Posts Tagged ‘kevin davies’

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.

The Six Pointer – Complacency, Financial Burdens & more…

23/11/2010

That was the weekend that was.

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1. I don’t know where to start with the north London derby. Cruising at 2-0 going in to half-time, Arsenal had run rings around their neighbours in the first period. A smart tactical change by Redknapp at the break coupled with a complete mental collapse from the Arsenal players resulted in a famous Tottenham comeback.

You can’t even say this was a massive shock, as it’s happened too many times in recent years for it not to be a serious problem. A very good analysis can be found over at Arseblog while there was an interesting post on Arsenal Vision which documented every game where a lead had been lost and Arsenal had not won the match in the last five years.

Déjà vu.

I think it’s a touch unfair to include every instance where 1-0 ended 1-1 but what I found telling was in the last three seasons alone there have been 11 occasions where Arsenal have taken the lead and gone on to concede at least two goals. There in lies the crux, be it through complacency or the fact they haven’t held on against a top side when gaining the advantage.

The fact another game comes tomorrow will give the players an immediate opportunity to make partial amends but this side has a long way to go before it can be considered winners.

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2. Chelsea were pretty unlucky not to have beaten Birmingham with Ben Foster making at least five or six top saves while the defenders in front of him stood firm.

Like Ancelotti said, their problem at the moment is they’re not firing on all cylinders going forward which means they’re vulnerable when conceding (which in turn is currently more likely with their centre-back woes). Drogba has not scored since October 3rd (while admittedly recovering from malaria) while Malouda also has just one goal since late September.

I feel in part this is down to the midfield three they’re forced to regularly play at the moment – Mikel, Ramires & Zhirkov. There’s not much creativity there nor the control that is offered when Lampard and Essien are fit. Lampard’s absence has been perhaps a little easier to cope with but it’s no coincidence these three recent defeats have been without Essien in the side.

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3. Bolton were very impressive in beating Newcastle 5-1 and it will be interesting to see what happens in January if they are still riding high in the top half of the table.

Admiring glances are being aimed at the likes of Lee, Cahill, Holden and even Owen Coyle himself and with the club recently announcing a debt of £93million there may be some pressure to sell a star to ease the burden.

But for how long?

Another twist to this is the impending expiring contract of Johan Elmander, who is having by the far the best of his three seasons at the Reebok. He finally seems to have adapted to the Premier League but now Bolton risk losing their record £8m signing for nothing next summer.

Unless I’ve missed the Swede professing his undying love for the Trotters, I suspect we may see a gentleman’s agreement when a one year deal is signed but with him being sold in the summer.

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4. I don’t see Blackburn’s new owners pumping too much money into the Ewood Park coffers but it would be interesting to see what Sam Allardyce does with a bigger budget. He claims he’d win the double every year at a top club, but I seem to remember him being something of a flop the last time he had a bit of money to spend when managing Newcastle.

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5. Roberto Mancini has been saying for a while that a big part of  his tactical plan was to have full backs who bomb forward and support Tevez/the notional front three. We saw a glimpse of that in the victory over Fulham with both Kolarov and Zabaleta consistently getting into the Fulham half and attempting several crosses and four of their 11 shots on goal.

Shoot!

I think while Mancini is at heart a cautious manager, we will eventually see a relatively attacking side with Milner and Toure in the central midfield trio and Silva and Balotelli properly supporting Tevez. Reasonable upcoming fixtures should provide opportunity to experiment.

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6. Fulham have lost just four times but are 17th. Chelsea have lost four times and are top of the table. An extreme example perhaps but it shows how destructive draws can be to your league position. Mark Hughes should remember that a win and a loss is better than two draws. Of his last 27 games with both Man City and Fulham, Hughes has overseen 15 stalemates.

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T.

Season Previews 2010/11 – Bolton

11/08/2010

Bolton

Last Season: 14th

New Signings: Petrov, Blake, Alonso, Klasnic

Key Player: Gary Cahill

One To Watch: Marcos Alonso

Needs  A Big Year: Matt Taylor

Would Quite Like: Push for a top half finish. Victory over Blackburn.

Cheer up, it's not your fault Elmander missed.

Prediction: 13th

Thoughts: I think Bolton will do pretty well this year and shouldn’t have too many relegation worries. Established as a Premier League club for a decade, they have a very good manager in Owen Coyle, who with the help of a full pre-season should produce a competitive mid-table side.

For me Martin Petrov is one of the signings of the summer and his creativity and crosses from the left wing should see Kevin ‘arse and elbows’ Davies reach double figures in league for only the second time in his Bolton career. Lee Chung-Yong should continue impressing on the right while the permanent signing of Ivan Klasnic gives another option up front.

Of the could do betters, record signing Elmander needs to score more and develop into a proper replacement for the ageing Davies while it’s been a few season since Matt Taylor was regularly bashing them in from 30 yards.

Coyle’s scouting network appears to be developing if you take Real Madrid youngster Marcos Alonso as an example – it will be interesting to see how he develops at left back. Importantly the defence will still be marshalled by Gary Cahill, who hasn’t been bought by anyone (yet). His influence and partnership with Zat Knight should see Bolton have a decent defence, if one capable of the odd thrashing.

After criticism in some corners that Coyle wasn’t actually winning many more points than Megson (though was producing better football), he’ll want to show that it was worth the hassle of poaching him from Burnley. Bolton should have a really solid season, it’s hard to say much more.

T.

Season Previews 09/10 – Bolton Wanderers

11/08/2009

bolton

Last Season: 13th

Say hello to your new teammates: Zat Knight, Sam Ricketts, Sean Davis, Paul Robinson (the West Brom left back not the fat goalkeeper)

Close the door on your way out: Blerim Dzemaili apparently…

Predicted star: Gary Cahill is an outside bet for a World Cup place. Matt Taylor will be doing spectacular things in midfield once again.

Don't give him space 35 yards out...

Don't give him space 35 yards out...

Needs a big year: Johan Elmander flattered to deceive last season. He’ll have to improve this time around.

One to watch: Sean Davis is experienced and hardly coming through but seems like a good signing none the less. The Guardian’s pre-season preview reliably informs me that of the youngsters, Temitope Obadeyi is someone on the up. I’ll take their word for it.

What they want to happen: Mid-table but without the obscurity.

Nightmare scenario: Relegation.

Plan A: Give it to Matt Taylor and let him shoot.

Plan B, just in case: Give it to Kevin Davies and let him elbow people. This is often Plan A to be fair.

Predicted finish: 15th

Why? Last season both Matt Taylor and Kevin Davies had the best seasons of their career and it will be foolhardy to rely on them repeating the 21 goals they scored between them. Jaaskelainen will be excellent as ever but up Elmander will need to score more than five this time. The main problem with Bolton is their tiny squad. If one of their key players get injured they’re suddenly in deep trouble. Much like the manager himself, the new signings don’t especially fill you with excitement. Davis is a decent pro and I guess Zat Knight is potentially a good centre back due to his height.

Those were the days.

Those were the days.

I’m sure Bolton long for the days of Jay Jay Okocha or Youri Djorkaeff. There is no one of that ilk at the moment and I don’t see that changing whilst Megson is in charge. This is partly because he doesn’t put out teams with those sorts of player but also because he doesn’t have the personality to attract them in the first place. Bolton will be safe but they won’t match last season’s 13th place.

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T.


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