# FPL Podcast Observation: Always Cheating Ep 139: Fighting Shadows

While driving to office, I listen to an FPL podcast every day. Every day, I think of starting a podcast episode review column, and right after reaching office, I forget about it and start work.
Today, I am starting for work 30 minutes earlier, and using those 30 mins to write a quick review (or rather appreciate / critique one salient point) of the podcast I just listened to.

Starting with:
Always Cheating – Got introduced to this last week by @nickwright_80 . This is only the second episode I was listening of them – and it was very good indeed. Thankfully, they don’t do ‘entertainment’ – and also, almost anything FPL-based with an American accent sounds the closest I can be to home. As in, there’s no podcast with an Indian accent :) – and no, don’t give me ideas. Not happening.

This is from Always Cheating Ep 139: Fighting Shadows

The point discussed was in terms of Pedro, his essential-ness, and where he stands in the Sarriball stakes.

From an article at theFalse9 – below are some observations – on which i have transposed names of suitable Chelsea Players

Napoli always start with Sarri’s preferred 4 3 3 formation. The system is so good because its very fluid and it allows Napoli players to interchange freely, especially the front 3. The two defenders are a perfect partnership with Albiol (Luiz/ Christensen) the technically gifted of the two and Koulibaly (Rudiger / Cahill) providing the pace and power although not without ball playing skills of his own. The two full backs are very complete in defence and in attack with Ghoulam (Alonso) always trying to overlap but Hysaj (Azpilicueta) is a bit more stationary. Jorginho (eh, well, Jorginho) is the pivot in midfield, he is the controller who sets the tempo with his passing similar in style to Sergio Busquets. Allan is very good as a box to box midfielder helping out in both defence and attack (Kante, in his current role) with Hamsik an aggressive midfielder playing almost as shadow striker when Napoli have the ball (Kovacic  / Barkley) and he often interchanges positions with Mertens when Napoli have the ball. The front 3 contain some dazzling players who rightly get most of the plaudits, Insigne (Hazard ) is a skillful inside forward and play-maker. Mertens has been converted very successfully to a striker offering a different aspect in attack with his fluidity and pass (NOTE: This was initially Milik, and Morata approximates him. Surely Sarri can play with him. And of course Higuain before him fits in seamlessly). While Callejon (Willian/ Pedro – though Willian is a better fit) is an out and out winger who is mostly stationary down the right side

I believe Sarri’s preference is of a Morata kind of a player.
Higuain is similar is general stature and style to Morata – once Higuain left, with the money, Milik was bought – and Milik too is similar to Morata.
It was only after Milik was injured and out for the season that Mertens was converted to the CF extraordinaire.

I think that Morata will be given a fair shot. The crystal ball says that — After 5-6 GWs, when Sarri realises that Morata is gash ( :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: ), he will put Pedro in that slot – and then he will be essential, because Pedro is a) very good and b) very similar to Mertens – a speedy winger with a dead-eye finish. Pedro is a great fit to becoming Mertens vol 2.

 

Advertisements

#FPL – But Hazard is so inconsistent!

Sorry for the digression — Are we considering Liverpool’s defence now? Why? Aren’t they notoriously porous at the back?

What? We are! Why? Because they have a better defence now and have become defensively stable, you say?

Hazard has perhaps only ever played under defence-first managers at Chelsea. And now they have probably the most gung-ho attacking manager in the whole of Europe, coaching them.

If we are considering Liverpool’s defenders inspite of Liverpool’s recent history defensively (psst, even that was a bit of a myth) — we are doing so because of reality rather than history. We should do the same with Hazard.

#FPL : Alonso is STILL essential (And Sarriball is nice for FPL!)

Read a piece on Sarri’s formation – and wanted to share because it seems like Chelsea is a ready-made (or at least a very good) fit for the Sarri method.

Here is the link
http://www.thefalse9.com/2017/11/mauriz … ation.html

From the article – in parallel with inputs about the Chelsea players

Napoli always start with Sarri’s preferred 4 3 3 formation. The system is so good because its very fluid and it allows Napoli players to interchange freely, especially the front 3. The two defenders are a perfect partnership with Albiol (Luiz/ Christensen) the technically gifted of the two and Koulibaly (Rudiger / Cahill) providing the pace and power although not without ball playing skills of his own. The two full backs are very complete in defence and in attack with Ghoulam (Alonso) always trying to overlap but Hysaj (Azpilicueta) is a bit more stationary. Jorginho (eh, well, Jorginho) is the pivot in midfield, he is the controller who sets the tempo with his passing similar in style to Sergio Busquets. Allan is very good as a box to box midfielder helping out in both defence and attack (Bakayoko / Loftus-Cheek is the exact fit, but surely Kante, in his current role) with Hamsik an aggressive midfielder playing almost as shadow striker when Napoli have the ball (Kovacic  / Fabregas) and he often interchanges positions with Mertens when Napoli have the ball. The front 3 contain some dazzling players who rightly get most of the plaudits, Insigne (Hazard ) is a skillful inside forward and play-maker. Mertens has been converted very successfully to a striker offering a different aspect in attack with his fluidity and pass (NOTE: This was initially Milik, and Morata approximates him. Surely Sarri can play with him. And of course Higuain before him fits in seamlessly). While Callejon (Willian/ Pedro) is an out and out winger who is mostly stationary down the right side

A few hypotheses from my side:
1. Alonso will remain a very attractive purchase.
2. Kovacic at 6M could be a big bargain.
3. Whoever nails down the Chelsea forward position will be an incredible bargain. Morata (big, technically adept classical continental no.9) is the Higuain prototype, and Pedro (tiny quick converted winger with a great finish) is the Mertens have both been prolific.
4. I do not think this method will require too much time for Chelsea to adjust into.

Sarri-ball will be up and running soon…

Jose Mourinho, the football coach : the good and the bad

I would not talk about the pantomime villain act, or the eye-gouging antics, or the fawning by the media. This is what I think about Jose Mourinho, the football coach, in plain-speak football terms.

Jose is a superb reactive manager, one of the best. His best comes in setting up his team against attacking teams, nullifying the attack and knowing how to win, eventually. Only Rafa Benitez, of modern-day managers, compares. And Jose is better than Rafa.

Against weaker teams or teams that are playing on the counter against them ( or even, bless the term, parking the bus), his team’s always depend on individual talented players creating that one moment of magic – and his team’s always had such players- Deco, Maniche, Robben, Drogba, Duff, Eto’o, Sneijder, Cristiano, Benzema, Ozil, Hazard, Fabregas et al.

Most teams in the premier league have figured it out by now. Every team plays on the counter against them. And Hazard’s and Cesc’s poor form has made their attack rather impotent. Mourinho will not create great attacking movement, and set up his team to eviscerate opponent defenders. That is the reason his teams are floundering.

Is he a cheque-book manager, then? Yes and No. To win for Real Madrid or Chelsea, he would need a massive amount of money, as he is not much good in setting up to play attacking, winning football. But if you give him, say, a Stoke or a Villarreal to manage, he will overperform – he will have to be reactive then, and he is the best reactive manager around.

Note this, though. His team’s will do rather well against Man City, Man United, Arsenal and Liverpool. And in the Champion’s League.

And no, I will resist commenting about Jose Mourinho, the person.

Rafa Benitez has had a great half-season at Chelsea

No questioning that now – with the Europa league win.

And all of this while having to contend with the fans, who were disgusting, by the way.

Here’s a post from F365.

Well done, Rafa. Here’s hoping to see more of you at the Premier League, or if not, at the Bundesliga and the La Liga. Those are the only three leagues I follow :)

Premier League Playoff

If

(a) Arsenal win 2-1 at St James’ Park;

(b) Chelsea draw 0-0 at the Bridge against the Toffees on the final day,

Both teams will be identical on (a) points (b) GD (c) goals scored (d) goals conceded. 

and there could be a playoff to decide on third place.

Would not happen, surely. But in the realms of possibility. Interesting.

Stat courtesy F365.

Guardian: England is rushing in young players to the first XI

Read this article, superbly well said.

Guardian: Rushing young players into the England team does them few favours (England should follow the lead of France and Germany, who let their young players develop in youth teams)

Also, there is this superb comment by MirandaC, which needs re-posting. So here goes.

If England are threadbare at higher level it isn’t the fault of the top Premiership clubs whose academies are providing a footballing education second to none, as shown by the fact that three of the semi-finalists in this year’s NextGen, the under-19s CL, are English: Chelsea, Arsenal and Villa – the first two of which are all to often unthinkingly blamed for depriving young British talent of its rightful chance.

In fact almost a hundred percent of the intake into those clubs’ academies at age 9-10 is local. The question to ask, therefore, is why so many of those local kids who get to enjoy coaching and facilities that are the envy of the world from their earliest years fail to make it. What’s missing, the talent or the ambition and graft?

Don’t know about other clubs, but at Arsenal in recent years two English kids, Wilshere and Gibbs, who entered the academy at age 9 have made it into the first team; the others, many of whom were considered just as talented initially – e.g. Henri Lansbury and Jay Emmanuel Thomas – did not, reportedly because they fooled about and failed to put in the grind. Of Arsenal’s current Next-Gen first-choice team only three (Chuba Akpom, Isaac Hayden and Nico Yennaris) are English; the remainder are Bulgarian, German, Dutch, Catalan, Swiss … i.e. kids who entered the academy in their mid- teens but who in a couple of years have risen to the top, leaving their English counterparts lagging behind.

It seems unlikely that these foreigners are innately more talented, especially in the case of the Catalans and Germans who, had they clearly been embryo Iniestas and Messis, would surely have been snapped up by Barca and Bayern’s academies rather than exiled to cold, rainy London? It must, then, be the other factor that makes for success: application. Foreign kids are putting in the effort and making better use of the coaching and facilities than the locals who’ve enjoyed them from their earliest years.

Since being lousy at football isn’t built into the English gene pool, and since there’s no lack of opportunities provided by top Premiership clubs, that leaves us with the culture at large. More precisely it leaves us with the football media.

Instead of giving NextGen the coverage it deserves, the Guardian has treated us to a series of space-fillers – e.g. that one about England’s Rio hotel. This epitomizes the problem. Youth development, kids’ stuff, who gives a fuck about that? Which clubs are doing an excellent job and deserve applause for their success – that’s Arsenal, Villa and Chelsea – and which clubs are not and deserve to be shamed – that’s City who failed to make it through their NextGen group – does the Guardian give a toss? No, it does not. What it cares about, or imagines its readers care about, is the waterbeds and shopping and security at England’s Rio hotel. Why are we surprised that 13-14-year-old English kids have absorbed our interests and values? We’ve taught them that their little competitions where they get to pit their skills and graft against their contemporaries at Europe’s top clubs are of no importance or interest; still less important was the work that produced their success. What’s important in England is shopping and waterbeds in a luxury hotel already booked for a tournament that England haven’t yet qualified for. English football doesn’t do football, not as such; it just does footballing bling.

The Guardian is quasi-left-lib, and sometimes does not remain my cup of tea; but the comments are often amazing! Here’s one.