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Season so far – Part Two; Burnley, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham and Hull

Burnley

 

At the start of the season if you would have said to Owen Coyle or any Burnley fan that the club would be 11th after ten games they would have bitten your hand off.

 

The home defeat to Wigan would have caused some concern for Coyle but I’m sure that it will serve to galvanise them for the next home game. I think that the danger for Burnley and the reason why I think they’ll struggle this year is due to depth of squad. This is not necessarily due to not having enough quality but rather a lack of experience. Also, it has to be questioned how long Graham Alexander will be able to survive into a Premier League campaign. He is a leader in the team and hugely experienced. Unfortunately he is 38 and it is difficult to play 80% of games at the intensity of the Premier League.

 

In January I think Coyle needs to get someone with experience of a Premier League relegation fight in the team. Someone along the lines of Robbie Savage would be the right type of player. Obviously not Savage himself as I don’t think the Blackburn connection will help, but someone of his ilk.

 

P.S. The Beast is looking to be a liability

 

Chelsea

 

They look by far and away the strongest contenders for the title; very fluid in midfield and attack and lots of options.

 

Two things will stop Chelsea from winning the league. One is the African Cup of Nations, particularly if they can’t buy players as a result of Kakuta. However, which player would want to go to Chelsea knowing that if the transfer bans happens then they will not be sold under any circumstances. For example, David Villa moves to Chelsea in January. They lose their appeal at CAS and the transfer bans kicks in, running until summer 2011. Villa finds life in the Premier League or England difficult and wants to go home. Chelsea can sell but can’t buy a replacement; would they sell?

 

The other factor is the appalling defending continues. Chelsea may be able to score at least two against most teams but two decent set pieces from the opposition will see a draw come out. The trouble with the defending is that it is not a problem which is easily fixable. Chelsea’s defenders are not kids and it will be tough to teach them how to defend set pieces. I would think that Carvalho has to be dropped once Alex is back up and running.

 

Everton

 

A stop start season so far with a lot more stops than starts. Everton started quite badly last season as well but had picked it up by now. All Everton fans will cite the Phil Neville tackle at Manchester Utd and the catalyst.

 

Everton are playing with a few new players which always disrupts a team which is built on organisation. The squad is strong, well balanced and I think it is a matter of time before results start coming their way. Questioning what has gone wrong is difficult as it is not just one big problem but lots of minor problems.

 

Clean sheets should be the priority for the next couple of games and ensuring that Phil Neville is replaced adequately. I would play Moyles favourite 4-5-1 for the next couple of games and resist the temptation to play two of three good strikers available. This should grind out some results and but Everton back on track.

 

Fulham

 

I have written about my thoughts on Fulham’s season overall (see previous post) and I have to say that so far the start has gone contrary to my expectations.

 

The goals have been following from a number of different areas of the pitch and the defence, whilst not watertight, is holding its own.

 

My concern, alongside those mentioned in the earlier post, is that the goals being scored are not ‘standard’ goals. By that I mean that not enough goals are being scored in a calculated way, most are being scored from distance, after ricochets in the penalty box or an opponents mistake. Contrast that with Chelsea’s goals, most come from a predicable move. That type of goal dries up a lot quicker than others and when they do I see Fulham starting to falter.     

 

Hull

 

Words cannot describe the trouble Hull are in. To all Hull fans…be thankful Portsmouth exist so that at least you have someone to mock.

 

In January Hull need to sell players and prepare for the Championship. Don’t start to think you’ll get out of this mess and spend even SOME money. How Phil Brown is still in a job is beyond my comprehension.

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The psychology of taking the lead against Man Utd

One aspect of Burnley’s victory over Man Utd which has not, to my mind, been discussed is the psychological boost it could give other teams.

Man Utd, if behind in a football match, would simply attack, attack and attack. The opposition’s defence would get deeper, ultimately concede and defeats which were on the cards would be turned into draw or victories. There was almost a belief that the equalising goal would inevitably happen. As a viewer I feel the same way; I expected Man Utd to score at least once. The game against Aston Villa last season is prime example of how this mentality can also affect teams which should have more self belief. 

Burnley, having hung on under immense pressure might have gone some way to shatter the defeatest mentality which all teams have when playing Man Utd. However, one other aspect will come into play when teams find themselves in a similar situation. Man Utd are not the same Man Utd that created the fear – they a without two very important creative players. Whilst they have replaced Ronaldo and Tevez the aura has not be replicated.

Andrew Strauss, Englands cricket captain, mentioned that the Australians, minus McGrath, Warne et al did not carry with them the same aura. The feeling of inevitability often contributes more to the actual result that the performance of either side. If both teams expect one result then that result will happen. One expects that Man Utd will need to be defeated in a similar way once again before the image finally falls but Burnley have shown to the rest of the Premier League that the inevitable result is not so inevitable.

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