Tag: tottenham

Will Liverpool Ever Gel Or Are They Doomed to Follow In Tottenham’s Footsteps?

Something is very wrong with Liverpool. Although it has become cliche to ring the alarm bells during the first few games of a team’s season, especially when a team has so much promise and a long season ahead of them, these alarm bells are warranted. And at this point the alarm bells have become cacophonous. This team is not working.  Plenty of analysts have been clamoring for Liverpool’s critics to ease up on their concerns because the team needs time to “gel.” They claim that the new and old players need time to learn how to play with each other and once they do they will become the team we expected to see after last seasons excitement. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this point of view is overly optimistic. While many people enjoy a person who can see the glass as half full they never stop to question what the glass if half full with. In Liverpool’s case it is a glass filled with a warm stale beer that had been sitting on the table for over a day. After the past three games in the last week this Liverpool team looks like they may be much worse than analysts and fans feared. Tottenham began last season in a similar manner with several new players looking to “gel” with their new teammates and suffering some disappointing losses as they looked to do so. The problem was that the season came and went but Tottenham never did fully gel as a team. They looked as disjointed at the end of the season as they did in the beginning of the season. Fans kept waiting for the team to improve and the improvement never came. Tottenham was then forced to revaluate their team this summer which lead them to sell several of the players that were never able to gel with their teammates. It was, in essence, a lost season. Legitimate concerns are growing  that Liverpool is facing the same fate.

Is Suarez’s absence the main problem? For starters, yes, his absence has definitely hurt Liverpool’s playing style. Last season Liverpool was frequently faced with opponents who would pack the box and force Liverpool to beat them. A man with individual brilliance was necessary to break these teams down and Luis Suarez provided this. His slipperiness and creativity were essential to breaking down the obstinate defenses that Liverpool was forced to attack against. A seemingly innocuous buildup could become a goal when Luis Suarez was in the game. He distracted defenders, created space, and freed up his teammates to have more time on the ball. Without him in this side teams have a lot less to deal with and as a result, are much harder to break down. It also does not help the Daniel Sturridge has been once again hit by the injury bug, forcing Mario Balotelli into a starring role when he was originally brought in to compliment Sturridge. However, the loss of one player does not excuse the woeful start to Liverpools’ Premiership campaign. Last season Luis Suarez was a big part of their team but it must be stated that this is also a team that scored over 100 goals last season and they showed that they have skill at other positions besides just forward. The loss of Suarez was a setback but it is not the main reason for Liverpool’s decline.

Injuries, the loss of Luis Suarez, and new players still needing time to gel with each other are just a fraction of what is wrong with Liverpool. A significant fraction, but still only a fraction. Defensively the Reds have been repeatedly exposed despite Brendan Rodgers bringing in new players specifically brought in to fix last years leaky defense. It was last years leaky defense that proved to be the achilles heel of Liverpool that would eventually lead to them losing out on the title to Manchester City. For the most part they were able to cover up their defensive frailty with goals but this season Liverpool, with the exception of their game at White Hart Lane, have been unable to score the goals necessary to offset their poor defensive performances. Profligacy in front of goal, mixed with a swiss cheese defense, has proven hard for Liverpool to overcome so far this season.

Losing Luis Suarez definitely hurts an offense but there is no excuse to become as profligate as they are considering the talent within the squad both from last season and the talent added over the summer. It is not that the players are incapable of matching last season’s success, instead it is as though the players have regressed. Last season Coutinho was a master at zipping in pin-point accurate passes that could lead to devastating breaks and goal scoring opportunities. Steven Gerrard used his newfound role last season to spray ambitious passes that could spur lightning quick counterattacks. The team as a whole was capable of replicating Barcelona styles at times to work their way out of tight spaces using brilliant passing triangles, movement, and vision. This season though Liverpool has yet to find that ability. There are brief times during games this season where they have looked their old selves but most of the time they look slightly off. Due to the style of play they have chosen, being slightly off can have tumultuous consequences. Whereas last season Coutinho could fit a pass through a pinhole, now his passes have been missing their mark and have gotten intercepted. Steven Gerrard has been man-marked out of many the games he has played so far and many of the other Liverpool players have looked uncomfortable on the ball. Almost as if they have lost their confidence. It was their soaring confidence that led to last seasons 11 game unbeaten streak and it is confidence that is needed by the players so that they remain calm on the ball and complete the perfect passes needed for Liverpool’s style to work. If Liverpool continues to play like they have been then their problems will further intensify and their confidence will continue to erode. Their problems need to be fixed and fixed fast or this season will get even worse.

Teams have rebounded from rough starts before. It is a long season and their are always bumps on the road. The concerns surrounding Liverpool are real but thoughts of this season being a failure are still conjecture. Daniel Sturridge’s return and a possibly blossoming partnership with Mario Balotelli could produce great things for Liverpool and lift then out of the Premier League basement. It is also possible that players such as Coutinho find their form and help lift the team back to the pedestal it was believed they would occupy this season. Only time will tell. Brendan Rodgers has a lot of work ahead of him though if he is to insure that fans look back on the end month of September as the wake-up call they sorely needed rather than the beginning of a long and fruitless season.

Advertisements

Tottenham Signs DeAndre Yedlin

Yedlin, 21, signed a 4-year deal but will remain with the Sounders on loan at least through the end of the Major League Soccer season, which concludes in December. Tottenham said he would join the London club ahead of the 2015-16 season.

Spurs will pay MLS a $4 million transfer fee, according to ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, a sizable portion of which goes to the Sounders.

According to DeAndre he spoke with Jurgen Klinsmann who obviously was very supportive of this transfer. Some US soccer fan are hesitant when hearing about young players going abroad too early because it can sometimes be harmful to  young player’s career if he does not get the requisite playing time and ends up stunting his development. However, not every player is the same and although Tottenham has a deep squad which will be tough to break into, there is no doubt that Yedlin has the talent to break into the starting lineup. If he does then the USMNT will have gained a very valuable asset for the upcoming Copa America 2016 and 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Source: http://www.espnfc.us/story/1984357/tottenham-announce-transfer-of-seattle-sounders-deandre-yedlin

Gervinho Began the Summer’s Domino Effect

Transfer deadline day has come and gone and unless you are an Real Madrid, Tottenham, or Arsenal fan, there’s not too much to really comment on.  Liverpool made a couple small splashes by bringing in Victor Moses on loan and grabbing Sakho from PSG.  Felliani became Manchester United’s sloppy seconds when first choice midfielder, Herrera, ended up falling through as well as a last minute bid for Khedira.  Everton were able to reinvest some of the Felliani money and buy James McCarthy while taking Lukaku and Gareth Barry on loan.  A few lower level deals and a few more loan moves rounded out the Premier League action aside from two players – Gareth Bale and Mesut Ozil.

Tottenham

The transfer of Bale to Madrid had been known for some time now since Tottenham were spending cash like Pacman Jones in a strip club (sorry for the American Football reference).  It was well documented that prior to the North London Derby on Sunday, Arsenal had spent a total of £0.00 and Tottenham had spent £100m.  Even with the ridiculous cash outlay, Tottenham was unable to withstand Arsenal’s determination and seemed to lack the cohesiveness (and rightfully so) of a team who had not played many games together.

Now that the Bale saga is over for Spurs, they can finally focus on what they have brought in and not what they were sending out (similar to the Arsenal/Van Persie situation last year).  Arsenal had brought in Giroud and Podolski and seemed to lack the understanding of each other until the second half of the season.  Will it take that long for the likes of Lamela, Soldado, and Paulinho to gel?  Spurs fans are hoping not, but it is a troubling sign thus far that their only two goals have come by the way of penalties and have yet to score in open play over the first three matches, despite winning two of them.  They seemed to lack the offensive spark that Bale had provided for them the last few seasons.  Once again, very similar to Arsenal last season following the departure of Van Persie.  So all is not lost as the season is still young for the new-look Spurs squad.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid broke their own transfer record by combining the previous record holder, Ronaldo, with the current record holder, Bale.  All I have to say is I pity the fullbacks of the opposition.  Good luck trying to keep up with Ronaldo AND Bale attacking from both sides.  Was Bale’s 21 Premier League goals from a season ago worth £85m?  What we do know is that his talent and potential is very real.  Bale should find it easier in La Liga to breakdown defenses like he did so well with in the Premier League.

However, with spending so much money on one player (as well as several other players brought in), it was necessary for Madrid to 1. make room for Bale and 2. recoup some of the transfer fee that they so willingly threw at Spurs.  With an already crowded midfield, Madrid had a tough choice to make as to which midfielder to send out.  They had to choose between Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Modric, Ozil, Di Maria and of course, Ronaldo.  They offloaded Kaka’s high wages to AC Milan and it seemed like at least one more player had to leave the obviously congested midfield upon Bale’s arrival – enter Arsenal.

Arsenal

Welcome aboard: New Arsenal team-mates Lukas Podolski (left) and Mesut Ozil (right) pose with a club shirt

Arsene Wenger had been feeling the heat.  By the end of the transfer window, he started lashing back at the media with his little quips.  Aside from what most Arsenal fans though, he actually did have a plan, even if it did take until the last hour of the transfer window to announce it.  Early in the window, Arsene brought in a young, albeit unproven, striker in Yaya Sanogo and then recently brought back Flamini, neither costing a penny in transfer fees.  Arsenal fans had seen it before and figured that was the last of Arsene’s signings.  However, once the Bale deal went through, Arsene pounced at the opportunity to buy one of Madrid’s world class midfielders, which now seemed like his plan all along.  Was Arsene really talking to Madrid about Higuain early in the window, or trying to sure up a deal for Ozil as early as July?

Despite the obvious excitement for Ozil, Arsene still left some holes in the squad.  With Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski out for months, the attacking options come down to Giroud and an unproven Sanogo.  Obviously, Arsene shows tremendous confidence in Giroud and he has produced a goal in 4 of Arsenal’s 5 match so far this season, but it is still a risky proposition to only have one viable striking option.  Theo Walcott has played there in a pinch before, but is much better with his speed out wide.  Could Bendtner actually be an option for Arsene?  The defense is also thin with Vermaelen out for some time.  Gibbs and Sagna have missed significant time the last couple of seasons.  That leaves Nacho, Mertesacker, and Koscielny, hardly a deep group.  Arsene is taking a gamble that his current squad, with the addition of Ozil, will hold up until depth and possibly a top striker could come in January to get a push for some actual trophies – not just finishing top 4.

Gervinho

So how does Gervinho fit into all of this?  Let me spell it out:

1) Roma buys Gervinho from Arsenal making Lamela expendable

2) Tottenham buys Lamela to send out Bale

3) Madrid buys Bale making Ozil expendable

4) Arsenal buys Ozil

In Summary, Arsenal swapped Gervinho + £35m for Ozil – superb business.  In addition, Spurs not only lost their best player and playmaker, they allowed Arsenal the ability to purchase one of the world’s most creative players.

Probably not what Tottenham had in mind when they decided to cash in on Bale.

Gareth Bale > Christiano Ronaldo

According to the latest reports, Real Madrid and Tottenham have agreed “in principle” to a record transfer fee for Gareth Bale.  Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from Manchester United for a record-setting $124m (80m pounds) back in 2009.  Real Madrid look to top their own transfer record by submitting a $134m (86m pounds) bid for Tottenham’s Bale.  Granted, the transfer market nowadays compared to 2009 is much more inflated, but on the overall record books, Bale would be the most expensive player ever.  This could explain Tottenham’s seemingly over ambitious spending spree this summer bringing in quality players Paulinho, Chadli, Soldado, and Capoue.  Can any or a combination of them replace Bale’s undeniable impact?  That is yet to be seen, but I do know there are a lot of Premier League defenders breathing a sigh of relief to see the talented winger head off to La Liga.

Bale’s transfer has the ability to cause a ripple effect at Madrid.  With Ronaldo and Bale on the wing, players like Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Luka Modric will be forced to take a seat on the bench.  The latest rumors are heating up with reports of both Ozil and Di Maria being linked to Arsenal as well as Ozil being linked to a move to United, which would be a great replacement should Rooney move on to another club.  As of now, Madrid are about breaking even this summer as they bought some decent players and sold Higuain.  A Bale transfer would tip the scale to a huge summer deficit at Madrid so it is only right that speculation seems to be mounting regarding newly expendable players.

All it takes is one huge transfer and the dominoes will start to fall.  I think we’re in for an eventful week and deadline day is sure to cause a stir across Europe and Bale may just be the beginning.

Cardiff City Makes Massive Statement

Two weeks down, two big upsets so far.  Last week saw Arsenal lose to lowly Aston Villa as the Gunners were odds on favorites to at least get points from the match.  This week provided a thrilling 3-2 upset victory for Cardiff City over Manchester City.  In case you missed the highlights, check them out here:

 

 

Last seasons Championship winners made a massive statement to the rest of the Premier League with this win.  Down 1-0 after Dzeko’s masterful strike, Cardiff showed great resiliency as they kept attacking the Man City defense.  Aron Gunnarsson cleaned up a rebound off Joe Hart to level the scoring at 1-1.  Two corner kicks subsequently found the head of Frazier Campbell as the Man City defenders looked rather unconvincing to say the least.  Clearly Man City misses their rock at center back with Vincent Kompany sidelined for at least a month.  Lescott and  Javi Garcia looked rather lost out there at times, especially on the two set piece goals by Campbell.  With Kompany out for a somewhat lengthy spell, Man City may be in the market for a center half to sure up the defense in Kompany’s absence.

Manchester City will try to right the ship next weekend against another Championship promoted club, Hull City who downed Norwich this past weekend.  Losses to two newly promoted clubs in a row would be a disastrous start for the Premier League runner-ups from last season.  Meanwhile, Cardiff will try to continue their momentum from their unlikely victory next weekend when they face Everton.  Should their confidence continue to grow, Cardiff could be a team to reckon with this season and will hardly be an easy 3 points for the top clubs – just ask Man City.

Liverpool and Tottenham continued their winning ways with each earning consecutive 1-0 victories in the first two matches.  Liverpool have looked comfortable in their wins over Stoke and Villa, but will be tested next weekend as they welcome Manchester United to Anfield, which will provide a good barometer for where the club stands against the top of the table clubs.

On the other side, Tottenham are set up for an early season Derby with rivals Arsenal next weekend.  The two clubs may be distracted for different reasons.  Arsenal look to bring in quality players before deadline day to provide some relief for their oft-injured squad.  Tottenham will be focusing on either the sale or retaining of their highly-coveted winger, Gareth Bale.  At the moment, Tottenham look like the better squad even without Bale, but Arsenal have 5 days to do some business before Saturdays match if they would like to bring in some players before deadline day.  A victory or draw tomorrow will provide a chance for Arsenal to recruit some players wanting Champion’s League action this season.  However, Arsene Wenger’s transfer ambitions seem to be lacking, so the Arsenal faithful shouldn’t be holding their breath.

Gareth Bale: Amazing What Four Years Can Mean to a Club

baleThis is incredible. Imagine what would have happened if Bale was sold. A single decision by a club looking to move on too quickly could have cost a player his career. I know we have already crossed the threshold of ridiculous money versus actual talent but is the game now at a point where players who otherwise could have been world class are left to rot because of less than impressive youth careers?

If this Bale deal does end up going through, is he worth it? Is he the most expensive man in football or is Real Madrid a bit over zealous with their move?

English Premier League Predictions for 2013/2014 – Part 2

6 weeks ago, I posted predictions for the upcoming Premier League season.  If you happened to miss it you can read the article here.  With the transfer window half over, here are my updated predictions based on rosters and rumors as of today.  Over at premierleague.com, you can view the latest up-to-date official transfers for all the Premier League clubs.

Tier 1

1) Manchester United (+0) – Eerily quiet in the transfer window for the Red Devils.  However, you know the old motto: “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”.  If they start the season with their current squad, they should remain favorites to repeat.  However, losing Rooney would put a big chink in their armor, especially if it is to another Premier League club.

2) Manchester City (+1) – What a difference 6 weeks makes.  I had Chelsea at the #2 spot last prediction, but Manchester City has made two more key signings.  To go along with Jesus Navas and Fernadinho, they also added Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic to their attacking side.  These are two great signings and much needed with the departure of Balotelli last season and Tevez most recently.  Aguero, Negredo, Jovetic give City top class options at the attacking positions.  We’ll see how Jovetic fairs in his first Premier League season.

3) Chelsea (-1) – Chelsea has been quiet since the transfer window opened.  Only adding Andre Schurrle, who was an early summer signing.  They missed out on Cavani, who ended up at PSG.  Can they steal Rooney from United as the reports suggest they are trying to do?  If Rooney does make a move to the Blues, it would certainly close the gap among the top 3.  However, I was expecting another high profile signing or two by now which is why they dropped below the ambitious Manchester City.

Tier 2

4) Tottenham (+1) – For now, Bale is still a Hotspur.  However, if the latest reports are true regarding Real Madrid’s bid, maybe not for long.  As of today though, they have added Paulinho, who is a good signing to bolster the midfield.  They are also in advanced talks to sign Soldado which would be a great signing as they are in need of a quality striking option.  With that said, if Bale leaves, you can kiss 4th place goodbye.  I see 4th as their highest possible finish, but could drop to as low as 6th or even 7th should Bale depart.

5) Arsenal (-1) – Arsenal’s transfer rumors have been discussed at length on this site and there is seemingly a different development daily.  With that said, their ONLY signing thus far is Yaya Sanogo, a French U-20 International with a checkered injury record.  They missed out on likely transfers Higuain and Jovetic, and have put all their focus on signing the controversial Luis Suarez.  They have done very well in clearing out some of the dead weight that has plagued them for a few seasons, they just need to fill those spots with some quality signings now to challenge the top 3.  Suarez would obviously bump them up to the top tier while simultaneously dropping Liverpool into the Tier 3 range.  We’ll see how Arsenal’s summer plays out but this could be the make or break year as they always seem to be a few players away.  I don’t see them dropping any lower than 5th, so they can only go up from here depending on who they happen to acquire.

Tier 3

6) Liverpool (+0) – Not too much has changed with Liverpool since the last post.  Suarez is still on the squad, for now.  They did ship the struggling Pepe Reina off to Napoli and brought in Simon Mignolet as a replacement and potential upgrade.  Otherwise, they have been fairly quiet this offseason which doesn’t bode well for an above average squad.  Should they lose Suarez, they would need to replace him with two quality signings to remain in tier 2.

7) Everton (+0) – Also having a quiet transfer window thus far.  They did bring in Arouna Kone from Wigan, which could be a good risk/reward type of transfer should he stay healthy.  If they can hang onto Baines and Fellaini, and add another quality player or two, they could potentially fight for a Champions League spot, but as of now are a couple signings away from that level.

Tier 4

8) Swansea (+0) – Swansea has been relatively busy this transfer window.  They have added a few good players that should help them finish in the top half of the table yet again.  Wilfried Bony should prove to be a great signing to take some of the goal scoring pressure off of Michu.  Jonathan De Guzman could be a valuable loan signing that will solidify their midfield, while Jonjo Shelvey will look for a career resurgence after his move from Liverpool.  I look for Swansea to be a pesky team for the top clubs and certainly not an easy club to earn points from.

9) Newcastle United (+0) – Still no forward replacement for Ba.  However, they have retained all of their important players and look to rebound from a disappointing campaign last season.  They have the talent, let’s see if that leads to results this time around.  The chemistry should be there this season if they can maintain focus.

10) Southampton (Unranked) – Rounding out the top 10 I think will be Southampton.  They have only made two signings so far, but two signings that will greatly improve their squad.  By spending a combined 20m on Defender Dejan Lovren and Forward Victor Wanyama, they added quality to both ends of the pitch.  Wanyama could be one of the most underrated Premier League signings this season.

Dropped from top 10: Fulham

Tottenham and Manchester City have made the highest impact signings so far, which is represented by their bump up in the projected table.  I have a feeling this will be a very interesting final month of the transfer window.  I will post my final predictions following deadline day, once the clubs are finalized at least until January.

Have your own predictions?  Want to win a free jersey?  Check out the details on our Premier League Prediction contest and submit an entry before it’s too late!