Archive for August, 2010

six shooters

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Continuing the theme of 6 here at strong on paper, here are 6 players plying their trade at different levels of english football that you must see this season!

little pea

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

Chicharito, or as it means in Mexico, ‘little pea’ is Alex Ferguson’s marquee signing for the season and a bit of shrewd business from the thrifty scotsman saw him get his man before the world cup where after some great performances, his price, I’m sure, would of skyrocketed.

With the ability to play on either flank and up front, Hernandez looks a great prospect and should thrive in the premiership. If he can strike up a partnership with Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes continues to roll back the years, then Man United could well take back the title from Chelsea.

The only question is whether he can deal with the physicality of the English game – something which of course he can get used to over time – but is Fergie patient enough to give the little pea time to settle in? Time will tell.

Edgar Davids

Edgar Davids

Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere, you won’t of missed one of the most audacious transfers of the summer, namely Edgar Davids signing for Crystal Palace on a pay-as-you-play deal.

The midfield enforcer, who’s previous clubs include Milan, Barcelona, Juventus and Tottenham hasn’t played a competitive game for two years and is seen by many at the club as a huge risk.

However, it appears he will be playing at left back so that 37-year-old engine may not be as big a problem as it would of been if he was integral to the hustle and bustle of the midfield. Also, as a club famed for producing young talent, Palace may be seeing Davids as a scholar, there to share his worldly wisdom with the next generation of Palace players.

Either way, his and indeed Palace’s season should be fascinating and also picking Davids was a great excuse to show you this….

Tom Huddlestone - "a graceful giant"

Tom Huddlestone

I’ve always had a soft spot for Tom Huddlestone, mainly because he can do this…

and this…

But mostly I just love how graceful he is on the pitch and of course, the way he passes that ball is a joy to behold. In past seasons he has failed to get the games due to his lack of defensive ability, but as last season showed, he is now a lot better positionally and has settled into the centre midfield ‘quarter back’ role very nicely.

Showing the sort of passing  we haven’t seen from an englishman since messrs Beckham and Hoddle, maybe this season is also the year this giant among men breaks into the England setup – here’s hoping.

Adam Le Fondre - just too good for League Two

Adam le Fondre

I’ve mentioned this man before and nothing’s changed since, he’s still way too good for League Two, and he’s still at Rotherham.

With 30 goals last season and 5 goals already this season, Le Fondre is showing the sort of form that has got the scouts of Championship teams climbing over each other to buy him – or so you’d think.

Derby seem to be the most likely but Rotherham seem to be either waiting for a big offer or just telling everyone “F’ off! He’s ours.” which is highly commendable.

Whatever the outcome, he certainly won’t be playing at this level after this season (unless he has some massive drug problem that we don’t know about, a la Trundle) as his finishing is sublime off either foot, he’s quick and strong and his movement is intelligent. Basically, he’s the best player in the league.

England's future number 1?

Joe Lewis

All the talk about young english keepers this season has been directed (quite rightly) at Man City’s Joe Hart who after shoehorning Shay Given out of the number 1 spot has preceded to do his best impression of superman in goal for the Citizens.

But in Peterborough there is another bright young thing playing in League One and his name is Joe Lewis. The 22-year -old is an excellent shot stopper, quick to come off his line and has good distribution.

One thing that may be in his favour is the luxury for him to be able to play at a lower level for now, without all the pressure of the premier league. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it will be long before this guy is playing at the highest level, but for now, maybe it’s better if he hangs around at Peterborough.

Poulsen - Liverpool's answer to a Mascherano-shaped hole?

Christian Poulsen

My final choice may be a surprise to many but it is as much to do with circumstance as it is to do with the player (although I do think Poulsen is a very talented footballer). Christian Poulsen has the unfortunate job of filling Mascherano’s large boots after his £17.25m move to Barca. If you’re unsure in his ability to do so, watch this video of him doing a job on jesus-loving Kaka…

Liverpool’s season will depend on a number of things not least whether Poulsen can do a job in midfield – he certainly has the ability, great positional awareness, does the simple things well and has a bulldog like spirit – basically, just what liverpool need right now.

The only problem may be his discipline as the great Dane has got a habit of picking up cards and has, what some may call, a short fuse. If he can link up with Gerrard well and break up play then Liverpool may just have a top four chance, despite their abysmal start.

So there you have it, strong on paper’s six to watch this season. Stay tuned for more posts, a review of the weekend’s action and even a report from a serie D match in the coming weeks!

kodak moment #1

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Here’s kodak moment #1, strong on paper’s first attempt at trying to pick the best football pictures each week and stick them up on the  blog for your enjoyment! The first in the series is a lone Trabzonspor fan before the Turkish side were beaten 2-1 by Liverpool in the Europa League qualifiers (more fans did turn up).

Nope, it's not the Martin O'Neill Fan Club, it's a flag-bearing Trabzonspor fan

The joy of six

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Football went goal mad last weekend with Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle and Rotherham (unfortunately) all scoring 6 against the unfortunate Wigan, Blackpool, Villa and Cheltenham respectively.

This posed a number of questions, especially in relation to the premier league.  Are we seeing a drop in the competitiveness which the English top flight used to pride itself on? Are Chelsea favourites to retain their premier league crown? And have Blackpool got a chance of staying up this season?

Malouda celebrates during Chelsea's 6-0 trouncing of Wigan

First up, Chelsea V Wigan, a game where the fact that Chelsea scored 6 goals wasn’t actually the biggest talking point. Yes, Chelsea looked their normal ruthless selves but Wigan dominated the majority of the first half which could be seen as a positive, but equally, if they play well and concede 6, god knows what will happen when they have an off day. The game was also notable for its lack of corners – not one corner was conceded throughout the whole game, a record that dates back to… oooooooh at least 2004 (when corner statistics began).

"Look at me Fabio!"

Arsenal V Blackpool also had a certain 6 appeal with the enigma that is Theo Walcott scoring a hat-trick – bringing the tangerine dream of Blackpool back down to earth with a bump. Walcott can often be wasteful and go missing for large parts of a game but against Blackpool he was at his rampaging best – something which can only improve his England cause. As for Blackpool, after their opening day win against a dire Wigan side they had reason to be hopeful for their trip to the emirates, however, the team that turned up on saturday were less Johann Cruyff’s Oranje but more like that fat guy off the Tango advert .

A Newcastle pile on (it was either this or Joey Barton's dodgy 'tache)

Newcastle’s sixy football was probably one of the more surprising results of the weekend with Martin O’Neill leaping from the claret and blue plane just before it began it’s nosedive and Andy Carroll surprising anyone who didn’t pay attention to the Championship last season. The sale of Milner to Man City for a princely sum and Stephen Ireland to boot appeared, to be a good deal, but a rudderless Villa looked lost considering the players were meant to be carefree and happy (apparently they celebrated O’Neill’s exit by sending pictures of champagne bottles to each other). As for Newcastle, they played like a team who deserved to be in the premiership, not like a team who thought they were too big to go down, a la 2009. If they can turn St James’ Park into the fortress it was, then it won’t be long before that fog on the tyne lifts.

Adam Le Fondre - here's hoping we've seen the last of him

Cheltenham, was a whole different story. We scored 4 away from home and lost 6-4. There are some redeeming aspects to take from the performance however. Firstly Adam Le Fondre is waaaaaaaay too good to be playing in league two and the sooner he gets snapped up the better to be honest. Secondly, we are playing good attractive football which is great for the fans and the diamond formation we are employing seems to be working. And finally, the referee gave a very very soft penalty (watch it and see for yourself). This said, you cannot concede 6 goals and the defence and in particular, Scott Brown, need to have a look at their own performances and start concentrating on defending set pieces (there, Cheltenham rant over).

So there you have it, the only question now is how the hell can this weekend live up to it’s predecessor ? Will there be more goalfests or a string of 0-0 bore draws? Have Chelsea and Wigan forgotten how to take corners? And will Cheltenham Town continue to play like they’ve forgotten how to defend them? All will become clear this weekend and strong on paper will be there – whatever the outcome.

Let me know what you think about last weekend’s results and if you have anything to add or any suggestions for my next post let me know!

New season, new blog

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

First up, an apology. My new look blog was meant to coincide with the start of the new season but due to a busy few weeks and a healthy slice of procrastination this first post is as late as a Joe Cole tackle.

The good news is that my blog is now going to encompass a wider area than just the football league with anything from non-league kickabouts to international footy ripe for attention.

If you have any suggestions for topics or any questions to stimulate debate then please let me know, I will try and cover the most important issues which arise during the season – whatever the level.

So, all there is to say now is stay tuned to “strong on paper” for my next post and thank you for your continuing support!