Posts Tagged ‘Defoe’

The Six Pointer – Wounded Challenges, Slippery Slides & more…

07/03/2011

1. Liverpool convincingly dealt with Man Utd yesterday and Dirk Kuyt will never, ever score an easier hat-trick. It was very surprising to see Fergie start with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in central midfield – recent history has normally seen him go with three in the middle in big matches in an attempt to gain control and stop the opposition playing.

Neither Scholes nor Carrick are particularly energetic or mobile in the way Darren Fletcher is, but with the Scotsman left on the bench after his shift against Chelsea (he can only do one big game a week)  it meant United were unable to gain a foothold on the game.

As you can see in the Chalkboards below, between them they won only one tackle and the likes of Meireles would consistently run or pass around them.

Only one interception between them too.

The decision to give Carrick a new contract during the week was greeted with some derision but at the same time I don’t think Ferguson considers him a first choice player. He’s not bad against weaker sides and he has long been found out against the best – playing him yesterday was more out of necessity than want.

Still, with his continued mediocrity, Scholes’ potential retirement, Fletcher’s one game a week effectiveness and Hargreaves and Anderson’s consistent injury problems, Man Utd’s midfield will certainly need some work in the summer.

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2. Yesterday’s match could have easily seen two red cards, and probably should have. Carragher went in high on Nani and created quite the wound (see below) while Rafael was similarly lucky to stay on the pitch following his wild lunge on Lucas. There is something to be said for a referee to take into account the situation and the context, but really Phil Dowd made errors in giving both players just a yellow.

Red drawn, yellow given.

Interestingly, Rafael is developing quite a reputation as someone who may not have the temperament (or indeed the positional sense) to go with his natural talent.

A red card would have meant his third in under a year, while he was nowhere near where he should have been when Suarez tip-toed through the United defence for the opener.

Recently Ferguson has seemed to prefer someone more dependable in tough matches, with Rafael being omitted against Man City, Chelsea and Marseilles. It will intriguing to see when the Brazilian next plays again, I imagine he might find himself out of the team for a few weeks.

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3. In the context of yesterday’s result, it is difficult to say whether Arsenal’s draw against Sunderland is a point gained or more likely two points dropped.

Wenger’s team have struggled in recent seasons against Sunderland having won only one of the last six games, so it was always going to be tricky without out several players and against one of the best defences outside the top five.

Wenger had a similar problem to Fergie in that first choice midfielders weren’t available so he was forced to play Denilson and Diaby alongside Wilshere. They can usually get away with one of those in the team but having to play both meant it was one of those days where the team struggled to get going, Wilshere unable to do all the tempo setting himself.

The weight of the other two on his shoulders...

Sunderland were lucky to get away with Bramble clearly fouling Arshavin in the box and a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside but having said that they also had their moments and drew a couple of very smart stops out of Szczesny.

I would think that once Aaron Ramsey has a bit more fitness under his belt, he will swiftly move ahead of Denilson and Diaby in the pecking order. He might not have the same experience but he makes things happen, and in a game like Saturday’s and indeed for the run in, that could be priceless.

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4. Momentum at this stage of the season is key so it’s fascinating to see who is making a move at the bottom end of the table.

Just nine points separate ninth place Newcastle from bottom placed Wigan but realistically it’s looking like everyone from Blackburn downwards are the ones who should be worried.

Things are swiftly grouping together for a climatic last few games and as the old cliché goes, a couple of wins and “you’re right back in the mix” (© every pundit going).

I’m willing to condemn Wigan already to be honest, they’re tough to beat but they don’t win many either. As I’ve written here many times before, draws can be rather useless at times and a team like Blackpool who either win or lose has a far better shot and getting the points needed to stay up.

Almost good enough, but not quite.

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5. Of the teams not in that bottom group, Stoke are looking a little vulnerable. They’ve won just one of their last seven and still have to play four of the top five. They seem to have a slightly resigned air about them at the moment – certainly away from home where they’ve lost their last six (and not even scored in the last five).

The earlier point about momentum is key – they face Newcastle, Spurs and Chelsea next. Fail to win the first one and you could be looking at mid-April before they are favourites in a match, by which time they could be in a much more serious position.

I do think they should be ok, given the cushion they have, but it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them need something against Wigan on the last day.

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6. Jermain Defoe has only just scored his first league goals in a year. If he fulfils Harry Redknapp’s wish and gets to ten by the end of the season, then it will go a long way to ensuring Spurs finish in the top four again. As it is, the lack of a striker in double figures for 2010/11 may be what costs them. Van der Vaart’s ten goals should complement not lead.

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T.

Season Previews 2010/11 – Tottenham

11/08/2010

Tottenham

Last Season: 4th

New Signings: Sandro

Key Player: Luka Modric

One To Watch: Tom Huddlestone. Hard to miss him really.

Needs A Big Year: Peter Crouch

Would Quite Like: Some glory European nights and finally coming ahead of their bigger, better neighbours from N5. Perhaps a trophy too.

Harry counts the number of signings on one finger.

Prediction: 6th

Thoughts: After many years of trying and many years of spending, Spurs finally reached their holy grail and came 4th last season to have a shot at the Big Cup. Assuming they overcome Young Boys (responsible for one of the best ever headlines), Spurs will suddenly be welcoming the top sides to White Hart Lane every few weeks. I get the feeling may struggle to cope with demands of the Champions League and Premier League football.

Certainly their squad is big but I’m yet to be convinced that there is enough quality in it to do well in both. Surprisingly there’s been just the one signing so far, Sandro coming in to provide a much needed second defensive midfielder. It’s clear Redknapp is after a striker a who can play the lone front man role as none of his current ones can (save perhaps Pavlyuchenko).

The ability to adequately play 451 away from home (and in Europe) may go some way to improving their woeful record of no away wins against the top four in about fifteen years. Creatively they look fine with Modric, Kranjcar, Lennon Bale and Bentley all capable of laying chances on a plate. Defensive cover is probably an issue, certainly at right back at least. Corluka is a bit slow and none of the others are fully established. The last time all four central defenders were fit at the same time was quite a while ago too.

It’s clear Spurs are a good side but perhaps they peaked last season. I just don’t see how they’re going to as motivated this year for an away trip to someone like Blackburn when there’s a home tie against say Inter round the corner. They’ll still be challenging the top four again but I personally think they may find that both Man City and Liverpool come ahead of them this season. 6th spot in the league but the knockout stages of Europe.

T.

Fantasy Premier League – End Of Season Review 09/10

14/05/2010

So another year of fantasy football ended last Sunday without too much drama. A solid final week meant I held on to my league lead and won it for the first time in the four seasons we’ve played.

Victory at last.

It was an entertaining season and at one stage looked to be a four-way title race. That said I don’t think I let go of the lead since about week 19 so without gloating too much victory is deserved. I was kind of limping to the finish line for the last few weeks and dropped from a position of 7,264 as late as gameweek 31 down to a final ranking of 24,501 out of 2.3m+. Not my highest ever position but still very good and just outside the top 1%.

Sportboy P came a worthy second while longtime leader Amer came third. Too many transfers and dodgy captain choices cost him and he couldn’t pick it back up. Three time winner the Football Guy had his worst ever season in fifth. I expect him to bounce back next year.

On to some awards.

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Player of the season:

Frank Lampard wins this for the second straight season. I learnt from my lesson last year and made sure he was in my team when in mattered, not least for the run in. Top scoring player by 42 points and his total of 284 is quite incredible. I only realised while writing this that it’s the highest ever score in a fantasy season, edging out Ronaldo’s 283 points in 2007/08.

I think it was Chelsea’s sheer volume of goals that did it, as although he ‘only’ scored 22 (compared to C-Ron’s 31) he weighed in with a season high 17 assists (only 8 for CR). If you factor in that he wasn’t even the highest recipient of bonus points, or that he played neither game vs Wolves, you start to wonder whether a 300 point season is possible.

An honourable mention too for Cesc Fabregas who matched Lampard for points per game and got the second most bonus points this season but due to his various injuries missed eleven games thus ended up with  214.

Frank Lampard fantasy football

Maverick's 2009/10 Top Gun.

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Best value player:

Thomas Sorensen is the clear winner here, gaining 164 points for his measly £4m initial price tag. He even saved three penalties this season. Joe Hart was also a big plus here, with a lower score but higher price rise over the course of the season.

However I think the best bargain to be had this season was Darren Bent. Costing just £7m to start with, he banged in 24 goals for a frankly average Sunderland side. He was quieter in the second half of the season when Sunderland went on a long winless run and Drogba/Rooney/Tevez was the way to go but picked it up again in the final few games.

bent sunderland

Bargain of the season.

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Best sub:

Birmingham defenders were this year’s Fulham, providing regular clean sheets at a bargain basement price. Though they faded somewhat once they hit 40 points, they were a great option.

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Fantasy bike:

There wasn’t one single player I kept bringing in this season, but looking back it seems Drogba, Lampard and Tevez were all transferred in on three occasions. With expensive players all generally performing this season, you could usually mix and match as fitness and suspension dictated and not have to worry about losing money.

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Biggest flop:

Many of last season’s flops bounced back, not least Fabregas, Tevez and Drogba. For his price tag Steven Gerrard has to be up there. A victim of Liverpool’s poor season; he was generally pretty useless until about gameweek 32, before an end of season points binge.

Elsewhere big things were expected of Andrey Arshavin after last year’s four-month cameo but I thought 135 points was poor while Dirk Kuyt has gone back to being a plodder. You could argue Van Persie and Torres were disappointing but everyone knows they’re injury prone. When they played they both had a high points per game average – 5th and 6th overall.

arshavin arsenal

Could have done so much more.

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Best improvement:

The way of looking at this is rise in value over the season. Here Richard Dunne and Didier Drogba are the winners, just edging out James Milner. All three had terrific seasons and the former two rose by £1.8m in price.

I would say Dunne was the most unexpected, and he picked up Martin Laursen’s tendency for being a bonus point machine while captaining Aston Villa at centre back. That said, clever old me came up with this gem of a prediction about Drogba in one of my previews.

"I no longer think the Ivorian has the ability to get 20 goals a season."

Good thing I realised the error of my ways!

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Biggest surprise:

The under performance of Gerrard – previously a lock for 200 points. Gareth Bale post January (116 points) compared to pre January (2 points).

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Best performance:

Last season’s high was 21 points from Arshavin. I think this score got beaten six times this year. In reverse order:

Joint 3rd: Benayoun and Kalou – 24 points

2nd: Defoe – 25 points

1st: Lampard – 28 points versus Aston Villa through four goals, an assist and three bonus. Needless to say that was one of the few weeks he wasn’t in my team, let alone in my team as captain.

Credit to Fabregas for getting 22 twice and Rooney for getting 32 in a double gameweek.

And Arshavin’s high score this season? 11…

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Cesc Fabregas award for cheap bonus points:

Wayne Rooney with 46 (matching Lampard last year). Cesc was second with 41.

rooney man utd

Bonus. Om om om.

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Biggest fall from grace value wise:

Biggest price drop was Diamanti of West Ham and surprisingly Nicolas Anelka. Both went down £1.2m. I assume the latter was a victim of people going with the three highest scoring strikers and just sticking with them. Of the other renowned players Carrick fell by £1m while Arshavin again plays a part here, falling £0.9m.

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Biggest fall from grace performance wise:

Aaron Lennon was fantastic until December, then got injured and only returned for the last few games. Perhaps it’s a little harsh to include him here. Jermain Defoe on the other hand had 14 goals before January and just four afterwards. Antonio Valencia was also pretty poor in 2010 with just four assists and no goals.

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Best impact:

Gareth Bale was immense after the turn of the year, scoring well over 100 points. I didn’t bring him in though due to his price.

From a personal point of view I was pleased with the transfers of Martin Olsson and Adam Johnson. The former was listed as a £3.8m defender yet played in an advanced midfield role, while the latter made a big impact after joining Man City in the January transfer window. Both were nice differentials who scored steady points in the run in.

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Predictions:

I mentioned the Drogba one earlier and how I fancied Anelka over him this season. Other specials included tipping the likes of Ebanks-Blake, Zhirkov, Scotland and Robinho while being negative on players like Bellamy, Lennon and Valencia. In my defence, I had Milner, Bent plus more expensive guys like Fabregas and Rooney to have good seasons.

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Finally lets take a look my team in August:

fantasy premier league week 1

Ebanks-Blake, what was I thinking?!

and the team I ended the season with:

fantasy premier league week 38

The league winning side.

Pretty different as you can see. I think Sorensen was the only player to make it through the season without being transferred out, surviving even the wildcard. I played a three-man defence for much of the season and given how well strikers did it was usually three up front.

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T.

England World Cup Squad Predictions – Part Three

18/04/2010

A semi-regular feature (ok, just twice) has been an attempt to look into Signor Capello’s mind and try to make an educated guess on who might make the England squad for this summer’s World Cup. When first written in March last year the following conclusion was reached:

James, Foster, Kirkland.

Terry, Ferdinand, A. Cole, Johnson, Brown, Upson, Bridge.

Lampard, Gerrard, J.Cole, Young, Beckham, Hargreaves, Wright-Phillips, Barry.

Rooney, Walcott, Heskey, Crouch, Defoe.

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Another go was made in November and there weren’t too many changes to be honest:

James, Green, Foster.

Terry, Ferdinand, A. Cole, Johnson, Upson, Brown, Lescott.

Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Hargreaves, Milner, Beckham, Lennon, J. Cole.

Rooney, Heskey, Defoe, C. Cole, Walcott.

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So, what’s changed since then? Quite a lot since you ask. We’ll start with Goldenballs himself David Beckham. A shoo-in for the squad if fit, he injured his Achilles in the last-minute of a Milan league match and will not be fit in time. He’ll still be going to South Africa, but purely as a cheerleader. I think Fabio Capello would sooner pick his mum for England than Michael Owen but he’s been saved the hassle of having to explain to the press why it wasn’t going to happen as Owen is out injured too.

In my last preview I had doubts over Wayne Bridge going just to the low likelihood of needing a second left back but now he won’t be going due to John Terry’s assertion that the role of club and country captain allows you to shag your best mate’s fiance and then pay her to get rid of the consequences. Capello harbours hope that Bridge may change his mind but he won’t.

england squad

Capello's first squad. How things change.

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Goalkeepers:

Five months ago David James looked certain to be first choice but a succession of niggly injuries and a relegation battle with Portsmouth seems to have given a chance for Rob Green. There’s no doubt in my mind James is still better but it may come to whether he can play seven games in a month. Either way both go.

The third spot is now clearly Joe Hart‘s after a great season at Birmingham. He won’t play but I imagine it’s to give him experience ahead of him becoming the first choice for the Euro 2012 campaign. This is the least interesting position in terms of uncertainty; barring injury those three will 100% go to South Africa. Next in line would be Paul Robinson I reckon but the less we think about that the better.

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Defenders:

The first choice back four pick themselves and they should all be relatively fresh given their various injuries this season. Yep Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand being fit are key to England’s hopes (along with Rooney of course) given how poor the back up is. The drop-off in each position is quite worrying and none of the backups really strike me as being international quality.

Matthew Upson is still the go-to centre back if one of the main two go down. Joining him will be Joleon Lescott who can provide cover at left back and probably Wes Brown who can provide cover at right back. It’s a scary thought if either of those two have to play full back – can you imagine them trying to stop a Ribery or a Messi *shudder*.

The more I think about it the more I believe it will be seven defenders only, especially when you can call on certain midfielders to provide cover too. Barry, Milner, Carrick and Gerrard have all played defensive positions adequately. Desperately hoping for an injury or two will be Phil Jagielka who is certainly next in line.

Should Capello go a bit cautious then Leighton Baines will now be the second left-back while shockingly, and mainly due to lack of any other alternatives, Gary Neville would go if Johnson was crocked. Ryan Shawcross has been looked at but the fallout over the Ramsey tackle has put paid to his hopes. Michael Dawson? Perhaps but I doubt it.

A couple of interesting wildcards would be Ledley King and Sol Campbell. When fully fit the former is probably better than Terry but he’s rarely fully fit. The latter meanwhile has been a revelation since rejoining Arsenal in January. As backups they wouldn’t have to play every three days but I guess the risk is that if Terry or Rio were badly injured then they would be needed more often than they could handle. Still though, it could be worth a gamble.

wayne bridge john terry veronica perroncel

No longer friends, no longer teammates.

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Midfielders:

Again we’ll deal with the first choice guys first. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry have been there and done that. All are super experienced and in the team. Beyond that it starts to depend on who the opposition is. James Milner has gone from nowhere to possibly challenging for a place in the first XI.

Aaron Lennon should regain fitness in time to take a right-wing spot against weaker sides, while the fact Owen Hargreaves still isn’t fully fit means Michael Carrick will be the nominal defensive midfielder. That’s the Michael Carrick who has been found out against every top side he’s faced this season.

If I had written this two months ago Theo Walcott would probably not have been going but he’s recovered form well in the preceding time. You still feel his one weapon is pace though. Stewart Downing seems to be the only left winger under consideration but I haven’t really been that impressed by him.

Joe Cole is desperately trying to find some form in Chelsea’s last few games – he’s under great risk of not going but at the same time he has skills which no other English midfielder has. It may well come down to a straight choice between him and Adam Johnson, who has been excellent in his three months at Man City.

The one thing against the latter is the he normally plays on the right (even though he’s left-footed) and there’s already Lennon and Walcott in the squad. That said Beckham would still have gone if fit so there’s no reason why Johnson can’t be a third option on the right as well as one on the left too. It could come down to the next friendly.

Shaun Wright-Phillips wasn’t in my squad last time I did this and he won’t be in this one either, despite Beckham’s injury opening a spot. Johnson has usurped him at club so no doubt he will at country. Plus it may also be that Wright-Phillips is a bit average. Sorry Ian.

People knocking on the door marked injury backups? Hmm, Tom Huddlestone has had a decent season at Spurs as a central midfielder with centre back skills but I think Jagielka would sooner go as a centre back with central midfielder skills. Ashley Young just doesn’t seem to be liked Capello as for my money he’s better than Downing but is very much on the fringes.

There’s a real dearth beyond that. Jack Rodwell? Scott Parker? Lee Cattermole? Your guess is as good as mine.

capello england

Johnson and Cole? Just one, not both.

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Strikers:

I think it’s still very much four strikers plus Walcott as a fifth forward. Wayne Rooney is so important it’s unbelievable. If he gets injured you’re probably looking at a second round knock-out. With him fit it’s at least the quarter finals woo! Anyway, he’s first name on the teamsheet.

Emile Heskey is under a lot of pressure right now. Obviously the point of Heskey isn’t goals but how he enables others (like Rooney) to play better – the thing is though that there’s only so poor a season someone can have before you have to look at alternatives. He should be fine, I think. Jermain Defoe is an impact striker – not good enough for 90 minutes but capable of being a 25 minute nuisance.

Peter Crouch will need to make sure he performs well in the next squad get together as Bobby Zamora looks set for a call up ahead of the final friendly. Zamora perhaps is more of a replacement for Heskey in terms of skill set and what he’d give the team but Crouch should be concerned too. Carlton Cole would go if Defoe was injured, while Darren Bent would go if Cole and Defoe were unfit. Gabriel Agbonlahor doesn’t seem to be on the radar and rightly so.

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So where does that leave us? Well for my money these are the 23 going to South Africa:

James, Green, Hart.

Ferdinand, Terry, Johnson, Cole, Brown, Upson, Lescott.

Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Milner, Carrick, Lennon, Walcott, Johnson, Downing.

Rooney, Heskey, Defoe, Crouch.

Road To Wembley – Semi Final – Tottenham vs Portsmouth

09/04/2010

When this whole road to Wembley idea started back in November it was meant to be fun, not a chore that has to be fulfilled every time another round occurs. Not for the first time I accidently missed a round due to genuinely not being interested in the FA Cup. I think it’s the fact that we’ve reached the semi final stage and I’m still only on my third team. It’s more fun when it’s someone new each time.

Anyway, enough of my moaning. Last time we were here, Portsmouth were about to face local rivals Southampton in the fifth round. In a one-sided contest the Saints were swept aside 4-1. That’s a little unfair I suppose as it was level for three quarters of the game but the superior fitness of Pompey must have told as three late goals from Dindane, Belhadj and O’Hara ensured there was no shock.

The quarter-final saw a home tie against Birmingham, who have had a great season under Alex McLeish. Once again, Portsmouth put aside their off-field and league worries and ran out quite comfortable 2-0 winners. A quick fire double from Frederic Piquionne saw off the Blues, who judging from the match report had a goal incorrectly disallowed. It’s unlikely Portsmouth will care really, given that victory gave them a bit more prize money and TV cash.

fa cup semi final

The big game! Or something...

The semi final draw produced an interesting proposition for Portsmouth – a meeting with ex manager Harry Redknapp, who was in charge when they won the whole thing just two seasons ago. Whatever your views on Redknapp’s responsibility for Portsmouth’s current plight (and I happen to think he should take a fair proportion of the blame) you can deny it was a great achievement in winning their first trophy in decades. He’s now trying to win Tottenham’s first proper trophy since 1991 (you can shove your Carling Cups where the sun doesn’t shine) and in doing so has plundered Portsmouth for about 43 of their players (ok, ok, just four).

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Form:

The less said about Portsmouth’s league form the better. They’ve had nine points deducted and will go down officially shortly. They drew their last game but haven’t scored in three games including a 2-0 defeat to Spurs. Tottenham had won four straight before losing 3-1 last week against Sunderland. Their next three league games are against the top three so they I imagine they’ll go all out for this.

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Team News:

Likely teams from the Guardian.

Basically Spurs have about seven central defenders out injured while Portsmouth have a bunch of players who will cost them appearance fees if they play again after the semi.

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Old Boys:

Concentrate. Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar and Younes Kaboul were all at Pompey but now Spurs. Except Defoe who was at Spurs then Pompey then back to Spurs. Kevin-Prince Boateng used to be at Spurs but is now at Porstmouth, as is Ricardo Rocha who is really rubbish and Michael Brown who is really average. Jamie O’Hara is owned by Spurs but on loan at Portsmouth. Kyle Walker was on loan at Pompey but is now back at Spurs. Both O’Hara and Walker are cup-tied. Harry Redknapp was manager at Pompey and is now at Spurs and his assistant in both cases is Joe Jordan. Clear?

tottenham portsmouth

Just merge already.

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How Pompey Got Here:

2-1 v Coventry A after a 1-1 H draw

2-1 v Sunderland H

4-1 v Southampton A

2-0 v Birmingham H

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How Spurs Got Here:

Beat Peterborough 4-0 at home in the third round, Leeds 3-1 away in a fourth round replay after a 2-2 draw, Bolton 4-0 at home in a fifth round replay after a 1-1 draw, and Fulham 3-1 at home in a quarter final replay after a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage. The semi can’t go to a replay as far as I’m aware so the job will need to be done first time round.

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Expert Predictions:

Lawro says:

Both teams come into this with injury worries – Tottenham defensively, in particular, and Portsmouth, well, everywhere you look in their squad. I know some people will have already written Portsmouth off, but the fact is this is their Cup final for so many reasons; they are relegated all but mathematically, every single one of their players is playing either for a move or for a new contract, and the financial reward for reaching a Cup final would be massive for the club.
Every single person connected with the club has a massive incentive in this match. And if I was [Portsmouth boss] Avram Grant, I’d be urging my players to make it extremely uncomfortable for Spurs. He’s not going to turn Portsmouth into an irresistible attacking force overnight so they have to grind the opposition down, flood the midfield and sneak a result. Saying that, I can’t really see past Tottenham winning. I definitely see it being tight, possibly going to extra-time, but Spurs will always cause you problems with their attacking players and that might just be enough to see them through this one.
Prediction: 1-0

John Barnes (not an expert): Home win
Tony Cascarino (not an expert): Home win
Graham Poll (not an expert): Home win
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Conclusion:

redknapp-fa-cup

Can he do it again?

Spurs are heavy favourites going into this tie and I’m sure Harry Redknapp would be delighted to get on over his old side. However logic hasn’t really applied to Portsmouth’s cup run so far and maybe, just maybe they can pull off another shock result. You can get 10/1 on Portsmouth winning which is a ridiculous price and worth a pound of anyone’s money. Tottenham have a few defensive problems and somehow I think they’ll just mess it up. Let’s go with 1-0 Portsmouth with a late second half goal. Either that or heavy Spurs win. You know, whatever…

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 23 Preview

26/01/2010

I love it when you can sit back, relax and just watch the points roll in. Last gameweek saw several teams play twice, two of which were Arsenal and Man Utd. 13 goals and four wins later for those two sides and you have the basis of a great fantasy week.

I suspect that anyone who didn’t have a Mr Rooney or Mr Fabregas in their side is now a long way back in any individual league. They combined for 70 points+ depending on who you chose as captain and it just goes to show it’s always worth taking a points hit when the top teams play twice.

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Gameweek 22 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Yes, as touched on earlier it was a personal competition between Fabregas and Rooney to see who would score most points in gameweek 22. Rooney struck first blow with a goal, assist and three bonus for 12 points against Burnley. Fabregas then responded with a goal, clean sheet and three bonus for 11 points in his first match against Bolton. So far so close.

Fabregas then had the return match against Bolton and decided to do even better and score 13 via goal, assist and man of the match. This had me worried slightly as my closest rivals had him as captain and thus had 48 points in the bag while I was waiting on Rooney. I needn’t had worried. Four goals and a man of the match against Hull later I was looking at another 20 points and 64 altogether. What was particularly sweet was that for everything Rooney did in that game the more my lead would increase. I like it when that happens.

Wayne Rooney top gun

Maverick keeps approving, Rooney keeps scoring.

Elswhere, you probably had a good week if you had Kyrgiakos (19 – unlikely really), Kuyt (18) or Anelka (16 in one game). Over twenty players got into double figures so if you got less than 100 hang your head in shame.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Fabregas/Arsenal – It’s a tough away game against Aston Villa but I genuinely don’t feel confident in anyone else this week. The man is on a single-handed mission to score and assist enough goals to overcome the handicap that is Manuel Almunia’s goalkeeping skills and Eduardo’s newly developed habit of shooting pea-rollers straight back to the opposition keeper when faced with a clear one on one. He’s a big game player and destroyed Aston Villa in under half hour while still injured a few weeks ago. He’s fully fit now…

2. Gerrard/Liverpool – Should be back against Wolves apparently and as usual will be important if Liverpool are to win. They’ve been in good form recently and should deal with Mick McCarthy’s side without too much hassle.

3. Anelka/Chelsea - No games stand out really so I’m putting Anelka here simply as Chelsea have a home game. Birmingham are no mugs as the many people who had Rooney as captain against them a few weeks ago found out (2pts I believe it was), but Chelsea should still win. Anelka terrorised Sunderland last week so is in good form.

fabregas fantasy football captain

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1.  Ferdinand/Man Utd - Returning injured players are the theme this week and we’ll start off with Rio Ferdinand. Out for most of the season with a bad back, he played against Hull and got an easy clean sheet and bonus point. His price has fallen all the way to £6.6m and he could be a good alternative to Evra or indeed Vidic if you still have him.

2. Bendtner/Arsenal - Approaching full fitness and when he’s not injured he always plays. Eduardo has been good for assists only while Vela is not ready yet. Bendtner should slot straight back in and with the number of goals in Arsenal will be a good source of points in the months to come.

3. Arteta/Everton – Another player nearing full fitness. Everton have been gradually improving and he should be the catalyst to ensure a bit more creativity in the second half of the season.

rio ferdinand man utd

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Defoe/Spurs - More of a personal vendetta but I do think there are other similarly priced strikers who are better (like a certain C. Tevez). I think this the second time this season I’ve brought him for some easy home games and he’s done f all. There won’t be a third time.

2. Walcott/Arsenal - If Sunday’s display in the FA Cup against Stoke is anything to go by, it will be a while before he has the confidence and form to be scoring consistent fantasy points.

3. Man City midfielders - Judging by all the transfer speculation in the media, it seems Mancini isn’t especially happy with his central midfield lot. Something to keep an eye on.

jermain defoe spurs

Are you taking the mick?

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 22 Preview

15/01/2010

Gameweek 22 is shaping up to be a big one for fantasy managers. After snow decimated the fixture list last weekend, we were left with just three games played meaning many managers only had a few players at most scoring them points.

In one of my leagues my nearest rival scored just six points while in my main league with the other Sportboy, the Football Guy and a few others, the story was similar. Nearly everyone had Carlos Tevez so the scores weren’t terrible but me picking him as captain meant I got 55 points and extended my lead to 37 points over 2nd place (now taken by Amer who was once upon a time sixth in the world). The week couldn’t have gone better really, and going for Tevez instead of Rooney as captain really made a difference.

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Gameweek 21 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Carlos Tevez Top Gun Goose Man City

Maverick got stuck in the snow this week so Goose is here to approve of Tevez's hat-trick and his 2nd Top Gun.

Yes, in case you hadn’t realised Carlos Tevez was easily the top scorer last week – a hat-trick against Blackburn getting him three bonus points for a grand total of 17, or 34 if you made him captain like I did. Even though the game was initially in doubt I thought it was worth the risk as if it did get called off it would automatically go to my second choice Rooney.

Anyway, I digress. Benjani grabbed three assists in the same match for 13 points in what was his first appearance of the season. Not bad for someone who’s best has passed. Elsewhere Pienaar and Richards both got nine, as did Cameron Jerome.

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Gameweek 22 Picks:

With all the postponed games last week, many clubs have tried to rearrange them as quickly as possible. It means this week we have six teams playing twice: Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Bolton and Hull. Plenty of good teams to pick from and I’d say you’d want at least six players playing twice, if not more. Just be aware that Man Utd and Hull don’t play in gameweek 23 so don’t pick too many of their players for this week.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Fabregas/Arsenal - A quirk in the fixtures means both of Arsenal’s games this week are against Bolton; first away, then at home. Fabregas is confirmed fit again so I would think that he’ll definitely play in both games. He’s been a stud this season and there have been just two (and a half) games where he’s failed to anything. Bolton away will be tricky what with Owen Coyle providing the new manager lift in performance, but the match at the Emirates should be a comfortable win. In any case, you’d be wise to pick him as captain this week. Arshavin would be my next Arsenal choice.

2. Rooney/Man Utd – The fiery striker has arguably easier games than Fabregas, with two home games against Burnley and Hull but I’m wary of a couple of things. Firstly, Utd haven’t been overly impressive of late and the FA Cup tie against Leeds showed they are still vulnerable in defence without Rio, Vidic and VDS. Secondly, Rooney can be a bit hot and cold, either having a massive game or doing nothing. He scored 15 against Hull recently but only got one point against Burnley away in August. A confident, but not surefire pick. Valencia would be the Man Utd alternative.

3. Defoe/Spurs – With all of Liverpool’s good players injured, it leaves us looking at Tottenham as the third team to provide a potential captain. Hull at home should be easy pickings for Defoe and he might just do something at Anfield too. Modric is back fit again and could get some good points if you don’t have the midget up front.

fabregas fantasy football captain

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Bolton players – This gameweek is admittedly difficult to envisage a Bolton player scoring heavily but even two sets of two points would be useful and Arsenal are not super solid defensively. I think Owen Coyle will give them a boost and hopefully make them a more expansive, attractive side. This could mean players like Matt Taylor are worth watching. They also have play twice in gameweek 26 meaning seven matches in the next five weeks.

2. Donovan/Everton – The American loanee made his debut for the Toffees last week and by all accounts played pretty well against Arsenal (he got an assist). I’ve always thought he’s overrated, and his previous record in Germany suggests that he’s not quite good enough at the top level. That said, maybe the Premier League will suit him. Plenty of US players have succeeded so maybe he will be the next (if only for a couple of months). It will cost you £6m to find out.

3. N’Gog/Liverpool – The young Frenchman is an interesting one. He has only played 412 minutes this season but has grabbed four goals and two assists, which is twice as many as a certain M. Owen. With Torres injured for six weeks, he should get a consistent run in the side. Liverpool are woeful this season but at £5.2m he may be worth a speculative punt as a third striker.

matt taylor bolton

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Vieira/Man City – I think Vieira is a legend and as an Arsenal fan he gave me nine glorious years of midfield dominance but I can’t help thinking this move back to the Premier League is a bad idea. He’s only £5m but I don’t think he’s going to do much. Granted, he’ll probably have a big game against a team which doesn’t possess much pace and people will think he’s still great but I reckon it’ll will be a one-off. Not worth the bother.

2. Sorensen/Stoke – With David James about to join on loan, it seems Sorensen may be on his way out. With the World Cup coming up I can’t think that James would be moving somewhere where he isn’t guaranteed a first team place and rumours of the Dane going abroad have not been denied. Time to find a new penalty saving king.

3. Liverpool players – The good ones like Torres, Johnson, Gerrard and Benayoun are all injured for varying lengths of time. The others like Aquilani, Kuyt, Riera and Carragher have been useless for varying lengths of time.

Patrick Vieira Man City

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 17 Preview

15/12/2009

A very quick one this week as the deadline is all of about four hours away. I had a decent points tally at the weekend as Drogba as captain and clean sheets from Birmingham based teams (i.e. them and Villa) led me to a nice score of 70 points. It’s all very tight at the top of our league and it’s now led by Sportboy P on 901 closely followed by yours truly on 895.

Three other players are within 16 points of the leader. One of them is not previous fantasy football king the Football Guy. He’s sixth at the mo, 100 points behind,  but much like Liverpool in real life I’m sure he’ll be in the top four at the end of it all. I’m quite glad I went with Drogba as captain and hope you ignored my advice to go for Lennon, Defoe or Giggs. The less said about that the better!

 

Gameweek 16 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Annoyingly for someone trying to do a quick post, there were joint high scorers at the weekend. This means our old friend Goose makes a reappearance.

Didier Drogba Top Gun Chelsea Maverick

Maverick approves of this week's and this season's Top Gun.

Carlos Tevez Top Gun Goose Man City

Goose didn't think he'd get another shot. Thanks Carlos.

Yep, Didier Drogba  and Carlitos Tevez both scored twice and got three bonus points for a total of 13 points. I’m giving the Maverick picture to Drogba, just for his super consistency this season. It’s his first one this season yet he’s top points scorer which shows you just how steady he’s been. He has double figures in six games this season and only two matches where he hasn’t contributed a goal, assist or bonus. Awesome. Elsewhere Paul Robinson and Ivan Klasnic both got 11 points and Ryan Shawcross ten.

 

Three Captain Choices:

1. Drogba/Chelsea – It’s no time for captain gambles with the gameweeks coming thick and fast. Top points scorer at home to Portsmouth? Yep, I’ll be having some of that. Chelsea need a win having gone two league games (and four in all) without one so I expect  a backlash, not least because Kaboul has got himself banned for Pompey.

2. Rooney/Man Utd - After a somewhat shock defeat against Aston Villa, Man Utd have a chance to put things right against Wolves. I don’t think they’ll do a Spurs so thus I’m backing Rooney to come with the goods.

3. Arshavin/Arsenal – Two goals in two games up front for Arsenal. Burnley is an interesting challenge – no longer in the form of the autumn but still tough to beat at Turf Moor. Arshavin is a slight doubt with a foot injury but has said he wants to play. At the moment he is the biggest difference maker at Arsenal.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

 

Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Bowyer/Birmingham – I never thought I’d be suggesting him here but he has been excellent in the past few weeks as Birmingham have gone on a seven game unbeaten run. The matchwinner in three of their last four games, with 34 points in that span. He’s cheap too at £5.1m and likely to get clean sheet points even if the goals stop.

2. Tevez/Man City – Becoming more and more of a factor at Eastlands and with his 13 point haul at the weekend is now the top performing Man City player this season. Three goals and eight bonus points in his last three matches and still has a nice price of just £8.3m.

3. Klasnic/Bolton – Has only played 90 minutes once so far but scored twice for Bolton at the weekend and looks to be an interesting option for a third striker given he has 29 points from just 423 minutes.

Lee Bowyer

Might be worth a pick.

 

Three To Avoid:

1. Defoe/Spurs – Scores lots of goals in few games (Hull, Wigan) if you see what I mean. You just don’t know which games it will be. I prefer players who score less goals in more games. More reliable you see. Just ask all those who picked him as captain for the Wolves game. Happy with your 4 points? Nope, thought not.

2. Faye/Stoke – Doesn’t get as many goals or bonus as Shawcross but costs more than other defenders with similar scores. I’ll be cashing in for someone a little cheaper like Wilkinson (£3.9m) for Stoke’s upcoming double gameweek before bringing in another Birmingham defender. He’ll likely get the same number of points.

3. Adebayor/Man City – No longer Man City’s top points scorer and the fact he didn’t celebrate when Tevez scored suggests his diva ways may be resurfacing. There’s better value elsewhere.

T.

Weekly Photoshop – Roberto Martinez

01/12/2009

Wigan’s manager is the theme this week following their 9-1 drubbing at Tottenham. Not much you can do when short on time and internet access, hence the basic effort below. Something better next week, promise.

roberto martinez wigan spurs 9-1

Someone had to make the bumbling Spanish waiter joke. Sorry.

More here.

T.

Archive.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 14 Preview

27/11/2009

Gameweek 14 reaches us as we start the middle third of the season. Week 13 saw few surprises though we did get the highest ever individual score. I made the error of having Fabregas as captain which I didn’t especially feel comfortable with but didn’t have many other options with Lampard and Drogba out injured, and Rooney out of form.

I did have David Dunn but didn’t fancy him due to two away games. In the event he proved me wrong. I regret not bringing in Bullard or Dempsey as I was looking at both pre-deadline. Sometimes it’s better to take the four point hit for the rewards it can bring. Don’t even get me started on having Thomas Sorensen’s 14 points left on the bench…

 

Gameweek 13 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

When I was looking back over the top scores from last week, I had a moment of panic when I thought there was a three-way 18 point tie for 1st and I’d have to find another Top Gun character to join Maverick and Goose.

Then I remembered that someone called Jermain Defoe scored five goals against Wigan. Yes, the pint-sized striker scored a full handful of goals and picked up three bonus points. It might just be me but it almost feels like 25 points isn’t enough reward for such a feat. I guess that’s what happens with just four points for a striker’s goal. I’m sure the people who had him as captain weren’t complaining – 50 points was only two off my whole total for the week. Anyway, it’s the highest score ever from one game, even Ronaldo never got that.

As mentioned previously, following Defoe you had Dempsey Hunt and Lennon all with 18 points. The former two took advantage of playing twice while Lennon was the provider of three Defoe goals as well as getting one for himself in that 9-1 victory. A mention too for Michael Essien who scored 16 via two goals and his third man of the match award of the season.

Jermain Defoe five goals Wigan Spurs

Maverick should really be using all five hand digits to approve of Defoe's performance.

 

Three Captain Choices:

1. Adebayor/Man City – Every run has to come to an end and I think Man City might finally stop their run of six consecutive draws and beat Hull at home. Hull have picked up since Bullard’s return with two wins and a draw but they’re still leaky at the back while Adebayor scored his first goal in two months against Liverpool. He tends to feast on weaker defences, get bonus points when City play well and thus is a good shout for captain this weekend.

2. Drogba/Chelsea – The best defence faces the best attack this weekend as Chelsea face Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday. Normally I wouldn’t suggest picking someone from this fixture but Drogba loves playing Arsenal and has terrorised them down the years. What scares me even more is that due to Gallas being doubtful, there’s a tiny, tiny chance we might see Big Phil Senderos make an appearance. I’m shuddering at the thought, Drogba owns him.

3. Rooney/Man Utd – Portsmouth at Fratton Park. Slightly trickier now that Pompey have Avram Grant newly installed but Rooney and Man Utd should still have more than enough to beat Portsmouth.

Gets a Captain's tick.

 

Three suggested transfers in:

1. Evra/Man Utd – The French left back has been putting together a good season and in his last few games has picked up and assist and three bonus points. Man Utd should be good for a clean sheet against Portsmouth and after that Man Utd face West Ham, Villa, Wolves and Fulham which should provide a few more opportunities.

2. Johnson or Dann/Birmingham – I’m sure many of you already Joe Hart in your team but why not add Roger Johnson or Scott Dann to your side too? The two centre backs were a newly formed partnership at the start of the season having both been signed from Championship clubs but have adapted to the Premier League well. Johnson is the pricier of the two and more likely to get bonus points but Dann is just £3.9m leaving you plenty of case for elsewhere.

3. Hunt/Hull – Some people’s form rating is skewed by one massive week whereas others are a bit more consistent. If Bullard is out of your price range then Stephen Hunt is a good option having scored five points or more in four of the last five gameweeks.

Evra Man Utd

Might be worth a pick.

 

Three to avoid:

1. Everton players – They were woeful against Hull and have generally struggled this season. There have been bright spots like Baines and Saha but they have a tough three games (Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea) coming up and then no fixture in week 17. Avoid for now.

2. Gibbs/Arsenal – Just as soon as he was becoming a cheap option while Clichy was out, he breaks a metatarsal and is now out for three months.

3. Owen/Man Utd - Just 24 points so far. The goal against Man City is literally the single good thing he’s done this season. Diouf, N’Gog and Ghilas all have more points. Having said that, what better opponent than Portsmouth to prove me wrong.

Are you taking the mick?

 

T.


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