Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Young’

Weekly Photoshop – Gerard Houllier


New Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier is this week’s theme. Tricky to see how that will turn out – he undoubtedly brought success to Liverpool but six years is a long time to be out of the Premier League. Good luck to him.


gerard-houllier pope

With the Pope in town, Houllier puts his name down for future canonisation. It'll be a miracle if he gets Heskey scoring after all...


Hop on board Gerard's magic roundabout. Turns a corner every week...


More here.






Season Previews 2010/11 – Aston Villa


Aston Villa

Last Season: 6th

New Signings: Hmm, none to report as yet.

Key Player: Ashley Young

One To Watch: Marc Albrighton

Needs  A Big Year: The new manager

Would Quite Like: Continued dominance over Birmingham whilst pushing onto the Champions League places.

Prediction: 9th

Thoughts: This was all written up and then Martin O’Neill resigned which changed things somewhat. Much of it still applies though. Aston Villa appear to have reached a bit of a glass ceiling at the moment. Sixth place for three seasons running but unable to make to the breakthrough whilst other teams such as Spurs and Man City overtake them.

Despite them fading every spring I think Villa’s problem is not so much one of squad depth but more of quality. Martin O’Neill tended to play the same starting XI for 95% of the season so to push on they need one or two top quality players who will cost £10m+ and replace someone currently in the side.

It appears that at the moment the money doesn’t exist to do that which would reflect in the attempts to get rid of the likes of Luke Young, Steve Sidwell and Habib Beye. Also, in losing arguably their best players two summers in a row (Barry and now probably Milner) it means they’re always trying to catch up to where they were rather then move forward.

Laters, I'm off.

Assuming Milner does leave I would suggest buying a replacement in midfield (though if they get Ireland in part exchange then it’s a great deal) as well as a striker and left-back. For all of Carew and Agbonlahor’s qualities, neither can be relied on to score 20 goals. With Milner gone, the onus falls on Ashley Young to live up to his undoubted potential.

O’Neill had been experimenting with him in a floating central role in pre-season and perhaps this change in tactic is needed to offer some variety in Villa’s play. I think as usual they’ll be tough to beat and will gain a victory or three over the sides above them but the reality is that they’ll find it difficult to maintain their current level and may find they drop a place or two this season. O’Neill’s motivational skills will be greatly missed.

Villa’s prospects really depend on who comes in to replace O’Neill. Some of the names mentioned so far aren’t very inspiring but I think they’ll go for someone up and coming rather than a big name. I don’t see a new manager getting any greater sum to spend, but I suppose there will be some Milner money to make a few improvements. Either way it’ll now be mid-table.


Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 11 Preview


Quick preview this week as I’m away all weekend so once again have to make an early-ish transfer. Not that it’s too difficult to decide who to bring in. The first double gameweek of the season sees Aston Villa and West Ham play twice (they face each other on Wednesday) meaning you should be targetting one of their players for your weekly transfer. More on that later, let’s see what happened last week.

Of our captain picks, only Anelka came through really though he only got five points. In our defence we did say Drogba and Lampard were also good choices and they scored 9 and 14 respectively. Crouch was our top transfer in and he did bugger all but Boateng and Petrov had alright scores.


Gameweek 10 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Frank Lampard fantasy football

Maverick's been expecting him here.

It’s taken ages for him to get going but Frank Lampard finally came through with a big score and wins his first Top Gun of the season. His two goals, clean sheet and bonus point gave him a score of 14 points which was enough to edge out Hugo Rodallega who got 13. I was lucky enough to pick him as captain too which meant a bit of ground was gained on the leaders in my league. Lots of high Chelsea scores all round as Essien and Ballack were next with 11 points each.


Three Captain Picks:

I know West Ham and Villa play twice but I do think it’s a risk to pick any of their players as captain. Neither team scores too many but clean sheets are at a premium too. I guess Villa have kept three this season which is pretty good and both Collins and Dunne are goal threats but I think the guys below can still outscore them in just one game. Villa are away in both games while West Ham don’t have anyone reliable beyond Cole.

1. Fabregas/Arsenal – Robbie Keane can bleat all he likes about how Spurs are the equal of Arsenal now but I’m certain the Gunners will beat Tottenham at home. At White Hart Lane, it’s usually quite close but at the Emirates it’s a different story (even last season’s 4-4 was 85 minutes Arsenal) and Arsenal should have too much for them. Spurs are still missing Modric and have been struggling without him while Wenger’s side have a 100% home record so far. I think Fabregas controls this game from midfield and maybe get himself a goal too. This usually results in bonus points too.

2. Lampard/Chelsea – Faces Bolton away and I seem to remember him scoring quite a few at the Reebok (and indeed the Bridge) in the last few years. He’s hit some form and the return of Joe Cole allows him to play a bit deeper and more effectively. Chelsea’s reserves smacked Bolton 4-0 in midweek and a similar scoreline won’t surprise me.

3. Elliott/Burnley – Burnley lost their good home record against Wigan last week but I expect them to bounce back against Hull. What better motivation than the possibility of getting Phil Brown the sack. In all seriousness though Hull have just one point away from the KC and I believe Bullard is out again. Elliott is Burnley’s top fantasy performer so if you’re feeling brave give him a shot.

fabregas fantasy football captain

Get's a Captain's tick.


Three To Bring In:

1. Milner or Young/Aston Villa – This not only applies to this gameweek but for the next month or so too. Villa have Bolton, Burnley and Hull coming up in the next four or five games so one of these tow might be worth a speculative add to see if they can take advantage of playing against some weaker sides.

2. Stoke defenders – I imagine most of you might have Sorensen, Faye or Shawcross in your team but there’s still the option of Wilkinson or Collins if the aforementioned are too pricey. Stoke’s next three games are Wolves (H), Hull (A), Portsmouth (H). That’s at least two if not three clean sheets right there.

3. Aquilani/Liverpool – So the £20million man is finally fit. I saw him in the flesh in Wednesday’s Carling Cup match and he looked pretty tasty in the 15 minutes or so he was on the pitch. I think he could make an immediate impact, especially with Liverpool playing some organised teams in the next five. An interesting gamble at £7.4m.

Ashley Young fantasy football

Might be worth a pick.


Three To Avoid:

1. Lucas/Liverpool – Even though he’s played the most out of all the Liverpool midfielders, I’d say his place is most under threat from Aquilani.

2. Crouch/Spurs – I retract last week’s recommendation, you can find much better options for his price range.

3. Arsenal goalkeepers – Who’s number one? Nobody knows. They don’t keep clean sheets anyway.

Lucas Leiva

Are you taking the mick?



Season Previews 09/10 – Aston Villa



Last Season: 6th – A late season collapse after being five minutes from an eight point lead in 4th.

Say hello to your new teammates: Stewart Downing, Fabian Delph, Habib Beye.

Close the door on your way out: Gareth Barry, Zat Knight, Martin Laursen

Predicted star: Ashley Young, who else? With Barry gone and Delph & Downing signed, Young could end up with a more central role behind the strikers as the season goes on. Even if not, his crosses and creativity will be the key to Villa doing well. I have a reluctant hunch Milner will also have a good year.

Needs a big year: Agbonlahor needs to improve the consistency of his goalscoring. Whoever is signed to replace the retired Laursen will need to provide leadership, an aerial threat from set-pieces and general excellent defensive displays. No pressure then.

One to watch: We’ll get to see what the fuss about Delph is about. Barry Bannan has been tipped in a couple of places.

Hopefully worth the money they paid.

Hopefully worth the money they paid.

What they want to happen: A new Laursen and a larger squad oversees further improvement to 5th or even 4th. Birmingham to go straight back down.

Nightmare scenario: A stretched squad cannot repeat the achievements of last season and they slip towards mid-table. Defeat to Birmingham won’t go down too well. Someone buys Ashley Young.

Plan A: Pace and crossing from the flanks onto big John Carew and Agbonlahor.

Plan B, just in case: ‘Direct’ play towards the duo of Carew and Heskey.

Predicted finish: 8th

A lot rests on him.

A lot rests on him.

Why? The suspicion remains that last season was Villa’s best chance to break into the top four and that opportunity is now gone. Man City are stronger, Spurs are more solid (ish) and Everton are tough to beat as usual. Gareth Barry decided that Champions League football money was a factor after all and jumped ship to their rivals while Laursen had to unfortunately retire. Neither player has been replaced as yet, while main signing Downing won’t play until Christmas. Clubs are starting to sniff around Ashley Young too.

On the plus side, Villa have a young, fast hard working squad and if they can stay fit then they’ll compete as ever. A decent, albeit relegated, right back has been signed and Bouma is fit again (is this a good thing?). It’s still quite tight between the four clubs mentioned in this preview and with bit of luck Villa could get the Europa League spot. I feel however it might be a season of regression for Martin O’Neill’s side.



Footballers Are Stupid – Giggs Wins PFA Player of the Year

I'd just like to thank my fellow pros for being thick.

I'd just like to thank my fellow pros for being thick.


The news that Ryan Giggs has won this season’s PFA Player of the Year award just goes to show how stupid footballers really are. We wrote back in February about how he would not be a deserving winner of the award and my opinion has not changed since. We’re told voting took place in February/March. For arguments’ sake let’s say the cut-off date was United’s last game in February – Blackburn Rovers on the 21st. Here is a man who has only started 12 games for Man Utd this season (only nine at the time of voting) and has completed 90 minutes just nine times (six at the time). You might say “Ok, but a man of his age (35) won’t be playing 90 minutes week in week out”. “Well let’s take a look at the stats” I shall reply. At the time of voting he had one goal and five assists. Man Utd had scored 46 goals by the end of February. Hmm, real influential…

Oh dear. Where to start?

PFA Team of the Season. Oh dear, where do we start?


Now of course stats aren’t everything and a lack of goals/assists doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be an important player. Giggs has been playing in a deeper central midfield role after all. But having watched plenty of United this season, I know for sure that he wasn’t the driving force behind their dominant football earlier in the season. A lot of that was based on the defence which went fourteen consecutive league games without conceding. If any Man Utd player deserved the award it was Nemanja Vidic. The only reason I can think of for his fellow pros voting for him was that at the time he had two recent man of the match performances which lingered in the memory (partly because he actually finished the game!). The first was the 5-0 destruction of West Brom at the Hawthorns in which he had three assists, and the second was a tight 1-0 win over West Ham at Upton Park in which he scored a lovely winner.

Coupled with a good performance against Derby in the FA cup, it meant there was lots of talk about vintage Giggs and how he has kept going for eighteen years. This is true, but footballers clearly don’t have long term memory so obviously just decided to vote for whoever was on the backpage of The Sun that day. If United do end up winning the title, I can guarantee Giggs won’t be seen as the key reason for it. I await to see who the football writers vote for as Footballer of the Year. Everyone knows that’s the more prestigious award to win and it generally goes to the actual best player of the season, not someone who’s had about five influential games this year. History has shown this wouldn’t be the first time players have got it wrong. There have been plenty more over the years such as Terry over Lampard in 2004/05, Shearer over Zola in 1996/97 and the prime example in 2001/02 when the players choose Ruud Van Nistlerooy and the writers choose Robert Pires. Bear in mind Arsenal won the Double that year and Man Utd won diddly squat.


A word too on Ashley Young winning Young Player of the Year. Last season yes, this season no. Just how must Steven Ireland feel? The solution to all this of course is to have the vote at the end of the season. That however would be far to sensible and intelligent for the professional footballer to comprehend. 



Fantasy Football – Gameweek 17


Don’t you love that Sunday feeling?

Only available at 4pm every Sunday.

The one where it’s comes to the 4pm game and you are the only one of your rivals to have any players involved. I have great memories of the 2006/07 season where it felt like every other Sunday Arteta would cross to Lescott and I would get super points. I did eventually lose to The Football Guy but it was fun while it lasted. Last week was going relatively well, when up stepped Ashley Young on Sunday evening and grabbed me an extra 15 points. It was a nice end to the gameweek  – let’s be honest no one is stupid enough to have any West Ham or  Spurs players so that Monday game didn’t count. I only wish I had made him captain.

Ronaldo did nothing for the third week in a row so we can now permanently rename the captain choice section to:


Top 3 Alternatives to the standard choice of Ronaldo as Captain:

1. Young/Aston Villa – After a great start to the season where he got goals or assists in five of the first six games, Young had a relatively quiet October and November. However his two goals last week will hopefully see him start scoring good points again. He faces Bolton at home this weekend so is good value to do something.

2. Kuyt/Liverpool – This will be the first and only time I will ever suggest picking Dirk Kuyt as

2a. Gerrard/Liverpool – Nope sorry I just can’t do it, you’ll just have to go with Gerrard instead. We’ve touched before on Torres being out and Keane being as good as out which leaves Liverpool’s midfielders as the go to guys for points. Hull won’t be a easy game but it could be a high scoring one. 

3. Bosingwa/Chelsea – The first time we’ve gone with a defender as a potential captain but Bosingwa is the highest scoring player in the game and has risen in value by £1.4 million from his bargain initial price of £6M (I can’t believe people were unsure between him and Ferreira). Anyway, three assists and a goal in his last five plus a home game against West Ham mean he’s a good shout to not only keep a clean but also provide something going forward.




Suggested Transfers In:

1. Benjani/Man City – While Robinho has sparkled this season, the other Man City striking position has seen Mark Hughes try Jo, Evans, Sturridge and Vassell with varying degrees of success. That level varies from not bad for a young player (Sturridge/Evans) to pretty rubbish for a £19 million striker (Jo). These troubles have been mainly due to Benjani being injured. He had a career year last season but was injured until a few weeks ago. He’s fit now though and scored his first goal of the season last week. He’s started the last five games so appears to be Robinho’s partner of choice. 

2. Geovanni/Hull City – Hull are still flying high in sixth place while in his last six games Geovanni has nine bonus points, two goals and an assist. Still cheap at £6.3million too.

3. Crouch/Porstmouth –Three goals in three games. 




Players to avoid.

1. Evra/Man Utd – Through a combination of United being away for the Intercontinental Cup  World Club Championship, Evra has played his last league game of the year. His next match will be against Chelsea on January 11th.

2. Any Blackburn player – They have been rubbish and haven’t won in eleven. But the main reason not to pick them is that they don’ actually do anything in games. Not a single Blackburn player has scored over 40 points this season. That is pretty poor. They have three guys stuck on 38. Even West Brom who are bottom have Greening and Carson who have scored 50+. 

3. Eboue/Arsenal  – Well 60,000 Arsenal fans said so





Fantasy Football – Gameweek 12


Wow, talk about the midweek betting tips being a bust. I guess you get those nights sometimes but it was surprising to see not one of the big teams win. I suspect it will be back to the norm though on matchday five.

Anyway, on to more important matters, this weekend’s fantasy football preview. Our captain choices last week all got goals or assists though only C Ron got double figures in points. Once again though, suggested transfers came good with Bentley getting another assist and Alex somehow bagging 17 points (did not see that one coming!).


Top 3 Captain Picks:

1.  Young/Aston Villa – A slightly risky pick I’m sure you’ll agree but with the two of the top 4 playing each other, the likes of Fabregas and Ronaldo can often cancel each other out. Young faces Boro at home this week as and as usual should be at the heart of Villa’s play. According to the BBC, Hoyte will play right back. Justin Hoyte is rubbish, Ashley Young will terrorize him.

2. Torres/Liverpool – This one is even more more risky than above as we simply don’t know if Torres will slot straight back in this weekend. But then what is a captain pick if not a risk? Assuming he starts (it looks like he should) he could fill his boots against West Brom.

3. Ronaldo/Man Utd – I’m not convinced he’ll actually do that much on Saturday against Arsenal. As shoddy as their central defence is, in Clichy and Sagna you have the best full back pairing in the league so they should be able to keep him quiet. He does tend to go missing in big games too *hides*. That said, you always have the fear that he will get two goals and three bonus points – just like he has done for the past two weeks. Remember, if in doubt pick C Ron as captain.


Suggested Transfers In:

1. Bendtner/Arsenal – RVP is out for three games and Ade is out for three weeks. This leaves Arsenal’s scoring responsibility to Nicklas Bendtner. He only has one league goal and a couple of assists thus far but he has only played the equivalent of four games minutes wise. The main reason to bring him in is he dirt cheap (only £5.3M) and is going to start for the next few weeks. For a third striker you could do a lot worse.

2. Modric or Bentley or Bent/Spurs – All now around the £7M mark after their values plummeted at the start of the season but all in decent form. Bent especially has three goals and an assist in his last four and faces an inconsistent Man City who seem to have forgotten how to defend.

3. Martins/Newcastle – Joe Kinnear has quietly been doing a good job at Newcastle and they climbed out of the bottom three last week. Martins has three goals in two games so we will back him to score again against Fulham.


Players To Avoid:

1. Bridge/Chelsea – You’d think he’ll playing with Cashley out at the moment but if I were Chelsea manager I would rather be playing Juliano Belletti. I’m not Big Phil Scolari but I reckon he will be thinking the same. Even if he does play, it’s just a bit embarassing to have Wayne Bridge in your squad.

2. Man City defenders – Not only are they not keeping clean sheets, you never actually know who Mark Hughes will play in defence. I brought Garrido in the other week as he was first choice left back and he hasn’t played since. Even Joe Hart in goal feels overpriced at £5M.

3. Subs who don’t play Following from the above point, make sure your bench players play every week. An obvious one I know but these things are often overlooked as you instead focus on how to get C Ron, Fat Frank and Ade into your team. There are plenty of cheap players you who will get you two points every week instead of none and believe me those two points can make the difference at the end of the season (I’ve lost a league by a point before…). Players like Griffin, Greening and Davies are all cheap guys who have played every minute this year.



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