Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Norwich 1-0 Arsenal

Posted: October 24, 2012 by Pranoy Biswas in Football
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An intense game ended in disappointment for the Gunners. Grant Holt’s goal from the rebound was enough as the Canaries put on a battling display to hold out Arsenal.

Formations and lineups

Norwich started with a 4-4-1-1 with Wes Hoolahan in behind Grant Holt. Arsenal named their usual lineup with Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker in place of the injured Kieron Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny.

Norwich Tactics

The Canaries started brightly and pressed the Arsenal midfield forcing them into errors and conceding possession. Once the ball was won their passing was quick and direct and launched fast counters, although they were dealt with comfortably by the Gunner’s defence.

Norwich’s industry bore fruit when Grant Holt netted in the rebound on the 19th minute after a long range shot. Andre Santos was guilty of staying behind the line and rendering the offside trap useless which allowed the advantage Holt needed to outrun Mertesacker. It’s become a common trend to witness full-backs in a wayward position undermining the offside trap.

After the goal, Norwich camped in their own half with Hoolahan dropping deep and making the Canaries shape more like a 4-5-1 with Holt on his own. They were careful though of not giving the Arsenal midfield maestros any time on the ball. They accomplished this by staying deep and only pressing the midfield when they reached an advanced position.

Arsenal’s response

With space so limited in the middle, the play was spread wide and the only way Arsenal tried to pierce through the  Norwich defence were through crosses with Oliver Giroud the favourite target. This didn’t work as the French striker was usually well marked by the centre-backs and his influence upon the game was minimal.

One way to unlock such teams are for the midfielders to provide driving runs from deep. The player we missed most in this game wasn’t RVP, it was Diaby, someone whose powerful runs are vital for the team.

Santi Cazorla, the man entrusted with the responsibility of providing creativity, was mostly too deep in search of possession and the intense pressing from the opponents meant he couldn’t get forward enough to provide through balls or try his accurate long range shots.

Arsene Wenger brought on Oxlade-Chamberlain in place of Podolski who had an average game to provide more pace in Arsenal’s play. This move did not work as The Ox hobbled off to be replaced by Arshavin. It was too much expect from the Russian, who hasn’t started many games and thrust right into such an intense midfield battle and he didn’t influence the game much.

Apart from a late long-range strike from Arteta, Arsenal did not have many attempts on goal and Norwich held on comfortably to register a creditable win


While the goal can be forgiven, Arsenal’s lack of penetration and their slow build-up play contributed to a very frustrating display. This is the third game this season where the Gunners have been shunted out by a deep-lying defence and their lack of ability to withstand heavy pressure in the midfield was particularly worrying. It’s still early in the season and the defence looked largely comfortable against the quick Norwich counters. A solid defence is always a good foundation to build a season on.


The RVP Transfer Saga

Posted: July 18, 2012 by The Death of a Clown in Football
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Here’s our guest writer, Karthik Bharadwaj, an Arsenal fan at heart giving us his take on the Van Persie story. Unedited, uncut.

Well, to begin with it came as a surprise for Arsenal fans like me to see RvP in the lineup week – in week – out. His performance was directly proportional to the percentage of days he spent on the treatment table.

Steadily came the goals and assists we were all so eagerly anticipating from the Dutchman who we visualized as the next Bergkamp.

His stats read like this: 279 apps, 132 goals, 63 assists.

So it seems a good enough contribution from a faux nine corresponding to the number of games he played. But the stats can be called ordinary by somewhat means when you consider the number of years he has been at Arsenal. He signed way back at the start of the 04/05 season i.e. 8 seasons ago.  279 apps in 8 seasons doesn’t show positive signs. “Glass limbs” was his alias.

He was signed as a part of the youth experiment by Wenger in the same year which also saw Cesc come to London. Initially his behavior as described by a daily was “21 going on 9”. Steadily AW and the club moulded him into such a wonderful player.

For a club which stood by him at his hardest of times when he was forced out of play with recurring injuries he has just turned his back on it. The manager showed faith in him by rewarding a new contract when his old one was about to expire and he was still on the treatment table. The previous season has been his personal best which saw him injury free. Other seasons his performances were nothing to boast about.

Character wise he isn’t as good as he seems. Feuds with Bert van Marwijk in his Feyenoord days haven’t gone unnoticed. Rape allegations followed up in 2006 which landed him in prison under suspicion. Those allegations even though were proven false he later admitted to have consensual sex with the complainant. The image of the club got tarnished with these acts but still the club had faith and backed him every time.

The manager handed him the Captains armband after the expected departure of Cesc. He proved to be the perfect choice for being named captain by coming up with stellar performances and led from the front. The 2011 – 2012 season shall always be remembered for RvP single handedly performing consistently for the Gunners. But that was just 1 season. I repeat just one.

The youth project might have been unsuccessful in terms of trophies won but there were some real moments to cherish. RvP himself being a part of the project from the start should have shouldered the burden of expectations from the fans. Instead he releases a statement on his website stating his disinterest from extending beyond his current contract. This act of immaturity by a player of such high caliber was totally unexpected. The statement virtually kills the negotiating power of the club and also acts as an indirect transfer request. Openly stating his disagreements with the future plans of the club he has shown his uglier side. No player is bigger than the club and he is no exception. Hopefully he is sold as soon as possible.

I didn’t want to say it but still “Shame on you,Captain!!”

P.S: Don’t blame us, we tried to stop him. We’re nice people that way.

Euro 2012: Final Round of Group Stage

Posted: June 16, 2012 by Pranoy Biswas in Football
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With the final round of the group stage fixtures commencing tonight, we unemployed folks at TDOAC give you a round-up of what to expect.

Just one game remaining in the group stage for all the teams in Euro 2012, and there’s a high probability of teams ending up with the same number of points, here is tie-breaking criteria used by UEFA.

Basically it means that head-to-head record is preferred to goal-difference which opens up a pandora’s box of complicated permutations, generating employment to useless mathematicians like me.

Group A: Group of teams with complicated player names

As it stands: Russia lead Group A with 4 points, a point ahead of Czech Republic, while Poland hang on in third with 2 points and Greece languish at the bottom with 1.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Russia 2 1 1 0 5 2 +3 4
Czech Republic 2 1 0 1 3 5 −2 3
Poland 2 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Greece 2 0 1 1 2 3 −1 1

Final round fixtures:

  • Russia vs Greece
  • Czech Rep vs Poland

Russia: Russia just need a point against the hapless Greeks to qualify for the quarter finals, with a win assuring them of the top spot. A loss to the Greeks could see them finishing third in the group and thus out of the tournament.

Czech Republic: The Czechs hold the edge in their virtual playoff with Poland being a pont ahead of them, and would need to hold them to a draw to qualify.

Poland: Poland would have to go all guns blazing against the Czechs to have any hope of reaching the quarter-finals. This combined with the shaky Czech defence and a promising Polish attack sets up a spicy encounter.

Greece: They face the mighty task of beating the Russians in their final group game. With an aging defence and a blunt attack it looks highly unlikely that the 2004 champions will qualify for the next round.

TDOAC prediction: Russia to finish on top, with Poland pipping Czech republic to finish second

Group B: Group of Death (of a clown?)

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Germany 2 2 0 0 3 1 +2 6
Portugal 2 1 0 1 3 3 0 3
Denmark 2 1 0 1 3 3 0 3
Netherlands 2 0 0 2 1 3 −2 0

As it stands: The Group of Death sees Germany on top and well ahead with 6 points, Portugal and Denmark with 3, and World Cup runners-up Netherlands surprisingly at the bottom with no points.

Final Round fixtures:

  • Germany vs Denmark
  • Portugal vs Netherlands

Germany: Germany are nearly there needing just a point against Denmark to assure them of the top spot.

Portugal: Portugal would look to sit back in their important clash against the Dutch on the 17th of June with a point enough to see them qualify, if Denmark do not win their match against Germany.

Denmark: If Nicklas Bendtner summons all his Paddy Power <link> and is able to inspire his team to cause one of the upsets of the tournament, then it could open up a 3 way head to head battle between them and Portugal, i.e if Portugal defeat the Netherlands.

Netherlands: The loss to arch-rivals Germany has left Bert Marwadi..oops Marwijk’s team in a mighty conundrum at the bottom of the group. They need to beat Portugal by a difference of 2 or more goals and hope that Germany defeat the Danes.

TDOAC prediction: Germany being Germany will go through, and a surprise in Holland going through with Cristiano Ronaldo shedding loads of tears.

Group C: Group of trolling Italy

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Spain 2 1 1 0 5 1 +4 4
Croatia 2 1 1 0 4 2 +2 4
Italy 2 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Republic of Ireland 2 0 0 2 1 7 −6 0

Final Round fixtures:

  • Spain vs Croatia
  • Italy vs Ireland

Spain: The reigning champions will top their group if they manage to defeat Croatia in their final group game.

Croatia: Croatia would hope to get something against the mighty Spanish or hope that Italy fail to win against the Irish.

Italy: The head-to-head rules open up a new worry for the Italians in that a 2-2 (or a higher-scoring) draw between Spain and Croatia will result both of them qualifying to the quarter-finals and dump Italy out of the tournament regardless of whatever result they achieve against the Irish. This echoes memories of Euro 2004 where they finished third in their group inspite of scoring 5 points.

Ireland: Ireland are out, and Giovanni Trappatoni would look to put on a good showing infront of his home nation (Incidentally Trappatoni was the manager during their Euro 04 debacle)

TDOAC prediction: Spain won’t be a cunt and would swiftly defeat Croatia, Italy to finish second.

Group D: Group of long-balls and crosses and France.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
France 2 1 1 0 3 1 +2 4
England 2 1 1 0 4 3 +1 4
Ukraine 2 1 0 1 2 3 −1 3
Sweden 2 0 0 2 3 5 −2 0

Final Round fixtures:

  • England vs Ukraine
  • France vs Sweden

France: France need a point to be safe of their place in the quarter finals. With the swift defeat of Ukraine stretching their unbeaten run to 23 matches, France are emerging as real contenders to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

England: Roy Hodgson’s team face Ukraine in a virtual ‘pre-quarterfinal’. A draw would assure them of qualification although they would need to improve the faltering defence which was easily probed by the Swedes

Ukraine: Buoyed by the support of the home crowd, Ukraine need to win against England. A draw against England won’t be good enough, even if France lose against Sweden, because of their 2-0 loss to France which would see them finish lower than the French because of the head-to-head record.

Sweden: Sweden have been very disappointing and are out of the tournament. Suck on that Ibrahimovic.

TDOAC Prediction: France to finish on top, along with England who wouldn’t fuck up, reserving that for the quarter-finals as usual.

Who do you feel will go through to the quarter-finals? Please post on the comments section below.

Europa League Final: Review

Posted: May 17, 2012 by Pranoy Biswas in Football
Tags: , ,

A masterclass from Falcao along with a sublime goal from Diego towards the end were enough to crush Bilbao’s dreams of winning their maiden European trophy.

Rarely has there been such a heavy bias for a team among the neutrals in a Europa league final, last time this happened, Atletico were also the winners, winning 2-1 (AET) against Fulham, which incidentally was also the last time someone cared of watching the Europa League.

Atletico started in the 4-2-3-1, initially pressing Bilbao’s back four when they had the ball, especially the centre-backs Javi Martinez and Amorebieta, who passed among themselves so much as if they were vying to be on the Barcelona team. As the game moved on, Atletico retreated, although pressing when the ball came in to the Bilbao midfield to deny them time and space. The animated Atletico manager, Diego Simeone was constantly reminding his team to keep up this pressure.

Bilbao started in their favoured 4-3-3 with Itturaspe deep in midfield, Munain on the left of the attacking three, and Fernando Llorente leading the line. Munain kept coming deep in search of the ball and served as a usefull outball for the under-pressure Bilbao defenders. With the midfield unable to function due to the constant pressure, Llorente was isolated and rarely featured in the game.

The real star of the final ofcourse was Falcao, who has been once again in a superb run of form coming into the Europa league final. He was highly tipped to score in this match, having scored in the recent two meetings between the two sides. Falcao was the star of last year’s Europa final too with his well timed header helping Andre Villas-Boas’s Porto win 1-0 against Benfica.

His movement was terrific, making well timed runs into the channels, which resulted into his marvellous first goal. It was a treat to watch Falcao, exhibiting calmness and composure in the final third and gave Amorebieta a hard time. Amorebieta was also at fault He was also at fault for the second goal when he was caught dabbling on the ball.

At 2-0 up, they could now sit deeper and keep things organised, with Gabi and Mario Suarez doing well to disrupt Bilbao attacks and keeping them out of the final third. Marcelo Bielsa bought on fan-favourite Toquero for Ander Herrera to add an extra striker but Bilbao rarely created much in the final third with Godin keeping Llorente quiet.

Toquero is like Bilbao’s version of Eboue

It was a sad night for Bielsa fans like me, Bilbao have played some entertaining football this season, but they lacked the mentality and experience for a final. Their passes were erratic and were exposed on the counter by a brilliant Atletico Madrid team. Hopefully they would learn from this game and put in a better performance against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final. Diego Simeone should be commended for a perfect gameplan executed ruthlessly and brillaintly with commendable performances from Suarez, Diego and ofcourse Falcao.