The Worst Players of the Premier League Season So Far…

Goalkeepers

David De Gea (Manchester United), Petr Cech (Chelsea)

De Gea Has Not Has The Best Of Starts At United

The criticism may be harsh for the young United keeper, especially having just moved over from Spain it is fair to say he has not hit the ground running. The reigning Champions could’ve done with a more experienced keeper between the sticks, with the injuries and changes in defence, De Gea has had a disruptive time. However, when a United keeper makes a mistake, it’s more highlighted than any other and he’s made a few already this season.

Has Cech Lost His Class?

The Chelsea keeper is a victim of his own success, with 5 clean sheets already, he’s not done too bad between the sticks for the Blues but by his own standards he has been poor, perhaps hampered by the confusion in tactics with the Defensive line and new boss Andre Villas-Boas but it’s clear to say Cech isn’t the world class keeper we saw a few seasons ago.

Defenders

David Luiz (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Arsenal & QPR…

Out of his Depth?

At times, David Luiz looked like an excited kid picked for the big team in the Chelsea defence, his rocky performances in defence has made John Terry look poor, when he’s actually had a pretty good season (in football terms only). Ashley Cole too, hasn’t had a terrible season but his standards have certainly dropped.

Rio Ferdinand has had his fitness problems but I believe his overall game has dropped massively and will not be surprised if he leaves Old Trafford in the summer to find first-team football.

Arsenal's Defensive Woes Continue

Arsenal’s defence is all-inclusive in this list, and you can throw in Queens Park Rangers too. Some of the defending that both clubs have shown this season have been dismal, so much so, you wonder if they bother with Defensive training drills in between games.

Per Mertesacker of Arsenal has looked suspect since his arrival. Surprising, considering that the Gunners needed a big presence in defence but still look twice as vulnerable with him there.

Midfielders

Tim Cahill (Everton), Stuart Downing (Liverpool), Man United, Adel Taarabt (QPR)

No Goals This Season

Everton’s Tim Cahill usually pops up with several goals a season but so far he’s failed to hit the back of the net during 2011/2012. Has he lost his touch or is it because Everton’s quality in the final third has declined?

£20 Million = 0 Goals and 0 Assists..so far!

Stuart Downing joins the list due to the amount of criticism I’ve heard from Liverpool fans who watch him week in and week out. Personally, I’ve seen glimpses of him playing some decent crosses and pot shots, but with no goals and no assists so far this season is an extremely poor record considering his price tag.

Big Time Charlie

Last season’s Championship player of the year was QPR’s Adel Taarabt but for one reason or another the Moroccan attacking midfielder has not been able to continue his form in the Premier League. It’s disappointing, considering how well he’d done last year, whether or not he can come back under the guidance of new manager Mark Hughes remains to be seen.

Attackers

Hugo Rodallega (Wigan Athletic), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Carlos Tevez (Manchester City), Maroune Chamakh (Arsenal), Peter Odemwingie (West Brom)

Wigan Athletic are spending another season battling relegation and their star striker Hugo Rodallega only has 1 goal to his name. He once quoted as saying he can be as good as Lionel Messi, I still haven’t seen this come true.

Obvious choices are Fernando Torress and Andy Carroll, with a year since their big money transfers occurred neither of them have had the success on the pitch their price tags suggested. The common Twitter and Facebook status has been “Yakubu & Demba Ba, £1.5 Million = 27 goals – Torres & Carroll , £85 Million = 4 goals”.

Looking Fat

At least both strikers are willing to play football, Carlos Tevez, despite the skill and talent he possesses as a Footballer has had a terrible season when he refused to come on as a substitute for Manchester City in the Champions League. He’s never played a game since. What a waste of talent (& wages).

West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie scored 15 in 32 games last season, so far this season he’s only got 5 in 19. The Baggies expected big things from him but it appears he’s having a bit of “second season syndrome”.

Another shout is Arsenal striker Maroune Chamakh, who may not get many starts with in-form Van Persie, but the forward appears to be getting worse. He was signed as someone who could take the pressure off his Dutch team mate, but he’s looking like another Wenger failure. The same can be said about Nikolas Bendtner who’s failed to shine at Sunderland, instead he’s been more keen on trying to blag free pizza’s back in Denmark and smashing up Newcastle City Centre with new team mate Lee Cattermole.

Poor & Poorer

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January Transfer Window Update….Where are the Big Deals?

We’re almost half way through January the month that sees the transfer window open for European clubs to buy, sell or loan players during the 31 days of the month. However, there appears to be heavy negotiations behind the scenes with managers, players and more correctly agents and chairmen. Where are the big deals?

The likes of Gary Cahill and Carlos Tevez were rumoured to make moves come January but neither deals have taken place with the latest of Tevez’s switch to Milan appears to have been stalled. Rumours are linking the want away Argentinean striker to Queens Park Rangers, who appointed his former boss at City, Mark Hughes as their manager.

It may just be because they share the same agent but could Tevez play his football in London again? Crazier things have happened.

Whatever happens, QPR is one club that’s expected to be very busy this month but have only acquired Federico Macheda on loan from Manchester United.

Whilst across west London, Chelsea were expected to make some signings for manager Andres Villas Boas to boost his squad. Gary Cahill of Bolton Wanderers has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge although the likes of Tottenham Hotspur could be after him too.

The most interesting deals of the 12 days we’ve had so far have been Nicolas Anelka’s move to China, whilst he may be well past his prime you didn’t expect the Frenchman to end his playing days in the Chinese Premier Division. ‘The Sulk’ has been one the best finisher’s the Premier League has ever seen.

Some interesting loan deals have taken place with Emmanuel Frimpong joining Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan from Arsenal, a midfield with him and Jamie O’Hara sounds very combative.

Whilst away from the top flight, League Two side AFC Wimbledon have made a double scoop with the return of Jason Euell to the South London club from Charlton Athletic on loan and young midfield George Moncur (son of John) from West Ham.

The biggest signing of this transfer window so far has to be Thierry Henry returning to Arsenal on loan. Whilst players look to end their careers in the MLS, the fact they’re able to come back on loan is a very attractive prospect for players and clubs alike.

Robbie Keane also joins Henry in a short term loan by signing for Aston Villa. The player who never lived up to expectations in his loan move at West Ham United last season has caused a flurry of ‘boyhood club’ jokes on Twitter, as standard.

What’s to come in the remaining days of January? It’s hard to say.

Will Manchester United buy a midfielder? Where will Christopher Samba ditch Blackburn for? And just how many players will Mark Hughes sign at QPR?

I’ll be back in a week to see what’s taken place…

Should England bring back the ‘B’ Internationals?

Like many fans and journalists had predicted there are notable omissions from the England squad announced by Fabio Capello last night for the up coming friendly games against Spain and Sweden. With qualification to Euro 2012 secured these games allow Capello to experiment with formations and players against two sides we could be facing in Poland or Ukraine next summer.

Whilst topics away from football are being debated with England (John Terry race row and FIFA not allowing Poppy on shirt), perhaps the squad hasn’t made headlines like it usually would have.

As an England fan I am pleased to see Daniel Sturridge and Jack Rodwell earn call-ups to the senior side, as well Kyle Walker, Danny Wellbeck and Adam Johnson who have all looked impressive this season.

However there are players who have missed out despite playing in top form in recent months. Manchester City’s Micah Richards recently played his 200th game for the club but has been left out of this England squad where Walker and Liverpool’s Glen Johnson are.

Whilst Johnson has been playing well of late, Richards adds more versatility to playing right-back and centre half. Johnson already has 34 caps for England whilst Richards has 12, wouldn’t it have made more sense to put Richards in the squad for some International experience?

Theo Walcott is another selection that will have people debating. Despite his solo goal against Chelsea last week, I’ve only heard criticisms of the player from Arsenal fans who watch him week in and week out.

There were some calls for Shaun Wright-Phillips, who’s played well since joining Queens Park Rangers to get re-called into the England set-up but it looks like his England days are over, especially as Spurs’ Aaron Lennon did not even make the squad.

During the QPR-Manchester City game at the weekend, QPR’s Joey Barton had an influential game compared to Gareth Barry, but yet Barry finds himself called up to the England squad once again.

I feel John Terry should’ve been left out of the squad, not only because of the race-row but also to allow other defenders a chance to prove their worth on the international stage. I agree with Cahill, Lescott and Jones in the squad but felt that Newcastle’s Steven Taylor deserved a call-up to this squad at the least.

Taylor has never earned a senior cap, with his last England appearance coming in a ‘B’ International in 2007. That was the last England B International played but should Capello be making as many games as possible to try out players ahead of Euro 2012.

A ‘B’ International would be a chance for the FA to play England games away from Wembley at the likes of Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham or Sheffield. Whilst it may not have the same draw as a senior side, I am sure fans would like to see some of these players given a chance to play in an England jersey against International competition.

Here is an England B Squad I’ve created based on Capello’s squad for the up coming friendly games. This B team could play two International games in two venues away from Wembley in England, given England fans to see an International and those players left out of the senior squad to prove a point to Capello.

I feel Danny Simpson and Steven Taylor of Newcastle have had a tremendous start to the Premier League campaign and deserve a chance to show what they can do. Whilst Andy Johnson up front for Fulham has reformed his partnership with Bobby Zamora, who was called up to the senior side. I do not understand Capello only selecting one of those two, their partnership could be vital for Euro 2012 if Rooney’s 3 match ban still stands for the Group stages.

I’ve decided to leave the likes of Defoe and Crouch out, as we know what they can do. Whilst on the ‘subs’ in the blue kit you have Swansea’s Leon Britton and Nathan Dyer who’ve impressed making the step up to the Premier League this season. Of course Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll of Liverpool are in there, as is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal. I’ve thrown in Leon Osman too who’s been a consistent performer for Everton over the years and can be very dangerous in an attacking midfield role.

If there are any blatant omissions, please feel free to comment and tell me your B Squad!

Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v QPR

Tottenham Hotspur are to welcome visitors Queens Park Rangers to White Hart Lane on Sunday Afternoon. Both sides haven’t met competitively for almost 15 years.

Queens Park Rangers will be buoyed with the three points they picked up in their fractious encounter with Chelsea last week at Loftus Road. Expect a certain Adel Taraabt to have an absolute stormer at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp will also welcome the likes of Vedran Corluka, Steven Pienaar and Niko Kranjcar to the first-team set-up. Nevertheless Redknapp is expected to stick with the same side that defeated Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park last week. Surprise inclusion Aaron Lennon should also feature on Tottenham’s right hand side. Lennon’s pace out wide has missed and it is hoped his return to the first team picture will provide Tottenham with more balance.

Queens Park Rangers manager Neil Warnock, will still be without long-term absentee DJ Campbell upfront, as well as Wales centre-half Danny Gabbidon. The longer Campbell is out for QPR, the greater his absence will be felt.

Anton Ferdinand is also expected to feature this weekend, despite the fall-out with John Terry still continuing into the next round of Premier League games. Neil Warnock confirmed that Ferdinand is focused on the game and that he’ll play barring injury.

Expect fireworks in another one of the Premier League London derbies and most probably goals galore, failing that, expect incident aplenty. It should be good.

Who remembers the FA Cup Final in 1982 between both sides?

A long list of talented managers but who deserves the Northern Ireland job?

As a huge fan of the underdog I do have a huge soft spot for Northern Ireland on the International Football stage and for a country of their size, they can be proud of how well they have competed against larger nations. However like many there is always a demand for success and in Northern Ireland’s case, success is qualifying for a major tournament like the World Cup or the European Championships.

Whilst you might be thinking ‘what have they ever done in Football’ then you should consider that in 1958, they reached the World Cup quarter-finals after beating Continue reading

Friday Focus: The EPL kicks off with new boys QPR and Norwich plus interesting fixtures in the Football League

Another new feature on Verbal Football is Friday Focus, much like the regular feature ‘Monday Muse’ is a round-up of the weekends football action, Friday Focus is an opinionated preview on what the weekend could offer us with fixtures up and down the country.

This weekend sees the opening fixtures of the 2011/2012 season for the English Premier League with 6 games scheduled tomorrow (Saturday) after Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton was called off due to the UK Riots. We are lucky that it was the only cancellation, but only makes the decision more bizarre that only one fixture in jeopardy.

It’s also the opening weekend of Non-League football with England with the Conference, Conference North & South and further down the pyramid kicking off the season. The Football League take on their 2nd weekend of league games as well as competing mid-week in the League Cup.

Focus is obviously mainly on the EPL this weekend, with a bundle of players making their Continue reading

Why do we support our Football Club?

   After a recent trip to North Yorkshire, I couldn’t help but notice the number of Chelsea shirts worn by kids and adults around the town. Growing up, it was very normal to see Manchester United and Liverpool shirts to be seen in every part of the United Kingdom, and especially since Arsene Wenger’s success at Arsenal, there have been more Gooners spreading from outside of the Capital. Continue reading

Monday Muse: End of the Football League season & EPL drama

  Woah, what a weekend of Football once again! I LOVE this time of the season, promotions, relegations, tears of joy of pain. From surprising results or incidents (Spurs v Blackpool), (Stoke v Arsenal) and even (Man Utd vs Chelsea) to the final league games in the Football League. It’s Monday, it’s time for another Muse… Continue reading

Finally, we can celebrate!

 Despite nursing an infected mosquito bitten leg at home yesterday, I was still able to enjoy the celebrations of my team, Queens Park Rangers lifting the Football League Championship trophy at Loftus Road.

Forget the result, the players can be forgiven a lacklustre display considering the fantastic season they have had this year not to mention the anxiety they faced (as well as us fans) with the media hyperbole surrounding the FA Hearing in the last few weeks.

Fortunately it was Continue reading

Oh, to be a QPR fan!

 Last season, Newcastle United was able to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and they wrapped up the Championship League title with games to spare too. I am aware Newcastle fans did not have it easy, getting relegated in the first place is always hard to face but they were able to enjoy a hugely successful season outside the top flight. However, for me and fellow fans of Queens Park Rangers, it’s not so plane sailing.

Currently at the top of the Championship table, 5 points clear of Norwich City in 2nd and 6 points clear of Cardiff City in 3rd with only two games left to play, Rangers fans are anxiously awaiting the release of joy and relief over what we’ve had to endure over the last 15 years.

A win at Cardiff or at home to Hull City last weekend could’ve seen us promoted already but Rangers like to do things the hard way. Now, on the day before we travel to Watford where only a point would see us promoted, we are reminded with the F.A. charges that hang over the club relating to the signing of influential midfielder Alejandro Faurlin breaking third-party ownership laws.

The first news of this broke a few months ago, but the F.A. chose to have the hearing in the first week of May. Since then the club have kept quiet over the matter but stated that they’re confident they have not broken any of the rules they’re accused of.

Now as the hearing approaches next week, the media have picked up on this story once again predicting there will be huge point’s deductions for the club which could stop any promotion to the Premier League this season. A huge blow to the work Neil Warnock and his team have done and to us fans.

It appears to me that the F.A. have chose to deal with this matter at the worst possible time of the season having been investigating it since last September. With only two games to go, this hearing could throw the end of the Championship season into disarray with play-off places to be decided and played and final positions to be determined.

If Rangers are only fined as punishment then the clubs below Q.P.R. could appeal against the decision and possibly sue the club or the Football League which could put any promotion celebrations on hold. Alternatively, if Rangers are deducted points, then the club would appeal and other teams that would prosper as a result would have to wait on the decision.

When we faced relegation from the top flight in 1996, it was devastating. Having been in the top flight since the early 1980’s that included finishing 5th place on three occasions, as well as many other top half finishes, relegation came almost out of the blue and the club never really recovered enough to bounce back.

Since then, we suffered further relegation to the third tier of English football including the club being in administration and the prospect of a winding up order. Fortunately, under the management of former player, Ian Holloway we were able to get back into the Championship.

In 2007, when the likes of Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Lakshmi Mittal took over the club, Rangers fans could all release a huge sigh of relief over what had been a traumatic 10 years since the days of the Premier League.

But it wasn’t straightforward since then, managers were coming and going with Briatore at the helm. It has only got better since the Mittal family gained more control and steadied the club, hiring Neil Warnock at the end of last season and letting him get on with his job as manager.

Now, regardless of the result against Watford tomorrow, we can’t get too carried away with celebrations until the end of next week when the F.A. hearing is concluded. But any Queens Park Rangers fan will tell you that this is just typical of being an R’s fan.

Hopefully the allegations will be proved wrong and the club isn’t found guilty, results against Watford and Leeds United will see us promoted and crowned champions. We can’t take any more disappointment!