Friday, 26 February 2010

The 'B's' are in big trouble

 Carling Cup Final week can be seen as a key point of a football season. Firstly and without doubt you will hear Messrs Lineker and Stelling use the classic presenter line as 'the first major silverware of the season' within the first minute of the live coverage but it signifies spring and the final third of the season, which means games and points become more and more precious.

Points are already a commodity at the bottom of the league table as yet again the 'B's' at the basement of the Premier League struggle, causing alarming concerns about their tenure in the elite league.

Firstly Bolton - who were simply shocking in the local derby against Blackburn and former boss 'Big Sam Allardyce'.  Their problems are evident to see, they miss the presence and leadership of Gary Cahill, and for the exception of Matthew Taylor, they have a workman-like midfield and a real inability to score goals up front - it’s going to a real long fight for Bolton.

The same could be said for the 'B' at the bottom Burnley - who are still without an away win in the Premier League this season which is largely contributing to their plight this season. Whilst watching the game against Aston Villa they still adopt the ‘Owen Coyle’ approach of playing good free-flowing football. There are some positives in the team, the debut of on-loan Jack Cork with two assists, the goal-scoring nous of Stephen Fletcher and playmaking ability of Chris Eagles. But the problem as it often is with prompted team is defensive and the step-up in class of opponent.

I had barely had a chance to get my seat for the second half to see three goals in 5 minutes and end this as a contest. To add to the problems each of the goals in the 5 minute spell could have been avoided. First Burnley should have cleared Stewart Downing weak yet accurate effort off the line, the third goal Agbonlahor was played a mile on-side by Leon Cort and the shot from Downing could have been closed down more quickly by Eagles. As for the fourth, Gabby Agbonlahor roasted down the left hand side like a pizza delivery boy in a hurry before cooling delivering the goods to Heskey just in time before the no fee 30 minute deadline!! A fifth goal capped off by the pizza man that came just off the training ground nice and easy! To easy - almost as quick to change your hair colour!!

As mentioned in my mid-season review these are the two teams that show all the signs of trap door exit of the Premier League, their only saving grace Bolton could the poor form of other teams around also fighting for survival, but these recently performances show strong clues to who be exiting via the trapdoor.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

8….9, 10 you're out!!!

Another weekend of Premier League action, and if clues weren’t given last week on who were in the title race then the DNA has been left at the crime scene this week.  Let’s cut straight to the chase – this is a two-horse race Chelsea and Man United.  Why? Although Arsenal are still mathematically in with the race the last two weeks have shown that the Gunners are welterweight looking good without the knockout heavyweight punch! They are susceptible to the quick counter-attack, over committing players, playing with no width and trying to play everything through the middle.  Wenger is short of a strong spine and needs a world class keeper, midfielder and centre forward - and it's time to spend the cash and buy quality.

Below the race for the title is the race is the battle for Champions League’s places.  Liverpool has got their voices back!!! Gaining 17 points out of 21 after a fiery and 18-certificated Merseyside derby where 2 men were sent off (Kyrgiakos and Pienaar) and another goal from the in-form Kuyt who has finally chalked up 50 goals for the Reds.  They’re very much back in the hunt for the fourth spot, largely due to the inconsistency of Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa. With Spurs and Villa playing out a nil-nil draw - and City’s surprised away defeat at battling Hull.

The race at the bottom is as tight as it gets, with 4 points separating 6 places between Sunderland (13th) and Bolton (19th) and Hull and Burnley picking up 3 points after good wins at against City and West Ham respectively.   As for Portsmouth it gets tougher and tougher, with their worst performance of the season at Old Trafford with schoolboy defending for Rooney and Berbartov’s goals.  To add insult to injury Portsmouth chucked in three own goals to boot, as if United weren’t capable on their own.  One can only hope that Wednesday’s visit from the tax man doesn’t close their doors for good, but is the best they can hope for administration?

We are approving the final third of the season as still a few stories to be written the question is: who else will soon be hearing the 10 count?