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Thursday, February 09, 2006

"The FA Cup is still domestically the best cup in the world."

Well, it was a workout for TDH's channel-changing thumb today as Chelsea v Everton and Zaragoza v Madrid kicked off within minutes of each other. First, to Stamford Bridge....

Why does TDH talk so much about Chelsea? Sure, they're the champions and will be again this year. But Mourinho, love him or hate him, always comes to the stadium with a full bag of tricks.

Mourinho's squad list held what the television guys interpreted as a 4-4-2 formation: Crespo, Gudjohnsen, Robben, Lampard, Essien, SWP, Gallas, Terry, Huth, Johnson, Cudicini. Makelele was getting a rest, but otherwise everything seemed pretty pedestrian. And yet, and yet....

From the off it was clear that Gudjohnsen was going to play behind Crespo, not beside him. Lampard would play near Gudjohnsen, and Essien in Makelele's regular holding spot. (Can you imagine Essien taking over that job when the Frenchman retires, loyal readers? Arsene and Sir must have been shaking as the thought occurred to them.) The wingers would streak in on Crespo's flanks as per usual.

But wait! What's this? Robben on the right and SWP on the left?!?! Yes, that's how they started. TDH started feeling nauseous almost immediately, and you can imagine how the Everton defense felt. They were in total disarray. Then, after about a quarter of an hour, Dr. Football switched the wingers back to their usual positions, and within minutes he had his first goal.

The high-test motor oil also known as SWP is called "El Supersonico" around these parts, and he certainly looked the part as he attracted a penalty from clumsy Nuno Valente in the 36th minute. Oh, clumsy Nuno Valente - the referee took pity on him by not awarding a second yellow card. Had he done so, the 4-1 scoreline could have been much worse.

With the result already in hand for the Billionaire Boys Club, TDH decided to check out the Madrid match. 3-0 to Zaragoza already, care of a 20-minute hat-trick by local hero Diego Milito! He bagged another after the break, on the way to 6-1. The Merengues looked like cold bacalao.

To sum up, TDH would like to offer loyal readers a little something to take to the bookies: It's a safe bet that the total number of goals in any Madrid match will be at least four. It's just not clear who'll win.


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

did you see anything of Maniche? I haven't seen him play since the move, and I'm interested to see if he's any good here. I never really understood what he brought to the table, to be honest (although he clearly takes a lot off it - he's carrying a fair few extra pounds).

I'd rate Gudjohnsen as one of the best mifielders in the prem - fantastic control, rarely loses the ball, great passer, good shot - so I'm not sure what Maniche is meant to add.

7:48 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Maniche looked a bit doughy, it's true. I think he misses the sun. As far as performance, he was competent. One assumes with Chelsea that almost every player will be capable of changing the game, but Maniche is pretty much the midfield equivalent of Huth.

Eidur is just one of the best players in the league, and it happens that he can play up front or in midfield. He'd probably be a fine center-back, too. With Maniche on the pitch for Crespo, Eidur was able to move forward.

3:13 PM  

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