Is Fantasy Football taking over your life? Are you finding it hard to separate real football from the fantasy? Tom Gaunt has a look at the new obsession with Fantasy Football.
As Silva headed Manchester City ahead in their recent clash with Arsenal a loud cheer went up in the pub. Was I in a heavily partisan venue filled with sky blue shirts? No, it was the sound of people who had decided to make the little maestro their Fantasy Football captain that week, their decision had been vindicated. Similarly, others kept a keen eye on the other screen to see if Adebayor or Van der Vaart were going to show their true value. Surely at home against Sunderland was a banker for Fantasy points, you could almost hear people think. It seems no longer can you relax and watch a game for the pure enjoyment, it is now all about points. Read the rest of this entry
After Chelsea were pegged back by Wigan last night Tom Gaunt takes a look at some of the fundamental problems facing Chelsea and Andre Villas Boas.
As a Chelsea fan I have resisted the temptation to write about Chelsea and their woes this season. Plenty has been written and there is a fair chance that whatever I say will be somewhat biased. However after last nights draw away at relegation threatened Wigan I had a long hard think about what was going wrong and who or what was to blame. I will take a brief look at tactics like the high line, how Chelsea have pressed the ball and whether we are playing the right formation but I also want to examine the bigger picture to try to identify some major problems that cannot be solved by a bit of tweaking or a new number nine. Read the rest of this entry
Who really are the biggest team in England? Which team has the most history? Who has the worst fans? Tom Gaunt debates all of this and how fans try to decide amongst themselves.
I live in the UAE, a country which turns 40 next weekend. This is an extraordinary fact considering how much has been achieved in that time and the changes that have taken place. Their recent history is remarkable, but beyond that lies the tribal history of the country which is now almost unrecognizable but by no means forgotten. This got me thinking about one of football fans’ favourite taunts. The claim that an opposition club has “no history”. Now technically the UAE as a country has a limited history as it has been in existence for a fraction of the time of other nations but this argument doesn’t really apply with most football clubs, except perhaps MK Dons. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
I recently wrote about boo-boys, and whilst I would never boo Fernando Torres or wish him any ill fate I have become slightly fixated with his performances and the mixed reactions to them. In fact it seems the whole media world uses half their Chelsea match report to discuss how the misfiring Spaniard performed. So with this in mind I readily admit that my opinions on Torres may be slightly clouded, but nonetheless I will share them.
I watched last nights game against Bayer Leverkusen and thought Chelsea’s overall display, against a club who are no mugs, was solid if not spectacular. Daniel Sturridge sparkled and new boys Juan Mata and Raul Meireles looked full of ideas and energy. Torres however left me rolling my eyes and sighing as he was constantly knocked off the ball, mis-controlled and generally looked poor. He was unlucky of course, in the first few minutes his clever flick went so close to Meireles that the goal was rightly given offside, but it seems that since his arrival Torres has been plagued with ‘bad luck’. It is the sort of luck which Arsenal have had recently or it seems most relegated clubs are faced with, but it is not really luck when it carries over 20+ games. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Last season Daniel Sturridge terrorized the Arsenal defence and contributed to a home win which saw Arsenal’s slim title hopes disappear. The significance of this is that Sturridge at the time was a Chelsea player loaned out to Bolton for the second half of the season. I will not patronize you with how a loan works but it is important to note that any player loaned is ineligible to play against their parent club. This then poses a new question. Is it fair that the parent club does not have to face a potential match winner whilst their opponents do? I am all for teams reaping the benefits of a strong squad but when the player is ultimately playing for you with a different shirt on then I think there is something wrong. Daniel Sturridge is a perfect example of this. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Manchester City will shortly be parting company with arguably their star player – Carlos Tevez. In normal circumstances this would be greeted with outrage from fans – even if he was unhappy and potentially disruptive – and new concerns about whether the team can reach the heights of last season. However at City there is an air of calm. Most fans, whilst appreciating his contribution, are excited about the prospect of finding a replacement. The smart money is on Sergio Aguero who, if the rumor mill is to be trusted, sees Eastlands as his preferred destination. For Manchester City these are exciting times.
City may not have maximized their expenditure thus far, but qualifying for the Champions League is a huge step forward. There are obvious parallels between City and the Chelsea team of 2003/4, when Roman Abramovich first came into power. Chelsea steamrolled the league that year, and the following year too. I think City can potentially do the same. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
This article looks at the 10 most overrated players currently playing in the premiership. I am sure I have missed a few so please let me know and I will add to the honorable mention section at the end.
10. Tom Huddlestone
It is by virtue of Tom Huddlestone’s nominal transfer fee which prevents him being higher up the list. Though Spurs fans will tell you what a class act Tom Huddlestone is, I am not so sure what the fuss is about. He strokes the ball beautifully around the pitch and on occasion strikes the ball as sweet as anyone. However he doesn’t really do anything. He does not score many goals, so those sweet strikes obviously don’t find the net too often. As for his passing, the ability to switch the ball 40 yards from one side of the pitch to the other is very nice and pretty but does not always achieve a lot. I have seen very few occasions where he has created goal scoring opportunities and his assists record would back this up. He is not an attacking midfielder, nor a defensive midfielder and he certainly does not make up ground all over the pitch like Ramires or Park Ji-Sung – so what does he do to earn all this praise? Answers on a postcard please.
9. James Milner
Now, many of you will disagree with this selection. I will clarify that I am not saying Milner is not a good player, he is. He puts a shift in, has a great engine and loves a tackle, and at Villa scored a number of goals. However the fee of £26 million would suggest you get a little bit more than a good journeyman, but in my opinion this is all he is. He is a winger yet he cannot beat a man, he has no real pace, his crossing is OK but due to the former point he is never in a position to deliver dangerous balls. He has somehow become an England regular, in part due to the lack of competition which benefits the whole of our, frankly average squad, and also he is the safe option for a cautious manager scared to play expansive football. He has thrived on the notion that you get a solid performance from him. This is true but in a creative position you need creativity and he has none.
Following last weeks news that Liverpool had finally agreed a fee with Sunderland for the transfer of Jordan Henderson for the value of £20million (including David N’gog) – I felt compelled to try to understand how we as fans decide whether a player is actually “worth it” or not. With so many transfers of all shapes and sizes due to be taking place in the coming 12 weeks before the 2011/12 Premiership season kicks off, there will no doubt be plenty of heated debate amongst fans about who got ripped off, who got a steal and who just bought a dud… All before a ball is even kicked.
So who decides how much a player is worth? And how do we judge whether the price is “fair” or not? Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
On Saturday night we all witnessed a truly great performance by one of the great teams of the past decade, maybe even this century.
Whilst I don’t imagine that any current team, however well they played, could of beaten Barcelona in the kind of form they displayed on Saturday I also believe that they exposed the true ability of the Alex Ferguson’s current Manchester United squad.
Rather than recap in detail on why United lost on Saturday evening I will just touch on a few key points which highlight some areas which were not just tested but horribly exposed by the best team in the world. The first thing I noticed was the supreme confidence that most United teams have was not there. They looked nervous in possession and panicked whenever they were under pressure. I accept that Barcelona are a brilliant pressing side but it seemed that it was only the youth of Fabio da Silva and the class of Wayne Rooney that overcame this, the rest of the team looked like they were treading water. What it also showed was the lack of world class players in the starting line up. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Two months ago Chelsea were dead and buried scrapping to qualify for Champions League football. One of the most remarkable things was, that although he was the bookies favourite to lose his job Carlo Ancelotti somehow avoided the chop from the Russian oligarch famous for his long pockets and short patience.
Whether he was distracted jetting around the world brokering dodgy oil deals or whether he had just grown weary of sacking people, Abramovich, it seems, has given Carlo a second chance. His reward has been eight wins out of nine in the premiership and a gap of 15 points closing to just three. You would hope that this will help Abramovich see that sometimes stability and consistency go hand in hand and that knee jerk sackings are rarely a beneficial tactic, as he witnessed after mercilessly giving loyal soldier Ray Wilkins the elbow, but the bookies aren’t convinced. Ancelotti remarkably still sits up there with other regular favourites for the chop like Steve Keen, Gerard Houllier and Avram Grant (how they would love to have won 8 of their last 9 games). Read the rest of this entry