Tag Archives: subtle

Jonny Evans: Swansea attacking style will suit Manchester United perfectly

Swansea's attacking style will suit Man United perfectly, says Evans

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UPDATED:

14:18 GMT, 22 December 2012

Jonny Evans hopes Swansea's continental style will benefit Manchester United on Sunday.

The progressive Welsh outfit developed a reputation for neat passing football, first under Roberto Martinez, then Brendan Rodgers before his departure for Liverpool in the summer.

Michael Laudrup's arrival has led to subtle changes, but Swansea's core philosophy remains the same.

Swan song: Evans is relishing the battle with the South Wales club

Swan song: Evans is relishing the battle with the South Wales club

Already this term it has brought success against Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle, plus a draw against Chelsea.

Evans has the utmost respect for the work Laudrup is doing in south Wales, but he feels United's vast European experience could work to their advantage.

'We have got a history of being a counter-attacking team, but if you look at Swansea, they play like a European side,' said the Northern Ireland defender.

'They like to keep the ball on the floor and pass it around, which you don't always get an awful lot of in the Premier League.

'That will suit us. We are used to playing against European competition and this will be no different.

'Swansea will have large periods where they have the ball so we have to be patient and keep our formation and our shape. Hopefully we can nick the ball off them and score goals.'

Evans recognises the task will not be straightforward.

In Michu, Swansea have the man currently challenging Robin van Persie for the Premier League's Golden Boot prize and Evans has already seen enough to recognise a stern examination awaits at the Liberty Stadium.

'I have been really impressed,' said Evans. 'We watched a couple of videos on them I have seen them quite a bit on TV. The football they play is very good.

'When they changed their manager, maybe people thought they might change their style. But, although they are a little bit more direct, largely they stuck to it.

Euro style: Evans has the utmost respect for Swansea

Euro style: Evans has the utmost respect for Swansea

Euro style: Evans – with girlfriend Helen has the utmost respect for Swansea

'They are still a side that scores a lot of goals.

'We know it is going to be a tough game but we know how to play against them and it is a game we are looking forward to.'

United managed to keep a couple of clean sheets against Swansea last season.

How Sir Alex Ferguson and his players would like one of those given they have managed only four in all competitions this season, with memories of losing out on the title to Manchester City on goal difference last term still vivid.

And the knowledge United presently head their major rivals by just one, despite boasting a six-point advantage heading into the weekend fixtures, is causing a little bit of concern.

Certainly it justified Ferguson's irritation after last weekend's tussle with Sunderland when the Red Devils cruised into a three-goal lead before easing off, allowing the Black Cats to get themselves one back and create the opportunities for more.

Focused: Sir Alex wants to erase the memory of losing out to City last season

Focused: Sir Alex wants to erase the memory of losing out to City last season

'It is not a worry if you are winning the games, but when you take your foot off the pedal it is very difficult to get it back,' said Ferguson.

'I don't think we can afford to do that. Hopefully that is a reminder to us that we have to kick on all the time.

'The way we were playing we had a good chance to score goals in that game.

'Hopefully we can start adding to our goal difference, which at the moment is similar to City's.'

I"m a Celebrity: Eric Bristow"s arrows at Helen Flanagan put darts legend in line for the chop – Edge of the Box

Bristow's arrows at Helen and co put darts legend in line for the chop

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UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 23 November 2012

Is it me, or has it all got just a little bit genteel in the jungle since it hasn’t been 'The Helen Show' Suddenly, I find myself hankering for the drama and the histrionics surrounding her and the bushtucker trials.

Instead, we have the plucky and straightforward Pussy Cat Doll Ashley nailing her task and winning the camp a Thanksgiving feast, no fuss, no bother.

Mind you, even though she wasn’t the main attraction, Helen still managed to get herself involved and generate a thin lather of soap opera by nicking Ashley’s clean towel when the poor girl returned to the camp coated in goo.

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

So as she nipped off for a well earned shower, Helen was left to complete a task she’d never done before, which was to clean a towel – a task she told the gathered throng, she normally outsources. Which caused David Haye to cry in consternation ‘who sends a towel to the dry cleaners!’.

Of course the whole point of the jungle is to bring together a whole bunch of opposites and see what fits, and what rubs up against each other.

If you want that kind of contrast, look no further than Eric and Hugo walking off into the trees together to listen to records. With treats at stake, the pair had to find numbers hidden in songs they played on a wind up gramophone.

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

The music selection totally dumbfounded the young Old Harrovian, but Eric new them all! ‘This was No 1’, he told his posh (Mister Bristow’s word) partner as he sang along to ‘Shaddup You Face’. ‘It was late eighties…loads of c**p records were No 1 then’, before going on to explain the subtle intricacies of ‘The Birdie Song’ .

If Danny Baker ever needs a break from his forthcoming BBC 4 music programme, we’ve got his replacement right here.

Eric was actually in a chirpier mood than he had appeared to be in the last couple of days. He’d recently had a pop at Helen, and last night it was Rosemary’s turn. Yet he remains defiant. ‘I keep taking the mickey’, he told us from the diary room, ‘but if you’re easily upset, you shouldn’t be here’.

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Of our trio of sports-connected celebs, I think that ‘take no prisoners’ approach could see Eric the first to take the long walk off a short rope bridge.

But for now, he’s still very much there as it was Limahl – who only turned up, like, two days ago! – proving that, in fact, not all stories are never-ending.

Which means at least Ant, Dec or me don’t get to pun on either of his two hits anymore.

Arsenal face test of passing philosophy

Strictly not passing: Wenger and Arsenal face another test of philosophy

They were once the pass masters, but Arsenal, the team who played like Barcelona long before the football world became enamoured with Xavi, Iniesta and Messi, are beginning to look a little more ragged these days.

On Sunday they need to be at their very best to avenge the humiliating 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford last August, but the reality is that, shorn of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, their famous passing gold standard seems to have become devalued.

It is not just that Swansea, everyone's new favourite passing team, beat them 3-2 last Sunday and at times outpassed the passers, with 55 per cent of the possession to Arsenal's 45 per cent.

Looking lost: Robin van Perise, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta

Looking lost: Robin van Perise, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta

That was the fifth match this season in which they have been outpassed by the opposition – and previously only five teams managed to outpass the Gunners through the entire 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons combined.

YOU'RE TAKING THE MIKE

When Mike Dean was given Manchester United’s game at Arsenal few would have been surprised to hear Sir Alex Ferguson groan. The United boss was banned for two games and fined 10,000 for a tirade at Dean (right, with Theo Walcott). But Arsenal have won none of their last 10 League games with Dean in charge.

True, in three of the games this season in which they have had less possession – against Liverpool, Manchester United and Fulham – they have had players sent off, though the red cards have come relatively late in the game.

Emmanuel Frimpong's against Liverpool was the earliest after 70 minutes, Carl Jenkinson was sent off in the 76th minute at Old Trafford and Johan Djourou on 78 minutes at Fulham.

And in the other game in which they had less possession, at Chelsea, they still ended up winning 5-3.

For Arsene Wenger the stats are not the sign that their high standards have slipped, but more down to a subtle change in style.

Tricky: Arsene Wenger is working on his tactics

Tricky: Arsene Wenger is working on his tactics

Direct: Using wingers like Theo Walcott makes Arsenal more direct than they used to be

Direct: Using wingers like Theo Walcott makes Arsenal more direct than they used to be

'I agree we are a little bit less good than last year with possession of the ball,' said Wenger.

'But it's down to the structure of the team a little bit, because we play this year with two wingers who are real wingers. And, you know, we are as well a bit more vertical than last year and a little less possession [based].

'When we played for a long period with Gervinho, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott we were dangerous, basically, always through our wings, but a little less in control possession wise.

It was not a conscious thing but it's just we found Gervinho, who did well, and we tried to find a system that can accommodate Walcott and Gervinho.'

It is true that Arsenal are marginally more direct – no bad thing, some might say, for a team who once wanted to walk the ball into the net.

Both Gervinho and Walcott's instinct is to head for goal rather than cut in and pass. However, it has left Arsenal vulnerable in other areas.

At times against Swansea, they were dominated by the promoted side, unable to control the game with their passing as they once could or as Barcelona demonstrate on a weekly basis, by using possession of the ball as a defensive tactic to kill the game.

'I feel that in weaker periods of our game we are a little bit more in trouble because we can't keep the ball as well,' said Wenger.

Injuries: A spate of injuries has left Ignaci Miquel playing out of position at left-back

Injuries: A spate of injuries has left Ignaci Miquel playing out of position at left-back

Then there is the issue of frailty at the back, which has also been affected by the use of more attacking wingers.

'We are maybe a bit more vulnerable on the wings defensively sometimes, because we have real strikers (playing wide).'

That is a problem that has hardly been helped by an astonishing run of injuries to full-backs: Bacary Sagna, Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs, Andre Santos all suffering long-term injuries, with stand in leftback Thomas Vermaelen also out and likely to miss today's clash with United.

Ignasi Miquel, ironically a Barca graduate, was exposed when played out of position at left-back at Swansea, as Djourou has been at right-back on a number of occasions – notably at Fulham, where he was sent off after struggling in the second half.

With Nani and Antonio Valencia ready to exploit such vulnerability, Miquel and Djourou are likely to be in for another miserable afternoon.