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Friday, March 27, 2009

Adebayor neatly highlights clear case of 'misinformation' journalism

Here is Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor debunking the sourceless 'story' that featured quite heavily in the media yesterday/today (e.g. the Times, Evening Standard, ITV teletext) that 'a club versus country crisis' was ignited because of his selection for Togo this weekend:

"I am surprised that this issue has taken this dimension in the media in England because it is not an issue at all.

My boss Arsene Wenger gave me the permission to come here to play for my country and if I didn't have his blessing I wouldn't be here."

The story by Kaveh Solkehol in the world renowned Times (link below) always read like highly suspect conjecture and - in the form of Adebayor's dismissive words today - it got the treatment it deserved.

The public are short-changed when information journalism is overridden by sensationalist 'misinformation' journalism.

Friday, March 20, 2009

EFT Scorecast Weekend 6

Welcome again to the weekly feature on EFT where the team here put their prediction accuracy skills to the test by trying to forecast the scores of the weekend round of Premier League matches.

3 points is awarded for a correct score (e.g. 3-1). 1 point is awarded for a correct result (correct positive result or a draw).

The updated Scorecast points table is in the EFT sidebar. Abdul is opening up a good lead and his predictions are first up:

Blackburn v West Ham 1-1
Fulham v Man Utd 1-2
Newcastle v Arsenal 0-3
Portsmouth v Everton 0-1
Stoke v Middlesbrough 1-1
Tottenham v Chelsea 0-1
West Brom v Bolton 2-0
Liverpool v Aston Villa 2-0
Man City v Sunderland 1-0
Wigan v Hull 2-0

Blackburn 2-1 West Ham,
Fulham 1-3 Man Utd,
Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal,
Portsmouth 0-1 Everton,
Stoke 1-1 Middlesbrough,
Tottenham 2-2 Chelsea,
West Brom 1-2 Bolton,
Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa,
Man City 2-1 Sunderland,
Wigan 1-1 Hull,

Portsmouth v Everton 1-2
Blackburn v West Ham 1-0
Fulham v Man Utd 0-3
Stoke City v Middlesbrough 2-0
Tottenham v Chelsea 0-1
West Brom v Bolton 2-1
Newcastle v Arsenal 1-1
Wigan v Hull City 2-0
Man City v Sunderland 1-0
Liverpool v Aston Villa 3-1

Blackburn v West Ham, 2-0
Fulham v Man Utd, 1-1
Newcastle v Arsenal, 1-2
Portsmouth v Everton, 1-1
Stoke v Middlesbrough, 1-2
Tottenham v Chelsea, 2-1
West Brom v Bolton, 1-0
Liverpool v Aston Villa, 3-0
Man City v Sunderland, 3-1
Wigan v Hull, 2-0

Blackburn v West Ham 2-2
Fulham v Man Utd, 2-1
Newcastle v Arsenal, 0-2
Portsmouth v Everton, 0-0
Stoke v Middlesbrough, 1-1
Tottenham v Chelsea, 1-1
West Brom v Bolton, 2-3
Liverpool v Aston Villa, 3-1
Man City v Sunderland, 2-0
Wigan v Hull, 2-1

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arshavin's pull back was Pires-like and his decision making is Kasparov-like

Andrey Arshavin has made an excellent start to his Arsenal career. His football is characterised by very smart play, attacking initiative and good technique with both feet.

Arshavin has clearly shown in his short time at Arsenal that he is a player with big footballing intelligence. A player that not only has excellent footballing ability but also thinks deliberately about the smartest ways to use that talent in specific situations is a player to really enjoy watching.

His post-match comments after the 4-0 win against Blackburn were very telling about his high footballing intelligence. Speaking about his wonderful finish from a very tight angle he described how he has scored from such positions before and then described with excellent analysis how he interprets in these specific circumstances that 'goalkeepers tend to move slightly to the centre of the goal expecting a pull-back and therefore there is space to lift the ball high at the near post'.

This analysis was fantastic showing that Arshavin adopts a chess-like analysis to football; that he thinks ahead about his immediate opponent's motor responses and then selects the best move to capitalise on it. This shows very high footballing intelligence from the Russian captain; a Garry Kasparov type approach it could be said!

Of course, the great thing about Arshavin is that he also has the ability to then carry off the move that he calculates is best.

Yesterday Arsenal were a goal down in the FA Cup quarter final for over an hour until the equaliser from van Persie. RVP had an open goal to finish in and it was laid on a plate for him by Arshavin whose cool pull back in the heat of a frantic match was fantastic. Arshavin had the chance to shoot himself (and many would have) but there was a man on the line and he instantly calculated that a pass back across the goal to RVP would be the wisest move. The weight and accuracy of the pass was perfect; RVP could not miss.

This cool decision-making and technique reminded me of how Pires often declined the chance to shoot for glory to rather pass accurately across to Henry to finish from a better position. It was great to watch; and indeed was a game-turning moment.

Andrey Arshavin is proving to live up to his reputation as a very bright player and I think we will all enjoy many superb footballing moments from him in his career with Arsenal.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

EFT Scorecast Weekend 5

Welcome again to the weekly feature on EFT where the team here put their prediction accuracy skills to the test by trying to forecast the scores of the weekend round of Premier League matches.

3 points is awarded for a correct score (e.g. 3-1). 1 point is awarded for a correct result (correct positive result or a draw).

The updated Scorecast points table is in the EFT sidebar. Still going strong as reigning leader, Abdul's predictions are first up:

Man Utd v Liverpool 1-1
Arsenal v Blackburn 2-0
Bolton v Fulham 0-0
Everton v Stoke City 2-0
Hull City v Newcastle 1-1
Middlesbrough v Portsmouth 0-0
Sunderland v Wigan 2-1
Chelsea v Man City 3-1
Aston Villa v Tottenham 2-0
West Ham v West Brom 2-0

Arsenal 2-0 Blackburn,
Bolton 1-0 Fulham,
Everton 3-0 Stoke,
Hull 2-2 Newcastle,
Man Utd 2-0 Liverpool,
Middlesbrough 2-1 Portsmouth,
Sunderland 1-1 Wigan,
Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham
Chelsea 2-0 Man City
West Ham 3-2 West Brom,

Man Utd v Liverpool 2-1
Arsenal v Blackburn 1-1
Bolton v Fulham 2-0
Everton v Stoke City 1-1
Hull City v Newcastle 1-2
Middlesbrough v Portsmouth 1-0
Sunderland v Wigan 3-1
Chelsea v Man City 2-0
Aston Villa v Tottenham 2-0
West Ham v West Brom 1-1

Arsenal v Blackburn, 2-0
Bolton v Fulham, 2-1
Everton v Stoke, 3-0
Hull v Newcastle, 1-2
Man Utd v Liverpool, 1-2
Middlesbrough v Portsmouth, 2-0
Sunderland v Wigan, 2-1
Aston Villa v Tottenham, 2-2
Chelsea v Man City 2-1
West Ham v West Brom, 2-0

Man Utd v Liverpool, 1-2
Arsenal v Blackburn 2-1
Bolton v Fulham 1-1
Everton v Stoke City 2-0
Hull City v Newcastle 1-2
Middlesbrough v Portsmouth 1-2
Sunderland v Wigan 1-1
Chelsea v Man City 2-0
Aston Villa v Tottenham 2-2
West Ham v West Brom 2-0

Monday, March 02, 2009

"Finishing second would still be an achievement" Rafa Benitez, manager of Liverpool

Gerrard Houllier used to say finishing in the top 4 was an achievement, so I was just waiting for Rafa to say something like that now.

Liverpool will not win the league but to say that it is an achievement to finish 2nd is disgraceful. Maybe Rafa should at the reasons why Liverpool are not even challenging for the league title any longer, starting with his own management style and baffling decisions.

I couldn't believe it when I say Skirtel playing at right back against Boro. Can someone explain why? What is it with Rafa playing Lucas - the guy is just dreadful. And selling Keane is clearly coming back to haunt Rafa because if Torres isn't playing, Liverpool have no one up front. No strikers means no goals, and yet Rafa keeps going on about how Liverpool have missed chances to score this season.

Rafa may have a great record in Europe but unless Liverpool are content with only doing well in Europe, then they will have to replace Rafa because otherwise, Liverpool will never win the league.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Flashback: 17 year old Theo Walcott graces 2007 Carling Cup Final

This afternoon Manchester United take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup final. Man Utd will start Darron Gibson and 18 year old Danny Welbeck: two young players who have been regulars in this competition and I'm particularly impressed with the glimpses I've seen of Welbeck. Watching him this afternoon will remind me of this day two year years ago when a 17 year old Theo Walcott scored the opening goal in the 2007 Carling Cup final against Chelsea with such quality that is a striking reminder of what Arsenal have been missing from the English speedster in the last four months.

It was a fantastic finish by the youngster and the atmosphere is amazing. Watching this again is also a reminder of the special, unique feel of a cup final when everything is heightened.

Lets hope for similar quality to be on display this afternoon; and if Danny Welbeck can supply it that would be great.

Wenger looked exhausted and on the edge; in desperate need of BIG player return

While watching the Arsenal v Fulham match yesterday the camera focused on Arsene Wenger from time to time as he sat on the bench. And the pictures were uncomfortable to watch.

First off Wenger looked seriously fatigued as if stress had decided to etch itself all over his face. I had seldom seen Wenger look this beaten during a match and it was something unmissable to note.

Second he seemed to occupy the same scrunched, hunched and tense sitting position throughout the match. If Sam Allardyce is right about 65% of communication being through body language it would have been best for the young Arsenal midfield and attack to not look over at the Arsenal bench at all during the game.

Perhaps Arsene Wenger was staying braced because he had the physical science stats at hand and knew that his side were spent physically. I definitely felt bad for the likes of Denilson, Diaby, Clichy, van Persie, Arshavin who towards the end of the second half had 'hit the wall' in terms of energy and simply could not physically chase down Fulham players in possession. Some fans couldn't believe it - moaning like these players weren't committed. For me this was not the issue - rather their bodies simply couldn't respond towards the end of the match because they had already put so much energy into the Roma match.

So back to Arsene Wenger. As I saw him looking in such a terrible and negative state on the touchline I thought of a couple of things.

First, I can't remember Alex Ferguson ever looking this stressed DURING a match as he sat on his throne at Old Trafford. Ferguson always sends out a confident and expectant aura- which his players seem to feed off. For me Wenger should have taken a leaf out of that book yesterday even if it would have been a deception of his real angst.

Second, Wenger more than ever looks extremely desperate for his superstar five attacking footballers to return to his team. Walcott, Adebayor, Eduardo, Rosicky and Cesc are massive players that Wenger has been without for a long time now (apart from Adebayor) and his patience for their return looks now to be at breaking point.

I thought it was a telling insight on Arsene's personal perspective on things when he called Eduardo's hamstring strain after a triumphant FA Cup return against Cardiff 'a nightmare'. Some may have thought he was referring to Eduardo's mental state on receiving the injury - but he is sensitive about man-management not to have described it in this way if this was the case. No, it was clear that Wenger was saying it was 'a nightmare' for him.

For me, the use of this strong description was out of character and revealing about his disappointment at having waited so long for Eduardo's return only to find that again the talisman Croatian will not be available for selection. It betrayed the ordeal he has probably been feeling this season as someone who has so much belief in his policies but has seen many things turn against him.

This has been a monumentally tough season for Arsene Wenger. He looks in a terrible state and needs his big injured players back as soon as possible to try to revive his lagging shadow team; and in turn ease his extreme personal pressure which is evidently taking its toll.


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