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WE WILL BE BACK

After some careful thought and consideration, M & D will be back soon to bring you our opinions on the events that transpire in the footballing world, particularly in the Barclays Premier League. Hang on to your tailcoats, we’ll be back shortly.

Top 10 Transfer-Deadline Deals

Lille's newly recruit Joe Cole poses with his new shirt

-by M

Deadline days are always hectic and full of drama. Its the day where months of speculation are finally put to an end. Its the day where fans become realistically optimistic about their team’s prospects for the next 9 months, when new players are snapped up at either bargains or hugely-inflated prices. Last season we saw Redknapp make arguably the buy of the season in the form of Rafael Van der Vaart for 8 million pounds. What drama unfolded this season? While this season was considerably mellow considering the madness that took place the last few seasons, we have compiled a list of what we feel are the top 10 transfer-deadline deals of 2011/12.

Craig Bellamy (Manchester City —-> Liverpool)

Bellamy, much like Barton, is one who polarizes opinions. Its either you love him, or you hate him. And Liverpool fans do love him. While he’s not the guy with the best temperament or PR skills, his pace and ability is apparent to all and Liverpool fans will not forget the night he scored against Barcelona and celebrated with a golf club swing in mockery of his bust up with ex-colleague John Arne Riise. Frozen out at City, there were rumours that he wanted to go back to his native Wales to play for Cardiff. However, when Liverpool came knocking, there was no way Bellamy would have settled for any other club. The question now is, with such a mobile attack in the form of Suarez, Kuyt and Bellamy, where will Carroll fit in amongst all of this?

Mikel Arteta (Everton —-> Arsenal) 

It wasn’t a good day for Everton fans as they lost Jermaine Beckford to Leicester (see below) and talismanic midfielder Arteta to Arsenal, leaving them with a substantially thin squad. For Arsenal, who were the most active team yesterday, this will go some way to soften the blow of Fabregas’ departure. While Arteta is not quite as good as Cesc Fabregas, he brings the same kind of awareness and vision to the team. We’ve already seen Nasri and Young move up a higher level after moving to a stronger team, could Arteta prove to be the next revelation this season? Or will he be the 12million pound failure that  Wenger bought out of desperation? Arsenal fans will certainly hope he will be the former.

Owen Hargreaves (Free Agent —-> Manchester City)

You’ve absolutely no idea how much man love I have for Hargreaves and his curly hair. As a United fan, it sickens me to see one of England’s best midfielders (on his day and injury-free) leave our club and join City. Yet, this is an important transfer for both club and player. By signing Hargreaves, they now have substantial cover in the defensive-midfield role occupied by Barry and De Jong. With De Jong’s propensity to get cautioned in almost every game and Barry, being Barry, to be able to call upon Hargreaves as backup is a huge boost. As for Hargreaves, a player of his calibre should be playing for a team playing European football. City is undoubtedly a team who will be challenging on all fronts this season and he will be able to get several games under his belt to aid his fitness. For all you know, he may be pushing for a first-team place this time next season. Of course, the key is his fitness. If he is as fit as he claims to be, he will be an absolute monster in midfield for them. If not, he might just fade away like a certain Michael Johnson (remember him?).

Raul Meireles (Liverpool —-> Chelsea)

This was one I that struck me out of the blue despite the fact that he was no longer first choice in midfield for Liverpool after the summer arrivals of Downing, Henderson and Adam. Meireles had a fantastic second half of the season for Liverpool last year and scored against Chelsea. In Meireles, Chelsea have bought a proven midfielder who can play alongside Lampard in midfield, with Ramires as the holding midfielder. While he might not be as good as Ballack or Deco, he brings much-needed creativity to a Chelsea side that is evidently in need of some.

Joe Cole (Liverpool —-> Lille)

We all expected Joe Cole to leave Liverpool in this transfer window but it is his destination that has surprised many. Most expected the Englishman to leave Liverpool for a mid-table BPL team like West Bromwich or Aston Villa, however he has signed for French champions, Lille on a season-long loan. The absolute kicker: He’s the only Liverpool player who will be playing in the Champions League this season.

Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid —-> Inter Milan)

With Samuel Eto’o leaving the club to play football where money grows on trees (thats the only reason he’s being paid 300,000 pounds per week), Inter have swooped for Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan, who has consistently been within the top few goalscorers in La Liga. With no disrespect to Atletico, Forlan can now move on to greater things and rightfully challenge for European honours, considering his ability. It will also be interesting to see how Forlan adapts to Serie A, having not played there before.

Scott Parker (West Ham —->Tottenham Hotspur)

Scotty Parker must have a penchant for London clubs, having spent a large portion of his career with Charlton, Chelsea, West Ham and now, Tottenham. For Spurs, the arrival of Parker brings much needed steel into a fragile midfield spine. With Palacios shipped off to Stoke and Sandro the only defensive midfielder in the team, Parker brings quality into the squad and will probably walk straight into the starting XI, such is the man’s quality and Spurs’ lack of in the centre of the park. A midfield trio of Parker, Modric and Van der Vaart is good enough to mix with the best of English football.

Bryan Ruiz (FC Twente —-> Fulham)

We here at FP will be the first to put our hands up and acknowledge that we have no idea who this fella is. But looking at Fulham’s situation, a striker is exactly what Martin Jol needs. 1 goal in 3 games in which they have won the square root of bugger all is not good enough for Fulham’s standards. Bryan Ruiz’s 6 goals in the 2011 Gold Cup suggests he is capable of delivering the goods and he was part of McClaren’s title-winning FC Twente side, starting 20 times and scoring 7 goals. Fulham fans will be hoping he will improve on that record.

Jermaine Beckford (Everton —-> Leicester City)

A man fast-tracked into the Premier League, moving from Leeds United to Everton last season. He has now moved back down to the Championship level to join Leicester City to aid them in their bid for promotion. Quite why Everton were willing to let Beckford go is something only Moyes knows. A squad already ravaged by injuries and plagued with injury-prone strikers, Beckford would have played a big part in the current campaign. He has already shown he has quality to cut it at the very top, with the strike against Bolton and his solitary effort against Chelsea last season stand out goals for him(see here and here). If he is capable of reproducing such quality on a regular basis, Leicester City may be playing with the big boys come August 2012.

10 Conclusions: Exeter vs Liverpool and Udinese vs Arsenal

Arsenal players celebrate after Van Persie's goal.

-by D

 

Well, because footytube can only tell us so much about a game.

 

1) Fresh from Samir “i left for the more passionate City fans” Nasri departure and a demoralizing defeat at the hands of Liverpool, Arsenal were in an exceptionally vulnerable state. Surely a testy Champions League qualifier away from home, with 25million pounds worth of TV rights at stake, would be the last game they wanted to play in.

However, they showed a new-found mental resilience in spite of the gloomy times and inexperience within their squad (Frimpong, Ramsey and Jenkinson started the game) . Despite going down to a superb Di Natale header, the Gunners rallied and killed the game off with two well worked goals. Pretty impressive stuff and a fair bit of vindication for Wenger.

 

2) Wojciech Szczesny( i challenge anyone to get his name right without google) was bloody impressive. The absolutely stunning penalty save aside, the young Poland international was commanding throughout and made critical saves to halt a relentless Udinese side. Perhaps he’s the reason why Wenger did not acquire Shay Given or Mark Schwarzer over the summer.

 

3) Gervinho, who looks and plays like an odd mix of Adebayor and Drogba( wow imagine if those two hooked up), gave Arsenal some much needed muscle and dynamism up front. Playing primarily as a left winger, the powerful Ivory Coast international was threatening throughout as he made several dangerous forays into the heart of Udinese’s defence. One of those incursions set up a simple tap-in for Robin Van Persie that effectively killed the game off with a precious away goal.

 

4) It is really all not gloom and doom for Arsenal. Losing two of your star players cannot be good for there seems to be enough quality within their team to halt their dip in form and morale. With less than a week to go to deadline day, Arsenal fans would be having their fingers crossed for a marquee signing in the mould of Eden Hazard or Yann M’Vila to make everything seem brighter.

Having said that, all they need is a better medical team and Scott Parker really.

 

5) And because we love our Italian football as well, just how good is Antonio Di Natale. The Italian international kept Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou occupied the entire night with his clever darting runs and impressive hold-up play. Standing at a mere 5’7, he rose the highest to plant a fantastic looping header into the top corner to put Udinese back in the tie. The Udinese captain was unlucky not to add to his tally as his well struck penalty was brilliantly saved.

A quick Wikipedia search revealed that the 31-year-old has scored a whooping 112 goals in 228 games during his time and Udinese and in the 2010-2011 season, Di Natale had the best strike rate of any player in Italy, scoring 28 goals in 36 games with a strike rate of 0.78 goals per game. Oh and that’s a strike rate bettered only by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

 

6) Away from the glitz and glamour of the Champions League, Liverpool ground out a 3-1 victory over Exeter City. Fielding a strong lineup featuring Luis Suarez, Charlie Adam, Pepe Reina, Raul Meireles and Jordan Henderson, Dalgish’s charges ensured that there would not repeat of last year’s debacle, when Liverpool crashed out in the second-round on penalties at the hands of Northampton FC.

The starting line-up suggested that Liverpool will not take any competition lightly this year, especially given the lack of European football. Dalglish knows that any kind of silverware would generate a huge confidence boost to the club and suddenly, even the Carling Cup has taken on added significance.

 

7) Can Liverpool win a game without Luis Suarez? The Uruguay international was once again the creative hub of Liverpool’s attacks and caused havoc for the Exeter defence with his trickery and pace. After powering a half-volley from 10 yards out to put Liverpool ahead, the new Anfield cult hero set up Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll to put the game out of sight. As delightful as it is to watch him play, it is a tad worrisome that everything seems to come through him.

 

8) Which is why Andy Carroll should step up to the plate. While Suarez was credited an assist, Carroll’s goal was very much an individual effort. Surrounded by three players at the edge of the box, the man mountain showed good footwork to shift the ball onto his left foot. Subsequently, the thundering shot, which was hit from a stationary position, rifled into the top corner. Hopefully, for Liverpool and my fantasy team, the goal will give him to confidence to open the floodgates in the league.

 

9) This was the Liverpool bench a year ago against Northampton.

Hansen, Wisdom, Robinson, Shelvey, Eccleston, Ince, Amoo

Take a look at the Liverpool bench now.

Doni, Enrique, Carroll, Kuyt, Downing, Carragher, Shelvey

And trust me, the starting line-ups are a far cry as well. Funny how a year can change things eh.

 

10) And as a customary light-hearted/lazy conclusion, the Liverpool away jersey looks pretty good. Jersey of the year perhaps?

Yes, that’s how starved Liverpool fans are for any form of glory.

 

11) Just 3 more days to game week 3 and Manchester United vs Arsenal. Just keep swimming just keep swimming….

To our Readers

We’re currently working on various articles now but due to our busy schedule, its taking longer than expected. Things should pick up again come next week. Till then, hang onto your coat-tails (and keep checking back for updates)!

Regards,

M & D

Spaniards Swapping Shores

– D’s virgin post 

As M has excellently pointed out, De Gea and Cesc’s respective moves( well Cesc will get his move it’s just a matter of time) is a profitable and positive venture for all parties involved.
However, is it the right time for them?

There’s no doubt of their talents. Cesc is one of the world’s best playmakers and De Gea, potentially one of the best goal keepers of our generation.

Having said that, is Cesc truly better than whoever the Catalans have now? It is almost impossible to displace the Xavi-Ineista fulcrum, while Alcantra and Affelay are waiting in the wings.

Yes he’s a Catalan through and through. Yes, he’s a Barcelona youth product. Yes, he wants to win trophies. Yes, they want him back. When the men from Nou Camp come calling, it’s kinda like Rosie Huntington Whiteley whispering sexual advances into your ear.

But, he’s leaving behind a team hungry for success, a team brimming with young talents, a team willing in which he’s THE axis that they rely on and more importantly, a team that needs him more than Barcelona do.

At this critical stage of his career, having recovered from serious hamstring injuries, the 25-year-old needs go be playing every single game to regain his fitness and edge.

How’s he going to do that in arguably the best team in the world.

Just ask Javier Mascherano how he feels watching others play.

I’m sure the supremely talented Fabregas will be the heartbeat of the la liga champions in time to come, but the move has come 1-2 years too soon.

Similarly, De Gea may find the move to Manchester United a tad premature.

The expectations at Althetico and United cannot be more different. The Spanish side are very much like Liverpool- they want to be successful, they’ve the players to be successful, but that pressure ends up suffocating them.

As a result, their star players usually end up leaving after 2-3 seasons.

At Old Trafford, nothing less than a win will do. A single fumble will be collectively and simultaneously frowned upon by the millions of fans around the world.

As a goal keeper, mistakes are pretty hard to disguise. Once a shot stoppers confidence gets battered, it’s half the battle lost.

Although the 20-year-old( gosh what am I doing with my life) seems to possess a maturity that belies his age, as M has pointed out, experience comes with age and goal keepers improve with experience, which is why the older keepers are usually the better ones.

There’s simply no margin for error and time to learn at the Theatre of Dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, De Gea is a bloody good goal keeper, as I fondly remember how he kept out Liverpool during the Europa league semi finals.

But like Cesc, his move has come a bit too early for his own good.

And I hope for my team’s sake, I will be proven right.