The FA Cup semi-final draw

This week-end saw no shock result in the quarter-final ties with Chelsea winner at Doncaster and 3 home wins for Arsenal v Everton, Birmingham v Sunderland and Bristol v Blackburn.

The first semi-final will be played on the 15th of April on a neutral ground between Birmingham and Bristol. Looking forward to a tight encounter as both team have yet to concede a goal in their 3 official games played so far. Unless it goes to a penalty shoot-out with 0-0 someone will have to let one in. With all the firepower available on each side (Harding, Watts, Del Rio, Rose and Taylor, Aluko, Carney, Williams) the odds for a scoreless draw until the end of et must be like 50/1. So plenty of goals drama etc to expect for that semi-final.

The second semi-final will be played on the 29th of April between Chelsea and Arsenal. If you wonder why it is played 2 weeks later and not on the same day it is a planification problem.
Arsenal are in the champions league semi-final and those ties are played on the week-end of 14/15 and 21/22. As a side effect of those games the FA WSL game against Doncaster will be postponed till later. Same thing happened last year and Arsenal took advantage of it by beating Everton late in the season and win the title.

Funnily enough, there was a WSL game day planned as well on the 29th of April, so this meant another Arsenal game postponed to later making it a bit of a problem. If 5% of a team games are postponed it does slightly influence the title race but 15% is a lot more. Well funnily enough, the Arsenal game planned on the 29th of April will be played on the 26th against Chelsea…which means the cup game can be played on the 29th with no disruption to the WSL. A funny coincidence really but it does simplify things. So Chelsea and Arsenal will play each other twice in 3 days. At the Emirates Stadium and somewhere near Chelsea on a neutral ground. Those two games will be very different as pitch size and quality are likely to differ. Chelsea’s speedy forwards will have a lot of space to work on at the Emirates stadium. So if Chelsea can find consistency in their attacking play, it will be a very interesting game at the Emirates while the semi-final might be a different proposition.


The title battle National division ep 5

Leeds beat Cardiff and are now level with Sunderland with 38 points but have played a game extra. The goal difference is is favorable to Sunderland at the moment +30 against +24 .

Sunderland have Villa and Cardiff away while Leeds have also Cardiff away. Sunderland are favorite to win the title, both teams have dominated the league and are well worthy winners.

The relegation battle National division ep 6

Huge result for Watford winning away at Reading 3-1 and also an important result with Leeds beating Cardiff 2-0 yesterday.

Aston Villa is now mathematically safe.

Here is the table as of today, 2 teams out of those 4 will go down. They are ranked by the maximum potential points they can reach and their actual League position is on the left column.

9. Watford 14 points (17 pts maximum) GD -24

7. Reading 16 points  Goal Difference -18

10. Forest 11 points (23 pts maximum) GD -20

8. Cardiff 15 points ( 27  pts maximum) GD-4

Watford last game is at Forest and need a win to have a chance to survive.

Reading is in big trouble with 16 points and all game played. The small adavantage they have is their goal difference over Forest, if  Forest finishes  the season with 16 points.

Forest needs 7 points out of 4 games to be safe or 6 if they beat Watford.

Cardiff just need3 points in 4 games or 2 points if Watford does not win at Forest.

The remaining games are ( in italics those between relegation contenders)

Forest v Aston Villa 01/04

Cardiff v Forest 08/04

Cardiff v Leeds 15/04

Forest v Watford 15/04

Forest v Coventry 22/04

Cardiff v Sunderland 29/04

Aston Villa v Cardiff ?

Women Premier League Cup ep 4

Well the group stage has finally been completed and the calculation made to find out who were the best 3rd placed team. I find it illogical  to rank them according to the results against 2nd and 4th place really but nevermind.  Here is the full program :

Round of 16 – Sunday 25th March 2012

Match 1: Leeds Utd v Derby
Match 2: Gillingham  v Charlton Athletic
Match 3: Aston Villa v  Rotherham Utd
Match 4: Portsmouth v  Nottingham Forest
Match 5: Coventry City v  Barnet
Match 6:  Millwall v West Ham United

Round of 16 – Sunday 1st April 2012 (due to Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers in FA Cup on 25th March 2012)

Match 7: Sunderland v Manchester City
Match 8:  Reading v  Blackburn Rovers

And my tips to go through :

Leeds in great form in the National Division.

Charlton should win at Gillingham according to form as well but Gills at home could create an upset  if Charlton has the same blip that cost the qualification in the FA Cup.

Villa v Rotherham , I have not seen those teams this season so I have no clue.

Porstmouth v Forest seen both team recently and the hometeam looked to play better football. Forest playing their traditional football that I have seen for many season in the old WPL.

Coventry v Barnet cup specialist Barnet away with another Abbie Prosser special.

Millwall v West Ham, Millwall is currently on a positive run and it will be another one of those feisty physical encounter.  Home win for me.





The FA Cup quarter-finals

Arsenal v Everton
Birmingham City v Sunderland
Bristol Academy v Blackburn Rovers
Doncaster Rovers Belles v Chelsea

4 tight games this week-end starting with the big one Birmingham v Sunderland 😉

We all know Sunderland has a good enough team to play in the WSL and the fact that no entry was allowed for the 2013 was indeed a blow for the likes of Leeds or them as repalcing the bottom two of the WSL by those teams would have been fair in term of football itself.

So can Sunderland and their teenage goalscoring sensation Beth Mead cause an upset and win at Blues.  You would think Birmingham’s experience and quality should see them through but it is certainly looking to be a very even battle with many goals.

Bristol v Blackburn will be another tight one as Blackburn is the form team in the cup and looking to upset again another big side. As previously stated Bristol made a very good recruitement campaign with a lot of good forwards Del Rio, Harding and Watts.

Doncaster v Chelsea, Doncaster a bit of an enigma for me. Another big recruitment drive and unlucky to loose Sue Smith with a dreadful injury but I don’t know if that team has had enough time to gel. Having seen Chelsea twice already this season, that team has a high potential but the current tactics seem to hamper the current progress. So another tight game that might be decided by a fine piece of skill by Buet or Bleazard.

Arsenal v Everton can’t call that one as it is a 50/50 really, actually a 52/48 to Everton due to Arsenal’s champions league tie that was extemely intense and high quality. Both teams know each other well, defend the same way and do not hesitate to get stuck in legally or not. I guess if it is really tight a referee’s decision might be the definitive factor. Extra-time and penalty might happen tomorrow.




England squad v Croatia

The first thing to mention is the opposition : Croatia is a young nation in term of women’s football. Atmosphere might be hostile there but a solid performance will see a win. So the contents of the game  will be as important as the result.

A 23 players squad 4 goalkeepers 6 defenders 7 midfields and 6 forwards.

Karen Bardsley (Linköping), Rachel Brown (Everton), Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Carly Telford (Chelsea)
Gemma Bonner (Chelsea), Sophie Bradley (Lincoln Ladies), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Dunia Susi (Chelsea), Casey Stoney (Lincoln Ladies), Rachel Unitt (Birmingham City)
Anita Asante (Goteborg), Laura Bassett (Birmingham City), Dani Buet (Chelsea), Steph Houghton (Arsenal), Jade Moore (Birmingham City), Jill Scott (Everton), Fara Williams (Everton)
Eniola Aluko (Birmingham City), Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Jess Clarke (Lincoln Ladies), Natasha Dowie (Everton), Rachel Williams (Birmingham City), Ellen White (Arsenal)

The goalkeeping situation is bizzare, I mean 4 goalies when you can only put 2 on a teamsheet. It seems obvious this period is used as a training camp to evaluate the 4 girls. It is a special position on the pitch, so the hierarchy shouldn’t change very often because you can’t drop a goalie after one mistake. You need consistency in low quality performance. It took like 3 years for Rachel Brown to pass the baton to Karen Bardsley. How long before Telford or Chamberlain get a proper chance ?

Defenders usual players called-up. 2 surprising choices : Gemma Bonner and Sophie Bradley. Bonner rewarded for her good U23 and club performances which is nice but it does ask the question about Gilly Flaherty’s non inclusion. Why is she rated not good enough obviously while she has 100 games for Arsenal has been a regular in the side for 3 years and won everything possible winning every honour and playing in the champions league.
Bradley’s inclusion while she had no game time since her injury is also puzzling while Faye White has started playing games already and therefore is ahead of her in term of schedule.

Midfields Danielle Buet is called back. She is in and out of squads which is a difficult situation. Jordan Nobbs could have been called up last year when her form was excellent then had a little dip but is back now and should knock at the door soon.

Forwards  No Yankey no Davison. 4 center forwards for 1 place on the pitch. 3 of them have the same profile and 1 is different Dowie. Not sure Hope Powell like that profile because Sanderson was similar as Dowie and scored 120 in 3 seasons but never got a proper chance.

Overall I think the main thing England has work to be done is the attacking side of the game. It really looked like work in progress at the Cyprus Cup. In the game I attended, the poor center forwards Ellen White and Rachel Williams were starved of the ball despite doing all the runs required and giving 100%. England didn’t seem to be interested in passing the ball through the midfield much, in order to create space and opening for the forwards. Huge reliance on direct play and winning the second balls. It works if the opposition makes mistakes but they are pretty rare at the highest level, if you get 2 in a game you can count yourself lucky…

Update on  27th of March Casey Stoney has not travelled as well Sophie Bradley so Anita Asante, Laura Bassett or Stephanie Houhgton will probably be used as defenders on that trip.

The FA Women Premier League Cup ep 3

We are reaching the end of the group stage tonight. A quick reminder of the format for those who have not heard much of the competition. The cup is open to the WPL National, Southern and Northern Division team. Unlike any normal competition, the format was decided in the middle of the season (!) It is as follows: 7 group of 4 or 5 teams. Top 2 teams qualify as well as the 2 best 3rd placed team. As usual no communication from the FA about the way to rank all the 3rd placed team.

I personally assumed it would the usual system used by UEFA/FIFA so use results against team placed 1,2 and 4 or only against 1 and 2. Well it is not, ranking is based on results against 2nd and 4th team.

There is no perfect system to be fair when you select the best of the rest teams but what was flawed was making the draw for the last 16 round before the group games were finished. If you know who you are likely to play or can avoid well, good for you.

The other problem is game congestion that led to a team withdrawing off the cup and also some other game also forfeited as a one off. Because it is women’s football and there is not much media interested in it besides womens soccerscene the guardian and she kicks, this kind of thing go without debate but it is a shame.

I know in term of logistics in it is impossible to get 7 groups final games on the same day but the for the competition’s integrity sake, it is a bit annoying that team going into games tonight looking to qualify could know in advance if they need to win, draw or loose and how many goals they need to score to play against certain teams in the last 16 round. All you need to do is a 30 minutes calculation and permutation on a sheet of paper, something a primary school kid can do.

Good luck to all the team involved tonight and I hope they will qualify. The last 16 round is played on the same day as the FA Cup quarter final except for Blackburn and Sunderland’s tie to be played a week later as they are involved in the FA Cup.