Sunday, October 16, 2011

Arsenal - Sunderland

A much more encouraging performance by Arsenal in a lot of respects, but especially confidence. Throughout the first half they were dominant and looked they'd score with every attack, but then Sunderland scored and the jitters returned. They were much better in the second half mentally and looked assured.
However. There's still a lot of problems. Defending is still not great, the last 15 minutes of the first half when the players got a bit nervous there were a number of mistakes, especially when Jenkinson got caught in possession and the keeper came out of the area.
Jenkinson played pretty well though, and that was actually his only mistake of the game, he was good going forward and his crossing was excellent apart from the one time when, paradoxically, he had time and he scuffed it. On the right particularly he had no help whatsoever from Walcott who for me was poor. Don't if his positioning is something that he's bring instructed to do because he goes up to the striker position and there's a massive gap on the right which means Jenkinson has no one to pass out, and consequently, means he has no protection from Walcott.
The main frustrating aspect for me from Arsenal in position is that there are so many times when the midfielders push too deep too quickly and the defenders have no one to pass to, Arteta and Rosicky have got to come to get the ball and make themselves available.
The only player doing this was Song but the poor guy had to perform defensive midfielder, box to box, wingbacks cover, central defender cover, he was everywhere a fantastic performance.
But of course the name on everyone's lips will of course be the captains' Robin van Persie. The man is Arsenal's best player and it shows, every touch is pure class, his goals on the day superb. It's just a shame that so often he's devoid of support and, let's face it, intelligence around him. What a difference somebody like Mata would be.
A final mention to Gervinho who had a good first half and caused all sorts if problems, disappeared after the break though.
Not much to say about Sunderland, didn't try to win the game and completely abdicated to attack, the only positives were Larsson's free kick, a moment of pure genius you'd be hard put to find a better one all season (that is until RVP in the second half!) and Sessegnon who worked really hard.
A lot still to do at Arsenal but certainly on the ascendancy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Portugal's Euro 2012 qualifying

Now I didn't watch the game but as soon as I saw the score on skysport news my first thought was here we go again. So a few points:
1. Portugal, similarly to England, always seem to do it the hard way, it's no surprise, many times this has happened. In fact, I would say we have been spoilt of late, 15/20 years ago we did not think we should always qualify top of our groups or qualify at all! But yes, with this team we should have done better, the fault? FPF, undeniably. For sacking Queiroz at the wrong time. For hiring a poor replacement and for taking their time getting Bento in.
2. Bento. I'm not a fan, and I think the mood and confidence of the players has to be his sole responsibility. Carvalhogate. Bosingwa not called. Danny citing "personal resons" for not playing yesterday. What is going on? Also hi team selection is suspect at times but it's also up to the players to step it up.
3. Ronaldo, world class player wants to be better than Messi. For the national etam he's always poor. True, you can argue that Messi is also poor with Argentina, but I don't think you can compare his performances his national squad with Ronaldo's, they have their own problems with national managers but I would venture to say that he's done a lot better. Ronaldo always looks uninterested and down on his colleagues, he's so selfish it's untrue. It seems it was another typical performance by him yesterday.
4. Defence. To be fair to Bento, he was missing Pepe and Coentrão, by far the outstanding players. Bar Carvalho but let's not go there. But, if Portugal had a decent defensive midfielder this might be alright because he could shield the defence, the fact is we don't. You can try to play Meireles there but he's just not that sort of player, the best man for the job is Pepe, but I would like to see Ruben Amorim being tried there, unluckily for him Benfica has Javi Garcia so he never gets a look in at club level.
5. Depth. Does Portugal have enough good players to fill in when the main ones are injured? Are there any good young players around? I would say kind of and maybe. Of course the second line isn't as good as the best players, that is true of any nation in the world, does Spain have replacements for Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas that are as good as them? Of course not. Young players, well to be honest I really don't know, I have not been keeping up with the whole of portuguese leagues, but one things is for sure, the Under 20's did bloody hell in the Summer so why not? They just need their club managers to either believe in them and play them or allow to go out on loan so that they can play, many great Portuguese players benefited from going out on loan, Rui Costa, Fernando Couto e more recently Coentrão.

In summary, in an ideal world, Bento would resign and another manager would come in and rescue Carvalho from exile. Better yet, ideally, Mourinho would take over!

But seriously, Bento has to be given the chance in the play-offs, it's no shame, and Denmark are a good team, they may not have world class players but they are much of a team than Portugal have been since oh Euro 2004? Unfortunately then, Scolari was great at man management and getting a team but so bad tactically it was painful. Can we find someone in the middle?

I think with a bit of luck Portugal should win the play-offs and make it to the European Championship but I do not believe we will do all that well with Bento there and without a Team, not players, Team.