Friday, 10 February 2012

The 'Winging' Formula

Over the last few seasons in the Championship I've seen how a good winger or two can really help a promotion push. Most people are under the impression that strikers are the key to promotion and where is some cases they are right, most of the time it's all about the service into them.

Routledge helps QPR out
Promoted 2010/11 Season:

Queens Park Rangers - Although Taarabt had a very free role, alot of his goals came from cutting in off the wing. The aquisition of Wayne Routledge on loan in January also gave QPR a massive boost towards the finish line and scored some vital goals.

Norwich - One of those cases where strikers (and a lot of late goals!) actually got them promoted. Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson and Chris Martin all had great seasons up front. Wes Hoolahan had a great season from midfield though.

Sinclair the key for Swans.
Swansea - As much as I want to be bitter about it, Sinclair and Dyer were insanely good last season. Swansea struggled for goals in 2009/10 but by taking Sinclair onboard they managed to get the goals to take them up. It's no surprise they've continued their form into the Premier League by keeping hold of Sinclair and Dyer and also aquiring Wayne Routledge from Newcastle.

Special mention from 2010/11 has to go out to Jobi McAnuff (Reading) who in my opinion is the best winger in the Championship currently. His team-mate Jimmy Kebe also helped Reading to a playoff final which unfortunately they lost. *grumble*

Current Championship Season 2011/12

Lallana deserves all plaudits
Where do I begin? Southampton have Adam Lallana who like Taarabt has a bit of a free role. Lallana loves his crosses almost as much as a 17th Century vampire hunter and his build up play is exquisite. He also has the bonus of Rickie Lambert to aim for, who is surely related to the Green Giant from the sweetcorn adverts!

Burke lifts the Blues
Birmingham's surge in the league has been helped by the incredible form of Chris Burke. As all Cardiff fans will know, he can play on the left and he can play on the right..and sometime's he doesn't make Nikola Zigic look shite! Burke was a fan favourite at Cardiff and the passionate little Scot has certainly impressed at Birmingham, and I am happy for him!

McAnuff constantly impresses me.

Other Championship wingers

Matt Phillips (Blackpool) - tore Cardiff apart last week and despite not being part of Holloway's plans in the first half of the season, he could be key to their second half.

Jobi McAnuff (Reading) - Another former Cardiff man. When Reading play well, it's generally because of him. Has turned into a leader as well which is unusual for a winger, he does a very good Captain's job.

Robert Snodgrass (Leeds United) - Has impressed this season from the wing with 11 goals so far. I'm not a fan of his after he spat on Craig Bellamy last season.
The 'winging' feeling!

In summary, I'm not saying that you need a very good winger to win promotion but it's going to help your strikers if they have decent delivery from out wide and will massively help the team if they chip in a few goals too! Obviously for a winger it genereally helps if you have a big man to aim for in the middle but most teams need their wide men to be able to beat players as well.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Championship Review 04.02.2012

The Big One

The weekend started with one of the games I have been waiting for all season. West Ham v Millwall. The game didn't disappoint in terms of talking points either as Kevin Nolan was sent off for a two footed tackle very early on in the game. Carlton Cole managed to bag his first goal in five games with a headed goal which probably would have been saved if it were anyone but David Forde in goal. Trotter then scored a brilliant equalizer for Millwall before Winston Reid scored a dubious goal minutes later as Forde was rugby tackled by Julian Faubert leaving Reid to slam the ball home into an empty net. 2-1 Hammers.

Carlton Cole celebrating giving West Ham the lead
The Chasing Pack

Terrible weather at St. Andrews
Birmingham and Southampton shared the points in conditions at St. Andrews similar to that shown on Frozen Planet. Unfortunately there was no commentary from David Attenborough and the game finished 0-0.

Blackpool scored three in the last 11 minutes at Cardiff to secure a huge 3-1 win for the Tangerines. A Phillips double act saved Blackpool as Cardiff had taken the lead through a close range finish from young prodigy Joe 'Messi' Mason. Blackpool deservedly equalised through pensioner Kevin Phillips which was quickly followed by Blackpool's own youth prodigy, and ironically a transfer target of Cardiff, Matty Phillips bagging a brace in the final 7 minutes to send Ian Holloway home laughing as once again he masterminded a comeback against Cardiff. Shucks.

Middlesbrough, off colour at the moment managed to gain a point at home to Crystal Palace after the Eagles dominated the match and may have felt unlucky to only be taking one point home with them. Another 0-0.

McCormack and Clayton celebrate
With Leeds United's form of late you would have expected them to have gone home from Ashton Gate empty handed but the referee had other ideas. Bristol City have been seriously inconsistent this season and didn't help themselves when James Wilson decided he wanted a hot bath more than kicking a ball around in the snow and got himself sent off. Snodgrass had given Leeds the lead four minutes earlier and Robins' fans must have been fearing the worst at half time. They were right to. Leeds soon had a two man advantage as Bolasie got himself a second yellow and joined Wilson in the bath for what I presume to be a very warm snowball fight! McCormack, a former Cardiff player, scored the second to a 'warm' reception from the home fans. If they weren't heading back to their homes already they were when Becchio added a third. 3-0 to Leeds in their first game without Simon Grayson.


Buckley celebrates his last gasp winner
In a game with few chances, Brighton stole the spoils against Leicester in the 90th minute thanks to a Will Buckley volley from a Vicente cross. I had started to doubt whether bringing in Vicente was a good move by Gus Poyet and Brighton but a vital assist and three points to help their playoff push surely goes some way to fixing the doubt. Leicester finished the game with 9 men after having Beckford and Danns sent off while Brighton also finished a man light with Sparrow seeing red late on. 1-0 Brighton.

Composure shown from Rodriguez
Jay Rodriguez saved a late point for Burnley at Turf Moor against a struggling Peterborough. A defensive lapse had let Peterborough take an early lead with a great finish from Taylor. That would turn out to be the Posh's only shot on target all game. Burnley couldn't find the break through despite twelve shots on target, that was until young man Jay picked the ball up near the half way line, charged towards the defence, kept going..and going..and going.. before slotting the ball home in Henry esque fashion. A top goal from one of the Championship's best players. 1-1 in the end.

Relegation Battle

Chopra heads late winner
Watford and Barnsley met at Vicarage Road and it was the London club who came away with the three points as John Eustace scored twice before a late goal from Scott Golbourne set up a nervy finish for the Hornets. A first home game without Marvin Sordell saw Troy Deeney and Joe Garner play up front with each other after Sordell's £3m move to Bolton. Watford 2-1 Barnsley.

Coventry and Ipswich surprisingly served up the game of the day at the Ricoh Arena infront of a 13,500 crowd which isn't even 50% of the stadium capacity! Jay Emmanuel-Thomas managed a deflected goal for the Tractor Boys before Clingan levelled from the spot. Deegan then gave Coventry the lead before Chopra scored twice to secure the win. 3-2 Ipswich.

Biggest Winners

West Ham and Blackpool have to be contenders with other results going their way but this week the biggest winners have to be Ipswich Town. They were one of two teams in the bottom twelve to pick up three points, moving ten points clear of the drop zone. Also getting Michael Chopra back into goal scoring form is a huge positive for them!

This weeks biggest winners could also be the teams fans that didn't play. Not the most exciting day of football which wasn't helped by the adverse weather conditions. Let's hope for better next week!
What I wish the Cardiff City Stadium looked like so our game would have been called off!