Keep those mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wan-Bissaka as a holding midfielder?
While watching the CL final (Kante in particular) I realised quite how few quality DMs there are in the world at the moment. Add the fact that he has talent in the ball too then you get one of the most complete midfielders the world has seen. He goes beyond the Keane’s and Vieira’s by a mile.
However, I want to focus on his defensive abilities. If you put these alone into by beloved Man Utd and we would be competing much closer to City and what are likely to be a resurgent Liverpool next year.
My first thought was “who could we buy”. But other than Kante himself, I don’t see much in the market at the moment. So I looked inside the club. The ability that I envy in Kante most is his talent nipping that ball away at just the right moment. We already have one of those in Wan Bissaka.
I personally love Aaron’s defensive style. He’s got a bit better going forward but in a side with no midfield screener it’s worked ok having a very defensive minded full back. But unfortunately that’s not the way the game works these days.
If Wan Bissaka could be trained into a midfield screener then this would allow us to play a more attack minded right back in Williams (or a replacement if Ole doesn’t think he’s up to it).
Added to this, England are very short on DMs at the moment too. Rice has come on leaps and bounds this season but there is no direct replacement (all the others fulfil either more attacking roles or are there to knit together midfield and attack once Rice or the defence win it back).
He’ll still be a lesser player than Kante (who isn’t) but I just feel his strengths and weaknesses (just look at his crossing) fit better as a DM.
Afterthought…. Maybe more Makelele than Kante.
Optimistic Arsenal predictions
Predicting how Arsenal will continue to improve this summer.Arsenal will sign some new backup defenders who’ll turn out to be great and give the third best defense in the league some valuable depth.
- Arsenal will sell Joe Willock for a tidy sum. Arsenal fans will rejoice because they’ll remember that he was totally gash for us and just doesn’t fit into the way Arsenal play.
- Willian will join Chelsea on a free.
- Saliba will stay at Arsenal and go on to become one of our greatest ever centre halfs. He’ll later say that his loan spells when he was a teenager (he’s 20 for crying out loud) were largely responsible for this.
- Arteta will continue to get rid of the dead weight in the squad.
- Pepe will build on his promising second half of the season and justify most of his transfer fee.
- Rob Holding’s new hair will propel him to legendary status and we’ll be calling for a statue.
I don’t get the negativity. Arsenal had a really poor period before Christmas but it’s been upwards since Arteta cleared out the vipers so there’s no reason why we can’t continue to improve.
Rice over Kante?
Random thought here, but just in the context of the Crystal Palace job being open, Bambi being near the top of the queue and the proximity of all of this to N’Golo Kanté wowing everyone in Oporto at the weekend.
I said this a few times during his tenure and emailed in to this effect after he was sacked, but watching that Chelsea squad with Lampard at the helm at the start of the season was very worrying as regards his long term prospects. A lot of comparisons were made to Solskjaer (who really should be anyone’s benchmark of whether they’re qualified for a top job), but at the start of this season I don’t think there can be any doubt which club had the better squad (the only potential weak point for Chelsea was at centre back, but I think I’d take Silva-Rudiger over Maguire-Lindelof). It was just worrying structureless, the performances were so tame and there just was a lack of any clear ideas.
But I think at the time, the most worrying thing was the inability to get the best of Kanté, and the rumoured willingness to sell him in order to fund the purchase of Declan Rice. If that rumour is true – and I can imagine in football circles it is well known whether or not it is – it surely must be a significant deterrent to any club thinking of adding the “Frank Lampard’s…” prefix to their team name next season. Anyone could see Kanté out of form and struggling with injuries due to misuse and mismanagement. If Lampard couldn’t find a system to get the best out of a player who has thrived under literally every other manager he’s worked with, then it is very worrying indeed.
What is a good game for TAA?
I read your 8 conclusions about Trent and 8 other conclusions about the England squad and I have to wonder what would make a good game for TAA? He’s a defender so is it clean sheets, but he’s an attacking right back so its assists right? I don’t follow England qualifiers and friendlies like I used to. I was at Wembley for the wally in the brolly game and if I have anything better to do than watch England, such as not watch England I’ll go for the latter. But I did watch the World Cup. I thought that Trippier would play the first 2 group games, then TAA would play the third and it would then be his position for life. Instead Trippier had an excellent tournament.
In your article TAA is described as having competition pedigree, exemplary, Liverpool’s best player, faultless, excellent. He is a premier league and champions league winner. That makes him “international standard” by every definition.
So its the system right? I don’t know what system Southgate is going to play but if its 3 at the back with Walker at RCB and a RB/RWB providing the only width then you really you want the assist machine Trent. If he only gets assists because of Salah then likely we will see Sancho ahead of the clearly injured and tired Rashford. That’s starting to look a lot like want TAA is built for. I expect Kane would really enjoy the crosses too. A lot more so than Bobby. I believe it was TAA’s corner for the Bobby header against Spurs. So Kane’s seen it in real life.
Perhaps it’s the players in front of him: TAA has struggled for form mid-season especially over winter. He’s had no pre-season, got covid in winter, had no winter break but finished the season unbeaten over ten games including a win at Old Trafford. Winning at Old Trafford is “international standard”.
Kieran Trippier has had a lovely 10 game mid-winter break for breaching bullshit betting rules. In total this season he has played only 15 games at right back according to transfermarkt.co.uk. He won the Spanish league with Atletico. Definitely “international quality”.
Walker has had a mixed season for form and has started only 22 premier league games. He started the year managing his mental health by breaching lockdown restrictions by having sex parties. He won the premier league and got to the CL final. Definitely “international quality”.
Then there’s Reece James who just won the champions league at Rb next to 3 centre backs. Also, definitely “international quality”.
So maybe TAA is being kept out of the team by good players. Maybe, a run in the team against the international standard of say San Marino would have been good for him. Maybe him crossing to Kane from the 40 yard line because he can, or the over lapping runs and 1-2s with Sancho would be good for Kane’s Euro golden boot.
Or maybe whatever he does, he will always never be able to live up to undefined expectations or nonsense terms like “international standard” and he’ll have to make do with his premier league, champions league, a world club cup winners medals rather than being knocked out of the quarters on penalties after playing 7 at the back for 120 minutes against Portugal. Again.
Alex, South London
England team for Euros
Interesting seeing different starting line-ups. My view on this would be:
– Formation should be 3-4-3, at least against the better teams. Our central defenders simply aren’t good enough to play in a two. And this makes sense of the balance of the squad
– Back three is probably Stones, Maguire and Walker if all available. Swapping out Maguire for one of the others in the group stage
– Left back and right back we are blessed with good options. Any of Chilwell/ Shaw or TAA/ James would be good. This is clearly an area of major strength – they can be rotated, kept fresh, and a major source of energy in every game. I would probably choose James/ Trippier for games where we expect to do more defending
– Central midfield we are weak – against better teams we should probably play two holding players a la Chelsea. E.g. Rice/Henderson. Against the weaker teams we could have Mount in midfield in order to get more players into attack
– Attack – loads of options, but feels like the best balance will be with a skillful playmaker (Foden/ Mount) + raw pace (Sancho/Sterling/Rashford) + Kane. And a focus on pressing from the front as the first line of defence (which I think makes Grealish a super-sub only). And we should take Kane off early in any game we are looking comfortable in/ rest him whenever possible
Given the huge number of games – some level of rotation makes sense, and it looks possible. Choosing a “starting 11” feels a bit pointless.
Also – writing it out, this line up looks tasty, with depth. It feels ridiculous to even say it, but England could actually win this tournament
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, Singapore
Euro 2020 prediction fun
Well Sa’ad dropped some Euro 2020 predictions, so why not get the ball rolling and see how hilariously wrong i will be come the end of the 2020 tournament in 2021, i will keep my reasons short and sweet as to not bore you all to death with a tactical analysis as in depth as a TIFO video.
Winner: France, i cannot see a weakness in this squad, fantastic depth, Ngolo Kante and Karim Benzema, steel in defence and lighting up front, it is their tournament to lose, however in the past they do like to implode so who knows.
Dark Horses: Denmark So many to choose from, truly, never known a competition to have so many before, i want to say Turkey but when you take a look at the difficulty of each Group, Denmark’s modestly talented team with Eriksen, Schmeichel and co, they should cause some shocks, a repeat of 1992?
Biggest Flop: Germany, controversial perhaps, but they do not seem the team they once were, their cycle is coming to an end and i still cast my mind back to when Spain put six past them in the Nations League.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku, these awards are often won in the group stages, and when Belgium sit in a group comprising of Russia, Denmark and Finland, that should earn him the crown.
Player To Watch: Sweden’s Alexander Isak and Ukraine’s Viktor Tsygankov, both talented young guys and both put in top numbers for their respective clubs, as we know, one good tournament and you can seal a dream move to a top tier side.
How Will England Do?: Winners!………well, we can dream, i expect a Semi Final birth, the true test is the first knockout game, as they could face anyone from the Group of Death if and it is an IF they top their group, but based on the talent you would expect them to do so, which means France, Germany or Portugal, what a game that will be.
More penalty shenanigans in Northern Ireland. In the European play-off semi-final, the match between Cliftonville and Crusaders went to penalties after a 0-0 draw. Cliftonville led 5-4, so Crusaders had to score to take the shootout to sudden death. Michael Ruddy’s penalty came down off the bar and landed behind the line. In real time, watching it on the TV, it looked over the line and that wasn’t just my Crues-tinted spectacles. The action replay showed it was comfortably in. The ref and linesman were looking right at it. The lino was standing on the goal-line, looking across but inexplicably neither official saw it. We don’t have VAR here and I’m AGAINST it – we just need competent officials, or stronger contact lenses.
PS: What is it with England managers picking injured players? It was happening as far back as 1982 with Keegan and Brooking.
Are you Piers Morgan?
Guys, take a step back. Your obsession with proving that Man United under Ole are doomed, and that he only got 2nd in the League and to a European final because all the other teams let him is becoming a Piers Morgan I hate Meghan lookalike. What are you trying to achieve? Him being sacked and then you can say “Ha! Told you so!”
Your lead letter from a bloke that thinks that Liverpool felt sorry for United and let them flip 38 points year on year. That United went unbeaten away, so that means that their home record is the one to look at, because it wasn’t great.
What is it all about?
You ok hun?
Just reading today’s Mediawatch and just wanted to check in you guys. Its going to be a long old summer for you lot if you’re getting this prickly about coverage of the English football team on the 2nd of June.
DM me babz