The rebirth of the centre-forward

Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops

Having been invaded by wingers, second strikers and midfielders last season, the Premier League top scorers chart is beginning to have a familiar look to it again. It’s populated by centre-forwards. 7 games into the season the top 10 scorers in the league are all strikers. No sign of the Gerrards, Lampards or Ronaldos. We seemed to be drifting towards an era of teams playing just one up top, but now it seems strike partnerships are en vogue again, and the league is all the more entertaining for it: 196 goals in 66 games, an average of 2.97 goals per match. Continue reading

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Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

On the Comeback Trail

On the Comeback Trail

One Thomas Haynes Bayly wrote this commonly uttered phrase. No, I never heard of him either. But there is much truth in this statement. These days one way for a footballer to raise his profile, and become a favourite amongst supporters and pundit alike is to take a leave of absence for a couple of games. One might be injured, suspended or just decide that being teased about one’s new haircut is just not worth the hassle. Is the method of gaining plaudits by actually being out on the pitch and enhancing your reputation with outstanding performances old hat at this stage?  Let us take a closer look. Continue reading

It’s A Knockout!

Matchday One in the Champions’ League group stages had a familiar feel

Inzaghi: Still amongst the Goals

Inzaghi: Still amongst the Goals

about it. All the English teams won, both Raul and Filipo Inzaghi scored for their respective clubs, Real Madrid were involved in 7 goal humdinger, and only one of the record 8 newcomers managed a victory on their debut in the Champions League as it is today. It’s all becoming a bit stale. This year’s tournament snuck up on us, and the sense of anticipation of the beginning of what is the biggest club competition in the world wasn’t as evident as previous seasons. Something needs to be done to put the life back into Old Big Ears. Continue reading

Johnson Witch Hunt Hides Grander Issues Within England Camp

In the aftermath of England’s destruction of Croatia on Wednesday, it seems international football is suddenly back in fashion. Since the last World Cup, any national team service was a nuisance. That it was seen as an unwelcome distraction from the money-printing industry that European club football has become. This perception was altered briefly in the past week, with many minds wandering towards next summer’s (or winter’s as it will be in South Africa) World Cup. But as with every England international week, there must be a scapegoat. Steve McLaren took the heat off the players in this regard during his ill-fated reign as England manager. Last week, Glen Johnson took hold of the throne, receiving largely unwarranted criticism for his displays in England’s victories.

Scapegoat

Scapegoat

Continue reading

Keane Divides a Country Again

40 not out

40 not out

Robbie Keane divides opinion on this island more than most of our sporting icons. Everyone can appreciate Padraig Harrington’s recently acquired nerves of steel, Henry Shefflin’s beautiful touch and poise with a hurley in his hand, or Colm Cooper’s unerring accuracy with either foot However, it seems the Tallaght native cannot seem to convince everyone of talents. Whilst some see him as the shining beacon of the Ireland set-up, who has consistently proved his worth in the toughest league in the world, the other half see him as a flat-track bully, only scoring against lower class opposition,  who tries too many flicks and tricks, and failed miserably at Liverpool. But on Saturday, after a largely infuriating display, he came up trumps for Ireland again. Continue reading