Coverdale on Čech and Goal Prevention

Jimmy Coverdale for BSports Stats Insights:

Improvements here will help Arsenal, as it would it any club. As discussed by Chris Anderson and David Sally in The Numbers Game, a clean sheet was worth almost 2.5 points per match between the 2001/02 and 2010/11 seasons, so they are incredibly valuable, with clubs having to score more than two goals to surpass that value. Last season followed a very similar trend, with clean sheets proving to be almost as valuable as scoring three goals

Even conceding just one goal was again more value than scoring once, with teams averaging 1.95 points per match when allowing just one goal or keeping a clean sheet. Arsenal actually failed to win once last season on the ten occasions when they conceded two goals or more, drawing four and losing six of those games while averaging 2.54 points per match when conceding 0-1 goals.

Arsenal Sign Petr Čech

Russell Davis for BSports Stats Insight:

Arsenal have signed Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, paying a record fee for a goalkeeper at £10.9 million as the Czech Republic international has signed a four-year deal with the club. Arsene Wenger is hoping to solve Arsenal’s recent goalkeeping woes on a long-term basis, due in large part to the immature Wojiceich Szczesny and now likely departure of David Ospina. With Petr Cech’s stellar track record at Chelsea, winning four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League, and a slew of decorated personal achievements, how will the Czech fare sporting the red and white of Arsenal Football Club?

Japan 2-1 England

Tony Leighton for The Telegraph:

England’s Women’s World Cup dream was ended in heartbreaking fashion as a stoppage time own goal by the Notts County central defender Laura Bassett handed Japan victory.

Attempting to cut out a pass into the penalty area, Bassett instead sent the ball past the goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and in off the crossbar.

Argentina 6-1 Paraguay

Ben Hayward for Goal.com:

Argentina were due a performance like this. Since throwing away a two-goal lead in the second half of their opening group game against Paraguay in this Copa America 17 days ago, Gerardo Martino’s men had threatened to take teams apart but had not quite managed it.

USA 2-0 Germany

Laken Litmanen, reporting for USA Today, on USA’s win against Germany to take them to the World Cup final:

The U.S. back line has been nothing but phenomenal all tournament, and against the most dangerous offense its seen with attackers like Celia Sasic and Anja Mittag, it held a team with 20 goals this World Cup to zero.

Becky Sauerbrunn controlled the middle and directed the rest of the defense. Julie Johnston played freely and Meghan Klingenberg and Ali Krieger owned the flanks.

Sweden Win U21European Championships

John Brewin for ESPN FC:

Portugal’s tear-soaked misery will take a while to abate since the best team in the Czech Republic blew it. Instead, the team with the best organisation and highest level of collective endeavour celebrated becoming continental champions. Sweden defended from the front, where the muscle of John Guidetti unsettled the calm that Portugal’s defenders had enjoyed in their four previous matches. Captain Oscar Hiljemark in midfield and Alexander Milosevic in defence formed an indomitable spine.

“They Are Romantics No More”

Jonathan Wilson for The Guardian:

They haven’t played anybody good enough yet to confirm the sense of insecurity has gone but the idea that Chile represent some sort of noble ideal certainly is no more. Sampaoli has always been an irascible coach, forever barking at linesmen and referees, as his disciplinary record while at Universidad de Chile showed, but this tournament has demonstrated a level of expediency that removes the sheen from Chile. That’s not to say they’re any more Machiavellian than anybody else but it is a little disappointing to realise they’re no different.

Chile 2-1 Peru

Rik Sharma for Bleacher Report:

The numbers don’t show it, but Chile were lucky to reach the Copa America Final after a weak performance in a 2-1 win over rivals Peru on Monday.

Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal were off their games, just as they were in the quarter-final against Uruguay. And if a team’s two biggest stars don’t shine, it means trouble.

Chile versus Argentina would be a fantastic final.

“Fundamental Differences in Perspective”

Doug Bolton and Mark Critchley for The Independent:

Nigel Pearson has been sacked by Leicester City, according to a statement posted to the club’s website.

Leicester said that the Board of Directors recognised the success that Pearson has brought to the club, but added that “fundamental differences in perspective” had made his position “no longer viable”.

10 Best Goals at the Women’s World Cup

Caitlin O’Connell:

With four teams remaining in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, we’re quickly coming close to the end of the tournament. Looking back over the past several weeks, there have been quite a number of spectacular goals throughout the tournament.

We compiled our list of the 10 best goals from throughout the tournament. Let us know if you think we missed one!

Some real beauts’ in there.

Japan 1-0 Australia

John Wawrow for Japan Today:

Mana Iwabuchi scored during a scramble in front in the 87th minute and defending champion Japan beat Australia 1-0 on Saturday in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.

England 2-1 Canada

talkSPORT:

First-half goals from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze propelled England into their first ever World Cup semi-final after they held on to defeat tournament hosts Canada 2-1 in Vancouver.

Fresh from their first ever knockout win in this competition earlier this week against Norway, England, who have been beaten three times at the quarter-final stage, stunned John Herdman’s side with two goals in three minutes.

“A Game for the Ages”

Laurent Dubois for Sports Illustrated Planet Futbol:

But Friday, Germany was almost stopped by France in a game for the ages, one which the Germans won in penalties after the score was tied 1–1 at the end of extra time. The match had everything: It was technically and psychologically complex and layered, offering a constant flow of beautiful and riveting plays, along with plenty of the drama that makes this sport so great, questionable refereeing (don’t get me started!), emotional ups and downs, a grueling and at times humorous overtime, and then a sudden, shocking ending, the purest form of climactic anti-climax that is the penalty kick shootout.

Marcotti on Brazil’s Team

Gabriele Marcotti for ESPN FC:

It obviously won’t hurt as much as last year — there was no 1-7 — but in some ways it’s more worrying. You were looking for some kind of progress, some kind of movement along the learning curve. When that wasn’t coming, you hoped for at least a reaction. After all, this was Dunga’s team, surely — even just by some kind of unconscious osmosis — he could transmit some of what made him such a great player on to his squad?

Nope.

Nothing.

USA 1-0 China

Andrew Keh, reporting for the New York Times:

In truth, the United States has dominated this rivalry for more than a decade, going unbeaten against China, the No. 16 team in the world, in the teams’ previous 23 matches dating to 2003. It was more of the same Friday, when the United States held 56 percent of the possession and outshot China, 17-6.

Ellis made effective changes to her lineup and tactics, some forced and some of her own volition. Two starting midfielders, Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday, served one-game suspensions for yellow-card accumulation. Into their places stepped Kelly O’Hara, who ran along the right flank, and Morgan Brian, who served a metronomic role in the middle of the field, swinging passes left and right, letting her teammates orbit her.

Germany 0-0 France (5-4 After Penalties)

Jamie Trecker for Fox Sports:

Germany eliminated France on Friday night and booked their slot in the Women’s World Cup semifinals, 5-4 in the penalty kick tiebreaker after a 1-1 draw. Germany sunk all five of their penalty kick attempts, while France’s Claire Lavogez had the final attempt well saved by Nadine Angerer. Germany will now face the USA in the semifinals after the USWNT edged China later on Friday.

It was a game considered a de-facto final by many and it lived up to the billing. This was a fast and technically adept match that showcased the best of the women’s game, and both teams showed why so many people feel the winner of the World Cup will come out of this game.

Argentina 0-0 Colombia (5-4 After Penalties)

Miguel Delaney for ESPN FC:

They are still in the Copa America, and Lionel Messi still has a chance to break Argentina’s 22-year trophy drought, but it is still unbelievable how this enthralling quarterfinal was required to go as far as 16 penalties in a shootout and that Colombia kept 11 men on the pitch.

Chile 1-0 Uruguay

Daniel Gartner for Outside90:

An ill-tempered affair in the Chilean capital saw holder Uruguay finish the match with nine men, as La Roja recorded their first victory in the knockout stages of the Copa América since the 1999 tournament in Paraguay. The Juventus full-back’s 81st minute strike sets up a date with either Bolivia or Peru in the first semi-final at the Estadio Nacional on June 29.

Robert Huth Signs for Leicester on a Permanent Deal

Leicester City’s official web page:

Huth joins the Club on a three-year deal and becomes City’s second signing of the summer following the addition of Austrian defender Christian Fuchs earlier this month.

The 30-year-old German’s move to King Power Stadium comes on the back of a string of stellar performances for the Foxes during a 14-game loan spell last season – displays which quickly endeared him to the City supporters.

“I Have Not Resigned”

Gordon Brunt for The Score:

“I have not resigned, but I put back my mandate at the disposition of the next extraordinary congress,” Blatter said, courtesy of The Associated Press.

Of course you didn’t Sepp.

Christenson on New Liverpool Signing Firminho

Marcus Christenson for The Guardian:

What he does provide, though, is an unrelenting work ethic. In that respect, he is similar to Luis Suárez and Alexis Sánchez. He will harry and press the opponents until he drops. In one match report in Germany he was described as the “clever, first stealer of balls in Hoffenheim’s pressing system”.

Holger Stanislawski, his first manager at Hoffenheim, immediately described him as being “unbelievably good tactically”, which will be music to Brendan Rodgers’ ears after a season of having to teach Mario Balotelli, among other things, how to defend at corners.

Everton Sign Gerard Deulofeu on a Permanent Deal

Phil McNulty reporting for the BBC that Everton have signed Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona in a £4.3m deal. Interestingly, the deal reportedly contains a buy-back clause:

Personal terms have been agreed and it is believed Barcelona will insert a buy-back option into the deal for some future point should he develop as they once hoped.

Clint Dempsey Gets Two Year U.S. Open Cup Ban

Brian Straus for Sports Illustrated’s Planet Futbol:

The other shoe dropped on Clint Dempsey on Thursday, as the U.S. Soccer Federation’s U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel voted to fine the Seattle Sounders star and suspend him from participating in the tournament for six games or two years, whichever lasts longer.

The sanction comes six days after he was suspended for three MLS matches by league commissioner Don Garber. Dempsey was ejected from the Sounders’ June 16 Open Cup loss to the rival Portland Timbers after an extra-time tantrum, during which he grabbed referee Daniel Radford’s notebook, ripped it and threw it to the ground.

Reade on the Women’s World Cup

Brian Reade for the Mirror:

We can’t pretend it is producing consistently great football but there’s modesty, honesty and ability at a time when the male game stinks from the top down

Honest and a decent piece.

Fantasy Rotations

Tommy at All Things FPL:

A rotation pair is two clubs whose fixtures when combined provide a sustainable fixture route as the gameweeks progress. Often these can be found as home rotation pairs where two clubs alternate their home fixtures to provide a fantasy manager with a position in their starting XI that is always at home. Used predominantly in defence, rotation pairs can be seen as the cornerstone of any squad as these pairs barring injury can be left alone allowing fantasy managers to prioritise their transfers on more important matters such as transferring in the surprise package, big hitters with the upcoming fixtures or players who have displayed incredible previous form.

Disclaimer: I write for All Things FPL.

Robinho Brilliant in Brazil Win

Edward Stratmann for Licence to Roam:

All things considered, Robinho’s efforts on the night were outstanding, in what was ostensibly an error free outing full of positives.

Brazil will be hoping the man who’s won 98 international caps for his country can continue to wind back the clock for Dunga’s men, for if he can keep up this level of performance, maybe, just maybe, Brazil might be able to replicate the triumph of 2007.

And wouldn’t that be something, especially considering the trials and tribulations the side has already had to endure throughout this tournament.

The 50 Greatest Football Shirts

The Football Attic:

Every day for the next seven weeks or so, we’ll be bringing you a blog post that highlights the brilliance of football shirt design. From shadow patterns to subtlety, from commemorative shirts to controversial shirts, we’ll be telling you about the great and the good from a world of colour, creativity and sometimes sheer genius.

This should be fund.

Serbia Win Under-20 World Cup

Sarah McLean for Just Football:

Serbia’s youth players are rapidly taking the country into the spotlight but it’s the Serbia Under-20s win at the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand that has really made everyone sit up and pay attention. After stunning the world to beat Brazil U20s and win their first world title, here are five key players that made this historic Serbia U20 World Cup win possible…