The Curious Case of Darren Bent

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Despite his limitations, TFN’s David Wild reckons Darren Bent is well deserving of a second chance…

“There are not many young English players who have the pedigree and finishing class that Darren has shown over a number of years in the Premier League. In the League, only Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have scored more goals in the last five years than his 81 goals.” – Gerard Houllier,

The story of Darren Bent is one that mirrors the changes in the fabric of the English game. Gerard Houlliers description of him here came in 2011 when Bent was 27, at the peak of his powers.

Such a goal scoring record, in line with the main front men at the two clubs competing for the Premier League title, should surely have made the striker a commodity hungered after by all of the top clubs in England, if not Europe. Instead at the time he was being transferred from Sunderland in 6th to Aston Villa in 17th in the Premier League Continue reading

Europa League’s English trio: the West Broms of Europe?

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Simon Smith looks at the changing English perceptions of the Europa League…

This week the Europa League reaches the crunch stage, the quarter finals.  All the teams that get through this will fancy their chances of winning the tournament and there are no sloppy teams let in the running.  So why the three English clubs?  Traditionally this stage of the competition has eliminated them by now, so are we looking at a newfound interest in the competition by Premier League clubs or are there other reasons for the current success?  Take a look at the current teams involved, compare them to recent seasons and the mystery becomes a little clearer…

Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Newcastle are all good teams, but none of them are great teams.  There have in the last few seasons been two different classes of English club in Europe’s junior cup and for different reasons neither have had the ability to make significant progress in the tournament: clubs with desire but who lack the quality, and clubs with the quality who lack interest. Continue reading

Is the Premier League really in decline?

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David Wild takes issue with the idea that the Premier League is in decline…

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated – Mark Twain

The First knockout rounds of the Champions League draw to a close this week. It is widely expected that for the first time since 1995-96 there will be no English team in these quarter finals. Combine this with what some domestic observers see as a steady decline in league quality over the past three years and we perhaps should begin to fear for the health and future of the English Premier League.

This season in particular is one where performers like Brad Guzan are praised for their top tier class, despite conceding 49 goals in 26 league games. The decline of the Premier League can perhaps most strikingly be found in the defensive statistics. Continue reading

Has Welsh Football ever had it so good?

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In the wake of Swansea’s glorious League Cup triumph, The False Nine editor James Dutton explores the state of the Welsh game…

As the dust settles on Swansea’s emphatic Capital One Cup victory over the unlikely opposition of Bradford City, Blue Square Conference leaders Wrexham are due to travel to Wembley next month for the FA Trophy Final. Cardiff City sit eight points clear at the summit of the Championship with a game in hand, whilst Newport County sit just two points behind their North Walian countrymen, also with a game in hand.

Swansea’s meteoric rise from the basement of the Football League pyramid in 2004 to the heady heights of the Premier League, and now League Cup winners just nine years later, is an astounding tale. Next year the Swans will be playing European football; a chance for Welsh football to showcase its burgeoning ascension on the continent.  Continue reading

Obscure Footballer of the Week #4: Willem Korsten

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False Nine editor, Andrew Belt, remembers Willem Korsen – a player from his youth whose career was sadly curtailed before he could make a greater impression in the game…

When Manchester United visited Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League recently, Sky commentator, Martin Tyler, made reference to Willem Korsten’s winning contribution for Spurs the last time they overcame the Red Devils at White Hart Lane. Continue reading

The Battle for Fourth: North London and Merseyside

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Halfway though the  Premier League season, Simon Smith surveys the chances of Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in finishing Fourth…

At the start of the season nearly everyone predicted a Manchester top two by this point, and Chelsea looked a good bet for third after a busy summer in the transfer market to improve on a dire league campaign last season.  Fourth place, just as in 09/10, 10/11 and 11/12, looked to be the position most hotly contested for a lucrative Champions League spot.  At the halfway point, with so many more questions than answers, it seems a good time to review the four contenders vying for fourth place.

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The Mystery of Andrei Arshavin

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False Nine editor Hugo Greenhalgh reflects on the Russian star’s troubled career at Arsenal… 

An interesting bit of trivia emerged just before Arsenal’s Capital One Cup Quarter Final away at Bradford. If a certain player had travelled to Yorkshire that night, he would be returning to the site of his professional debut. Continue reading