Sunday, December 19, 2010

League Links

It's been a long weekend thanks to the lack of EPL action, only tempered by a great weekend of NFL action and some decent Italian games. With just three games on the slate - one featuring two teams (Blackburn and West Ham) who basically have zero fantasy options - there isn't too much analysis for the week, but that hasn't stopped the news stories rolling in, particularly with regards to potential transfers in the new year.

The Chatter

Steve Kean is the bookies favorite to get the Blackburn job with some other suspect names like Dave Jones and Stuart Pearce also in the mix. Some higher profile names are also in the mix (Martin Jol, Martin O'Neill) but this chatter seems to have cooled after the early news stories.

Without reading too much into one game, Blackburn had much more possession this week than in the previous home game and there was a clear concerted effort to play the ball wide with Gamst Pedersen being particularly involved. Pedersen is already having a nice season but could be even more valuable if Kean was to keep the job on a full time basis.

One former great who won't be returning to Ewood Park is Alan Shearer who has officially declared himself out of the managerial race.

Blog favorite Cesc Fabregas thinks that Arsenal are afraid of losing the big games, where as United and Chelsea are more willing to go for the kill. Over the past four seasons Arsenal are 2-5 against Chelsea (including 4 straight losses) and 1-4-2 against United (including 3 straight losses) so Cesc may well have a point. While questions will be rightfully asked of Wenger etc, when it comes down to it I think it's just a product of one team spending considerably less money than the other two and hence having less talent. If you were to pick a starting XI from the three teams, how many players would come from Arsenal? On this season's form, probably only Nasri, Chamakh and maybe Sagna if you were being generous. Add in their lack of depth along the backline and it is to be expected that Arsenal will struggle against the top two.

The FA are facing up the challenge of the canceled fixtures and there could be some serious back log towards the end of the season. For those teams looking to use their wildcard towards the start of the transfer window this will be an important factor to consider. If the English teams advance in the Champions League we are going to see more and more rotation later in the season which would (a) devalue players from those teams who could face rotation and (b) increase the value of other players who would be facing weaker opposition (how much better are your clean sheet chances when you face Sturridge instead of Drogba?).

Alexander Kolarov has reminded us there is more to life than football.

The Gossip

Chaz Adam is once again the focal point of speculation, this time with Blackburn named as potential suitors. I think this would be a downgrade for fantasy purposes and provided he can get along with Blackpool management, it's better if he stays by the seaside.

Redknapp has ruled out a move for Scott Parker though O'Hara may go the other way.

Pep Guardiola has not ruled out one day managing in England

Stoke are set to throw their name into the Robbie Keane lottery, while they are also interested in Seb Larsson. At 4.8m Keane could be one the most valuable forwards around if he was to land on his feet somewhere this Christmas. If you think your fantasy team is in bad shape, spare a thought for the hundreds of owners still transferring Keane out of their squads. What made them wait 18 weeks but bail now? "I can take 17 weeks of craptitude but 18 is just too much, I'm bringing Andy Caroll in".

One of the more exciting, and ridiculous, rumors sees Benzema coming to Arsenal with Clichy going the other way. How he could fit in the team alongside Van Persie, Chamakh et al I don't know, but it would likely be a lot of fun.

The ridiculously skillful Alexis Sanchez is once again touted as a possible arrival in England, with United supposedly interested. I don't see them playing him alongside Nani so I'll believe that one when I see it.

Hodgson plans to dig deep into his scouting reports and bid for Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright Phillips. Presumably the only way to take over City and Spurs is to sign their fringe players. How do these managers keep getting jobs? I could honestly spend a weekend playing Football Manager, buy some Ryanair tickets, spend 50 Euros on some tickets and find better, cheaper players than managers like Hodgson. I am so outraged on this issue I am going to write a separate piece tonight.

Quote of the Day
"It seems to me there are three options now for the club. One, 100 per cent support for the coach and four or five new players to build a stronger team. Two, carry on like this, without a project or any planning and go ahead with one person to blame. Three, speak to my agent and reach an agreement. Simple."
Rafa Benitez continues his good relationship with his new team president. Again, how do these people keeping getting high profile jobs?

Highlight of the Day
I shared this yesterday on Twitter, but it deserves another post. The pass by Xavi for the first goal is one of the best defense splitting passes I have ever seen. There are 8 players between Xavi and Dani Alves but the ball is perfectly placed and weighted to eliminate them all from play. The fact that Alves doesn't even consider the shot but plays in Messi is testimony to the team's unselfish attitude.


Andrew said...

I'm surprised that you say Blackburn have no fantasy options. Their defense is decent enough at home to consider them as budget options, your own numbers have shown that Robinson is a good pick in the short-mid term at least, and take into account some of their defenders are playing out of position.

We certainly can't forget about Gamst-Pedersen either, the 5th highest scoring midfielder in the game (no one above him costing less either).

Gamst-Pedersen, Robinson, Samba, and Nelson at the least are reasonable options to consider. I would even add in Jones, Givet, and Salgado if you're strapped for cash and just looking for a rotational defender.

Chris Glover said...

Yeh that was unfair to MGP, he is fantasy worthy. I don't like the defense on a regular basis but I suppose they can be spot starters. It was more a throw comment (perhaps a little careless) to show how little fantasy interest there was this week. No offense to all Rovers fans - real or fantasy.