West Brom are not to be underestimated
Now that’s what you call a plan back firing. Di Matteo’s decision to leave Ivanovic and Cole (best defenders) Oscar (best midfielder) and Mata (best beard) out of the starting line against the Baggies shows a grave misjudgement from the ice-cool Italian. A combination of tireless industry, typified by Shane Long and cutting edge, typified by Shane Long has sent West Brom marching deservedly 3 points clear of fifth placed Everton and Di Matteo would do well to remember his predecessor’s defeat at the Hawthorns which led to his removal. It may be too early to talk about a European challenge for a side which is still somehow smuggling Billy Jones into a premiership back four without anyone noticing but this impressive victory of Chelsea, typified by Shane Long running around a lot as well as scoring and assisting, shows a massive step in the right direction for the Midlands number one club. Shane Long.
My dog can probably finish fourth if he puts together a half-decent run of form
Jamie Carragher’s assertation that Liverpool can still finish in the top four may smack of typical scouse delusion from everyone’s second favourite deluded scouser however he might just be right ya’ know la. The reds sit just 8 points behind West Brom in 4th and five off their Mersyside rivals who are sitting pretty in 5th. This is far from an insurmountable gap and any side above Newcastle in 12thwill be eyeing up the much coveted Arsene Whinger trophy awaiting the team who can climb to that hallowed fourth position.
Arsene Whinger trophy awaiting the team who can climb to that hallowed fourth position. Arsenal and Spurs managed to misplace their star strikers Nicklas Bendtner and Lois Saha over the summer, oh yeah, and Van Persie, Song, Modric and Van Der Vaart – how careless – and are considerably weaker than last season leaving the race to get knocked out in next seasons champions league group stages more on than… something which is off. Lucky Fulham.
Luis Suarez has been going to Tony Funnel’s Soccer School
The exciting, energetic running which scares the living crap out of defences has always been there but the much loved Uruguayan seems to have finally coupled this with a brand new pair of shooting boots. A shot conversion rate of 17% compared to last season’s 9% (thanks F365) shows the transformation of Luis Suarez from a maddeningly frustrating player, who would just as likely blast his shot into an NAACP rally as slot it coolly into the corner, into one who is being valued at £40-50 million by the blue half of Manchester (doubt that lot down the road would cough up much though). He now deservedly sits atop the premier league scoring charts after two cracking finishes against the Latics on Saturday with celebrations for both actually participated in by his team mates for a change.Oh and I didn’t even notice any dives or racial abuse. Good job.
Standing still = going backwards.
After their 2011/12 exceeded everyone’s expectations many expected Newcastle push on this season and once again mount a challenge for the top four, or at least a European place. However it seems that for once the fabled Magpies scouting department who’s previous hits include debut single Check Tiote, the difficult second album – a French number featuring Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa and the Senegalese double A-side of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, have failed to hit the top ten this season. The only notable addition to an extremely stretched squad was Vernon Anita from Ajax who appears to be something of a Vernon of all trades appearing at left and central midfield as well as left back, not really impressing at either. The squad lacks ample cover all over the pitch and when Cabaye and Tiote have been prevented from starting together the team lack the cohesion and bite of last season. A run of poor results including consecutive league defeats and one league win since September leaves the Toon Army washed up below Liverpool in 12th. The race for 4th may be more open the Southampton’s defence but if Pardew’s Newcastle want to feature in it they’re going to have to sort things out pretty soon.
Hughes out, chuck him Tony, saves us ‘Arry etc. Won’t bother re-treading old ground just read this.
Sorry Stoke and West Ham, I’m sure you’re game will warrant a whole ‘how to use football as a form of torture’ article of its own anyway..
Follow me on Twitter for a Q&A with Eric Djemba Djema and Pele’s shin-pads this Wednesday*
*(Not really, we could only get a pair of Jonathan Woodgate’s)