Premier League: Top to Bottom (part two)
- By Football Burp
Football Burp continues to eye the Premier League up and down like some nightclub honey, collating supporter opinion and offering it up in a deluxe four-part package…
General mood: Pretty hacked off after a dismal second half showing allowed newly-promoted Norwich City to grab a point at Anfield on Saturday. Realisation, if not quite acceptance, seeping in that 4th is most likely as good as it gets for the Reds nowadays.
Reasons to celebrate: Created more than enough chances to have won the game on another day. Luis Suarez remains in wonderful form, even if he did fail to score with eleven shots on Norwich’s goal.
Causes for concern: Suarez and Jose Enrique aside, expensive recent signings have not performed. Defence continues to sit too deep to make up for Jamie Carragher’s reduced pace, leaving big gaps between the midfield and back four.
Sample message board quotes: “Carragher has lost a step which means that no matter how well he anticipates a situation he may still fall short because he doesn’t have the physical ability anymore to execute defensively. The game I knew he had begun his decline was west ham away 0910. Their winger had run at Carra and tried to beat him at the byline. Carra stayed with him and was in what seemed like a good position to successfully make a challenge. He went in with his patented strong shoulder barge but he was half a step late and got the wingers in the back instead of the shoulder resulting in a penalty.” – new-red, www.redandwhitekop.com
“I honestly think the extent of criticism aimed at Kenny (and the side) is that the team isn’t putting away chances despite creating numerous ones, that the team is conceding goals despite the opposition not creating many opportunities to do so, that some of his team selections and more so his substitutions don’t appear to make sense or at very least they leave people questioning the reasoning behind these changes, that (despite it still being pretty early in the season) our new signings have been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of how successful they have been, and finally that all of these factors are contributing to a loss of points and people are looking for reasons why this is the case.” – FIOS, forums.liverpoolfc.tv
General mood: Relieved to be gradually climbing back up the table, realisation setting in that some may have panicked unduly with regards the Gunners’ prospects this season. Nice to give bogey team Stoke City a bit of a going over.
Reasons to celebrate: Robin van Persie is still amazing and appears keen to stay. Gervinho stepped up a notch with a brilliant performance against the Potters. Defence looking much more solid and Thomas Vermaelen’s return to fitness poses the nice-problem-to-have of who to drop out of Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesacker – or perhaps Arsene Wenger will make the Belgian wait to stake his claim. Much better performance from Aaron Ramsey. Seem to have finally found a goalkeeper worthy of the name, even if it is one that has to be copy/pasted.
Causes for concern: The knowledge that an injury to van Persie – which history would suggest to be inevitable – would leave them badly lacking up front. Marouane Chamakh shows no signs of stepping up to life in the Premier League. Theo Walcott’s form remains somewhat dreadful. Andrey Arshavin still not living up to initial expectations.
Sample message board quotes: “Kos has been playing really well the past few games and I have to say I’m really impressed. He’s been strong, sure in the tackle and his reading of the game has been top-knotch. Hands down better than Per at this time.” – law90026, arsenal-mania.com
“Arshavin is still to this day a good signing and he’s definitely not ‘slow’, lacks stamina maybe but until now he hasn’t been short of pace. Not only revitalized the club to finish that season strongly but has clearly contributed to the squad ever since, despite his frustrating performances. Put it this way, at the time we got him we signed a world class player and he’s peaked with us. I’d welcome more semi-marquee signings like that, sometimes you need a short-term drive coupled with a long-term backbone to formulate success and Arshavin is an example of that short-term drive and long-term backbone could include the likes of Van Persie, Song, Wilshere, Vermaelen, Sagna, Szczesny etc. Too bad we’re losing players in their prime these days.” – Hassan, onlinearsenal.com
8. Norwich City
General mood: Buzzing after a spirited second-half showing at Anfield earned the Canaries a very creditable point and extended a very creditable start to life back in the Premier League. Paul Lambert is starting to cement his reputation as the best young manager in Britain.
Reasons to celebrate: Wes Hoolahan excelling at Premier League level. John Ruddy starting to look like an established Premier League goalkeeper. £400,000 Grant Holt resoundingly outshone £35 million Andy Carroll. In 8th place having already had trips to Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and Anfield. Could go up to 6th with a win at home to bottom-placed Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Causes for concern: Some uncertain defending led to a lot of chances for Liverpool and were lucky that their opponents hit the woodwork three times. Passing wasn’t up to the side’s usual standard.
Sample message board quotes: “i wasn`t convinced [at first] by Ruddy. He sometimes have a rush of blood but he is young so that can be improved. Bit like russell martin that 1st season he was very poor. But totally turned it around last season and is now a great asset to the club.” – RATPACK, www.norwich.vitalfootball.co.uk
“Im incredibly happy with the point and how we battled however i feel we were lucky today. I agree with midfield problems too center mid apart from wes didnt get any control in the middle of the park. Not sure still on johnson although we have all this talk of england call up not sure hes that level if im honest. saying that england are *** and he is probably alot better then most of them. Lots of heart and battling i hope we keep it up. Have to win next week.” – Better Wizard, services.pinkun.com
9. Stoke City
General mood: 3-1 defeat at Arsenal served as a reality check – the Potters have come far but still have some way to go. Questions raised again about how Tony Pulis sets the side up away from home.
Reasons to celebrate: Still in the top half. Were very much in the game until van Persie came off the bench for Arsenal. Matthew Upson has made a strong start to his Potters career.
Causes for concern: No sign of improvement in away form. Continued non-selection of Robert Huth in the starting line-up suggests he’s off in January.
Sample message board quotes: “We played very negatively and as the game progressed we got more and more negative. Whether or not Arsenal would have scored 3 without RVP is not really the arguement. We are good enough, with the right selection to have had a go today. Instead we gift wrapped them 3 points with a bloody big bow and sent Salif Diao on to seal the deal.” – MrMagic, oatcakefanzine.proboards.com
“I don’t think we were so bad yesterday though. One player came on for them and changed the game. I do admit though Salif should never have been near that game yesterday. We had the balance right until they scored. If we attacked them they would have ripped us a new one and if we defended to deep the same would have happened. Unfortunately we ended up to deep. We need more cover on the wings and a better option for left back and I think we can start to attack more away from home.” – Stafford-Stokie, oatcakefanzine.proboards.com
10. Queens Park Rangers
General mood: Celebratory – no matter what the circumstances, QPR beating Chelsea will always go down a treat amongst the Loftus Road faithful. Tempered however by an unconvincing performance and the knowledge that Chelsea aren’t the force they were.
Reasons to celebrate: Biggest result of the season so far and one that moves the Rs into the top half of the table. Strong defensive showing, particularly from Anton Ferdinand and Clint Hill. Fantastic atmosphere generated by the supporters may well have contributed significantly to the win.
Causes for concern: Poor second-half showing against nine men.Petulant reaction from Adel Taraabt when Heidar Helguson took the penalty instead.
Sample message board quotes: “What got them rattled was them being down to 9 men for more than half the game. Did the fans play a part in the sendings off? Possibly. I think they might have won it with 10. Playing with 9 men is a massive disadvantage we really should have scored at least a couple more. The amount of chances they had was ridiculous as much as I loved the win I don’t take any confidence from it at all for the rest of the season.” – hammersmith_hoop, www.qprdot.org
“Magic day for the Rs. The crowd helped win it for us, it was deafening in South Africa Road – we coldnt hear Chelsea at all, even though we could see them singing. This one will live in my memory for a long time. Barton, Faurlin, Derry – they all fought like Lions” – gthompson66, qprreport.proboards.com