Into the top ten we go! And to start the top ten, it’s the oldest side on this list, the superb Scudetto-winning Roma side of nine years ago. Roma played wonderful football, had a XI packed with really likeable, talented players, and a manager (Fabio Capello) who consistently got his tactics spot on. And it was the best side in the final season Channel 4 showed live games on Football Italia. Read more »
John Obi Mikel always starts against Arsenal – despite not always being a fixture in the first team, he has started home and away against Arsene Wenger’s side both this season and last.
He’s a tremendous physical presence in front of the back four, he reads the game well, he keeps possession and passes calmly, he’s dominant in the air (vital for a holding midfield player) and he’s really improved his discipline over the past eighteen months or so. Read more »
How do Roma do it? This was their third consecutive victory, and all three have featured late, late goals that grabbed points the Giallorossi probably didn’t deserve on the balance of play. After a Riise goal won the game at Juventus and an Okaka goal grabbed them three points against Siena, Mirko Vucinic popped up on 82 minutes here to slam the ball in off the crossbar, and Roma had a win they scarcely deserved. Read more »
It’s been the story of the last three or four seasons in Arsenal v Chelsea clashes – a difference in physique. Didier Drogba has long had the measure of the Arsenal defence, seemingly regardless of which centre-backs he’s up against, but all over the pitch Chelsea tower over Arsenal.
Games between well-matched sides often comes down to set-pieces, and so it proved today. The first corner of the game, after eight minutes, saw John Terry win the ball in the air, and flick it towards Drogba, who scored at the far post. It may not have been Terry’s height per se that meant he won the ball, but the difference stature is remarkable. Read more »
This graph shows the number of different clubs who won the top division in the last decade – the 1999/2000 champions, right through to the 2008/09 champions.
You wouldn’t want to judge a league’s entertainment value solely based upon the number of sides who have won the league in the past ten seasons, but this would suggest the Premiership was the most predictable major league in Europe throughout the decade.
The fact that the Premiership is a ‘closed shop’ far from a revelation – but to see it trailing to Spain, Italy and Germany does put it in perspective. Read more »
The Ivory Coast will go into this year’s World Cup as ninth- favourites, the shortest-priced African side to ever go into a World Cup tournament. They play a fairly standard 4-3-3 system, with two wingers happy to rotate, attacking full-backs, and a solid, physical midfield. Read more »
Gael Clichy’s form over the past 18 months has been a real cause for concern for Arsenal fans. When Ashley Cole left for Chelsea in 2006, the consensus amongst Gooners was that Arsenal hadn’t done too badly, because Clichy stepped into the first team and was playing consistently well. And indeed, better than Cole was playing for Chelsea. But Cole’s return to world-class status seems to have coincided with Gael Clichy’s downfall. He had a poor 2008/09 and hasn’t played much better this season. Read more »
After the whole John Terry / Wayne Bridge / Vanessa Perroncel storm of last week, this was exactly what the current England captain needed. Chelsea didn’t play well at Turf Moor, and it was a poor game overall, but Terry turned in a terrific performance.
In a way, it was precisely the kind of game Terry would have wanted – scrappy, low-key, and against a side which would cause him many problems defensively. Read more »
After Arsenal’s 1-2 defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season, Arsene Wenger made a point of singling out Darren Fletcher for criticism:
“There are other points that, for me, are more urgent – players who play only to make fouls, who make repeated fouls and are never punished. They get out of the game without a yellow card, but I think it is more anti-football than a player who did what Eduardo did (dived to win a penalty against Celtic). Read more »
It’s one thing to go out, play to your manager’s orders and get results. It’s an entirely separate thing to go out and score great goals.
And when those two come together, you have perfect football. This doesn’t happen too often – playing to your manager’s orders is often associated with defensive, negative football – the term “X came with a gameplan” has been used in the past few years as a euphemism for “X played for a draw and didn’t look to score themselves”. And great goals are often moments of individual brilliance – a mazy run ending in a fine finish, or a powerful shot from miles out that deceives the goalkeeper and goes in. Read more »