Posts Tagged ‘joe hart’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Manchester City

11/08/2010

Man City

Last Season: 5th

New Signings: Silva, Boateng, Toure, Kolarov with Milner and Balotelli to potentially come

Key Player: Carlos Tevez

One To Watch: Mario Balotelli if he joins, David Silva if he doesn’t.

Needs A Big Year: Joleon Lescott

Would Quite Like: Everything if possible. Will settle for a trophy and coming above their city neighbours.

Four more players please.

Prediction: 4th

Thoughts: A friend and I spent a couple of hours at work recently trying to predict who would be in Man City’s starting line up. After much deliberation we decided we had no idea. This is probably the biggest issue facing Mancini as he begins his first full season in charge at Eastlands.

Whilst some of the prices he (or rather his bosses) have paid for players would dictate they will start but even then who can you really say is guaranteed to play if fit? Tevez obviously. Silva and Yaya Toure I suppose. Koralov too. But beyond that it appears like it may be a case of adapting to the opponent and seeing who performs.

This is fine but with big games from the very off, there isn’t much room for error if the aim is to challenge for the title. The sheer depth of a squad where Bellamy, Ireland and Santa Cruz aren’t even in the 25 (and are all likely to leave) means a top four finish should be comfortably achieved. Whether they can do even better depends on how quickly things will gel together.

Tactically it looks like City will be playing two defensive midfielders whatever happens, though Toure is known to get forward. At home I’d wager that Tevez and another striker (Balotelli probably) play up front with Silva and Milner pushing from left and right. A fluid 4231. Away from home against stronger teams it may almost be a Christmas tree formation with three defensive midfielders, with Silva and another pacy player supporting Tevez up front on his own.

The options are quite varied to be honest but Mancini is a bit of a safety first manager. My main concern is whether the centre-backs are up to the task. Lescott and Kolo Toure were decidedly average last season meaning it will be probably be Kompany alongside one of them, or possibly even Boateng. Either way it’s not going to be the greatest partnership in the world. What price another defender coming in before the deadline?

No , make that five.

Overall I think City will do well but they’re still a season away from a proper title push. This time next year though they’ll have Champions League football to offer as a carrot to prospective players. Just watch who they sign then…

T.

Season Previews 2010/11 – Birmingham

10/08/2010

Birmingham

Last Season: 9th

New Signings: Foster, Zigic, Valles

Key Player: Roger Johnson

One To Watch: Eric Valles

Needs A Big Year: Ben Foster

Would Quite Like: Avoiding second season syndrome and a victory over the Villa.

More money please.

Prediction: 12th

Thoughts: If Ben Foster can adequately replace the departing Joe Hart in goal then Birmingham will go a long way to having another successful season. One of the surprise packages last year (I had them down for relegation!), Alex McLeish will be looking to consolidate and make sure his team remain as tough to beat as they were last season.

A lot of their players probably over-performed and bearing in mind there is quite a reliance on people as old as Steve Carr and Kevin Phillips, there is a valid concern that this year won’t quite be as good. A proper left back is needed so Ridgewell no longer has to play there while Zigic will hopefully provide consistency up front or a big target to aim at if nothing else.

Carson Yeung’s promised riches haven’t quite materialised but continued defensive solidity will ensure mid-table will be perfectly acceptable and attainable again this season.

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 2

18/08/2009

Hot on the heels of gameweek one comes some midweek action for gameweek two, though with teams involved in European qualifiers, it means there are only six Premier League games:

  • Birmingham v Portsmouth
  • Burnley v Man Utd
  • Hull v Tottenham
  • Liverpool v Stoke
  • Sunderland v Chelsea
  • West Ham v Wolves

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Last week was always a tough one to call, Lampard did bugger all as captain but you would have got decent points with the Rooney or Fulham defender choices. As far as my tip to avoid Arsenal players, the less said about that the better!

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Gameweek 1 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves) – A new feature inspired by the Cristiano Ronaldo award for fantasy excellence over at the Football Guy’s site. This week’s top scorer was Cesc Fabregas who scored 22 points with two goals, two assists, three bonus and a clean sheet point (he came off) in Arsenal’s 6-1 destruction of Everton. It was a fifth of his total score last year and has already beaten last season’s top individual score of 21 by Andrey Arshavin!

Maverick approves of Fabregas

Fabregas takes Maverick's breath away.

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On to this week’s picks.

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Top Three Captain Picks:

1. Gerrard/Liverpool – Rafa Benitez’s side can’t be that bad again, right? As in any week, first point of call in choosing a captain is to see which top four sides have home games. Liverpool face Stoke on Wednesday and will be looking to bounce back from the disappointing defeat against Spurs. They did draw this game last season, which make me a touch wary but I think that Gerrard should get some positive points against Stoke. I prefer him to Torres in this fixture just as I think Stoke’s defenders could shut the Spaniard out.

2. Any defender/Man Utd – I don’t think Man Utd will beat Burnley heavily, the Clarets’ first game at Turf Moor will have a terrific atmosphere which should help the Owen Coyle’s men perform above themselves. I don’t think they’ll be able to breach the Utd defence, even with all their injuries but they should keep the score down to maybe 1 or 2 -0. In that respect I think it’s better to pick a Man Utd defender than it is to go for Rooney etc.

3. Gomez/Wigan – I like to use the third pick for a more risky proposition and true to form I suggest Jordi Gomez for Wigan. He was very good in the defeat of Aston Villa and has an arguably easier match against Wolves at home on this evening. He scored against them last season in the Championship and should run the show again tonight. I’d be tempted by Jason Scotland too but he’s not guaranteed to start.

Gets a captain tick.

Gets a captain tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Shawcross/Stoke – I was debating whether to pick him or Faye (both £4.5m) in my initial team and I plumped for the latter. Annoyingly,  there was a ten point difference between the two after Shawcross scored against Burnley and got himself some bonus points to get 15 in total. They both scored three times last year but I think Shawcross is the slightly better bet long term. Stoke’s fixture list is mixed going forward, Liverpool then two easier games followed by Chelsea, Bolton and Man Utd. Pulis’ side rarely gets hammered though so it’s not much of a risk. There’s even the rumour that he could join Man Utd as cover!

2. Fabregas/Arsenal – Bit obvious this one seeing as he just scored 22, but I think he’s been a bit overlooked this season as people get excited over Arshavin. He’s still going to take most of the indirect free kicks as well many corners so assist potential is high. He loves a bonus point too, even when he doesn’t do anything. He won’t score more than about eight to ten goals but most of Arsenal’s best stuff will go through him. Some big games are coming up for them and he tends to perform quite well in them if history is anything to go by. He’s still £0.5 cheaper then Arshavin too (for now).

3. Noble/West Ham – Scored 14 points against Wolves and is arguably West Ham’s best midfielder. More interesting for the fact he’s their penalty taker so an increased chance of adding to his goal tally. Just £6m too.

Might be a worth a pick.

Might be a worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Aston Villa players – Awful against Wigan and with tough games against Liverpool, Fulham and a Birmingham derby coming up, unlikely to be getting worthwhile points anytime soon.

2. Anelka/Chelsea – You can’t judge too much on an opening game but he was disinterested and not especially involved in the action against Hull. It look like Drogba has reclaimed his status as number one striker at the Bridge. Perhaps give it another game or two but if he hasn’t scored by the time they

3. Spurs strikers – Defoe and Keane surprisingly started against Liverpool, Crouch will probably play against Hull. No one really knows what the plan is going forward. Pavlyuchenko has to get some games too. Avoid them all for now, pick Modric if you want a Tottenham attacker.

Are you taking the mick?

Are you taking the mick?

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T.

Season Previews 09/10 – Birmingham City

11/08/2009

birmingham

Last Season: Promotion from Championship (2nd)

Say hello to your new teammates: Christian Benitez (record signing no less), Barry Ferguson, Lee Bowyer, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Joe Hart + others.

Close the door on your way out: Stephen Kelly.

Predicted star: Benitez is a somewhat unknown and expensive quantity. I think that the potential defensive spine of centre-backs Johnson and Dann and goalkeeper Hart is where the potential lies. Hart in particular will be pushing for a World Cup place.

Needs a big year: Barry Ferguson gets a second chance to prove himself in the Premier League. One of the motley crew of random Birmingham strikers needs to get to double figures. It won’t be Marcus Bent though, I am sure of that.

He wasn't Premier League quality in his prime so would he be now?

He wasn't Premier League quality in his prime so would he be now?

One to watch: Dann was highly rated at Coventry and could prove to be a bargain buy. Seb Larsson was good last time Birmingham came up.

What they want to happen: Survival. A win over Aston Villa.

Nightmare scenario: Relegation after defeat to Aston Villa away three games from the season’s end.

Plan A: Keep it tight at the back, graft in midfield and hope Benitez shows why he cost the best part of £8-9m.

Plan B, just in case: Keep it tight at the back, graft in midfield and snatch a goal through someone, anyone.

Predicted finish: 18th

Why? I don’t really rate Alex McLeish as a manager at this level and looking at Birmingham’s squad, I just don’t see where the goals to keep them up are going to come from. I imagine they won’t be too bad defensively – both centre back signings are from Championship clubs but highly rated none the less. Joe Hart is a great loan signing and he’ll be highly motivated given the uncertainty regarding the England No.1 position. In midfield there is a lack of pace. The likes of Larsson, Bowyer and Ferguson are slow and not that inspiring (Larsson is quite good I suppose).

The great unknown.

The great unknown.

If Christian Benitez fails to adapt then who is going to score? Old man Kevin Phillips? Crap man Marcus Bent? Pacy man who can’t finish Cameron Jerome? (the most likely to be fair). McSheffrey and McFadden are relatively effective but overall I feel there won’t be enough to keep the Brummies up. It wouldn’t surprise me to see McLeish get sacked either.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Goalkeepers

28/07/2009

The new season is only a few weeks away, it’s time to start drafting those fantasy football teams. Once again the competition of choice will be Fantasy Premier League, free to use and with the best features. As with the last three years, Sportboy T (that’s me), Sportboy P (he does exist), the Football Guy (the reigning champ) and a few others will be having a mini-league which we’ll keep you updated on over the course of the season. Needless to say it’s about time someone else won it. This is the first of the previews which focuses on that weird guy at the back – the goalkeeper. We’ll follow with looks at defence, midfield and attack in the next few days…

Dedication, but a bit of luck too.

Dedication, but a bit of luck too.

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Pricey keepers always seem like a waste of money. I’m more of the school of thought that you’re better off spending your budget elsewhere. A cheap goalkeeper for a poor team is likely to get more points for making saves due to him being busy and the relative money you save will make up for lack of clean sheets. You always get a surprise team that’s solid too, let’s not forget Schwarzer was top scoring goalkeeper last year and he was a bargain £4m to begin with. Jaaskelainen and Sorenson were both top 10 too.

Number one last season.

Number one last season.

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Expensive (£5.5m-£6.5m)

Having said the above, you could also view this area as a cheap way of getting a top four defender in your side for less than it would cost to have a top four defender (if you follow). What do I mean by this? Well take Chelsea’s defence for example. All of their likely starting defenders cost £7m+, whereas Petr Cech can be had for just £6.5m. He’ll be getting the same 6 points for a clean sheet and you’ll have £0.5m in the bank. Looking at the rest of the guys in this price range it’s hard to see any value. I suppose Reina offers a similar strategy to Cech and is also at £6.5m – Liverpool should be solid again. I don’t expect Man Utd and Van der Sar to be as tight defensively this year (indeed I don’t expect VDS to be first choice by the season’s end) so I would avoid him. Almunia is overpriced at £6.5m while Howard, Friedel and Given don’t represent good enough value. Everton, Villa and Man City will keep clean sheets but probably in spells rather than consistently over the season. Lots of people will pick Schwarzer based on last year (175 points) at £5.5m. Lots of people will be disappointed.

Cheap for a Chelsea player.

Cheap for a Chelsea player.

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Mid-range (£4.5m-£5m)

Unlike other positions where it may make sense to have some cheap options, some mid-price and a few big guns, it makes no sense with goalkeepers I’d say. Either go for top of range or go for the cheapest. I would tend to avoid this price range if possible. I aim it more at the £5m guys than the £4.5m ones but even then I’d probably be looking to save that extra half a million. Looking at who costs £5m, it’s all reserve top four guys like Fabianski and Cavalieri (not going to play) or top half clubs who aren’t especially solid like Spurs (Gomes) and West Ham (Green). Avoid. There are some tempting choices at £4.5m like the aforementioned Jaaskelainen and maybe Craig Gordon at Sunderland too, who under Steve Bruce should have a good defensive record.

Just say no.

Just say no.

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Cheap (£4m)

This is where I’m likely to make my two choices from. It goes without saying that your sub keeper should cost £4m as he’s only likely to play about four times over the course of the season. Why not your main guy too? It appears that Thomas Sorenson has been deemed as this season’s Schwarzer with 37% of people picking him so far. Stoke kept plenty of clean sheets last season (at home a least) and he scored a solid 143. Joe Hart is a good shout and you’ve got a few other guys there who are going to play every week.

This year's Schwarzer. Probably.

This year's Schwarzer. Probably.

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T.


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