Thursday, November 8, 2012
Have a look at this brilliant video titled the Golden Age of Passing, highlighting the best passes made during Match Day 3 of the Europa League. Particularly interesting was the deft touches made by Sammy Ameobi who had a stellar performance against Club Brugge.
Ameobi's performance did not go unnoticed as Pardew envisioned a big future for Shola's younger brother.
Ameobi's performance did not go unnoticed as Pardew envisioned a big future for Shola's younger brother.
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 3:36 PM
Chiek Tiote is the top passing player on Match Day 3 of the Europa League. Newcastle won 1-0 against Club Brugge. Pavel Horvath is still doing the business at the age of 37. How would they fare on Match Day 4?
Western Union unveils new education initiative around UEFA Europa League to deliver one million schooldays where they will turn every pass completed in the Europa League into funding to provide one day's education to young people around the world. This is the PASS initiative led by former French and Arsenal star, Patrick Vieira.
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 3:14 PM
A nice way to get excited over the upcoming Anzhi Makhachkala v. Liverpool Europa League match tonight, eh? Can the Reds' second stringers show resolve and determination against a strong Anzhi side? The Reds outpassed the millionaire Russians at Anfield, will it be the same at the Khazar Stadium?
Europa League and Western Union have launched their new PASS Initiative – where every pass in the Europa League equals a day of school for kids around the world. www.wu-pass.org
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 2:54 PM
Monday, October 29, 2012
At Liverpool, Andy Carroll had to adapt his playing style. Then again, at Newcastle, Dalglish had been favoring a classic no. 9 already so the signing of Carroll for Liverpool should not surprise many last year. What was more disappointing was the lack of service for Carroll especially when Dalglish also bought Downing and Enrique to lay bombs on Carroll's head. For me, Carroll was not a flop at Liverpool, the supporting cast of Downing and Enrique let him down badly.
The move to West Ham, where Sam Allardyce plays the football that Andy craves, could not come at an opportune time. Andy Carroll scored arguably the best goal in the Euros and he proved that when it comes to heading the ball, he has no peers in the Premier League.
What an utterly breathtaking game between Liverpool and Everton over the weekend! Without the usual red cards and farcical refereeing decisions, it was refreshing to watch a Derby Day match where football actually took center stage.
Pundits are arguing that there was little technical quality in the game, but it did not matter one bit to me. The match had everything in it, pressure was high, the pace and tempo were ridiculously furious and Luis Suarez once more showed just why he is THE most electrifying footballer in the Barclays Premier League today.
Sure, El Pistolero may not be everyone's idea of a clinical striker but hey, there is no other player I would have on my side. He has the "samba-like" skills (just watching his numerous nutmegs on defenders), the unpredictability, frighteningly high energy and unquestioned workrate that no other player can compete against. To have scored six goals in a Liverpool side in which he fights ALONE every weekend against FOUR tough opposing defenders is a remarkable feat.
It's a shame he could not get that last-minute game winning goal for the Reds.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 5:40 AM
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 5:24 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Instead of watching the Euro 2012 tournament, why not go hunting?
Via: Redneck Blinds
Via: Redneck Blinds
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 4:30 AM
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Andrey Arshavin has not had a good time in the English Premier League in the season that just ended. The Russian captain fell out of love with the Arsenal faithful and more crucially, with Arsene Wenger. In a bid to ensure top condition for Euro 2012, Arshavin returned to Zenit St. Petersburg for regular football. That proved important in his conditioning, allowing him to enter Euro 2012 at peak form.
Although there are many match winners in this Russia team (Alan Dzagoev is the much talked about player, Igor Akinfeev is a previous Manchester United target), Andrey Arshavin was always going to be the star man for Russia. He proved that in his performance against the Czech Republic with his two assists and excellent contribution.
He clearly looks back to his best, with complete focus in his eyes. That bodes well for both Advocaat and Russia in general. An enigmatic talent at worse, but an inspirational leader at his best, Arshavin should carry Russia far in this tournament.
Powered by their famed Dortmund trio, the co-hosts of Euro 2012 looked to be cruising after a powerful first half. Poland's midfield quintet of Kuba, Obraniak, Murawski, Polanski and Rybus were totally in control and gobbled up every mistake that Greece made in the first half. Greece and Fernando Santos looked shell shocked and simply had no answer against the swarming Polish players.
Poland could have scored three goals at least in the first half, such were their domination. The Greeks simply looked overwhelmed and every mistake in possession was pounced upon. Every Greek player, when in possession, was surrounded by three Poles, forcing mistakes after mistakes.
This swarming attacking offense provided Poland with the necessary deserved breakthrough as Robert Lewandowski kickstarted his Euro 2012 campaign, scoring with a simple header. He had narrowly missed some earlier chances so the highly rated Dortmund marksman looked elated to score the first goal of Euro 2012.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Reds had another season to forget.
- 37 points behind the title winners, Manchester City
- Racism rows which divided opinions between player, manager and owners
- A totally unnecessary siege mentality
- Finishing behind cross-town rivals, Everton
- Losing pathetically in the FA Cup Final
- Having a dismal home record at what used to be "fortress" Anfield
- Not gaining maximum points against the eventual bottom six in the Premiership table
And yet, Liverpool amidst a trying season, won the Carling Cup, making Suarez, Carroll and Henderson first time winners of an English club football competition. The players could have made it a season to remember but decided to turn into shrinking violets under the pressure of delivering the club's first domestic cup double since 2001.
The Carling Cup win is all Liverpool have to show for the 2011-2012 season and I guess we should just enjoy these pictures and remember the lucky win over Cardiff City. One could say that the Reds' name was on the cup this season. Putting things into a positive perspective, this was Liverpool's first trophy in six years.
Here's how the action unfolded.
Cardiff's Joe Mason turned the heat up by scoring the first goal of the Cup final.
The increasingly influential Martin Skrtel leveled the score with an typically hard shot into the net.
And so the season finally ended. It was a season filled with drama, with more ups and downs for all clubs than in any previous season. Who would've scripted a more dramatic end to the Premier League title race? The excitement involved is what makes the Barclays Premier League the best league to watch.
What struck me most was that two of the Premier League's best players finally achieved what they had wanted in English football and that is to win titles and medals. The moves were controversial and the separation acrimonious but now with titles won, both players' actions can be considered justified.
Samir Nasri left Arsenal at a time when they needed him most, and also at a time when Arsenal were not in a position to challenge for any titles. The Arsenal fans did not take kindly to him leaving and he was vilified for leaving the Emirates. And now with the much dreamt about Premiership title under his belt, his actions are vindicated. His first trophy turned out to be the coveted Premier League trophy, making him a League champion. Something not even Steven Gerrard can claim to be.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Soccer is not only the most popular sport in the world, it is also the most amazing. Besides having plenty of investors pumping money into the various club leagues, soccer also has the largest talent pool from which to draw from. Soccer scouts can search for new stars in every corner of the world. There are many reasons why soccer is amazing besides these.
Real-time strategy and decision making. Soccer is all about making good decisions, but doing so in real-time. Players are coached and schooled on how to develop the best mindset and acumen for soccer. This means that a player must understand whether a safe pass or a higher risk offensive pass is preferred. Sometimes, however, it is better to dribble the ball into space when that ground is given by a defender. Part of the decision making process for a soccer player will be how to strike the ball, i.e., which foot to use to strike the ball, whether to drive the ball straight, chip the ball with backspin to allow the receiving player more time to run onto the ball or trap it, slice the ball with the outside of the foot for pace and curve, or hit the ball with the instep for a lofted opposite curve with a soft bounce. With defenders bearing down, decisions such as these must be made in a matter of seconds. This is unlike many other popular sports: in the NFL, each play starts from a static and equal position, the strategy and decision making once a play starts is limited to only a few positions, and is the result of plays dictated to the quarterback by a coach through microphone headsets. In soccer, the coach is often too far away to make a real impact on the game, and every player must be able to determine what to be doing--even if they do not have the ball or are on the other side of the field.
Equal parts speed, power, and skill. Soccer does have skill positions, and some players have more specialized roles (such as a center midfielder's ability to send crosses on corner kicks, or a striker's ability to hit accurate shots from free kicks). However, each player must have a similar amount of speed, power, and skill. A defender in soccer must have the same footwork and coordination as a cornerback in football. This includes the ability to back-pedal and keep an offensive player in front while also being able to turn around and sprint with closing speed to catch an offensive player after that player makes a move past them. An offensive player must have the power to explode for a 10-20 yard sprint, but have the skill to stop or cut the ball in various directions--in response to the defensive player's movements! After the offensive player's expenditure of energy to sprint past a defender and the skill to cut or stop the ball mid-sprint, the forward must then (in full stride and with a defender throwing their legs at the forward's) strike the ball toward the goal. According to Accredited Online Colleges, a soccer player can strike a soccer ball with incredible power, regularly touching 80 mph, and often touching between 90-100 mph.
To put it in perspective, playing soccer is akin to a basketball player dribbling while standing on their hands for 90 minutes, be thinking constantly, all the while retaining the power to propell the ball as fast as an MLB pitcher. This is pretty amazing.
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 5:43 PM
Monday, April 30, 2012
Wigan, in recent seasons have played a type of football which is pleasing to the eye. Since the appointment of Roberto Martinez, he had taken the blueprint he developed at Swansea and imbued it onto the Latics DNA. Their passing was amazing against Newcastle last weekend. Rarely kicking a ball in anger, the Latics players played the ball out of defence into midfield, down the channels and finally exploiting the openings with quick one-two wall passes. It was delightful to watch. If Wigan were any other Big Four team, they would have been the toast of English football.
But the current flavour of the month is Newcastle, and that's no surprise with the way the Toon Army has been making its way to a potential Champions League placing. However, that wait may have to be longer as Wigan brought the high flying Magpies back down to earth. With Shaun Maloney pulling the scheming strings, Wigan are all set to stage the great relegation escape that had seemed impossible back in January.
What had seemed like a hellish run-in - games with Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea became the catalyst for a Wigan revival. Who would have thought Martinez' men could pick up nine points against these clubs?? And the results were achieved by playing the right way and with positivity.
When Luis Suarez was accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra, he retorted with the quote,
"I go to the field with the maximum illusion of a little child who enjoys what he does."
I finally understood what he meant by that last Saturday against Norwich. Suarez looked very much the sure-footed striker who had scored over 100 goals for Ajax. El Pistolero is a player who is either stunningly brilliant or woefully frustrating, there is no middle ground. But then it would be hard to expect him to be anything else. Hence it seemed somewhat fitting that Suarez should liken himself to a little child doing what he loves in a playground. Football is fantasy for the Uruguayan and he plays the beautiful game with a sense of child-like joy and freedom that is rarely found in the Premiership.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Roberto Di Matteo has been another inspired decision by Roman Abramovich. The perceptive Italian has managed to solve the old and new divide within the Chelsea squad. There is finally a distinct feeling of squad harmony not seen since the happy times of Mourinho. Winning matches usually helps, but more importantly, man management is the key.
While Chelsea try to revitalize their playing squad this season, the old guards of Frankie Lampard, Drogba and Terry have stubbornly refused to concede their starting places to the young stars-in-the-making. Conversely, the young stars of Mata, Torres and Sturridge have found their performance on the field stifled by the legends.
Against Spurs in the FA Cup semifinal, it was apparent that Chelsea old and new have begun to develop a symbiotic relationship within the team. Frank Lampard commented that Di Matteo should be credited favourably for that.
Andy Carroll started the last two Liverpool games, and they were important games in some respect. Liverpool ended a four game win-less streak with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers. The Reds followed that up with a come-from-behind FA Cup victory over Everton, thus maintaining their hoodoo spell over the blue of Merseyside. In both these games, Carroll scored late winners to emerge as the hero for Liverpool. That the winners were both headed goals made everything all the more sweeter.
When asked about the 87th minute winner, Andy Carroll told ESPN,
"It's the best feeling ever. We worked hard and getting the goal right there at the end was great. I had a few chances and should have probably scored earlier. But I kept at it and it was a great ball in by Craig, and I just had to score with that one and I did. It's a great feeling. I've had some criticism but I've just kept on going. I get the winner here and it's a great feeling. I believe in myself every day."
It's been a while since he had felt the love of the fans. And he certainly felt it after that superb header against Everton.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
"Super" Mario Balotelli is always an accident waiting to happen. I thought that he had matured quite a bit this season. Unfortunately the talented Italian is still a ticking timebomb on the football pitch. Much of his goalscoring genius stems from that right-brain thinking which also courts disaster by the busloads.
Against Sunderland, Balo once more showed his madness and his genius in equal measure. With City 3-1 down, he chose to get into a childish argument with Kolarov over who should take a freekick.
As though to prove a point to both City and Kolarov, Balotelli went on a run at the edge of the Sunderland box and curled a shot past Mignolet. The curious thing was that the shot took place in roughly the same area as the disputed freekick. Coincidence? With Balotelli, I doubt it. I am sure the Italian wanted to prove a point.
It is a known fact that Roman Abramovich goes into panic mode when his Chelsea team stumbles either in the Premier League or in the Champions League. He has done so in numerous occasions during his ownership of the Blues. With the inevitable departure of Andre Villas Boas, Roberto Di Matteo was entrusted with the task of seeing the current Chelsea players through the season. RDM as he is now known, has shown that a temporary manager fare a whole lot better at Stamford Bridge.
RDM has done fantastically well since taking over from AVB. From impossible situations and player power, he has guided Chelsea into the Champions League quarterfinal and FA Cup semifinal. Overcoming a 3-1 deficit against Napoli and victory over Leicester have earned RDM the player's respect and the chance to improve on Chelsea's poor season. Under Di Matteo's Chelsea, the enigma who is Fernando Torres is even beginning to regain form and goalscoring touch. El Nino has scored three goals and made four goals since AVB's sacking.
Abramovich clearly knew what he was doing when he sacked AVB. The owner was sure that results would improve once the manager was gone and he dealt his ruthless hand. It wasn't a risk, in his mind, after all he had done it before, sacking Mourinho and Scolari, bringing in Avram Grant and Guus Hiddink. The previous temporary assignments had brought immediate results to Chelsea.
It is easy to back Steven Gerrard in any game as a potential match winner. However, this season has been a little bit harder. Having said that, he has shown that just his presence on the pitch adds a significant star quality in the matches that Liverpool have played in this season.
Even in a more restrained role this term, he has been the most influential player in a Liverpool shirt. With Luis Suarez a marked man and unable to repeat his performances of last season, even a half-fit Gerrard looked far more a match winner than Andy Carroll or Suarez or Adam or Henderson or the whole Liverpool team put together.
He has been the one Liverpool midfield player who has played with purpose and direction every time he stepped on the pitch this season. The Reds need goals from midfield, something that we know Gerrard can provide in abundance, so it's time for the captain to be at his marauding best, starting with Newcastle.
Four seasons ago, Steven Gerrard scored two amazing goals in Liverpool's emphatic 5-1 win over Newcastle in a match best remembered for its post match incident.
Friday, March 23, 2012
It's not everyday that Liverpool collapse in the final 13 minutes of a game like they did against QPR. Overconfidence might have had something to do with that, as the Reds were so dominant in that game. Much like they had been throughout the season. One could actually count in one hand the number of terrible performances. But the Premier League standings don't lie and Liverpool, for all their vibrant football, deserve to sit in seventh spot.
All eyes will be on the mighty Reds this weekend, as they take on struggling Wigan Athletic at Anfield. If Reds fans are hoping that Liverpool will sweep aside the Latics, they might have to think again. Liverpool have struggled against Wigan in recent seasons and with Martinez' men fighting for their Premiership lives, the Reds might well struggle again. Factor in Asia's best goal keeper, Ali Al-Habsi and one can be sure goals will not come easy.
You will need to go back three seasons (2009/2010) to find the last home win for Liverpool over Wigan. A 2-1 win inspired by goals from Bolton's David N'gog and Chelsea's Fernando Torres.
Steven Gerrard, as Liverpool captain, must lead by example and inspire the players around him to put the QPR defeat behind them. The Reds needs all his leadership qualities to ensure that they do not suffer another bitter disappointment at Anfield.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Torres has had to endure tough times since his transfer to Chelsea. Even if his desire to move was to win trophies, he obviously had not figured how difficult it would be to firstly, fit into a world-class team and secondly, to displace Didi Drogba.
The best striker in the Premiership, Fernando Torres had to deal with a trophy-ladened but ego-filled dressing room. And as far as world class strikers go, El Nino had to contend with the ill-fated Chelsea strikers' graveyard. And then there is the looming monster shadow of a defiant Drogba, seemingly oblivious to his diminishing powers.
So you see, Torres had to endure an environment completely different to the one he fondly remembered at Liverpool. Far away from the Anfield adulation he enjoys, he had to undergo a transformation to be successful in a club like Chelsea. So, to replace Drogba is to be like Drogba.
The dream of being double Cup winners is slowly materialising. Liverpool got past a potentially difficult quarterfinal match and comprehensively beat Stoke City. Goals from Luis Suarez and Stewart Downing handed a semifinal berth to the Reds.
Like every season, FA Cup semifinal drama could be in store with the prospect of a special Merseyside derby. I'd prefer that Liverpool meet Sunderland instead. Being in the semifinal of the FA Cup should be a big enough game for the Reds to be fairly motivated even if they were to face Sunderland. Besides, Liverpool have unfinished business with O'Neill's men, having lost due to Bendtner's winner recently. Storming into the FA Cup final while demolishing a side with x-Devils O'Shea, Bardsley and Richardson, would bring a happy smile to my face.
Three things stood out in the win over Stoke last weekend.
Make no mistake about Daniel Sturridge's value to Chelsea, his contributions have been exceptional for the Blues. His goals have somewhat dried up, but he is still a first choice player in the eyes of Robbie Di Matteo. RDM has taken his chance at the helm of Chelsea and now rides the wave of three consecutive victories. Ironically he has reverted to Chelsea's old guards to get the job done.
And so it was a surprise that the Italian decided to gamble on the "new" Chelsea, playing Meireles and Torres against Leicester in the FA Cup quarterfinals. The players he picked have yet to let RDM down, and Chelsea strolled to a victory that they deserved.
Though the standout performance came from Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge's singlemindedness to get goals lend itself to a general perception that he is constantly hunting for personal glory. His agenda is to gratify himself rather than doing what's necessary for the good of the team.
Young strikers typically have this trait. It's all about goals and the excitement that scoring brings to them. As they mature, strikers become more rounded. In his early years, Michael Owen was a greedy goal poacher, he went on to refine his game in later years, becoming a more complete attacker in the final third.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Merseyside derbies, Manchester United derbies, "Big Four" derbies, Champions League, Carling Cup, FA Cup - these are big games that Liverpool in recent times love and strive to win. Hence it should be no surprise that the Reds thumped the Blues of Liverpool 3-0 with a classy hattrick from the soon-to-be Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool invariably raise their game in big matches and so it proved against Everton. It's been a while since the Reds have scored three goals this season in the Premier League so it was a nice gesture from Moyes' team to be so generous in defence.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been having personal contests ever since Real Madrid nabbed the Portuguese pretty boy from Manchester United.
So far, Messi in his own magical and yet unassuming way have trumped Ronaldo in all global recognition and awards. This season however, Ronaldo leads Messi in the goalscoring charts and Real Madrid is the runaway leaders for the La Liga crown. It would seem that the limelight hogging Portuguese should finally get the better of the inspirational Argentine.
But then Messi goes ahead, scores five goals and virtually create Champions League history and Ronaldo must be cringing, just wondering what he has to do to be the best in the world. No matter what Ronaldo does, Messi is even better at it.
Here are all 50 of Messi's goals this season. You can see this on youtube link here.
This link shows Cristiano Ronaldo who has been phenomenal as well this season. Who would have thought a once one-trick pony could develop into a fearsome goal machine. He is excellent in the air, blessed with two great feet and has blistering pace with awesome close control.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Stateside reports have listed David Beckham as the MLS highest earning player with $250million. This ranks him right up there with Alex Rodriquez. Take a look below, some interesting comparison facts on sports in USA.
Via: ABC Tickets
Via: ABC Tickets
Posted by TheFlatBackFour at 4:16 AM
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
All the talk was about the thrilling 3-3 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United. The Red Devils' powers of recovery were once again apparent when they had looked down and out following a four-minute blitz by Chelsea.
Everyone remarked that only Manchester United is capable of coming back and clinching a draw from the jaws of defeat. However, back in 1994, after a strong United scored three times within the first 24 minutes, Liverpool staged a colossal comeback and grabbed a well deserved draw on that eventful day. So anything United can do, Liverpool can do too.
Footymatters.com captured that remarkable match nicely in this brief summary,
We have seen how Liverpool suffered this season without any pace and creativity from midfield. Dalglish's preferred midfield foursome of Downing, Adam, Gerrard and Lucas will pass the ball to death but neither is comfortable to run with the ball.
Against teams that park the bus, especially teams that come to Anfield, the lack of unpredictability in the Liverpool play has caused the mighty Reds dearly. Now that most Premiership teams are double and triple marking Suarez, never has a need for a new footballing wizard been more apparent in Liverpool red.
Though Bellamy has pace, he hardly dribbles past a sea of defenders. Hence enter the young Tunisian who has lit up the 2012 Africa Nations Cup with his scintillating runs and dribbles. Youssef Msakni could be the answer to address Liverpool's shortcomings, frightening Premiership opposition with his close control and mesmerizing trickery.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Fernando Torres at his best, was an absolute terror. Just ask Nemanja Vidic. Or even the whole Manchester United team for that matter. There is no fluke that El Nino became the fastest Liverpool player to reach the 50-goal mark. His searing speed, excellent touch and great dribbling skills made him a Kop hero as soon as he arrived at Anfield. Rafa Benitez' playing system brought out the best in Nando. Steven Gerrard's promptings helped elevate Torres to Anfield hero status.
Without Benitez and with an injured Gerrard, Torres cut a lonely figure upfront for Liverpool in his final season. Nando never settled within the team built by a cautious Roy Hodgson and was soon on his way when Chelsea plumped up the big money for him. His reason - the need to win trophies. For all his individual brilliance, Torres' Liverpool career was marred by boardroom struggles and no trophies. The move to Chelsea was purely motivated by the need for success.
At Liverpool, Roy Hodgson tried to play Torres as a target man and though he still scored goals, since Liverpool players were familiar with him, the Spaniard never looked comfortable. Ironically, that's exactly the way Chelsea plays - with a target man. Torres found very quickly that the service from the Chelsea midfield without a Gerrard-like player, was poor and laboured. He had to reinvent himself if he wanted to be a success at The Bridge.
After nine matches away, El Pistolero was back in the Liverpool line up. The Uruguayan had been watching in the stands as the mighty Reds gained excellent results against Manchester City and Manchester United without him. Suarez came on as a substitute and could not inspire Liverpool against a weakened Spurs team.
If not for Gareth Bale's uncharacteristic miss late in the game, Liverpool might have had to endure a night where they dominated the game but had no end result as usual. It's the eighth draw at Anfield and these "undeserved" draws are starting to kill the Reds' pursuit for the final Champions League spot.
After some enterprising wins over City, United and then Wolves, Liverpool could not break down a solid Spurs defence in which Michael Dawson was outstanding. Still there weren't enough shots on goal and it was all huff and puff from the Reds in the end. Even with a classy frontline of Bellamy, Kuyt, Carroll and Gerrard, Liverpool could only manage four shots on goal and clearly for a team with a 9% conversion rate, more shots would have meant more probability for a goal.
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