Robinho Injury a Blessing in Disguise?

I am back from Singapore after having a great time watching the Grand Prix, well done Lewis Hamilton who ran away with it in the end.  I have to recommend Singapore to any travelers out there as it is a fantastic city, great people and excellent food.

Robinho injuried for 3 more weeksAnyways time to get back to football!

Manchester City have revealed their £32.5million striker, Robinho, is expected to take another 3 weeks to recover from injury.

At first this seems to be very bad news, but this might not necessarily be the case.  Robinho was not playing exceptionally well prior to the injury, and Manchester City have been done very well without him.

When he does come back from injury Mark Huge will undoubtedly feel the pressure to get him back into the team.  This would likely result in Bellamy or Tevez having to ride the bench; although they have both been playing very well and would definitely be disgruntled by such a move .

Huge may have dodge a team selection bullet for now, but at some point he is going to have to start making difficult decisions as to which big ego he is most willing to rub the wrong way.

Premier League Predictions Round 7

Sorry that I have not written much on the blog this week as I am currently in Singapore for the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

I won’t get to watch much football this weekend as I’ll be dedicating this weekend to motorsports but I’ll get my predictions in all the same.

Check out some pictures from Friday’s practice session and be sure to get your Premier League predictions in below.

Prediction Results:

  1. David: 10pts
  2. aaron: 8pts

With 10 out of 10 matches played. Click on any username above to see their predictions.

Click here to find out how the points are calculated

Premier League Predictions Round 6

It seems like the big games just keep on coming; this week there is the Manchester derby between City and United and a London derby between Tottenham and Chelsea.  Who will come out on top?

Prediction Results:

  1. David: 11pts
  2. aaron: 6pts

With 10 out of 10 matches played. Click on any username above to see their predictions.

Click here to find out how the points are calculated

Build your own football team online

Hattrick.orgThis is a website that I’ve been playing on for the last few month and I have found it to be good fun, and great for killing any free time at the office.

The website is: http://www.hattrick.org/

It’s free to sign up and you get to be the owner of your own football team.  Your team is automatically placed in your own country’s domestic league system…there are hundreds tiers and about 8 teams per league, win the league and you get promoted to the next tier.

The system has lots of features, such as buying and selling players, managing your finances, upgrading your stadium, developing the youth team, arranging friendlies…the list goes on…

My team is Ratchada United and I’ve just managed to win my league and get promoted; currently in my 3rd season.  Each season only lasts a few months.

The system does have a paying members upgrade where you pay a subscription and get extra features such as design your own kit etc…

I’d recommend you sign up and pit your management skills against the rest of the online football geek world.

Xenophobia and Home-grown Rules

It seems to me that every country is fairly keen to blame their problems on “foreigners” and football is no exception.  When one’s national team gets knocked out of the world cup the reason is…”too many foreigners in the domestic league”.  When one’s favorite team gets beaten in the champions league or a cup final the reason is…”too many foreigners on the opposition team”.

Nowhere can this seen more clearly than in England where the Premier League attracts large numbers of foreign players due to the league’s popularity and high salaries.  For some time this has been sighted as a major  reason why England frequently under achieve at tournaments.  England have not won a world cup since 1966 and I’m no statistics buff but I’m pretty sure foreigner have not been prolific within the English league all the way back 40+ years ago.

The argument is that bringing in foreigner players stunts the opportunities of young English players.  Personally I disagree; playing with the best players in the world can only improve the skills of young players.  And while it may prevent the opportunities for throngs of mediocre English player, it also takes the shining star English players puts them on the biggest stage next to the best in the world and takes them to the next level.

I for one would rather be able to pick a national team squad from 30 superstars than 1000 garden-variety muppets.

I guess one could argue that youth players will just give up on football if it’s too hard to make it big.  I’d like to believe that “oh it’s too hard, let’s just give” has not become the new motto for a country that prides itself on determination.

Wrongly or rightly I think rules such as the new home-grown rule will become more popular as foreigners are such a convenient scapegoat for everything.

Ten Man United School Spurs

Rooney scores against Spurs Spurs could be accused of getting carried away and allowing their feet to float off the ground after winning their first 4 games of the season.   Even the down-to-earth Harry Redknapp came out this week saying his squad was good enough to challenge for the title.

The mangers confidence was illustrated in the way he set out his team, with 3 strikers in Keane, Crouch and Defoe.  It’s pretty much unheard of for teams to go at United with 3 strikers, but it paid off immediately with Jermaine Defoe scoring a sublime bicycle kick after only 50 seconds.

Sometimes scoring an early goal can have a negative affect on the scoring team, and that is what happened yesterday, with United galvanized and given a sense of urgency they came back strong and played their way back into the game.  Giggs leveled the score with a masterful free kick and Anderson put United ahead before half time with a low shot after a poor clearance.

In the second half Manchester United could have been derailed when Paul Scholes saw two yellow cards in quick succession to take an early shower.  The second yellow card seemed quite harsh as Scholes appeared to be pulling out of the tackle, but some times his reputation for terrible tackling precedes him.   It did seem a bit unfair seeing as Wilson Palacios had put in at least 5 similar challenges in the first half alone, but still remained on the field.

After the sending off United took off Berbatov and brought on Carrick, they regrouped well with a clear objective of playing on the counter attack.  They played excellently and it was only a matter of time before Rooney’s boundless energy as the lone striker earned him a chance; which he used to put the game to bed at 3-1.

This game certainly brought Spurs back down to the ground; they were not just beaten but completely out played, they did not look anywhere near as quality as United.  Top four contenders maybe, but title contenders…not yet.

Adebay-Up-Yours

Emmanuel Adebayor scoresManchester City have officially announced themselves as at least top four contenders, maybe even title contenders, with their 4-2 win over Arsenal.  They have continued their 100% winning record with 4 wins out of 4.

There was no love lost when Adebayor left Arsenal in the summer and headed for Manchester City, and in this game he was keen to prove his previous employers had undervalued his services.

He was a valuable member of the city team in this match, and not only for scoring the 3rd goal, but also for his excellent defensive headers from Arsenal set pieces.  With Adebayor and Lescott dominating in the air inside the City box the Gunners did not look a goal threat from corners or free kicks.

However in my opinion the man of the match was Craig Bellamy, with pace to burn and the energy to run for the full 90 minutes, he looks like a big asset for Manchester City.  His tracking back and tackling may have gone unnoticed by some, but you can be sure his teammates and manager will be giving him a pat on the back in the locker room.  Plus it was his goal which put City 2-1 up, when Arsenal looked like they might go on to win.  And his pass which setup Wright-Phillips for the fourth goal.

After Arsenal leveled the game at one all it looked like they would run away with the game, but then City used the magic strategy which always seem to send Arsenal into a tail spin.  They started putting in some tough tackles and even a few late challenges and the Gunner were easily shaken.

If Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to finish in the top four this season he is definately going to have to figure out a way to toughen up his team.

Premier Graphs 2009/2010

Just a quick note that I have updated the Premier League graphs to show the team standings for this season.

Checkout the graphs here: http://soccershirtsonline.com/graphs.html

Premier League Predictions Round 5

There are some big matches this weekend between top clubs and the up-and coming clubs, such as Tottenham vs. Manchester United and Manchester City vs. Arsenal.  Get your predictions in now!

Prediction Results:

  1. aaron: 10pts
  2. David: 8pts

With 10 out of 10 matches played. Click on any username above to see their predictions.

Click here to find out how the points are calculated

Masterful England thrash Croatia

aarronlennonpen20090909_350x197England have now officially qualified for the World Cup 2010 with 2 games to spare; winning all 8 of their qualifying matches.

It was less than 2 years ago that England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, losing to Croatia in the rain at Wembley with Steve McClaren famously standing with an umbrella at the sidelines.  That is now a distant memory and all the bitterness is now firmly with the Croatian side.

All week prior to the match Slaven Bilic had been talking up his strategy and how he could see the holes in England that he could exploit and even saying England had “lost their Englishness” under Fabio Capello.  The England camp kept quiet and refused to be drawn in to a war of words with the Croatian manager, and instead did their talking on the pitch.

I have to say I was quick to write off Glen Johnson in the friendly against Slovenia as he defended pretty poorly in that match; but last night he looked like a different player.  He got forward well in the same manner as normal but his defensive work was also very good.  He probably put in the best defensive performance of the team, and his header to deny Eduardo was fantastic.  Down the right side Lennon and Johnson rampaged past the Croatian defenders all night.

England did look a bit narrow on the left side without a left sided winger, but when Gerrard and Lampard bang in 2 goals a piece it’s difficult to see sacrificing one of them to bring in a winger.

My major concern about England is their overall defense at the moment.  After going 4-0 up they were not able to shut up shop and keep a clean sheet.  The goal was very sloppy and surely should have been stopped.  John Terry has not looked like his former self lately, and hopefully it’s just a form issue that he will have worked through by the time South Africa rolls around.