Sunday, March 11, 2012


Roberto Martínez's faith in system hints at brighter future for Wigan (David Pleat, 3/11/12,

Wigan's second-half response was excellent, however. Victor Moses continued to chase and skillfully help Hugo Rodallega, whose finishing luck has deserted him. But the spur came from the gamble by the manager, Roberto Martínez, to leave his three-man defence isolated while coping with the threat of Norwich's two-man attack.

With neither James McCarthy nor James McArthur designated to sit and protect Wigan's defence, the visitors dominated play and fashioned more efforts at goal than the home side. Moses, in particular, was lively.

A team with a "nothing to lose" attitude showed increasing spirit, with Shaun Maloney, on as a substitute, playing a big role in their recovery. They could even have won the game had Mohamed Diamé, who also came on in the second half, not missed two wonderful opportunities.

Wigan are the only Premier League side that play a 3-4-1-2 system. It gave Norwich major problems, especially as their midfield had been lined up by the manager, Paul Lambert, in a diamond. This was a game, then, with no wingers, but there were two adventurous full-backs whose performances suggested that if Wigan can begin to take their chances, they can escape relegation. Twelve goals away from home this season before this match tells its own story.

The central midfielders matter more to your defense than the wing backs do.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Just how good is Clint Dempsey? (Simon Rice, 1 March 2012, Independent)

Yesterday the USA travelled to Genoa and beat Italy 1-0. It was the first time Team USA had beaten the four time World Cup winners – a winless streak covering 10 games and spanning 78 years. A remarkable result, albeit in a friendly, for Jurgen Klinsmann’s team.

The goal scorer was Clint Dempsey, receiving a perfectly weighted pass just inside the Azzuri box which he was able to strike first time with his right foot, directing the ball past Gianluigi Buffon and into the bottom corner of the net. It was a moment of well timed precision that should take the Fulham midfielder’s reputation higher than that of his compatriots, past and present, and could perhaps see him soar into the realms only known by America’s national bird.

Last night’s strike was Dempsey’s 25th in 83 international appearances. That’s quite a remarkable return for a player more often than not deployed in midfield. To put it into context, Steven Gerrard has scored 19 goals for England in 90 appearances. Cristiano Ronaldo has 32 goals in 88 appearances for Portugal. Xabi Alonso has 12 goals in 93 appearances for Spain. For the Dutch, Dirk Kuyt has 24 goals in 85 appearances. Dempsey’s international record holds up against, and in many cases betters, the leading names in world football, players who play a similar attacking midfield role. At the 2006 World Cup, Dempsey was the only American player to score at the tournament. At the 2009 Confederations Cup, the Texan was on target as USA beat Spain 2-0 in the semi-finals. He scored again in the final, against Brazil. England fans will of course remember his goal at the 2010 World Cup – although Rob Green must take some credit for that one.

At club level, Dempsey’s record continues to stand up. His goal in Fulham’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool earlier this season saw him overtake Brian McBride to become the most prolific American goalscorer in the history of the Premier League. He has reached double figures this season for the second season in succession – a feat not easily acheived in England’s top flight. 24 players scored over 10 goals last season. Of those 24, only four (Dempsey, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Fletcher) have reached double figures so far this term. His exquisite chip against Juventus in 2010 as Fulham came back to win 4-1 against the Italian titans in the Europa League will forever be among the greatest goals witnessed at Craven Cottage.