Posts Tagged ‘ Tottenham ’

Weekend Review

-by D 

Football is a curious game isn’t it. In the result-orientated world of football and to a lesser extent, life, it’s not about the number of chances that one creates or the manner in which the opportunity is born, it is about whether we make those chances count. United, Spurs and Blackburn did whilst Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Fernando Torres did not.

For Arsenal, their defensive fragility and puzzling inability to defend set pieces saw them throw away a game that they had in the bag. One would have thought purchasing an experienced 6’7 German international in Per Mertersacker would solve their woes at the back.
Blackburn certainly didn’t think so and took full advantage of the London side’s weakness at the back as the Yak( see what i did with the rhyme) and Martin Olsson pummeled them with strength and pace. Not that Yakubu’s deft opener was about any of that but still, it doesn’t take much to breach Arsenal’s defence these days.
Stars players may come and go, but this lack of defensive solidity has been a chronic issue that will continue to deny them success. How Wenger and Arsenal fans must have hoped that the opposing centre-back pairing of Scott Dann and the man-mountain, Christopher Samba, were in the red and white instead of the blue and white.
Still, it was nice to see Wenger maintain his sense of humour, as he quipped, “We scored six goals and lost”. Following another pathetic fantasy week, I’m incapable of such graciousness.
As Arsenal’s self-implosion continues to evolve, lovers of schadenfreude should turn their attention to Liverpool’s faltering revolution.
A 4-0 defeat to a potential top-four contender after having two men sent off for silly fouls and your best defender hauled off due to injury in the first-half was the stuff of nightmares for Liverpool fans.
Utterly slow off the blocks and lacking any form of attacking impetus, Liverpool got what they deserved. A few glaring tactical flaws, which in fairness, are only apparent on hindsight, cost Dalglish’s side dearly.
Although Gareth Bale has had a quiet season so far, that lad still can run exceedingly fast. Like real fast. If there were a time to play Dirk Kuyt on the right, this would be it. Especially so if your right-back is a centre-back and even more so if your team goes down to 10 men.
Kenny goes ahead and plays Andy Carroll on the right after Charlie Adam’s sending off. Martin Skrtel and Andy Carroll could not be any squarer pegs in round holes.
Naturally, Liverpool were torn apart by a swashbuckling Spurs side who look like they have gotten over their teething problems. A huge part of their rejuvenation is down to the purchase of Scott Parker, whose tenacity, experience and defensive nous has given their top-heavy side of attacking talents a nice balance.
Just ask Luka Modric, who had the freedom to roam forward and unleash a stunner from 20 yards out past a hapless Reina thanks to Parker’s steady presence behind him.
Further, Emmanuel Adebayor is still in the stage at his new club when his actually gives a damn and a Adebayor who puts in the effort is a pretty scary proposition for any defender. His hold-up play, distribution and finishing was simply exceptional.
And speaking of teams which are on the rise, the top dog for the past twenty years, Manchester United, continue to show how its done. Its hard for me to even type this but its true.
Demonstrating their new brand of intricate passing football, which is fused with Ferguson’s traditionally strong emphasis on wing-play and carried out at breakneck speed, United won the game in a ruthlessly clinical manner – three goals were scored from three attempts in the first-half.
The first, an emphatic header from a wonderfully whipped cross that appeared a tad offside but was never going to be ruled out because well, it’s Old Trafford and Manchester United, they will do whatever they want.
However, there is no doubting the veracity of the second goal, which has to be one of the goals of the season as Nani gently took down a 40-yard cross field ball, slalomed past three players and rifled it into the top corner from 25 yards out.
That, my friends, is how you strike a ball.
The third was slightly fortuitous -a hashed clearance by John Terry ricocheted off a Chelsea defender into the path of an unmarked Wayne Rooney-  but irrelevant because they put the ball in the back of the net and that’s all that matters.
Which is why Ramires and to a larger extent Fernando Torres, will be rueing their respectively glaring misses for years to come. Chelsea were the better side for most parts of the game but sadly, results aren’t determined by the means.
Games are won and lost and limited chances and the only reason that United and Sir Alex have been at the top of the game is because they take those chances. Winners do that.
And as we welcome yet another miserable week of work and League Cup football, it seems that the ultimate winner is English football. Like Manchester United, they are a brand that never fails to deliver. Exhilarating, high-quality action week in, week out.
Until next week then chaps.

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.

After the Spaniard, It Could Be the Croat…

-by M

“You either sell him, go out and bring three or four players in and have a better team, probably, in all honesty, or you keep him,” was Redknapp’s frank reply when quizzed about the future of his classy playmaker Luka Modric, who has been pursued by Chelsea this whole summer..

Modric himself has already clarified that he wants the move to Stamford Bridge.

“I would like to go to Chelsea. A lot of players would like to go there and play for Chelsea because it is one of the best clubs in the world, and so do I. I would like to play there.” 

He has made it quite clear hasn’t he?

Citing the allure of the Champions League and a desire to win trophies, his preference of Chelsea may not go down well with Spurs fans who are fierce London rivals with Andre Villas-Boas’ side.

Redknapp himself has been adamant that Modric was going “nowhere” during pre-season but his recent statement suggests a weakening of the club’s stance.

It is no wonder that Redknapp does not want to lose Modric, who has to be the strongest skinny fella in the Premier League (much like Messi in La Liga). He has an exceptional first-touch, keen spatial awareness, deft dribbling abilities and remarkable strength on and off the ball. Quite a spectacular player really( D’s personal favourite).

While Tottenham fans would undoubtedly be upset with losing a fan favourite and one of the classiest playmakers the club and Premier League have seen in recent times, it will not be all doom and gloom at White Hart Lane.

Unlike their London rivals Arsenal, Redknapp has shown that he is not shy to splash the cash on players if the need or opportunity arises.

Modric will certainly fetch a fee in the region of 30m and upwards given his reputation in the Premier League and also including the fact that they are selling to one of their rivals. This money should and will be reinvested in players that could see Tottenham challenge for a top 4 spot again.

Assou-Ekotto may have impressed last season but his defending has always been suspect. A quality left-back such as Leighton Baines may be exactly what Spurs need to reinforce their backline. Given Everton’s inability to generate funds, a generous offer may tempt Everton to offload their player of the year and arguably England’s best left-back to Spurs.

Redknapp has also revealed that the team is in the process of bringing in Emmanuel Adebayor and Lassana Diarra. As unlikeable as both characters are given their affiliations to Spurs’ London rivals Arsenal, the duo boast quality and experience at the top level.

Spurs desperately need some steel in their midfield and a reliable 15-20 goals a season target man who is able to lead the line. Diarra and Adebayor fit the bill.

Also, Redknapp has hardly tapped into the transfer market this off-season, he could very well bring in a couple of new faces to add depth to his squad, especially since some of his players are frequent visitors to the treatment table (see Ledley King, Tom Huddlestone and last season, Van der Vaart).

More importantly, you know your squad needs a revamp when Jermaine Jenas is near the first-team.

Another key consideration for Spurs would be to ensure that if any deal is to be done, it should be done with enough time for Redknapp to reinforce his team. A repeat of the Berbatov saga should not occur, no matter how much the price may inflate. Redknapp himself has insisted that chairman Daniel Levy would not let that happen. “He won’t do that, no chance,” the Spurs manager stated.

With all that said and done, it still seems more likely that Modric would be at White Hart Lane at least till the January transfer window. As the transfer deadline approaches, it will be make or break time for Chelsea within the next few days if they are to snap up the highly rated Croat.

Either way, Spurs fans should still have reason for optimism for the upcoming season. If Bale is able to replicate his early season form of 2010/11 and Van der Vaart maintains his fitness, Tottenham will be right up there with the big boys come May 2012.