Garth Crooks goes for a 3-2-1-3-1 formation this week but with only one centre-half; Harry Redknapp just chooses three and moves one across…
The best of Brendan
It’s like picking juicy blackberries from a particularly low-hanging branch, but here are Mediawatch’s two favourite Brendans from the weekend:
“Certainly from my perspective I look at it in all competitions we’ve lost less games than Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. And we’ve lost two games which is equivalent to Manchester United and Tottenham but obviously the hysteria around ourselves is interesting to note.”
Because of course great teams are famously measured on the number of games they manage to lose in all competitions. So Liverpool are absolutely equal to United despite there being two quite obvious indications – the Premier League table and the actual real-life match between the two teams – that United are rather better.
What Brendan didn’t mention is that Liverpool have only actually won (which is, certainly from our perspective, the measure of success) matches this season against Bournemouth, Stoke and Aston Villa (ranked 16th, 17th and 18th) in the Premier League and League Two Carlisle. On penalties.
“There are very short memories in football. The team was eighth when I got here.”
And indeed, the team is eighth now.
Me, myself and I
‘Who the f*** plays 3-1-3-3?’ we asked last week after looking with bafflement at Garth Crooks’ team of the week on the BBC website.
‘Who the f*** plays 3-2-1-3-1?’ is this week’s question. Especially when your defensive trio contains just one centre-half (who wasn’t actually very good at the weekend).
But Crooks actually plays a 3-2-1-3-1-1 formation with himself at the fulcrum of absolutely everything:
‘I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if Tottenham have any chance of claiming a European spot this season, they will have to keep Lloris fit.’
‘I remember this lad when he was trying to make a name for himself…’
‘It was that determination and presence that I detected when he was making his way into the England squad…’
‘Last week on Final Score I questioned whether Newcastle boss Steve McClaren could manage as effectively as he could coach…’
‘When I pick a substitute for my team of the week you can rest assured he has had a massive impact on the game.’
‘Be warned Manchester United and Manchester City, I saw a second-half performance from the Blues that reeked of hunger and desire.’
‘It is with some irony that I find Chelsea struggling at one end of the table and Manchester United on top…’
‘No-one said his second season was going to be easy for Harry Kane but I can’t help feeling he could help himself by just keeping the game simple.’
And Mediawatch can’t help feeling like Crooks has misunderstood the concept of picking a team of the week.
What’s the Mata you?
Mediawatch must return to Crooks’ passage on Juan Mata because frankly, it is a little bit mental.
‘It is with some irony that I find Chelsea struggling at one end of the table and Manchester United on top. It would be remiss of me not to mention Juan Mata at this point; the man who Mourinho couldn’t wait to get out of the revolving door at Stamford Bridge.
‘It has been Mata’s consistent performances for the Red Devils under Louis van Gaal that have helped transform their season. Mata was instrumental in United’s victory over Sunderland and should they win the title, his departure could prove to be Mourinho’s final embarrassment.’
Hmmm. Has Garth somehow forgotten that a Mata-less Chelsea won the title last season? We suspect that’s the most significant thing to happen in the 18 months since Mata left…not Mata playing quite well against the worst side in the Premier League.
Top, Top, Top XI
Move over Crooks, there is a new team of the week sheriff in town: Harry Redknapp.
Disappointingly, he chooses a standard 4-2-3-1 formation in the Daily Telegraph. But while Crooks could only find one centre-half, Redknapp found three.
‘There were a lot of strong centre-back performances but Toby Alderweireld can shuffle across to right-back in my team of the week,’ says Harry. And why not? After all, no right-backs played well this weekend.
Redknapp’s goalkeeper? David De Gea, of course. After all, which other goalkeeper could have kept a clean sheet against the worst side in the Premier League?
Could it be magic?
Forgive us but we really must go back to Sky Sports ‘expert’ Paul Merson and his predictions for the weekend:
- ‘There’s no chance for Newcastle in this one. Chelsea are a banker. Newcastle can’t stop losing. I like Steve McClaren, but they are just struggling so badly. The fans are rightly frustrated and Saturday could turn nervy within 10 minutes at St James’ Park. Jose Mourinho’s side love that and he’ll pick them off easily.’
- ‘This will be a walk in the park for City, especially after their slip up against West Ham.’
Advertisement of the day
‘Next up it’s Chelsea on Saturday Night Football on Sky. They had two good games last year so I’ll be watching closely’ – Jamie Redknapp, Daily Mail columnist and lead pundit on Sky Sports’ Saturday Night Football.
Press release of the day
‘If the 2014/2015 Premier League had been decided on website traffic rather than how the team performed on the pitch then the title would not of gone to Stamford Bridge.
‘Out of interest every game last season has been analysed against traffic to each official club website and the table looks much different.
‘Feel free to use the information and table…’
Or alternatively, feel free to tut and delete.
Cock of the day
Headline on the back page of The Sun: ‘Bac: City too cocky.’
Opening paragraph on the back page of The Sun: ‘BARACRY SAGNA has accused his Manchester City team-mates of being cocky after a third loss in four games.’
Actual quote from Bacary Sagna: “Maybe we have shown too much confidence.”
They clearly needed taking down a peg or two.
Stones the crows
West Brom manager Tony Pulis has been talking aminatedly about smaller clubs sticking up for themselves when the big clubs come calling with massive piles of cash.
“You would have thought that Tottenham would have got Saido at a certain price and you would have thought Chelsea would have got Stones at a certain price so it was nice that it didn’t happen, for everybody,” said Pulis.
The Sun’s interpretation?
‘TONY PULIS says he is delighted Everton played hardball over defender John Stones’ move to Chelsea. If not, West Brom might not have had Jonny Evans in his side against the Merseysiders tonight.’
Wow. Just wow.
The above Sun story was penned by Graeme Bryce, who is fast becoming a Mediawatch ‘favourite’. The man has a special kind of imagination.
You may have seen that Arsene Wenger rejected Jose Mourinho’s claims that he is treated as a “king” and is in a “privileged” position as manager of Arsenal.
He rejected those claims with typical understatement, saying: “No, I feel I have just done my job with the team and for our fans. That’s what you want. Honestly I’m not too much concerned about the other results. Thirty years in football now, and I know that what is important is to play football well.”
According to Bryce, this was a ‘king-sized swipe’ and a warning to Jose Mourinho that ‘the ranting Chelsea boss would be better focusing his efforts on his misfiring champs’.
‘WENG’S JOSE JIBE’ it is then.
Fawning intro of the day
‘JAMES MILNER did a lot of carrying on Saturday. After helping lift Liverpool to a welcome victory, he cradled his 13-month-old daughter in his arms as he left Anfield. She was wearing a Liverpool shirt, an indicator of how seriously Milner takes his job as acting captain’ – David Anderson, the Daily Mirror.
Vomit-inducing. But also, how did he ‘carry’ Liverpool when you made Daniel Sturridge the man of the match?
Worst headlines of the day
‘HOLLELUJAJH’ – The Sun. And no, putting ‘HOL’ in orange does not help.
‘JAMES CORDON’ – The Daily Mirror as James Milner (he was carrying a baby, you know) stands up for his manager.