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Sunday, December 02, 2012

OT: The Soccer Thread: December 2012

Is it December already? Well, it must be a few days in, because I’m posting the thread!

RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 02, 2012 at 09:22 PM | 727 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   601. Spivey Posted: December 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4332461)
The Newcastle/ManU game was one of the most exciting games I've ever watched.

ManU could have easily had both Evans and Valencia sent off. ####### wankers.
   602. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: December 26, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4332463)
Wow the announcer is all worked up about some jawing with the ref. "Intolerable"? Seems pretty mold by American sports standards.
   603. Spivey Posted: December 26, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4332467)
Also, de Gea sucks.
   604. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 26, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4332497)
Chicharito Scores: A Play In One Act

Scene: At the gym, RICHARD is on the exercise bike and watching the match with headphones. CHICHARITO scores.

RICHARD: Yeah! Get in there! #### yeah!
RICHARD pumps his fist and discovers that basically everyone else in the gym is looking at him
RICHARD: Ah, right. Sorry. They scored, though.
   605. Textbook Editor Posted: December 26, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4332518)
Today really helps out the GD for Spurs. Want to get that into mid-double digits, I think. Every goal will count this year; I could easily see a team missing out on Europe on GD.
   606. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 26, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4332522)
0-12 over two gameweeks for Villa. They parked the bus in the first half and weren't too lucky to keep Spurs goal-less, but once they started committing to the attack, they lost all shape and structure. Spurs were good, but a lot of that was consistently dire defending. Villa may just not have the non-Benteke talent to do anything more than desperately fight relegation.

And once again, Brad Guzan was pretty good in goal - excellent in the first half, and in the second only Bale's second goal was possibly stoppable. He's certainly getting a lot of practice playing behind that defense.
   607. DA Baracus Posted: December 26, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4332526)
8 goals last game, 4 goals this game, three games from now Villa will have a shutout! It's a radioactive defense in many ways.
   608. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 26, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4332534)
Howard Webb seems to have come to Brittania with plans to take no crap. The penalty on Shawcross was entirely deserved, but usually not called when Stoke are playing at home. The yellow to Cameron was a little soft, but it's a good precedent...

And we have a ballgame!
   609. DA Baracus Posted: December 26, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4332591)
Nottingham Forrest beat Leeds 4-2 then their manager got fired. Happy Holidays.
   610. I am going to be Frank Posted: December 26, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4332683)
Any reason why either Sagna or Gibbs wouldn't be an every week starter?


Not an Arsenal fan but there are a couple things. Both should be regular starters. However, Gibbs is injury-prone but doesn't really have any competition. Santos is terrible defensively and Vermaelan is more of an emergency stopgap. Sagna had been durable until last year, but has some competition in Jenkinson and there has been rumblings that he could be sold.
   611. Spivey Posted: December 26, 2012 at 09:11 PM (#4332708)
And once again, Brad Guzan was pretty good in goal - excellent in the first half, and in the second only Bale's second goal was possibly stoppable. He's certainly getting a lot of practice playing behind that defense.


Did you watch the 8 goal game? If you did, I honestly don't understand how you could say he played well. I saw the comments then and didn't agree with them but figured it didn't worth bringing up until now. He didn't play awful today but he sure as #### didn't play "pretty good". He got side stepped by a striker a couple of times. I haven't seen any great saves he made in his last 2 games. And really the only one that was even good was the penalty at the end of the Chelsea game. And again, that was him guessing right and was basically hit right at him.

The important thing - though it wasn't obvious watching a couple of the games today - is that goal keepers generally are so good that it takes about perfect precision to score on them. If you give up 12 goals and make 1 good save, that's not an appropriate ratio. If we're going to talk about ratios like shots on target vs. goals, let's talk about that.
   612. Spivey Posted: December 26, 2012 at 09:12 PM (#4332710)
Stoke is so much fun to watch.
   613. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:02 AM (#4332824)
I was only in-and-out watching the Chelsea match, but what I saw of Guzan, he did not strike me as significantly part of the problem. I thought he was definitely good in the Spurs match. He made a couple of very nice saves in the first half to keep it tied - if you check the game thread at CFC, everyone was complaining that the opposing goalie was having a blinder again - and he conceded after Villa's defense kept leaving men free in the box or one-on-one (even two-on-one) with the keeper.

Some numbers - attacking stats against Villa in the last two games:

21 Shots, 13 SiB, 9 SoT, 7 BC, 0 Pen, 4 G - Tottenham
26 Shots, 16 SiB, 15 SoT, 5 BC, 2 Pen, 8 G - Chelsea

47 Shots, 29 SiB, 24 SoT, 12 BC, 2 Pen, 12 G - Total

Shots on target are converted on average at a ~1/3 rate. With 22 SoT (not including penalties), you'd expect about 7 goals, and from two pens, you'd expect a little under two goals, so 9 expected goals based on the top-line numbers.

Obviously that doesn't get into the quality of these shots, as well as a whole variety of other issues. One way to estimate the quality of shots is the "Big Chances" stat. It's annoyingly subjective, but it does correlate extremely well with goals and probably indicates defensive breakdowns. These are opportunities that should be converted at a much higher rate than 1/3. A team's ratio of big chances to goals runs about 6:5. A league average defensive effort would allow 1-2 big chances in a game. Villa allowing 12 big chances, plus 2 penalties, in two games adds up to a breathtakingly awful defensive display. It's a good indication that the overall quality of chances and shots on target was higher than in a normal game. I think the numbers line up with my observation that Guzan was fine overall and the blame goes to the defense in front of him.
   614. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:22 AM (#4332832)
Good for a laugh.

Evidently Anthony Pilkington is better than Garreth Bale.

Anyway, I watched 'em all but the Fulham v Southampton grudge match that I was just to bleary-eyed to care about. A few impressions:

When did Danny Rose become a real player? I'm glad he doesn't get to play against Spurs Saturday and I fear with Rose and Naughton playing well, Assou-Ekotto's time at WHL will be coming to an end. Nothing is forever, I guess.

QPR and Wigan got semi-screwed. No way should that second goal for West Brom have counted, though leave it to Rob Green to handle it the worst way possible. Punch it, dammit, punch it! And Leon Osman was guilty of one of the most obvious penalties I've seen this year and it didn't get called. I think refs may be going a little too far with their campaign to discourage diving. I'm not sure if either of those decisions really changed the outcomes, but they were pretty awful.

I was as unimpressed with Spurs as you can be after a 4-0 win. They were only able to break Villa down when Steven Ireland came on and Villa lost all shape. That said, Bale was outstanding through the entire game but Adebayor's touch has deserted him. He is holding the offense back now and I think I'd like to see more Sigurdsson going forward. Sigurdsson is a great passer in tight spaces which is just what Spurs need against teams that are going to park the bus. And, English announcers, please stop trying to sell this myth that Scott Parker is better than Sandro. No one is buying it!

I'm really sick of Man U. Why everyone in the PL craps their pants against them is beyond my reckoning.

Also, having seen Stoke 2 weeks in a row now against solid competition...I think they're for real. Their defense is damn near impregnable and they're passing the ball around better than in the past. I think they can definitely challenge for Europe this year. I thought they were physical against Liverpool but they kept the shenanigans to a minimum. I have no idea what to make of Liverpool, though getting Sturridge should help. Is Sahin going to head back to Madrid? Rodgers doesn't seem to have much use for him. It's kind of depressing how Sahin's career has hit such a brick wall.

Finally, Blackburn fired their manager again. Relegation is not that remote a possibility anymore for them.
   615. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:24 AM (#4332833)
I think the numbers line up with my observation that Guzan was fine overall and the blame goes to the defense in front of him.

Guzan was all right yesterday. He has really good hands and doesn't allow rebounds which I find impressive. He may have been able to stop Defoe's goal but he had no chance against any of Bale's. I don't get the impression anyone is blaming him for the deluge of awfulness.
   616. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4332836)
Did you watch the 8 goal game? If you did, I honestly don't understand how you could say he played well.


I did watch it and I thought he played well. By way of comparison I saw nothing in that 8 goal game that was anywhere near as bad as Joe Hart's gaffe yesterday. Of the 8 goals there was one (I think it was #7) where I thought he could have done better but generally I thought he was solid.

I think it does get into the issue of what we should be evaluating keepers on though. It seems that the ability to organize your defense and deal with crosses is as important as any true shot stopping ability. There wasn't anything obvious in the game Sunday where I thought it was clear that Guzan had failed in either respect but when it is raining shots and goals I think it becomes a fair question to ask if the keeper is doing what he needs to do to keep the defensive structure in front of him stable. I've always thought Tim Howard was particularly strong in this regard and I'm not alone in thinking that these are areas where David De Gea is notably poor.


I'm really sick of Man U. Why everyone in the PL craps their pants against them is beyond my reckoning.


The Guardian podcast was talking about this this week. The thing that United are doing is being incredibly efficient when they get their chances. United aren't a side that is going to play a lot of games where they pile up the shots and don't score, when they get their chances they are frighteningly good at converting them.
   617. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4332865)
BTW, was anyone else disappointed by Berbatov's t-shirt? I don't care that he had a t-shirt, just that Berbatov always seemed too aloof and intellectual to do something that corny. And that Keep Calm meme is so, so hacky. Every shop in London uses a variation on that joke. Keep calm and have a biscuit! Keep calm and shop for antiques! Keep calm and have a pint! People of England...ENOUGH WITH THAT KEEP CALM CRAP!
   618. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4332874)
Shooty - I saw a "Keep Calm and Go #### Yourself" shirt outside Fenway this year. My brother had a "Keep Calm and Move Along" with a drawing of R2D2 and C3PO over the weekend. I liked both of those.
   619. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4332879)
Shooty - I saw a "Keep Calm and Go #### Yourself" shirt outside Fenway this year. My brother had a "Keep Calm and Move Along" with a drawing of R2D2 and C3PO over the weekend. I liked both of those.

They've gotten to you, too!
   620. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4332896)
Finally, Blackburn fired their manager again. Relegation is not that remote a possibility anymore for them.
That'll teach him not to dance at the Christmas party!
   621. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4332925)
They've gotten to you, too!


Keep Calm and Post More.
   622. puck Posted: December 27, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4332957)
Where would Lampard go after Chelsea? Would he play for another Premier League club, like West Ham?
   623. Swedish Chef Posted: December 27, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4332979)
Carlton Cole's red card was overturned on appeal. That doesn't happen too often.
   624. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 12:30 PM (#4332983)
Keep Calm and Post More.

Will do!

Where would Lampard go after Chelsea? Would he play for another Premier League club, like West Ham?

The easy rumor is QPR to play for Uncle 'Arry if they stay up. My guess is he ends up in China or the UAE or MLS or something.
   625. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4332995)
Carlton Cole's red card was overturned on appeal. That doesn't happen too often.

Darron Gibson's, too. Off the top of my head, Huddlestone for Spurs had a red overturned earlier in the year. Maybe they're going to do this more often?
   626. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4333013)
Good for a laugh.

It helps to remember that Tyler is a terrible, terrible columnist; he's dismissive, self-important, attempts to be humourous and fails miserably, and isn't good for any actual analysis, because he spends all day spouting cliches identical to a Football Manager match report. On paper, he comes across as everything that's wrong with football pundits. I've met him in person and, sad to say, he's exactly the same when talking out of his mouth as he is on the page/match-blog-thingy.

EDIT: Errr, that came off a little strong <.<
   627. Mattbert Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4333025)
It helps to remember that Tyler is a terrible, terrible columnist; he's dismissive, self-important, attempts to be humourous and fails miserably, and isn't good for any actual analysis, because he spends all day spouting cliches identical to a Football Manager match report. On paper, he comes across as everything that's wrong with football pundits.

Most of that applies to Hirshey as well, at least in print. He's a little bit funnier, I guess.

Their "best of" columns are always a train wreck.
   628. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4333033)
It helps to remember that Tyler is a terrible, terrible columnist; he's dismissive, self-important, attempts to be humourous and fails miserably, and isn't good for any actual analysis, because he spends all day spouting cliches identical to a Football Manager match report. On paper, he comes across as everything that's wrong with football pundits. I've met him in person and, sad to say, he's exactly the same when talking out of his mouth as he is on the page/match-blog-thingy.

So...teaming him up with David Hirshey is genius!

Having met Hirshey he actually is a pretty nice guy. His writing is a little too schtick oriented for me but I guess that's what ESPN wants from him. What I'm most fascinated by is that he doesn't seem anywhere near old enough to have been Pele's biographer during the Cosmos years.

   629. Mattbert Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4333050)
David Hirshey : Arsenal :: Jayson Stark : Frank Tanana
   630. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4333052)
What I'm most fascinated by is that he doesn't seem anywhere near old enough to have been Pele's biographer during the Cosmos years.
I suppose this is true, but only the sense that to me Hirshey looks like someone who could be anywhere from forty to seventy.

With Cole's red card overturned, it only seems fair to replay the match.
   631. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4333059)
I suppose this is true, but only the sense that to me Hirshey looks like someone who could be anywhere from forty to seventy.

You make a cogent point, sir.
   632. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4333081)
Bebe news!

He's alive and well, evidently.
   633. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4333085)
In twenty years, there will be a really good book published about whatever was up with the whole Bebe thing. I will read this book as soon as it comes out.
   634. DA Baracus Posted: December 27, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4333092)
In twenty years, there will be a really good book published about whatever was up with the whole Bebe thing. I will read this book as soon as it comes out.


Nah, in three years it'll be a column. It's not big enough to be worth a book.
   635. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4333095)
Nah, in three years it'll be a column. It's not big enough to be worth a book.

A couple of Blizzard articles then, maybe? I feel like one column wouldn't do it justice (also, I really want it to do with organised crime and Portuguese gangsters or something, but it probably doesn't have anything to do with that).
   636. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4333097)
Nah, in three years it'll be a column. It's not big enough to be worth a book.

Depends on if the rumors are true or not.
   637. DA Baracus Posted: December 27, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4333104)
One really long article. I just don't see the what would make it a big story worthy of a book. Ferguson signed him without seeing him and some of the money from his transfer is missing, it was pretty clearly to me a con job.
   638. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4333105)
Hmm, another reason to hope that Lyon repeat in the Champions' League (and to go to the final, I'm sure tickets aren't that bad).
   639. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4333116)
Ferguson signed him without seeing him and some of the money from his transfer is missing, it was pretty clearly to me a con job.

If it was a simple con job, I think an article in The Blizzard is good. If it was a bribe, then maybe Arnett should get his book.
   640. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4333161)
The Guardian's slightly snarky Blackburn timeline:

How the turmoil unfolded at Ewood Park

19 November 2010

Venky's completes the purchase of the club from the Walker Trust for £23m. Rovers are 14th in the table

13 December 2010

Rovers sack Sam Allardyce. In the four games Venky's gave him, he won two and lost two to leave the club 13th, but was dismissed.

15 December 2010

Steve Kean, Allardyce's first-team coach, appointed caretaker manager

20 January 2011

Kean given contract to stay in charge until summer 2013

23 May 2011

Rovers end the season with a 3-2 win at Wolves to claim 15th place in the table

12 September 2011

After a summer in which he signed seven players, the most expensive Scott Dann for £6m, had been breathalysed and banned from driving, and caught on camera bad-mouthing his predecessor, Kean picks up his first point of the season in Rovers' fourth match, a 1-1 draw with Fulham

7 May 2012

Antolín Alcaraz's 87th minute-winner in Wigan's 1-0 victory confirms Rovers' relegation with a game to spare

28 June 2012

Venky's appoint Shebby Singh, a pundit and former Malaysia international, as the club's 'global adviser'

30 August 2012

Ends summer spending spree with £8m capture of Jordan Rhodes, following signings of Danny Murphy, Leon Best, Nuno Gomes and five others. Championship campaign begins with two wins and a draw, leaving Rovers in third spot

28 September 2012

Kean is "forced out", he claims, a week after his first league defeat of the season, a 2-1 victory for Middlesbrough at Ewood Park

31 October 2012

Despite having said "there are no real managers with credibility who would accept a job like that", Henning Berg signs a three-year contract to manage Rovers. Blackburn are fifth in the Championship, five points off top

17 December 2012

After his first nine games had left him with a record of one win, three draws and five defeats, Berg is ridiculed for storming out of the club's staff Christmas party after refusing to dance on stage or wear a Michael Jackson wig.

27 December 2012

Rovers sack Berg after defeat by Middlesbrough and create a vacancy. His 57 days in charge take Rovers to 17th in the Championship
   641. DA Baracus Posted: December 27, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4333163)
Sounds like a job for Sven.
   642. Mefisto Posted: December 27, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4333185)
The fact that Rapinoe is headed to Lyon doesn't exactly speak well for the new women's league they're trying to put together. It's also interesting that USSoccer was to pay the salaries of the WNT players. If Rapinoe's going to Lyon, does that mean they're paying more than USSoccer?
   643. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4333190)
The fact that Rapinoe is headed to Lyon doesn't exactly speak well for the new women's league they're trying to put together. It's also interesting that USSoccer was to pay the salaries of the WNT players. If Rapinoe's going to Lyon, does that mean they're paying more than USSoccer?

My understanding is that she's going for the first half of the year and then coming back to the US after the Champions League to play in this new NWSL, so they're not mutually exclusive.
   644. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4333207)
Are all those Gazza stories true?

Evidently they are. Clip needs subtitles, though. Gazza sounds like Brad Pitt in Snatch in parts...
   645. Mefisto Posted: December 27, 2012 at 04:30 PM (#4333220)
There's some overlap (CL ends in May, new league starts in April), but it's not impossible for Rapinoe to do both. I assume there's going to be training time in advance, though, and it would be odd for her not to be with her team for that.
   646. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4333285)
Speaking of the NWSL...

Worst team name ever?
   647. Swedish Chef Posted: December 27, 2012 at 06:50 PM (#4333287)
I assume there's going to be training time in advance, though, and it would be odd for her not to be with her team for that.

There's no better preparation than playing real football games.
   648. Mefisto Posted: December 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM (#4333349)
True enough, but there's something to be said for teamwork, too.
   649. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4333527)
Ladies and gentlemem, I present you Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I was demonstrative but I was not out of order. The press have had a field day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he is busy. It is unfortunate but I am the manager of the most famous club in the world. Not Newcastle, a wee club in the north east.

"I was demonstrative. I am always demonstrative. Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy. But I was not abusive. I shouted Mike over. We walked towards each other. I was only on [the pitch] three or four yards. That has been overplayed. The problem for me is that the profile of this club is huge."


   650. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:40 AM (#4333540)
Swansea may need a manager again soon.

Too bad Nottingham Forest have scooped up Alex McLeish.
   651. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4333551)
SAF's shot at Newcastle would have been better if he'd not mentioned them and just said "not a wee club in the northeast.

Swansea may need a manager again soon.

Too bad Nottingham Forest have scooped up Alex McLeish.


I can think of someone with international experience who might listen
   652. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4333555)
SAF's shot at Newcastle would have been better if he'd not mentioned them and just said "not a wee club in the northeast.

He's softening in his old age, I guess.
   653. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM (#4333601)
Injury news!

Michu is out this weekend but Suarez should be ok to play. They were both hobbling after the games on Wednesday with ankle injuries.
   654. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4333615)
The only thing that would make things better is if SAF had told the "There was a break-in at the Newcastle trophy room..." joke.
   655. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4333751)
Pfft pathetic effort Jose. Nobody is going to click on a link that has Medeleine Albright right there in the URL...
   656. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4333754)
Pfft pathetic effort Jose. Nobody is going to click on a link that has Medeleine Albright right there in the URL...


Yeah, I was rushed and picked the wrong one. Oh well. As I always say in these situations, it's Shooty's fault.
   657. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4333768)
Pfft pathetic effort Jose. Nobody is going to click on a link that has Medeleine Albright right there in the URL...

Not so much a pathetic attempt as a wee attempt. A very, very wee attempt.

Yeah, I was rushed and picked the wrong one. Oh well. As I always say in these situations, it's Shooty's fault.

Ach! A wee sentiment, at that.
   658. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4333820)
Why Stoke don't concede.

Or one interpretation of it. It sounds very similar to how I was taught to play defense in basketball--you're not trying to prevent a shot, you're trying to prevent high quality shots.
   659. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 04:34 PM (#4333833)
Also, I'm really bored so I've been messing around at whoscored.com for the first time in a while. I am freakin shocked to see Freiburg is rated 12th by their metrics in Europe. Freiburg! Das ist super, ja? Santi Cazorla is the highest rated player in England followed by Garreth "not as good as ANthony Pilkington" Bale and Robin Van Persie. I was surprised, also, to see both Tottenham and Arsenal rated higher than Man City. Real Madrid are 11th, just ahead of Freiburg, which seems also very unusual.

Anyway, because, like I said, I'm bored, an EPL first 11 based on whoscored stats and taking some positional liberties:
xxxxxxxxDe Gea
Rafael Chico Vertonghen Baines
xxxxxxxFellaini
Mata Cazorla Bale
xxxxxxSuarez
xxRobin Van Persie

Of those, only Cazorla and Vertonghen would make an all-Europe 11. De Gea would be my biggest surprise followed closely by Chico. The others make pretty good sense. Keep in mind that they have Andy Carroll rated higher than Wayne Rooney, too, so, you know, lies and damned lies and all. But I am now 10 minutes closer to closing time!


   660. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 29, 2012 at 02:08 AM (#4334075)
Speaking of the NWSL...

Worst team name ever?


It's actually a recycled name. The first Seattle Reign was an ABL basketball team back in the 1990s.
   661. Mattbert Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4334144)
Bale booked for getting fouled for the third time this season, by my count. Ridiculous. Aaron Lennon's goal was absolutely superb. I love that little guy.

Always nice to see Sami Nasri get sent off for being the tw*t that he is.
   662. Mattbert Posted: December 29, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4334195)
Ah, Arsene. Don't ever change.
   663. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 29, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4334196)
Is this just how every Newcastle game is going to be now?
   664. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 29, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4334199)
Always nice to see Sami Nasri get sent off for being the tw*t that he is.

I just saw what happened. I really don't understand how he got sent off for that.
   665. DA Baracus Posted: December 29, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4334201)
Is this just how every Newcastle game is going to be now?


No, this is how every Arsenal game is going to be now.
   666. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 29, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4334203)
Didn't Newcastle defend well last season? Who's missing/hurt this year?
   667. Mattbert Posted: December 29, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4334204)
I just saw what happened. I really don't understand how he got sent off for that.

It's like getting a booking for persistent fouling. The eventual booked offence may be trivial, but it's a cumulative thing.

Nasri has that backpfeifengesicht every minute he plays and should absolutely be sent off at regular intervals accordingly.
   668. Mattbert Posted: December 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4334205)
Didn't Newcastle defend well last season? Who's missing/hurt this year?

Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor, and Coloccini's mojo.

Also, they punched way above their weight for the first half of last season and then kinda coasted from there.
   669. Mattbert Posted: December 29, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4334206)
This game is mental. My advice to Arsenal: do not let Tiote shoot from distance as time winds down.
   670. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 29, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4334210)
My advice to Arsenal: do not let Tiote shoot from distance as time winds down.

They chose the strategy of scoring a bunch more. Giroud almost got a hat trick and he come on in the 74th minute.
   671. Mattbert Posted: December 29, 2012 at 03:47 PM (#4334221)
Scoring four unanswered goals works too, I guess.
   672. SuperGrover Posted: December 30, 2012 at 03:22 AM (#4334519)
I just saw what happened. I really don't understand how he got sent off for that.


The angle from the assistant made it look like he headbutted him with that little flick. I don't agree with it, but understand it.

At least it is defensible. Some other reds this season (e.g., Pienaar's second yellow) were not.
   673. SuperGrover Posted: December 30, 2012 at 03:25 AM (#4334520)
Bale booked for getting fouled for the third time this season, by my count. Ridiculous.


Once you get the reputation, you aren't going to get the calls. Suarez has finally started to realize this and hasn't dived since his ridiculous flop. Even the penalty he earned against Stoke he tried to fight through the pulling before he finally let go. Bale is going to have to do the same.

Bale deserves his rep. He needs to prove that he has changed his ways. Once he does the officials will adjust accordingly.
   674. SuperGrover Posted: December 30, 2012 at 03:28 AM (#4334522)
And to follow up, he barely got touched. Here's and admittedly poor clip of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcUiLjT1TJ0

That's a dive.
   675. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 30, 2012 at 04:08 AM (#4334526)
He got clipped on the back of the knee at full speed. It's a foul, not a dive.
   676. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4334545)
He got clipped on the back of the knee at full speed. It's a foul, not a dive.

Right. The defenders knee smacked Bale's knee pretty solidly. Really, the defender deserved the yellow for jumping up and hamming it up that Bale dived. That was the only simulation on the play. This Bale is a Diver story has become self perpetuating nonsense. The only dive in the game yesterday was actually Defoe. Now that Bale has been falsely booked for diving this year as much as he's actually dived, I hope the refs will take their heads out of their asses and call it even.

Other than that, I was happy with the way Spurs played. Sunderland are in good form and Spurs looked much better against them than Man City did. Now, if we can just get rid of these dumb Wesley Sneijder rumors...

Also, I feel bad for Villa and Villa fans but I still think they'll stay up and Lambert will figure something out. I think of Spurs as being on pretty much the same level as Villa so it's a "there but for the grace of god..." kind of situation. It's amazing how much difference a good chairman makes to the fortunes of a club.
   677. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM (#4334547)
Why is the Fox Deportes feed fine but the FSC feed is broken? Grrr. But, hey, go Everton! I should root for a draw, I guess, but #### that!
   678. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4334556)
OK, now I'm rooting for the draw. That was a heartbreaking minute and a half for Everton.
   679. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4334557)
Good news for Newcatle: They've finally signed Matthieu Debuchy. I think that's a pretty great signing for them.
   680. JuanGone..except1game Posted: December 30, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4334565)
Good win though Everton was a bit unlucky. Chelsea needs to resign Super Frank. Our side still lacks composure at times and we need him for that alone.

Rumours are that Chelsea will push Demba Ba's release clause for 7mil. That would be a great signing to replace Sturridge. Torres made some just incompetent runs today and needed to be subbed off. At this point, I'd rather pair a Ba/midfielder signing than say going for Falcoa for 42.
   681. Mattbert Posted: December 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4334566)
That's a dive.

No, it very much isn't.

Here's a video and a gif that shows clear contact from Gardner and Bale's knee wobbling before he goes down. Gardner also threw an arm across Bale's chest at the same time. Could Bale have stayed on his feet? Maybe. I don't think I'd want to take a knee to my knee when I'm sprinting flat out. It's absolutely a foul, though, so it's kind of irrelevant whether or not Bale needed to go down.

It was a terrible decision by Atkinson, who should have booked Defoe for simulation in the first half and Jack Colback for his repeated saddling up of Mousa Dembele for countless thrilling reenactments of Mark Bavaro hauling Ronnie Lott around like a jockey.
   682. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4334587)
QPR have checked out, but that first goal by the Imp was a work of art. Really, though, I don't think anyone on the QPR team would even make first 11 for, say, Norwich City. Taarabt has gone back to his old ways of trying to reenact Maradonna's highlight reel except for the whole escaping the defenders part. It remains surreal to me that Julio Cesar is on this team.
   683. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4334590)
Derry on for Cisse. I think 'Arry has checked out, too.
   684. frannyzoo Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4334591)
I'm struck by the lack of "true" EPL quality on both sides, Suarez aside, but Cesar has been most awful of a truly wretched QPR bunch. It's so bad I'm almost feeling sorry for Harry, but the true pity is that Loftus Road and the QPR fans will be back to watching Millwall, Burnley and Huddersfield Town next year.

An Aston Villa v. QPR matchup right now would be an amazing anti-advertisement for the league.
   685. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4334602)
Granero is right up to speed...
   686. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4334615)
Aston Villa and QPR played to a scintillating non-scoreless draw on December 1, during QPR's coachless interim. Sadly we have to wait until March 16 to renew the rivalry. By that point QPR will probably have added Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Robbie Keane, Fernando Llorente, Nicolas Anelka, Marco Verratti, Angelo Ogbonna, Leighton Baines, Nigel Reo-Coker, Ricardo Carvalho, Miralem Pjanic, Kaká, Alexei Eremenko Jr., Pontus Wernbloom, Roope Riski, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Tor Hogne Aarøy, Jens Lehmann, and Michael Parkhurst, and will be solidly in 19th place.
   687. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4334617)
Angelo Ogbonna

Not funny!
   688. SuperGrover Posted: December 30, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4334669)
No, it very much isn't.

Here's a video and a gif that shows clear contact from Gardner and Bale's knee wobbling before he goes down. Gardner also threw an arm across Bale's chest at the same time. Could Bale have stayed on his feet? Maybe. I don't think I'd want to take a knee to my knee when I'm sprinting flat out. It's absolutely a foul, though, so it's kind of irrelevant whether or not Bale needed to go down.


That angle you can see the contact. You could not from the other clips I had seen (sorry didn't watch the game).

With that said, if he doesn't fall immediately he probably gets the call. With his reputation (well deserved, IMO), he's going to have to attempt to fight through these types of contacts or he's never going to get the benefit of the doubt. I mentioned Suarez because I haven't seen him dive since the ridiculous belly flop against Stoke. This week, he worked hard in the penalty area and earned a well deserved spot kick without having to resort to a dive. Bale needs to do the same.
   689. Spivey Posted: December 30, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4334682)
Luis Suarez is so, so good. He's one of the very best players in the EPL in my book and Liverpool should be thrilled that he seems to genuinely like playing for them. If only they could stop pissing away money and put a decent team around him. I think he's a top 10 forward in the world.
   690. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4334711)
I think he's a top 10 forward in the world.

No doubt.

They're really not that far from being a good team again. They just need some depth at forward and better players on the wing. That and a little more experience for the young guys and I think they could be like Everton/Tottenham and challenging for a top 4 spot when one of the big 4 spenders are scuffling. The question is if that's good enough for the faithful, though. Being as good as Tottenham and Everton would be hard to swallow for a certain element of the fanbase. But, honestly, I just don't see them competing with the kind of money Chelsea, City and Man U can throw around. I think those days are past.
   691. Mefisto Posted: December 30, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4334714)
Man, that was a tough loss for Everton today. They really could use a right side attacker; every good move comes from the left.
   692. Jeffo has an El Camino full of Rampage Posted: December 30, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4334726)
They have Mirallas, but he is out hurt, when present he has added much more balance to their attack. I agree that was a tough loss, but I thought they played pretty well considering the injuries and suspensions. Jelavic hit a post and a crossbar and fluffed a good chance right at the end. But that is how things go sometimes. Onto 2013 we go!
   693. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 30, 2012 at 06:14 PM (#4334733)
Seamus Coleman looked like he was going to be a real asset in the department, but it seems that he makes too many mistakes for some people.
   694. Mefisto Posted: December 30, 2012 at 06:33 PM (#4334738)
I haven't been impressed with Coleman. I'm kind of hoping Landon was watching...
   695. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 30, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4334759)
Sepp Blatter continues to be a massive gigantic dick.

Not only is he being a dick, but he seems remarkably ignorant about the business of soccer for a guy who heads the ####### sport. I can only hope one day MLS will be as awesome as the pro leagues in Qatar and the UAE and Saudi Arabia. I wonder how Brazil will ever have a decent pro league since they don't follow the European calendar, either. Truly they are also doomed.
   696. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: December 30, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4334955)
Blatter can't hear you, he's been fully buried by the bribes he's taking.
   697. DA Baracus Posted: December 31, 2012 at 12:15 AM (#4334981)
Blatter said the MLS has to "play in summer because they are using the stadia of American football. And when they have their own stadium, they can change the calendar-they have to change the calendar". And that it doesn't draw. It's the 8th most attended league by average. He has no ####### clue what he is talking about.
   698. J. Sosa Posted: December 31, 2012 at 01:54 AM (#4335068)
re: Blatter

I can assure you Blatter is as ignorant on the subject of the popularity of soccer in America as he is on every subject not named graft. I can pinpoint the exact moment in time when I knew soccer had made it in America. It was when I spotted a kid in Pigeon Forge TN wearing a Torres Spain jersey. To paraphrase a great man, these are the facts.

re: Newcastle

They pretty much went 11 deep last year and have been shredded by injury. Also as I've said before they were due for a regression. Its mainly the absence of certain players though. Tiote and Cabaye are the heart and soul of the team. Without them hale and hearty as a tandem they are screwed.

re: Suarez' loyalty to LFC

The racism case was ugly on many fronts to include those terrible t shirts. But from what I've read Suarez believed that the club supported him to the hilt. Not exactly a heartwarming tale, but I think its part of why he does genuinely seem to like playing for the club. I'm not proud to say I enjoy watching him play and that I'm glad he's on the team, but I do and I am. I think he's the dirtiest player in the league and he intentionally set out to wind up Evra through racist abuse last season. But he also runs himself to death and creates ridiculous chances at insane angles. A joy to watch, but man can he be insufferable.

re: LFC talent level

I have to respectfully disagree Shooty. There are times when the club doesn't appear to be that far from a 4th place contending team and then I look at their roster. If I'm being brutally honest there are only two players on the team I really feel comfortable leading a charge to CL qualification. Suarez and Agger. The rest of them have too many problems. I'm not saying they don't have other players with some talent, but I'm saying Agger and Suarez are the only two they have that could walk into most top sides in the world. Agger is criminally under rated. Suarez is young enough that if he sticks around they might be able to build around him. They need the kids to develop fast and to nail a few transfers. I'm feeling optimistic on the academy front. On the transfer front, not so much. Comparing their roster to a team like Spurs' is depressing. Its not even close. As pointed out that's the club going forward they have to catch along with Arsenal.

re: Bale

Since I said something nice about Spurs I'll balance it by being mean:

Spurs fans defending Bale are cute. I follow a team that employs a player with the rep as the biggest diver in the PL. The thing is, Bale sucks when he dives. If he's going to dive, he needs to learn how to at least make it look good. There have been a few this year where the ref should have handed him a boogey board to go with his yellow card. Bale took over the actual title of worst diver in the league awhile ago. As Grover noted, Suarez hasn't been drawing calls for the most part this season (even on plays where he was actually fouled) so he's stayed on his feet more.

edit: for clarity
   699. SuperGrover Posted: December 31, 2012 at 03:03 AM (#4335103)
They have Mirallas, but he is out hurt, when present he has added much more balance to their attack. I agree that was a tough loss, but I thought they played pretty well considering the injuries and suspensions. Jelavic hit a post and a crossbar and fluffed a good chance right at the end. But that is how things go sometimes. Onto 2013 we go!


Agreed on Mirallas. I also think Jelavic has been pretty awful recently, the Merseyside version of pre-Benitez Torres. He gets so many chances but almost never puts anything home. I also think Everton has really been gypped by refs, both for penalties against (errr...City?) and penalties not called for.

One does have to wonder what happens if Gibson is out for awhile. They don't have much in the defensive midfield and really need him healthy. I can't imagine Fellaini dropping back in that role given his success up front. It will be interesting to see how they adjust.
   700. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 31, 2012 at 08:22 AM (#4335168)
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