Analysis of the goals conceded against Arsenal (26/2)

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Sagna’s goal – after van Persie hits the post, Arsenal keep possession through Gibbs, and Sagna moves with intent to power home a header from an Arteta cross.

Robin van Persie’s shot comes off the post, and Gibbs is first to react. Kranjcar goes to close him down.

When Arteta moves to give Gibbs an option, Scott Parker goes out to him, but doesn’t get close enough to stop him doing anything other than advancing forward himself. He is almost encouraging him to cross the ball – risky given how many bodies they have in the box.

Arteta clips in a decent cross to around the penalty spot, but look at Sagna – unmarked with Bale marking nobody at the far post.

Bale attempts to make up the ground, but Sagna is unchallenged when he makes contact.

Bale simply reacted too late.

It is a fine header, though, as he has to generate all of the power himself. Right into the corner, leaving Friedel little chance.

van Persie’s goal – Assou-Ekotto’s weak clearance comes out to van Persie, who bends home an unstoppable finish.

As Arsenal pour forward in midfield, their tails up, Spurs look a little desperate.

Song slips a pass forward…

…Kaboul loops a header up, and with two players advancing (and Parker stood still), this could spell danger.

It falls kindly for us, but Assou-Ekotto weakly clears with an overhead.

The ball falls nicely for van Persie, who has Kranjcar one side of him, and Parker the other.

Between Parker and Kranjcar, we fail in stopping him from getting the ball on to his left foot.

He really punishes us – bending a fantastic shot into the corner, as Parker lunges for the ball. Too little too late.

Rosicky’s goal – Rosicky starts a move and runs beyond King to get on the end of it and nick the ball beyond Friedel.

We had already had warnings early in the second half (with Benayoun’s shot), but we continued to throw bodies forward during a very dangerous period of the match.

Song wins the ball back for Arsenal with van der Vaart going to ground…

Song plays a one-two with Gibbs, as Sandro also recklessly commits himself a long way up the pitch.

As Song receives the ball back, he plays forward to van Persie ahead of Parker, with our entire midfield now out of the game.

Van Persie moves the ball on to Rosicky, who has no direct opponent on that side of the pitch.

He charges forward, with Sagna on his outside, and plays Sagna in. Arsenal have worked a 5 vs 4 thanks to our reckless midfield play.

Assou-Ekotto doesn’t get anywhere near close enough to Sagna, although the cross flicks off his trailing leg.

Rosicky seems to show more desire to get to the ball ahead of King, who seemed so well-positioned in the previous image. Friedel is also very slow to react, and not brave enough – had he dived at Rosicky’s feet, he may have saved this.

Rosicky gets to the ball before Friedel, and lifts it over him. A shambolic goal to concede.

Walcott’s first goal – van Persie holds the ball up, and King and Kaboul seem to have the situation under control, but Walcott makes an unchallenged supporting run, and although he takes the ball wide, he finds a fantastic finish, clipped over Friedel.

A long ball is played forward, with van Persie the lone front man. We have King and Kaboul in pursuit, and we seem to have things under control.

Kaboul almost nicks the ball, but van Persie manages to retain possession.

With neither King or Kaboul able to rob him, and all of our other players attracted to the ball, van Persie looks wide.

Walcott has made a fantastic supporting run, with Parker unable to keep up with him, and Assou-Ekotto trotting back without any purpose.

Walcott, so poor in the first half, does not have the best touch here, and is taken wide. Notice Friedel, though – he seems to be in no man’s land, presumably trying to narrow the angle.

In my opinion Friedel makes Walcott’s mind up for him, and he clips it over him effortlessly. Had he stayed on his line, he may have forced him into taking the ball even further wide.

Walcott’s second goal – Spurs’ high line is horribly exploited, as Rosicky’s fine pass finds Walcott, and he in turn finds the corner.

Song is on the end of a King clearance, and out-muscles Adebayor.

Rafael van der Vaart makes a feeble attempt to win the ball, but Song emerges. Modric is too slow to press him, meaning that he has time to get his head up.

He curls a simple ball forward…

…and with Walcott having come off the line and running between King and Kaboul, our high line fails. Kaboul is the last man out, but when there’s no pressure on the ball, you simply can’t attempt to play offside in this way anyway.

Walcott sprints beyond King and, with his confidence having returned, he takes on an early shot, picking out the corner.

What a hideous exercise.

Arsenal (A) preview – a few tactical thoughts

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I read’s preview of Milan vs Arsenal last week with interest, as there were comparisons drawn with the tactics that Spurs deployed at the San Siro last year (I note that Wenger sneered at our counter-attacking wingers set-up!). Wenger’s decision to start with a relatively narrow team and end with a very narrow team was quite bizarre given Milan’s issues defending against pace in wide areas, as Michael Cox highlighted. Milan took advantage of Arsenal’s tactical chaos, dominating the game themselves with Ibrahimovic’s constant deep movement bamboozling first Vermaelen and Koscielny and then Vermaelen and Djourou after Koscielny was forced off through injury.

The Milan thrashing was followed by a tricky trip to in-form Sunderland in the FA Cup, where Arsenal were again forced into a defensive re-shuffle. Vermaelen started alongside Djourou at centre back, with Coquelin at left-back (although Coquelin went off injured early on, meaning that Vermaelen switched to the left, with Squillaci coming on at centre back). Rosicky and Walcott dropped out of the side, with Gervinho brought back in on the left and Oxlade-Chamberlain preferred on the right. Whilst the wide men were probably Arsenal’s best players, they struggled to find them with any regularity and this was largely down to a superbly organised midfield display from Sunderland.

Sunderland were largely content to allow Arsenal possession in deeper areas, encouraging passes inside to Arteta, Song and Ramsey. At this point, Colback, Gardner and especially the tenacious Cattermole aggressively closed down Arsenal’s midfield players and cut off the supply line, leaving van Persie isolated and the wingers frustrated.

Given both of these matches, whilst also remembering that these were both away matches for Arsenal, I would hope that Spurs take note of Arsenal’s apparent sudden reliance on width to break teams down. On Sunday I would expect Parker to do a similar job to Cattermole – pressing hard in that final third, but otherwise maintaining shape and staying disciplined. I would personally bring in Sandro alongside Parker and Modric to add physicality and another defensive barrier.

Some fans will claim that going in with three central midfield players is a negative approach to the game, but personally I think it is also a good route to a goal. Arsenal are susceptible to goals on the counter, and we saw with Sunderland’s second goal on Saturday how best to play counter-attacking football against them; let them have the ball in “safe” areas, but when they get toward the final third and more players have joined the attack, try to nick it with aggressive harrying and then attack at pace.

Another element to note from both of the matches highlighted above is Arsenal’s centre back problems. Due to injury, they have been chopping and changing the pairing and now even Vermaelen – largely assured previously – is looking vulnerable. Adebayor will hopefully have watched Ibrahimovic’s clever movement last week, and will drop-off, dragging one of the two centre-backs away and leaving space for Bale and Lennon to run into.

Possible line-ups:

Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Song Arteta
Walcott Rosicky Gervinho
van Persie

Koscielny and Gibbs are doubts for Arsenal, with Djourou and Jenkinson standing by as potential replacements – they would clearly weaken the team significantly. Although I have suggested that Rosicky will start (with Ramsey out injured), I actually wouldn’t be too surprised to see Walcott play inside and Oxlade-Chamberlain again start on the right.

Walker Kaboul King Assou-Ekotto
Sandro Parker Modric
Lennon Adebayor Bale
With van der Vaart and Lennon both returning from injuries, I think it is a toss-up as to which will start, but I have presumed that Lennon will get the nod based on nothing more than the fact that he got a few minutes under his belt against Stevenage. One alternative would be to start both and leave out Sandro, but for the reasons discussed above I think Sandro is an important player in this match.

James McClean had another good game in the Sunderland match – working hard defensively, but breaking forward with direct running and causing problems. Hopefully Harry Redknapp will have seen his display and will start Gareth Bale in his favoured wide-left position, where he is best-placed to inflict damage. 

So long as we stay disciplined and focused, and defend intelligently, I don’t see why we cannot frustrate Arsenal – even at The Emirates. Once their players and fans are frustrated they become an easier team to play against, and hopefully we can find a couple of goals on the counter to send us all home happy.

Finally, if you have not yet read Spooky’s wonderful battle-cry on Dear Mr Levy, I urge you to do so immediately!


TONIGHT: Charlton Athletic U18s vs Tottenham Hotspur U18s – #TottenhamUltras

Follow me on Twitter – @WindyCOYS.

You can also hear me on The Fighting Cock podcast.

Tonight our under-18 side play Charlton Athletic at The Valley in the FA Youth Cup Fifth Round – the winner will face Manchester United in the Sixth Round.

The Fighting Cock podcast has managed to round up over one hundred people to go along and sing their hearts out in support of Tottenham Hotspur. Give the U18s a taste of what it is like to play for our wonderful club – it’s £5 entry, and kick off is 7pm. It would be great to see a few of you there. Use the Twitter hashtag #TottenhamUltras today and join the Facebook event if you are going to be coming along.

The team will probably be something along the lines of:

Billy Granger
Alex McQueen Kevin Stewart Oliver Modeste Jack Barthra
Jack Munns Ruben Lameiras
Kenneth McEvoy Mason Bush Shaquille Coulthirst
Souleymane Coulibaly

Good luck to all of the lads that are involved, and enjoy the support!

Spurs loanee update – 09/02/12

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You can also hear me on The Fighting Cock podcast.

Currently we have the following players out on loan:

Premier League
Steven Caulker – Swansea City (season)
Kyle Naughton – Norwich City (season)
Steven Pienaar – Everton (season)
Sebastian Bassong – Wolves (season)

David Button – Doncaster (March 1st)
Andros Townsend – Leeds (season)
Adam Smith – Leeds (season)
Yago Falque – Southampton (season)
Tom Carroll – Derby (season)
Ryan Mason – Millwall (season)
Harry Kane – Millwall (season)

League One
Nathan Byrne – Bournemouth (season)
Jon Obika – Yeovil Town (season)
Dean Parrett Yeovil Town (season)
John Bostock – Sheffield Wednesday (season)

Conference North
Jordan Archer – Bishop’s Stortford

Vedran Corluka – Bayer Leverkusen (season)
Mirko Ranieri – FC Esperia Viareggio (season)
Kudus Oyenuga – St Johnstone (season)

Now returned
Oscar Jansson – Bradford City
Kudus Oyenuga – Bury
David Bentley – West Ham
Ryan Mason – Doncaster
Simon Dawkins – San Jose Earthquakes
Jermaine Jenas – Aston Villa
Ben Alnwick – Leyton Orient
David Button – Leyton Orient
Bongani Khumalo – Reading
Adam Smith – MK Dons

Keeping track of all of our loanees has turned into a full-time job, with nineteen players currently out on loan, not including Jenas who was ruled out for the season in December, and Bentley, who has also returned to Spurs to receive treatment (and who could, incidentally be fit within a matter of weeks).

Premier League

Since his return from injury in December, Steven Caulker has been one of Swansea City’s most impressive and consistent performers, and has now started thirteen games for them – they’ve kept five clean sheets in that time.

Chris Carra from the ForzaSwansea blog (@ForzaSwansea on Twitter) has kindly offered his opinion on Caulker:

From his first game for the Swans, Steven Caulker has been solid. He slots in very nicely next to Ashley Williams and has been one of the first on the team sheet all season. He is strong and consistently solid the air. The only blemish was his brush with the police earlier in the season, but his on field performance makes up for it. He seems happy to stay with Swansea after the summer; something we all hope will happen as he would leave a very big hole to fill.

Like Caulker, Kyle Naughton has been putting in consistently good performances for Norwich City. He has played primarily at right back, but has also had a couple of matches at left back, and even played as an emergency centre back this weekend after both of their regular CBs had come off injured. He has now made twenty starts and one substitute appearance for City. Below are some comments on Naughton from two Norwich fans.

Firstly, my friend and City season ticket holder Luke Bell (@soulwaxer on Twitter):

Like so many of his team-mates, Kyle Naughton has been hugely impressive in the first half of this season. After a slightly shaky pre-season, he swiftly won over the Norwich fans with a run of strong defensive performances and a promising attacking partnership with Elliott Bennett in front of him. Most would agree that he has now established himself as Norwich’s first-choice right-back; an impressive achievement given he ousted Russell Martin from that position, who played every minute of the Championship promotion campaign. A series of injuries to other players has seen him switched to left-back, where he’s been equally efficient defensively, although perhaps not quite so threatening going forward. Against Bolton he was even employed as a makeshift centre-back for the majority of the game, where he coped superbly with the physical threat of Ngog and Davies.

Paul Lambert has made it clear that he’d like to keep Naughton on a permanent deal; most Norwich fans will be hoping that the club can come up with a deal to make it happen.

Secondly, from the author of the excellent Holtamania blog (@Holtamania on Twitter):

How much for him? Seriously. How much? Let’s start negotiating now because he’s surely our number one target this summer.

Kyle has been brilliant for Norwich so far this season, a season in which we have exceeded everyone’s expectations. Like the majority of the team, Kyle came to us with little Premier League experience but has looked at home. After missing the first match of the season, he stepped in at right back and has made the position his own; a tough ask when going up against crowd favourite and last year’s Player of the Season runner up, Russell Martin. Kyle’s performances have been solid, with only a couple of dips against Villa and Blackburn. Otherwise he has been excellent defensively; a tough job when we frequently play a diamond formation that leaves fullbacks exposed. He’s shown a certain maturity and composure that you might not have expected, and is comfortable wherever he’s asked to play. He’s stepped in at left back several times this season and was arguably man of the match in that position against Fulham, and most recently covered at centre back against Bolton and put in another assured, quality performance. He seems to pass Lambert’s character test and is trusted across the back line. Most of us wanted him secured in the January window but that was always unlikely with what appears to be a hefty asking price. Nevertheless, once we secure Premier League status for another year, the topic will come up again. With Kyle Walker deservedly securing his place in the Spurs defence, Naughton will want to play games rather than be his friends’ backup. At this point I hope both clubs can agree a deal that sees Spurs adequately paid and Norwich getting a fullback with years ahead of him.

Encouraging reports!

Steven Pienaar made his second debut for Everton this weekend, playing on the left of a 4-4-1-1 in their 1-1 draw with Wigan. Pienaar hinted after the match that he could look to stay at Everton beyond the loan.

“There were other options but, for me, coming back here was the simple thing to do. When [Harry Redknapp] asked me where I wanted to go I said I just want to go to Everton.

At the moment, let me focus on the first few months here and just get playing and see what happens in the summer.

It’s until the end of the season and I just have to make sure I make the most of this for a few months and in the summer we can talk about my future.

I’m an open minded person – I’ve always been open minded. It doesn’t matter what happens but the most important thing is that in these next few months I do my best for the squad.”

Sebastian Bassong made his debut at centre back for Wolves, and this Wolves blog summed up his debut as follows:

“Speaking of new signings, Sebastian Bassong was correctly given his debut and although Zamora outmuscled him to toe poke them into the lead, I thought the on-loan Spurs man acquitted himself well.

I’m a bigger fan of Berra than most but the pace off the ball and composure on it that Bassong brought to the back four were notable.”


Having made a couple of appearances for Leyton Orient earlier in the season (before succumbing to injury), 22-year old goalkeeper David Button was sent to Doncaster at the start of January. He has made five appearances, keeping three clean sheets – a remarkable record thus far – and he impressed manager Dean Saunders in their away draw at Hull:

“David made some great saves and I couldn’t ask for more from the lads.”

Paul Goodwin @paulgoodwinDFP, a Sports writer at Doncaster Free Press tweeted the following to me:

“Influential in keeping 3 clean sheets out of last 4. Good shot stopper, confident, calming influence. Only weakness: kicking.”

Since moving to Leeds at the beginning of January, Andros Townsend has made five starts, including one away at Arsenal in the FA Cup, but was only on the bench this weekend. He had a terrific start for Leeds in their match against Burnley, being fouled twice by full back Kieran Trippier, leading to his dismissal.

The editor of the Dirty Leeds blog (@DirtyLeedsBlog on Twitter) has kindly given me his opinion on Andros and Adam so far:

I had been asked by the editor to give my opinion on the two Tottenham youngsters currently on loan at Elland Road, I gladly offered the following;

Unfortunately, my views on the young full back are limited as I haven’t actually seen him play yet. By all accounts his debut was impressive at Bristol on Saturday and apparently he would have been MOM had Aston Villa’s (on loan) Fabian Delph not excelled himself. It is worth noting though that Bristol played the final 30 mins with 9 men. Hopefully he can take that form into this Saturday and I can give a real opinion on him then.

His debut was sensational. He ran Burnley ragged, resulting in the dismissal of the opposing full back after just half an hour (yes lots of opponents get sent off at the minute, 5 in the last 5 matches!)!

One thing that stands out for me is his ability to overcome the main criticism that is levelled at young wide men; delivery and final pass. Plenty of wingers are eye-gougingly frustrating with their killer pass, there is at least a couple in North London… Andros does seem to have grasped this skill.

Whilst he is yet to replicate his debut heroics and didn’t get off the bench in the last game, I can’t help feeling that he’d be a far better player in a better team. Hopefully the effect of a new manager will give him and the squad a lift.

It is worth noting that Simon Grayson was very fond of wingers, whether Neil Redfearn or a subsequent new manager will be as keen is anybody’s guess.

Thanks for the opportunity. Let me also offer my sympathies over the impending departure on Harry Redknapp. Hopefully you can still gate crash the top 3.

Adam Smith joined Andros at Leeds recently and made his debut in last weekend’s game. He had an outstanding first half of the season at Milton Keynes Dons under the tutelage Karl Robinson, who is used to working with young players having previously worked at Liverpool’s Academy. Smith made 22 starts for MK Dons, playing as a very attacking full back. He scored two goals, both superb long-range efforts, and his good performances helped him to force his way into the England U21 squad.

Having signed Yago Falque permanently, we immediately sent him on loan to Southampton. He played 55 minutes of their draw with Leicester, was an unused substitute in their next game, but wasn’t involved in last weekend’s match against Birmingham, or their cup game against Millwall (for which he was cup-tied).

Tom Carroll made a scoring start to his Derby County career with a late goal. It was only a consolation though, as they were 3-1 down with seconds to go. You can watch the goal here, at 1:40.

A big thank you to Derby County Blog (@derbycountyblog on Twitter) for the following on Carroll:

Tom Carroll joined Derby in unusual circumstances. He was signed on a half-season loan to replace Paul Green, who had been made available for transfer after failing to agree a new contract. Green was duly left out of the squad on transfer deadline day, as the Rams travelled to Barnsley, but no move transpired. Carroll is therefore left to fight for his place against four other midfielders – two box-to-box types (Green and Craig Bryson), a technically-adept holding midfielder (James Bailey) and Ireland U’21 Jeff Hendrick, who is also more of a passer than a bruiser by nature.

With Green out for the Barnsley game, Hendrick replaced him on the right side of midfield, with Carroll slotting into the centre alongside Bryson, in place of Bailey. Unfortunately, Barnsley’s midfield three totally swamped Derby’s 4-4-2 and the Rams were 2-0 down in the blink of an eye. Nigel Clough then changed the formation to match the Tykes up in the middle of the park, but by that time, the horse had bolted and Barnsley, with their tails up, scored a splendid third goal before settling down and enjoying the rest of the half.

At the interval, a cricket score looked wholly plausible, but pretty much from the start of the second half, Derby managed to claw their way back into the game. Carroll, who cut a forlorn figure in the first half, saw far more of the ball and started to show what he can do; he is a clever, technically smart schemer with the ability to pick a pass.

Derby got a goal back through Ward and with Barnsley on the back foot, Carroll got into the box and pirouetted away from a defender, who blatantly cleaned him out, only for the referee to signal for a corner. Had that decision gone Derby’s way, with about 15 minutes to go, you can’t help but feel that the Rams would have gone on to grab an equaliser. As it was, Carroll’s injury-time goal, poached from closish range after a poor clearance from the goalkeeper was pounced on by Hendrick, was too little too late.

A lot of Derby fans are prejudiced against a midfield three system – 4-5-1, as it is pejoratively known – perceiving any such formation as automatically ‘negative’.
Carroll could be the clever linking midfielder who makes sense of a 4-3-3 at Pride Park, especially as we have two players – Ward and Tyson – who could operate effectively as wide forwards. Such a system would certainly suit Carroll better than 4-4-2, as it usually leads to more midfield possession, with the team building from the back more often than quickly hitting the frontmen.

There is plenty of competition for places, so Carroll will have to play well to justify his place in the team – if he does so, it’ll benefit Derby in the short-term and Spurs in the long-term.

Harry Kane moved to Millwall at the start of January for the remainder of the season, and scored his first goals against Dagenham and Redbridge in the FA Cup. He has now made eight starts and one substitute appearance, and was a part of the side that won 3-2 away at Southampton in Tuesday’s FA Cup win.

Some decent comments on Kane from the Millwall forum after last weekend’s match:

“Kane is far better than anything we have bar Henderson and now Keogh.”

“Kane looked good when he came on.”

“Kane has a first touch and wins headers.”

Ryan Mason has joined Kane at Millwall having not been given too many opportunities under Dean Saunders at Doncaster, mostly owing to constant injury problems. He made his debut against Watford in the league, and came off the bench in their weekend defeat against West Ham as they chased an equaliser. He was widely criticised on Millwall forums after his debut, but it is worth remembering that this was his first game at this level for nearly three months having had more niggling injuries. He had a much improved match against Southampton in the FA Cup, but should have put them 2-0 up when through one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

League One

Nathan Byrne is due back soon for Bournemouth after overcoming a very nasty injury.

Jonathan Obika has been a regular for Yeovil Town since returning from injury at the end of November. He has now started thirteen times and made two substitute appearances, scoring twice, including a fantastic bicycle kick against Charlton on Boxing Day. Whilst his scoring record doesn’t look good on paper, Yeovil do not score many goals as a team, and Obika’s overall performances have been good.

Dean Parrett joined Jonathan at Yeovil Town in mid February, signing initially on a one month loan. He has already started four times for them claiming an assist on his debut vs Tranmere. His loan has now been extended for the rest of the season.

Many thanks to Vyse (@vyseofhr) from Green And White Blog for the following piece on Parrett and Obika’s progress, especially as it came at such short notice:

Jon has had a season that has been severely interrupted by injury, although he is just beginning to show signs of the form he displayed during his earlier loan spells. His two goals this season have both arrived since Christmas, and his bicycle kick against Charlton was a display of technique often missing in strikers at our level.
That said, he remains frustrating. His work rate is often the source of terrace jeering, and whilst he remains our best natural finisher, his off the ball work is at best reactive, and sometimes plain not good enough; he often doesn’t make the ‘right’ runs and never seems to be very good at anticipating how play will develop. This is something that can be taught though, and perhaps another good half season at Yeovil will begin to see Jon realise his potential.

Dean on the other hand, appears to have arrived at Huish Park almost as the finished article; so much so that I find it amazing that Spurs have today announced that he’ll spend the rest of the season here. He has gelled fantastically with one of our brightest talents, Ed Upson, and fans have been waxing lyrical about the similarities with a club legend, Darren Way, in his tigrish approach and eye for a pass and goal.
Yeovil’s recent upturn in results and performances have occurred since Dean joined the club, and it’s no coincidence. Like Ryan Mason and Steven Caulker before him, he’s been fantastic.

John Bostock joined Sheffield Wednesday for the remainder of the season at the end of the transfer window, and came off the bench to make his debut on the 31st. He started this weekend’s game against Yeovil, and below are some comments from a Sheffield Wednesday forum:

“Lightweight, but very early days, and not a day to judge a player. Seems to want to come inside all the time, as opposed to playing wide. When teams park the bus, we need width. “

“I think he looked decent and can pass the ball well. A couple of times he played some lovely balls in the second half. I think he’ll turn out to be a decent signing. “

“He was quiet and a bit disappointing today, after seeing him at MK, but as said above, it’s still very early days.

He’s clearly not a winger but a central player, so he’s got some adapting to do if Meggo insists on playing him wide.”

“Yeah , looks more comfortable inside.

A bit lethargic and off the pace first half but played some intelligent passes second.”

“His crossing needs to improve considerably if he is going to take every set piece”

“Thought he played OK today. Has a languid style, but has good ball control. Didn’t hide, always tried to be involved. Think if Megson can get him to be more confident generally and encourage him to be more authoritative and start dictating the play, I think we could have a really good player for the rest of the season. I think though he’ll be more effective in the centre alongside Semedo than out wide, because he doesn’t seem pacey enough to play on the flank. “

Wednesday manager Gary Megson seems to know what he’s getting, commenting on him after his debut:

“He showed his talent when he ran with the ball from his own half. He’s really languid on the ball and has great touch and control. He’s got to find a way of applying himself so he can have a lot more impact on the game than ordinarily he might do.

We have central midfield players who are very good at tackling, or closing down, or running forward with the ball, or picking a pass; John is a bit different – he can play wide or in the middle.”

Conference North

Jordan Archer has had a decent spell at Bishop’s Stortford since joining them in October (when Ian Walker was still their manager!).

I contacted the Sports Editor from the ‘Herts and Essex Observer‘, Alan Scott, and he kindly gave me his opinion on Jordan:

I’ve only seen him twice but I’ve been really impressed with him.

He’s got great reflexes and is a good shot stopper.

He make some mistakes but then he is very young, that will come with experience.

He’s also quite brave which is very useful for a keeper – especially playing in this league against some big old Northern lumps.

David Rimmer, another reporter from the same paper was also generous enough to give me his take on Jordan’s appearances so far:

I would say on the games I have seen is that Jordan Archer is a very good shot stopper.

He is very good at keeping out shots which are bound for the top of the goal and has made quite a few acrobatic tip overs.

However he needs to improve on collecting crosses but this will come with experience. He has height and in time will become a very good keeper but whether he will make it right to the top I am not sure. For his age he is not bad at commanding his box.

I would say he was not as good as a previous outstanding young keeper that Stortford had in Rob Elliott. He played in the first part of the 2004/05 season and I believe he is now at Newcastle.


Vedran Corluka made his Bayer Leverkusen debut in a 2-2 with VfB Stuttgart, and one of his crosses led to a goal.

Mirko Ranieri was an unused sub as FC Esperia Viareggio drew 0-0 with Taranto – he had been starting regularly for them until recently, but seems to have lost his place in the team.

Kudus Oyenuga was an unused sub for St Johnstone in their 1-1 draw with Hearts, and will be hoping to make his debut soon after scoring for their reserves last week. The St Johnstone website featured a nice interview with him last week:

KUDUS GEARED UP TO AID SCOTTISH CUP CAMPAIGN IF NEEDED New loan signing Kudus Oyenuga is looking forward to spending the rest of his season with Saints and is ready to contribute to our Scottish Cup cause against Hearts on Sunday if required.

Striker Kudus joined Saints on loan from Spurs at the end of last month and made an immediate impression with a goal in a closed door game against Motherwell on Tuesday.

Before heading off to train with the rest of the squad in Alloa this morning, the eighteen year old told the Saints Official Website: “It’s been a good week for me. I had a training session with the younger boys on Monday followed by the game against Motherwell on Tuesday and I managed to get myself a goal which was pleasing. I’ve not had many minutes of football recently so it was very worthwhile.”

The Londoner met up with the first team players on Wednesday at a go-karting session in Cambuslang arranged by Steve Lomas to gather the squad together post-transfer window and although he didn’t shine on the track he thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.

“Don’t ask me about the karting! Let’s just say I wasn’t troubling the top of the leaderboard! But it was really good to meet the boys, they are lovely people and I can tell there is a good team spirit.”

With international clearance obtained, Kudus can feature in Sunday’s televised cup encounter at Tynecastle if required and it may well be that he and fellow new loan recruit James Keatings from Celtic are the men selected to fill the requirement of having two Under 21 players in the stripped outfield squad.

Kudus says: “The Gaffer has been cool with me and told me to work hard and see what it brings myself and the club. I’m used to working hard and I’m ready to be involved if asked on Sunday.”

Clearly struggling with the minus five temperature Perth endured this morning Kudus concluded: “The only thing that has surprised me is the cold but give me a week and I’ll be used to it and wearing a t-shirt!”

Kudus enjoyed the go-karting event on Wednesday

A big thank you to all of the contributors to this article:

Luke Bell (@soulwaxer on Twitter)
The editor of the Dirty Leeds blog (@DirtyLeedsBlog on Twitter)
Chris Carra from the ForzaSwansea blog (@ForzaSwansea on Twitter)
Holtamania blog (@Holtamania on Twitter):
David Rimmer and Alan Scott from Herts and Essex Observer
Vyse (@vyseofhr on Twitter) from Green And White Blog
Paul Goodwin (@paulgoodwinDFP on Twitter), a Sports writer at Doncaster Free Press

Analysis of the goal conceded against Wigan Athletic (31/1)

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James McArthur’s goal Wigan make progress down our right hand side, working a two vs one which drags Sandro wide. McArthur takes advantage and makes an intelligent run and, although Parker gets back to him, his lunging challenge only loops the ball over Friedel.

Ben Watson carries the ball forward in a little space. Note Bale and Lancaster standing in the forward positions, and Kranjcar ahead of Sandro, Parker and Modric.

Substitute McArthur, the eventual scorer, picks takes possession and spreads play wide to Moses. Sandro is covering McArthur at this point, with Parker in the middle of the pitch and Modric to his left.

As Beausejour makes the overlapping run, Sandro is forced to make up the numbers, with Bale caught up-field. McArthur sees this and intelligently makes a break in behind him. Although Parker reads the danger, he is always going to struggle to get across in time.

Moses weights his ball perfectly for McArthur…

…who is able to take the shot first time, despite the desperate lunge from Parker.

The ball deflects off Parker and loops awkwardly over Friedel, who has an impossible task.