Tag Archives: England

Suarez FIFA

Let’s be direct: Liverpool just aren’t good enough to win this World Cup.

It’s always a crap shoot when I hit “publish” in the morning. I never know whether my article is going to be received in the way that I intended. Yesterday’s article is a good example. I felt like I was being very clear that I was lampooning the idea that Tiki-Taka is dead by writing an obituary titled “the death of the death of” but clearly I was taken seriously.

I did take part of the article seriously but that’s only because I felt like if I was going to do an obituary I have to do it right, right? That’s what makes it funny, that I would take it at all seriously. I blame myself, my sense of humor is often obtuse and when I’m writing something if it makes me laugh it’s probably not going to be funny to anyone else.

So there you have it, I don’t actually think Tiki-Taka is dead. I think that every system, in order to be a winning system, needs almost every player to play at their best and I think that Spain clearly were not at their best.

Possession based football is far from dead. In fact, what Pep Guardiola is attempting to do at Bayern Munich is play possession based football but do it with big, strapping midfielders sidled by mercurial wingers and fronted by an actual #9 instead of a false 9. Possession based football isn’t dead, it’s evolving into something different.

The target of my article was the folks who love to proclaim that some tactic in football is a failure after it falters. Tiki-Taka joins the very long line of football fads which have “died”. But the one thing I have learned unequivocally about football, from reading about Wenger’s various Arsenal incarnations, is that there is no one way to win. The early Wenger years, Arsenal played a very Tony Adams style of football. His second team, Wenger played a very Thierry Henry style of football. And his third team, he played a very Cesc style of football. What style are we playing now? I don’t know yet. A Ramsey style?

While we are on the topic of me being very direct I just want to say that Wayne Rooney is simultaneously one of the most overrated players ever and a great player. How? Well, it is possible to simultaneously hold two seemingly disparate opinions.

Rooney is obviously a great talent. No one scores as many goals as he has for Man U, not to mention his assists, and is a lucky or crap footballer. Rooney also scores big goals, especially against Arsenal.

But the expectations from the English press and fans of the England team are out of line with his actual talent. The Brits want him to be Suarez but he is more Sturridge. With Suarez in his team he would be amazing, with him as the main focal point of the English attack, he’s just an above average to very good player.

The problem with England is that they lack a real focal point. They need a Suarez, an Henry, a Maradona who will just take them over the line. And it’s a matter of inches this line I’m talking about. Rooney missed a semi-sitter from 6 yards, hitting it straight at the keeper instead of either side. Rooney had a free kick in a dangerous area go literally inches wide. And his missed header crashing into the corner of the crossbar, from literally inches away, is the metaphor for England’s World Cup hopes since 1966.

That said, I’m rooting for England to go through to the knockout stages. They need Pirlo to beat Joel Campbell with a wink and a smile today and then for Italy to beat Uruguay in the final game and then to win against Joel Campbell by enough goals to beat Uruguay on Goal Difference. It’s a tall order considering the fact that they brought on Adam Hahana and Liverpool’s new star forward Rickie Andycarrollambert in order to try to get the win. Talking about inches away…

And I want England to go through because The World Cup is going to hurt Liverpool more than most teams. Most of the England team are Liverpool starters. England even has Liverpool’s psychologist in their employ! Add to that the fact that they don’t have a deep squad, can’t spend any money, Suarez had surgery in order to play for Uruguay (I suspect he will be injured to start the season), and that Liverpool will have the added rigors of the Champions League next season and I would put money that they drop out of the top four next year.

How is that for being direct?


dirty luiz

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack makes good old England tick

The English National team beat Brazil 2-1 last night and the stars of the team were all made at Arsenal. Sure, Gerrard captained the team, Rooney scored the first, and Lampard scored the second but make no mistake that it was Jack Wilshere who bossed the midfield and Theo Walcott who cracked Brazil’s nut.

Wilshere was so good last night that even the normally dour Stuart Robson was effusive with praise during the broadcast, hailing Jack as a player beyond his years. Nearly every time he touched the ball, Jack looked to create. Time and again he received possession and turned into the jaws of the Brazilian defense, wriggling past midfielders, playing delightful 1-2 passes with Tom Cleverly to open space, and finding the runs of Danny Welbeck on his left or the electric Theo Walcott on his right.

It was exactly that type of run which opened the scoring. Jack took a pass from Rooney (who followed with one of his by now trademarked midfield runs) and with a burst of pace gave himself the inches past his midfield marker to play a perfect splitting pass to Theo Walcott. The Arsenal striker was just behind the ball enough that he couldn’t lift it so he struck low and hard at Cesar. The Brazilian keeper deflected the shot but it caromed to Wayne Rooney at the top of the box and the United man simply placed it into the net. As usual, I suppose, Arsenal created and United finished.

It’s going to be seen by some as over-hyping the young England star but that’s just the way the world works these days: any time someone has a bad performance, there will be vociferous apologists and any time someone has a good performance the very same folks will loudly denounce the reporter as hyping the player. The fact is that Jack Wilshere was the standout player in a game which featured a collection of the most expensive players in world football — Oscar, Ronaldinho, Ramires, Luiz, Cesar, and of course the much ballyhooed Neymar, a player who is so highly rated that Manchester City have offered his club a blank check. It’s not hype if Jack was objectively better, and he was.

The forgotten man for much of the game was Theo Walcott. The Arsenal striker tortured his marker all night long and despite some unlucky moments and the fact that he didn’t get on the scoresheet, it was his movement and dribbling which opened Brazil for both goals. The first goal is already documented above but after Brazil leveled through a defensive error by Gary Cahill, the Three Lions looked to Theo time and again to bail the team out. Walcott’s personal battle with Adriano must have been humiliating for the Barcelona man as he was turned inside out like double-knit reversible slacks time and again.

Dribbling is something that Theo has clearly been working on and his touch with the ball at pace has greatly improved, but he hardly needed crafty dribbling as he could simply beat Adriano with pace. That’s exactly what he did for England’s second. Dipping his shoulder to the left, Theo flicked the ball to his right and easily ran past Adriano into space. His cross could have been better at that point but it was a well struck low ball into a dangerous area and Brazil failed to clear. The resulting pinball ended at Frank Lampard’s feet and the big Chelsea man just smashed it past everyone to put England in the lead for good.

Pardon me, Adriano, do you have any Grey Poupon?

From that point on you would expect England to sit back and invite waves of pressure from a classy Brazil side but that game plan was never in Hodgson’s book. England still looked to dominate the  midfield and did well winning possession and keeping the ball despite the constant pressing from Brazil. In the end they did just enough and with two excellent penalty saves from Joe Hart, became the first England side to beat the Brazilians in 50 years. Redemption for Hodgson’s game plan if ever there was any.

After the game, Jack spoke well of the balance of youth and experience in the England side, a policy which is currently being mimicked at Arsenal. Arsenal play with Arteta in the deep role behind Jack and the Spaniard is far from the midfield destroyer that many call for, but neither is Steven Gerrard who played the holding role for England last night. Rather than Cattermole style tackling, what they both bring, instead, is exceptional positioning, patience, and the ability to spread play from deep. A quality that Andrea Pirlo brings to the Italian side. In many ways that’s what modern football is all about and it’s fantastic to see Roy Hodgson developing an England team that does more than hoof the ball to a big center forward.

Gunners should also be proud of the fact that Ashley Cole got his 100th England cap. He would be an England star regardless of the team he played for and while I know that he is considered a traitor to the cause that shouldn’t stop folks from celebrating him as one of Arsenal’s most capped academy graduates. Arsenal made Ashley Cole from his academy days to the finishing school of the Invincibles. That he left Arsenal for a few more silver coins down in Fulham does not tarnish that Arsenal legacy.

Arsenal supporters have a hate-hate relationship with international’s and especially with injuries caused by midweek international friendlies. This week is no exception in that regard as word filters back that Laurent Koscielny might have aggravated a pre-existing calf injury while playing for France. But the fact that Arsenal have so many players who play in these internationals is down to the fact that the club have so many talented players. And while I agree that perhaps there should be an international “season” sometime in the early Summer, rather than spread out throughout the year, I see a performance like the one Jack Wilshere put in yesterday and think that it has to lift Arsenal for the the rest of the season. After all, if Jack Wilshere can lift the English national team against Brazil, imagine what he could do against Sunderland on Saturday.


it’s time to play transfer speculation 1,2,3!

Ok, here’s the deal. There is nothing actually going on. No real news. No transfers. No matches. No injuries. No recoveries. No Christmas party rape fiascoes. Nothing.

Well, Arsenal launched Arsenal TV yesterday. And during the launch Arsene revealed that Anelka cried and blubbered and begged Wenger to take him back this summer after Arsenal sold Henry. But, Wenger steadfastly refused saying “you made your bed now lie in it and try not to pick up any fleas from Ashley Cole.”

In the same press conference, Wenger revealed that Arsenal’s youth team are 80% English and that soon we will see Englishmen in the first team.

We are competing financially with Manchester United and Chelsea for the best English players, but our academy has a lot. If you look at our Under 14s, our Under 16s and Under 17s we have the best young English players in the country. Our youth team is 80 per cent English.
The good thing about signing English players is that there is less uncertainty. If you buy a player from Spain, you don’t know if he will like the weather or the food, or whether he will want to go back to Spain.

Thank god Cesc likes the food and the weather and keeps refusing rumors that he wants to go back to Spain. Ahem.Anyway, I guess it’s good to see that Wenger is raising up English talent but honestly, I don’t really care about the English national team. First because I support France in these tournaments and second because it’s not Arsenal’s job to make English footballers better. It’s Arsenal’s job to put together the best team in the world so that they can compete against clubs like Man U and Barcelona (who collectively field, what, two Englishmen?) And more to the point, there are 19 other teams in the Premiership, 24 clubs at the Coca Cola Championship level, and 24 more clubs at League One level; what are THEY doing to bring English players up? Why aren’t their coaches singled out for not creating the kind of talent that can play at that top top level? Wait, it’s because Arsenal are a convenient scapegoat.

But it is good that they are bringing up English talent because Englishmen are at a premium. So, it’s great from a business sense. Keep one or two for the squad so that the nationalists can buy their jerseys and sell the rest at 2-3X what they are actually worth. Oh, and also, they don’t complain about the food and the weather (until they take their first trip to Mallorca).

The only other transfer news is a strong rumor that Diarra may be going to Pompey. I trust Arseblogger when he says that he has an inside source and that’s why I’m reporting it here.

Now, I have to get back to my Paella. NOM NOM NOM yummy Paella.