Arsenal V Fulham

Fulham still suck

Fulham came out punch-less and toothless. I didn’t like the line-up they trotted out. Soel Ki-Hyeon? Look if I was ever to score four goals in one season in the EPL I’d be blown away and so would the EPL for that matter. The fact that he’s getting a run-out for Fulham says a lot. Is David Healy on the outs or what. They are bring in what twenty strikers, all with more pace and size then Healy. For the record I love Healy. I love the passion and the flair he brings to the pitch. If Fulham are done with him then QPR should snap him up instantly. To me Fulham need a stalwart in the middle of the pitch. Arsenal were never stressed. Nor did Arsenal need to make any changes. Fulham had six mid-fielders on the pitch and they couldn’t run anyone off doggedly. That speaks to Arsenals fitness, ability and Fulham’s lack there of. I really hope Fulham are able to stay in the top league. Brian McBride will be back soon, and there are reinforcements in-toe. Let’s hope they find a decent second half worth of form. They need help across the entire pitch. Davis and Davies need to play to their abilities. Dempsey needs to be utilized. They need to find a back-line pairing that works at ;east slightly better then a funnel.

For the record I think Marlon King was good at one point in time. That point in time was probably before his last injury. I think he will be a five million pound waste. It might not even happen with the current hang up on his medical report. Let’s hope Fulham are not just throwing their resources away. That much cash on a full-back would make more sense to me.

I like Johnson as I have stated before. I like him with Dempsey. I like the element he brings to the game. I like the flair he showed this past summer in the MLS. I like his attitude towards “proving” himself as worthy of all the hype he received coming up through the US ranks. I think he can prove a worthwhile buy. Will he be able to fit in straight away? Johnson’s fitness could be lacking straight away. After a few weeks his match fitness should be up to snuff. Johnson has never proven himself with the US on their travels abroad. I’m expecting the second half of the season to be a learning period for Johnson. The rub their is that Fulham need a spark now. That need is going to see Johnson pushed into the starting XI earlier then need be.

Arsenal are the real deal

Straight away they had this match. I’m not totally sure if they needed to walk out of the dressing room. Wasn’t this supposed to be a derby? Where was the flair? Where was the passion? Where was Fulham? Fulham are on their way down and Arsenal are showing their pedigree and look like true title contenders. I don’t think they need to bring anyone in to the team. I could see them adding a back-up keeper and possibly depth at the left-back position. They are stocked in the middle of the pitch and they have plenty of options up-top. RVP is out for a little while with his niggling hamstring, but once he is back in the squad there are going to be issues getting all of their starting strikers enough starts and enough balls. Eduardo is looking solid. Adebayor could take home the golden boot in the EPL this year. Arsenal also haven’t lost a match when Adebayor has found the scoring sheet. Let’s hope the strikers are able to accept a rotation slightly better then some of the promising young mid-fielders.

Lawrie Sanchez is Axed

Fulham United axed their manager Lawrie Sanchez today. Who’ll be in to fill his shoes next? This really isn’t the greatest gig in professional soccer let-alone English soccer but it is in the EPL.

The papers are all reporting John Collins will be the next in line. Sanchez hasn’t even been with the club for a year. Sanchez arrived on scene last April as a caretaker boss, replacing Chris Coleman, and once he stepped down as Northern Ireland manager became the full time manager of Fulham in May.

There have to be other canidates. Slaven Bilic has declared he’s not interested. I like the current rumor that Jurgen Klinsmann is possibly interested in taking over the helm. I’d love to see Fulham bring in a seasoned manager. It seems they should have the finical wherewithal to bring in a “super” manager. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Jose decided to come back to London?

That’s the rumor that I’ve been hearing. Jose Mourinho is interested in possibly joining Fulham. The interesting part is that he’s interested in working at a club that doesn’t have the huge finical clout of a Chelsea or a Barcalona but that is still in a top European League. Think about it if Jose truly is the “Special One” he’ll have Fulham playing in at least the UEFA Cup within two seasons. I can only imagine that within four season’s Fulham would be in the top four if not contending for the EPL league title. Can it be true? I think over the next few days this rumor is going to play itself out. On multiple levels it makes sense. Being back in London Jose can rub his success in Roman Abramovich’s face. Chelsea are a natural rival. Jose’s family would be able to stay in London, where his wife wants to live. Who wouldn’t love to see this. Is Jose that cocky? Is Jose that good? Can Fulham pull off bringing him?

I’d sort of like to see Bruce Arena get a shot at Fulham. Arena already knows Dempsey, Bocanegra, Keller, and McBride. Arena also knows a few solid American prospects that are currently available in the January transfer window. If Arena were brought in they would have to make a play for Landon Donovan and possibly Josie Altidore. Fulham needs a stiker or a midfielder to give them an extra push. A right back wouldn’t hurt and a keeper for the future would be nice too. All things that can readily be found in the States. If a new striker is brought into the club Dempsey could easily move into a creative midfield role, that’s a place where he’ll make a much larger contribution then up-top. Arena is an interesting candidate because he doesn’t fit the mold of the EPL, he’s not well known, but he has the credentials to pilot this ship.

I imagine that Fulham will have a new manager by the New Year if not by Thursday. Let’s sit back and see who it turns out to be. 100-1 on Jose is my call, but man that would be great.

Friday Night Brief

A) What are the LA Galaxy doing?

B) I like Fulham but is it a great ploy to stock pile this many strikers? Especially when none of them are out and out proven top flight scoring threats?

What are the Galaxy Doing?

The Galaxy are done in my mind. They are going to have to make some moves to really get me excited. David Beckham is undoubtedly the best player in the MLS. Landon Donovan was at one point in time the best player in the MLS. Now, I’d probably rank him in the top ten for sure, but maybe the top five…if I were drunk and hanging out with him top three.

Let’s look at the front end of the LA’s line-up, just for fun. Of course you have Donovan, but there really have to be questions about him. Donovan’s got a great creative thrust, amazing pace, fairly good vision and a knack for getting PK’s. Does that make Donovan a forward? Or is he a creative midfielder-the 10? Carlos Ruiz is coming back to LA. I can’t say I’ve been keeping close tabs on Carlos. He’s got talent and he was pretty good his first time in LA. Then you’ve got Edson Buddle. Really that’s probably about all I need to say. Buddle had promise. Operative being had. Last year was his worst year in the past four. Playing an entire season with Beckham could be just what the doctor ordered. Edson had difficulty scoring last year, he couldn’t seem to find the back of the old onion bag. I hope Edson finds some form, otherwise who knows this could be his last year playing soccer at this level? Quavas Kirk is only 19. Kirk has thrown up two doughnuts these past two years. Kirk has speed, a powerful shot, could use more/better touch and he seems to need a little magic. Kirk just hasn’t been lucky in my opinion. The rest of the guys they have are more or less deep cover in case two or three guys are injured or suspended. Who here with the exception of Buddle can turn their back to the net, with real success? Donovan and Ruiz are both undersized, speed players that really need space to create goal scoring opportunities. Ruiz is more of a clinical finisher who finds ways to be dangerous around the net, despite his size. Donovan knows how to score but he’s a freaking head case. They seem to have enough options, to me it’s just going to depend on who shines through.

Having Beckham in the midfield shores up the middle of the pitch. Who is going to play with him? Mathis is past whatever prime he had. Simply put I’d like to see the Galaxy add someone to the middle of the pitch.

Xavier is the heart of the defense. That says a lot, a lot. They need people on the back-line. This might be a good place for them to add foriegn talent.

Joe Cannon is gone. What are they going to put in goal. Maybe they’ll put up a clean sheet at the beginning of each half?

LA has attacking options. They have a ball controlling, slick passing all world mid-fielder. What else do they have? Sold out matches. That might not sound like a lot but having Becks sells tickets. Selling tickets makes you money and makes you more appealing to players. LA should be able to recruit and they should be able to pay new players. Who will they bring in? In all fairness I’m not a Galaxy fan. I am a fan of the MLS and I think its extremely important for the MLS that the LA Galaxy and David Beckham do well in the coming season.

To Fulham’s Woes

Fulham is adding Eddie Johnson. I’ve been asking for someone, anyone in the EPL to add Johnson. Eddie has such amazing pace that it’d be great to watch him in the wide open EPL. Plus Eddie had a good season this past summer. Eddie needs to develop a back to the net game a little more. Playing with Brian McBride can’t hurt that development. Marlon King, like Johnson, adds size and height. Will he or won’t he be coming to Fulham. Healy, Kamara, Bouazza, McBride, Kugi, and Dempsey make a fairly long list of “striking” options. I put striking in quotes because most of these guys have played up top and in the midfield for Fulham. I am excited to watch McBride return. Moving Dempsey back into the midfield is going to allow him to show his creative strength. This team has 34 players with out their additions from this week. They are going to need to move a few players out of the club. I’m going to watch their match tomorrow and I’ll compile some more thoughts.

For England

Dear England:

I’ve been watching you play a lot over the past five years. Its hard to not be amazed with the talent you have across the entire pitch. True your keepers have hardly been able to hold the jocks of any of your field players. I mean come on you have an amazing everything else so a slightly suspect goalie should be more then easily covered up with all of the other talent. That’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because I want to see beauty not just brawn. England need not be thugish or brutish in your style. A lighter airy style would suit you just fine. I know I’m a blasted yank, but I was just sort of wondering if you are going to keep with this ugly football?

Fabio doesn’t have a reputation for beauty, but he does for success. I’m not sure I want just pure success. I want the best soccer possible. Not long ball after long ball while you grind it out in the midfield with a high trap. I’m sure the boys will be more fit. I’m sure the boys will be more mentally prepared. If it too much to ask for a few brilliant passes? I know that Frank Lampard can carve up defenses so why not let him? Let’s see some style, some beauty and some brillance.

I wish you the best of luck England. I know that I don’t have to wish Fabio anything, he wouldn’t be listening anyway. Now, that you have a manager who can actualy manage you should be able to make a run another major trophy. As always time will tell.

In the coming week I plan to look at Fabio’s record in depth. I want to run through the EPL and speculate on the transfer window. I’ll try to give a quick run down on the Champions League. Till then enjoy the season…

I hope New Castle fall into the Sea

Joey Barton’s PK was weak. Allen Smith got clipped but it was after he was out of the play and he totally went down. It was a harsh PK to give in extra time. Especially after Dempsey was rail-roaded on the other end not a minute earlier. I just thought it was weak sauce. Howard Webb came off as a bit of a tool. I imagine he’s got stock or something in New Castle.

Other then that the game was totally boring. Dempsey and Healy didn’t really connect together all that well. I wonder what Lawrie Sanchez is going to do in the January transfer window? I know I’ve heard rumors but it’ll be interesting to see who is finally chosen. Dempsey could always slide into a wing position or even into the 10.

Fulham probably needs to look more for a keeper then a killer forward. I’d even think they would be served to pick up a ball controlling or creative midfielder. I’d imagine a run at Landon Donovan wouldn’t be out of the cards. The LA Galaxy probably need to drop some salary and could probably use some extra funds to bring in some more youth. A Dempsey/Donovan combo in the attacking third with Healy in the mix should be solid.

New Castle seem to be at odds with themselves. I think its time to move Martins, I’d say he didn’t look inspired in the least. There are plenty of teams who would pay top dollar for his kind of proven quality. The only real detractor in Martins favor would be the upcoming African Nations Cup. I am sure Chelsea, Aston Villa, Real Madrid, AC Milan or pretty much any club in Europe would love to have him in their ranks. Time will tell but I think this is a good time for New Castle to move him because they’ll probably be able to find more money in return due to teams needing quality stikers for the stretch run.

On a whole this match was a bore from whistle to whistle. The PK was a horrible way for the match to end. I hope the Fulham can turn their luck around in the second half of this season. If not Sanchez might find himself back managing Northern Ireland.

Chelsea V Arsenal Thoughts

There were a number of brutal tackles through-out this match. Has the Chelsea v Arsenal derby become a violent affair? I really hope it hasn’t but Eboue is probably done for the season, John Terry looks to have broken his foot and the match ended with Cesc and Cole slugging it out. Fabregas delivered a crunching tackle, but Cole didn’t need to take a swipe at his face. It was a brutal match through and through. I hope that neither Terry or Eboue is seriously injured but I’m not holding my breath.

The match opened up like anyone would have expected. Both teams trying to feel each other out. It was a cautious yet attacking game for the first thirty minutes. Then the tackle on Terry slowed things down completely till Arsenal’s corner before half. Cech misplayed the ball there is no doubt about it. Gallas was in the right spot at the right time to finish off the slop. Makes you wonder if Gallas new something from the training pitch about his old team mate that came in handy.

It also makes you wonder if Chelsea’s switch made sense. William Gallas comes through again. How does the Ashley Cole for William Gallas and cash deal look now. Gallas has become Arsenal’s Captain Fantastic. Cole has proved to be a more then competent left back, but has he been a true world class player? Ashley Cole wanted out at Arsenal and Chelsea’s depth at the time in central defense seemed outrageous. With all of the injuries Chelsea’s backline has sustained over the past year and a half moving Gallas looks like their most disastrous move. The thin back-line surely added to Jose’s demise. Wayne Bridge and Ashley Cole? I know they have both been extremely frail but did it ever make sense to own them both? If both players are healthy they should be on the field. Outside of those two Chelsea’s left-footed options anywhere on the field are slight. Adding left-footed depth made sense. I’m just not sure two left backs at or nearing their individual primes made sense. Gallas has been that last piece Arsenal needed this season.

For so many quality players this match was lacking in entertainment. I wouldn’t have missed a second, but looking back it could have had more. Arsenal’s passing was beautiful. Van Persie is quite the sub to be able to bring on. Chelsea probably have more overall talent on the pitch but Arsenal have more flair and they also have a passing style Chelsea can’t play or cope with at present. Arsenal’s beautiful game is extremely fun to watch and the sky is the limit for them this season. With Eboue out probably for the season they are going to have to probably add a left-wing. Chelsea need an out and out striker. I’m sure they’ll have options come January but I hope the Yakubu rumor is rubbish. Also, I love Sheva but he likes as if the game has passed him by. Attacking players need pace and his is all but run dry.

Who’ll It Be?

England is closing in on a new manager. I had been hoping for Jose but it looks like Fabio. The rumor is England will announce sometime today that Cappello will be handed the helm. Cappello is a stern task master. I don’t know if I’m sold on him as England’s new manager. Maybe but I’m just not sure. I like that he’s going to bring stern discipline to a squad that tends to lack heart until the last thirty minutes. It’ll be good to see England as one of the most fit teams in the world. There are going to be an amazingly large number of inter-personal conflicts. Will Becks get sent home for good? I still remember when Fabio sent Becks to the bench the first time, what about now? If Fabio is crowned the next king of the English National rank and file I’m sure we’ll see a youth movement. I know I’ve been calling for a youth infusion but I’m not sold here. Time will tell but the FA should have gotten Jose and we all know that.

The John Terry rumors are juicy too. It seems Johnny boy has been running a bit afoul as of late. Terry might be out as the National Team Captain. Who’ll fill the void? I can’t stand Steven Gerrard so maybe they’ll hitch onto Rio? I hope they decide against taking the armband from Terry and focus more on fixing the national training system.

The Joyous Manchester City

Hamann was all over the field today. For a guy who has looked a bit long in the tooth all season long he really showed up today. I know he was a real world class talent at one point in time, it doesn’t surprise me that from time to time he can show up and really put on a display. I was sort of surprised that he controlled so much of the pitch. It wasn’t a creative influence. When Bolton were starting anything Hamann seemed to be there to put a foot in the way. I just really enjoyed his play. Hamann has amazing headers.

This match was all over the place. There were enough goals for an entire day of matches, let alone one match. My favorite goal was probably Vassell’s back-heel, I couldn’t help but think of this lame dry manager at my college who couldn’t handle his players using the back-heel. Scott Mayforth if you saw that what are your thoughts?

Micah Richards is a great defender and so is Dunne but Anelka is just that good. I know he didn’t score but he put those boys under pressure quite a bit. Lots of open flowing play and Sven did a spot better manager then his Bolton counterpart Gary Megson. Megson has brought more passion to the pitch for Bolton, but I have to wonder why Bolton’s players aren’t clicking. Big Sam must have had some magic potions? Bolton are probably going to have to add two or three attacking players in January. I’d say two if they don’t move Anelka and three for sure if they do. I wonder if the likes of Mark Viduka would be available? Eddie Johnson would be interesting in a Bolton kit, there wouldn’t be too much pressure and they could assuredly use his pace. I’d think someone in Europe would be willing to give him a flier due to his form this past summer at the Major League Soccer here in the states.

In the end a very entertaining match that I’m glad I gave a once over too. That doesn’t mean I’m still not looking forward to Newcastle v Fulham or either of the two huge big four matches from this weekends run-out. I’m sure they’ll be more later.

Monday Thoughts Edition 1

I am just going to prattle off some of the things that have been bugging me…I’ll use numbered bullets so its easier to follow. I’ll try to follow up on some of these thoughts as the week goes on

  1. McClaren needed to be gone before he came. Steve was outmatched and outwitted in practically every match he managed the English team. England need a manager that can match tactical wits with the best of the best. Not, someone who understands the ins and outs of tea time.
  2. Jose Mourinho should be managing the English National Team by weeks end!
  3. If its not Jose then it should be Fabio Capello.
  4. The FA won’t pull the trigger and it’ll end up being a solid English Manager, but someone who doesn’t have the European experience to lead the team into the thick of competition.
  5. Players need to compete at a high level domestically to be ready for International competitions. A large part of high level domestic competition is inter league competitions. The Champions League being the prime example/model for the highest level of domestic competition. Players that participate in the Champions League are far greater prepared to partake in international competitions for their individual countries.
  6. La Liga has more competitive balance from top to bottom then England. That parity makes La Liga extremely interesting to watch no matter the match you have tuned in to see.
  7. It looks bad for Liverpool and Rafa. The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming and Rafa might want to throw his name in the hat for the next English manager because come December 15th if he hasn’t secured a spot in the next stage of the Champions League he’s out the door.
  8. If England hasn’t gotten off the pot and hire Mourinho by the time Hicks and Glazer come to town in the middle of December its going to be a lot easier for them to send Rafa packing. Mourinho would look awfully good on Liverpools sidelines.
  9. The MLS need to find a way to make their season competitively viable with all of the leagues from Latin America. The MLS should be able to pay comparable, if not greater salaries then most Latin American teams. With relatively equal rates of pay the MLS should be able to poach a fair number of Latin American soccer players. The MLS needs to continue their work developing young talent in the States. They also need to be able to have more club competitions their southern neighbors. Right now the MLS season runs all summer long and there is little to no way that MLS teams can compete with Latin Teams because they are not in season at the same time. The “champions league” rip-off they did last spring was interesting but it wasn’t on nearly enough American television sets and the MLS teams were extremely rusty to start. The soccer that this competition produced was no way near the level of soccer one sees when they watch the European Champions League. It was a nice start but it needs work for sure.
  10. Its too bad Billy Davies got axed. The players he has to work with based on their talent level are somewhere below Premiership caliber but yet above Championship caliber. Davies probably could have spent his transfer kitty a little more wisely, but he’s also had to face a lot of tough challenges in the first half of the season. I would look for Derby to make a climb out of the cellar, probably not all the way back to safety but I don’t see them as the 20th best team in the league.
  11. Derby has some youngsters that deserve an extended look. Why not now? Unless, they need to unload them in January why not play their youth from here on out this season? Derby is obviously looking to the future. I love the way Matt Oakley and company compete but maybe its time to sit down a few of the current squad to look at the futures squad.
  12. Birmingham and Bolton are all but completely written off for this season. I see those two teams going belly up sooner rather than later.
  13. Bolton is one bad day away from self destruct. Now, is the time to move Anelka. If Bolton go down his value will be decreased dramatically. With no Anelka, Bolton will only win by chance.
  14. Birmingham are going to be lost on the pitch, the training room and probably even around town. Their manager is gone. Their players soon are going to be completely caught up in the storm that is their managerial situation. If McLeish is installed at the helm, then maybe and this a huge maybe order can be restored. If things don’t get sorted out soon Oliver Kapo, the lone bright star this season and a chap I was singing the praises of this off-season, will be out the door.
  15. Manchester United need to shut-up and play football. They need to do their talking with their game. I loved watching them play last season. I think they are coming around and playing more as a team and more openly. I hate to hear them constantly screaming about meaningless BS.
  16. Arsenal are in position to create some distance. If they can get a ten point cushion by the middle of January its going to be tough for the rest to run them down. Right now they are three clear with a game in hand.
  17. The January transfer window is going to be crazy. There should be more moves and more dollars spent then any other transfer period. The wealth of the Premiership is getting to a ridiculous level. Now, its going to be interesting to see who they deem as needed.
  18. Are any big name MLS players going to head east this January? I think there are a few players in the MLS that would make solid additions to teams across Europe. Can/could the MLS cope with possibly losing three stars?
  19. Why do Essien and Mikel get so many bad calls against them?
  20. Who will be sacked next?

Champions League Oops!

I meant to write up a bit about who I thought was going to make it through the group stage before these last matches started. That and I’m not blogging live on this one due to work. I’ve got it taping at home and I plan to tear through it later in the evening. When I hit that up I’ll throw down my thoughts on the current state of the Champions League. The group stage is usually interesting, but nothing real tends to happen before February. I hope today’s matches are good.

Scotland is going through a rough patch. I haven’t done any research yet, but they seem to have real finical issues. Their last two managers have left for big pay-days elsewhere. Its probably just due to the fact that the money in the Premiership is just that good. Its too bad when a manager is successful at a National Team Post, the Nation he is working for can’t fund his wages. I wish them much better luck then I wish England in their search for a new manager. It also looks like Russia might be in the midst of their own managerial situation. Looks like this is going to be an interesting January transfer window for both players and managers…Rafa Benitez might be out the door too?