I have precious little to look at across the many football websites this morning. One of the top stories on BBC Sport is of Titus Bramble suggesting he may or may not leave Sunderland. Reading that news fails to titillate me. Could there be a worse transfer story? Read more
It is quite staggering just how much change has happened in the Premier League over the past few days. Tony Pulis has "mutually" walked away from Stoke City, which actually means he was sacked without ceremony by Peter Coates. Arsenal have been linked with any striker that has a Read more
Do you wanna know why I typed that in caps lock? Because Tony Pulis has "mutually walked away from Stoke City after chairman Peter Coates sacked him for a sh*t run of results." There's nothing "mutual" about Pulis' departure, he's been sacked. Why? Because Stoke City have stagnated Read more
Real Madrid have officially announced what we've all been expecting since about November: Jose Mourinho is leaving Real Madrid after three years in charge, in which time he won the league and Copa Del Rey. Mourinho will take charge for the final time against Osasuna on June 1st, Read more
The contrasting situations between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the end of 90 minutes on Sunday, spoke volumes for the importance of Champions League football.
On the one hand, Arsenal celebrated as if they had lifted a trophy, for which they have been criticised for. "Fourth is not a trophy, this just Read more
Okay, so a shorter post than usual but there’s plenty to chew on, so let’s get started! First up, is what to do with Rafael Van Der Vaart? Clearly, Rafa is a great player, but there is good reason as to why he flopped so disastrously at Real Madrid.
First of all, there is Rafa’s ill-enthusiasm to get back and chase harry opposition players for the ball, the Dutchman is an unwilling participant in the art’s of tracking back and helping out, which does not help Spurs when they’re playing high quality opposition who will just go straight through their midfield. Did you watch Man City v Spurs? Yes, me too and it was almost cringe-worthy the way in which Samir Nasri, David Silva and Sergio Aguero were allowed freedom of White Hart Lane. Rafa was nowhere to be seen that day and as a result, feigned injury, claiming he’d pulled a hamstring, which is a three week lay-off. Rafa was back a week later, some coincidence?! Rafa had pulled out the game early so as to make a desperate attempt of making himself look better.
Another reason as to why Van Der Vaar is not the ideal player for better opposition, is due to a distinct lack of mobility. VDV has the turning pace of a Panzer Tank and as such, he can slow attacks down. Rafa is also not the best with his back to goal, he too often tries the spectacular when only the simple is required.
It’s not all bad where Rafa’s concerned however. When attacking goal, he can cause absolute havoc amongst most defences, which is why when at Ajax, he was one of the most sought after young properties in European football. However, only a move to Hamburg was the best Rafa had on offer, no big money move to Inter Milan, Manchester United or Arsenal ever cropped up, infact at the time I expected him to move to Bayern Munich. Instead, Rafa joined Hamburg, Bayern Munich’s less fortunate cousins and played there for a few seasons, playing well, looking good and generally becoming a hit in Hamburg. Rafa had the team built around him at Hamburg and he flourished, mainly because he had no defensive responsibilities.. Then a move to Real Madrid, where Rafa looked so out of his depth it was embarrassing and as I said previously, Van Der Vaart bares a lack of mobility and hard graft, which for the top teams doesn’t cut it.
So where do you play Rafael Van Der Vaart? Harry Redknapp has stated it’s a straight decision between him and Jermain Defoe who for me, is a much more problematic player for opposition defences. Defoe can receive the ball, spin his marker and in an instant he’s at goal, trying to cut the throat of a defence, so as well as being able to finish from anywhere, I’d say Defoe wins that contest hands down!
Read some of these following scores from the North London Derby over the years: Spurs 5-1 Arsenal, Arsenal 3-3 Spurs, Spurs 0-0 Arsenal Spurs 2-1 Arsenal, Arsenal 2-3 Spurs, Spurs 3-3 Arsenal and now, Spurs 2-1 Arsenal.
If you haven’t clicked on to what I’m getting at, then it’s this; Spurs have been rapidly catching up with a stationary Arsenal. Over the past few years, me as an Arsenal cannot recall too many Arsenal victories over Tottenham Hotspurs! Sure, there is that fantastic derby match which belonged to Cesc Fabregas and last year’s Carling Cup victory, but that apart, Spurs have matched Arsenal kick for kick, tackle for tackle. That in itself is both a criticism of Arsene Wenger stagnating and the brilliance of Spurs’ business deals down the years.
Spurs are not a bigger club than Arsenal, that much is fact, any straight-minded Spurs fan would agree, but the level of quality of which Daniel Levy is operating at in taking Spurs forward is nothing short of remarkable. Arsenal moved to the Emirates to compete with the Real Madrids and Barcelonas of football, whilst Spurs are reaching the same level Arsenal are currently at with a 36,000 seater stadium.
Of course, that would be me pointing the finger of blame directly at Arsenal’s board and honestly, Arsenal’s board is not the problem, is it? Count all the times you’ve heard of money being in the Arsenal bank, yet there has always been a refusal to spend. It has always been Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to spend, not a case of the board refusing the lanky Frenchman his funds, don’t believe any different! Infact, if it were upto Arsene Wenger; Mertesacker, Arteta, Santos and the others would not have been signed, those players were a reaction from the Manchester United fixture, not forward planning.
In stark contrast to his rival manager, Harry Redknapp has shown a lot of ambition since taking over as Spurs boss, notably this summer. Instead of bending over backwards to allow Modric a transfer away from White Hart Lane, Redknapp played hard-ball and kept Modric at White Hart Lane, stopped any of his major players leaving and built on top of a success of a successful debut season in the Champions League by signing Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor and had already fixed his goalkeeper situation by signing Friedel. It’s taken since David Seaman leaving to actually get a great goalkeeper in Wojciech Szczesny at Arsenal!
Simply put, Tottenham Hotspurs have been making great strides over the years in doing everything they can to overtake their North London rivals and now it seems, they have.
This season, bar the Blackburn match, I’ve correctly predicted every single Arsenal fixture and the Spurs game, I noted that this fixture had come far too early for Arsenal after such a torrid start to this season. Arsenal were in need of more Swansea’s and Bolton’s, this match wasn’t a tonic for Arsenal, but a poison.
So, on with the match…
Spurs created the best chances, with Scott Parker being brilliantly denied by the magnificent Wojciech Szczesny and Arsenal looked very vulnerable in the first ten minutes. After that however, Arsenal settled and looked strong on the back, allowing for a period of domination, though with little creativity going forward, a lot of attacks simmered out on the edge of Brad Friedel’s penalty area. Theo Walcott had cut inside and had a go on his left foot, but the best chance was yet to come. When Robin Van Persie comfortably beat his marker down the left, he flew into the penalty area and provided a cut-back for Gervinho. Personally, I was out of my seat and ready to celebrate, I certainly wasn’t anticipating Gervinho missing what was an open goal! Like the Blackburn match, Gervinho’s failings in front of goal were to prove costly and soon after, Rafael Van Der Vaart opened the scoring for Spurs. Adebayor lofted a ball over an Arsenal defence who had not collectively pushed up for offside and Van Der Vaart slotted past Szczesny and into the far corner.
Van Der Vaart did handle to control the ball, which is a second bookable offence and that would have changed the outcome for sure. VDV then ran to the crowd and was celebrating with them, which I don’t have a problem with. Like Arsene Wenger said, you have to expect a spontaneous reaction to scoring a goal so it is a stupid rule. That said, rules are rules and the referee didn’t adhere to them.
Come the second half, Arsenal looked very good and taking dominance of the pitch, Spurs struggled to break out of their own half for about ten minutes, a period in which Arsenal got a deserved equaliser. Spurs let Alex Song run into their box from the left and measure a low cross for Aaron Ramsey to hammer home from close range. It was a fairly simple goal and one that had been coming.
Frustratingly for Arsenal fans, there was no cut and thrust down the middle for Arsenal, with full-bakcs being relied on to cross the ball to a striker who doesn’t go for headers. As such, Arsenal struggled to create for the rest of the game as chances started to fall few and far between for both sides as a point apiece looked increasingly likely.
Late on, around 15 minutes from the end, Spurs scored. Another wonder-goal in a North London Derby, courtesy of Kyle Walker settled it. A cross was never cleared and when Walker shaped up to shoot from all of 35 yards, you never expected him to find Szczesny’s bottom corner, but that he did and as a result, Arsenal, all too predictably, went down to a side they’ve long considered themselves superior to.
Has that now changed? Are Spurs the dominant force, has the power shifted in North London?
Despite an indifferent start to the season, I was obviously impressed with Bolton in their 4-0 triumph on the opening day of the season and I was equally impressed with their performance against Manchester City, despite Owen Coyle’s side losing 3-2. You have to write off that match against Manchester United (Bolton lost 5-0) as nobody has been able to match SAF’s side so far this season, what is not acceptable however, was last weeks defeat to Norwich City at the Reebok. A victory against Aston Villa in midweek does nothing for me, especially as it was a Carling Cup match and thus both sides were weakened. Bolton will travel to Emirates Stadium desperately short on confidence and form. Bolton will miss Ivan Klasnic for this one due to the red card he picked up last weekend, whilst Stuart Holden is available following a six month lay-off through injury, though he is expected to start from the bench having only made his come-back on Wednesday.
Saying that, Arsenal, as we know, are not in the best form either following a crushing 4-3 defeat by Blackburn Rovers and don’t look anywhere near finding the form of their usual selves. Arsenal do welcome back Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Bacary Sagna to the match-day squad, three players that will surely steady a sinking Arsenal ship.
What won’t happen: Bacary Sagna to have rid his head of those lovely golden locks. Nor would I want him to.
What will happen: Arsenal and Bolton to play out a 2-2 draw, with bad defending featuring heavily on both sides.
Chelsea v Swansea
Swansea, like I said they would, have started to score goals, netting three last week against West Brom. Against a Chelsea back four who have looked far from certain in their opening games, I expect Swansea to create chances aplenty. Who knows, maybe Danny Graham might stick away an opportunity against Chelsea, anything could happen! In defence of Graham, he gets into the spaces, so his goals will come and as far as I’m concerned, he’s a class act, so no worries there! To strengthen their case of a win, Swansea have no fresh injury concerns, which will be music to Brendan Rogers’ ears.
It won’t be plain sailing for Swansea, don’t get me wrong! Chelsea created a hatful against Manchester United and despite what people have been saying, I thought Fernando Torres had a brilliant game, okay he missed an open net, but so did Ryan Giggs against Arsenal once upon a time in the FA Cup…
… So no, Torres isn’t a bad player, he just had a bad moment and I expect him to score against Swansea, I can’t see AVB not starting Torres in a league match after what happened. Chelsea will be without Daniel Sturridge for this one, so there is a possibility Chelsea fans will have to suffer Salomon Kalou for an afternoon.
What won’t happen: Fernando Torres to miss an open net… or will he?!
What will happen: Fernando Torres to grab a goal. It won’t be enough though, as I think Swansea will pull off a shock at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Liverpool v Wolves
I do like Wolves, I don’t know why, but I do, maybe because my Mum has a crush on Mick McCarthy, who knows?! Either way, I expected a lot of from them last season and they failed to deliver, this season however, with the additions of Jamie O’Hara and more imporantly I feel, Roger Johnson, I think Wolves will have a good season.
As for Liverpool, well they got turned over by Spurs last week and were defeated the week before that to Stoke City, backing up my claims of them being a side in transition. Dalglish’s side have endured a crap fortnight, though made better with the return of Steven Gerrard in midweek against Brighton, as well as a brilliant performance from Craig Bellamy.
What won’t happen: Andy Carroll to come on and score. Has Liverpool come too soon?
What will happen: Roger Johnson to head an equaliser for Wolves in a 1-1 draw.
Manchester City v Everton
I had no idea of Everton’s good record over Manchester City in recent years! Everton have done the double over City two seasons in a row, won 7 out of 8 against Manchester City and are the last team to have beaten Mancini’s side at Eastlands are remain the last team to have beaten them in an away match. (when City played at Goodison Park last season) Despite such a statistical pile-up in favour of Everton, Manchester City are 5-2 favourites to win this match and rightly so!
Never have Manchester City had such a strong squad and for that reason alone, I expect them to hammer a very light Everton side and that’s without any injury worry concerns unless you count Victor Anichebe. Following three years out injured, Owen Hargreaves will not feature for Manchester City, though Kolo Touré will hope to keep his place following his return from a six month ban.
What won’t happen: David Moyes to wear a scarf. He’d look ridiculous.
What will happen: Manchester City to storm out 4-0 winners.
Newcastle United v Blackburn Rovers
Despite a good start to the season, I think it’s time Newcastle lost a game and no better team to lose to than a Blackburn side who have now won two games on the bounce, following victories against Arsenal and Leyton Orient. Don’t get me wrong, I think Newcastle will have even better season than the last, but Newcastle played 120 minutes in midweek, unlike Blackburn who won their Carling Cup tie inside regulation time. For this reason alone, I expect Blackburn to beat Newcastle, purely because Rovers have the fresher legs.
Blackburn welcome back David Goodwillie, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Michel Salgado, whilst Alan Pardew has the pleasure of being able to welcome Hatem Ben Arfa back to his match-day squad following a year out through injury.
What won’t happen: Anything with the number ‘four’ in it. I don’t expect a high-scoring affair.
What will happen: Blackburn to win 1-0 thanks to Mauro Formica.
Stoke City v Manchester United
Having never dropped a point to Stoke City, I don’t fancy Manchester United to drop any points to Stoke this time either, even if Stoke have looked impressive so far this season. SAF’s side have looked immense in every department and for that, my mind can’t see past an emphatic Manchester United victory.
Stoke have Kenwyne Jones absent through a hamstring injury picked up in midweek but apart from that, Tony Pulis has a full squad to pick from. SAF should be able to welcome back Rio Ferdinand, as well as being able to name Javier Hernandez in the side to play Stoke after that horrific tackle from Ashley Cole last Sunday.
What won’t happen: Wayne Rooney not to score. Last year he was in Dubai getting a tan when United play away to Stoke…
What will happen: Wayne Rooney to score as Manchester United win 4-0.
West Brom v Fulham
Here’s something I didn’t know; Martin Jol used to be a West Brom player! It doesn’t mean much, but I found it fun to know, either way I’m sure he’ll get a good reception from the West Brom faithful. I also expect Fulham’s travelling fans to give Roy Hodgson a warm reception, in what will be a very friendly atmosphere tomorrow. I’ve been impressed with West Brom so far, especially Shane Long and I expect the Baggies to erase last week’s defeat to Swansea with a win at the Hawthorns against Fulham.
Fulham could welcome back both Andrew Johnson and Aaron Hughes to the side following their return from injuries. Roy Hodgson will be expecting Shane Long to feature despite a flu bug, however Gabriel Tamas is still suspended so Craig Dawson will continue to deputise.
What won’t happen: Me to get excited over this match.
What will happen: West Brom to beat Fulham 2-1.
Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspurs
Hugo Rodallega was the man Wigan can think for collecting an unlikely three points at White Hart Lane last season as Wigan ran out 1-0 victors. Roberto Martinez’s side didn’t concede home or away last season to Spurs and although Spurs looked great last week against Liverpool, I expect a draw from these two.
Wigan will miss Rodallega, Antolin Alcaraz, Emmerson Boyce and Steven Gohouri, while Spurs will miss; Niko Kranjcar, William Gallas, Aaron Lennon, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
What won’t happen: Spurs to win 9-1!
What will happen: Wigan to earn a respectable point against Spurs in a 0-0 draw.
Today has been very much dominated by stories emanating from the Emirates camp. From Bendtner to Denilson and Nasri to Fabregas, with Gael Clichy falling into the equation somewhere amongst the departures lounge at the Emirates.
We’ll start with Nicklas Bendtner, a person many of us love to hate, including me, an Arsenal fan. My younger brother’s greatest Arsenal moment came when Nicklas Bendtner scored the third goal in a 4-0 Arsenal victory over Newcastle United in last season’s Carling Cup. Bendtner, who had previously done nothing that evening, cut in from the left following a Fabregas pass, toying with Danny Simpson, before curling the ball into the opposite top corner past a flailing Tim Krul.
I even remember the 2009/10 season, where on a freezing night in Hull, Bendtner poked home Arsenal’s winning goal in the very last seconds of a 2-1 win at the KC Stadium to keep the Gunners in that season’s title race, yes said title race fell away later on but it was a massive, massive moment.
That video highlights for you that yes, Bendtner has had some massive moments for Arsenal. Can you beat scoring in the Nou Camp to put your team 1-0 up? No, though what can be pointed as being equally important, is missing the chance to beat Barcelona a year later on that same pitch in the last minute.
Point is, for every big moment, Bendtner has invariably ‘enjoyed’ several calamities. Remember the Big Dane’s several missed chances against Burnley in the 2009/10 season, where Arsene Wenger was forced to publicly back him after the striker took a massive hammering by the press and fans?
Such inconsistency, naturally, is not being rewarded it seems now Bendtner has handed in his two weeks notice to Arsene Wenger. Borussia Dortmund want to sign Bendtner, though are baulking at a £12.5m fee for a relatively unproven striker. Yes, I say unproven as he’s been Arsenal’s third choice striker ever since he signed professional terms with the Gunners, so why such a fee seem merited is unknown to me.
In order to fashion a move, Bendtner’s Father and agent has had to come out in the press to declare that Dortmund and ’several’ other clubs in order to get the ball rolling for the capture of his son’s signature. I believe Bendtner will indeed leave, though just not for the massive fee mentioned, more like £9m to Borussia Dortmund.
Likewise Denilson, who having named himself available to the world, has had zero interest put forward to his agent. Shocker. Remember Wayne Rooney’s counter-attack goal against Arsenal in the 2009/10 season at the Emirates where the referee actually ran past a tracking-back Denilson?
This is the same Denilson who was bid for on E-Bay by Le Grove , the same Denilson who likes to play the Banjo in his spare time and the same Denilson who did that stupid dance against Everton after scoring. On that dance routine alone, I wouldn’t break into £2 million for him. Unless the Brazilians contract is torn up and hurled into a fire, then he will be staying at Arsenal.
Finally, what about Clichy? Arsenal’s last remaining member of the ‘Invincibles’ look set to leave Arsenal, with Manchester City the favourites to land France’s third choice left-back. I personally don’t mind if Clichy leaves the club, he’s highly error prone and in my opinion, would only make Manchester City weaker and that’s if he were to beat Kolarov and Zabaleta to the left-back spot, something I don’t feel him capable of.
I could point to many moments over the past three seasons where Clichy has cost Arsenal a goal. For example, last season at Aston Villa where a clearance found Ciaran Clark on the edge of the Arsenal area. Naturally, you’d expect an opponent on the edge of the opposition penalty area to be closed down with immediate effect. Not Clichy, oh no, he moved away from the ball! Result? Clark scored to put the game at 2-1. That same Gael Clichy had a week earlier, lost a header to Jermain Defoe, which led to Gareth Bale scoring a goal, igniting a Spurs comeback.
An Arsenal player used to be considered a real steal. Now, it seems that clubs are reluctant to meet the asking price for Arsenal’s current batch of players, Fabregas and Nasri included.
Arsenal have had a £34m offer plonked on their desk from Barcelona for the transfer of Cesc Fabregas. Again, as I’ve said before, if that offer doesn’t get improved, he won’t be going. Cesc is worth £50 million to Arsenal and if Barcelona won’t pay that, Arsenal know that the only way Cesc could join Barcelona, is if he were to run down his contract. Such a move would not be beneficial to Arsenal, so Cesc would go to the highest bidder, most likely Real Madrid.
One thing Arsenal can celebrate, is that the arrivals lounge at the Emirates stadium is set to fill up over the next few days, with Gervinho’s signing set to be announced in the next few days, as well as moves for Gary Cahill and Chris Samba being sorted.
Alex McLeish is doing his utmost best to win Villa fans by making a move for Real Madrid super-talent, Sergio Canales. Spain’s new brightest star didn’t get much playing time last year under Mourinho and isn’t likely to next season, so a loan move is highly expected. If Aston Villa were to capture Canales on a season long loan, then they can pat themselves on the back.
Roman Abramovich is set to block any move Jose Mourinho makes for Ghana midfielder, Michael Essien. To be fair, I don’t see an offer being made at all. Fernando Gago has returned to fitness after Mourinho had told him he would be a key player before his injury, plus Nuri Sahin has been signed from Borussia Dortmund, so not an inch of me sees Mourinho even lifting a finger in an attempt to sign Essien.
Aston Villa are bossing the ‘surprise move’ stories this morning, with unwanted Wolfsburg midfielder, Diego, apparently a target of McLeish’s. Diego is a trouble maker, but Arshavin had that same reputation when he joined Arsenal, likewise Van Der Vaart when he joined Spurs and in my personal opinion, they both turned out alright.
Shaun Wright-Phillips is open over the possibility of a move to Bolton Wanderers, according to his pal, Zat Knight. I always struggle to come to terms with the fact that Wright-Phillips is 29 years old. He has the face of a much younger man, much like Garry Coleman from Diff’rent Strokes.
Morning! Don’t you just hate it when you go to make your morning cup of tea, only to find out that some bright spark failed to recognise you were running out of milk the previous evening, so thus you can’t have said morning cup of tea and have to traipse upto the local shop at arse o’ clock for more milk. What an awful, awful predicament I found myself in.
Heurelho Gomes will start today in a similar predicament, though not for a lack of anything (though Spurs fans may agree he lacks common sense) but for the fact Spurs now have four first team goalkeepers competing for the number one spot after the signing of American veteran goalkeeper, Brad Friedel following his release from Aston Villa. Competing for that one spot will be: Gomes himself, Brad Friedel, Carlo Cudicini and Ben Alnwick.
Looking at it, Alnwick playing is out of the question; I highly doubt he’ll play for Spurs again, he did nothing in his previous six loan spells while at Spurs, so what suggests he’ll turn it round over the summer? Cudicini meanwhile, was preferred to Gomes for the final game against Birmingham. Stipe Pletikosa meanwhile will be returning to Spartak Moscow this summer, so for me, it will be Cudicini and Friedel competing for the number one spot. With Friedel being signed on a two year contract, I can’t see room for Gomes at White Hart Lane, surely another young keeper will be brought in, or maybe a player will step up from the youth team while Friedel takes his place as number one while a younger keeper gains experience?
Moving over to East Anglia, where Norwich are currently in the process of building for a stay in the Premiership. Doing a good job of it they are too, having signed James Vaughan, who I don’t rate personally, but if he fits in at Norwich then fair play. They’ve also struck a 2 million deal for Millwall striker, Steve Morison, scorer of 17 Championship goals last season. Next on the bill is Robert Snodgrass, a player they’ve had a 3.5 million offer turned down for. I like Snodgrass, he’s a quality player , he was brilliant in the Arsenal cup tie at the Emirates and it took the introduction of Cesc Fabregas to silence him. Signing Snodgrass would be a top addition, though I feel Delia Smith is going to have to fork out around 5 million for Leeds’ crown jewel!
That’s all for this morning, sorry for a lacklustre post, I hate the post-season hangover!
I got asked a while back to do an article for my good friends at J4G, and 2 months later I’ve finally got round to it! Hurrah! My original plan was to do I nice cheery article for you about the Premier League’s greatest cult heroes, but since then the goings on at FIFA have taken centre stage in the world of football, and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity of having a little rant.
It’s been well known for a while now that FIFA aren’t the most open and well-run of all world sporting organisations, but for the governing body of the biggest and most popular sport in the World, they are an utter disgrace. Over the last few days we’ve seen claims and counter claims of corruption between candidates, accusations of Qatar buying the 2022 World Cup from coming FIFA’s own Secretary General, and now we’re looking at an election with only one candidate. The one we’ve had for the last 13 years, running a corrupt organisation. Cushty
Have today’s headlines made any better reading for FIFA? Well the man that has been chosen to replace Mohamed bin Hammam as the Asian Football Confederation’s interim Chief is China’s Zhang Jilong. Here is a man from an FA which is run by the Chinese government, and is therefore technically illegal under FIFA rules. Well done guys. You may ask ”how are FIFA looking into these issues?” By ordering an internal investigation. Internal? No man can be his own judge. Can you imagine if the justice system worked in that way?
“So Mr serial killer, you have been charged with
murder, what is your verdict?”
“Case closed, you have been found not guilty! Enjoy your
It’s universally agreed that mass change is needed at FIFA, but the big debate is how this needs to be done. Many people have suggested The FA withdraw from FIFA and form their own breakaway federation. Great idea, but realistically is this going to work? No chance. If the FA were to breakaway, the England team would be banned from playing in all international competition, and all foreign players would be banned from the English leagues. How do you think the clubs would react to this? Goodbye Fabregas, Torres, Vidic, Tevez, Van der Vaart. Thanks for everything but you know, there’s always Tony Hibbert and Rory Delap. These clubs have made the Premier League the best marketed and richest league in the world; you’d have to be deluded to believe they would risk losing that.
A better option would have been for the FA to put forward their own candidate on an anti-corruption campaign, rather than refusing to take part in the vote, and therefore looking like the spoilt kid that runs home and blubbers into his darling mummies bingo wings as his friend didn’t pass him the ball when they were having a kick about down the park. The FA has been widely derided for this, but I am of the opinion that the Spanish/German/French FA’s are just as guilty as us. FIFA isn’t only corrupt in England; it’s a worldwide body, and a worldwide issue. Maybe if everybody worked together then things will get done a hell of a lot easier. Two heads are better than one, safety in numbers, *insert your own irritating cliche here* etc. I brought up this point to Henry Winter (football correspondent for the Telegraph) on Twitter, whose reply was “they have strong people inside UEFA and FIFA. England don’t.” Strong people eh? I haven’t seen them do much.
Anyway, Rant over. I’d love to hear your opinions on the matter, so get involved! See you in the comments, follow @j4goalposts on Twitter, or find them on good old Facey B! Spiceworld.
Thankyou very much, Mr Rob Fennell for that article!!
Right, where to start this morning! Do I start with a little bit of another Fabregas saga, or do I talk about how teams should approach the Europa League?
I’m not starting with either of those, surprise! Leicester are being billed as promotion favourites for next season’s Championship campaign what with all that pesky money Leicester are rolling in. The potential of signing players like Yakubu will obviously aide any Championship side, as well as all the highly rated loan players they’ve attracted, but this has bought unwelcome inconsistency in to the team. Take a look at the goalkeeping situation for example. Chris Weale in net has proved himself more than able, despite a could of errors but otherwise a solid pair of hands, Sven came in and all of a sudden his face didn’t fit and every goalkeeper of name was looked at. Eventually Sven settled on Ricardo, the Portuguese keeper who knocked us out the Euros on penalties. A few performances and Ricardo had disappeared, hardly helpful for the club you would think as once again, Weale was now back to looking over his shoulder, confidence drained. This has showed as they have conceded a staggering 71 goals! You’d have to say that Sven has severely messed up there, you can’t go on a public man hunt for a goalkeeper.
Add to that you can’t play with four loan defenders, all completely stranger to each other, also bringing about inconsistency. A defence is about players who trust in each other, who are bound to a cause, not three defenders trying to play their way in to another team. Take the last game of the season for example against Ipswich, where Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick Van Aanholt, Miquel Vitor and Kyle Naughton all started. Admittedly I’ve been immensely impressed with Vitor but that’s not the point; none of that back four is on a permanent contract, all wanting to play for other teams.
The stats back me up as well, what with that pesky stat of having conceded 71 goals. Where improvement has been shown is in attack. In recent seasons I’ve billed Leicester as a more defensive minded team but if you look at it, Leicester have actually scored more goals – 76 – than QPR who have scored 71. Last year, Leicester, despite finishing in the play offs, scored far less than Scunthorpe, a side struggling for survival. The reason for this ultimately, is not the signing of Yakubu and Vassell, but the changing of formation from flat 4-4-2, to 4-2-3-1, with Abe and Wellens holding, supporting Gallagher, King and Vassell playing as a front three with Yakubu as the lone front man. This has indeed yielded goals but has in turn left the likes of Wellens, who is not a naturally defense minded midfielder exposed to a newcomer in Yuki Abe who to be fair, has also impressed me. Add that to an unstable defence and no wonder Leicester have conceded the amount of goals they have and it’s also very interesting to mention that relegation strugglers Crystal Palace conceded two goals less than Leicester.
My point is, that to realise their potential as favourites for next season, Leicester have to drastically improve the situation in defence. Tunchev is now back from his injury problems so start him, sign Vitor and have those two as a defensive pairing – both are top quality and given a run of games, would dominate the Champions League. Now the full backs need to be addressed, where I’d start with signing Naughton permanently. Vedran Corluka and Kyle Walker are both ahead of Naughton at Spurs so it’s not like he’d be missed, 3 or 4 million spent signing Naughton would be money well spent, all with a re-sale value, plus some continuity from this season. For left back I’d promote from within. Is their anyone at Leicester with the potential? Let me know in the comments.
On to Barcelona’s embarrassing game of kiss chase with Fabregas and it looks like the Catalan club will be left frustrated once more and apparently, forever, according to Guillem Balague. I can’t stand Balague, ever since he started making smug predictions transfer wise on Sky Sports, I’ve laughed every single time each and every one of his stories have blown up his face, ha! Anyway, he reckons that if Barca fail to land Cesc this summer, they’ll move their ambitions elsewhere. So much for his Barca DNA being rightfully theirs! Barca won’t go above 30 million and Arsenal have a player on a long term contract till 2014, there’s no need to sell and Arsenal aren’t in financial trouble. It’s stalemate and if anyone wants him, then they’ll face a bidding war. Unlucky Barca!
Finally, Spurs have confirmed they are to blood their youngsters in next season’s Europa League. Okay, so if you’re resting players, shouldn’t your fans rest themselves and not bother supporting you? It’s utter rubbish. Tim Sherwood has cited the tournament as ‘not ideal’ for a team wanting to compete in the Champions League. I’d have thought getting practice fighting on four fronts would be a good thing; Spurs failed to juggle everything this season so a season in the Europe League would surely help? What do you Spurs fans think? How do you want the competition to be used by your club? More importantly, will you bother to turn up knowing that any spotty herbert can get a game when you’ve spent hundreds on tickets and travel?
That’s all for today, have a good day! Remember, follow us on Twitter, follow us on Facebook and you’ll get regular updates of new posts, plus I promise to say funny things on there! It was a good day of blogging from you all yesterday, so get back on it today!
So last night the Europe League came to a head, FC Porto winning the match 1-0 in the most boring encounter I’ve ever seen. I lie, I’ve seen worse but still, it was boring, that boring I turned the TV off at half time.
Don’t let this performance reflect how they’re performed this season, not losing a single game under new super manager, Andre Villa Boas. The 33 year old had enjoyed uber success this season. Schooled under Jose Mourinho, it was actually the late and great Bobby Robson who actually spotted his potential as a manager at the tender age of 16 when Villa Boas wrote to Sir Bobby Robson, asking why he wasn’t starting Porto’s striker at the time, Domingos. Robson admired this young man’s passion for the game, offering to help him through coaching courses. It was on these courses where Bobby Robson introduced him to his protegee, Jose Mourinho. Mourinho too saw the potential in Villas Boas and hired him as a scout when Mourinho made his return to Porto.
From there, a partnership blossomed, Villa Boas following Mourinho to Chelsea and Inter Milan before being called for the Academica manager’s position. Here, Villa Boas made his name, turning a very poor Academica – rock bottom without a win – in to a different team, taking them to a comfortable 11th position. Of course, these achievements would not go unnoticed and Villas Boas found himself taking the manager position at his boyhood club, Porto.
Now I remember Mourinho’s Champions League winning Porto, a highy drilled team who were happy to play on the defensive. The only pace they played with was Derlei and Benni McCarthy, or Aleynichev, the now retired Russian winger. Playing with three defensive midfielders in Maniche, Costinha and Pedro Mendes; all players happy to sit and defend.
This isn’t such the case with Boas’ Porto. Boas prefers a possession game, the same possession football perfected by Guardiola at Barcelona, rather than a tactically drilled team. Vibrant going forward, they’ve score 73 goals in the league. Hulk and Falcao have got 39 of those goals between them. Personally I feel out of that two, it’ll be Falcao who goes on to better things; for a small guy he wins a lot of headers whereas I feel Hulk has a touch of the Baptistas about him. Still, those guys need providing with the service to make those goals possible, which is where the likes of Fredy Guarin (a player I really admire) whose popped up with five goals this season and only the one assist but this is a player still learning his trade. Don’t count out Varela either, a man whose contributed with then goals and a single assist this season.
FC Porto are a team going in the right direction under the right man, the same man who recently told Chelsea to ‘forget it, I’m very happy at Porto’. Can they compete with Europe’s best next season in the Champions League? That we shall see.
Another team making headlines is Lille of France as they head on to win an historic double this season. Following their triumph in the French Cup, the side from the North of France are now set to win Ligue 1 after defeating Sochaux last night 1-0 at home. That result takes them 6 clear of nearest rivals Marseille. It’s still mathematically possible for Marseille to catch Lille but even Marseille keeper Steven Mandanda conceded that Lille won’t let it drop now which is some statement considering he’s captain!
Such players as Eden Hazard (7 goals, 7 assists) and Gervinho (14 goals, 9 assists) have been looked over several times by Europe’s biggest clubs. Lille could be the victims of their own success this summer however and not being a big club, they will struggle to hold on to their prized assets who surely will want to move on though the guarantee of Champions League football and first team action could persuade them to stay one more season, especially since Hazard only signed a long term contract around February time.
On a final note, I saw tw Twitter of a blog owner; some French guy exiled in London who said that Benzema is in London…any truth do you reckon? Both Arsenal and Spurs are on the hunt for a striker and he’d fit the bill, he’s a top class name! What do you reckon? Big porkies, or truth in the rumour mill?
First on the agenda this morning is City’s qualification to the Champions League qualifiers (at the least, unless Arsenal slip up) and congratulations to them. City fans have had to put up with their fair share of let downs over the years. Remember the first wave of money they had under Sven Goran Eriksson? Sven aqquired Rolando Bianchi for 6 million, Gelson Fernandes, Geovanni, Elano and a host of others, none were quality, especially Bianchi!
Going even further back, I remember Jon Macken, Riera, Robbie Fowler, Antoine Sibierski and co constantly struggling, always finishing mid table with no real event to highlight their existence, bar the odd quarter final appearance in cup competition. That all changed when Sheikh Mansour rolled in to town, sneering at Old Trafford and continuing to flash his wallet at Manchester City.
Now, a few years later, after signing Robinho in a statement of intent, City now field the likes of Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Edin Dzeko, Aleksander Kolarov and Mario Balotelli; a near fantasy team only better by Real Madrid. Of course, they’ve not glued together yet to make them as potent as a Madrid but just you wait for that day to strike. It’ll be scary!
Now, you’ll get a lot of fans up and down the country saying that City are buying their way to success, but really, what is wrong with that? It’s like saying that Julius Caesar and his massive empire should have taken it easy on the Barbarians. If Caesar had indeed taken it easy on the Barbarians, they would have tore in to the ranks of the Roman armies with deadly venom, just as Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal would if City were to lower their guard and not use the resources at hand. What’s logical in doing that? If you have money available, then use it; buy the biggest talent and blow your competition out the water. It may not be noble but really, people should get off their high horse and picture themselves in the position of winning trophies and seeing the best talent at their club. You’d love it, I’d love it, we’d all love it.
Well done City.
Now for our analysis of Spurs’ failed bid for Champions League football for the second season running and in fairness, what they’ve achieved is remarkable, given that Harry Redknapp picked up a side drastically short of confidence, form and the basic materials required to assemble a side capable of reaching the top four whilst managing to give neighbours Arsenal a poke in the eye at the same time. In a such a short space of time, the progress made at White Hart Lane has been remarkable.
With progress though comes expectation and when noises are being made by the staff at Spurs, a consistent challenge for success is demanded by everyone. That is something that, based on the evidence of this season at least, is not something they are capable of quite yet. It will have been hard for players to juggle the league, finishing in the top four whilst still competing in the Champions League and to make progress, Spurs will need to address these issues. Yes, they have enjoyed good nights in the San Siro, beat Inter Milan at home, not lost to Arsenal and poked Chelsea in the eye but those results have been undermined by draws to the likes of Blackpool and Wigan at home.
I don’t think Bale is the answer, his stats are very poor for a player of the year and is picking up a lot of injuries. To improve, Spurs need a keeper, a left back, a centre back, a right back, another creative midfielder, a winger and a striker, all of noted quality. That’s seven players and no they don’t all have to be first team players, but those in reserve need to be as good a quality as those in the first team.
What do you all think? Do Spurs need to make massive changes, or are only minor tweaks necessary?
That’s all for today folks, it was a good day of blogging from you all yesterday, keep it up! Like our Facebook, follow our Twitter, tell your friends about us and I’ll buy you all a Creme Egg!