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Friday, January 27, 2006

"As a striker, you are either in a purple patch or struggling. At the moment, I'm somewhere in between."

TDH would like to direct loyal readers, once again, to the statistics at the right-hand side of the page. (Yes, TDH finally updated them.)

First of all, most of the top strikers have been seeing their goals-per-90 numbers fall. It's not just a statistical artifact, since the top guys aren't the ones who just made it onto the table. Maybe they're getting tired! A bit of a holiday hangover? Those matches right before New Year's did come pretty fast and furious.

Second, Darius Vassell does not belong on the England team. Sure, he's played every game for City. But fully five midfielders are scoring more regularly, as well as all the other strikers in the table. Maybe he creates a bit more than your average target man, but so does Harewood, for example, with his runs to the right corner. Come on, Sven, give Darren Bent a chance - he's been a fixture in TDH's Top 10.

Third, check out TDH's "what if" table. With goal line technology, the Premiership would look quite a bit different: Wigan in 7th instead of 6th, West Ham in 12th (at best) instead of 9th, Newcastle in 13th instead of 14th, Boro in 16th instead of 17th. Obviously, as far as money goes, the only differences at the end of the season will depend on the European places and the relegation spots. But it's looking like these avoidable bad decisions could cost Bolton several million quid, and maybe Boro the Premiership.

Lastly, a footnote. TDH told you, loyal readers, that Barca was deep. Well, there's one place where they're not: central defense. No Carles Puyol? Not surprisingly, Oleguer couldn't fill in for Captain Catalonia, who usually does the job of two taller men. A 3-2 loss away to Zaragoza in the cup is no big deal, but TDH noticed....

6 Comments:

Anonymous jonathan said...

Vassell has never looked like an England player to me, either. Noticeable how one of the midfielders eclipsing him is Bolton's Nolan, who has been getting rave reviews up here in the North West for months, and not only from his manager. I think the boy has to be worth a look; goalscoring midfielders come perhaps even more at a premium at international level, and from all accounts this one (who seems to raise himself for games against top/ local rival opposition- another mark in his favour) made City's young pretender to an England berth, Joey Barton, look very ordinary indeed at the weekend.

9:26 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Welcome back, Jonathan! So if you add Nolan, what does your midfield look like? If you're playing with a holding man, then I suppose Nolan could be Lampard's backup. It's looking more and more like Gerrard should be Becks' backup on the right. But can SWP play behind Joe Cole on the left? Dyer would fit in better, if he's healthy. And then there's no room for Hargreaves (sigh) except in the holding role, which is most likely to be occupied by two of King, Jenas and Carrick (or, as we pray, Parker). Well, you may be right, but I doubt Sven would go along.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous jonathan said...

Aargh, me heed hurts man! Can I not just pick all of them? I see now why they have to pay Sven £4 million a year, cos this is harder than it looks. Mind I have had a drink. Hold on though, I'll just get a pen and paper...

(two minutes later..) Right, OK. My first choice quartet (right to left; holding player listed second out of the four) is:

Beckham-Carrick-Lampard-Cole

and I would have them backed up by this reserve line-up:

Gerrard-King-Nolan-SWP (I know, a risk on the left but what else have we got?)

Of the rest, Hargreaves and Dyer miss out as I've never seen either of them do anything at this level but scamper about ineffectually (although admittedly I've watched 10 minutes of Bundesliga in the last five years, and that was in a pub with the sound down, so Sven may be seeing something in the floppy-haired Bayern regular that I'm missing). Jenas I know is looking a player again at Spurs but having watched him dissappear so many times in black and white I will still take some convincing of his international pedigree; Parker I find hard to judge because I spend most games constantly mistaking him for Lee Clark. Now there's a midfielder who never realised his full potential, by the way, I remember him as an eighteen year old in Keegan's team, the boy could really have gone all the way...

10:55 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

No doubt SWP is a talented player, but he hasn't done much for Chelsea this season except scamper about ineffectively....

If I were faced with a left-side problem, I'd still pick a healthy Dyer. In 2002 he did unsettle opposing defenses as a late substitute. Putting him and Crouch on together in the 75th minute would drive any defense insane. Yes, my Malawian friend, even the Italians!

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Dodgy said...

"a healthy Dyer"

There's no such thing!

I'd like to see Bent in the side, certainly he'd be much more of a threat than Darius. What about giving Milner a look in on the subs bench perhaps? I think he's looked sharp while on loan, although that may not translate to the international scene. But hey, how else can you find out?

2:34 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

True, Dodgy, Milner has looked good at Villa. (And at the moment, he looks better than most of the Magpies, too.) But the obvious person missing from our discussion of the left side is Stewart Downing.

He's supposed to be healthy again pretty soon, right? I'd pick him in a second. Of course, Toon fans have a special "fondness" for him after the way he terrorized us a couple of years back.

The question then is, again, whom do you drop? Joe Cole, Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham and probably King are non-negotiable. Sven would take SWP for the right - there's little doubt about it - and Carrick or Jenas for the center. I don't think there's room for any more central midfielders, so too bad for Nolan or anyone else....

3:21 PM  

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