What is the point of pre-season?

Pre-season, huh, what is it good for? Well not preparation judging by the opening two rounds of Premier League football from 2016/17. All those tours, all those ‘tournaments’, the transfers and money spent and yet, the teams that have a settled starting line up at this point of the season are few and far between.

 

This had led to an underwhelming start, with competitors lumbering, slowly emerging from the cocoon of July, rather than exploding into life. Yes, there have been exciting new signings scoring (Zlatan!), new managers emoting (Conte) we’ve had villains (Costa) and late winners (Costa again), so why the sense that something is missing? Continue reading “What is the point of pre-season?”

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Can Arsene gun down the Foxes?

It’s official. The Fox hunting ban has been lifted as Claudio’s band of pizza chomping Leicester City superstars are no longer the surprise fun loving package of footballing idealism. They are the champions and people are going to treat them accordingly.

 

Last season, Arsene Wenger stood alone as a tactical genius. The Frenchman, so often lambasted for his apparent tactical stubbornness, was in a class of his own as the only manger to pick up 6pts against a Leicester City turning the footballing world on its head. Whilst this game isn’t a season breaker, after two lacklustre performances last weekend, both Ranieri and Wenger will know that a win here is imperative for early season momentum. Continue reading “Can Arsene gun down the Foxes?”

New Season, New Rules, Same Intolerable Behaviour?

On 24th July, the official Premier League twitter account (complete with new ‘visual identity) informed the world that there was ’20 days to go’ until the start of the 2016/17 season. While the rest of the country holds its collective breath and tightens its purse strings, there is an almost reassuring hubris in the way the juggernaut of the Premier League rolls ever onwards. Continue reading “New Season, New Rules, Same Intolerable Behaviour?”

How much is too much for a Premier League Centre Back?

£40m or £50 – how much is too much? That seems to be the question plaguing Pep Guardiola and the hierarchy at Manchester City in this summer’s second most tedious transfer saga.

 

It is surely one of the most decadent and carefree transfer windows in recent memory and the value of Stones; a player with undoubted ball-playing ability but who is unproven as a defender who can defend, is a key barometer of the spiralling fees that clubs are prepared while jostling for position in England’s top flight.  Continue reading “How much is too much for a Premier League Centre Back?”

JG’s Transfer Update Pt. 1

Now that the European Championships are over and we are still weeks away from the Premier League starting, the only exciting football news right now is the transfer window.

 

It is the time for promoted clubs to sign some players to help them stay up and challenge, time for mid table clubs to add some depth to their squad and time for top clubs to trim the fat and add some extra quality as they battle amongst one another for top spot.

 

We are still six weeks away from deadline day, so there will be no rushed last minute deals done just yet, but let’s take a look at what deals have already been done and what clubs should be looking for.

 

Note – these are not extensive transfers, just what I deem significant with regards to the club and their league and cup campaign this season. A comprehensive list can be found on – http://www.skysports.com/football/transfer-deals. All information is correct as of 14th July 2016.

Continue reading “JG’s Transfer Update Pt. 1”

Engand vs. Iceland Match Preview

Game of the Day: England vs. Iceland, Nice, 20:00

The round of 16 may have been a mixed bag so far, but there are lessons to be learned for England ahead of a potential banana skin against Iceland in Nice on Monday evening.

Teams seem to be tiring in the heat, but instead of trying to wear Iceland out over the course of the 90 minutes, Rooney et al would be best served going against the grain of the tournament to date and starting fast. If England can do something they haven’t managed so far and get an early goal, they will surely make life much easier for themselves and have a better chance of tying up the result without the need for extra time. Continue reading “Engand vs. Iceland Match Preview”

Group B Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Slovakia vs. England, Saint-Etienne, 20:00
Russia vs. Wales, Toulouse, 20:00

Standings
England – 4pts
Wales – 3pts
Slovakia – 3pts
Russia – 1pt

As Euro 2016 rolls into the final round of group fixtures there is both relief and sadness; it is quite the commitment to watch three live games per day and remain a functioning adult, but no 5pm game on Monday will leave an insurmountable void, filled only with local news, Home and Away and (gulp) The One Show. Then there is the entire lack of live games on Thursday and Friday; it’s almost like there is something more important than football happening instead? Continue reading “Group B Final Round Preview”

Group A Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Switzerland vs. France, Lille, 20:00
Romania vs. Albania, Lyon, 20:00

Standings
France – 6pts
Switzerland – 4pts
Romania – 1pt
Albania – 0pts

Just like that, we are at the beginning of the end for the group stages of Euro 2016 and what a tournament so far. The tournament may not be bursting at the seams with goals but goals don’t always lead to excitement as Spain proved in their demolition of Turkey.

France have somewhat become the late goal specialists. In a tournament where late goals have come to characterise this championship, it seems only fitting that the hosts themselves have mastered the last gasp winner.

Whether it was Dimitri Payet’s worldie of a goal in the 89th minute against Romania or Antoine Griezmann coming off the bench to break the deadlock against Albania at the death, any tournament needs the hosts to perform and France are duly injecting their own championships with excitement. Continue reading “Group A Final Round Preview”

Is England vs. Wales a must win game for Roy Hodgson?

Game of the Day: England vs Wales, Lens, 14:00

Two games left. Three teams qualify from the group. It sounds easy enough? But after Slovakia’s defeat of Russia yesterday, has England’s game against Wales become ‘must win’?

Slovakia’s 2-1 victory over Russia on Wednesday really has changed the complexion of Group B. If England fail to beat Gareth Bale and co in Lens, England will see themselves at best in third place going into the final round of games and whilst a win against Slovakia will basically guarantee qualification, a third place finish will see possibly a round of 16 tie against potentially the likes of France or even Spain. Such an outcome will be an unmitigated disaster of a campaign for Roy and Wayne as this is a group they should so easily of dominated. Continue reading “Is England vs. Wales a must win game for Roy Hodgson?”

It’s a box office slot as England kick-off Euro campaign

Game of the Day: England vs. Russia, Marseille, 20:00

You can be unbeaten in 32 games but if they don’t mean anything then what’s the point. England have had a lovely little run of results but now it’s time to bring your game faces, switch on the style and for Roy Hodgson, continue this positive upwards trend we find England on at the moment.

Normally England go into a tournament (at least since the first real tournament I remember – France ’98) with a burden, an expectation that we will put any side we play to the sword as we prove once and for all that we are the best at this fine game. It never happens. Especially in 2008 where England didn’t even get to the bit of the tournament where you win the trophy.

Yet Euro 2016 seems different. Firstly, no one really thinks that we are going to win the thing and secondly, England actually have quite a good squad. So what better way to ramp up tournament expectations than England playing at 20.00 on a Saturday night? It’s prime time baby! Continue reading “It’s a box office slot as England kick-off Euro campaign”