The Best Players of the Premier League Season So Far…

Goalkeepers

Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tim Krul (Newcastle United)

When Swansea City won promotion to the Premier League, I thought it was a steal by Wolverhampton Wanderers when Mick McCarthy signed their keeper Dorius de Vries, but half a season gone, it appears they’ve not missed him at all.

City boss Brendan Rodgers signed another Dutch keeper in Michel Vorm, who’s been one of the best performers in the EPL so far, with 9 Clean Sheets already, a superb stat for a newly promoted club to the ‘best league in the world’.

City’s Joe Hart continues to keep his high level of performance with a number of outstanding saves, including one-on-ones which is only good news for England fans. And Tim Krul’s efforts in goal for Newcastle have not gone unnoticed.

Defenders

Micah Richards (Manchester City), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United), Phil Jones (Manchester United)

Full-Backs have stolen the limelight so far this season with Micah Richards of City and Assou-Ekotto of Spurs putting in consistent performances which go ignored more than centre backs. How Fabio Capello can exclude Richards from the England squads still amazes me.

Newcastle’s impressive half to the season was down to their back Four being unchanged until injuries interrupted form. Steven Taylor certainly looks to have improved on his game, whilst his fellow defensive partner in the middle, Coloccini has got a whole lot better since he first arrived on Tyneside.

Is he a defender or a midfielder? Maybe he’s both, it’s Phil Jones, who’s had a good spell in midfield for United but I’ll include him in the Defenders section. Despite his own goal at Newcastle, Jones has still had a good season and has taken to United like a duck to water. Good things to come, for many years.

Midfielders

David Silva (Manchester City), Nani (Manchester United), Tottenham’s Quartet, Swansea City, Mikel Arteta (Arsenal), Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Chelsea)

The arrival of David Silva to the Premier League has been a joy to behold, his class has been entertaining on many occasions this season but he’s also joined by other good performers in the middle for City in the likes of Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry.

Silva and Nani, top performers

United’s Nani has been fairly consistent this season, perhaps considered more of an attacker than a midfielder, the dazzling winger has provided a fair share of goals and assists. Does he have enough in his engine to keep going?

I have been wholly impressed with Spurs quartet or quintet. The signing of Scott Parker has been important as well keeping Luka Modric, whilst Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale and Van der Vaart are always dangerous going forward.

Impressive

Swansea City’s flair can be founded in their midfield, various stats have appeared this season which show Mark Gower, Joe Allen and Leon Britton to have better passing rates than Barcelona’s, although stats can be misconstrued, Brendan Rodgers has Swansea playing attractive possession football with an attacking threat. Also, Scott Sinclair has taken the Premier League by storm on the wing having been let go by Chelsea many seasons ago.

No Fear for the Premier League

The other impressive promoted club Norwich City have Anthony Pilkington, signed from League One Huddersfield Town, in the summer. The versatile midfielder has chipped in with a few goals already and does not look out of place like his team-mates and manager in the EPL.

As for Chelsea, Juan Mata has added the creativity they needed in an ageing team and whilst they may have missed Michael Essien, Frank Lampard has had a better season than most people would lead you to believe. He’s got 9 goals from the middle, despite missing a number of games and although he’s now the wrong side of 30, he’s still got quality.

Attackers

Demba Ba (Newcastle United), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur), Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Steve Morison (Norwich City), Danny Graham (Swansea City)

Of course, plaudits go to Magpies forward Demba Ba, who’s certainly made the Toon Army forget about Andy Carroll a year since their prodigal son departed for pastures new. Ba has been sensational and he’ll be sorely missed whilst he plays in the African Nations Cup.

Sensational So Far...

What I like most about Ba, is his eye for goal. He has composure at times, but also stays positive and even chases down lost cause, a player certainly playing with confidence and class.

Sergio Aguero has been an ideal replacement for Carlos Tevez for Manchester City and they’ll hope he continues his scoring form in the business end of the season. Whilst they loaned out of favour Adebayor to Spurs, they probably did not expect he’d have helped them challenge for the Title.

Jonathan Walters was one of my favourite Championship players for many years and I was delighted to see him have a bright start to the Premier League and Stoke City. The same can be said for Steve Morison at Norwich and Danny Graham at Swansea, their summer transfers from the Football League were criticised but both have popped up with 8 goals each already this season.

Morison winning a header versus Sunderland

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The Large Pool of Ex-Managers (Part Two)

Long overdue, I’ve returned to this article for the 2nd part which focuses on Football Managers who have been out of management for a long time, for one reason or another despite being great players themselves and in some cases very good managers.

With only 92 clubs in the top four divisions I suppose there is bound to be a long list of those left out of the game without the right luck or motivation to get back into management. Here are a number of candidates that haven’t managed in awhile.

Alan Curbishley: Despite not managing a football club since 2008, his name is still linked to a host of clubs looking for a new manager but for one reason or another he’s never been appointed. Maybe his last spell in management at West Ham United had severely damaged a reputation that’d been impeccable in his 15 years with Charlton Athletic. However I am still surprised he’s not taken/given an opportunity at another club in recent seasons.

His long spell in charge of Charlton saw the club achieve two promotions and consolidation in the Premier League for many seasons. Since his departure from the club in 2006, the Addicks suffered two relegations in 3 seasons and found themselves back where they started.

He saved West Ham from relegation in the 2006/2007 season and finished in the top ten of the EPL the following season, signing players like Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy. However, he left the club after the sale of two players which he wasn’t consulted about and said that it had breached a clause in his contract.

By 2009 he won a court case and the Hammers paid him £2.2 million in compensation. I imagine many Hammers fans were Continue reading

Mid-Week Muse: Football League & European Action

Due to life getting in the way I was unable to produce a ‘Monday Muse’ article on Monday focussing on the events from the weekend’s football action. To make up for it, I thought I’d do a special Mid-Week Muse with all the Football League and Europa League action that took place.

The Football League went through its third run of games which provided a series of interesting results. In the Championship, newly promoted Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion continued their excellent start to the season with impressive victories over Ipswich Town and Cardiff City.

The Saints came away 5-2 winners at Portman Road causing the Tractor Boys a third straight victory including defeat in the League Cup. Their manager Paul Jewell must be wondering where it went wrong since their opening day 3-0 victory at Bristol City.

Joining the two promoted teams with a 100% record is Derby County, a team that have struggled in recent years under manager Nigel Clough but finally the rub of the green is on their side this season with a 3rd straight league win coming at Blackpool. County ran out 1-0 winners causing Ian Holloway an indifferent start back in the Football League.

Leicester City were one of the favourites with Sven Goran-Eriksson allowed to spend in the summer but they suffered a shock defeat at home to Bristol City. It may take some time for all the new players to gel but the Foxes will be expected to challenge for promotion come the end of the season.

In League One, Chris Powell looks to have the remedy for Charlton Athletic with third straight league win with a 2-0 result at Colchester. Newly relegated Sheffield United have also recorded 3 straight wins which is an excellent start if they want to achieve promotion at the first attempt.

The blue side of Sheffield has been indifferent; a win on the opening day looked good for manager Gary Megson but two straight defeats have been alarming, with the last being a 2-1 defeat at Bury.

Russell Slade looked to have turned Leyton Orient’s fortunes around last season but 3 straight defeats has seen them rock bottom of League One.

Rotherham are the only side in League Two with 100% record intact, a 2-1 victory at Crewe saw them top the table. Newly promoted Crawley Town remain undefeated in their Football League history and a 3-0 home victory over Southend United is mightily impressive.

AFC Wimbledon have also turned an opening day defeat around with two back to back wins, a surprising 2-0 victory down at Peter Reid’s Plymouth Argyle came about on Tuesday night with a brace from Jack Midson.

It was a contrasting set of results on Thursday evening in the Europa League for England and Scotland. Tottenham Hotspur who were denied starting their Premier League campaign last weekend took it out on Scottish Premier League side Hearts of Midlothian.

A 5-0 victory at Tynecastle was more than embarrassing for the SPL who have always faced scepticism about the competitiveness of their league. Despite Hearts being a month into their season, it was Spurs who looked sharp with excellent passing and moving from the team.

They didn’t miss Luka Modric as Krancar and Van Der Vaart teamed up well, plus a goal for Jake Livermore was well deserved.

The SPL’s run away clubs didn’t fair well either, Glasgow Rangers went down 2-1 to Slovenian champions NK Maribor. Rangers took the lead in the first half, but a 2nd half equaliser and a last minute goal saw them left red faced.

More shocking was Glasgow Celtic being held 0-0 at Parkhead to Swiss side FC Sion. However, the Swiss club could face a penalty by UEFA by fielding 4 players of the ‘Sion Six’ who were banned due to a transfer embargo placed on the club.

Stoke City survived any embarrassment on the Astroturf in Switzerland with a 1-0 victory over FC Thun. Whilst Championship side Birmingham City held Nacional to a 0-0 draw in Portugal.

Fulham manager Martin Jol made a number of changes to the starting line-up for the home tie with Dnipro but the south west London side came out 3-0 victors.

That’s the Mid-Week Muse complete, we learnt that Scottish football is as pants as we all expected, Sven-Goran Eriksson may think about retirement and Spurs fans think they’re going to win the World Cup after out passing Hearts.

The Modern Day Full-Back

  Whilst football fans, pundits and journalists alike debate the failings of the England under-21 team at the European Championships, I’ve been thinking about something else more appealing and that is the modern day full-back in football and how important the position is in the game.

The full back, left or right sided, has often been a position for the 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