Posts Tagged ‘baines’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Everton



Last Season: 8th

New Signings: Gueye, Silva, Beckford, Mucha

Key Player: Mikel Arteta

One To Watch: Seamus Coleman

Needs A Big Year: Sylvain Distin

Would Quite Like: To keep all their good players, to keep all their good players injury free, to overtake Liverpool.

Moyes searches his pockets for some loose change/transfer funds.

Prediction: 7th

Thoughts: Despite having next to money to spend, David Moyes and Everton continue to overachieve every season. Last year they finished end up 8th which doesn’t sound like overachieving but for a long while they were in the race for a Champions League place.

Part of Everton’s problem last season was a very slow start (beginning with a 6-1 home thrashing by Arsenal) coupled with serious injuries to half a team’s worth of players. The whole Lescott saga ran right until the end of the transfer window meaning no adequate replacement was found and key player Arteta was out until the spring. Yet despite all of this Moyes eventually put together a side which consistently held their own against the sides above them.

So what of this season? Well everyone is fit and Everton have held on to every key player, with only Pienaar yet to sign a new deal. The midfield is particularly talented and as a result Moyes often plays five of them with Cahill pushed forward to support Saha. A lot rests on those two scoring 25-30 goals between them, as there aren’t too many other attacking options. Yakubu looks to be on his way out while new signings Gueye and Beckford are unproven, though intriguing.

While the 451 formation results in accusations of negativity, Everton aren’t a bad team to watch with Arteta in particular creating chance after chance and Pienaar running from deep. Moyes will hope for strong seasons from Rodwell, Baines (again) and Bilyaletdinov and for his defence to stay solid under the guidance of Howard and Jagielka.

It’s tricky to predict the season for Everton, their talented first team is capable of finishing high up the table, but inevitable injuries mean the replacements in the squad are often relied on with mixed results. I’d like to predict higher than 7th but the clubs ahead of them have such bigger resources that invariably it shows in the final table.


England World Cup Squad Predictions – Part Three


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.


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.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 14 Preview


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?



Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 9


There were a measly 33 goals last week (down from 37 the week before) and even a couple of clean sheets! Might the entertainment be winding down?! No, of course not but I do think slowly but surely we’ll start averaging under three goals a game. While there were a few 2-2 draws, it was Arsenal’s 6-2 demolition that really bumped up the average.

I somewhat regretted bringing in Torres for Van Persie given their respective weeks (2 pts/7pts and a price rise) but while the Spaniard has a somewhat tricky run I think long term he will score more points. This week I am getting rid of one of my big two midfielders. Will it be Lampard? Will it be Gerrard? You’ll just have to wait till Saturday to find out, even though I actually made the change last Monday!


Gameweek 8 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Maverick approves of not having to produce a new image for Fabregas

Maverick approves of not having to produce a new image for Fabregas.

Yes, I was lucky enough to watch Cesc Fabregas‘ destruction of Blackburn in person but not lucky enough to have him in my team when he once again scores 22 points for most and 44 for those sensible enough to have him as captain. Let me assure you that it will be third time lucky and I will snag that next high score. I hope!

He took a different route to 22 this time via four assists, a goal and three bonus and thus wins the Top Gun award for the second time this season. I told you to get him for last week. I just wish I had taken my own advice. For what it’s worth Zayatte and Dunne were next with 12 and 11, the former achieving that rare feat of being a defender who gets taken off while keeping a clean sheet.

On to the tips…


Three Captain Choices:

1. Fabregas or perhaps Arshavin/Arsenal – A case of after the Lord Mayor’s show? Perhaps, but that’s not to say Cesc still can’t get a good score this week. Birmingham are the visitors to the Emirates tomorrow and with their defence being pretty solid I think this may be a game where you pick a midfielder as captain rather than a striker.

Fabregas will be rested after missing the second of Spain’s internationals for personal reasons and you have to fancy him to dictate things against Birmingham’s somewhat workmanlike midfield. Arshavin is a good alternative option as his dribbling skills might be the key to opening things up. His direct opponent is Steve Carr after all.

2. Berbatov/Man Utd – With Rooney possibly a doubt due to his calf strain, the onus falls on the Bulgarian to continue his good recent form of two in two and produce a match-winning performance against Bolton. Gary Megson’s side had a good result against Spurs last week but they’ll be no match for Utd at Old Trafford. Berba scored against Bolton last season and if his reputation as something of a small game player is anything to go by he should be a good shout in this match.

3. Dunn/Blackburn – A gamble but if you consider that he has three goals in four games and faces a Burnley side terrible away from home, it’s suddenly not that far fetched that he could have a good weekend.

Gets a Captain's tick

Gets a Captain's tick


Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Baines or Saha/Everton – I don’t really buy Heitinga despite his two straight assists. He’s an accident waiting to happen and I would avoid him. Baines on the other hand is very much to his Wigan form of a few seasons ago and has been for a while now. He has much of the set piece duty while Arteta is still out and with games against Wolves and Bolton coming up, has a good chance of clean sheets. Similarly, Louis Saha should relish facing those teams and will look to add to his five goals. He’s a good alternative at £7.2m if Bent is now out your price range.

2. Adebayor or Bellamy/Man City – Many of you will already have Adebayor in your team so this may not apply but he could be someone to bring in if you’re concerned over Rooney’s form or Torres’ run of games. Man City’s next four games are Wigan (A), Fulham (H), Birmingham (A) and Burnley (H) and while a couple of those sides are tough to break down, I’d imagine Adebayor will be the striker to get the goal in a 1-0 win. His price has gone back down to £10m too. Bellamy too has been on fire recently and fully deserves a starting spot. Between them they should be scoring the bulk of Man City’s goals in their upcoming fixtures.

3. Geovanni/Hull – About the only player worth having from Hull (though I suppose Zayatte merits a mention) and about the only player in form for Hull. He has two goals in two games and home matches against Portsmouth and Stoke coming up in the next few weeks.

Might be worth a pick.

Might be worth a pick.


Three To Avoid:

1. Wolves players – Whilst the likes of Ebanks-Blake and Kightly have been making their comebacks for Wolves, their upcoming fixtures are horrendous. Everton (A), Villa (H), Stoke (A), Arsenal (H), Chelsea (A) is not a run where you can easily identify point scoring opportunities. I’m sure they’ll score a goal or two along the way but good luck trying to predict the scorer.

2. Upson/West Ham – Judging by the 10,000 people who have got rid of him this week, it seems he is in quite a few teams. West Ham have been a shadow of the side that did so well last season and have let in eight goals in three games. This is strange considering the 4-5-1 Zola employs but with games against Stoke away and Arsenal at home unlikely to bring clean sheets for now Upson is too highly priced at £5.7m to warrant inclusion.

3. Kranjcar/Tottenham – According to Physioroom Modric is back next week apparently.

Are you taking the mick?

Are you taking the mick?



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