Monday, September 26, 2011

Deja vu all over again...RVP tepid on long term commitment to Arsenal

Shhhhh, let's not talk about my future at the North London feeder club
Sigh, the theme from the past few seasons seems to continue as the latest story around Arsenal is that the current skipper and freshly minted 100 goal scorer - Robert Van Persie - is not sure about his future with the club. Sound familiar? Well it should since we went through this BS this past summer with Cesc and Nasri. Why do we not hear about players saying the same thing at Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham or Liverpool? Hmmmm, maybe because they try to win titles and bring in quality players every season.

The window for Wenger is rapidly closing, I think it might have already closed. This winter transfer window will be very telling, will he finally get off his hands and spend to make his club better or once again seeking out youth talent from all corners of the globe only to see them get farmed out on loans? While I am not a huge RVP fan, I think he is too fragile, it is telling that once again your captain is questioning the clubs commitment to winning. Regardless of all the last minute activity by Wenger, it was clear that Wenger was a dollar short and a day late.

If Wenger and the board do not wake up soon, players will continue to look at Arsenal with a dubious eye.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The International Dilemna - really doesn't need to be this complicated

I was reading this last article about another potential "issue" which with nation a player will represent at the international level, click here for SI article. The debate revolves around an American player born to a German mother in Germany while his American father was stationed there for the military. Timmy Chandler has already represented his father's nation, the United States, 4 times...however none have been "competitive" games, meaning qualifiers or FIFA tournament matches. Meaning...he could still be called up for Germany! Huh??? What???

Shifting to Die Mannschaft?
I know, but those are the FIFA rules. The basic gist of the international rule is that a player can switch national allegiance if said player qualifies for multiple nations and has not represented his nation at the 'A' level for a match such as Gold Cup, World Cup, European Cup or qualifiers. Which is a well intended rule, to allow players who could represent multiple nations be afforded the choice later on in their careers. But then you get a situation such as Chandler. The rule should really be - once you have been called up for the senior squad and accepted that call up, you have declared your eligibility for said nation. Let us take the Chandler situation and change some of the dynamics. Instead of of right back being an issue due to Lahm moving back to the left, lets say the situation is because Lahm has an injury that will keep him out for a few months. Low needs a right back for qualifiers so calls up Chandler, an opportunity the right back cannot pass up. So he plays for Germany, does okay, but once Lahm is healthy, he slots back at Right Back and Chandler no longer sees his name on the call up sheet, or at best a bench player. I realize this might happen with other players, but in the Chandler situation he has already PLAYED for the US National team! Why even allow the above situation to be contemplated?

Come on FIFA do something right, revise the international eligibility rule. My suggestion - player is allowed to play for his nation of birth, nation where he holds residency or parental nation. Eliminate the grandparent rule - under that rule my child could play for France, US, England, Greece, China, Bermuda or Canada...uh really? Institute the rule that once you have been selected for the senior national team and accepted that offer, you are now only allowed to play for that nation. Otherwise we might see more dicey situations as with Chandler.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The rumors were correct - Blanc turns over his starters

5 of his starting 11 will be different this afternoon when France face Romania. Granted, two of the changes are due to players returning from sickness in the case of Sagna or from suspension in the case of Rami. The other 3 are strategic changes made by Le President.

The starting line up:

Le onze français :
Lloris – Sagna, Rami, Abidal, Evra – Cabaye, M’Vila, Martin – Valbuena, Benzema, Ribéry
Remplaçants :
Mandanda, Koscielny, Nasri, Réveillère, Malouda, Diarra, Rémy

Not a big surprise in seeing Nasri sit, he has been given his chances but failed to impress, now it is Martin's turn to see he can finally find the maestro Les Bleus have been missing. Question becomes what happens if and when Gourcuff returns to health and form? Or has the train left the station when it comes to the Lyon play maker?

Cabaye with M'Vila is interesting as well, not that the Newcastle midfielder does not warrant a chance in the midfield, but more the fact Blanc starts his former Bordeaux captain - Diarra, and gives him the arm band, and then sits him. One would hope that the player that most readily gets the arm band would also be one of the core players on your roster.

On the right, I am glad to see Blanc giving "Le Petit Velo" his chance again. I feel every time Valbuena has been given a chance for France he has taken full advantage of it. The fact he is a natural right winger doesn't hurt either!

One aspect to watch is without Diarra on the pitch, Blanc has sacrificed some size, this might play a role on set pieces in particular defending them. Something France have not been very good at as of late.

Les Bleus escape Romania with a draw. France have trouble with the Romanians and they will be inaugurating a new stadium as well giving the home team and crowd a huge boost.

France 1 - Romania 1
Benzema scores again for Les Bleus

Allez Les Bleus!

Monday, September 05, 2011

The right wing - why so many problems for France?

Against Albania, Laurent Blanc decided to slot one of his left wingers on the right side. Unlike during the 2006 World Cup where the new kid on the block Ribery was slotted right with Malouda left, Blanc flip flopped these two against Albania. But why? Unlike under Domenech, Blanc has placed natural right wingers on his roster - Valbuena, Menez and Remy. So why do you have to try to force a left winger on the right side?

Valbuena strikes in Wembley
Blanc needs to put the best line up and the best players on the pitch. Is Malouda better than the likes of Menez, Valbuena or Remy on the pitch let alone out on the right side? Not sure. When all three mentioned right wingers have been given time on the pitch they have all shown what they can do - all positive. Is Blanc trying to placate the old guard? Is there a fear of an undertone of rebellion? I hope not. My sense is that Malouda is a professional and if he has to site and watch Ribery on the left then he will be fine. If he is not, then drop him from the squad.

Blanc could even slot a Nari on the right, give the central midfield baton to Martin, might make the Manchester City player more at ease with less "responsibility" of being the French #10. Heading into the Romania match I would like to see the following -

Slot Abidal back to the left, insert Rami back with Kaboul in the center of the defense. M'Vila deserves to start, he is rapidly becoming one of the core players for Blanc. Diarra can shoulder him again, if Blanc decides to continue with his "muscled" midfield. The three attacking midfielders - Ribery on the left, Nasri in the middle (give him another shot at pulling the strings) and Valbuena on the right. I think the "petit velo" should be allowed to run at Romania on the right, with his pace on the right it would be a scary compliment for the pace of Ribery on the left. With Benzema up front and of course Lloris in goal, another 2 key core players for Blanc.

Let's stop trying to tinker with the right wing and just start one of the many true right winger options Blanc has at his disposal!

Allez les Bleus.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Blanc plays it safe - 1 nil to Les Bleus?

The biggest concern for Le President is who will be his right back, as Sagna is recovering from an infection. The Gunner cannot go, then the Lyon right back  - Reveillere will most like slot in on the right side of the defense. Not a big drop off since the Lyon player has regularly seen action for Les Bleus.

The other news for Les Bleus is that it appears Blanc will opt for "ole faithful" the 4-2-3-1. With the following:

Evra - Kaboul, Abidal - Reveillere/Sagna
Diarra - M'Vila
Ribery - Nasri - Malouda

Malouda will apparently slot to the right wing, which is a bit of a surprise to me considering Blanc has three natural right wingers on his roster - Menez, Valbuena and Remy. His two left sided players will be on the pitch at the same time - Ribery and Malouda. It would appear that starting both might limit his options or perhaps he assumes he will take out Ribery and slot Malouda on the left and bring in a right wing or just swap Malouda for a right wing. It just appears a bit forced to me that he has moved Malouda to the right side. Now it could be that with Reveillere as the right back, Blanc will hope that he and his former Lyon teammate, Malouda, have some degree of understanding. Couple this with the fact Malouda has greater defensive discipline that the other options at right wing, and Revelliere tends to push high on the pitch, Blanc maybe looking for a more defensively disciplined right side.

I am a bit surprised at the very defensive minded formation - 2 true holding midfielders - that Blanc appears to be favoring. Granted he might be thinking that if he can play this formation and score a goal on Albania, that he then has options to switch to a more defensive formation later on to protect the lead, or just rotate offensive players, knowing he has a strong defensive core. Alternatively, if he is chasing a goal after 60 minutes he could easily bring in a Martin for one of the holding players and switch to a hybrid Spanish: 4-1-4-1. Or even swap out Malouda for a Gameiro and push up higher on the pitch.

Les Bleus should win this match regardless of a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1, but I do not think the match will be easy. France have never found away trips to Albania to be picnics. Assume the pitch will be heavy, the supporters boisterous and the competition tough.

France 2 - Albania 0
Goals from Ribery and Benzema

Allez Les Bleus!!!