Friday, 18 November 2011

Beckham’s final farewell

17 June 2007 - David Beckham starts his final game for Real Madrid. Despite limping off after 65 minutes, Beckham still realised his dream of winning La Liga as Madrid beat Mallorca 3-1 at the Bernabéu. A perfect end to his Spanish adventure.

In July 2007 David Beckham joined LA Galaxy to begin a new adventure with broader goals of boosting soccer’s popularity in the United States. Whether this mission has been fully acheived during Beckham’s four and a half year stay is debatable, but one target remains for the Englishman in America.

Beckham has never won the biggest prize in American soccer, the MLS Cup. The strange and convoluted Conference and Playoff system that runs from March to November, culminates in one match where the winner takes all. In 2009 he reached the grand event but ended up on the losing side. Beckham scored in a penalty shootout which LA Galaxy lost 5-4 to Real Salt Lake. This Sunday, LA Galaxy will try again as they take on Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles for a chance to lift the MLS Cup.

This season David Beckham has the second highest number of assists in the MLS (15), including a beautiful cross which set up Galaxy’s second goal in the Western Conference Final.

Sunday could be Beckham’s last game for the Galaxy. He has yet to decide whether he will stay on another year in Los Angeles, and there has been speculation that big spending Paris Saint-Germain are looking to bring him to France. Beckham is 36 years old and has spoken many times about how he will carefully consider his future, and do what is best for his family.

20 November 2011 - David Beckham will start what could be his final game for LA Galaxy. At 36 years of age and after a 4 year wait, Beckham could finally lift the MLS Cup and answer his critics in the best possible way, on the pitch. A perfect end to his American adventure.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Wenger sees his opportunity

By 3PM tomorrow, optimism and belief could flood into the veins of Arsenal Football Club, their players and supporters buoyed by a victory which has the potential to turn their season around. At least that is what Arsene Wenger hopes.

Arsenal won only 2 of their first 7 games in the Premier League, and their 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford threatened to ruin their season in confidence shattering style. Yet since losing 4-3 at Ewood Park, Arsenal have won 7 of their last 8 games in all competitions. The worrying trend for Arsenal fans however is that the Gunners have failed in every big challenge so far this season in the Premier League. Arsene Wenger’s side have lost to Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, which has only fuelled some people’s belief that Arsenal are falling behind following the loss of Fabregas and Nasri in the summer.

Arsenal face their next test in the league tomorrow at Stamford Bridge. Big outsiders at 5/1, not many give Arsenal a chance against Chelsea. However, Andre Villas-Boas’ team have problems of their own at the moment, and Arsene Wenger will see this as his opportunity. Fined £20,000 by the Football Association for failing to control their players last week at QPR, Chelsea have Didier Drogba suspended and John Terry caught up in an investigation over allegations of racist abuse.

Arsenal could welcome back Thomas Vermaelen for his first Premier League appearance since August, after he played midweek in the Carling Cup. Despite his poor form, Andrei Arshavin also looked impressive against Bolton, and Gervinho has been scoring and assisting regularly this season. Robin van Persie, who has scored 6 goals in his last 4 Premier League games, will again be Arsenal’s main and arguably only world class threat. Chelsea will still feel that they should win this match, but Wenger firmly believes that a win for Arsenal is key to their season.

“a win would of course install us among the top teams in the league, but what is very important is that it would strengthen the belief inside the team and would continue our progress" said the Arsenal manager.

A win could change everything. Arsenal could end October a mere 3 points behind Chelsea in the table, which would have seemed highly unlikely even 3 weeks ago. A win tomorrow would give Wenger all the ammunition he needs in the post-match interviews to point to a very impressive run of victories. However, a loss at Chelsea tomorrow would mean another test failed, another dent in Arsenal’s already fragile confidence, and another fall from which Wenger must rise and push on, dragging his team through their broken season.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bayern Munich 2-0 Manchester City - Germans pass their test

On Tuesday night Bayern Munich beat big spending Manchester City at the Allianz Arena by a surprisingly comfortable 2-0 scoreline. City started well, and while the first 30 minutes were relatively even, two goals from Mario Gomez before half-time sealed the victory. In the second half Man City didn’t put up much of a fight, and with Tevez refusing to come on as a substitute with around 30 minutes still to play, it was a poor night for Mancini’s men.

Manchester City found it difficult to retain possession at crucial times in the game, and Bayern never let them rest, unleashing 24 shots at City’s goal. Joe Hart had an excellent game, but was visibly angry with his defence, who stood almost completely still for both of Bayern’s goals. City struggled to get the ball forward, which meant that Aguero and Dzeko failed to make much of an impact on the match. David Silva was not able to have as much an impact on proceedings as usual, but he was still City’s most dangerous player. Silva completed more passes in the final third than any other City player, creating 3 chances.

David Silva’s commitment to the team couldn't be questioned either. Silva made more tackles than any other Manchester City player, but also committed the most fouls.

Bayern Munich bossed the majority of this match and Manchester City really struggled throughout to deal with Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Ribery was a handful all night for Micah Richards and anyone else who came across to cover. Ribery made more attacking third passes and created more chances than anyone else on the pitch. The Frenchman, who was taking on defenders all night long, was also fouled more than anyone else.

Schweinsteiger and Ribery had a combined 9 shots at goal - the same as the entire Manchester City team.

Mario Gomez once again showed his predatory striking skills, scoring both goals from rebounds off the goalkeeper, in fact all 6 of Gomez’s shots were from inside the penalty area.

Bayern extended their amazing win and clean sheet run to 10 matches. This was meant to be a first real test for both sides, and it was Bayern Munich who passed quite comfortably.

Chalkboards created using the excellent Stats Zone iPhone App from FourFourTwo and Opta -

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Champions League Preview - Bayern Munich v Manchester City

Manchester City travel to Germany tonight to take on Bayern Munich in Group A of the UEFA Champions League. Both teams are flying high in their respective domestic leagues, and their statistics so far this season suggest tonight’s match is a real heavyweight clash.

Bayern Munich are top of the Bundesliga and are in such imperious form that some in Germany believe the title is theirs for the taking. After losing their first match of the season 1-0 at home to Monchengladbach, they have gone on an incredible run of results in all competitions. In Bayern’s last 9 games they have won all 9, keeping a clean sheet in every match and scoring 26 goals.

Manchester City have also enjoyed a very impressive start to the season, and they currently sit second in the Premier League, only behind Manchester United on goal difference. Unbeaten in all competitions so far, City have looked excellent going forward, scoring 19 goals in their 6 League games.

Both teams will see tonight’s match as a real test, and viewers should be treated to an absolutely fascinating tie.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Madrid 4-0 Spurs - Redknapp adds to the confusion

First of all, let me congratulate Real Madrid for an excellent and professional performance last night which saw them all but qualify for the semi-finals. In the second half in particular, Madrid demonstrated perfectly how to pressure and overrun 10 men and fully deserved their 4-0 win.

However I'm not here to talk about that, I'm here to complain bitterly and wonder how it is even possible for Tottenham to capitulate so fast into a confused and disorganised mess. First of all Aaron Lennon is taken ill in the tunnel minutes before kick-off. Then Jermaine Jenas is used to replace him, yet Redknapp decides not to do a straight swap, and finally after conceding an early goal, Peter Crouch loses all sense and gets himself sent off.

I blame Crouch the most, to get sent off for two identical tackles in the first 15 minutes is unforgivable. He let his team-mates down and made the rest of their evening pretty much impossible. Defending for 75 minutes in the Bernabeu with ten men, when already 1-0 down is such a difficult thing to do. Lennon missing was also a massive blow for Spurs. Lennon can often shine on the right hand side when all the attention is on Bale, and together they can be devastating on the counter attack, it is rather disappointing that we never got to see this full strength attack in action.

There is one person who doesn't seem to be getting enough criticism in the press today in my opinion - Harry Redknapp. I don't blame him for what happened after Crouch's sending off, but in the opening 15 minutes Spurs were a complete mess. To me, with Lennon being withdrawn so late, Jermaine Jenas should quite clearly have just slotted straight into Lennon's position on the right side of midfield. Jenas has pace and while this is not his position, I am sure that he could have adapted. This however did not happen, instead Redknapp decided to change the entire shape of the team to accommodate Jenas in the middle. Surely the team have spent the last few days preparing in a very specific way, with Modric and Sandro in the middle and Bale and Lennon on the wings. Redknapp's last minute adjustments meant that Modric was pushed out to the left and Bale didn't seem to know which wing he was playing on as he continually switched early on.

As you can see above, in the first 15 minutes (before Crouch got sent off) Tottenham's midfield was all over the place. It baffles me that after having such a clear formation and game-plan almost right up to kick-off, that the manager would move so many things around at the last minute. It can also be argued that the confusion caused by these changes led to Adebayor's first goal. As the teams were lining up on the pitch, Tottenham's coaching staff can be seen showing Jenas tactical information on a clipboard. In comes the first corner, and Adebayor is left free by Jenas to nod home the opening goal. Surely somebody was assigned to mark Adebayor, and it couldn't have been little Lennon.

Bad decision making from the boss resulted in mass confusion on the pitch, and terrible decision making from the lanky one up front ended all hope of limiting the damage.

Rant over - One bad result won't deter us Spurs fans, we forgive and forget quite easily. We'll just win the second leg 5-0 at White Hart Lane - COYS!

Chalkboard courtesy of the excellent Total Football - Champions League iPhone app.

Friday, 1 April 2011

David Villa - Born to Score (Part 1)

This week, David Villa made history as he moved past Raul to become Spain’s leading International goal scorer of all time. Villa has scored an incredible 46 goals in just 73 International matches, averaging more than a goal every other game. After being the top goal scorer at Euro 2008 and the joint top at last summer’s World Cup, the 29 year old’s International goal scoring record is the current pinnacle of world football. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned his haul of over 250 club goals yet either.

David Villa is a wonderful footballer, he has pace, bundles of technical ability and is a deadly and amazingly consistent finisher. He is arguably the best striker in the world and has a club and international goalscoring record to back that up. The thing is, there are two certain individuals who seem determined to keep Villa confined to the shadows when it comes to goals, and they aren’t even supposed to be strikers. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have left the rest of Europe in their dust by delivering a scarcely believable glut of goals over the last couple of seasons, but David Villa still remains one of the planet’s top forwards.

Arguably, David Villa’s greatest asset is his consistency. In each of the past ten years, Villa has scored 20 or more goals a season. This amazing record spans right back to when Villa first broke into the Sporting Gijon first team at the age of 19. Playing for Gijon in the Segunda División, David Villa scored 40 goals in 85 games before in 2003, newly promoted Real Zaragoza signed the 21 year old for approximately €3m.

In his first season with his new club Villa also won the first silverware of his career, scoring a goal in the Copa del Rey Final in which Zaragoza beat David Beckham’s Real Madrid 3-2 after Extra time. Villa’s time at Zaragoza was a success; in two seasons he helped the newly promoted team to two mid table finishes in La Liga and also got to play in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup as a result of their domestic Cup success. While at Zaragoza, Villa also made his International debut for Spain in February 2005. On the back of this success Quique Sánchez Flores brought the striker to Valencia for €12m in the summer of 2005.

Villa played at Valencia for 5 seasons, making 212 appearances and scoring 129 goals. During this time Valencia achieved 2 third place finishes in the league and also won the 2007/08 Copa del Rey. Villa was Valencia’s top scorer five seasons in a row and made 64 appearances for the Spanish National side during this time, scoring 42 goals. His magnificent record for both Club and Country over half a decade finally paved the way for his richly deserved big-money transfer.

In May 2010, just before the World Cup in South Africa, Barcelona signed David Villa for a fee of around €40 million. After a failed experiment with striker Zlatan Ibrahimović, David Villa was seen by many to be a much safer option than the unpredictable Swede. Already playing alongside many of his future teammates for the Spanish National team, Villa has settled into a familiar system rather effortlessly. Despite some light criticism at the start of the season, Villa has already scored over 20 goals this season, the tenth season in a row that he has achieved this. He has scored important goals too, in particular his brace in the 5-0 Clasico win as well as an important away goal in the Champions League Round of 16 tie against Arsenal.

Despite his wonderful ability to get goals wherever and whenever he plays, surprisingly Villa has never won the Pichichi, and he is almost certain not to win it this season either. David Villa is currently the third top scorer in La Liga 10 behind Messi and Ronaldo, but with Barcelona still fighting for 3 competitions, his goals could yet have a huge impact on where the dust settles in Spain this season.

In part two, I take a more in depth look at Villa’s incredible record for his Country.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Primera Division strikes blocked by Madrid Court

The proposed strikes in Spain have been blocked by a Madrid court and this weekend’s fixtures will go ahead as normal. 14 of the league’s teams threatened a walk-out following a dispute over television rights. The clubs were upset over a rule that states one match per week must be shown on free-to-air television. They argue that the removal of this rule would allow teams to get more money through pay-TV rights.

The remaining six teams were opposed to the strike and started legal proceedings to challenge this action. The six “rebel” teams were Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza, Espanyol and Villarreal. These teams described the proposed action as "a disproportionate, untimely measure that is contrary to the interests of the clubs, the competition and the fans and is, in addition, contrary to the law". The Madrid based court agreed.

Six Primera Division games are live on Sky Sports this weekend, including a massive match at El Madrigal as leaders Barcelona travel to third place Villarreal on Saturday night:

Saturday, 2 April 2011
Real Madrid v Sporting Gijon, 17:00 (Live on Sky Sports 4)
Getafe v Valencia, 19:00 (Live on Sky Sports 4)
Villarreal v Barcelona, 21:00 (Live on Sky Sports 4)

Sunday, 3 April 2011
Deportivo La Coruna v Mallorca, 16:00
Espanyol v Racing Santander, 16:00
Levante v Malaga, 16:00
Real Sociedad v Hercules, 16:00
Sevilla v Real Zaragoza, 18:00 (Live on Sky Sports 1)
Osasuna v Atletico Madrid, 20:00 (Live on Sky Sports 1)

Monday, 4 April 2011
Almeria v Athletic Bilbao, 20:00 (Live on Sky Sports Online)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Champions League Round of 16 - Brief Analysis Part 2

The second set of Champions League Round of 16 first legs took place this week. This week's entertainment level may have dropped, with only 5 goals being scored as opposed to 11 last week.

Below, I take a look at some points of interest with the aid of the excellent Total Football - Champions League iPhone app.

Impact Substitution
Jose Mourinho has shown this season that he doesn't necessarily trust Karim Benzema at the top end of his team. Emmanuel Adebayor has been brought in on loan from Manchester City, and on Tuesday night he started the match away at Lyon. To say that the ex-Arsenal striker was rather ineffective would be an understatement. Within 40 seconds of coming on as Adebayor's replacement, Karim Benzema grabbed the opening goal against his old side. A great goal after a mazy dribble across the opposition penalty area gave Madrid a crucial away goal to take back to the Bernabeu.

Firing Blanks
Marseille v Manchester United was not the most exciting game. Both sides seemed to be overly cautious, and although Marseille will consider a 0-0 draw a good result, they still have a difficult task of getting a score draw or better at Old Trafford. Manchester United were especially poor going forward, having only 2 shots on target in the match. Their 8 shots at goal was the lowest total of all the 16 teams that played over the last two weeks.

Torres bedding in
Chelsea got a comfortable 2-0 win at Copenhagen on Tuesday night, and look set to make the Quarter Finals with relative ease. They started the game with new signing Fernando Torres partnering Nicolas Anelka up front. The duo managed 13 shots between them and were far too much for Copenhagen to contain. Although Torres did not get a goal, his movement was excellent throughout the game and he got into numerous goalscoring positions. It shouldn't be long before the Spanish striker nets his first goal for his new club.

Bayern show their class
Louis van Gaal's Bayern Munich recorded a fantastic 1-0 away win in their first leg with Internazionale on Wednesday. Inter did have chances of their own, with Samuel Eto'o coming close on a few occasions, but Bayern were bright and bold throughout, and got the winner in the 90th minute through Mario Gomez. Arjen Robben created the goal when he cut in from the right wing and had a shot which was parried by Julio Cesar. Robben tried this all evening, often picking the ball up in a very wide position. The Inter defenders doubled up on him well for most of the match in order to stop him cutting inside, but they ultimately failed.

Bastian Schweinsteiger also had an excellent game, controlling the midfield and dictating Bayern's play throughout. Schweinsteiger attempted and completed the most passes of any player on the pitch. As can be seen on the chalkboard below, the German midfielder concentrated the majority of his balls out wide, looking for the consistently dangerous Robben and Ribery.

Week Ahead: Big games at the top

After a midweek of European action, there are a host of top of the table clashes across Europe's top leagues this weekend.

Saturday 26 February 2011
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Bundesliga: Kick-off - 17:30 GMT

Bayern come into this game in good form. Louis van Gaal's side have won 4 of their last 5 in the Bundesliga, and their win on Wednesday night at the San Siro will also be a confidence boost ahead of this game. Dortmund are still 13 points ahead of the German Champions in the league, and while the result of this game is unlikely to alter the destination of the title, it could go a long way to proving whether Bayern Munich are back to their best.

Odds - Bayern Munich (4/5) Draw (5/2) Dortmund (3/1)

Sunday 27 February 2011
Lille v Lyon
Ligue 1: Kick-off - 20:00 GMT

After a good 1-1 draw at home with Real Madrid on Tuesday, Lyon will see this game as their chance to grab hold of Ligue 1. Lille are currently top of the table, but with only 1 win in 3 in the league they desperately need three points on Sunday night. Rudi Garcia's side were also knocked out of the Europa League this week, losing 5-3 on aggregate to PSV. Lyon's experience may prove key in this top of the table clash.

Odds - Lille (11/10) Draw (9/4) Olympique Lyonnais (13/5)

Monday 28 February 2011
Milan v Napoli
Serie A: Kick-off - 19:45

This is a huge game in the race for the Serie A title. Napoli visit the San Siro just 3 points behind leaders AC Milan, and victory for Walter Mazzarri's side would throw everything up in the air. An away win could also bring Internazionale right back into the mix, who are currently only 5 points behind in third position. Milan won the reverse fixture in October, but Serie A top goalscorer Edinson Cavani will be hoping to help his team achieve an historic victory on Monday night.

Odds - Milan (4/5) Draw (5/2) Napoli (7/2)

Tuesday 1 March 2011
Chelsea v Manchester United
Premier League: Kick-off - 19:45

Due to postponements earlier in the season, Chelsea and Manchester United have yet to face each other at all in the Premier League this season. Manchester United play Wigan, Chelsea and Liverpool all in a week, all away from home. United played out a disappointing and rather boring 0-0 draw away at Marseille on Tuesday night, and there is a chance that they will travel to Stamford Bridge with containment in mind. Away from home this season Man Utd have drawn 0-0 with both Manchester City and Spurs. Chelsea will be hoping that Fernando Torres can quickly rediscover his form, while Ferguson's side will be hoping to benefit from Chelsea's seemingly fragile confidence.

Odds - Chelsea (5/4) Draw (11/5) Manchester United (12/5)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Champions League Round of 16 - Brief Analysis

The Champions League Round of 16 began this week with four 1st leg matches. Three of the games ended with rather surprising results as Shakhtar and Tottenham both won away in Italy, and Arsenal beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Emirates.

Below, I take a look at some points of interest with the aid of the excellent Total Football - Champions League iPhone app.

England’s rising star
Jack Wilshere has been getting a lot of positive press recently, and in last night’s game he showed off his qualities superbly. Against Barcelona, keeping the ball while under pressure is vitally important, and Wilshere was magnificent in possession. He completed 90% of his passes in the match and showed a level of composure with the ball that is a rare sight among English midfielders. Of course, the master of passing Xavi Hernandez was pulling the most strings again last night, but Wilshere managed to show his class despite Arsenal only having 39% possession.

Mixed Gunners fire power
Before the game Barcelona may have concentrated their attention on Theo Walcott. The lightning fast winger who caused the Catalans a lot of trouble last season may have been picked out as the danger man, but it was in form striker Robin Van Persie who caused most upset.

The Dutchman was a constant thorn in the side of the Barca defence, having 7 shots and scoring the equalising goal.

Walcott on the other hand struggled to make any impact on the game, only completing 9 passes during the 76 minutes that he was on the pitch.

Spurs’ hard work pays off
Every Tottenham player put in a great performance on Tuesday night as Spurs beat AC Milan 1-0 in the San Siro. The win was fully deserved and came on the back of an excellent team performance. Spurs worked extremely hard to restrict Milan and stopped their midfield from creating. Wilson Palacios and Sandro were an instrumental part of Tottenham’s defensive solidity.

This hard work not only restricted Milan, but allowed Tottenham to begin attacks of their own. Away from home, Spurs managed to have twice the amount of shots on target that Milan did.

Harry Redknapp got his tactics spot on all night, and bringing on Luka Modric after 61 minutes was another clever thing to do. Milan were starting to attack with more purpose and the game was getting tougher for Spurs. The introduction of Luka Modric meant that Tottenham were better able to retain possession. Modric only gave the ball away once and was responsible for the pass which set Aaron Lennon away in the build up to the only goal of the game.

Roma wasteful
A demoralising 3-2 home defeat was not how Roma would have wanted to start the Champions League knockout stage. Shakhtar Donetsk look in complete control of the tie after a great result against a rather wasteful Roma side. Only 4 of the home side’s 22 shots hit the target.

Record Breaker Raul
A 1-1 draw at the Mestalla leaves this tie in the balance, but it was ex Real Madrid striker Raul who took the headlines. His equalising goal for Schalke in the 64th minute means that he breaks the record for the most goals in European competition history. Congratulations to Raul and his amazing 71 goal haul.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Real Madrid and Barcelona continue march towards final showdown

The Copa del Rey quarter finals came to a close Thursday night as Atletico Madrid exited the competition after a 1-0 defeat at home to their city rivals Real. Cristiano Ronaldo’s first half goal secured a 4-1 aggregate win for Real Madrid and set up a semi final clash with holders Sevilla. Gregorio Manzano’s team went through following a very impressive 3-0 win over Villarreal at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on Tuesday night. Villarreal have been superb this season and after being 3-1 up after 55 minutes in the first leg, it looked like The Yellow Submarine would reach their first ever semi final. However, Sevilla scored five goals without reply to end up 6-3 winners on aggregate. In the second leg Sevilla showed up some disappointing defensive frailties of Villarreal, scoring from two corners in 3 minutes at the start of the second half. Sevilla are a very good cup side and should put up a fight against Jose Mourinho’s side in the semi finals.

The other semi final will be between table toppers Barcelona and Almeria, who are currently bottom of La Liga. Quite a mismatch on paper, and most probably in reality also. Barcelona have ended up on the easier side of the draw, and now face the team which they defeated 8-0 away from home back in November in the league. Almeria won both legs in their 4-2 aggregate win over Deportivo La Coruña and will be delighted to reach a semi final for the first time in their short history. Barcelona will be massive favourites in this tie, but Almeria will take heart after Real Betis managed to record a 3-1 win over the Spanish champions in the second leg of their quarter final. The tie may have been effectively over after Barcelona won the first leg 5-0 at the Camp Nou, but Betis’ win remains highly impressive and ended Barcelona’s record breaking 28-game unbeaten run.

Since the draw for the round of 16 and all subsequent rounds was made in November, all attention has been focused on the fact that Barcelona and Real Madrid were kept apart on separate sides of the draw. Barcelona and Real Madrid have not faced off in the final of this competition for 21 years, since Barcelona defeated their great rivals 2-0 in 1990. El Clásico has only occured twice more since then in the Cup, with a semi final in 92-93 and a last 16 match in 96-97. So surprisingly, in a country where two teams have dominated so much for so long, a Barcelona v Real Madrid final would actually be quite a rarity.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Future of the League Cup

The League Cup in England has been in decline for quite some years now. Many teams choose to field youth and reserve players, while others seem happy to exit at the earliest opportunity in order to concentrate on the league. Attendances have been down and fans interest in the competition is dwindling. This season, with the aim of ending Arsenal’s trophy dry spell, Arsene Wenger has decided that he fancies winning the League Cup. Simply by fielding a few more first team players, Arsenal have made the semi finals fairly comfortably, and are now clear favourites to lift the trophy. The ease in which they have done this puts into question the validity of the competition as a whole. The League Cup cannot continue as a play thing for the top teams.

Already today in the third round of the FA Cup, we have seen a superb cup tie between Arsenal and Leeds United which ended 1-1. The stadium was full and the excitement levels were top notch. The magic of the FA Cup is very much alive and maybe the League Cup is now surplus to requirements. We now have access to more football on television than ever before. With the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and other top class European football, the League Cup sadly fades into obscurity.

Maybe it is time to get rid of the competition entirely? This would ease fixture congestion and remove the problem completely. However, lower league teams would then have less to aim for in a season. Perhaps teams that play in Europe could be excluded, or maybe all the teams in the Premier League? I believe that something needs to happen to the League Cup, it lacks drama and excitement simply because it is not taken seriously any more by lots of teams. Left as it is, the League Cup will wither and die, maybe we should kill it off sooner than that.