I’ve seen some dreadful football matches in my time, but Tuesday night’s matches on Fox Soccer Channel were exceedingly dire. First shown was Arsenal against Newcastle, while the second match was Bolton against Fulham.
In the Arsenal match, Newcastle employed a very negative counter-attacking style of play. In doing so, it was a waste of Michael Owen’s talent. The petite striker had few opportunities to do anything with the ball. For most of the match, the play was contained to the middle of the park with Newcastle playing, at times, six players packed near the back line and the strikers just past the halfway line.
Newcastle played to get a nil-nil draw in this match. They did contain Arsenal, but it’s practically impossible to keep Arsenal from having a few chances on goal. The first one was a volley that went over the bar by Adebayor, but the second chance resulted in a beautiful header by Adebayor to get on the scoresheet.
Flamini soon followed up by a beautiful shot that floated into the top corner, while Fabregas added the third near the end of the match.
I’ve seen some uninspiring Newcastle United performances but this one was pretty drastic. Newcastle had no hope of winning this match and given the lack of transfer signings, the Toon look destined to fall down the table unless they can stop the rot.
The Bolton against Fulham match wasn’t a good advertisement for English football either. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen quite a few Bolton matches on TV including their last gasp winner against Derby and the goalless match at St. James Park.
While Bolton looks pretty terrible, spare a thought for Fulham who look even worse. What was interesting in this match was how co-commentator Daniel Mann criticized Fulham striker Clint Dempsey throughout the commentary whenever the American touched the ball. Mann grilled Dempsey for not having any pace and being too slow. Plus Mann faulted Dempsey for playing with no confidence.
While Dempsey was unable to set Fulham on fire, you have to keep faith with the American because he was simply up front by himself the entire match. Just as Hodgson’s 4-5-1 tactics didn’t work in the match against Arsenal, Hodgson repeated the same mistake again and played the same formation against Bolton. Dempsey isn’t the type of player, like Adebayor or Drogba, who can out-muscle the defenders. He needs players to link up and play one-two passes with.
Let’s hope that Wednesday’s Premier League action is more entertaining than what we suffered through Tuesday night.