Friday, September 28, 2007

Boris goes bowling

Boris Johnson was only the #10 by name. His quality would turn the nose of even the most ardent supporter of the Tory MP. This famous moment of rugby, I mean football happened back in 2006 in a charity match between Germany and England. Arsenal won't be calling.

This hilarious video shows Boris bowling over German Maurizio Gaudino:


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gabriel Agbonlahor

I’ll tell you what, after the impressive display over the weekend against Everton, Aston Villa have a start in the making with Gabriel Agbonlahor.

While Gareth Barry and Ashley Young have been good, Agbonlahor been Villa’s best player this season with his sights set on and England call up which he is really starting to deserve. At age 20, his potential is outstanding.

The finest example of this was a sublime piece of ball control against Everton that saw Agbonlahor beat the offside, receive a goal kick from 70 yards, kill the ball’s pace and then slide it past keeper Stefan Wessels perfectly. I was almost as good as Dennis Bergkamp’s winner against Argentina in the ’98 World Cup knock-out round.

He’s been a consistent starter since Martin O’Neill arrived at Villa Park and has steadily improved to the point where every team is aware of his threat going in. He lead Villa in scoring last season with 10 goals and has already netted 4 this season including the winner against Chelsea three weeks ago.

Agbonlahor has a Nigerian father and Scottish mother. He’s got an accent so thick you can hardly understand him. His first season at the Aston Villa academy was in 2002 where he scored 9 goals in 18 appearances. The next season he scored a huge 35 goals in 29 games in the 2003 season, and followed with 18 goals in 22 games the next season. That’s 62 goals in 71 appearances. By any standard an impressive youth record, in the remaining 37 games he played for the reserves, he netted 19 more times.

His promise was rewarded as he scored in his March 2006 debut against Everton. Agbonlahor is developing a reputation for scoring against the big teams. He’s fearless, quick and technically gifted, he’ll continue to make an impact in the Premiership and should soon have his first senior cap.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

The Normal One and his ordinary team

Harsh or not, Chelsea were never really in it and were never going after more than a draw anyway. Manchester United beat them solidly and the red card did nothing more than distract from the inevitable result anyway: Chelsea fought but in the end were ordinary.

The first 20 minutes saw some amazing technical football. Pinpoint 50 yard passes, excellent movement, trickery; it all made for a tempting encounter. But soon after the game began to grind as it became clear that United were getting the better of the rub. Slowly, and red card aside, Chelsea began to retreat into a shell and as the minutes passes play more and more for a draw.

The crowd said it all as they began to sign their favorite Mourinho song and call the team “Steve Clark’s Blue and White Army”. Why wasn’t Clark, a man more than capable, given his chance? I can guarantee the players would have reacted better.

Jon Obi Mikel’s red card was used as a talking point for the disappointing result, but it was just a way to deflect the barbs. Chelsea went down a goal on the stroke of half time and spend the first 25 minutes of the second half swimming around the pitch soaking up United’s pressure and not even looking like getting in a scoring position. The funny thing is that Chelsea were already starting to do that before the red card.

I’ll give the Chelsea players some credit, they came out fighting. Even Andiry Shevchenko (who had more to prove than anyone) and his worn out legs gave it a go but it never jelled, did it? He got no support as Essien and the rest of midfield kept their distance from the front man, guess the only support he has is in the directors box, maybe Ballack will support him when he returns. For the rest of the players, I am sure they would have traded the billions for Mourinho in a second.

The stats tell it all: United were ahead on possession, shots on target, and corners were 10-1. And they were ahead in all these categories before the red card. The most telling stat, Chelsea had one single shot on target, can anyone remember who it was?

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Did anyone else notice who was sitting with Abramovich?

Well, next stop is Rumor Central. Did anyone else notice who was sitting with Roman Abramovich at the game versus Manchester United yesterday? None other than Dutch national coach and former Ajax and AC Milan star Marco van Basten.

Means nothing you say? He was there by someone else’s invite you say? When has a national team manager ever come to a game and sat behind the owner who was looking down the barrel of an ordinary manager and not have it mean something?

If Marco van Basten was there to see Dutch players, then I don’t know who save for Edwin van der Sar or Salomon Kalou who hardly played. No, friends, if Avram Grant can’t make it happen you can bet Chelsea have shown the world their cards and made it clear who they have in mind to replace him.

That director’s box can sure tell a story. Against Rosenborg ‘ol Roman sat there and laughed it up with a little cutie. Yesterday, everyone (even van Basten) jumped to attention when Roman applauded, the most comic being how he was the only one clapping when Shevchenko came off and everyone suddenly started clapping as well. As Mel Brooks said, “it’s good to be the king“.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rotating into a downward spiral

How many times have you seen it when a coach decides “right, I’ve got a big squad now, I am going to keep everyone rested” only to see the performances of the team turn stale and the results suffer? Liverpool showed just that against Birmingham City today in a boring game. Last week Benitez rotated players and also drew 0-0 against Portsmouth.

Liverpool went close a few times but it was all very ponderous in the end as Birmingham showed some character to deny Liverpool any space near the box and maintain a disciplined draw. Not the most interesting football but a point away is a point away.

I accused Birmingham of being one of the Premiership’s worst three, I can say I was wrong, they might be one of the most boring three but they showed they are a tough squad.

For Liverpool, Rafael Benitez left Fernando Torres out of the starting line-up again. When he finally came on at the hour mark he looked the best player on the pitch but by that point Birmingham's had already parked their team bus in front of goal.

Ryan Babel was unimpressive, Voronin wayward, Kuyt strong but unfocused and Steven Gerrard struggled to make ends meet with any of them.

Over and over again coaches think they can rotate their way to success. Some rotation is vital but when you have players with the look on their faces like Torres did on the bench, you better think twice. The kid is there to score and looks hungry: let him loose. Play your best 11 and rotate one or two at a time. If Rafael Benitez thinks he can rotate his way to success he’ll look back and see a rested team 15 points adrift.

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Special One can’t coach in England and why Chelsea lost the plot

Tottenham fans will just have to sign and Jol over. Even if the post at White Hart Lane were open, Jose Mourinho has agreed not to return to the Premiership until next season as part of his multi-million pound settlement with Chelsea.

It must appear I am obsessed with this story, and to some degree I am. I am still shocked at the idiocy of it all. Maybe it’s just my failure to understand Russian businessmen or the arrogance of the super rich. Maybe I just liked Mourinho and didn’t want to see him leave. I would sure like to know to what degree Avram Grant actively undermined Jose Mourinho to get his job. Maybe I am just a conspiracy theorist, I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that if Mourinho cannot take another job in the Premier League until next season, then it means Chelsea think he’ll return to haunt them. If so it means they know what they had in their hands and save for the inability of an owner to let the man do his job, he was the Special One. Chelsea have the richest owner, but he can’t manage the club. If Mourinho went to another Premiership club and beat them, well, you can just see the white handkerchiefs from the crowd now.

Look at it this way: you own a Formula 1 team, and you hire a designer who designs a world-beating car and brings you 2 World Championships in 2 years. Then, you tell the designer the car was not pretty enough and you wanted a more attractive car. So, good soldier you designer is, tries to do it, but in the process you see him turning inside out as two things start to happen: he starts to betray his principles and starts to feel like his effort so far was not good enough.
Can you think of a more corrosive force?

What manager on earth says to himself “hey, I am going to play attractive football and once my team does that, I am going to try and get results”?? None. And that’s why Roman Abramovich should sell Chelsea because he’ll never succeed being the hands on owner that he is.

Good management means hiring good people and letting them be creative and getting results with their quirks intact.

The problem with having the best manager in the world is that your owner and fans start to take winning for granted and assume trophies. While Abramovich probably reasoned that since his team was good enough, they could loosen the ropes and play more attractive –you know, step it up another level. It doesn’t work that way: a team has a certain character and you accept it for what it is. Another level is not necessarily another level.

The best example I can think of is Bolton. When Sammy Lee took over, he said he wanted to see more attractive football, but what he’s gotten is a slew of players who have forgotten the basics. Sammy Lee went for attractive rather than results, assuming he already had a good team. He did. But the focus was lost and that is what happened to Chelsea when the king proclaimed he wanted something prettier, what he got was a mess.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Sensational twist emerges in Mourinho departure

It has been revealed that Avram Grant began his preperations to become Chelsea manager over a week ago. It has emerged that Grant contacted the Isreali FA and demanded a coaching license. He was quoted as saying "I need a Pro License and I need it in a hurry".

Grant and everyone around the departure claims that the decision was taken in an emergency meeting but he and insiders apparently knew in advance and was likely a player in the drama as it has also emerged he was querying the players for information about the training sessions. Grant was confirmed as Chelsea's new manager the day after Mourinho left.

Grant contacted Amnon Raz, an Isreali football official a shocking six months ago and asked about getting Pro Licence. It didn’t go any further at the time. But the latest call took an altogether different tone. Grant wanted to know the fastest way of getting the certification required to manage in the Premier League.

It appears clear now that Roman Abramovich appointed Avram Grant in case the relationship with Mourinho did not improve, there was never any meaning behind the position he invented nor the intention to work cooperatively with the manager. Grant had every incentive to undermine, backbite, and look for a way to unseat Mourinho.

He has done just that and I am certain the players know it. I can’t imagine anyone on the team save for a few of Mourinho’s whipping boys including Andiry Shevchenko will want to play for him.

The story thickens when it appears Grant faxed details of his career to Isreal on Thursday and was immediately granted a letter to UEFA asking to treat the situation with haste.

While the upper echelons of the club try and paint over the emerging turmoil, only the pitch will demonstrate how quickly a club can become dysfunctional. It’s no way to treat a manager that has brought more success in 3 seasons than 50 previous years.


Premiership’s worst three teams so far this season

The Premiership table aside, the three worst teams in the Premiership so far this season are Derby County, Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City.

Far and away the worst has been Derby. They are a decent side but don’t seem up to the pace and pressure of the Premiership. When you reach the Premiership, you have to spend. Derby has not spent much and it’s showing. Reading was successful last season without spending the money but they were a different side than Derby, Reading could run and score goals. Derby has a shocking -11 goal difference and has yet to score an away goal this season. To stay up your first season in you absolutely must force some draws and an occasional win away. Derby don’t look capable despite a hard fought first win of the season against Newcastle during the week.

Bolton are lost and in freefall. Bottom of the table, they have completely forgotten how to do the basics. Sammy Lee doesn’t seem capable of holding the squad together and is allowing tactical lapses to continue. When you watch this new version of Bolton, you don’t see that compactness of the Allardyce teams of the past. The players lack discipline and this looks like the end result of bringing in a lot of players with past troubles: when you lose a manager capable of keeping the difficult personalities in check, it works, but Sammy Lee just can’t. Bolton have scored three points, and the only light at the end of their defensive trouble tunnel is at least they can score a few goals.

Birmingham has scored a few points this season but it’s been a lucky 7 points. 12th place could easily be 16th as there are a number of teams tied at that points total. Three of Birmingham’s points came against a weak Bolton side, a result badly needed to survive this season but a result achieved amidst a host of problem. The problem with Birmingham is that they are not terrible in any part of the pitch, but they don’t excel anywhere either. A side like that can only really rely on luck to survive this season.

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Chelsea to become revolving door

You think rumors that Jose Mourinho might have lost the dressing room might be true? Well, look at the quotes below and judge for yourself. Mourinho sits by the phone waiting for a call from Tottenham, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Coaches all over Europe are wondering if Mourinho’s claim of “I am waiting for the phone calls. I want to enjoy my life but I want to work” will mean they don’t work.

Along with Mourinho's exit have been a number of key coaches and scouts. Avram Grant looks woefully unqualified to fill the hole left at the club and I doubt he can get the players to play for him. It has been revealed that at the end of training Grant would milk the players for information about whether they were satisfied with the training sessions.

Defender Ricardo Carvalho: "It is a very sad day for me and the team. I had a big offer from Real Madrid but I stayed at Chelsea because of Mourinho."

Florent Malouda: "I joined Chelsea because of my first meeting with Mourinho."

Michael Essien and Paulo Ferreira have already declared their dismay and likeliness to want to go and Frank Lampard, who waited to sign a new contract, is a 99% certainty to go and will likely follow Mourinho wherever he goes.

Claude Makelele: "This news was like a bomb for me. I would never have believed we would see the exit of the coach just two months into the season”

Didier is said to be furious with the club and friends say it's a matter of when and not if he'll leave the club.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mourinho the next manager at Tottenham??

Jose Mourinho has quit Chelsea in a shock move. Will he become the new Tottenham Hotspur manager and stay in the Premiership?

Bookmakers have already set the odds at 5:1 to take over from Martin Jol and I think its even more likely than that, why? He likes London and wants to school his kids there. He’s said that many times already. I see no reason he wouldn’t stay also because he loves the style of football in the Premiership even though he’s accused of defensive tactics.

Spurs seem bent on pushing Martin Jol out of the door, but lets not forget that there will be a host of clubs all over Europe throwing cash at The Special One. We can start with Barcelona where he used to be an assistant. There have been rumors at the Catalan side that Frank Rijkaard is on his way out.

This could get interesting. I for one hope he stays in England.

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Chelsea lose manager, and it was not by mutual consent

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has shocked us all by quitting as manager of Chelsea, the team which he’d let to 2 Premiership titles and seemed to all but own in his time there. The press releases claim mutual consent but that’s just a lie.

Apparently the club held a crisis meeting to discuss the indifferent start to the new season. That’s the line anyway.

The truth is that the relationship with owner Roman Abramovich was too overbearing, lack of funds he was receiving to recruit new players too little (complaining that his squad were like eggs bough from a cheaper supermarket), interference with his job too much, and lastly a reported row with captain John Terry before and after their Champions League tie with Rosenborg.

The rumored row with Terry took place after Mourinho inquired with the medical staff if there was something physically wrong with Terry to explain his form. Apparently this pissed the England captain off and heated exchanges took place. Dunno.

A second wave of rumors insist that he was dismissed, but I don’t believe it. The club are playing Russian style politics to try and save face at losing the best manager in the world.
Mourinho, even from his time in Portugal, has never tolerated interference and would not at Chelsea. The owner’s style was much too involved for his liking and over time the inevitable took place. I thought to myself it might have been better if Mourinho would quit because I didn’t see the club having a great season and it started out as lackluster as I expected.

To get the best from Mourinho you just have to leave him alone. Chelsea couldn’t and have lost out because of it.

To me, the club certainly risk becoming a laughing stock, or an embarrassment of riches riding high on the wave of mediocrity. With a crucial game against Manchester United coming, it could begin there.

Chelsea have named new-boy Avram Grant who has massive shoes to fill and has already established himself as the owners boy. He’ll play who he is told to play and be an all around lackey to the dominant owner who he’s probably been a mole for since he arrived.

Personally, I will miss Mourinho’s character and unpredictability. My prediction is a wayward season as the club will be managed on the pitch from way-on-high and will suffer because of it as did Real Madrid when they tried the same tactic. Chelsea are becoming Chelski every day.

So, can the Mourinho to Tottenham rumor start here?


Boy Wonder returns

It couldn’t have ended any other way, could it? Boy Wonder Cristiano Ronaldo returned home to demonstrate what he’s learned since leaving and it’s safe to say, a lot. He drove in the winner as Manchester United won away at Sporting Lisbon in last night’s Champions League action.

Ronaldo headed in a cross from Wes Brown in the 62nd minute and was sure not to celebrate his goal and instead to bowed to the crowd in a gesture of respect. Ronaldo was a member of the Sporting Lisbon youth academy and has praised the quality of his footballing education.

It ended 1-0 and was a hard fought win for United. Sporting were no pushover and fully deserved a draw. United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar had to make a handful of excellent saves in both halves to ensure the win. While at times both team struggled and the matchup became a game of ping-pong, at others it was great football and on the whole a good game to watch.

In fact, on the whole Sporting created more chances, but were wasteful and van der Sar was excellent in goal. The second half saw United win the initiative and Ronaldo was given a standing ovation from the Lisbon crowd when he was substituted for Carlos Tevez.

For a look back at the game the brought Ronaldo to Sporting, have a look here as I compiled all his touches from that game into a YouTube video.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chelsea offer trial to 17 year old wonderkid

17 year old midfielder sensation Kaby has been on trial at Cheslea as the club appear ready to head off interest from a number of clubs to sign one of the brightest talents in world football. Boavista’s Kaby is widely viewed as the finest prospect in Portugal at the moment.

Kaby was born in Guinea Bissau in West Africa, but has a Portuguese passport because of his adopted father, who happens to be Mamadu Bobo Djalo, a member of the coaching staff at Boavista. The Portuguese FA are keen for him to stay in the country so that he becomes eligible to play in the national team, theoretically, he can leave for England and eventually play for the England team instead since he's never been capped for Portugal.

The deal is whispered to be incentive laden and could reach in excess of 5m pounds.

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Liverpool striker chased by Italian and pair of Premiership clubs

Peter Crouch may be moving on during the transfer window. Juventus, Manchester City and Portsmouth are both vying for the player’s services.

Portsmouth have expressed interest, as Harry Redknapp, who has already sold Peter Crouch twice, will make a third attempt to re-sign the striker as he continues to build a strong side at Portsmouth.

Sven Goran-Eriksson is also interested as the rumors persist that he will be handed a massive transfer kitty during the January window and it appears Crouch is tall on his list.

But Liverpool appear disinterested in selling the striker to another Premiership club and it’s been rumored that Juventus are interested in the striker to coming to Italy. Apparently Crouch is interested in the chance to play abroad.

Crouch has slipped to fourth choice at Liverpool and he is out of contract at the end of next season which means that Liverpool will look to sell sooner rather than later should they choose to let Crouch go.

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Coach drops Premiership hint

After the draw with Fulham and the weekend’s loss to Arsenal, Martin Jol’s reign at Tottenham has become more tenuous and the speculation about a chance in management fever pitched. Now Sevilla coach Juande Ramos has dropped a major hint about taking over at Tottenham by saying he’d like to manage in the Premier League, and he's coming to town.

Ramos has already turned down what he called a "dizzying offer" from Tottenham and would stay on at the club which he’s led to 2 strait UEFA Cup wins.

"One of my challenges as a coach is to work in a foreign country. England would be a magnificent destination but I don't have a concrete date. But everyone knows that everything in football is unexpected." - Ramos

Ramos will be in north London to play Arsenal in a Champions League group game, he might now just find out when that date is.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

How finicky football can really be

At one point, 60+ minutes into the game, Tottenham were a goal up and soaking up a lot of Arsenal pressure on their way to a win that would begin the correction to their season. Less than 30 minutes later Arsenal netted a hat-trick of goals which sent the White Hart Lane stands streaking for the exists.

Either Tottenham are super unlucky, their manager is weak under pressure, their players aren’t playing, or all of them. At times it’s been all of them. Underneath these problems are the main culprits: the players aren’t taking their chances and the manager is tactically naiive.

For all the good he's done, it looks like curtains for Martin Jol.

His players made a lot of effort but their soft center couldn’t stop Arsenal from playing. They scored an early goal from a wonderful Gareth Bale free kick curled around the left side of the wall. Leading 10 minutes in it just became too much to ask from a North London derby to end with that score line.

That’s where the players come in. Soft center aside, the Tottenham strikers wasted the chance to close the game on at least 3 occasions, the most obvious one being Berbatov one on one versus Kolo Toure after Almunia was rounded. What is with Berbatov? Does he look disinterested or what? He sure doesn’t look like the player that started his England career last season.

To Arsenal’s credit, they weren’t playing a weak team. They fought, created great chances and finally equalized with an Emanuel Adebayor header. With the game drawn Arsenal did what Tottenham couldn’t and in 15 minutes took the lead with a Cesc Fabregas smash from outside the area and killed the game with a 3rd in the last minutes.

Tottenham shouldn’t have been in that position. They did enough to get their second and take the air out of Arsenal’s balloon.

The worst moment of the entire match came just minutes after Arsenal took the lead when Darren Bent was clean thru and took a school boy shot which driveled wide.

To the neutral this was a cracking game. End to end entertainment and tons of talent on display. We saw two great sides on the ball but defense was weak for both teams. It was almost too easy at times to move the ball thru midfield. Neither team closed down quickly enough and the game could have really gone either way. It didn’t.

Arsenal are unbeaten and Spurs, with a shocking 4 points from 18, are in freefall.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wenger sticks around

After endless speculation over the summer of a potential move abroad to Real Madrid after this season, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has signed a new contract that will see him stay with the club for another 3 seasons.

The official announcement will be made tomorrow.

Arsenal have been in talks with Wenger over an extension for the last few months and speculation was rife that David Dein’s departure from the club was going to trigger Wenger’s exodus as well. Whether something in the back room is brewing or the sting of losing Dein has worn off the manager, I don’t know, but I’d suggest the former is true.

Arsenal have made an impressive start to the new season, this comes as a large boost for everyone at the club as Wenger has been instrumental in the last decade’s success. Arsenal currently sit second in the table behind Liverpool and have earned a place in the Champions League group stages.

The new deal will earn Wenger 4m pounds annually putting him right at the top of the earnings heap for managers.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Liverpool look like champions

I’ve been very impressed with this season’s Liverpool squad, so much so that I’d have to say I think they are going to beat out Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea for this seasons Premiership crown.

Yes, I know it’s very early going but Liverpool have shown they can win, win ugly and win big -something that you saw Manchester United do last season and Chelsea the season before. For all the boredom that their match against Sunderland, they won ugly; against Chelsea they lost a bad penalty decision in a match that should have saw them take the 3 points, and against Derby County they won big. Despite being up 2 and then 3 and then 4-0, they kept sniffing for goals. Something Tottenham, up 3-1 against Fulham didn’t do.

The new depth in the Liverpool lineup is paying serious dividends and so is the pairing up front. Rafael Benitez, that awful beard aside, had made exactly the right decision to play Dutchman Dirk Kuyt alongside Fernando Torres. They play well together, attack the box and offer lots of different threats. When you are defending against strikers, it’s much easier when they are not multi-faceted, but with Liverpool now, you have 4 strikers that can all bring different things to the game and a pair of starters with pace and a great nose for goal. So far, Fernando Torres has been the best signing of the season so far.

The biggest difference I see in the top 4 teams so far this season is how efficient Liverpool are in front of goal. Arsenal are traditionally wasteful, Manchester United are squandering chances and great build up play and winning 1-0 when they do, and Chelsea are uncharacteristically squandering opportunities as well.

While the new look Chelsea are definitely more open and exciting to watch, as Roman Abramovich has requested, they are more vulnerable. I know Jose Mourinho thinks this is a mistake, as I do, but it looks like the meddling owner will have to learn the hard way. Chelsea are built on compactness and relentless pressure turning into opportunities. With this new open style they are exposed regularly as they were against Aston Villa and aren’t really creating great chances. Villa won because Chelsea were all over the place. It was a great game to watch but not the way a Champion plays.

In fact, it seems like Liverpool look like the Chelsea of 2 seasons ago and Chelsea are trying to be Manchester United of last season. You decide which is working.

As for Manchester United, they have a great squad. Owen Hargreaves looks top class and the buildup play is excellent. Nani looks worth every penny, and Ronaldo should be even more deadly this season than last. Unfortunately, losing Wayne Rooney for so many weeks will dent their chances, and they seem to have a lot to integrate into their side.

As for Arsenal, no team is more fluid in midfield and confident on the ball. They also have an excellent defense. But again, and again, the same complaint: they should be winning 3 and 4 to nil and too often scrape by. Robin van Persie is definitely top drawer but Emmanuel Adebayor is a lost cause. He’s causing more problems on the pitch than he is solving and should be dropped. He’s out of sync and should be in sync by now. Arsenal made a mistake not getting a top notch striker and it will cost a very talented team their chance.

For these reasons, Liverpool seen to have put it together just at the moment that their main contenders are all under shifting sands. For my money, Liverpool are good value for their first place and will raise the crown for the first time in a very long time.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

This is why you don't sit back up 2 goals

I’ve seen many one sided matches end in 0-0 or 1-1 draws, but rarely if ever this one sided ending in 3-3. Tottenham snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and gifted Fulham a point in a match that they had no business being in.

Fulham have to thank Diomansy Kamara who scored a spectacular equalizer on 90 minutes to grab the draw against Tottenham. How, up 3-1, this could happen comes down to one thing: playing not to lose.

Tottenham took the lead early through a Younes Kaboul tap in. Dimitar Berbatov added a second shortly after a sweet strike after breaking free on the right. But Clint Dempsey pulled a goal back for Fulham with a great header but regardless Tottenham were cruising. Gareth Bale put them 2 goals ahead again when he passed the ball past Neimi’s near post. But then Smertin got a lucky deflection over Tottehnam keeper Paul Robinson and Tottenham were under pressure again. Kamara’s excellent goal was not a surprise.

Tottenhnam had decided to sit back in midfield shortly before Smertin’s goal. I’d blame Jenas and Huddlestone for this. Every time the ball went forward late on they stranded the advanced players forcing longer passes and lost causes. In fact, the back 4 for Tottenham played quite well. None of the goals were leaked directly from the defenders and they were responsible for scoring 2 of Tottenham’s goals.

Martin Jol substituted Robbie Keane for Jermaine Defoe to keep pressure on the Fulham defense and the team didn’t respond. The midfielders had so many chances to score, as well as the forwards. For all the excellent movement up front how can you pass up opportunities one v one against the keeper and square the ball to walk the ball into the net?? It happened at least 4 times, Jenas was responsible for 2 of them.

This is why you don't sit back up 2 goals, why would you when you have the kind of control Tottenham did. Did you see Liverpool do that yesterday? No. Up 2 goals you go sniffing for more because if you make a mistake you have a cushion and more often than not you find another.

Tottenham should have scored 5 goals putting lapses in concentration or mistakes beyond Fulham’s capacity to score goals; they didn’t, leaving the punditry to continue questioning a good manager who put on a striker to keep the pressure on Fulham. His midfield didn't respond. That's where I'd make changes.

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