Posts Tagged ‘Hull’

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 35 Preview

16/04/2010

Just four weeks left and 44 points to play with. My lead has been shrinking slowly but hopefully the season can be seen out without too much fuss. It’s starting to get rather tricky given the numerous injuries to the so-called ‘big’ players. Indeed only Drogba and Lampard can say they’re fully fit right now with maybe Rooney to come back soon. The search is on for the less heralded players who can make a difference.

In terms of overall performance, a second shocking week in three (by shocking I mean 1.3millionth for the week) means I’ve dropped out of the top 10,000. I’m still on track for my highest ever finish both points and position wise but it would be nice to end things on a high.

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Gameweek 34 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Graham Alexander Burnley

Maverick approves of vendettas. Reminds him of the one he had with Iceman.

Graham Alexander seems to have some kind of personal vendetta against Hull. After winning the gameweek 11 Top Gun for 21 points against Hull (two goals, clean sheet and 3BP) he decided to repeat the trick last week in the return match. Another two goals (both penalties) coupled with being man of the match saw 17 points coming his way.

There was no clean sheet this time but once again it illustrated the value of having penalty takers in your fantasy squad, even if they do play for a rubbish team. Elsewhere, Adebayor and Tevez continued their newfound high-scoring partnership with 15 and 11 points respectively. Let’s see them do it against Man Utd this weekend though.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Young (or maybe Agbonlahor)/Aston Villa – Aston Villa play twice this gameweek; both away games against basement dwellers Portsmouth and Hull. If they have any lingering hopes of finishing fourth then six points is a must. The fact Villa are away in both matches should suit their counter-attacking style and I’m looking at their paciest players as captain options.

While Milner is a fair shout, he’s burnt many a manager in not one but two previous double gameweeks and his recent form hasn’t been great anyway. Young (Ashley not Luke btw!) on the other hand has four assists, a goal and three bonus points in his last five. Meanwhile upfront Agbonlahor tends to score in bunches and he got his first goal in about six weeks on Wednesday.

2. Tevez/Man Utd City – You just know he’s going to do something against his old team.

3. Bullard/HullPhil Brown’s Iain Dowie’s side are the other team playing twice and while the realist in me thinks they’ll lose both, on the the other hand they face a Birmingham side in poor form and with nothing to play for and an Aston Villa side fading when it matters. You might be looking at goal or two if nothing else and the likeliest man to score for Hull is Bullard.

Ashley Young fantasy football

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Van Persie/Arsenal – I mentioned last week you should keep an eye on him and if Wednesday’s ultimately fruitless 25 minute cameo against Spurs is anything to go by then he’s not far from being back amongst the fantasy points. Arsenal face Wigan this weekend before Man City at home next week.

While he may not start this time, I imagine he’ll be getting a minimum of 30 minutes before a super motivated start against his old friend Adebayor next weekend. As good a differential as you’re likely to find at this stage.

2. Johnson/Liverpool – Sneakily scoring quite good points over the last five weeks after returning to full fitness. Liverpool are pretty solid again right now and he’s popped up with a couple of assists too. Still well pricey at £7.6m but maybe get him in and cheap midfielder rather than hoping that the likes of Arteta etc will regain fitness.

3. Gomes/Spurs – 26 points in three games, still under £5m.

Robin van Persie

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Vermaelen/Arsenal – Another key player at Arsenal bites the dust for the season.

2. Torres/Liverpool – One of the most frustrating players I’ve encountered in fantasy football. So good yet injured so often.

3. Birmingham players – Bottom of the form league.

thomas vermaelen arsenal

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Brian Laws

13/04/2010

It’s that high-profile Burnley manager Brian Laws as this week’s Photoshop theme. Yes, the man who smacks of being a Championship manager (his level not the game) has currently overseen just two wins in the 15 games he’s managed Burnley. Their win over Hull on Saturday won’t make a difference, they’re still going down.

With his lack of any discernible history, it was a case of working out who Brian Laws looked like. Part of me thought Jabba the Hut, while he’s not dissimilar to Sam Allardyce either. In the end it was a classic 80’s TV icon that won the day.

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brian laws burnley

They could have won a speedboat! Instead Burnley got Bully Brian Laws and the busfare back home to the Championship.

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The rest of the Guardian gallery is here.

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T.

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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.

The Six Pointer – Cheap Managers, Poor Teams & more…

15/03/2010

1. While most teams tend to roll over at Old Trafford, you occasionally harbour hope for someone to pull a surprise. Fulham however are not one of those teams (in contrast to their good home record against Fergie’s side) and Saturday was another comprehensive defeat thanks in no small part to Master Rooney again.

The last six seasons has seen Man Utd P6, W6, F18, A3 vs Fulham at home while Rooney now has 32 for the season and a maximum of 13 games to beat Ronaldo’s 42 in 2007/08. Next week sees a big game vs Liverpool but given the way Rafa Benitez’s team is playing, I don’t see anything other than a Man Utd win.

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2. Drogba didn’t do much but scored twice. Chelsea not at their best but won 4-1. Just another regular day at the office at Stamford Bridge. With three easy home games left (plus a tough one vs Villa), whether they win the title will come down to whether they can improve that shaky away form.

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3. At this stage of the season it’s all about wins, by whatever means necessary. Arsenal left it very late to beat Hull, but as 7amkickoff pointed out, it was somewhat inevitable given Hull have conceded the most last-minute goals this season while Arsenal have scored the most. Given that Hull were down to ten men after George Boateng’s red card (more on that in a mo) it was no surprise Nicklas Bendtner bundled in a flapped save from Boaz Myhill with 92 minutes on the clock.

It was a fair result all things considered as Wenger’s side were in control for the majority of the game, Hull’s only shot on target coming from Bullard’s penalty that should never have been.

The officiating was particularly poor in this game and helped make it more a struggle then it should have been. Firstly, Vennegor of Hesselink was a clear yard offside when Campbell climbed all over his back and Phil Brown is spouting his usual nonsense if he thinks that was a clear goalscoring opportunity – the only reason the Dutchman was ahead of Sol was because he started offside.

Watch me get you booked.

Secondly, the persistent fouling from Hull was allowed to go on for far too long. Boateng was booked for poking Bendtner in the eye while Bendtner was mysteriously booked for being poked in the eye by Boateng. Odd one that. Dean Marney (I think) somehow escaped a yellow for a filthy sliding tackle on the touchline while Boateng was then sent off for a second yellow after a hatchet job on Sagna’s knee.

Quite how that wasn’t a straight red I’ll never know, but at least he won’t be able to appeal it. Oh and before anyone says he isn’t, Boateng is a bit of a dirty player – this was his second red card in a month. He also got sent off twice on 06/07.

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4. Phil Brown, you can’t say it hasn’t been coming. Perhaps it was time to part ways at the end of last season, with Brown having kept them up (solely because Newcastle were so inept) but having lost the dressing room following that team talk. As it happened Hull persevered with him into this season and the result has been another struggle.

To be fair to Brown he did what he could considering the resources available to him but given there has been more than one long winless run this season the timing of his departure is a little strange. Eight games to go does not leave an awful lot of time for a successor to make their mark but luckily Hull are currently just three points from safety.

Brian Laws Burnley

Cheap.

The interesting thing will be whether they do a Burnley and bring in a cheap Championship level manager in anticipation of relegation or spend that little bit more on someone quality who can keep them up and then push on next season.

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5. Does anyone want 4th spot? Spurs are winning the games they need to for now but I still think it will all unravel when they face the three title challengers in consecutive weeks in April. Man City are too inconsistent under Mancini while Aston Villa are doing their best to throw it away. They in particular have probably the most settled team and experience from last season yet seem reluctant to risk going for victories in tight games. In their last nine they’ve drawn 0-0 four times. Gambling on extra attack to force a win in just two of those games would have yielded more points even if they’d lost the other two. Something to consider going into their last ten.

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6. If Sunderland hadn’t conceded any of their goals in the last-minute, they would be riding high on 41 points and not worrying about relegation. After a start which promised so much, it appears more rebuilding work will be needed in the summer by Steve Bruce.

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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.

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.

The Six Pointer – Five Goals, Six Draws & more…

23/11/2009

1. Amazing to think that you can score five goals in a game and there can still be a debate over whether you were man of the match. Aaron Lennon’s performance against Wigan ensured that Defoe didn’t come away with all the plaudits, his sparkling play from the right playing a big part in at least half the goals.

Defoe meanwhile became just the third player to score five in a game in the Premier League era and notched the second fastest hat trick after Robbie Fowler’s four and a half minute wonder against Arsenal many years ago. I’ve mentioned in recent weeks that he needed to watch his temper and just concentrate on his football, and with performances like that there’s no chance of him not going to South Africa. Lennon too did his case no harm, and on current form is far and away the best option when it comes to tricky small winger.

Spurs’ goal difference enjoyed a big boost in terms of chasing Arsenal, while they are beginning to take advantage of Man City, Liverpool and Aston Villa’s inconsistency to open a little gap over those three. They face one of their rivals next week in Aston Villa but should have nothing to fear the way they are playing.

As for Wigan the best you can say is that it’s just one game. These sorts of results can have a lasting effect, especially if you go behind in a game. It will be up to Roberto Martinez to ensure it remains a one off.

Jermain Defoe five goals Aaron Lennon

High five, we're going to South Africa!

 

2. Would Phil Brown be fearing for his job if Jimmy Bullard hadn’t got injured in his first game after signing? His performances in the last couple of games suggest that may have been the case. A win over Stoke and a fightback from two goals down to draw against West Ham possibly indicates an improvement in fortune for the men at the KC. Even Tango Man himself seems to be less in the spotlight than usual.

Bullard may have dodgy knees but he has an enthusiasm for the game that few players can match and his energy and creative play have got Hull scoring some goals again. They have a tough run coming up with three well organised teams in Everton, Man City and Aston Villa. Ok maybe not Man City but still! I’m pretty sure Geovanni isn’t injured and he appears to have lost his place to Bullard but I would be interested to see them both in the same team. Part of Hull’s success last year was to be brave, so maybe playing both together would have the same effect this year.

 

3. Before Arsenal get completely written off for losing against Sunderland (who have drawn with Man Utd and beaten Liverpool), let’s not forget that the key game is next week against Chelsea. Defeat would leave an 11 point gap; a win would leave it at just five with a game in hand. This defeat does render next weekend rather important if a title challenged is to be maintained. The lack of focal point without van Persie (and Bendtner) was a concern but it was in midfield where Sunderland won, with Cana stopping Fabregas and his teammates from creating many chances.

In addition to this, a set play was once again Arsenal’s outdoing at the back with Darren Bent reacting quickest after the initial ball had not been dealt with (déjà vu anyone?) While such defensive frailties are a long-term malaise, Arsene Wenger must ensure that his patched up squad is mentally right for the Chelsea game. Win it and two easier home games against Bolton and Stoke follow and momentum can be formed. Lose it and another frustrating season could be on the cards.

Robin van Persie horse placenta

Pin the placenta on the van Persie.

 

4. They were impressive but it was only Wolves at home. Chelsea’s next two tests are the altogether tougher visits to the Emirates and Eastlands. Let’s see how the keenly the absences of Lampard and Drogba are felt then.

 

5. Liverpool and Man City played out a draw which leaves neither going anywhere fast. Man City have now drawn six on the spin which has stagnated them after a promising start. Just one win in eight games fro Mark Hughes’ side. A Hull side winless away from the KC provides the best possible opportunity to end that run next weekend.

Liverpool have one win in six but their habit of winning games they don’t lose (Saturday was just their second draw) means they’re still in a good position. The pretenders to the top four ideally want a gap going into the spring as if Gerrard and Torres are fit for the run in, I know who I’d back to get the last Champions League spot.

 

6. David Dunn is scored his fourth goal in six games and is playing the best football of his career. Someone left a comment asking what chance an England call for the Blackburn man. While I think he’s bit of a luxury and probably not quite international quality, there’s no doubting there are few more in form midfielders playing at the moment.

david dunn balckburn

Quite good these days.

 

T.

The Six Pointer: Three-ways and four-ways, attack vs defence & more…

09/11/2009

A quick one today as I’m writing this at work as I don’t yet have internet access in my new flat (posts maybe a bit sporadic for the next week or two).

1. It’s interesting to see Arsenal’s attack being lauded after 36 goals in just 11 games but it’s premature to think they’ll definitely break 100 goals. All their home games bar Spurs have been against sides in the bottom eight while it was the first time since the 6-1 against Everton on the opening day that they’d scored more than two away.

That said, they have been pretty awesome and you can only beat what’s put in front of you. The 4-3-3 formation suits Fabregas down to a tee and he already has nearly as many assists as last year as well as the small matter of nine goals in all competitions. Sunderland away is next but the real test comes in three weeks when Chelsea come to the Emirates. The best attack vs the best defence; something will have to give.

2. Surely if you’re 2-0 down in a game you’ll take a draw at the end of it. I jest slightly but Man City once again showed defensive frailty against Burnley and the current back four does not seem up to scratch if City are to be pushing for a Champions League spot. They may have only lost once but drawing all the time is not a recipe for success (just ask Liverpool last season). In the last five drawn games they could have instead won two and lost three but still been better off. Needing time to gel isn’t a good excuse.

3. It’s still only a matter of time before the Tango Man gets the chop at Hull. Jimmy Bullard was inspirational in his home debut (ten months after signing) but Stoke were doing fine until Faye got himself sent off. As luck would have it Hull have two more home games coming up against West Ham and Everton and I’d hazard a guess that if he loses both he’ll be out of a job.

phil brown

Phil Brown

4. Man Utd were probably marginally the better team but Chelsea still found a way to win the game. That’s usually the mark of champions elect. A five point gap is not insurmountable at this stage of the season but if you take the big four clashes as the main opportunity to make up ground/build a lead, then Man Utd’s habit of losing them (just two wins from nine this season and last) makes life all the more difficult for themselves in terms of catching up.

5. I imagine missing a penalty wasn’t in Darren Bent’s list of ways to show Harry Redknapp the error of this ways.

6. Is the Premier League turning into a three-way race for the title and a four-way race for 4th place? Of Aston Villa, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man City the latter have the biggest squads but the former two have more experience of being involved in such a race. Villa were very good against a terrible Bolton team and might be better placed this season when they’re having to chase a 4th spot rather than lead from the front and collapse like last year. 

 

T.

The Six Pointer – Intelligent footballers, Lampard’s drought & more…

28/09/2009

That was the weekend that was.

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1. Wigan beat Chelsea on Saturday in what was probably the second biggest shock of the season after Burnley 1 Man Utd 0. Chelsea were all over the place from front to back and it was strange to see such poor set piece marking from them. Bramble scored the opener with a free header from a short corner and minutes later Wigan almost scored with the exact same move.

Drogba scored an equaliser but Rodallega then won a penalty after Cech took him down. I don’t think the Chelsea keeper can have any complaints (even though he does). Even though there was a defender running back to cover the goal line, a keeper preventing a goalscoring opportunity in the box will always result in penalty and usually a red too. Rodallega dusted himself down to score the spot kick and Wigan added a third after more poor defending.

All credit to Wigan who fully deserved the victory but it was definitely unexpected after failing to win their previous 34 games against top four sides. It will be interesting to see if it was just a one-off off day for Chelsea or the start of a similar downward spiral to last season. Ancelotti not really having any answers for the defeat says a lot.

A side note too on Frank Lampard who was stifled by Hendry Thomas. I don’t know if he’s just having a slow start but he ‘s only got one goal so far and that’s been from the penalty spot. Even though he’s nominally playing further forward compared to last season, perhaps the switch to Drogba AND Anelka is limiting his goalscoring opportunities. One to keep an eye on, fantasy football wise at least.

Not up to speed yet.

Not up to speed yet.

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2. Fernando Torres destroyed Hull on Saturday but Phil Brown’s side did not help themselves with some comedy defending. I know El Nino is great off either foot but Zayatte and Sonko were happy to oblige and just move in the opposite direction of Torres. An easy hat-trick for him was followed by a fortunate Gerrard looping cross which looped all the way into the top corner and then two Babel goals from close range.

Hull had actually equalised through Geovanni but unlike against Arsenal away a year ago they couldn’t go on to win. They are quite lucky that Portsmouth have lost seven straight, for there have been no other teams as bad as Hull. Brown’s luck has run out and it will be interesting to see if he can find a response.

Personally, I think he’s lost the dressing room and it’s only a matter of time before he gets sacked. Whether it happens early enough for Hull to avoid relegation (obviously it’s early days at the mo, but of they leave it till March etc…) is the big question.

Easy peasy lemon orange squeezy

Easy peasy lemon orange squeezy.

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3. Unlucky Portsmouth have not deserved to lose seven games on the bounce. After selling all their good players and bringing in the likes of Tommy Smith and Kevin Prince Boateng it’s no wonder they haven’t gelled yet. I caught the highlights against Everton and it seemed they had several chances and were lacking that bit of luck which tends to desert you at the foot of the table.

They aren’t fully adrift yet and have a decent run of fixtures coming up in which they can finally get some points. If the promised investment from Al Fahim comes then there may still be a chance to turn things around in January. It just depends on how much ground they’ll have to make up.

This looks like they've just found a picture of a private jet and just pasted his image on top.

This looks like they've just found a picture of a private jet and just pasted his image on top.

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4. Ryan Giggs made the difference for Man Utd for the second week running and now has five assists in two games, which is more than anyone else has managed all season. Fergie was subtly scathing of Nani when in his post match interview he said that Giggs had the intelligence to get into good positions.

Nani had been woeful again and lasted just 55 minutes before being hauled off for the Welshman. You do have to wonder if Nani will ever make it at Man Utd. This is his third season at Old Trafford and though he’s only 22, there’s been no sign that he has what it takes.

I know it took Ronaldo until his fourth season before he consistently dominated games, but even in the three years prior he had scored four, five and nine league goals. Nani has just five in his United career and I think there are times when you just have to cut your losses and accept that a player is not suited to the Premier League. Nani is one of those players and it would surprise me to see him ever make a sustained impact at Old Trafford.

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5. All three main (i.e. not Pavlyuchenko) Spurs strikers have hat-tricks this season and Harry Redknapp is beginning to make noises about how difficult it is to keep all three happy. I do believe it was you Harry who decided to buy all three so you can’t start moaning about how hard it is.

I’m still not convinced that Keane and Defoe is the best choice up front and I think the fact Redknapp is handcuffed somewhat by Keane being captain will come back and bite him on the arse. Having said that, it seems to be working for now and four goals is not to be sniffed at, even if Burnley’s defending was crap.

The most impressive performance from a Burnley defender actually came on Sunday evening when Clarke Carlisle was on MOTD2. He was really eloquent for a footballer and made some good points and insightful analysis. It beats the same old clichés spouted by the likes of Hansen and Lawro on the main programme.

Quite good as a pundit.

Quite good as a pundit.

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6. Another weekend with no draws and we’ve had just four this season from sixty odd games. I love the fact that teams are going for it and that we’re seeing so many more goals compared to last season. It gets said every year, but perhaps this genuinely could be the most open league in many a year. Either that, or the gap between good and bad teams is getting bigger meaning draws between them are few and far between.

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T.


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