Wednesday Game Commentary: Junior, Leyton, More

Okay, we’ll get a post up for today’s games.

Will MB25 return to his proper MB90 namesake today?

We’ve got:

• Michael Bradley making his first start in the FA Cup away at Manchester City. A good test for Junior as he’ll go up against Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure on the inside in this one.

• Leyton Orient surprised Arsenal ten days ago with a late game equalizer, now the FA Cup upstart sqaud heads to the Emirates and faces an Arsenal team licking its wounds from their Carling Cup debacle against Birmingham. I expect Arsenal to put the crush on today, but bears watching.

• D(ah)vid Villa heads to Mestalla Stadium the pitch he called home before his massive transfer to Barcelona this year. Pep Guardiola is out with illness and Barca struggles to win on the road against Valencia. Bears watching more than the Leyton game.

• Oh, just realized that Celtic and Rangers I believe face off in the Scottish Cup today. Gers need revenge here.

Okay…enjoy and fill TSG in (we’re in and out in the projector room today).

44 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 1:01 PM

    So for Bradley’s doing the one-touch distribution stuff. Nothing too thrilling, but doesn’t look out of place either.


  2. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/02 at 1:06 PM

    He’s pressing quite well [and he looks knackered!], and has been caught in possession a couple of times. I wonder if that’s just the speed of the game?


  3. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 1:13 PM

    2-0 to City, and it might get uglier. Bradley not at fault for either goal or the poor play in general, but on the other hand it’s not not his fault, if you catch my drift.


  4. thanks for the bradley updates guys, greatly appreciated. cant watch but am following it via espn tracker and they give no context.


  5. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/02 at 1:23 PM

    Villa’s play in general is very disjointed. They cannot seem to string more than a few passes together before a) making a stray / bad pass, b) getting caught on the ball. This is a comment at the whole team than at any individual.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 1:28 PM

      This game is why so many people believe it’s rash to play a bunch of new talent at once. You’ve got Bradley, Bannan, Delph, Herd…City, of course, is playing a near-first choice team.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/03 at 8:29 AM

        Very true. But it’s a FA Cup game, so perhaps Houllier wants to look at a few players while giving some of the first XI a break? Not particularly fair on the auditioning players though.


  6. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/02 at 1:25 PM

    City seem quite happy to let Villa have the ball in front of them in the middle third. Villa have zero penetration. At 2-0, Mancini will be happy with this.


  7. Posted by Iggystar on 2011/03/02 at 1:30 PM

    Oh dear.


  8. Posted by John on 2011/03/02 at 1:50 PM

    So if Holloway gets in trouble for fielding a “weakened” squad in that Blackpool game where his squad actually competed… does anything happen to Houllier?


  9. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 1:52 PM

    Sentences you will never, ever read again: Balotelli plays peacemaker. (He broke up a skirmish.)


  10. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 1:59 PM

    Bradley tries to dribble into space, but the ref blocks him.


  11. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 2:09 PM

    I’ve heard many positive things about Barry Bannan, but on the basis of this game I just cannot see it. A lot of aimless running around and aimless passing. Possibly the worst player on the field.


  12. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 2:10 PM

    Bradley works a nice give-and-go with another midfielder to open up space for the other midfielder to attack. Ends with a decent Petrov shot.


  13. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 2:15 PM

    City 3-0 off of a set piece mishap. Silva scores. Quite the player, he is.


  14. Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 2:18 PM

    …And Houiller subs in Young and Downing, presumably because they’re 3 goals better in twenty minutes than City (Houiller just wanted to keep it fair for City.) Relevantly, Bradley is off. Decent debut from Bradley; seemed to be tasked with sitting deep rather than those surging runs into the box that we’ve become so accustomed to. Was pretty disciplined about it. His passing was unambitious but Villa probably could’ve used more of it. Pretty average; a rating anywhere from 4.5-5.5 would be fair.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/02 at 2:36 PM

      Thanks for the feedback here.

      Saw a comment from someone–maybe you–about putting together a bunch of unfamiliar people. A real disservice by Houllier there, but fairly they have a tough Bolton game coming up.

      Doubt Bradley gets run in that one…or does he?


  15. Posted by Tim on 2011/03/02 at 2:37 PM

    I thought Bradley’s debut was less than satisfactory. I did not see him get stuck in like he usually does and he did not get forward at all. On a day Villa needed someone to take charge or at least play with a lot of emotion and show some desire, Bradley was not that player today. Disappointing.


    • Posted by Tux on 2011/03/02 at 5:01 PM

      He seemed to play on his heels a little bit – instead of flying around the pitch like he usually does, he was far less aggressive in pressuring the ball. Looking at Villa as a whole, though, that seemed to be the norm, and Houllier may have instructed Junior not to bring the wood like he did in Germany (disclaimer: I’ve very little knowledge of Houllier’s normal defensive strategy, so this is complete spitballing). He did get forward a few times, but his late runs into the box weren’t seen, probably due to the fact that Villa very rarely had any sort of quick buildup, and really threatened only two or three times all game.

      He seemed to be playing more of a “don’t screw up” game today than I’ve seen him in the past; there’s probably a combination of things that would lead to that, not the least being Houllier’s tendency to throw players *coughLichajcough* under the bus. Did he astound today? No, but he’s not the reason AVFC lost, either.


  16. Posted by Sam on 2011/03/02 at 3:24 PM

    Honestly not too impressed with him today. And that’s as someone who really likes the guy. He seemed out of position and/or hiding for large portions of the game where the players around him seemed to know what they were doing a lot “better-y”. Hopefully he’ll find his slot and get his confidence back before too long.

    With Spector doing a better job in the EP,L at what is a position very similar to mb90s role in the national team things are becoming cloudier. Maybe there will be some revelation as even after years in europe Bradley still seems unpolished for some reason. Maybe he belongs more up front in a McBride-style position. Anything is possible right? Just spit balling here but I could see him as a better alternative to Conor Casey maybe?

    Either way, as much as I’d like him to be a midfield commander like Roy Keane it just doesn’t seem to be the thing for him at this juncture, to me at least.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/02 at 5:40 PM

      This post gave me a crazy thought….

      I have never liked Stu as the AM since that is not really his role at Bolton and he seems damned good at Bolton.

      What about Bradley in the AM role? Holden/Jones/Edu in the back.

      I know this is the 30th different formation I have thrown out there but since we haven’t seen the A team yet I am still struggling with how they line up.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/03/02 at 6:35 PM

        Bradley played in the hole (in a 4-2-3-1) near the end of his ‘Gladbach tenure. He was actually very interesting in that role, particularly against SV Hamburg, in which he had an assist and should’ve had two more (he sent players into goal one-on-one twice).

        The debates about where Bradley is best are beginning to remind me eerily of the Gerrard debates…


      • Posted by Tux on 2011/03/02 at 8:32 PM

        I can’t see that working – you want that attacking mid to have the ability to both create scoring chances through the middle, and to be able to finish in the run of play.

        Bradley does neither of these things that well. His passing is not *bad*, but he’s not the guy you want to send a probing through ball between the centrebacks – he sprays the ball too much to really be consistently effective doing that. His finishing isn’t bad either, but most often he’s coming from deep, untracked and waltzing into the box behind the play – and he’s dangerous doing that – but that doesn’t mean that he’s going to suddenly split two defenders at the 18 and keep the ball at his feet, in a position to finish the play.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/03 at 5:17 PM

          The issue is who plays in the hole…

          I think Dempsey would be best in the hole but then it forces one of our middle of the field guys out wide.

          If we assume that Dempsey and Donnovan are the wide guys then we are looking at Holden as the de facto guy. Holden doesn’t seem to have much offense at all at Bolton, nor have I seen him do any of the things that you knock MB for not being able to do.


        • Posted by Tux on 2011/03/03 at 7:20 PM

          I’m not saying Holden’s the answer – he’s a holding midfielder who is effective linking play up and tackles fairly well. And yes, Dempsey is best served playing in the hole, but that’s not as a CAM. In all honesty, my pick for that position is at least two years premature – Mix Diskerud. To assume he’ll be ready by 2014 might be a little premature, though.


  17. Posted by John on 2011/03/02 at 3:38 PM

    Incidentally the card count in the Rangers/Celtic ended up being 12/13 (if you count Diouf getting sent off after the game was over, which is a talent in and of itself) with three reds.


  18. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/02 at 4:21 PM

    junior has been catching a lot of flack lately. he did not do anything special today, but probably the best villa chance in the first half came when bradley made a nice run to pull richards off of gabby, allowing him a good shot at goal. bradley had several turnovers, one in the first half when he kicked it out of bounds with an open player ready to break and couple of turnovers in the second which probably lead to him being removed. he maybe should have done better on the third goal by silva, but maybe the villa defender could have not headed the ball to the spaniard on the edge of the box.

    the blame for today probably falls squarely on the french manager who fielded a bad lineup and a bad formation, with a 4-3-3. really it was similar to the costa rica saprissa disaster. if houllier ever got a hold of the us mens team, that would be the day us soccer would be in real trouble. pray that it never happens.


    • Posted by Tux on 2011/03/02 at 5:03 PM

      “if houllier ever got a hold of the us mens team, that would be the day us soccer would be in real trouble. pray that it never happens.”

      I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.


  19. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/04 at 9:39 AM

    Interesting games for US fans. Some nice head-to-heads

    Bolton Wanderers v Aston Villa**
    Fulham v Blackburn Rovers

    **if Bradley plays. Big if.


  20. Posted by John on 2011/03/04 at 10:05 AM

    Cascadia Summit Tonight

    Timbers v Sounders in Tukwila, WA

    Will be streamed (for Timbers fans) on
    7:30 pm


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/04 at 10:17 AM

      I couldn’t tell you anything else about Portland Timbers, but I remember as a kid seeing images of this bearded bloke with a flippin’ chain saw! That must have been about 30 years ago during the NASL…


  21. Context for the Michael Bradley performance–OptaJack, the new Opta Twitter feed for Americans/MLS, has reported Bradley went 35/40 (87.5%.)


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