I’m taking a break, back soon.

The more eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that this place has been quiet again this week, and I do apologise if you’ve missed your daily fill of football talk because of it. The truth is that I’m struggling to motivate myself to write here at the moment, and so I’m going to give myself a little time off from this and hopefully come back refreshed in a week or two. There are a few reasons for this…

Firstly, I’ve not long clocked my third year of university and am currently having a (well-earned) rest back home in Nelson and to be honest, my brain is enjoying just being able to relax for a while, and trying to force myself to engage in writing articles of the standard that I try and maintain on this site is just not that appealing at present.

On top of that, real life is getting in the way a bit too, as though I’m currently neither studying or working I’ve a lot on my mind given that my family is gearing up for a change of cities which involves big move so I’m also trying to make the most of spending time with friends in the Nelson region before we head off to pastures new and so I’m finding it hard to devote time to this site.

Finally, and perhaps most of all, I’m not enjoying football as much as usual at present. Everton’s season is turning into a bit of a nightmare with injuries pretty much destroying our ambitions and threatening a scrap in the lower echelons of the Premier League. Given the strength of my obsession with my beloved club, it often seems more sensible not to dwell too much on football at present, because it only ever seems to darken my mood!

So in all, I think I just need a bit of time away from They Think It’s All Over… to recharge my football-writing batteries. I’m not sure how long that will take, but I’m sure I’ll be back in action sooner rather than later and certainly before the busy festive season. I hope you’ll continue to check back occasionally to keep up with my progress and I’ll see you all soon. All the best, Adam.

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4 Responses to I’m taking a break, back soon.

  1. Maurice Baker says:

    Good luck Adam.
    You’ll be missed.
    Like you say, take a break and come back stronger!
    Maybe an enticing New Zealand v England World Cup draw will re-invigorate you next week?

  2. Matilda says:

    Have a nice break!

  3. Steve Bank says:

    Take it Easy Adam.

  4. Maurice Baker says:

    Dear All,
    It was a breeze for Man U, after Wolfsburg missed the early opportunities to apply any real pressure.
    Not uncommon in Man U matches, a refereeing blunder also helped the makeshift crew get through.
    Chelski handed Apoel Nicosia a Europa Cup spot, whilst Liverpool were joined by Juventus and Marseille in the second string European tournament.
    It seems that the jury is still out on CSKA Moscow and their fate could be decided in a quasi judicial manner, rather than on the pitch.
    The story of the week has to be Turk Sinan Bolat, whose headed goal for Standard Liege in injury time tied the match and put them into the Europa Cup.
    Bolat is Standard Liege’s keeper!
    Further blots on Liverpool’s copy book will not be noticed in one of the most dramatic hero to zero falls from grace.
    Benitez blames last minute goals for their woes.
    Like no one told him it was ninety minutes, plus time added on for stoppages!
    Doh!
    They aren’t even seeded in the draw!
    There was further disrespect from the Gunners boss as he played his Carling Cup losers in the dead match with Olympiakos.
    They lost!
    It’s the youngest team to play in a Champions’ League match.
    So what?
    They lost!
    I think we were supposed to get excited about the fact that Inter beat the tournament ‘no marks’ Rubin Kazan from Russia.
    The Group that could have gone any which way, but didn’t and turned out to be boringly predictable.
    Oh that the EPL was so!
    The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed, that whilst Michael Owen was giving Fabio the sort of headache a manager doesn’t really mind, a Carson – Chopra moment of madness consigned West Brom to a rare defeat and installed Cardiff in third spot in the Championship.
    How much do we look forward to a return to the top tier of Peter (Ridsdale) the Squanderer?
    Even lower under the radar, Leeds beat Kettering 5-1 to qualify for a day out at Old Trafford.
    So low under the radar, that it barely lifts off the sodden turf at Edgeley Park, is the thrice postponed 2nd Round fixture that Stockport County have with Torquay!
    I suppose I ought to mention that Newcastle are five points clear in the Championship having despatched Coventry 2-0.

    Saturday
    During this week I had reason to look up the life expectancy by country, in response to one of Derek’s jibes about what percentage of the population were alive 34 years ago – when Man City last won a trophy.
    Interestingly UK is 36th with 79.01 years expectancy; Afghanistan is 214th with 41.64; bottom is Swaziland at 224th with 31.99.
    Of some interest is the fact that South Africa is 209th with 48.98.
    The only countries below Afghanistan are African.
    Yes, I’m getting a bit bored out here.
    I should get out more, but I don’t want to get shot or arrested!

    Stoke v Wigan
    This game has taken place twice in the last five years.
    Wigan won 0-1 in 2005 and Stoke won 2-0 last year.
    At home, Stoke look fallible this season, though the two defeats in the last five were against Man U and Chelski.
    Away Wigan have been awful, conceding a shedful against Spurs and Arsenal (different sized sheds mind) and only managing one win in their last five, at Burnley.
    Lawro gives us a bit of perspective on recent events at Stoke:
    “There has obviously been a bit of unrest at Stoke this week following the altercation between manager Pulis and striker Beattie. You might call it old-fashioned management, the sort of thing that used to happen every other day. I have seen lots of players held by the throat half way up the dressing room wall. I don’t think too much should not be made of it and I don’t think it will affect Stoke’s performance on Sunday.”
    Yes, that’s all very well then Lawro, but they are playing on Saturday!
    Last season Wigan failed to score in the two matches with Stoke.
    Wigan have conceded 79% of their goals in the second half, an EPL high.
    My forecast 2-0.

    Birmingham v West Ham
    This game has taken place twice in the last five years and West Ham won them both.
    How they need that now!
    In fact, West Ham have a good record at St Andrews.
    In their last five visits in the League they have won four and drawn one.
    In the last meeting there between these teams, West ham won 1-0 thanks to a Mark Noble penalty, in August 2007.
    But a draw at Sunderland and a draw at Hull is all they have gained on their travels.
    After a shaky start, Birmingham have pulled themselves together and become difficult to beat, but they have not beaten West Ham at home since 1985.
    Lawro comments: “Birmingham give very, very little away and are on a good run at the moment having won four and drawn two of their last six fixtures. If it keeps going then manager McLeish will be able to attract a better quality of player during the January transfer window.”
    And get rid of the rubbish he has now?
    My forecast 2-1.

    Bolton v Man City
    City haven’t won at the Reebok since 2005.
    In the last four years they have failed to score in this match.
    They drew two of those matches by thwarting Bolton and coming away with 0-0.
    However, this season, Bolton’s home form has been terrible.
    It seems they are afraid of their fans.
    Mystic Megson’s approach (of ignoring the fans) doesn’t seem to be working.
    My forecast 1-3.

    Burnley v Fulham
    This match and the one at WHL have no recent history, so I’ll give it the Lawro ‘interesting’ category!
    Fulham try to come away with a point on their travels.
    Burnley rely on home points to compensate for away failings.
    Lawro is incisive in his observation in that what Burnley are doing is generally ensuring that in the match after a defeat they are picking up at least one point.
    This means they are avoiding long losing streaks.
    This is the secret to staying in the EPL.
    That’s a good contender for this week’s prize for stating the obvious.
    Burnley have conceded six penalties this season, the most in the EPL.
    Fulham have won just one away game this season, at Portsmouth on the opening day of the season.
    Fulham have failed to win in 24 League visits, losing 20 and drawing four; they last won at Turf Moor in April 1951!
    I think the best way to look at this match is to say that Fulham want a point and Burnley can’t stop them getting it!
    My forecast 1-1.

    Chelski v Everton
    Everton have managed to get a draw in the last three years but were beaten in the two years prior to that.
    Everton’s away performance relies on work rate and numbers behind the ball.
    But they are running short of numbers with a long injury list.
    Lawro concludes that the home side will have too much quality, even without Essien.
    Chelsea have lost three away games in the EPL but they have an impeccable home record with seven wins out of seven and with only one goal conceded, on the opening day of the season against Hull.
    Since then they have gone 10 hours and six minutes without conceding in the League (presumably at the Bridge).
    Everton have lost five of their seven away games but on their last trip to London they won 2-1, at West Ham.
    Everton have never won at the Bridge in the EPL while in games against Chelsea home and away they have failed to win in 17 meetings.
    My forecast 3-0.

    Hull v Blackburn
    Blackburn won 1-2 last year, both teams finishing with ten men.
    I suppose this match could qualify for the Lawro ‘interesting’ category as well.
    In their away match against Fulham, Blackburn were very poor and have since retreated and gained two 0-0 draws against Stoke and Liverpool.
    We’ve had six 0-0 draws and Blackburn have been in three of them.
    If you can guess which Hull team will turn up you’ll be doing well.
    Bullard is out for six to eight weeks (nice rest over Christmas) and without him Hull don’t seem to have a clue.
    0-0 is a terrible forecast to sit through because you don’t want anything to happen!
    But in this case, without Bullard, it is likely that nothing will.
    My forecast 0-0.

    Sunderland v Portsmouth
    Here’s a real nerdy fact, two of the three longest names in the EPL.
    I know that because I have to keep widening the cell size to fit them in!
    Sunderland have been strong at home – they even beat Arsenal!
    Portsmouth are playing like they know what they are doing, but not doing it!
    Dindane needs several clear chances before he bags one.
    I can’t help thinking that this match is just a case of how many?
    Lawro’s preview here had little to do with football.
    Sunderland should be doing better and Portsmouth are hanging on to whatever!
    Sunderland have lost their last four away games but at home they are unbeaten in six.
    If Portsmouth win, it will be the first time in 47 games that they will have won consecutive matches.
    Sunderland have gone 199 minutes without scoring an EPL goal.
    My forecast 2-0.

    Spurs v Wolves
    This is our second match with no recent history.
    Wolves away form does not inspire.
    They have drawn at Stoke and Everton and lost by three clear goals in the other three.
    I wonder how many ‘We Want Ten’ banners there will be at WHL?
    Spurs tend to do well against the whipping boys, but struggle against quality.
    Is this another case of how many?
    Spurs fans won’t like what Lawro has to say: “We saw Spurs play some fantastic football at both Man U and Everton, really causing their opponents problems. But there was a 20-minute spell in each match when they played like a team who had never met before. Basically, they are not very mentally strong.”
    Wolves have gone 23 games since they were last involved in a goalless draw.
    My forecast 3-0.

    Man U v Aston Villa
    Second plays fifth at Old Trafford where Man U have won six and drawn one of their seven games.
    They have gone nine games without loss in the League and nine at home since they were last beaten in the League.
    Aston Villa come to Old Trafford thinking they have a chance to win.
    In their last five attempts they have scored four goals, conceded 14 and lost every time!
    They haven’t won away from home since the Second City derby on 13 September.
    Man U are unbeaten at home, only Sunderland talking a point.
    Villa are unbeaten in their last four games in the EPL and last season they lost 3-2 when Macheda scored the last minute winner after leading 2-1.
    My forecast 3-1.

    Sunday
    With Lawro you get a line or two on each team and a verdict.
    OK, sometimes the verdict doesn’t follow the logic of the narrative, but that’s forecasting.
    For today’s match, Lawro has gone to town and waxed lyrical, mainly about Liverpool.
    “I think that Torres will return for Liverpool, but I am not sure Aquilani will feature. He played 76 minutes against Fiorentina on Wednesday and Benitez will probably decide the Italian needs 23 weeks to recover! Benitez will probably change his team completely and play two holding midfielders against an Arsenal team that will possibly be without a recognised front man. We have got to the point now with Benitez where nobody knows what team he is going to field for any given match or what his plan is for the rest of the season. By and large he is a popular figure and generally the Anfield crowd have been patient with him. But I just wonder whether Liverpool are now actually further away from the Holy Grail of the EPL title than when he arrived in June 2004. And that is a big worry. Arsenal will not struggle to stay in the top four by virtue of the fact that they have lots of really good players. Liverpool are the vulnerable top-four side but I still think they will finish in one of those places. Their record over the last few months in the Premier League is poor but they are still very much in touch with the top. With Torres back and Gerrard getting back to his world-class form, Liverpool will beat a lot of teams. But that does not mask the fact that there is no Plan B at the club. Have a look at the back of a programme at Anfield and you will see an unbelievably long list of professionals – but how many of them are top quality? Not many. There is an awful lot of mediocrity in that squad. It will be an entertaining game; it always is when Arsenal are involved. I think they are great on the eye, the best team for a neutral to watch. Verdict: 1-1.”
    Is this the beginning of the end for Benitez?

    Liverpool v Arsenal
    Neither team did well in the week.
    Benitez has attempted to draw a line under all that went before by saying that this match is the start of their season.
    Arsenal have not won at Anfield for the last five years, though they did manage a point in each of the last two years.
    They have twice conceded four goals, but got a point last season thanks to Arshavin’s heroics.
    Who knows what Benitez will conjure up for this fixture?
    Wenger could dismiss the sulks and build on the victory against Stoke last weekend.
    Liverpool have won only two of their last eight EPL games, against Man U and Everton.
    In all competitions they have won two out of nine.
    The last four EPL meetings between these teams have ended in draws.
    My forecast 1-2.

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