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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Champions League round-up

Man Utd fans, is there anything you feel you can read from Man Utd's current form that warrants alarm? In a season where the Red Devils aim to put a spanner in the Chelsea works to claim another title, they have won more away from Old Trafford impressively, with Sir Alex aiming to make their ground one to fear coming to, with 1 defeat and 1 win out of 6. This is in contrast to one's perception of coming to Old Trafford many seasons before. That in itself means the manager considers his side are not fearsome enough this season, 13 games gone, and that is a reflection of the team's progress overall. Comprehensively, Utd faltered at the weekend, in style, and last night they were expected to bounce back with anger and determination to show their fearsome reputation that they had enjoyed in previous European encounters.

When Lille attacked for their goal, captain Gregory Tafforeau ran down the left practically unchallenged and when he pass diagonally, it went across Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown to former Spurs player Milenko Acimovic, clearly seen running between Brown and Mikael Silvestre without anyone picking him up. Utd's best chances went to Christiano Ronaldo, with his contact hitting the ball off the underside of the crossbar, and Park Ji-Sung, on for Kieran Richardson, played in nicely by VNR only to miss with some contact made on him prior to. Utd were spared 20mins from time when Matt Moussilou headed freely over from centimetres from Mathieu Debuchy's cross, with the Utd defence comatose.

Sunday's clash with Chelsea at home is more even more significant, with both sides smarting from 1-0 defeats away in Europe where they were expected not to. The difference is while Jose Mourinho has the players and the hunger to put things back on the right track again, plus a second XI from which he can replace an injured player with little worry of disrupting the team's flow, Sir Alex is without key players and has a side wondering what is happening to them why they have lost twice in a row in such a manner. On the backsiding of a Roy Keane blast, one may question whether the blast was appropriate, but many say Keane is feeling it for the club and wants to raise the players. Critics say Ferdinand kept his place despite recent criticism, but who else is available to replace him anyway?

Arsenal conducted business last night with their man Thierry Henry marking yet another low, curling effort out of the blue that the keeper Jaromir Blazek couldn't expect, much less see. But they left it late in the game to wrap it up, with Henry replaced by Robin Van Persie on 66mins and Arsenal breaking minutes later on the counter. Either Gael Clichy or Lauren found Bergkamp on the left, he passed across to RVP, who seemed to have delayed too long but simply moved to his preferred left foot and curling in. Sub Emmanuel Eboue was key in RVP's 2nd, finding RVP on the edge of the box, the Dutchman this time finishing low with his right foot. It had been debated whether RVP or Reyes was the sharper finisher but with Reyes on the wing, RVP had clear instructions after replacing Henry, in that this was the moment to score goals if he had indeed improved. He didn't disappoint.

The football over the past 48hrs produced some goals that I hope we'll see from individuals in the WC2006. Splendid goals taken. All of Barcelona's goals were superbly taken as Panathinaikos capitulated. Andres Iniesta threading through for Mark Van Bommel's lob; Samuel Eto'o's header; Lionel Messi chipping over the advancing keeper and finishing; Messi and Ronaldinho, with a backheel pass to Eto'o, setting the Cameroon striker for his second off his weaker foot; Messi again, an 18 yr old Argentinian, finding Eto'o on the left and first time Eto'o sent a curling high ball over the keeper and in, the best goal of the game.

From Tuesday night's action, three of them came from Liverpool. For Fernando Morientes to score was something to quell the usual press mongers hovering over Anfield, but also for himself. Controlling a chip from Steven Gerrard, he characteristically chested it down and then finished, the delight obvious in his celebrations. Then in the second half Finnan's cross whipped in for Luis Garcia to glance a header in from outside the box, superbly taken. Then as Harry Kewell aimed to break through, the ball came within Djibril Cisse, who slotted it in crisply through the keeper's legs. No bias here, they were three well taken goals.

In Olympiakos v Lyon, Juninho Pernambucano's equaliser was best goal there, a trademark free-kick curled past the keeper's left into the corner. The Brazilian is the one Lyon player to have for freekicks and his touch has failed to disappoint the French side managed by former Liverpool coach Gerard Houllier. But where Inter Milan faced Porto, behind closed doors again, Hugo Almeida, Porto's Portuguese forward, unleashed a ferocious thunderbolt of a freekick from 30-35 yards that completely rocketed straight past Julio Cesar. There was no chance of stopping it. 21 goals Tuesday, 31 last night, a better Champions League week this season.

Finally, much may be said regarding Chelsea's defeat to Real Betis. Mourinho said Chelsea should not take into consideration Everton's position when they played at Goodison Park, and he said the same about Betis. The Spanish side came 4th last season after 16 wins, 14 draws, 8 defeats and currently lie 3 places off the foot of the Primera Liga after 2 wins, 3 draws, 5 defeats, 3 defeats coming at the Rui­z de Lopera. With Chelsea's current form, this defeat went against the grain but it was mentioned by Ray Wilkins on Sky Sports last night that Chelsea at least aimed to come back, which we would expect from such a side. And as Mourinho said after the game, they are a great side but weren't so on Tuesday, it's a matter of reviewing and correcting what went wrong.



Blogger T said...

Has Keane's 'alleged' comments destroyed the confidence of some of the young players at Man Utd? It looked to have done yesterday because that was not Man Utd playing- not the Man Utd I've practically grown up watching.

What's happened to Ferguson? Has his handling of Beckham come back to haunt him (like I predicted at the time): I don't think he has commanded the same level of respect in the dressing room since dismissing the well-liked England captain. Moreover, selling Beckam equated to selling half of RVN- who relied so much on Beckham's assists.

Without the experienced Neville bros and Keane on the pitch to kick, fight, and hustle Chelsea- I can't see Man Utd reversing their horror week on Sunday.

11/03/2005 11:56 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Quite frankly, T, neither do I. The side that played last night, with the inclusion of Scholes, is the same side to turn out on Sunday. If Ferdinand is to mark Drogba in a Chelsea 4-3-2-1, OK, Brown can sweep, Silvestre and O'Shea full backs. Yesterday it was 4-5-1, I would choose 4-4-2, VNR and Rooney, with some advice from Sir Alex, can cause havoc on their day, and if they were to jump at the Chelsea partnership of Terry and other, then they could get to unsettle the Blues. I imgaine VNR will stay beside Terry, Rooney with Carvalho. I anticipate Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho, Del Herno starting, Gallas possibly sacrificed for allowing Betis' Dani to score.

Tellingly, the midfield could be where the game is won. The Utd four of Park, Scholes, Smith and Ronaldo is better, Park is more effective, running at players and slipping the pass through. It is up to Ronaldo to not dwell too much and aim for the crosses, high and low. Otherwise, Lampard and Essien aim to possess and release the ball quickly to the wingers. Count how long a Chelsea player in attack holds onto the ball, no longer than 4-5 secs.

There could possibly be a draw from this.


11/03/2005 2:10 pm

Blogger T said...

Redsman and others, should Ferguson do a McClaren and go with 3-5-2. After all, Man Utd are without their first choice full backs, and Rio, Brown and Silvestre are all more comfortable playing at centre back.

3-5-2 will also allow Man Utd to match up man-for-man with Chelsea in midfield without sacrificing the two-man forward option. Scholes may take the Mendieta free-role, with Park and Ronaldo on the wings, and Rooney and RVN up front.

If I was Ferguson I'd be tempted to unleash this Plan X on Chelsea; especially as their 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 are currently in meltdown due to injuries and loss of confidence.

11/04/2005 12:27 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

That sounds very feasible, as you said it worked well for Boro against Utd, though I sense from your comment you refer to wingers as opposed to the wing-backs Boro used. Boro used a 3-2-3-2.

With 3-2-3-2, Brown at right-back, Silvestre at left, Rio in the middle; O'Shea on the right, Richardson on the left flank; Park, Scholes, Smith behind VNR and Rooney. But with this Smith needs to excel into an unorthordox wing role, supported by Richardson.

With a 3-5-2, Brown, Rio, silvestre; Fletcher, Scholes, Smith all in the middle, with Park on the left, Ronaldo on the right; VNR and Rooney. This seems stronger than the 3-2-3-2. But for Utd they need a stronger performance from Smith, especially for him to stamp his worth for an England place. I would expect Smith to track Lampard's runs, Scholes to match up with Makelele. The midfield battle will be crucial to the game for Utd.


11/04/2005 12:49 pm

Blogger T said...

Yes Redsman, I envisage a 3-5-2 like you describe in the last paragraph. I would love to see Ferguson give it a go!

Your description of 3-2-3-2 leaves me slightly baffled??

11/04/2005 1:56 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

Interesting discussion about tactics - But Ferguson has never, ever started a match without an ortodox back four and I cant see this changing on Sunday.

Besides - I think the biggest problem that United have is the absence of any kind of confidence in every position on the pitch. United could be tactically perfectly set up against Chelsea, but with the current form and morale of the players I still wouldnt trust them to get anywhere near beating Chelsea.

United need a miracle and I for one have already started praying...

11/04/2005 2:32 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

Man United will not lose on Sunday. They will be up for the game, I have no doubt.

They should stick to 4-4-2, all they need is to show a bit more hunger and desire.

On another note, Liverpool were simply awesome.

11/04/2005 2:54 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks Skippy, the 4-4-2 is a solid formation, even against a 4-5-1. Though it was damaged against Boro, it still can be effective. I've said that it may not be down to the formation, but the players. Man Utd, like good teams, have enjoyed a passing game in the oppositions' half before aiming to strike. If they were to engage passing around Chelsea, it should go further to heighten their confidence. But if you are of the Roy Keane persuasion, you'd say the team has confidence but the layers are not putting in enough effort.

T - against Utd, Boro had:

Bates, Riggott, Queudrue;

Parnaby (right), Pogatetz (left);

Mendieta, Boateng, Rochemback;

Yakubu, Hasselbaink.

Transforming that to Man Utd:

Brown, Ferdinand, Silvestre;

O'Shea (right), Richardson (left);

Park, Scholes, Smith;

VNR, Rooney.

I hope this has cleared up any confusion but as abdul has said, Sir Alex wouldn't start without his usual back four, so the above is potentially immaterial.


11/05/2005 11:53 am

Blogger T said...

Thanx Redsman, your 3-2-3-2 is practically a 3-5-2! Yep, I agree that Ferguson is a four at the back man so talk of three at the back is quite theoretical, but EFT is about discussing all possibilites and I personally think with the players he has available he should go with 3-5-2/3-2-3-2.

Skipper, I like your confidence for Man Utd. I didn't see the Anderlecht match but the phrase 'awesome Liverpool' is quite unique so it must have been great viewing!

11/05/2005 12:14 pm

Blogger polyclinic records said...

arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!
arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!
arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!
arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!
arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!
arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!
arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!
arsenal's 49 and unbeaten record stays!!!

ironic but thank you manchester united. U scored and unintended goal (from an intended header to cross 6 yard box a pass for a goal) haha that broke the russian cunts. (sorry oblige my current fired up state of mind).

Ok i think manchester seriously need to beef up the midfield. The second half they totally lack pace. Ferdinand finally "remembered" how to defend admirably with his lackeys Brown who had an injury problem whole season. Silvestre did not play his gay game and made important clearances. Gd show. But really when fed the balls from defence manchester looked real lost. COuldnt hold the ball long enough to make better passes to Ronaldo and later on Parks.

The whole midfield looked rather jaded with the arrival of Gudjohnsen who I think helluva chelsea player. Lampard's game was snuffed. Din chalked up his tally of fukken deflected dodgy goals. Thank You. And really..the game was one hell of a show up. The team that played badly won. Moahinho for once your right there. but i cant help but laugh. Thanks to manchester. I an arsenal fan who was dismayed at the record halting at 49 games by of all teams Manchester am very pleased to see the cunts being snuffed all the way to their dodgy incomed. They played well. Showed plenty of gd attacking play. But man they got OWNED by a pants team. Wahahaha.

11/06/2005 7:03 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thank you, polyclinic records, though as Sir Alex was equally requested, I also plead for refraining from profanity. I understand your delight at Chelsea's defeat, and an article is forthcoming.


11/07/2005 10:28 am

Blogger T said...

I'll make my analysis on yesterdays match in Redsman's upcoming article, but for now I'll join Polyclinic in great satisfaction that the Arsenal 49ers will not have their record eclipsed so soon after it was achieved- especially by a guy who was disrepsectful to Wenger.

In June I wrote an article about Chelsea's pursuit of our record- and how it was something they were focused on as indicated by Mourinho's policy not to rest Lampard and Terry (nor indeed anyone else)despite both carrying injuries, after the champioship was won. Potential unbeaten game 46 at Highbury will now have no such significance!

Go easy on the language next time but keep your passion!

11/07/2005 11:21 am

Blogger polyclinic records said...

sorry bad

11/07/2005 3:42 pm


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