Monday, November 3, 2008

Winners and losers

This week's winners

Hull City
My prediction of four Manchester United goals was right - but I didn't foresee the three goal clawback from the Potters. The eventual implosion of Hull City that most of us expect is refusing to happen. Why? They are well-managed, refreshing in their positive approach, yet pragmatic and modest. They could well steal a spot from Blackburn or Manchester City in 7th or 8th when May comes along.

Amr Zaki
Wigan's Egyptian striker remains the league's top scorer and looks a quality find, though anyone who watched the Africa Cup of Nations last January will have been impressed by his blend of physicality and lethal finishing. More importantly, he has the mentality of Alan Shearer - fearless and determined. Modern football (2002 on) may have killed off the 30-goal-a-season striker, but Zaki is one of a new generation who have been a symptom (and cause?) of the 4-5-1 system.

FC Barcelona
Pep Guardiola can afford to be happy. The Barca manager's team sit top of La Liga after beating Malaga 4-1. Samuel Eto'o (who Barca tried so hard to get rid of over the summer) is back on form, Lionel Messi is the most mesmerising player on earth yet again and Thierry Henry is quietly contributing a great deal. The maturing of the promoted youth team players is astonishing, and Sergi Busquets looks like he may be a key player much sooner than expected.

This week's losers

My red card prediction was spot on, yet it was simply a question of knowing the Arsenal mentality. The fury of injustice is just fine, but morality is not one of the columns in the Premier League table. Arsenal need to get tough - perhaps this will never happen under Arsene Wenger. In terms of the more spiritual side of football, Arsenal still gets A+, but the team can only succeed once these sides are reconciled. Tony Adams entering management again is very good news for may be a look into the future.

Manchester City
They may have Robinho, but as I said last week "Man City are simply too easy to press with their 4-1-4-1 formation". And that's exactly what happened at Bolton. They should have read this blog. That is all.

Carlos Tevez
It looks like his time at United may be up since Dimitar Berbatov's arrival - I believe that from January he will not be attached to any club and will simply be owned by Kia Joorabchian's MSI company, who want about 30million for him after his two-year loan in Manchester. It's a shame because he's one of the hardest working players in that team, but perhaps Fergie will look to Manucho to fill the void. Don't bet against Sir Alex spending the money, though, as he wouldn't want "the boy" Tevez to fall into the wrong hands.

That's all for now. I will be back tonight or tomorrow morning with a preview of this week's Champions League action. And perhaps a US election prediction, as sport and politics are almost exactly the same thing.

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