As the cold (Oh the cold!) descends, the fog of war, a contradiction, rolls smoothly away.
We will soon know far more about the footballs than every before.
After the next two fixtures we will be one third (a whole third!) of the way through the season and, baring major changes in January, be in a much better position to make predictions on the final outcome of the Premier League. Despite excellent starts the forerunners Arsenal, Liverpool, and Southampton have much to prove as the under performing Goliaths lurk in the shadows of the pack, observing with malicious intent. Six points all that separates eight from first, Man City from Arsenal, beating similar opposition vital.
Everton can solidify their lofty position with a credible draw, or perhaps win against favored, but Sturridge-less Liverpool today. Stuttering Chelsea require a strong three points and nothing less at Upton Park, whilst Fulham, Stoke, Crystal Palace and Norwich can only hope to find some form in the next few outings. The game of the day however is undoubtedly the Saints away at the Emirates. It is testament to Southampton’s start that an away victory today would not be a great surprise. Arsenal will want to continue their excellent form, but after a busy international break keeping intensity high will be their main focus, something Southampton will unquestionably bring to the table.
On to Sunday the obvious big game is Man City and Spurs, however I see this a comfortable victory for the Blues. Tottenham have not impressed (yet) and I can see a very strong City will envelope them – This season perhaps too soon for their new additions. The more important fixture is perhaps at the City Stadium. Over the past few seasons there has been an ever growing reliance on beating those below you and securing ‘bankable’ points. This an area where United have struggled, with much to prove against lesser opposition. Away at an organised Cardiff will be a stern test.
Time is short, kickoff at Goodison awaits, so adieu.
O’ Jose Enrique.
O’ he standeth as if a mountain of man.
St. Francis of Assisi
Enrique has received a far amount of criticism in the past few months and I for one, don’t quite understand why. Well. If I’m totally honest I can understand some of the criticism, but I am more able it seems to overlook his flaws for what he brings to the side.
A lot of kopites comment on his often erratic workrate (in defence), his often bewildering positioning/marking and his inability to retain possession. Although the later is a concern I see no major problem here. Rodgers spoke at length and often about philosophy and systems football. His tenure began amid discussions of ‘sterile domination’ and ‘ball recycling’. However as has been widely noted this season we have begun to see a much more pragmatic Liverpool. A Liverpool whose strategy seems to be getting the best out of the players at her disposal. This is the context of the argument for the defence of Jose Enrique.
Enrique is fast, he is very strong, determined, courageous. Has a sweet left foot capable of playing curled 60 yard through-balls, possesses excellent technique and ability to play one touch passing moves into the final third. He also seems like a very nice amiable chap who would benefit any dressing room. Just look how happy he always is.
Just look at him!
There aren’t many left backs who get as involved in attacking moves as he does, in quality attacking moves, and for a team who plays mostly down the right, with Johnson, this is incredibly important for the sake of balance. He is not required to defend often – especially when Agger is deployed inside his right, in a bank of three centre backs. However when he does his strength and pace allow him to get back in, to be involved. He isn’t the best, but he’s certainly not the worst.
For a team setup to be a flat track bully fullbacks capable of genuine contribution in the attacking thirds are invaluable. In this respect Enrique is an important cog in the machine. Although competition and backup were required, Cissokho has provided now it. However talk of replacements are premature and naive; Liverpool is no longer the first choice destination for the world’s elite. Until Anfield’s PA system blares out Handel’s majestic strings once more this discussion should be benched. (Unlike Jose).
After a lengthy layoff it felt time to update the content on my blog a little bit. In the coming months I shall endeavor to inspire debate with some interesting, insightful articles, but failing that at least list my bets and predictions for whichever games hold my fancy.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace
The story of the day will undoubtly be about the impact, or lack of, provided by the inflated deadline day purchase Fellaini. However any such impact will have to be from the bench today. United have struggled going forward this season and Crystal Palace will be looking to make a point and show a solid performance.
My bets (influenced by @lukeymoore ‘s betfair betting article):
- Draw/Manchester United @ 5
- Draw @ 7.2 – Cash out option
- > 2.5 Goals @ 2.7
Stoke City vs Manchester City
Manchester City’s wealth of playing assets have so far failed to make a massive impact on the Premier League but it’s still early days. I have no doubt that City will be title contenders this year however it may take them a while to find their feet. In this game I’ve gone of the Stoke win with the intention of cashing out. Crouch early worldy please?
- Stoke @ 6 – Cash out option
Tottenham v Norwich
Tottenham are yet to score from open play this season which although a worry for Spurs fans is almost certainly an anomaly. Regardless I don’t see this game being easy at all for the men in white. Norwich have made a so-so start to the year (1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss) but have scored 3 goals in 3 premier league games and put 6 past Bury in the league cup. With a heavily strengthened attack I don’t foresee a lack of goals in this Norwich side. For this reason the draw at 4.7 offered good value in my eyes.
Everton vs Chelsea
Everton for my money came out of the transfer window in the best nick having brought in Gareth Barry, James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku. It is a shame that Lukaku will not be allowed to play against his former club, however it will be interested to see how Everton’s midfield lines up today. Chelsea will have the edge in this game but Mourinho will be loathe to go behind away from home. I predict an edgy affair.
Southampton vs West Ham
Southampton have been less impressive than they showed at times in the league last season, perhaps a sign that the Pochettino effect has begun to wear off. West Ham are always a solid contender under Allardyce who will be buoyed with a midweek appearance on a League of Their Own. They’ve also made a great start to the season, despite missing Andy Carroll (Will he ever be fit) so I feel there is great value at 5.
Aston Villa vs Newcastle
The ‘young’ villa side have impressed many in the final games of 2012/13 and will continue to do so this season. Newcastle failed to make any substantial signings this season and there is surely internal turmoil with weasle figure of Joe Kinnear lurking in the shadows so I can see a big win here today. One final word – Benteke.