Posts Tagged ‘zamora’

Season Previews 2010/11 – West Ham


West Ham

Last Season: 17th

New Signings: Barrera, Reid, Hitzlsperger, Piquionne, Ben-Haim

Key Player: Scott Parker

One To Watch: Jack Collison (when he eventually returns from injury)

Needs A Big Year: Benni McCarthy

Would Quite Like: To keep their stars players and move up the table.

West Ham manager Avram Grant.

Prediction: 16th

Thoughts: Life at West Ham is comparatively stress-free at the moment. A permanent manager in place, the owners have a little bit of money and all their best players still at the club. Yet you get the feeling it’s a very flimsy layer of calm. I’d be amazed if one of Green, Upson, Parker or Cole hasn’t left by September 1st, various clubs have been sniffing round the latter two in particular.

Keeping them seems key; Parker drove them on to safety with some inspiring performances while Cole had a breakthrough season which has brought England recognition. Some interesting players have been signed with Winston Reid and Pablo Barrera both impressing in the World Cup while Piquionne wasn’t awful for Portsmouth last year. Hitzlsperger was capable of scoring the odd spectacular goal in his time at Aston Villa. Hammers fans will hope that these guys complement the spine players above rather than replace them – Piquionne is no Cole for example.

I think Avram Grant is a decent manager who did what he could with Pompey and almost won the lot with Chelsea. His extra-curricular activities are interesting but his wife doesn’t seem to mind so it shouldn’t matter. I think it will be less of a struggle but West Ham will still be in the bottom half.


Season Previews 2010/11 – Fulham



Last Season: 12th

New Signings: Greening, Senderos

Key Player: Brede Hangeland

One To Watch: Matthew Briggs

Needs A Big Year: Andy Johnson

Would Quite Like: More of the same.

Everyone's second favourite team. Watch how Hughes changes that...

Prediction: 8th

Thoughts: It must be quite nice for Mark Hughes to inherit the basis of a very sound, organised Fulham team. Roy Hodgson performed wonders in getting more than the sum of its parts out a small squad, finishing seventh in 2008/09 before reaching the Europa League final last season. All while playing a neat passing game.

Hughes perhaps unfairly gets maligned for the football his teams produce – his Blackburn team played some decent stuff on occasion but there’s no doubt Fulham will be less fun to watch this season. Despite his protests, Hughes can’t deny Rovers finished bottom of the fair play league in each of his four seasons in charge.

Even so, I suspect the foundations will stay much the same with two banks of four and Dempsey or Gera taking turns to support Zamora but perhaps with everyone tackling a little more aggressively. Hughes will certainly want to improve Fulham’s away form, which while better last season, still provides few very victories. A striker to take the burden off Zamora is certainly needed as Andy Johnson seems perma-crocked.

If Arsenal prise away Schwarzer (unlikely given the relationship between Hughes and Wenger) then a steadying presence in goal will also have to be found. Al Fayed has tended to back his managers in the transfer window, and if Hughes can persuade players of the quality of Bellamy or Santa Cruz to join either on loan or permanently, then another top half finish should arrive in May.


Weekly Photoshop – England World Cup Squad


Weekly Photoshop time and this week the theme was the announcement of the initial 30 players contending for an England World Cup squad place. There was no room for the like of Hargreaves and Zamora in the end but there are about seven wingers and a single right back. Hmm.

Anyway, also in the news was Fabio Capello putting his name to the Capello Index – a ranking system for England players. After a hail of bad press, it was swiftly announced it would now wait until after the World Cup. There is one person who has found use for it though…


england squad capello index

With the initial squad announced, John Terry decides to use Fabio's latest technology for his own unique rating system.


More here.





Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 37 Preview


It all went a bit Pete Tong last week as I saw my league lead almost entirely wiped out based on one wrong transfer. I was still debating who to bring in on Saturday morning and was thinking that someone like Gerrard for Ashley Young would be a good move given the formers home game against Burnley. However I started to second guess myself given that a) Liverpool are super inconsistent and b) they were coming off the back of a European tie. It says a lot that I wasn’t 100% confident of them thrashing Burnley!

Anyway, that plan was put aside and I decided to get rid of Drogba as he was listed doubtful for the Stoke game. Rooney at home seemed like a good idea so in he came. Literally five minutes later the news broke that he was out injured. Transfer already made, one injured player in, one doubtful player out. As it turned out Drogba was fit and got nine points against Stoke while Gerrard got 15 against Burnley. 24 points missed out on and my lead is down to a measly 17. The title race between the two Sportboys is back on! Oh dear.


Gameweek 36 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

salomon kalou chelsea

Maverick's alwasy surprised when someone nearly equals their season score in one week.

Chelsea went goal crazy against Stoke, eventually settling for a 7-0 victory. Chief beneficiary was squad player Kalou who notched a hat-trick of tap ins, as well as an assist and man of the match for a grand total of 24. He had only got 42 points all season prior to that and it’s certainly one of the highest scores this year. Following closely behind was Frank Lampard, who rewarded the many who chose him as captain with an 18 point performance.

Lampard really has been racking up the points and has ten goals and ten bonus in his last nine matches. Barring some heroics from Drogba or Rooney, he ends the season as highest points scorer – not for the first time either. Elsewhere it was a case of the midfielders with Gerrard on 15 and Giggs and Aquilani both on 14.


Three Captain Picks:

Four teams play twice – Man City, Spurs and Fulham are the three you want to load up on.

1. Tevez/Man City – Two home games and about the only Man City player you can trust. Always performs in big games and Aston Villa and Spurs are big games.

2. Bale/Spurs – With Defoe out of form and none of the midfielders doing particularly well either, the Spurs pick has to be Gareth Bale. After last week’s messy performance at Old Trafford, Redknapp should hopefully switch him back to left-wing.

3. Fulham defenders or Dempsey – Fulham are always solid at home and have conceded just 12 goals at Craven Cottage this season, better than anyone else. West Ham and Stoke should bring at least one clean sheet. Meanwhile with Zamora injured, look to Dempsey to play upfront and hopefully bag a goal or two.

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.


Suggested Transfers In:

1. Lennon/Spurs – Fit again though I doubt he will play the whole 180 minutes available to him this week.

2. Fulop/Man City – Apparently nine professional goalkeepers isn’t enough so Man City have been allowed to sign Sunderland’s reserve keeper to try and keep Villa and Spurs at bay. He conceded seven on his last appearance…

3. Etherington/Stoke – If you must go for a Stoke player this week make it him.

Aaron Lennon Spurs

Might be worth a pick.


Three Transfers Out:

1. Bendtner/Arsenal – Suffering now that Van Persie is back.

2. Sorensen/Stoke – Out for the season.

3. Given/Man City – Ditto.

Nicklas Bendtner Arsenal

Are you taking the mick?!



Weekly Photoshop – Roy Hodgson


Everyone’s second favourite manager is this week’s Photoshop theme – yes it’s Fulham’s Roy Hodgson. Two efforts for you.


roy hodgson fulham

The wise owl knows best.


hodgson fulham

After previous lean crops, Hodgson was particularly pleased with this year's prize-winning bloom of Zamora cabbage.


The rest is here – I knew I should have done something about the volcanic ash.





England World Cup Squad Predictions – Part Three


A semi-regular feature (ok, just twice) has been an attempt to look into Signor Capello’s mind and try to make an educated guess on who might make the England squad for this summer’s World Cup. When first written in March last year the following conclusion was reached:

James, Foster, Kirkland.

Terry, Ferdinand, A. Cole, Johnson, Brown, Upson, Bridge.

Lampard, Gerrard, J.Cole, Young, Beckham, Hargreaves, Wright-Phillips, Barry.

Rooney, Walcott, Heskey, Crouch, Defoe.


Another go was made in November and there weren’t too many changes to be honest:

James, Green, Foster.

Terry, Ferdinand, A. Cole, Johnson, Upson, Brown, Lescott.

Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Hargreaves, Milner, Beckham, Lennon, J. Cole.

Rooney, Heskey, Defoe, C. Cole, Walcott.


So, what’s changed since then? Quite a lot since you ask. We’ll start with Goldenballs himself David Beckham. A shoo-in for the squad if fit, he injured his Achilles in the last-minute of a Milan league match and will not be fit in time. He’ll still be going to South Africa, but purely as a cheerleader. I think Fabio Capello would sooner pick his mum for England than Michael Owen but he’s been saved the hassle of having to explain to the press why it wasn’t going to happen as Owen is out injured too.

In my last preview I had doubts over Wayne Bridge going just to the low likelihood of needing a second left back but now he won’t be going due to John Terry’s assertion that the role of club and country captain allows you to shag your best mate’s fiance and then pay her to get rid of the consequences. Capello harbours hope that Bridge may change his mind but he won’t.

england squad

Capello's first squad. How things change.



Five months ago David James looked certain to be first choice but a succession of niggly injuries and a relegation battle with Portsmouth seems to have given a chance for Rob Green. There’s no doubt in my mind James is still better but it may come to whether he can play seven games in a month. Either way both go.

The third spot is now clearly Joe Hart‘s after a great season at Birmingham. He won’t play but I imagine it’s to give him experience ahead of him becoming the first choice for the Euro 2012 campaign. This is the least interesting position in terms of uncertainty; barring injury those three will 100% go to South Africa. Next in line would be Paul Robinson I reckon but the less we think about that the better.



The first choice back four pick themselves and they should all be relatively fresh given their various injuries this season. Yep Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand being fit are key to England’s hopes (along with Rooney of course) given how poor the back up is. The drop-off in each position is quite worrying and none of the backups really strike me as being international quality.

Matthew Upson is still the go-to centre back if one of the main two go down. Joining him will be Joleon Lescott who can provide cover at left back and probably Wes Brown who can provide cover at right back. It’s a scary thought if either of those two have to play full back – can you imagine them trying to stop a Ribery or a Messi *shudder*.

The more I think about it the more I believe it will be seven defenders only, especially when you can call on certain midfielders to provide cover too. Barry, Milner, Carrick and Gerrard have all played defensive positions adequately. Desperately hoping for an injury or two will be Phil Jagielka who is certainly next in line.

Should Capello go a bit cautious then Leighton Baines will now be the second left-back while shockingly, and mainly due to lack of any other alternatives, Gary Neville would go if Johnson was crocked. Ryan Shawcross has been looked at but the fallout over the Ramsey tackle has put paid to his hopes. Michael Dawson? Perhaps but I doubt it.

A couple of interesting wildcards would be Ledley King and Sol Campbell. When fully fit the former is probably better than Terry but he’s rarely fully fit. The latter meanwhile has been a revelation since rejoining Arsenal in January. As backups they wouldn’t have to play every three days but I guess the risk is that if Terry or Rio were badly injured then they would be needed more often than they could handle. Still though, it could be worth a gamble.

wayne bridge john terry veronica perroncel

No longer friends, no longer teammates.



Again we’ll deal with the first choice guys first. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry have been there and done that. All are super experienced and in the team. Beyond that it starts to depend on who the opposition is. James Milner has gone from nowhere to possibly challenging for a place in the first XI.

Aaron Lennon should regain fitness in time to take a right-wing spot against weaker sides, while the fact Owen Hargreaves still isn’t fully fit means Michael Carrick will be the nominal defensive midfielder. That’s the Michael Carrick who has been found out against every top side he’s faced this season.

If I had written this two months ago Theo Walcott would probably not have been going but he’s recovered form well in the preceding time. You still feel his one weapon is pace though. Stewart Downing seems to be the only left winger under consideration but I haven’t really been that impressed by him.

Joe Cole is desperately trying to find some form in Chelsea’s last few games – he’s under great risk of not going but at the same time he has skills which no other English midfielder has. It may well come down to a straight choice between him and Adam Johnson, who has been excellent in his three months at Man City.

The one thing against the latter is the he normally plays on the right (even though he’s left-footed) and there’s already Lennon and Walcott in the squad. That said Beckham would still have gone if fit so there’s no reason why Johnson can’t be a third option on the right as well as one on the left too. It could come down to the next friendly.

Shaun Wright-Phillips wasn’t in my squad last time I did this and he won’t be in this one either, despite Beckham’s injury opening a spot. Johnson has usurped him at club so no doubt he will at country. Plus it may also be that Wright-Phillips is a bit average. Sorry Ian.

People knocking on the door marked injury backups? Hmm, Tom Huddlestone has had a decent season at Spurs as a central midfielder with centre back skills but I think Jagielka would sooner go as a centre back with central midfielder skills. Ashley Young just doesn’t seem to be liked Capello as for my money he’s better than Downing but is very much on the fringes.

There’s a real dearth beyond that. Jack Rodwell? Scott Parker? Lee Cattermole? Your guess is as good as mine.

capello england

Johnson and Cole? Just one, not both.



I think it’s still very much four strikers plus Walcott as a fifth forward. Wayne Rooney is so important it’s unbelievable. If he gets injured you’re probably looking at a second round knock-out. With him fit it’s at least the quarter finals woo! Anyway, he’s first name on the teamsheet.

Emile Heskey is under a lot of pressure right now. Obviously the point of Heskey isn’t goals but how he enables others (like Rooney) to play better – the thing is though that there’s only so poor a season someone can have before you have to look at alternatives. He should be fine, I think. Jermain Defoe is an impact striker – not good enough for 90 minutes but capable of being a 25 minute nuisance.

Peter Crouch will need to make sure he performs well in the next squad get together as Bobby Zamora looks set for a call up ahead of the final friendly. Zamora perhaps is more of a replacement for Heskey in terms of skill set and what he’d give the team but Crouch should be concerned too. Carlton Cole would go if Defoe was injured, while Darren Bent would go if Cole and Defoe were unfit. Gabriel Agbonlahor doesn’t seem to be on the radar and rightly so.


So where does that leave us? Well for my money these are the 23 going to South Africa:

James, Green, Hart.

Ferdinand, Terry, Johnson, Cole, Brown, Upson, Lescott.

Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Milner, Carrick, Lennon, Walcott, Johnson, Downing.

Rooney, Heskey, Defoe, Crouch.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 21 Preview


So, a busy Christmas schedule has finally passed and we once again get a little more time to think about transfers and the like rather than having a deadline what seems like every other day. Gameweek 19 was my best of the season in both points scored (83) and weekly placing (14,432). Rooney and Fabregas had particularly big weeks while Birmingham defenders once again topped things up. It allowed me to take over the lead in our mini league too, for the first time this season I think.

I thought I was all set going into week 20, with five players (not counting an injured Fabregas) playing twice and Arshavin as captain for two quite easy games. It all went a bit belly up. Sorensen conceded and got himself injured in his first match, Cahill lost against Hull while Arshavin and Diaby did nothing against Portsmouth. No trouble I thought, Arshavin will hopefully do something, anything against Bolton and perhaps Diaby will help too. One postponed match later my captain has four points and the five between them have just 17 (eight of those by Faye). Not impressed. Thankfully Rooney had played well again and Bent scored too giving me a respectable score of 58.

With the African Cup of Nations putting paid to Drogba and the like, and severe weather still being a threat, careful decisions will be needed for gameweek 21.


Gameweek 19 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Wayne Rooney top gun

Maverick keeps approving, Rooney keeps scoring.

I had Rooney as my captain and he scored, assisted twice and got three bonus (yet again) for 15 points – his second highest score of the season. He really has been Man Utd’s key player this season and jointly leads the bonus point total with 26 so far. Closely behind that week (and level for season bonus) was Arsenal’s Fabregas. I was at the game against Aston Villa and was resigned to no points when he was named on the bench. He came on in the second half however and scored two quickfire goals, grabbed the three bonus and then went off injured. Quite the 27 minute impact. Credit to Hart and Jiminez with 11 each.


Gameweek 20 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Antonio Valencia Man Utd

Maverick approves of Valencia's steady point scoring this year.

Last week saw Antonio Valencia confirm his position as Man Utd’s top midfielder this season (and indeed top six overall) with a 17 point haul against his old club Wigan. He scored, assisted twice, got three bonus and kept a clean sheet for good measure. He now has 92 points and is quite cheap at £8.2m having seen his value dip. Closely behind him with 16 was team-mate Rafael, while Steven Hunt got 15. There were five other double figure scores floating around too.


Gameweek 21 Picks:

Some tricky decisions this week as the weather may still play a part and there aren’t too many one sided looking fixtures.

Three Captain Choices:

1. Tevez/Man City – We suggested him last time (week 19) and he got nine points followed by another 12 last week. With Adebayor in Angola, Bellamy on the bench and Robinho out of form, the little Argentinian is leading the line under new boss Mancini. He has seven goals in his last six games and while that run is bound to stop, his all round play is always a good shout for assists and bonus. Blackburn at home is a fairly straightforward match so back him to deliver once again.

2. Dempsey/Fulham – Dempsey is a player I had for most of last year and is on my radar this season (have always had a more important transfer to do). He’s been in good form and is the 4th top midfielder with 96 points. Always a threat for a clean sheet and/or goal, he plays Portsmouth at home this weekend. With Zamora injured he’ll get pushed up front with Johnson which = more potential points.

*UPDATE* Fulham’s game has been called off due to bad weather. Maybe an Arsenal player as an alternative – Arshavin perhaps.

3. Lampard/Chelsea – With Drogba off in the African Cup of Nations, Lampard should get some more opportunity to be the focus of the team once more. In my book he’s underperformed this season but with a game against Hull he could be in line for big score.

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.


Three Suggested Transfers In:

Some potential replacements for your players who have gone to Africa.

1. Sturridge/Chelsea – I like this option as a low risk third striker option while spending the Drogba money on a midfield upgrade. He’s only £5.5m and while still very raw, upcoming games against Hull, Sunderland and Birmingham (the latter two at home) should provide some opportunity for reward. He had a couple of assists over Christmas and is worth a gamble at least for a week or two.

2. Ramsey/Arsenal – With Alex Song away, a spot becomes open in the Arsenal midfield. Ramsey isn’t going to fill it, but with Fabregas still out and Wenger often rotating his third midfield spot (i.e. not the one not filled by Song & Fabregas) Ramsey is worth watching. He is only £4.8m yet has come on as sub 12 times. His two starts have proved rewarding and last week he scored 13 points against Portsmouth. That postponed game against Bolton will be replayed soon and he’s worth stashing on your bench at least.

3. Zabaleta/Man City – Yes he is a Man City defender but they have kept two straight clean sheets!

Daniel Sturridge Chelsea

Might be worth a pick.


Three To Avoid:

1. Zamora/Fulham – Injured himself against Stoke and is now out for up to eight weeks. I bet he stops scoring once he’s back.

2. Portsmouth players – Half the squad has gone to the African Nations and any remaining good players are for sale to clear their mammoth debts.

3. Davies and Fellaini – Amongst several players on seven bookings already. Minus points are not cool.

Bobby Zamora Fulham

Are you taking the mick?!



Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 19 Preview


On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me the Sportboys gave to you… a fantasy football preview for gameweek 19. I tell a small lie as I’m writing this on Christmas Eve and very little team news is in yet but we’ll do what we can. Gameweek 18 was quite bad for me personally and I only just scraped a slightly higher than average score of 40 points.

Only Richard Dunne and Andrey Arshavin scored more than 2 points and it was all in all a week to forget for me and many others. To add insult to injury I was knocked out of the fantasy cup by someone who had a really random team which hadn’t been changed in months but just happened to have a certain Abou Diaby in it. More on that below.


Gameweek 18 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

abou diaby arsenal

Maverick approves of Diaby's 2nd Top Gun of the season

craig bellamy man city

Some Christmas Goose approval for Bellamy

In what is now a regular occurence, we have a tie for last week’s Top Gun award with Abou Diaby and Craig Bellamy both scoring 14 points. Diaby scored, assisted, kept a clean sheet and got three bonus for his second Top Gun of the season while Bellamy scored, assisted twice and picked up a couple of bonus for his trouble. Elsewhere Crouch and Santa Cruz both scored 13 points while Bobby Zamora hit the net again for 12 more points.

On to your Boxing Day picks…


Three Captain Choices:

1. Tevez/Man City – The overpriced Argentinian has a few things going for him this week. Firstly he’s been in great form having scored four in his last four games while picking up nine bonus points in his last five. Secondly he faces Stoke at Eastlands – Stoke are terrible away from home and Man City have no trouble scoring lots (if not always winning). Thirdly you have the new manager syndrome which usually results in a positive result for that team. No one really know how Mancini will line things up but I’m fairly certain Tevez should be involved.

2. Rooney/Man Utd – I’ve had Rooney in my team for the past few weeks and have felt disappointed with his production, even though he technically has five in five (includes a hat-trick vs Pompey). He faces Hull this week, who despite their recent upturn in form are still a poor side and he should hopefully find the net.

3. Torres/Liverpool – One final striker to consider this week as the Spanish hitman will hopefully play against Wolves at home. The risk is that Rafa will save him for the Villa game on the 29th but the way Liverpool are playing right now this is more important. A goal is virtually guaranteed if he does play, it’s your call if you think he will.

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.


Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Milner/Aston Villa – We suggested him not so long ago and it’s time to do so again. In the last seven weeks he’s scored five points or more six times and got into double figures three times. Aston Villa look like they can last the pace this season and Milner will be doing his utmost to ensure they a) finish in the top four and b) he get’s in the World Cup squad. Great value at £8m too.

2. Zamora/Fulham – It feels weird to suggest this but you can argue that Zamora isn’t in form right  now. Three goals in his last three games plus five bonus points suggests a man who is finally harnessing his talents at the highest level. I still don’t think it is a permanent thing but you may as well ride the wave until it stops seeing as he’s only £5.7m and plays twice next gameweek.

3. No transfer at all – With four teams playing twice in Gameweek 19 why not save this week’s transfer and get two free for then? Or be able to change three players for just a four point hit. Arsenal, Fulham, Stoke and Bolton all play twice and provide options longer term then just gameweek 19. Something to consider.

James Milner Aston Villa

Might be worth a pick.


Three to avoid:

1. Man City players you don’t have – With any new manager comes two things; an upturn in performance but also uncertainty over who will play as he works out his favoured side. Mancini is generally someone who plays 4-4-2 with wingers which leaves question marks over people like Stephen Ireland. Additionally Adebayor and Robinho were dropped in Hughes’ last match in charge – will they find their way back in. Hold off a few weeks.

2. Chelsea strikers – With Drogba off to the African Nations, Anelka nursing a minor injury and Kalou being a bit rubbish, the onus will fall on the midfield in the next few week. People like Lampard, Ballack and Joe Cole should be monitored in the next few matches.

3. Anyone going to the African Cup of Nations – Time to think about who to bring in as replacements, gameweek 18 will be their last for a month.

Stephen Ireland Man City

Are you taking the mick?!

Good luck this week and a merry Christmas to everyone. I’ll try to do a gameweek 20 preview on Sunday but might not get a chance. Needless to say you should be going with Arshavin or Fabregas as captain and getting in a player or two from Bolton or Fulham.



The Six Pointer – Pressure and focus, little Russians & more…


That was the weekend that was…


1. So Man City powered their way to victory over Chelsea but it remains to be seen whether they just turn up for the big games. Mark Hughes will be glad to have won after seven straight draws especially as they had to come from behind to do it. I’m still dubious of the team spirit at Eastlands (any team with Adebayor in it can’t be that determined) but it was by far their best performance of the season.

Tevez looks like he’s finally contributing some goals but once more Given was the man who saved City’s skin with a penalty save from Frank Lampard. I think Hughes was chatting rubbish about the pressure Lampard was under (Compared to this? Really?) but Hughes chats a lot of rubbish a lot of the time.

In many ways the more focus on him the less focus on his under performing players, but the more his players under perform (this week aside) the more focus and scrutiny on Hughes.


2. Typical Arsenal to show that you can spend all week worrying about how to attack against Stoke’s pair of 6’2″ centre-backs when you have no big strikers fit, yet 5’7″ Andrei Arshavin shows he can do the job instead. The little Russian regularly reveals his desire to play centrally at Arsenal and his wish was finally granted against Stoke. He was instrumental in the 2-0 win and could have had a hat trick if his first touch hadn’t deserted him a couple of times.

It will be interesting to see how Wenger goes forward. With Bendtner back quite soon there could be a switch back to 4-4-2 with the Dane and the Russian up front. Or more likely the 4-3-3 will stick but with Bendtner resuming his wide role of earlier this season while Arshavin continues up front in the middle.

Andrei Arshavin Arsenal

Brains not brawn.


3. Since their 9-1 demolition of Wigan, Spurs have gone on to draw their next two league games and also get knocked out of the Carling Cup. With at least one if not two Champions League places up for grabs due to the open nature of this season’s Premier League, Tottenham would do well to regain some consistency if they harbour dreams of filling one of the two spots.

When 2-0 up against a team with Everton’s injury problems, you should not be throwing that lead away. Even when given a chance to win it at the death, Jermaine Defoe contrived to miss a penalty (Keane wasn’t on the pitch). Points against Villa and Everton aren’t necessarily bad ones but it’s the manner in which they’ve been gained which will be of concern to Harry Redknapp. He of all people will know that a cushion needs to be built up ahead of the chasing teams. Especially when you consider at the business end of the season Tottenham have a three game consecutive run against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd.


4. When exactly does Rafa Benitez plan to give Alberto Aquilani his league debut? Given that he has presumably been fit for at least a cameo since his Carling Cup debut against Arsenal on 28th October, it seems strange that he has yet to make a league appearance. Surely when you’re drawing against Blackburn and not playing well, it would be a good time to bring him on?

Alberto Aquilani Liverpool

That bench must be getting warm.../


5. Bobby Zamora for England? I think not. He does get unfair press sometimes given that Emile Heskey is similarly a hard-working striker who can’t score for toffee yet is lauded as a World Cup certainty. However, Heskey has proven himself over 57 caps as a great partner for first Owen and now Rooney.

Zamora can chase lost causes all he wants but Capello will be choosing his World Cup forwards from a shortlist of: Rooney, Heskey, Defoe, Crouch, Bent, Agbonlahor and Cole. At least three players on that list can do everything Zamora does and more. The rest score goals, something the Fulham striker simply doesn’t do enough of.

Bobby Zamora Fulham England

"Shut your f-ing mouths!"


6. Another so-so Man United performance (though convincing in the end), another win. The masters of winning with the minimum of fuss. Zola meanwhile deserves time – the man has no money to spend and a squad full of injuries. Interestingly for a team with the defensive nous of Steve Clarke as assistant manager, West Ham haven’t kept a clean sheet since August.



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