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Monday, December 05, 2005

"Three of his four goals have come from the substitute’s bench."

Loyal readers, cast your eyes over the chart on the right side of this page. Observe the six most efficient strikers in the Premier League. Note that three of them are game-in, game-out starters. Remark that the other three are basically substitutes.

And now, consider the implications. Hernan Crespo, Robbie Keane and Robin van Persie all have bags of talent, so it's not surprising that they're scoring goals. But being used mainly as substitutes, do they have an advantage? Fresh legs can make a difference late in a game, and so can a new look in attack. They also have the advantage of watching the defense work from the sidelines, and of any tactical advice their coaches might give.

All that suggests their scoring efficiency might drop if they played 90 minutes more often (well, maybe all except that last bit about "tactical advice"). But still, wouldn't it make sense to give these guys a bit more time on the pitch? One could argue that they should be used until their efficiency declines to that of the other regular strikers.

If these teams play two strikers, this seems like a no-brainer. Keane should play alongside Mido, since no other Tottenham players even come close to their efficiency. Henry should be partnered by van Persie, not Reyes. Crespo should be finishing Drogba's flicks. (Don't worry Jose, you can still have Young Joe and Fat Frank on the pitch at the same time.)

Basically, the super-subs ought to be replacing the usual second-string strikers. You can argue that strikers aren't so easily interchangeable; you need to match complementary styles, and so forth. But none of these combinations seem particularly strange.

Arsenal lack any big target, and van Persie is more direct than Henry. Crespo isn't as strong as Drogba, but he's quicker and more slippery. Finally, the Keane-Mido combo seems like an absolute dream to TDH. Are you listening, Martin?


TDH is already mourning the news that Goal Line Technology will not be used at next year's World Cup. With 64 matches taking place, who wants to bet that there won't be a single bad decision? FIFA says the chip-ball isn't ready yet. Hey guys, you still have six months to work on it! This isn't rocket science, as the many examples in American sports - some of dubious value - have shown.

Lacking a chip-ball, why not enshrine that Israeli missile technology that was used to judge Luis Garcia's goal in the Champions League final? Something would be better than nothing. And yes, TDH promises to update the other chart on the right sometime after tonight's Premiership match.


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

I've defended him in the past, but why not just drop Drogba altogether? I line featuring two of the Duff, Robben and Cole set and Crespo would be so elusive and technically gifted as to baffle almost any defence. On the rare occasion where their skill isn't sufficient, or when they're misfiring, then bring on the battering ram (don't forget that Crespo is a consistent scorer as well. I can't recall a prolonged drought in any portion of his career. Even in his first Chelsea season he had 8 goals in 16 games or something).

VP is excellent as well, but I think Reyes' problems are all in his head. When he's on song, as he was at the beginning of last season, he's a close second to Thierry for Arsenal's best player.

8:32 AM  

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