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Monday, December 24, 2007

Seasons Greetings 2007 from EliteFootballTalk

Merry Xmas to you all from EliteFootballTalk. This year appears to have hit the domestic football programme in England with a title race of wider proportions. Both Arsenal and Liverpool maintained unbeaten performances up until the second weekend of this month where they both coincidentally lost. Nonetheless the title race has branched into four teams, being the four top teams, with Liverpool waning a little out of the top four places. The coming up of the FA Cup and league cup matches, the Champions League matches and maintaining status amongst the summit of the league could make huge demands and cause teams to show indifference.

Newcastle were made to push hard in their own back garden by Derby, who took the lead twice and should have finished the game with three goals at least. Derby have shown rock bottom form, with some teams pushing them to a thrashing. Derby have not lost to Newcastle and could have recorded a double over them, were it not for Mark Viduka.

Milddesbrough and Sunderland from the North East are not faring better themselves. How does Boro go from a huge win against the league leaders and another in the next game away to Derby to then lose to West Ham? That's no disrespect to The Hammers, particularly how Scott Parker formed his goal, superb feet movement. But Boro lost the momentum they had from the Arsenal win. Where is Mido, who they bought to bring up the goals along with Jeremie Aliadiere in the absence of Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Mark Viduka? Stewart Downing is lacking the amount of assists he provided last season and how Gareth Southgate remains in the job considering the climate of requirement in the league is something.

We have seen Jose Mourinho, Sammy Lee, Lawrie Sanchez lose their positions and for what? Chelsea had lost to Villa away and came to a draw in their opening Champions League game but it seemed results was not the agenda for his departure. Sammy Lee took over from Sam Allardyce and Bolton sank, an unfortunate baptism for Lee. Sanchez appeared to talk more after a match than before it. He brought over exciting players to boost a flagging Fulham team in Hameur Bouazza, David Healy, Clint Dempsey but released Liam Rosenior and included Paul Konchesky. I don't think Fulham will face relegation, as feared by the board, but a new manager needs to install some steel into the side to win games.

Everton have found good form, documented by T in his article previously. They were unlucky to have to concede defeat at Old Trafford because before then they were making good progress in the league and UEFA Cup, beating an AZ Alkmaar side unbeaten in Europe for 32 games. Portsmouth were also on a similar run, very stubborn at Fratton Park where they held both Liverpool and Man Utd to draws and they have slipped only sightly of late, to Spurs then Liverpool of late. The attacking element of their side has to sharpen up again but not much, for the balance is there in Niko Kranjcar, Nwankwo Kanu, John Utaka, Sulley Muntari and Mwaruwari Benjani. I have a concern with Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin, who seemed out of sorts and Herman Hreidarsson covering left back. Glen Johnson appears to be more of a mature player.

Blackburn started in fine form only to have given it up recently in the Carling Cup and the league. They kept out Chelsea for most of the game but it only takes one goal more than the opposition to win. In the Carling Cup their defences were opened up quite easily whereas before it was shut firm by Ryan Nelsen and Christopher Samba. Roque Santa Cruz is a good acquisition and has shown that thoroughly with goals, in contrast to Benni McCarthy who publicly rose to the challenge of Cruz's arrival and has come out 2nd best. While David Bentley has been good for Blackburn, Morten Gamst Pedersen has been missing. Where are his wonderful left foot efforts that either fizz in or come off the woodwork, his many assists?

Man City have been great, with Sven Goran Eriksson orchestrating and the battle not being over until 'the fat lady' appears. Only two defeats to two of the top four, a Manchester derby win, three of the four yet to visit the City of Manchester stadium, and Liverpool yet to even face them, City are holding well in 4th place. The fuss over Rolando Bianchi who has now scored in the last three games, Martin Petrov and Elano pulling some strings, Dietmar Hamann and Michael Johnson in central midfield and Joe Hart doing well in goal. Comparing this to how they were last season and before, it's a different City that I seldom hear being shouted by their fans.

I spoke of Sammy Lee and Bolton sinking. Remember when they were in the relegation zone? Gary Megson took over? The ridicule that followed, even from the Bolton fans and yet the revitalisation has brought Bolton out into 14th place, four away from the top 10. Nicolas Anelka is in superb form and is a hot prospect for departing to Chelsea or Manchester United or anywhere else in the league. Bolton allowed for Allardyce's leave, they have to simply hold onto Anelka, they gave him an opening when other clubs wouldn't and he is repaying Phil Gartside.

Xmas is Xmas, a break from work, family gatherings, maybe a Christmas carol or two, turkey, cake and spirits all round. Yet for the football fans there is no break, with the fixtures on Boxing Day and through to the weekend. It's for this love of football why we have EliteFootballTalk.

Have a Merry Xmas everyone.



Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman, and I'll ditto those Merry Christmas sentiments to our readers.

A lot of head-nodding to your summary of the season so far. An exception was the questioning of whether Gareth Southgate should be dismissed - definitely not in my reckoning. I was happy to see Martin Keown say on TV last week that he saw Southgate as a future England manager that everyone should support - I agree with that. It kind of backed-up the post I wrote on Southgate earlier this month. By the way, Mido is injured - hence his lengthy absence.

Morten Gamst Pedersen has been very unproductive this season- but he has a lot of talent and surely it is only a matter of time before he is getting back in the goals and the assists. Not sure why Mark Hughes has dropped Benni McCarthy and is now only playing Santa Cruz up front? McCarthy is a great finisher and also an excellent link-up man - could it be that McCarthy has been tapped up by a Chelsea or Man Utd and has stated an intent to Hughes that he wants to leave Ewood in January? This is total speculation on my part - but I say it only because for me there is no way that McCarthy should be on the bench and even have Jason Roberts come on ahead of him as happened yesterday at Chelsea.

12/24/2007 6:04 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Oh I was admiring how Southgate has remained in charge in the climate of how managers are sacked. Sanchez proves that theory, although Fulham are hovering above the R Zone there is little faith in managers to turn from bad to good in good time, why Sanchez was sacked. Considering Boro's lack of achieving victories of late, I was expecting Southgate to be sacked similarly. It's something of a testament to Steve Gibson's patience to be sticking with Southgate thus far.

Sorry about Mido, the question on him was a rhetorical one, I should have made that clear. I knew of his injury status and I meant to emphasise how needy he is for the cause with Boro. Aliadiere provided well for Wheather to score but the Frenchman was bought to score goals and has lacked in that department.


12/25/2007 12:20 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman, I thought the Mido point was an anomaly- if there is one person I'd turn to for knowing what is going on at any Premier League club it is you!

I'd say watch out for Aliadiere - his game is more than about goals... he is made in the Arsenal way of mobile attacking play that assists his team and creates opportunities for teammates. But yes, I concede that he needs more goals to underline exactly why he should be in the team.

12/26/2007 12:33 pm

Anonymous Striker said...

Merry Xmas guys. Happy 2008 & keep up the great work. Thanks for all the news & love put into the sport

12/27/2007 1:54 pm

Blogger T said...

Many thanks Striker!

Ditto those sentiments to you - your coverage of the Spanish scene is fantastic and here's to going from strength to strength in 2008.


12/27/2007 6:44 pm


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