Charlie Adam and Blackpool overcome the Baggies nine men by the seaside to record an historic first home Premier League victory. Tottenham’s key Dutchman offers cheer on the injury front. There’s back slapping from Mark Hughes, some self-congratulation from Nani and harsh words from Gerard Houllier on a former Fantasy favourite.
All this, plus the very latest on the Rooney, Tevez and Lampard injuries as we hit you with a Tuesday morning information blast…
Blackpool brought the curtain down on Gameweek 10 with an historic 2-1 win over West Brom at Bloomfield Road last night, a game that will be remembered for the pair of red cards dished out to the visitors and their plucky display which saw that the match continue as a spectacle right to the death.
Owners of Charlie Adam will feel a tinge of disappointment that he came out of the game with just a single goal and a 2 point Fantasy Premier League Bonus. Adam has now scored 3 times from the spot this season – so he is yet to notch a single goal from open play. We will doubtless see continued investment in the former Rangers man following last night’s haul but, there is a concern that, once Blackpool’s spot-kicks dry up (which they surely will), Adam will need to find another route to goal in order to maintain his current output.
Having been the subject of our recent “Spot the Differential“, both DJ Campbell and Luke Varney underlined their value as budget strikers by coming out of the game with assist and goal returns respectively.
West Brom will lose Pablo Ibanez for the weekend clash with City, whilst Gonzalo Jara will be out for three matches following his reckless tackle on Varney. Di Matteo will be hoping that Jonas Olsson recovers from the Achilles problem that kept him out of last night’s game to help solve the loss of Ibanez, while Steven Reid will likely get the nod and come in at right-back for the duration of Jara’s ban. Team news from the Hawthorns requires monitoring over the next few days as we tap into the prospects of James Morrison and Peter Odemwingie making returns against City; both missed out last night.
Speculative reports early on Monday seemed to suggest that Rafael Van Der Vaart could face up to three weeks out with the hamstring problem picked up in Spurs’ defeat at Old Trafford. By the end of the day reports were coming out of the Spurs camp that, along with Tom Huddlestone, the Dutch international joined training in hope of facing Inter Milan later today. Barring any setbacks, this can only lead to him being fit for the trip to Bolton on Saturday.
Nani has been filling in the boots of his departed team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo in more ways than one, most recently doing what he does best: talking himself up…
“I can say I’m one of the top players in the world. I play for the best club in the world and my role in the team is as a decisive player, scoring goals or setting up and so the team can win.”
It’s an unsurprising show of bravado from Nani, but given his performances through 2010 it certainly isn’t completely unfounded having now become very much a decisive player for United.
Over at Arsenal it has been confirmed Jack Wilshere has signed a new long term contract securing his time at the club for the foreseeable future. Arsene Wenger was, not surprisingly, as delighted as the player to close the deal and went on to offer some insight into Wilshere’s role in the Gunners midfield in tandem with skipper Cesc Fabregas. Talking of his midfield balance, Wenger stressed the need for his attack minded players to consider their defensive duties.
“We have many who like to attack, so we have to be intelligent to do the defensive job well because if you want to be efficient you need to defend well in midfield”
Wilshere has started just a single Premier League game with Fabregas so far, but there is a clear suggestion that Wenger sees the pair in the same midfield unit in the near future…
“Wilshere at the moment suits a deeper role and Fabregas a little bit higher. Wilshere can find a good pass through the lines and find Fabregas.”
When you consider that Alex Song looks a nailed on starter in his current form, and Theo Walcott will likely press for starts on the right from this point, the Gunners appear to have just one midfield spot vacant with Andrei Arshavin and Samir Nasri in competition for that start. It all spells a good deal of rotation around what is likely to be the two mainstays in the Arsenal midfield – Song and Fabregas.
Talking of midfield competition at the Emirates, Welsh youngster Aaron Ramsey returns to full training this week but isn’t expected to see first time action until well into December.
It was the turn of Yakubu to be one of the players to get a great big slap on the back from his manager, who revealed…
“”It was great for Yak to get the goal, I think if you work hard, the supporters appreciate you, your team-mates appreciate you and I think Yak’s certainly improved his work and he’s beginning to probably feel more confident in himself…He was alert and working hard and that probably led to him getting his chance and getting his goal.””
Team-mate Tim Howard has followed this up with quotes in this morning’s press, adding further backing for the striker…
“I think he’s shown some good form, he’s shown some brilliant flashes and has been working terribly hard so I hope his rewards will continue to come. I’ve never been around a more clinical finisher in all my life.”
After putting in some solid performances, but ultimately lacking the final touch, Yakubu will be looking to build his confidence after the weekend strike and it will only benefit Everton who had been bereft of goals from the strikers up until now.
Mark Hughes was effusive about his whole team after Fulham picked up their second victory of the term with the manager branding it “the best we’ve produced all year”. Two goal hero Clint Dempsey also reiterated the point by praising the team around him, whilst he continues to blink on our radars as an “out of position” candidate in midfield.
Still in the Craven Cottage camp, there’s news today that Dickson Etuhu is being earmarked for a return from injury for next Wednesday meet with Chelsea at the Bridge; that adds further competition for starts in the Fulham lineup of course.
The future of Stephen Ireland right now is not quite so bright. In the eyes of Villa boss Gerard Houllier, there’s plenty of room for improvement…
“He needs to work harder, He played against Chelsea and did well but against Sunderland he was not good enough for me. Simple as that. Skill is one thing but you need to compete as well…We know he is a good player, although I don’t want to have someone who you say ‘He is a good player but he loses too many balls’. He needs to get rid of the buts about him. He needs to work harder, his touch of the ball, his defensive effort.”
Quite damning words, by all accounts. And the £6.1m FPL midfielder is likely going to have to put in the shifts on the training pitch before he show signs of replicating the form that had him blinking on the fantasy radars of thousands back in 2008/9. Those quotes from Houllier would indicate that there is little threat of Ireland claiming the advanced midfield role in the 4-5-1 that Houllier appears to prefer for Villa right now. Expect Ashley Young to continue up with Emile Heskey or John Carew then; that’s good news for owners of Marc Albrighton.
Ireland’s team-mate Steve Sidwell was due to have surgery on an Achilles tendon problem but has since confirmed that that has been put on hold after captain Stiliyan Petrov himself was ruled out through injury. Gerard Houllier said…
“Steve’s operation has been delayed because he and Nigel will be playing on a regular basis”
This pretty much confirms the midfielder is most like to take Petrov’s place and at £4.8m in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) joins the ranks of viable budget selections alongside the revitalised stand-in captain Nigel Reo-Coker, also pushing forward a fair amount at only £4.4m.
Another graduate of Reading’s last travails in the Premier League is Nicky Shorey, and after a stop-start couple of season’s at Villa he is now much more positive about his time at new club West Brom…
“This move has been vitally important for my career, I really needed it…Of course, when you’re not playing, for whatever reasons – and I won’t go into the ins and outs – questions are asked of you by certain people – and even by yourself. But I’ve always believed in my ability and hopefully now I can show what I can do.”
Since the injury to Marek Cech back in August, Shorey has been putting in strong performances, echoing his time at the Madjewski Stadium. With Cech now returning to fitness and also Joe Mattock, the England international, back in the frame, Shorey will have to keep performances up as his team-mates breathe down his neck.
Sam Allardyce was hopeful that both Gael Givet and Benjani would recover from the injuries that forced them to be substituted early on Saturday and so far Benjani has at least backed that up by saying…
“The gaffer was just cautious and I’m definitely okay for the next match.”
The Wayne Rooney injury situation remains clouded in doubt and mystery. Last week Sir Alex Ferguson indicated that Wayne Rooney would be absent from action longer than the initial three week prognosis given to him. Then we got a quote from the manager giving us an another timescale…
“I think Wayne Rooney will be out for another five weeks, He’ll have to pick up his fitness again. I would think five weeks should be about right.”
If that is the case, it would likely cement the Dimitar Berbatov/Javier Hernandez partnership for the mid-term, with six fixtures (WLV, mcy, avl, WIG, BLA, blp) to take place inside the next five weeks.
Then again, yesterday Ferguson offered us another timescale, reverting to the three-week prognosis…
“Wayne did a bit of running for the first time on Sunday…I was quite surprised and he is keen to get back. But we are monitoring the situation. He is just jogging and not doing much but when players can start jogging it gives you better circulation than just being in the gym. I still think it will be three weeks or so for him.”
Given the form of Hernandez, you can’t blame Rooney for stepping up his efforts to get back in contention.
Staying with United team news, and yesterday we were also alerted to the fact that Rio Ferdinand had been left behind when Alex Ferguson’s side departed for Turkey for tomorrow’s Champions League tie. Although the Birmingham press have cast doubt over Ferdinand’s involvement against Wolves at the weekend, the move seems more likely to be a precaution from the United boss and we would still expect Ferdinand to take his place in the starting XI against McCarthy’s side.
United also informed us that the likes of Jonny Evans, Anderson, Darron Gibson and Federico Macheda all missed the trip to Turkey because of flu. Elsewhere in the United camp, there is a suggestion that Ryan Giggs could make the Manchester derby date having returned to training last Thursday.
While Giggs could return for United, Carlos Tevez’ chances of making next Wednesday’s big clash appear to be fading. Reports this morning confirm that Tevez has remained back in Argentina on the advice of medical staff who warned on the dangers of a long haul flight with his thigh muscle injury. He will now return on Thursday, ruling him out of the trip to West Brom this weekend and making him an even bigger doubt for the clash with United that follows.
Frank Lampard’s belated return from injury could arrive this weekend with a good few stories claiming that the midfielder was on the verge of a comeback at Anfield on Sunday. Lampard’s return would give Carlo Ancelotti a slight selection headache having talked up the development of Yuri Zhirkov in the last 24 hours. Having stated that Zhirkov is “a very efficient player and I think he has a future”, Ancelotti would seem likely to bench the Russian should Lampard come back into the frame. We can’t take that for granted of course and much depends on Chelsea’s starting lineup in the Champions League against Spartak tomorrow night.
While Lampard lines up a return, Joe Cole looks set to miss the opportunity to line up against his former club. Cole picked up a hamstring injury at the Reebok on Sunday and reports yesterday indicated that he remains a major doubt for Sunday’s encounter. Liverpool are expecting scan results today.
Finally, Steven Taylor is due to make a return for Newcastle’s reserve team this afternoon and hopes to begin to push manager Chris Hughton for selection after a spell on the bench during the team’s 5-1 victory over Sunderland. Hatem Ben Arfa has also spoken out on his eagerness to get back into the running for Newcastle as he continues his long recovery.