116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Ballad of Andriy Shevchenko

While we here on 116th Street were busy this weekend watching Arsenal officially declare their intentions for fourth place, we completely missed this gem of a goal (although, in our defense, it's a bit hard to concentrate on multiple screens while trying to keep your prized possessions from being potentially thieved by David Hirshey):

Even so, most likely because we enjoy both the Premiership and beer a little bit more than is socially acceptable, we made our way right back to Kinsale Tavern on Sunday to check out the main event, which turned out to be as highly entertaining as we had hoped, but as ultimately dissatisfying as we had expected. United owned a first half in which Chelsea seemed disinterested and tactically inept, but I'm pretty sure everyone expected them to play for a draw anyway, so their lack of width and willingness to weather United's attacking storm came as no surprise.
When Arjen Robben came on in the second half, however, the Blues' response was swift and dangerous, albeit not exactly lethal. Their lack of polish in the final third has caused me to wonder what they can do to get Andriy Shevchenko more involved in attack. Mike Cardillo gave the opinion that Sheva simply isn't suited to the Premiership, but I have observed a striker that, while out of synch with the squad, hasn't been given anywhere near the level of service needed to perform at his highest level. As the game wore on, Shevchenko pushed wider and wider left, and further and further into the midfield; these are the signs of a striker desperate for a touch. After the Robben substitution, Chelsea's newfound width seemed to give Sheva a bit of relief, as he moved back toward the center and even made one or two decent runs, but by then it had become a case of too little, too late.
Because Chelsea knocked long and hard on United's door, and Ricardo Carvalho managed an equalizer, they will stay within striking distance of the title, but the system of playing Shevchenko, Lampard and Ballack at the same time is leaving everyone (with the exception of Lampard) out in the cold. As far as attacking midfielders go, providing service is far from Lampard's strong point, which is one reason why you see that perpetual look of discouragement of Sheva's face. Ballack, for all of his money, looks so lost out there that smoke signals might become a part of his future. And yes, I know that having tons of Chelsea money and being married to an American model is not exactly grounds for sympathy, but can't we do something to cheer Sheva up? How about getting him some quality time out there with Joe Cole for a start?


Anonymous Matt said...

That was a pretty brilliant goal by Ronny. I'm dismayed to hear that you're mates with that bile-spewing Gooner from Deadspin. Hope he's not as miserable in person as he is on the blog. As for Sheva, he certainly has been a disappointment so far, but I wonder how much Drogba's stellar form has to do with defenders focusing on Sheva.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

I wonder the same about Drogba, who certainly seems to have benefitted from no longer having to play as the single striker.

I just can't wrap my head around Chelsea this season. Too many players in roles they're not suited for (or even worse, on the bench), but their style has been effective. If anyone has the depth to claim the title, it's them.

As for Hirshey, he's a good natured guy, much more in person than his writing style might lead you believe. He still can't have my jacket though...

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I think that ManU have to be concerned that even though Chelsea have yet to find their form, but they're still only three points off the pace. ManU also still have to travel to Anfield, Emirates and Stamford Bridge. Strange fixtures this week - Chelsea play Bolton on Wednesday, then get a long layoff leading up to the Arsenal match.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Scratch that - the Levski Sofia match is next week. Still, I doubt we're going to see a full-strength squad for that one.

6:07 PM  

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