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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.


Things To Watch For – Villa’s Home Record in 2011, PKs For Frank?, Bolton Feed-Up Seeing South American strikers

Written by on August 26, 2011 | 19 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League, General

1. It has been 13 months of turmoil for Aston Villa but even the most hardened anti-McLeish Villa fan must be reasonably content with four points from two games. But perhaps a more influential figure has been a player they signed during the last transfer window.

When Darren Bent joined Villa last January the Birmingham club had accumulated 22 points from 22 games. It was pace that would have eventually got them relegated.

But over the last 16 games of the 2010/11 season and the two of the new season Villa has taken 30 points from 18 games – a points per game return that wold have been good enough for 5th in the Premier League last season.

It may be only two games into the new season but Wolves fans must be seeing a more enjoyable season (i.e. one not fighting relegation). With a 100% record Wolves return to Villa Park as one of only two teams to take all three points off Aston Villa at home in 2011.

The other was Sunderland.

2. Wigan’s game against QPR is their third consecutive match against promoted sides and the first two have finished as draws. On one hand a case can be made that the newly promoted clubs are benefiting from a rush of adrenalin – the other that the step up quality should make them easier pickings at this stage.

3. Makings of a hard season for both but at least Everton has the quality that should see them comfortably sitting in the middle of the table. That may not be the case with Blackburn. Last season a trademark of Blackburn was their first half performances. They only trailed at half time in 5 of 38 matches. Given two losses so far they need to quickly find that sort of quick start again.

4. Frank Lampard will probably have spent the last week licking his lips at the prospect of this match. Frank has yet to open his goal scoring account for the new season while Norwich has already conceded two penalty kicks.

5. One of the features of the early part of last season was the defensive statistics put together by Sunderland.  In their opening 24 games of the 2010/11 Premier League season Sunderland recorded 11 clean sheets. In the remaining 14 games last season and two this, they have only shut out the opposition twice. Swansea might just fancy that this weekend as one that could bring a first Premier league win.

6. Despite being thoroughly outplayed last Sunday by Manchester City, Bolton showed a resilience and the destination of the points hung in the balance until the final balance. Bolton faced both Aguero and Tevez last week and this week it will be  Luis Suarez. Three world-class strikers in seven days.

7. Newcastle have made a solid start with four points from two games and they have yet to concede a goal. Against Fulham, Newcastle will be going for three-in-a-row something they weren’t able to achieve last season. They did however achieve back-to-back clean sheets twice.

For a side that has general been poor away from home since joining the Premier League Fulham has a remarkably good record of 3 wins, 3 losses and 3 draws at St James’ Park.

8. It has been a tough start for Tottenham Hotspur. First their ancillary facilities were damaged in the London riots and that and other damage led to the postponement of the opening match against Everton. Monday brought a visit to Old Trafford while this weekend they face the blue side of Manchester.

Although this Manchester City side is very different than ones that have come before but nevertheless City has only won once in the Premier League era at White Hart Lane.

Also a source of encouragement for Spurs should be their record against top half sides last season. It was second only to Manchester United.

9. Stoke has achieved what all promoted sides set out to do – that is cement their position in the Premier League. In their second premier League season West Brom hope to do the same. Something these two sides had in common last season was that they struggled to open the scoring.

Stoke managed to do it only 14 times while no side opened the scoring fewer times than West Brom with 12.

Stoke visit West Brom with two draws while West Brom has lost close games to Manchester United and Chelsea.

10. Manchester United dumped three second half goals into the Spurs net on Monday night and in the process made a side touted as a top four challenger look pretty ragged.

A stand-out for me (even discounting his goal) was * Danny Welbeck. His ability to lead the United line shown through and his passing statistics for a striker were a testament to his accuracy and the support around him.

Rooney was a constant source of support while Nani tucked inside a bit more than was usual.

Compare that to * Robin van Persie’s statistics against Liverpool and it certainly alludes to the Dutchman playing in a certain degree of isolation.

*Linked to a performance graphic.

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19 responses to “Things To Watch For – Villa’s Home Record in 2011, PKs For Frank?, Bolton Feed-Up Seeing South American strikers”

  1. shmish says:

    RvP looked to have better support from Walcott against Udinese this week, perhaps Walcott was playing a bit higher and less defensively. This helps a lot because RvP isn’t the kind of guy that plays better up front when isolated.

  2. James says:

    Bobby, you said on air tonight that you think Villa will exceed most people’s expectations, this campaign, but next year will be tougher for Villa. Can you expand on why you think so? I’d have thought the continuation of the clearing out of high wage/little contribution players (eg Beye, et al) would free up some funds, and some likely managerial consistency can only help.

  3. Roberto Manita says:

    I’m liking the look of Al Pacino’s outfit on the blue side of Mancville. Kun in, Sami in, Tevez to stay now that more Argies have arrived (his familia and Kun are in town; maybe another Argie beef restaurant will pop up now in the city also) — Carlito is like a new signing (as the famous Stingy Penny Pincher at The Grove would say), Kolo Toure’s suspension will end soon (in which time he’ll become like a new signing too and Lescott’s shakiness will be seen less often, fingers crossed), Clichy in, and still a bit of time left in the window.

    You better purchase a quality set of earplugs there Sir Old Red Nose. The noisy neighbours say that there is a new sheriff in town. Envision a spaghetti western starring Al Pacino. As Fergie starts to not win the big trophies any longer, combined with his age, can only hasten his retirement.

  4. Ed Gomes says:

    For me Chelsea isn’t going to be able to win a CL any time soon as long as Lamps and Terry are key figures. I know that Chelsea fans will probably think otherwise, but both players skills have really diminished. When you add selfishness to the equation, it makes it that much worse.
    Please don’t call Lamps a team player. I still remember when in the last game of the season Drogba needed a goal to win the scoring title. When Chelsea earned an early penalty, Drogba went to take it and Lamps waived him away. Nice of Lamps. Luckly Drogba went on to score later in the match.
    Comment of Lamps licking his chops over possible penalties, triggered the memory.

    City may have bought the players, and they should contend for everything. But those same players still have to do what Mancini wants and work together. That backroom also has plenty of egos, and troublesome ones at that.

    I was looking at Welbeck as another Man United youngster that showed well here and there that would be sold at an inflated price. Man United/SAF have done that plenty of times. But Welbeck has really surprised me. He is very active and showed very good instinct. Didn’t see it coming at all. I still say that Berbs is needed to compete on all fronts, but if PSG is struggling I could see him moving in January at an inflated cost. Maybe even Malaga? Gotta love Billionairs with fools gold.

    It’s nice to see Villa bouncing back after O’Neill quit on them.

    It’s impossible to root against Wigan.

    As much joy I got at watching those two idiot owners of West Ham go down, I think I’m going to get the same enjoyment of Blackburns slow burn.

  5. Roberto Manita says:

    Best front six for the blue Mancs once everything gets settled:


    Front four can swap positions but those are your four best attackers in the attacking positions. Yaya has the legs to join the attack from a deeper MF position. Best to save Barry for those key Carling Cup and early FA Cup ties. Balotelli back to Italy come January.

    Bob’s Your Uncle (BYU) 😉

  6. Roberto Manita says:

    If Scarface insists on playing Yaya as the AMF and Barry as a starting DMF given the quality at his disposal this season he should be summarily shot and FedExed back to Sicily. Full stop.

  7. James – my comment was based on Alex McLeish’s history as a manager. He tends to start very well but has trouble maintaining the initial success.

  8. Gus Keri says:

    For the second time, this season, Liverpool on top of the EPL table. But this time is going to last a little bit longer. At Least, until tomorrow morning.

    Good start for the season.

  9. Roberto Manita says:


    Will you be reviving your weekly Lucas Awards Monday nights on FSR? I don’t recall them being given out as of yet.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    Some lovely passes from C Adam as he played a deep lying playmaker…. can he keep it up?

    I acknowledge that Emile Heskey is a stalwart of both the EPL and England NT through his many years of dedication, reliability and contribution. Having said that, I don’t think McLeish needs 2 big men up front and replacing Heskey with an Albrighton (or even Ireland) may produce more goals and better overall play.

  11. Gus Keri says:

    If you are interested in what Liverpool’s owner John Henry has to say, read this interview:

    Here is a piece:

    “At one point only Boston, Oakland and the Yankees placed a very high value on On Base Percentage and we were heavily criticised as stat geeks.

    Then we won two World Series and now virtually all 30 clubs believe in the power of baseball’s hidden statistics.”

  12. Roberto Manita says:

    Now that Barça acquired Alexis and Cesc this off season they are so strong they could very well win the UCL without Messi. I couldn’t say that last year. Just think about it. That squad has strengthened to the point this season that they could be the best team on the planet without the world’s best player out all year due to injury, heaven forbid, and still win the UCL and La Liga. Just think about that. Scary. Despite what most of the pundits are saying Mou Mou and the Evil Empire have not closed the gap. The gap has widened. Just wait until Pep’s boys get fit 😉

  13. J says:

    For the second week in a row, I had to wonder if Villas-Boas would be needing that suit for an interview. This is not your grandfather’s Chelsea, but your grandfather would probably fit in, nicely.

    Happy Birthday, Everton. Blackburn winged-away buckets of chances before a foul fried them.

    No team is more dangerous than Bolton when trailing by 3 goals.

    Who among you was surprised to see Joey Barton in a jean jacket?

  14. Soccerlogical says:

    RM – You honestly believe that Barca would dominate any team without Messi? Do you realize how many goals and assists he contributes, not to mention his intelligent runs and presence on the field alone? I don’t think anyone can replace what he contributes to Barca.

    PS Al Pacino, Scarface… what’s the connection with Mancini ?

    J – I think Chelsea are one more signing away from a bit of magic, Mata looked sharp and I would even like to see Benayoun paired with Mata and Torres up front.

  15. J says:

    Fear not, La Liga fans. The Premier League has all the close competition you’ve been missing.

    City batted Spurs around like a playful kitten. United welcomed Arsenal Troop 568 to Old Trafford, stole all their thin mints and sent the kids packing with snowman merit badges.

    Who had the most uncomfortable post-game speech to their players?

    Wenger: “We now have a more thorough evaluation of our talents. I expect City to buy both of them”.

    Rednap: “At least we got that out of the way. Now let’s have punch and cake with Luka”.

  16. Soccerlogical says:

    “Genius” analysis as always by Christian Miles on Fox Soccer Sudnay. The “insightful” question of the day is “Would Arsenal fans be willing to go into debt in order to win trophies?’

    I wasn’t aware that having a 70M transfer kitty and buying at least 2 proper defenders would be putting Arsenal into debt.

    Christian Miles, Sportsnet is calling your name!

  17. Writing notes for Monday’s post and the FSR – simply overwhelmed with talking points.

    It is also the sort of day when you find out who is really worth following on Twitter for insight and who the imposters are.

  18. Anyone out there a Columbus Crew/Arsenal supporter who doesn’t hate Tottenham? A bad weekend indeed.

  19. Rob says:

    “Now that Barça acquired Alexis and Cesc this off season they are so strong they could very well win the UCL without Messi.”

    Thats utter non-sense. Take away Messi and you take away the dynamic that is Barca.

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