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Friday, October 20, 2017

OT: Winter Soccer Thread

November 4 Borussia Dortmund v. Bayern Munich
November 5 Chelsea v. ManU
November 9 & 12 - Northern Ireland v. Switzerland/Croatia v. Greece
November 10 &  13 - Sweden v. Italy
November 11 & 14 - Denmark v. Ireland
November 10 & 15 - Honduras v. Australia
November 11 & 15 - New Zealand v. Peru
November 14 - Portugal v. USA (friendly #&!^#&)
December 1 - Napoli v. Juventus
December 10 - ManU v. ManCity
December 11 - Champions League Round of 16 draw
December 20 - Real Madrid v. Barcelona (how contentious will this be given the political climate?)

Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: October 20, 2017 at 05:27 PM | 2146 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off topic, soccer

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   301. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:13 PM (#5590319)
So let's say in this situation Lovren gives Calvert-Lewin a little shove that pushes Calvert-Lewin off the ball just enough that he can't strike it well. That should be a penalty, it's a play that impacts the ability of the player to make a play on the ball
Very few plays are so clear cut about who initiates contact, if its a "shove" or if its incidental, if the chance to strike the ball would have been lost without the player going to ground, or whatever else.

More importantly (and I understand you may have just been speaking generally), what you are describing has essentially nothing to do with the play in the Merseyside Derby, where the Everton player had almost no chance to ever strike the ball, where there wasn't necessarily any shove (hard to say), and where the Everton player's first priority was almost certainly to draw a penalty, not strike the ball.

I'm not saying, and I don't think, that the Everton player should have been censured for a dive. I understand the need for players to sometimes dramatize the contact that does happen. On the other hand, I'd be thrilled if all plays where offensive players goes to ground in the box were reviewed on video the next day to see if there was any contact, and if there was none, they could all be given cautions (or have a caution rescinded) retrospectively. In my perfect world for this play, no penalty would have been called, no caution given for a dive, the play would have been reviewed next day on video, and no retrospective caution would have been given.

Edit: I said above "very few" plays are so clear cut, but I would probably rephrase that as "a great many plays are not so clear-cut".
   302. strong silence Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:22 PM (#5590331)
jmurph's idea to shrink the box is a good one. An arc of some radius could be tried.

Auntbea's presents a solution I have thought about. The referee should evaluate the expected occurrence of a goal. Players dribbling away from the goal are an example of a low expected goal probability and the referee should not call a penalty. A problem here would be that a ref would need to assume a skill level for a player. Dribbling away from goal is still dangerous when Messi does it but not when Milner does. (This leads to the question of what would be the proper call. An indirect free kick would be reasonable.)

   303. The Marksist Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:24 PM (#5590337)
Endlessly rehashing a call like this is probably not super productive, especially when Mane could have rendered the whole thing moot with a simple square pass before half time. BUT! It's weird to me how out of scale that call was with how the rest of the game was reffed. I mean, that kind of challenge happens 15 times in midfield and gets called probably never.
   304. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:24 PM (#5590338)
Or, maybe, there just needs to be some judgement to where you give a spot kick unless you think a foul prevents a clear goal scoring opportunity.


Yeah, I think something to encourage refs to blow the whistle but at the same time not gift a goal would be the way to go. I don't know how that happens.
   305. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:25 PM (#5590340)
Players dribbling away from the goal are an example of a low expected goal probability and the referee should not call a penalty
They do this already. I know it's common for fans/pundits to say that a foul on one place on the field is a foul everywhere, but the game just isn't and has never been called that way.

Now... taking into account player skill is a different issue. I don't know if refs do that but I would be against it.
   306. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:27 PM (#5590341)
Actually, what I would absolutely LOVE to see in soccer is a second referee like hockey uses. One guy trying to cover the whole field just isn't feasible, it never has been and never will be. You have the two refs work in concert as in hockey (or basketball before they added the third ref) so in the box one ref is on the end line. He's going to have a great view and with the refs already miked up they could communicate "is that a pen?" "yes it is" "call it!" and the whistle blows.

I think the biggest challenge on calls in the box is the lack of angle the ref has. There is just too much going on that is shielded by the players' bodies.
   307. Baldrick Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:31 PM (#5590346)
Auntbea's presents a solution I have thought about. The referee should evaluate the expected occurrence of a goal. Players dribbling away from the goal are an example of a low expected goal probability and the referee should not call a penalty. A problem here would be that a ref would need to assume a skill level for a player. Dribbling away from goal is still dangerous when Messi does it but not when Milner does. (This leads to the question of what would be the proper call. An indirect free kick would be reasonable.)

Referees already do this. It would be a bad idea to instruct them in the rules to do so. The current model, where they exercise a bit of judgment, is basically fine.

I haven't seen the specific play being discussed here, but it sounds well within the realm of 'eh, sometimes those happen.' If there were a wave of similar calls happening every game, it would be a big problem and worthy of attention. When it happens every once in awhile, you point out that even if not necessarily a mistake by the text of the rule, it doesn't really fit the spirit of the law, and hope that other refs don't take it as precedent.
   308. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:35 PM (#5590352)
They do this already. I know it's common for fans/pundits to say that a foul on one place on the field is a foul everywhere, but the game just isn't and has never been called that way.

My opinion is that things that are fouls but low-scoring opportunity should still be called, they just don't deserve the penalty.

I think the all-or-nothing reward of a penalty is what causes the issues.

But, sure, I think this is mostly not a huge issue.
   309. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:40 PM (#5590356)
Leaving the penalty rule aside, fouls in an offensive spot on the field are called differently than those in a defensive spot. It's for the same reasons of asymmetry. It's done to a much lesser extent than fouls in/out of the box, but it's still quite evident over time. One thing you might notice is that 50/50 calls (for example on punts up the field by the keeper) go in favor of the defense much more than half the time.
   310. strong silence Posted: December 11, 2017 at 03:46 PM (#5590361)
Is Eden Hazard underperforming?

Who would you rather have: Hazard or Kante?
   311. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 11, 2017 at 04:35 PM (#5590393)
Is Eden Hazard underperforming?

Who would you rather have: Hazard or Kante?


The concept of WARP or VORP is interesting in soccer, particularly at the winger/attacking mid/forward position vs other positions.

I think if I ran a team like Chelsea, I'd take Kante over Hazard. No offense to Hazard, but I think as far as the knockout level Champion's League teams, he's just a guy. He's not below that level, but he's not Messi or Ronaldo or Neymar either. For me he's in that next group of players that pretty much all of the best teams have on the wing or at the #10, like Alexis Sanchez, Alli, Eriksen, Coutinho, Mane, Salah, old-Robben, Douglas Costa, Griezmann. If they lost Hazard, I feel like they'd just go replace him with someone that would be roughly as productive.

Kante is harder to replace IMO because there's fewer players like him in the world than there are elite teams that need someone like him. On the flip side, I'd probably take Hazard if I ran Burnley or some team like that, because he'll be able to single handedly keep you up unless he quits on the coach.

That said, Hazard has scored like 14+ goals 3 of the last 4 EPL seasons and is roughly on pace to do that this year too. I may be underestimating him.

   312. Mefisto Posted: December 11, 2017 at 04:41 PM (#5590396)
Kante might be my first choice field player in the whole world. I wouldn't have said that when Messi was younger, but today it's a different story.
   313. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 11, 2017 at 05:03 PM (#5590404)
Kante might be my first choice field player in the whole world. I wouldn't have said that when Messi was younger, but today it's a different story.

I think I'd take De Bruyne for similar reasons, but only if I knew I had pretty limitless cash to buy any of the random good attacking players are out there.
   314. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:18 AM (#5590629)
Very excited about drawing Juventus. I can't wait to see Kane stuff a few goals down their evil, entitled gullets. How do I know this will happen? Because this season seems to be an exact replica of the 2010/2011 season and Juventus is playing the role of AC Milan.
   315. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:25 AM (#5590688)
Granted Juve is still very good, but they seem a step off where they've been the last few years. I view it as roughly 50/50.

The Champion's League feels much more open than normal. Bayern, Real, and Barca all seem a clear notch or two below where they normally have been over the last 3-5 years. I wouldn't be surprised to see a team like Tottenham or Liverpool make a deep run.
   316. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:44 AM (#5590719)
Juventus-Tottenham Hotspur
Basel-Manchester City
Porto-Liverpool
Sevilla-Manchester United
Real Madrid-Paris Saint-Germain
Shakhtar Donetsk-Roma
Chelsea-Barcelona
Bayern Munich-Beşiktaş

What I think is interesting is there are several ties in the round of 16 that could go either way and between Juve/Spurs, Real/PSG and Chelsea/Barca you/ve got at least three genuinely big clubs that could win it being knocked out before the quarters. Depending on how the draw goes for the quarters this is a year that could have an outsider type team like Shakhtar get through to the semis or even the final.

Just playing around;

Juve-City
Liverpool-Shakhtar
United-Barca
Bayern-Real
   317. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 12, 2017 at 11:16 AM (#5590767)
Current betting odds - ranked from most competitive ties to least (all numbers approximate):

Real Madrid-Paris Saint-Germain - PSG 51%
Juventus-Tottenham Hotspur C - Juve 53%

Shakhtar Donetsk-Roma - Roma 62%

Chelsea-Barcelona - Barca 70%
Sevilla-Manchester United ManU 71%
Porto-Liverpool - Pool 73%

Bayern Munich-Beşiktaşbe - Bayern 88%
Basel-Manchester City - City 90%


4 clear groupings-- 2 ties are toss-ups, one tie has a minor favorite, 3 have solid favorites, and two have overwhelming favorites.
   318. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 12, 2017 at 11:17 AM (#5590769)
..
   319. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 12, 2017 at 11:59 AM (#5590814)
ELO tells a quite similar story to betting odds, with one very notable exception.

ELO difference:

RM over PSG - 129
Juve over Tottenham - 37

Roma over Shakhtar - 97

Barca over Chelsea - 116
ManU over Sevilla - 120
Liverpool over Porto - 109

Bayern Munich over Beşiktaşbe - 214
Manchester City over Basel - 259
   320. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:02 PM (#5590815)
Was Sunday peak Mourinho, by the way? He must know now that he's not going to win a title at Man U.
   321. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:12 PM (#5590823)
Was Sunday peak Mourinho, by the way? He must know now that he's not going to win a title at Man U.

I have a pretty high threshold for his buffoonery, but this past week was just too much.
   322. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:16 PM (#5590827)
I have a pretty high threshold for his buffoonery, but this past week was just too much.

My tolerance dissipated when they canceled Special One TV. I see not point to the man if he's not in puppet form.
   323. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:31 PM (#5590844)
Was Sunday peak Mourinho, by the way? He must know now that he's not going to win a title at Man U.

I mean, not this year, but I think that team has the foundation to win one.

I think the big couple of things are they don't get enough goal scoring from the wings and midfield. Granted, some of that is Mourinho's own fault for playing Lingard so much. I think Rashford and Martial I'm mostly ok with getting so much burn because they've shown flashes of being able to get you 10+ goals a season and are very young and dynamic.

Lingard is squad depth or a winger to bring on when you're up a goal or two for forward defense. Herrera is pretty good but don't know if I love having 2 heavily defensive focused midfielders like him + Matic starting against teams unless you have dynamic goal scorers in front of them. The Pogba injury is a real thing and Man City would likely look different if DeBruyne or Silva were out. But, Mourinho has had way too bad a habit the last few years of when presented with a choice behind a defensive-minded attacking player and attacking-minded attacking player, he'll choose the defensive player. So, I do think they could probably use one more guy like Eriksen/Coutinho/Silva in the middle of the pitch doing creative stuff and dealing with teams that park the bus. You could maybe argue Mhik is that guy, although I don't know that he is.

So, I think the talent on the team is close, but I almost think Mourinho is his own worst enemy.
   324. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 01:02 PM (#5590870)
I mean, not this year, but I think that team has the foundation to win one.

I just mean that, in Mourinho's career, the third year is when things fall apart so if he doesn't win it this year, it's probably not going to happen for him. I have no doubt that Man U's next manager will win a title with the foundation of players they have.
   325. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 01:17 PM (#5590878)
I mean, not this year, but I think that team has the foundation to win one.

Considering the resources at their disposal, they still feature a number of total mediocrities pretty regularly. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones wouldn't stand out on a relegation-bound team.
   326. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 01:31 PM (#5590881)
Considering the resources at their disposal, they still feature a number of total mediocrities pretty regularly. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones wouldn't stand out on a relegation-bound team.

::PHIL JONES FACE::
   327. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 02:15 PM (#5590925)

Considering the resources at their disposal, they still feature a number of total mediocrities pretty regularly. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones wouldn't stand out on a relegation-bound team.


Who else?

I struggle to rate most centerbacks against each other, but those guys seem fine to me.
   328. I am going to be Frank Posted: December 12, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5590927)
Phil Jones has been pretty good this year - he's seems to be part of Mourinho's preferred starting pair with Bailly. Smalling is probably 3rd/4th choice with Rojo. Lindelof will probably pass them both soon. United should aim for better, but sometimes those type of players aren't available.

There aren't exactly a ton of elite central defenders. Spurs have two very good ones, Sanchez who looks like he might be pretty good and Dier, who prefers defensive midfield. Arsenal has Koscielny, who seems to be declining, and dreck. I'm not convinced Otamendi is any good, Kompany is always hurt, Mangala is big while Stones is average at defending. Chelsea is sick of Luiz, Cahill is so-so but they have Christensen who is up and coming.

I'm not including guys like Azpulicueta or Monreal because those guys would never play central in a back two under normal circumstances.

There's a reason why Jonny Evans and van Dijk are seemingly in high demand by the top clubs.
   329. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 02:44 PM (#5590952)
Alderweireld and Vertonghen are pretty great. It's no coincidence Tottenham's league form collapsed when Aldeweireld was hurt. I think Bailly will be a monster in the PL for a long time.
   330. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 02:45 PM (#5590953)
Smalling is probably 3rd/4th choice with Rojo.

Smalling has started 10 league games and 6 champions league games.

Who else?

Fellaini, Mata (both much better than the other two, to be fair). That they continue to rely on Young and Valencia so much also strikes me as odd.

There aren't exactly a ton of elite central defenders.

This is totally fair and a good point.
   331. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:07 PM (#5590983)
   332. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:10 PM (#5590988)
I'm not convinced Otamendi is any good, Kompany is always hurt, Mangala is big while Stones is average at defending.

From what I can see, of this group I think Otamendi is the closest to fine. Kompany, in addition to the injury problems, I just don't think he's any good anymore (perhaps that should be "as a result of the injury problems," but either way). I'm fine with Stones but he's prone to jaw-dropping calamity on occasion, which seems like precisely the kind of thing you don't want in your central defender. Mangala I'm okay with as the 4th option, but he's unfortunately more than that.

This is probably not intelligently put, I'm not sure how to say it better, but it seems that Guardiola's system asks very little from his CB in terms of frequency of play, but what is asked of them is extremely difficult. They can go several minutes without anything more than recycling the ball, then they have to break up a 1 on 1 while sprinting back toward their own goal against a vastly more athletic player, because the rest of the team is in the other half.

   333. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:29 PM (#5591006)
It's funny, I was watching the game the other day and thinking "Smalling really has grown into a cromulent center back." Yeah you'd like to be better but just as an example ManCity's most common center backs have been Stones and Otamendi and I don't think Smalling is appreciably worse than either guy. Even the great teams have their .260 hitters.
   334. I am going to be Frank Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:34 PM (#5591017)
Bailly has been hurt and suspended and Jones has been hurt. Smalling's saving grace is his durability, which is definitely a skill. He is a decent CB, who grabs way too often on set pieces but seems to get away it. United should do better, but as a rotation CB, which I think he'll be next season if he's still on the team, he's fine.

As for City, Mourinho talked about it going into the game. If City does not immediately win the ball back on their high press and they sense any danger they commit a "tactical" foul so they can reset their defense. It's a smart play. Referees usually don't give cards to guys pulling a shirt in their offensive zone.

Ottamendi is decent enough. He's willing to tackle and is strong and good in the air, while doesn't make keeps the glaring mistaking to a relative minimum. However, he isn't particularly fast or good with the ball. Even with all the money City has spent I think that's the obvious improvement point. I think Pep wants to replace him as soon as he finds someone who can complement Stones better. With City's high line, having Walker in the team is also important. A couple times United tried to get on the break but Walker was able to run back and slow or stop United because he's so fast.
   335. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:42 PM (#5591031)
If City does not immediately win the ball back on their high press and they sense any danger they commit a "tactical" foul so they can reset their defense. It's a smart play. Referees usually don't give cards to guys pulling a shirt in their offensive zone.

Yes I agree with this- I saw some people denying this like it was insult, but it's clearly the case. Fernandinho in particular is the master of this move.

With City's high line, having Walker in the team is also important. A couple times United tried to get on the break but Walker was able to run back and slow or stop United because he's so fast.

He's been huge, and before he got hurt Mendy was just as good (possibly better going forward). Such an improvement compared to the last couple of years.

   336. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:48 PM (#5591038)
As for City, Mourinho talked about it going into the game. If City does not immediately win the ball back on their high press and they sense any danger they commit a "tactical" foul so they can reset their defense. It's a smart play. Referees usually don't give cards to guys pulling a shirt in their offensive zone.
This is correct, but I've never understood why. If I were soccer czar these would be an immediate caution anywhere on the field, and if they break up a scoring chance, immediate dismissal. I'm really only talking about fouls where there is absolutely no attempt to make a play on the ball (the shirt tug the other day was a fine example). Unlike most (but I guess not all) other sports, soccer has a long history of putting up with all sorts of gamesmanship that detracts from the essence of the sport (which I like to call "soccer"). Usually the fans are worse off for it too. For example, the foul in the ManCity game broke up the action and prevented an exciting counterattack. It's pretty much a lose/lose.

Unlike some changes to how the game is reffed, I don't think this would even be very hard to implement.
   337. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:50 PM (#5591041)
I disagree that those fouls aren't carded- my sense is they're carded at least as much as any other cynical, no attempt on the ball kind of foul. I think some guys get away with it more than others, but that's always the case.
   338. Mefisto Posted: December 12, 2017 at 05:33 PM (#5591166)
One reason Smalling looks better this year is that Mourinho has forbidden him to make long passes. He just can't do it, so now every pass is short. It makes him look much better.

Jones would be a first choice for United, but he's injured too often. Same with Luke Shaw. Valencia is quite good.
   339. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 06:10 PM (#5591193)
Ashley Young is quite good too, imo. I think United's "weakest" positions are mostly positions everyone struggles with, and Lingard - who, to be fair, is a pretty good player, I just don't think he's a heavy usage player for a team that wants to win trophies.
   340. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 12, 2017 at 07:45 PM (#5591229)
I disagree that those fouls aren't carded- my sense is they're carded at least as much as any other cynical, no attempt on the ball kind of foul. I think some guys get away with it more than others, but that's always the case.
Intentional, cynical fouls in the offensive zone are definitely not carded as much as in the defensive zone. Sure they're carded sometimes.
   341. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 11:01 PM (#5591364)
I agree with 340. I also think that City and Barca/Spain/others do it so quick and in a sort of way to where it's not really reckless it's just a kick at your heel or thighing someone up or whatever, and it's usually done a second or two before the break is really on. It's on the prelude to the break they do these things.

Of course, everyone does, but they do too. It's especially egregious I think with these ultra-possession teams because you don't get cards much doing it and you don't get 2 cards much doing it either. Also, when you have such high percentage of the ball the scenario comes up less frequently for your players to need to foul. These kind of small fouls are generally only going to get cards from accumulation, unless done when a real break is obvious.
   342. Sean Forman Posted: December 13, 2017 at 10:39 AM (#5591574)

From what I can see, of this group I think Otamendi is the closest to fine. Kompany, in addition to the injury problems, I just don't think he's any good anymore (perhaps that should be "as a result of the injury problems," but either way). I'm fine with Stones but he's prone to jaw-dropping calamity on occasion, which seems like precisely the kind of thing you don't want in your central defender. Mangala I'm okay with as the 4th option, but he's unfortunately more than that.


Stones has been really really solid this year from what I've seen. I agree that Kompany has been comically injury-prone. I'm shocked when he plays 90. I'm expecting them to go out in the CL when he tears a hamstring cycling the ball around the back and the opposing striker gets a free shot on goal.

Otamendi is also scoring like crazy this year. I wouldn't mind them trying Fernandinho at CB a bit a la Mascherano. I suppose that might cause some set piece issues.

   343. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 13, 2017 at 01:22 PM (#5591855)
The PL and the FA really need to sort out this end-of-December-beginning-of-January fixture nightmare, it borders on ridiculous.

Here's ONE week of Tottenham's upcoming schedule:

1/2 - @Swansea
1/4 - v West Ham
1/6 - v Wimbledon (FA Cup)

5 days, 3 matches.
   344. jmurph Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5591908)
5 days, 3 matches.

I assume there is data on this, but surely this is especially bad for lower revenue teams with thinner squads?

It's one of those things that is great for fans (so many games!) but yeah, just transparently bad for the players.
   345. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:25 PM (#5591943)
344 - I thought the opposite. I get why you would think that but my thought is that these types of games tend to have funky lineups and I would expect more oddities; misplays and the like. Put Spurs against Swansea on a beautiful day, starting XI vs. starting XI, pristine pitch, and Spurs should expect to win the vast majority of time. But throw a couple of gremlins into the mix in the form of fatigue or unfamiliarity and you get the chance of something weird happening.

Or y'know, the big teams just squash the smaller squads like a bug as you suggested and I'm 100% wrong as usual. One of those.
   346. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:26 PM (#5591944)
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Aurier, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Sissoko, Winks, Lamela, Eriksen, Son, Kane.


Sure is good to see Lamela finally starting a game for Spurs.

I would have preferred to see Davies and Trippier start at the fullback spots though, I think Rose and Aurier are much better choices against City's speed on the wings.
   347. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:31 PM (#5591949)
I assume there is data on this, but surely this is especially bad for lower revenue teams with thinner squads?

It's one of those things that is great for fans (so many games!) but yeah, just transparently bad for the players.
It does seem crazy to schedule games with only 1 off day between (let alone doing it back to back). I can't get that worked up about it for these top leagues like the EPL though, because the teams seem to have so many players (25-man roster I think) and can only use 14 at most in one game, with in the vast majority of cases only 1 sub playing really significant minutes. That they can't start their best players for all 3 games doesn't bother me at all.
   348. jmurph Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:49 PM (#5591967)
Or y'know, the big teams just squash the smaller squads like a bug as you suggested and I'm 100% wrong as usual. One of those.

Well in the absence of some smarties doing the actual research, your theory makes as much sense as mine!
   349. strong silence Posted: December 13, 2017 at 04:17 PM (#5592041)
Is there a stat for forced giveaways by opponents in their own half of the pitch? If so, I think Manchester City would be leading it. By a wide margin.

EDIT: Is Gerard Pique done? I have no confidence in him. What does he give other than a (diminished) aerial presence and decent possession?
   350. Textbook Editor Posted: December 13, 2017 at 04:50 PM (#5592062)
1/2 - @Swansea
1/4 - v West Ham
1/6 - v Wimbledon (FA Cup)


I would urge punting the FA Cup and just playing kids (and Vorm in goal) and hoping for the best. I know, I know, "but teh trophies!" but at some point you just have to punt these things if you're in the CL and fighting for top 4.
   351. strong silence Posted: December 13, 2017 at 04:58 PM (#5592071)
teh?
   352. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 13, 2017 at 06:42 PM (#5592147)
Just heard Wenger on 5Live. He's still thinks if his team wins the possession % stat they should win the game. I really think the game has passed him by. It happens to the best.
   353. Richard Posted: December 14, 2017 at 12:51 AM (#5592311)
The close grouping of games over Christmas is an English football tradition that goes back decades and is popular with supporters. Long may it continue. We don't need so stinking winter break.

It used to be worse: up until the late 1980s it was very common to play on 26 and 27 December if both fell on public holidays or Friday and Saturday. Until the late 1950s teams would often play the same opponents home and away on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

I am going to games on 23, 26 and 30 December. Can't wait. My only regret is I lost the fight to go on 1 January as well.
   354. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5592374)
The close grouping of games over Christmas is an English football tradition that goes back decades and is popular with supporters. Long may it continue. We don't need so stinking winter break.

I love the festive schedule. I don't watch American football anymore so the PL and the NBA fill that holiday sports gap for me these days. NBA on Christmas Day and the PL on Boxing Day. In fact, my in-laws better send me soccer cards to open up on Boxing Day this year. They've been slacking lately. I've got a fireplace now for any Chelsea players I'd get.
   355. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:18 AM (#5592376)
I love the festive schedule. I don't watch American football anymore so the PL and the NBA fill that holiday sports gap for me these days. NBA on Christmas Day and the PL on Boxing Day.


I'm the same (except for the NBA thing, my god man have some self respect). It's such a great way to spend the holiday period. Especially for me as an accountant. I pretty much can plan on working a few weekends in a row around the holidays so having some games to flip on the phone while working in an empty office is a nice way to offset the dreariness.
   356. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 15, 2017 at 09:29 AM (#5593111)
Man City mostly has the title race wrapped up, but I still really like Tottenham's team (when they're playing Son over Sissoko). I'm excited to see that game, and I think they have the kind of style that can give City trouble.
   357. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 15, 2017 at 09:48 AM (#5593119)
Tottenham can beat City, but the margin is very thin and Pochettino has to nail the squad and tactics and he might have already started digging a hole with his fullback selection on Wednesday.

I rather fear for Davies and Trippier come Saturday ...
   358. jmurph Posted: December 15, 2017 at 10:21 AM (#5593140)
I think they have the kind of style that can give City trouble.

Definitely. Liverpool were giving them trouble before the red card earlier in the year, and Spurs are something like a better version of Liverpool, on a good day.
   359. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 15, 2017 at 02:18 PM (#5593386)
Uh oh, Mickey Kittens is on the outs:


Henrikh Mkhitaryan is battling to save his Manchester United career after being dropped by Jose Mourinho following a row between the two men during a video analysis session at the club's Carrington training ground last month, sources have told ESPN FC.

Mkhitaryan, 28, has been absent from seven of United's last eight matchday squads and sources at Old Trafford have confirmed that the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder angered Mourinho by disagreeing with the manager's assessment of his contribution during a substitute appearance against Brighton on Nov. 25.

Mourinho was unhappy with Mkhitaryan's defensive work rate and a mistake made by the player, singling the Armenian international out for criticism in front of the rest of the first-team squad.

Mkhitaryan responded to his manager's remarks, with the player continuing to debate Mourinho's assessment of his performance in the corridor outside the analysis suite at Carrington.
   360. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 15, 2017 at 02:40 PM (#5593413)
I'd feel better about Spurs' chances if Toby and Wanyama were fit. We'll see, I guess. I'm not expecting much tomorrow.
   361. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 15, 2017 at 06:41 PM (#5593545)
Yeah, Spurs have a bad away record against top sides and Alderweireld is out. I'd be pretty surprised if they scraped a point.
   362. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 16, 2017 at 11:43 AM (#5593692)
Lloris (C), Trippier, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Dembele, Winks, Eriksen, Dele, Son, Kane.


Lack of Vic and Toby (or Sanchez) makes this dicey.

Son and Dele are going to have to put in a shift and help keep City's FBs pinned back when then can.

Could be a thriller ... or a hiding ... COYS!
   363. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 16, 2017 at 01:03 PM (#5593706)
Trippier is getting abused by Sane. Him and Winks have sucked eggs this game.

Winks just stood there like a chucklefuck on the set piece goal. Go attack that ball you little child.
   364. I am going to be Frank Posted: December 16, 2017 at 01:15 PM (#5593712)
I really miss the days of Robinho and Samir Nasri. Overpay for overrated players. Now they overpay for good players and look so damn good going forward.
   365. Mefisto Posted: December 16, 2017 at 01:46 PM (#5593728)
Kane deserved a red for that.
   366. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:00 PM (#5593733)
Don't agree on Kane. But that by Alli was a red for sure.
   367. Mefisto Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5593734)
Yeah, Alli should be gone.
   368. jmurph Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5593735)
It's super cool that Spurs remain the dirtiest team in the league but those plucky english lads keep escaping reds.

EDIT: Dirty isn't even the right word. It's just very straight forward fouling that gets underpunished.
   369. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5593736)
That's too bad. Spurs had looked much better in the second half.
   370. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5593737)
Man, DeBruyne is so ####### amazing.
   371. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:04 PM (#5593738)
Dele Alli is a dirty player, I don't understand how anyone could argue that.
   372. jmurph Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:07 PM (#5593739)
Dele Alli is a dirty player, I don't understand how anyone could argue that.

As is Kane. He's the king of immediately scything down the opponent if he turns the ball over.
   373. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5593741)
God Harry Winks is so bad.
   374. Mefisto Posted: December 16, 2017 at 02:27 PM (#5593748)
Embarrassing for Spurs all around. Totally dominated and some awful tackles. It actually makes you appreciate United's performance last week.

They should just give City the rest of the season off and let everyone else fight it out for 2d.
   375. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 16, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5593817)
From MCoA:

That's a Paddlin'

3.3 v .03 xG
   376. Sean Forman Posted: December 22, 2017 at 04:08 PM (#5596988)
Wow, Arsenal-Liverpool
   377. JuanGone..except1game Posted: December 22, 2017 at 04:20 PM (#5596991)
This is literally the definition of "a game opening up". Insanity.
   378. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 22, 2017 at 04:43 PM (#5596996)
That was pretty much what you would expect an Arsenal-Liverpool game to be.
   379. Mefisto Posted: December 22, 2017 at 06:47 PM (#5597021)
Great game. If LFC had a defense, they'd be right up there with City.
   380. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 26, 2017 at 08:13 AM (#5597443)
And there you go ... One-Season-Wonder Harry Kane ... Europe's Top Scorer in 2017!
   381. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: December 26, 2017 at 08:56 AM (#5597448)
Ho hum ... another hat-trick for Harry


Sky Sports Statto

@SkySportsStatto

@premierleague hat-tricks in 2017:

6 - @HKane
1 - @aguerosergiokun
1 - Josh King
1 - @RomeluLukaku9
1 - @AlvaroMorata
1 - @WayneRooney
1 - @CallumWilson
6:03 AM - Dec 26, 2017
   382. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 26, 2017 at 10:03 AM (#5597456)
That's a lot of goals, Harry. If Spurs shock the world and win the CL Kane will win a Ballon D'or next year. All that's left for him is some kind of team success.
   383. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 26, 2017 at 10:45 AM (#5597463)
That Man City game was sobering for Spurs, but I think they can win the CL if everyone's healthy. The top teams besides Man City all have shown cracks in the armor this year. I think this is true for all 5 of the English teams (with varying levels of likelihood), and several of the other teams as well. I really feel like this is the most wide open I've seen the Champion's League.
   384. I am going to be Frank Posted: December 26, 2017 at 11:13 AM (#5597467)
United are down 2-0 to Burnley at Old Trafford.

Lingard scores on a nice flick.
   385. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 26, 2017 at 11:20 AM (#5597470)
This Burnley/Man U game is electric. I love games like this
   386. I am going to be Frank Posted: December 26, 2017 at 11:51 AM (#5597481)
I've always liked Luke Shaw. I hope he can get back on Mourinho's good side and get into the team.

Lingard ties it up. Scrappy to say the least.
   387. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 26, 2017 at 01:48 PM (#5597510)
What do people think about Firmino?

He's quite good, but I wonder if he's enough of a goal scorer to really playing striker for a team that wants silverware. He seems like he can be pretty wasteful of chances. He seems to be averaging around 11-12 goals/season in the league. For the center forward on an all-offense team, that seems low to me.

I wonder if he's better in a Son type role of super-sub and backup striker.
   388. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 26, 2017 at 03:08 PM (#5597530)
Mourinho complaining about his budget. So it begins...
   389. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 27, 2017 at 09:59 AM (#5597709)
Wenger hands Jose a hankie to dry his eyes.

My favorite part is Wenger saying he doesn't complain when all he does is complain about it. In fact, he's complaining in the very act of not asserting his not complaining! Is there a hip word for that like "humblebrag", when you complain about something by emphasizing you don't complain?
   390. Mefisto Posted: December 27, 2017 at 01:32 PM (#5597821)
I guess LFC really want to improve that defense. I'm not sure paying 75 million for van Dijk is the right way to do that, but I guess we'll see.
   391. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 27, 2017 at 01:57 PM (#5597846)
How is Mourinho supposed to compete with money bags LFC?
   392. Mefisto Posted: December 27, 2017 at 08:34 PM (#5597945)
Yedlin's reputation as a speedster seems pretty well established. Even Sterling didn't try to beat him for pace.
   393. The Marksist Posted: December 27, 2017 at 09:59 PM (#5597962)
I think he's better that his goals record, and super important to the way that front 3/4/6 play. In a vacuum, sure, he doesn't score enough to be the #9 for a title winning team. But if they can get goals from the wings through Salah and Mane, I don't think you need him to score a ton. Of course, Salah is running super hot right now, but Mane is running cold, and between the two of them (plus Coutinho this year and Keita next) I think it works.

Would also help if City weren't (maybe) historically great.
   394. J. Sosa Posted: December 28, 2017 at 03:00 PM (#5598178)
Firmino to me, remains underrated. In Klopp's system his job is to drag defenders and open space for players like Salah and Mane. It is the opposite of what I've always said about Sturridge, Sturridge doesn't fit the system. In isolation, was peak Sturridge a better player than peak Firmino? Sure, but he doesn't fit the system.

Firmino wears a lot of hats and is asked to play in an exceptionally unselfish manner. There aren't many strikers in the world capable (and willing) of leading a press, dragging defenders, and working channels to create space for teammates for limited reward. Salah's a very good player, but he isn't suddenly scoring goals in bunches by chance. For Klopp, the team/system is everything. He has always attempted to create space for runners, and he has always looked for players that can play his system, it interlocks, and it doesn't work as well without specific player types. There's a reason Mane has dropped off lately, I haven't looked at the stats, but I suspect that it is in no small part due to the Moreno injury. Moreno (as frustrating as he can be) was important to Mane, and to Klopp, Mane is not as effective without him. That, and Klopp may or may not be making a point about squaring a pass while also rotating the squad.
   395. The_Ex Posted: December 28, 2017 at 03:21 PM (#5598197)
I was listening to the double pivot pod today as they talked Mourinho. Although Mourinho complains about budget, which players have improved under Mou in the last 18 months? None of the defense, none of the players he bought. Rashford was already blossoming under Van Gaal. Lingard has been good but that might be a recency bias. Martial, Shaw, Mkhitaryan. Pogba is better this year than last, but is he better than he was in 2015/2016?
   396. The Marksist Posted: December 30, 2017 at 02:26 PM (#5598858)
Holy hell, Mo Salah.
   397. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 30, 2017 at 04:23 PM (#5598890)
Salah is playing out of his mind right now but is also an annoying example as a Tottenham fan of their own team. They really didn't go out and get the kind of depth they needed. Sanchez looks like he could be really good, even if he's not quite there yet. But they really needed one more attacking guy to rotate. They didn't get him, and Sissoko is bleeding points from the team. Also would really like to see them get a central mid but maybe that's really less of a problem when Wanyama comes back. He's not great, but he's pretty damn good defensively and is nice to have around when Dier is playing centerback and just for rotating players.
   398. Mefisto Posted: December 30, 2017 at 05:08 PM (#5598896)
Based on today's performance, it's be hard to identify any United player who has improved. It's striking how often they fail to execute. I mean, I don't expect Micki to be a great crosser of the ball -- that's not his role -- but he was awful. And that's not counting the ones blocked by the defense.

United also don't control the ball well. They give the ball away cheaply too many times, whether by making a poor pass or trying to over-dribble (Martial and Micki especially, but others too).

Yeah, they're dealing with significant injury problems, but they need something, whether a new coach or new players is hard for an outsider to say. But see my first sentence above.
   399. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 30, 2017 at 05:32 PM (#5598902)
Firmino really makes the front 4 hum, as Sosa said above he does a ton of work to help open up the defenses for the Mane/Salah runs, and he makes a lot of smart passes to create opportunities for the other attackers. Plus, 15 goals in 28 matches across all competitions is pretty solid work regardless. He's been everything that Liverpools asked for.

As for van Dijk, thank freakin' goodness, worth every pence. The centerbacks regularly make one howler a game, and Mingolet is usually good for one too. I wonder if they'll make a move for a keeper during this window too. I'd love to know what their finances look like, if they really can afford to get someone like Trapp or (much more unlikely but would be totally awesome) Donnarumma they're going to be so much more likely to stick in the top four. They have the firepower to match any other team in the world, and if the defense weren't so weak they'd have a punchers chance of a shock CL win.

Lastly, through 20 matches Man City has dropped 2 points. Total. And they don't look like they're slowing down. I would be entirely unsuprised if they pulled off a triple.
   400. Mefisto Posted: December 30, 2017 at 06:22 PM (#5598917)
The only thing I can see slowing City down is fatigue. Pep's teams generally wear down over the season and City probably will too. But I think their lead is big enough that it won't matter.
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