Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gylfi Sigurdsson is a World Class Player

I wanted to write this blog post for two reasons. 1 - because I need people to be aware of how good Gylfi Sigurdsson is. And 2 - because I need to distract myself from my painful flashbacks of Fernando Forestieri missing the penalty that dumped Sheffield Wednesday out of the playoffs...God that stings…

Gylfi Sigurdsson is a creative genius, a midfield maestro and can compete at the very top of European football if given the chance. A world class midfielder who deserves a chance to show his ability and may just get that next season.

I'm getting really into minimalist pictures lately. I'm not even sorry.

The Icelandic international has been receiving a lot of interest in recent weeks, with the likes of West Ham, Everton and Newcastle rumoured to be interested. West Ham have lacked a lot of creativity this season since Payet decided to be a ball bag whilst Everton are possibly looking for a replacement for Ross Barkley. Newcastle on the other hand are just looking to sign an experienced midfielder to help with their Premier League survival.

Truth be told I’m surprised that it’s the mid/lower league clubs that are interested in Gylfi. They’re all huge clubs but (no offense to Everton, West Ham and Newcastle) they’re don’t offer the European football that Sigurdsson should be looking for. In my opinion he is as good as the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Kevin De Bruyne...but I’ll touch on that later.

This season Sigurdsson has built a solid attacking partnership with Fernando Llorente, assisting 6 of Llorente’s 14 goals so far. This partnership has helped The Swansea midfielder to joint second in the assists table alongside Tottenham ace Christian Eriksen with 13. The only player with more assists is City albino Kevin De Bruyne with 16.

Adding to his creative brilliance he’s also scored 9 goals so far this season, a pretty good return for a midfielder. This has sparked some Swans fans to asked whether he is Swansea’s greatest ever player? If any of the Liberty City faithful want to weigh in, please feel free to comment below.

An absolute wand of a right foot.

His contributions this season for the Welsh side have been almost heroic. He’s scored some important goals in Swansea’s draws with Everton, league champions Chelsea and most recently against Manchester United, with his late free kick winning his side a point at Old Trafford.

Not only has he produced against the top sides, he has also proved his worth against fellow Premier League strugglers. He scored and assisted against Crystal Palace when the two sides met in November. He also repeated this performance against Sunderland a couple of weeks later...but that hardly counts because it’s Sunderland...I could score and assist against Sunderland...

Sigurdsson has stated that he’s not forcing a move from Swansea which is an admirable act from the Icelander. But in my opinion if he wants to progress his own career he needs to move away and if the offers are good enough it may force The Swans’ hand. Question is what price would be good enough?

Like I said earlier Everton are possibly looking for a replacement for Ross Barkley. Some papers are putting the price on Barkley’s head at around £50 million...I just don’t know where they get these prices from. For me Sigurdsson realistically would be worth £20 million, a good return considering he cost Swansea £8.5 million.

Do you guys remember earlier when I said I’d prove this kid is just as good as Fabregas and De Bruyne? Eh do you? Eh? Well that time is right now motherfucker! So sit back, strap in and watch as I lay down facts and figures all up in this bitch! The first few are a little dodgy so bare with me.

Sigurdsson plays on average 2.1 key passes per game this season. This puts him level with Fabregas but a little way off De Bruyne (2.9), Ozil (3) and Eriksen (3.1). The Icelander also has a pass success rate of 76.5%, the lowest of all these players. The second lowest is Eriksen on 80%. Like I said not great stats.

One positive stat for Gylfi is that he marks an assist every 249 minutes in the Premier League. When compared to Fabregas (assist every 113 minutes) and De Bruyne (every 175 minutes) it doesn’t look that great but he is almost on par with Christian Eriksen (every 237 minutes) and has obliterated Mesut Ozil who manages one assist every 345 minutes!
~ Side note: I’ve also worked out that despite Ozil’s minute per assist record, he does create one chance every 29 minutes. Could Arsenal’s strikers be blamed for Ozil’s poor form? That’s a post for another day kids ~

The stats are coming thick and fast here guys so keep up. 19% of the Swansea midfielders chances result in goals which puts him more or less on par with Cesc (20%) and KDB (19%). This stat is also incredibly impressive when compared to Eriksen’s 12% and Ozil’s 8%.
~ Again another statistic that shows Ozil might not be fully to blame…~

The biggest statistic is the one that proves he’s Swansea’s most important player. 28% of the clubs chances come from Siggy while he also scores 28% of their goals. Which is a higher percentage than any of the other players listed. In fact altogether, Sigurdsson has a direct impact (either scored or assisted) in 51% of all of Swansea’s goals this season. Further proof that if the Welsh side lost him, they’d be up shit creak.

An absolute wand of a ri...wait I've already said that...

I think the most impressive thing about these stats from Sigurdsson is that he’s managed to do it whilst playing at Swansea. I’m not saying Swansea are a poor side, just that they have on average a lot less possession than the top sides in the division, with an average of 48% possession this season. You have to wonder how well Gylfi would do in a side that keeps the ball better like Chelsea (52%), Man City (59%), Arsenal (55%) or Tottenham (55%).

Now some people might be saying that the midfield maestro had his chance back in 2012 when Tottenham signed him for £8.5 million. A big move from Hoffenheim was just what Sigurdsson needed...but it wasn’t to be all sunshine and daisies. Due to the tactic Harry Redknapp had in place, Gylfi had to either play central which restricted his creativeness or play on the wing and out of the action.

Tottenham that season had a plethora of talent, most of which were better options for ‘Arry’s tactics at the time. Players like Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, Sandro, Dembele, Dempsey, etc. He was only 23 and other than a brief successful loan spell with Swansea, he was still yet to prove himself fully in the Premier League.

He featured in a rotation system for Spurs but couldn’t quite nail down that starting position, featuring more in cup competitions like the successful Europa League competition which The Lilywhites will always remember as the competition when Gareth Bale ruined Maicon’s career...ah nostalgia.

There have been talk of possible replacements at Swansea for Sigurdsson, one link being Ryad Boudebouz. I’m gonna be honest when I say I’ve never heard of this guy in my entire life, so just for that reason I’m gonna label him a gamble. For me they need to find someone reliable and with Premier League experience.

Possibly Jason Puncheon? Might be a couple of groans when reading that but he is a surprisingly creative player for Palace, has a wealth of experience, is a leader on the pitch and can play in quite a number of different positions. But what do I know? I just attempt to write a below standard blog...and I can barely do that.

Anyways I’m off to go cry into a Wednesday shirt whilst singing songs of happier times…

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Cheers for reading.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mourinho's Standard of Success

We’re at that point of the season where the league is more or less wrapping itself up. Chelsea have won the league, the bottom teams have confirmed relegation and Man City are realistically only one win away from guaranteeing the last Champions League place. You’d think I’d struggle to find something to write about...oh no…

Jose Mourinho came out the other day, saying this season will still be successful even if his Manchester United side don’t win the Europa League. Admittedly he did quickly follow this up by saying if he was in anyone else's position it might not be great but this is still by far one of the dumbest claims the Portuguese has ever come out with.

Some how Man United got through to the final after a headed winner from Fellaini...
By whose standards would this be a successful season for Manchester United? Jose Mourinho has won multiple Champions League trophies, won leagues in four different countries and has never finished below 3rd in a full season since his first full year managing Uniao De Leiria back in 2001/02. For him, finishing fifth and missing out on Champions League football is a dreadful season.

What about the Manchester United supporters? The Red Devils fans have been brought up competing in the Champions League as well as challenging for the Premier League every season. Admittedly they’ve hit a rough patch of late since Fergie retired. Last season they finished fifth and won the FA Cup and that was deemed a poor season. How can they now say, 12 months later, that finishing sixth and winning the EFL trophy is a successful season?

How about the owners, maybe they would think it’s successful? Well I don’t know about the Glazers but if I spent £157 million on three players (four if you included Ibrahimovic) and didn’t get a Champions League place next season...I’d be pretty pissed.

Bailly (£32 mil), Mkhitaryan (£35 mil), Pogba (£89 mil) and Zlatan (free) cost a
combined £157 million.
It wouldn’t be a bad season if you were someone like Burnley: not had European football since the 1960’s, Sean Dyche’s highest career point is winning promotion from the Championship and The Clarets have only spent around £38 million on six players...but this is England’s most successful club. Everyone involved with Manchester United should have higher standards than this.

The only way this can become a successful season is if Man U win the Europa League. This gets them a place in the play-off rounds of the Champions League which I have to say Mourinho and his team will have no trouble getting through.

Truth be told I’m beginning to think that Mourinho made up these contingency plans as soon as he was offered the United job. He knew what was required of him and decided to come up with backup plans as to how to achieve it or at least look good whilst attempting to do it.
Plan A: Finish in top four - he knows Champions League’s the aim so this would be his first plan.
Plan B: Win Europa League - If top four looks unlikely change attention to Europa League. Winning this will gain entry to the Champions League.
Plan C: Finish fifth - If all else fails Jose can at least finish fifth and start from the exact same point next season. Start plan over again.
I have to say I can’t really begrudge him for having backup’s...there are some managers in the league who haven’t even got a plan A let alone a plan B or C…*cough* Alan Pardew *cough* Pep Guardiola *cough*.

Jose has admitted himself that this has been the hardest of his career. You can really tell from his side's performances against the top six sides in the Premier League. He’s only managed to take 10 points from top six teams this season, 8 of which came at home. When you compare that to his first season back in the Premier League with Chelsea (2013/14) it makes for much grimmer reading as he managed to take 23 points against the top six teams (15 at home).

Some readers might be thinking “Mourinho’s record looks bad but I bet Van Gaal’s record was worse”. It’d be fair to assume that but also wrong as LVG managed 16 points from top six sides, winning 9 of those points at Old Trafford. That’s still not a great record but at least both managers were better than David Moyes who got a whopping 6 points…
~ Side note: Sir Alex Ferguson surprisingly only got 14 points against top six sides in his last season at the Theatre of Dreams. Make of that what you will ~

Mourinho’s target next season will surely be securing a Champions League position, to do that he’ll need to sign not just big names but also big players. I want to say he’ll struggle to sign these types of players without Champions League football but that’s clearly bullshit as he signed Zlatan and Pogba in the Summer with only the allure of the Europa League. And let's be honest, the Europa League is basically the ugly mate of the Champions League. No one’s first choice but you’ll have a go if there’s no other option.

Speaking of Zlatan, there’s been talk of him leaving in the Summer. If Mourinho wants to be able to reach the high standards set at United he’ll need goals. Now the Red Devils have struggled for goals this season, but not due to a lack of a goalscorer. I believe the reason they seem to struggle in front of goal is because they lack a player who can open teams up at ease.

These guys have scored 14 goals between them. Should they be doing more?
Emil Forsberg of Leipzig in the Bundesliga would be my first choice signing if I was Mourinho.With 18 assists and 8 goals in 29 Bundesliga appearances this season, Forsberg would be an ideal player for a Manchester United midfield that has struggled to threaten opposition goals this season. At 25 as well he’s still got a good number of years left in him.

For the love of God though don’t play Fellaini behind him. If you want the best out of your creative midfielders you need a class defensive midfielder to back him up. Now admittedly Ander Herrera has been impressive lately, working hard and breaking up play intelligently but I would still look to sign another holding midfielder.

For me Josuha Guilavogui (best of luck to commentators reading that name) would be a shrewd signing from Wolfsburg. He’s had a good season for Die Wolfe, making 2.7 tackles per game and a whopping 4.6 interceptions which is almost double the amount his countryman N’Golo Kante has made this season….

Possible targets Josuha Guilavogui (left) and Emil Forsberg (right).
Actually what am I saying? I don’t even like Man United. Mourinho should resign Fabio and play him up front with Fellaini. Play a 1-1-9 formation with one defender, one midfielder and no goalkeeper. These plans are sure to put a smile on Old Trafford faithful faces....and if it doesn’t it’ll definitely put a smile everyone else’s face.

Last point I want to make is that I may seem a little overly critical of Jose Mourinho at times, this is simply down to his arrogance. I hate how cocky he is but I’ll be honest, I can’t blame him. With a record like his you can understand his confidence. I may not like his tactics but I can’t argue with the results.

This picture doesn't even include the EFL Trophy he won this season. 
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Cheers for reading.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Bottom Three 16/17

Well, here we are again. This is the third year in a row I’ve made a prediction about who the bottom three are and I seem to leave it later and later each least last year I got my prediction right.

Since I’ve left it so late two teams have already been relegated leaving me to choose only one side to join them in the Championship. But who will it be? Well before we get into that I want to start by giving a word to the team that have relegation already confirmed; Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

Who will be following Sunderland and Middlesbrough to the Championship?
Now Middlesbrough I was rather surprised about. In the Summer the Teessiders signed some rather high profile players and to me looked a shoo in for safety and possibly a mid table push. But after signing Victor Valdes and Negredo one week, Aitor Karanka found himself signing Brad Guzan and Fabio the next…

It didn’t get much better in January as to help with their lack of goals Middlesbrough turned to Villa hitman Rudy Gestede who had scored 9 goals in 50 appearances for The Villains and Patrick Bamford who if I’m right had never started a Premier League game. It wasn’t entirely down to the players though as the board didn’t help matters

For me if you’re going to sack a manager in the Premier League you have to do it either before January or not at all...Aitor Karanka was sacked in the middle of March, winning only one game since then. How is the next manager supposed to do anything if he can’t bring in his own players?

Both sides had been poor, like really really poor.
Speaking of bringing in his own players David Moyes’ Sunderland side were relegated despite the Black Cats boss’ attempt at “bringing the band back together”. Despite bringing in Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe and Joleon Lescott, the Scot couldn’t steer his side away from a rock bottom finish. The only players in that side who can hold their head up are veteran goalscorer Jermain Defoe and upcoming goalkeeper Jordan Pickford…

I don’t want to talk much about the Wearsiders after such a torrid season but I do want to give a few words to David Moyes as I do feel bad for him. After a hard couple of years since leaving Everton I thought this could be his big chance but sadly Sunderland has been a club in a nose dive for years. If anyone blames Moyes solely for Sunderland’s relegation then they’re having a laugh.

League table with boring numbers and stuff.
Right onto the teams that are looking to survive and I’ll start with Burnley. The Clarets have had a good Premier League season by their standards, flirting with mid table for some parts of the season which is rare for them. A lack of goals has been an issue for them but thankfully they’ve managed to keep them out of the other end with some heroic performances from Michael Keane, Ben Mee and club captain Tom Heaton.
~Side note: How Heaton didn’t get into the team of the year I’ll never know ~

I love watching their grit and determination when they play. Sean Dyche is to thank for that with his intelligent defensive setup and gravelly man mouth. I do think though their lack of goals has come down to a lack of top quality chances being created. Hopefully Dyche brings in a next level creative player next season. Possibly Sigurdsson from Swansea?

Next up in 15th we have Watford who honestly didn’t surprise me in their drop down the league. Last season if they conceded goals they could rely on Odion Ighalo to pull them out the shit...well for the first half of the season they could. After an impressive 2016 in the Premier League Ighalo scored 13 goals before Christmas. He only added 2 more before the end of the season, finishing on 15 Premier League goals…

To replace that kind of threat Watford needed to sign an experienced goalscorer, a Charlie Austin, Danny Ings or possibly a Jermain Defoe. Instead they opted for unknown talent Isaac Success and West Ham reject Zarate neither of which were goalscorers before. Admittedly these gambles could have come good...but how often do you see that happen?

Deeney and Ighalo managed 31 goals between them. Like Sutton and Shearer these two.
Crystal Palace are next and for me, safe. Sometimes football can be quite predictable; they have a good goalscorer in Benteke, some top creative talent in Zaha, Cabaye and Puncheon, and a good defense to back them up. To top it all they have Big Sam as manager, the guy has never been relegated…

The only reason they’re in this predicament is because Alan Pardew couldn’t manage a fart after a full tin of beans. He’s the type of manager that will continue to get work even though he’s a shite manager. I have the utmost confidence that Sam Allardyce will lead Crystal Palace away from relegation and onto a mid table finish next season, you mark my words.

In 17th is Swansea. Now I look at their team and it’s a good intelligent passing side. The only issue I have with Swansea is the same issue I have with Man City, that defenders shouldn’t look pretty, they should do the dirty work and just get rid when under pressure. I would take Ryan Shawcross over John Stones any day of the week.

A proper old fashioned centre half!
Ashley Williams was a great defender for the Swans. Could pass it about but first and foremost knew how to fucking defend. For me that’s been their biggest downfall this season, that they haven’t replaced that influence, that leader at the back. I think Mawson looks to be a good player but it’ll be a long while before he’s as good as the Welshman Williams.

Lastly in 18th are The Tigers Hull City. This side were destined for relegation at the start of this season. At the start of this campaign people were wondering whether they would beat Derby County’s record of worst ever Premier League points haul and with good reason. They started the season with only 13 fit players…

To put it bluntly Hull’s owner Assem Allam has fucked the club over royally. His one saving grace is that he brought in their new Portugese boss Marco Silva who has worked wonders with the club gaining an impressive 40% win percentage since his arrival in January. Let that be a lesson to Middlesbrough, this is what happens when you give a new manager a chance...

He's good but all-in-all he's just a poor mans Carlos Carvalhal
Now that I’ve talked about all the teams it’s time for my decision and I’m gonna predict that the bottom three will finish:

18 | Hull City
19 | Middlesbrough
20 | Sunderland

Not much of a prediction because as I said earlier it’s all more or less been decided for me. For me it went down to either Hull or Swansea and the reason I pick Hull is simply because their fixtures are a lot tougher than Swansea’s. While the Swans travel to Sunderland before ending the season at home to West Brom, Hull have to play fellow strugglers Palace away before playing second placed Tottenham at home.

It’s been a poor season for both sides and will only get worse for either relegated team. I can see Harry Maguire getting snapped up by a larger club and if he doesn’t then there really is something wrong with the state of managers in the Premier League.  I can also see Gylfi Sigurdsson going to top four side as statistically he is just as creative as Cesc Fabregas and Kevin De Bruyne!

Some one big please sign this kid. He's class and deserves the chance.
But anyway’s that’s me done for today. Last thing I want to say is less about football and more about this blog. I’ve noticed I’ve been getting a lot of views from Mauritius? Not a clue how but hey ho I’m not complaining. Weird point to end on but it just made me smile a bit.

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Cheers for reading.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Arsenal Contract Woes

I have just read that Arsene Wenger has come out and said that if his Arsenal side don’t get top four, it won’t affect his key players’ decisions to leave the club in the Summer. Now I don’t know what the Frenchman’s been smoking but it must be making him as high as the expectation level of an average Arsenal supporter.

Will Sanchez and Ozil leave if Arsenal miss out on Champions League football?
To turn round and say this is like saying that his players don’t care about Champions League football, that they are playing at Arsenal because they love the club and are only interested in playing for the Gunners fans that pay to watch them week in week out...but if that was the case then surely Sanchez and Ozil would have already signed their contracts by now...

Missing out on the biggest tournament in club football can end contract talks in the blink of an eye. Missing out on top four can more or less double a player’s wage demands over night. If there was ever a time for Wenger to scrap his fancy style of play and begin grinding out wins, now is that time!

With only four games remaining for Arsenal, they have got to hope and pray that both of the Manchester teams slip up whilst the North London club gain maximum points. With a game in hand against already relegated Sunderland, it’s all to play for as Arsene Wenger looks to achieve a Champions League spot for the 21st consecutive season.

Now if they do achieve it then it would be a huge addition to an already amazing record but if they don’t then in my opinion they can kiss goodbye to any chance of retaining the services of Alexis Sanchez.

Without a doubt he's one of the best players in the league.
Alexis Sanchez has been by far Arsenal’s best player this season scoring a whopping 19 goals and assisting another 9 on top of that in the Premier League. On average he plays 2.2 key passes and completes 2.7 dribbles per game in the Premier League. Due to him having such an impressive season he’s turned a lot of heads his way, the biggest of course being Bayern Munich.

In my opinion the Chilean international is as good as Hazard and would be a top player in any side in world football...and he knows it. He know’s that he has been Arsenal’s best player this season and that he deserves Champions League football. So I predict that if Arsenal don’t get top four, Alexis Sanchez will be on the phone to his agent within seconds of the final result.

The other player that has had a lot of newspaper inches devoted to his contract negotiations is German international Mesut Ozil. The bug-eyed fuck has received a lot of criticism this year as he’s not quite lived up to how amazing he was in the 15/16 season. The german got 6 goals and 19 assists as well as averaging 4.2 key passes per game in the Premier League last term.

But sadly for him this season has only amassed 7 goals and 6 assists whilst playing a much lower 2.7 key passes per game (which is still a good stat to have by the way). Despite this drop in form the former Real Madrid man is still highly rated among the Emirates faithful who believe that successful contract negotiations with Mesut is must!

Would the likes of Pires and Bergkamp receive the same treatment as Ozil?
While I’m on the subject of Mesut Ozil receiving criticism, I think some of the negative comments said about the German are completely over the top. Fans have accused him of being lazy, workshy and that he goes missing in big games. For me all of these comments have been brought on due to Wenger not signing a holding midfielder in the Summer/January like everyone knew he should have done…

I know that a lot of football fans (myself included) thought that the Arsenal boss had really turned a corner when he began flashing the cash, spending big bucks on big name players instead of signing unheard of talents in the hope that he could mold them into big name players only for Man City to steal them a few years later. If there is anyone reading this who believes Wenger is doing this...I’m sorry to break it to you…

Wenger hasn’t made a big name signing since Alexis Sanchez and that was 3 years ago! He had his big chance last Summer when he tried to sign NGolo Kante. The French midfielder had just won the Premier League with Leicester before playing his part in getting his country to the final of the European Championships. £32 million for Kante was a bargain.

I read that Wenger had the cheek to imply that the midfield tank only went to Chelsea because they were offering him silly wages...they offered £110,000 a week. Now admittedly that is a lot of money but considering that Arsenal pay Aaron Ramsey £80,000 a week and Jack Wilshere £90,000 a week you have to seriously consider that Arsene is genuinely on drugs.

Do you agree that Arsenal missed a trick?
Contracts at Arsenal at quite poor anyway when you really look at them. They only ever seem to hand out 4/5 year contracts! That's all well and good if you want to keep young talent at the club but when you’re offering £90,000 a week for 5 years to a player who has never played in this league then questions should be asked.

Now I don’t mind Shkodran Mustafi but offering him £90,000 a week and a 5 year contract is a huge gamble. The same goes for Granit Xhaka, he’s not a dreadful player but in my opinion he’s not good enough for where Arsenal want to be. And how the fuck did Gabriel manage to swindle a 5 year contract? £50,000 a week?! not worth £5 a week…

That's not to say that Wenger gets it wrong every time. The contract given to Rob Holding is perfect example of how things should be done. Currently on a 5 year deal that sees him get paid £10,000 a week. If he impresses over the next few years then Wenger should offer him a pay rise to maybe £30K or £40K a week. It just makes sense.

Alex Iwobi is another example on how to build up wages based on ability. He’s on £30,000 a week which again is a lot of money considering he is a gamble but for a player who is only 21 and already making appearances in the Nigerian national team is a safer gamble than a centre back who’s never even played for the Brazil U21’s let alone the first team...I’m looking at you Gabriel.

Moving on I think Wenger needs to seriously reevaluate where he pays his wages. Begin by giving less to the flair players and more towards the ones who keep the engine ticking. He can start by selling that shit house Aaron Ramsey. Don’t get me wrong I used to really like Ramsey...I think I stopped liking him though on the day he discovered that bleaching your hair automatically makes you a world class footballer…

...oh it doesn’t? Since when? Oh it only makes you think you’re a world class footballer? That would explain why Ramsey looks like Messi but plays like Luke Chadwick. Someone should really tell him before the Arsenal fans begin to hate him...oh they already do?...bugger…

Like Andros Townsend, Ramsey seems to perform better for his country than his club.
The Welshman showed signs of his amazing ability in 2013 when he scored 15 goals by December before being hit with an injury. Since then he’s not quite been able to recreate this form for his club but seems to be able to play everyone off the park whenever he plays for his country. For me if he want’s to make the Welsh proud Arsenal might as well just sell him back to Cardiff.

The other lad they need to let go is Jack Wilshere. I think too many Arsenal fans have gotten attached to this gremlin because he “hates Tottenham” and he’s “got potential”. Well he’s had that potential for about 8 years now, shit or get off the pot Jack. To add to this he’s constantly injured and can’t even perform for Bournemouth... how’s he supposed to take Arsenal forward if he’s dragging the Cherries backwards.

If the Gunners got rid of those two they’d be saving £170,000 a week. A WEEK! And Wenger said he couldn’t afford £110,000.
In all honesty though the last thing I want to do is blame Wenger for all of this. His “flair over efficiency” plan doesn’t help but the board are very far from squeaky clean. I just can’t wait for the Frenchman to bring out his autobiography...I imagine we’ll all get some answers then.

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Cheers for reading.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rashford or Zlatan?

As you can most likely tell from the title of this post I’m here to ask one question: should Jose Mourinho be choosing Marcus Rashford or Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front for Manchester United? And the answer to that is quite simple...neither. Fellaini should start up front on his own every week…

...of course I’m joking.

Since Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s cruciate ligament injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined for 8 months, Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford has gotten his chance to ply his trade and boy has he grabbed it. So far Rashford has put in a solid performance against top four challengers Manchester City, won a penalty (albeit in dubious fashion) against Swansea and scored the winner in a Europa League tie against Celta Vigo.

Obviously these kinds of performances raise questions on whether The Red Devils should offer Ibrahimovic a new contract or let him go in the Summer, trusting Rashford to push on and become the striker he’s proving he can be. Both are top quality strikers and both can still play their part in the future of Manchester United.

But which is better? Well let’s look at each player and see what they bring.

Which would you prefer?
Ibrahimovic is a strong focal point, an intelligent target man with a amazing touch and a great range of passing. The big Swede has made an impressive 1.7 key passes per game in the Premier League this season, most of which have been done by holding up the ball and spring well timed passes in behind defences for midfield runners. Just standard stuff for any target man really.

Rashford on the other hand is a very different kind of striker. He is a raw and direct talent, putting defenders under constant stress with his pace, sheer workrate and his dribbling ability. A very unselfish runner, he likes to pull defenders out of position to open up space for his teammates and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

So by those descriptions you begin to get the sense that these two guys are very different strikers, Zlatan relying more on his strength and intelligence while Rashford is more inclined to use his pace and workrate. Despite this, both of these two have a lot of similarities on the pitch; both can create chances, both are extremely threatening goalscorers and both can lead the line in a partnership as well as on their own…

But which is better? Let’s look at weaknesses.

Again we start with Zlatan. I imagine a lot of United fans would say that the number 9 has no faults. He’s bigger than God. He’s Chuck Norris’ dad. He’s fucking Zlatan! But sadly those fans would be wrong. Every player has their faults and Zlatan’s is his work rate. Little commitment to close down defenders means that midfielders have to work harder to retrieve the ball. It may not be a huge issue but when you pay £89 million for a creative midfielder who's constantly feels a bit like a waste of money.

Another weak point of Ibrahimovic which I have to admit is quite debatable is his recklessness. On average he makes 1.9 fouls per game in the Premier League which is more than 60 year old nut case Diego Costa who makes 1.3 per game. A stat like that could get you a reputation in this league and could make Ibra a target for any questionable decisions.

Look at Zlatan's face. No one who has made that face has ever been innocent.
Now as for Rashford he is still relatively new to the scene, only beginning his Alex Hunter-esque journey last season. Despite this we can still pick some weaknesses in the young lads game, one of which being his strength. Now obviously for his 5ft11 frame you wouldn’t expect him to be out-muscling hulking centre half’s off the ball but it is still a weak point in his game. He’ll most likely improve with this as his body naturally develops.

One thing I don’t think he’ll improve on is his inability to compete with players in the air. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with my last point that he is too weak, and unless he’s gonna turn into Peter Crouch or Akinfenwa over night I doubt United’s number 19 will be beating many players to a header.
~ Side note: I’d also like to add that I was extremely disappointed in Rashford for diving against Swansea. Hopefully that kind of thing stops now otherwise it will have to go down as another weakness for the future England prospect ~

So these guys have some contrasting weaknesses which makes me ask again…who is better?...that’s the last time now I swear.

For me as gutting as it is to see Ibrahimovic get injured, I feel it will be a blessing in disguise for Manchester United. Granted the Swedish international has scored 28 goals this season in all competitions but the lack of goals from other squad members is a direct correlation to Zlatan playing. This season United have struggled to score goals as teams have quickly learnt that Zlatan pulls the strings.

If you tell a player to man mark Ibrahimovic and make sure he doesn’t play any passes in behind then you’ve more or less stopped Man United’s whole attacking threat. On the other hand Rashford would probably relish being man marked as he can pull that player all around the pitch, opening up space for the likes of Mkhitaryan, Lingard, Martial, Mata, Valencia and even Paul Pogba.

I think that without Zlatan in the side they will lose their 20+ goal a season striker but will see many more goals from midfield. This campaign Mata, Martial, Mkhitaryan and Pogba have managed to score a pretty poor 14 goals between them in the league. In my opinion they should be looking to match the likes of Hazard, Pedro and Willian for Chelsea (30 goals between them) or Alli, Eriksen and Son for Spurs (37 goals between them).

What do you guys think? Should these three be scoring more goals?
All in all though I think that Manchester United are incredibly lucky to have this strength in depth up front. It must be a real head scratcher for Mourinho to decide what player would suit his tactic this week. I think if he offers a new contract to Ibrahimovic in the Summer and begins rotating the two a little more next season, then he could have a proper old fashioned title challenging Manchester United side. But what do I know.

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Cheers for reading.