Football Station

Turn Around Time

The first half of the EPL Season has almost come to a close in what is one of the tightest tables we have seen in years.  Manchester United sit top and deservedly so after going undefeated in all competitions (scratch the Carling Cup defeat to West Ham).  Neighbors City hold the coveted 4th place spot with Tottenham snapping at their heels and riding a high after topping their Champions League group and beating would-be Top 4 contenders Liverpool in a lively game in London.

There has been no shortage of stories coming from England this season, and it’s our job here at Football Station to bring you the best, brightest and horrible.

Owen Coyle and Bolton Wanderers

The Scotsman came from a sinking Burnley ship to manage the Wanderers in what has become the managerial success story of the season so far.  What was once a hard nosed defense-first Northwestern outfit has become a slick passing and clinical side

Cocky, seductive and just plain sultry. Coyle's proved part genius this season in the EPL this season.

under the guidance of Coyle.  The Wanderers sit 6th currently, and one has to wonder: just how long can they keep this up?  Boasting a win over Tottenham, a hard fought draw against United and having a win at Everton snatched from their grasp with a last gasp goal from Jermaine Beckford, Coyle’s boys have maintained that defensive resolve while learning to press as a unit into the attacking half. Keys to their success are: American Stuart Holden and South Korean Lee Chung-Yong and Bolton’s record signing Johan Elmander putting in more than his fair share of goals up top.  Other than their monthly opener at Eastlands and closer at Chelsea, Bolton’s games in December are all winnable and could easily maintain a 6th or 7th spot going into the New Year.

Liverpool’s Stop-Start Season

Just what the hell is going on in the Northwest this year?  The humiliating defeats to Manchester City, Everton and Blackpool highlight a Liverpool season that hasn’t had a heap of good news coming its way.  With the exit door blaring, Roy Hodgson’s

Skeptical Roy

ill-advised outbursts seem to be making him more friends than enemies.  Benitez hits out at Roy, Roy hits back, Benitez hits back again, Roy apologizes.  Roy criticizes Glen Johnson’s form, Glen Johnson responds, Roy apologizes.  Roy says he is disappointed his Daniel Pacheco, now he says he has a bright future at the club.  Is he manic?  He’s like a 5 year old version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a speech impediment.  The January transfer window will either be his saving grace or nail in the coffin, so he had better make it count.  But with names like Keisuke Honda (reportedly a bid has been tabled) and Eden Hazard (more of a rumour) being linked, he just might have a little genius inside that huge coat.  They do have a run of fixtures coming up that most would fancy and don’t face too stiff of competition until the 5th of Februrary when they travel to Stamford Bridge (if you don’t count Everton and Stoke).  If Roy plays his cards right (e.g. playing Pacheco and more youngsters and not playing Poulsen) he could find himself knocking on 4th place’s door.  Oh, also Tom Hicks and George Gillette are taking LFC back to court. Awesome.

Zero to Hero

£30m has never looked so good.  Dimitar Berbatov is firing in goals like it’s his job.  Finally. Because it is his job.  And he used

Andytar Berbacia

to suck at his job.  That said, the Bulgarian ace has been in a rich vein of form with the Red Devils and is currently sitting Top Scorer of the Premier League with 11 goals. And with Blackpool next on the fixture list at Old Trafford, the Andy Garcia body double’s odds of scoring are looking pretty decent.  The Seasiders have allowed 18 away goals this season (2nd in the EPL).

Shape of Things to Come

While it may be fruitless to try and lay down a prediction for the second half of the season, I may as well try.  Chelsea have Tottenham coming up, United have Arsenal, then Chelsea have United, then Arsenal have Chelsea…as you can see, there will be much movement within the top 5 or 6 in coming months.  Nothing will be set in stone until May 22nd rolls around.  However, with the look of things, United and Chelsea are still looking favorites for the title.  Arsenal have a fantastic squad, as do Spurs and City, but shortcomings in each squad will prove decisive in their respective bids for the crown.  Arsenal have proven time and again that they can’t last the full season and often drop results come the tail end of the season.  Manchester City are going through issues within the squad and with the manager (shocking) and that will eventually provide their fall from the Top 4.  Tottenham have a legitimate shot at going for 3rd or even 2nd should results go their way.  They have a solid squad, a good looking schedule and are playing football that wins games.  The only blotch on their otherwise shiny squad is the injury to Rafael Van der Vaart.  The Dutchman has been instrumental this year in providing goals and scoring them himself, and it will be interesting to see how the Londoners cope without the big man.

Prediction – The Top 4 won’t have the same occupants this year as it did last year.  Manchester City should rest in 4th but may even snag 3rd spot from under Arsenal’s noses if they don’t clean up their act in the latter half of the season.  Who says money can’t buy happiness?  It will be a slug fest for top spot and the May 7th game where United host Chelsea could well decide the title.  Tottenham and Liverpool will find themselves in 5th and 6th place, respectively after a fruitful transfer window for the latter pays dividends.


Corluka Backs Spurs Playmaker


Croatia playmaker Luka Modric can help fire Tottenham up the Premier League table next season, according to compatriot Vedran Corluka.

Spurs recovered from a disastrous opening few months to finish the last campaign strongly under Harry Redknapp, reaching the Carling Cup final at Wembley and eventually securing eighth place.

Redknapp is determined his men will step it up a level in the new campaign, which will this time not involve any European football.

Corluka feels Modric, 24, can play a central role in driving Spurs on.

“It was difficult at the start because it was his first time playing in England and nobody in the team was playing well at that point,” defender Corluka told the club’s official website.

“When the team started to play well he showed why he is one of the best young midfielders in the world.

“Hopefully he will be even better next season because he knows how other teams play against us and the surroundings, so it will be a lot easier.”

Corluka added: “It is hard for a foreign player at first because everything is so much faster than in other leagues, as well as the physical strength.

“But after half a season, you are used to these things. If you have the same ability of the other players, then eventually you should be able to compete.”

Redknapp is keen to bolster his squad ahead of the new campaign.

Spurs are understood to be ready to listen to offers for strikers Roman Pavlyuchenko, a target for old club Spartak Moscow, and Darren Bent, said to be interesting Sunderland, while the future of former England winger David Bentley may also be away from White Hart Lane.

Analysis:  I’ll admit, I had Modric in my Fantasy 11 up until December, when I axed every single Spurs player from my squad.  But, as we saw so often in the Premier League last season, all Tottenham needed was a managerial shake up!  S’bragia did it at Sunderland (only for a bit), Hiddink at Chelsea…etc. Redknapp knocked these boys into shape when he stepped into Ramo’s seat.  After his arrival, the boys from White Hart Lane started functioning as a unit.

As far as transfers go, I think it would be unwise for Harry to let Pavlyuchenko leave.  He’s only had a full season in the EPL.  How often do we see players needing a season to get adjusted to the play, speed and physicality of the Premier League?  I’m sure Redknapp has a plenty competent back up should Roman be allowed to leave the club (Harry is competent himself).  Bentley never really lived up to the hype he made when he transferred from Rovers (aside from his 45 yard wondergoal in the London deby), He isn’t as much of an asset to the Spurs.  I would keep Bent around as I see him as a decent sub for the striking force at Tottenham.  He’s not a starter, in my mind, but he (a lot of people don’t realize this) scored 17 times in the EPL last season for the Spurs.