Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jozy Report: Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal

A Martin Atkinson breath and about 12 inches were all that kept Jozy Altidore from a brace against Arsenal Saturday afternoon in Sunderland's 3-1 loss.

Paolo Di Canio's decision to play a second out-and-out forward alongside Altidore, in Steven Fletcher, paid dividends, though mostly in the second half.  By then, the Black Cats were chasing the game and Arsenal thoroughly took advantage despite Altidore clearly enjoying the most open game of his Sunderland career.

In the 70th minute, Bacary Sagna wrapped both hands around Attidore's shoulders atop the left side of the 18-yard box, where the striker was slipping in toward goal. Altidore barreled through the illegal challenge, reached the ball just above the end line and rolled it past Wojciech Szczesny with his right foot.

The Stadium of Light crowd erupted at the 2-2 equalizer and what appeared to be Altidore's first Premier League goal.

One problem: The first official, Atkinson had already whistled for a foul outside the box. Craig Gardner curled the ensuing free kick high and wide and Aaron Ramsey scored five minutes later to make it 3-1 Arsenal.

Altidore again nearly clawed one back in the 83rd minute, nodding an Adam Johnson corner kick from the right side just a foot wide of the inside of the far post. Szczesny was soundly beaten, and so was Sunderland.

As Sunderland fought back in the second half, much of the secondary buildup play flowed through Altidore, who routinely dinked balls back to charging midfielders in the center of the pitch, and later in the channels.

He and Fletcher played a little too similarly at first, but together, they gradually opened up the game. And while the result was Sunderland's best attacking play this season, it also showed that what's best for Altidore probably isn't best for his team against top-notch competition as Arsenal wreaked havoc on counterattacks.

There's a balance to be found between the first half play, when Altidore had next to no service and Arsenal had three-quarters of possession and the wide-open but ultimately suicidal play he looked so at home in during the second half.

In the mean time, Altidore was Sunderland's most consistent facilitator and scoring threat as his back-to-goal play troubled Arsenal any time he could receive the ball. Only a few heavy-footed offsides further dampened his display.

Best look: He finished it. It just didn't count.

Most impressive: Aside from giving Sagna the rag doll treatment, in the 57th minute, Altidore flicked a ball over his head to Fletcher in stride. The attack died as Fletcher had nowhere to go, surrounded by three defenders, but the play showed Altidore's willing if not intuitively able to connect with his teammates.

-Altidore and Wickham showed off a little chemistry in the last 15 minutes as each figured out that one would have to pull wide to allow the other to run through center of the defense. It worked best in the 83rd minute when Altidore pulled up deep on the right flank and picked out Wickham for header from 10 yards out that sailed over.

-In the first half, Altidore's legs looked a little dead, but he warmed up with the game.

-Sunderland largely defended in a wall of eight men behind the ball in a sloppy 6-2-2, especially in the first half, electing to leave Fletcher and Altidore up top to fight for clearances. It only kind of worked as Arsenal took a 1-0 lead and several spurned chances into the break.

-When Altidore did track back it was cleverly and crucially, stripping Mesut Özil twice. Altidore otherwise did a good job balancing the need to clog passing lanes and keep Arsenal's back line honest. Late in the second half he played as a point defender of sorts while Sunderland bunkered in for the halftime whistle.

Final Stats (team total)
Shots: 2 (18); Shots on goal 1 (3); Fouls drawn 3 (11)

It's coming together, but Di Canio has to sort out the midfield behind Altidore for the team's attack to blossom. Ki Sung-Yeung can't be the lynchpin against true quality opposition, but Gardner and Adam Johnson are encouraging focal points for the possibility of Altidore getting consistent service. Altidore's still doing what he needs to in terms of winning first and second balls, drawing defensive bodies and fouls.

Player rating: 7

- Jacob Klinger


Tony M said...

I thought Di Canio would be much smarter about Jozy and would have understood how to use him form the beginning. Still, what's this - the third game he's had Jozy and he's starting to figure it out? The never figured it out at Hull and it took Klinsmann a year and a half.

As a very torn Gunners fan, Jozy had me scared and excited the whole second half. Good stuff to come, I think.

dikranovich said...

tony, AZ was not as worried about giving up goals as teams are in the EPL, or in CONCACAF. jozy is a good player, and he might really be on the verge of being a great player.

jozy was not needed against mexico the other night. I don't know, I don't think it is about teams figuring out how to use jozy, rather it is about jozy figuring out how to fit into the system that he is in.

ive got a wager that jozy hits fifteen goals in the EPL this season, and almost aint cutting it.

bag the goals, don't make excuses, and try not to pick up stupid yellows like the one in costa rica. jozy still does not know how to fully channel his energy, which is probably why he looks like he is stumbling around out there sometimes, and other times he looks like a dynamo.

Greg Seltzer said...

I don't even know where to start... so I won't.

dikranovich said...

good, this is an AB conversation anyway.

Greg Seltzer said...

Oh man, that's the best laugh I had all day. You really have a pro grip on this blog commenting thing.

Now if you'll excuse me...

Tony M said...

dikrnovich, that was s total fun house mirror of a response....

dikranovich said...

lets talk it out. jozy came on the field in costa rica and picked up a stupid yellow, do you gents agree, or disagree?

Tony M said...

I'll play. You make two assertions. One is that Jozy came on the field in Costa Rica. Indisputable. I agree.

Picked up a stupid yellow. Well... he picked up a pretty soft yellow, that's for sure. And the CR player embellished like a third year drama student at improve class.

Can't wait to see you tie this back to DiCanio recognizing how to use Jozy... o

Jon said...

@dikranovich Lay off the rakia. There's plenty to see and enjoy in BG. Enough that you don't have to sit in your room trolling NCS every chance you get.

dikranovich said...

tony, jozy has yet to score in the EPL. he scored against bardsley, or some second division team.

I want jozy banging in goals, not picking up stupid yellow cards.

it was a stupid yellow and its on jozy, plan and simple. seeing it any other way is dooming ones self to failure. soft yellow, hard yellow, whatever. it was dumb, and the effort jozy took to bump into the tico, he could have channeled that anger better. that much has to be understood if we are going to take it to a higher level, and if jozy is going to take it to a higher level.

team USA, its bigger than jozy altidore, and can go on, with or without him. same thing goes for Michael Bradley

the Italians would rue the loss of pirlo and the brasilians would dearly miss neymar, but the two nations would still thrive without either of their prodigal sons. everyone should understand this clearly.


John said...

@Tony M: It was also Jozy who stepped up and worked harder with the U.S. MNT.

dikranovich said...

I think a lot of sunderlands success probably revolves around having healthy players. altidore missed the palace game, and today was the first time fletcher was healthy and fit to even play with jozy.

this team if it can get health, will compete and they showed that today. lee Cattermole is the engine on sunderland, when he gets back things will get much better for this team, and for altidore.

dikranovich said...

my birthday trip came down to the Japanese tea garden in Portland Oregon, or the van gogh museum Amsterdam, I go west, or do I go east?

Greg Seltzer said...

"tony, jozy has yet to score in the EPL."

False. And he did put it in the net yesterday, but it was improperly waved off.

"I want jozy banging in goals, not picking up stupid yellow cards."

You're conflating club and USMNT play. It's annoying.

"it was a stupid yellow and its on jozy, plan and simple."

Do you think you're saying some revelatory? No one is going to disagree, but that is not the topic of this post.

"team USA, its bigger than jozy altidore, and can go on, with or without him. same thing goes for Michael Bradley"

You are completely delusional.

"the Italians would rue the loss of pirlo and the brasilians would dearly miss neymar, but the two nations would still thrive without either of their prodigal sons. everyone should understand this clearly."

Everyone understand you have no idea what you're on about. Italy's midfield or Brazil's attack (two wondrously disastrous choices for this example, by the way) have nothing to do with this issue... which has nothing to do with the post topic.

When we discuss post trauma Altidore stress disorder (PTASD), then you can weigh in with some such nonsense.

AWF08 said...

Prepost routine:
Wake. Bake. Walk to fridge. Chug water or Gatorade (whatever, dude). Flip on game. Watch, or don't watch (doesn't effect opinion). Call up Pick post at random. Click to comment. Take massive bong rip. Hold it in while commenting on whatever comes to mind (doesn't matter what post is actually about). Hit publish. Walk to fridge. Make snack. Eat snack. Review responses to my comment. Take massive bong rip. hold it in while commenting on whatever comes to mind (doesn't matter what content of response was)...

dutchtwista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dikranovich said...

awf, nice comments, but you know full well you gotta concentrate like a mo fo to read those letters in the please prove your not a robot section. I mean, you need the hubble telescope to read those letters. it is usually takes two or three tries before I get it right.

if that wasn't part of posting, id have at least twice as many post.

Jacob Klinger said...

@dikranovich I agree, goals > soft yellow cards.

Jozy has shown a willingness and ability to adapt, but it is a two-way street and one he and Sunderland are walking down at an OK pace.

None of that undoes the fact that his presence on the field would've changed the complexion of the Mexico match. He's a better, more complete striker than Eddie Johnson, who obviously did just fine.

But behind Bradley, and not by much, Altidore is the player most crucial to the national team's chances in Brazil next summer. That, combined with the relative ease of watching his games, is why he gets regular matchh reports.

Without an in-form near-world class striker, it is very hard to make a deep run at the World Cup. And while this team has its share of bright spots, this isn't exactly Spain at the 2012 Euros.

dikranovich said...

its funny yak, but you remind me of the first debate greg and I ever had. it was over a rvp second yellow for time wasting in a champions league game, arsenal against barca. I think he actually scored in the game as well, but the soft yellow turned out to be very costly.

Jacob Klinger said...

I guess the NSC yellow card-arguing seminars really stuck with me.

Anyway, Altidore's didn't prove costly. Most everyone's acknowledging that it was stupid if not soft, so what's your point? He's still irreplaceable in the U.S. player pool.

Greg Seltzer said...

To be fair, 92% of his arguments with everyone are reminiscent of that argument.

dikranovich said...

I did win the rvp second yellow debate, so in that respect, it probably is like 90 percent of the debates we have on here.

Greg Seltzer said...

There are no winners in your debates.

Tony M said...

"There are no winners in your debates."

Not true, Greg. The comedy gods are the winners...

dikranovich said...

Lets debate the left back position. I'm salivating like the big bad wolf waiting for the back four clipboard.

Greg Seltzer said...

Left back will be Thursday. Right back is tomorrow.

Bernardinho said...

@AWF08: So that's the guy's problem after all - he's still holding in two bong rips from yesterday...