throw a Newcastle/Arsenal game at you.
    After that it was always going to be a case of after the Lord Mayors Show.

    So Arsenal blow a lead of biblical proportions and still end up winners.
    Would you Adam ‘n Eve it.

    Thought FSC did a great job with the pre-game show.They made it feel like an event ,instead of just another game.
    Enjoyed it more than the game anyway…

    And the award for most embarassing pre-game show goes to………..BBCAmerica!

  4. GFYR – no it will be seen again.

    SL – My understanding is that Sculli has wanted away for a while and I think he was close to leaving last summer. The Boateng loan deal was supposedly something to do with Milan not having the funds till next season – but I find that one a bit difficult to believe.

    Bryan – Story coming from France of an alleged fix re Newcastle – Arsenal. You can check out Gab Marcotti’s tweets on the status.
    http://twitter.com/#!/Marcotti
    We will have to wait to see if it has legs. Rosicky made my notes for FSR before the story broke. Bizarre performance.

  5. Bryan says:

    But I could’ve done without them rubbing that beautiful looking fry-up in my face.

    And yes I missed that Michael Miles reference. must pay closer attention.

  6. Ursusarctos says:

    Bobby mentioned a few names – I’ll add a few of my own:

    Martin Kelly has now deservedly played every minute of every game at RB since Dalglish took over – that’s the regular RB of the future sorted then.

    Daniel Agger has played every minute of every game at CB since Dalglish took over – someone copy that sentence over to Roy Hodgson, please … (btw, nice little “hello” from Agger’s elbow to that Spanish lad’s face, eh? Friendly reminder not to pass that way again).

    How about the Old Man? Out for 2+ months, his very first game action back facing Chelsea, and Carra was up to all his usual tricks – organizing, motivating, last-ditch timely defending. Takes time to get back into game shape? Says who?

    I don’t hear any more of those “Get rid of that donkey Lucas” complaints … I better not hear any more of them …

    And the away support – 3000 of them outsinging 35,000 home fans the entire game. With eyes closed one might have thought the match was at Anfield.

  7. Haidar says:

    hey Bobby, what about those reds, aye. everyone said thatthis liverpool squad lacked quality, but these are the same players that were under roy. it’s not just about the players, it’s about the manager that could squeeze the best out of his players and deploy them in tactics that suits them or counter-acts the opponents. was reading yesterday in king kenny bio, just amazed to read how he deployed a 3 man center back defence against teams that are physical and strong in the air in his first year as manager, and he’s doing it again (stoke, chelsea) some 25 years down the road. now that’s a smart and experienced manager. sure liverpool need to strengthen their squad in the summer to be competitive. but the current squad is the proof of the difference between a good manager and a bad.four victories/four clean sheets. CL spot could be realistic again?

  8. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Bobby,

    Lucas? Lucas?? Lucas??? Player of the Weekend?

    Saha had four goals and should have had a fifth if the referee had played the advantage. Messi had a hat trick. Not only were these two not selected as Player of the Weekend, they didn’t even make your list. You sir, are guilty of dereliction of duty.

    Do they provide Setanta and GolTV in Winterpeg?

    Recommendations: When you hear that a player scores four in a game you might want to watch that game. This way you cannot use the, “I didn’t see the match so I couldn’t select him” excuse. Setanta shows just about every EPL game and the ones they don’t are generally covered by TSN, TSN2,Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, etc. GolTV shows Barça and Real Madrid every weekend. Failing adding to your cable package you may wish to change the title of your weekend award to something like, “Unsung Player of the Weekend Award”. Or the “Lucas Award” prospectively for the sake of brevity. Lucas? C’mon Bobby! You’re better than that!

  9. TVA – Well at least you surfaced again. Nice comment from someone who completely disappeared off the map after Arsenal blew a four goal lead on Saturday.

    And to think Joey Barton came so close to getting the award.

    Recommendation, start your own frickin award. 8 to 10 games are enough without chasing games.

  10. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Bobby,

    Rather testy today aren’t you? Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

    My phone decided to go on strike and was not operational for some 72 hours. My points regarding Saha & Messi are quite valid. Lucas? If you selected Barton that would have really been taking the piss. He scored two penalties and used alley tactics to rile up the opposition that led to a sending off. His ‘performance’ was somewhat unremarkable. Maybe Miss Lissell should make the future selections?

  11. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    tva
    glad to see you are among the living.last weekend had to be tough.i have to agree Lucas not my pick.i think Bobby said he never gave the ball away standards have been lowered.good luck with GUS he is looking for you.Forest up to 2nd place big game this weekend at QPR.Theo had a nice helper today.

  12. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    gfyr,

    Last weekend was fantastic! One point closer to ManUre who cannot claim to be unbeaten any longer. The Arsenal are still the only EPL team to go a whole season unbeaten.

  13. Gus Keri says:

    TVA:

    So, you disappeared for three days after your dream of Chelsea crushing Liverpool didn’t come true and your own team went into the “shame” record book and first thing you did, on your return, you picked up a fight with Bobby?

    You made everybody worried sick about you and you blame it on the phone? or “the rain that was falling”?

    Seriously, though. Don’t expect Bobby to watch every game on the planet.
    There was a great performance by the Argenine Iturbe in the U-20 team where they beat Brazil this weekend. It was worthy of POTW mention. And how about the Brazilian or the Mexican leagues.

    So, other people suggested you start your own award and I will be happy to find out every week who is your POTW. Seriously.

    I like Bobby’s choice for this week. He is the best among the 6 he mentioned above.

  14. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Brown Bear,

    Send me a postcard when Liverfool go 49 Unbeaten. I see that you are still as charming as ever. I haven’t missed a thing. As for invertebrate lifeforms … you shouldn’t speak so negatively about yourself. Are you the famous individual who wrote, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”? You’re not going to break out your abacus, financial calculator, PV tables, and endless rationalizations to justify Carroll’s price tag again are you? And get that thorn out of your arse Brown Bear. It’s unbecoming.

  15. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Gus,

    How are you? I missed you too.

    I never said I was pulling for CFC. I just said that I was going to sit in front of my tele with my MGD and popcorn … and I was hoping for dramatics. The game was largely uneventful, boring, and a let down. Like most Serie A games. But I digress. I don’t know what all the fuss was about? CFC v LFC is just a match between two of next year’s Europa League participants. It was more sizzle than substance.

    I was not trying to pick a fight with Bobby. I usually sing from the same hymn sheet (like that one … sounds like a KD line). But he’s not always the most adept at picking PotW. Lucas? Please. I made a sound critique and he responds like Brown Bear. I know he can’t watch all the games but when someone scores four in a league he covers then that should activate his radar. Watch that game on your famous PVR. Realistically, we can’t include the Mexican and Brasilian leagues. Nor the Kazakhstani league either. But his network does cover EPL (a lot), Serie A (a little less), and La Liga (an after thought). But La Liga is on his radar sometimes. Anyway, you can be able to select from the higher profile leagues that everyone watches and participate in the UCL. To pick Lucas? Again, Saha 4 goals and Messi 3 goals. And goal scoring is a skill. Some say it’s the most difficult skill in modern footy. And Mr. Bobby didn’t even have these two on his list. Dereliction of duty. Lucas? Mama mia! Pass me the ibuprofen!

  16. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Gus,

    And it is true that my iPhone went on strike for three days. I think I got a dud. It too is likely an Arsenal fan and imploded after witnessing that debacle. A nuclear meltdown of biblical proportions. Best left parked as after thought in the annals of history.

  17. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    And I know Bobby is a Dundee fan but I think he is a closet Arsenal fan too.

  18. Gus Keri says:

    TVA:

    You are angry because he didn’t select them on the list. Ok, I understand. But why all this negative reactions to selectig Lucas?

    Is it because he is a defensive midfielder and he doesn’t score goals often?

    We should do like all the hype-driven media and go after the goalsccorers only?
    It seems like Messi is scoring 2 or 3 goals every week.

    Lucas had a masterful performance. He deserved the award regardless if he has or doesn’t have those goal scoring skills you are talking about.

  19. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    GUS
    in my opinion if you take Elokobi and Barton away from their sides those teams don’t win.Lucas did not have that kind of impact on the match.i would say Carragher had a bigger impact with the block on Torres.

  20. Gus Keri says:

    GFYR:

    I agree that Carragher had a massive game. You could give the award to any Liverpool defender; Skrtel or Agger with his soft elbow to Torres. They showed Torres which club is the better one. They all stopped very potent Chelsea offense.

    This may be what upset TVA. He wished for Torres to “rip Liverpool”. He didn’t get his wish. And now he is upset that one of Liveprool players who prevented Torres from doing so has won an award.

  21. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    gfyr – correction, Barton’s side did not win.

    Gus,

    I’m not angry. Mr. Bobby just missed a couple of huge sitters and it was criminal. It was as if he was standing on the beach and couldn’t hit the ocean. I just pointed it out. Talk about shooting the messenger. Geez.

    That Torres failed to ‘rip Liverfool a new one’ was a missed opportunity at poetic justice. It would have been a more fitting conclusion from a soap opera point of view, no?

    I’ve got nothing against Lucas per se. I’m just getting a little disillusioned at a general footy blog being overtaken by the unwashed horde of Liverfool fans. Bobby’s blog has become a daily bulletin on all things LFC. And as a ‘neutral’ I find that rather distasteful.

    I have agreed with Bobby on his PotW pick before. Sort of. He took al-Habsi once. He was my second choice after RvP that week.

  22. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    TVA
    please excuse the error of my way.they would not have drawn if Barton was not playing.

  23. Gus Keri says:

    TVA:

    “unwashed horde of Liverfool fans”?

  24. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Gus,

    Except for you of course. Call it a perspective or observation. Something akin to Director’s license in a Hollywood film.

  25. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Think of the mob mentality or the French Revolution.

  26. Gus Keri says:

    TVA:

    You are going overboard with your observation and your reactions.

    “I’m just getting a little disillusioned at a general footy blog being overtaken by the (**) Liverfool fans. Bobby’s blog has become a daily bulletin on all things LFC. And as a ‘neutral’ I find that rather distasteful.”

    In the last few weeks, the most imteresting news came from Liverpool. From the coaching changes to the transfer activities and culminated with the Chelsea/Liveprool game.

    So, it wasn’t Bobby’s blog only. These story captivated the whole media all over the world.

    You also contributed to this extensive coverage by starting the thread that led to the “Torres riping Liveprool” story. So, you are also a culprit here.

    Second, you don’t judge a blog by the comments.

    Following Bobby’s blog since 2006, I can tell you that there are other clubs get more comments that Liverpool (especially your favorite team, Arsenal).

    But judging from the articles, Bobby is fair in his coverage to all EPL teams.

    Third, you have to be able to distinguish between a “friendly jokes” and an “insulting comments”. Throughout all these Liverpool thread, we were having fun with you. On the other hand. you resorted to “insulting comments” and this is not appropriate.

  27. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Gus,

    “Insulting comments” are a matter of opinion and I believe I’ve been rather restrained actually. You seem to take exception with just about anything that is mildly critical of LFC. As do many LFC fans. Bobby’s blog goes to prove that over the last number of weeks. Maybe you should have a thicker skin? Especially when criticism comes from someone in the comments section and not from the blogger.

    Care to share a pot of camomile tea?t

  28. Gus Keri says:

    TVA:

    For curiousity only:

    Does carmomile tea actually thicken the skin?

  29. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Don’t think so. But it is said to have calming effects 🙂

  30. Gus Keri says:

    Then, thank you for the offer

    I don’t need it.

    I am doing fine without it.

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