So there we have it… Chelsea are top at Christmas! 7 of the last 10 teams that were in this position ended up taking out the big prize. Can City buck that trend?
* Pantilimon! *
Man City. You have to give this team some kudos. No strikers, no wuckin furries! There were times however where it seemed that they were never going to break down a reasonably structured Crystal Palace side with their intricate passing around the 6 yard box. And my voice did go hoarse shouting “just effing shoot”… But the sheer quantity of pressure they reigned down on Palace meant it was a matter of time before they scored. And it also led to my greatest ever trade of Bolasie to Silva! But that’s just gloating… The sign of a really top quality bunch of players is the ability to adapt to any circumstances and change your style of play accordingly. This weeks game saw 738 passes at 89% completion… Was that helped by the lack of a traditional striker outlet like in previous games? Compare that to last weeks’ 515 v Leicester with 80% (albeit away, but only won 1-0), prior to that was 485 v Everton at home with 86% success (only won 1-0)… The game before however they knocked up 762 passes away to Sunderland at 90%. They won that 4-1… That could all be bollocks but I found it interesting… Or a note to future opponents is if you only want to just get beat, don’t let them play the game like they own the place?
Man Utd… Second week in a row the two Manchester teams get in the likes! Something must be stirring… This time liking for LVG giving us a sneak peak into the future. They lined up with both RVP and Falcao up top with Young and Valencia on the wings… You’d happily suggest ADM replaces Young on the left when he’s fully fit. Interestingly, Mata was rewarded for his good form by keeping his spot as No. 10 with Roondog dropping back into midfield alongside Fletcher (Rooney is now not FPL relevant if this were to remain). How’s your math? That only leaves 3 defenders who were Evans, Jones and an interestingly capable Carrick (although not for us). So… Herrera could come in for Fletcher? Where does that leave Shaw and Blind? Does ADM come into centre mid in place of… ummm… Rooney so 30m Shaw can get a game? Then Rooney plays 10 in front of Mata.. But that won’t last long coz Mata’ll get shitty. Erm. Januzaj anyone? Shit. I think I’ve bitten off too much here… We haven’t learnt much really… Is Valencia looking good at 5.8m? Maybe the like here is because United are just too hard to have any confidence in and 12.6m for RVP is far too much…
Honourable mentions. West Ham (very close to paragraph worthy… We’ll see how you deal with Chelsea and Arsenal!). Taylor (well in lad)… Skrtel (well in lad too). CHARLIE AUSTIN. Watchlist Kyle Walker.
* insert comment here *
Just the one this week and I’m paying up my overdue fines. Everton… SLAP. There’s so much wrong with what’s going over at my club that I don’t really know where to start. This season is not going to plan and doesn’t feel like it’s turning around quick enough. The 3-0 loss to a recently poor Southampton side only highlights to all what I’ve been secretly concerned with, but also secretly hoping we’d be able to right since the start of the season. All teams have a bad patch but this particular one has a stench to it, and unfortunately the way out will unfairly be burdened on the shoulders of some very young and inexperienced players. Why has this happened? As is often the case, it’s all down to personnel…
All the tactics in the world can’t hide an under performing playing group. There have been tweaks to how we set up, some I don’t agree with, but if we had the players playing close to what they’re capable of then it would be fine… Lump-kaku. What’s going on? To be fair he has never been the best in the air, but just competing would be nice? A lot of Toffees complain that we have no Plan B which is true, but it must be hard to devise anything remotely old school or more direct when he just can’t get anywhere near the ball in the air. Not too mention his first touch reminds me of a dump truck… Barkley and Coleman haven’t kicked on from the huge promise they showed last season. The early season injury excuses can only be used for so long… It’s these three that will have to lift considerably if we are to stand any chance of finishing in the top half, never mind top 4 like the gaffer is still proposing. Don’t get me wrong, all of them will be great in time but right now they aren’t showing it. Add to that the seriously impressive Stones who has been sorely missed this past month or two. Adding him brings a lot of poise and creativity in the backline. Of the rest… Pienaar hasn’t been the same since he chased the coin to Spurs and is on his last EPL legs, as is the universally respected Osman and Distin. Replacements for those are needed asap. Howard and Barry aren’t far behind but at least show some solidity while they cling onto what remains of their own EPL careers. Baines and Jags still look tired after the World Cup. From the games themselves, but also from the (some would say) unreasonably fierce criticism they received. McCarthy can’t get on the pitch in recent weeks. Besic will be great in time, but for all his endeavour and flashy touches is too tactically naive and raw right now to be part of the answer. Our only half decent winger in McGeady isn’t anywhere near consistent or creative enough to be a first XI player in a top 10 team never mind a top 4 one. Really highlights how important Deulofeu was (come back Delboy!)… Don’t start me on Mirallas. He isn’t a winger and should be played through the centre every day of the week, or at the very least as an inside left forward. But he can’t string two games together… Lastly, you can’t seriously expect Eto’o or Kone to carry this team due to age and injury.
The most glaring issue with our squad is the lack of wide players to help out Baines and Coleman out. The ball’s getting up there reasonably well but it just feels too (*new word alert*) “turnoevery” in the final 3rd. We’re having players like Lump-kaku, Barkley, Naismith and Mirallas filling in the attacking positions who are all talented players, but they’re all naturally central players.
The only plus so far has been the form of Naismith, but he just papered over a lot of the cracks that are now starting to open up like canyons. Although he probably lacks the class that a fit and firing Barkley has, or will have, at least he gets amongst it…
Sort it out Everton, now… European football and injuries are a cop out and something needs to happen. The glass half full side of me is keeping in mind that the likes of Newcastle have shown how quickly it can turn around if it clicks. Stoke, Newcastle and Hull coming up are as good a chance as any to get the motor running again or there’s the dreaded relegation fight I thought we’d put behind us 15 years ago…
Honourable mentions. Arsenal were lucky I was pissed with my own club. Newcastle losing 4 derbies in a row? Mertesacker (not well in… Lad). Ronaldo “erecting” his own statue.
Ryan Bennett Award – Maya Yoshida. Don’t get excited, he’ll be off to play for Japan in the next week or so. Even then he’s not a staple in the Southampton defence so won’t be worthwhile in a team going down a little too quick than is ideal.
Jonjo Shelvey Award – Ki Seung-Yeung. Don’t get excited, he’ll be off to play for South Korea in the next week or do… Wait what? Coincidence surely? Highly rated and fits the Swansea ethos well, just doesn’t get amongst the points enough.
Jamie Vardy Award – Shane Long. Seem to recall he won this a month or so ago? Yeah, so that’s a no then!
Phew… Glad I got that off my chest. One can only hope the “Studs Up Slap” (patent pending) has it’s usual effect!