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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.


Stoke Looking To End the Wilderness Years & Arsenal Face a Tough Task

Written by on April 16, 2011 | 6 Comments »
Posted in General

FA Cup Semi-Final

Bolton v Stoke

I have a feeling that this could turn out to be a cracking game. As with many games whoever wins the midfield battle will probably win the match.

Stoke usually stick with a conventional 4-4-2 and often it is with Etherington and Pennant playing in fairly traditional wide positions – although Etherington is given a little bit more latitude to roam.

Without the injured Stuart Holden Bolton have bounced between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 which becomes 4-5-1 without the ball.

Both teams will eye this as a tremendous opportunity to make it Wembley.

Formed in 1863 Stoke has never appeared in an FA Cup Final. Bolton has won the trophy four times but the last win and final appearance came back in 1958 – ironically against Manchester United and it came only a couple of months after the Munich air disaster.

Premier League

Arsenal v Liverpool

Liverpool – and in particular Andy Carroll – will be gung-ho after Monday night’s first half dismantling of Manchester City. Now they will look to not only put a knife into Arsenal’s slim hopes of the title but it would also encourage Chelsea in their quest for the runners-up spot.

With the exception of the 2-1 home win against Barcelona the truth is Arsenal have not played well for sometime even though they are unbeaten in 2011 in the Premier League.

This match and Wednesday’s trip to White Hart Lane are crucial games for Arsenal – no less than six points will suffice.


Three games in MLS on Sunday. Chicago Fire returns home after undergoing a boisterous welcome at the Portland Timbers on Thursday night and losing to boot. The visitors are the less than impressive Los Angeles Galaxy.

The Galaxy may have hot the Toronto FC frame three times on Wednesday but it should not mask the reality of a team that is stuttering this season.

The Portland Timbers will want to build on their 4-2 win as FC Dallas come to visit. I noted after a 2-o loss at Toronto FC that Jorge Perlaza looked like he could score goals if he got decent service – two goals against Chicago reinforced that notion.

FC Dallas finally got their season off and running after beating the Colorado Rapids a week past Friday. We will see if they can continue where they left off.

The third game features two teams that not so long ago dominated MLS – or at least MLS finals. But Houston Dynamo and the New England Revolution have both hit rough patches and are slowly trying to reestablish themselves as forces in the league.


Napoli v Udinese

Considering Edinson Cavani was suspended Napoli pick up a very good 2-0 win last weekend at Bologna. Only Roma and Milan had taken three points on the road at Bologna so the result should not be underestimated.

This game can be considered one of the tricky encounters that often separate pretenders from champions. Udinese with two losses in their last two games have seen their top four hopes – or even an outside chance at the title – take a knock.

Alexis Sanchez missed last week’s dramatic loss to Roma and could well miss this game as well. Antonio di Natale is also a doubt so it might mean a combination of Bernardo Corradi and German Denis in attack – a very different style than di Natale and Sanchez.

One break for Udinese will be the return of Gokhan Inler back from suspension.

Other matches are Catania v Lazio, Cesena v Bari (3rd from bottom versus bottom) , Chievo v Bologna, Fiorentina v Juventus, Genoa v Brescia, and Lecce v Cagliari.


Bayer Leverkusen have narrowed the gap with top of the table Borussia Dortmund to five points with five game left. However, they also have the more difficult fixture this weekend when they travel to play 4th place Bayern Munich.

Bayern are looking to benefit from Hannover’s slip on Saturday when they drew 0-0 with Hamburg. This leaves the door open for Bayern to move into a Champions League spot above Hannover should they beat Bayer Leverkusen.

Borussia Dortmund looks to have a more routine task in hosting mid-table SC Freiburg.

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6 responses to “Stoke Looking To End the Wilderness Years & Arsenal Face a Tough Task”

  1. Bryan says:

    That might have been City’s best performance of the season ,best result anyway ,and they showed Chelsea how to do it.
    Not sure what United’s problem was ,other than Berbatov missing sitters and Carrick returning to form ,but there must be more to it than simply missing Rooney and Giggs.
    Credit to Paul Scholes for not saying a word after getting his red card ,but by the look on his face he knew all those times he’d gotten away with similar challenges over the years had finally caught up with him.
    No credit to RioFerdy5 for his reaction at the final whistle.

  2. Bryan says:

    West Brom are no Man Utd.
    They made a mistake by scoring so early. It woke Chelsea up ,and after that it was like an old fashioned testimonial match.
    It’s not easy playing at altitude at the Hawthorns ,ask Liverpool ,but when they “defend” like that they throw away their advantage.

    Thought Mike Halsey had a bit of a mare at Upton Park ,but luckily for him they still ended up with the right result.

    And as for Blackpool, as Pvt Frazer used to say they’re “doo-oomed.”
    Sounded like even their supporters had given up.

  3. rahul says:

    Arsenal, they can get it to the box, but they don’t know what to do with it once they arrive. Love RvP, but need a striker that will be fit all season, a fox in the box, or something. JH14 for United has been the difference this year. Thought we were going to win after the 1st half, would have taken 0-0 up until the penalty, but 1-1 is a disaster. defending ain’t bad until it counts, whether its 4-0 up at newcastle utd, 2-0 up against Spurs at home, 1-0 at the 94th minute in sunderland, or 1-1 in the carling cup final. arrghh..

  4. redfan says:

    Well that was a result. Have to remember referee Marriner come Christmas. Suarez looked half a yard off the pace today but I am sure he is just being marked tighter after his lively start.

    Reminded me of the times SAF has queried injury time. We got the ‘minimum of 8 minutes’ in full today.
    Next up another trip to Brum and the Blue half this time so I hope we fare better than at West Brom especially with more injuries.

  5. Roberto Manita says:

    Glancing at ManUre’s starting XI before the FA Cup SF I knew they werevery bearable on the day (even against a Tevez-less City). No Rooney (ban), Mexican jumping bean (rest via coaching decision), Giggs (age), and Rafael (injury/rest). Despite the lineups, this match was a case in point at just how piss poor this vintage of ManU are this year and, by extension, the EPL in general. Schalke, a mid table Bundesliga team, may put them out over two legs. However, I hope they progress and get the manita in Wembley supplied by Barça that they so richly deserve. The high days of the Evil Empire are waning, as the Noisy Neighbours will surpass them shortly via the pocketbook (ManU’s original playbook invention by the way … irony delayed … how sweet?) despite their own Italian manager’s shortcomings. Time for Old Red Nose to retire me thinks …

    ManU treble? Ha! My ass. Smoke and mirrors all season. When they don’t win, they whine, or don’t speak to the media. Look at That over rated Rio this past weekend after the loss … real class that (English captain? My ass). I wouldn’t have that funny lipped human pylon with a bad attitude as a captain for my resrve team.

    Scholes. Red mist … yes. But this red card had more to do with his age and loss of more than half a step than anything else. Time to retire. Yesterday. Please. For the love of God.

    Carrick. This is what he is capable of … on average. I know a guy in a bar named Irish Steve that can play better than Carrick on Carrick’s best day (so says Irish Steve).

    ManU midfield v FCB. Is any ManU fan or English media biased yahoo serious? C’mon? The only player in that midfield that can compete v FCB is Nani. Period. Give me ManU, at Wembley, a right fine manita, and a post facto Fergie retirement (on the MUFC spin that he is happy overtaking Liverfool with the club’s 19th league title). That scenario would be rather sweet indeed. The manita and retirement I mean.

  6. Roberto Manita says:

    And for greater clarification, if by chance I may be misunderstood, any time ManU gets ripped a new A-hole is a good day. Full of sunshine and song birds. The bigger said A-hole the better I always say!

    Glory, glory Man United! Indeed. And with cheese please.

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