Archive for the ‘Preview’ Category

Alan Pardew v Liverpool. Not on to a winner.

October 18, 2013 1 comment

Alan Pardew has insisted that Liverpool’s 6-0 trouncing of his Newcastle team at St James’ Park last year has been put behind them ahead of today’s clash.

The Newcastle boss is quoted as saying Liverpool “have got a really great attacking flair and the team is set out to score goals” on Newcastle’s club website.

And it’s exactly that type of astute comment that will ensure Liverpool don’t arrive quaking in their boots. Oh, and the memories of the 6-0 scoreline should help.

Taking a look through Wikipedia the Charlton, West Ham and Newcastle record books on Friday, I make Alan Pardew’s record against Liverpool as played 11; won 2; drawn 2; lost 7 (I can’t find any cup games, FA Cup final apart).

Admittedly that includes the FA Cup final in 2006, lost on penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time, but I’m counting that as a loss. Because they didn’t share the trophy in the type of style John Terry may have proposed.

Pardew’s first win over Liverpool as Newcastle came in his very first game in charge (3-0; Nolan, Barton, Carroll). Liverpool were woeful. And to make it all the more sweet, Andy Carroll’s performance and third goal probably played a part in Liverpool losing their minds and panic buying paying £35m for him.

Four defeats from four against the reds while at West Ham; a solitary game and point on the last day of a season that had already seen Charlton relegated (Kewell with a 90th minute penalty to level the game); but a rather better record of two wins and a draw from six in his time on Tyneside.

But a hammering last year. And red cards for Debuchy (0-6) and Coloccini (1-1). Also, Suarez and Sturridge only played once each against Newcastle last year, but managed three goals between them. And Stewart Downing started last year and got two assists. TWO ASSISTS.

Coloccini misses out tomorrow through injury, while Gutierrez is on compassionate leave. Coutinho, a star in last year’s 6-0 triumph, is Liverpool’s only concern (does Iago Aspas missing count? Rodgers has already hailed it as his ‘strongest’ squad of the season). Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, substituted last month against Everton at half-time with the team 3-0 down, is expected to come in alongside Mike Williamson.

(Gratuitous Joe Kinnear shot. If he was managing, Newcastle would win 6-0).

Still, if he has another nightmare against a Merseyside team today, at least Montpellier’s chairman Louis Nicollin will be there to console him. Unless he’s predicting Yanga-Mbiwa will have a stinker and need a new club by 2.30pm.

There are reasons for Reds fans not to be overly optimistic though. The 2-0 reverse in April 2012 saw Papiss Cissé score two, and Ben Arfa run the show.

But this is a very different Liverpool team (Flanagan, Spearing, Shelvey, Carroll, Bellamy vs Johnson, Henderson, Allen, Suarez, Sturridge) and Liverpool should have too much. Assuming they don’t get internationalbreakitus.

A win today, followed by another against West Brom at home next week, and the prospect of top-4 looks achievable.



Slovakia V Ireland Preview

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Well it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped for Ireland after a miserable first hour on Friday, followed by a spirited comeback that just fell short. A 3-2 defeat in Russia wouldn’t have been a disastrous result, but defeat at home with trips to Russia and Slovakia to come makes things seem that bit harder.


Aiden McGeady looks a dejected figure on Friday night


It had all started so well. Slovakia’s surprise defeat to Armenia meant Ireland went into the game in the best possible position with all the pressure on Russia. An early goalmouth scramble almost had Ireland in front, it ended with McGeady dragging a shot wide. Had it gone in there’s no telling what might have happened, with Russian heads bowed.

As it was, the tactics were awful. Ireland played what seemed to be at times a 6-2-1-1 formation and that Doyle picked up an injury was no surprise. Not only because the ‘tactics’ seemed to be lump it at Doyle and see what happens, but also because the Russian defenders got away with over-zealous challenges from behind time and again. They managed to disrupt any forward momentum without attracting the referee’s attention too much.


Keane attempts to rally the troops


The main problem stems from playing Whelan (what was he playing at for Russia’s first goal?) and Green together in midfield. Trapattoni has received a lot of criticism for his game plan on Friday and a lot of it is justified. However we have a weaker squad now than we have for many years.  Whelan and Green are perfect examples. One plies his trade with Derby in the Championship, the other is a bit part player for Stoke.

The centre of midfield was a crucial part of Friday’s game. The dangerous Russian forwards needed to be starved of service, forcing them to drop deeper and deeper to pick up the ball and relieving pressure on Ireland’s defence. As it was, Russia swarmed through midfield to attack seamlessly, with Green and Whelan afraid to go forward for fear of getting caught on the break.

This meant the Ireland central midfield was dangerously close to the defence leaving 30% of the pitch for the Russians to swarm through at pace while Ireland resorted to long-ball tactics. With genuine ball players, Russia found the going easy, and in truth 3-2 flattered Ireland, particularly as Robbie Keane’s penalty was a questionable one to get Ireland back into the game at 3-1.


Dunne was scathing in his criticism of the tactics employed on Friday


Richard Dunne’s assessment was absolutely spot-on: We didn’t close them down and our only game plan seemed to be hitting it long. When that didn’t work, we didn’t have an answer. We were not brave enough to have confidence in passing the ball. Going long is the easy way out for some people and it is never going to be good enough.

Aiden McGeady is slowly improving. His final ball was occasionally lacking as always, but he seemed to have a greater purpose to his attacking efforts, even shooting once or twice when he realised the Russian goalkeeper had a bizarre policy of palming away anything that came his way, no matter how tame the effort.

Tomorrow is the turn of Slovakia and one positive to take away from Friday’s game is that the two goals Ireland scored will have them in a different mindset going into the game, than a three or four goal defeat. At least Ireland left the game on a more positive note, but they have to get something from tomorrow night’s game.

Slovakia are a decent team. They proved it at the World Cup when they knocked out Italy and they proved it against Russia last month in a famous away win. However they clearly blow hot and cold and by all accounts were well beaten by Armenia on Friday night. With big players potentially missing from the first team, the Slovakians are in a similar position to Ireland in that they may be relying on weaker players in reserve in what is a crucial game for both teams.

Team News:

Ireland are without Damien Duff and Kevin Doyle meaning Aiden McGeady will continue with Liam Lawrence on the wings. Up front, Reading’s Shane Long will battle it out with Andy Keogh for a starting role, with the Wolves man likely to get the nod.

Slovakia have big problems of their own however, with forward Robert Vittek  injured, while Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel will be serving a ban thanks after getting his second booking of the campaign last Friday evening. Most importantly for Ireland, playmaker Miroslav Stoch, could miss out after picking up an injury in the Armenia defeat.

Man to watch: Robbie Keane

Keane needs a big game tomorrow night. Reduced to appealing in vain for any sort of offence against Russian defenders, Keane needs t show why he is captain tomorrow night with a big performance. Ireland are lacking in creativity and spark. Time for Keane to get at a weakened Slovakia defence.

Saturday’s Premiership preview: 10/09/10

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Thank god for that we can stop talking about Rooney and his effect on the England team and can start talking about…Rooney and his effect on the Man Utd team…

Everton V Manchester United

After surprising no-one here at TheFC100 by scoring first against Switzerland, Rooney will be Man Utd’s star man against Everton tomorrow in the early kick off on Sky Sports. The Everton fans quite rightly get stuck into Rooney whenever he returns to his boyhood club due to the fact he buggered off just after breaking onto the Everton first team in a big money move to Manchester. However he has stuck the boot in several times since with the usual badge-kissing, Moyes-bashing shenanigans and now the Everton fans will be relishing their chance to chant several brands of filthy at the former Toffee.

This game is more interesting in determining Rooney’s state of mind. The England fans gave him a great reception on Tuesday but tens of thousands will be doing their best to wind him up. That Everton have had a nightmare start to the season makes the pressure fall on both Rooney and Everton. A good start to the game for the home side is crucial, if they can get their noses in front and get Rooney and company frustrated then this could be a bad day for Man Utd fans. In fact, despite their problems so far, we fancy Everton to nick something here and we’ll throw in a card for Rooney at the same time
Prediction: Everton 2 Man Utd 1

Arsenal V Bolton

Arsenal have lost another few players for their game against Bolton (what are they feeding them at Arsenal, cereal with barbed wire?). Walcott, van Persie and Thomas Vaermaelen all miss out this weekend, however Samir Nasri could return from injury sustained against Liverpool on the opening day. Bolton are missing their inspirational keeper Jussi Jaskelaainen though, after the Finn was sent off last time out.

Read more…

Armenia V Ireland

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since Ireland have gone into a qualifying campaign full of hope and with a genuine belief that they can progress to the big stage and thus end their ten-year wait.

While the 2002 tournament ended in a penalty shootout defeat to Spain, Ireland players and fans recognised that they had blown a golden chance to go further than their current quarter-final record in 1990. Thierry Henry’s infamous handball put paid to the chance to compete at this year’s World Cup where, again, the standard was unusually low and the boys in green would at least have played with the passion that deserted the bigger nations like England, France and Italy.

European Championships have been few and far between for Ireland, but this year there is genuine optimism that they can progress. A draw alongside Armenia, Andorra, Macedonia, Slovakia and Russia is not the most daunting for a team that has played together for many qualifying campaigns at this stage.

Not only that, but a good start is always welcome and the draw has been reasonably kind in that respect with Armenia and Andorra first up for Trapatoni’s men. Armenia should be overlooked as weak opposition today, but to do so would be an injustice as they have recorded victories over the likes of Belgium and Poland in recent years and are a decent team at home, although they finished bottom of their World Cup qualifying group.

Still, with the likes of Given in goal, Dunne in defence, McGeady, Doyle and Keane in attack, Ireland will hope to pick up where they left off with a minimum of three points and a few goals would come in hand too…

Man City V Liverpool Preview

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Tonight is the night. Man City will either be ready to challenge for the title or “a long way off unless they can gel together quickly.”

Commentators are licking their lips, pundits are sharpening their knifes and Roberto Mancini is possibly looking a little tired due to lack of sleep. The pressure will be intense tonight. Man City’s superstars, at home for the first time this season after two disappointing performances to-date.  Who will make a debut? Balotelli? Milner? Who will take their chance to become a cult hero early in their career? Silva? Toure?

Liverpool should be arriving as underdogs. The start of the summer was a terrible time to be a Liverpool fan as Torres was leaving, Gerrard was leaving, Mascherano was leaving, Benitez had gone. But tonight each of those three will start the game, and while Joe Cole misses out through suspension, there is enough confidence around the Merseysiders to suggest that with some big performances from their stars, they should win this one.

Balotelli set for Premiership debut?

A look at both squads shows one whose first game lineup had a huge amount of talent, but little togetherness. The other played their opening game as a team with 100% commitment, but lacked flair. Tonight may be a war of attrition in midfield. Yaya Toure and De Jong versus Mascherano and Poulsen. An intense battleground with the likes of Torres, Gerrard, Silva and Balotelli being expected to provide a spark of individual genius by their managers.

Man City play a strange formation with attackers on the wings playing reasonably deep, while using at least two defensive central midfielders and one lone man up front. Liverpool may try to match them at their own game tonight. Indications are that Poulsen will start alongside Mascherano while Kuyt and Jovanovic will play deep on either flank and Gerrard will fluctuate between central midfield and providing support for Torres.

Poulsen to make Premier League debut?

It’s difficult to see goals in this one, despite the wealth of attacking talent on display. It isn’t difficult to see red cards though. If both teams start with two holding midfielders, each is capable of a rash challenge which could help to open the game up a little. It would be nice to imagine both teams will try to throw down a marker and go out to win at any cost.

They won’t though. Our prediction? 1-1.

Pre-Season is over

August 13, 2010 Leave a comment

As I sit in the airport waiting to fly to London, it occurs to me that this seems to have been the shortest period without football I can ever remember.

Granted it seemed a lot longer when you were a kid, dying to see your team for the first time in a new season, but with the World Cup, exciting signings and interesting pre-season happenings, it seems the summer break barely occurred. Which in our book, is a good thing.

Tomorrow’s festivities kick-off with a cracker. Spurs V Man City at White Hart Lane is the 12.45pm kick-off. Will City play one or five of their new gaggle of galacticos? Will both sides go for the jugular, aware that an early win against a big rival will do their squad the world of good. Will Spurs look tired as the same team without any new faces, or will they be able to play like a team unlike City’s superstars playing together for the first time.

Our money is on goals, and a potential thriller. City don’t look like they’ll be sitting back this season, with their new signings. Spurs play fast attacking football too and might fancy their chances of nicking it. We’ll go with a 2-2 draw.

Elsewhere this weekend all eyes will be on Anfield as a new-look Liverpool team take on Arsenal. Much has been made of Arsenal’s injury problems this week but expect a strong team with Fabregas involved at some point. However there is something slightly lacking with Arsenal, they still desperately need a new keeper, we’re gonna go with Liverpool to nick it 2-1.

Newcastle and West Brom get the ultimate reward for promotion, trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge respectively. Both will struggle to get points early with these clashes, with home wins in both. Manager-less Aston Villa take on West Ham with their new man in charge Avram Grant. How the past week has taken its toll on the players will be interesting to see.

Enjoy it folks, it’s back and it’s going to be closer to call than ever….

Can They Kick It (1): Blackpool

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Here TheFC100 looks at the chances for survival of the Premiership’s newly promoted teams: First up, Blackpool.

1) Blackpool

There are times in a football fan’s life when he or she looks back on a single moment in their club’s history and thinks “if that hadn’t happened things could be so different today.” Saturday, May 26, 2001 saw Blackpool fans descend on Cardiff for the Nationwide Division 3 Play-off final against Leyton Orient. Within a minute they were one-nil down. After pulling level, they went down 2-1. Nine years later they have been promoted four times since that day and are now sitting pretty in the Premiership with a trip to Wigan to start their campaign in less than two weeks.

What an unbelievable story and what a way to answer people who say Blackpool aren’t good enough, aren’t big enough, aren’t fashionable enough to play at the club. Any true fan of the Premiership will be happy to see the Seasiders take their place in top flight football for the first time in almost 40 years. But can they stay there? The omens aren’t good.

Blackpool's Bloomfield Road: Capacity c16,000

Pre-Season Form?

  • Defeat to Bristol City at the weekend following wins over low-key opposition  Leyton Orient, Accrington Stanley and Tiverton Town plus a draw with Kilmarnock.

The type of players Blackpool have been linked with to-date include Jon Stead from Ipswich and Seamus Coleman from Everton (after a successful loan last term). The club doesn’t have the finances to match those aiming for mid-table this year and it shows in their transfer record to-date – £500,000 for Charlie Adams.

Read more…