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Daniel and Romelu up a tree
Dateline: Leeds, March 2016
Daniel Storey finally leaves Football365, changes his name to Rupel Boom, moves to Liverpool and starts a cult based on the teachings of Romelu Lukaku. Great significance is given to the number 10, members all wear ebony shoes and Romelu deniers are called ‘Joses’. The cult grows fast.
Dateline: A complex just outside Tranmere, August 2019
Lukaku is sold to Real Madrid for £50m. The COL whipped into a manic frenzy by their charismatic leader, Rupel Boom, tragically follow through on their suicide pact. The note they leave is a little too wordy.
Wake up, Jose
I know that hindsight is a wonderful thing, but seeing De Bruyne lighting up the Etihad and Lukaku scoring his 11th goal of the season, its maddening knowing that Chelsea allowed them to depart (admittedly for lots of money!)
I have no inside knowledge, but seemingly Jose wanted more defensive work (De Bruyne) and didn’t trust Lukaku to lead the line at his age ?
Now, I’m not in the Jose out camp, although I am peering over the fence watching those guys toasting marshmallows on their bonfire. but I am left hugely disappointed by his lack in looking at the long term. He’s happy to continue picking players on past glories (Ivanovic, Fabregas, Costa) when its obvious to pretty much everyone that these players aren’t performing. Surely its time to trust other players. Namely any younger ones.
Loftus-Cheek should be a regular now. If able (clause?) bring Christensen back from his loan (18 games in defence for a Champions League side, who just beat Bayern Munich and are 3rd in the Bundesliga!) Bamford could easily fill the Falcao role (namely sub with odd game!) and not do any worse. Nathan Ake offers versatility at LB and CM. Ola Aina certainly wouldn’t be any worse than Ivanovic at RB, pus there’s Kenedy and Troure. Not even mentioned the youngster’s at Vitesse.
I’ll caveat the above with the acceptance that, in July it was the correct decision to send players out on loan. Far better for e.g. Christensen to play in German League, than sit behind Cahill, Zouma and Terry at Chelsea, but things have changed.
I only hope that Jose can change too ?
Neil (happy to finish 12th with youngsters, than 6th (?) with current team), Surrey.
Just trust Baba
Does anyone else who been watching Chelsea with Baba Rahman feel that no Chelsea player seems to trust Baba.
In last weeks game against Bournemouth (and other matches before), i noted that Baba was in good position multiple times with acres of space infront of him to run.. but other Chelsea players preferred to pass side ways than to Baba.
Baba has not been very good with ball at his feel but to his credit sent in two good deliveries from the wings when he was given the ball.
Either Mourinho should not play Baba or players should trust Baba when he plays. It otherwise feels like we are playing with an handicap.
Death, taxes, and Arsenal needing a midfielder in January
Scrolling down the Top 10 list this morning wondering what was number 1 was like listening to the charts at Christmas. Arsenal’s centre midfield problem = X Factor winner. In a list of problems you just knew that’d be number 1 for the 748th Christmas in a row.
Joe (sign up Tugay)
Calm it, Brian la
Jeez Brian, LFC, we were not being negative, but cautious, and the point I was trying to make was don’t invoke ‘the commentator’s curse’. .
I applaud you being the optimist in your regular emails, but always saying “We WILL” just leads to trouble, with laughter and abuse from other team’s mailboxers, as you have experienced in the past. As we have learned from recent experience getting too optimistic can lead to crushing blows.
As you say, it is only December and we do have some definite winnable games coming up and all the big teams still to visit us. But we need to raise our home form/atmosphere for the latter to count, and as we have just found out you can’t guarantee anything (and no, that’s not negative, it’s just taking into account the whole season’s home form so far).
Sure keep the excitement and hope going Brian, I will as well, but like many of us, will not shout it from the rooftops. I distinctly remember the 70s and 80s management teams and players constantly emphasizing do the talking on the pitch, not in the media.
Of course if we do manage to do it this year I WILL buy you a pint!!
Mike (I repeat, “in Jurgen we trust”) Woolrich , LFC
When asked over the summer by a Chelsea supporting acquaintance my thoughts in Ighalo as a fantasy football selection I said something along the lines of ‘if he plays he’ll score a lot of goals’
This weekend’s victory showed exactly why, he was an absolute menace from start to finish and given that Bassong spent a portion of last season on loan at Watford and I would imagine training against Ighalo, it is quite surprising that he didn’t seem to know what was coming. With a bit of luck he could have had 3 or more.
With Everton and Lukaku next to come for Norwich I’m sure Ryan Bennett and Bassong will surely be looking forward to the relative relief of United’s frontline.
But onto Watford and that was much better, Villa last week was a battle of resilience whereas this week we took the game by the scruff of the neck and controlled it. There was a 15 minute wobble in the middle of the second half but even then we looked capable of scoring at any point. We now sit 9/10th depending on the result later tonight (Monday) but are as many points from the top as we are from the relegation zone. My heart tells me to look up (at time of writing only a point away from a probable European place) but the head says get to 40 points (36 will probably be enough) as soon as possible and be grateful for any fun you have along the way.
A long trip to Sunderland awaits next weekend, surely an interesting tactical battle between an irresistible force and an immovable object. Not sure if either team will want the ball as both look to keep it tight at the back and grab something on the counter, could be an awful game for the neutrals or it could end up 4-4. 3 points would be incredible but 1 would be nice.
Following that game the fixture list looks a little darker with the next 10 including Liverpool, Man city, Spurs (twice), Chelsea (twice). But based on this weekend would anyone fancy trying to predict scores in those games. (if forced, draw with Spurs at home, 4 points from Chelsea and lose the rest)
Colin (Above Chelsea for Christmas dinner, what a time to be alive) Watford FC
All right, don’t make a big song and dance about it.
*I thought a draw was a fair result. Early on in the Guardian’s minute by minute Nick Ames made the point that an early goal would have spoiled the fun, as one team got more defensive, and I think he was right. With Palace scoring in the 76th minute, Everton then threw everything at them to get an equaliser.
*Obligatory reference to two F365 recurring themes: Daniel Storey’s love of Romelu Lukaku (how many games? How many goals? How old?), and the site’s assertion that hitting the post/bar is not unlucky, merely inaccurate shooting. Not sure I fully I agree with that, but you could sympathise with Toffees fans thinking they were cursed, such was the magnetism between the frame of the goal and the ball.
*Yanick Bolasie and Gerard Deulofeu made this into the battle of the jinky wingers, and were their respective team’s main attacking threats throughout the game. One of football’s great pleasures is watching someone combine speed and skill to make an opponent look foolish, and on nights like last night, these are two of the best at it in the Premier League.
*Lukaku deserves all the plaudits, but at the other end, Connor Wickham put on another quietly decent centre-forward display, creating space and chances for the attacking midfielders behind him. People will still put him down for his lack of goals, some of which is fair, but the role he plays in the creation of chances for more skilful teammates is important.
*Wayne Hennessey had possibly his best game for Crystal Palace last night. However, I’m still not convinced he will ever be good enough to take the Glaziers to where they want to be. Similarly, one of Everton’s main limitations in recent seasons has been Tim Howard. It’s not that he’s constantly making gaffes, but there are signs of a lack of mobility on occasion. For example, Bournemouth’s third goal last week – Howard had taken a cheat step towards the near post, to give himself a better chance of getting to a shot there, and was then found miles out of position when the ball was crossed and headed in, because he wasn’t quick enough to react or move.
Howard has found himself in a similar position to David James, late in his career. His accomplishments in his heyday meant he largely avoided criticism for any poor play, but that same status meant he was effectively undroppable, even when it became glaringly obvious he was a major part of the problem.
Everton have the makings of a very good team, in players like Lukaku, Deulofeu, Galloway, Coleman and Stones (plus others), but it does seem like a new goalkeeper could be one of the answers for when they want to really push for a place at football’s top table.
*Crystal Palace are up to sixth. Our next two games are against Southampton and Stoke, two sides we should be aiming to be in the mix with come the end of the season. After that, we’ve got three against teams looking nervously over their shoulders at the relegation zone: Swansea, Bournemouth and Chelsea.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Insults to injuries
While sitting in a drab econ lecture on a dreary winter evening, my mind couldn’t help but wander towards the whirlwind that has been this season’s Premier League. I know it’s been said time and time again, but you really can’t tell who is going to beat who in the league, even 15 games in, which makes for some fantastic entertainment every damn week. There has been 1 clear overachiever in the league so far- Leicester sitting at the top of the table, with people constantly questioning when they will hit a bad run of form rather than if. I do agree with that questioning, as the big reasons for their overachievement have been free-flowing attacking football coupled with a hit of injuries to all the big clubs below them, and their luck to stay relatively injury-free (not to undermine them at all, they’ve been a joy to watch this season).
For Leicester, they’ve had 7 players- Vardy, Kante, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Huth, Morgan, and Schmeicel- who have featured in every game this season, Mahrez has also just missed 1 game out of 15. That sounds like some sort of fantasy for the perenially injured sides of Arsenal and United who have only had 3 players feature in every game this season- Giroud, Monreal, and Cech for Arsenal, and Mata, Smalling, and Schweini for United. City just can’t seem to get the job done without their backbone of Aguero, Silva, and Kompany who have collectively missed 20 games between them. And Liverpool have had some Henderson, Coutinho, Lallana, and Sakho injuries sprinkled around the glass legs of Sturridge. It’s going to be extremely interesting to see whether Leicester can keep this up when it all gets evened out and Mahrez has to sit out for a few games while Vardy fires blanks; not to be pessimistic, but injuries are inevitable, and when they catch up to the Foxes, and the big teams start firing with relatively fitter squads, then we will be able to see their true character. Till then though, it’s fun to watch them shake up a league that has become a little too complacent , hopefully it’ll set them straight, and this could be the wake up call other English clubs to get their act together, especially if they want to stand a chance of avoiding the continuing trend of embarrassment in Europe.
– HJ (The Epl is the best league in the world), MUFC
It’s all a damn fix
I had a bit of a sleepless night last night and started idly looking again at the FA CUP 3rd Round draw, probably hoping it would make me nod off. And you know you get those clichés about certain teams “always getting an easy draw” — Man Utd and/or Arsenal in the Champions League group stages, etc…?
I saw Chelsea and thought, “Hang on, am I misremembering, or do they seem to have an easy home draw again… is that a thing?” So I looked it up. And here’s who they’ve drawn in the Third Round over the last 11 seasons:
Chelsea in the FA Cup Third Round
2005 Huddersfield (h)
2006 Macclesfield (h)
2007 QPR (h)
2008 Southend (h)
2009 Watford (h)
2010 Ipswich (h)
2011 Portsmouth (h)
2012 Southampton (a) *
2013 Derby (a)
2014 Watford (h)
2015 Orient / Scunthorpe (h)
Weird. By coincidence, they only had two away ties and the only top tier team they were drawn against was newly-promoted Southampton (who did alright, but finished 14th that year). Maybe it is a “thing”… and then, because counting sheep wasn’t working, I looked at the next two rounds.
Chelsea in the FA Cup Fourth Round
2005 Everton (a) *
2006 Nottm Forest (h)
2007 Wigan (a) * (Wigan finished 14th in the Premier League that year)
2008 Ipswich (h)
2009 Preston (a)
2010 Everton (a) * Chelsea lost on pens after a replay
2011 QPR (a) (newly promoted to Premier League, survived by 1 point)
2012 Brentford (a)
2013 Stoke (h) *
2014 Bradford (h) Lost 2-4
A few more away ties, certainly, but no more than you’d expect—and only three of ten that were in any way challenging. Curiouser and curiouser. Let’s look at the final round where there’s a decent chance of getting an easy draw. Surely it gets tougher, though…
Chelsea in the FA Cup Fifth Round
2005 Colchester (h)
2006 Norwich (h)
2007 Huddersfield (h)
2008 Watford (a)
2009 Cardiff (h)
2011 Birmingham (h)
2012 Middlesbrough (a)
2013 Man City (a) **
Only one tie out of eight that could remotely have been considered difficult. Bizarre. Any ideas? I can only think that, as they’re the nation’s favourite second team, the FA likes to keep them in it for as long as possible.
And does anyone know of (or have their own paranoid conspiracy theory about) any other teams who are consistently such a… er… statistical outlier in what is, after all, a random draw?
—Wilson “Mi vida paranoica” Beuys