Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
City's performance has been so encouraging that Mancini has been bold enough to change his cautious top four statement to legitimate Premier League title contenders. All these on the back of two wins on the trot.
I for one, am glad Mancini has arrived on Premier League shores. His style and confidence are reminiscent of one who had left...Jose Mourinho! Look, the similarities can be uncanny.
Well for starters, in the last three matches, West Ham have collected five out of a possible nine points while the rest of their relegation rivals only muster three points maximum. This has helped West Ham to move out of the bottom three.
Secondly, there is no question that West Ham has been notoriously anonymous in the second half of every game but interestingly, the last three matches have shown a reverse of that trend. We are now defending more in numbers, the midfielders (Collison, Diamanti) are tracking back to help with the weakest part of our defence i.e. the fullbacks. This has helped immensely in keeping the team's shape. The searing pace of the in-form Aaron Lennon was just too much to handle for any team in the Premiership so that's nothing to be ashamed about.
Thirdly, the return of Carlton Cole will boost the attacking third of our game. West Ham's next six fixtures are mainly against clubs in the relegation zone and lower half of the Premiership table therefore there is every chance that we can pick up valuable points from these matches. Maximum points even is not out of the question. The Cole-Franco partnership looked to be a lethal combination in the short time that they played together. Franco also did the business against Spurs, picking up a second yellow, making him miss the Arsenal FA Cup tie but will return for Premiership action after that. Smart thinking from this intelligent player.
Fourthly, talks of ownership interest are making its round intensely and there is every chance that the ownership issue can be settled before the January transfer market allowing the club to make player investment and strengthen the squad a bit more.
Let's take a look at the next six fixtures as the relegation battle heats up.
And the next six matches for the Hammers' relegation battlers are:
Wolves: West Ham (a), Wigan (h), Liverpool (h), Hull (a), Birmingham (a), Spurs (h)
Pompey: Arsenal (h), Fulham (a), Birmingham (h), West Ham (h), Man City (a), Man Utd (a)
Bolton: Hull (h), Arsenal (a), Sunderland (a), Arsenal (h), Burnley (h), Liverpool (a)
Wigan: Man Utd (a), Hull (h), Villa (h), Wolves (a), Blackburn (a), Everton (h)
All five rivals have much tougher fixtures than West Ham, which should feature well for the Irons. Portsmouth in particular will be decimated by players competing in the African Nations Cup. All five clubs face at least one of the "Big Four" as well as Champions League aspirants.
Zola and Clarke should be extremely aware that this is the best chance to get points on the board and massively improve West Ham's position in the league. To add more positivity into the mix, Jack "the new Gazza" Wilshere expressed his preference to come to West Ham on loan. If this is followed up by Gianluca Nani intently, then the Hammers midfield will have added the much needed class and creativity.
Confidence will be high after a successful Christmas period. A two-week rest and time to regroup allowing the West Ham players to recover from injuries (Parker, Noble and Ilunga) and their physical exertions together with a relatively easy fixture list surely represent a productive time ahead.
Come on You Irons!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
The Top 10 Most Creative Defenders
Leighton Baines is tops among the defenders. More interestingly, he is Everton's most creative threat with 36 chances created and 4 assists. Glen Johnson and Emiliano Insua are in the top four and the attacking fullback mentality is the reason the Liverpool defence are so shaky this season.
Regardless of his lack of goal output this season, Frank Lampard at times, has looked the best player suited as the diamond head of Ancelotti's midfield. The chances he created (60) for Chelsea's frontline is the best proof that this intelligent player is one of the best attacking midfielder in the game today.
The Top 10 Most Creative Forwards
The clamour for Bobby Zamora to be included into the England squad seem justified from the statistic above, 35 chances created and 3 assists for Fulham. His all-round game has improved this season and the intelligence is starting to show with sterling performances against Manchester United and in Europe.
Let's see if these stats stay the same at the end of May.
Friday, December 25, 2009
I fully believe that Liverpool will turn the corner and that corner starts at Wolves this Saturday. The rumblings within the club indicate signs of better things to come.
Thus, instead of highlighting deficiencies and reservations about Liverpool's season to date, I would prefer to focus on three reasons on why Reds fans can be optimistic in 2010.
3. Liverpool traditionally are stronger in the second half of a Premiership season
Okay, so there are five reasons to be optimistic instead of three. But the main thing is that it's still only halfway and there are 19 more matches to go. Fourth place is only eight points away! And there is still the Europa League trophy to be won!
This makes the must-win match against Portsmouth an extremely hard proposition. So what should Zola and Clarke do to prepare and put a team out to face a determined and fired-up Portsmouth? Carlton Cole, Zavon Hines and Kieron Dyer are all on the injury list and thus there are no recognised strikers apart from youth teamers, Frank Nouble, Terry Dixon and Freddie Sears.
Looking through the player roster, one option is to play Alessandro Diamanti up front with Luis Jimenez as the second striker. With Junior Stanislas playing in the left midfield position vacated by Diamanti, there is every possibility that West Ham can get something out of this crunch match.
Alternatively, if Luis Jimenez is deemed too "soft" to face up to Tal Ben-Haim and Marc Wilson, then perhaps Zola can consider Jack Collison up front. The Welsh lad has notched two goals and three assists in 14 games this season. On evidence of his performance against Chelsea, he is regaining his form and confidence. With Diamanti feeding the balls through, this could be a winning combination. Julien Faubert, despite his inability to deliver crosses, can do the hard work on the right side of midfield.
Because the Hammers need to win this match, I would abandon the safety first tactic (we ARE playing at home!). Zola should drop the defensive-minded Kovac and play a more attacking midfield of Parker, Noble, Stanislas and Faubert.
Here are my two suggested possible lineups.
The Flat Back Four's Alternative #1 lineup (4-4-1-1):
Faubert --------------- Tomkins ------ Upson ------------ Ilunga
---------------- Parker--------------------------- Kovac
Collison -------------- ----------- ---- ------------------- Noble
-------------------------- ------ Diamanti
The Flat Back Four's Alternative #2 lineup (4-1-3-1-1):
Spector --------------- Tomkins ------ Upson ------------ Ilunga
Faubert -------------- Noble ---- ------------------- Stanislas
Heck, if Arsenal can win playing without an out-and-out striker, then so can West Ham! Though Zola and Clarke have to contend with a crippling injury list, if the Hammers play with passion, determination and an attacking mentality, we can get three points from this game.
Come on you Irons!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Admittedly, I first saw Franco in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup where he played a major part in Mexico's triumphant campaign. The striker scored twice (including a penalty) against Costa Rica in the semifinal and once more in the 5-0 battering of USA in the Gold Cup final. Mexico coach, Javier Aguirre heaped praise on Franco for his "target man" hold-up play and "team contribution" after he came on as a substitute in the 5-0 drubbing of the USA during July's Gold Cup Final.
He looked a very effective player with great technical skills and an eye for goal. The only negative part was his age (33), his suspect fitness and he can be injury-prone.
So far however, his sterling performances for West Ham have shown no such worries. Particularly pleasing was his performance against Chelsea last weekend. Playing as a lone striker, he showed strength, guile and lots of effort. Because West Ham's central midfield were preoccupied with keeping Lampard and Ballack, he kept coming in deep to pick up the loose balls and then releasing Diamanti on the left and Collison/Faubert on the right. It was Franco's through ball to Collison which won West Ham the penalty.
He has more than made up for the loss of Carlton Cole, putting in great performances week after week as the focal point of the West Ham attack. But it was his partnership with the injured Cole that really caught the eye. The Franco-Cole partnership coincided with possibly the best West Ham form this season, winning two matches, drawing two and losing two. West Ham also scored 15 goals during that period. Begs the question, what if Carlton Cole had not suffered that knee injury, doesn't it?
Overall, he has connected on 190 out of 280 passes i.e a passing efficiency of 68%. Franco has shown that he has vision by creating 12 chances so far for his Hammers team mates. His assist tally is currently at one but there will be more, I am sure. His goals to shots ratio is 14% which is comparable to the in-form Bobby Zamora.
Zola had this to say about Guillermo Franco settling so quickly into life in the Premier League:
"Franco has been very good for me. He's proving to be a very good player for us. He's been a very good gain for West Ham United.His never say die attitude and intelligent play have endeared the naturalised Mexican to the Upton Park faithful, earning him adoration and adulation alike. With Franco leading the attack, West Ham, buoyed by the excellent result against Chelsea, will surely want to make all that effort count when Portsmouth comes a-visiting on Boxing Day.
"He is an excellent guy, he works very hard and, above all, he's a very intelligent player. He does the right things for the team and I'm really impressed with him."
The series of The Boy's Done Good! also consist of:
Bolton's Tamir Cohen
Chelsea's Michael Ballack
IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN TO CITY
(1) We thought we’d seen the last of this one, but no. Only City could spend £243m on players to slide down the table. Two years ago they were fourth at Christmas; today they are eighth.
(2) What makes City think an unemployed Italian, who needs Brian Kidd and David Platt to hold his hand, and correct his English, can do better than Mark Hughes?
RIO FERDINAND CHRISTMAS PARTY ORGANISER AWARD
The Spurs skipper informed ‘Arry Redknapp, who thought he had banned his players from having a Christmas party, they were going on a golf trip to Dublin. Instead of that, they were several strokes ahead of ‘Arry and duly had their own booze-fuelled knees-up. It was, by all accounts, pretty wild. Just as ‘Arry was when he found out about it.
Find out more about Christmas footballer parties gone wrong here and here and here (dated 2007).
For saying: “Whoever organises the Premier League fixtures must have come from a Special School.”
ALBERTO AQUILANI ANONYMITY AWARD
Michael Owen against Fulham.
Director of Football.
Title given to either fading managers the chairman cannot bring himself to sack or lurking predators positioning themselves to take the incumbent’s job. Nice work if you can get it. Examples: Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn who just played golf all day; Avram Grant who slinks under the surface like a crocodile waiting to pounce on his prey. Victims include Jose Mourinho, Paul Hart; Sven-Goran Eriksson who is being paid £2m a year by Notts County and doesn’t even take training when the manager quits.
ANOTHER BURGLARY ON MERSEYSIDE
Birmingham’s equaliser against Everton. Pure Larssony!
DODGY DEFENDER AWARD
With that outlay, they really should have Dunne better.
DESCRIPTIONS OF THE WEEK
(1) Man City
“More draws than IKEA.” Various.
“In fact, he has a face on him like a bag of tripe when I don’t play him.” Alex Ferguson.
FAREWELL TO THE MYSTERY MEN
It was nice not knowing you! So the former Notts County owners were not in it for the long haul after all. One minute promising Premiership football within five years, the next selling the club for £1. And still we don’t know who these “fit and proper” people are. Various names have been mentioned including the Dear Leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, Bernie Madoff, Alberto Aquilani and Tiger Woods.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
(1)“I had a lovely letter from Tiger Woods thanking me for taking the pressure off him.” Mick McCarthy.
(2) “When you go to a World Cup, it’s like going to war. When you go to war, you don’t take your
wife.” South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira questions the old English WAG culture.
(3) “I am sitting here like a man waiting in the emergency room for his wife to give birth.” Hull manager Phil Brown describes waiting for news on Jimmy Bullard’s scan.
QUOTE OF THE YEAR
“I don’t know where the money comes from? I am not interested. The important thing is that the money comes.” Should be turned into Latin and used as the motto of the Premier League.
NICKNAME OF THE WEEK
Pilot Light – Gary Megson.
Explains Chris Waddle, “because he never went out.”
PEARL OF COMMENTARY WISDOM
David Platt co-commentating for Sky during the Liverpool-Fiorentina Champions League game: “Of course Fiorentina will want to win this group, as it gives you a huge advantage. For a start, you get your away legs at home.”
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Frank Lampard thanked referee Mike Dean for giving him two practice kicks to score the penalty against West Ham. Wisely, he resisted the temptation to grab the match ball and claim a hattrick.
At home they’re 5-3-1, away 0-1-8.
Tour guide – John Terry (see here).
NOT THE MIDAS TOUCH
Last year the sometime restaurateur, Xmas party organiser, movie director, drugs test forgetter and occasional MU defender signed up to promote a luxury development in the Turks and Caicos Islands as a sound longterm bet for British investors. “It “ticks all the boxes,” he claimed. This year Turks and Caicos Islands government was dissolved amid claims of “gross corruption”; the islands placed under direct UK rule resulting in “unprecedented economic crisis”; islanders stage “anti-UK” rallies, telling local press: “Brits must get out now.”
SARCASTIC COMMENT OF THE WEEK
(1) Rafa Benitez.
“The referee was perfect.” Rafa didn’t add that it was a fact so we can only draw our own conclusions about a ref who sent off Javier Mascherano and didn’t give Fernando Torres the protection Rafa thought he deserved.
(2) Ryan Giggs.
“Cristiano is one of the best players in the world but I have to be honest and say I haven’t noticed much of a difference since he left.” Well, we THINK he was being sarcastic.
WELL WISHER OF THE WEEK
“Hope it all goes well - people will be surprised to know you have a heart!” Sam Allardyce reveals the text sent to him by old mate Kenny Dalglish before the Blackburn boss underwent minor heart surgery.
PENNY FOR THE THOUGHTS OF...
As he struggles to cobble together a patchwork defence, a certain Gerard Pique will soon have to buy a bigger mansion – just to house his trophy cabinet. Sold off by Fergie as surplus to requirements for a paltry £4m,Pique is one of the pillars of the Barcelona defence that has now won six titles this year. Oh, and he’s Spain’s centre-back too – and they are European champions and favourites for the World Cup.
IS IT A PLANE? IS IT AN F1 CAR?
No, it’s Iker Muniain, the “Bilbao Rooney”.
He’s Athletic Bilbao’s youngest- ever player and youngest-ever scorer. Just turned 17, he is terrorising defenceslike no teenager has done since Rooney burst on to the scene in 2002. “He is a footballer with eight gears and in-built satellite navigation system,” said coach Joaquin Caparros.
More of Iker Munian here.
FIT AND PROPER?
Daniel Azougy, Portsmouth’s financial chief.
As Sol Campbell sues Pompey for non-payment of bonuses, it has emerged that their money man is a convicted fraudster. Club sources last night admitted they had no idea Israeli lawyer Azougy had a string of convictions for fraud and embezzlement. The Premier League didn’t either.
POT CALLING KETTLE BLACK
(1) Arsene Wenger who whinged about McCarthy’s team selection. But he had done exactly the same a week earlier in the Champions League. Tony Pulis said Wenger “moaned like a drain”. Make it a storm drain.
(2) England players who say they don’t dive. Step forward – or, rather fall over, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.
WAG OF THE WEEK
Sylvie van der Vaart.
WAG of Holland and Real Madrid midfielder Rafael, she was voted top WAG of the last World Cup. No wonder recent rumours of interest in hubby by Premiership clubs have caused such a stir. After all, if she went to England, the Poshes and Coleens wouldn’t get a look in.
Look for Sylvie's picture here and here and here.
Chelsea's Didier Drogba took some time out from football to organize a fund-raising event intended to build a children's hospital in Abidjan (don't ask me where!) and Footy Factor captured all the events on video.
And finally, the piece de resistance (though a bit dated) is a video where the England football players came out in support of Comic Relief. Really funny spoof!
Monday, December 21, 2009
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 16 Review: Chelsea Stunned, Liverpool and Manchester United Soundly Beaten!
Liverpool did not do enough to win the match and once again the overall lack of creativity and a moment of insanity by Javier Mascherano proved to be the Red's death knell. There is genuine pressure now for them to compete for fourth place. Jamie Carragher's 600th game ended in heartache and some soul searching is again required.
Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur are both staking legitimate claims for the fourth Champions League slot with excellent displays against Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers respectively. Villa in particular, are continuing the stealthy climb up the league table and Martin O'Neill is definitely a Premiership manager who can get the best out of his players. Putting aside the controversy of a sneaky Christmas party, Peter Crouch underlined the attacking threat that Spurs possessed. Both teams are really peaking at the right time and look in great form for the busy Christmas-New Year football fixtures.
Birmingham is easily the team in their best form the last two months having notched up five consecutive wins prior to last weekend. Their nine-match unbeaten run continued with a well-earned draw against Everton.
Samir Nasri's petulant act almost derailed Arsenal's quest for three points but in the end, the referee's leniency allowed him to stay on and the Gunners ran out 3-0 winners. At the City of Manchester Stadium, a topsy-turvy match ended with Manchester City getting the win. The lack of Premiership wins finally took its toll on Mark Hughes and he was replaced that very Saturday evening by ex-Leicester player, Roberto Mancini. Incidentally I had listed the sacking of Mark Hughes as one of five must-sees for this season. There is something about a former Red Devil managing the Blue half of Manchester that made this termination inevitable.
At the Boleyn Ground, West Ham United restored some pride into their season with a battling 1-1 draw against Chelsea. The Hammers' performance would have put a smile on celebrity comedian, Russell Brand's face.
Scott Parker and Guillermo Franco both had great performances. Diamanti also played very well, although Iain Dale thought the Italian could do better. Still, Diamanti scored that go-ahead penalty for West Ham and it always takes nerves to do so when the pressure is that intense. Likewise, Frank Lampard had to endure two retakes before tucking the third penalty attempt away. It was a controversial penalty given by referee, Mike Dean as Matthew Upson was wrongfully adjudged to have brought down Daniel Sturridge in the penalty box. More positively, West Ham kept up the intensity the whole match rather than fading in the second half as they have done so often this season. With the left footed Diamanti playing on the left side of midfield, West Ham had balance and width to worry Chelsea. In spite of the poor penalty decision, the draw must be viewed as a point earned and a real confidence booster for West Ham's next match against Portsmouth.
The most stunning result of the weekend had to be Fulham's masterclass display over Manchester United. Because the Red Devils fielded a make-shift defence, they were there for the taking. Fulham did not disappoint as they controlled the midfield area and Bobby Zamora was a menace to a patched-up United central defence of Fletcher and Carrick. Devils assassin, Danny Murphy emerged once more as the scourge of United when he latched onto lax possession play from Paul Scholes to stroke the ball past Kuszczak.
Sir Alex Ferguson paired Wayne Rooney with Michael Owen in attack. There were always criticisms that the two can never play together and these were confirmed. Neither looked threatening in front of goal nor did they show any understanding at all. Perhaps it was the formation that Fergie chose to field (3-5-2) did not quite work as the whole team looked totally disjointed. Fulham fully deserved their win and they are also in the mix for that fourth Champions League spot. Roy Hodgson's side do have Spurs and Chelsea in their path though.
|Saturday, December 19, 2009|
|FT||Portsmouth||2 - 0||Liverpool|
|FT||Aston Villa||1 - 0||Stoke City|
|FT||Blackburn Rovers||0 - 2||Tottenham Hotspur|
|FT||Fulham||3 - 0||Manchester United|
|FT||Manchester City||4 - 3||Sunderland|
|FT||Arsenal||3 - 0||Hull City|
|Sunday, December 20, 2009|
|FT||Wolverhampton Wanderers||2 - 0||Burnley|
|FT||Everton||1 - 1||Birmingham|
|FT||West Ham United||1 - 1||Chelsea|
Who's Hot?: Birmingham, Fulham, Aston Villa
Who's Not?: Sunderland, Blackburn, Everton
The Flat Back Four's weekly English Premier League reviews:
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 1 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 2 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 3 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 4 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 5 & 6 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 7 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 8 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 9 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 10 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 11 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 12 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 13 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 14 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 16 Preview
Fowler kicks in for Mayor's Christmas Appeal
Wednesday, 9 December 2009North Queensland Fury FC skipper Robbie Fowler has blasted past feeble goal keeping to kick home a win for the Townsville Mayor's Christmas Appeal.
Robbie peppered the goal guarded by Mayor Les Tyrell and Jupiters Townsville Managing Director Sean Knights with, with $2000 going straight into the Christmas appeal every time he scored.
Mayor Cr Les Tyrell said that with the chance of securing $20,000 for the appeal, there was no hesitation in getting one of the game’s greats to do the job.
“Jupiters have been very generous with their support for the Christmas Tree Appeal. Their support for the local community will be appreciated by a lot of struggling families this Christmas.”
“We were delighted that Robbie ciould take time out to support the Christmas Tree Appeal and it would be good to see the community get right behind the Fury on Friday night.”
The Fury captain said he was happy to help out any time he was calle don to support a cause for charity."Anything involving charity, it is important to do them," Fowler said."It doesn’t take long out of your day to do them. I got the call late yesterday and I was around to help and do whatever I could ... anything to put balls in the back of the net – I’m all for that."
While Jupiters Townsville managing director Sean Knights is a keen football fan and former player, he wasn't able to keep many shots out but that only meant a bigger contribution. Mr Knights said Jupiters had a proud tradition of support for the Appeal.
“This is the fourth year we have been involved in the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Appeal, and being a part of this initiative continues to bring a great amount of pride to our team,” Mr Knights said.
“It is important to recognise that many families in our great region struggle during this financially draining time, and it is a great feeling to be able to share our festive spirit with the community in which we operate.”The Jupiters Townsville donation of $20,000 will bring the Mayor's Christmas Tree Appeal to its half way target. Townsville City Councillors will be present at the entrance gates of Dairy Farmers Stadium on Friday night for any ticket holders that wish to make donations to this very worthwhile cause.
Fowler lands a monster
Thursday, 13 August 2009North Queensland Fury Marquee Signing Robbie Fowler got out on the water recently with Fishing Australia Host Rob Paxevanos and landed a 15kg Spanish mackeral on his first blue water fishing expedition. Fowler joined Paxevanos and his crew after a four-hour drive up the coast to Cairns to take in more of the coastline he currently calls home.
The conditions were very rough due to very strong southeast winds, but their 47' charter 'Moana' was able to find some shelter behind Fitzroy Island near Cairns. The Fury Skipper proved to be as determined to catch a big fish as he is to score goals during a tough game and he put up with being bounced all around the boat and being hammered by rain and heavy spray.
It was hard to get to the better spots due to the conditions but the team persisted around the Island and Robbie eventually hooked onto the 15kg Spanish mackerel pictured - one of the best eating fish on the Great Barrier Reef.
“I was so impressed with Robbie’s competitiveness in conditions where the rest of the anglers in town where hiding at home,” Paxevanos said.
“He did an amazing job fighting the fish in the rough seas, especially given his previous biggest fish was a small trout back in England!”
“You should have seen all the kids go mad when he we got back to the Marina with his catch; it was a memorable day for us all.”Fowler was impressed with his first taste of blue water fishing and was even more impressed with the fact he could eat his mackerel catch while it was still fresh.“It was a fantastic day,” Fowler said. “It was just amazing to be out on a boat and
to pull in a fish that big ... it took a while but it was worth it”
“It was the first time I’ve really ever been fishing to be honest and it's an experience
I'll never forget. My Wife and kids won't forget the weekend away either - the hospitality was unbelievable”
Paxevanos and Fowler were in town as part of the "go fish for sick kids" tournament that is helping to raise funds for a children’s roof top playground at the Cairns Base Hospital.
Truly a role model for the young ones. As they say, players mature as they age and this is true in Fowler's case.
Paul Robinson in 2007 scored direct from a freekick in his own half a good 88 yards from goal. This was when Tottenham Hotspur met Watford on the 17th March 2007 with poor old Ben Foster in the Watford goal. He became the third goalkeeper to score in a Premier League match with that strike.
Just to appreciate the long distance strikes a bit more, the average length of a Premier League football pitch is 113 x 74 yards.
Friday, December 18, 2009
|What should Stuart Holden do?|
|by Ridge Mahoney, Friday, Dec 18, 2009 12:48 AM ET|
If he goes for the money, Stuart Holden is already headed for Europe even if he hasn't signed a deal.
Holden might be short on time to establish himself as a bonafide EPL starter, which is what he would need to get sharp enough to hit the final World Cup training camp in top shape.
Kinnear can probably cover for Holden by moving Brad Davis into the middle and giving Corey Ashe first shot to start at left mid, yet Kinnear must also begin grooming a replacement for rightie Brian Mullan, who finished the regular season fairly well after an indifferent campaign and regressed somewhat in the playoffs.
Kinnear has already stated he may move second-year sensation Geoff Cameron from the back line to his regular position of midfield, and a trident of Holden and Cameron and Davis would give Houston perhaps the best triumvirate in MLS.
Franco has been fantastic in a West Ham shirt. It's a shame that he is not in a better West Ham team other than this current young squad. Diamanti scored his first goal from open play and we can expect him to turn on another energetic display at home. It is clearly a sign of the times when foreign-based players are leading West Ham instead of the likes of Scott Parker and Matthew Upson. Tevez singlehandedly preserved Premiership status for West Ham in 2005...can we expect the Franco-Diamanti partnership to work together and guarantee Premiership survival? It has to, considering that Parker, Upson and Cole are prime targets for the January transfer window.
The losses against Birmingham and Bolton have dropped the Hammers back down to the bottom three and the situation looks bad. West Ham are horrible in defence and toothless in midfield. Mark Noble must start this match in place of the poor Kovac. To win against Chelsea is a tough ask, West Ham cannot even take advantage on Chelsea's poor set piece defending!
|Saturday, December 12, 2009|
|FT||Stoke City||2 - 2||Wigan Athletic|
|FT||Birmingham||1 - 0||West Ham United|
|FT||Bolton Wanderers||3 - 3||Manchester City|
|FT||Burnley||1 - 1||Fulham|
|FT||Chelsea||3 - 3||Everton|
|FT||Hull City||0 - 0||Blackburn Rovers|
|FT||Sunderland||1 - 1||Portsmouth|
|FT||Tottenham Hotspur||0 - 1||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|FT||Manchester United||0 - 1||Aston Villa|
|Sunday, December 13, 2009|
|FT||Liverpool||1 - 2||Arsenal|
|Tuesday, December 15, 2009|
|FT||Sunderland||0 - 2||Aston Villa|
|FT||Birmingham||2 - 1||Blackburn Rovers|
|FT||Bolton Wanderers||3 - 1||West Ham United|
|FT||Manchester United||3 - 0||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|Wednesday, December 16, 2009|
|FT||Burnley||1 - 1||Arsenal|
|FT||Chelsea||2 - 1||Portsmouth|
|FT||Liverpool||2 - 1||Wigan Athletic|
|FT||Tottenham Hotspur||3 - 0||Manchester City|
The rest of the competing nations at a glance:
If you are a football fan who travels a lot on business, it may be best to start thinking of alternative ways of watching the World Cup. Live streaming football on PC could be a great option.
For all the troubles that Liverpool are going through, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are still the top three best performing players in the Premiership. Hmmm, makes you think how much of these statistics can be taken seriously....
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The unexpected win was achieved through a Vietnamese own goal but the celebrations will carry on beyond Vientiane.
VIENTIANE - MALAYSIA beat Vietnam 1-0 in the Laos capital Vientiane on Thursday to take their first gold in the under-23 Southeast Asian Games football competition since 1989.
Vietnam, who had beaten Malaysia in the group stages, had the better of the first half but could not make their dominance count. Malaysia, superior in the second period, scored with just six minutes to go.
Under pressure from Malaysia's Talaha Norshahrul Idlan, Vietnam's Mai Xuan Hop could only divert the ball into his own net and his side were unable to find an equaliser in the time remaining.
Malaysia coach K. Rajagopal said his team were worthy winners. 'I think after the Thailand match my players showed what they have,' he said. Malaysia put holders Thailand out in the group stage, ending their run of success which started in 1993.
He said his team had shown 'a lot of determination, a lot of spirit, a fighting attitude and I think we are a good footballing team'.
'I think we deserve to be the champion of the SEA Games in 2009. I think we did beyond our expectations,' he added, saying he had encouraged his team to exploit Vietnam on the break. -- AFP
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — The national football Under-23 squad carved their own spot in history today when they beat Vietnam 1-0 in the final, ending a 20-year wait for gold in football at the biennial SEA Games.
The victory in the match held at the National Stadium, Laos Sports Complex in Vientiane, was much anticipated by both visiting fans and at home.
National footballer Dollah Salleh said he was proud of the boys’ win after two decades of waiting for gold.
“I hope this will bring cheer to everyone who loves the sport and bring back glory to Malaysian football,” he said to Bernama here today.
Dollah was among the goal scorers when Malaysia last won gold at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 1989, defeating Singapore 3-1.
He said the success of the national Under-23 squad coached by K. Rajagobal should continue them emerge as a formidable team in the eyes of their opponents.
“I hope the players will up their performance from time to time if they want to defend their gold at the next SEA Games in Bandung, Indonesia in 2011.”
Former national football skipper Ahmad Yusof said the squad’s victory managed to heal the long-standing hurt and disappointment of every player and football fan in the country.
“The win today may also indirectly revive the spirit of every player in the Malaysia leagues which have been much belittled.
“I hope after this victory, the Malaysia football leagues would no longer be regarded as lacking quality as these leagues have managed to prove the capability of the players,” he said.
Former national football great Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat said the squad’s victory at the 25th SEA Games should be celebrated by every Malaysian.
“Football is a sport for all and those involved directly or indirectly should celebrate this historic win,” he said. — Bernama
Sunday, December 13, 2009
"Forever Blowing Bubbles" is just about the most interesting bit of news all week.
Listen to it from here:
PRETTYBUBBLES by katyperry
And also thanks to Katy Perry, footballwear is finally fashionable in the bedroom!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
On one of the most dramatic ending to a football season ever, Arsenal's Michael Thomas scored the second goal with the last attack of the match!
Similarly, last season's 4-4 thriller was also hard to stomach as Arsenal virtually ended Liverpool's title challenge. What can be expected this season at Anfield?
Rafa Benitez have a full strength squad to choose from. Aquilani and Torres came through the Wednesday's Champions League match with a great workout. Another perfect game for Aquilani to start as he will have time on the ball to display his passing range and vision.
Arsenal's lack of height and physical power will help Liverpool as they will not succumb to even more set piece goals. Having said that, the Reds will find it tough to mark shadows as the Arsenal players are great with their movement and passing. Javier Mascherano and Lucas must be at their best to disrupt the rhythm and fluidity of the Arsenal players.
Rafa Benitez stated that he intends to focus on securing a top-four finish in the Premier League now that Liverpool is out of the Champions League tournament. Let's hope his tactics and team line-up reflects his statements.
Jack Collison recently added to his Young Hammer of the Year award by being named BBC London Young Player of the Year for 2009. West Ham should celebrate this achievement by going on a winning run. We have not won two consecutive matches this season and we must do so now!
Birmingham are in great form lately, having been unbeaten in their last six matches. Alex McLeish's side has also won three games on the trot and looking to match their best ever run of four consecutive wins. Birmingham do not let in many goals and in Joe Hart, they have arguably the best young goalkeeper in the English game. Hart have kept five clean sheets, making 53 successful saves. Only nine goals have been conceded at St. Andrews, fewer than any other Premier League stadium. Birmingham will be tough to overcome.
In tight matches, a moment of brilliance may be sufficient to win a match. That brilliance and unpredictability can be created and produced by the Italian, Alessandro Diamanti. Zola has so far been unwilling to gamble on the X-factor i.e. Diamanti. This is the ideal time to do it, since the Birmingham forwards score the fourth lowest amount of goals in the Premiership so far.
The West Ham defence will always be a problem this season, hence we will need to score more goals than the opposition. With Stanislas and Collison supporting Diamanti and Franco from wide areas, we should have a fairly attacking line up. The forward line which offers directness (Collison), pace (Stanislas), creativity (Diamanti) and guile (Franco). This is the side that could bring us three points and then Bolton awaits.
The Flat Back Four's favoured West Ham lineup (4-4-1-1):
Faubert --------------- Da Costa ------ Gabbidon ------------ Ilunga
---------------- Parker--------------------------- Noble
Stanislas -------------- ----------- ---- ------------------- Collison
Gianfranco Zola has admitted that West Ham are definitely in a relegation battle and need to galvanize the players to show determination and fight this season. Jack Collison and Scott Parker looks to be motivated...but what about the rest of the players? The head-to-head stats is in our favour, The Blues have only won five of 29 Premier League home games against clubs from London.
So, come on You Irons!
Malaysia needs to learn how to put the right football club structures in place to attract funding, says football commentator Serbegeth Singh.
"What we have right now are just registered clubs. But our state football associations need a club structure and to have a youth development department to progress," he said at a press conference to announce an upcoming football business forum.
The International Football Association will be hosting IFA Asia 2009 from November 22 to 24 at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
Better known as Shebby, Serbegeth who will be a guest moderator of IFA Kuala Lumpur 2009, said the country could benefit from this forum as prominent football personalities could share their technical know-how with local footballers.
Among the speakers attending this event include Chelsea FC board member Peter Kenyon, AFC president Mohammad Hammam, Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy and FC Barcelona senior youth coordinator Albert Capellas.
"Albert, who will be speaking on turning talents into stars, can share his technical expertise, because that is what we lack in this region," said Shebby.
He added that clubs in Southeast Asia could use the forum to learn how to market their leagues or clubs, as done in Europe.
Meanwhile, guest moderator Wan Zaleha Radzi added that Malaysia could learn how to develop sustainable relationships with corporates to build the local talent pool.
"Currently, sponsorship and funding comes in easily for sportsmen who are already successful. We need funding to nurture rising talents," she said.
The event will be the third IFA Asia forum, with the previous two held in Beijing, China.
In cooperation with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and sponsored by Chelsea Football Club, some 200 to 250 delegates will attend the forum to exchange ideas and opinions on the global football business.
The attendees will also include representative from European clubs such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Hamburger SV.
IFA founder and chairman Marcel Schmid said the event that draws football professionals, marketing pros, senior executives, media pundits and top traders allows for new ties and reinforces existing relationships.
Schmid said Malaysia was chosen not only because AFC's headquarters was based here but also due to the country's multicultural setting that would draw participation from other Asian nations.
Topics to be presented during the conference include professionalising Asian club football, trends and opportunities for investments in football clubs, how sponsorship rights fit a company's communication strategy, and will the FIFA World Cup 2018 or 2022 go to Asia.
Lim Teong Kim was a member of the national team who won the gold medal in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 1989. That was the last time the national senior team emerged as the champions of the regional international tournament. He is currently the assistant coach of Bayern Munich's U-19 team.
“When football is still the same (in Malaysia) after so many years, how can we expect to see any changes to the game or standard? Why criticise the present batch of players and keep banging them on their heads for failures when no one cares for the development of the game,” he said.
“Football is a national agenda. I feel that every state should have an ideal infrastructure to develop the game.
“I have been in Bayern Munich for eight years now. Even the eight-year-old players travel extensively to play in invitational tournaments to gain experience. There are eight professional coaches at the youth level and players get plenty of exposure.
“The facilities are well-equipped with dressing rooms, rehabilitation rooms, physiotherapy, sauna and relaxation rooms.
“In Germany, we have technical problems but no infrastructure problems. If there are no fields how can the coaches get to work?
“The National Sports School in Bukit Jalil alone is not good enough. State FAs must get their infrastructure in place otherwise they cannot expect to produce results.
“I am just trying to pass my experience and knowledge learnt in Bayern Munich. It is difficult to see success if changes are not made. There is a saying in Germany – changes bring prosperity, contentment brings complacency.”
As we speak, Malaysia are fighting to make the semifinals of the South East Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar. The Malaysian boys will have to beat defending champions Thailand on 11th December 2009 for that semifinal berth. A tall order indeed, especially as Malaysia have to make do without suspended striker, Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak and defy the fact that Thailand have never failed to qualify for the semi-finals in SEA Games men’s football for 18 consecutive editions since 1973.
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