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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

United Wing It; Maxi Gets Suarez; Walcott Arsenal’s Best Defender?

Written by on December 11, 2011 | 4 Comments »
Posted in General

Liverpool 1-0 QPR

Liverpool could only draw against newly promoted sides Swansea and Norwich but went one better against QPR.

They dominated the game – again – and QPR were forced onto to the back foot from the first whistle. Liverpool peppered the QPR net with shots and only some wasteful finishing and fine goalkeeping from Cerny kept the score at 1-0.

Suarez played as the lone striker and his first goal since the start of October for Liverpool decided the match. An interesting aspect of Liverpool’s attacking play was the semblance of an understanding between Maxi and Suarez. The energy and appetite that Suarez brings to a game  makes him a handful for any defense.

But it can also make him difficult to play with – his team mates don’t seem sure as what to expect and perhaps Suarez isn’t quite sure either!

Nonetheless Maxi seems to have discerned better than others what might happen next when Suarez gets on the ball. 

The two combined for six of Liverpool’s eight shots on target.

Danny Gabbidon has endured some bad luck with injuries and his form as West Ham were relegated last season was less than stellar. Nonetheless the less the Wales defender defended stoutly in his own penalty as the graphic below shows.

Manchester United 4-1 Wolves

Manchester United broke their extended streak of one-goal games as some of their flair players returned to form.

Wayne Rooney and Nani scored twice each and they accounted for 50% of United’s attempts on goal.

Nani started on the left as United focused on exploiting the space between and in  front of Wolves right back Zubar and centre back Johnson. Valencia started on the other flank and the pair carved out 13 chances for United.

For Wolves it was again a case of digging a first half hole and then trying to find a way out over the second 45 minutes.

Wolves narrowed the gap just after the break with a goal from Fletcher to make it 2-1 but United hit back. The attempts on goal of 20 to 11 in favour of the home side distorts the picture given that 9 of the visitors efforts came after half time when the game had already been lost.

Arsenal 1-0 Everton 

What is the chance that the referee’s assistants in this game woke up on Sunday and headed for the medicine cabinet looking for Tylenol? The reason – a stiffness in their shoulders. Fifteen times they had to raise the flags for offside.

The game was dominated by Arsenal although the shots on target does not necessarily reflect how much of the play the London club enjoyed. It was also the second straight match in which Everton have failed to register a shot on target.

On a number of occasions Arsenal made bad decisions having broken through on goal and finished up not even hitting the target. Theo Walcott was guilty as charged but you could not accuse Walcott of hiding as the graphic of passes received shows.

But there was another side to Walcott’s game that might have proved to be even more crucial to the outcome.  Walcott’s presence largely negated the attacking threat from Leighton Baines. Baines went into this match averaging 32 successful passes for every 42 attempted per game (425 to 548). 

On Saturday his successful passes and attempts were essentially cut in half.

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4 responses to “United Wing It; Maxi Gets Suarez; Walcott Arsenal’s Best Defender?”

  1. J Rob says:

    Great analysis Bobby. And exactly why a lot of Liverpool fans would love to see Maxi start most games. He’s a very intelligent footballer with great positional strength who seems to complement Suarez well.

    Just watched the Sunderland goals from yesterday. You so rarely see the type of goal that David Vaughn scored yesterday in the EPL any longer. I think because you rarely see the sloppy defending that led to it. Henley’s header out was poor and then no Blackburn player made a determined effort to block or put Vaughn off. Thought the wall could have done a better job on the free-kick too. Lovely by Laarson whom I bet a lot of other teams are wishing they had bought. Great to see the Stadium of Light rocking. Think O’Neill and Sunderland fans are a natural fit. Lots of opposing teams will find it a tough place to go.

  2. Just saying to Eoin today that Vaughan will be an important player for O’Neill.

  3. Rob says:

    Stats that should worry Liverpool supporters(according to F365):

    * Liverpool have scored only one more goal in their first 15 games (18 v 17) than at the same stage last season under Roy Hodgson.
    * Luis Suarez has taken 46 shots in his last eight PL games and has scored one goal.
    * Craig Bellamy and Maxi Rodriguez have the highest pass completion rates of any Liverpool player this season.

    The first will shock some, especially those drinking the Kool-aid.

    The second is well noted and not surprising seeing as Suarez is the only man who can create game in/game out.

    The third is the main reason Liverpool will not reach the top four. Granted neither have really started as many games as the ones whom they are being compared to but they also played in the tougher games AND they are players who bring the ball forward and the fact they have great passing % says a lot about two of our summer signings. I still think Downing, despite not scoring, has been the best midfield signing this past year.

  4. Dr. Scoot says:

    I have been impressed with Walcott’s work rate and willingness to play defense this season. It increases his value to the team especially when he is not putting the ball in the net.

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