Sunday, 29 May 2011

Andrea Pirlo – A true legend of the game

There is current wave of euphoria in the red half of the great City of Milan this summer. The fans of the Rossoneri are currently basking in the glory of their clubs first Scudetto since 2004. Their most famous fan Silvio Berlusconi will of course be buoyed by this joyous season and will carry a great big Colgate smile into his campaign for re-election as Italy’s Prime minister. As we all know when Silvio Berlusconi smiles the sun shines in Italy.

However in AC Milan’s final training session of the season there was an air of sadness. Tears were being shed all round by the new Champions of Italy.

When grown men such as Filippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso are wiping their moist eyes it is for a very good reason. The reason is the training session was also a fair well to Andrea Pirlo. He announced his departure from the San Siro on the 18th of May and we now know he will join Juventus. His team mates applauded him, they were all itching to hug him and console the man who had been such a leader for them on the pitch. Inzaghi threw a comforting arm around his team mate and walked with him as he left the training pitch for the last time, sobbing into his hand as he did it.

There was no doubt it was an emotional day in the Milan camp. The departure of Andrea Pirlo signals a new beginning for AC Milan and draws the curtain on an era which saw the Rossoneri reach 3 Champions League finals in 5 years becoming European Champions twice. Today is very much the day of Barcelona, they are the new dynasty of Europe. They are the side that we all admire and are never surprised to see in the Champions League final.

From the 2002/03 season to the 2006/07 season however, that team was AC Milan. Whilst the strikers in that time changed frequently featuring the likes of Shevchenko, Crespo, Inzaghi and Tomasson the midfield was consistent throughout. Milan adopted a diamond shape with Gattuso as the aggressive holding midfielder, Seedorf the smooth passer that would use his wit to beat many a defender. Kaka at the head behind the strikers, running at defenders and scoring goals that will live in the memory forever and of course the man who pulled the strings of everything Milan did: Andrea Pirlo.

Pirlo symbolised the Milan side of this time, passing the ball round with seeming ease, always finding a team mate and jogging about the pitch as if he owned it. As all great midfielders do, he chipped in with a goal every now and then. Often from a dead ball situation, he was the master at scoring a free kick to the left of the box between 20 and 25 yards from the goal. Pirlo was what Xavi is for Barcelona right now. The Italian’s stats indicate this too.

During the 02/03 season, in which AC Milan won the Champions League. Pirlo completed an amazing 2093 passes. A stat which averages 90 successful passes per game. In the season of their next European triumph (06/07) Pirlo spent a staggering 2782 minutes on the pitch, the most of any Milan player that season. That along with the 32 goals in 284 appearances earned Andrea the nick name: The Metronome.

Now at the tender age of 32 and with the emergence of a new generation of Milan midfielders (the likes of Flamini, Boateng, Van Bommel etc.) Andrea has called it a day with the side he joined in 2001. It has been a magnificent 10 years which will earn him his place in Milan folklore along with the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Marko Van Basten, Cesare and Paolo Maldini, Frank Rijkaard and Filippo Inzaghi.

The term ‘legend of the game’ may be thrown about a little too much these days. But I very much doubt anybody will disagree with you when using the term with Andrea Pirlo.

Juventus, you don’t know how lucky you are.


by Kevin Leonard, you can follow him on his Twitter - @megatronSTALIN, Kevin regularly writes for Away Goals too. Link


Things you may like to read

Is there a right or wrong way to play football? - http://tiny.cc/fhro0

How Rafa Benitez is intelligently using the media to increase his chances of getting a job - http://tiny.cc/m9p4i

Jose Mourinho, the ultimate manager? Or the ultimate journey man? - http://tiny.cc/gkzsh

Friday, 27 May 2011

Why Barcelona must win the Champions League on Saturday

To many football fans, Barcelona have been the best team on the planet by far. They have out played, out scored and mastered their opponents. It is no surprise that this special Barcelona side find themselves in yet another Champions League final.

The trophies Barcelona have accumulated in the past few seasons symbolise the level of dominance this team possess. In the past three seasons, they have consecutively won the La Liga. This is an incredibly impressive feat, especially since Real Madrid spend millions each year.

Furthermore, Barcelona have some of the best players in the world at their disposal. In this season’s Ballon d’Or, three of Barcelona players made the top three. Messi won the award, with Iniesta as the runner up, and Xavi in third place. This demonstrates the world class nature within the Barcelona’s squad.

Along with this, many of the Barcelona side have already won the Champions League and have even won the World Cup. In fact, eight Barcelona’s players have won the World Cup. This proves not only have some of the team members dominated club football, they have conquered international football too.

Some argue, the 5-0 hammering of Real Madrid in November, was proof that this team is one of the greatest 11 to ever grace a football pitch. This is debatable. But at the same time, one could thoroughly agree with this statement. After all, Barcelona dispatched some of the world’s toughest opponents with ease.

But if Barcelona want to cement the notion that they are the greatest ever, they have to win even more European silverware. This will prove that not only did the team dominate domestically, they dominated internationally, and the trophies in the cabinet prove it.

To be fair, Barcelona have been relatively successful in Europe in the past few years. This cannot be denied. After all, it was only two years ago since the team last picked up the European cup. But if this Barcelona side want to be the standout side of this era, they need even more European Cups. They need to be a band apart from their current rivals.

At the moment, Barcelona have only won three European Cup’s in their history. If this great Barcelona side want to prove their significance and dominance they need to join the elite European Clubs. The likes of Liverpool, AC Milan and Real Madrid: teams who have won the European Cup 5 times or more. The winning Champions League sides of Milan, Madrid and Liverpool are remembered because their great teams left an international legacy. Barcelona must leave an international legacy too.

It’s fair to say Barcelona are going through their glory days. They have unbelievable talent at their disposal and are winning major trophies yearly. But international dominance is incredibly hard to sustain. It takes a seriously great team to maintain European dominance. It’s no surprise it’s been 22 years since a team retained their European Cup.

But this gives even more ammunition to why Barcelona must capitalise on their current glory. It is incredibly tough to continually defend and challenge for the European cup. If Barcelona can capitalise on their European success, they will easily be viewed as one of the greatest teams ever.

Barcelona is a special club. They have the players, the fan base, the manager, the lovely football strategy. But if they are to bolster the notion that they are the greatest team ever, they must reinforce their dominance onto Europe more consistently.

This current Barcelona team needs to make this club an elite member of European Football.

They need sustain their dominance and put this club on par with Madrid, Liverpool and Milan.

Saturday the 28th of May provides a great opportunity for this great Barcelona side to further reinforce their legacy.

History will tell you, European dominance is only for the greatest teams.


Things you may like to read

Review Football - Some articles from around the globe which will get you into the Champions League final mood - http://tiny.cc/kmvyt

Why Man United need to quickly find a replacement for Paul Scholes - http://tiny.cc/45nlj

Is there a right or wrong way to play football? - http://tiny.cc/fhro0

ReviewFootball – Some great articles which will get you into the Champions League mood

The Champions League final looms ahead, all eyes are on Man United and Barcelona. Here are some of the best articles we have found on the net regarding the big match tomorrow.

How do Manchester United beat Barcelona by Jamie Lindsay

This a really interesting and in-depth piece on how Man United could rule over Barcelona. This piece is structured well and successfully highlights the strengths and weaknesses of Barcelona.

Here is the piece - http://tiny.cc/fn9eu

Sergio Busquets – the unsung hero of Barcelona’s supreme dominance - by ManUtd24

A great piece about a fantastic player. This piece shows the positives and crucial attributes of Busquets. Along with the use of diagrams the article uses statistical evidence to emphasise the brilliance of Busquets. To top this piece off, the writer also finds fantastic quotes to further compliment the player.

Read the piece here - http://tiny.cc/lm78a

The Manchester United XI for the Champions League final? – by Justin Mottershead

This is a really smart piece, it’s very funny too. The post is written from the Man United player’s perspectives. The writer comments on what each Man United player would say to Sir Alex Ferguson in order to justify why they should be picked for the final. It’s a brilliant and unique piece.

Take a look here - http://tiny.cc/3mjbq

Lessons from the 2009 final – by Michael Cox

Zonal Marking dissects the 2009 Champions League final. He highlights where Man United went wrong and where Barcelona was successful. The piece is structured well and is clear to understand. This piece effectively evaluates that night in Rome and it’s a must read for all.

Here it is - http://tiny.cc/2ge51

Follow the ReviewFootball Twitter page – This page will have links to the best football articles on the net.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Why Arsene is for Arsenal


Another season passes by and Arsenal have yet again failed to win a trophy. Perhaps this season marked their golden opportunity.

For some Arsenal fans, the league cup final defeat was the beginning of the end for Arsene Wenger. Some fans have lost their patience and faith towards Wenger.

But the Arsenal fans who are adamant that Wenger ought to be shown the door, should be very wary.

When talking about Arsene Wenger, it’s easy to talk about the past. Due to the glory days, such as the team of invincibles and what have you. But if I talk about that, this post will go on forever. But you don’t need to be an expert in football to know Wenger has been crucial to Arsenal’s success.

For me, Arsene Wenger is a managerial genius. But he is by no means a perfect manager. There clearly are flaws in his managerial style and approach. But he possesses many invaluable attributes.

A problem with Arsene Wenger’s managerial approach is that he is extremely hesitant in spending big. Perhaps, when he has spent big, it has not been incredibly successful for him. Jose Antonio Reyes is a prime example.

However, 5 years later, Wenger spent £10 million on Thomas Vermaelen. During his first season at Arsenal he was outstanding. He provided the team asrrueance at the back. While going forward he quickly developed a reputation of being a goal scoring centre back.

However, the irony is that Arsene Wenger has a fantastic skill in buying well.

The signing of Thomas Vermaelen epitomises this fantastic skill. Prior to the defenders move to Arsenal. He was relatively unknown to most football fans in England. Whilst those who were aware of Thomas Vermaelen, they were surprised Wenger signed the player. This is because the player was predominantly a left back during his Ajax days. But fast forward to 2011. The player is now viewed as one Europe’s best centre backs.

There aren’t many mangers in Europe, let alone the world who can consistently make good buys like Arsene Wenger. A crucial asset which Wenger provides to Arsenal is the ability to buy players for a relatively low price, before then selling the player for a much higher price. In a world, where the economics of football are becoming ever more present. It’s crucial that the team can consistently make profits. Which Wenger has made possible for Arsenal.

Even though Arsenal have been trophy barren for the past 6 years. One thing the Arsenal fans cling onto, is the team’s style of play. One may argue, Arsenal are the best passing team in the Premier League. The Gunners fans enjoy the admiration from others when their team is praised for passing their opponents to death. In recent times, this has been one of the few pleasures which the Arsenal fans get in supporting their team. There are no guarantees that Arsene Wenger’s potential successor will want to carry on playing in Wenger’s style and approach.

Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for 15 years. Those who demand that Wenger should leave they must seriously consider this fact.

Wenger has brought and mentored every single Arsenal player in the first team. This in its self has consequences for Wenger’s successor. The players clearly see Wenger as a father figure, An individual whom the players have faith and trust in. So will the players have the same respect and faith in Wenger’s successor?

Perhaps one would expect a number of Arsenal players to be sold. Some Arsenal players may feel they do not want to be part of the new Arsenal project under the new manager. There would also be numerous backroom changes too. This would put the club in a position of transition. But like most transition periods in football, they take time and patience.

And this would further prolong Arsenal’s trophy drought.

But if the club stick with Arsene Wenger, he already has the support and confidence of the players.Wenger’s infrastructure has proved year after year to be productive in keeping the squad competitive in the Premier League and Europe.

Although Arsenal’s season should be regarded as a failure. Arsene Wenger continues to provide consistency at Arsenal. The team have consecutively made the top four in the past 14 seasons. It’s this consistency that has transformed Arsenal into a great team. If you look at the competitive nature of the Premier League, this is a fantastic achievement. Consistency is yet another invaluable skill Arsene Wenger possesses.

Wenger is a great manager. But there is no doubt. He needs to change.

I ask one question to the Arsenal fans who feel Arsene Wenger should leave.

Who would replace him? Would this have better or worse consequences for Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger is Arsenal’s most successful manager. If there is ANY man who can lead this team to glory.

It’s him.


This article, Why Arsene is for Arsenal was first published on Technorati.

Things you may like to read

Why Arsenal's complacency and lack of professionalism has seriously hindered their chances this season - http://tiny.cc/y1tgc

Just how good is Gary Cahill? - http://tiny.cc/jpccx

Why the League Cup still holds importance in the English game - http://tiny.cc/hm55f

Friday, 20 May 2011

Premier League predictions 22/06

It’s the final Premier League week. But, there is still plenty to fight for. The relegation spots are by no means a done deal. Birmingham, Wolves, Wigan, Blackpool, and Blackburn could all join West Ham in the Championship next season.

This week, our predictors are, James Taylor and Liam Blackburn.

Fixture

Ibby Akkas prediction

James Taylor prediction

Liam Blackburn prediction

Actual Result

Aston Villa v Liverpool

1-2

1-1

1-1

1-0

Bolton v Man City

1-1

1-2

1-3

0-2

Everton v Chelsea

3-2

1-1

0-0

1-0

Fulham v Arsenal

1-1

2-1

1-2

2-2

Man United v Blackpool

3-1

2-0

2-0

4-2

Newcastle v West Brom

2-1

1-1

3-1

3-3

Stoke v Wigan

2-1

2-2

1-1

0-1

Tottenham v Birmingham

1-0

2-0

1-0

2-1

West Ham v Sunderland

2-1

2-1

0-1

0-3

Wolves v Blackburn

2-0

1-0

2-2

2-3

Total Correct Scores

Correct Results - 4

Perfect Results - 0

Correct Results - 4

Perfect Results - 0

Correct Results - 4

Perfect Results - 0




The Results

James Taylor - 4 Points

Liam Blackburn - 4 Points

Ibby Akkas - 4 Points

The Point System

Correct Result = 1 point

Perfect Result = 3 points


You can follow James Taylor on his Twitter - @James11Taylor

Take a look at his blog too - bringingthegameintodisrepute.wordpress.com

Our other predictor is on Twitter too - @liamblackburn

His blog is definitely worth read as well! - samenamedifferentgames.wordpress.com



Things you may like to read

Premier League relegation predictions - http://tiny.cc/y943d

Stoke City – The symbol of progression - http://tiny.cc/azbvf

Why it’s only right Kenny Dalglish got the Liverpool job - http://tiny.cc/ttj43

Proud Holloway blasts FA chiefs - Video

Ian Holloway is a great speaker. He speaks his mind and he speaks sense. It's no surprise that many football fans relate to Ian Holloway. They see him as an advocate for the game. He is someone who views the game like the fans and someone who views the game with common sense.

Here is Holloway's pre Man United press conference. Its yet another brilliant Ian Holloway press conference.



Things you may like to read

Stoke City – The symbol of progression - http://tiny.cc/azbvf

Why it’s only right Kenny Dalglish got the Liverpool job - http://tiny.cc/ttj43

Why its a disgrace Blackpool have been fined for fielding a 'weakened team' - http://tiny.cc/awlpn

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Premier League Relegation Predictions

Relegation’ is the word on everyone’s lips ahead of the Premier League finale. Wolves, Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan could all join West Ham in the Championship next season. Perhaps, this is the most hotly contested relegation battle the Premier League has ever seen.

Here are my predictions for the final Premier League games of the season.

Man United v Blackpool

Man United will probably field a relatively weakened side against Blackpool. Its clear Sir Alex Ferguson will want to protect his key players ahead of the European Cup final against Barcelona.

To some, this may provide a chance for Blackpool. Perhaps it does. But Man United’s ‘weakened side’ is still a very good side. One must consider the second leg of this year’s Champions League the semi final. Man United played a rotated side against Schalke. That side smashed Schalke 4-1.

Furthermore, Man United have a formidable home record this season. In the Premier League, they have a 94% winning ratio at home. That is sensational. In fact, it’s the joint highest winning ratio in Premier League history. (Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the (2005/06) also had a 94% winning ratio.) So, Man United at home, even with a weakened side will be incredibly difficult for Blackpool.

Prediction: 3-1

Stoke v Wigan

This is a really tough game for Wigan. The Lactics may be coming into some form, as they are unbeaten in their last three matches. But Stoke will be up for this game. Stoke may be in Europe and are in a relatively pleasing mid table position. But, Stoke have just come off the back of two defeats against Man City and one of those results include a FA Cup Final defeat.

The severe bad news for Wigan is that, Stoke coming into this game are unbeaten in their last 8 home games. Furthermore, because Stoke have just been beaten by Man City in the final. You would expect Stoke to come out and give a real strong performance for their fans, seeing it’s their last home game of the season too.

If Stoke are seriously driven to win, as I expect they will be, I think Wigan will have little chance of getting something out of this game.

Prediction: 2-1

Tottenham v Birmingham City

This is an odd game. It’s odd simply because its depends on how Tottenham play. There’s a lot of speculation that Tottenham are not interested in the Europa League. So they may not turn up against Birmingham City. I would have to disagree. Harry Redknapp is aware that European football is better than no European football. Furthermore, Redknapp knows that being in Europe could be a crucial aspect to whether he can sign top stars in the summer.

It’s clear Birmingham City have had a poor season at home. Their form in the final third of the season has been woeful. Birmingham have not won their last 5 games at home. To make things worse, Birmingham also haven’t won in their last 6 away games. It’s hardly, the most inspiring form ahead of a tough match against a Tottenham side, who have been unbeaten in their last 16 home games.

However, there is a glimpse of hope for Birmingham City. Tottenham have not won their last three home games.

I think it will be a close game, but Spurs will edge it.

Prediction: 1-0

Wolves v Blackburn

This game is a massive opportunity for both teams to confirm their Premier League status for next season. Both sides find themselves level with 40 points. Both teams are also unbeaten in their last three games. It’s going to be a really close game. I Have a feeling it will be the game of the weekend.

But Wolves are at home. This will play a crucial aspect in this fixture. Furthermore, Wolves will feel they have more momentum coming into this game especially after the team beat Sunderland away last weekend.

However, what will further motivate the Wolves players is that Blackburn have a 17% winning ratio away from home this season. It’s a shocking stat for Blackburn. In addition to this, Blackburn haven’t won in their last 8 games away games.

Wolves are the favourites for this game. Their last result saw them win and Mick McCarthy will be demanding Wolves finish the job off at home.

But as we know, relegation candidates are incredibly inconsistent. So anything is possible.

But I’m going for a home win.

Prediction: 2-0

So, here is how my predictions will leave the foot of Premier League standing.

If my predictions are correct, Blackpool and Wigan are the two teams who will go down. But what visibly stands out is that the two teams who go down along with West Ham, they go down due to their goal difference.

Even if my predictions are incorrect, I firmly believe the goal difference statistic will play a massive role in a team’s fate to whether they stay in this division.

It will most certainly be an incredibly tight ending to the Premier League season.

If you’re curious about how my weekend predictions will leave the Premier League standing. Here it is below.

Things you may like to read

Stoke City – The symbol of progression - http://tiny.cc/azbvf

Why it’s only right Kenny Dalglish got the Liverpool job - http://tiny.cc/ttj43

Just how good is Gary Cahill? - http://tiny.cc/jpccx

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Why it’s only right Kenny Dalglish got the Liverpool job


‘If there is one word in our language that depicts Liverpool FC, its stability. We do not like change for changes sake.’
These were the wise words of former Liverpool Chairmen Sir John Smith. He was the chairmen who appointed Bob Paisley as Liverpool manager. In the last few years, Liverpool have lost that stability.

For the past 18 months, the club has been viciously rocking from one side to another.

But King Kenny Dalglish has come back to the club and he has stabilised Liverpool.

Liverpool’s Managing Director Ian Arye stated, ‘It was an easy decision in the sense that there was never any other candidate.’ This is hardly surprising. Dalglish has fully deserved the job full time. His impact on the club has been phenomenal. The results and the form tables back this too.

Since taking over in January, Liverpool have won 10 out of 16 Premier League games. Perhaps, to some that doesn’t sound that amazing. But take a look at Roy Hodgson Premier League record for Liverpool.

Games Played
Won
Draw
Lost
GF
GA
GD
Winning Ratio
Points
21
7
4
9
23
27
-4
33%
25

Now, take a look at Kenny Dalglish’s Premier League record since taking over.

Games Played
Won
Draw
Lost
GF
GA
GD
Winning Ratio
Points
16
10
3
3
35
14
20
62%
33 points

There clearly is a massive change in form since Dalglish took over. These facts are clear evidence of the positive impact Kenny Dalglish has made. Liverpool’s winning ratio almost doubles, this emphasises the substantial change in fortunes of the side.

Furthermore, when Dalglish took over the side, the team were out of form and bereft of confidence. Yet, under Dalglish, the team have only lost three times in the league. Whereas, under Hodgson, Liverpool lost 9 times.

Kenny Dalglish has been the catalyst to Liverpool’s revival.
Over the past 18 months, Liverpool have been erratic on the road. One could argue, Roy Hodgson lost his job because of his Liverpool’s terrible away form. But Dalglish has made Liverpool far more efficient on the road.

The stats prove this too.

Here is Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool away Premier League record.

Games Played
Won
Draw
Lost
GF
GA
GD
Winning Ratio
Points
10
1
2
7
7
19
-12
10%
5 points

Now, take a look at Kenny Dalglish’s Premier League away record.

Games Played
Won
Draw
Lost
GF
GA
GD
Winning Ratio
Points
7
4
1
3
15
10
5
57%
13 points

It’s evident. The away form has dramatically improved. The stats prove it. Perhaps, Liverpool’s away record under Dalglish has been one of the brightest aspects of his return to Liverpool. Under Hodgson, Liverpool’s away record was of the standard of a relegation candidate. Whereas under Dalglish, Liverpool’s away record is of the standard of a title candidate. The team have scored more and conceded less on the road under Dalglish.

To emphasise Liverpool’s fantastic away record under Dalglish, here is Man United’s away record in the past 7 Premier League games.

Games Played
Won
Draw
Lost
GF
GA
GD
Winning Ratio
Points
7
2
1
4
11
10
1
28%
7 Points

In the past seven away games, Liverpool have gained more points than Man United. They have also won far more games than Man United in the past 7 away games too. This demonstrates the impact Kenny Dalglish has had on the club.

Not only have Liverpool been decent on the road. They have picked up some very good wins too. Take the results against both Manchester sides at Anfield. In both games, Liverpool played both sides off the park. Furthermore, Liverpool have hammered a few sides too. The 5-0 drubbing of Birmingham City comes to mind.

Under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool have developed momentum and a growing confidence. It was vividly clear last season and at the start of this season, the team lacked confidence. But Dalglish has galvanised the players.

Many players have gained far more confidence whilst under Dalglish. Maxi is a prime example. His form since returning to the side has been nothing short of sensational. 7 goals in three games is incredible. While Dirk Kuyt is enjoying the form of his Liverpool life. Kuyt has scored 13 Premier League goals this season. The most he has ever scored in the league for Liverpool.

However, Dalglish has faced some tough issues during his short stint as temporary boss. The sale of Fernando Torres was perhaps the toughest situation. But Dalglish in his interviews and attitude reacted defiantly. In fact, he set the standard.

Dalglish continually emphasised the importance that ‘the club was bigger than any individual.’ In addition, Dalglish reinstated that Liverpool do not want players who do not want to be at the club.

This no-nonsense approach unified the players and the supporters. They believed in his words. For the first time in a long time, there was trust at Anfield.

There was no real mourning over the sale of Fernando Torres. Liverpool’s new signings assisted Liverpool getting over Torres. The signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll gave the Kop new hope and fresh optimism. It seems with every game, Liverpool are more unified and ever more confident. The late late draw at Arsenal is a definite example of this.

Kenny Dalglish symbolises Liverpool Football Club. He symbolises everything that is positive about the club. He symbolises the unification, the confidence and the glory days of the past.

The simple facts prove Kenny Dalgish’s immense impact on the team. When Dalglish returned in January, the team were 4 points away from the relegation zone. Now the club find themselves 22 points away from the relegation zone and in a European position.

Sir John Smith said ‘stability’ defines Liverpool Football Club.

Kenny Dalglish has achieved that and more.

It’s only right he can finish off the brilliant job he has started.




Things you may like to read

How Rafa Benitez is intelligently using the media to increase his chances of getting a job - http://tiny.cc/m9p4i


Why Emile Heskey's Premier League days should be all but over - http://tiny.cc/yu9u7

Just how good is Gary Cahill? - http://tiny.cc/jpccx

NOTE: This article was published on Thursday, but Blogger had server issues and accidently deleted!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why Emile Heskey’s Premier League days should be all but over

Let’s start with an astonishing fact. Emile Heskey has made the sixth most appearances in Premier League history. Yes it’s true. Heskey has made 487 Premier League appearances.

That’s more than Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher, Andy Cole and Steven Gerrard. It’s crazy. Heskey has made more appearances than many Premier League greats. Yet, most Premier League supporters would say, ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ to the idea of Emile Heskey joining their team.

Perhaps, most supporters find this statistic alarming because Heskey doesn’t score many goals, nor does he contribute that substantially in comparison to other strikers.

But it’s fair to say, Heskey does contribute, in a rather unfashionable yet crucial way. Emile Heskey’s main attributes such as his: strength, work ethic, and unselfishness. These are all attributes which have appealed to various managers.

Furthermore, Heskey’s ability to develop an understanding with his fellow strikers, have also been a contributing reason to why he is often favoured by many managers.

Take his strike-partnership with Michael Owen. Arguably, Heskey’s presence helped bring out the best in Michael Owen during his Liverpool and England days.

But the cruel fact is Emile Heskey is a striker. His job is to score goals. Heskey’s goal scoring rate is incredibly disturbing. Perhaps, fans have a right to question his goal scoring prowess. After all, it’s terrible.

His England goal scoring record epitomises this. In 62 appearances for England, he has only scored 8 goals. That’s a goal every 8 games.

Even in club football, Heskey’s goal scoring has been woeful.

Emile Heskey joined Aston Villa in 2009. Since his move he has only scored 8 Premier League goals. In fact, this season, he has only scored 3 Premier League goals. Liam Ridgewell, the Birmingham City centre back has scored more Premier League goals (4) than Heskey. But in Heskey’s defence, he has had had an injury ridden season. But even so. His goal scoring record is not inspiring. It’s unsettling for Aston Villa fans.

But what’s more odd about Heskey’s goal scoring form, is that it’s been poor for a number of years. Since the 2006-07 season, Emile Heskey has never scored more than 10 goals in all competitions. That’s 6 years without reaching 10 goals in a season. Yet, Heskey was taken to the 2010 World Cup and played in a number of crucial games. It almost defies logic. He is a striker, who can not score. But he is still representing England in Football’s biggest competition.

Emile Heskey’s poor goal scoring record begs one question. Is he still a competent Premier League striker? Or has he served his purpose in the Premier League?

To be fair, one must note, Emile Heskey is 33. Perhaps, it’s unsurprising his goal scoring rate has declined. He may not have the legs for the Premier League anymore.

But in the past, Heskey proved he could score consistently. In the early stages of his Premier League career he showed his goal scoring prowess. In total, he scored 40 Premier League goals for his first club Leicester City.

Emile Heskey’s move to Liverpool was the peak of his career. Heskey scored 60 goals in total for Liverpool. The 2001/02 season was his most productive season. Heskey scored 22 goals in all competitions for Liverpool that season. Plus, he also won three trophies too.

Although it’s widely agreed that Heskey’s best ever season was the 2001/02 season. Some argue, it was also the start of his downfall.

In the 2002 World Cup, Heskey was instructed to play on the left wing. His performances on the left wing seemed to highlight his incapacities and lead to various criticisms coming his way. Possibly, Heskey lost his confidence and self- belief during that tournament.

Heskey receives a lot of criticisms for his recent goal scoring record. Perhaps it’s deserved. But many forget to mention Heskey has scored more Premier League goals than; Steven Gerrard, Jermaine Defoe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Didier Drogba.

In fact, Heskey has scored the 16th most goals in Premier League history. In total he has scored 109 Premier League goals. It’s a pretty impressive record. But it’s also quite ironic that he now gets so much criticism for not scoring.

But there is no hiding from the fact Emile Heskey has been out of form for the last 7 years. That is in defendable.

It’s clear, a striker, especially in the Premier League has got to score consistently. But Heskey has been incapable of doing that for years.

Some may argue, Heskey’s role in the team is to support the other forwards and add a physical presence. Perhaps this is true. But Heskey has only assisted once in the Premier League for Aston Villa this season.

It seems Emile Heskey is a star of yesterday. His best days are long gone. Strikers are paid to score. Heskey has failed to do that for several years, yet he still gets substantial game time.

Of course, one could counter and say, Heskey helps link up the play and his unselfish approach is priceless. Perhaps this is true. But there are still many centre forwards in England and elsewhere who can do this. But more crucially, they can chip in with their fair share of goals.

Emile Heskey may have the 6th most appearances in Premier League history. He may also have scored the 16th most amount of goals in Premier League history.

But, its clear Emile Heskey, 33, has served his purpose in the Premier League.

Things you may like to read
Just how good is Gary Cahill? - http://tiny.cc/jpccx

Why the League Cup still holds importance in the English game - http://tiny.cc/hm55f

How Rafa Benitez is intelligently using the media to increase his chances of getting a job - http://tiny.cc/m9p4i
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