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All Things Footie | Tuesday, January 11 | Jordan

Rejoice! I’m back!

I know it’s been a while, and most of you have probably eloped with another more regularly updated footie site, but for the benefit of my loyal readership—I know who you two are—I bring you some new scribbles. you may also have noticed a slight addition to the top right of all things footie (if you haven’t, notice it now!).

It’s half way through the season—wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of christmas season style awards? Well, wouldn’t it?

Player of the (half) season

There’s some stiff (and unusual) competition in this category. For lethal, ruthless efficieny and ability to dazzle while not playing particularly well—how can you look further than Thierry Henry? Top scorer by three and top in assists too. For unexpected, underdog-does-good and plain-bloke whips the superstars style then Andy Johnson surely fits the bill? For expensive dutchman balding at 21 and scoring a load of pretty spectacular goals then it’s Arjen Robben of course! How about precocious seventeen year old bosses Premiership Champions’ midfield? Cesc Fabregas it is then. In truth, for me anyway, it’s a straight shootout between two Englishmen at very opposite ends of the specturm in terms of playing style, but not actually that far off each other in the goalscoring stakes.

My player(s) of the half-season goes emphatically to Shaun Wright-Phillips and John Terry, a tiny wee box of tricks with a thunderous right foot and a gritty, hard as nails terrier of a defender (excuse the pun). Wright-Phillips’ form thus far has been exceptional, with a sackful of goals (every one a screamer too) a willingness to run, no fear of the bigger teams, he’s really beginning to mature. Terry is the rock that Chelsea’s top of the table position is built on. Forget Lampard, forget Robben, forget Duff, forget Makelele. If I can pay a bigger compliment to a defender than that he reminds me of Tony Adams then I don’t know what it is.

Young player of the (half) season

Cesc Fabregas, no competition. Well, there is a little competition: Robben’s done exceptionally well recently, Gabriel Heinze’s impressed at United, but no one really comes close to Cesc. With ‘young player’ awards, it’s tempting to start or end sentences with ‘for his age’, but there’s no age-handicapping going on when rating Fabregas’ performances in the Arsenal midfield this season. With Patrick Vieira either injured or off form, Edu and Gilberto injured, Ljungberg injured, Pires off form (despite being the third highest golascorer in the Premiership with more goals than Drogba, Gudjonsen and Kezman combined) and only Flamini for company, Fabregas has carried Arsenal’s midfield through the first half of the season. A daunting task for anyone, let alone a teenager with no Premiership starts under his belt at the start of the season.

Central midfield is one of—if not the—toughest jobs in football. Why else are players like Keane, Gerrard, Vieira and Lampard so jealously protected by their managers? These players are the heartbeats of the team, the ones that make the other 9 outfield players tick. Someone asked me how good this Spanish kid was before the start of the season; having only seen him a few times in the Worthington Cup and for the reserves, all I could offer was “he’s supposed to be great, in a couple of years he’ll be a regular—when Vieira’s past it.”

Well, I was half right.

Senior player of the (half) season

After a month it was Dennis Bergkamp, no question, but now? It’s difficult. The Premiership is getting younger by the season, Arsenal fielded a back four with an average age of about 14 the other week, and I don’t think Chelsea own a defender over 25 (unless Gallas is more mature than I thought). Centre forwards seem to be promoted to the first team out of nappies and most wide players and full backs are still growing into their boots.

Now I come to think of it—I can’t think of one player over the age of 33 that’s had any significant impact on the Premiership so far. Suggetsions welcome.

Manager of the (half) season

It’s a battle of the Ms. Mourinho and Moyes. It has to be Moyes for me though. can’t fault Mourinho’s record, but then again he did get to spend fifty million-ish over the summer, and though Everton have had a little blip recently, their record over the season has been phenomenal. Just about every punter (including—disgraced as I am to admit it—myself) had them to go down at the start of the season, and far from struggle, the Rooneyless wonders have thrived and given the teams just behind Arsenal and Chelsea something serious to think about. Moyes has strengthened well in January too, the signing of James Beattie adressing their main weakness (than an injury to Marcus Bent would have left them dead in the water).

Maybe it’s unfair that I’ve excluded Tim Cahill, Thomas Gravesen and Lee Carsley from the discussion on the player of the (half) season; but I’m sure Everton fans have long been used to being unfairly ignored!

Looking forward

Without getting too clichéd, it looks like it may be a pretty riveting end of season—with the bottom of the table pretty tight, and the top of unbelievable quality, It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. Did I say interesting? I meant stressful.

PS Congrats to exeter, and will you EVER get bored of seeing this?

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