Tag Archives: Blackburn

Top Players by Club – Part 1 of 4


Welcome to our look at the players that made the Premier League as watchable as ever, earned the respect of their peer group and endeared themself to their club’s fanbase – here’s our top player from every side:

Arsenal

Alex Song Arsenal Football Soccer Cameroon

melodic at the emirates

In a season dominated by the rampant Dutchman up front, Alex Song has been overlooked by many in a year of progress for the Gunners. Without Wilshere for most of the campaign, Song has established himself as a cunning midfielder with the nous to unlock the most ardent defensive structures. At this stage he has 12 assists for the year – double the output for the more highly fancied Luka Modric. If RVP has provided the goals, then Song has provided midfield authority across the pitch, proving he’s more than just a changing hair style. Wenger’s midfield mob for 2013 looks outstanding with the resurgent Rosicky, returning Wilshere and Diaby, Song, Walcott and a crafty Benayoun inflating the ballooning expectations of the red half of North London. It will be interesting to see how the arrival of M’Vila, who is considered a close replica to Song, fits into the system.

Aston Villa

Darren Bent England Villa Injury

#sigh

What a miserable 9 months for the Villians and what a fall from grace following the departure of M. O’Neill from the managerial hot seat at Villa Park. Picking a standout has been difficult, near impossible, and the choice of Darren Bent from our ardent stargazing tells its own story. Bent was dynamic and prolific before his season was curtailed by injury; a setback that few predicted would add such significant impetus towards relegation. No side in the league is more dependant on one asset.

Blackburn

Blackburn Chicken Venkys Yakubu

too many captions…

Football for the Day’s favourite shambles have ended up precisely where many predicted. We await with bated breath to see Venkys grace the luxurious Barnsley or bask in the glamour of Watford. Never before has a playing group been so absolved of responsibility for a measly return of 31 points, with owners, managers and everyone else barred from actually taking part between the white lines being liable according to the persistent protests. So persistent, a fan protest 3 weeks ago failed to even warrant a mention during coverage. So persistent, FFTD wonders if seasoned patrons even saw the glimpses of promise seeping from the boots of Junior Hoilett, who’s our clear standout. At times, Hoilett was the only viable route to goal and we think he’s bound for continued premier league action. A close second was that chicken that hit the back of the net against Wigan, overcoming driving rain and the unflappable Al-Habsi.

Bolton

Fabrice Muamba Bolton English Premier League Heart Attack Ovation Crying

Bolton – a miserable tale

The Reebok was a place of discontent over the last 38 weeks – bottom at Christmas, their great escape has stuttered, more than flourished. Picking a player that has seen his stock appreciate makes us feel like a Wall St broker back in 2008. Maybe it was Petrov, or could it be Eagles? In truth, it was calamitous and we’ll opt for sentimental favourite Fabrice Muamba for no other reason than his underperforming heart and his tears with the Bolton Lion. Mates that follow the Trotters fear that the fairly pedestrian (am I allowed to say bad things about Fab?) midfielder, and his feel good episode, may have sealed a new indefinite, uncapped contract with the Trotters.

 

Chelsea

Juan Mata Chelsea FA Cup Spain

thank you for your fantasy points

For the KGB bankrolled London outfit, the league has proved challenging and frustrating throughout. But in cups, both European and domestic, Didier and his merry bunch have shown glimpses of the output such a team of stars warrants – stifling the irrepressible Messi et al with a display of adhesive defensive efforts and swatting the pretence of Spurs and Liverpool in the cup. The AVB saga, that effectively ended a vehement title quest with the early season calamity at home to Arsenal, weighed heavily on the more experienced and traditional lifeblood of the side in Franky, Johnny, Ashley, Petry, Mikey and Droggy D’zz, and it was a new addition that glistened brightest. Juan Mata has joined David Silva as quality Spanish additions to the EPL with a consistently superb first year in the league. Mr Mata has 16 assists and 6 goals in the league – a return that few have exceeded. Mata is a constant menace on the left; the bane of right sided defenders across England. It will be a shoot out between Silva and Mata for a Euro12 adventure that involves more than perusing the standards of Polish/Ukranian pitchside facilities. Possibly the best input AVB added to the Blues, something RDM, RA and maybe PG can utilise going forward.

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Friday Forecast – 4th May 2012


Didier Drogba Chelsea Liverpool FA Cup Premier League

up up and away didier

 

This is our preview for the weekend ahead – ensuring that our views are set in stone to be proven wrong come Monday.

Pick of the Week

Look no further than the Cup Final, scheduled in the evening for 2012. Traditionally the biggest match of the English calendar year, the lustre of the cup may have dulled of late, but for many, Wembley in May will always hold a certain sentimental privilege. The romantics haven’t failed us in 2012, with a perfect script delivering two sides converging towards fresh beginnings and distinctly new periods in the history of their clubs.

Newcastle vs City runs a close second and is the easy standout in the league. Here’s hoping for the type of titanic struggle that many of the “bigger” teams have already produced this season.

Bet of the Week

We like QPR into Bolton @ approx $4 depending on your bookie. Both sides are at home, against teams with nothing but Caribbean getaways to plan for. Expect sincere desperation from the trapdoor-threatened protagonists; for losing money is a legitimate motivation for effort. A loss in this fixture for either club, could see a miserable denouement of failure.

It’s a big Weekend for…

Several candidates over the next 4 days, but we’ll opt for a combination of Steven Kean, Venkys and the stumbling embarrassment that is Blackburn. Formerly a European dynasty, this marks a deterioration towards everyone’s most hated club. It is a little difficult to fuel the embers of sympathy for a side that has been overwhelmed by protests from within since before the new year. Even a win over a resounding Wigan may not be enough – a shambles that even poking fun at has become tiresome…

Tweet of the Week:

The Woy Hodgson XI

Wobinson
Wichards – Tewwy – Wio – Warnock
Gewward – Wodwell – Bawwy
Wellbeck – Wooney – Stuwwidge

#teamwoy

Best Article of the Week

That’s right, we also didn’t know Sol Campbell still warranted a formal retirement. Laughable really.

http://www.tottenblog.com/2012/05/happy-retirement-judas-scum-open-letter.html

What you should be listening to

Before a week ago, the name Tito Vilanova meant less to FFTD than the new Minister for Health in Bulgaria – but it did rekindle a genuine love for an absolute classic. You’ll work out where Mr Manager’s name fits in…

Come back next week for:

Season Reviews, Transfer musings, Euro excitement and dumb analysis as usual…

Have a footballing weekend!

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Big Andy, Little Luis, King Kenny in The Liverpool Circus


Andy Carrol Liverpool Football English Premier League

#bigandyliverpoolnumber9

This is undoubtedly Liverpool’s poorest season in the Premier League era. Prior to a ball kicked in earnest the ingredients seemed well balanced: a Kop hero at the helm, significant investment in on-field talent and a promising blend of youth and experience. How things have changed…

At FFTD we have certainly shared in the tribulations of Andy Carroll as he has stumbled through his first Premier League campaign on Merseyside as if being led by Jose Enrique’s daughter while blindfolded and on stilts. The sympathetic view regards England’s most expensive player as a work in progress and a scapegoat for a typically scathing media. Others have pointed to his exorbitant price tag as a negligible factor; something uncontrolled by Carroll creating unrealistic and impossible to fulfill expectations. Whatever the paradigm, A. Carroll is the laughing stock of the world wide web and the emblem of anti-Liverpool sentiment (accompanied by Suarez) much to the chagrin of reds across the planet.

Big Andy was snatched in a desperate last ditch deadline day scramble for a ready made Fernando replacement. While 35 large was excessive even for a league spiralling out of financial rationality, many pundits listed his arrival from Newcastle as a favourable dealing: strong, pacey, good feet and a devastating left peg – Peter Crouch times 5. What was to ensue is common knowledge, but we feel critiques have been continuously amplified out of proportion. Commentators should disregard his price tag for now, as that figure will be amortised over the entirety of his Liverpool career, and instead focus on the deeper-seeded problems at Anfield.

Compared to the good ol’ days on Tyneside, Liverpool’s number 9 has faced worse service than at a Fawlty Towers inspired B & B. Persistent injury complaints to Stevie G and the disappointingly ineffective Charlie Adam have curbed the stem of incisive delivery into forward lying positions. Indeed, the return of Gerrard has afforded Carroll with his best opportunities in a red shirt, and therefore his most promising displays – using deft touches to release the ever-dangerous Suarez. The Carroll/Suarez partnership has been a rarity across the season in a bane for supporters. The pairing is certainly still in its infancy, but has shown fleeting moments of endeavour and adroitness. The flourishing Rooney/Welbeck attack should be an archetypal blueprint. Most tellingly, Suarez, seemingly not someone to give plaudits lightly, is on record with:

 ‘I hope Andy plays with me all matches, he helps me in game’

In their pairing up front, King Kenny has a platform on which to build a more telling challenge next year. This year’s missing piece, rather than efficiency in front of goal, has been creativity in the middle together with the absence of Lucas to provide some solidity in front of a struggling back four (but that’s for another inquiry). Forthright transfer dealings could arrest their worrying slump towards mid table and replace the substandard, such as Downing, with genuine European talent. An attacking marshal in a central role as well as a crafty winger with trickery and a turn of pace are on top of the Anfield shopping list. To give them a hand, because we know they’re reading this, we’ve selected an eclectic mix of some realistic options for the Reds. If this doesn’t propel us into the upper echelons of footballing analysis…

Gaston Ramirez

It is surprising that more gossip fails to circulate one of Europe’s finest prospects in the 21 year old Bologna midfielder. Ramirez may be suited to the English brand with his powerful 6 foot frame and ability to legitimately fulfill a role without the ball. Gaston has continuously been compared to Kaka since bursting onto the scene, in terms of his graceful flair on the ball and his reportedly unflappable temperament. This trait would be a welcome asset to a growing collective of ill-disciplined players led by the pest that is Suarez. A number of other factors point to this deal being successful: Ramirez continues the Uruguayan flavour and should connect with Suarez and Coates, something that should not be understated, at just 21 he fits with Dalglish’s commitment to youth in his recruitment ideology and finally, a bid of £16.3 million is rumoured to be in the bolognaise stained hands of Bologna already.

Estimated Price: £16m                                                                          Rating: 8/10

Scott Sinclair

Sinclair has been at the fulcrum of an eye-catching season from the Welsh Premier League newcomers this season. 7 goals in 22 appearances is noteworthy enough, but he is ensconced in the top 10 for chance creation and assists across the league. While new arrival, Sigurdsson, may be a more convincing option, we think the Icelandic starlet will go to a bigger club with Champions League action, leaving Sinclair as a realistic investment. There are a number of drawbacks however. First, Sinclair’s strength is his penetrating runs from the left towards goal, more so than his delivery from wider areas, something Liverpool could use more desperately. Second, he has flourished in a 4-3-3 abundant with crisp passing and committed movement, two things that do not necessarily fit Liverpool’s attacking idiosyncrasies. Worth a look though.

Estimated Price: £6m                                                                            Rating: 6/10

Younes Belhanda

This Moroccan midfield maestro is a genuine contender as a long-term replacement for the ageing Gerrard. England’s biggest clubs have been lining up for Belhanda’s autograph for some time now, with the Montpellier man seen as a long term replacement for Scholes at United and previously Fabregas at Arsenal. But apparently, Liverpool are finally beating these clubs to something. Younes knows his way to the back of the net too, with 12 goals to accompany his 6 assists in his 30 games in Ligue 1. Newcastle have shown the worth of French imports in their midfield and if John Henry is to break the bank this year, it would be difficult to move past Belhanda. Prepare to see this name in your gossip columns over the months to come.

Estimated Price: circa £20m                                                               Rating: 9/10

Belhanda Montpellier Liverpool Zidane

A talent not to be ignored...

Matt Jarvis

Some of my Liverpool supporting friends have bemoaned that Jarvis is just the sort of player their club will sign – and we tend to agree. 2012’s Charlie Adam, Jarvis is too good for the championship, but too expensive for the mid table club he deserves. Instead, Kenny will come to the rescue, signing another overrated Englishman without any considerable raison d’être. Jarvis is the definition of the word “useful”, but offers little more, and his signing would mark a step sideways at best. While he has been more prolific than Downing, with 7 goals for the debacle that is Wolves, this prospect would be scant improvement to the squad. This will happen – just you wait.

Estimated Price:  £4m                                                               Rating: 4/10

Royston Drenthe

England’s visiting Real Madrid player, adorned with a simply stunning given name, has shown glimpses that would fulfill Liverpool’s lacking. Drenthe is a consistent nightmare for defenders, something that Anton Ferdinand, most particularly, would substantiate. While not necessarily a weakness on the red half of Merseyside, Drenthe adds a set piece menace to accompany his attacking repertoire. On the negative, Royston saves us from a half-hearted attempt at defending by keeping this element completely absent from his game. Additionally, he seems easily flustered on the pitch, a quality that in tandem with the child-like Suarez could be too much to bear for a restless fan base. If the Everton loanee is considered as a replacement for the departing Kuyt, then two more opposite propositions would be difficult to find – something that, along with his lackadaisical attitude, could seriously hamper any efforts to endear himself to a Kop favouring hard-working and dogged performers. Off-field issues may be noteworthy.

Estimated Price: Free                                                                                 Rating: 6/10

Junior Hoilett

If the PFA’s prize for young player of the season was a genuine accolade (maybe youth was determined by years playing professionally, rather than years of age) then Blackburn’s biggest weapon would head the list. Without even a mirage of attacking support from his contemporaries, save the Yak’s three game mid season rich vein of form (HAH!), the Canadian has been a clear standout amongst the shambolic on and off field season served up by Venkys and Steve Kean. Liverpool seem an appropriate destination for the championship-bound Hoilett, but several clubs will be throwing their cheque book at the out of contract winger. With his 3rd season of English football under his belt, Mr Hoilett could be the best possible option to Liverpool’s woes.

Estimated Price: Free Transfer                                                          Suitability: 9/10

 
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The 0-6 Predicament: A thing of Pure Beauty


The supporters of Wigan, Blackburn or West Bromwich Albion understand the searing pangs of incompetency that they face at least 10 times a year, when their sides are drawn against the remodelled top 5. Away at Man City for a team like Wolves can give serious impetus for such a fan to abandon their halfway tickets and choose the theatre with the missus. Away at Old Trafford is an unspeakable; too appalling to comprehend.

So what does an away trip to The Library, or Emirates as it’s more affectionately referred to, mean to a club battling for its television revenue in 2012?

The diversity of revenues and spending predicates the most nauseating of images for those fans that follow the proverbial beggars of English Premier League football. And it is this diversity that can lead to a trip to United becoming an envy-filled 90 minute ogle at the rich merchants of our town; where diatribes will bemoan Nani, Rooney, Vidic sitting on their racing-car-seat viewpoints. But, undoubtedly, the most dissatisfying feature of this whole painstaking ordeal is the petulant arrogance of the opposition fans who belittle, as if their choice of stock gives them privilege over you (you = Neanderthal preferring self-deprivation and perennial unfulfillment them = accustomed to victory and other unimaginable glories).

When your side is worth around 0.84% (West Brom vs Man City) of the opposing squad’s historical book values, it is certainly difficult to feel anything but abject despair, but nevertheless, the human psyche seems to demand a certain optimism. This cruel disposition is the result of the transient nature of the sport itself; for football is surely the one sport in which an upset is more commonplace than most (the rarity of goals ensures this fact). And indeed, this unfledgling positivity, or should I saw fantastical musings, is to some degree warranted by historical performances. It was points against the supposed top 5 that invariably kept a number of clubs afloat last season – most notably Wolves who beat City, Liverpool, Chelsea and United in a simply unbelievable turn of events. Under this milieu, the dream of Grant Holt’s thunderbolt from closer to the circle develops; nay flourishes.

While a match up such as Gareth McAuley vs Sergio Aguero is simply terrifying for any self-respecting Baggie, it surely would be a thing of great savour for the Irishman. For him, and his playing mates, the pressure is largely off. It is one of the few occasions all year where a 3-0 loss could be met with shrugs and despondency from supporters, rather than rage or ridicule on any other Saturday afternoon. Further, with weights of expectations amounting to a paltry feather, what better chance to upstage the young Argentinian with a grumbling studs up boot crusher, or a neat flick of the elbow when rising for a clearance. The risks really are skewed to the upside.

For the gaffer, the prospects are slightly less perfect. Looming camera, radio and print media interviews must be at the forefront of his balding head. Placid dismissal of the result as unimportant, or good experience, could be met with the perpetual lambasting from supporters that the side is unambitious, while an honest appraisal (“they were simply better”) is never a welcome soother for those same fans. For him, the downside is not as negligible, but even the Neil Warnocks or Brendan Rodgers of our universe can appreciate that the scales of expectation are well in their favour.

For the less perceptive of you, playing the biggest teams on the biggest stage is simply the best – for everyone. A cathartic experience for some, a chance to let your wildest fantasies develop, a chance to herald an arrival, or simply a chance to prove to your girlfriend in Sydney that your team actually exists. There really is nothing like an underdog grasping to a 1-0 lead in the 89th minute with all 11 players flooding back to thwart F Lampard et al. A sort of ironic admittance of inferiority that makes the whole sugar-coated predicament all the more delectable. And devouring this satisfying meal is more than enough fuel to last at least a season of drubbings from the burgeoning class of foreign-owned English beneficiaries.

These are the days that fans relish most. Where a loss won’t ruin their evening plans or squander their job performance throughout the “days off football” each week. (Sunday to Friday).  While a loss against Bolton midweek could conspire to make living itself a task of extreme difficulty until the next match day. Watching your team defend a lead against Liverpool, where you would have snatched at a point 2 hours ago, is simply incomparable to defending a lead against Blackburn when Formica has space down the right…(even this example is making me uncomfortably shift in my chair).

There is only one scenario where Arsenal (A) breathes a sort of terror into any fan’s perusal of the fixture list. For everyone knows that the last game of the season, where invariably you’ll need points to survive as a newly promoted nobody, is not a time for a team in the big four, top 5, super 6 or even fantastic 15. Give me 20th on the final day every year; please and thank you. But otherwise, give me top of the league each week!

PS: If you don’t believe me and need further proof, see Wolves fans’ reactions when they lost to West Brom. QED.

PPS: Any Spurs fan that thinks it’s a top 6 – fuck off and come back when you’ve won something. QED.


		
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