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2 September 2012 – Liverpool vs Arsenal

Final Score – Liverpool:0/Arsenal:2

31′- Podolski, 68′-Cazorla

 

This was definitely the match of the week as the Reds hosted the scoreless Gunners at Anfield. However, both teams were without a win and both eager to take one from the other. Brendan Rodgers obviously really wants this win to show the fans that his place on the fabled side was not a fluke. However, the experienced Arsene Wenger shows that, regardless of losing a top striker once again, will always look for the win and attempt to score. The signings for the Gunners rarely showed any life in the earlier games, while the signings for Liverpool looked to be of better prospect. With both teams desperately needing a win and both looking incomplete after the transfer window, the teams look to see if they can start the marathon regardless of the head start from teams like Swansea and West Brom.

For a general summary, I think that Liverpool should feel undeserving of the loss. With about more than two-thirds of the game played as good or better than Arsenal, the Reds will need to wonder about what to do. Without consistent scoring, its hard to see Liverpool ever seeing the top four again. Yes, some can argue that the winter transfer window will make the second half of the season much better, but needing to hold out for fifteen more games is a hassle. Arsenal, however, decided to finally find the back of the net, as counter attacks were finished off by the two new recruits of Wenger’s, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski. Liverpool failed to do the same, although had opportunities to do so. Luiz Suarez found himself in front of the goal multiple times without prevail, while Borini looked as if he didn’t know how to make a correct decision. Regardless, Liverpool found themselves playing some great football for most of the game, including the first 25 minutes of the game. Sadly, the momentum was killed by a pair of mistakes from Steven Gerrard, who had an uncharacteristically bad game. However, the defense was not sound enough on counter attacks to carry the weight of not scoring, as both goals came of a mistake from the attacking third. While every mistake didn’t result in a counter, the “mistake” part was a key word. Rarely did the attacks for Liverpool result into a shot, and if they did, they were usually off-target. The defense did well for the most part, as well as coming out of the back line. New signing Joe Allen continued his work of spectacular passing for Liverpool but without an answer from the forwards. Arsenal, however, would constantly find themselves in their defending third. However, Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker did a good enough job of keeping the line strong, as they were called on more than once to create a strong tackle. However, Arsenal scored with the few chances they had, opening their early league drought and keeping a clean sheet simultaneously. Some other notes for the teams

Liverpool- It seems like Steven Gerrard is having a tough time settling to new manager Brendan Rodgers’ set up. I would prefer him to sit out a game or two to recollect his head as they are in desperate need of his expertise. Sterling needs to be kept as a strength. The kid works hard and is always a threat to the goal, and well-deserving of his starting role. I do believe that Rodgers is going to through a bout of bad luck. Against Manchester City, the defense was under-par, while the opposite in this match. Of course, having both is the key to a great team but Rodgers needs to find a way to facilitate both. I know he can’t decide when his strikers have bad days, but knowing that attacking options are limited, regardless of two great goals against the reigning champs, I feel like a more defensive approach should be used for the next couple games. The game will rise out of the back, as the combonation of Joe Allen and aware Stevie will prove to be a strong tool for Borini and Suarez. The 4-3-3 is a strong attacking formation, but switching to a more option based formation may be ideal. Other than that, Nuri Sahin looks like he will be of use when he gets match ready, and Reina needs to look stronger. I know he is a hero of Liverpool’s, but after giving up two easy goals, I would suggest giving young ones a try again.

Arsenal- For some reason I do not remember Diaby ever being this powerful. His midfield presence was felt on a constant basis, as his quick decision making and speed gave trouble to the defensing Reds. More of Diaby like this and Arsenal can see top four finish, despite my predictions. Both center defenders did their job well enough, and the first goal for Lukas and Santi should only mean more from them later. Oliver Giroud had a tough game today, but looked deadly at some parts of his attack. The strength of the Arsenal attack was something of a sight, as the absence of Robin van Persie almost seemed as if it didn’t matter today, regardless of Santi Cazorla’s goal being of some keeper mistake. Santi, in general, was strong and commanding in the midfield. He always found space and constantly gained much ground per attack. Jenkinson, subbing for the injured Sagna, looks like he is still working on his bearing, but some strength was shown in parts of the match. Overall, the Arsenal side was never too commanding of the game, but did score when they needed to. To some, that is all that matters. But this is a short-term solution to the non-scoring issue, as stronger teams will not allow easy counter attacks like Liverpool did. Arsene may need to be a bit more clever in order to topple the stronger teams.

Overall, great match to watch. I am excited to see how Liverpool evolve and whether the Gunners will continue to score. Regardless of the negative things I have said about the team, the strength can take points away from all who aren’t wary.

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Euro 2012 – Poland vs Russia

As I said before, I am writing this late as I had things to do this morning. But I just got to half-time and its time for my tips for these teams.

Russia- Although Russia has a great attack and Dzagoev might end up being the Euro’s top goal scorer, but Arshavin needs to step up as an attacker if they are going to go past the Round of 8. Russia’s defense is shaky as in terms of skill but solid in terms of discipline. This trait has saved the Russians more than once already, including that awkward save by their keeper. Yuri Zhirkov is playing okay, and maybe it is because he used to play for Chelsea but I expect more from him. Mainly, Russia needs another goal more than better defense to hold them up.

Poland- I am semi-surprised at the strength of the Polish attack, even though they do possess the Dortmund Polish Three (as I call ’em). Lewandowski is such an phenom of a striker and Poland needs to find a way to get him even more looks at the net. I don’t want to leave the host side’s fate in one guy’s hands but he is truly a man of power. Hopefully Poland uses their creative side to move ahead, as I would like them too. Other than that, I think that their defense will be their downfall, as the discipline that Russia has isn’t there.

First place in Group A is by far the most important place to achieve in the group stages because no one wants to face the winner of Group B. It might be the deciding factor for the Group A winner to make the semi-finals.

Final Score- Poland:1/Russia:1

Dzagoev-37′, Blaszczykowski-57′

The tie in this match has made Group A a do or die. All four teams have the ability to move on, and everyone but Greece will move on with a win. Greece will need a win and a better goal differential, which is possible but tougher. As of now though, I will talk about this game.

Poland and Russia really duked it out today and the game was a really fun game to watch. I enjoy ties in group stages because it makes the whole group more interesting. The game was well paced and back and forth. Poland came out stronger in the second half with a beautiful build up and goal from the Polish side in the 57′ minute. Russia still looked dangerous, but arguebly not as dangerous as the first half or even the Czech Rep. game. The Polish defense was stronger in this half as they needed to be, and the strength of Poland’s offense came through. I will talk about why this was a tie, and what these teams need to get out of this group stage.

Russia- Lost the lead on a well executed counter attack, and, let’s face it, a unstoppable shot. But this is the least of their worries as the strength of Russia is not doing was Russia has the most of, which is strong attackers. I believe that Russia needs to go all offensive against the Greeks. Czech do not really have a strong attack or defense, but I would be worried about counter attacks. I also think having an Arshavin-Pavlyuchenko-Dzagoev line up top will do wonders for them, but I have a soft spot for Roman since 2008. Playing a 4-3-3 against Greece will work if you force them to attack in small numbers and make sure you have the ball +60% of the time. If and only if. Another thing to take note is that Russia will move on with another tie, and are also in the best spot for winning the group, both can be used to their advantage. Although I believe the Polish are the strongest side in this Group, with the addition of home field, Russia seems like they will take group A.

Poland- Who I believe was the stronger side, Poland looks like they have all the ideals of a good team without the execution 100% of the time. That counter attack that gave them the equalizer in the 57’th was spot on and flawless, and if they can find a way to replicate this on a more consistent level, then this team will be much more deadly. Defense is still okay, sadly I think it will be their downfall in this tournament. I do believe that I will see them on the opposite side of the group stages, but it will be something special to go any further. Poland will need to play a strong attacking  formation against the Czech, and making sure that the Czech do not get far into their half will make for a sure win.

 

I’m sorry for the late write-up, I had a couple things to do. But I will try to do a pre-game analysis before Group B’s games as I know these teams very well.

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