Thursday, 27 December 2012

My thoughts on the week gone by.

We're back. After a hectic week of holiday season Premier League football. Firstly, we should be thankful for these sportsmen who sacrifice their time with friends and family to entertain us as we stuff our faces with chicken. Then again, for 100,000 pounds a week, I'd gladly be gigolo in a nursing home. But I digress, I just wanted to make a few comments about the past week of football;

Aston Villa.(says a lot about Liverpool)

The English press and fans are so notoriously fickle. Just a week ago, everyone was buzzing about how Villa were a team on the rise owing to their performances against Manchester United and Liverpool. Now, after conceding 12 goals without reply in over 72 hours, the dissenters are back. But honestly, what did people expect? This is a team of 20 year old youngsters. And not youngsters the standard of a Neymar or a Hazard. Youngsters with names like Banaan and Benteke. The bubble was bound to burst when crunch time came. We can only pick two lessons from Villa's earlier perfomances; 1.United have a really shoddy defence(more on this later)
2. Liverpool are s**t. I know proportionality doesn't have a place in football but how do you get beat, at home, by a team that proceeds to concede 12 goals in 3 days?

Manchester United; shoddy defence, rampant attack.

Mark my words, one of these fine days United's backline is going to cost them big time. This defence is bound to dig them into a Christiano Ronaldo sized hole that even the bow legged Judas can't rescue them from. Conceeding 3 goals to the likes of Reading and Newcastle is simply unacceptable.

"Son, You'd better listen here. There's a statue of me outside. I run this b***h! I can run you out of town! Am King Kong this b***h! Go ask the FA. I bet you don't even have the balls to put this in your match report"

Can someone please explain to me how a home team manager harangues the referee and his fellow officials for several minutes before the second half kicks off? Sir Alex Ferguson managed to hold up second half kick off and rebuked the match officials on camera and no one seems bothered. I'd have loved to hear the FA's take on the situation if this case had involved a Monsieur Wenger, Rafa Benitez or a Roberto Martinez. I guess those are the perks that come with having a knighthood, a statue and a stand in one's honour at Old Trafford.

Mancini's emotional outbursts.

Man City's coach Roberto Mancini is becoming increasingly desperate and an emotional wreck. His latest quotable is claiming that the match referee in their game against Sunderland quote, "ate too much and wasn't in fine form". I think he forgets he's a foreigner and there's no Mancini stand at the Ettihad. I am sure the FA will have something to say about this.

 As I have stated on here, severally, Mancini is a poor coach. City won last year's title not because of him but in-spite of him. He is a poor man manager and a bad tactician; the finest example being putting Maicon in Christiano Ronaldo's line of fire at the Bernabeu! United are running away with this year's title and Mancini isn't the man to stop them. Only a self implosion like last season's can stop United, defensive lapses not withstanding.

Rafa the gaffer

I must confess, I am not the greatest fan of Rafael Benitez. I will also admit that, at times, towards the end of Roberto di Matteo's reign at Chelsea, it looked like he was tactically out of his depth. He seemed to hope the three amigos would bail him out of every time spot. Well, that didn't work out.

In came Rafa the gaffer. I hate to say it but he has a much better tactical understanding than his predecessor. By inserting Victor Moses into the starting line up, the team plays with more width while leaving one amigo(Hazard or Oscar) on the bench to inject a spark in attack if needed. Also the move to play David Luiz in the midfield seems to be working wonders. It eliminates the risk associated with him playing at the back; and his anticipation and eye for the pass is more than one would get from a 34 year old Lampard. Now if only the Brazilian would stop shooting from 40 yards and attempting the occasional Ronaldinho pass. 

Meanwhile Ceasar Azpilicueta seems to have found his feet in the league, under Benitez. The defence has a semblence of cohesion. Oscar and Hazard have learnt to track back. Marko Marin has got a look in and promising youngster, Lucas Piazon has made his Premier league debut. Rafa is doing a hell of a job. I still like the ring of "Rafa Out" though.

Liverpool and Tottenham

Liverpool and Tottenham seem to be two teams that have effectively swapped stations in the Premier league. Five years ago, the Reds were part of the exclusive 'Big Four' while Spurs where outsiders for whom European competition was the pinnacle of achievement. The tables have truly turned.

Liverpool's defeat to Stoke last night was a classic illustration of this.This wasn't a small team upsetting an illustrious opponent. These were two mid table teams competing on level ground, with the home side out gritting, out thinking and containing the opponent. An hour earlier, Spurs had swatted aside Aston Villa 4-0. Where Spurs has Dembele, Bale, Dempsey and Lennon, Liverpool has Allen, Suso, Shelvey and an ageing Stevie G. Food for thought, Liverpool fans; outside Suarez, does the team have any world class players? Considering that the Arsenal, Chelsea, City, United, Everton and Spurs have 3 plus world class players, how does Liverpool hope to compete?

Quote of the week.

"Gareth Bale doesn't dive. He just jumps to evade tackles and avoid injury", some overly enthusiastic commentator, during the Tottenham vs Villa game, whose name I didn't catch.

 As we all know, diving is the preserve of worthless foreigners like Drogba, Cazorla and Ronaldo, who wouldn't recognise class if it crawled up their a** and made them 'happy'. I am sure this same commentator would also claim Ashley Young goes down to avoid injury caused by defenders breathing very hard in his direction. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The cosmetically challenged.

Over the first half of the season, I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for European club football. Reasons vary from Chelsea's spectacular implosion, that led to the hiring of 'the fat Spanish waiter' ; AC Milan's less than stellar season whose only bright spot is Stephan El Sharawy; the dismal form of my Premier League fantasy team. etc.

I have a lot of things to rant about: Fernando Torres' fannying about; Silvio Berlusconi's steady shepherding of erstwhile giants AC Milan to mid table mediocrity; Arsene Wenger's permanent state of denial; RVP's bow legged annoyance of anyone who's not a United fan; Mancini's whining, despite having the best squad in the league; real Madrid's insistence on trying to downplay Messi's record.. So many things.. But I am in a good mood so light hearted we go. With some help from some female members of my household, I've come up with a list of some cosmetically unpleasant members of the football fraternity. here we go, in no particular order:

                                                            1. Carlos Tevez.

"Let me introduce you to my little friend"

Boss, we've seen photos of your paycheck. We know you can't do anything about your other features but surely you can get rid of that eco-system on your chin. Apparently, women only find those scars sexy if you are over 6ft tall, very dark; and married to a supermodel whom you married while she was pregnant with an Italian playboy's kid. (see musician Seal)

                                                         2. Cheick Tiote

#Kony 2012

Some of these things just write themselves. This guy looks like one those malitia men who were captured with Laurent Ggabbo when he refused to leave power in the Ivory Coast...or a member of Ugandan rebel, Joseph Kony's LRA. No wonder he gets red carded so often. It's hard to plead with the referee, with the face of an insurgent.

                                                         3. Joleon Lescott

I said this about Tevez and I can't believe I am saying this again; paycheck, scars, supermodels, come on!! Don't believe me. See, below, the difference a simple piece of headgear can make.


                                                         4. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho; proving that Luis Suarez can actually close his mouth, since 2000. The king of the buck toothed ones. He is lucky to have been blessed with so outrageous an amount of talent on the field, that the girls are never far away despite the fact watching him dig into a burger must be a very macabre and frightening sight. Oh, and Ron, we have the technology to clean teeth now. You don't have to have ogre looking teeth all your life.

Separated at Disney Studios.

                                                          5. Demba Ba

Am sure we've all met that person who we look at and one of their features instantly, literally, jumps out of their face like an attention seeking spoilt brat. Anyway, he who has laid eyes on Kenyan presidential candidate, Eugene Wamalwa knows what I am talking. Well let's see what that feature that is on the face of our next entrant.... Guesses, anyone?

Eugene Wamalwa's face; End of joke!

And now for some more dopplegangers..

Gareth Bale goes ape...

Ramires and a 'Nsenene'(grasshopper, or bush cricket, as I was informed)


Friday, 7 December 2012

Top 10 Premiership summer transfers so far.

No introduction necessary.....

10. Joe Allen (13.5m)
This will come as a surprise to most but I place Joe Allen here because he is so economical with the ball. This aspect is vital to any teams play because possession isn’t needlessly lost and he keeps the team ticking over. He is a vital part of what Brendan Rodgers is trying to do at Anfield. My only criticism would be that he’s a bit light weight and for that fee, one would expect more. I reckon, he’ll adopt better playing alongside a fit Lucas Leiva.

9. Jan Vertonghen (undisclosed, approx. 10m)

The Belgian defender has fitted seamlessly into AVB’s Tottenham defence albeit mostly stepping in for the injured Benoit Assou-Ekotto at left back. He’s poised in possession, a decent passer, good in the air and his positional awareness can best be described as ‘the opposite of David Luiz’. It’s safe to assume he’ll take his place in the heart of defence as soon as Assou-Ekotto recovers, consigning the pensioner William Gallas to the annals of history where he belongs.

8. Steven Fletcher (12m)

What more can be said about this man? He knows how to find the goal. He scored 5 goals in his first 5 games for Sunderland. It’s actually surprising when a Sunderland isn’t scored by Fletcher. You can’t ask much more of a striker. Roman Abramovich should sign him as Torres’ personal coach.

7. Lucas Podolski (undisclosed)

So much has been made of the impact of Santi Carzola on Arsenal’s game but many people have over-looked the impact of the German cog in the Gunner machine. Everyone can see the technical ability and the striking instinct but what has impressed me the most is his work rate and ability to track back and help an often defensively suspect, or absent Kieran Gibbs. His dead ball ability isn’t half bad as well.

6. Moussa Dembele (15m)

Another who’s part of Belgium’s current ‘golden generation’. Strong, good quick feet, bags of technical ability, an eye for goal (he was converted to midfield from striker). With the exception of Yaya Toure, I reckon, on his day, he is the best all round midfielder in the league. The reason he’s low on this list is his inability to find that consistency that comes so easily to truly world class players.

5. Michu (2m)

This has to be the bargain buy of the summer. Joining Swansea from relegated Rayo Vallecano for a paltry 2m, Michu has lit the league alight with his goals and assists, currently the joint top scorer in the league. He is the toast of fantasy football regulars looking for a reasonably priced yet consistent performer. To think Jordan Henderson is always in the frame for the Three Lions and this man will never sniff the Spain squad shows just how much La Roja are light years of class ahead of England. His brace at Arsenal last week was an example of FIFA-esque fininshing as an article on put it.

4. Oscar (25m)
If you haven’t seen this baby-faced Brazilian play, check out his second goal, for Chelsea, against Juventus on matchday 1 of the Champions League. Just from that play, the vision, the speed of thought, the mastery of the space-time continuum, the awareness, the technique, the composure, the nervelessness(this was his CL debut), is there for all to SEE . Just for cheekiness, he scored almost as many goals (5) in the Champions League this season, as Man City(6)

3. Eden Hazard (32m)

Despite his noticeable drop off in explosive performances of recent, the 21 year old Belgian has been a revelation. His quick turns and explosiveness over the first few yards have left many a marker bamboozled. Of recent, one gets the feeling that the shambles going on at Chelsea, coupled with lack of rotation has affected his form. One gets chills thinking about what would happen if he acclamatised and stopped having momentary lapses in concentration like we witnessed against Shaktar Donetsk at the Donbass Arena.

2. Robin van Persie = (Traitor, Judas, Will-never-be-a-legend-for-any-club, Should-get-injured-soon)
 ... No photo available, not in a United jersey. Instead...

1. Santi Carzola (12m)

I will let EPL commentators have their say about the tiniest man in the league. These are some the words that have been used to describe Carzola’s passes, at one point or another, this season; audacious, heavenly, delicious, clever, sumptuous, beautiful, full of imagination, sweet…  This man is a blessing to the league. A joy to watch. Not to mention he shoots from range with BOTH FEET and plays with a permanent smile on his face. Now if only English commentators would stop pronounce his name so phlegmatically (.i.e. Ca-though-la)

Above all, Santi Carzola deserves his place at the top of this list due to how much Arsenal have come to depend on him for forward thrust. Anyone who watched the Gunners slump to defeat at Norwich, in the Champions League, to Schalke and to Swansea will agree.  All that these teams did was to stifle Carzola and the game was up for the Arsenal. Yes, RVP is scoring for United. Yes, Hazard and Oscar made Chelsea sexy again(for a time). Yes, Fletcher is a goal machine. But all these players’  teams know how to win without those players. Carzola has become Arsenal. Basically, the name has changed from RVP FC to Santi Carzola FC. Let’s hope City and United don’t start hovering around the Emirates in the summer!

Thanks for reading, have a nice weekend. Feel free to leave comments.