SportsNet - April 2013
Arsenal are playing better without Jack Wilshere. That's because the young England international plays an individual, rather than a collective game. He also lacks guile and creativity in advanced areas.
It's no coincidence that since Wilshere returned to the team against Norwich City on April 13th, the standard of Arsenal's play has deteriorated.
Specifically, the pace and craft of Arsenal's passing has suffered. One of the chief reasons has been that Wilshere is slowing things down in forward areas.
He has been positioned as the advanced member of Arsenal's midfield trio. This is the crucial position for manager Arsene Wenger's formation and style of play.
It's the position for Arsenal's creator in chief. It must be occupied by a player who can add the finishing touch to the Gunners' passing moves.
He must provide flair and creativity to link the midfield and forward lines together. For years Dennis Bergkamp took on this role as a supporting forward.
His through passes provided numerous goals for speedy strikers and late runners from midfield. After Bergkamp retired in 2005, Cesc Fabregas became the creative fulcrum.
A Jean Yves Poame goal at Coolock’s Oscar Traynor Centre last night saw Ireland’s Under-15 side defeat Finland in a friendly played on a still night on Dublin’s northside. In the first of two friendly internationals in three days between the two nations, Niall Harrisons Ireland side had the basis of a strong first half performance to thank for their victory.
It was from Malahide United’s Zacharay Elbouzedi’s corner that Corduff FC midfielder Poame struck the decisive goal. Shortly after Stephen Kinsella of Templeogue United was put through on goal by the always energetic Brandon Payne but Kinsella was thwarted by visiting goalkeeper Jere Pirainen who also saved well from Kinsella’s own shot five minutes later.
Finand’s best chance came shortly before the interval when Niilo Mäenpää had a long distance effort that was saved by St. Kevins Boys’ Corey Chambers. Chamber’s club team mate Robert McCourt and Lucan United’s Conor Masterson had to offer concentrated defensive performances in order aide their side to hold on to a tight lead.
Manchester United go into tonight`s match against West Ham at Upton Park needing just 7 more points to secure their record-breaking 20th league title. In the past, the trip to West Ham has proven to be a tricky encounter, but tonight, it appears that lady luck has smiled on Manchester United, with West Ham suffering from a number of injuries to key players.
West Ham defender James Tomkins (calf) is an injury doubt for the Premier League visit of league leaders Manchester United tonight (Wednesday). Winston Reid (hip) and George McCartney (knee) are also struggling for fitness, so Emanuel Pogatetz is ready to stand in at Upton Park. Midfielder Mark Noble (shoulder) is close to a return, but Joe Cole (hamstring) remains a doubt.With Sir Alex having an almost completely fit squad, it looks decidedly treacherous waters for Sam Allardyce`s side.
Anyone who watched the crucial Premier League clash between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium would have been struck by several things. Firstly, despite a lack of tangible chances, it was an entertaining 0-0 draw full of tension and drama, fought out by two teams pursuing football’s ultimate financial prize: Champions League qualification.
Secondly, the Toffees display of grit and determination and no lack of class on the ball, showed that they are growingly capable of attaching themselves to the coat tails of those with better resources at the head of the Premier League pack. David Moyes’ side probed, jousted and harried with a side supposedly their betters and, until the final 20 minutes when the Gunners quite rightly tried to assert dominance on home turf, were equally likely to nick the vital three points in this footballing blockbuster.
The next Women’s World Cup will take place in Canada in July, 2015. If Sue Ronan’s Irish team are to qualify it will be a task as onerous as what their male counterparts face at present. Today’s draw in Switzerland, attended by Ronan, saw her side drawn in a qualifying group containing Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia.
Germany are currently ranked second in the world and first in Europe. Russia’s pedigree is not as daunting, with not a huge chasm in European or World rankings with Ireland. Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia will offer lesser known and possibly precarious sojourns.
The Group 1 matches will be played just within the confines of September 2013 and September 2014. All seven group winners will automatically qualify and the remaining European berth will be fought out between the four best runners up between October 25th and November 27th, 2014. These play offs in itself will be difficult to progress from, but could prove Ireland’s best chance.