Posts Tagged ‘Cattermole’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Sunderland

10/08/2010

Sunderland

Last Season: 13th

New Signings: Angeleri, Mignolet, Bramble, Mensah, Riveros, Al-Muhammadi

Key Player: Darren Bent

One To Watch: Jordan Henderson

Needs A Big Year: Kenwyne Jones

Would Quite Like: Long unbeaten runs rather than long runs without beating. Remain ahead the Magpies.

Steve Bruce reveals how many Twitter followers he has. Darren Bent not impressed.

Prediction: 14th

Thoughts: Sunderland started off very well last season before enduring a horrible 14 game run without a win. They recovered towards the end of the season but it felt like they underachieved somewhat. Darren Bent was predictably excellent with 24 goals and Steve Bruce will be looking to him to produce similar numbers.

The surprise departure of captain Lorik Cana after just one season leaves quite a big hole in central midfield so the hope is Lee Cattermole will have a less injury truncated season this time round. Bramble is a decent addition in central defence – let’s not forget it was Steve Bruce who got him to a consistent level, while Jordan Henderson will want to continue making an impression.

Kenwyne Jones needs to rediscover the form that saw him linked with big money moves to the likes of Spurs and Liverpool. It’s hard to know what to predict for Sunderland – the teams between 9th and 14th are all very even in terms of ability I’d say. The high turnover of players at the Stadium of Light means it might be another season towards the bottom end of the group.

T.

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England World Cup Squad Predictions – Part Three

18/04/2010

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.

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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.

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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.

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Goalkeepers:

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.

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Defenders:

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.

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Midfielders:

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.

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Strikers:

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.

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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.

The Six Pointer – Temper temper, goalscoring riches & more…

20/10/2009

That was the weekend that was…

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1. Liverpool were beaten for the third straight week and it’s starting to get a bit boring with how often we have to mention how thin their squad is. Of course any team would miss their two best players, not least when those players are Gerrard and Torres, but of all the big four sides they are least equipped to cope.

Dirk Kuyt toiled on his own up front and reminded us all why he has been playing on the right wing instead for the past 18 months. Meanwhile in the middle Jay Spearing was given his Premier League debut and looked a bit lost by all accounts.

Hilariously the jokers at the Liverpool official website gave him man of the match honours which must have been news to everyone else watching the game. Cana and Cattermole once again dominated for Sunderland and just taking a random cross section of national newspapers, Spearing was not even the best Liverpool midfielder, let alone the best player on the pitch.

The white one Jose, save the white one...

The white one Jose, save the white one...

As for the beach ball goal, it shouldn’t really have stood but these things happen. Sunderland fully deserved the victory. Ironically enough it was a Liverpool fan who threw the thing on the pitch in the first place! The title challenge is over, even if they beat Man Utd next week. There is just nothing to fear with this Liverpool team and I can see them losing several more times before the season is over.

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2. Jermaine Defoe needs to keep one eye on his temperament. You can’t be taking players to the World Cup who are liable to get themselves needlessly sent off. Fall out of favour now and it’s going to be very hard to get back in, what with so few friendlies left.

Defoe’s red card also provides a good opportunity for Peter Crouch to cement his claim for a spot in the Spurs starting line up as well as the England squad as Plan B/C. Fortunately for Defoe it won’t be at his expense. For now.

Dum dum Defoe.

Dum dum Defoe.

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3. Since James Collins was sold to Villa, West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet. That does over emphasise his importance somewhat but when you look at Villa’s form since he joined, it does illustrates that he is a good player.

I had big concerns over Villa’s ability to replace Martin Laursen this season but to be fair to Martin O’Neill he seems to have pulled it off, mainly by signing two players in Dunne and Collins. They exposed Chelsea’s (well, Carvalho’s) set piece deficiency at the weekend and have formed a promising partnership at the back.

Back at Upton Park, Upson has been left to do it on his own (Tomkins is not the finished article yet) and the lack of defensive options has been a big reason why the Hammers have struggled so far this year.

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4. Man Utd were controlled enough against Bolton and are back top. Away games against Liverpool and Chelsea are coming up in the next three matches and we should have a clearer idea of just how good they are this season after that.

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5. David Dunn now had four league goals this season, level with Fabregas for most from midfield. Easily Blackburn’s best player, how their season evolves will depend on him.

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6. Arsenal made heavy weather of Birmingham before eventually completing the job late on. After going 2-0 up they switched to cruise control and started treating it almost like a training match. When Bowyer got one back after the traditional Arsenal goalkeeper fail under a high ball, you could see the nervousness that was so prevalent last year creeping in again.

This was after a spectacularly mis-timed jump.

This was after a spectacularly mis-timed jump. Almunia has taught him well.

Fortunately class eventually told and Arshavin slotted home a nice goal to wrap up the points. Even though I’m not totally convinced by the defence, Arsenal currently have so many goal scoring options in the side that they could well last the distance. In eight games, 27 goals have been scored from 12 different players.

The number of injuries suffered at the Emirates means there’ll never be a situation where everyone is available at any once but as long as four of Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo, Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott and Vela are fit at any given time then a sustained challenge may yet be forthcoming.

Simples. Eventually.

Simples. Eventually.

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T.

The Six Pointer – Missing Rooney, inspirational Cesc & more…

05/10/2009

1. Arsenal were fantastic going forward against Blackburn yesterday and Cesc Fabregas inspired a 6-2 rout with six different scorers. Paul Robinson got his usual work out against the Gunners and has now conceded an amazing 47 goals in 16 games against Arsenal, fourteen of which have come in the last three games. I thought he actually played quite well but there was a definite strategy to pepper him with mid to long range shots.

Rovers had taken an unexpected lead twice before Arsenal hit back, Fabregas providing four assists and a goal before coming off. All six goals were of a high quality but I’d say Bendtner’s was the best. It was obvious as soon as he got the ball what he wanted to do but those efforts are now starting to go in rather then sail high and wide.

I love Arsenal and ROsicky loves me.

I love Arsenal and Rosicky loves me.

There was some talk earlier in the season about how Fabregas looked distracted and unhappy but I think he’s back to his best. There will always be speculation surrounding his future and I think most Arsenal fans accept he will one day play for Barcelona but at the same time it may not be for a few years yet (at least not until Wenger burns him out!). You can see what it would mean to him to win trophies with this team and if he can direct those kind of performances against the big sides then Arsenal could well have a shout for one this season.

Allardyce called Vermaelen’s foul on Dunn at 3-2 a turning point and while yes it was a definite penalty, to say it was a red card offence too is just silly. Even if Blackburn had scored, there was no way Arsenal were losing yesterday, they were just too good going forward. Maybe if Allardyce hadn’t taken off his best player in David Dunn, not played four full backs and generally shown a bit more adventure, then he might have had a point.

Blah blah blah

Blah blah blah.

The return of Rosicky has been very pleasing too and I think everyone forgot just what a classy player he was before he got injured. He’s constantly creating space and playing intelligent passes and he fits really well into the 4-3-3 system. With Nasri back sooner rather than later and Ramsey ever more impressive in his weekly substitute cameo, it should hopefully consign Diaby to the bench. I think right now his height is the only thing going for him (meaning he plays against ‘big’ sides like Rovers) but his overall play just doesn’t fit. He did very little on Saturday and can only offer potential for so long.

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2. Liverpool lost for the fourth time this season (including Europe) and each time it’s been a good side. They have become more expansive this season but with that have sacrificed much of the solidity that brought them good results. They are turning into flat track bullies who can hammer 20 goals past the likes of Burnley, Hull, Stoke, West Ham and Bolton but then struggle when facing half decent sides like Spurs, Fiorentina, Chelsea and Aston Villa. Similarly Torres can score five in two games but then waste the two presentable opportunites he had yesterday. He was well marshalled by Terry and must show that he can impose himself on a big match consistently like Drogba can.

It has been said before but Alonso is being missed with every passing week and the return of Aquilani won’t help that. Alonso sat deep with Mascherano and gave it to Gerrard or played in Torres. Aquilani is much less likely to do the same and like Lucas will wander forward, given that by nature they are both more attacking players. This leaves the centre back pairing exposed and may explain partly why Carragher has been so poor this season. Meanwhile if you rely on Torres and Gerrard so much, when they’re stopped so are Liverpool. Benitez can say they are still contenders, and of course points wise they are. But I think there are fundamental issues at which will prevent Liverpool from winning the league yet again.

Hey lads, why do you flatter to deceive?

Hey lads, why do you flatter to deceive?

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3. After just four draws in the opening 66 games there were four this weekend. As teams finally get the measure of each other we can expect that total to increase. Tellingly, there have been only two draws amongst the top ten and six in the bottom half. The usual scenario of nervousness at the foot of the table is beginning to creep in. How many times have we seen positive play rewarded with more wins, hence more three point gains, hence eventual safety. Something to take heed of for those playing 4-5-1.

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4. Man Utd got out of jail on Saturday evening against Sunderland with an injury time equaliser via the unfortunate Anton Ferdinand who scored an own goal. Prior to that Sunderland had fully deserved to be leading, Cattermole and Cana again holding their own against an opposition midfield. Those two have quickly become one of the better partnerships in the league and offer a nice mixture of toughness and harassment but with enough skill to allow for some creativity.

Up front Darren Bent is fast developing an impressive habit of scoring against the big sides as well as the small so it was a surprise to not see him get called up for England given the two qualifiers are essentially meaningless.

The other English striker on show Rooney (though I suppose there was Welbeck too, who was bizarrely chosen down the left) had another poor game and has yet to learn how to avoid his drops in form. Throughout his career (a bit like Defoe really) he has gone on runs where he’ll score in something like six successive games before doing nothing of note for ages and then picking up again. Now that he is the main player at Old Trafford, he can no longer afford these extended periods of goalless play.

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5. Good to see Portsmouth rewarded for their recent good form with a victory at last. They’ve been unfortunate to lose the last couple of games and it’s encouraging that despite not being paid they are still trying on the pitch. The expected suspects (+ one of two others in Fulham and West Ham) are beginning to form an orderly group in the bottom half and it was vital that Portsmouth didn’t fall too far adrift. I still think this season spells doom, unless this mystery new takeover happens to inject half a new squad in January, but to be fair at this stage last season Spurs had just points and still managed a top half finish. There’s hope yet for Pompey fans.

I think he's happy.

I think he's happy.

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6. Four straight Premier League victories at Turf Moor to go with the six at the end of last season. Are Burnley set to do a Stoke and stay up based almost entirely on their home form?

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T.


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