Posts Tagged ‘Everton’

Season Previews 2010/11 – How They’ll Finish

13/08/2010

Based on all the predictions written, here’s how I see the Premier League finishing up in May.

  1. Man Utd
  2. Arsenal
  3. Chelsea
  4. Man City
  5. Liverpool
  6. Tottenham
  7. Everton
  8. Fulham
  9. Aston Villa
  10. Stoke
  11. Blackburn
  12. Birmingham
  13. Bolton
  14. Sunderland
  15. Wolves
  16. West Ham
  17. Newcastle
  18. Wigan
  19. West Brom
  20. Blackpool

A few more thoughts. I think the top four are quite interchangeable though Man City won’t win it. It depends what other business is done before the end of the transfer window – you get the feeling the Milner deal will get a few things going.

I reckon Liverpool, Everton and Spurs are all capable of sneaking fourth spot. With the former two it depends on how fit their first choice teams stay throughout the season while Spurs could maybe go as high as third but it relies on them coping with two competitions at once. I’m sure they’ll sign one or two more players but are waiting to see if they beat Young Boys in the qualifier.

With Martin O’Neill leaving Aston Villa will drop down the table. It doesn’t matter who they get in to replace him, they won’t come ahead of those top seven teams. I have Fulham a little high on reflection. I should probably swap them with Villa. If they lose Schwarzer and get an injury or two, it remains to be seen whether Hughes can keep them going. With the signing of Kenwyne Jones Stoke might push on an extra place or two. I genuinely wonder if they have any players under 6ft beyond Tuncay and Etherington!

Going down to about 15th/16th you can mix and match. Bolton could shock a few people, while West Ham have one of the more talented spines of teams at that level. Birmingham could really struggle if Foster doesn’t live up to Hart’s performances last season and Zigic doesn’t perform but all in all the teams in this section should be ok.

For me there are just the four clear relegation candidates, though you could perhaps chuck Wolves in there too. Maybe I’ll revisit this once the transfer window shuts, as things should be a bit clearer by then.

T.

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Season Previews 2010/11 – Everton

11/08/2010

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.

T.

Season Predictions 09/10 – How They Turned Out

31/05/2010

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m still in two minds about whether to do season reviews for each club – to be honest I’m in World Cup mode now. Perhaps I’ll still get round to it though.

Back in August I played a mug’s game and tried to predict how everyone would finish. Here’s what actually happened:

'Expert' predictions...

Looking at the results showed I got just three clubs spot on: Man City in 5th and basement dwellers Hull and Pompey taking the bottom two places. In my defence I was only one place out with six other clubs but really this table looks like what it is, rubbish punditry.

I think if Gareth Southgate and Garth Crooks had a bastard lovechild it would look something like this predictions table (enjoy those nightmare thoughts kids).

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In terms of the thinking, I had found it really tricky to split the top three when writing pre-season predictions. My loyalties to Arsenal may have played a part in placing them second while I couldn’t bear to predict Chelsea as Champions even though deep down I knew they had retained the most strength over the summer.

A similar scenario led to placing Spurs 7th – I was hardly going to predict them a Champions League spot was I?! I underestimated Liverpool’s decline and overestimated Sunderland’s improvement.

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The biggest mistake was Birmingham, a full nine places out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them down to struggle. Fair play to Alex McLeish (who I had as first sacking!), he brilliantly led them to a top half finish.

The bottom half was slightly better predicted clubs wise, if not positions wise. The dearth of quality is such that it’s pot luck as to where the likes of Bolton and Wigan finish. I got three of the bottom four right and on another day would have predicted Burnley to come in 18th not 17th.

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In terms of the cups and other stuff it went like this:

And I thought the league prediction was bad...

Oh dear. Only Bayern Munich correct and I suppose West Brom for promotion. If the Premier League table was the Southgate/Crooks lovechild then this is the resulting mess when said lovechild had a threesome with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp. I literally couldn’t do any worse at being a pundit. Like I said at the beginning, it’s time for the World Cup…

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 36 Preview

23/04/2010

An interesting week last week with Aston Villa and Hull providing opportunity for double gains. Unless you were the gambling type, I imagine most bets were hedged on the key Aston Villa players. While the returns weren’t huge, they weren’t bad either and will probably have justified any points spent in transfers.

It was a slightly above average week for me, not helped by going for Ashley Young as captain. Just 12 points from him as he got just a solitary bonus point. The league lead is 39 with three weeks left, and Sportboy P (remember him?!) now takes up the chase.

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Gameweek 35 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

James Milner Top Gun Aston Villa

Maverick approves of Milner's second top gun.

matt taylor bolton

Goose approves of Taylor's best performance this season.

Two midfielders got 15  points this week; James Milner and Matt Taylor. Milner scored once and got six bonus points last week while Taylor got into double figures for the first time this season through two goals and three bonus. He has been a little underwhelming in 2009/10 but still has eight goals and three assists.

Elsewhere Charles N’Zogbia got himself 13 points against Arsenal while six players scored eleven. Of those the most interesting was Gareth Bale. After not scoring for over two years, he now has two goals in two weeks.

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Three Captain Picks:

1. Lampard/Chelsea – A home game against Stoke should be easy pickings for Chelsea. Stoke are still rubbish away from the Britannia and I’m sure Ancelotti will be looking for a response from his team after last week’s debacle against Spurs. Drogba picked up an injury during the defeat and may not be fully fit, thus possibly creating an opportunity for Lampard to run the show.

2. Arteta/Everton – A home game against Fulham is no doubt tough but Roy Hodgson has gone on record as saying that the Europa League is now his priority. Everton are in good form and should probably win against a Fulham side in the middle of a European semi-final against Hamburg. Arteta is back from injury and scored last week.

3. Van Persie/Arsenal or Adebayor/Man City – Hate each other, face each other this weekend at the Emirates and will both be super motivated to be the match-winner. Van Persie has home advantage but may not start. Adebayor will get royally booed with every touch but is match fit and has the benefit of facing Silvestre and Campbell.

Frank Lampard Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick!

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

It’s all about form players right now.

1. Bale/Spurs – Obviously he’s been excellent in the past two weeks with 20 points but looking further back he’s been consistently good since regaining his place in mid-January. 85 points since gameweek 22 plus two matches coming up next week.

2. Players with something to play for – Whether that’s from teams who are relegation threatened, fighting for titles or simply those after personal gain like World Cup selection – now is the time to go for motivated players ahead of those whose season has ended.

3. Craddock/Wolves – 25 points in his last four games.

gareth bale spurs

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Wigan players – Beat Arsenal last week so judging by how their season has gone will probably lose against West Ham this time round.

2. Terry/Chelsea – Out this week through suspension and generally not playing well.

3. Arsenal goalkeepers & defenders – Not that you’d have one!

n'zogbia wigan

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 31 Preview

19/03/2010

Week 31. 15 matches. Given it’s so late in the season this will be title deciding I would think. Ten teams play twice including four from the top half so you should really be looking at having a minimum of seven double players I’d say. Unless we get a bunch of 1-1 draws, 100 points should be the minimum target.

Last week was pretty good – 85 points and a slight increase of my league lead. This despite having five players who would have been better captain choices than Fat Frank. He’ll be leaving my team for Fabregas again shortly after this double gameweek ends. I was particularly pleased with Bendtner getting another 11 points while spending eight points on transfers just about paid off too.

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Gameweek 30 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

fernando torres liverpool

Maverick wants to know where Torres got those highlights...

After an injury truncated season, Fernando Torres reminded us of what he can do with 19 points against Portsmouth. Two goals, two assists and three bonus gave him his highest score of the season, moving him into the top seven strikers despite having played just 1471 minutes.

Funnily enough his price has actually gone down this week as people were still reacting to one point against Wigan plus the fact he faces Man Utd this week. Judging by past form against Vidic that no bad thing. Elsewhere Malouda got 16, Milner and Aquilani 12 while it was a striker’s week with Rooney, Drogba, Bendtner, Berbatov and Pavlyuchenko all in double figures.

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Three Captain Picks:

1. Chelsea attackers – First choice for a captain this week should be Chelsea attacking players. While they have two away game which are trickier than they look, I’d still be surprised if they didn’t come away with six points from Blackburn and Portsmouth. Lampard is an option as always, while Malouda is possibly their best player right now. You can’t really look further than Drogba though, and he should feast on those two defences. I wouldn’t bother with Chelsea defenders this week, I think it’ll be one clean sheet at best.

2. Aston Villa players – Villa have two home games against Wolves and Sunderland. Again, I’d be surprised if they got less than six points and they perhaps offer more variety than Chelsea. I’d be quite comfortable with picking Dunne as captain while Agbonlahor is usually involved some way when they score. Really though Milner is the most realistic choice when choosing a Villa captain. You can talk about potential differentials like Young and Downing all you want but at the end of the day it will be Milner getting the points.

3. Everton midfielders – Choices from Everton are narrowed to their midfield for me as Saha is currently injured and I don’t trust the Yak. Pienaar has been consistent and Cahill is always good for a goal but now that Arteta is back he’s the man you want.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Johnson/Man City – How brave are you feeling? Johnson has shone for Man City since joining in January and last week got himself nine points coming of the bench to rescue a draw vs Sunderland. Difficult fixtures against Fulham A and Everton H but he is in form and making an impact. The key question is will he play both matches? I think yes, but you never know with Mancini.

2. Olsson/Blackburn – An interesting week for Blackburn as they have two home games but both of those matches are quite tough (Chelsea and Birmingham). Olsson is one of the cheapest players in the game at just £3.8m and is listed as a defender even though he normally plays left of midfield. I could certainly see him getting a clean sheet against Brum and perhaps a cheeky assist too.

3. O’Hara/Portsmouth – They’ve been docked points, are essentially relegated, and face Hull and Chelsea this week. That said they are ok at home and tend to score if nothing else. O’Hara should get something against Hull (unless new manager syndrome kicks in) and will get two points vs Chelsea too. He’s cheap and gets bonus, what more do you want?

adam johnson man city

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Hull players – Not even Iain Dowie can save this lot.

2. N’Zogbia/Wigan – His double gameweek produced just one assist and he’s been taken off before the hour twice in the last three weeks.

3. Anelka/Chelsea – No goals or bonus since the end of January.

jimmy bullard hull

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 27 Preview

19/02/2010

Friday morning, and it’s time for the weekly fantasy Premier League preview. We’re up to week 27 now and soon we’ll be entering the home stretch. After the foursome of Bolton, Wigan, Man City and Stoke played out disappointing second games in week 26, two teams are in action twice this time round – Man Utd and West Ham. More on that later.

Despite my captain Tevez not playing in the second game, I managed a pretty good score of 69 this week, thanks in part to Charles N’Zogbia doing well for Wigan and Abou Diaby having a great game against Liverpool. It was a relatively low scoring week, and going by overall comparison it was my third best week of the season, enough to bring me up to 6,666 in the world (how satanic!). Another eight points added to the lead in our private league too – 43 now.

There’s lots to consider in the coming weeks with plenty of double teams as well the potential annihilation of week 29 due to the FA Cup.

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Gameweek 26 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Maverick approves but expected a higher score to grace this spot.

Bit of a random Top Gun this week but Paul Scharner led the way with 14 points via a goal and clean sheet. Adam Johnson continues his immediate impact at Man City with 12 points (including four bonus points) and Charles N’Zogbia matched him. A few other scores in double figures while the expected big hitters of Tevez and Adebayor got just seven and eight points respectively.

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Three Captain Picks:

1. Rooney/Man Utd – Two games against Everton away and West Ham at home. As far as I can recall he has a decent record against Everton since leaving while if you were a betting man you’d have to back him in any game at Old Trafford. Super form as we know with four of his last five matches resulting in three bonus points (‘only’ two in the other!). No better choice this week.

2. Cole/West Ham – His second match at Old Trafford is a tough game but you never know what might happen if Rio and/or Vidic are still out. This pick is more based on the potential returns from the first match which is Hull at home. He’s in form having scored last week as well as getting a bonus point in each of the last two weeks.

3. Fabregas/Arsenal – A disappointing Champions League result on Wednesday and I suspect Sunderland may feel the brunt of a heavy defeat in response. Arsenal are terrific at home and Sunderland haven’t won in about three months or something silly. As usual Fabregas will run the show.

rooney man utd

Gets a Captain's tick

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Bolton defenders – After no clean sheets all season, they have picked up three in the last five games. Owen Coyle has definitely made them more solid (the other two games were Liverpool and Man City) and they stand much better chance of holding their own against the teams around them. Their upcoming games will decide their season – Blackburn (A), Wolves (H), West Ham (A), Sunderland (A) and Wigan (H).

2. N’Zogbia/Wigan – They have a tough run coming up but he has bonus points in nine of his last 12 games. Now the seventh highest scoring midfielder and still only £6m.

3. Arsenal players – I said this last week but the next five matches are Sunderland (H), Stoke (A), Burnley (H), Hull (A), West Ham (H). I envisage at least ten goals from those games, and with so many injuries to the expensive players, you’re bound to find a potential bargain who could score heavy points.

Ricketts Bolton

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Teams still left in the FA Cup – A warning for week 29 when as many as eight teams may not have a game. In particular you may want to hold off overloading on players from Chelsea (of the title challengers) and Aston Villa (who may not have a game two weeks running due the Carling Cup).

2. Everton midfielders – They do produce fantasy wise and Everton are much improved but I swear every week someone goes down with a serious injury. It’s now Fellaini’s turn to miss several months through injury.

3. Huddlestone/Spurs – I’ve had him in my team for a while due to his cheapness and occasional habit of picking up bonus points and assists. Having missed a penalty last week I think I’ll be finally getting rid – there are plenty of cheap midfielders who produce more.

Ashley Young fantasy football

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

The Six Pointer – Same old Arsenal, Man Utd’s 2nd best striker & more…

08/02/2010

1. It’s getting boring writing the same thing each week but if Arsenal make the same mistakes each week then what choice do I have?! Unlike last Sunday against Man Utd, there was at least something resembling a performance against Chelsea, but once again Arsenal failed to win with their traditional combination of poor defending and not taking chances.

the wanderer clichy

Clichy the Wanderer

Quite where Gael Clichy was wandering to for the first goal I’ll never know but it was really rather stupid to leave your post as the ball was being played into the danger area. One Terry flick on later and Drogba is stealing in at the far post to slot home the opener. As I mentioned last week, Clichy has been in a funk for probably 18 months now but with Traore just as poor positionally and Gibbs injured there’s no other option (Silvestre is NOT an option).

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2. When Chelsea smashed Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates in November, Wenger made an interesting point about how Drogba doesn’t really do that much (this was after having scored twice). To a certain degree he’s right but only because so often opportunities are given to him on a plate when facing what masquerades as an Arsenal defence.

drogba arsenal

Easy.

The second goal was made by Clichy drifting inside as Chelsea were counter-attacking. The failure to realise until too late that Drogba was on the right meant the Ivorian could easily cut inside him and blast a powerful shot past Almunia.

Considering how highly Wenger values pace, it’s distressing to see how devastating counter attacks have been from Everton, Man Utd and Chelsea in recent weeks. I’m probably being a touch harsh in thinking Almunia could have made a better effort but Drogba’s shot was pretty powerful. That said, I think a top keeper would have reacted.

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3. Theo Walcott was at least visible in this match. Only for his appalling touch however. What was confusing though was both him and Bendtner have come back from long injuries yet it is only the former who is getting starts at the moment.

You can understand that neither are fit enough to play 90 minutes at the moment but surely someone like Bendtner would be more effective starting, as opposed to coming on when the game is lost. Likewise, surely Walcott is better suited to a sub role where his only reliable skill (pace) could be used against tiring legs rather than fresh ones.

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4. Man Utd’s second top scorer this season is Own Goal with ten goals thus far. He scored a hat-trick on Saturday against Portsmouth and now has as many as Berbatov and Owen combined!

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5. It’s a little depressing if Liverpool end up as the 4th best team this season. Despite their good recent form, to me they are fundamentally a flawed side but years of finishing in the top four has given them a head start in knowing what it takes. We saw last season how Aston Villa fell away and it seems like no one of Man City, Spurs or Villa can string a set of results together to make a charge this time round.

gerrard liverpool everton

Yay, I play for an average team!

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6. The form of the bottom eight or so teams is so poor right now that a win shoots you right up the table. Two games ago Hull were in the relegation zone but a draw against Chelsea and win against Man City later they are up to 14th. Of course it’s still very tight with just four points separating seven teams so it’s anyone’s guess who will go down. For what it’s worth I still think Hull will be one of them.

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T.

Transfer Window Hits and Misses

04/02/2010

The January transfer window just passed saw the lowest spending since 2003, a whole £140m less than last January’s whopping £170m. Clubs have been certainly feeling the pinch and seem to be much more careful with their money. While it’s far too early to judge here are some thoughts on who could be hits and who might be misses.

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The Free Transfers

I think Sol Campbell to Arsenal is quite astute and judging by the game and a half he’s played thus far, he looks like he can still cut it in the top flight. Certainly a better option than Mikael Silvestre! Over in Manchester, I was less convinced by City’s signing of Patrick Vieira. I think it will be difficult for him and there will be games where the pace is too much for him. That said, he’ll bring a lot to that dressing room and should be good for cameos where games are being closed out.

sol campbell arsenal

Beats playing for Nott's County.

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The Loans

With money a bit thin on the ground, some of the most interesting deals were loans. Landon Donovan looks to have fitted straight in at Everton and I think he’ll do well for the remaining time he’s over here. Senderos from Arsenal is also a good move – the Swiss has stagnated a touch but people think he’s rubbish just because Drogba messed him a few times. Name me a central defender that hasn’t struggled against the Drog.

Bolton have got a couple of good youngsters in Weiss and Wilshere from Man City and Arsenal respectively. Wilshere in particular could be an instant hit if his cameo Carling Cup appearances are anything to go by. Basturk is one of those players who was once good on Football Manager but I’ve never seen him play enough to comment in real life. Fat Sam had a decent track record with signing older creative types at Bolton and the Turk could be sneaky good for Blackburn.

Maxi Rodriguez will be rubbish for Liverpool and Amr Zaki will be rubbish for Hull. Fellow Egyptian Mido might surprise a few people at West Ham. With a £1K a week wage he’s motivated to prove people wrong if nothing else.

wilshere bolton arsenal weiss

I can't decide whether he's disgusted to be holding that shirt or if he's just very cold.

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The Cold Hard Cash

The biggest signing was Man City getting Adam Johnson for £6m+. An interesting one this, he’s done well in the Championship this season but I don’t see where he’s going to fit at Eastlands right now. You have Bellamy and Petrov both playing on the left and they’re both playing very well. One for the future me thinks, but he’ll have a great mentor in Petrov who is an excellent left winger.

After much of the window saw both Porstmouth keepers being linked with moves away to the same clubs, it was eventually Asmir Begovic who left, joining Stoke for £3.25m. He was wanted by Spurs too but apparently legged it from the hotel they were putting him up in. I do wonder whether he will displace Sorensen, they seem kind of at the same level to me. It’s a good signing for next season though.

Elsewhere Victor Moses should get lots of opportunity to prove he’s worth £2.5m at Wigan given that Jason Scotland has yet to score this season, while Benni McCarthy should score enough to justify his £1m move to West Ham. Sunderland have got a good prospect in Matt Kilgallon for £2m.

Birmingham had lots to spend but only got some squad depth in the end with Michel and Craig Gardner joining for £3m each. They’ll be useful, nothing more nothing less.

adam johnson

As good as Stewart Downing. Maybe.

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Harry Redknapp’s Wheeling Dealing Transfer Merry-Go-Round

Let’s face it, Spurs deserve a whole category of their own. Any team with Harry Redknapp in charge is always likely to make deals but when you cross it with Spurs’ odd transfer policy you’re bound to get some baffling deals. First up, they bought Younes Kaboul back from Portsmouth for about £5m (less if you count what Pompey still owed).

This is by my count the fifth player they’ve bought back in about 18 months (Keane, Defoe, Crouch & Chimbonda the others) and they’d probably save themselves a lot of money if they didn’t destroy careers in the first place. Kaboul has improved but won’t play when everyone is fit, so as usual lots of foresight there. Two right backs (Naughton and Hutton) went out on loan leaving them with only Corluka.

eidur gudjohnsen spurs

Come on Harry, let's not play games. You know you want me.

Gudjohnsen was brought in on loan. I’m not sure about this one, it kind of depends where he plays. He certainly hasn’t been a striker for a few seasons now but is a decent player. I get the feeling Redknapp is addicted to buying players he once liked the look of. Lets be honest now, they don’t really need Gudjohnsen do they, but Redknapp just couldn’t say no to a bit of sexy loan action.

The one striker leaving was surprisingly not Pavlyuchenko but instead Robbie Keane who left on loan to Celtic. You don’t normally loan your captain out do you, but by the sounds of it they were constantly changing the price of Pavlyuchenko. No doubt the same happened with Bentley which is why he’s still there too.

harry redknapp

Buy me Harry, no buy me!

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So overall nothing that exciting happened, and as usual the bullshit rumour brigade was full of exactly that – bullshit. There are a few decent signings but you sense everyone is saving their dollar for some post World Cup bingeing. Because of course that’s when the best value can be found…

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T.

The Six Pointer – Men vs Midgets, Self-Deprecation & more…

30/11/2009

That was the weekend that was.

 

1. Chelsea showed Arsenal what it takes to be champions elect yesterday with a lesson in how to blend skill with power. Up until the first goal Arsenal were in control without really doing anything, though Chelsea could have had a penalty for Sagna’s foul on Anelka. Then out of nothing Cole wasn’t closed down and a great cross came over for Drogba to finish clinically. The defending wasn’t the best. Sagna could have made a better attempt to prevent the cross from Cole and one of the centre backs could have cleared it but it was a great ball in.

A couple of minutes later an almost identical goal was scored. Cole again had time and space to put in a great ball from the left but this time it went in off Vermaelen who was expecting Gallas to clear it. Two quick goals before half time, game over. The second half was notable for Arshavin’s disallowed goal, Drogba’s free kick to wrap up the victory and nothing more.

The game showed exactly how far Arsenal have to go if they are to match Chelsea. Ancelotti’s team had height and strength all over the pitch as well as skill, overpowering Arsenal everywhere. Wenger was missing Van Persie, Bendtner and Diaby who all would have played in this game and perhaps made a difference. However you’d imagine that even with them on the pitch Chelsea would find have found a way to win.

For some reason there was a constant stream of hopeful crosses and medium length passes to the forward line of Arshavin, Nasri and Eduardo, who every time were beaten in the air by Terry & co. It changed a little in the second half but there were mainly lots of runs up blind alleys. Eduardo in particular looked well off the pace and badly needs a meaningful goal while Arshavin continued his peripheral form of this season. Walcott was poor when he came on and there are no true wingers at the clubs, instead lots of inside forward types.

didier drogba ashley cole arsenal chelsea

I find it so hard to decide who I dislike more in this picture.

As for Drogba, Arsenal must be sick of him. Two great goals and an all action performance in tandem with Anelka. He now has 10 goals in 11 games vs Arsenal and has been directly the match winner six times.  I think Almunia should have done better with the third goal; his positioning was wrong (why move behind the wall?) and thus the ball was already in the net before he even reached with his dive.

Wenger can say the disallowed goal was pivotal but I disagree. As in the game against Man Utd, having all the possession is pointless if you can’t do anything with it. The reason why Chelsea and Man Utd have been the two top teams for the past few years is that they can soak up pressure and still win. Arsenal have yet to discover that method.

arsenal weak

What you see and what you get.

 

2. Everton lost again and although there’s no shame in being beaten by Liverpool (actually…) you sense that perhaps Moyes has taken them as far as he can. That’s not to say he isn’t right for the job and the Scot has done wonders with the budget and constraints he has but maybe something needs freshening up.

Everton won’t reach the heights of the past few seasons and the constant long-term injuries to key players means a likely finish outside the top eight this year. With the Kirkby stadium plans rejected and no buyers for the club, the future looks a little uncertain at Goodison.

 

3. Is the clock ticking for Mark Hughes? Seven straight draws now. Funny how you can say they’re unbeaten in ten or without a win in seven. Hughes will no doubt slant to the former but I suspect the owners will be looking at the latter. Of the seven games (Villa A, Wigan A, Fulham H, Birmingham A, Burnley H, Liverpool A, Hull H), only Villa and Liverpool are truly tough games if you have real aspirations to be in the top four, and despite everything said otherwise that is the target. Somehow I don’t think Hughes will get a second attempt if he doesn’t achieve it this season in what is such an open year.

 

4. Hats off to Jimmy Bullard for the celebration of the season. In case you haven’t seen it, he gathered his teammates in a circle and mock scolded a la Tango Man last season. Ironically enough it was at the City of Manchester Stadium again. His return has been the main reason behind Hull’s resurgence and they may yet find themselves in a position like last where they weren’t very good but three teams were worse. He has brought a sense of fun back to the KC Stadium and fair play to Phil Brown for being able to see the funny side of Bullard’s celebration.

jimmy bullard goal celebration man city hull

Genius.

 

5. One of those teams will be Wolves unless Mick McCarthy goes. It took a while but it’s now clear that either the players or the manager aren’t cut out for this level. Time for either to prove that’s not true.

 

6. Birmingham have been doing well of late. They have been hard to break down since the start of the season but Alex McLeish has realised that by adding an extra striker and playing 4-4-2 he is far more likely to rack up the points that will lead Birmingham to safety this season.

 

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 14 Preview

27/11/2009

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?

 

T.


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