Tag: welbeck

Week 1 Fantasy Premier League Standings

Here is an overview of the current standings for our Fantasy Premier League:

Week 1 93rdminute Fantasy Standings


As you can see, we had some very good scores in the first week of play that were largely aided by Chelsea and Aston Villa’s multiple fixtures this week. Currently, the 1st place squad managed by Mikko Linnamaa looks like this :

Week 1 #1Will that be the team that can carry Mikko to victory? I’m not sure. There is a lot of season to be had.


Star forwards of the week: Benteke, Welbeck and Aguero

Star midfielders of the week: Lampard, Oscar and Joe Cole

Star defenders of the week: Ivanovic, Coleman and Shaw

Goalkeeper of the week: Mignolet

Week 1 Dream Team looks like this:

week 1 dream team If you somehow managed to pick this squad and didn’t enter our fantasy league. Shame on you! You could be on your way to a personalized jersey!

Good luck in this week’s fixtures!




Two Worlds Collide

Tomorrow is finally the day of the most anticipated match (so far) of 2013.  One of the most fascinating features of the UEFA Champions League is being able to witness two teams from two very different leagues compete on one field.  The EPL and La Liga feature very different styles of play and require different skill sets for success.  Tomorrow we’ll get to see two powerhouses in Europe and their respective leagues meet.  Managers worldwide learn a lot from these matches when it comes to what works, what doesn’t work, and what is the future of soccer?  And I really hope this isn’t the future of soccer.

The “Spanish style” of soccer has been the most influential and successful style of soccer for a few years between a World Cup title, Euro Cup title and the strength of Real Madrid and Barcelona, although this record is certainly marred by both Spanish sides losing out in the semi-final round of last year’s Champions League competition.  In any case we’ve witnessed a migration towards this Spanish style: more short passing, triangles all over the field, and a narrower approach to goal (as opposed to whipping tons of crosses in).  Manchester United has adopted this style, highlighted by signings like Kagawa.  For some spots of the field, I’d say Manchester United and Real Madrid are very similar (Keeper, outside backs, strikers). However even with this migration towards the Spanish style, Real Madrid and Manchester United still have variations which stem from their roots.  Here are a few points where the Spanish and English sides differ:

Center backs – Manchester United still have the typical combination of strength and size in their central defenders.  Although there’s still a bit of coolness on the ball, I wouldn’t compare it to the common control found in Spanish center backs (case and point).

Defensive midfielders – Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira,  and Michael Carrick are similar, but Real Madrid has no player like Tom Cleverley. His role tomorrow will be very interesting.


Wingers – In what I’d characterize as an English motif, Manchester United, with the exception of that clown Nani, has more defensive wingers in Valencia and Welbeck where the Spanish side opts for offense over defense in guys like Ozil.  This will be a major factor tomorrow.  Will the more defensive style suit Manchester United or will that be their downfall?

Formation – United have become comfortable with a 4-2-3-1 style compared to a Real Madrid side more accustomed to a 4-3-3 formation.  Who strikes first in this scenario is paramount.  If Madrid strike first, United are forced out of their “shell”.  Should United strike first, Real have to continue to push without falling further behind.  Tomorrow is only the first leg, so it’s unlikely we’ll see any dramatic changes.  But I’d be surprised if we see the same strategies in the second leg as we do in the first leg.

England and France – Just O.K.

I had high hopes for this meeting between these two European powerhouses. Unfortunately, the exciting moments were few and far between and I found myself close to asleep near the end. If this is how England intends on playing their competitive opponents, it’s a disappointment. I’m sure there are plenty of English fans thrilled with a point and only Sweden and Ukraine remaining, but with the amount of talent in England it’s unacceptable.

The first half was dominated by France, but England found a few week spots in the French defense (Milner had a golden opportunity which he should have put away) and England were able to convert a spot kick against the run of play. Nasri, Benzema, and Ribery were creating some issues for a well-organized backline protected by Gerrard and Parker. Nasri evened up the score not too long after England’s goal with a well-driven ball just outside the area. France continued to press England for the remainder of the first half but could not find a way past the buses England had parked in front of Joe Hart.

The second half was a little more back and forth ; England even managed to string three passes together. But the half was played at a much more reserved pace and both sides were content with a tie for the last 20 minutes or so.

Can’t blame him…

French Outlook: Clearly offensively potent, they looked like Barcelona trying to break down Chelsea in the Champions League semi, but I don’t think they have the requisite skill to try to walk it in. With an aerial threat like Benzema, France would do well to mix it up a little. I don’t recall Benzema’s head getting on the end of many, if any, crosses today. The downfall of France will be their backline. While certainly apt to get forward, the outside backs were less than outstanding defensively. Evra was downright lazy at times; the chance Milner was unable to finish in the first half was courtesy of Evra tracking with Milner only to a point, at which Evra slowed and half-heartedly attempted to pull Milner offsides. England was able to cause problems with only a few men going forward; once France meet a more balanced opponent (Spain, Germany, Netherlands, etc.) it will be hectic back there.

England Outlook: Bright spots were few today. What England should take away from this one is they didn’t play well, were outshot 19-3, and still tied a strong French side. I thought Welbeck and Oxlade-Chamberlain did very well given the lack of support and their relative inexperience in major competitions. Young was another aggressor for England and it will be fun to see these guys continue to build on that relationship. Gerrard and Parker were attached to the back four and their contributions were in the form of strong tackles rather than any playmaking. I am optimistic that this was simply a warm-up for an English team with plenty of issues (injuries) to deal with leading into the Euros and the intensity and attacking aspect of this team will ramp up leading into the next stage. Despite my disappointment in the performance today, they are still are very strong squad that could go places given the experience and resilience of their backline and goalkeeper. Let’s hope to see them gain some confidence after game one take a few more risks going forward.

Group D Preview and Predictions

Group D is an interesting one to say the least. Ukraine, France, Sweden and England make up a somewhat strong group that is marred by injuries.

The Ukraine is behind on their Euro 2012 preparations. This does not exclude their own home squad. The Ukraine has not won a game since October of 2011. They lost to France and Sweden during their warm-up games for this tournament. That being said, a host country can never be counted out. (Just look at Greece) Still, the quality in the team is few and far between. If Andriy Shevchenko finds his form of old, maybe, just maybe Ukraine can sneak a draw in. I don’t expect to win a game during this tournament, even with the support of their home fans.

Sweden enters this tournament in good form, winning every game they have played in 2012. The competition might not have been overly competitive but wins against Croatia and Serbia cannot be discounted. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a boss. He is unstoppable when he wants to play. He attracts enough attention to give other forwards such as my personal favorite, Markus Rosenberg, a chance to make something happen. How reliable are the role players on the Sweden side in the clutch moments? I don’t think they are and Zlatan has been known to disappear in big games so I do not expect must noise from the Swedes. An all too injured England side could provide a way into the knockout rounds.

France is the odds on favorite in this group. They have had an excellent and undefeated 2012 highlighted by a win over Germany, in Germany. This was a tune up but still gives France confidence going into the tournament, something they really needed after the World Cup bust up that was as embarrassing as it was damaging for the country’s national side. France is the most well rounded team in this group and has the most depth. I expect them to get out easily and make a run to the finals. Benzema, Nasri, young gun Ben Arfa and an experienced back line are more than enough to make it happen.

England is in trouble. Injuries are unpredictable but that timing of England’s current woes could not have been worse. That combined with the John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Roy Hodgson riff is enough controversy to cause major problems for this team. Rooney is out for the first two games so it will be up to young Danny Welbeck to provide the scoring. This situation is the perfect set up for an England team with no pressure or reservations to make an unexpected run for the title. Is it likely? No. But, England still has some talent and given that the group stage should be a breeze, England could hold solid and find ways to advance further into the tournament.

I expect France to win the group outright and England to sneak out in second. England needs to get a little bit lucky but if they can find a way to organize an inexperienced back line and find goals without Wayne Rooney running the show, they will grab two wins and move on. I expect little to no resistance from the Ukraine. Sweden is a potential dark horse here but I don’t see them making it out.