Premier League round-up: Matchday 33

Picture from Who Ate All The Pies 
The Premier League title race might be all but over but the relegation battle certainly is not. An error-strewn Blackpoolperformance has left Ian Holloway’s side in the relegation zone, with Wigan leaping above The Tangerines after a comprehensive 3-1 victory. Roberto Martinez described the win as a “huge victory” and praised his side for controlling the game and continuing to heap pressure on the sides around them. The Latics pressured Blackpool early on and, within three minutes, Hugo Rodallega gave them the lead, capitalising on a lazy Craig Cathcart pass in the middle of the pitch.

The early goal seemed to unsettle the hosts and, just before half-time, Wigan extended their lead, Charles N’Zogbia finishing off an unchallenged run to slot home. The game was finished as a contest by the 66th minute, Diame’s shot going in off Neal Eardley, although DJ Campbell did get a goal back for Blackpool late on.
Wigan are now just above the relegation zone on thirty-four points, with Blackpool below them on thirty-three. Just eight points separates bottom-placed Wolves and Aston Villa, who sit in ninth after a late Gabriel Agbonlahor header gave them victory over struggling West Ham. The Hammers had got off to the perfect start as Robbie Keane gave them the lead after two minutes, but Darren Bent equalised for Gerard Houiller’s side before half-time with a simple header, before Agbonlahor scored from three yards out to ease fears of relegation.
Villa’s local rivals, Birmingham, also recorded a victory, beating out-of-form Sunderland2-0 at St Andrews. Sebastien Larsson gave The Blues the lead and Craig Gardner scored a fine volley midway through the second half, but Sunderland did have their chances; Asamoah Gyan and Lee Cattermole both forced saves from Ben Foster, while Jordan Henderson and Sessegnonalso went close. Sunderland have struggled since Darren Bent left for Villa in January but they have also suffered from injuries, which has clearly knocked the confidence of the Black Cats.
In contrast to Sunderland’s poor run of form, Everton, who had a shocking start to the season, continued their rise up the table with a 2-0 win against a hapless Blackburn. In-form Leon Osman put the Merseysiders in front just after half-time and Leighton Baines smashed home a penalty with fifteen minutes left after Rovers defender Paul Jones brought down Seamus Coleman in the area.
Blackburn rarely threatened, although Pedersen should have scored late on for Steve Kean’s side, who are now just two points above the relegation zone, from six yards out. Everton are now 7th, six points off a Europa League spot.
West Brom have been revitalised under manager Roy Hodgson but The Baggies suffered their first defeat under the former-Liverpool and Blackburn man as Chelsea kept their slip title hopes alive. Peter Odemwingie gave West Brom the dream start with a tidy finish after seventeen minutes, but poor goalkeeping from Scott Carson allowed The Blues back into the game. First, Didier Drogba profited, smashing home from close range and, just four minutes later, Kalou neatly finished to give Carlo Ancelotti’s side the lead.
Foster did redeem himself somewhat with a great save from a Frank Lampard freekick but the midfielder was not to be denied his tenth goal of the season, finishing off well after a splendid solo run from Florent Malouda. Chelsea did hit the bar late on and Fernando Torres had a goal ruled out for offside but the points were in the bag; they are now eight points behind leaders Manchester United. West Brom are 11th, six points above the drop zone and surely safe.
On Sunday, Arsenal and Liverpool both left it late to register a goal each. Robin Van Persie fired home a penalty after Jay Spearing had fouled Cesc Fabregas in the box in the eighth minute of injury-time, surely securing the win for The Gunners. Three points would have kept Arsenal’s slim title hopes alive but, after Emmanuel Eboue clumsily fouled Lucas in Arsenal’s penalty area, Dirk Kuyt smashed in the penalty to equalise in the twelfth minute of added-on time.
Matchday 33 results: Birmingham 2-0 Sunderland; Blackpool 1-3 Wigan; Everton 2-0 Blackburn; West Brom 1-3 Chelsea; West Ham 1-2 Aston Villa; Arsenal-Liverpool
(Manchester United face Newcastle on Tuesday night, with ChelseaBirmingham and TottenhamArsenal the following night. Manchester City defeated local rivals United 1-0 on Saturday in the FA Cup, with Stoke thrashing Bolton 5-0 in the other semi-final.)
Matchday 34 fixtures: Manchester United-Everton; Aston Villa-Stoke; Blackpool-Newcastle; Liverpool-Birmingham; Sunderland-Wigan; Tottenham-West Brom; Wolves-Fulham; Chelsea-West Ham; Bolton-Arsenal; Blackburn-Manchester City.
This article originally appeared on Sports Haze.

Revenge will be sweet for Roy Hodgson & Blackpool in trouble

West Brom vs. Liverpool: Revenge will be sweet for Hodgson

Hodgson will look to get one over on Liverpool this weekend

Roy Hodgson meets his former employers this weekend and, not only is it a big game for Hodgson himself, it’s a huge a game for West Brom.

Most think that he wasn’t given enough time at Liverpool. Many believe that Liverpool just wasn’t the right club for him; that he couldn’t handle the pressure of managing a ‘big club’. What is for certain, though, is that Roy Hodgson, in the time that he was given at Anfield, failed as manager of Liverpool Football Club.

Hodgson was given just over six months to stabilise a club in free-fall after a combination of poor management, poor ownership and all-round poor decisions left England’s most successful football club of the twentieth century in dire straits.
Earlier this week two Anfield talisman spoke out about Hodgson’s time with the club, saying that the sixty-three-year-old wasn’t to blame for the failure of Anfield. Captain Steven Gerrard stated that, “as players we didn’t perform consistently for him”, with centre-back Jamie Carragher adding: “it’s not as if Roy was there for two years and didn’t do well so as a group of players you have to ask are we doing well enough.”

Of course, Kop legend Kenny Dalglish took over from Hodgson in January, with Liverpool sitting 12thin the League. They now sit 6th, just four points away from Tottenham. The turn-around has been quite staggering.
Everyone has their own opinion: did the players not perform under Hodgson but are now finding their feet with Dalglish at the helm? Are Dalglish’s tactics simply more suited to the Liverpool players? Or is (or, was) Hodgson simply tactically inept and didn’t understand what it meant to be manager of Liverpool?
Hodgson is now manager of West Brom. Many tipped them for the drop when the former-Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers and Finland manager was appointed West Brom head coach in February, after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked.
Many Baggies fans were unhappy with the departure of Di Matteo as he was seen as a young, likeable manager, as well as being a good coach with fantastic man-management skills. He was seen as the future of the club, a future that was then cast in doubt as Hodgson was brought in with less than four months left in the season and with a relegation fight on their hands.
West Brom are currently 16th in the Premier League and just one point above the relegation zone, but the fact that Hodgson has organised the team into a well-oiled machine as well as actually playing players in their preferred positions (as Di Matteo was criticised for doing the opposite) has delighted fans at The Hawthorns.
This weekend, though, sees a match that has set many tongues wagging. Liverpool visit West Brom on Saturday meaning that Hodgson faces his old employers for the first time since his exit.
Dalglish, though, had some positive words to say about the man who will be in the opposite dug-out this weekend: “Roy hasn’t got anything to prove to anybody. If you say he has extra motivation then you are doubting the man’s integrity and implying he never had enough motivation before”, Dalglish told The Telegraph.

“I have great respect for him as I said when I came in here and that isn’t going to change now that we are playing against each other.”

What is for sure, though, is that Hodgson will be looking to get one over on his former employers come Saturday, 3pm. West Brom’s Premier League status is not yet safe and a win against Liverpool could set them on their way to a fine run-in.

Hodgson has stated today that he already has targets in mind for the summer transfer window; he expects to be at West Brom for the foreseeable future but knows he needs time to build. On Saturday, he’ll come up against the side that wouldn’t allow him that time, in a game that could spark the surge away from relegation.

The time is now for Blackpool
EPL: Blackpool are in danger of relegation
In 2011, they’ve won just two games. They’re in the middle of an intense relegation battle. Blackpool’s form is relegation form.
The English Premier League relegation battle is always a gripping story that unfolds over the course of thirty-eight games. Usually, by the time April comes around, the relegation contenders have been whittled down to around five teams.
This time last season, Portsmouth were propping up the table on thirteen points, with Burnley above them on twenty-four – Championship football was already on the cards for these two sides. Between eighth placed Fulham and Hull City (18thand in the relegation zone) there were eleven points. Realistically though, Wigan and West Ham were the only other relegation concerns. Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth were demoted at the end of the season.
This season, it is not so clear-cut. There are eight points between the bottom club and 7th placed Bolton. West Ham, West Brom, Blackpool, Aston Villa and Blackburn are all in serious danger of dropping into a relegation zone currently featuring Wolves, Birmingham and Wigan. With eight games to go, no one is safe.
Blackpool, in particular, have seen a horrific fall in form. A 4-0 win away at Wigan sent them to the top of the Premier League table after the first game. A 6-0 thrashing from Arsenal didn’t exactly dampen their spirits as, by 28thDecember, they were sitting eighth in the table.
And then came the turn of the year. In 2011, The Tangerines have won two games (against Liverpool and Tottenham). They’ve lost vital games against their relegation rivals: Birmingham, West Brom, West Ham and Wolves. In their last six games, they’ve conceded sixteen goals. To put it bluntly, their current form is relegation form.
Charlie Adam, Blackpool’s star player this season, was, somewhat expectedly, completely outclassed on Sunday as Scotland were defeated 2-0 by a Neymar-inspired Brazil. The midfielder suffered a knock at The Emirates and, although he has stated that he’ll be ready for this weekend’s clash with Fulham, manager Ian Holloway will need a fully-fit Adam to inspire his team through the rest of the season.
After Fulham this Sunday, Blackpool face a struggling Arsenal who will surely be looking to re-state their claim for the Premier League title. Following that, three bottom-half teams visit Bloomfield Road. Blackpool cannot afford to lose to Wigan, Newcastle or Stoke, especially when their final three fixtures put them up against Tottenham, Bolton and Manchester United.
If Blackpool are to stay up this season, their form is going to have to drastically change instantly. A win against Fulham would certainly set them on their way and, to steer clear of the drop, they’re going to need to be tactically shrewd and adopt a win-at-all-costs attitude.
Blackpool have played some brilliant football this season which is remarkable baring in mind that, at the beginning of the season, everyone was writing them off. Gary Taylor-Smith, DJ Campbell and Luke Varney have played above and beyond themselves and have contributed to Blackpool scoring forty-five goals this season. Their defence, though, is a completely different matter.
The game against Manchester United in January pretty much sums up Blackpool as a team. In the first half, Holloway’s side battered United, taking a 2-0 lead into half-time after attacking with great fluidity. In the second half, United came back in roaring fashion, scoring three goals in sixteen minutes to destroy a helpless Blackpool.
Blackpool might not have the best squad on paper but, when it comes to actually playing on the pitch, in a unit, they are fantastic to watch and have been a revelation this season. They’re stuck in the middle of some woeful form but form can change. A win against Fulham won’t save their season, but it could set them on their way to survival.

These articles were originally published on Sports Haze. 

Why Charlie Adam is worth at least £10 million

For the so-called “bigger clubs” in football, transfer fees mean very little in these modern times. Manchester City can afford to go out and pay £30 million on an average player because their owners can afford to spend hundreds of millions in the pursuit of that Holy Grail: the Premier League trophy. Liverpool are, in some respects, in the same boat as City, as they can afford to spend a reported £20 million on Ajax forward Luis Suarez: a player who has torn the Eredivisie to shreds in recent seasons but is a slight risk given the history of players coming from the top Dutch league to the top English league.


Blackpool, on the other hand, cannot afford to throw away money and that includes selling players for under-valued prices. In total, the Tangerines have spent £320,000 this season, all of which comes from the transfer of Matt Phillips from Wycombe in late-August. Charlie Adam, Blackpool’s captain and talisman this season, was signed for £500,000 in August 2009 from Scottish giants Rangers after a successful loan spell at Bloomfield Road. The Scottish midfielder is now the subject of a transfer-tussle between his club (or rather, Ian Holloway) and a few reportedly interested Premier League clubs, including Liverpool.
The only sticking point, it seems, is the fee of the potential transfer. “If they are going to offer me £4m, then that is insulting” says Holloway, and he’s right. Adam may be in the last year of his contract but that doesn’t mean that Blackpool have to sell him on the cheap. Holloway continues “I think they are wasting their time because we don’t need to sell him at the moment.”
Aston Villa are the other team reportedly interested in capturing the signature of 25-year-old Adam but their offer was supposedly only £3.5 million at most. Obviously, if Blackpool don’t reach an agreement over the fee then Adam would be able to leave the club on a free transfer when his contract eventually runs out, which would be detrimental to Blackpool both to their team and their finances. But Holloway is right to request more money for Adam; he’s right to dismiss Liverpool and Villa and ask for some “respect” in the matter.
Adam’s performance against Sunderland on Saturday was a clear indication as to how talented the Dundee-born midfielder is. His range of passing was exceptional throughout (see chalkboard below) and, while some passes may not have quite found their intended target, the fact that he is looking to play the pass shows great ambition and great drive. Also, if Adam were in a better equipped team, his passing ability would be used to better effect. At Villa, for example, Adam would have the chance to spray balls out to the wings to either Marc Albrighton or Gabriel Agbonlahor, while Darren Bent, who got off the mark for his new club on Saturday, would benefit massively from the supply line that is Charlie Adam.
Central midfielders that can pass as well as Charlie Adam can do not boast transfer fees of under £5 million; they are worth much more than that. Adam is one of the most creative players in the league and whoever acquires his services will have signed a fantastic architect of attacking football. For a deep-lying playmaker his ability to score goals isn’t bad either, with sixteen goals to his name last season in the Championship and four so far this season, all four of which have come from the penalty spot.
Adam’s passing has been key to Blackpool’s success this season along with the sheer work rate that players such as DJ Campbell and Neal Eardley have exerted in the Premier League since August last year. Adam has been at the heart of Blackpool’s attacking play this season, shown by the fact that he has made four assists so far in 2010/11, the same number assists that David Silva has made for Manchester City and one more than Raul Meireles has made for Liverpool. Adam has been particularly influential against teams that Blackpool really need to beat in order to stay up, such as teams like West Brom who, amongst others, are going to be in the same sort of position as Blackpool come the end of the season. Against West Brom in November, Adam was again the creator; his cross-field passing to the right-wing (see chalkboard below) started many attacks for Holloway’s side. Adam also scored a penalty in that game to give Blackpool an early lead.
Adam has all the qualities of a player worth at least £10 million, so why are Liverpool and Aston Villa (‘bigger’ teams by all accounts) offering Blackpool an under-valued amount for a player still relatively young and therefore still has the potential to grow into a fantastic player? Holloway himself says that “I believe that Charlie is shining and his star will only shine brighter”, and he’s correct. At twenty-five Charlie Adam could become the versatile, creative star in the Premier League that Holloway clearly expects him to become.
The midfielder has now allegedly handed in a transfer request, but Holloway will still be reluctant to let him go. The only niggling point on Adam’s transfer is the length of time left on his contract and the amount of money that Blackpool paid Rangers for the player. Many would argue that, as Blackpool signed the player for relatively cheap in today’s market, Holloway should happily accept a £4 million offer, or even a £7 million offer as is now being reported, as this would provide Blackpool with a big profit. But that doesn’t mean Blackpool should let Adam go for anything less than £10 million; in today’s market (quite rightly described as “ridiculous” by Sir Alex Ferguson) Adam is at least worth as much as Southampton teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, possibly as much as £15 million. This money would possibly then enable Blackpool to go out and buy a few decent replacements for Adam as they strive to stay in the Premier League.
Clearly, no human being is worth millions of pounds but, in the current transfer climate, surely Charlie Adam commands a higher transfer fee than that which the top guns in the Premier League are offering? Holloway explains that “We’re not stupid little Blackpool. If you want him, I want the right amount of money”, and that is how the ‘bigger’ clubs are treating Blackpool with this offer – stupid and little. Not only is Adam worth more than what has been quoted, he commands more and, it seems, until Blackpool receive an offer they deem to be acceptable, Adam won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

This article originally appeared on sports website Sports Haze but is now unavailable due to the site closing down.
Picture from kongniffe

"No situation" over Charlie Adam contract clause, insists Blackpool chairman

A clause in Ian Holloways’ contract regarding the sale of a player is “insubstantial and insignificant”, according to Blackpool chairman Keith Oyston.


The Sun reported today that Oyston agreed the clause, which sees the manager receive a percentage of any transfer fee from the sale of Charlie Adam, with Holloway when he took over as manager in May 2009. 
Adam has led Blackpool to the Premier League after joining from Rangers in August 2009, with the club now sitting 12th in the Premier League. The 25-year-old has attracted interest from, amongst others, Liverpool and Aston Villa and, with only 12 months left to run on his contract, it looks as if the influential captain may be about to leave Bloomfield Road.
Adam handed in a transfer request last week but Holloway was adamant that he was not going anywhere until the club received a “respectable” offer.
Holloway has also defended himself today following The Sun’s report regarding his contract, saying: “I was sick and fed up of getting nothing… so he agreed a certain figure. But I’m on a far bigger bonus to keep us in the Premier League.”
Adam has made twenty-two appearances for Blackpool so far this season and has been particularly impressive recently, again showcasing his abilities on Tuesday night against top-of-the-table Manchester United.
And Holloway is resolute in his view that Adam is worth more than the £4 million that Liverpool have reportedly offered for him: “Surely anybody with one eye, one arm, one leg and half a brain can see Charlie Adam is a fantastic footballer who is worth more than £4m.”
While many have backed Holloway in defending his player and his team, some have criticised the former Plymouth Argyle manager for disrespecting Liverpool and Aston Villa, with recent comments about Villa manager Gerard Houllier angering sections of fans above all.
With the January transfer window deadline looming ever closer and the news of this new clause in Holloway’s contract, the future of Charlie Adam is now more uncertain than ever before.

This article originally appeared on sports website Sports Haze but is now unavailable due to the site closing down.

Premier League Preview: Blackpool

A quiet summer in Blackpool in terms of transfers, but it definitely wasn’t a quiet summer in Blackpool for football in general. After beating Cardiff in the play-off final in May, Blackpool are back in the top flight of English football since 1992. Getting promoted, though, is a lot easier than staying up.

            With only 21 first team players on their books, Ian Holloway’s side have got by far the smallest squad in the Premier League. The summer has been full of rumours rather than actual transfers for the Seasiders, with Derby’s Rob Hulse and Swansea’s Angel Rangel the latest to be linked with a move to Bloomfield Road. The fact that Blackpool have retained the majority of their successful Championship squad does work in their favour, though, with Hameur Bouazza the only name of significance to leave the side, going French side Arles-Avignon on a free transfer. When you look at the Blackpool squad, though, you become filled with nothing but worry.
            The Tangerines’ squad is full of ex-Premier League players, such as Paul Rachubka in goal, Jason Euell in midfield and Brett Ormerod in attack, which boasts well in terms of experience. However, these are players that took a step down from the top league because they were not good enough for the Premier League anymore. The fact that Gary Taylor-Fletcher is considered one of their best strikers tells a story on its own; the forward is more suited to the Football League having spent the majority of his career at clubs such as Leyton Orient, Hartlepool and Lincoln City.
            One plus-point for Blackpool, though, is that, in their squad, they include young Welsh right-back Neal Eardley. The former Oldham defender may struggle in the Premier League having been brought up in the lower leagues, but he shows good promise and is definitely one to look out for this coming season.
            Rumours suggest that Holloway is currently looking at bringing in former Aston Villa and West Ham striker Marlon Harewood, who was released by Villa at the end of last season. This is exactly the sort of signing that the club needs as goals are going to be extremely hard to come by.
            The quality of Charlie Adam makes the midfielder imperative to Blackpool’s success this season. The former Rangers player starred in the victorious play-off final where the ‘Pool beat Cardiff 3-2, with Adam scoring a free-kick in that game. He could well be the creative spark that Blackpool need to steer them clear of the relegation zone. One would think, though, that they would need more than a spark to guide them away from that fate.
Where will they finish?: 20th
Official relegation odds: 1/3 (Paddy Power)
Star man: Charlie Adam
One to watch: Neal Eardley
Main weakness: Lack of Premier League quality