Barrie's View

England have qualified for Euro 2016

October 10, 2014 by Barrie

Wembley Stadium

Without wanting to sound too arrogant but England’s qualification was more-than wrapped up after Thursday evening’s results.

Victory over San Marino was of course never in doubt.  Switzerland’s loss in Slovenia last night really means there is no way England will not finish in the top two of this group.  Although, frankly, even after the shambolic performance at the World Cup this summer, I always expected a breeze through qualification.

England now have a six-point lead over Switzerland after two games and a three-point lead over Slovenia who lost their opening game in Estonia.

Roy Hodgson targeted 13 goals against San Marino and Estonia combined this week.  That was perhaps on his mind when clips of him in his seat during last night’s 5-0 win over San Marino were more of frustration that enjoyment.

Not that anyone could enjoy such a boring game of football.  As someone who regularly watches more than 300 football matches a season, I like to think of myself as a passionate football fan.  I enjoy 99% of the matches I watch, often even if my team doesn’t win (it’s rare that Derby lose to our biggest rivals).

Last night’s game was dull from minute one.  The result was never in doubt, it was just a case of how many England were going to score and if Joe Hart was going to touch the ball.  Qualification in truth has rarely hit the highs.  England have made it dramatic in drawing in Italy, scoring a last minute goal against Greece, thrashing Germany 5-1 in Munich and the disaster of Euro 2008.  Other than that – have there been any memorable moments over the past 20 years?

International football for me has taken the backstage to the Premier League and UEFA Champions League in order of priorities.  The qualification process is often a long, drawn out bore and not just for England.  Spain, Germany and the Netherlands often breeze their groups too.  Now that Euro 2016 has been downgraded (yes, downgraded) to a 24-team tournament, two teams make it through each qualifying group automatically (therefore Spain’s loss last night is no big deal.  Portugal losing their two away games this week would be).

Euro 2016 itself sees 24 teams in the group stage and 16 teams in the kn0ck-out rounds.  This simply means the stronger nations can rest their key players for the latter stages and rotate to avoid suspensions.  The chance of ‘another Greece 2004′ just got harder.

England, a country that once embraced international football, has started to find more exciting things to do.  Attendance for the last two international games have been Wembley are significantly down on qualification for the 2014 World Cup.  English fans used to embarrass all other European countries with their incredible crowds (France were in the vicinity, I guess we shouldn’t be too harsh on them) and now international football is becoming a bore to them too.

Enjoy watching England beat Estonia on Sunday, and we should go on and win the majority, if not all of the remaining qualification matches, even with Roy Hodgson in charge! With odds of 1/4 for England to win on Sunday, it may be worth looking out for enhanced odds offers on the likes of bet365 mobile which can make things a little more interesting!

At least the Premier League returns next weekend, quickly followed by the Champions League – those, most of us can agree on, are the most important competitions in football.

10 Interesting Stats from Premier League Matchday 7

October 5, 2014 by Barrie

1 – David de Gea became the first player to deny Leighton Baines from the penalty spot in the Premier League. The England international had previously scored all 14 of his spot kicks.

4 – Nikica Jelavić has scored as many Premier League goals already this season as he did throughout the whole of last season.

5 – Saido Berahino has also matched his goal tally from last season when he was West Brom’s joint-top scorer in 2013-14.

7 – Manchester United have conceded seven penalties in the Premier League in 2014. They did not give away a single spot kick in the year 2013.

10 – Only Chelsea (11) have scored more goals at home than Leicester City (10) soo far this season.

12 – José Mourinho extended his undefeated record versus Arsène Wenger to 12 games in all competitions. The Chelsea manager has won seven and drawn five of those meetings against the Arsenal boss.

16 – Newcastle have conceded 16 goals in their last eight Premier League games.

30 – Manchester United have already used 30 players in only seven Premier League games this season. The Red Devils used a total of 30 players throughout the entire 2013-14 season.

86 – Following their 2-1 win on Sunday, Manchester United have now scored 86 goals versus Everton in the Premier League. This is the most by any one team against a single opponent.

565 – Michael Kightly’s goal ended Burnley’s run of 565 minutes without a league goal, the 10th longest in Premier League history.

10 reasons why Chelsea WILL beat Arsenal

October 4, 2014 by Barrie

Jose Mourinho

Chelsea head into matchday 7 with a six point lead over fourth-place Arsenal and can make a real statement with a victory at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Being held 1-1 at Manchester City a fortnight ago is the one time José Mourinho’s have dropped points in their opening six Premier League games this season. They have won each of the other five games by at least two goals.

Meanwhile Arsenal have won only two of their Premier League matches to start 2014-15, although are unbeaten by drawing the other four. Arsène Wenger’s side have kept just one clean sheet in those six matches.

Here are 10 reasons why we think Chelsea are sure to beat Arsenal tomorrow:

1. Chelsea’s attack

Chelsea have scored an astonishing 19 goals in their first six Premier League games this season. That’s just over three goals per game. Nine different players have got on the scoresheet for Chelsea already this season.

Manchester City are the only side to hold the Blues down to as few as one goal in a game this season to give you an idea what Arsenal are coming up against this weekend.

2. Arsenal’s defence

They may have only conceded seven goals in their opening six matches – that’s the same number as Chelsea, but Arsenal have not looked so impressive in the process. Everton and Tottenham both spurned good chances to increase that number.

If Arsenal’s defending against Tottenham last weekend is anything to go by then Chelsea are going to be in for a field day on Sunday with all the gaps left at the back. The Gunners were thankful for the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Nacer Chadli being wasteful with the ball. Not sure if the same will be said of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fàbregas and co…

3. Chelsea’s counter attack

A lot of those Tottenham chances last weekend came on the counter attack. Arsenal carelessly bombed forward, even at 0-0 at home last weekend, leaving an incredible amount of space for Spurs to exploit. It’s not only Tottenham – this has been a constant in Arsène Wenger’s side over the years and they don’t appear to learn from their mistakes.

Mikel Arteta is absent and Mathieu Flamini is a liability protecting his back four to say the least. Play Jack Wilshere alongside him may counter some of the threat but don’t expect that to fix every gap that Arsenal leave vulnerable.

4. Arsenal’s injury list

One noticeable disadvantage Arsenal have coming into the match is their injury list. A number of first-team players are on it – Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal leave only four fit defenders available. Holding midfield and captain Mikel Arteta is also sidelined, as is attacking midfielder and goalscorer Aaron Ramsey. Pacey forward Theo Walcott has not returned and striker Olivier Giroud is out for a while longer.

Chelsea on the other hand only have Ramires and Didier Drogba absent. The Brazilian may have started twice this season but we wouldn’t class him as a player expecting to be a regular this season. Drogba is the third choice striker at Stamford Bridge these days.

5. Mathieu Flamini

Mathieu Flamini was at fault for Tottenham’s opening goal last weekend when carelessly conceding possession just outside his own penalty area. It’s not the first goal you can pin on him this season either. He’s been exposed on more than one occasion and doesn’t look good at all protecting the back four. He takes chances in his tackles too and often picks up a yellow card.

Chelsea’s playmakers which are lined up all over the pitch should certainly fancy their chances up against Flamini. A lot of the build-up will likely be focussed around Cesc Fàbregas and this has the making of an excellent game for the former-Gunners captain.

6. Arsène Wenger tactically stubborn

Arsène Wenger has been criticised over the years for being tactically stubborn and the French manager doesn’t appear to have made too many changes to stop those claims. The defence constantly leaves holes as we’ve already touched upon. Record signing Mesut Özil’s been played out of position a lot this season.

Opposite to Wenger, José Mourinho is a tactical genius. You can be sure that the Portuguese manager will take advantage of the gaps Wenger’s side leaves. He’ll prey on those weak points in Wenger’s side, so don’t be surprised if Chelsea look to make the likes of Flamini and Per Mertesacker look silly.

7. Mourinho-Wenger head-to-head

Point seven follows on nicely from point six. These two managers have only met when in charge of these two clubs and José Mourinho’s leads the series W6 D5 L0. That’s right, Arsène Wenger has yet to beat the Chelsea manager in 11 previous matches. This does include the League Cup and Community Shield – it’s W3 D5 in Premier League matches only.

There’s nothing to suggest Wenger can improve on last season’s record where they picked up just one point in two games and failed to score. Chelsea made the better summer signings, Chelsea have made the better start, and Chelsea have the injury-free squad.

8. Chelsea’s home form

Chelsea have taken maximum points from their three home games this season, scored nine goals and kept two clean sheets. In fact, dating back to last season the Blues have kept nine clean sheets in their last 11 home Premier League matches.

Arsenal’s away record has not been so impressive. Held 2-2 at an Everton side who tired out in the final 10 minutes to lose their 2-0 lead, and held 1-1 at newly-promoted Leicester City before beating Aston Villa 3-0 on the road. They were comprehensively beat 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League this season too.

9. Arsenal’s form

Whilst Chelsea have dropped just two points from their opening six games, with those coming away from home at the defending champions, Arsenal have only won two of their six games. One of these was a stoppage time winner at home to managerless Crystal Palace.

It must be said, Arsenal’s form isn’t as impressive as their league position – four score draws and eight points dropped already. Three points separate 3rd-12th in the Premier League. There’s also the same margin between leaders Chelsea and second-place Southampton.

10. Diego Costa

Chelsea’s £32 million summer signing from Atlético Madrid is receiving all of the accolades to start the new season. And rightfully so. An impressive eight goals in only six Premier League matches, with the manager even claiming he’s not fully fit yet. Only Manchester City have prevented Diego Costa from scoring so far this season.

With the playmakers around him to create chances, you can expect Diego Costa to get on the scoresheet in this one. Per Mertesacker goes missing in the box and the energetic Spaniard will sneak in that six-yard box to poke one home. Or two. Or three. On paper, it doesn’t look good for Arsenal.

 Anyone think Arsenal have a chance at Stamford Bridge on Sunday? I can’t see anything but a home win. And that’s why I’m backing Chelsea to beat Arsenal at 1.68 with Betfair. In my mind that’s 68% interest and when I am ever wrong when I give an ‘interest’ tip?

José Mourinho’s right and Gordon Taylor’s talking ****e

by Barrie

Jose Mourinho

Racism in football and the NFL’s Rooney Rule have come up in the media again this week.

Is it because there is nothing major to talk about in the news this week?  Is it because the NFL was at Wembley Stadium last weekend?  Or is it because Gordon Taylor wanted some air time?

Probably the latter.  The PFA chairman made a bold claim on Thursday when he said “there is a hidden racism which holds clubs back” in regards to appointing black managers.

Gordon Taylor then contradicted himself when he said managers should be employed on “merit”.  In the majority of cases, they appear to be hired just that way.

Or is Mr Taylor suggesting that Chelsea should have looked to John Barnes instead of José Mourinho?  Or perhaps Manchester United were racist not to hire Paul Ince instead of Louis van Gaal?  And how dare second-place Southampton employ Ronald Koeman over Ruud Gullit.

The PFA chairman wants English football to adopt the Rooney Rule used in the NFL which guarantees ethnic minorities are interviewed for vacancies.  Or on simple terms, Chelsea would have been fined for hiring José Mourinho without interviewing a black manager after Rafael Benítez was shown the door.

In his press conference yesterday ahead of Sunday’s clash with Arsenal, Chelsea manager José Mourinho gave a perfect response when questioned why there are currently no black managers in the Premier League:

“Football is not so stupid to close doors to people. If you are good, you get the job. If you are top, you are top.”

If only the media would accept that José Mourinho is right once again and move on.  But they won’t, because his statement is not controversial and won’t sell newspapers the way claims of racism do.

Personally, I don’t care what colour skin manager’s are at any club.  Or players for that matter.  Or in any profession in life.  Many of my favourite Derby County players over the years have been black – Paulo Wanchope, Chris Powell, Darren Moore would all make my top 10 list.  I have a number of black and Asian friends too.  But for some, the colour of one’s skin is an issue.  And perhaps the country of England outside of football has racism issues because we make a big deal out of nothing – which is exactly what Gordon Taylor has done, and is exactly what I am doing by reacting to it.

The day a good manager of an ethnic minority applies for a Premier League job then perhaps this issue will die down.  But if this issue has arisen because Paul Ince, John Barnes and Ruud Gullit are applying for jobs then we can laugh it off because their football managing CVs are a joke.

PS – Don’t expect Paul Ince to get another Premier League job anytime soon after taking Blackburn Rovers from mid-table to the bottom of the league back in 2008-09 ;)

Frank Lampard’s Premier League stats

October 3, 2014 by Barrie

Prior to Manchester City’s trip to Villa Park tomorrow, Frank Lampard has scored 13 Premier League goals against Aston Villa – more than he has against any other side.

Frank Lampard has come up against the Villans on 30 previous occasions in England’s top flight, for West Ham and Chelsea combined.  The former-England international has only faced Arsenal (32), Everton (31) and Tottenham Hotspur (31) than he has the fellow ever-present Villa.

Aston Villa’s defence has conceded three goals to both Arsenal and Chelsea in their previous two games so don’t be surprised if Manchester City put up similar figures and that Lampard finds himself amongst them, should he indeed start, or at least feature at some point.

Here is Frank Lampard’s all-time Premier League record – games, wins, draws, losses and goals against every opposition he has faced.  The table is sorted by goals scored and then win percentage:

Frank Lampard Premier League statistics

Some noteable statistics from this data:

5 – Frank Lampard has suffered more losses than wins against only Arsenal, Chelsea, Leeds United, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers.

5 – Only Burnley, Cardiff City, Ipswich Town, Queens Park Rangers and Watford have faced Frank Lampard in the Premier League without conceding a goal to the Englishman.

13 – Aston Villa have been on the receiving end of Frank Lampard goals more than any other team.

17 – Frank Lampard has been on the winning side against Sunderland more times than he has against any other side.

25% -Arsenal, Ipswich Town and Queens Park Rangers have suffered defeat in only a quarter of their matches versus Frank Lampard – the lowest win percentage of any team.

39 – Frank Lampard has scored against 39 different Premier League sides – more than any other player.

44 – Frank Lampard has experienced victory against all 44 Premier League opponents he has faced.

100% – Frank Lampard maintains a 100% win record against Portsmouth in all 13 of his Premier League matches with the south-coast side.

173 – Only Alan Shearer (260), Andrew Cole (187), Wayne Rooney (176) and Thierry Henry (175) have scored more Premier League goals than Frank Lampard.

580 – Only Ryan Giggs (632) has made more appearances in Premier League history than Frank Lampard.

Next Page »