With less than 24 hours now until the transfer window closes agent and managers phones will be ringing off the hook as teams try and complete their squad before the clock reaches zero.

Tomorrow we can look for endless rumours of players in taxi’s and in airports, rumours of the world’s best moving teams only for Stoke’s 3rd choice keeper to move on loan to a team that won’t challenge, however we all love the Transfer Deadline Day and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have picked five players that are likely to either move or just spend the whole day being linked with various teams, by coincidence most of them have moved on deadline day in the past so they know what it’s all about.


Teams Linked – Stoke City, Tottenham, Liverpool

Unable to find a place in Monaco’s starting line-up again the Icelandic striker is looking for a move away from the principality, last year he move on loan to Spurs scoring 2 goals in 13 games, since his move away from Chelsea he has played for 3 clubs most successfully at Barcelona.

Questions remain over the quality the Bolton legend still has left in his legs, he has only managed 11 games for Monaco, Prince Albert’s team don’t exactly have a wealth of striking talent so for Eidur not being able to force his way in, might explain the ability he has left.

Would he fit into Stoke’s physical style, Roy Hodgson might see his versatility as an asset and an adequate substitute for Fernando Torres, or maybe Harry Redknapp will come back in and take him back to White Heart Lane.



Team Interested – Arsenal, Fulham, Celtic

Shay came out today and announced he would stay and fight for his place at City, Joe Hart’s form means Shay is poised to spend most of the season on the bench unless Hart drops a clanger or gets injured.

Man City have said that they would not sell to their rivals so Arsenal might be out of the running however do they really see Fulham as a rival, the addition of Given would not make them top 4 contenders, so a move to Fulham could be a very viable option, whether this would suit Shay or not is another question, with Stockdale out injured and Schwarzer looking likely to move on, a bid for Shay could be right up Mark Hughes street.

The other option on the table could be a return to his boyhood club Celtic, City would be keen meaning Shay would not return to haunt them in the Premier League and Shay would be guaranteed first team football, however the SPL is a drop in class, and without European football this season would he really enjoy life back in Glasgow.



Teams Interested – AC Milan, Barcelona, Fenerbahce

Not in Mancini’s plans Robinho is allowed to leave City, however they need to find a club with the money available to prize the once marquee signing away from Eastlands.

Last week AC Milan had no money and needed Genoa to buy Kevin-Prince Boateng for them, now they have completed a deal for Zlatan Ibrahimovich, a player in a similar situation to Robinho, the Swede had moved on loan, Milan agreed to pay 24 million Euros next season, maybe a similar deal could be made with City, would new coach Allegri really want Ibra, Robinho, Ronaldinho and Pato in the same team.

Rumours have surfaced again that Barcelona may be interested in a cut price deal, but with the recent documented money problems and the togetherness of the squad Robinho could disrupt the harmony at the Nou Camp.

Fenerbahce made an offer it, sources say it was accepted however Robinho refused the deal, maybe he is holding out for something bigger, as the deadline approaches if no deals are forthcoming would he settle for life in Istanbul



Teams Interested – Celtic, West Ham, Newcastle

Robbie moved to Celtic on the last deadline day in January money is on him moving again this deadline day, it seems his move is all down to if Redknapp brings in a striker, then Keane would be allowed to move.

Newcastle and West Ham would be head of the queue, both give different options, West Ham would mean he would stay in London where he is based, a move to the North East would make him an instant Geordie hero, and of course it’s another one of Keane’s boyhood clubs, whether either team has the money to buy Keane is another question.

Celtic would love to have Keane back, Lennon is thought to be on the lookout for a striker, a fee and medical done for Hibs Anthony Stokes, and surely he wouldn’t pass down the chance again to have Robbie Keane lead the line.



Teams Interested – Schalke, Tottenham

At Ajax he had the World at his feet, with 76 goals in his 4 years at the Amsterdam club, since leaving them he has played to two of the giants in football, Real Madrid and AC Milan, it has not worked at either, with a decent scoring record at both clubs, it seems he is just not the big name signing both sets of fans ever wanted, and with that Klaas has found himself on the bench more often that not.

Felix Magath has been searching for a striker all summer, and finally looks to have found his man, however with Luis Fabiano signing a new deal with Sevilla today, Redknapp’s targets have shifted and could be in line to try and steal the Dutchman from the Germans.

Both clubs would be ideal for Huntelaar now at 27 he needs to pick the right move, the wrong club again could be disastrous for his career.



The big game of the weekend was the Sunday evening fixture between Bordeaux and Marseille but 9 games would be played before the last two Ligue 1 Champions would do battle. Lorient hosted Lyon expected to be new Lyon signing Yohan Gourcuff taking on his Dad Christian’s side, Gourcuff started on the bench, Claude Puel surprised many with his team selection, Cesar Delgado, Jimmy Briand and Bafetimbi Gomis starting upfront with Kallstrom, Makoun and Gonalons in midfield, Jeremy Toulalan continued in the centre of Lyon’s defence.

It only took 8 minutes for star striker Kevin Gameiro to cause Toulalan problems, giving his man a head start he tried to recover in doing so he handled the ball in the box, the referee pointed to the spot, Gameiro stepped up and left Lloris with no chance the Brittany club taking the 1-0 lead, Gameiro should have made it two, giving Toulalan a torrid time his movement was causing problems, linking with Amalfitano he cut inside but could only fire his shot straight at Lloris.

The away fans got what they had come for, Cesar Delgado pulled out with an injury and Gourcuff was the player brought on, a few home fans including his mum cheered his appearance, the 22 million euro man will take time to fit in with his new teammates, on a few occasions a lack of understanding and communication saw players getting in each others way.

Lyon’s best chance came in the 2nd half, Makoun floating a pass over the Lorient defence Briand latched onto it, however Lorient keeper Cappone was out quickly and managed to smother Briand’s attempt, soon after it was 2-0, a neat Lorient move found Amalfitano on the right, Lloris could only parry his shot, falling at Kitambala’s feet the debutant had the easy task of finding the empty net.

Another bad result for Claude Puel and Lyon, this must be time to ditch the idea of Toulalan at centre back, they could do with adding a defender to their squad before the transfer window closes on Tuesday, Lorient will be hoping the window closes with Kevin Gameiro still in their squad, very talented player good finisher, smart movement, very skilful with Bordeaux recently coming into money who would bet against them making a move.

Toulouse continued their great form beating Nancy 2-0 at the Marcel-Picot stadium, Capoue scored the first after some lovely skill and putting the ball between Loites legs his low finish found the corner of the net, the score remained the same until the 93rd minute when Franck Tabanou went on a fantastic solo run, beat 3 men and finished with aplomb chipping over Bracigliano. Toulouse sit top of the table on a maximum 12 points.

St-Etienne made it two home wins out of two with a 3-1 victory over Lens, it was all about Dimitri Payet the young winger scoring a hat-trick and finally looking like he will fulfil his potential, the first saw him cut inside to his left foot and curl the ball beautifully past Vedran Runje a trend that was to continue, 10 minutes from time Payet took the ball from the left flank all the way to the edge of the box beating two man before shooting low to Runje’s left the Croatian with no chance. The final goal of the hat-trick was similar cross ball to the left; Payet brought it down before cutting inside again and firing the low shot past the helpless keeper. Jemaa added a late consolation goal for Lens, Payet had already done the damage, many Ligue 1 fans are wondering whether now is the time the exciting winger will come of age and light up the League week after week, only time will tell.

Saturday saw two 1-0 away wins, Montpellier stealing all 3 points from Valenciennes, Giroud with the only goal heading home after Kabaze’s acrobatic overhead kick found him unmarked in the 6 yard box, Rennes continued their great start with a 1-0 victory over new boys Arles-Avignon, Victor Montano’s goal worthy of winning any game, the 25 yard strike beating Plante, Arles hit the woodwork twice trying to level the game, Kermorgant’s late free-kick was curling but could only find the post not the back of the net.

The last game on Saturday saw fast starters Caen take on newcomers Brest, and it was the new boys that picked up the points, after Caen’s Sambou Yatabare was shown a straight red from a rash challenge on Ferradj, his studs were showing the referee had no choice but to show the red card, Brest took full advantage of the extra man, Micola great cross from the right was finished clinically by the very talented Nolan Roux, 15 goals for Brest in Ligue 2 last year he has made a fast start to his Ligue 1 career, 2 goals in 3 games, Brest weren’t finished there Lesoimier was brought down just outside the box, however the referee pointed to the spot, Licata took the spot kick and finished the game off, a great away win for Brest their first win in Ligue 1.

4 games on Sunday and there was a surprise win for Sochaux at home to PSG, Sochaux highly tipped to struggle this season moved into 4th place with the victory goals from Maiga and Ideye Brown gave the home side a 2-0 lead and PSG’s woes were comfounded just before the half time whistle a Sochaux corner was met in the air by Damien Perquis. Gregory Coupet caught in noones land, the ex-French International could take the blame for all 3 goals, not the player he used to be. PSG’s Guilleme Hoarau took a ball on his chest and a powerful finish past Teddy Richert gave PSG a small chance, it was to be Sochaux’s day though, although manager Franck Gillet was sent to the stands early on he will have been delighted with his side’s performance.

The other two early games saw Monaco beat Auxerre 2-0 and Nice take a point at Lille with a 1-1 draw, Niculae and Aubameyang with Monaco’s goals, a Emerse Fae penalty and Eden Hazard finishing after Gervinho’s tricky run the only moments of note at the Stade Metropole.

The big game of the day and the weekend saw Didier Deschamp’s Marseille travel north to take on Jean Tigana’s much changed Bordeaux side, Marseille started Loic Remy after he passed a second set of heart tests this week, other new signing Andre-Pierre Gignac started on the bench, Bordeaux has some debutants of their own Ben Khalfallah signed from Valenciennes joined Anthony Modeste in Bordeaux’s line-up.

Marseille took the early lead, Brandao’s cross was deflected and Lucho was left unmarked in the box, he wasn’t going to miss from such close range, the away side looked comfortable in the lead, That was until the 33rd minute Eduardo Cisse made a challenge on Jaroslav Plasil it was late but not dangerous, not in the eyes of referee Tony Chapron, showing Cisse the red card and reducing Marseille to 10 men.

A very tight match at times you couldn’t tell what team was down to 10, Loic Remy came close in the second half to making it 2-0, he looked offside but the replay’s showed otherwise, a powerful shot in which the superb Cedric Carasso got a hand to and pushed it against the post, Carasso had a fantastic game, a highlight reel on his own, keeping Bordeaux in the match, and it would pay off, in stoppage time Plasil had drifted wide right found a yard of space his cross was dangerous and it was new man Anthony Modete who’s near post run and header levelled the game and stole the points from Marseille, the home crowd estatic, showing that there is life after Gourcuff.

Toulouse stay top, Rennes and Montpellier not far behind, Sochaux continue their great start as do St-Etienne in 5th. The bottom of the table is strange reading, Lille, PSG, Bordeaux, Lyon and Auxerre usually found higher up, the table is propped up by new boys Arles-Avignon still looking for their first point, it doesn’t get easier with PSG and Marseille to come, The next gameweek on September 11th see’s the Derby Du Nord as Lens host rivals Lille in what should be another exciting weekend in France.


This football blog business is all about exposure, you need to get your name out there to as many people as possible, Twitter is such a great media for this, today with 350 followers I am overwhelmed by the interest shown in what I do, I keep saying to myself, not bad for someone who failed English at A-Level, it helps when you get to write about something you love.

I am really enjoying my writing at the moment so in this rich vein of optimism and interest I have opened my doors and have accepted a few opportunities to write for other websites, enjoy spreading the football word.

The piece on Stv.tv really started it all off got my name out there for quite a few people, the Utrecht piece saw over 700 visitors to the site, so I thank them for that and hope to do more in the future.

3 more opportunities have arisen since, I contributed my first SPL review for Global Football Today, that will be an ongoing role, really excited to help those great guys out. This morning saw my first article for the popular Scottish website Scotzine, I was honoured to be asked to write something for them, at first it was going to be an in-depth piece on the Utrecht v Celtic game, but after the terribly poor performance by Celtic it was deemed unnecessary, instead I wrote a piece on Scotland’s ever dwindling Co-efficient points total and how it could affect the league.

Next on the agenda is my work for In Bed With Maradona, a wonderful website bringing stories out with the normal football focus, really excited to write something for them, more on that one when it happens.

Last week saw my debut on the Global Football Today podcast, and tonight I move away from my own solo podcasts and I will be recording the show tonight with Charlie (@LucianoSays) from the Carvalho Peninsula, Brent (@GlobalFoot2Day) from Global Football Today and possibly Chris (@ChrisMayerV1) from 6pointer.com, I have had quite a lot of interest from other excellent bloggers about future podcasts, so the future is looking bright for gibfootballshow, and to anyone else reading this that is looking for contributions to their site or podcast guests, drop me a line and if I have the time you can count me in.



August 21st

In a Eredivisie double header that consumed a train journey from Leeds to Glasgow and back again the second part was the meeting between Heerenveen and NAC Breda, both teams lined up in a basic 4-3-3 however there was a different style to each system, more on that later.

Before the systems could be evaluated NAC were 1-0 up, Jong-a-Pin charged out to meet a clearance, Leonardo reacted fastest and laid the ball off to Matthew Amoah (blue), Jong-a-Pin (red) chased back while the other defenders tried to slow Amoah down (yellow) they forgot to pressure the ball. Amoah had time to take his shot, usually meat and drink for Steppe in the Heerenveen net however he made a meal of it, somehow managing to palm the ball into his own net, not the best start for the home side only 44 seconds gone.

NAC started the game really well, both Amoah and Leonardo pressure the ball from the front, giving the back four limited time on the ball, forcing them to pass the ball back to Steppe and then winning back the long clearances, Heerenveen making it easy for the Breda team to keep the ball.

With time to look at the formations the home side played a very traditional 4-3-3 with 6 foot 4 target man Bas Dost flanked by wingers Roy Beerens and Oussama Assaidi, Beerens is very talented able to use both feet, he seemed to always want to take the defender on, in this case Robbert Schilder was the player in his sights, in the opening 30 minutes Schilder did well against the right winger, attack after attack Beerens began to gain the upper hand gaining success by coming inside onto his left foot, linking up really well with Dost and Elm.

NAC Breda’s 4-3-3 set’s up slightly different, it is even a strain to call it a 4-3-3, without the ball the away team kept organised in what could be described as a 4-5-1.

Amoah (red) continued to pressure the back line, Kolkka, Kwakman, Gudelj, Luijckx and Leonardo (all yellow) spread the pitch trying to keep the game tight, Luijckx is the deep lying midfielder monitoring the runs of Assaidi and Dost dropping deep, playing between the lines if you will.

With the ball however the formation changed when they had the ball, Leonardo (red) tucks in from the right to join Amoah upfront, Kolkka (yellow) comes off the touchline and joins Kwakman and Gudelj as the three behind the forwards, Luijckx (blue) remains the deep lying midfielder.

Leonardo showed more desire to get forward and join the attack then Kolkka on the opposite side, Kolkka tended to move inside and link up down the centre, so although it may have been classed as a 4-3-3 when it comes to positions on the pitch it was certainly a little different.

With Beerens and Assaidi starting to take control of the game it wasn’t long until Heerenveen draw level, with the attentions of two defenders on him the Moroccan was still able to get his cross in, a perfect ball towards Dost who held of Breda captain Penders and directed the ball past ten Rouwelaar.

The end of the first half saw Heerenveen take command of the game, giving NAC very little time on the ball, keeping tight on each player, Breda found it very hard to push the ball forward, NAC created very little after the equaliser.

The second half started very slowly, interesting in the second half that Dost starting dropping deeper in deeper taking on the characteristic of the “false 9” Viktor Elm began to get forward into the space more often linking up well with Dost and Assaidi, is was Assaidi that combined well with Beerens for the second goal, cutting in from the left after a neat one two, in an attempt to intercept Luijckx stuck out a foot and unluckily for the midfielder, his attempt did more harm than good, the ball leaving ten Rouwelaar sprawling across his goal in vain as they could only watch it hit the net.

NAC showed no attacking intent in the second half, a mixture of poor movement and passing, and great defending from Heerenveen meant it wasn’t long before the Friesland club wrapped up the game and the three points. Full back Youssef El Akchaoui had been in charge of the set-pieces for the majority of the game and although he wasted numerous good opportunities with 13 minutes to go he finally made one count, the ball was swung in from the right, played into the danger area, it was Dost again who took advantage, sandwiched between Penders and Gudelj he did very well to get his head to the ball and steer it past the keeper, another great use of his physical strength and heading ability, I’m not sure there’s anything the defence could have done to stop him.

A very frustrating day for NAC Breda after a fantastic start they died away after losing the goal and couldn’t find a way back, Heerenveen deserved the points, it was an impressive performance from Ron Jans men, Beerens and Assaidi will cause other teams problems.



August 20th

After being suitably impressed by Excelsior in their 3-2 victory over city rivals Feyenoord, and curious to find out if this was a one off result or could the small Rotterdam club rise to the expectation and take on the mid-table club from Nijmegen.

Excelsior set up in the same 4-5-1 formation that proved so successful against Feyenoord, their hard work and organisation caused Mario Beem’s side endless problems, not once did Excelsior struggle to contain their neighbours passing game, both goals conceded came through corner kicks.

For the first 20 minutes this Excelsior side looked nothing like the side that chased Feyenoord round the pitch for 90 minutes, NEC had the bulk of possession but without causing Cees Paauwe too many problems in net, Leroy George NEC’s new signing from Utrecht was very busy, always looking for the ball playing on the right of NEC’s 4-3-3, unfortunately for George; Excelsior’s Left Back Miquel Nelom just like he did against Feyenoord was on top of his game, for all George’s tricks and industry he very rarely found his way past the promising 19 year old.

NEC had 68% possession in the first half, the above diagram show’s Excelsior’s failings, NEC’s midfield had so much time on the ball, at no point in the first half did the Excelsior midfield put enough pressure to stop NEC freely passing the ball around the oppositions half, Schone, Zimling and Sibum never looked under pressure this gave George and Goossens space in behind to punish the defence.

Excelsior’s unwillingness to close the ball cost them the first goal, Goossens (red) advanced down the left with the ball was able to take 2 or 3 touches before putting in the cross, Belgian striker Bjorn Vleminckx unmarked in the box had no problem heading past Paauwe, a poor goal defensively to lose and a deserved lead for the away team.

The half time whistle could not come sooner for Alex Pastoor, He most have read his players the riot act during the interval, the “Sir Alex Hair Dryer treatment so to speak, The Excelsior side came on and started with a different attitude not giving NEC time to get into their stride again.

Fernandez the lone front-man was beginning to cause problems, running down each flank, he began to stretch the NEC defence, 8 minutes into the second half and one of his runs paid off, winning a corner for his team, the corner was cleared but only as far as the promising Jordi Clasie the 19 year old met the ball first time with a sweet strike towards goal, Babos looked to have the shot covered before Zimling stuck a foot out the ball wickedly deflecting into the net, disappointing for NEC after their dominance in the first half, however Excelsior had come out of the blocks flying.

Their work-rate and effort had been dramatically improved and, second goal was inevitable. You can see above two midfielders (yellow) closing down Lasse Schone (red), not giving NEC the time and space this half, Schone had to turn his back from goal looking for a pass, Clasie (blue) nicked the ball off the Dane, Clasie set off towards goal a 4 v 3 break for Excelsior, Clasie slipped the ball to Wattamaleo his shot was saved by Babos out for a corner, the corner was swung in and defender Daan Bovenberg got the run on Sibum his marker, left alone for a free header, Babos had no chance, the defenders 2nd goal in 2 games and a deserved lead for Excelsior, plaudits must go to Pastoor for his TeamTalk.

A very scrappy 15 minutes followed, no chances or good football of note, a fierce midfield battle ensued, Koolwijk and Clasie impressive again for Excelsior, Clasie is small in stature but with a low centre of gravity and a tenacious approach on loan from Feyenoord learning his trade at the Stadion Woudestein, it’s hard to predict at 19 how well he will do, but it’s so far so good for the midfielder, NEC’s midfield is not without it’s charms Niki Zimling had a very good game, seems to fit the “box to box” description, hard in the tackle, not afraid to put himself about, and has the ability to pick a pass or make well times runs into the box, it was his midfield partner Lasse Schone that got NEC back into the match, all Excelsior’s hard work seemed to take it’s toll and the pressure on the ball dropped.

Lasse Schone (red) was not closed down by the midfield giving him time to turn with the ball, Vleminckx (blue) made a fantastic run away from the ball leaving the gap for Sibum (yellow) to make a lovely run in behind the defence, with time and space Schone plays a delicate ball over the top and Sibum’s low strike levels the game at 2-2. The run from Vleminckx shows the space between the centre back and full back, an easy gap to exploit, this leaves space down the middle for any willing runners, and Sibum did well to fill the space and deserved his goal.

Excelsior reacted quickly making two substitiutions, that decision would change the game, Jordi Clasie came off to a rapturous applause from the home support, Wouter Gudde came on to solidify the defence then Vincken was replaced by Roland Bergkamp, for all Fernandez hard work down the flanks his crosses were going to waste with no one there to get on the end of them. Bergkamp was tasked with that job, and it instantly paid off. Ryan Koolwijk hit a tame shot towards Babos the Hungarian could only spill it into the path of Bergkamp and he wasn’t going to miss from 6 yards, a shock lead for Excelsior.

NEC tried to fight back but the third goal seemed to kill their spirit then in injury time the game was put out of sight, with NEC pushing further forward, Gudde played the ball over the top, he found Fernandez unmarked and racing towards goal, jinking past the keeper he remained calm and placed the ball past two defenders and into the net.

4-2 the final score, in the end quite an entertaining game, two cliché’s fulfilled in the one match, if you have the lions share of possession you need to make it count, and it really is a game of two halves.


I had the pleasure last night in taking part in a Podcast for the wonderful website Global Football Today, nice to take part in a podcast when I’m not just talking to myself, we preview this weekend’s EPL games with some predictions, I gave the viewers a quick round up on the SPL’s opening weekend and what matches are on this weekend.

We then delved into some transfer stories, Neymar, Alberto Aquilani, Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation, and Loic Remy and we concluded the discussion on the question “Who would you have in your team right now: Frank Lampard or Ryan Giggs”

So if you would like to download the podcast you can visit HERE, HERE subscribed to my podcasts HERE or search for gibfootballshow on iTunes.

Please take some time to visit Global Football Today and go on twitter and follow @GlobalFoot2Day

Hopefully I’ll be on with Brent again, whenever they want me I’m sure I’ll be free.


The Bundesliga got off to a fantastic start last night, Steve McLaren was only minutes away from an impressive result at the Allianz Arena, the first English manager to appear in the Germany top division nearly left Munich with a point, however Bastian Schweinsteiger stole all three points for the title favourites.

Another 6 games today in what is a very exciting first weeks of fixtures Hoffenheim take on Werder Bremen and Raul and the rest of his Schalke team mates travel to Hamburg to take on Ruud van Nistlerooy and co.

Here at gibfootballshow times is short, so instead of writing a full Bundesliga preview, here are links to two of the best previews that can be found anywhere.

Bundesbag previews all the teams in his two part feature for the Futbol Fairground website, there is also a podcast which you can download, a really good review, I especially like the club merchandise pictures depicting each team, I will be tuning into the podcast myself today, so go to their site and have a listen.

The wonderful guys at World Football Columns give you a very indepth preview of their thoughts for the coming Bundesliga season, definitely worth a read if you want the low down before the kick-offs today.

I hope you enjoy the two previews I have put the links up for, and more importantly you tune in and enjoy the football, my tips for the season have to be Bayern Munich, they are too strong a team for anyone to cause them trouble over the course of the season, Werder, Wolfsburg and Schalke to complete the top four.

Auf wiedersehen


How many times have we all watched a sports match be it Football, Basketball, Golf, and surveying the statistics you can usually put your finger on where the winning team has held the advantage, Basketball matches are usually determined on the highest field goal percentage, In Golf accuracy usually leads to success GIR and FIR (Greens and Fairways in regulation) are very important.

Between myself and some friends the phrase “There’s only one stat that counts, and that’s the one in the top left of the screen!” has become somewhat of a joke statement, somewhat of a put down when trying to defend the losing team. Jose Mourinho’s Inter only had 41% possession in their 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in this year’s Champions League final, Louis van Gaal would have surely swapped the result for the majority of possession; For Inter the 2 goals scored was the only stat that mattered.

Football analysts are obsessed with stats, goals per game ratio, minutes without a goal, possession, shots on target, these all go someway to explain the story of a match, however sometimes no matter how many stats are consulted, they just don’t mirror what has occurred.

Team A and Team B played a match this weekend, one of the teams was on the end of a 4-0 defeat, with such a margin of victory, the stats must surely show the dominance of the winning team.

Both teams were very successful with their passing, Team A attempted 369 passes, only 58 of those did not reach their target, that’s an impressive 84% accuracy, compared to Team B with a similar 47 passes not reaching the intended player however they only attempted 277, that’s equates to 79% on target still a very accurate amount but 5% less than Team A.

Taking 3 players from each team you can see how well Team A passed the ball, their Centre Back did not put a pass out of place, all 42 passes were successful, further up the field their Central Midfielder tried 30 passes, only 2 of them were wayward, and the Striker playing up top, a position that can sometimes become isolated and hard to link up with the rest of the team well he made 11 successful passes, only 1 wasn’t. A very good passing display.

Team B’s individual passing does not look as impressive, the Centre Back only attempted 12 passes, the Central Midfielder only failed to find his man on 5 occasions, and upfront it was a poor day for the forward, nearly half of the passes he attempted failed to link up with anyone, only 10 out of 18 were on target.

With the game giving both teams time and space on the ball, two more areas need to be studied to find where the 4 goal difference was created, defensively the losing team must have been very weak, Team A won 39 tackles and lost 21, compared to Team B who only won 26 tackles but losing 25, Team A also did a very good job of closing the ball down making 14 interceptions, Team B only intercepted 8 balls.

The final stats to look over to determine the result of the game is the “shooting” no matter how good or bad you play or how good your tactics are, the result more often than not comes down to shooting accuracy.

Team A had 12 shots in the match, 5 on target, 4 off target and 3 shots were blocked, Team B on the other hand had 10 shots, 6 on target, 3 off target and had one blocked.

So what team scored the four goals, surely it was Team A with the higher amount of passes, better individual passing, more tackles won, and of course more shots on goal……eh no, if you hadn’t guessed already the game being analysed was the Premier League clash between Wigan and Blackpool in all the stats above Blackpool are Team B, four of those shots on target hit the back of the net.

One analysis you can make from the team passing image, Wigan (Team A) struggle to connect with passes in the final third, there is very little blue in and around the box, whereas Blackpool have slightly more blue than red in the final third, there is nothing wrong with passing the ball around the back or in the middle, however to win footbal matches you need to provided the final product, something Wigan just didn’t do on Saturday.

This is a fantastic example of how stats can sometimes be misleading, Blackpool won this game for a number of reason, they had a willingness and a desire to work hard and would not be beaten, some clubs would be scared on their first game at the top level for over 40 years, not Blackpool they ran every ball down, threw caution to the wind, and basically just had a go, now they were helped by some very poor Wigan defending and the fourth goal was an absolute howler from Chris Kirkland, in these footballing times, you do not need to tick all the boxes when it comes to dominating the play, stats cannot measure heart and a never say die attitude.

The stats never lie, but sometimes they are just wrong!


After Celtic’s tough defeat to Sporting Braga in the Champions League qualifying round, every Celtic fan was hoping for an easier route into the Europa League group stage. But it was not to be, as FC Utrecht’s name came out of the hat.

An unknown quantity to many who do not follow the Eredivisie, there is much to learn about a team that could knock Celtic out of European football, in what would be a disastrous start to Neil Lennon’s season.

Last season Utrecht finished the league in seventh position, qualifying for the subsequent play-off tournament to win the last Europa league place. In the first round they beat FC Groningen 5-1 on aggregate, 3-1 at home and then an impressive 2-0 victory away, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel scoring two goals in the two games.

In the games against Roda JC for the Europa League place, another great away victory was followed by a 4-1 victory at home. Yet Utrecht had only scored 39 games in the regular season but managed to score 11 in four play-off games, demonstrating they are a team not to be messed with in a two leg system.

During the regular season they were a very up and down team, with only two defeats at home conceding 12 goals, eight wins and seven draws. Their away form let them down at times, six wins, four draws and seven defeats, and with no away wins against any of the “big” teams. However they did beat Ajax and AZ Alkmaar at their home 25,000 Galgenwaard Stadium.

Ton du Chatinier is the man at the helm for his first big job, moving up from the post of assistant in 2008 having played 235 games for Utrecht from 1977 to 1987 as a defender. The man he replaced, Foeke Booy, moved upstairs and is now Technical Director. Ex-Rangers coach Jan Wouters is his assistant.

The last trophy Utrecht managed to win was the KNVB cup in 2004, they also won it in 2003, beating FC Twente 1-0 in the final in 2004, MLS veteran Dave van der Bergh with the only goal. In 2003 they beat Feyenoord 4-1 in the final, with now Liverpool and ex-Feyenoord forward Dirk Kuyt, listed as Kuijt back then, scoring the fourth goal.


To gain an understanding of how Utrecht play and what kind of threat they will bring, a look at their second leg victory in the Europa League against FC Luzern and the opening game of the Eredivisie season away to Feyenoord were two good games to watch.

Utrecht managed an impressive 3-1 victory in Luzern, showing what a dangerous attacking force they can be. Then against Feyenoord after starting well, they were unlucky to be on the losing side of a 3-1 defeat. Du Chatinier played the same XI in both games. Barring injury, it seemed a very stable selection and all the players looked comfortable with each other, something Celtic as of yet have not looked.

In both games the line-up remained the same starting with what looks like a basic 4-4-2 formation,  however once the game starts there is nothing basic about it, when Utrecht don’t have the ball the positioning looks more like 4-2-2-2 with Lensky and Silberbauer dropping deep to cover the back four, and Mertens and Asare playing very narrow, primarily to keep the midfield tight, make the opposition play wide.

Against Luzern the ball was played diagonally into their box where Schut and Wuytens had no trouble clearing the danger. Then, when they regained possession, it turned quickly more into a 4-1-3-2 and Silberbauer was happy to hold his position, allowing Lensky to push on through the middle and Asare and Mertens provide the width.

The first goal versus Luzern came from a great piece of football, Striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel chased back into the midfield and won the ball back. (1) Lensky and (2) Silberbauer were happy to sit and slow down the fast break, allowing (3) van Wolfswinkel to win the ball back. He then played  a simple ball to Mertens who had drifted into the space between midfield and defence, with no Luzern player tracking his run.

This allowed (4) Asare and (5) Mulenga to find the space, Mulenga playing right on the defensive line keeps both the centre back and full back occupied, in turn drawing the other centre back (6) towards the ball, allowing Asare to attack the space. Mertens then played an easy ball in front of Asare and he showed his ability with both feet to finish on his left foot.

A very simple goal but it showed a great understanding from Utrecht of where the space was on the pitch. Mertens occupied the area van Wolfswinkel would usually be, Mulenga drifted wide on the left and Asare got in behind.

Nine minutes later, Utrecht were 2-0 up again and it was a case of players being intelligent and doing the simple things well. It wasn’t the prettiest build up with goalkeeper Vorm launching the ball forward.

From the picture, you can see the midfield set up in the four with Asare tucking inside. However this goal is mostly down to Mulenga’s physical threat and van Wolfswinkel’s anticipation. Mulenga (1) challenges with both centre backs, he doesn’t win the ball, however it flicks off the head of a defender and (2) van Wolfswinkel is the first to react. With no defenders anywhere near him, he has the simple task of putting the ball past the Luzern keeper, which he does with a touch of class, a little dink, lovely football.

The goal that wrapped up the game doesn’t take much analysis; Silberbauer picked up the ball 45 yards from goal, charges past four Luzern defenders and lofts the ball over the goalkeeper. Yet another lovely piece of individual skill but very poor defending.

Luzern did manage to peg one goal back in the second half and it comes from an area that could be a weakness of the Utrecht side. The attack made it’s way to the left side of Utrecht’s defence, Nesu failed to close the ball down, the cross came in and the ball was flicked to the back post, a lovely header, but too little too late for the Swiss side.

Going forward Utrecht are a very talented side, however they do have weaknesses in defence. Holding a 1-0 lead and keeping out wave after wave of Feyenoord attack, they were finally broken down on the 52nd minute. Wijnaldum found fullback de Vrij flying down the right, his cross could only be turned into the net by Utrecht’s Schut and this seemed to open the floodgates.

The second goal was a disaster defensively. Smolov made a great run forward and draws both (1) centre backs towards him, (2) Silberbauer, Lensky and Asare make no effort to work back and defend, Cornelisse playing at right back is also drawn towards the ball, a goal was inevitable with Cabral (3) free on the left. As an option it was the trailing Luigi Bruins (4) that provided the finish as the ball broke to him on the edge of the box with no one near him, and he was able to pick his spot and fire the ball past Vorm.

Utrecht’s main weakness it seems is on their left side. As fantastic an attacker Dries Mertens seems to be, he is not interested in helping Nesu with his defensive duties. This leaves the Romanian very isolated and with two players working together at times he is left stranded, over the two games, three of the four goals they conceded came from poor defending on the left.

These same principles will also apply to Celtic’s left hand side. Utrecht’s full back Tim Cornelisse can be seen at times covering the centre backs pulling himself out of position, the diagram above shows Cornelisse being drawn towards the ball, and the Feyenoord left winger Cabral is in acres of space on the left.

This is another area Celtic could take advantage of. Against Sporting Braga at home, Samaras played on the left but as he is not a natural winger, very often he wandered inside taking away the option of width on the left. When he was given the ball, his first thought was not to deliver a cross but to come inside and try to create something.

Celtic could benefit from either playing a more natural left-footed player like Joe Ledley or the youthful energy of 19-year-old James Forrest against the 32-year-old full back. The discipline in maintaining width on each flank could be of paramount importance to how successful Celtic can be over the two legs.

Cha Du-Ri could also be a very important player for Celtic over the two legs, despite the defensive frailties he has shown. He has already shown a desire to get forward and his ability to get balls into the box and this could be Celtic’s best route to goal.

Celtic’s midfield will need to play very smart. When Cha makes his runs forward, Juarez, Brown or whomever Lennon picks need to be very wary of Mertens and make sure he is covered, as their first goal against Luzern showed they are very capable of hitting on the counter attack.

Against Inverness on Saturday as Celtic began to dominate the second half Cha Du-Ri’s attacking instincts were very apparent. In the move shown above, Fortune is happy to hold up the ball as Cha makes the overlapping run (1), The midfielder can’t keep up with the full back (2) Cha, who then uses the Inverness defender (3) as a shield to attack the byline.

The three defenders in the centre can only watch as Cha whips in the cross, unfortunately in this attack Maloney’s shot was saved and went behind for a corner. This is a great example of how given a two-on-one match-up, the full backs are very important.

It is not just in the wide areas that Celtic could take advantage. With Utrecht playing with only two natural central midfielders, Lennon’s 4-2-3-1 formation should give Celtic an extra player in the middle of the park. Not only will this be important in the Scottish club retaining possession, the extra player will have space to make forward runs either to link up with the lone front man, but also to put himself on the end of any crosses into the box.

Luigi Bruins was able to score Feyenoord’s second goal because Utrecht’s defence was pulled out of position and he found that pocket of space between defence and midfield, an area where Maloney, Juarez or Ledley could find very fruitful.


Dries Mertens is an exciting young player, only 23 years old after being released by Anderlecht as a youngster he has gone through he Dutch ranks winning player of the season in the Dutch 2nd Division for AGOVV, made his debut for Utrecht in 2009 and went on to score 6 goals in 36 games, a very talented attacking midfielder.

Plays mostly on the left, and as happens in modern football these days he is very right footed, loves to cut inside, a hard player to track and he loves to drift around the pitch finding space to pick up the ball and cause teams problem, there is a touch of the Mesut Oezil about him, good passer of the ball, great ball control, has the ability to rip a defence apart all on his own.

Another exciting young talent for Utrecht is Ricky van Wolfswinkel, in 17 games for Utrecht last year he scored 8 goals and has been rewarded with a call up to the Dutch friendly against the Ukraine later this month, scored 8 goals in his season at Vitesse and looks to be a player to look for in the present not just the future.

He has already scored 3 goals in 2 games in the league and a goal against Luzern in the Europa League he is a player Celtic will need to watch closely, runs the channels well to create space for Mertens and Lensky, also drops deep to collect the ball, for such a young player he is a calm finisher, doesn’t lack confidence in anyway, a very talented striker.


A few players in their team that I recognise Michel Vorm is their goalkeeper the 26 year old has 4 Dutch caps, his first competitive game coming at Hampden Park against Scotland in a World Cup qualifier, he was part of van Marwijk’s World Cup squad although never saw any minutes.

Danish midfielder Michael Silberbauer is another player Celtic fans might remember he play for FC Copenhagen for 4 years; he played in the 3-1 victory of Celtic in 2006 and the earlier 1-0 defeat at Celtic Park.

Jacob Lensky is a name a few Celtic fans may remember, I was at Celtic Park when he was brought out at half-time as the next youth prospect the 16 year old would spend 3 years in the academy never playing for the first team, and eventually left to sign his first professional contract with Feyenoord, only ever playing 1 game in 2007, he then quit football in 2008, 4 months later he was training again with 2011 MLS expansion team the Vancouver Whitecaps, he declined a trial with the Seattle Sounders, then in 2009 he signed a one year deal that was then extended with FC Utrecht, he has gone on to play 29 games, he looks to have grown up from his year in Utrecht, reminds me a little of Paul Scholes, not just the colour of his hair, he is able to sit deep and defend however picks his runs well, breaking into the box and causing a threat, also like Scholes he is not afraid to throw in a tackle.

Obviously to retire at 19 and come back you have to question his mentality, when picked for Canada he was asked about the link with the Czech Republic to which he responded.

“Yeah, I love Canada, but in truth soccer is soccer to me. It’s all pretty much the same, so if the Czech team came and asked me – maybe, sure. But they didn’t, so I’m going to the call up just focussing on it and playing my game. Some people don’t like it and that’s ok.”

Not exactly showing full commitment to a countries cause, no surprise he changed his mind, a talented player but a troubled mind.

Although not full of top names, they are a young team with lots of potential, the pundits will make Celtic favourites to win, however both ties will have to be treated with caution if the Glasgow giants want to play European football past August this season.


You’ve read BBC, consulted TeamTalk listened to the Journalists on twitter, but of course it’s the opinion of me “gibfootballshow” that you’ve been waiting for, Yeah I know this is the 107th Premier League preview you’ve read however where would I be as a blogger if I didn’t recognise one of the biggest leagues in the world starting it’s season, going to try and do it a little different so you don’t lose interest quickly, but I can’t promise miracles.

Instead of just picking the winners, I will list all 20 Premier League clubs and little reasons why as we go on, also at the end there will be 5 players to watch out for this season. So without further ado here we go English Premier League 2010/11 starts now.

2.Manchester United
3.Manchester City


I have picked Chelsea as my eventual winners of the league, good manager a very strong squad, if Essien stays fit he is like a new signing for them, Ramires for me is a pivotal move, very strong energetic midfielder, loves to go box to box, great technique, workhorse engine, I think will take to the Premier League like a duck to water, Lampard and Drogba will score 20 goals each as always, Daniel Sturridge will have a good year, I don’t think any of the other teams in the league are as strong or have as much depth.

Manchester United will be strong, Hernandez looks like being the steal of the year, need to see whether he can play with Rooney first, Scholes, Giggs and Van der Sar are another year older, lots of expectation on Nani and Valencia, Sir Alex will need to summon all his managerial expertise to overcome Chelsea this season, not far behind them will be Manchester City, some excellent signings geared more towards building a team than just buying big name players, Kolarov will come to be a very important move, great left back, desire to get forward, cultured left foot, there is also not lots of pressure on him to perform, David Silva and Mario Balotelli are two fantastic signings “Super Mario” is the most exciting signing this summer for me, one of the best young players in the World, £24 million may sound like too much money however in two years he will be worth double, the move to the Premier League gets him away from the pressure of the Italian media that highlight everything he does simply because he is a black Italian man, in this country the things that he does are no different to any footballer, Bellamy, Cole and Terry make him look like an alter boy. Mancini will have a hard job keeping the 25 players picked for the squad happy; this could be City’s downfall.

Year after year we say “Arsenal need a goalkeeper, a centre back and a central midfielder” Well they signed a centre back, but he lacks experience I have no doubt Koscielny will be one of the top defenders in 3 or 4 years, but not this season, with an experienced goalkeeper behind a young defence they would concede fewer goals and have a chance at the title, the first team are Championship material, and on their day capable of beating any team in the league, however once the injuries and suspensions kick in, the players replacing them will struggle, I’m sure Bookies have suspended betting on a van Persie injury occurring at some point.

8.Aston Villa
9.Birmingham City

Anfield is buzzing again, Roy Hodgson has got some smiles back on the faces of Liverpool fans already, mostly because he has “convinced” Gerrard and Torres to stay at the Merseyside club, Joe Cole is a decent signing maybe not for £6 million signing on fee and £90,000 a week but that will all be forgotten once he scores the winner against a big club, Problems still exist however, the defence is not watertight, Carragher is aging and cracks are starting to appear, whether you can count on Agger and Skrtel together worries me, Glen Johnson proves times after time he can’t defend, and Fabio Aurelio is Liverpool’s best left back, the midfield is strong Christian Poulsen will be a success at Anfield, either along side Lucas or Gerrard with Jovanovic and Cole supporting, I can see Liverpool playing better football than last year but in the end coming up short.

There will not be much between Spurs, Everton and Villa, with O’Neill gone and Milner surely to follow Villa will struggle, there are still quality players there, Ashley Young and Agbonlahor are cornerstones to build the team around, if the new manager spends the Milner money wisely (if he gets any at all) then they could push for top six, Tottenham will need to find a way to balance the league matches with the Champions League, favourites to qualify over Young Boys, Arry Redknapp needs to strengthen his squad to have any chance of competing on two fronts, defensively there are problems, King and Woodgate will not play 20 games between them, Dawson needs a stable partner to be able to excel, Keane, Defoe, Crouch and Pavlyuchenko are all good players but lack that extra little touch of quality all the big teams have.

David Moyes has been quite quiet so far, Jermaine Beckford arrives with high hopes, able to score in League One for fun, questions over whether he can make the big step up, Pre-season form in promising, Bilyaletdinov, Cahill and Saha are important pieces of the Goodison Park jigsaw, Jagielka and Heitinga are the safety net keeping it all together, all the pieces there for a good season, depth could be an issue. Nikola Zigic and Ben Foster no doubtly make Birmingham a better team, I worry on how Zigic will adapt to the EPL style and the laws of averages would say it would take a miracle for the performances seen at St.Andrews to be repeated, there is time still left for Alex McLeish to strengthen the squad, does the club have that extra ambition though.

10. Wigan
11. West Ham
12. Fulham
13. Sunderland
14.Stoke City
16.Blackburn Rovers

7 teams that could all either finish top half of the table or near the relegation battle, worse case scenario they could end up with both, the league is tight enough that a victory either way could mean 9th or 16th, which I suppose is the appeal of the EPL. Wigan and Martinez need to adapt and play a passing but defensively tough strategy, Boselli is an exciting signing, added to Rodallega, N’Zogbia, McCarthy and Alcaraz they are a young exciting team, with an equally exciting manager. West Ham have a chance to redeem themselves from an awful season last year, good signings in Winston Reid and Pablo Barrea, dealt a blow with Hitzlsperger’s injury, they have the tools to finish safely away from relegation.

Fulham are a bit of an unknown force with Mark Hughes in charge, not quite sure how they will line up, If they complete the deal for Moussa Dembele he will be an excellent recruit, as of right now I think the team is weak in parts, with Schwarzer, Hangeland, Murphy and Zamora it is a strong spine. I worry for Sunderland at times, they sign good players Riveros, Mensah and Wellbeck, but they suffer from players not being able to settle or injuries the North-East is a place where the fans are always expectant and this pressure sometimes becomes too much for players, they rely heavily on Bent’s goals and I’m not sure they have the players to be creative for him.

Stoke and Wolves are two similar teams, both now have a big money striker, Fletcher and Jones, both play a strong physical game, and both in their first season in the Premier punched way above their weight, this year will be another tough year, the worst thing a team can do is think they are “established” and rest on their laurels, which is why both teams have went out and spent money on making the team better, I’d prefer Tony Pulis to Mick McCarthy as a manager, not the prettiest football to watch but it produces results, another team under the same ilk are “Big” Same Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers, only one signing so far in Mame-Biram Diouf on loan from Manchester United, not the worst team but they are not going to strike much fear in the other teams, could get drawn into a relegation battle, but should have enough to survive.

17. Newcastle United
18.Bolton Wanderers
19.West Brom

So on to the bottom of the Premier League, I think everyone has Blackpool going down, it would be a massive shock if they stayed up, a bit like Arles of Ligue 1 in their story and their signings, lots of journeymen onboard, a good manager, but it will be a long old season for the seasiders. I see West Brom joining them in the drop zone, I like Roberto Di Matteo as a manager has done a great job however they just don’t have a strong enough team to stay up, another yo-yo year for the Baggies. The big battle for me will be the last relegation place, which will be between Newcastle United and Bolton, no offence to Owen Coyle but his team I think will struggle, Elmander has just not turned up in the EPL yet, Klasnic is good, the loss of Weiss and Wilshere will effect them, Petrov isn’t getting any younger, and they could lose some good players in January at the latest, Chris Houghton is probably the most inexperience manager in the league and with Newcastle not splashing the cash they could find it tough on their return to the top flight, Collocini and Gutierrez, Nolan and Steve Harper are of Premier League quality, and could be the little bit of class that keeps them up……just.


#1 – RAMIRES – Chelsea

Just signed today for Ancelotti’s team, I have like the player since I first saw him in last years Confederations Cup, he started next to Kaka in midfield and was breathtaking to watch, Brazil played with a fast counter attacking style and Ramires was the catalyst being the pace and the power, a player that never stops running, will defend and attack all game, good on the ball, does the simple things well, just an all round good player and a very exciting signing for Chelsea fans to watch.

#2 – WINSTON REID – West Ham United

Signed from FC Midtyjland this New Zealand international was one of the brightest prospects in Scandinavian football, after a great World Cup for the only undefeated team at the tournament he looked very good, Strong, good in the air, seem to have a good positional sense, has pace to stay with the speed merchants, I think he will add an extra layer of protection in front of Robert Green, and could become the leader of the Upton Park backline.


A free signing for David Moyes, everyone is questioning whether he can make the step up in class, there is no doubt Jermaine has the ability, his mentality might be under question, failed to turn up at times when Leeds needed him most, this could be the best situation for the striker, no pressure to score loads of goals, Everton don’t have a World Class forward in the squad so there could be plenty of chance for Beckford to step in, as a player he knows where the goal is, has pace to trouble defences, a true predator.

#4 – GIOVANNI DOS SANTOS – Tottenham Hotspur

Now by the time the transfer window closes, dos Santos could have left Spurs, I really hope he stays, he seems to have grown up a little, maybe even matured, after a fantastic World Cup where from the first minute he looked in the mood to terrorise defences, he was one of the reasons Mexico drew plaudits and made it through their group stage, I watched Spurs play in pre-season and again he looked in the mood, a lovely back heel to Bale for the only goal against Benfica, he seems to have played his way in Redknapp’s squad, I would love to see him given a chance at White Hart Lane, this could be the year he fulfils his potential.

#5 – STUART HOLDEN – Bolton Wanderers

If Coyle’s men are to stay up they will need to exciting play of the only Scotsman to play at the World Cup, born in Aberdeen, Stuart has been a star of the MLS and is due to break into the US Men’s National Team very soon, had his season disrupted by injury during a friendly in the Netherlands with the National Team, Bolton fans were just starting to appreciate his talents, a tricky winger who can play in a fantastic cross, he will be a star for his country leading up to the 2014 World Cup, and I expect him to be a star for the Lancashire club this season.

There we go, predictions done, teams put into order and players to watch, now tomorrow of course they will all either not play, get injured or lose.