YouTube is littered with overdramatic Liverpudlian tributes to Torres. To add to the buildup for today’s Chelsea-Liverpool match (kicking off at Stamford Bridge at the top of the hour), here’s one that is a highlight reel of El Niño when he was at the top of his game, in 2008-09–primarily Liverpool highlights, followed by a coda of Spain national team clips (set to an Akon soundtrack):
The Team With Torres: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Mikel; Essien, Lampard; Torres, Drogba, Anelka. Subs: Turnbull, Paulo Ferreira, David Luiz, McEachran, Sala, Malouda, Kalou. The Team Without Torres: Reina; Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Kelly; Johnson, Gerrard, Lucas, Maxi; Meireles; Kuyt. Subs: Gulacsi, Aurelio, Suarez, Jovanovic, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Poulsen.
So Suárez isn’t considered ready to start despite impressing in midweek. Torres, as expected, starts for the Team With Torres. Very, very interesting to see how those two line-ups dovetail.
Worth reading in preparation for the game is ZonalMarking’s note on “Nicolas Anelka as a trequartista?” (trequartista, which means “three-quarters” in Italian, refers to a withdrawn forward/attacking midfielder–a player who drops deep to receive the ball from his defenders and defending midfielders and serves as a playmaker in attack):
In case you missed it, watch the highlights of Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Leeds yesterday, in a FA Cup replay (following the 1-1 draw a couple weeks ago). All four goals are worth watching: the first goes from Chamakh to Arshavin to Nasri in 5′; then crackers by Sagna & Bradley Johnson which made the score 2-0 and then 2-1; and then finally late in the 2nd half, after Wenger was forced to bring on Fabregas and Robin van Persie, the latter scored with a header off a great cross by Bendtner (didn’t think we’d ever have occasion to write those last few words).
We’ve been having some discussions about Arsenal’s optimal starting lineup, sparked by this post by Coach Larry–in particular his inclusion of Jack Wilshere among his list of “Players who if they play too much kill their chances” (along with Denilson and Bendnter btw).
Now young Jack Wilshere has been among the most lauded players in the Premier League this season, and he has been in Wenger’s top XI all season, as one of the 2 holding midfielders alongside Alex Song in Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1.
The “3-1” part of the starting XI has been under discussion as well: Nasri and Fabregas are given; Arshavin (on the other wing opposite Nasri) and Chamakh (up front) rounded out the starting XI for the first couple months of the season, but with Arshavin losing form, Walcott coming on strong, and van Persie coming back from injury, the ideal front four has been part of the discussion too.
Larry’s argument re Wilshere:
My contention is he represents a non-ideal Arsenal formation. Song is a better tackler and reader of the game, Nasri, RVP, and Cesc all far superior in distribution and possession. I’d prefer to play Chamakh up top as he adds an extra dimension in the air others not named Bendtner can offer. Arsenal are so good at holding the ball, they just don’t need to have 2 ball winners in the center. I do like how Wilshere and Song work together, especially in their flexibility to cover one another, but ultimately, they’d be better served with more pure attack so they can turn their dominance into more goals. And, hey, you never know when Arshavin will return from his moon pod.
In sum: take Wilshere off and replace him with Chamakh as a striker up front, meaning Arsenal would be playing a 4-1-4-1 (RVP pulled back from his usual striker position into a 4-man midfield: van Persie and Fabregas in the center (which is attractive), and Nasri and either Walcott or Arshavin on the wings. More explanation from Larry: “It has the beauty of adding an actual shooter/scorer to the very top of their formation [Chamakh], plus RVP should be able to find a couple of spaces underneath, so he can create some shooting lanes for himself, instead of having a defender right on his hip. And for when he gets injured, Nasri is more than capable of sliding inside.”
For reference, Arsenal’s starting lineup for this FA Cup match v Leeds was as follows is shown to the right (courtesy of ZonalMarking–click thru on the image for their analysis of the match). Wenger was forced to bring on van Persie and Fabregas for Chamakh and Arshavin in the 2nd half
Via Facebook: “Today and tomorrow, from 4 PM – Midnight, The New York Cosmos will be unveiling a digital billboard of epic proportions in Times Square to celebrate King Eric Cantona taking the throne at the New York Cosmos.”
Naturally that brought to the CultFootball mind the following aphorism: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
The two historied English clubs played earlier today, in a 3rd Round FA Cup matchup at the Emirates. While today’s was an interesting match, their most famous FA Cup clash was on May 6, 1972 at Wembley–in the centenary FA Cup Final. Leeds won 1-0 to win their 1st and only FA Cup.
Unlike today, when it would have been a major upset for Leeds to hang on for a victory against Arsenal, in 1972 they were perhaps the two strongest sides in English football. Arsenal had pulled off the double the previous season, winning both the league and the FA Cup, with Leeds finishing 2nd in the 1970-71 First Division table–just a single point behind the Gunners.
It’s a game that’s well-documented online, by and for Leeds supporters; e.g., a Yorkshire Evening Post photo gallery which includes the front pages from the programmes of the match (left) and the May 8, 1972 special edition of the Evening Post (which includes pics of Leeds captain Billy Bremner receiving the Cup from Queen Elizabeth II and lifting the Cup above the squad):
(Fox Deportes is actually going to rebroadcast the Barcelona-Estudiantes game this afternoon at 5pmET–ahead of their broadcast of Inter-TP Mazembe tomorrow at 12pmET. But if you don’t get to watch the rebroadcast, see below for a 6min highlight clip.)
It was a rather exciting game, as Estudiantes took the lead in the 37th minute off a fantastic header by Mauro Boselli. But Pedro pulled Barcelona even in the 89th minute–Pique had moved up into attack, and won a head ball that Pedro nicely finished, also with his head. And then Messi, as he tends to do, scored with spectacular fashion and timing–somehow getting behind Estudiantes’ defenders and headed in the winning goal with 10 minutes remaining in extra time.