Diouf has launched a surprising - and frankly quite amusing - attack on Jamie Carragher to setup a tasty encouter at Ewood on 5 Jan.
Roy Hodgson has given a fairly brutal assessment of the Joe Cole signing adding:
"He's not so much a player I can really take responsibility for. I'd have to share the responsibility for Joe, less so than for people like [Christian] Poulsen, [Raul] Meireles and [Paul] Konchesky, who are players I was quite happy to bring to the club."
Paul Doyle at The Guardian will not miss Birmingham if they fail to escape relegation this season stating "[t]hey have little creativity and no cutting edge. They have no pace. They do not even have the power of Blackburn and Stoke, nor the dynamism of Wolves". He does a nice job backing up some his claims with high level statistics and from the few times I've seen Birmingham this year (0-0 with City, 0-0 with Villa and 1-0 over Chelsea) they have been the definition of cynical. That said, any side in the bottom half of the table would happily take 5 points from those three games so it's hard to criticise McLeish's attitude against the big boys. What is more worrying for them are the home losses to West Brom, Everton, Stoke and Wolves which they managed to avoid last season. Barring an influx on new talent, McLeish simply must unleash his full backs or another midfielder if he hopes to get results against other fighting relegation candidates.
Nani must be 1,600 cleverer than Wenger if he knows who will win the title
The non-story of the day is the inevitable firing of Rafa Benitez. He won La Liga back in 2004 though which I'm sure will continue to get him employment in the future despite evidence he just can't get along with anyone.
Andy Gray reckons Leo Messi would struggle against Stoke or Blackburn. As someone who used to live in England and watch Gray twice a week, I feel I have a pretty good handle on what he's all about. His attitude towards 'foreign' leagues and indeed foreign players in many cases, is typical of the British attitude which is all too common these days in the media: insecurity. Ask an Englishman which league is the best in Europe and he will go on for hours about diving, corruption, Barcelona/Madrid's dominance, slow pace, lack of goals etc. You name it, they'll try and use it to prove the EPL is the best, no matter if their point is true or not. Ask an Italian or Spaniard and they will play up their own game rather than instinctively attacking the other. This is where Gray, and others, let themselves down. While hypothetical questions are fun to debate in the pub, they are just that, and cannot be categorically answered. Gray too often poses such questions and then answers them with such certainty and resists alternative suggestions. Leo Messi, for me, is the greatest player of a generation and Barcelona can potentially destroy anyone in their path. Could Stoke beat them? Sure, the beauty of football is that anyone can beat anyone on a given day, but let's talk about that as a strength of the game rather than a weakness of an unarguably great Barcelona side.
Same old Arsene says not to expect big signings in January
Baines, probably the form left back in the league this season, is trying to ignore links with Man United and Bayern Munich. Not quite sue why United would want him unless they see a way to flip Evra for a lot more cash.
Chris Samba wants out of Blackburn though Steve Kean wants to hold onto the big defender. Spurs and Arsenal are being lined up as potential destinations though neither looks like a good move for Samba who would be third or fourth choice at both destinations when everyone is fully fit (though to be fair that might never happen at White Hart Lane). At 5.1m he would be a bargain in the Arsenal back line but not particularly cheap at Spurs.
With Jerome Anderson woven deeply into the takeover saga at Blackburn, many assume that Blackburn will target clients of his company - SEM. A quick look at their website, which lists a number of players presumably on their books, might make worrying reading for Rovers fans. The first six players (and yes these appear to be in order of fame) are Mikel (okay, cool), Eduardo (still fine), Warnock (right . . . ), Hyypia (really, at 37?), Boa Morte (what!) and Gibbs (if Balotelli doesn't know who Wilshere is, he certainly won't know Gibbs). After that you get the highly rated Alex Witsel and James Vaughan and then a load of kids. If that's your pool of talent then it won't matter if the Venkys have seven million, billion or trillion Rupees, Blackburn will be in big trouble.
Hey, Julio Baptista, here's an idea. Why don't you go to a club where you will get first team minutes, earn your place in the team and then actually play well. Then you won't have to move clubs every transfer window.
The Robbie Keane to West Ham deal appears to be dead.
Quote of the Day
"Carragher, for me, is nothing. He's like a make of ketchup or mustard to a normal person: not important".
Diouf successfully making himself even more hated on MerseysideGhostbusters.
Highlight of the Day
A few highlight of the year posts have been floating around with these two favorites re-surfacing. The first is Mick McCarthy's shock at, well, nothing and the winner is Ronaldo's great disallowed goal at the World Cup followed by a greater strop at former teammate Nani. Perhaps he's been gone from the EPL for too long, but I almost miss that moody bastard.
Thanks for reading and contributing throughout 2010 and I hope 2011 will be even better for the blog. As always, any suggestions for what you'd like to see on the blog in the new year are always welcome either below or @plfantasy. Happy holidays everyone!