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…

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Tottenham Hotspur’s Title Tilt

If you whisper it… a certain club known as Tottenham Hotspur have been mooted as title challengers for this season’s Premier League. Here at Verbal Football I’ll analyse Tottenham’s unexpected title tilt so far.

Without a doubt, last Sunday’s defeat (and the manner of it) against Stoke City at The Britannia was a body blow to Harry Redknapp’s side. Spurs were unbeaten since there opening two defeats to both Manchester clubs, United and City respectively. In the Stoke defeat, Spurs showed a lot of heart especially in the second half and fought their way to an almost impossible win never mind draw. Adebayor’s wrongly disallowed goal and Kaboul’s harsh sending off seemed to galvanise the side. However, Spurs’ slow start in the first half cannot be forgotten. This is at least the second game this season where Spurs started slow and left themselves with too much to do in the second half. Redknapp must remedy any future sloppy starts if his side are to be considered bonafide title challengers for the 2011/2012 Premier League title.

Players such as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale are genuine top class players already coveted by the likes of FC Barcelona and Chelsea. If Modric and Bale genuinely buy into the Tottenham project then only good things will happen at White Hart Lane. In addition, Scott Parker’s contribution shouldn’t be overlooked. Parker has been an upgrade on Wilson Palacios and has lessened the blow of ‘losing’ Jermaine Jenas. The Parker and Modric midfield duo has been solid and creative at the same time. It’s imperative that those aforementioned midfielders stay fit if Spurs want to remain title contenders.

Tottenham Hotspur will encounter a relatively ‘easy’ run of games until another London clash with Chelsea at the end of December. Redknapp has to rally his troops and get the side going on another unbeaten run. Fans and critics alike await with baited breath Tottenham’s next move in the Premier League.

By Paul Batambuze.

Monday Muse: FA Cup Frolics & Draw

 The weekends football action served up a treat, not only did we have the Premier League and Championship in action but also the FA Cup 2nd Round where teams from League 1, League 2 and those from the Non-League pyramid compete in order for a place in the 3rd Round come the new year, all hoping to be drawn against the big boys.

FA Cup Shocks

Maybe their could’ve been more shocks in the FA Cup 2nd Round this weekend than it really produced, but some teams caused upsets. Most impressively were that of Wrexham, the former members of the Football League have had a rocky road on and off the pitch in recent seasons but they’ll be delighted with the 1-0 victory at League One side Brentford.

Wrexham, who lost manager Dean Saunders to Championship side Doncaster Rovers, are currently top of the Blue Square Bet Premier Division (Football Conference Premier in old money) and managed by former player and Wrexham legend Andy Morrell. The Jamie Tolley strike that settled the tie was fitting of an upset in a game that made Wrexham appear like the Football League side in terms of style and commitment.

Tamworth came out victors in their away tie with fellow Non-Leaguers Gateshead, in which Tamworth won 2-1 with a last minute winner. Whilst Chelmsford and Fleetwood both held Football League sides to draws at home and will be desperate to get a better result in the replays.

Unfortunately, the lowest place sides AFC Totton and Redbridge could not get past strong League Two opposition and were on the back of 5-0 and 6-1 defeats to Bristol Rovers and Crawley Town respectively.

FA Cup 3rd Round Draw Provides Great Fixtures

The tie of the round belongs to the dominant clubs from Manchester as holders City were drawn at home to neighbours Manchester United thus adding an extra derby to the already enthralling rivalry this season.

Other interesting draws elsewhere belong to Cheltenham Town from League Two earning the chance to play Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Whilst Arsenal play hosts to Championship big boys Leeds United.

More one sided has to belong to Everton who will host Non-League outfit Tamworth at Goodison Park. It’d be remarkable if an upset would be on the cards but many would be hoping that Tamworth can give a good account.

Elsewhere, Fleetwood could host locals Blackpool if they’re able to perform a shock result in their replay at Yeovil Town. And Chelmsford could host Premier League Bolton if they’re to do the same in the replay at Macclesfield.

There’s another derby on the cards as Nottingham Forest are home to rivals Leicester City, whilst Sheffield Wednesday could perform an upset as they will take on West Ham United at Hillsborough.

There are Premier League teams travelling to lower league opposition that could prove tricky with Aston Villa going to Bristol Rovers and Queens Park Rangers away to Milton Keynes Dons.

Liverpool will welcome either Southend or Oldham to Anfield whilst Chelsea do battle against Portsmouth. All in all it shall be a great weekend come January for the FA Cup 3rd Round, one of the best times of the season in our historic football calendar.

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?

Football Future: Ground Sharing

A new feature for the Verbal Football blog is called ‘Football Future’ where we will be discussing topics to do with the beautiful game beyond the present day.

In this first edition the topic in question is one that has started to make headlines in the media lately, especially in West London with the new Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes and Co vocalising the fact that the club need to seriously consider moving out of Loftus Road into a new bigger size stadium if the club is to reach their ambitions.

Of course this has raised rumours and speculating that a new West London stadium would in fact be shared by QPR’s rivals, Chelsea who despite owning a Stadium almost twice the size as Loftus Road, in Stamford Bridge, are faced with the Continue reading

Why Stoke City can win the UEFA Europa League…

The UEFA Europa League, despite the re branding in recent years the competition is still detested by managers and clubs with bigger ambitions or seen as a nuisance for those who have their league status as a priority. I’ve heard pundits and managers comment how at times it costs the club more financially to enter the competition than they get out of it, but perhaps that’s down to their lack of competitive attitude to get far in the competition.

Last season, UEFA distributed €150,360,000 across the 56 teams that competed in the competition during the 2010/2011 season, it’s second campaign since the re-branding. It was confirmed by UEFA that FC Porto received €7,837,046 for winning the competition that despite it’s modern day apathy, has a rich prestigious history.

The runners-up SC Braga received €4,528,191 despite entering the competition via being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League group stages, a rule that has always seemed extremely unfair and only in place to save face for any of European’s ‘Elite’ if they were to suffer a dreadful Champions League campaign.

All 48 teams competing in the Group Stages of the competition last season received an entitled Continue reading

Robbie Keane’s L.A. Adventure

Robbie Keane’s surprise transfer to LA Galaxy is very intriguing on many levels. Does Keane feel as if he’s finished at the highest level of club football? How would Keane fit in once he arrives in LA? Where will Keane feature in the current set-up?.

From the outside looking in, it seems Keane would play upfront alongside Mike Magee or Chad Barrett. Both Magee and Barrett would provide a foil for Keane as well as being a physical option on the frontline with Keane providing the craft and relative pace. I think Keane and Barrett would be the best fit for now, although it would be a strike partnership lacking in mobility. Keane would also face competition for a starting berth from Adam Cristman, a player who has shoehorned his way into Bruce Arena’s thoughts as of late. As of yesterday, Keane lined up alongside Cristman and Continue reading

Monday Muse: La Liga strike,EPL,Spurs,Championship & Tevez…

The La Liga ‘holdout’

La Liga is arguably the most decorated league in world football and yet, it didn’t kick off over the weekend. It’s refreshing to hear that La Liga’s stellar stars such as Xavi and Iker Casillas were standing on the front of the picket line with their less celebrated counterparts across all the major divisions within Spanish Football. As always with a lockout, it’s down to money and how it’s distributed fairly amongst the professional footballers. A large percentage of players have also been playing without pay hence this lockout. Let’s hope the LFP and Spanish Players association resolve their issues soon. Spanish football is the loser.

Arsenal v Liverpool Continue reading

The Premier League Underrated Team of the Season 2010/2011:

 I’ve been compelled to write a piece and highlight the players of whom I feel are continually underrated by fellow football fans, pundits and journalists alike. The players in the piece below rarely receive the plaudits compared to the bigger stars of the Premier League.  The following players are the ones who’ve performed with distinction throughout the 2010/2011 Premier League season:

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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