Same As It Ever Was: Premier League Teams

I finally got caught up on my soccer watching. In 12 continuous hours, I managed to squeeze in five matches in the following order: West Ham United v Manchester City, Aston Villa v Liverpool, Derby County v Portsmouth, Arsenal v Fulham and Manchester United v Reading. Here are some of my observations from the matches:

Times change but team’s habits rarely do. Arsenal still is wasting too many clear- cut chances in front of goal, taking one touch too many or making the extra pass when an earlier shot would have resulted in a goal. Against Fulham the Gunners were guilty once again.

Liverpool is the type of team that needs half a dozen opportunities in front of goal before they can score. Think back to the Champions League final against AC Milan in May and how many chances Liverpool had to win the match, while AC Milan made the most of the very few chances they received.

Against Aston Villa, Liverpool could have won the match 4-1 or 5-1 if Torres, Kuyt and others were more incisive in front of goal. Instead, just like Arsenal, they squeaked through with a 2-1 win grabbing the winning goal near the end of the match.

Watching the highlights of Tottenham’s two matches thus far, the North London team is still guilty of horrible defending and marking. Why oh why does Tony Soprano continue to buy more midfielders when everyone knows they need more quality defenders? Against Sunderland and Everton, Spurs had plenty of defenders in the box to prevent the opposition from having a shot on goal, but even though they outnumbered the attackers, they seemed flat-footed once again.

West Ham’s defensive frailties were exposed once again. How soon we quickly forget that their M.O. last season was to score more goals than they let in and now that Tevez is gone, they need to realize they’ll be scoring fewer goals overall this season, so Curbishley needs to find a way to lock down its defense.

What surprised me the most was Reading’s desire to shut their game down against Man United at Old Trafford. Reading, ever the attacking team last season and everyone’s secret admirer, played a match that Sam Allardyce would have been proud of when he was at Bolton. The disappointing thing for me is that Reading’s performance sets a precedent. Expect the majority of clubs to employ the same tactics this season.

The one thing that came out of this game was the heroic efforts by Marcus Hahnemann. My prediction is that Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger will both keep a close eye on Hahnemann to replace their current goalkeepers. Don’t be surprised if the American goalkeeper will be sold before the end of the August 31st transfer window or, more likely, in January if he can continue to keep his form up.

Congratulations to Derby County, meanwhile, who put together a very pleasing performance in front of their fans at Pride Park. They’re no Reading, but I’m predicting they’ll avoid the drop this season due to their difficult to breakdown defenders and incredible determination and never-say-die attitude.

7 thoughts on “Same As It Ever Was: Premier League Teams”

  1. Manchester United already have their goalkeeper of the future in Ben Foster, who’s injured right now. This probably will be Edwin van der Sar’s last year with the Red Devils; Foster was ready to take over this year before he tore a ligament in his knee in June. He’s only 24 years old, (Hahnemann is 35), and Sir Alex Ferguson has already stated repeatedly that Foster will be the one to succeed van der Sar.

    Gaffer, I don’t think Hahnemann is the choice to replace anyone’s goalkeeper. You don’t bring in a 35-year old as your goalie of the future, that makes no sense.

    Personally, I thought Fulham’s Tony Warner played a much better game than Hahnemann this weekend. All Marcus did was make the saves he was expected to make and should’ve made; Warner stood on his head to keep Fulham in the game.

  2. I was wondering why you said that West Ham would score less now that Tevez is gone (um, he had 7 goals last year, and they broke West Ham records in futility), then you talked about Hanneman moving to Man U or Arsenal. So I stopped being concerned about your opinion.

  3. Uh, sorry but please stop acting like you know everything about soccer/football. please. first…..hahnemann is 35!!…Arsenal has Almunia and Fabianski now to replace Lehmann. Sorry. and please stop criticizing every other person, besides you, that talks about soccer. other people are proven to be very knowledgable. steven cohen and nick webster know alot. maybe you’re not happy, but please stop thinking about just yourself. thank you.

  4. I don’t see Foster and Almunia being adequate replacements. Foster eventually will be ready to take the reigns but he still needs more top flight experience, I believe (Watford doesn’t count).

    Sure, Hahnemann is 35 but I’m not envisioning him as a longterm replacement for van der Sar or Lehmann.

    Lehmann will be 38 in November and van der Sar will be 37 in October.

    With goalkeepers, remember that many of them go on to play until they’re 41 with little affect on their performance, so Hahnemann may still have another 6 years in top flight football.

    Peter Schmeichel was 37 when he joined Aston Villa and 39 when he joined Manchester City.

    Andi, I didn’t say that Steven and Nick don’t know anything. I just said their show was boring this week and the choice of topics was poor.

    The Gaffer

  5. No offense to Hanneman, hes a very good keeper, but hes rated below Howard for the national team. I would think Arsenal and Man Utd would aim a bit higher. I know the arse just brought in Fabianski who looked very commanding int he preseason, but he is very young, and they have been linked to boruc from celtic.

    as far as fff, it is what it is, i must say the production value has greatly improved. it was horrific last year,

  6. Yes, goalies can play longer than field players, not arguing that.

    But why would you bring in a 35-year old to replace a 37-year old or a 38-year old, even if it’s for the short-term? Edwin van der Sar is, at the very least, as good a goalkeeper (if not better) than Hahnemann, and Foster will be Manchester United’s starting keeper next season if he’s healthy. Sir Alex Ferguson would turn to Kuszczak this year if something goes wrong with van der Sar as he did last season.

    In Arsenal’s case, Lehmann’s doing his best to give the goalkeeping job away. Do you really think Arsene Wenger, who loves playing the young kids and has no problem doing it, would bring in a 35-year old who, once again, is no better than the keeper he has now? There are more quality young keepers who Wenger could turn to to replace Lehmann.

    “Top flight” experience is less important for a goalie than for a regular field player because stopping shots is the same no matter where you go, but the pace of the game and style of play is difficult to adjust to for a field player.

  7. A quick note on Tottenham. Yes, their defense is attrocious, but their midfield is the big problem. Zokora and Jenas lack the creativity to feed Berbo and Bent/Keana up top. For me, this is the Spurs’ big problem: a bad bad midfield.

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