That's the difference between him and someone like Cristiano Ronaldo - his body just isn't right. We have mails on him, Sparky, Brendan Rodgers and the Europa Lge...
Nice one UEFA, but not far enough. We have some ideas to make the Europa League better as well as more views on Wayne Rooney, Vermaelen in midfield and...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Valencia: A Liability
There's roughly three minutes left in the Man United v Chelsea match, and I don't think I have ever seen a single player give the ball away as much in 45 minutes, as I have just watched Antonio Valencia do. As soon as Nani went off, that was when United started to go downhill. I don't know if it's his confidence, or if his good season last year was just a flash in the pan (more likely this option), but at the moment he is a complete and utter liability to an otherwise fairly solid United team. His one single trick of charging past an opponent to the byline no longer works, and he offers absolutely no threat when he cuts inside. On top of this he seems out of shape, and can barely last 45 minutes at full pace judging by this performance.
Nani has always been far superior when played on the right as opposed to the left, but his ability to use both feet (shocking, I know) means he gets pushed out to the left whenever Valencia is playing. So well done Tony, you and a certain Mr Young are managing to marginalise our most threatening winger, whilst simultaneously shooting the rest of the team in the foot.
TomBo (Nothing to do with my Rooney to score/United to win double going up in flames) MUFC
...For all that talk about Young not being good enough for Man United and Nani never quite maturing into the player a lot of people expected him to be, spare a thought for Antonio Valencia. He was absolutely awful after coming on against Chelsea. He seems to have forgotten what he should be doing on the field. If Fergie plans on getting rid of one of the three in the summer, it definitely has got to be Valencia. From winning the fans' and players' player of the year award to his current state, it's quite baffling really.
I hate calling for a player's head but I really believe it's time for Antonio to leave the building.
Questions From Silvio
Get that number 7 shirt off Valencia because he's a disgrace! Nani and Giggs are our only two wingers.
Is Tom Cleverley ever going to be good enough for Man United?
Is Danny Welbeck the right man to bring on when you need a goal? Especially when he replaces a man who scored a hat-trick last weekend.
Was Rafael right to stand off Hazard and let him shoot?
Did anyone apart from Carrick see that pass?
Does anyone apart from Hodgson think Ferdinand is past it?
Why would you take off Hernandez in a game where he's already proven he needs one sniff at goal to make the difference?
What a save from Dave.
Frank's face when he went off was brilliant. That wry smile as he shook his head like "is this mug having a laugh?" - almost made me wish Chelsea had won after he went off.
What About Evra?
Just to throw my two cents worth into the mailbox. I felt the main culprit in United's second-half collapse was Patrice Evra. He was constantly out of position in the second half and it seemed every time he ventured into the Chelsea half he casually strolled back hoping/praying someone was there to cover him. I presume that's why halfway through the second half Rooney and Kagawa switched position as I don't think Kagawa had the legs to cover for Evra. He was a liability today and along with some uninspiring defending from some other members of the crew (Johnny Ez and Rafael I'm looking at you) it was only a matter of time before Chelsea got back into the match. In fact by the final whistle I was very surprised to see United hold on.
By the way what a beautiful save from De Gea at the end from Mata. The art of goalkeeping never gets the praise it deserves.
Whose Fault Was It This Time?
Was it the ref? I'm assuming Rio Ferdinand sarcastically clapped in his teammate's faces for bottling a two-goal lead. I'm also assuming Sir Alex was too distraught to talk after the game?
PS. Well played Liverpool, good gritty victory.
Pete (Vertonghen is a beast) Birmingham
This Man United Side Is Not Great...Yet
So is this United side one of Fergie's greats? Nick Miller seems to be leaning toward no. I tend to agree with him but with a caveat. They're good but not great...right now.
For instance I doubt that anyone could say the attacking third of the current United side is weaker than the treble-winning side, albeit with different attributes. Midfield is arguably weaker with Cleverley and Kagawa yet to truly shine. We've got an experienced and reliable back four at the moment with the best young defensive centre-backs in the league in Jones and Smalling and I believe the back four is on par with the great sides of the past. By now I think we can all agree that De Gea will turn out to be at the very least an above-average keeper.
As a United supporter I'm happy with the progress made this season and as long as we're winning we can't complain too much. We just have to trust that Cleverley and Kagawa manage to find that something special in their game that we've seen all too brief flashes of this season and maybe we can judge them as equals to the truly great sides.
The treble side seemed to click at the right moments and rode their luck on more than one occasion so could the difference between being judged great and just another winning United side be a matter of a few seconds when the ball bounces at the right spot for you?
Raoul, Sunny Durban, South Africa
United: Just Great At Winning
This is in response to Nick Miller's measured take on United's season thus far. True, if United keeps up this pace they will break Chelsea's points record and that would be a great achievement. But a quick glance at Ferguson's past title-winning teams shows that they have frequently notched points totals in the high 80s (including 89 in defeat last season) and more than once broken the 90 plateau. So what does it mean? What's difference between 91 points in 99/00 and potentially 96 points this season? A bad bounce here, a mishit kick there, perhaps the wrong end of a penalty or offside decision.
The Chicago Bulls that had a record breaking 72-10 season in 95/96 are considered by many the greatest team of all-time. But not all. The 71/72 Lakers never broke the almost mythical 70 wins plateau, finishing 69-13. But that team also won a mind-boggling 33 straight games, a record that still stands. And a record 16 consecutive away games with a record road winning percentage. You get the picture. Numbers can tell many different, often conflicting stories.
I think there's something to be said for the basic and essential task of just winning. It's a tired cliche but it's true, winning those tough away games 1-0 is what titles are made of. For that, for that distinct knack, this United team should be commended, should they go on to break Chelsea's points record or even come close to it. But in the end you have to ask if they pass the Eye Test? Are they the sort of team that blows teams off the park and make you sit back in astonishment? For me, it depends on the day. Or, like on Sunday at Old Trafford, it depends on the half. And that's what I think this team will be remembered for. Consistently winning but inconsistently brilliant.
As a fan, do I care that this team is not as good as past versions? Not particularly. Do I accept they are inferior to their predecessors? Sure, but that's not something to be ashamed of. Does it matter? Definitely. It's important to catalog these things because it always has and always will be the sort of thing fans discuss over endless pints.
Vishnu (of course we were tired but, remind me again, which team played in Bucharest on Thursday?), Red Devil in New York
What's Stopping Us Becoming Like Arsenal?
In response to Nick Miller's article,
Is United team effective and sufficient? Yes
Is United a great team? No
This might be a record-breaking season (in terms of points in the league) but this is simply not the team we have come to love and follow. The simple reason was there, staring blatantly out of my television, last night. How often would you have seen a side with Keane or Ronaldo, sit back at Old Trafford, just cantering along, making sure they did not have to do much to get the win.
If we continue playing like this, which is, dominating for 20 minutes in a game and sleeping for the rest, we are in for trouble. Maybe not this year, but definitely next. Who is to save us from the predicament that Arsenal fans face this summer when their club seems devoid of aspiration. We along with Arsenal are not just a good club. No. We are a great club who need to aspire more. The United sides of earlier were the ones whom oppositions feared. Today we are just a tough opponent often seemed as underdogs when playing a big team in Europe.
So am I happy that we are winning the league? Not really. It might add 'one' to our trophy number but the way we have played degrades our reputation. The facts like our manager has turned a blind eye towards Sir Antonio Valencia and lackluster midfield is frustrating but even more frustrating is that we have no players of higher calibre ready to join United. Hazard was a lost cause last summer and so was Lucas.
Well let me be the one to also say this, but maybe, just maybe the hairdryer has lost the heat.
Donnie (Changes must be accepted. Sometimes) MUFC
United v Chelsea Conclusions
Well I was at Old Trafford this evening and thought I would attempt this conclusions malarkey. Here's some points.
* Wow, what a game of two halves for Chelsea, they were barely in the first half, however, they sprung to life in the second and really should have won the game.
* United dominated the first half without actually playing all that well, they could and should have taken advantage of Chelsea's poor first-half performance and score more goals.
* Rafa made a wonderful tactical change by taking off the ineffective Lampard and replacing him with Mikel, which allowed Ramires to run at United's backline and cause real problems.
* Eden Hazard is a special player...unfortunately.
* United's defence was too often found bal- watching and were too static when a lively Chelsea attack were seriously threatening to win the game.
* Johnny Evans had a game of two halves, brilliant in the first and poor in the second.
* I was wondering why Tom Cleverley doesn't get as many plaudits as Jack Wilshere after a very tidy first-half display. His second-half performance showed me why as he began gifting possession to Chelsea.
* The chants of "Where's your racist, where's your racist, where's your racist center-half?" from United fans were absolutely top quality.
* Antonio Valencia had one of the worst games I've ever seen...period. His inefficiency cost United on several promising attacks and we lacked another outlet on the left to use rather than just Valencia.
* Both Chelsea goals were very special indeed, especially Hazard's, watching it live made it all the more impressive.
* Juan Mata truly has some skill, the ability to bring that ball down, perform the drag back and create that opportunity was incredible. Great save by De Gea too.
* Van Persie needs a goal.
* United need Ronaldo.
Thoughts From A Chelsea Fan
Is there a better team to watch in England than a Chelsea team in full flow with Hazard/Mata and Oscar? As Arsenal, Tottenham and Utd can attest to, they run the show. Unstoppable. The problem that lies with Chelsea is the teams that defend with ten men behind the ball (ironic isn't it?) they quite simply can't get their juices flowing and eventually make some schoolboy error to throw the game away (It hasn't helped them that JT has been ravaged by injury problems when they need him most) but nonetheless, here are my comments on a great game of football for all neutrals.
1. Carrick's pass to Hernandez was special - but it was helped by shocking defending by both Cahill and Cech. Hernandez got the ball with an impossible angle to score from had Cech just stayed on his line and covered his front post - Cahill forgot to mark the man Chelsea seem to always forget to mark. Poor defending, great pass and finish. It is worth noting Hernandez did nothing else for the rest of his time on the pitch so in a bizarre way it seemed to help Chelsea.
2. Cech quite simply lost the plot for the second. He is usually Mr. Reliable in big games, but the keeper has to always follow the ball, not what might happen if someone gets to the ball. Getting stuck between two thoughts seems to always lead to a goal, which it did.
3. From there on out it looked like United were happy to defend, which to their credit they did superbly until Eden Hazard stepped foot on the pitch. It was, however, Chelsea who then gained the upper hand shortly after Rooney's goal(who, like Hernandez, seemed to think the headlines were written, and stopped playing)
4. United then started to tire - Mata/Hazard and Oscar started running the show and Mikel and Ramires meant Chelsea were very hard to 'out-counter'. Some majestic passing followed and Chelsea were level with a goal that was coming for quite a while. Mata finds Hazard on the edge of the box, and the Hazard finds the top corner from there. Game on.
5. For over an hour Chelsea dominated United at Old Trafford - they got their reward with Ramires playing in his favoured role of box-to-box midfielder, who added his third goal in three games against United. Nobody was going to catch Ramires in that scenario, but his calmness in front of goal is something he has gained since joining Chelsea - goals against Spurs, Barca, City, Liverpool and United show that.
6. We saw the David Luiz everyone wants to see all the time. Passing, crossing, intercepting, tackling, all perfected. His cross to Mata in the dying minutes looked to have given the win to Chelsea - but what an absolute world-class save made from David De Gea. He'll get a lot of plaudits for that save, and rightfully so. With Chelsea's fixture congestion, a win against Steaua will mean they'll have to play three games in a week to make room for this game, giving a United a huge advantage in the replay, all thanks to David De Gea.
7. The draw against City for the semi has, in my opinion, ruined this year's FA Cup. But, nonetheless, the incentive for that semi-final place will be gigantic. A final of City/Chelsea/Utd vs Wigan? Not so much.
Cozzy (Why people thought Utd would walk all over Chelsea in their own competition was foolish)
One Good Win And Liverpool Now Targeting Third
Having just watched us absolutely annihilate alleged Top Four certainties Tottenham am I the only one thinking that, with still a lot of points up for grabs, that a top four...even a top three finish is an achievable target?
I know your site seems to have a vendetta against Brendan Rodgers, taking the mickey whenever he says something (which you often like to take out of context) but clearly it doesn't matter what you, the rest of the media or rival fans think.
The entire team obviously understands what Brendan says as he has proved that Liverpool can match, and beat, any team in the league.
A lot has also been said about how we will never be able to hold onto Suarez but surely the lure of Champions League glory next season will be enough to convince him to stay?
Nev, YNWA, Birmingham
Loving That Win
That game was bloody brilliant. I think I enjoyed it more because we eventually won it but I'm sure if I had a neutral bone in my body I would have been able to appreciate that the game was topsy-turvy, filled with a lot of attacking intent, defensive errors and to top it all off some awesome individual tricks, runs and goals. Surely exactly what you want from a Sunday afternoon football match. Both teams failed to take advantage of the spells they dominated (in neither case through lack of trying) and it could have really finished in so many ways.
Gareth Bale really is something special. Lucas did a fantastic job of marshalling him for the majority of the game but every time Bale found a little bit of space he would create a chance or have an effort on goal himself. It was truly terrifying whenever he was on the ball. Sadly on the other side of it he didn't really make me like him as a person any more with his efforts to 'protect himself from injury'. In the build-up to winning the free-kick which eventually led to the second goal Lucas was definitely pulling on his shoulder a little bit. Some would argue it was a soft free-kick but what really frustrated me was that Bale put his hand over his eyes as if that was where the contact had been made. I don't know if he was trying to get Lucas booked but I found it slightly pathetic. I would be keen to understand how this move to grab his face when his shoulder has been tugged will help him avoid injury in the future.
Downing had an excellent game. When he was on the ball about to score his goal I think there was 45,000 fans inside the stadium expecting him to miss and probably another few million watching from home. I am delighted they were all wrong. I have been very critical of Downing in the past and remain suspicious of any man who can go two entire seasons without scoring or assisting a goal given his position; I am certainly not converted and given his age if we could sell him in the summer for a decent wedge of cash I wouldn't be opposed to it, but on the other side if he ends up sticking around and continues to deliver performances of that quality then we won't have too much of a problem.
Liverpool haven't won many games by a one-goal margin and it was good to see that happen. Our defence still needs work and the result certainly shouldn't paper over the cracks but the key now is to not buckle as the pressure will inevitably be back on the players. The media will be talking about the idea that we are back above Everton (congrats to Wigan by the way; we Reds have a brilliant song about how many years Everton haven't won a trophy for and I'd hate to stop singing it) and also looking at Arsenal and wondering if their bad form could continue and see them overtaken by us. The team have four great games ahead (I think all four are against opposition in the bottom six but that might be slightly off target) and we have to prove our mentality has improved by not letting anyone get ahead of themselves by saying the words 'top four', 'Champions League' or anything else even remotely along those lines. Hopefully the players have learnt by now that they aren't good enough to simply show up and win but when they work hard and play well they tend to look decent and often do okay.
Liverpool are still yet to beat a side...erm...oh, thank f**k these stats can stop now!
Liverpool v Spurs Conclusions
A handful of conclusions on Liverpool vs Spurs, although probably not 16 as I've had a couple...
* Won't argue that a draw would've probably been a fair result, but given the amount of times this season we've drawn when a win would've been a fair result I frankly do not care.
* Given his reputation, there is bound to be some questioning Suarez whenever he wins a penalty. I'll be honest, my first reaction at the game (with a very close view) was that it looked sketchy. Having seen TV replays, it's the leg that comes across which I didn't see at the time that surely should minimise any controversy?
* Feels good to get the 'not beaten one of the big boys' monkey off our back. Whilst it couldn't be ignored, I've always thought this 'stat' was more a freak victim of circumstance and the fixture list than anything else. We had City, Arsenal and Utd as our first three home games whilst getting used to a new manager/style and being left very thin up top following various departures amd deadline debacle. Even then we should've beaten City and played most of the Utd game with 10 men. Since then we've had decent points away at Everton and Chelsea, changed the shape of our side by strengthening the frontline in January then another set of draws at the Emirates and Etihad in which we showed signs of progress but ultimately let leads slip. Anyway, it'll be nice to stop hearing about this.
* The above only adds to my belief that the manner of the victory is more important than the three points itself. In coming from behind in the process of finally beating quality opposition, it should be real confidence boost ahead of the run-in.
* Credit goes to Rodgers, I had no problems with starting a very attacking line-up but the first 20mins of the second half showed we could not grasp any control in the middle of the park playing what was effectively 4-4-2. The decision to shift Suarez wide and bring Allen on helped bolster the midfield, swinging things back in our favour (albeit with a little help).
* Frustrating that the impact of the January signings has us looking capable of scoring vs. anyone seems to have coincided with the defence self-imploding and looking incapable of defending an sort of half-decent delivery into the box. With Carra retiring and Skrtel likely out the door following a prolonged spell in the dog house, rebuilding the back four with a couple of central defenders is a must this summer.
* Coutinho continues to look an astute signing and his work in the build-up to the opening goal showed his quality. Needs a summer working on his stamina and a few sessions in the weight room so he's able to handle the physical rigours of this league for more than 60mins a game.
* Jan Vertonghen, wow. Aside from two very well-taken goals I haven't been that impressed by an opposing defender (or anyone else for that matter) in quite a while. He's like a better, stronger version of Daniel Agger, and I rate the Dane very highly. Given CBs will be on our shopping list, I'd be targeting Toby Alderweireld on the stereotype of Belgian/Ajax defenders alone. I've only seen him play a couple of times and can't claim an informed opinion, but I don't care. This needs to happen based on pedigree, regardless of anything else.
* Vertonghen epitomised Spurs impressive combination of size, strength and speed with excellent technical ability. Seeing them in person for the first time this season I'd forgotten how big Dembele and Sigurdsson are, Bale and Walker are obviously physical specimens but perhaps most importantly they all can play. A lot of sides look to strike a balance between physicality and smaller, technical players whereas Tottenham seem to have found a group who combine the two. Their fans should be proud of the way Levy has assembled this squad and AVB has got them playing.
* A weekend highlighted by a good result amd heavy dollop of Schadenfreude is tempered only by that FA Cup draw. Am I right in thinking this means only fifth gets a Europa League spot? Whilst obviously a consolation prize, I can't see us getting fourth no matter how well we finish and was really hoping last season's lack of European football altogether was something of an aberration. Still, should add a little more intrigue to the run-in if anyone actually wants it.
* On the subject of Europe, as I type this in front of the telly I've just seen Sky advertising Bayern vs Arsenal using the Klaxons 'It's not over yet'. I believe the kids say LOLZ these days.
Dave (hello Andy) LFC
Does BAE Care At All?
Was it just me or did Asshole-Ekotto not seem to give one shite from the word go yesterday?
If anyone seen, in the huddle beforehand, everyone was crouched down in *standard huddle position*, but he was standing straight and just looking around! Then, and again, it could have just been me, but did he not just seem to boot every ball he received away aimlessly or else try to float little passes to Liverpool players. And then, bringing Suarez down like he'd just walked out of Tiger Tiger and didn't know where he was or what he was supposed to be doing. I know he's said before that football isn't his passion (painting or line dancing or something) but is he just taking the p***! And with all that, I think he seems a nice chap.
Cheers anyway BAE, very helpful in getting three moderately undeserved (bar the first 25 mins) points.
John Ed, LFC, Ireland
Yay. Spurs Are Back
Phew! I really thought I was dreaming things with the results and the manner in which Spurs were playing in the past three months.
It turns out I'm okay - Spurs are back again, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and gifting a goal to the opposition every time it looks like we're on the home straight.
I'm quickly putting my house on finishing fifth by goal difference.
Matt L, Spurs
Some Spurs Thoughts
I have been stewing over the Liverpool v Spurs game since yesterday and I need to get a few things off my chest:-
- AVB's team selection was horribly wrong. Lennon was always going to be missed but starting with Livermore was a big mistake. I like Livermore. When we are a goal or two up with 15 minutes to go then he is your man to bring on. He is strong and disciplined and will win the ball for you and play a nice square pass to keep possession. But to start him in central midfield and push Dembele out wide is madness.
- In fact, I'm not entirely sure what position Dembele was playing. But what is clear is that he is one heck of a player. His ability to ghost past defenders like they aren't even there is phenomenal. Why AVB would move him out of the centre where he can control the game, I cannot fathom. He was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch for me (Suarez and Vertonghen ran him close) and he has got to be in the middle of that pitch for Spurs.
- Surely it would have made more sense to leave Parker and Dembele where they always play in the centre of midfield. Switch Gylfi to right midfield and play Lewis Holtby on the left. That is a balanced midfield and Spurs would have held their shape much better. I just can't get enough of Lewis Holtby and I am sorry to see him on the bench at the moment.
- Two shocking defensive errors have allowed an average Liverpool side to win the game. Starting with Liverpool's second goal, I don't know what Kyle Walker was thinking with that pass. I think Walker needs a rest. He is a good player but he is young and has played an awful lot of games. He is making mistakes a little too often. A short rest would do him good and may help him focus on his game a little more.
- Spurs fans (myself included) have been raving about our 'Sweeper Keeper' and up till yesterday Lloris's decision making when coming off his line had been perfect! But he made a big error in trying to nick the ball past Downing to keep control of it. Next time Hugo, just kick the bloody ball as hard and as far as you can please!
- Liverpool's third goal comes from Defoe inexplicably kicking the ball back towards goal in the most dangerous of areas to Liverpool's most dangerous players. I don't blame Benoit too much for giving away the penalty (and it definitely was a penalty). But it was another comedy of errors from Spurs which allowed Gerrard to step up and score the winner.
- In past years, going down 3-2 at Anfield wouldn't be so bad but as I have said earlier, this Liverpool side are distinctly average. Looking at their whole team, there a few that I would take to be part of the Spurs squad. Suarez obviously. But aside from him, possibly Countinho and maybe Sturridge. But no one else. Not even Steve Gerrard. That's how good I think this current Spurs squad is and that's why the defeat is a bitter pill to swallow. The unbeaten run had to come to an end at some point but it shouldn't have been to this lot.
- Fair play to Liverpool though. They took the chances that were presented to them and they should rightly be delighted with their win. I think they can make progress under Brendan Rodgers but I think it will take longer than they might expect to get back to where they want to be.
Rob (Hugo I still love you), THFC London
AVB > Rodgers
How can Brendan Rodgers claim that yesterdays victory for Liverpool was 'great'? That man is an absolute buffoon, every time the camera pans to him during the match he is pacing the touchline clapping his hands like an over-enthusiastic father watching his child's Under-12 team on a Saturday morning with a slightly embarrassed look on his face.
Liverpool were incredibly fortunate yesterday, had Gylfi Sigurdsson scored instead of hitting the post and put Spurs 3-1 up it was game over. Instead Stewart Downing got incredibly lucky after a horrible Kyle Walker backpass and Assou-Ekotto bundled Suarez over in the box and Rodgers is able to spin his usual tripe about a great performance and how Liverpool deserved the win.
I'm sorry Brendan, they didn't. A mixture of Suarez and a huge mistake from Kyle Walker gave you victory. The man cannot sort out his defence, time and again Spurs cut through the shambles of a defence, and if it wasn't for Luis Suarez I doubt Rodgers would still be in a job.
If Villas-Boas was in charge of that Liverpool the dross that Rodgers signed wouldn't be there and I would bet that they would be up there challenging for a Champions League spot.
Cracking Game, Cracking Sportsmanship
Okay, first of all, as a Liverpool supporter obviously I'm stoked with the 3-2 comeback win over Spurs. It was a cracker of a game with all the ups and downs many of us have come to love about these types of fiery Premier League fixtures. Spurs fans will no doubt be feeling the lower of the two sets of supporters, but I'm not here to mock or anything like that (which I generally find pathetic).
What I wanted to comment on was the massive show of good sportsmanship at the end of the match, in particular from the Tottenham players.
Despite eventually losing the game, and considering the amount of minor clashes around the pitch during the 90mins, it was heartening to see both sets of players sharing smiles and shaking hands at the end. Scott Parker and Luis Suarez had one of the bigger clashes in-game...and it was Parker who was quick to Suarez's side at the end to smooth things over. Suarez seemed to initially brush Parker off - I think he was expecting more verbals - but quickly realised Parker was actually trying to leave what had happened on the pitch behind them, instead of dragging it off the pitch as well.
Many of the stories about football revolve around fouls, dives and the like...so for me, it was great to see the good side of professional football rear it's not-so-ugly head.
Glen (faith restored) Stuart, New Zealand
* Gareth Bale's been playing well, but he's really only going to end up as a left-back.
* I continue to like Ramires a lot, he's a fantastic player when his head is on right.
* What a save by De Gea. He doesn't always command the box like an elite keeper but he's maybe the best shot-stopper in the world (at least gets a mention in that conversation, for me). That's the type of save hockey goalies make with those big pads.
* I hope Torres isn't as limp in all aspects of his life as he was at that last side foot from outside the 18. I know it's the hot 2+2 guff, but if Atletico takes Torres in a swap for Falcao and gives CSKA West London a stick of gum in value toward one of the hottest properties in world football, they deserve the financial apocalypse they'll be enjoying in about 2 or 3 years.
* Unless T*rry was injured and I missed it, not sure why he didn't start. That second goal probably doesn't go in with him in the box (snigger).
* Eden Hazard really changed the game when he came on and I really enjoyed his work in the Transformers movies.
* Taking it back to the Bridge is a good result here, especially for Mediawatch. who will be a very busy column when Chelsea inevitably goes t*ts up in front of their 'support'.
* Sturridge should have been booked for diving in the 78th minute for trying to draw that 'foul' by Vertonghen. He might need another game to get back up to speed, had his moments but we'll need more from him over this next stretch. We at least need Europa League football to have any hope of keeping Suarez.
* Coutinho looks pretty good, huh? Hopefully he can keep it up, we'll see...
* There are a lot of bad haircuts in the Premier League, an astoundingly wide variety and a 'BPL Bad Hairdo XI' would have class and depth all over the pitch ... ut, step forward, Daniel Agger. He looks like he gets his hair cut by a careless blind woman who doesn't like him.
* I've written in praising Vertonghen before, he's fantastic, I watch a lot of Ajax matches due to family links and I really wanted Liverpool to pick him up but apparently the Anfield braintrust was smitten with the image of Assaidi striking his lean figure on the bench. Maybe he's really diligent about getting the water in practice. With all due respect, I would have loved to see the reaction in the Heerenveen offices when they called:
"It's Liverpool on the line, they want Assaidi!"
"The Liverpool in Uruguay, right?"
* I watched Norwich v Southampton and have absolutely nothing to say about that match. The remote was on the far end of the coffee table and I haven't trained my dog to change channels yet.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA
Time For Moyes To Go
The Everton performance on Saturday was awful. It brought back memories of Howard's third stint. I was expecting Mitch Ward to turn up on the right wing.
I think Moyes has done a great job, the team he's built is (usually) better in every department than the mess he inherited. He's also driven a massive improvement in the club's training facilities and general professionalism. But in the summer it's time to part company. As that lovely Brian chap at Swansea has shown, it's possible to achieve more than a half season of decent league football and the hope that next year we might manage a full one.
Best wishes David, I hope you get a decent job and your career doesn't follow the Curbishley route. Flog Fellaini in the summer and give the new bloke the money to spend.
Chris, EFC, london
Is It Worth Going Up At All?
Jim Panzee's mail regarding the lack of contribution from fans of clubs outside the Premier League top six has tugged at my heartstrings a little. I would certainly hate for him to abandon the cornucopia of footballing knowledge that is F365, because of the laziness of people like me. So I felt it might be nice to throw my mailbox virginity to the winds, and share with you a few brief (ahem), and humble musings of this Crystal Palace fan.
Now all things considered, this season has been pretty tidy for the Eagles. We finished 20th, then 17th in the Championship over the last two seasons, following our administration and last-day survival of 2010. We're now on course for a position in the play-offs for the first time since 2008 (and that just turned out to be one big, frustrating, Cardiff-esque dry hump). Automatic promotion is also not yet out of our grasp, with us now only trailing an impressive, but by no means infallible Watford side by one point.
But with such relative success brings a degree of scepticism for your more rational football fan. What will happen to us should we defy logic and actually achieve promotion to the Premier League? Recent years have shown that it's entirely possible for a newly promoted club to establish themselves nicely in the top flight within a reasonably short space of time - Swansea, West Brom, Stoke, etc. But history is also clubs who have enjoyed only fleeting life in the Promised Land, before reality kicked in and sent them tumbling back downstairs, their prize players stripped away by mid-table elite; with the clubs only to be replaced by the next bunch of pretenders, with whom they remember battling only a couple of seasons before, in the (arguably) more exciting and (unarguably) more unpredictable Championship.
This brings me to my next point: The Premier League - whilst undoubtedly being the crown jewel of English football - simply doesn't look particularly thrilling. Only three teams currently have the capacity to win it, with two of whom relying heavily on the continuing support of their morally dubious sugar-daddy investment. Then there's the [Race for fourth'. That's actually [The Best of the Rest'. Something one can certainly find interesting, but only after working through the Wenger complex - the idea that three positions below first place should be regarded as akin to a trophy season. Finally: the rest of the league, fighting for the positions between 9th and 17th. Occasionally there will be some charming success stories a la Swansea. But by and large, we see a contingent of clubs struggling to simply not be as woeful as three teams below them. (Obviously this doesn't apply to the reasonably successful types, such as Everton/Liverpool, but when Wigan look likely to bag another season of the same, it's easy to become disillusioned with the lower reaches of the Prem).
Then there's the aforementioned consequence of immediate relegation, in the form of the player exodus. It's hard for me to escape the idea that this will not happen to my beloved Eagles. Zaha has already confirmed his flight to bigger and better things. This was inevitable for a precociously talented English 20-year -ld with the world at his feet. But if/when promotion brings us further into the radar of Premier-established clubs; what happens when a goal-dry team (Sunderland, for instance?) notices that Glen Murray has had the season of his life? Or if an improving, attacking Fulham decides that they like the idea of Bolasie tricking his way down their wing? Hell, I can certainly see Mile Jedinak making the grade at the likes of Aston Villa, or a similar team crying out for a bit of steel and experience.
I suppose the natural conclusion that I've managed to rant my way to is this. Fans of recent Premier League-impotent clubs: Do you treasure your fleeting memories of top-flight football above all others? Or does hindsight make you lament your premature venture into the elite? A venture which ultimately resulted in one great leap backwards, after a few sexy, yet tentative steps forward?
(If this isn't published, it's because the MC has a top-six bias. Not because it's really sodding long).
Daniel, London, CPFC
Big Up Degsy
I think we can all be quite cynical and hateful sometimes in the mailbox (yes, really). So I would just like to say Degsy did amazing in his cheeky punts this week. My personal favourite was West Brom to win from behind at 11-1. I bet he has the mother of all hangovers.
Daniel Bob Jones, Cardiff