Posts Tagged ‘Carlton Cole’

The Six Pointer: Theo Time, Tennis Scores & more…

23/08/2010

That was the weekend that was.

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1. Theo Walcott had arguably his best ever game for Arsenal scoring a hat-trick as the Gunners demolished Blackpool 6-0. Showing pace, direct running, and good end product, Walcott ran the show against the beleaguered Seasiders.

Yes it was “only” Blackpool and he was afforded more time and space than normal (not least once Blackpool were down to ten men) but it was encouraging to watch him put in such a performance.

Walcott has had his critics in his brief career, and rightly so in many cases but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he’s only 21 years old and has yet to get a through a season without major injury disruptions.

Taking his league stats from the last three seasons into account, it shows every season broken up through injury and bit part appearances.

2007/08 – 25 appearances/1260 minutes

2008/09 – 22 appearances/1265 minutes

2009/10 – 23 appearances/1129 minutes

1260 minutes equates to 14 full games which is just over a third of the season. Therefore in the space of three league seasons, he’s had one season’s worth of playing time. Yet people wonder why he’s not yet the finished article.

Of course cup and European games can be added to those totals but the point remains that Walcott is still very early into his development. Walcott himself acknowledges this is a key season for him, but let’s judge him at the end of it not the beginning.

Yeah!

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2. Another week, another 6-0 win for Chelsea – this Premier League lark is pretty easy isn’t it?! Drogba was once again a key player with three assists while Malouda and Anelka helped themselves to yet more goals.

Tougher tests will follow than West Brom and Wigan but a significant goal difference advantage amounts to the equivalent of an extra point at the business end of the season. Given they won the title by just a point last season, these early victories may prove vital.

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3. Two bogey teams continued their hold in London this weekend; Bolton winning their third successive game at Upton Park while Fulham prevented Man Utd from 3 points at Craven Cottage for the third successive season. Both games came down to missed penalties taken by someone other than the regular taker.

Carlton Cole saw his kick saved by Jaaskelainen which meant West Ham didn’t go into half time with lead. Bolton came out in the second half and scored twice and went on to win meaning Mark Noble’s penalty made no difference.

Meanwhile at 2-1 up against Fulham, Man Utd’s Nani took a spot kick instead of regular man Ryan Giggs. Stockdale saved, Fulham equalised and Fergie bemoaned silly dropped points.

It got me wondering as to why Noble hadn’t taken West Ham’s first and Giggs hadn’t taken United’s. Every club ranks their penalty takers for a reason. If the top man is on the field, he should take it.

The only exception to this is if someone is on a hat-trick and the game is won. I’m sure both Avram Grant and Alex Ferguson will be telling their players as much before the next game.

He's no Ronaldo...

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4. As much as I want to ignore Bale’s second goal vs Stoke, I can’t deny it was an excellent volley. I’m pretty sure we’ll see better this season but it’s likely to end up as goal of the month if nothing else. Bale is fast becoming Tottenham’s most important player and will be key to ensuring they challenge for a top four spot again.

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5. I don’t think anyone expected the third 6-0 of the weekend at St. James’ Park. Newcastle were terrific against a woeful Aston Villa and Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan reminded many that they are more than capable of performing at the highest level.

Andy Carroll scored a nice hat-trick and already people are tipping him for an England call. It is perhaps a little early for that but he has great potential. He won most things in the air against Vidic last week and was once again dominant aerially against the Aston Villa defence. His link up play suggests decent technique and it will be worth watching him this season, especially in home games.

Newcastle are now unbeaten in something like 23 games at home and they could do well to follow the template of two other recently promoted clubs, Stoke and Birmingham, in making their home ground a fortress in order to get the points needed to stay up.

Aerial beast.

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6. Last season Wigan were very Jekyll and Hyde beating Arsenal or Liverpool one week before getting smacked by seven the next. It looks like this season will mainly consist of the latter. I don’t think Martinez will have too long to sort it out but with games against Spurs and Man City coming up, they may be quite far adrift quite quickly.

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T.

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The Six Pointer (super duper late edition) – Wenger’s plinth, Stoke raise stake & more…

01/09/2009
A super delayed six pointer on the weekend’s action but what can you do? It was bank holiday weekend, the weather was nice and your resident scribe was out and about. For what it’s worth, some thoughts on the weekend gone.
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1. Arsenal will be encouraged by the performance against Man United if not the result. Two costly errors turned a comfortable 1-0 lead into 2-1 defeat which though disappointing showed that the new formation and current personnel can compete against the top teams as well as the bad ones faced thus far. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a United side create so little in a game and the midfield especially was quite pedestrian.

After Fletcher somehow got away with taking out Arshavin in the box as well as handling it in the same move (thanks Mike Dean), the tiny Russian decided to score from 25 yards shortly afterwards. Foster should have done better but it was none the less a good strike. The second half saw Almunia stupidly dive at Rooney’s feet but unlike Boruc with Eduardo, he kept his arms out, allowing Rooney to dive over them and get the decision. There definitely was contact but Rooney was falling already (look at his left foot trailing). If Almunia hadn’t had come out so far, there’s no way Rooney was scoring from that angle/speed. Another error for him against United then (there’ve been a few down the years…).

For United’s second Diaby headed in unmarked from six yards. You don’t even need to see a picture to imagine how silly that sounds. But the reactions of Gallas and Vermaelen below should tell you everything you need to know about how bad an error it was.

Diaby makes a boo boo.

Diaby makes a boo boo.

Arsenal tried to get back into it but it wasn’t their day and van Persie had a goal correctly ruled out for offside in the fifth minute of stoppage time. This led to a great scene where Wenger was sent off for kicking away a water bottle in frustration. I think most fans were amused by the way he made the officials look like idiots by standing arms outstretched amongst a sea of United supporters.

I do wonder when someone will take action over the “sit down you paedophile” chant constantly sung at Old Trafford though. The media silence over it is deafening. Why is something done when Sol Campbell is abused but not when Wenger is. This goes beyond terrace banter and I don’t see how calling calling him a paedophile is any different to being racist or homophobic to Sol Campbell.

I'm Arsene Wenger, who the hell are you?

I'm Arsene Wenger, who the hell are you?

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2. Chelsea were again efficient in their victory over Burnley and their midfield is working particularly well right now. Drogba and Anelka combined once more and everything is running smoothly at the Bridge at the moment. Their first ten fixtures are very generous and they should be in the clear not too long after the international break.  They were the only top side not to lose anyone in the off season (unless Shevchenko counts?!) but this time last year they were also wrecking havoc before it all suddenly went tits up.

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3. A nice line in man management by Rafa Benitez during the week. After criticising Steven Gerrard for not performing at his highest level, Liverpool’s captain popped up with the winner against Bolton. Interestingly, until Bolton’s Sean Davis was sent off, Gerrard had done bugger all. Once he was given a bit of space it was inevitable that his influence would grow.

Look how far he was from any Bolton player for the winner. Gerrard mentioned that the same tactic had been used on him by Gary Megson last season (though Bolton still lost that one too) and it could be an interesting tactic for other managers going forward. It does seem right now if you stop him you stop Liverpool.

Gerrard in acres of space to score the winner.

Gerrard in acres of space to score the winner.

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4. I still think it’s too early to consider Spurs or Man City title challengers but they are both looking capable of getting a top four place. I read a stat today that since Harry Redknapp has taken over they’ve won only one less point than Arsenal and winning four from four so far this year is their best start for decades.

I did wonder how they would go forward following the injury on Saturday to Modric but they’ve gone straight out and bought Kranjcar who is an excellent replacement. Man Utd and Chelsea are next so let’s wait until the end of September before reassessing.

The same goes for Man City really who face Arsenal and Man Utd before a tricky tie against Fulham. Again though, their start has been solid and Adebayor is beginning to look like the striker of 2007/08 once more.

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5. Stoke have been quietly going about their business and currently find themselves in fifth place. The Britannia Stadium has become a real fortress for them and they are confident enough to start spending a little bigger too, as demonstrated by the £15m or so splashed out on Collins, Tuncay, Huth and Arismendi in the past week or two. They’re not to everyone’s taste but Tony Pulis is doing a great job and the way Stoke are going they could well end up comfortably in the top half of the table.

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6. Two straight matches without Heskey starting, two straight wins for Aston Villa. It’s unfair to lay all the blame for Villa’s extended poor run at his feet (no Laursen and tiredness was a big factor last season and no Barry is a big loss this season) but their strengths are geared to playing at pace in a 4-5-1.

To this effect Agbonlahor and also Carew (who is much more mobile then Heskey in my opinion) are much better suited to the style of play. Heskey still has a role to play but a much smaller one if Villa are to again push for Europe. However the better Carlton Cole does, the more Heskey’s England place is under threat too.

This may have led to a goal. Probably didn't though.

This may have led to a goal. Probably didn't though.

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T.

Season Previews 09/10 – West Ham United

14/08/2009

west-ham

Last Season: 9th.

Say hello to your new teammates: Fabio Daprela, Herita Ilunga (loan made permanent), Frank Nouble, Peter Kurucz, Luis Jimenez.

Close the door on your way out: Lee Bowyer, Freddie Sears (loan), Lucas Neill, Diego Tristan.

Predicted star: Carlton Cole knows that if he maintains the form of last season where he scored ten goals and led the line magnificently then he’s going to the World Cup. In an unassuming team, he’s one of the few current players to consistently make headlines. A good West Ham season will rely on him a lot.

More of the same please.

More of the same please.

Needs a big year: Savio Nsereko was signed for quite a large fee in January and spent the following five months adjusting to the Premier League. Yet to score in his ten games, West Ham will need him to start putting in effective performances. Given that Dean Ashton is never fit, he’s essentially first choice striker alongside Cole.

One to watch: Jack Collison was one of a number of youngsters introduced by Zola last year and he continues a long line of youth academy products. A tidy little midfielder, he scored three times and assisted twice in his twenty appearances.

What they want to happen: Some off field stability is required as Iceland and its associated rich people have lost all their money. A mid-table finish and a cup run on the 20th anniversary of the 1980 FA Cup win would do nicely thanks.

Nightmare scenario: A smallish and quite inexperienced squad struggles to make an impact and Cole’s goals dry up.

Plan A: Play nice passing football in midfield and look for Cole to create chances out of nothing as he did last season. The addition of Jimenez should provide extra attacking threat while Steve Clarke will ensure the defence doesn’t concede too many.

Plan B, just in case: Try and get Ashton and Dyer fit, just for a little bit at least.

Predicted finish: 10th.

Why? After the appointment of Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola and the poor start that followed, you could forgive West Ham fans for thinking another season of struggle was due last year. However, after some initial poor results, the appointment of Steve Clarke as Zola’s number two saw a change in fortune and respectable 9th place finish was achieved.

While Zola is a promising manager who puts his trust in attractive, attacking football, it’s the work of Clarke behind the scenes that gets West Ham where they are. His renowned ability to organise a defence coupled with his tactical work mean West Ham should enjoy another season of relative comfort.

Who'd have thought two Chelsea legends would be doing so well at West Ham.

Who'd have thought two Chelsea legends would be doing so well at West Ham.

The squad is a little on the small side and there is a lack of firepower but this should hopefully be addressed with rumoured targets such as Luca Toni and Eidur Gudjohnsen. The midfield is strong and nicely balanced with the underrated Scott Parker holding things steady allowing for Behrami, Collison and Noble to create further forward. Jimenez is an interesting gamble and he could well prove useful this season.

Keeping hold of Matthew Upson is key, what with Man City sniffing. The defence would be severely weakened if he left though Rob Green is a excellent keeper to have between the sticks. Overall I think it will be a quiet season for the Hammers, hovering around mid table for most of the season. Given the perilous state of their finances off the pitch I think the fans would be quite happy with 10th.

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T.

The Six Pointer – Chelsea’s Team Spirit, Eboue’s Stupidity & more…

09/02/2009

That was the weekend that was.

1. Thirteen consecutive clean sheets and counting for Man Utd. Eight wins on the spin. When you concede no goals, one is enough to win the match – eight of the thirteen games have seen a 1-0 scoreline for Fergie’s side. Win at Fulham on Wednesday week and they’ll be five points clear with winnable games against Blackburn and Newcastle to follow. Then on March 14th comes a home game against Liverpool. Win that and it will become a procession for Ronaldo, Berbatov and co.

A preview of this coming May?

A preview of this coming May?

2. Is it now a battle between Arsenal and Chelsea for fourth spot? Chelsea are now too far behind to be in the title mix and the way they have been performing are no guarantee to stay in the Champions League spots. There is something clearly wrong at the Bridge and the once enviable team spirit has seemingly disappeared. Drogba is sulking, Anelka hasn’t scored in two months, all the wingers are consistently inconsistent or injured, Deco and Ballack look like the 30-somethings they are… There were always doubts about Big Phil and his ability at club level. Though he had a couple of successful three year spells at Gremio and Palmeiras,  he’s never achieved anything outside of Brazil. His ideas haven’t been translated on the pitch and despite being typically workmanlike Scolari, Chelsea have struggled to break down many a side. The ironic thing is, they are still top scorers thanks to some early spankings.

 

3. It was inevitable that Tony Adams would be sacked sooner rather than later as Portsmouth manager. In a league this tight, Pompey can ill afford to go down this season with the current debts they have. The owner Alex Gaydamak is trying to sell them and Portsmouth as a Championship team would not attract many suitors, let alone bring in the TV income to keep the bailiffs at bay. Adams has been unlucky in that arguably his two best players in Diarra and Defoe were sold and the replacements brought in are less than adequate to say the least. However even when those two were still around pre January, Portsmouth’s form was pretty poor. He oversaw just two wins in his sixteen games in charge and you felt that he never quite had luck on his side. I’ve always wanted him to succeed but sadly I think he’ll never achieve his goal of becoming Arsenal manager. Based on his managerial career to date I haven’t seen anything to make me think he’ll make it at any level, let alone the highest. Sorry Tone, some people just aren’t cut out for management. 

 

4. Arsenal will probably be more pleased with yesterday’s derby draw than Spurs. Playing for an hour with ten men and no Adebayor, they held Tottenham at bay for the most part and had a couple of decent chances themselves. Modric should have won it late on for Spurs but he fluffed his shot and Arsenal held on. Once again though, Emmanuel Eboue provided the main talking points. Having had a seemingly good goal disallowed for the lightest of taps on Woodgate (not what Mike Dean was thinking there), he then went and got himself stupidly sent off for a silly kick at Modric. Many times this season we have talked about something or other than Eboue has done – either costing his team by giving away silly fouls or hindering his team by being clueless in the final third. Atletico Madrid apparently wanted him in January but were presumably turned down due to the lack of squad depth at the Emirates. You’d have to think that if they came calling again (can’t think why they would) in the summer he’d be on his way. Yesterday’s performance was just another reason why he wouldn’t be missed. 

"Oh no, I made another boo boo."

"Oh no, I made another boo boo."

5. We mentioned how Carlton Cole shouldn’t be judged until after he had played against Arsenal and Man Utd. Although he didn’t score in either match, he caused enough problems to suggest he’s worthy of his place in the England squad. Capello obviously sees him as a backup to Heskey who like Cole, more than makes up for his relative lack of goals with the sheer hard work he puts in each game.

 

6. Sometimes all you need is a bit belief from your manager. Jo scored more in 90 minutes for David Moyes than he did in six months for Mark Hughes.

"Love me, love me, say that you love me."

"Love me, love me, say that you love me."

 

T.

The Six Pointer – Lucky Number Seven, Liverpool Syndrome & more…

28/01/2009

A lovely midweek edition of the six pointer. You can thank the FA Cup.

 

1. To paraphrase an American saying; “Offence wins games, defence wins championships”. Man Utd haven’t conceded in eleven games. They have only let in ten goals overall. Only Arsenal and Liverpool have scored more than once against them, and that correlates with Utd’s only two defeats this season. This great run has been in the midst of an injury crisis which has meant the back four hasn’t stayed the same for more than two games.

He said something like that.

He said something like that.

2. Oh look, Liverpool’s ninth draw of the season and their third in a row. Of their last ten league games, seven have been draws. This has been against the likes of Stoke, Hull, Wigan and Fulham. Remember how last season Arsenal drew four consecutive games and blew the title? Looks like history is repeating itself. I’ve talked numerous times about how this habit of drawing against weaker sides means Liverpool won’t win the league. The way they’re going however, I wouldn’t be too sure of second either…

 

3. There are some terrible runs of form in the Premier League right now. Stoke, Boro and Portsmouth all have just one point from the last six but even this can be beaten. After succumbing to West Ham this evening, Hull have lost their sixth game on the trot. The table says they still lie tenth but the teams in bottom three are now just six points away. Phil Brown will be hoping that Jimmy Bullard (and to a lesser extent Manucho) has an immediate impact and stops the malaise.

 

4. Robin Van Persie has either scored or assisted 42% of Arsenal’s league goals this year. He has been involved in every Arsenal goal this month. He has really stepped up to the plate in light of Fabregas’ injury and Adebayor’s lack of form. Arsene Wenger’s side find themselves in a bit of pickle however and they are now five points off Aston Villa in the race for Champions League football. They have a mild case of Liverpool syndrome in that whilst unbeaten in nine, four of the last seven have been draws. They are fourth in the form league (last six games) but that’s no good when Villa are second.

Also responsible for 42% of the physio's workload.

Also responsible for 42% of the physio's workload.

 

5. Carlton Cole – six goals in six games. But lets see how he does in his next two games against Arsenal and Man Utd before jumping to ‘he should play for England’ conclusions.

 

6. OMFG, Man City win consecutive league games for the first time this season! They are unbeaten in four and seem to have turned some sort of corner. While they’ve overspent on several players [Bellamy, De Jong, Kaka(wellalmost)] those players will nonetheless help City with their push for seventh spot. The ten strikers now on their books should especially help.

You can add Kelvin Etuhu to this list as well.

You can add Kelvin Etuhu to this list as well.

 

T.


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