Posts Tagged ‘West Brom’


If Chelsea lose to West Brom history tells us that Rafa will get the boot

By Stefano on March 1st, 2013

Andre Villas-Boas was sacked following a defeat to West Brom, Roberto Di Matteo was sacked following a defeat to West Brom… so Rafael Benitez would do well to avoid an embarrassing result at home to the Baggies this weekend.

Di Matteo based his Chelsea side around the creative trio of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata earlier this season, but Benitez has favoured a more cautious starting XI. Ramires was used on the right of midfield against Manchester City last weekend, in order to bring balance to the side; but City actually attacked predominantly down that flank, with Ramires also failing to provide any attacking inspiration.

A home match against West Brom seems the perfect opportunity to use Oscar, Hazard and Mata together behind Demba Ba (Fernando Torres has managed just one goal in his last 15 appearances). After all, since Benitez confirmed he won’t be manager of Chelsea next season, his strategy will probably change. He appeared to be favouring initial caution before gradually becoming more attacking, but with only eleven games of his Chelsea career remaining, there’s no point building for the long term.

Chelsea need points, and with Ba yet to become prolific in a Chelsea shirt, they need goals from the attacking three behind him. Chelsea will certainly dominate possession, and fielding the talented trio of playmakers maximises the Blues’ chances of scoring.

Victor Moses will probably feature at some point, but selecting Abramovich’s three ‘marquee players’ seems natural if Benitez wants to keep his job until the end of the season… which isn’t necessarily the case.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.



Why defeat to Swansea might be the catalyst that kick starts Arsenal’s season.

By Stefano on December 1st, 2012

On the way home from the Arsenal game today I heard the following exchange between a pair of middle age Gooners. One said ‘that’s it now we can only expect Arsenal to be like they were in the 80s under Don Howe.’ The other fella responded ‘What no league wins, just the odd cup?’

It then struck me that Arsenal had actually been in this position for seven trophy-less years. It is just that the fans are only beginning to realise it… However in spite of the boo boys and the general pessimism in and around the Emirates today I actually think we might remember the Swansea defeat as being the catalyst that kick started Arsenal’s season.

The logic is this. Wenger had gambled on winning today and the next home game against West Brom which he hoped would propel Arsenal into the top four. They would then put a run together and maybe even press the Mancunians towards the end of the season.

What happened to day was that an exhausted looking team – especially Carzola, Arteta, Podolski – failed to get into gear in the first half and then didn’t take their chances in the second. Swansea were the better team for much of the game and ironically had more possession than Arsenal and played in a way that you’d expect the Gunners to play.

We have of course been here several times already this season and it is clear the Arsenal team, although full of good players, is failing to gel in a way that previous Arsenal teams have.

Ultimately what today did though was ensure that come the Winter transfer window Arsenal will have to spend and spend big. Without an investment in a new creative midfielder, one, possibly two strikers and even another defensive midfielder Arsenal will finish nowhere near fourth. Ivan Gazidis must know this now and any arguments between Wenger and Gazidis about whether there is money to spend are surely redundant given the investment from the new Emirates deal. Maybe there will be the odd high profile loan deal too – Fabregas back? You heard it here first!

Quite frankly the one thing that can save Arsenal season is the arrival of some big marquee signings that can add bite to the team and instill confidence in some excellent, but under performing players. Wenger can talk all he likes about the return of Thierry Henry. What he really ought to be focusing on is signing the next Henry.

So, as depressing a result as today is for Arsenal fans it should ensure at the very least some big deals are on the cards. Had the team won today and beaten West Brom the situation would have been less clear. Wenger, not the most flexible of men, would at least have a case foe carrying on with Plan A. Now for Wenger and Gazidis it is crystal clear. That Champions League place really is in the balance.

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