1. Liverpool 4-3 Swansea
Probably the more important of the Premier League fixtures this weekend, if only because it cemented Liverpool’s status as a kind of 95-96 Kevin Keegan redux, a team happy to conceded goals on their way to scoring at least one more for the three points. Many have their statistical doubts that Liverpool are in the mix for a title, despite a teeny tiny four point deficit. Their cavalier defense may be part of the problem.
I couldn’t tell you why this is the case. There were some tactical theories for a while, most of which involved a failure by the wing backs to track back when Brendan Rodgers regularly used a 3-5-2. Now? It kind of looks like a bit of bad luck in the save percentage department. Ben Pugsley’s tables from the week prior put Liverpool second last in the league in save %. That is ridiculous, and will regress. Even so, their Expected Goals against are just above mid-table, so LFC isn’t looking great even when luck is in their favour.
Against Swansea they conceded a lovely shot from Jonjo Shelvey and were a beaten once or twice in the air, and then Skrtel pulled Bony down in the box, too. Nothing that looked like a “problem.” Still, Liverpool are overall okay with letting goals in, as they’re scoring more and creating more chances than the opposition on a regular basis.
2. Jonjo gets applauded by the Kop for not celebrating his goal
After scoring the screamer above, Jonjo Shelvey started moving his hands downward, practically begging for forgiveness at Anfield. Ugh. This self-serving bit of asceticism is now synonymous with “class.” Grow up, everyone.
3. Carlos Tevez did this against Torino in the Turin derby
All hail Carlos Tevez. Bottom left corner. Goal: https://t.co/xXE5M16kOK
— A Football Report (@afootballreport) February 23, 2014
It was the only goal of the match. What’s incredible is that Tevez has scored 14 of Juve’s 60 goals this campaign, and the guy contemplated retiring before going to play for Antonio Conte. Juventus incidentally are pretty much home and dried, 9 points ahead of Roma in top spot.
4. Norwich move out of danger with 1-0 win over Spurs, Cardiff enter it
Spurs fans better hope that Louis van Gaal isn’t toying with them when he says he said “Maybe Tottenham are coming” in relation to a post Holland career move. Spurs were mostly flat against a Norwich that seemed elated it somehow found a way to attack the opposition goal, which also incidentally revealed how utterly inept most of them were in doing anything about it. Fer’s incredible two step above symbolized Hughton’s side in this one, a team trying to imitate a much, much better team. That Spurs gave them the run of the park on 40% possession though was an indictment on Sherwood. I’ll echo Mikey Cox: where the hell was Eriksen?
Meanwhile Cardiff is regressing to their base skill, and it’s not looking good for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a 0-3 loss to Hull, who are ambling up the table themselves under Steve Bruce. The Malky Mackay sacking is looking dumber and dumber as time rolls on, though who knows? He could have been worse off at this point.
5. Zlatan scores a hat-trick against Toulouse
Nine goals in six matches. Forty-four goals in forty-two appearances for club and country. Perhaps to underline his own importance to the Swedish sporting scene on the day when his nation’s hockey team couldn’t put a single puck past Canada and Carey Price in the Gold Medal game, Zlatan ran right through Toulouse, scoring a hat-trick and missing a panenka only to casually stroll over to fix his mistake.
6. Atletico Madrid lose their fourth match in six, 3-0 to Osasuna
It’s all going a bit strange in La Liga Land at the moment. I suppose Atleti are regressing, and certainly conceding three goals against a team in 12th place with a chance to tie for first place might fit in the evidence column at this point. This should have been the moment for Diego Simeone not to throw away all three points, as Barcelona had coughed up theirs against Real Sociedad in a 3-1 loss on Saturday, where they were outshot 15-12. Instead, Osasuna pounced and now Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid are three clear. Of course all this could be wiped out in a week’s time, but come on man!
As for Barca, there are rumblings about discontent in the dressing room, which isn’t perhaps ideal for a team still only three points back of top spot handed lifeline after lifeline by a teetering Atleti (though we could all watch Xavi’s angry face forever and ever). Things might get ugly as it’s more and more difficult to see who Martino’s allies might be in the Nou Camp these days.
7. Bayern ahead of Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga by 19 points
Bayern under Pep are an exhibition team in the Bundesliga. I watched them play Hannover today and was amazed they still celebrate goals, as if they’re not going to come or something. That’s all I have to say about that. Don’t get mad if I only talk about the Bundesliga in GIF form, ‘kay guys?
8. The Euro 2016 Qualifying Draw took place on Sunday at noon
— AC Milan News (@Milanello) February 23, 2014
Why then? Before the Sochi Olympics had even wrapped up, with ten minutes before the gold medal game? Who in god’s name knows. England have basically been given a bye, which means they’ll leave it til the last game. Group D looks faintly difficult.