Monday, 30 January 2012

Video: A subtle piece of Madrid propaganda?

This video is pretty uneventful. It's Jose Mourinho been given a birthday cake on his birthday last week by the Madrid lads. But what's interesting about the video is who presents the cake. It's the Spanish duo of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas.

There has been a lot of speculation from the Spanish and major European papers suggesting a break down in relationship between some of the Spanish players at Madrid, in particular, Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas towards Jose Mourinho. Most of you have probably read or heard the story regarding the dispute between Mourinho and Sergio Ramos following the Barcelona defeat in the Copa Del Rey.

Could this video by the Official Madrid channel be attempting to paint a picture that all his harmonious in the Madrid camp? I think that just could be the case.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Most Underrated Players in the Premier League - Part Two

If you missed Part One find it here.

So last week we revealed our top 10 to 6 of the most underrated Premier League players this season. We revealed that the likes of Wes Hoolahan, Stiliyan Petrov and others were having fantastic seasons without much recognition.

But today, we shall expose who we think has been the most underrated player of this season’s Premier League campaign.

Let’s get back to the countdown.

5.) Alex Song – Arsenal: Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey have really taken the spot light in Arsenal’s midfield this season. But Alex Song has been just as vital as the other two. Song’s fantastic protection of the back four and the midfield has helped Arsenal stay defensively solid. Indeed, Song has won the most tackles for Arsenal this season with 38 tackles. But what has been more impressive about Song’s game is his contribution going forward. One will recall it was Alex Song who floated the ball over to Van Persie for his exceptional volley versus Everton late last year. But this is just one of many examples. Song has been creating chances for Arsenal all season. Indeed, the Cameroonian International has created 23 chances, 3 less than Gervinho to put things into perspective. Furthermore, clear evidence of his offensive contribution is clear when one looks at how many times he has assisted for Arsenal this season in the Premier League. Song has assisted the joint most alongside Gervinho with 5 assists this season. Song’s defensive displays alongside his creativity have made him one of the best defensive midfielders in the world at the moment.

4.) Joe Allen – Swansea: Swansea have exceeded virtually everybody’s expectations. But Joe Allen has been indispensable to the Swans success this season. Allen’s tidiness on the ball typifies everything about Swansea’s keep ball philosophy. The Swansea midfielder has a passing accuracy of 90% this season and has made more accurate passes than Scott Parker, Alex Song and Charlie Adam. Allen’s creativity has been vital to Swansea this season. Allen has created 27 chances, the second highest for Swansea. Joe Allen’s role in Swansea’s midfield is invaluable, it’s clear he is the one who makes Swansea tick.

3.) Steven Fletcher – Wolves: Fletcher has been on fire this season. Especially on the road. Steven Fletcher has scored 9 goals this season. 6 of the 9 have come away from home this season. But more impressively he’s scored at Man United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool. His abilities in scoring away at the bigger sides deserves a lot of praise. When a struggling team go to a top side, many of the struggling team’s players turn off or find themselves utterly ineffective. But it’s been the opposite for Fletcher. He has thrived in the big matches. What impresses me most about Fletcher is how clinical and how effective he is as a goal poacher. This season, Fletcher has had 13 shots on target, 9 of those 13 have been goals. His goal scoring prowess has given Wolves a real chance of surviving this season. However, in the future, one can see him playing for a more competitive Premier League side, as his consistency in getting goals speaks volumes.

2.) Danny Murphy – Fulham: Now, Danny Murphy’s abilities are often highlighted when Fulham play. But his effectiveness and attacking influence on Fulham is often understated. Firstly, Murphy has made 52 key passes which is the third highest amount of key passes in the division so far. Murphy in fact has made more key passes than David Silva, Nani, Modric and Mata. Furthermore, Danny Murphy has also created 56 chances for Fulham this season, assisting 5 times. His assist record is the highest at Fulham this season. At 34 years of age, Danny Murphy is a vital component to Fulham. His attacking influence at 34, demonstrates with age, his effectiveness has not declined severely. Murphy’s renowned for his tidiness and his passing has been fantastic too. Murphy has made the 10th most accurate passes in the Premier League this season, with 1078 accurate passes.

1.) Alejandro Faurlin - QPR: The 25 year old Argentine has been incredibly impressive this season without many of us recognising. Faurlin has been instrumental to QPR this season. The Argentine has made the most passes for QPR this season with 1147 passes and has a decent passing accuracy of 81%. Offensively Faurlin has shown great competency too. The 25 year old has created 28 chances, which is the second highest for QPR this term. But Faurlin’s defensive work has been genuine top quality this season. Faurlin has won 68 tackles. Making him the most successful tackler in the Premier League. Faurlin is quickly becoming a very complete box to box midfielder. It’s a shame Faurlin is out for the season, as he was progressing so rapidly in the Premier League. But more crucially, his injury is and will continue to hurt QPR too, as Faurlin offers great solidity in the middle of the park. If Faurlin can recover from his injury and prove he can recapture his great form, it’s only a matter of time till he will be interesting many big clubs across Europe.

And there we have it, indeed, some of you will agree with a few, some will disagree. But that’s the beauty of football. We all read the beautiful game differently. But here’s a list of players who just missed out on this list;

The One's That Got Away..

Raul Meireles (Chelsea), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Ryan Taylor (Newcastle) and Steve Morrison (Norwich City).

Part One

Statistics from EPL Index. (Stats taken on 26/01/12)

A Love for Football

In his debut article for The Football Front, Rueben Lewis writes a personal account on his burning passion to watch football.

My first ever game was at Craven Cottage to see a then third division (now the equivalent of League 2) Fulham side. I'd be lying if I said I remember their opponents, no matter how glamorous a tie it was. By all accounts, I was more interested by the police horses I passed during the walk to the ground- however my love for the game would soon ignite. After my father explaining to me that the linesmen were not players, that is.

Fulham - being my local team - was where most of my match -day experience lay in my early years. Incidentally, I even had a stint at their youth academy, from the age of 8 till 11! I was (and still am) a decent player- The David Bentley Bobby Pires-esq. playmaker, one might say. It was not until I was around 6 or 7 years old when my dad introduced me to Highbury-a ground which exuded a similar kind of charm to that of Craven Cottage, albeit superior in every single way. Again, I can't remember the opposition, but being slightly older, my new - found experience had led me to higher levels of footballing knowledge. So much so that I'd boo Edu whenever he'd come on/off the field, as that was what everyone else was doing. Turns out I got that one wrong. It was actually 'EDUUUUUU' that the crowd were chanting. To be fair, as a 9 year old, that could easily be perceived as a long jeering sound. Assonance and that.

Peculiarly, one of my earliest memories of Highbury was Arsenal’s 4-2 loss to Charlton, in 2001. Jason Euell put them 4-1 up! Subsequently, I realised it's not always going to be a happy journey home. However my mind was well and truly swayed 3 years later after winning the double and simultaneously going 49 games unbeaten! 'I'm in for an easy ride if it stays like this!' I thought.

How naive.

I had the privilege to attend some of the most significant matches at Highbury, including the Champions League semi-final vs Villarreal-the ground's ultimate Champions League match-where Kolo Toure scored the only goal. Moreover, the last ever game graced by Highbury, against Wigan, really was a special day - albeit highly emotional for many. Only over the past few years have I realised just how lucky I was.

In recent years - where my love for football has become somewhat unhealthy - attending at least one game a week has become the norm, whether it's Fulham, Arsenal or both. On the rare occasion I can't do either, Brentford offer some form of salvation. My last visit there was in the away end with the Exeter fans, with my mate who got a pair of free tickets. Coincidentally, Szczesny was in goal for the home team! There were about 300 travelling fans from the West Country-who brought with them some great banter. There is certainly a unique romance associated with lower league football, especially with the away fans.

Whether it's The Arsenal, Fulham or even Brentford, my appetite for football will always be satisfied. As much as I adore Arsenal, sometimes going to games where you don't necessarily care about the result, such as at Fulham or Brentford, can supply a greater amount of pleasure and enjoyment, simply because there is less stress involved. There is never a shortage of football to either watch, play or attend-much to the bemusement of my mother-which keeps me, and many others, so immersed in the beautiful game.

This Article was written by Reuben Lewis, you can find more of his work at The Wonder of Wenger. Reuben is on Twitter too: @Rlewisafc.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Video: The Worst Faked Injury of the Year

So, during the African Cup of Nations game between Equatorial Guinea v Senegal there was a shocking piece of sportsmanship by Ekanga of Guinea. Just watch it, it's an Oscar winning performance!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Clash of the New Towns

The Football Front’s Lower League expert Matt Bruce discusses the short history of Milton Keynes Dons and Stevenage.

On Tuesday night, Stevenage host Milton Keynes Dons for the first time in a league encounter. This won't be the first time the two sides have met, with MK Dons edging to a 1-0 victory at Stadium MK earlier this season and Stevenage emerging victorious on penalties in an FA Cup tie last season.

Nevertheless, there is little history of fixtures between these two – who are two of the youngest sides in the Football League.

Rather than any history or rivalry between these two clubs, what makes this fixture interesting is that MK Dons and Stevenage represent two 'new towns' which traditionally have had no Football League representation. Senior level football has had a faltering history in the new towns of Britain and these two clubs are the result of many false dawns and failed attempts. However, their respective paths to League One could not have been more different.

The towns of Stevenage and Milton Keynes both emerged as a direct result of the New Towns Act 1946. The purpose of the Act was to create satellite towns around London (and also other major war-struck cities) in order to ease housing pressure during post-war rebuilding and slum clearance schemes. Stevenage was the first such town to be built, in 1946, while Milton Keynes followed later, in 1967. As brand new conurbations, planners used the new towns to experiment with new urban planning methods and so these towns were pioneering when first settled, with Stevenage boasting the first pedestrianized town centre in the UK and Milton Keynes having its infamous grid system.

However, with the explosion of the local populace the pre-existing amateur teams experienced no upturn in fortunes or support. Stevenage Town, who pre-dated the new town's rapid expansion in the late 40s and 50s, struggled on unchanged until their dissolution in 1968, and Stevenage Athletic lasted just eight years before they also were forced to fold. Stevenage Borough continued much in the same vein as their failed predecessors from their formation in 1976 until the introduction of promotion to the Football League encouraged forward-thinking non-league clubs to become more professional (a subject I have touched upon before).

Milton Keynes has also seen more than its fair share of failed football clubs down the years. Wolverton AFC (Wolverton being one of the constituent towns of Milton Keynes) were able to boast a 105-year history before the club was wound up in 1992. Bletchley Town (who changed their name to Milton Keynes City in 1974) survived from 1956 until their closure in 1985, crippled by a lack of support and poor management from Ron Noades (chairman of Wimbledon FC). A second MK City moved into Wolverton's old ground in the 90s but again the club failed to gain any significant support and folded in 2003 after Wimbledon were relocated to Milton Keynes.

The problem faced by clubs representing these new satellite towns is that the newly imported population bring their footballing allegiances with them. With their large populations, towns such as Stevenage and Milton Keynes are expected to support larger clubs – and it has often been claimed that they have the potential to do so – but their proximity to the big London clubs, lack of interest from the local populace and the absence of a strong local identity has all hindered the development of local football clubs in the past.

However, just as the towns which these clubs represent were pioneering when they were first built, so have MK Dons and Stevenage been pioneering in the methods employed to firmly establish themselves on the landscape of the Football League.

Stevenage's remarkable rise up the leagues into League One is mainly due to the efforts of former manager Graham Westley and the ideology that was fostered at the club. While English football – and the non-league game in particular – has been slow to adopt sports science, Westley embraced it wholeheartedly. Under Westley's supervision Stevenage players had access to sports psychologists and dieticians, but most importantly were moulded into a super-fit team through a tough and rigorous training schedule.

Stevenage's approach was certainly not without its critics: fostering a winning mentality is one thing, but Boro's negative tactics and practice of feigning injury to gain drinks breaks and on-pitch team talks was not popular with some of the clubs they competed against. Last season, after numerous complaints from other clubs, the Football League ordered the club to desist with their unsporting behaviour, though Stevenage's approach to the game has changed little regardless.

Milton Keynes gained its place in the Football League in rather different circumstances – the controversial franchising of Wimbledon FC. As numerous attempts at establishing a club to represent the city floundered through lack of support, efforts began to attract an existing Football League club to the area. Such talk began as early as 1979, when Sam Hammam attempted to merge Wimbledon with MK City, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s several clubs were at one point or another linked with a move to Milton Keynes, including Luton Town, Charlton Athletic, Barnet and Northampton Town. However, it was Wimbledon, with their long-running stadium issues that always appeared to be the most likely candidate for a move to Milton Keynes – and so it would prove to be, with the club eventually relocating in September 2003.

While it is usual in the Football League for matches to take place between two clubs who can often boast histories spanning over a century, and usually with a wealth of previous historical encounters, this fixture is intriguing because it is contested by two clubs – with fewer than 50 miles between them – which have no history of football at this level. Those new clubs who represent the new satellite towns have a unique set of pressures and, as Stevenage and MK Dons have demonstrated, they must innovate to be viable.

Rather like the places they represent.

This piece was written by Matt Bruce, you can follow him on his Twitter - @tbfuth, You can find Matt’s blog here too: theboysfromupthehill.

All of Matt's article on The Football Front can be found here.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Most Underrated Players in the Premier League - Part One

Seeing we are just past the half way season of the Premier League. It seems natural to consider the players who have impressed so far. Now, the conventional thing to do is list the likes of Sergio Aguero, Robin Van Persie, Scott Parker, Demba Ba and a few others. Of course, these players have clearly been outstanding this season.

But to be different, I have chosen not to pick players who have been constantly lavished by the media this season. Instead, I’ve picked players who have been outstanding for their sides without many of us even recognising.

So, as the article is titled, this is part one of the 10 most underrated players in the Premier League so far. Indeed, these opinions are mine, but I will back them up with stats and facts too.

10.) Wes Hoolahan – Norwich City: The Canaries attacking midfielder has quietly been very effective this season. The Irish midfielder has assisted 4 times for Norwich and has created the most chances for the newly promoted Premier League side. At the start of the season, there were a lot of question marks over whether Hoolahan and the other Norwich players could cope with the demands of the Premier League. But Hoolahan, 29, has so far defied those odds, by proving he can be just as effective in the Premier League. His creativity has been crucial to Norwich’s success this season.

9.) Stiliyan Petrov – Aston Villa: Aston Villa have started the season off rather steadily. It has not been a great start to the season, nor has it been a terrible start either. But Stiliyan Petrov has been the catalyst behind most of the good things Villa have created this season. Petrov has passed 808 times, with 679 being accurate. No Villa player this season has made more passes let alone more accurate passes than Petrov. The Bulgarian’s tidiness with his passing has also seen him make the most accurate final third passes for Villa too (173 accurate final third passes.) With Petrov’s accuracy in the final third, it comes as no real surprise that the Bulgarian has also created the most chances for Villa this season. Petrov has created a credible 30 chances so far this season. Stiliyan Petrov is an indispensable member of McLeish’s Villa side, his well rounded abilities give Villa depth and comfort in the centre of the park.

8.) Joleon Lescott – Man City: Now, this one is a bit controversial. Especially seeing as Lescott is playing for league leaders Man City. But Lescott is often viewed as one of those typical overrated English players. But he alongside Vincent Kompany is a key reason as to why Man City have the best defensive record in the Premier League. Lescott is a very good defender and it’s no real surprise Mancini sees him as the first choice partner alongside Kompany. Lescott has won 26/28 tackles this season. While he has also won 63% of his ground duals and 24 out of 32 aerial duals. Which is impressive stuff. Lescott has become incredibly solid, reliable and resourceful alongside Kompany. Indeed, Joleon Lescott may well be at the best club in the Premier League, but his defensive work is often overshadowed by the fantastic work of captain Kompany and the attacking players at City.

7.) Leighton Baines – Everton: Leighton Baines defines underrated. Last season he was exceptional, he was dominating Everton from left back. Yet, he failed to make the PFA team of the year. This season has been yet another productive season for the Everton man. Baines has created 49 chances for Everton this season, the highest for an Everton player. This dominance in the final third is recognisable especially when comparing Baines to the rest of the league. Leighton Baines has made 48 key passes this season, which is the fifth highest in the Premier League. Baines, from Left Back has made more key passes than Rafa Van der Vaart, Luis Suarez and Yohan Cabaye. It’s incredible how little praise Baines gets, considering he virtually controls Everton from the left hand side. Without him, Everton would severely struggle to create good chances.

6.) Ashley Williams – Swansea: Ashley Williams has been very solid this season. Williams has won 66% of his tackles this season, which is satisfactory. But his leadership and dominance has been clearly recognisable at home for Swansea. This season, the Swans have the second best defensive home record with only 6 goals being conceded. Another hugely successful side of William's game is his passing. William’s passing has been key in Swansea maintaining their passing philosophy. He has made the third highest amount of passes this season, with 1382 passes. The centre back has also made 1162 accurate passes, which makes him the third most accurate passer in the division. This is exceptional considering the player has never played in the Premier League prior to this season. The player has developed so quickly at Swansea and he has thrived in the Premier League.Link

In part two, we will reveal the most underrated player of this Premier League season so far.

Part Two can be found here.

Statistics from EPL Index. (Stats taken on 18/01/12)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Premier League Predictions - Week 19

The Premier League is back, this week we have some interesting games coming up. Chelsea face a resurgent Sunderland side, while Liverpool take on a Stoke side which have taken more points in their last 8 games than Man City, Man United, Chelsea and even Liverpool themselves.

This week, our predictor is Tomasz Mortimer of Hungaria Football.


Ibby Akkas prediction

Tomasz Mortimer prediction

Actual Score

Aston Villa v Everton




Blackburn v Fulham




Chelsea v Sunderland




Liverpool v Stoke




Man Utd v Bolton




Tottenham v Wolves




West Brom v Norwich




Newcastle v QPR




Swansea v Arsenal




Wigan v Man City




Total Correct Scores

correct scores - 4

perfect scores - 1

correct scores - 2

perfect scores - 3

The Results

Tomasz Mortimer - 11 points

Ibby Akkas - 7 points

Tomasz Mortimer wins with a very impressive 11 points. Tomasz got a very respectable 3 perfect scores! While Ibby came last, with 7 points.

Check out Hungaria Football a website which specialises in covering Football related to Hungary. Be sure to follow Tomasz Mortimer on Twitter too: @HungariaFootbal.

The Rise of Victor Moses

When Roberto Martinez chose not to delve into the market to replace the outgoing Charles N’Zogbia, it raised a few eyebrows.

Of course, Charles N’Zogbia was Wigan’s most creative and dangerous player.

But Martinez has intelligently replaced Charles N’Zogbia without many of us even recognising.

Football is similar to any industry, if one leaves, it normally leaves a gap for someone to step up to and take the mantle.

Victor Moses has done exactly this.

The 21 year old has grabbed his chance with both hands and hasn’t let go.

Indeed, Victor Moses hasn’t exactly taken the Premier League by storm.

But he’s shown he’s capable and competent enough to fill the void left by Charles N’Zogbia.
Moses has given the Wigan fans plenty of excitement. His ingenuity, pace and tenacity makes him a joy to watch, but from the perspective of the opposition it makes him incredibly hard to contain.

Just like Charles N’Zogbia, Victor Moses is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and going past players is a key feature of his style. But what makes Moses such a potent threat is his technical ability. Moses has a fantastic first touch and great ball control, meaning when in full momentum it often takes a handful of players to silence the threat created by Moses.

Not only this, Moses’s sheer strength and blistering pace is a key reason as to why defenders struggle to contain him. On the flip side, these attributes along with his creativity give Wigan a player capable of changing the games.

Victor Moses creative influence on Wigan is clearly recognisable. This season, Moses has created the second highest amount of chances for Wigan. Moses has created 22 chances for Wigan. This is outstanding. After all, it just emphasises how beneficial Moses’ contribution has been for Wigan. At the young age of 21, Moses has proved he is good enough to make a telling difference to a Premier League side. Furthermore, Moses’s attacking nature is also highlighted by the fact he has made the most final third passes for the club (266 final third passes).

The statistical proof Moses, at just 21 can be trusted to create in the Premier League is great news not only for Wigan, but for Nigeria. It highlights Nigeria have a young attacking footballer who can consistently create chances in England’s highest division.

And the fact the player is still 21, shows the player has the significant potential to develop into a fantastic winger.

However, there is room for improvement in Victor Moses’ game.

As much as the young winger has shown great potential, he has also shown weaknesses and inconsistencies.

Moses’ wastefulness is a clear cause for concern.

This season, Victor Moses has had 60 shots for Wigan. The highest amount of shots any Wigan player has had. However, this would not be a major issue if it meant he was scoring and Wigan were winning. But with 60 shots, Moses has managed just two Premier League goals. Thus giving Moses a woeful chance conversion rate of just 5%.

Moses needs to be more intelligent, he needs to improve not only on his finishing, but his decision making too. The talented winger needs to consider if passing instead of shooting could create a better chance for his side to score.

Furthermore, Wigan are in a perilous position whereby points have been hard to come by. This wastefulness by Moses could prove to be costly for the struggling side.

But on the other hand, from the perspective of the player, Moses’ willingness to shoot shows the confidence embedded within the youngster. Moses is willing to take risks and has enough belief in himself to attempt to the change the game.

Victor Moses bright first half of the season has left many touting if he has the potential to play for one of the bigger clubs.

Indeed, he has the raw skills and potential not only to play for a bigger Premier League side, but to possibly be a full Nigerian international.

However, Moses needs to be more consistent, more intelligent and less wasteful.

The Wigan winger has the potential to go a long, long way. But its vital he learns, develops and crucially shows a willingness to become a good player.

Victor Moses has proven at a young age he can compete in the Premier League, but this is just the start.

Victor Moses is by no means a finished article.

Statistics from EPL Index. (Stats taken on 10/01/12)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Clint Dempsey - Fulham's Underrated Playmaker?

Clint Dempsey has silently been doing a fantastic job at Fulham for the past 6 years. The experienced US international who has 82 caps to his name, has been one of the most underrated Premier League stars of the last five years.

However, things are gradually changing for Fulham’s prized American.
His form this season has been picked up by well reached national pundits and mainstream media too.

However, perhaps it’s about time. After all, last season, he scored 14 goals in all competitions and managed 13 goals in the Premier League. Indeed, this is a very impressive feat. Many top clubs in the Premier League would love to see their attacking midfielder to grab that many goals in a single season. The reality is, many attacking midfielders in the Premier League struggle to reach 10 goals in all competitions. But because Dempsey and Fulham often find themselves in mid-table obscurity, his form is often overlooked.

But Clint Dempsey is a glamorous player, who most Fulham fans swoon to watch every weekend.
The admiration from Fulham fans over Dempsey has risen dramatically due to his blistering start to the season.

Dempsey has already bagged 9 goals in all competitions this season, while 6 of those goals have come in the Premier League.

This is fantastic form. Especially considering how slowly Fulham have started the season. But there are significant reasons as to why Dempsey is such a highly productive and efficient footballer.

Firstly, Clint Dempsey is an incredibly intelligent player. Dempsey has the ability, confidence and competency to play in-between the oppositions midfield and attacking lines. Not only this, he can play in small, confined spaces too, thus being able to create something out of nothing.

Throughout Dempsey’s time at Fulham he has proven his competence to play across the attacking line. During his first few years at the club he spent most of his time playing left midfield and occasionally started a few games on the right and in the centre, behind the striker.

This versatility has made him an indispensable asset for Fulham. However, it also shows his great team ethic. Dempsey, a very talented creative player could throw his toys out of the pram and demand to play in a certain position. But this is not Dempsey’s way of dealing with things. Instead, he looks to make an impact in the position assigned to him.

This work ethic and teamwork is often a forgotten part of Clint Dempsey’s game. He is a player who not only sets an example to his fellow players, he also links different players to Fulham’s attack, thus giving his side an extra dimension.

Perhaps evidence of Dempsey’s success of being a versatile attacker are proven when one looks at his finishing and consistency.

The stats will tell you, Dempsey is a consistent finisher. He is a player who has a nose for goal and can be trusted to get goals for his side. Each season, Dempsey averages around 6 goals per season. While as stated before, Dempsey has already reached 6 Premier League goals this season.

A key feature of Dempsey’s game is that he can score a variety of different goals. Over the past few seasons and even in this current season, Dempsey has shown he can score tap ins, volleys, placed shots and the list goes on.

Another sign of Dempsey’s goal scoring prowess and the degree of consistency which comes with it is that the American international can score in the smallest of games and he has proven he can score in the of biggest of games too. For example this season he scored against both Liverpool and Chelsea, while also scoring against the likes of Wigan. This shows the reliability of Dempsey and it justifies why he is a key member of this Fulham side.

Dempsey’s movement on and off the ball is a crucial reason as to why he is such a threating player. Clint Dempsey, a quick witted, accurate footballer who reads the game beautifully. Many footballers who struggle in the Premier League often fail to cope with the smart, quick movement which is demanded in the league. But Dempsey is in his element in the Premier League. His movement allows him to score goals and create chances too.

Dempsey’s creativity is often understated. Already this season he has assisted 4 times, making him Fulham’s top assistor. Not only this, he has created 28 chances for Fulham – which is the second highest at Fulham this season. Fulham thrive from Dempsey’s productivity, Dempsey is very close to the complete attacking package.

Martin Jol deserves some praise for Clint Dempsey’s fine form this season. Martin Jol moved Dempsey into a more freer role, meaning he can come off the left hand-side and dictate more in the centre. This has led to Dempsey scoring at a higher rate and creating far more chances as the stats prove.

Clint Dempsey Fulham stats

2010/11 season

2011/12 season

Games Started



Sub Appearances



Total Passes



Pass Completion



Successful Dribbles



Crossing Accuracy



Chances Created









Total Shots



Mins per Shot



Statistics from EPL Index. (Stats taken on 06/01/12)

What’s surprising about the statistics is within half a season, Dempsey has nearly created more chances than he created in the whole of last season. This is made even more transparent by the fact Dempsey has assisted more times this season than he did last season. Another development in Dempsey’s game this season is that his passing accuracy has risen in a rather subsational fashion. Last season his pass accuracy was 73.84%. While this season it has risen to an impressive 81.39%. Dempsey’s game has become more tidy, more intelligent and it is recognisable on the pitch.

Dempsey’s fine form has left many touting him to join a bigger club in the future. Indeed, this hypothesis is entirely logical. Firstly, Dempsey is 28, one could argue he is at the peak of his career. Secondly, Clint Dempsey is in the physical shape of his life. This season he has played 19 Premier League games. While last season he appeared in 37 out of the 38 league games.
But more crucially, Dempsey’s productivity along with his versatility makes him an asset worth having from the perspectives of the bigger clubs. Furthermore, he has also proved he can create and finish in the Premier League. This gives him a better chance of being technically competent enough to succeed at the highest level in club football.

The likes of Liverpool and perhaps even Man United would be very interested in the talents of Dempsey. For example Liverpool currently crave another creative attacking midfielder who has an eye for a pass and can finish off chances. Not only this, one could argue Dempsey would fit perfectly with Liverpool’s goal to spread their commercial brand. As Dempsey is a hugely respected and loved character in USA.

But regardless of this, Clint Dempsey’s form coming into January puts him very much on the shop window. It of course remains to be seen if Fulham are willing to sell their prized asset. However, if Fulham do sell. They can expect a hefty sum for him. The player is in the form of his life and possesses all the talents what make a footballer special. He is creative, dynamic and consistent.

But one things for sure, Clint Dempsey’s is interesting a number of clubs.

Statistics from EPL Index. (Stats taken on 06/01/12)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Video: Demba Ba admits his addiction to Syrup

Well, this is random. When Demba Ba is asked by Geoff Shreeves to reveal a random secret which no one knows about him, Ba reveals his love for syrup. The Senegalese international who has 15 Premier League goals to his name also admitted he loves having syrup in his water! Footballers can be odd. Very odd..

Luis Suarez - An End of a Saga

In his debut article for The Football Front, Spors Barrister Phil Gibbs dissects the Luis Suarez –Patrice Evra race charge.

Luis Suarez and Liverpool FC announced in a formal on the January 2012, that they would not be appealing the verdict and sanctions imposed by The FA's Independent Regulatory Commission following the disciplinary hearing conducted in December against the player with regard to allegations made by Manchester United’s Patrice Evra with concern to the comments made to him by Suarez during the Liverpool v Man Utd Premier League game in October 2011. The Commission had published its detailed reasoning (115 pages) in the last few days. Evra complained during, and after, the match in November that he had been racially abused by Suarez. Initially Evra believed that he had been called a 'nigger'. He complained to the referee Andre Marriner and after the game to fellow players, Sir Alex Ferguson and then most dramatically to Canal Plus live on French television. Later it transpired that he had misunderstood the Spanish translation of 'negro' ('black' or 'blackie'). The FA Disciplinary Regulatory Team conducted an exhaustive inquiry, interviewing players, linesmen, Marriner and various team officials as well as scrutinising footage from TV companies including some which was not originally broadcast. Evra and Suarez were interviewed under taped conditions. The investigation was complicated by the linguistic difficulties which arise from a Premier League dominated by nationalities from across the globe. Suarez addressed Evra in a South American latin dialect Spanish. Evra, a multi lingual, but predominantly French speaker, also spoke to Suarez in his version of Spanish.

Directly after the game, Daniel Comolli, Liverpool's Director of Football and a Frenchman, spoke to Suarez in Spanish before reporting Suarez's version of events to the referee. Dirk Kuyt gave evidence in the proceedings. He had spoken to Suarez after the game in Dutch. Suarez is an able dutch speaker having spent a number of seasons at Ajax Amsterdam. The interpretation and comprehension of these conversations was a major obstacle to the enquiry. The FA sought the assistance of linguistic experts and received detailed reports as to the nuances and cultural differences of various words and gestures. Ultimately these reports were accepted by both sides.

Both sides were represented by legal teams. They had the opportunity to make representations with regard to the composition of the Commission. Interestingly at the disciplinary hearing before the Commission, Luis Suarez was allowed to have a 'friend' sit with him during the hearing and his testimony. The Commission recognised that this was a serious matter with potentially profound consequences for the player. Suarez was 'accompanied' by a member of staff from Liverpool Football Club.

Suarez in effect faced 2 charges. He was accused of using insulting words or behaviour. Additionally this was alleged to have been aggravated by the insults making reference to race or ethnicity, in this case the colour of Evra's skin. The Commission ruled that it was not deciding whether Suarez was a racist per se, but whether in this instance he was guilty of the relevant conduct. Indeed Evra had stated baldly in his witness statement that he did not believe that Suarez was generally racist and indeed that he had previously had a high regard for him, particularly in playing terms.

In essence the Commission had to decide on the balance of probabilities whether Suarez had abused Evra and made reference in so doing to his race or ethnicity. The burden of proving the allegations lay with the FA. The seriousness of the allegations and the consequences for Suarez if convicted, were taken into account in deciding whether the allegations were found to be proven. In other words the Commission imposed upon itself extra caution before arriving at its verdict.

Although witness statements had been served in advance, the Commission heard evidence in chief from the main protagonists in order to get an enhanced flavour of their cases. Suarez was assisted throughout by an interpreter. Evra gave his evidence in English and although he had an interpreter available to assist him, he did not ultimately find it necessary to use their services.

The TV footage assisted in as much as it showed the sequence of events and the comings together between the 2 players, but it was of only limited assistance with regard to what was actually said as for the majority of the time the camera did not capture the mouths of the 2 players. Interestingly and significantly, Suarez was captured pinching Evra's skin during the exchange. Evra had not been aware of this at the time. Evra stated that he had been called 'negro' 7 times by Suarez. Suarez claimed in his testimony to have only used the word once and in a context which was not insulting.

The case boiled down to the credibility of each side. What was determinative in my opinion was that Evra came across impressively before the Commission. He was straightforward. He revealed that he had abused Suarez first after being aggrieved by a Suarez foul. Suarez had not heard this. Evra had accordingly chosen to reveal something which did him no credit whatsoever and of which nobody else was aware. Evra was, according to the Commission, consistent throughout. He also spoke well of Suarez generally as mentioned in previous paragraphs. He did not appear to have an agenda. Suarez's legal team never managed to convincingly show any malicious motivation on the part of Evra towards Suarez in making his allegations.

The Commission were more troubled by Suarez's account. He was not consistent. He appeared to have changed his account to fit in with other evidence of which he had become aware after his initial FA interview. The evidence of Comolli and Manager Kenny Dalglish as to what had been said by Suarez immediately after the game undermined his original account. His testimony included an admission that he had clearly stated something in his witness statement which was untenable and untrue. He claimed to have pinched Evra in an act of conciliation, but subsequently conceded that this was incorrect and implausible. The Commission found that his case had altered to take account of the expert reports with regard to cultural and linguistics differences in South America. Ultimately they did not sufficiently believe Suarez so as to be able to defeat Evra's more compelling account.

The Commission's detailed reasoning clearly sets out their approach and demonstrates the very great care with which they approached their task.

It is not in the least surprising that Suarez and Liverpool FC have decided not to contest the Commission’s findings. The whole matter has been a PR catastrophe for Liverpool. They emerge with no credit whatsoever and have inflicted considerable collateral damage upon themselves. The testimony of their own officials, Dalglsih and Comolli, contradicted Suarez’s case. The clubs response to the Commission’s verdicts was to appear at the warm up for the next match wearing t – shirts supporting Suarez, a player who had now been quite properly found guilty of using racial abuse to a fellow player. The club put their own black player, Glen Johnson, in an impossible position. The Liverpool message was one of disrespect to the FA, to Evra, to the Commission and to victims of racism wherever. Liverpool FC probably did not consider this however. Their main motivation in not seeking to appeal would appear to be entirely pragmatic. Suarez has no reasonable prospect of success in any appeal. There is the possibility of an enhanced punishment. The matter would have consequently dragged on and continued to engulf and distract the club at a time when they are seeking to qualify for the Champions’ League. Suarez was banned for 8 matches, but he may well only miss 4 league games as there are several cup commitments in the approaching weeks.

Could Suarez have appealed the sanction?

As I said above, he would have risked increasing the penalty. There is little precedent to suggest that the sanction might have been decreased. Suarez was being made an example of and it is near inconceivable that any appeal panel would have watered down that message.

In 2002 John Mackie, a Reading player, admitted racially abusing Carl Asaba of Sheffield United. He apologised the following day and donated 2 weeks' wages to Anti Racism causes. Sheffield United accepted the apology. Nonetheless the FA suspended him for 8 matches of which 5 were suspended. Mackie's career never really recovered. Suarez is of course a far more prominent international player. The starting point for the Suarez Commission was a suspension of 4 games. This is arrived at, in accordance with the FA rule book, by doubling the automatic sanction for a dismissal for foul and abusive language. The Commission has doubled this. Their reasoning included their finding of a number of aggravating factors. They found that Suarez was guilty of 'multiple uses of insulting words' rather than an isolated incident. He specifically targeted Evra and stated that 'he kicked him because he was black' and 'he did not talk to blacks'. The exchanges had taken place in multiple phases in a heated environment. Undoubtedly the fact that Suarez's actions significantly undermined anti - racism campaigns was a major factor in the sanction.

The reality is that it would have been be a major climb down if the sanction were to be reduced on appeal. The message that racist abuse will not be tolerated would be significantly weakened. Liverpool painted themselves into a corner, doing everything to support their player, but have now been left looking somewhat foolish. Their previous demands, that Evra be sanctioned if Suarez was vindicated, look very ill judged, certainly with hindsight. Evra on the other hand emerges as honest and reasonable, notwithstanding that his character has been unreasonably smeared. Liverpool and Suarez have now chosen to do the only sensible thing, accept the punish and move on. Common sense finally seems to have prevailed, even if their announcement could not have been framed in less gracious terms, with Suarez still proclaiming that he had done nothing wrong.

His reputation, but possibly also that of his club, may never fully recover.

This article was written by Phil Gibbs who is a Sports Barrister of KCH Garden Square Leicester You can follow Phil on Twitter : @gibbsbarrister and phone: 0116 2987500. Check out his blog too:

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