Keep those Mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
When is this question not just a joke?
Burnley are doing Leicester aren’t they?
Thoughts on Tuesday’s games
*It’s getting ridiculous now for Burnley, with six 1-0 wins in less than half a season. But it’s no fluke: Sean Dyche has put together a defence that makes very few mistakes. Plus he seems to be able to do it with any personnel you give him.
When Michael Keane left, James Tarkowski slotted in. Matthew Lowton has been out for a few games, and Phil Bardsley, of all people, has been the ideal deputy. Ben Mee has also missed a couple, and Kevin Long, a player with only four Premier League appearances before this season, has been fine.
It’s not a great attacking side, but they go at you in a variety of ways and assume you’ll blink before they do.
*The player who blinked for Stoke City last night was Ryan Shawcross. After a difficult 2016/17 season, it was hoped he’d be back to full fitness and effectiveness. He seems fit, but his play has swung wildly from excellent to not very good at all, and you can’t sustain that for long with a defender.
It wasn’t a howler this time, but he gave Ashley Barnes space to turn and shoot in the penalty area, and that’s why you lose games 1-0.
*There aren’t many players around who can take charge like Wilfried Zaha. In the final minutes against Watford, he simply decided he was going to make the difference.
He went right for the shot that eventually produced the first goal, and then did something like five step overs and three hesitations before beating Daryl Janmaat to the line and delivering the cross that produced the second.
When Alexis Sánchez does something like that, we nod and wait for him to transfer to Manchester City.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
*Crystal Palace and Watford have been cultivating quite the rivalry over the past few years. The sides met in the playoff final in 2013, when a penalty scored by a Hornets hero secured promotion for the Eagles. When Crystal Palace made the FA Cup Final in 2016, they clung on to beat Watford in the semi-final, following a towering header from Connor Wickham that saw him leap so high he had Air Traffic Control interested. Other games have featured an own goal by a star striker and a grown man in a hornet costume throwing himself to the floor doing a banter about diving.
*Palace’s form this season has mostly been a mix of playing well and losing, and playing badly and losing, and yet, in arguably their two worst performances, they managed to take six points from Stoke City and Watford. Last night, they struggled to create chances or string passes together, and gifted the visitors an early goal. However, as with previous games, the heads didn’t drop after the early goal and there was no lack of effort from the Eagles, just a lack of quality that saw us take until almost the end of the game to register a shot on target. However, by the end of the game, they’d had twice as many attempts at goal (14-7) and shots on target (4-2) as their opponents.
Under Alan Pardew, Palace conceded so many late goals that at first looked like disorganisation, but that Sam Allardyce identified as a lack of fitness, that it should have alarm bells ringing for West Brom fans as to what their players will be doing in training. Big Sam’s legacy, carried on through Roy Hodgson’s reign, will be moments like last night where we turn games round right at the last.
*Last night Hodgson’s substitutions showed him making a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Insert joke about the England squad here. Suffice to say few fans were overly inspired by a bench that saw Bakary Sako – scorer of the team’s first goal this season – as the main attacking option. However, Sako’s introduction signalled a more attacking intent from the home side – there was a slice of luck about his goal, but that’s what happens when you get in the right place at the right time.
*My admiration for James McArthur is well-documented in the mailbox, so I was even more delighted than others when he slotted home the winning goal. He’s a hard working midfielder with defensive grit and a goalscoring touch, so is a dependable backup option for both Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic (he can take a reasonable penalty, too).
*The BBC website asked during the live coverage if Christian Benteke had been forgiven. From what I saw on Twitter, several leading Palace blogs/fanzines were trying to rally their followers behind him. My own opinion is that booing him on Saturday was fair game, but it should have been left there, and it seems like it was.
*Watford fans made a good fist of booing Wilfried Zaha all night, and he had a largely quiet game. However, what makes him such a great player is his dedication to his task, and that even in stoppage time he was able to exploit a tired defence.
*Ultimately, Watford got their comeuppance for some ridiculous timewasting during parts of the game, and for another one of their players getting themselves sent off needlessly. Republic of Doyle star Marco Silva claimed afterwards that Patrick van Aanholt should have also seen red, but I’d like to think the referee made a judgement that the Hornets would be better off with him on the field. He was playing at right-back, which was a maverick move from Hodgson, given he looks out of position even when in his natural position.
*While I expect to return to the bottom three after tonight, it’s nice to be above the line briefly. The most important thing is that we haven’t lost any ground on the teams above us, and it puts pressure on them to get unlikely results against Manchester City, Liverpool or the Arsenal.
Everyone else has given up
People may make light but consider this, Chelsea having won 3-0 last night Hazard and Willian just laughed when Hazard corrected Willian they were only 11 points behind.
It’s only f*cking December and players have thrown in the towel. Can we just give them the trophy and move on.
Watching Liverpool past, present and future
Couldn’t sleep, so i watched or rather am watching a Bundesliga game between Wolfsburg and RB Leipzig. Just thought to send in a few observations.
The gap between Bundesliga and Premier League is, in my opinion, wide and widening more.It seems that every minute, there’s a miscontrol, or poor touch and the player loses the ball. Not saying that miscontrols don’t happen in the EPL, because they do. But this frequently? Perhaps the surface or the ball was slippery, but it did genuinely seem that almost none of the players on the pitch could boast complete control over the ball like we see in the EPL.
I read a stat somewhere that the Bundesliga and its players are actually fitter and faster in games than EPL, but quality-wise, the EPL is in my opinion superior. Of course, this is almost definitely due to money. These two teams are normal, decent teams with RB of course second in the league, so frankly i was a bit shocked at how poor or at very best, indifferent the quality was. There were a few great moments, like one beautiful nutmeg by Yunus Malli, but three players stood out for me, who coincidentally, are all affiliated somehow with Liverpool.
Naby Keita was pretty great, I have to say. He’s very athletic, and seems to never be out of breath. He’s aggressive, he works hard, and he’s a great dribbler. His skillset is somewhat similar to Coutinho’s; they’re both essentially attacking players, but he’s younger, and if (when??) Coutinho does move, I see him being able to replace the creative hole in midfield. Provided, of course, he can translate his Bundesliga form to the more physical EPL.
Divock Origi will also be moving to Liverpool at the end of the season, but he might be shipped straight back out i fear. His loan move just doesnt seem to be working. Firstly, he’s playing second fiddle to a 32 y.o. Mario Gomez. When he did come on, he proceeded to miss an absolute sitter when a low cross bounced around, finding him with so much time and in such close proximity to the vulnerable, open goal, he probably thought it in his mind not to take advantage of its poor, unprotected state and put it clean over the bar. He had perhaps 3 more good chances, but failed to convert.
I really worry for him, as I’m sure all of LFC likes him for his work ethic, and his role in our Europa run last season was phenomenal (the Dortmund 4-3 game springs to mind), but he just doesn’t seem to have developed. Granted, he’s ridiculously young (22), but like another mailer who wrote in about Lukaku, i don’t see him refining his game any further than it is now. He’s quick, works hard and can finish, but that seems to be about it. Solanke, and now Ings are probably ahead of him as well as Sturridge if he doesn’t get a move. A real pity, but i really hope he gets his confidence back and develops more.
Lastly, Peter Gulacsi. A bonafide legend after making 0 appearances, he made a permanent move to RB and is first choice in everything. At one point in the match, he made an absolutely brilliant triple save that had me just a bit jealous when I compare him to Mignolet, who is older and who
I’ve never seen make a game defining/changing save except for penalties. More still, Gulacsi was always in control of his box, made some good saves and dealt with pretty much every cross and corner with minimal fuss. He looks pretty much fantastic, and he’s also had rave reviews from many other matches. Good for him.
Isn’t it refreshing to see the “oh look, they can outspend us to buy success” narrative not coming from Arsenal fans for once? Now you lot know how it feels..
Ahmed, Pakistani Gooner in Istanbul
Money is better than a closed shop
There’s been a lot of talk in the past few days about Premier League teams like Manchester City, who are able to spend more money on players than most of the other teams in the league. I thought I would take a few moments to acquaint you with the horrors that face fans of North American sport.
I understand that the NFL is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. According to an article I read in The Guardian there is even talk about putting an NFL team in London. I’m sceptical that will actually happen, but if it does British “football” fans will have to come to grips with the terrible truth of life in the NFL.
Even if an NFL team is co-owned by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos they still can’t go out and buy whichever players they want! Even if their biggest supporters are Warren Buffet and Michael Bloomberg they can’t just lure players with the offer of unlimited cash, because the league has… a salary cap! I’ll give you a moment to calm down.
The NFL has this crazy notion that competition is a good thing. Obviously this is ridiculous, and everyone would prefer to see the Dallas Cowboys win the Superbowl every year. Maybe throw in a couple of other teams from New York, Chicago or Los Angeles to keep things interesting. How the New England Patriots have been allowed to keep Tom Brady and win five, yes five Championships boggles the mind. Having a team like Leicester or Blackburn win the league every couple of decades keeps things interesting, but five since 2001 is just offensive. In any decent league Brady would have been snapped up by a “bigger” team, after leading the Pats to the title in only his second season.
If you go to a track day in your Ford Fiesta and someone passes you in a Ferrari 488, then it’s obvious that they’re a better driver than you are. The fact that their car cost twenty times as much as yours isn’t relevant, and you should accept the fact that you’ve been beaten fair and square. One day the NFL will realize that being in a big city and having more money means you should be able to have all the best players, and smaller market teams will just have to accept it. Until then we will all just have to live with the idea of championships in places like Green Bay and Pittsburgh.
Andrew – Canada
The last email on this topic: What goes around, comes around
It’s cold, it’s wet (probably) and there is a team in Manchester who are bigger, better and putting their local neighbours firmly in their shadow. In fact it’s worse than that for the local neighbours. They are in a lot of trouble financially, their average attendance is so low they can’t fill a stand (nevermind a stadium), they have been relegated to the 2nd tier, players wages can’t be paid and club office staff are fearful for their jobs as Christmas is around the corner.
Then out of nowhere in steps a Knight in shining armour who gives the gives the club a loan. It’s enough money to cover player wages and also enough to give everyone at the club a nice Christmas bonus (a free large turkey for all) and the crisis is averted. The loan repayment was never discussed and in fact to this date it’s not been repaid.
A few weeks later though the problems are still there so the Knight steps back in, takes control of the club with another cash injection, this time it’s 10 times bigger than before and clears all the outstanding debts. After all he’s a wealthy businessman, who can afford this and, who just wants, “there to be sufficient room in Manchester for two good football clubs”
From this cash injection the club, that once was on the brink of bankruptcy, is now cash rich. They make great strides in bringing back the supporters with creative ticket pricing, they earn promotion back to the top tier, the rich owner buys a new training ground for the club and the clubs first Youth team is founded. The aim of that Youth team is to try to get as many Youth team players in the team as possible. The owner also successfully lobbies the Government to bring a train station close to the stadium in order to get fans to the ground easier from the large City on matchday.
Then disaster strikes as the stadium suddenly needs redevelopment (unconfirmed reports it was due to Uwe’s Grandad) however all is not lost as the big neighbours down the road respectfully offer use of their stadium whilst its rebuilt and then more good news as the local government hands out a grant to rebuild the stadium. The club returns to its home and slowly starts building history.
Now you’ll be easily forgiven to thinking that the above story is about Man City (apart from the Uwe’s Grandad part) as after all debts were cleared overnight and money was spent on facilities and youth set ups however this happened in 1931 and the Sugar Daddy businessman was James Gibson who I’m sure all Man United fans know as their Owner and Chairman from 1931 to 1951. Come on lads you know him after all he started the process that meant you’ve had a youth player in your matchday squad in every game since way back. For that fact alone you must remember that wealthy businessman who bought you and put you on the road to becoming giants.
So yes we’ve spent lots of money trying to catch up but we’re not the first and we won’t be the last. Man City are just doing what their neighbours did successfully many years ago so by my reckoning we’ve around another 50/60 years of this “City bought success”, “We did it the right way” from United fans before they completely forget about history.
Oh Troy Deeney
What’s that Watford player (sorry, can’t remember his name) got to say for his team tonight?