6 into 4 Doesn’t Work

Welcome / Willkommen / Bienvenido!

It’s true folks I’m back.

Apologies for the lack of content towards the back-end of 2016. Things to do, people to see etc.  You know how it goes.

But like I said I’m back, but more importantly welcome to 2017! Let’s hope it doesn’t put us through 12 rounds with AJ like 2016 did.

When Andy Williams wrote the trademark Christmas song ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ rumour has it, he was actually singing about January. Yes that’s right people, January brings us crazy spending, impulse buys and career making decisions. It is of course the January Transfer Window.

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One whole glorious month dedicated to clubs to either strengthen or save their respective season. It’s a pivotal moment in the campaign for managers, with only half a season left to avoid the ever-present fear of getting the proverbial boot. (No pun intended. Okay you saw through me, maybe a little one was intended)

With Chelsea topping the table at Christmas time, this season has a much more ‘familiar’ feel about it after Leicester City’s unexpected incredible feat last season. Make no bones about it, last season was an astonishing season, but for different reasons this season could turn out to be even more exciting (Perhaps not if you support Leicester City though!)

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The 2016-17 season could and hopefully will be remembered for being a 6-horse race, and should provide to be an exhilarating journey until the Champions get crowned in May.

Even when Chelsea have threatened to run away with the title race in recent weeks, deadly Dele struck twice for Spurs to ensure the winning streak came to an end for Conte.

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It would appear that all six, yes that’s right SIX teams have a realistic chance of lifting the trophy come May and become champions of England.

So.. Aim of this article?

I’m going to attempt to apply some of that useless irrelevant football knowledge I have, and discuss where each of these teams need to strengthen, during the January window and also try to predict the final league standings.

 Wish me luck.

Let’s start with the leaders; Chelsea  img_1183

After a rocky start to life in the Premier League, Conte has adapted superbly – Guiding his side to top of the table and 13 victories on the bounce. At this moment in time they are obviously favourites to win the league. But favourites don’t always succeed. Otherwise we’d all win our acca’s at the weekend.

Area to Strengthen:

 LWB: Marcos Alonso deserves a lot of credit for his performances this season, his ability to bomb up and down the flank and his crosses in particular have been an added bonus to Conte’s team. But Italians pride themselves on their defensive displays and defensively I’m still not sold on the Ex – Real Madrid man. Chelsea’s search to replace Ashley Cole continues.

(Did you know? Marcos Alonso only made 1 appearance for Real Madrid in 2010)

CM: This is a late addition. But after watching how the Spurs midfield controlled the game against Chelsea in midweek, and in particular how Mousa Dembélé played. It was noticeable what Chelsea were missing. The Belgium international is known for his silky dribbling and his ability to maintain possession, something IMO Chelsea need next to the destroyer known as N’Golo Kanté. There’s no argument that Chelsea have the best defensive midfielder in the league. They just need more energy in the middle of the park which Fàbregas & Matić haven’t got anymore.

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ST: With the lack of game time and the consistently great form of Diego Costa this season, it seems Michy Batshuayi’s time at Chelsea might be short-lived. It would appear that Batshuayi has fallen down the pecking order considerably under Conte, who would rather play Pedro as the lone attacking option when Costa isn’t available. But perhaps a run in the FA Cup will help Batshuayi to impress the Italian.

Prediction:  2nd    *Chelsea fans before you begin reporting me, hear me out*

I firmly believe Spurs showed a real weakness in Chelsea during the midweek game, and with having to travel to Anfield at the end of January. I can only see a victory for Liverpool with a fit again Coutinho as well.

I would highlight Kanté & Costa as key men for Chelsea, but they are also battering rams in a sense, who are likely to have to serve a suspension ban at some point before May. Could prove to be key.

But if Chelsea can get a win at Anfield, the title is heading to Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool img_1184

 It would appear Klopp likes to do things the hard way. An excellent home victory against Manchester City, followed up by giving 2 points away against Sunderland. Klopp is an Anfield favourite already and given time he will take Liverpool to the top of the league, but will it be this season?

Area to Strengthen:

 GK: What is it with Liverpool and Goalkeepers? From Calamity James to Simon Mignolet, they have all been prone to a howler or two. This title race is going to go down to the wire, and Liverpool can’t afford to give points away due to howlers. It’s a shame that Jordan Pickford got injured on Boxing Day, as I would have liked to see Liverpool put a bid in for a young talented English Goalkeeper. Or even a cheeky bid for Kasper Schmeichel wouldn’t be out of the question.

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CB: Klopp has found a solid CB in Joël Matip but troublesome ankle injuries have meant appearances have been few and far over the hectic Christmas period. But like the GK issue, Dejan Lovren has a clanger in him too and hasn’t convinced me of his defensive capabilities yet.

Prediction: 1st

I could be way off with this one, but I think it’s going to happen this year. One of the reasons is that, Liverpool’s final game against a Top 6 team is on the 18th March. That could provide to be pivotal.

It’s also like they are landing a new mega signing with the little Magician they call Philippe Coutinho back on the training pitch.

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Finally it’s Klopp just the best man motivator you could want in a title race?

Tottenham img_1185

 Poch is certainly building something at Spurs, and at White Hart Lane they are unplayable at times. Youth is certainly with Pochettino’s men, as of end of August ‘16 they had the youngest average age of all the Premier League teams. Arguably have the best defence and GK out of all the Top 6 teams.

Area to Strengthen:

ST: I would like to see a variation to Harry Kane. Kane’s a bit of an anomaly as he likes to play leading the line on his own, which has worked well with the continued great form of Dele. Moussa Dembélé at Celtic could be one way to go, I like the look of him and could provide to be a good speedy alternative to Kane.

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Prediction: 4th  

 Feel it might be a season too soon for Poch and his young team, with a tough Jan / Feb period where they have to travel to Manchester City & Liverpool. If they can get 4 points from those two games who knows though.

Manchester City img_1196

 

Not as easy as it looks ehey Pep? The Sky Blues have looked a shadow of the team who looked they were going to run away with the league before November. Pep looks flustered and frustrated on the touchline and his aging team needs some new life injected into it.

Area to Strengthen:

 Defence:

Some of the defensive capabilities of Kolarov, Otamendi etc would have given the likes of Jamie Carragher nightmares. With the consistently injured Kompany edging ever closer to early retirement, it would appear Pep needs to invest and spend big. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Virgil Van Dijk at City next season.

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GK: Bring Hart back. Simple.

CM: Gündogan is an exciting player but another one who’s struggling with injuries, Yaya isn’t the same player as a few seasons ago and lacks the desire to get back and defend these days.

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Prediction: 3rd

City have an opportunity to drag themselves back into this title race with Spurs, Manchester United & Liverpool all having to come to The Ethihad before April. But saying that they then have to travel to London and play Arsenal and Chelsea less than a week apart. I can already hear Pep moaning about that one..

Manchester United img_1199

Stuttering start, but looking a lot more consistent these days. The likes of Pogba & Zlatan are beginning to show why they are held in such high regard by the Old Trafford crowd. Jones & Rojo in the heart of defence isn’t a long-term fix but it seems to be working right now.

Area to Strengthen:

CM: United’s main aim should be finding a long-term replacement for Michael Carrick (35), his defensive displays in midfield have allowed Pogba to shine and take the headlines.

Prediction: 5th

 Jose is building. Next season will be the real test for his Red Devils.

Arsenal: arsenal_fc-svg

What can you say about Arsenal and Wenger which hasn’t already been said? Cazorla and Coquelin out for months with injuries, Sanchez disgruntled. What does Wenger do? Signs a Non – League player of course.

AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal - Premier League

Area to Strengthen:

CM: Xhaka hasn’t worked at all, with consistently clumsy challenges putting Arsenal under unnecessary pressure and Francis Coquelin injured yet again, it’s time to look elsewhere.

 Prediction: 6th

My maths has never been my strong point, but even I know that 6 doesn’t go into 4. Someone’s going to miss out and for me Arsenal are looking the most likely to miss out. Perhaps that will help the board make a decision on Wenger’s future. With visits to Chelsea, Liverpool and a North London derby to come it doesn’t look promising for Arsenal.

So there we have it folks, you might agree you might not. Either way we are in for a treat up until May, let’s see what unfolds.

As always thanks for reading,

Ta Tom

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Author: ClarkeyTotalFootball

Sports Graduate. Ever faithful that England will succeed at a major tournament one day. Once I scored a 5 - a - side hat-trick. Those were the days!

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