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EPL Talk Podcast Live Show, Open Thread: Special Super Bowl Time (One Hour Early)

EPL Talk Podcast Logo draftFor many of you, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, so we’re moving the show up one hour giving you a slightly larger gap between show and Bowl. For myself, Laurence McKenna and Kartik Krishnaiyer, it was Chelsea-Liverpool Sunday, with Kenny Dalglish leading the Reds to a potentially season-defining win at Stamford Bridge.

That result meant the Blues failed to take advantage of slips from second place Arsenal, who gave up a four goal lead to Newcastle, and Manchester United, suffering their first loss of the year at Wolves. Instead, after the highest scoring match day since the Premier League went to 20 clubs, Chelsea is tied with Spurs for fourth, with sixth place Liverpool remarkably within sight (six points) of a Champions League return.

On today’s edition of the EPL Talk Podcast, we use the impending international break as an excuse to focus on the weekend results, talking about the races at the top and bottom of the league as well as …

Whatever you want to talk about. As you know from listening, the show is much better whenever you are involved. Leave your thoughts, questions, comments and critiques, and we’ll try to incorporate them into today’s show.

After the jump, the UStream player and chat room, both of which will come to life 30 minutes before showtime.

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  1. Matt

    February 7, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Is this episode on iTunes yet?

  2. Jason

    February 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    My mistake, Spurs are indeed out of the FA Cup. I do think they’ll have a decent run in the Champions League making it to the quarters or even semis. That’s why I think they’ll drop a few more points than the others. Of course if they get knocked out of the CL early then that will benefit them in the league. All speculative.

  3. Jason

    February 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Liverpool will benefit from the fact that they only have to play in the Europa League while trying to get a top 4 spot. Spurs and Chelsea are not only still in the Champions league but also in the FA Cup. Chelsea have the squad and experience to cope while Spurs could very well drop points. I think Chelsea will get 4th spot with Liverpool pushing them till the end. Man United, Man City and Arsenal will be the other teams to take the other Champions League places.

    • Scott

      February 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Spurs are out of the FA Cup and can’t honestly be expected to go too much farther in the UCL. The main focus is league position and if certain players are back from injury (Hudd, Kaboul, Bale, etc.) I think they drop very few unexpected points. They should push Chelsea and Man City (only 5 up having played one more) for the Champions League positions.

  4. CarverCrazy

    February 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Is Manchester United’s road form this year in the Prem room for concern? They havent lost until this weekend but they only have 17 points in 12 games away from Old Trafford so its not like they have been dominant on the road but then again it shouldnt matter if Arsenal can’t hold a 4 goal lead.

  5. Andrei

    February 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    A big reason for the Arsenal epic collapse is that Newcastle were able to dominate and intimidate them physically especially in the second half. This is not an argument if what Newcastle did was within rules or if Joey Barton deserved a card of some color. The question is how should Arsenal responded? They are often blamed for being too soft and prone to succumb to physical pressure. It is easy to say toughen up and deal with it – but what exactly a team like Arsenal should do? What would MU or Chelsea (of last season) have done in the situation like that? Generally what do you do if the opposing team is trying to get back in the game by putting physical pressure and using borderline hard tackling? Do you hit back knowing that retaliation or fightback are typically punished more harshly that the physical charges that initiated the exchange?

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      Great questions. You would think one way to respond to roughening up is to show your own resolve. Then again, look what happened when Diaby did so.

  6. Ray Curren

    February 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Why is everyone so quick to discount Tottenham for 4th? Fixture list not all that intimidating: Sunderland, Blackpool, Wolves the next 3 games, all away. If they can get 6 or 7 points in those, there will be plenty of pressure on Chelsea.

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      And Ancelotti has shown he’s not averse to guiding a talented side of fifth.

      I’m sure Roman would love that.

    • EdmontonScouse

      February 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      I think it’s less that people are discounting them, and more that Tottemham has simply been unremarkable this season. They have been performing steadily, and haven’t had the ups-and-downs of the other top 6 teams. Almost a case of no news is good news for the Spurs.

  7. US Stoke Fan

    February 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I’m gonna break the seal on the Arsenal questions since their inevitable. Once you are up 4-0 after 30 mins of play what is the point of leaving guys like Walcott and Arshavin on the pitch(I know they were both pulled after 70+ mins)? What discernable value does Fabregas have when you need your midfield to defend?

    • Mark

      February 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      Funny, I thought the secondary turning point of this game was the substitution of Rosicky for Arshavin. Rosicky was involved in one of the penalties, gave away the free kick that led to the fourth goal and was generally absent during his time on the pitch

      • Richard Farley

        February 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

        I was just forwarded a link to a report that Rosicky and Phil Dowd are being investigated by Interpol is association with this match …

        … which I think it ridiculous, but who knows. I think a lot of things are ridiculous, and some of them actually exist. For example: Jersey Shore and ankle socks.

        • Mark

          February 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm

          Can we add Roy Hodgson to that list?

          Seriously, I want to hear KK eat crow after his assertions that the sacking of Hodgson and the hiring of Dalglish as being poor decisions

    • EdmontonScouse

      February 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Was it really down to the qualities of the individual players? Or an overall lack of cohesion in the squad, especially after going a man down? While Arshavin has been circumspect in every aspect of his game, Walcott has shown prowess in tracking the runs of opposition fullbacks i previous games this season. And Fabregas is no slouch defensively, the boy does know how to tackle, and he is more important in his role of controlling the pace of the game as Arsenal’s central playmaker.

      It also seems you’re trying to say that once you have a comfortable lead, teams should just ‘park the bus’. Why shouldn’t teams instead go for 7-0, 8-0? Especially ina season where goal difference has a potential to matter for both European spots, relegation, and the title itself, no team in the league has the luxury of resting on its laurels in any game.

      • Richard Farley

        February 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

        But also, as specifically as it concerns Fabregas, the ability to hold the ball is often just as viable a defense. In the same vein, one thing that Arsenal could have done once going down to 10 was find a role for Chamakh so they would have somebody to win long balls played out of the back, something that may become more common when down a man.

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      It’s hard to fault a manager for keeping his team out there for a full 45. Coming back after intermission, yeah, perhaps, but at the same time, the match itself shows the value in holding off on subbing players. You never know what’s going to happen, and you may want to maintain as much flexibility for as long as possible.

      Not that it helped Arsenal.

  8. EdmontonScouse

    February 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    More Liverpool talk here:

    Will Kenny Dalglish get the manager’s job permanently at Liverpool? Do the podcast team (particularly interested in McKenna’s opinion here) think that it would be the right/wrong choice for the club.

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      We’ll ask Laurence. I think I’ve said I think that would be a big mistake. Then again, I think Kenny Dalglish deserves some reconsideration after today, though again, Ancelotti was a huge goat, IMO.

      • EdmontonScouse

        February 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

        Thats definitely the question isn’t it? Is Dalglish still a great manager even after so long away (which I think might be the case after the last few games) or has it been luck/poor action from opposition managers.

        I also think this Liverpool resurgence highlights one thing that is sometimes overlooked: Team Spirit. This Liverpool squad is finally showing something that has been lacking in them for so long, and present in ManU and previously Chelsea for so long now. That belief that they will win, and the desire to put in the effort needed to make it happen.

        • Richard Farley

          February 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

          On Dalglish, I tend to think anybody can be conservative, which is what this set-up is, even if it is also “right” or working. It’s much more difficult to do what Mourinho did against Barca last year or what Ferguson an staff tend to do semi-regularly – develop positive plans that win matches.

          Ultimately, today, although I thought Liverpool was the better side, there wasn’t much separating the teams. Liverpool capitalized on a Chelsea blunder, IMO. Dalglish should be crediting for choosing a team that would take advantage of opportunities, even if they weren’t necessarily creating many opportunities for themselves.

          • EdmontonScouse

            February 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm

            Thing is Richard, you refer to Dalglish’s tactics as conservative, yet the general consensus is that Liverpool have been far more positive since Dalglish came in than they ever were under Hodgson (and sometimes under Rafa).

            And with respect to the formation, 3-4-2-1 is anything but conservative. It may have seemed so when up against opposition of the quality of Chelsea (arguably higher quality than the Liverpool squad) yet you only need to look at the previous game against Stoke to see how attacking it can be, with one of the three centerbacks pushing up into midfield, and the wing-backs motoring up and down the touchline. Personally I think it is less conservative than 4-4-2 under Hodgson, and is more adaptable to conditions in individual games.

          • Richard Farley

            February 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

            I should clarify then. This is a conservative choice for formation (and accompanying tactic) for team that’s playing more positively.

  9. EdmontonScouse

    February 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Man United has finally found themselves unable to find a magic winner at the end of yet another game where they played far below the level they are capable of. Will this have a knock-on effect resulting a couple more losses, or is this just a minor blip for the (previously) Crap-Invincibles?

    In the same line, Johnny Evans – just not good enough for the Premier League (especially when replacing Rio Ferdinand)?

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      It’s an interesting discussion re: Evans vs. Ferdinand. Is it Evans being bad? Rio being good? A little of both? What happened to the Evans of two years ago? The one that made the sale of Piqué back to Barcelona a little easier to justify?

      I like Crap-Invincibles. That term almost makes me wish United had done undefeated so we could have immortalized it.

      The Manchester derby is next Saturday. Will there be that knock-on effect? I tend to think the break comes at a good time for United.

  10. US Stoke Fan

    February 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Has one of the more competitive EPL seasons in memory now devolved into simply a super sized relegation scrap? Considering that Arsenal and Chelsea were incapable of taking advantage of Wolves defeat of Man United, and that the re-emergence of Liverpool seems to have ended the race for Europe, its beginning to seem as if all that’s left is the race for fourth and the relegation fight.

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      Good question, though following a weekend where Wolves beat a previously undefeated United, I’m not sure I feel good about predicting anything 🙂 But we’ll definitely bring this up.

      • Mark

        February 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm

        So are Liverpool realistically in the hunt for forth place? They’re 6 points back of Chelsea and Tottenham, having played a game more. With only 12 games remaining, it might be too little too late. Hodgson averaged 1.25 points/game, Dalglish has averaged 2.16. That’s the same points/game as top of the table MU over the season.
        As my dad says, if a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump his tail when it jumped…..

        • EdmontonScouse

          February 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm

          In the hunt? Definitely, I think we can say after a 4 game winning streak, including a win over Chelsea that this isn’t a false dawn for Liverpool. Are we up against it to make it into the top 4? Yes. Do Chelsea and Spurs have a much better chance of playing in the Champions League next year? Yes.

          But we have a chance, which is more than we had a few months ago under Hodgson, and I’ll take it.

      • Richard Farley

        February 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm

        I predicted Liverpool would finish 4th, and I find myself rooting for myself in this one.

        Regardless, I find it hard to believe the Liverpool outplays both Tottenham and Chelsea over the course of the rest of the season, let along outplays them by so much as to make up the gap.

  11. EdmontonScouse

    February 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    What does the podcast team think of the 3-4-2-1 formation that Kenny Dalglish has utilized in the last few games? I think the move from fullback to wingback has freed Johnson from the frequent mistakes he used to make, and has shown Martin Kelly to be an excellent young player in both attack and defense.

    Also, do you think that Chelsea will continue using the diamond formation after Anelka’s rather poor perforance in the attacking midfield role? Or should they go back to a 4-3-3 and find some way to rotate Drogba and Torres as the center striker (or push one of them out wide?)

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Rafa also played with this a little last year, though he quickly abandoned it.

      I think, even though he denied it afterward, Dalglish did it specifically for Chelsea, though it also fit for how Stoke set-up (who didn’t have Etherington in the starting XI mid-week). We didn’t see a lot of chances created today, however. Maybe Suarez will change that.

      Regardless, it’s a good question. I’m not sold on it, by a long shot. I think Liverpool got a lot of help from Carlo today, who (as he was earlier this year) continues to be slow to make tactical adjustments.

      • EdmontonScouse

        February 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm

        I have a feeling that your right about Dalglish, which also brings up the idea that he isn’t nearly as out of touch with the modern game as many (even myself) believed he would be after so long away.

        Definitely agree with the assessment of Ancelotti today. It’s strange to think that such an experienced coach, who is so well known for his tactical knowledge (from his Milan days) would be so lacking in a game like this.

        • Richard Farley

          February 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

          I’m definitely going to change my tune regarding Dalglish.

          Regarding Ancelotti, I’ve never considered him a tactician as much as a really, really (perhaps unparalleled) man manager. I know others think differently, but over and over again, at Chelsea and Milan, he has opted for consistency over tweaking, an approach which implies a primacy of steady environment. He wants his guys to be comfortable and happy, and I think that was the root behind this formation.

          I think he feels the club will be in a better place with Anelka starting rather than him sulking on the bench. I think he feels both Malouda and Kalou can understand that.

          • EdmontonScouse

            February 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm

            Yet this is the man who managed to create a workable, title-winning formation with 4 of the world’s top central playmaker’s in his years at Milan. Quality of the players aside, I can’t think of many managers who could manage that. Especially in a day and age where the (arguably) top manager in the world, Mourinho, has shown a preference for putting the formation above the natural tendencies of the players.

            As for Anelka, Kalou, and Malouda, I have a feeling we will see one of more of that group (and possibly Drogba) shipped out in the summer. It’s a shame to break up a strike force like that, but I don’t think Abramovich is going to give Carlo much choice.

          • Richard Farley

            February 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm

            I tend to think we forget how really, really good Kaká was during that time.

          • Scott Alexander

            February 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

            As to Carlo: Was it so much slow to make adjustments or a bad starting plan (at least for this match)? and then bad adjustments and questionable man management. I don’t often find a lot of fault in how Carlo runs the team or even specific matches but I saw a lot of problems in this one. It’s obviously easier to complain when it doesn’t work out but it seems to me that if Chelsea are going to run the diamond then Essien should move back into the holding role and Mikel should move back to the subs
            ( Luiz could rotate or flip with either Ivanovic or Bosingwa or w/Cole or Terry if either is not fit)

            maybe better to just hold off on Torres playing this one. Further, substituting Torres when Carlo did seemed to kill the momentum that Chelsea for once had, removed the threat of Torres (even if he wasn’t particularly doing anything),and is probably not the best way to manage his confidence. Kalou as a replacement seemed bizarre and unlikely to do anything positive. And Luiz for Bosingwa after being a goal down equally bizarre maybe even more bizarre.

  12. US Stoke Fan

    February 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Blackpool has lost 5 EPL games in a row despite scoring 9 goals in those games. Why didn’t Ian Holloway address his woeful backline/goal keeping in the transfer window? I don’t see how adding Reid, Beattie, and Kornilenko in the Jan. transfer window addresses the weaknesses of a team that has had no problem scoring goals.

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      Who knows with Blackpool. Their resources being as they are, they may not have been able to get a defender. They also may not have wanted one. Of the players you listed, only one was an outright purchase, with Puncheon also being a loan get.

      But yeah, it’s a good question.

      • EdmontonScouse

        February 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

        I have a feeling it’s more the latter and a bit of the former in this case. While they like a high-profile defender, it isn’t really the quality of the players themselves that lead to Blackpool allowing so many goals. Its the formation and style of play that lend themselves to being quite leaky at the back. And in that case, Blackpool wouldn’t even be able to dream of the kind of defenders you need to make up for that.

        And to be honest, I think Holloway is even less likely as a manager to want to stump up cash for a defender than Arsene Wenger is…. hard as that is to believe.

        • Richard Farley

          February 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

          Agree. I think it’s near impossible to distinguish style from personnel when trying to discern where the problem lies.

  13. US Stoke Fan

    February 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Who exactly initiated the purchase of Fernando Torres for Chelsea? Basically he made the same runs that Drogba made with weaker results. If you already have a franchise striker what is the point of getting a second one that does the same thing with a weaker health record? How does Torres in, Anelka taking balls away from Essien, and Sturridge on loan = a better Chelsea?

    • Richard Farley

      February 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      That’s a good question, but I suppose we know how this purchase came about. I doubt Ancelotti asked for Torres, but I also doubt he minded getting him.

      I don’t think the problem today was Drogba or Torres, and I definitely don’t think they clashed. Will talk about this more on the show, but today Ancelotti just never adjusted to what Dalglish did. We talked about it on Wednesday’s show. The three central defenders for Liverpool was probably designed to match-up with Drogba and Torres. Ancelotti never responded, even though he had three days to think of a plan.

    • Mark

      February 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Perhaps the most salient factors in the Torres recruitment is that Torres is 6 years younger than Drogba?

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