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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

OT: January 2016 Soccer Thread

Who will end Chelsea’s run? Will Real Madrid’s brand of super-star-driven conventional football keep the rest of La Liga at bay? Is this the year Big Sam finally gets relegated? Do Bundesliga fans prefer their corporate overlords Razenballsport or T-Mobile flavored? Whither Swansea? Does Pep need a pick-me-up?

These and other important questions answered in the second half of the season!

The Marksist Posted: January 04, 2017 at 09:07 AM | 306 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off topic, soccer

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   1. Textbook Editor Posted: January 04, 2017 at 12:44 PM (#5377354)
Who will end Chelsea’s run?


Spurs! [crosses fingers]
   2. The Marksist Posted: January 04, 2017 at 01:24 PM (#5377381)
Spurs! [crosses fingers]


Ditto! For LFC-related reasons, though.
   3. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 04, 2017 at 01:27 PM (#5377385)
1/4 Chelsea v. Spurs
1/6 West Ham v. Man City (FA Cup)
1/7 Wycombe v. Stourbridge (FA Cup, Stourbridge in tier 7 of pyramid)
1/8 Villareal v. Barcelona
1/10 ManU v. Hull (EFL Semi - return leg 1/26)
1/11 Southhampton v. Liverpool (EFL Semi - return leg 1/25)
1/14 Gabon v. Guinea-Bissau (first match African Cup of Nations)
1/15 ManU v. Liverpool
1/15 Sevilla v. Real Madrid
1/18 CONMEBOL U-20 Championship Begins (semi-finalists advance to Youth World Cup in South Korea in May)
1/20 Freiburg v. Bayern Munich (return of Bundesliga)
1/21 Man City v. Spurs
1/22 Juve v. Lazio
1/28 Fourth Round FA Cup
1//28&29; AFCON Quarterfinals
1/31 Liverpool v. Chelsea
   4. Textbook Editor Posted: January 04, 2017 at 02:20 PM (#5377430)
Spurs lineup is out:

Lloris; Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Walker, Wanyama, Dembele, Rose; Alli, Eriksen; Kane.

Guardian is calling it a possible 3-4-2-1; I've seen it referred to as a 3-4-3 as well.

It's interesting: as a youth (U12) coach, all of US Soccer is being told that once we get to 11v11 (which will start for my team next year in U13), the "preferred" formations are... 4-4-2 and 4-3-3... Which is not to say that those aren't good or won't work, etc., etc., but I find it a bit strange to advocate for X or Y formation when really... it should depend on who you have on your bench. If I don't have the players to play a 4-4-2--or if I have players who I think would work better in a 3-4-3 or a 4-2-3-1--why in hell would I pigeonhole myself?

I get that when these kids go to high school they may be asked to play a 4-4-2, etc. so they need to know how to play within that system... by why only 1 or 2 systems? Shouldn't we really be trying to teach them to be mentally flexible to play in different styles?

Anyway, it just strikes me as funny that (Leicester last season aside) the whole world of club football is moving in a bunch of different formation directions and there's US Soccer, chugging away with the good ol' 4-4-2...
   5. Mefisto Posted: January 04, 2017 at 02:26 PM (#5377435)
I don't see any harm to starting with a 4-4-2. They have to learn some formation; might as well make that the standard. As they get older, they can learn modifications. Right now, it's like learning how to play the piano (or anything, really) -- they need to start with simple chords so that they can learn more complex progressions later.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 04, 2017 at 02:31 PM (#5377441)
When I coached 5th grade travel basketball a few years ago we had a similar system. All the travel teams from 5th-8th grades were asked to run the same offense as the high school so as to effectively be a training ground for the high school team. It was pretty useful from a coaching standpoint because the kids were fired up at the idea of learning the same offense as the high school team and it allowed us coaches to interact and exchange ideas.
   7. Textbook Editor Posted: January 04, 2017 at 03:02 PM (#5377481)
I don't have a particular issue with 4-4-2; my issue is that to me that should be just the leaping off point, and that really if I (as a coach) can't get them--by the end of U13/U14 (cusp of HS)--to be able to adjust/change formations midway through the game, etc... then I'm not helping them get ready for the game they will (probably) be encountering on the HS level.

I know there's a LOT of HS coaches that have a system and are rigid to a 4-4-2/4-3-3, so I do get where it's useful... but I want my players to be able to think/adjust out there... most of my guys are not the biggest/fastest/most skilled... but if they can play smart soccer, execute different tactics, etc... they can often make up for the lack of skill.

   8. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 04, 2017 at 03:10 PM (#5377493)
I don't see any harm to starting with a 4-4-2. They have to learn some formation; might as well make that the standard. As they get older, they can learn modifications. Right now, it's like learning how to play the piano (or anything, really) -- they need to start with simple chords so that they can learn more complex progressions later.

Yep. It can be tough enough for kids to learn positions as is (who they should mark, where they should be when the ball is in certain areas, when they should be forward and when they should be back), that I've always found constant formation switching confuses it. HS teams (and, at lower levels, travel teams) definitely *do* play around with formations, but the unspoken assumption is that the players are already comfortable with their roles within a formation.
   9. The Marksist Posted: January 04, 2017 at 04:18 PM (#5377551)
Just noticed I got the date wrong in the thread title. I am, as ever, not good at things.
   10. Mefisto Posted: January 04, 2017 at 04:20 PM (#5377554)
I don't have a particular issue with 4-4-2; my issue is that to me that should be just the leaping off point, and that really if I (as a coach) can't get them--by the end of U13/U14 (cusp of HS)--to be able to adjust/change formations midway through the game, etc... then I'm not helping them get ready for the game they will (probably) be encountering on the HS level.


I don't really disagree with this. If your kids know the 4-4-2 and are ready to learn another, you certainly should introduce one.
   11. Textbook Editor Posted: January 04, 2017 at 05:26 PM (#5377615)
I don't really disagree with this. If your kids know the 4-4-2 and are ready to learn another, you certainly should introduce one.


They're playing 9v9 this season in a 4-3-1 with the fullbacks going forward to provide width, which (to me) was closer to a 4-4-2 in 9v9 than what most people seem to be using (3-3-2). So we'll definitely practice 4-4-2 (with the 2 added players being a DM and another ST), but I'm thinking we may go with a 4-2-3-1 for next year as I have a few kids who would be good in the "2" roles but maybe not as good if they had to go forward into the final third... But we'll see. Half of them will probably grow 4 inches over the summer... :)
   12. Textbook Editor Posted: January 04, 2017 at 05:28 PM (#5377617)
Huge win for Spurs, BTW. Just huge. Now they just can't have a letdown in the next few games. I still think the league's beyond them, but a top-3 finish is not...
   13. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 04, 2017 at 06:07 PM (#5377634)
I think the Spurs can still finish top.

It won't be easy, but their points per match is still over 2 which is where you want it.

The other thing, and I'm not going to root for it, but Kane's missed time. When everyone's been healthy Tottenham have been just as good as Chelsea. Chelsea are equally vulnerable to losing Hazard or Costa IMO.
   14. OPS+ Posted: January 04, 2017 at 07:28 PM (#5377676)
I'm ecstatic about the win, but all non-Chelsea fans should be as well. It makes the league much more interesting.
   15. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 04, 2017 at 09:49 PM (#5377708)
I wonder if it's a coincidence that Eriksen and Alli are back in form now that Kane is healthy again.
   16. Mefisto Posted: January 04, 2017 at 10:35 PM (#5377724)
Chelsea may be more vulnerable than we think. Everyone's noticed all year that they have a thin squad. In today's game, Conte was very slow to replace Moses (who was pretty bad) or Pedro (who was not very good, but had some moments). If their bench is really that poor, the long season may wear them down.

Of course, they're Chelsea so they'll probably buy 5-6 quality players this month.
   17. Textbook Editor Posted: January 04, 2017 at 10:54 PM (#5377734)
Man, if Spurs can get Lamela back healthy for the last few months of the season, that would really make things interesting--you could (among other things) revert back to the 4-2-3-1 with the old gang back together from last season (Dier/Dembele & Alli/Eriksen/Lamela in the midfield), keep the 3-4-2-1 but have Lamela & Son available as super-subs, or even go old school 4-4-2:

Kane/Alli
Eriksen/Dembele/Dier/Lamela
Rose/Vertongen/Alderweireld/Walker

The only thing that worried me today is... Many, Wanyama just offers next to nothing going forward, and he's not even a particularly good link between the back 3 and the advanced players--they miss the dual passing/defending that a Dier/Dembele combo gave them last season.

I think to even sniff at a title they'd still need a lot of help/a drop in form from the rest of the top 5 to get there. It's not unreasonable to think they can get to 80 points, but very much doubt 80 will be enough to win the title. In fact, it's arguable you might need 90 this season.
   18. Textbook Editor Posted: January 04, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5377735)
If their bench is really that poor, the long season may wear them down.


Not being in Europe at all really helps on that front. If they can manage to sandbag the FA Cup it'll get even better for them now that the festive period's over (when they had a rather leisurely 3 games-in-10 days schedule anyway, relative to the rest of the EPL).

I think it's still Chelsea's to lose; I don't see them dropping many points to non-top 6 teams, which then means the other teams chasing would basically (a) have to win all their non-top 6 games, (b) beat Chelsea whenever they get them head-to-head, and (c) hope for help from the other top-6 clubs... It's kind of a triple-bank-shot to pull off if Chelsea's going to not leak goals (which they certainly have not so far) and drop points to the mid-table teams.
   19. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 05, 2017 at 06:39 AM (#5377772)
If their bench is really that poor

It's not really; Conte just tends to make substitutions really late. Pedro's "backup" is Willian, for example, and he was nothing short of Chelsea's best player last season.

They're a bit thin at wingback, admittedly, but Chelsea have a number of experienced central defenders lying around (including Zouma, who only returned to training a month or so back), and are comfortable with Azpilicueta in that position anyway. They also have a mound of cash from the Oscar sale just lying around, and I expect them to strengthen at the back when the window opens.
   20. ckash Posted: January 05, 2017 at 07:28 AM (#5377780)
As a Chelsea fan I'd like to see them add someone to backup and ultimately replace Alonso at WB and someone to replace Oscar as an attacking MF. I'd also like to see Zouma go out on loan, preferably to a club that sets up in a 3 man backline; he's rusty and had positioning issues when in a back 4 so I'm not completely comfortable with him playing now with the stakes so high. Terry and Ivanovich are fine as depth plus Chalobah can move back there as well. It's possible Musonda sticks around as an in-house replacement for Oscar but he's been nicked up a lot and even though he showed well in La Liga on loan I'd prefer more experience in that role. Pedro's shortcomings were exposed against Spurs (basically if you play physically against him he goes into a shell and either doesn't get involved or rushes and makes bad decisions) so I'd love an upgrade at RW/RF with Willian becoming the super sub and Pedro used situationally.

I love the results from the 3-4-3 but wonder if Conte would prefer getting Cesc in the lineup full-time and moving to a 3-5-2 type setup, with Pedro/WIllian moving to the bench.
   21. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 05, 2017 at 09:23 AM (#5377809)
So Axel Witsel goes to China also. I believe he's the first player from a "major" European country who has gone over there in his prime. Pelle did get a callup from Italy while in China but he's a little bit older. The money is really too good.

While I think most European leagues are worried, the bigger teams have to be loving this. They can sell a "big" name even if he's well past his prime. For instance, I'm sure United fans would love to get rid of Rooney, Fellaini or Ashley Young and Spurs fans wanting to get rid of Sissoko - if those players were willing to go. The only risk of losing players that they really want are the ones who are truly mercenary
   22. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 05, 2017 at 10:27 AM (#5377864)
The Sissoko deal was awful from the start. I don't understand how he was starting for France, either - though admittedly he looked decent in some of the games I watched.

Wanyama is awful going forward, but Kante and Matic aren't exactly great at it. If the holding mid is great defensively (I think Wanyama is), I think you can deal with them being a bit of a zero on offense especially if your game isn't all about possession. They have the goal scorers and playmakers further up the field to create too. That said, Wanyama is still one of the weakest guys on their starting 11, but that's not a position that's easy to fill. Depends on what they want to do with Dier, I guess.

The guy I'd like to see Tottenham replace is Dembele. He's good, but he isn't great. He doesn't really get goals or assists and doesn't do much in the way of linkup play. He has some really nice runs with the ball occasionally, but I think he can be improved on. He seems like great depth.

Regarding ckash's post in 20, I'm surprised you want to replace Alonso. I've been really impressed with him. Both going forward and defending.

   23. Mefisto Posted: January 05, 2017 at 10:33 AM (#5377874)
If the holding mid is great defensively (I think Wanyama is), I think you can deal with them being a bit of a zero on offense especially if your game isn't all about possession.


Or even if your game is about possession: Busquets.
   24. ckash Posted: January 05, 2017 at 03:13 PM (#5378129)
Alonso isn't terrible by any stretch but I don't think he's Champions League caliber. He just strikes me as a placeholder until someone more dynamic comes along. I'd love to keep him for rotation/injury coverage though.
   25. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 06, 2017 at 10:04 AM (#5378620)
WNY reportedly relocating to North Carolina. It sucks, particularly for the defending champions, but Rochester was always a bit of a passion project for the Sahlens more than a real team, and if North Carolina can do even a portion of the UNC team, they'll draw very well.
   26. Sean Forman Posted: January 06, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5378630)

The guy I'd like to see Tottenham replace is Dembele. He's good, but he isn't great. He doesn't really get goals or assists and doesn't do much in the way of linkup play. He has some really nice runs with the ball occasionally, but I think he can be improved on. He seems like great depth.


MCoA may fight you to the death on this one. From my read his value is purely in destroying the opposition's offense.
   27. zack Posted: January 06, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5378715)
It sucks, particularly for the defending champions, but Rochester was always a bit of a passion project for the Sahlens more than a real team, and if North Carolina can do even a portion of the UNC team, they'll draw very well.

Well that sucks. I guess it's my fault since I've been meaning to go to a game but haven't. They drew well for the market size (as Rochester always has in soccer), and weren't really a problem yet, but would probably become one if they were terrible.
   28. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 06, 2017 at 11:57 AM (#5378733)
MCoA may fight you to the death on this one. From my read his value is purely in destroying the opposition's offense.

Oh, he's good defensively - sure. I actually have a soft spot for him since I used to be a Fulham fan, but he's not without his weaknesses. They also allowed like zero goals from open play in their first 5-6 games, and he missed all of those.

Tottenham's defense is going to be sick regardless (as long as all of these players stay willing to play this pressing style as they all enter stardom).
   29. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 06, 2017 at 09:11 PM (#5379161)
The guy I'd like to see Tottenham replace is Dembele. He's good, but he isn't great. He doesn't really get goals or assists and doesn't do much in the way of linkup play. He has some really nice runs with the ball occasionally, but I think he can be improved on. He seems like great depth.

Dembele was great last year. He's been hurt and not in quite as good form this season.
   30. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 06, 2017 at 10:06 PM (#5379180)
Dembele was great last year. He's been hurt and not in quite as good form this season.

Sure.

I mean, he's good. But the teams they're wanting to compete with, and should trying to compete with, are teams vying to be as good as Barca/Real/Bayern.

Dembele straight up could never play for those teams. I think at goalkeeper, centerback, Danny Rose, and their front 3 (plus I think Son is a world class backup) they can do that. Wanyama and Dembele is the weak link. Dier is really good, but I'm starting to come around to a back 3/5 is the way to do it.
   31. frannyzoo Posted: January 07, 2017 at 12:23 PM (#5379371)
Gutsy and interesting call by FOX to show Sutton hosting AFC Wimbledon instead of a FA Cup match with an EPL team or two. Fun to see the stands and surrounding park/area, but I (and the TV crew) also found the sociology much more interesting than the game itself. Would have been more fun to have just gone with interviews in the stands throughout, along with no announcers/crowd mic. Being in those stands was far more interesting than the product on the pitch (artificial as it was...grrrrr).
   32. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: January 07, 2017 at 01:01 PM (#5379387)
Gutsy and interesting call by FOX to show Sutton hosting AFC Wimbledon instead of a FA Cup match with an EPL team or two. Fun to see the stands and surrounding park/area, but I (and the TV crew) also found the sociology much more interesting than the game itself.


When I subscribed to FoxSoccer2Go, these were exactly the type of FA Cup games I would make a point of picking out and watching. I can watch Everton or Leicester in the PL any time I want, I want to see the minnows, with players I've never heard of, in the tiny grounds, no roofs, mostly standing, only a few rows deep on the periphery, where you can smell the pies and chips, see the row houses across the street, the trees shrouding the pitch, watch the manager take a quick puff on his E-Cig on the bench (during the match), in a stadium called something like "Deepdale", *just* "Deepdale", which is almost Tolkien-ian in its perfect Englishness.

   33. Sean Forman Posted: January 09, 2017 at 11:34 AM (#5380203)
Some young Nats news. Emerson Hyndman on loan to Rangers for remainder of year. Hopefully he can get on the field there. Did start in Bournemouth's FA cup loss over the weekend.

Rumors are that Gedion Zelalem is going to Dortmund. Their midfield is pretty damn crowded, so I'm doubtful he'll get on the field for them, but we'll see.

Carter-Vickers also started in the Spurs FA cup match. Sounded like he played well. I wonder if they'll play him in the Europa or if they see that as a Champions League route and will go with the starters. I really wish Jurgen had capped him in the Costa Rica blowout.
   34. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 09, 2017 at 11:46 AM (#5380211)
I want to see the minnows, with players I've never heard of, in the tiny grounds, no roofs, mostly standing, only a few rows deep on the periphery, where you can smell the pies and chips, see the row houses across the street, the trees shrouding the pitch, watch the manager take a quick puff on his E-Cig on the bench (during the match), in a stadium called something like "Deepdale", *just* "Deepdale", which is almost Tolkien-ian in its perfect Englishness.

Ehh, the football tends to be hit and miss, imo, and the grounds often smell like old beer :p*

*warning: my sample size is small London teams only :p
   35. OPS+ Posted: January 09, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5380221)
Carter-Vickers also started in the Spurs FA cup match. Sounded like he played well. I wonder if they'll play him in the Europa or if they see that as a Champions League route and will go with the starters. I really wish Jurgen had capped him in the Costa Rica blowout.


CCV looked good. Villa didn't look very threatening, but he looked calm on the ball and is built like a house. Can't believe he only turned 19 a few days ago.
   36. Mefisto Posted: January 09, 2017 at 01:25 PM (#5380347)
I thought CCV looked lethargic in the first half, like the rest of the Spurs team. He looked better in the second half.

As for Hyndman, I guess it's good that he might get PT, but I doubt anyone improves his game by playing in the SPL.
   37. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 09, 2017 at 01:57 PM (#5380388)
Villa yesterday looked like Villa of last year - uninspired, boring and toothless. Quite honestly I was shocked at how much of that team stayed intact. CCV didn't really have anything to do, but not being noticed in a game like that is a positive.

Wouldn't Zelalem and Pulisic be fighting for minutes at the same positions (any of the attacking midfield positions)?
   38. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 09, 2017 at 02:42 PM (#5380448)
Villa yesterday looked like Villa of last year - uninspired, boring and toothless. Quite honestly I was shocked at how much of that team stayed intact. CCV didn't really have anything to do, but not being noticed in a game like that is a positive.

Wouldn't Zelalem and Pulisic be fighting for minutes at the same positions (any of the attacking midfield positions)?


Yeah, and there's a ton of other good players Zelalem would be fighting there as well. Zelalem hasn't even scored a goal for Rangers, I get he's young but I don't think he'd be able to crack the 23 man squad for Dortmund for at least another 1-2 years.
   39. Textbook Editor Posted: January 09, 2017 at 04:49 PM (#5380599)
Q: Can CCV play in a back 3, though? Because that may be the issue going forward (at least this season) if Spurs continue to play the 3-4-2-1 .

It's hard to know what they'll do for the Europa games. They have Liverpool away on 2/11 and Gent away on 2/16. I would assume they have a full-strength squad for Liverpool and--perhaps--rotate the fullbacks for Gent, along with--perhaps--resting 1 or 2 of Kane/Alli/Eriksen... but it really depends.

I think the FA Cup should be 3rd in the pecking order, and certainly Wycombe at home is a game you'd try to heavily rotate (as they did against Villa). Europa is trickier--yes, you get to go direct to the group stages if you win it, and trophies are always nice, but... A successful Europa run means 9 more matches, on top of the 18 left in the league and at least 1 FA Cup match. That's a lot.

I still think 1st place is out of reach unless Chelsea goes off the rails a bit (which is, I suppose, possible if 1 or more key guys go down, given that they don't exactly have the deepest of squads), but 2nd is not out of the question and certainly top-4 is very possible--and certainly seems much more possible (at this point in time) than winning four different 2-leg ties and then a final on a neutral ground.

   40. Topher Posted: January 09, 2017 at 06:33 PM (#5380672)
I recorded Spurs yesterday thinking I'd be more likely to end up deleting the recording the game but when I saw CCV was starting I ended up watching it.

In the context of CCV getting more playing time with the first team, I wasn't impressed. But I also was frustrated that Villa was more than happy to concede possession to Spurs. There was no pressure on the ball so CCV was never rushed to find a passing outlet. Pretty much every time he had the ball, he made the simple pass to Alderweireld or Trippier. In the context of the game, it was fine. But it also revealed nothing about what he can do.

He wasn't really involved in the play during corners. The one time he was involved was a half-chance inside the box but far from goal. However, he flubbed it.

He didn't have much opportunity to show off his defensive chops either. He did make an unnecessary foul on a long ball in the first half that gave Villa a set piece opportunity that came to nothing. He did make a goal line tackle in the second half that the announcers loved. Personally, I thought it was solid but not as impressive as the announcers did.

If CCV had an existing spot in the starting eleven, I didn't see much to drop him. But there also isn't any reason to promote him. It kinda felt like a wasted 90 minutes for him. (And for me in watching the game.) The lack of opportunity really falls on Villa for how they played. But at the same time, he didn't distinguish himself in any real fashion.
   41. The Marksist Posted: January 10, 2017 at 09:56 AM (#5380888)
I feel like I'm supposed to be annoyed about Plymouth earning a replay against LFC, but... meh. Klopp played the kids and the kids did ok but couldn't break down a 9-man defense. Not exactly shocking. And pretty much that entire 11 never gets any game time, so rest/fitness isn't really an issue. Extra fixtures could be problematic, but it's only really the travel for first-teamers to worry about, so no big deal. And honestly, I like that super young team getting time together in real matches. Plus, it's cool for Plymouth and that's fun, too.
   42. OPS+ Posted: January 10, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5380927)
One random aspect of soccer that I really enjoy is watching team reactions when they find out who they are playing in a cup, especially when it's a small club playing a big club like Wycombe getting Tottenham.
   43. KronicFatigue Posted: January 10, 2017 at 11:50 AM (#5380979)
I'm pretty sure I'm done with the WC. This new format was the final straw.
   44. The Marksist Posted: January 10, 2017 at 01:39 PM (#5381040)
One random aspect of soccer that I really enjoy is watching team reactions when they find out who they are playing in a cup, especially when it's a small club playing a big club like Wycombe getting Tottenham.


That's great! Easy to overlook what a cool thing these matchups can be for the guys playing them.
   45. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: January 10, 2017 at 01:49 PM (#5381046)
That's great! Easy to overlook what a cool thing these matchups can be for the guys playing them.


And how financially important they can be for the lower league club, since the clubs essentially split the gate. Between that and the likely TV money, this could significantly impact Wycombe's revenue for this season.
   46. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 10, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5381068)
I had no idea that Hyndman moved to Bournemouth.
   47. Mefisto Posted: January 10, 2017 at 02:29 PM (#5381075)
I'm pretty sure I'm done with the WC. This new format was the final straw.


I already planned to boycott the next two. This latest decision reinforces that.
   48. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 10, 2017 at 03:24 PM (#5381127)
Anyway, it just strikes me as funny that (Leicester last season aside) the whole world of club football is moving in a bunch of different formation directions and there's US Soccer, chugging away with the good ol' 4-4-2...


Better than the "3-3-3" I played from U-8 to U-18.

Left fullback, center fullback, right fullback
Left halfback, center halfback, right halfback
Left forward ("left wing"), center forward ("striker"), right forward ("wing")

Plus another guy who was the best player on the team and would usually be "sweeper" (meaning he did everything). Sometimes he would be an extra striker or an extra center fullback ("stopper").

   49. The Marksist Posted: January 11, 2017 at 04:51 PM (#5381943)
Good old Liverpool, always up for a bumbling, lackluster offensive performance with a few telling errors at the back! You had me fooled with the early season brilliance, you little scamps!
   50. Textbook Editor Posted: January 11, 2017 at 11:44 PM (#5382121)
I already planned to boycott the next two. This latest decision reinforces that.


WC 2018 in Russia is going to be... extremely awkward for the USA at this point. And if #### goes down in the Ukraine before 2018... Hell, it's likely to be a complete cluster-#### anyway you look at it.

Better than the "3-3-3" I played from U-8 to U-18.


Crispix, it's funny--I almost mentioned this when I wrote up the initial comment, as it's what I recall playing until about U13 (though I played it in 1-3-3-3 with a stopper). Times have changed.

   51. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 12, 2017 at 12:00 AM (#5382125)
WC 2018 in Russia is going to be... extremely awkward for the USA at this point.


Are you crazy? In 2018 Russia is going to be our only ally except Israel.

Times have changed.


I can't fathom how much youth soccer has changed since the 90s. I don't know if a single one of my teammates in 1995 was even aware that there were professional soccer teams. The teams in my league were actually named after NASL teams, like Little League, but the NASL had long since disappeared and neither players nor most of the coaches knew why we had weird names like "Rowdies" and "Timbers" and "Sockers".

We watched the World Cup with great excitement and then the players just vanished like the Olympic gymnastics team.
   52. Textbook Editor Posted: January 12, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5382256)
I can't fathom how much youth soccer has changed since the 90s.


Sad fact: I was playing youth soccer in the local rec program in the early 1980s... It was even bleaker than that (11v11 at age 7 on a full-sized pitch is oh so fun).

I tell TE, Jr. all the time he's living in a golden age of soccer exposure/availability (in addition to MLB games on demand on his phone whenever he wants to watch one)... He is mystified when I tell him seeing a game at Fenway Park on TV in, say, 1983 was something you only saw in NJ if the Saturday Game of the Week was in Boston that week or if the Red Sox were in the playoffs.
   53. jmurph Posted: January 12, 2017 at 12:38 PM (#5382381)
Schneiderlin to Everton is apparently official. Weird move for United, smart one for Everton. Hopefully he's not ready to play yet this weekend!
   54. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 12, 2017 at 12:55 PM (#5382396)
Schneiderlin to Everton is apparently official. Weird move for United, smart one for Everton. Hopefully he's not ready to play yet this weekend!

It's weird in that it seems like Man U needs a player exactly like him, but he's had plenty of time and 2 different managers to really break into the squad and hasn't. They were able to recoup a lot more than I was expecting for him.
   55. jmurph Posted: January 12, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5382454)
Well Van Gaal gave up on DiMaria after about a month, and Jose's recent hits include having no time for Lukaku, Mata, and De Bruyne, so I'm not sure deferring to their transfer acumen is worth a whole lot.
   56. Mefisto Posted: January 12, 2017 at 02:02 PM (#5382457)
The times I saw Schneiderlin play for United, he was pretty useless. Some of those times he was outright bad.

This surprised me, because I thought he was a good signing at the time. Apparently the United managers just couldn't figure out how to use him. I'm happy to see him at Everton and hope he does well there.
   57. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 12, 2017 at 02:22 PM (#5382482)
WC 2018 in Russia is going to be... extremely awkward for the USA at this point. And if #### goes down in the Ukraine before 2018... Hell, it's likely to be a complete cluster-#### anyway you look at it.


Seemed like Klinsmann had a plan to avoid the awkwardness.
   58. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 12, 2017 at 03:26 PM (#5382533)
Glad to have the NWSL back, even if it is just the draft! Jen Cooper is an awesome addition to the commentary team; she has more women's soccer trivia and information in her head than almost anyone (or any computer).
   59. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 12, 2017 at 05:27 PM (#5382618)
Red Stars trade up to get the players they want, then they proceed to trade their next two picks for higher round picks in next year's draft. I love watching Chicago in the draft. Dames and that staff really know what they are doing.
   60. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: January 13, 2017 at 11:10 PM (#5383213)
From The Graun:


Diego Costa has been dropped from the Chelsea squad for Saturday’s Premier League match at Leicester City over a row that involves a massive offer made to him from a club in the Chinese Super League.

The volatile striker has also clashed with one of the Chelsea fitness coaches over an injury he feels he has been carrying and he did not travel to Leicester with his team-mates on Friday. Costa has not trained fully this week and Antonio Conte has become involved in the argument.

It is the situation involving the Chinese club that has led to the greater consternation at Stamford Bridge. Costa, in common with an increasing number of leading Premier League players, has been the subject of a £30m per year offer from China and there is the fear at Chelsea that his advisers could be using it to lever him away. Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is reportedly in China.


Well, well, well, that could throw a spanner in the works ...
   61. OPS+ Posted: January 14, 2017 at 11:01 AM (#5383262)
Spurs looked fantastic against West Brom. They have really hit their stride. Little worried about Vertonghen's knee though.
   62. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: January 14, 2017 at 11:39 AM (#5383277)
Spurs looked fantastic against West Brom. They have really hit their stride. Little worried about Vertonghen's knee though.


I'm a lot more worried about his ankle.

:)

From MoPo after the match:

"It looks bad for Jan. We need to wait to assess him. He is very disappointed."


Hopefully, Wimmer can deputize as well as he did last season.

Wow, the big donkey, Andy Carroll just scored a 3/4rs scissor-kick volley that ought to be a contender for goal-of-the-season.
   63. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 14, 2017 at 12:04 PM (#5383285)
Bummed to hear about the Tottenham injury. I think they still have a great chance to win the title.

If Costa leaves, too... oh boy! I do think that Chelsea is/was going to come back to earth some anyways. Partially because, you know, they have to. But I'm not sure Willian and Pedro can get them the goals they need. Maybe they spend 50 mill to bring Lukaku back?
   64. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 14, 2017 at 02:13 PM (#5383307)
I was curious to try and find an old discussion we had on Marc Albrighton where I had said that he would be the new Seamus Coleman as a winger-turned-defender (brought on by the fact that he is currently playing there, and not very well) and, in the process, found this fascinating discussion from four(! Christ, what have I been doing with my life?) years ago, about Aston Villa, their future, and their past (at the time). Makes me really miss the likes of Shooty, MCoA, Grunthos, Mattbert, RB, etc. as regular contributors here.
   65. frannyzoo Posted: January 14, 2017 at 10:10 PM (#5383439)
Arjun: Yeah, this OT is nothing like it was years ago. Well, at least Bangladesh is in NZ for a test and the 2nd ODI with Pakistan in Oz is about to start. The 2nd innings in Wellington could be interesting, if anything approaching difficulty for batters appeared.
   66. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 14, 2017 at 10:14 PM (#5383442)
Well, at least Bangladesh is in NZ for a test

I watched two and a half hours of this yesterday for some reason. Bangladesh were absolutely crushing the NZ bowling. It looks the reverse is now currently happening. 1.1k+ runs in the first innings alone!

Nice to see the resurrection of Cricket Think Factory anyway!
   67. frannyzoo Posted: January 14, 2017 at 10:28 PM (#5383449)
All bouncers, all the time from Bangladesh at the NZ tail, perhaps reflecting there's zip in the wicket itself. Would be nice if there was somehow a 2nd Innings "India" bowling appearance, ala the recent England devastation, but it's just fun to follow cricket, regardless. I do wish I could talk a few of my local football friends into spending a long day watching this instead.

   68. jmurph Posted: January 15, 2017 at 10:14 AM (#5383507)
Seems like a problem that City are just straight up not good. One good league win, against Arsenal, in a game in which both City's goals should have been ruled offside. I don't see them putting up much of a fight for the top 4 at this rate.
   69. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 15, 2017 at 10:23 AM (#5383509)
I don't want to read much into it but Pep's body language has been horrific this whole game. Between that and the petulant interview the other day he is giving the impression of a guy who has no interest in being there. I'm sure that's not the case but goodness he looks terrible.

And just like that, 4-0.
   70. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: January 15, 2017 at 12:55 PM (#5383555)
Well, that's about a perfect set of outcomes from today's matches for Spurs: City lose and Liverpool and United tie.

Everybody drops points!
   71. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 15, 2017 at 03:54 PM (#5383615)
Seems like a problem that City are just straight up not good. One good league win, against Arsenal, in a game in which both City's goals should have been ruled offside. I don't see them putting up much of a fight for the top 4 at this rate.


This is a bit of an exaggeration. Let's look at the standings after today.

.             W  D  L  Pts
Chelsea      17  1  3  52
Tottenham    13  6  2  45
Liverpool    13  6  2  45
Arsenal      13  5  3  44
Man City     13  3  5  42
Man Utd      11  7  3  40 


All of those teams are probably a lot better than last year's equivalent. Except Arsenal of course.

After 21 games last year:

.             W  D  L  Pts
Arsenal      13  4  4  43
Leicester    12  7  2  43
Man City     12  4  5  40
Tottenham     9  9  3  36
West Ham      9  8  4  35
Man Utd       9  7  5  34 
   72. BDC Posted: January 15, 2017 at 04:11 PM (#5383621)
The Mexican Clausura is underway. Veracruz won their first match! 1-0 over Queretaro, a middle-ranked club in the 2016 Apertura. Tonight they travel north to play Santos Laguna, one of the tail-enders in that Apertura. This gives me something to toggle to during timeouts in the KC-Steelers game :)
   73. jmurph Posted: January 15, 2017 at 09:06 PM (#5383721)
All of those teams are probably a lot better than last year's equivalent. Except Arsenal of course.

They are (currently) worse than the other teams competing for the Champions League places; their goal difference puts them well behind the pace. Yes, they're good in the sense that they're better than most of the league, but they should be held to a higher standard than that.
   74. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 16, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5383796)
They are (currently) worse than the other teams competing for the Champions League places; their goal difference puts them well behind the pace. Yes, they're good in the sense that they're better than most of the league, but they should be held to a higher standard than that.

Yeah. Their front 4 of Sterling, Aguero, Silva, and DeBruyne is outstanding, among the best in the league. I think that while they may be the best at attacking, they're not as strong defensively as the attacking players on other teams.

Beyond that, Fernandinho is very good. He also has been sent off a ton, and Gundogan is hurt. Those guys are a really nice partnership when they're both playing, but it seems clear they need more cover there. It looks like Zabaleta was playing CM yesterday? I didn't watch the game, but that's roughly what I can tell from the lineup.

In the back, Stones is very shaky to me. I do think he's going to be pretty good, but center back doesn't seem like a young player's position. He's going to have his challenges. I could see him developing a bit like a Luiz. Otamendi I think is fine. Their fullbacks are solid but getting up there in age, and I don't view them as the running machines a lot of teams have at FB. I think every FB they have is on the downside of their career.

And then Bravo in keeper. I don't know what to say about his time in Barcelona, since I didn't see him much. But he's awful, and has cost them team a handful of results already. There is a very good chance to me that they'd be in second with a real keeper.
   75. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 16, 2017 at 12:17 PM (#5383885)
anyone watching AFCON?
   76. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 16, 2017 at 03:21 PM (#5383972)
I've watched a bit of it. So far what I have seen has been underwhelming but entertaining. I get the sense of teams that want to achieve something but lack the quality. Most of what I have seen has been late in tie games so I may just be seeing some flashes.
   77. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 10:28 AM (#5384299)
And then Bravo in keeper. I don't know what to say about his time in Barcelona, since I didn't see him much. But he's awful, and has cost them team a handful of results already. There is a very good chance to me that they'd be in second with a real keeper.

He's really just awful, it continues to frustrate the hell out of me every time I watch them play. I can't find expected goals against vs actual goals against stats for goalies (or even teams?), but by raw stats he has the 4th worst save rate since 2009-10 (but only the second worst this year, after Fraser Forster). I think that's probably not a great way of rating goalies, given the shambolic play of Stones and a few others in front of him, but it certainly matches what I see when I watch him play.
   78. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 10:36 AM (#5384313)
Not familiar with the source, but here's something from prior to this weekend's disaster against Everton:
MCFC in contrast are the least good of the top six at converting Expected Goals to PL points, having 39 PL points for the highest xG of 41.9. MCFC’s poorer than average defending of opponents’ shots has cost them 5.7 points-equivalent, and below average finishing has cost 1.1 points. Relative to the other five in the top six, MCFC’s poorer defending of opposition shots has cost 6.8 points, and poorer finishing has cost 3.5 points.


If I'm reading the tables correctly, City have allowed 5.3 more goals than xG would predict. Again, that's obviously not all on Bravo, but it's not good.
   79. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 17, 2017 at 10:40 AM (#5384320)
below average finishing has cost 1.1 points.


I think this is the more shocking aspect. It's not as impactful obviously but a team like City with the quality they have should be expecting to be finishing better rather than worse than most teams.
   80. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 10:44 AM (#5384326)
I think this is the more shocking aspect. It's not as impactful obviously but a team like City with the quality they have should be expecting to be finishing better rather than worse than most teams.

Aguero has looked mortal this year. Related, they're also shooting less frequently than one might think, given the amount of time they spend on the ball. I can't find the number now but I was looking at possession and shots the other day, and they're well out in front in possession, but something like 4th or 5th in shots.
   81. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 17, 2017 at 11:19 AM (#5384384)
In the City matches I've watched recently, Silva and DeBruyne have been inconsistent at best. I know Pep's system gives them a lot more freedom to operate, but Silva is getting older (which really shouldn't matter since he's never been about athleticism) and not sure what's going on with De Bruyne. Combined with Aguero dropping down a bit, Sterling development can't overcome that.

The offensive end isn't the problem. Not only are City's defenders not good, not having Fernando or Fernandinho forced them to play a CM of Zabaleta and Toure. There is no way a team of City's resources should ever let that happen. They weren't really counting on Yaya to play much this season with his pouting and Gundogan may be Abou Diaby redux. Forgotten man Delph also hasn't been the healthiest in his career. Plus the fullbacks are super old and not very versatile.
   82. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5384402)
A rotation of Fernando, Fernandinho, Yaya, Gundogan, and Delph should be more than enough, honestly. The Fernandinho red cards have been a disaster, Gundogan has been even less healthy than normal, and Pep apparently doesn't even think he can hide Delph against bad teams.

The other things are clearer mistakes, to me. Stones very obviously isn't ready for this amount of responsibility, and everyone knew Zabaleta/Clichy/Kolarov/Sagna were old. I thought they might be able to get through another year rotating those guys, but it obviously hasn't been ideal. Having no real plan for depth behind Kompany was a huge, huge mistake.

I think DeBruyne has been fine. Silva is certainly older, and Navas is obviously terrible. But again, Silva/DeBruyne/Navas/Nolito/Sane/Sterling should be more than enough- that's way more attacking talent than most teams have.

The system just puts so much pressure on the CBs, and they (mostly Stones) aren't good enough to handle it. Combine that with relying on old/indifferent players tracking back to help, and they're going to get exactly what has happened.
   83. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 17, 2017 at 11:32 AM (#5384404)
Enjoying watching Ghana play. Andre Ayew is dangerous.
Gundogan may be Abou Diaby redux

This is a *huge* stretch. In ~five years at Dortmund, Gundogan had ~100 caps. In ~10 years at Arsenal, Diaby had 125. There's really no comparison in durability there at all.
Having no real plan for depth behind Kompany was a huge, huge mistake.

Recall Eliaquim Mangala!!!
   84. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: January 17, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5384409)
In the City matches I've watched recently, Silva and DeBruyne have been inconsistent at best. I know Pep's system gives them a lot more freedom to operate, but Silva is getting older (which really shouldn't matter since he's never been about athleticism) and not sure what's going on with De Bruyne. Combined with Aguero dropping down a bit, Sterling development can't overcome that.

Yeah, DeBruyne hasn't been at the top of his game since the injury from what I can tell. I still think he's one of the best players in the league, so you kinda just have to ride it out. The Silva point is good, they need to start thinking about life without him. I suspect even non-athletic players have lost athleticism affect their game. Similar to how a pitcher going from a 90 MPH fastball to 85 is a huge deal, despite never being a power pitcher.

   85. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 11:37 AM (#5384412)
This is a *huge* stretch. In ~five years at Dortmund, Gundogan had ~100 caps. In ~10 years at Arsenal, Diaby had 125. There's really no comparison in durability there at all.

Yeah I mean he tore his ACL, it's not like a series of lesser injuries.
   86. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 11:42 AM (#5384419)
Recall Eliaquim Mangala!!!

This is a good opportunity to mention that this isn't all Pep's fault. He inherited a 4th place team (barely 4th, at that) that needed a decent amount of refreshing, given age and some poor buys over the last few years (CB being the big one, but 2nd striker being another position where they made a series of bad buys).

I still think no one should exactly cry for them- they still have more than enough talent to be competing at the very top- but I probably should have seen some of this coming rather than seeing PEP! and penciling them in for the title.
   87. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:16 PM (#5384454)
Yea the Diaby comparison may have been a bit of an exaggeration.

Pepe didn't seem to rate Fernando and Delph while Yaya was in the doghouse for a while. Pep had to know his midfield was not going to be adequate. He had Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago and Keita (along with Cesc and Mascherano) his last year in Barca, and then Alonso, Thiago, Vidal, Kimmich and Rode (along with Javi Martinez, Lahm and Alaba).

He's only had one transfer window, and his budget is supposedly 250M. If he gets a little time I'm sure he'll have them humming along, but will the Sheikh give him his time? As far as player transfers, Chelsea took a long time to become what they are now, and they've been "lucky" that Chinese clubs are willing to overpay for their unwanteds. Granted it's now come to bite them in the ass because now they want to buy someone Chelsea doesn't want to sell.
   88. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:19 PM (#5384457)
What's the record the last few years for City with and without Vincent Kompany?
   89. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:23 PM (#5384463)
but will the Sheikh give him his time?

Sorry if I'm annoying in constantly pointing this out, but they've been way less trigger-happy than nearly every other rich team in the world (Arsenal being maybe literally the only other rich team with fewer managers in the time they've owned the club).
   90. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:25 PM (#5384466)
89 - The Football Weekly guys made this exact point today.
   91. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:26 PM (#5384471)
What's the record the last few years for City with and without Vincent Kompany?

Last season they gave up something like 3 times as many goals when he didn't play. Latest I could find was from March 2016: 25 goals conceded in 16 games without him, 6 goals conceded in 13 games with him.
   92. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:27 PM (#5384474)
89 - The Football Weekly guys made this exact point today.

It gets alluded to here all the time so I feel like I'm a scold about it. I know I know, the world's tiniest violin plays for the plight of the modern Manchester City fan!
   93. Baldrick Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:40 PM (#5384489)
Hey all. Back from my Italian adventure. I did basically none of the things that people were kind enough to suggest. But thanks for all the tips anyways. It just ended up that I was offered a free gorgeous place to stay in Lucca - so we went there instead of exploring Northern Italy like we were planning. Italy is really incredible.

I return to discover that the NWSL champs have moved to Carolina, Spurs are making a run for the title, and Arsenal is...fourth in the table. So, some things never change at least.
   94. Mefisto Posted: January 17, 2017 at 12:45 PM (#5384495)
I'm a bit late to this discussion, but the xG numbers for the Premier League through Matchday 21 are here. City are second "unluckiest" team in the league when it comes to xGD. For comparison, Arsenal and Chelsea are the "luckiest". City actually "should" have the best GD in the league.

Given these numbers, it may be that we're overstating the problems at City ("we" because I share many of the views above). I do think the City back line is not very strong. I do think the players they have available to play in front of that back line are not very good. I think DeBruyne needs rest, and others may as well. I think patience can solve those problems, but man did Pep look discouraged at the game this weekend.

   95. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 17, 2017 at 04:32 PM (#5384710)
Sorry if I'm annoying in constantly pointing this out, but they've been way less trigger-happy than nearly every other rich team in the world (Arsenal being maybe literally the only other rich team with fewer managers in the time they've owned the club).

"Less trigger happy" is a relative term. Nowadays, four years (which both Pellegrini and Mancini both managed) is pretty long, but what happens if say City doesn't qualify for Champions League this season and get off to a slow start next season? I think we all agree the roster churn is going to be extensive. City undoubtedly has a lot of resources but in a relative sense, City's advantage over United, Chelsea and Arsenal aren't nearly as big as Bayern over everyone else in Germany and Barcelona over everyone besides Real Madrid in Spain.
   96. jmurph Posted: January 17, 2017 at 04:44 PM (#5384717)
Well, roster churn is a different subject. What you originally asked was: "If he gets a little time I'm sure he'll have them humming along, but will the Sheikh give him his time?" If you weren't implying that he would get fired, then I apologize, but that seemed like the clear implication of your question. Will he get fired if they finish out of the top 4 this year and again next year? Probably, I'd guess, as would the manager of literally every other rich club in Europe, likely including Wenger.
   97. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 17, 2017 at 07:07 PM (#5384775)
The difference between 1st-6th is probably going to be pretty small. I was just saying if they don't finish top 4 this season, who knows? Even patient owners have a hard time overlooking that - United were a patient team, until they weren't.
   98. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 17, 2017 at 07:47 PM (#5384790)
I don't think Pep gets fired for finishing sixth this year. If November rolls around and they are still struggling I think he's in trouble then.
   99. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: January 17, 2017 at 09:39 PM (#5384832)
Two ... TWO!!! ... non-league sides are through into the 4th round!

Congrats to Sutton United and Lincoln.

Up the Imps!!!
   100. Sean Forman Posted: January 18, 2017 at 12:40 AM (#5384895)
MCoA on his podcast mentioned that City defenders are abysmal at blocking shots. Their defenders just never block shots. That may contribute to the defensive issues.

They are bascially where I expected them to be last year. Dead man manager and an old team. I guess the old team kept it together for one more year than I expected and then decided to fall apart this year. I think their age is catching up with them. Kevin, Sterling, Gundogan and Stones are the only regulars on the right side of 27 and then Aguero and Fernando are the only others < 30. It's a pretty old squad.

Even squads like Real Madrid and Bayern are way younger than that.

Monaco probably should be favored now in the Champions League tie.
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