Football 2017-18


Felt so good to be back in front of the tv past midnight watching the game I love so much. And what added to the thrill was that it was an absolute entertainer with 7 goals. A good mix of awful defending, classy finishes and set plays.

Looking forward to grind out the first premier league weekend on the couch. Lacazette was fantastic to watch in the first game. He is a class apart with clarity and purpose in distribution, defensive work apart from being deadly in the box. It’s only a matter of time should the Arsenal team grow up to his quality, then they are an unstoppable force going forward. Of course the backline was in absolute tatters. Xhaka was a total disappointment last night. He was personally responsible for atleast two goals – one for each team. But Leicester played with the freedom we saw from them in the title winning run. Vardy is bang on the money. Gray and ‘nacho on the bench is very formidable to come on. Cech had a howler of a game. He was very fortunate to survive the scares last night.

Overall this builds up to a fantastic footballing atmosphere. Arsenal fans riding through all the emotions that they go through in a season in a miniscule 97 minutes last night! Football – c’est la vie!

Advertisements

Watford 3 – 1 Manchester United


Two defeats in a row. After an exciting derby match that broke a 3 point gap between the city rivals, the Dutch Europa league game was as tepid and directionless we had seen United all season. So the bounce backability of Mourinho team was due.

After a scintillating thrashing of Bournemouth by Man City previous night, the pressure was on. But the performance was far from what was expected.

The team reverted back to a more solid premier league line up with pace on the wings with Martial and Rashford and solidity in the full backs through Shaw and Valencia. Smalling replaced Blind clearly to obviate the aerial and physical challenge of a double center forward system of Watford.

Despite their two defeats so far, Watford has had a solid start to the season, and it was evident with the confidence on the ball. As the media likes to highlight everytime that Manchester United is a huge outfit with the team average height more than most in the league, it was ironic that they were being hurried and harried on and off the ball.

Most of the players got frustrated with the physicality. And thanks to Michael Oliver opting for a pro home side stand throughout the match, there was not much protection for the players.

They never really got going and there was not sufficient impact of the bench.

De Gea while having a relatively quiet game apart from a misunderstanding in the first half with Smalling, was clearly beaten in both the open play goals by quality strikes by Capoue and Zuniga.

Shaw was hesitant to stride forward, Smalling grappling players all the while and having poorer distribution compared to Blind.

Bailly’s performance seems always below par compared to his outstanding start to the season. He was clearly unable to bully Deeney and Ighalo up front.

Young brought more solidity and versatility when he came on and is likely to stake a much higher claim to the starting XI than the rest. Mata probably needs to start as Rashford was fairly nullified starting for the first time this season.

Zlatan’s finishing has been below par today and many quality chances we expected him to take were missed. Rooney having been rested looked totally off radar with his long range passing and short on speed as usual.

cso0bnawcaayxqjTactically Mourinho never really got a grip even in the second half even though things did improve. But it means 3 defeats in a row, 6 points behind the top of the table and more worries than joy into the next week. #GGMU

Manchester United 1 – 0 Southampton


First home game. Mourinho is yet to know a loss. Pogba was back and starting. Henrikh still didn’t find a place in the starting XI. But there was this sense of anticipation. Proven manager, electrifying characters on the pitch. In came a team that managed to beat United twice in the last three trips here. They claimed they are in for a good game.

_90855665_pogba_empics_body

And it indeed was a good game. It just happened that United were much more clinical. Direct forward play. With Zlatan in the box, wingers no longer play intricate small passes to build in the final third. The 4-4-1-1 switching to 4-4-2 during a rampant attack, back to a 4-5-1 when defending. The top three – Zlatan, Wayne and Anthony swapping positions in the front line; the bustling pace of Valencia and Shaw on the wings; the solidity of defence by Marouane in the center protecting a well marshalled partnership of Bailly and Blind.

1471635891984_lc_galleryImage_Football_Soccer_Britain_M

Pogba’s first touch resulted in a swift counter attack that almost lead to a goal in the first minute for the Saints. But as the game grew on, his nerves settled and he started enjoying, gliding across the pitch and beyond players. Strong, fending off position, brilliant ball control and a number of times the ref offered an advantage as he was fouled. He was solid in partnership with Marouane, but at the same time making leaping forays box to box.

 

Tough to keep the limelight away from Zlatan. A seemingly innocuous cross from Wayne, with no pressure on him as he crossed. Fonte was ready to clear it off, but in a split second, Zlatan towered over him, hindering Fonte’s leap. He generated pace, purely from his neck muscles as the ball flashed across the flailing hands of Fraiser F. #DaretoZlatan.

 

Welcome to the theatre of dreams. #GGMU. The fortress is back.

Community Shield 2016-17 Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City


I was looking forward to a football match after the Euros. Watching the ‘International Cup’ , ‘Champions Cup’ and all that nonsense was just a waste of time with players just getting game time and managers and players (new and old) learning the trade and exchanging ideas.

CpRmTfFVMAElXj_

Zlatan with Rooney behind looked good on paper. But it was the back 7 that was shining in the first 30 odd minutes. Rooney was awful on the ball, while Ibra was not getting enough balls to feet. Valencia was definitely the performer at full back with probing darts forward as well as solid defence. The darting Lingard run which seemed to take Leicester by surprise considering the monotony that was ongoing prior to it. The subtle change of pace, accompanied by composure from the young lad meant he etched his name into history books having scored in consecutive FA cup winning and community shield winning sides.

Shaw was happy to be bit more conservative moving forward. Martial hardly ever got into the game and the link up between those two haven’t been great. Shaw did get caught out twice and fortunately got away with it.

The lack of pace will be a big factor when the season begins. With the squad available to him, now that Pogba is confirmed, Henrikh will be a strong creative force. Mata being subbed in and then out is probably an indication to him of how little play time he is going to get under Jose. The presence of one left footer in the midfield is more than enough. The dynamism of Henrikh will be always preferred over Mata. Mata deserves full play time and needs to move to another club for his own career.

Zlatan was quiet for most of the game primarily due to lack of service. His defending of corners were awful to begin with, but he settled in well towards the latter half of the game.

And of course he did get the most important touch in the end, as he rose early to a well crafted Valencia cross to outmuscle Morgan in central defence.

Can’t wait for one more week to see the battle begin. Bring it on premier league

LvG out


lvg-3

I was running through the series of events that led to the downfall of Mourinho over the weekend. LvG’s press conference was for the first time, one of apprehension – he just got a trailer of a possible fate. But how contrasting are the two situations?

 

On one hand we have a manager who with remarkable ease strolled off with the premier league title 7 months ago, who had returned to a club where he is legendary. And yet, over a series of issues, on and off the field, eventually culminating in players conspiring, led to his downfall.  Having had a relegation fighting team to play against at home, immediately after sacking their manager, they couldn’t have asked for a better fixture, as chelsea moved their reluctant bus off the pitch, and attacked. The fans attacked the players as well, and anything but a win was not going to make life easy for any of the players.

 

Quite the contrary, Manchester United were facing a conundrum they were not familiar even when the team was managed by David Moyes. A team with such prolific names in the frontline, youngsters with potential, were all synchronized to operate in a style of football, that is so unique that it bores everyone from the viewer, the spectator, the refereees, the oppoonents, and eventually now the players themselves.

 

With central midfield side and backward passing stats having been the highlight of the previous two to three seasons of united, ever since the godly red headed Scholes retired, the question was where was the quality service going to be provided.

 

The problem as fans like me face is, that is absolutely boring to watch united not conjure a single shot on goal like ever. With no end product, I wonder what is the purpose of this play. What are we trying to prove? Giving opportunity to youngsters is the reason van Gaal cited for selling so many first team united players and loaning the other few available.

 

His man management has been so awful that with a few key injuries, the team is unable to conjure any form of teamsheet that gels. The backline has been solid for most of the season, but the players employed there has to be questioned.

 

Pushing back midfielders to defensive duties whilst having youngsters with little experience channeling midfield, coupled with aging stalwarts in the core of attack, united looks sorrier each day.

 

Watching the game today against Norwich, what was so terribly pissing off was the lack of impetus from the bench when united when 0-2 down. No plan B, absolutely stoned expression. And that is what is transforming on to the pitch. As tepid as it gets, this run of united has to be halted. And if there is any honor left in the higher echelons of united, #LvG should be out.

Manchester United 0-0 Newcastle United Review August 2015


Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 17.10.25

It started on a good note with Bastian starting the game. The movement off the ball was good. The passing was crisp. The early chance that fell to Rooney was wrongly called offside. When you are down, nothing seems to go your way. Memphis was bright, coming off the midweek European double, but yet again the final ball was left wanting.

Operating Rooney up top and Januzaj behind did not quite workout that well today as Wazza never really looked like hassling and harrying the central defence of Taylor and Coloccini. Taylor for having come into the side after a while, had a quiet calm game. Haider was very impressive with his pace throughout the game, the most prominent fellow in the few forays newcastle had into united’s half.

Second half Mata started floating and playing more central while Januzaj looked to hunt the wing, however, Newcastle kept growing in confidence and were well able to stifle the pressure from United. Memphis had a quiet second half, but the back four for Man Utd continued to impress with both Darmian and Shaw making positive forays forward.

The decision making in the final third was questionable many a times and as a result, the outcome was no real effort on goal. Whilst Mitrovic hit the cross bar in the first, he had a disciplined game trying to keep his physical presence felt all throughout. Smalling did a good job handling him. Good to see Chicharito back playing again in the premier league and he nearly made the most of a fortuitous one on one with Krul but the latter came out better as his feet kept the ball from reaching the net.

Rooney in the meantime continued to cut into a frustrated figure and there is no doubt that the discussion everywhere today would be on who Man Utd needs up front.

Player Ratings:

Romero 7.0

Shaw 7.5

Smalling 7.5

Blind 7.5

Darmian 7.5

Memphis 7.5

Januzaj 7.0

Mata 7.0

Rooney 6.5

Schneiderlin 7.0

Manchester United 3 – 1 Chelsea


 

I I’d opted for a quiet weekend this time around. No getting out to chill out in the weekend after a long week at work.. jus sit back in the room, laze, order in some good food, listen to music, watch some football and get plenty of sleep. Well, I couldn’t have imagined that the weekend would turn out this good!

It was as if the London mauling of Kenny’s troops wasn’t enough, the standard of football played by Spurs took it right back to last season whilst Spurs played some blazing eye candy football.. yes.. more sumptuous than Arsenal. The buildup to this fixture was anxious.. especially since even the reputation tarnished Torres had a good going when it comes to United.

Rio did not get cleared for the game, and had to satisfy himself to watching some breathtaking end to end football from the stands with his son.

United started pretty and were off the blocks early when a marginally offside Chris Smalling nicked a goal off a trademark Young cross.  Moments later Chelsea was at the other end with Torres dragging the ball wide of the far post.

David De Gea was no doubt the busiest of both the keepers the first 45, but the irony was how chelsea kept squandering umpteen piece of cake opportunities.

A darting run from Nani to the edge of the box with 3 defenders standing him off, the outcome was a ferocious right footed swerving bullet into the far top corner of Cech’s goal. The ball was past Cech before even he could move his feet towards the direction of the ball. This goal was of such high quality that it surpassed Modric’s earlier curling scorcher from a similar distance.

Phil Jones has made a reputation for his darting runs into the box.. and he led to all the Blues confusion with a fortuitous deflection off Nani falling kind for Rooney’s 9th goal – a tap in.

At HT, Chelsea was in tatters, and it was time for Boas to show what he is made of. Anelka swapped in for Lamps, and it took him only 30s to unleash Torres to form, who with a cheeky flick over De Gea brought life immediately into the game 3-1.

The number of misses that followed in the next 45 min does no justice to the scoreline. End to end football with some ridiculuous misses – Nani rapping the cross bar, Rooney missing a penalty after losing his footing, Rooney hitting the upright, Torres MISSING AFTER BEATING DE GEA. The ugly side of the ugly faced Ashley Cole digging his foot late into Hernandez was the only downside of an evenly matched game.. even in the column of missed chances.

The scoreline does no justice to the treat delivered, the exhilaration after a monsterous strike from Nani, or the jaw dropping miss of an open goal by Torres.. but that is why we love this game.. Cheers!