Posts Tagged ‘league goals’

The pre-game handshakes should be scrapped

John Terry looks longingly at Anton Ferdinand after the he refuses to shake his hand.

PFA chairman Gordon Taylor suggested yesterday that the row over Anton Ferdinand’s refusal to shake John Terry’s hand could descend into a “Mafia feud”. Having watched the Sopranos I know what a Mafia feud looks like, and this is not about to become one. However, it is rather pathetic that we end up spending half the weekend talking about a handshake, or the lack therof, rather than another brilliant weekend of Premier League football.

These pre-game handshakes have caused more trouble than they are worth. First we had Terry v Bridge, then Evra v Suarez and now Terry again v Anton Ferdinand. Next weekend, we are going to have to go through the whole sorry debace again as Evra and Suarez come face to face. The PFA should have a look at how it’s done in the world of rugby and cricket. In rugby, they belt eachother relentlessly for 90 minutes but at the end of the game the mutual respect is clear. Whatever kicks, punches and eye gouges that are suffered stay on the pitch and that’s it. Similarly in Cricket, they sledge eachother and compete fiercly for 5 days but will sit down in the changing room at the end of the match and have a beer together.

They should scrap the handshake and let the players, who are grown up enough to do so, shake hands at the end of the game. This way, it doesn’t give them the opportunity to ruin what we are all actually all there to see, the football.

How long is it going to take to implement the obvious?

Anichebe’s disallowed goal against Newcastle last night

Ever since Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinal, it has been clear, especially in the Englishman’s mind, that goal-line technology needs to be introduced. So, why hasn’t anything been done about it? Unfortunately, last night another fantastic game was marred by a poor decision that could have been easily rectified with it’s introduction. If Anichebe’s goal had been given Everton would have gone 2-1 up with 10 minutes to play against Newcastle.

There is an argument that says football is unique amongst sport because it is the same from the professional ranks all the way down to your average Sunday league kick about, but it no longer makes sense to not use the resources that are available. Enough is enough, the sooner it is introduced the better. Then we can get back to talking about football and what an enthralling match it was on Monday night.

Southampton are not as bad as they look

Rickie Lambert celebrates his goal against Manchester City with Southampton captain Adam Lallana

Southampton are stuck at the foot of the table with no points, but they have played both Manchester clubs and Arsenal and we are only four games into the season. Very few teams would have come out of those games with anything to show for it. It is fair to say that their loss at home to Wigan was the big disappointment, but the performances against the two sides from Manchester suggests they have a lot to give to this season. They were 3 minutes away from victory against Manchester United, and 2-1 up at The Etihad against City only to be beaten 3-2 in both.

They have a young side, with bags of talent. Jason Puncheon and England call-up and captain Adam Lallana terrorised Manchester United from the flanks. Top scorer in The Championship last season, Ricky Lambert has shown that he has the quality to score goals against the big boys with strikes against United and City. 22 year old Morgan Scneiderlin who signed for Southampton in 2008 despite interest from Arsenal and Chelsea, has represented France from U16 up to U21 level. He is a calm head in the middle of park and combined with 17 year old James Ward-Prowse who has started every game this season they look like an exciting young duo. Gaston Ramirez is still to be added to the midfield so they have enough good attacking players to trouble many teams. Nigel Adkins will have to temper his teams attacking instincts with a bit of defensive stability before they can truly flourish, but expect a lot more from Southampton in the coming weeks.

Just one final thought…

Last week we mentioned that Stoke’s run of draws may be worth a punt and they came up with the goods against Manchester City holding on for a 1-1 draw. This week, that run could well end. Stoke have a poor record at Stamford Bridge having conceded 10 in the last 3 seasons and scoring none, so expect a comfortable Chelsea win.

Elsewhere, Manchester United have not won in the League at Anfield since 2007 and Wigan have not beaten Fulham since 2006, both could be worth a dabble.

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Tottenham lacking in creativity

Tottenham struggled to create chances against Norwich on the weekend. The Norwich midfield was more than a match for Spurs and they deserved their 1-1 draw. Dembele made a difference when he came on, but it was clear to see that Tottenham were missing Rafael Van Der Vaart and especially, Luka Modric. Gylfi Sigurdsson, does create chances and he looks to be a top prospect. He had a great start to his Premier League career with Swansea, but he is still very inexperienced. He now has to deal with the pressure of filling Van der Vaart’s shoes and at Spurs the expectation levels are that much higher. Although he looked good in pre-season he has struggled to have the same impact in the first few League games. This will come as the season progresses and he fits in to his new surroundings.

The real loss for Spurs will be in the centre of the park though. Modric completed over 2200 passes last season, averaging 70 passes a game. None of the new recruitments get close to this sort of turnover. Every Tottenham move went through him, ESPN FC describes him as “skilful, creative, classy, a playmaker with immense vision.” It’s the playmaker in him that has not been replaced. Dempsey and Dembele are more direct players, and it make take a slight change in style for Tottenham to adapt to their strengths. They still have quality throughout their squad and Spur’s first team still looks very strong, but it may take a few more games for them to adapt to life without Modric. We saw at the beginning of last season, when he was heavily linked with Chelsea that they really struggle without him. A slightly more direct approach will suit Dempsey and Dembele better.

Same old problems for Liverpool

Only Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham had more shots per game last season than Liverpool but they still only managed to score 47 League goals. More worryingly, only 5 teams scored less goals at home last season and only 4 won fewer games at home than Liverpool. This is largely down to their profligacy in front of goal. Suarez is a brilliant player, and on his day can produce moments of absolute genius. The hat-trick away to Norwich last season, where he scored a spectacular 40 yard lob, immediately springs to mind. He is not a finisher though. He can be very wasteful in front of goal.

Yesterday, against Arsenal, they once again lacked that cutting edge. They were on top for most of the first half but just couldn’t find the back of the net. They also seemed to be very short of options off the bench. Stewart Downing was the only attacking change that Rodgers was able to make yesterday. He admitted after the game that it was a mistake to let Andy Carroll go and that he was very confident in signing a replacement before deadline day ended. To make matters worse, Carroll had a very good debut for West Ham and showed exactly how useful he could have been to Brendan Rodgers who was obviously under the impression that he was going to sign Clint Dempsey. What is clear is that: if Liverpool do find a goalscorer, whether it’s Owen who Rodgers refused to rule out, or Suarez discovering some shooting boots, they create enough chances to be a force this season. If they don’t, they will be battling for a Europa League spot once again.

Are Manchester United a one man team?

The most common insult thrown Arsenal’s way last season was that they were a one man team. I am not actually suggesting that Arsenal were or Manchester United are, but this season United fans may well come to understand how Arsenal fans felt. Yesterday, Robin van Persie scored a sublime hat-trick to defeat Southampton 3-2. Other than missing a penalty he was at his brilliant best: The first was a classy finish, the second was a real poachers goal and the third a sublime near post header to wrap up the game and his hat-trick.

Van Persie doesn’t have the best fitness record. Last season was his first injury free season in his 7 years in Highbury. Arsenal fans were hoping that the ‘Wenger curse’, that affected Hleb, Flamini and plenty of others who have left would strike Van Persie and that his fitness would maybe be in question after a long season followed by the Euros. If anything he looks fitter than ever. He looks very sharp and every time he got the ball yesterday he looked like scoring. This could well be a long season watching Van Persie for the Arsenal faithful, whereas Man United fans could come to revel in the tag of being a ‘one man team’. Who could blame them, when the one man is that good though.

Just one final thought…

Stoke love a draw don’t they. Since they won their first pre-season game 1-0, they have drawn the next 8 most recently against Wigan on Saturday. They have in fact drawn 14 of their last 19 games. May be worth a punt…

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