Posts Tagged ‘Agger’

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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




Season Previews 2010/11 – Liverpool



Last Season: 7th

New Signings: Cole, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Wilson

Key Player: Fernando Torres

One To Watch: Dani Pacheco

Needs A Big Year: Alberto Aquilani

Would Quite Like: A fully fit Fernando Torres firing them back into the Champions League. Alberto Aquilani to show he’s worth £20m.

Prediction: 5th

Thoughts: Last season was a dreadful one for Liverpool. Benitez seemed to have lost the dressing room, Torres again played only 20 games and off the field problems were mounting as it was clear that Hicks and Gillett had no money, which in turn meant Rafa had none either.

The summer has seen something of a shake-up take place with Roy Hodgson and his safe pair of hands takeover. He did brilliantly at Fulham and I fully expect him to reinvigorate Liverpool too. People seem to forget that their first XI is actually pretty damn good and were last season hampered by tactical tinkering and injury.

The new boys.

While Mascherano will probably be sold, his main appeal was the job he could do in Europe against the very best and that isn’t an issue this season. I don’t think he’ll be missed in games against Stoke, etc. It looks like Gerrard will drop back and Joe Cole will play behind Torres.

This could be quite successful, Gerrard wasn’t exactly a bad central midfielder while Cole gets to realise his long held ambition of playing as a No.10. Let’s see if he can do it. The wide players aren’t as creative as some but Kuyt and Jovanovic are consistent.

I think Liverpool’s defence is a good shout to be the tightest this season – solid across the back four and one of the world’s best keepers behind them. If Hodgson is known for one thing then it’s organisation where every player knows his role.

Left back is a slight concern but they’ll manage with Aurelio and Insua if he stays. Fulham players moaned about repetitive training but appreciated that it got them results as they were so hard to break down. I predict the same with Liverpool this year given they have better players.

True, they are a Torres injury away from struggling in front of goal but with Hodgson sides, one goal is often enough. It won’t be boring but it won’t be super exciting either, somewhere in the middle instead. This effectiveness should see something of a renaissance and 5th place.


Fantasy Football – Gameweek 14


After another meaningless international week (didn’t we already know England are currently better than Germany) I’m sure many people will be looking at their fantasy teams and seeing them decimated with plenty of injured players. Of the top of my head Berbatov, Brown, Walcott are definitely out while many others like Lampard and Gardner face fitness tests. Once again a good subs bench may come into play.

Egg on my face...

Egg on my face...

Last week Ronaldo and Anelka did the business as el Kapitan but I got egg on my face by saying avoid Stephen Ireland. He went on to score 13 points against Hull. Maybe I should say avoid Fabregas so that he’ll do the same and final get double figures in a game. This week he’ll be suspended though so I should probably pick someone else…


Top 3 Captain Picks:

1. Torres/Liverpool – After having a bit of a lover’s tiff with Rafa, he looks in line to start at home against Fulham. He came off the bench for Spain midweek and scored within a few minutes and I fancy him to be amongst the goals on Saturday. 

2. Anelka/Chelsea – As long he keeps scoring thirteen points a game, you should keep picking him as Captain. Newcastle at home means a high likelihood of this continuing.

3. Ronaldo/Man Utd – For once he has a seemingly tough away game at Aston Villa meaning it’s not as straightforward a pick as normal. But with Berbatov out and Rooney coming back form injury, United will rely on him even more. Aston Villa are a good side but Shorey and Young seemed a bit one paced as full backs. It will be an interesting matchup if nothing else. 



Suggested Transfers In:

1. Agger/Liverpool – They have some very winnable games coming up meaning high potential for clean sheets. Agger is always a good bet for some attacking points too as he belts the occasional free kick and is a threat at corners and whatnot. He’s also the cheapest first choice Liverpool defender.

2. Belhadj/Portsmouth – Traore managed to bag himself a clean sheet last week but only by coming on for an injured Diarra. We’ve mentioned before though that Kranjcar’s fitness will mean less minutes. Belhadj meanwhile has been first choice left back all year and is good value at just £4.5M.

3. Djourou/Arsenal – A bit of risky one but could be potentially very good if it comes off. Gallas has apparently resigned/been dropped as captain (YES, YES, YES!) and I think Wenger has finally seen that he is the weak link in the Arsenal defence – both on and off the pitch. Sagna and Eboue are out meaning Toure (though also a doubt) should play as right back. This leaves a spot in central defence open for Djourou. He’s only £4.4M and is well worth a punt. Please note I can’t be held responsible if Wenger decides Song should play ahead of him. Let’s not hope not…



Players to avoid:

1. Gallas/Arsenal – Mainly for the reasons detailed above but also because the pricier Arsenal defenders offer poor value for money. Either way I don’t see him playing in an Arsenal shirt for a while. 

2. Middlesbrough players – Boro are performing pretty well are are comfortably in the top half of the table. However real life results don’t always translate into fantasy football success. Only three teams (West Brom, Sunderland, Blackburn) have accumulated less fantasy points overall than the Teesiders.  This tells us they are winning but not keeping clean sheets, and not scoring lots in those wins. Turnbull is perhaps the only guy who is worth having.

3. Fabregas/Arsenal – If I give him advance warning that he is being avoided maybe he’ll prepare extra hard for his return vs Chelsea. *clutches at straws*





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