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The Unofficial Weekly Awards are here. Don’t take them seriously.
Premier League Player of the Week: Mesut Ozil
The trouble with praising Mesut Ozil and pointing out that actually he’s much better than his detractors would have you believe is that it feels like you’re playing into their hands. However, Ozil was brilliant this week, as he often is, so eff them.
Football League Player of the Week: Hakeeb Adelakun
Scunthorpe United’s ex-Crystal Palace and West Ham United junior stole the show with a hat-trick of assists as the Iron beat Northampton Town.
European Player of the Week: Duvan Zapata
Man of the match as Sampdoria beat Juventus, which is never not enjoyable. Probably almost as pleased with this as the time his move to West Ham United fell through.
PL loanee: Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Obvious bias, but a legitimate choice. Gareth Southgate told his young charges that if they wanted to step up from the under-21s to the senior men’s team then they needed to be playing regularly. Loftus-Cheek was one of several to heed the call and go out on loan. At Palace, he is able to play an integral role in the team, and has been thriving.
Best Goal: Eoin Doyle
Long clearance from defence, a flick on, and then a 25-yard volley over the keeper. Route One, but nothing of the stereotype. An absolute joy to watch on television and I can only imagine how Oldham Athletic fans who saw this live felt.
Best Save: Julian Speroni
Kept it 2-2 with a reaction stop from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Best Tactical Move: Sean Dyche
Swansea City will not be the toughest opposition for Burnley this season, but it was perfect opportunity to show exactly how good his team is. Specifically, as good as Liverpool and the Arsenal, according to the league table.
Worst Tactical Move: Tony Pulis
A team prioritising defence failing to defend. A functional manager failing to function.
Manager of the Week: Eduardo Berizzo
Telling your players that you’ve got some health issues when they’re 0-3 down at half-time is an unconventional move, but his players certainly responded and salvaged a draw. The rest of us can help with research into cancer by buying Daniel Storey’s book and donating to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Praise of the Week: John Terry
Injured but in attendance at Aston Villa v QPR so got a “good effort from JT” from the summariser on Channel 5.
Tonsorial Expert of the Week: Garth Crooks
Not for his obsession with certain players’ hairstyles, but for his assertion that “they are for beauty parlours”, suggesting he doesn’t understand how these things work, that you spend that time and money for how it looks all the time, not just while you’re actually in the salon or barbershop, and that the same still applies when Garth goes for his short back and sides.
Maths of the Week: Andy Gray
Interviewed for the Set Pieces, Gray bemoaned modern punditry for being “over-analytical”, as “they talk about 4-2-3-1, 5-2-3-1, 5-4-6-1 … People just make numbers up now and add them up to make 11”. NB only one of Gray’s examples actually adds up to 11, and most formations tend to add up to 10, as they only count outfield players. Even when Gray played and coached this was the norm.
Inevitable Managerial Candidate of the Week: Tim Sherwood
Interviewed by the Independent to promote a watch, Sherwood described himself as “interested in any job”. In fairness to him, he claimed to have spoken to clubs abroad and suggested he would even entertain a return to development coaching.
Urgent Meeting Required of the Week: Goalkeepers’ Union
So many goalkeeping mishaps this weekend. Millwall and Sunderland especially, but one of the seven goals Cambridge conceded came from about 70 yards out. The organisers need to have a word.
Mailboxer of the Week: Mike
In the North London Derby specific mailbox, for misunderstanding that 16 Conclusions tends to praise the victorious team and criticise the defeated one, and suggesting that it ‘resembles the ramblings of an Arsenal fan after 8 pints of Stella’. As opposed to whatever Mike was drinking, which was far more bitter.
Dembele of the Week: Siriki Dembele
Collected his award for EFL Young Player of the Month for October, and got on the scoresheet on Tuesday night in Grimsby Town’s 3-2 win over Swindon Town.
Compiler of the Week: Ed Quoththeraven
Man City will drop off
There was talk this morning of City winning the Champions League, on top of all the other recent (mostly justified, sometimes hyperbolic) fawning over their form. Let’s be clear, City are playing brilliantly at the moment and most likely the best side in Europe on current form, but…it’s November. To win the CL, you need to be the best side in Europe in May (or have a lot of luck).
During Pep’s time at Bayern, I think many would have agreed that they were the best side in Europe pre-Xmas; repeatedly blowing teams away. For whatever reason, by the time of the crunch games for the CL in spring, Real, Barca, Atletico and others were playing better. Indeed, Real seem to have been masters of peaking at the right time in the last few years, reaching their best around Easter.
Personally, and I may well be wrong, but I don’t think City’s current level can last til May. Their team is all pretty much fit, everyone is confident and the ball seems to be bouncing their way. At some point injuries will hit (imagine KDB being sidelined for two months like Pogba) and, this is just a suspicion of mine, I think Pep’s methods are too fatiguing over the duration of a whole season. Not so much physically, more mentally. It only takes two or three cogs in such a high-functioning, well-oiled machine to not be at their optimum for the collective to drop significantly. I think that’s the one flaw in his master plan; it’s all just too demanding to do for nine months straight.
Chances are, by the time that day comes, they may very well be too far ahead of Chelsea and United for it to matter in the league, but I think talk of the Champions League and 15 point+ winning margins is getting a bit carried away.
Lewis, Busby Way
1) Henderson is a goner. No place in that midfield once Keita comes in and assuming we keep Can or get a solid replacement. The lack of leadership after the days of Carra and Stevie is appalling.
2) Klopp was again ten minutes late in making the substitution. The first goal happens. Teams when down 0-3 at home will always come out all guns blazing. Once the first goal did go in, Klopp should have got Can for any attacker. He made his subs after conceding two and after Seville hitting the underside of the bar.
3) That said, Can had a shocker. Provided no stability and missed a golden chance on the counter.
4) Karius did well and should feel unfortunate at conceding those goals. Maybe could have done better for the third.
5) I would have gladly taken a point at kick-off. The final game at Anfield should have us mentally strong enough to see Spartak off. Only the nerves of the Liverpool fans worry me.
What does Henderson do?
As a long-time reader, first time writer I felt compelled to write this after the match last night and indeed watching Liverpool this season.
What does Jordan Henderson do for the team??? Yes he runs a lot but never seems to provide anything going forward while neglecting his biggest responsibility…protecting that very flimsy back four.
Would Can not be better as the base of midfield with Georgina providing a link between attack and defence with either Lallana/Coutinho weaving their magic? Does anyone else not see this? Apart from the Suarez season when Hendo played really well, he has done nothing since but because he seems like a decent humble English lad he is protected from criticism and being dropped.
…Another word or two about last night since Moreno seems to be the one taking most of the stick on an individual level. While I agree with most of it (I’ve said for a while he’s got the physical ability to be world class if he didn’t have footballing intelligence on a par with a goldfish) I don’t think enough’s been said on here about just how far below the required level Jordan Henderson is at this point.
I like Henderson, he seems a decent enough guy, conducts himself well and I believe you need players like him and Milner in and around a squad to muck in, fill gaps and do the hard work running stuff to let other players shine over the course of a season. But the fact he’s club captain and presumably one of the first names on the teamsheet each week shows just how weak that midfield can be and how few leaders on the pitch we have. Each time Liverpool have be shown up this season (City, Spurs and now last night all stand out) the midfield has been completely overrun and players like Henderson have proceeded to entirely disappear from the game. In situations like last night you desperately want to see your deepest lying midfielder, the one whose role in the team is to retain and recycle play for his teammates, get his foot on the ball and calm things down, play a few passes and steady the ship. He had a 55% passing accuracy and fewer touches than Karius. You want to see your midfielders putting in tackles and interceptions to help break up the play but I can’t honestly remember many times where Henderson manages to do this. And most importantly, you want your captain to actually lead, either by example or by getting the rest of the team to cool off and show a bit of game management but his captaincy style seems to be celebrating loudly when goals go in and getting petulant with the ref the rest of the time. Even watching him at the ground you rarely see him off camera or during stoppages in play talking to the rest of the team and showing the leadership and spine this group desperately needs.
I’ll accept that there’s some mitigation, Winjaldum can go equally missing for stretches of games and for all the praise our forward line gets they can leave things exposed. But Winjaldum offers more going forward and the midfield being overrun has happened regardless of how many we’ve had in the middle at times. The most notable thing about all of this is that Klopp seems to realise a lot of it, with him desperate to bring in Keita over the summer to presumably play in that number 6 role that Henderson is filling at the minute. Doesn’t help much with the lack of leadership in the team though.
Jason (LFC season ticket holder) Merseyside
Save your anger for January
Why are people still getting angry about Liverpool’s shocking defending? Not as if it’s a surprise! I’d save the anger for end of January transfer window as I have an awful feeling Klopp is going to persist with this rotten bunch at the back.
Mark (not much else to say really) LFC
Happy with Tottenham standing still now, thanks
Pochettino has made significant progress each season, despite the challenge to even stay at the same level being significant year after year – City, United, Chelsea don’t just lie down when you beat them in the league folks.
Every year we get fitter, stronger, more tactically varied and spread the goals and responsibilities further across the first team and squad – all on a significantly lower spend and wage bill than other teams in or around (or dreaming of) our league position.
Europe – Good Europa league underachievers to bad CL group stage team to good CL group stage team (and we’ll see what happens in the knockout stages this year) is the annual progression here. Any questions?
Domestic cups – Look, I wish we would try to win the League or FA Cup. I do! But seeing as the manager is already seemingly subject to extremely high expectations based on the above point of view, it’s very understandable that these competitions are treated as proving grounds/fitness/tactical tests for the squad players that we do need to integrate with as little risk as possible into the league or the CL teams
The record against other top six cubs away is an eyesore and needs to improve. To insist that it is suddenly one of the main measures that apply seems pretty unbalance, no? (lapsed into Pochspeak there)
If Pochettino continued with all of the other outstanding achievements since his arrival and also solved that last issue, then we would win the league. But any attempt to paint this as a binary measure of the success we ‘should’ expect doesn’t wash.
Top four and CL progress on a budget, playing great football with young and improving players will do us every year until the stadium is paid off. There – I said it and I’m not even sorry.
Darragh (not bitter, very happy actually), Spurs, Ireland
Off days? Off days?
Hey Mike – Let’s put Spurs terrible record in big games away from home down to a series of ‘off-days’ shall we? (and your massive over sensitivity about what people write, down to not having ever seen your team win anything?)
Do you read the mailbox, see your name and then punch the air like you’ve just scored a cup final winner? Or do you reread what you wrote and then die a little inside, hoping none of your mates read it and figure out that it’s you?
I continue to admire Sarah for not just deleting this kind of tripe.
Keep up the fabulous work F365, you’re a beacon of quality in a sea of utter dross. You’d better win that damn award
Dave (currently in Russia, Spartak Moscow v Zenit next week)
Timi’s Tuesday musings
* So that is what Istanbul felt like…for Milan fans it could only have been Liverpool. I give F365 massive points for predicting Liverpool as the team to watch, but just like the Liverpool defense I have to take those points away for having Moreno as your top outcast who has made a turnaround (harsh I know).
The difference between the two sides of this team are outstanding and best illustrated by those famous memes you see on the net showing a ferrarri’s front (the attack and a rundown beat up vehicle (the defence)
* And the last ten of the Spartak game nearly topped the Liverpool game I tuned in just in time to see both goals go in and each time I thought surely not as the ball was allowed to ping to the one free man in each box. Spartak will probably end up in the Europa seats and this game will be the reason why.
* That was the second straight game that Man City made hard work of but to borrow a phrase from this site they are now a swiss army knife of a team they aren’t all going to be sh*te at the same time.
* When Shaktar finally qualify having gotten a draw against a not bothered Man city C team they should thank the people who drew up the fixture list. I still feel Napoli not being in the next round is a huge loss and it’s primarily down to playing the best team in the group when the stakes where highest….unfortunately there’s not much anyone can do about it so just saying.
* Congrats to Besiktas last year they imploded with qualification in their grasp ,this year they’ve become probably the first Turkish side to top a Champions League group. That’s good progress built on guys who either used to be good (Pepe) never quite made it (Quaresma/Babel ) or were never considered good enough for the opportunity (Talisca ). They will still be the first-place team every second team will prefer but with that atmosphere anything is possible.
*And that’s unfortunately is what happens when you let half a team go.This entire Champions League run has been a disaster for Monaco and really being out of Europe completely is probably for the best they have brought in some new young players but I think they collectively need another year or two to get back to the level they where and that’s if the rest of their best players aren’t picked off by then. It’s a lesson Leipzig might also want to learn with the big guns already circling around their best players.
* And so begins Ronaldo and Real Madrid’s latest quest to win the world footballer of the year/Old Big Ears. Am I the only one who is getting a bit turned off by their shtick ie. not showing up till almost the last game of the group stage and steadily getting better which each group stage .
Knowing them they’ll probably get Besiktas or Utd.
* Based on their last two displays are we to assume that Spurs now think the Premier League is beneath them and have now decided to concentrate solely on the Champions League.
It was yet another great performance and just shows how weird and unpredictable this years group stage has been – they looked proper f….when the draw was made and now they can afford to put out their equivalent of a Nicky Butt team safe in the knowledge they are topping their group.
Dortmund on the other hand need sorting out getting rid of Tuchel hasn’t worked they are looking at Europa if they are lucky and haven’t won in the league since the first testament was being written Peter Bosz needs to turn this around quick someone check if Sam Allardici is available.
Pipe down, Smalling
There’s not much in football that gets my blood boiling. However, occasionally some A grade hypocrisy or complete lack of self-awareness will get me going. Which brings me to Chris Smalling’s comments this morning. What is he trying to achieve here? From where I stand it sounds like he’s trying to make himself feel better for being dropped, but surely he should keep these thoughts to himself. The only likely result of this outburst is that it will be harder for him to get in the England team. If he doesn’t want to knuckle down, cement a first-team place and do some talking with his performances then, frankly, England are better off without him.
It’s quite simple, Chris Smalling is not in the England team because his current form does not justify selection. Phil Jones is the one who has really won Mourinho’s faith. You, my son, are back up for big Phil because the two of you together are a comedy act. One goal changes nothing, you still can’t play. I see Harry Maguire as your equal and I think that’s roughly where you fit in Southgate’s reckoning too. Simply playing for a big club does not get you any extra points I’m afraid. So wind your neck in and get back to work.
A mailboxer recently asked how people feel about players from less fashionable clubs getting caps. Well, I for one think it’s bloody great, and about time too. For too long, wearing the shirt of a top four club has resulted in almost certain England selection. How many times have players been frozen out of the England set up at an unfashionable club, get a move to a top four club, then suddenly be straight on the team sheet? Bloody loads is the answer. I see this as a big reason why England have been dogshit for so long.
England will not win anything under Southgate, but I genuinely believe we will one day look back on his tenure as the time the foundations for success were laid down. He is creating a healthier culture around the national team and I take my hat off to him. If Chris Smalling is a casualty of this policy, then so be it. No one will be losing any sleep.
Jamie (No play=no selection has really shaken up the transfer market too), LCFC
Reviewing Brighton’s unlikely heroes
After 12 games Brighton fans have a better idea of how the squad measures up in the Premier League. Here is a point of view on players in and around the first team for anyone who cares.
Ryan – The Aussie keeper has been growing in stature after a shaky start. His agility and reactions have impressed and his post-match antics have endeared him to the fans. He could be more confident in coming out to claim some balls but I can’t see Krul taking his place any time soon.
Suttner – The second player signed from Ingolstadt in the summer is our second-best left-back. He was first choice to start but didn’t really do enough to secure his place and has been warming the bench of late. His lack of pace could cause problems and at 30 years, he is only going to get slower.
Bong – Possibly the best named player in the league. Shame he’s not the best left-back in the league but he’s been doing enough to keep Suttner out of the picture.
Dunk – He has been great for us at centre-back and who doesn’t love seeing a local lad making 200 appearances for their club across three different leagues. Has been getting praise in the media but still has a way to go to prove he is a top-flight defender.
Duffy – Has formed a solid partnership with Dunk and was key to us getting promoted and will be key to us staying up.
Bruno – Our captain is an Albion legend. When he signed for the club in 2012 fans couldn’t decide whether he was quite good, or a bit rubbish. Turned out he was quite good. No one would have guessed that five years later he would be our first choice right back in the Premier League at the age of 37.
Stephens – Formed a strong partnership with the crocked Kayal in the Championship and now doing the same with Propper. Used to play for Droylsden.
Propper – Had his best game so far against Stoke and starting to look like a Dutch international. Has shown great speed of thought on ball and beginning to make some dangerous runs forward. His improvement in form has been handy given we’ve only had two fit central midfielders in the absence of Kayal and Sidwell.
Knockaert – Our superstar last season hasn’t looked the same. In the Championship he’d get the ball and skin two or three players and generally extract the urine from the opposing team. This isn’t the Championship though. He’s playing much safer this season which isn’t his style. Either Hughton has told him to play this way or he has lost some confidence. Hope it’s the former but Leicester let him go for a reason I suppose. Needs to act his age and not his shoe size when things aren’t going his way.
March – The boy signed from Lewes is a fans’ favourite and rightly so. Great to see him improving again after being injured for almost a year not long ago. Looks fearless so far and if he keeps progressing we may struggle to keep hold of him. Which makes me sad.
Izquierdo – Our record signing hasn’t had loads of game time but still has two goals. Just hoping he doesn’t become too predictable for defenders with his get the ball out wide, cut inside and shoot approach. It’s worked for Robben. Hasn’t really worked for Townsend.
Brown – Seems like we got the short straw when it came to Chelsea loans. Hasn’t played loads to be fair but not sure what he actually brings to the team.
Gross – A lot has been written already about the man who has been involved in 61% of our goals. Signed for £2.5 million and if he keeps this form up, possibly sold for £40 million in the summer.
Hemed – Recently returned from a three-match ban with a one-year contract extension. Great striker in the Championship, not so great in the Premiership. Can’t help but think he was given a new contract so he can be sold if we stay up, or be a key player if we go down.
Murray – Other than Dunk, the only survivor of the team that won the League One title. Albeit via Palace then Bournemouth. He’s slow, has a poor first touch, lacks creativity and is our best striker. Roll on January.
Not even the most optimistic fan would have predicted we would be in the top half at this stage. There’s still a way to go and 17th remains the target. The players should enjoy their day out at Old Trafford on Saturday but Palace next week is a must win.
Danny (starting to dream) Brighton
I love the site and have been fortunate enough to have my mails published many times in the last decade. Some to do with football, some not so much.
As with most people (I imagine), I get a sense of pride when said mails are published, and I have friends who read them (and then proceed to tell me how wrong my opinion is). I re-read my emails a few times before sending to ensure they don’t make me look any more foolish than usual.
With that in mind, I have seen a fair few glaring errors in mails recently, so I would like to get a few language rules clear:
Things are not comprised of, they comprise: Liverpool’s team comprises a wonderful attack and an embarrassing defence.
You imply something to someone, you infer something from them: I infer from Jose Mourinho that referees used to hate Chelsea, but now they hate Man Utd.
Then gives a chronological order, than compares: Kane played for Tottenham, then Real Madrid. Fat Sam is slightly less odious than John Terry.
You can only have less of a singular item. Multiple and it’s fewer: Spurs have fewer trophies in the cabinet than most teams. Most teams got given less injury time than Fergie’s United.
Apostrophes should only be used for possession and abbreviation, not pluralising: Most football fans (plural) are idiots / Whose is this half and half scarf? It’s that fan’s (possessive). Or both plural and possessive: whose are those half and half scarves? Those football fans’.
You try your utmost. Upmost means the one on top of everything else: Man City are trying their utmost to remain the upmost team in the league.
10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife is not ironic. It’s typical (Murphy’s law).
And I think we can all agree that if you confuse there/they’re/their or you’re/your, then you should not get published at all.
I know many people will take umbrage at this email and scoff that it doesn’t matter as long as people know what they mean, but I disagree. It all contributes to the dumbing down of our nation, even our world (Hello Mr Trump). And I think we all need to up our game to arrest this decline.
Just like when you hear a prominent radio presenter pronounce the word something as sumfink. Not acceptable. If unsure, check – the internet is a wonderful resource if used correctly.