Blog Archives

Underrated players: Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler

Liverpool to win the FA Cup and the League Cup – 4/1 with William Hill

It’s obviously strange to describe someone that scored so many goals as ‘underrated’, but there’s now a whole generation of fans who don’t know quite how good Robbie Fowler was, or saw the diluted, injury-ravaged version of him at Manchester City.

Honestly, he’s still the most natural finisher I’ve seen in England. Alan Shearer may have scored more goals, but in terms of looking comfortable in front of goal there wasn’t anyone even approaching prime-era Fowler.

Left-foot, right-foot, head – absolutely lethal with all them. And with that added blend of mischief which made him likeable and three-dimensional than most of his contemporaries. So it’s not really that he’s underrated, but undervalued, because he’s not talked about nearly enough considering what he did in the Premier League in the 90s. And obviously also because I just wanted an excuse to post this.

So, partly because I’m bored of writing negative things about Liverpool, here’s a solid half-an-hour tutorial on how to put the ball in the net, direct from God. Nose plasters, bleached hair, line snorting and all…

Liverpool to win the FA Cup and the League Cup – 4/1 with William Hill

Luka Modric – Tottenham Highlights

Real Sociedad, Napoli, and Roma all to win tonight – 17/2 with William Hill

I think it’s fair to say that anybody that doesn’t enjoy watching Luka Modric play probably isn’t a football fan

The Croatian’s quality isn’t about pace and Playstation-style tricks, merely a complete mastery of the game’s fundamentals. It’s a cliched point, but is there another player in England – barring David Silva – who makes the game look so effortless? He’s not a Match of the Day/Highlight-reel style performer, more someone that you can just watch for ninety minutes and be in awe of.

His first touch, his passing range and vision, and his close-control are an absolutely joy to behold. Worth every £ of the £40m Daniel Levy supposedly demanded from Chelsea, and probably more.

Monday afternoon’s dragging, the Premier League is now on a two week hiatus, so let’s kill some time with some of the Tottenham midfielder’s best moments in this country.

Real Sociedad, Napoli, and Roma all to win tonight – 17/2 with William Hill

A candidate to replace Petr Cech at Chelsea

I know that I bang on about this, but it really is time that Chelsea looked at alternatives to Petr Cech. Not to take anything away from what he’s accomplished for Chelsea, nor to ignore the many point-saving moments that he’s produced, but he’s just not the same player.

Whether it’s the mental scarring that never healed post-Stephen Hunt, or if it’s just a general physical deterioration, but a high-percentage of Chelsea’s defensive insecurity can be attributed to Cech. He’s not what he was, and sentimentality – while touching – is just an obstacle to Chelsea’s progress.

So, who to replace the Czech international? I know Thibaut Courtois is showing signs of promise at Atletico Madrid, but it’s definitely worth Andre Villas-Boas having a look at Monchengladbach’s 19-year-old Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

He’s phenomenal. In five years time this guy will be the best keeper in the world, or at least Europe. There’s a video below with some highlights, but what it doesn’t really show is ter Stegen’s authority and presence, and his command over his defenders. That’s incredibly rare in a goalkeeper this young – and that’s the commodity that a Chelsea-sized club should be looking at.

Because he’s German, the Oliver Kahm comparisons will inevitably be made, but actually, style-wise, he’s more reminiscent of Peter Schmeichel. How bad could that be?

Manchester United target Xherdan Shaqiri

Most of you will know this name, and rightly so; Xherdan Shaqiri is on that top rung of young European talent with Christian Eriksen and Eden Hazard. Like Hazard and Eriksen, Shaqiri is being continuously linked with all the major English clubs – especially Manchester United.

So, given that you’re going to see an awful lot of him in gossip columns over the next four months, you might as well have a bit of video…

Manchester United to beat Chelsea on Sunday? 2.90 with Bet365
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Chelsea’s Frank Lampard – Top 25 Goals

Frank Lampard’s supposed decline seems to be endlessly trending in the media, almost to the point that you forget what a good player he’s been.

So, the best way to kill off what remains of a Thursday? 25 of the best from Tuck Shop Frank.

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Fulham’s new arrival Pavel Pogrebynak – goals

So what have Fulham paid Stuttgart an undisclosed fee for?

Well, a 28 year-old Russian International with thirty caps and eight goals for his country – on the negative side though, a 6ft2 forward with a not terribly impressive goals-to-games ratio and a history of knee trouble.

…And I once bought him on Football Manager and he was rubbish.

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Chelsea target Zakaria Labyad

Nationality:Morocco
Age:18
Height:1.73 m / 5.68 ft
Weight:70 kg / 154 lbs

Chelsea aren’t alone in their admiration for PSV’s 18-year-old Moroccan Zakaria Labyard, as the winger also supposedly has Barcelona and AC Milan amongst his list of potential suitors.

Like a lot of the youngsters coming out of the Eredivisie at the moment – talent-rich to say the least – Labyad is diminutive (5″6), has a low centre of gravity, a lot of pace, and an eye for goal. Dries Martens, Giorginio Wijnaldum, John Guidetti… it’s like there’s a mould in Holland for super-talented young forwards.

The link with Chelsea first appeared in April of last year, but you have to think that given Labyad’s progression he would still appear somewhere on their radar.

He’s almost certainly going nowhere in January, but expect his name to start cropping up in gossip columns as the Summer gets nearer. Very, very talented – we’ll have to wait and see whether Andre Villas-Boas formalises his club’s interest in him.

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All of Thierry Henry’s goals for Arsenal

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Something mainly for Arsenal fans, but not a bad way to spend 20 minutes whoever you support. Thierry Henry will likely feature at some point at the Emirates tonight against Leeds, so that’s a fairly good excuse to raid YouTube for all of the Frenchman’s goals from his first spell at the club.

Tottenham – 2009 & 2010 Highlights

For the other side of North London, who were apparently feeling left out after last night’s Robin Van Persie post…

Highlights from 2009 and 2010, Premier League to Champions League. Music by Mumford & Sons and White Lies.

Tottenham to beat Swansea? 7/10 with Paddy Power.

Discussing Chelsea’s interest in Hulk

..Or that may be ‘Hulk’s interest in joining Chelsea’. Theodoro Fonseca, agent to the stupidly-named Brazilian, has had this to say over the Christmas period:

“In all transfer windows there are polls and contacts with several clubs.

Andre Villas-Boas knows him very well and they have a very good relationship. Hulk loves Andre and he would love to work with him at Chelsea or with any other team because he likes the way he coaches.

In football everything is possible, but his buy-out clause is very expensive, so his future will depend on the agreement between the two clubs.

However, Hulk is doing very well at Porto and he has a very good relationship with the club.”

That buyout clause is £87.5m if you’re wondering. Realistically, as with all buyout clauses in Southern Europe, it’s inflated for the sake of protecting the parent club – so no, Porto don’t actually believe he’s worth that much, and nor will any transfer that takes him away from Portugal be anything like that size.

Hulk’s a funny one, because he’s an example of a player that benefits both from playing in an inferior league and from having a memorable moniker. It’s not fair to say that he’s not a good player, because he is, but don’t be drawn in by the highlight reels of his goals – playing in Portugal is not like playing in Spain, or Germany, or England. So while his 36 goals in 53 games return last season isn’t totally-miseading, it is still a distortion of his talent.

There’s been no indication of Chelsea actually having concrete interest in the forward, and nor will change I don’t think. Andres Villas-Boas may very well ‘like’ him, but that’s not the same as believing that he would translate to a top-tier league.

It’s just an opinion, but I think Hulk is at Porto to stay for a while – because given the disparity between his asking price and his ability, I don’t see any of the suitably affluent clubs in Europe taking a risk. He’s a Liverpool, Valencia, Lyon, Atletico Madrid type of player, rather than a Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United sort – if that makes sense.

Anyway, here’s one of those highlight reels – he’s quick and there’s no questioning that he can leather the ball, but watch how much some of the defenders back off him…