How will Cody Arnoux fare? A statement on the EPL

Fan Danny B made the following comment in our Cody Arnoux post late last month.

1st in the lineage: Max-Moore

1st in the lineage: Max-Moore

Danny B’s comments, “I am an Evertonian, and I have to admit I have a fondness for Americans, particularly with the previous signings of Joe Max-Moore and Brian McBride on a loan spell, and now Tim Howard and our new recruits from MLS.

Thanks Danny. That’s now 3 different U.S. strikers that will showcase in the Toffee line-up in a decade if Arnoux can find his way onto the pitch for at least some mop up time in 2009.

A lot has changed since Joe Max-Moore made history with a stunning start for Everton in 1999.

Chiefly, in regards to striker play, is the introduction of stronger and more physically and offensively gifted defenders in the EPL.

Max-Moore and Cody Arnoux are virtually the same stature, both standing nearly 5’9” and tipping in at about 160lbs. Those are some slighter dimensions.

Take this!

Take This...

And This!

....And That!

However, Arnoux will be going up against fullbacks such as Kolo Toure, Brede Hangeland (gosh, imagine if we got him on the USMNT instead of his Norway allegiance), Nemanja Vidic among others. These athletes are comparatively bigger than their yesteryear counterparts.

I dare say a player like Gary Neville, a technically proficient defender in his day, would hard pressed to lock down a starting role in today’s game. (I’m sure I’ll get feedback on that comment).

Conversely, I think this is why you see players–specifically those with Iberian peninsula roots–like Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo himself departing to play in leagues where they don’t have to get ground down on a game by game basis by physically imposing defenders. I’m sure Ronaldo also wants the pomp, circumstance, food and women of Spain as well, but don’t think for a second that he doesn’t want to deal with less knock downs on a weekend basis.

Too slight?

Too slight?

Getting back to Arnoux, I think for this to work for him, he’s going to need to prove and learn to play against a much stronger defender. At Wafe Forest, Arnoux was crafty and smart with his runs. If he can’t take a hit in the EPL, he’s going to do just fine.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark T on 2009/08/03 at 9:15 AM

    Matt,

    Reading about the increasing size and physicality of the EPL immediately made me think about the 1990s and early 2000s in the NBA. Let me explain.

    The 1980s are seen as the Golden Age of the NBA as the Showtime Lakers battled against the Celtics. There was some great, fluid basketball played and players were bean poles with jump shots (for the most part). Fast forward to the 1990s when NBA players found the weight room and the game went from fluid to a half-court grinding style. It is hard for me to denigrate the decade as it included a lot of success by my hometown favorite NY Knicks. By the late 90s fans and purists were clamoring for something to be done as the NBA game had become more about strength and physicality and less about passing and teamwork.

    While the games are different, let’s hope that doesn’t happen in the EPL. I am not against bigger-faster-stronger athletes, but don’t want the should barge to become the dominant form of defense either. Most importantly, I hope the increasing physicality doesn’t disrupt the flow of the game like it did in the NBA.

    For those that watched the MLS All-Stars take on Everton, we saw a glimpse of the shoe being on the other foot on the MLS’ lone goal. It was Conner Casey, the Colorado Rapids 6’1″ striker, who used his size to gain control in the area against a much smaller defender allowing him to move the ball along to Stuart Holden.

    Reply

  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/03 at 10:04 AM

    I think your argument is one that’s been made for sometime with those who favor La Liga, or even Series A, over the EPL and argue that it’s a “better” game.

    I think the same EPL is saved from the analogy for one reason. They never made the NBA court any bigger. I don’t understand that. There is a finite amount of space to operate on a basketball court that becomes smaller and smaller as players get bigger and bigger.

    In soccer, you’re still often on an island by yourself is an offensive threat comes at you 1-on-1. That’s what allows the success of such tiny guys as Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Theo Walcott, and even Gabriel Agbonlahor.

    Reply

    • Posted by Wilson on 2009/08/03 at 11:15 AM

      My mexican friend prefers La Liga style even though we regularly see EPL teams dominate the european champions league. Manchester United is more a developmental team. where as Barcelona had the Real Madrid style of the best players in the world at the specific positions. That is what it took to beat EPL teams. the big physical play of defenders in the EPL is countered with the big physical striker play and speedy wing play and referees given calls to strikers. EPL is always going to be a high scoring league. The physical play is the urgency to win at all costs. The players don’t want to be beat and small battles for position on the ball or loose balls is the whole story. That these are the best and they want to win even against superior opponents. La Liga is in danger of isolating the top teams with 100 point season and no contest at all.

      Reply

  3. [...] the 2007 college final between Ohio State and Wake Forest, featuring such players as a sophomore Cody Arnoux and Marcus Tracy was one of the most enjoyable soccer games I’ve ever watched. (Check out the [...]

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