FIFA Confederation Cup: Why Am I Here?

Should the FIFA Confederation Cup be played the summer before the World Cup? We are currently getting through yet another tournament that takes away recovery time for players. This tournament bids the six different regional champs along with the current World Cup champ and hosts against each other. Got that champ? There’s gonna be a champ here. I admit I’ve seen a few matches. My favorite match so far has been today’s Germany versus Chile match. 

I don’t think the matches have necessarily been great, but we have gotten hilarious moments that will live on. Mada-fucker anyone? The last time I laughed that hard during a football match was when Louis Van Gaal fell to the floor to emphasize his point to the ref. And here I thought I was going to take a break from football… 

Who am I kidding? I look for Arsenal ttansfer news everyday… Back to my main point, it does seem like overkill that some of the players in this tournament came in with 40+ games under their belt last season. Alexis has played blank and players like Marquez and Mustafi suffered injuries throughout the season. Add three more guaranteed games to that count and all the time spent traveling. That’s time that could be used on a vacation or recovering from wear and tear. Footballers are people like the rest of us, rich, but still people. We all need a break from whatever the hell we do as well! 

I get champs must compete against champs to be the best. However, what’s in it for the winners of this tournament? A trophy and… 

See you folks Monday!

FA Cup Winners, not losers (Chelsea)

Arsenal denied Chelsea the pleasure of completing the double. Double the pleasure wasn’t to be for Chelsea, but to say us Arsenal fans had half the pleasure is just wrong. It was a performance that pinged out assurances that the Arsenal machine was going to give its update a run for its money. 

The club should get new players and move on those who aren’t needed. The club should also give those youngsters on the cusp of a first team breakthrough a more relaxed opportunity to play. The club should not use the League Cup to give youngsters minutes. Afterall, it’s another cup English teams have to play for. Can we really be picky about silverware at this stage? The club should break its wage structure to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Speaking as a fan of the club, all I want to see is a winning effort being made to keep these two. I will not talk ill of Arsenal’s ability to keep world class players if one or both move on, as long as the effort being made uses all the resources allocated to the cause. It has to be less of an Arsenal effort and one more on par with the other top teams in Europe. 

It pains me to say this, but maybe Arsenal should ease the burden on those essential players who always end up getting hurt. Have them compete with other class players for their spot. On that note, I want all of us to take a moment and daydream about Mertesacker blocking the rain for us and intercepting on our behalf to bring the club another dash of sunshine in the form of an FA Cup. 

His performance was truly inspirational. One would not know that he spent over a year on the sidelines based on the cup final performance alone. I also want to give a shout out to Rob Holding for not falling victim to Diego Costa’s shenannigans. It was hilarious to see him smile over the fuss Costa was putting up. He also put in a mature performance that deserves recognition. Cannavaro who? Ramsey should always play finals. It was interesting to see Mezut drop back a line and play as a central midfielder of sorts. 

P.S. Excuse my shitty attempts at being clever!

#SomosManchester 

I had to stop reading news about the Manchester attack today when it hit me that children were casualties. To quote my friend, “everyone was someone’s child.” I’m a child of someone and chances are so are you, yes, this even includes lab babies and machines. It was a sickening feeling that I carried the rest of the day. Children and teens make up youth that should be nurtured and supported. The next generation isn’t lazy or stupid, they are adaptable and hard working humans that are expected to thrive in a faster paced world that’s constantly disrupted. 

My thoughts are with Manchester. Hopefully, the victims are allowed to heal and grieve. I know the Europa League final will hold extra meaning tomorrow if Manchester United win. They will have the extra strength of the Manchester people behind them. They were wounded, but not discouraged from continuing to be human. Humans are capable of doing great things that are matched by terrible things. Humans come together in time of need. Humans give me hope.

I will stop here. I apologize if this post seems rambly. Expressing out my thoughts and feelings seemed like a healthy thing to do.

What Paper Bag?

I read about the recent comment Tony Adams made about Arsene Wenger. It did not sit well with me at all! I’ll be the first to admit I want Wenger out. Arsenal is due for a change in regime infused with new ideas and truckloads of money. Going back to Adams, upon reading his comment, retorts of his team being relegated came to mind. Does he know he’s in the bag? Does he know Granada got relegated? How’s his Spanish? Can you point us to the Spanish second division. Okay, I’ll stop! I do want answers to my questions though.

Arsene is a person I admire a lot in the footballing world. I sometimes think about how wonderful it would be to share a glass of wine with him or sit in a lecture where he’s the professor. I’ve felt strongly over him finally leaving Arsenal this season, but that feeling took three years to build. I’m ready to embrace what lays ahead for my favorite team. I will never stop following Arsenal. Through February collapses and FA Cup triumphs I will be here looking on.

I apologize for this being a day late…

Arsenal of Feeling 2

Arsenal. One word that brings so much out of me if I even catch a whiff of it blowing in cold winter air or that rainy spring funk right before summer. I want to continue on from my post last Wednesday. Thierry Henry left and Fabregas took up the mantle of being that exciting player we all wanted to see on the lineup each and every game. It was a lot to put on the shoulders of a teenager, but the incisive passes he produced are memories that reaffirm why younger me fell in live with this team. It was part part passing and part idealism of playing with youth. Who doesn’t believe in the concept of utilizing your own youth academy with young prospects to bolster the team? No sugar daddy came to our rescue. It was a youthful idealism matched by my own youthful reassurance that I knew what was best for the world.

Arsenal. You and I played on throughout the years. I was there for you through some humiliating losses and you were there for me every weekend morning. We completed each other in a very dependent day that was borderline vice if not for how healthy you were to end the week with. That’s why it tickles my wrong bone to admit that sometimes I’m just not excited by you anymore. We have fallen into a rut. The foreplay needs work and the same moves just don’t cut it anymore. It’s not because the moves are bad, it’s just the context around those moves has changed. Early on this season, the game against Swansea was a reminder of the Arsenal I had first fallen in love with followed by a taste of who she had become. The passing and movement in that game hit me with the nostalgic wand so hard my seat wasn’t enough to contain me, but then the defense conceded again and again. It was the same issue against Bayern. Oh captain, when you’re gone the boat gets torpedoed to shreds.

Arsenal. I have no doubt you will defeat Chelsea and bring back another FA Cup. I will be watching. The past few dates have been a mix of duds, effort and a different mentality to the bedroom. It might not be a well, but the faucet is back on. We have our issues but leaving is never an option. I will be there, eyes glued to screen, hand on the badge of my jersey, as the final flows on.

Arsenal of Feelings

Arsenal. This name alone encapsulates so many feelings inside of me that I didn’t think I had. One can almost call it an arsenal of feelings, if not for the fact that the feelings are being inflicted on me and not vice-versa. When I first started to seriously pay attention to football after 2002 World Cup, the world was playground. I watched televised matches and highlights of European, Asian, South American and North American leagues. You can also add international matches to that piling list of educational material. I even recall attending a Real Madrid friendly match at some point. 

Arsenal. It all started in 2006 when I started taking in more Arsenal related content, whether through games or highlights, television or internet, and decided they were alright. The heartbreak of that Champions League final loss to Barcelona is something that still hurts me. I have never forgiven Barcelona for that loss of any of the other Round of 16 losses in the Champions League. Keep in mind that from 2002-2006 I was a young kid so my memory is fuzzy. Memory is full of biases and later influenced which distort what really happened during the memories you’re trying to recall. One thing that is clear, though, is that Arsenal had won my heart by the end of that season. 

Arsenal. The 2006 World Cup happened the summer after that final loss. It was a tournament that further increased my thirst for football. We all heard the head butt heard around the world, but that final’s focus was all about Thierry Henry for me. His last two years at Arsenal and his comeback against Leeds are the memories I have of him in the yellow, red and white colors. I can’t claim to have been the recipient of multiple generations of my family loving Arsenal. I still get asked why I support an English team when I’m not even English. We can thank globalization for that. 

Alright, I’m fighting a cold at the moment. I’ll try my best to have something up on Friday. Thanks. 

Chelsea 3 – Middlesbrough 0

Venue: Stanford Bridge

Why?: Boro getting relegated, Chelsea keeping lead over Spurs

Player Analysis

  1. Fabio – was always pushing up the field to help Boro on the attack,but he got caught marking the back of Alonso for Chelsea’s second goal in the 34th minute. According to StatsZone, 9/46 passes were in the attacking third. 7/9 of those attacking third passes were successful or 78%. He also created one chance and had 2/3 successful take ons. What’s interesting is that he only attempted one long pass and two crosses,without success. In a position based system, where his defensive shortcomings could be covered, he would be important in maintaining position for a team that plays in their opponents half. The reason being that 45/46 passes were short. This shows he keeps the ball moving while penetrating forward within the attacking third. His back should have been to his own goal as he attempted to mark Alonso as opposed to his back facing the Chelsea attack. Was he joining the Chelsea attack? I also noticed him get caught of position during the second half which forced him to rush back to his defense. 
  2. Alonso – was also pushing up the field to give Chelsea not only an extra man in attack, but his penetrating runs to the left post have them another passing land. Those runs made possible his four attempts in goal. 2/4 attempts or 50% were on target and one was blocked which shows his proficiency in front of the goal today. StatZone also has 3/4 of those shots inside the penalty area which reinforces how close those diagonal runs were to the left post. Another interesting stat is that all four of his shots were with his left foot, and to me, it seemed like Chelsea was more dominant on the left side of the field. The stats also show he received the ball 33 times. Just like Fabio he had 2/3 successful take ons and 12/43 passes were in the attacking third. A 28% conversion over Fabio’s 20% gives him the edge. The only attacking blip is that he failed to put in any crosses. Even with this last stat, it’s hard to nitpicky because he was a threat all match. Put this man up front!

Match Summary

It was a match Chelsea dominated by employing a high line that passed its way into the Boro goal by playing on their side. This game clearly showed that these Chelsea players can not only interchange positions, but that they also move up the pitch to spread defenses into opening up space. Fabregas was the architect who dictated what direction the attack would build and was their to receive the ball when it needed to be circulated once again to continue the attack. It’s fascinating how mechanical this team is and the FA Cup final against a newly employed Arsenal back three will be something to see.
Extra

Legs open, legs closed? That was the question of the match as Brad Guzan ate up there goals, with two going between his legs.

Clap, clap, clap your hands was the topic on hand as the Chelsea owner went from a 1st half yawn to happily clapping during the dying minutes of this match. Conte was also in a clapping mode towards the end of the second half.

John Terry made an appearance!