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  1. Same old sh*t. Inconsistent refereeing throughout the match, our boys booked for fk all, countless fouls by our opponents not handled correctly nor carded as they should be, and as we finally get on the up the game is again ruined leaving us hanging on. How Kolsinac, Mustafi, Bellerin were not carded much earlier in the game is beyond me. One chance to send off a Chelsea player and it'll be taken, and only then will proper disciplinary action be taken against our opponents. Just tired of it all. Luiz red is about right... but watch the same or worse offence on our guys get waved on without a booking. We've seen this 3/4 times this season already after Cahill's red - not a peep by anyone in the media... then you see the outrage all week over a 100% Mane red. Bad performance or not, this is the type of sh*t no other top team has to deal with. Just as we were looking lively with the team we wanted to see and know could've won the match. More minutes for Cahill now. Worst outcome possible bar a loss, though it feels like one.
  2. Antonio Conte - Now Officially Manager

    Though our team of seemingly weak-minded individuals played below the level of a Sunday-league kickabout, this one is down to Conte. Such a poor showing is unforgivable. It's his job to get it right - the line-up, tactics, subs, motivation, mentality - he got it all wrong on this occasion. This evening we saw a ruthless Arsenal team that I thought was myth... playing with a cut-throat mentality, direct, incisive play, on the break and in possession, much like we used to do. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking: we made Arsenal look much better than they really are. No real leadership, organisation, pressing, attacking strategy on our part, went through the motions and allowed Arsenal to play their usual game - one that we know very well how to beat... Only this time around we fielded a poor team + tactics and handed them a win on a platter. ______ After seeing the lineup at 5:29pm today I immediately thought back to that 5-3 mauling we were dealt, given the similarities between the starting line-ups, our poor form, and an unfamiliar system/formation. Remember - an over-the-hill RB who cannot defend, two sluggish CBs covering an even slower midfield sporting limited technical ability/energy, an isolated playmaker, narrow-playing wingers, and a striker feeding off scraps? 2011: Bosingwa at RB, CB duo of Terry/Ivanovic, Mikel/Lampard as DMs, Mata at CAM, Ramires on the wing, and of course, Torres... not to mention the AVB high-line suicide tactics. Today: Starting Ivanovic at RB (against Arsenal... at home... with the quickest squad in the League), no JT but fielding Cahil/Luiz as an erratic CB paring, a sluggish + limited midfield of Kante/Matic to "try" generate attacks from deep, and feed a static Fabregas to dictate play and supply Hazard/Costa. No pace or urgency in midfield create, close down, or to cover a defensive line you'd piece together at TK Maxx. To be honest, what were we expecting with that team? This was asking for a spanking. It looks as though Conte still doesn't know how to deploy our squad. Surely three months in the job is sufficient? Failing that there's always last season's footage, or even backroom staff/board/whoever's insight to draw from... I really don't know. But to not know your strongest XI/formation after a full pre-season, six games into the PL, without Europe to worry about, and give probably the worst performance I've seen since maybe the early 2000's?? _____ Yes he's got the backing, funds, depth, but seeing Pep turn City into the team they are currently makes our situation very hard to swallow. Implementing a foreign possession-based style, flogging off deadwood/unsuitable players, while introducing a number of new/unproven signings AND making use of old players on the books who aren't necessarily the best fit - all literally within weeks of walking into the job is impressive. We both have: A clinical strikeforce Similar [deep] midfielders: Fernandinho/Kante - Gundogan/Fabregas - Silva/Oscar+Willian+Hazard Hit-n-miss wingers - Sterling/Navas/Nolito - Willian/Moses/Hazard/Pedro (ok, Pedro is just miss) Dodgy CBs, limited fullbacks, and porous 2015-16 backlines. Yet again, City are pulling away from us... not just on the table but also in regards to quality of play, attack/defence, signings etc. etc. Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal all upping their game, too. Just can't work out why we aren't clicking. Lack of new quality? Are our players not as good as I/we think? Conte failing to turn it around? Last season lingering? Despite today's dreadful display, I feel Conte was pressured by fans, media, pundits, even the players themselves, to start a team/formation that he wasn't completely happy with - i.e Cesc. Here's hoping that today has shown Conte everything he needs to know about his players to make the necessary adjustments, and get this team playing at a level they are capable of. Such a shame seeing talent wasted, our top players dragged down by a select few. Look forward to seeing JT/Zouma back in the team.
  3. Random Rumours

    Interesting point. They have a great mix of technically gifted, quick, intricate players up front and in midfield, but their fullbacks/CBs don't strike me as Guardiola-types. Clichy aside, Kolarov, Zabaletta, Sagna aren't as technical, quick and agile as he'd like... Otamendi/Mangala aren't the greatest ball-playing CBs either, and Kompany seems to be on the downhill. Compared to his past defences of Alaba, Boateng, Lahm, Martinez, Alvez, Pique, Puyol, Abidal to name a few, I don't think it'll be an easy season for Pep/City defensively.
  4. Antonio Conte - Now Officially Manager

    Fair call... How can I be jealous when we just signed N'Golo fking Kante? It's a worry seeing City, United strengthening across the pitch, especially midfield, and even the likes of Spurs with a very solid squad overall. I agree - any new signing is a risk, but I was trying to emphasise the importance of our Kante signing vs City's new transfers for example. The risk here is going into a season without adequate cover for Kante (or the midfield in general), not the signing itself. The City players you mentioned - unproven in the PL, coming out of injury, bad form etc. - we don't know this for sure at present, but we do know they've brought in some talented players and added further depth to a strong current squad. City have a balanced and functioning team who are definite title contenders (putting Pep aside for now...), new signings or not. They've added depth in areas that are not necessarily needed (yet) - their signings may work out, they may not, but they have options to switch between their current players and the new guys coming in. They're improving their overall squad, spreading the risk of a certain player(s) not performing, and have depth available to step in. Back to us and Kante - it's not the riskiness of the transfer, it's the overall importance of his role/presence in the team, and how vulnerable we will be if he were to be sidelined for a period/does not perform as hoped - i.e our eggs in one basket. We'd be back to last year's calamity of a midfield. I'm just a little worried we haven't strengthened our squad with another decent CM, a CB and LB, not even a rumour as of late... yet here we are reportedly bidding 65m on Lukaku.
  5. Antonio Conte - Now Officially Manager

    Hmm, I agree to an extent. Smaller clubs, maybe, but the top PL and European teams would have enough talent in their squads to cover a position if a marquee signing wasn't to work out as planned. We don't have that luxury. We need Kante, but we also need depth... We've needed a true DM and midfield depth since the days of Maka, Ballack, Essien, Beletti, Lamps et al. City have signed Nolito, Gundogan, Sane - all top players, but still have experience depth in each of those positions in KdB, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Navas. Juventus signing the likes of Pjanic while already possessing some of the best midfielders in Europe i.e Pogba, Marchisio, Pereyra, Khedira, Hernanes, Sandro. Same again when you look at Bayern, Barca, Madrid etc. New signings, to improve the first team and/or provide depth - not resting their season's hopes on one signing in such an important position. The Kante signing is absolutely crucial for us, and is his importance in midfield for the upcoming campaign is huge. We have an out-of-sorts Matic who may/may not regain form, a defensively-light Fabregas who needs true cover, a sluggish lamppost in Mikel, and unproven mids i.e RLC. If Kante doesn't work out or is seriously injured (touch wood), it'll be much the same as last season with our midfield getting steamrolled once again, and we'd be relying on the same personnel that took us to 10th to hold fort. We haven't made any new signings that that could change/make a difference in that area of the pitch either. We'd all be at the mercy of Conte's team management, tactics, ethos to get us through.
  6. Antonio Conte - Now Officially Manager

    True - he did slip my mind last night. If he can continue his development from what we saw last season, definitely. Have high hopes for this guy, if played at LM/LW or LWB in a 352. Brings that energy down the left flank that we've missed for years, brilliant with the ball, blistering pace, sharp left boot, and has defensive qualities to offer. Haven't seen much of him throughout pre-season, though I have missed a fair bit on shoddy streams. Hoping Conte brings him through - looks like his type of player. Has he had any game-time? I feel if we fail to bring a LB in this window, Kennedy and Willian/Azpi/Juan as wingbacks may eventuate in a 352. Courtois Ivanovic (Azpi?) - Terry (Zouma) - Cahill Willian/Azpi - Kante - Fabregas - Kennedy Hazard Costa - Batshuaui From my extensive Football Manager and FIFA 98-16 experience - this is the way to go. If we had the right CBs at our disposal, something like this would be awesome:
  7. Baba Rahman - The heir to Ash?

    Is a left-footed LB who can defend too much to ask... How did we manage to let go of both Luis and Bertrand to leave us in this mess? Haven't seen us linked with any LBs (or CBs for that matter). This is the weakest position in the squad and needs to be sorted asap. Sandro, Layun, Ansaldi, Hector, Sidibe, Rodriguez, Ghoulam, even Tremoulinas, Coentrao, Pereira, Willems, Denisov, Schmelzer, all have had relatively good seasons/are established LBs. Surely one would be open to a switch to play under Conte alongside a very talented squad. Or just bring Ash back for a season
  8. Antonio Conte - Now Officially Manager

    For me it's the attacking aspect of the 4-2-4/4-4-2 that isn't suitable at present and is a worry. We don't have a true LM (if Hazard does move central) or LB to attack/counter fluidly - at a minimum we need proper fullbacks in their true positions to overlap, cross, pass without needing to shift to their stronger foot, slow play down etc. As for RM, Pedro, Willian, Cuadaro all have the attacking/defensive attributes for a RM in a 4-2-4 system IMO, but how well would Azpi work switching back to RB? We know he can defend at LB, but attacking-wise at RB, without Hazard ahead of him to link-up with, how effective would he be attacking with the aforementioned RMs? CM-wise, from what we've seen over the pre-season, Matic has been his usual inconsistent-self - sub-par once again in defence, attack, passing, positioning... either on his way out, or will be on the bench come PL. We are really resting our hopes on Kante integrating with the squad quickly and hitting the ground running - if not, imagine our midfield getting run-over again, now with one less midfielder/#10 dropping back. Loftus-Cheek pushed up as striker still has me scratching my head - he clearly isn't a forward - more-so a box-to-box midfielder. Either Conte sees something I don't or he'll be shipped off on loan/squad player. Given the lack of CMs we have in the squad, why not play him to his strengths in midfield to give us an indication of his current level? One positive - Fabregas does give the impression he out to prove something and make one of the two CM spots his - looked lively, tactically astute, defended surprisingly well, and passed/dictated play from deep perfectly as we know he can do. The CB situation is another concern. From what I've seen, the backline is hindered by JT's speed (or lack of) keeping the defence deep while the midfield/strikers are doing the exact opposite through aggressive pressing upfield... The space opened up between the midfield and backline will surely be leveraged by the better PL teams. To play the formation/tactics we've seen throughout the season, this needs to be fixed.IMO Cahill is better suited in a higher line - not great when he's being run at in the space behind the midfield as we've seen countless times, but great when the opposition get behind the line and usually puts in a well-timed challenge facing goal. In addition to this, he's great with the ball at his feet, drives forward into space, and his passing range isn't too shabby either. Side-note: Is there any explanation behind why we're going in for Lukaku? The same guy who showed no fight/desire, threw a tanty and wanted out after Eto'o signed, made several stabs at the club in the media while he was at Chelsea, and above all has the touch, finesse and technique of a retired rugby prop? Costa, Batshuaui, Remy, Traore, Hazard not enough for two forward positions when we only have the PL to focus on? Also - any word on how far off Zouma is? I recently read he was set for a December/January comeback but it looks like he's in full training again...
  9. Diego "the guv'nor" Costa

    Ha keep at it mate - a few of the lads from my rugby team back home managed to get some good mass and tone hitting them 4-5 times a week for a good while. Swings and roundabouts - being half Samoan, sprint training from a young age, and always had a habit of walking on the balls of my feet, I've always had naturally big calves and quads. Because of this, I need to train my upper body to stay proportionate, can never find a nice, slim fitting pair of pants, have two left feet playing footy, and avoid the squat rack in order to fit the slim pants/jeans I have found. Leg day, not even once.
  10. Diego "the guv'nor" Costa

    Reckon it's those small calves of his - they're tiny... Building calf mass is not easy - hence why you see the chest-day lads at the gym walking round with chicken legs.
  11. Diego "the guv'nor" Costa

    True - at least he's kept his bib on this time. Just looks a lot leaner judging by his face. Could be the tan but he looks a lot better than he does here
  12. Baba Rahman - The heir to Ash?

    Really makes you appreciate Ashley Cole - one of the best LBs of this generation. Able to attack like a winger but an absolute rock at the back, and kept at a world-class level for nearly a decade. Dominating C Ronaldo in his prime really is something. Sticking it to the UTD fans with the hand-in-pocket gesture was a beautiful thing. How on earth did we not hold onto Luis? Another player who fell through the cracks during Jose's second stint. Can't blame him with the form Ivan and Dave showed during 14/15. Had enough of the inverted RB -> LB business - it only slows our attack down and minimises crossing chances. This is what should be happening down that left flank: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QosfuJpaqW0
  13. Diego "the guv'nor" Costa

    Looking fit and ready to go stay. Stark contrast to pre-season 15/16. Here's hoping he's had a few sessions with the anger management therapist during Spain's flop at the Euros.
  14. Antonio Conte - Now Officially Manager

    Have to disagree - he was the best RB in the PL in 14/15 and made team of the season. I'd like to keep him for one more campaign, first team or not. Say JT and/or Cahill are injured, with Zouma still a while away, it would be a massive mistake to let Ivanovic go even if we do sign a new (possibly PL unproven) CB.
  15. Antonio Conte - Now Officially Manager

    Fair point - I may be grasping at straws here to keep one of our club greats here... He may have lost the edge to play RB but I still think he has more to offer at CB - I've always seen him as a CB who was pushed to fill in a RB spot as Paulo declined, Beletti left, and Bosingwa slowly got found out. To me, a less mobile Brana - RB -> CB seems logical, then again I'm no football manager... See how Conte handles it. Personally I'd have him at CB rather than Cahill - he's pretty hit-and-miss - seems to be out of position a lot and turned inside-out far too often. We all thought Terry was a gonner, legs gone, too slow etc. back in 2011/12, but has carried on at the top level for another three years.