Posts Tagged ‘goals’

The Six Pointer – Expensive Toys, Retro Formations & more…

07/02/2011

That was the weekend that was. Newcastle vs Arsenal deserves a post in itself!

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1. Fernando Torres certainly had a Chelsea debut to forget and it will be interesting to see how Carlo Ancelotti fits him in for the rest of the season. The switch to a diamond midfield with Torres and Drogba playing as a pair up front wasn’t a surprise but it was strange to see Nicolas Anelka given the nod in the hole behind them.

I assume the theory was that Lampard’s strength is arriving from deep, something which would be negated if he played at the head of diamond. Chelsea’s success over the past few season has come through playing 4-3-3 and you can’t fit Torres and Drogba in that system and get the best of both.

Torres of course needs time to adapt; despite his price tag you can’t just expect him to instantly understand his new team-mates way of playing. But, given how Chelsea are quickly becoming involved in a battle to maintain a top four position as well as trying to engineer another attempt at the holy grail of the Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti will have his work cut out to solve this conundrum quickly.

An inauspicious start.

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2. In contrast, Torres’ old team are on quite the run of form at the moment. After overseeing a defeat to Blackpool, Kenny Dalglish has quickly turned things around with some innovative, or should that be retro, tactical moves.

Three at the back has long been out of vogue but Liverpool have used it successfully to stifle the aerial bombardment of Stoke, and now the technical probing of Chelsea. Contrasting attacks but the same result – a convincing clean sheet. The beauty of playing 3-5-2 with wing-backs is that in theory it can work so well – they offer solidity in defence by forming a five but options in attack when pushing forward.

I don’t see Glen Johnson working well long-term on the left but it seems to be successful for the time being.  Of course Dalglish has the same problem as Ancelotti in trying to fit £50m worth of strike force into his team but you feel it will be a little easier with the players at his disposal.

Close enough. Though if this was Stoke they'd play all four.

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3. Niko Kranjcar’s winner for Spurs against Bolton should give Harry Redknapp some reminder of the talents at his disposal. Notoriously poor at rotating, Redknapp is very much one to stick to the same players until the they get injured or he just doesn’t fancy them anymore. Kranjcar has been one of the unlucky ones this season with just six appearances to his name, totalling a measly 235 minutes.

So much so that ‘Arry bought a similar player in Pienaar in the transfer window, simply because he was available rather than any great need for him. The whole point of a 25 man squad is to use it, not least when you’re competing at the top end of the table and the Champions League. Perhaps he’d find that when he does have to turn to them, they might perform better if they’ve had a few games under their belts.

Niko Kranjcar, Spurs player. Sometimes.

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4. Following Chelsea and now Man Utd losing to Wolves this season, Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Molineux is looking better and better. It must be frustrating that Mick McCarthy can get fantastic performances against the big sides but then lose to those around him. As with last season, it will be a close run thing whether Wolves go down but there are certainly worse teams in the league this season. They have yet to play either match against West Brom and those two games look like being crucial in determining which of the two sides will be relegated. I certainly don’t think both will stay up.

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5. Bolton have now lost six straight away games. What was looking like a promising Europa League push is turning into a mid-table season. Part of the reason must be that the previously red-hot partnership of Elmander and Davies have one goal each since late November and Chung-Yong Lee, who had six assists has been away at the Asian Cup. With that in mind the loan signing of Sturridge looks to be a good move both for player and club. Already he’s taken on some of the attacking responsibility with two goals in two games.

He’ll be sure to want prove that he’s good enough to be at Chelsea next season and that motivation can only benefit Bolton. After all, this time last season Jack Wilshere was embarking on a similar loan and is now a starter for Arsenal and in the England squad. If Sturridge can get the goals to fire Bolton to 7th, Bolton may even have a shot at keeping him permanently.

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6. Ten games produced 43 goals this weekend. As ever, Blackpool played a big part in that and their 25 games this season have seen 87 goals at just three and half a game. I wouldn’t want Ian Holloway to change his approach at all, but for the sake of Blackpool having another season in the top flight, I’d love them to get a 0-0 away from home once in a while!

They'll need an updated version after this season.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 8

02/10/2009

Gameweek 8 and some interesting fixtures this weekend. A big four clash, plenty of tired teams who were involved in midweek European competition and some good opportunities for the cellar dwellers to pick up some victories. There were 37 goals last weekend and some high scores fantasy wise. Here’s to more of the same.

Gameweek 7 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Maverick approves. Sort of.

Maverick approves. Sort of.

It was a battle of the strikers this time round as three players fought to win the award but ultimately if you score four goals there’s a 95% chance you’ll be top scorer for the week. Keane‘s quadruple against Burnley coupled with three bonus points made for a grand score of 21 and with it the Top Gun award.

In a way this feels quite a low score for so many goals but I guess that will always be the case for strikers. Looking back at Arshavin’s four goal haul against Liverpool last season, it also brought him 21 points. It would have been 25 in his new midfielder classification.

As I was saying, two other strikers ran Keane close this week. Torres scored the easiest hat-trick of his career against Hull and also got three bonus for 17 while on Sunday Darren Bent saved many a fantasy team’s weekend by grabbing 18 points via three assists, a goal and three bonus against Wolves. I don’t think anyone was expecting that good a haul from him!

Elsewhere John O’Shea got the classic defender’s combination of winning goal, clean sheet and three bonus for 15, while Tevez, Jones, Petrov and Babel all got 12+. A mention too for Thomas Vermaelen who was the first Top Gun winner to get more than two points the following week. He kept a clean sheet for six.

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Three Captain choices:

A big four matchup between Chelsea and Liverpool on Sunday means we should probably avoid Torres, Lampard, Gerrard et al. After both teams unimpressed during midweek Champions League and with Chelsea also on the back of a league defeat at Wigan, there may well be an avoid defeat at all costs strategy. A low scoring encounter is certainly on the cards meaning we have to look elsewhere.

1. Rooney/Man Utd – The hairy, screaming one faces Sunderland at Old Trafford this weekend and is a good shout to score I’d say. Sunderland have been very average at the back despite the arrival of Michael Turner and have the sixth worse defensive record with 11 goals conceded so far. It’s their attack which has got them up to 8th. Rooney has six goals in his first seven league games and is now centrepoint of United’s attacking play. Do you really see John Mensah stopping him? Nope me neither.

2. Arshavin or Van Persie/Arsenal - The Gunners have won both home games so far and Blackburn have lost both away games. For all Sam Allardyce’s success against Arsenal over the years, I genuinely don’t see his side getting anything on Sunday. Van Persie has been Arsenal’s best attacker this season without actually getting that many goals but he did score against Fulham last weekend and Olympiacos in midweek. Arshavin too has quietly got himself three goals recently so perhaps is finally hitting some of the form of last season. I’ll be going to this match so am hoping for a few Arsenal goals.

3. Saha/Everton - The oft-injured striker has had a great start to 2009/10 and has scored five in five (he missed Fulham). Stoke are terrible away from home - for some reason they just can’t replicate the form they show at the Britannia and I expect an Everton victory here. Always back a striker when in form. Baines, Cahill or Fellaini are also good shouts in this game.

Gets a Captain's tick

Gets a Captain's tick

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Fabregas/Arsenal – Yes he’s a very expensive transfer in, but my thinking is to replace Gerrard or Lampard with him. Arsenal’s next five are Blackburn, Birmingham, West Ham (A), Spurs and Wolves (A) all of which are winnable, most of which are easy. Lampard (see transfer out) hasn’t been scoring at all (goals wise not points wise), while Gerrard has to play deep for the duration of Mascherano’s absence. Fabregas has scored or assisted in his last three and should continue his good form. Just a thought.

2. Reid/Sunderland – Steve Bruce commented the other day about how Andy Reid has been Sunderland’s best player for the past month. Who am I to argue. The man who used to be really fat but is now just big-boned has three straight assists, plus a goal and three bonus in the last few weeks. He’s a bargain too at £5.3m.

3. Benayoun/Liverpool – Ok, so my attempted reverse jinx clearly failed last week as Benayoun got himself two assists for eight points. I will now attempt the opposite and start recommending him and hope he suddenly stops producing for Sportboy P’s side. I’m still not entirely sure he has the consistency over the course of a season but he is a good player capable of big games (see the 24 points against Burnley) and Rafa has at least realised that he’s a better option than Ryan Babel.

Might be worth a pick

Might be worth a pick

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Three to avoid:

1. Lampard/Chelsea - As I mentioned above, I’m not convinced Lampard is a player to have right now. Let’s look at what he’s done this season. He only has one goal (a penalty) but he does have four assists which is second after Giggs. His eight bonus leads midfielders but five strikers have more than that and he lies eighth overall with 42 points.

Watching a fair amount of Chelsea this season, he doesn’t seem to be getting into as many scoring positions as last year and I mentioned in Monday’s Six Pointer that part of this may be Chelsea playing two strikers again. I’m not saying get rid of him and don’t replace him, I’m just saying that don’t think you can’t just because he’s Frank Lampard.

In his defence his overall score is good and perhaps I’m being hasty but I think in terms of value if nothing else, there are currently better players out there. Just remember Ronaldo last season where people were hamstrung by the fear of not having him when you’d actually have been better off investing in someone a fraction cheaper and spending the rest elsewhere. Looking at the transfers out, it appears 24,000 people think so, the most for a midfielder this week. One to monitor.

2. Defoe/Spurs – Another player who you might think I’m crazy for suggesting to get rid of but it might be a good time. He’s just broken his hand, his value has gone up to £9m and as the Football Guy and I were discussing, Defoe has always been a very streaky player. Six goals in six games or something similar but then nothing for ages. You realise he hasn’t scored for two weeks right? Maybe it’s already begun. Cash in.

3. Sunderland players - Man Utd and Liverpool up next.

Are you taking the mick?

Are you taking the mick?

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 4

28/08/2009

Quick one this week as we preview gameweek 4 which comes before another lengthy international break. I’m beginning to be tempted by the wildcard but I think I’ll hold off until after the transfer window shuts and the league resumes in a couple of weeks. With the free transfer rollover, keeping the wildcard is less attractive and I think the time to use it will be sooner rather than later.

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Gameweek 3 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves) – Abou Diaby

Maverick liked Diaby's performance against Portsmouth.

Maverick liked Diaby's performance against Portsmouth.

I don’t think anyone was expecting Abou Diaby to walk off with the award despite Arsenal’s home game against Portsmouth. Two goals and three bonus saw him score 14 points, just edging out Wayne Rooney and Kenwyne Jones who both got 13.

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Three Captain picks:

1. Lampard/Chelsea – The Blues’ midfielder has been pretty quiet so far this season as Ancelotti has been shuffling his midfielders about. He started at the tip of  a diamond against Hull but was deeper against Sunderland. He faces Burnley at home this weekend and I imagine they will play quite deep, thus perhaps stifling Drogba and Anelka. This would leave it open for Fat Frank to score some good points. That’s my theory anyway.

2.Adebayor/Man City – Mark Hughes’ side are away from home but they play Portsmouth who have just sold their best centre back to Everton. This on paper would leave Adebayor with the perfect opportunity to add to his two goals already this season.

3. Rooney/Man Utd – Even though I think Arsenal will get a positive result against Man Utd, Rooney always seems to do well against them. He’s made an impressive start to the season too with three goals and six bonus points in three games.

Right pick

Gets a captain tick.

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Three to bring in:

1. Distin/Everton – David Moyes’ new signing will slot straight into Joleon Lescott’s position at the heart of the Everton defence. Even though they’ve lost both games so far, the upcoming fixtures are quite favourable for the Toffees and Distin is a bargain £4.9m.

2. Evans/Man Utd – Not as much of a bargain as last season but with Ferdinand out so often he’s always worth having on your shortlist. Rio is currently not due back for another three weeks so Evans might be a good short term measure, even with a international break coming up.

3. Warnock/Aston Villa - Someone to keep an eye on. Aston Villa have had issues at left back but Warnock is a very good player who should slot straight in. He also does a nice line in midfield play so could occasionally play further forward. Hold on until Villa’s form settles but at £4.9m he could potentially be a good buy.

Might be worth a pick.

Might be worth a pick.

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Three to avoid:

1. Lescott/Man City – £7.3m for someone who’s moved from Everton to an arguably less solid team in Man City? No thanks.

2. O’Shea/Man Utd – No longer going to play now that Wes Brown and Jonny Evans are fit again.

3. Wigan players – I have a couple in my team as they’re quite cheap but they are yet to produce consistently. The midweek Carling Cup defeat showed it might be a while before Roberto Martinez gets them playing like Swansea last season.

Are you taking the mick?

Are you taking the mick?

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T.


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