All Time Premier League Team

Thought it might be interesting to pick my all Premier League XI (with 5 subs) as I had seen the list put together recently Brendan Rodgers which interestingly didn’t include his “unsigned” Old Aged Midfielder, Steven Gerrard.  I also saw the team of Jamie Carragher who had his selection transcribed by a Scouse translator and was found to have five Manchester United players (and the rumour was he supported Everton?)

team

 

I didn’t expect any one team to dominate my selections but it seems that Arsenal and Manchester United lead the way.   I’ve tried to pick an aggressive 4-3-3 formation (despite everyone’s penchant for a “False Nine” and the current desire for a “Back 3”).  It’s probably closest to Jose Mourinho’s 4-2-1-3 formation because Ya-Ya could step back and cover the back four – but why would we want that?  This back four is more than capable of holding the line and covering the gaps.

It is often debated whether a team of hand selected top drawer players would be superior to a team that plays together on a regular basis but I chose to ignore that so as not to just select the league and Europ winning Manchester United team of 2007-8, the Chelsea team of 2004-5 or the undefeated Arsenal team of 2003-4 (It’s going to be a long time  before we see another undefeated team).

So here are my selections and why – the main rule I held myself to was to select the team and not search or look through premier league lists of players.

The Starting Eleven

Peter Schmeichel 

A winning team always starts with a great goal-keeper and Schmeichel was simply the best and for a long time.   I didn’t even consider any other keepers as we’re really talking different class.  Tim Flowers had a career season in 1994-5 that probably surpassed any one season but that’s not the consistency deserving of all time eleven.  Schmeichel was also the only keeper that could yell at international center backs and command their attention – he was the defensive leader.   If that wasn’t enough he knew his angles, kept tall longer and bigger than most goalkeepers could hold it and was the fore-runner of the release throw that would set his wide players on the break: the ultimate counter-attacker.

Cashley Cole

I dislike him immensely but cannot deny his talent.   In his twenties he was the best defender at the position by some margin.  Blessed with amazing recovery speed he was often seen sliding across the turf blocking everything.   Used his pace going forward and able to whip in lethal crosses.   I also considered the current commentator Graeme Le Saux who had similar speed and tremendous crossing ability.

Tony Adams & Marcel DeSailly

Despite drinking and despite lacking that technical ability, Tony Adams was a dominant player for many years.  Had size, positional sense, and a reach that would cut out balls that were seemingly beyond him.

Marcel had more talent than Adams.   I’ve paired him though because he has equal size and the pair would dominate the middle.

I considered the standard list here: Rio Ferdinand, John Terry(sleeps with Wives and Girlfriends), Jaap Stam (Nandrolone cheat), and others but they didn’t work for me.

Gary Neville

Right back was a challenge to try and think of someone that wasn’t Gary Neville.  It’s difficult to ignore a regular England player, regular starter for over a decade on a winning team.  I considered Lee Dixon but his prime years were pre-Premier league… the fact that he played into his late 30’s at the highest level says a lot.

Paul Scholes & YaYa Toure

Holding midfielders.  I’ve done it.  I’ve gone with Scholes because I can’t think of anyone else that I would like there more and I’m tired of being told by my brother he’s the best of the best.  Besides that, I need someone who doesn’t seek the limelight and can actually play the role laid out – confident in spreading the ball and competent in covering the space between midfield and defense.

Ya-Ya was the best player on the two Manchester City teams that won the league.   I’m playing him deeper than he would probably like but he’s equally adept forward or back.

Dennis Bergkamp

Really the player that transformed the Premier League.   Hard to believe that he was a mere 7.5 million pounds or so when Bruce Rioch put him in an Arsenal shirt.  Could score with either foot or with his head and an uncanny ability to always make the right choice with the final ball.  Sheer class.

Some women also find him attractive and I want my team to appeal to everyone

Dutch Maestro

Thierry Henry

As this is the best eleven it’s difficult to play everyone I would want but I can’t leave Henry out of the team.  I’m going to play him out wide on the left where he can be happy flipping it inside and then curling it low into the corner.  We know he’s going to do.  The defender knows he’s going to do it.  The goalkeeper knows he’s going to do it.  He does it.

Cristiano Ronaldo

CR7 was still raw and young when he started at Old Trafford.  He seemed to be obsessed with step-overs and being flash… but the talent was always their, and that pace and athleticism was a cut above everyone.  I know people will be looking out wide for Beckham but I think he’s better off with his marketing guys than on the pitch with these other players.

Alan Shearer

I’m going to pick Alan Shearer even though I don’t feel tremendously comfortable with him being the best choice for the top eleven and I’m doing it based on his early premier league position of a pure central striker where he really dominated.  His career, particularly with England, was marred by the constant request for him to go out wide and hold the ball.  It seems England liked him facing the wrong way.  In this team with the ability of the wingers and back coming forward a striker with heading ability is a must… as for his feet? One of the fiercest strikers of the ball the league has seen.

Andy Cole would probably score a hathful in this team too.

The Substitutes

Peter Cech

There are a lot of keepers I like but Peter Cech was probably the best of the left-overs, particularly before the injury years.   Not as good but more consistent than David “Calamity” James.  Van Der Saar was also on the short list.

Matt LeTissier

I really wanted to put Matt in the middle of the starting eleven.   I would definitely substitute him in if there was a penalty shootout.  So much talent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVEcbvrxHQ0

Count how many are left foot and how many are right foot.  It didn’t matter.  The only player to admit that corners are shooting opportunities.

Sol Campbell

Was looking for another defender… and Sol is top of the list for me.  Strong, powerful, commanding.  No idea why his England career wasn’t so much more than it was.

Ryan Giggs

Had a gear more than everyone else.

Patrick Viera

It was close between him and Ya-Ya in picking a midfielder that could hold the back four and power forward.

Week of December 26, 2014 – Premier League Picks (Boxing Day Edition)

Santa has been and gone and has gifted us with a ridiculous schedule of games once again – two games in three days!  For some, this will be a six-point end of year boon, and for others, a calamitous six-points drops.  Everyone sees the New Year as a new beginning and a new opportunity but for those that slide out of 2014 will likely whimper into 2015.  Am I saying that this week is important? Damn straight.

So I am going all out for the Scousers during this period because they believe that Santa might be a closet Liverpool fan (look at all the red he wears) and they have a good chance to redeem the year.

All I Want For Christmas (Img Source: GreatNorth)

Looks like Brendan is still looking to tweak his team with some new signings – sounds good but with a list of names like Mario Balotelli and Joe Allen he hasn’t been the transfer wizard.

Meanwhile, further South, it still looks like Arse-ne is happy with his lot.  New striker? New defender? No.  He is happy with the team.


All I Want For Christmas (Src: Mirror)

So here we go… just the boxing day games to start.

26-Dec-14  
Chelsea2-0West Ham United
Sunderland1-0Hull City
West Bromwich Albion1-3Manchester City
Manchester United1-1Newcastle United
Swansea City1-0Aston Villa
Crystal Palace1-1Southampton
Burnley 1-2Liverpool
Everton 2-0Stoke City
Leicester1-2Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal 2-1QPR

Chelsea, top of the table.  West Ham are (checks table again) 4th.  Wow, maybe it’s time we looked at things afresh and realized that West Ham aren’t a bad team even if they aren’t Chelsea.  Call it wishful thinking, but what should be a 2-0 victory for the home team but I am really hoping for a crazy end to the year and what could be more crazy than West Ham winning at the Bridge?  Please Santa, now that you’re done with Christmas spend some time plotting the Chelsea downfall.

Sunderland are not looking special and appear to have set their sites on amassing the greatest number of draws in a season but (10 in 17) but Hull have slowly been in a free fall to the bottom of the table and it’s hard to see much changing for them except in their management.  Steve Agnew, the assistant, left the sinking ship in the week.  Will Bruce follow soon?  I don’t know but I think he’s an Alan Pardew Project candidate.

West Brom let me down last week.  Going up 2-0 quickly I regretted my 2-2 pick until they rolled over and let QPR in to make it a perfect 2-2 result.  Little did I know they hadn’t finished capitulating and would lose.   Man City are on a positive run and Silva (the little engine that could) is making all the difference.   Another win keeping the pressure on the top boys.

Aston Villa has performed absolute magic this year managing to accumulate 20 points from just 11 goals.  That’s making something out of almost nothing.  This clearly indicates that Aston Villa has a decent defensive posture and Ron Vlaar should soon be recognized for his efforts this year. T he Swans won away from home last week (albeit against Hull) and Aston Villa required a moment of magic to get a draw against Manchester United…  magic tends to be a one-off so Swansea will win.

Getting to the end of the winter for Southampton and they still find themselves in 5th spot.  An away point against Crystal Palace might not be the greatest results but it keeps them in the European spots.

Liverpool will turn it around.  Liverpool will turn it around.  Liverpool will turn it around.  Liverpool will turn it around.  Maybe.

If Roberto Martinez takes the time to look around he will see that a disappointing Liverpool season still has them higher in the table.  This is not what he expected when he was spending time as an television personality over the summer.  It’s hard to see where the team is failing but they’re just playing plain average.  Goal difference of 0, middle of the table.  Average.  it’s time to start winning and a home game at the end of year, over a tough Stoke team, will be the perfect jump start into the New Year and Mr Martinez will be pushing his team to press hard.

“My Name is” Kane, Harry Kane…. seems to have been the catalyst that few saw coming. He’s unassuming in terms of speed, he’s the plain paper bag of wrapping paper, but he’s someone who knows where to be and when to be there and is banging in goals the same way Soldado used to.   I see Spurs riding his purple patch as far as they can… and it will be at least beyond a results against Leicester.

The London derby of a team that had a remarkable win (QPR over West Brom) and the team with the disappointing tie (2-2 with Liverpool). I believe that Liverpool has defined the blue print for playing Arsenal: high pressure, allowing little time, and closing down the space.   Liverpool played with a desire that had been largely missing this season and Arsenal found it hard to dominate a midfield without the comfort of time.  This will be the same game-plan that QPR will employ and it will cause problems for the Gooners until Alexis proves once more why he’s the best player on their team (when it’s not Cazorla).

Alan Pardew Project:

Despite Alan’s efforts to get back on the list after manager of the month for November… it’s time to recognize the new favorite for getting that ominous seal of approval from the directors.   Yes, it’s Brucey.

sb

Week of December 21, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Stream of consciousness this week… as usual… so keep the expectations the same as Burnley’s when reading… low.

Just a couple of weeks left until we get to the post Christmas table and the plethora of predictions and prognostications that come with it.   The so called “Curse of Christmas” that says the bottom club always gets relegated (except when they don’t – West Bromwich and Sunderland just last year with their improbable come-back).    Of course, back in 2005-6 Watford has one win by Christmas and proceeded to go down back into First Division.

Last year was good for Liverpool fans: Suarez scored the most goals in a calendar month (10) and Manchester United stunk it up with back to back lossed.  This year? Well Liverpool might not want to talk about it too much…

That Stink is not my Diaper, it’s My Team

So how will things go this week?

20-Dec-14  
Manchester Citeh2-1Crystal Palace
Tottenham Hotspuds 2-0Burnley
West Ham United1-1Leicester Foxes
Southampon1-1Toffee Men
Q.P.R.2-2The Bromwich
Aston Villa 1-3Man U
Hull Tigers1-2Swansea

Manchester City’s owners have tried to make it clear they have a long term plan.  A youth program that has Paul Scholes concerned about the future of his team.  Now the bosses are updating the University of Manchester’s Owens Park Campus.  I can say first hand that it needed updating back in 1990’s…  The point is, perhaps it’s time that we gave the owners credit for more than just pumping money into a team.  I know it galls Man United fans but recent history points to the reds being more dependent on revenue streams than ever.   Two shirt sponsors?

Anyway, Crystal Palace are a tough nut to crack and drew against a stubborn Stoke City team last time out.  Citeh are missing key players Aguero, Negredo (yes, I count him) and it’s getting tough to see where the consistent platform is.. fortunately, they have Silva playing again.  He’s the little engine that can and with movement that frees up the space for Ya Ya to move forward and really be the attacking threat he should be.  They’ll take advantage of the big African before his nation comes calling for some tournament overseas that wrecks many an EPL game.

Last week the Spuds finally won against 10 men and have moved all the way up to 7th spot.  Pochettino must really know what he’s doing now.   I see Burnley and I see a team that has less wins than Q.P.R. and that’s not good.  Another 3 pts will have us discussing the reality that the Y*d Army might actually be travelling to Europe next year.

I finally gave West Ham their due and West Ham continue to win.  It has to end because it has to end, doesn’t it.  There was a time when even the fans wanted Fat Sam “You Kill Football” Allardyce..so what is it?  Maybe it’s their “attacking” coach?  It might be, it might not, but if my wife was in charge she would approve of the attacking coach.

Gratuitous Shot of Handsome Man

I think the Foxes will eek out a draw.

Southampton have been on a slide of late – which comes as no surprise with their schedule – but they need to halt it and they’re going up against a team that’s position is higher than its play deserves, but lower than their team should be.  I think this will be a thoroughly entertaining game with both teams looking for a win to try and position themselves for success at the end of the Christmas run.

Queens Park Rangers and West Brom are two teams at the wrong end of the table.  For one it is no surprise but for the other there was hope that they could start to cement their position in the Premier League.  I expect this will be as dour a 2-2 draw as you can get 50-50% possession all in the middle of the park, 6 shots on goal 5 on target and 4 goals.  I won’t know because I’ll be watching the other side.

Aston Villa are finally in the bottom half but keep pulling out the odd victory (2-1 over Leicester a couple of weeks ago).  At half time they will be winning and the conversations will go both ways:  are Villa better than their possession?  are the team from near Manchester not as good as their six consecutive wins suggest?  Did we call the recovery too soon?  Nope – second half is dominant possession with a trio of goals and more talk that LVG is manager of the year….

Hull failed to score against West Brom. Swansea have failed to beat anyone recently.  It’s a toss up but Swansea are better than Hull and that should count for something.  I think it’s surprising to see Hull so far down the table.. if Leicester can pick up a surprise win against West Ham then Hull will be crowned winner of the Christmas Curse.

14-Dec-14  
The Magpies2-1Sunderland
Liverpool1-2Arsenal

Newcastle are are officially in trampoline mode defeats at the front end of the season with speculation of manager of the football clubs future… followed by victories, manager of the month to a disastrous result against Arsenal and Spurs in the Milk Capital Coca-Cola Cup (4-0?  Didn’t no Spurs had 4 goals in them!).  So this is another key point in the season – a home game against local rival  at a pivotal time.  Will Pardew be hero or villain? Will Newcastle sink or swim….are we repeating last year?  I think not, Newcastle will hover mid-table and it starts with a win.

The big game this week is Arsenal and Liverpool home of the fkw.  I’m tired of picking Liverpool to do anything.  Against Basel Brendan played a defensive team (if you could figure out what he was trying to do at all) and I don’t see that he has much of a plan other than praying that Sturridge is as good as we know he can be.  That’s the most damning statement I can make – we can keep blaming the injury to Sturridge for Liverpool’s poor form but can that really be the cause?  I guess Arsenal blamed last year on Ramsey being hurt.. and City are lining up the Aguero excuse … and even Arsenal are looking at Koscielny as an excuse.. yes….Koscielny??

Well it’s a bad week for Brendan and they will lose.

22-Dec-14  
Stoke City1-1Chelsea

Chelsea are away against a decent Stoke team.  Jose would never admit it but would take a solid 1-1 draw on the heels of a bitter defeat.

 

This week’s hotseat:

hr

 

Would be Brendan but I think there’s patience to see how things progress with Sturridge.

 

 

Liverpool – Season of Destiny

So last week Brendan Rogers was in the hot-seat and the latest focus of the Alan Pardew project.  So how did the week go? Not so well.  While looking much better as a team they contrived to allow three goals on what appeared to be Man United’s only 3 shots on goal.

So exit Champions League, slowly drifting out of contention in the league.. time to focus on the Milk Cup.

Aside:
The Milk Cup should remind any fans of the Reds of much better times when “The Moustache” ruled over Europe.

But why am I here? Because sometimes you have to make fun of fans.

Week of December 14, 2014 – Premier League Picks

So it’s already the weekend and there are some key games this week.  For those players that are playing one game at a time, this is that game at that time.

13-Dec-14  
Sunderland1-0West Ham
West Bromwich Albion2-2Aston Villa
Leicester City 1-3Manchester City
Crystal Palace1-1Stoke City
Chelsea 4-0Hull City
Burnley 1-3Southampton
Arsenal2-1Newcastle

I picked West Ham last week after my brain insisted that their run of form can’t be a fluke.  This week my brain insists that West Ham just aren’t that good.   Are they good enough to beat a team that has managed just two wins this whole year?  I would hope so.  But they won’t.

Every week I’m convinced West Brom will play well and score 2 good goals only to allow their opposition in to level it up.  Every stopped clock is right twice a day.. this prediction might hold once a season but I feel very good about it this week.  Local derby, at home and the undeniable truth that West Brom need to start moving up the table as much as I expect Aston Villa to move down the table.

It’s hard to see Leicester putting up much of a game against a team from Manchester (despite winning at the team from near Manchester 5-3 earlier in the season) with Sergio in the team; but the Kun Aguero is out and Dzeko is again set to take a starring role as the under-appreciated goal-scoring machine he is 48 in 114… now if he could finish as well as he gets chances, it would be closed to 90 in 114.  He’s like a loaded gun that gets jammed rather frequently but is quite effective if it actually goes off.   I think Silva is back though and that bodes well because his movement frees up Ya Ya and makes him more effective.  David Silva is the little engine that can and does – he could setup Dzeko ten times.. so I expect at least two goals.

Crystal Palace will draw with Stoke and of all the games being televised this should be one of the least watched.   Stoke work hard as a team, Crystal Palace work hard as a team.  All that hard work sounds like a grind it out draw.

Chelsea lost last week.  Hull have won only one game in their last ten.  Time for Chelsea to show their dominance once again.  I do hope they hit a long injury spell in their second team so that the FA Cup game against Watford in January will be fair.  For this game, the result is going to be as lopsided as a rubber faced male post-stroke.

This is a critical game for Southampton ( aren’t they all? No they aren’t).  Suffering two losses in a row against top teams could dent confidence at a time when they have more tough matches scheduled over winter.   Points against the top teams are bonus, losses against the lower teams is poor form.  I fully expect a comfortable win though to show that they are still European material.  If they lose?  Expect a lot of chatter and a potential downswing in expectations.

Arsene was going to be Alan Pardew but he went to Europe and fixed all the negativity by winning with Podolski (guy needs more starting time).  I know Newcastle are playing decent football but Arsenal should still hold on for the victoire!  Allez-Giroud!

14-Dec-14  
Manchester United 2-2Liverpool
Swansea City 1-1Tottenham Hotspurs

This week’s Alan “I’m a part of this club and not being fired” Pardew award goes to a rather surprising entry this week.  Brendan Rodgers is looking at a team sitting almost at the top of the table, the top of the bottom half of the table.  He’s looking at a team that got bounced from Europe with a lackluster must win game.   There has been chatter about team selection, team style, and team substance.  Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson (no creative juices really flowing there) are playing while Mallela sits on the bench.  Meanwhile,  Rickey Lambert is on the bench with Balotelli.  It’s not the fact that they’re not playing, it’s the fact that this is what BR has brought in to the club.  Ouch.

Looks like BR has got his cannons ready to fire at the arch nemesis team from near-Manchester.

I will press the Launch button if pressed.

So this week, being in the Alan Pardew seat means that his team gets a result against Manchester United at the old toilet?  No..

What is there to say about the disappointing Spurs?  Basically that they’re really no more or less disappointing that any other team in terms of position, mid-table.  That said, they are disappointing because there were high expectations set with Soldado scoring in Spain, Dembele once looking like one of the most gifted possession midfielders in the league, and the likes of Lamela showing speed in the gaps.  Kyle Walker got hurt, Soldado stopped scoring, and Ryan Mason become the play-maker.  That just does not look very good.  Soldado scored so maybe there is a run coming? I’m not sold so I give them a tough draw.   Money at the bookies should be on “My Name is Harry Kane” scoring the equalizer late on.

Bookmaker Tip:  Combination bet on 1-1 with Kane scoring.

15-Dec-14  
Everton 2-0Queens Park Rangers

While Rodgers is enjoying the current hot-seat, Martinez gets to watch his team continue to struggle: 18 pts from from 15 games is a bad record but that’s really not the worst of it. Everton are below Aston Villa and the “Chosen One” Mourinho is looking like a genius in getting great value from Lukaku.  I haven’t given up on on him yet – he’s young, he’s big, and he has potential.  I’m hoping he doesn’t end up being like Kevin Campbell – always so close to being great (37 goals in 130+games doesn’t scream disappointment but not very mind blowing) but Everton and Martinez need him to start showing up consistently.

They’re playing QPR though, so while the game will be tough, I see them pulling out a decent victory.  So….Martinez, be careful, the APP is looking for it’s next manager.

Not the Alan Parson Project
Not the Alan Parson Project

Please Stand. Sir Elton is here.

So December 12th, Elton John is in the house and it’s all because of a new stand.  He paid for a lot of the Rouse stand which they renamed the Graham Taylor stand…and now he gets his own stand.  I’m fairly sure when he visits he gets a better seat though.

Let’s hope he gets to see a Wigan game that reminds us of the recent Fulham beat-down.

watford stand

 

So, for those that are interested, this is the new layout.

stadium-plan-vicarage-road-watford-fc

Courtesy of http://www.footballgroundguide.com/watford/

FA Cup Draw: The Lucky Winner Is…. the often lost “focus” on the league.

Well it was the FA Cup draw this week and lo and behold it went really well for teams that in the former first division that enjoy the thrills and spills of a long cup run.    Here’s to you Watford… a gift in the first real round… a trip to Chelsea.  Not only is it Chelsea, it’s likely to be a Chelsea actually interested in winning every trophy there is to win.

w
FA Cup Chelsea vs Watford (see watfordfc.com for full image and details)

On the bright side, there are those that will say that a loss early in the cup will allow the team to focus on the Championship and a promotion push.  That sounds good in principle but that’s just a way to placate losers.  The other member of my household has a little thing for Sheffield Wednesday and the Citeh – so that’s one team into the round of 4th.

Arsenal vs Hull is interesting because it’s a repeat of last year’s final but then it’s Hull so that’s about as interesting as it gets.

With Liverpool struggling an away game to Wimbledon will invoke thought’s of Lawrie Sanchez (though strict lineage makes it a different team).

Upset of Upsets… but less upsetting than become the MK Dons

 

FA Cup third-round draw

Arsenal v Hull City
Southampton v Ipswich
Stoke v Wrexham
Charlton v Blackburn
Dover Athletic v Crystal Palace
AFC Wimbledon v Liverpool
Manchester City v Sheffield Wednesday
Aldershot or Rochdale v Nottingham Forest
West Brom v Gateshead
Blyth Spartans v Birmingham City
Aston Villa v Blackpool
Rotherham v AFC Bournemouth
Huddersfield v Reading
Oxford or Tranmere v Swansea
Cardiff v Colchester
Bolton v Wigan
Sunderland v Leeds
Burnley v Tottenham
Millwall v Bradford
Derby v Southport
Brentford v Brighton
Fulham v Wolves
Leicester v Newcastle
Scunthorpe or Worcester City v Chesterfield
Everton v West Ham
Cambridge United or Mansfield v Bury or Luton
Chelsea v Watford
Barnsley or Chester v Middlesbrough
QPR v Sheffield United
Accrington or Yeovil v Manchester United
Preston v Norwich
Doncaster v Bristol City

Liverpool vs Man United

I’ve been reading a lot of this:

 

“Most major footballing nations have one fixture that is unquestionably the biggest in the country: whether El Clasico (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid) in Spain, the Superclasico (Boca Juniors vs. River Plate) in Argentina, Der Klassiker(Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund) in Germany, Le Classique (Paris Saint-Germain vs. Marseille) in France or O Classico (Benfica vs. FC Porto) in Portugal, the theme is familiar and the implication clear.

English football is different. It lacks an equivalent contest, although the biggest game is usually considered this weekend’s fixture: Manchester United vs. Liverpool. It’s clearly England’s rivalry in a historic sense, but it’s peculiarly lacking in major showdowns over the years.”

What?

I’d rather sit down and watch a Liverpool v Everton game, or even, United vs Citeh, for that matter.

Liverpool vs Man United is just another top team game, that’s all.

Source: http://www.espnfc.us/barclays-premier-league/23/blog/post/2193368/manchester-united-vs-liverpool-is-close-to-a-classicbut-lacks-major-drama

Week of December 7, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Another December week and some interesting notes taken away from the mid week.

Firstly, I need to quit picking against West Ham – maybe they really aren’t relegation fodder?  Secondly, I need to quit picking against Aston Villa … nah, this week was an anomaly against a more mediocre team.  Liverpool maybe turning the corner?  Everton still going in a straight line?  Spurs showing up at the weekend before disappearing again.

Perhaps most gratifying to my prognostication ego;  a poor start to the winter for Southampton – losses to Arsenal and Citeh – and it’s not looking to get easier any time soon; a Manchester United team shaking off it’s early season stuttering.  Let’s see if the form holds!

6-Dec-14  
Newcastle United1-1Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur1-0Crystal Palace
Stoke City1-2Arsenal
Liverpool 1-0Sunderland
Hull City2-2West Brom
Queens Park Ranger 1-1Burnley
Manchester City2-0Everton

Alan Pardew, latest bookmakers favorite for Manager of the Year, stays at home to take on the current undefeated top of the tablers, Chelski.   According to the “Chosen One”, Newcastle play a lot of games like friendlies; however, they make an effort to try against his team which is the burden of being the best.  It’s not often the Jose throws compliments around so I think a  back-handed one is better than nothing.  It does perhaps indicate a certain wariness about the trip up North.

Pardew says that it will be impossible for Chelsea to remain undefeated this year.  I don’t disagree but I am not sure that the Magpies have what it takes to take a victory.

Friendlies? We don’t play Friendlies…

Spurs beat Everton last week and Soldado scored!  No doubt somewhere a very lucky punter won a bet on that gamble!  Then they got trounced by Chelsea.  So which Spuds will show up this week?  Winners or Losers?  It’s hard to say but the result is probably more dependent on the play of the Eagles.  It’s hard to be positive about a team that lost to Aston Vill, so Spurs it is.  Barely.

Arsenal are a good team that have had poor form.  Alexis and Danny Welbeck are beginning to work well together.  Giroud scored a cracker against Manchester United so it’s easy to think they’re prime to have a positive winter.  It will be tough but despite people’s opinions on the frailties of Arsenal’s defense, Mertesacker is a World Cup winner and Chambers is not too bad.   While it took a last ditch effort against 10 to beat Southampton, they beat Southampton.

Liverpool are another team destined to eventually get going.  It’s shocking to look at the table and see them in the top 10 but they are there and I think are definitely priming for a run back to the top 5.  A tough Sunderland team will keep it tight.

Hull and West Bromwich are two teams.   Two teams two goals each in a tie.  Sounds fair but not a good result for either as they are both lower in the table than they would want to be at this stage of the season.

Queens Park Rangers are in the position they’re likely to occupy for a long time: bottom three.  Burnley are in the position they’re likely to occupy for a long time: bottom three.  Burnley have been playing fairly well and have started finding the net again (it’s right there between those posts!) so it’s a good chance to try and make a gap between them and their fellow relegation candidates.   It’s one of those days that fate interrupts and reminds them that both of them deserve to be near the bottom and forces a last gasp equalizer from QPR.

Everton have been disappointing this year and it’s hard to see where things will change.  I predicted a big year for Lukaku but it doesn’t seem that he’s able to be the constant threat that you need a goalscorer to be.  He’s a slightly less complete Welbeck which isn’t something that you’d try and build a future on.   Manchester City have been finding ways to win.  YaYa and Sergio are both a constant threat to score and that’s the difference between the teams.   Both of them will make good on at least one threat each.

7-Dec-14  
West Ham2-1Swansea City
Aston Villa1-1Leicester City

West Ham will win.  I’m now convinced that this is not just a fluke – they keep winning!  The Swans are just not as consistent and this week is a down week.

A derby game of sorts.  A clash between the team at the bottom of the table and the team that I think might end up near the bottom of the table.  It’s not going to be long before Lambert is going to start feeling the pressure.  It’s now nine games without a win for the Foxes – a run that Villa snapped against Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.  In this game there are no winners.

 

8-Dec-14  
Southampton 2-3Manchester United

Southampton can’t lose three in a row, can they?  Why yes they can, and they will.  Manchester United will play their famous 2-4-2-1 formation and outscore the Saints in a back and forth dual (in case you’re wondering, I only count the three defenders as 2/3 of a player each).

And in the holiday spirit… a kind of “who will they sell next?”

Open a Door and Receive a Player!