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Nicklas Bendtner just wasn’t strange enough already October 7, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in English soccer, European soccer, Hair.
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I’m not sure how it took us weeks, let-alone days or even minutes to mention whatever the hell is going on with Nicklas Bendtner’s general head region. The silly beard is enough to question the man’s cleanliness but the hair takes it over-the-top with a samurai doo that is poorly executed, at best. I wasn’t aware they sent him out on loan to medieval Japan for the past two seasons. Let’s just hope when he inevitably misses a simple chance he doesn’t disembowel himself right on the touch line.

Transfer deadline extravaganza!!! September 2, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Dutch soccer, English soccer, European soccer, French soccer, German soccer, Italian soccer, Spanish soccer, Transfer news.
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The unofficial FIFA Transfer deadline day thread, unofficially endorsed by Sepp Blatter’s jowls!

– Mesut Ozil just needs to pass a physical in Munich and he is set for a $42 million dollar move to Arsenal. It is said the he is set to make 6 million a year under the terms of his new contract with the North London club.                                                                                                         —          UPDATE 1: Check out Real Madrid fan’s chanting “Don’t sell Ozil as Perez announces Bale. What is his reaction you ask? To “Shhhhh” them of course. This is a must watch!


– Everton head man, Roberto Martinez isn’t ruling out keeping Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini amidst multiple reports Manchester United are keen on signing him. If this is true there reports this could free up $15 million necessary for the Toffees to bring Porto man, Fernando to the Merseyside.

Manchester City’s 20-year-old striker Harry Bunn joins Sheffield United on a month’s loan, according to the Premier League club’s Twitter feed. (external) In addition, 21-year-old midfielder Mohammed Abu joins Denmark’s Aarhus until the end of December.

– Liverpool has seemingly lost out to Atletico Madrid for the services of Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld. The talented 24 year old Belgian centerback spurned offers from many English sides to join Atletico for an undisclosed fee.

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With the African Nations Cup coming up, the Premier League needs Thierry Henry December 23, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer, U.S. soccer.
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Somewhere, someone seems to have decreed that the idea that Thierry Henry could sign for an English club this January should be treated as insanity. I don’t know why, because it makes perfect sense to me.

It may be that English pundits are simply unfamiliar with Henry’s time at Barcelona. The English narrative surrounding Henry is that Arsene Wenger took an anonymous Juventus winger and unleashed his potential by moving him to center forward. When he went to Barcelona, people seemed to forget about him after his misfit first season under Frank Rijkaard.

Nobody has ever given Henry enough credit for his second season at Barcelona. He scored more than a goal every other game. And he did it, playing on the left wing in a 4-3-3.

If Henry is seen as a player who can contribute effectively from the left wing in a front three, he seems like just the man for Arsenal. Gervinho will leave Arsenal for the African Cup of Nations in January. The Ivorian is the Gunners’ starting left winger and he’s similar in style to Henry: moves intelligently, cuts in onto his right. Henry’s no longer as fast as Gervinho, but he has a better touch and certainly finishes better. He also knows the club and appears to have matured and mellowed out. It doesn’t make sense to sign him as cover for Robin van Persie, since even if the Dutchman’s understudy, Marouane Chamakh, is going to the Nations Cup too, the South Korea striker Juyong will still be waiting in the wings.

And it’s not just Arsenal. Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou, another Ivorian striker who cuts in from the wing will also be leaving for the Nations Cup, along with Didier Drogba. Fernando Torres is basically no longer a footballer, and if he isn’t reincarnated with the club’s Ivorians away, meaning that Chelsea will be down to Daniel Sturridge, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku up front. Henry could do a job for them.

Henry has also been linked to Everton, which shows you how smart David Moyes is. The Toffees are short of goals and creativity and Henry would be an excellent source of either, certainly better than Louis Saha or Denis Stracqualursi.

There’s also Newcastle, which has a strong francophone emphasis, seems to be going places, and will lose Demba Ba to Senegal’s Nation’s Cup bench. These are just clubs that need cover, too. Henry could enhance nearly any of England’s clubs and, since the loan would be short-term, there’s very little downside to the move. If none of England’s clubs make a move for Henry this January, they’ll be the ones suffering from insanity.

Thierry Henry’s tears December 10, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Some people don’t like Thierry Henry. Henry may be my favorite player ever because of the way he played in Barcelona’s 2008-09 season, so I’m biased. Sue me. The people that don’t like him are silly.

Today he gave a speech as Arsenal unveiled a statue of him outside its stadium. He shed tears. Fun fact: many men aren’t man enough to shed tears.

Here are some other traits he exhibited:

Candor (Robin van Persie was “not easy to deal with” when he first came to the club). Introspection and self-criticism (admitting he wasn’t either). Humility (“I can only admire what he’s doing.” False. You played better for Arsenal. You could point that out. They’re unveiling a statue of you for a reason.)

He is intelligent. He is perceptive. He is a free thinker. For some reason this is threatening to people.

That wasn’t all Terry’s fault you know. October 29, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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In all the acrimony surrounding John Terry’s epochally hilarious pratfall in Chelsea’s loss to Arsenal this Saturday, it seems to have been decided that the goal was all Terry’s fault by people such as Paul Hayward of the Guardian.

Of course, the slip was a glaring and eminently replayable mistake. But Hayward, for one, is so compelled by its narrative possibilities that he torpedoes reality to describe it. Hayward claims the slip was part of Terry’s response to a “simple back-pass” from midfielder Florent Malouda.

Watch the replay. That’s no simple back-pass. Malouda slips the ball behind Terry, forcing him to turn toward his own goal. The blogger on 101greatgoals, who claims to be Zico even though he probably isn’t, is more reliable than Hayward when he says “Malouda ‘released'” Robin van Persie. If Terry had stayed on his feet, he might not have been able to reach the ball, and would have been spared the headlines too.

There’s something larger this indicates: it’s not just media desperate for narratives either. Media are market-based and this particular narrative is so appealing because we, the media consumers, are desperate to see John Terry punished  for using the words “black cunt” when talking to Anton Ferdinand.

If he did, I guess he should probably suffer. I don’t like Terry personally myself. But all the same, as Brian Phillips argues here, there feels like being something wrong with believing one reaps sporting consequences for his actions. It shouldn’t make sense.

Newcastle has become the new Arsenal; Arsenal the new Newcastle. October 17, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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I tried to resist it, but I couldn’t anymore when I heard Philippe Auclair say on Football Weekly today that Newcastle’s match against Tottenham was broadcast in France last weekend rather than Arsenal’s against Sunderland. The two teams have switched roles. Newcastle is now the swankily run, Gallic-infused softshoe powerhouse. Arsenal has turned into the comedy club with a football wing.

This is how insane it’s gotten: Auclair even says that the crowd at the Emirates raised its voice to get behind the team. What? Arsenal fans are bored hipsters, shrimp-eating casuals and Japanese tourists with pastel-colored disposable cameras. They deafen their footballers with their silence, absolutely sap their lifeforce. Though it is rumored that Christopher Wreh is still alive and well and playing professionally in Indonesia, it has never been conclusively proven, to me anyway, that the Highbury hush did not actually burst the Liberian’s eardrums and kill him while he played for the Gunners. Auclair actually said that, aside from their talismanic captain/striker and defiant goalkeeper, the crowd was the only thing that kept Arsenal going.

Wait a minute? Talismanic captain/striker? Alan Shearer? Defiant goalkeeper? Shay Given? Delusional but influential crowd? Jammy win against Sunderland? Uncanny.

Obviously Thomas Vermaelen is the new Jonathan Woodgate and Jack Wilshere is the new Kieron Dyer. Andre Arshavin is the new Laurent Robert. If I were Mikel Arteta, I would be very worried I might be the new Nicky Butt. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably the new James Milner. Every Arsenal central defender is competing for the title of new Titus Bramble, but Per Mertesacker might just be the new Jean-Alain Boumsong instead. There is a worrying lack of a new Gary Speed.

Meanwhile, the unpredictable offensive x-factor mantle has passed from Nwankwo Kanu to Shola Ameobi. Cheick Tiote bears a passing resemblance in terms of thrust to Patrick Vieira. Fabricio Coloccini is certainly as big and slow as Sol Campbell.

This can’t be happening, probably because it isn’t, but I had to give vent to these thoughts.

A thoughtful summary of Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal August 28, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Manchester United is bigger than this

Note: It is difficult to maintain a sense of proportion when dealing with a scoreline such as Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal, so I say why bother? This is a match write-up unashamed of lacking a sense of proportion. Deal with it.

So profound was Manchester United’s victory today that, if you were now to embark upon the creation any history of the human race, it would begin with today’s 8 a.m. (Pacific time) kickoff and end with the final whistle. The entirety of the human race would be composed of 15 be men: Manchester United’s starters, its coach and its three substitutes. The only country in existence would be the United Kingdom. Spain, Senegal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Mexico, South Korea: these would be irrelevant myths the race created to explain the origin of its gladiators, so irrelevant they did not even constitute footnotes. So too any part of Manchester outside the white lines of the Old Trafford pitch, not to say the rest of England, Europe, the ocean, the sky except as a place to which the ball momentarily ventured.

The universe trembled with each of Manchester United’s goals. The entire thing reverberated with the vibrations of Sir Alex Ferguson’s genius, and was indeed calibrated to the rotations of that genius. God had not just one son but sixteen, each one equally a miracle.

Indeed, the creation of that history would be inadequate as an action. Suicide is the only act of supplication that approaches sufficiency as a tribute to Manchester United’s greatness, not just on this day but forever.

Because indeed, any setback in the history of Manchester United is an irrelevance. Today’s victory was so pure as to render everything that came before it in relief. The deaths in the Munich air disaster? Irrelevant compared to this moment. The privations of depression and the post-World War II era? Can’t all have been bad because they led up to this moment. Everything, everything that has ever happened is good because the universe could produce this.

This is Arsenal

And as for Arsenal, they are sub-existential. They might as well have never existed. Indeed, I am yet to see proof that Arsenal did exist. I don’t believe it. I think Tomas Rosicky is an illusion of the shoddiest kind, Carl Jenkinson is a myth invented to scare small children, Laurent Koscielny is a theoretical proposition advanced by schizophrenics.

The phrase “Robin van Persie” just bubbled into my mind and I am not sure why because I cannot connect it to any concrete concept. I assume it must never have happened, that I imagined imagining it; that you, the reader, cannot even read it because it does not exist. I haven’t typed it because I haven’t thought it. Everything that name touches becomes tainted with the stain of questionability. If this computer is connected to the idea that the words “Robin van Persie” may have been written and therefore thought, is it possible that this computer exists? I think not.

There is a certainty, which is that, if Arsene Wenger existed, he would be the most incompetent, maybe even basely so, human being in history. He would be a villain, if he existed, the torturer of the hardworking masses who would support, if they existed, the club he would coach, if he existed, if indeed that club did exist. He would torture Gary Cahill by being connected with transfer interest in him. Pity Gary Cahill; pity him for my mere invention of the possibility of Wenger.

It is a comfort that Arsene Wenger does not exist. It is not possible that someone so incompetent could exist. I am sorry for bringing it up.

David De Gea

Some thoughts on David De Gea:

  • David De Gea is Satan
  • David De Gea is God.

Man Utd v. Arsenal halftime thoughts. August 28, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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  • Danny Welbeck: It was really poignant to see him pull up with that injury. He’s done so well for Manchester United; you love to see homegrown youngsters doing well, and his freshness and excitement more than compensated, for me the viewer, for losing the positivity of Chicharito Hernandez.
  • Anderson and Tom Cleverley: They are an exhilarating central midfield combination. They both know so many tricks for making and finding space in the midfield, and both also have the discipline to appreciate their role in the side, which is to keep in position and get the ball to the front four. They both hit excellent long passes to the forwards from their own half as well.
  • Carl Jenkinson: has been widely praised, but a couple of his qualities are hurting Arsenal. He keeps getting dragged inside by Ashley Young, who’s doing a very good Santi Cazorla impersonation, hence Theo Walcott’s remonstrations. He created a lot of space for Patrice Evra by letting Young take him inside. He also gets in Walcott’s way offensively and his crossing is not quite useful enough.
  • Daniel De Gea: Is still learning. It’s foolish to write him off as early as some people have. A 20-year-old goalkeeper makes mistakes. He is not going to replace Edwin van der Sar instantly. But his distribution is excellent and he has shown he is capable of making great saves as well as mistakes. There’s nothing wrong with him except that he is young. If things don’t work out for him, it’s Sir Alex Ferguson’s fault for thinking a 20-year-old who speaks little English could replace a 40-year-old who was the leader of his defense.
  • Maybe I’m late to the party, but when Robin van Persie missed, I found myself thinking this might not be Arsenal’s season.
  • And maybe I’m late to this party, but the defensive header leading to Young’s goal seemed to me to suggest there might be something to the theory that you don’t just stick young and inexperienced playersinto the starting lineup.
  • David Pleat is not a good pundit. He seems categorically opposed to the idea of a high defensive line, and at one point seemed to question the concept of wide forwards.
  • Robin van Persie: was a poor choice for captain. He is the first to disappear when the going gets tough and often lets his head drop.
  • Tomas Rosicky: is a mixed bag. He often moves aimlessly in midfield, in many ways the arch-perpetrator of the sins of which Arsenal are accused (over-elaboration, being lightweight, passing for passing’s sake, which is inexcusable as the furthest forward man in midfield). However, when his brain is fully operational, he can control a game. Nevertheless, a club like Arsenal ought to be able to find a playmaker not as prone to becoming a passenger.

Arsenal’s High Line DOOMS!!! Barcelona February 17, 2011

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Champions League, European soccer.
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So there is a second leg to be played, thus doomed is not only somewhat inflammatory but certainly a bit pretentious. On that note it sounds powerful and engaging so fuck you, you’re reading it now!

A lot of the blame from what I understand has fallen on the shoulders of Sergio Busquets, who for what its worth did not play his best game. But while his defensive mistakes may be more highlighted. The fact that Barce spent a larger portion than usual in the center of the field was due to being outnumbered. Wallcott and Nasri spent an uncharacteristically large amount of time pushed in and back stepping on the toes of Barcelona’s vaunted midfield. Along with Song, Wilshere and Cesc, who actually played higher up than Nasri and Walcott, created at times a 5 on 3. There were instances where Busquets like Xavi had no forward outlets, save Messi cutting into space. Busquets played poorly but much of it was due to the focus of Arsenal cutting down space, a place where Busquets operates in a normal match. Xavi and Iniesta play a majority of their game within inches of one or two defenders, it is abnormal for Busquets to be under similar pressure. So while possession was still heavy in the Catalonian side’s favor, it was always purposeful or rooted in a the ultimate goal of attacking, which is certainly not the case most weeks. Credit should also be given to Cliche and Eboue who also cut down the prominence of the Barca’s fullbacks, Alves played well but had very little effect on the game outside of box play on both ends. His game was sorely missed in the middle of the field, and it would not be surprising if Barcelona made it a point to fight down the wings 3 weeks from now. When Arsenal takes its first leg lead to Spain it needs nothing short of an exemplary performance yet again to avoid a similar exit to last years fixture. Barcelona is the only teams in the world that would go into a second leg down one goal and still favored against a top 5 team in the world. But with an on form Wilshere and Nasri Arsenal may be poised to do what i’m sure their captain didn’t truly believe, survive Camp Nou, Verb choice, Check…

Campbell’s move to Newcastle disappointes me July 27, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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As I think I’ve said before, perhaps not in so many words, I have a great deal of affection for Sol Campbell.

For one, the man and his family have suffered for the homophobia surrounding soccer, by all reliable accounts without even a basis in fact. That is the salient reason for my admiration as a human being. Soccer fans, though, are soccer fans first and human being second, and by that reasoning, my admiration roots itself in a much deeper reason.

Soccer’s reflexive tribalism is the reason I love the sport, deep down, because it is an antidote to the sterility of professional sports in my own country. Simultaneously, it’s also profoundly myopic in its denial of the extent to which the sport’s commercialization, especially in Great Britain, has divorced it from the communities that spawned it. That’s why I laud the bravery of Campbell’s move from Tottenham to Arsenal, and what it has subsequently subjected him to.

There’s also, even more fundamentally, as detailed in the first article I cited, an on-field reason: Campbell battles every day his own personal physical degradation, and that is as compelling a story as any in the sport.

Let’s remember, for a second, that Campbell was once perhaps the best player in the world at doing what he ostensibly does: presenting an insurmountable physique as an obstacle to opposing attackers. In an Arsenal team trading in ascetic deftness, he was the physical bedrock of that approach. He couldn’t pass, really, or even run, but his team needed a man like that to weave its magic. But that physique was so effective because it was wielded with a defensive intelligence that made it sublime, a brain that understood its limitations and could wield the instrument of Campbell’s body in a way that disguised them.

Since he came back up to the English top division with Arsenal last season, Campbell’s story has been one of that indomitable’s instrument’s decay and that admirable intelligence’s struggles to come to terms with it.

Campbell’s critics must remember that Arsenal owed him, for precisely his braveness in moving to the club in the first place, the chance to surmount those difficulties at the highest level. But one can excuse their dispensing with him now, having given him that chance, and shown that, if more limited than ever, he can function in a top-class team.

But seeing him go to Newcastle, as the Guardian reports he will, is disheartening. I don’t want to see Campbell submerged amid the chaos of that club. Newcastle’s defensive fallibility is institutional, I think. How else would you explain the phenomenon that even Titus Bramble has become a sought-after center half since leaving Newcastle? It is so easy, though, to foresee the man who will soon be the senior citizen of that club’s defense blamed for its inevitable frailties.

If such accusations don’t arise, it will be much to Campbell’s credit. At this late stage in his career, though, at which he can no longer disguise the ever-growing limitations of his game, he is coming up to his biggest challenge.