Why Nicolas Anelka’s absence is good for West Brom

Nicolas Anelka’s future at West Brom is unclear, as despite only moving to The Hawthorns in the summer he is currently on compassionate leave and is thought to be considering retiring from the game.

With no Romelu Lukaku to call upon this term, Steve Clarke’s men look slightly light on options in attack.

Saido Berahino

However, a 3-0 win over Newport in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night showcased the considerable talents of a certain Saido Berahino. The 20-year-old bagged a 36-minute hat-trick in the win and now must be considered for a place in the West Brom starting XI for the game against Swansea at the weekend.

With Anelka absent, maybe it is time for Clarke to give Berahino a chance to shine on the biggest stage.

Drogba, Berbatov and the Premier League strikers up for grabs this summer

With the big clubs looking to strengthen their squads for 2012-13, there is a likelihood that a number of fringe players will be sold on. Here are six Premier League strikers likely to be looking for a new club this summer.

Edin Dzeko

Although experiencing a great start to the 2011-2012 season, scoring seven goals in the first four matches for the Blues, a year spent in the shadow of Argentine team-mate Sergio Aguero has been disappointing for the Bosnian hit-man. Already proving himself as a dangerous Premier League forward, Dzeko will look for new ground come next season and with another big-money forward likely to join Roberto Mancini’s men in the summer, the £27 million forward will want to get first-team football elsewhere and there are many clubs that will want him.

Dimitar Berbatov

It has been a strange season at Old Trafford for the Bulgarian forward, who has experienced a game drought at the beginning of the season, a fantastic December – scoring six goals in three games – and a disappointing finish. The Manchester United outcast will want to find a new club next year after demonstrating his ability when he has had the chance. Valued at around £10 million, the 31-year-old forward would be a great signing for any club in need of a goal-hungry poacher. Although known for his laziness, there is no doubt that many sides will want him come the summer.

Marouane Chamakh

For Marouane Chamakh it has been an awful season, scoring only one goal in 21 appearances for the north London outfit, and although signing on a free transfer from Bordeaux in 2010, the Moroccan forward has been a big disappointment. With the signing of Lucas Podolski, there will be no space for the target man in Arsene Wenger’s plans and it is possible he could make a move back to France very soon. The Premier League has proved to be just too much of a challenge for the 28-year-old striker, who will be frustrated with his unhappy time at Arsenal.

Jermain Defoe

Super sub Jermain Defoe, much like the others mentioned, has had a year spent watching from the sidelines, as Manchester City loanee Emmanuel Adebayor has led Tottenham’s front-line this season. The unsettled 29-year-old has been linked to a £10 million move to Anfield and has also been connected with a transfer to promoted side Reading. Although Harry Redknapp is keen to keep him at Tottenham in the summer, Defoe is dying for first-team football and there will be a number of new options for him if Spurs are willing to sell.

Didier Drogba

With an expiring contract in the summer, 34-year-old Didier Drogba is set to make a departure from his beloved Stamford Bridge after eight years of dedicated service. Scoring vital goals in the cup competitions this season, the Ivorian target man will play a vital role in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich and will be intent on having a last surge for European glory. It is rumoured that Drogba could make a mover to either Shanghai Shenhua – to join former teammate Nicolas Anelka – or possibly back to former club Marseille if a contract extension of two years is not offered by the Blues.

Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt has been a loyal servant at Anfield since signing in 2006 and has proved a important player for King Kenny’s side this term, scoring the equaliser in the extra time of the Carling Cup final and leading them on to win on penalties. There has been much speculation over a return to Dutch side Feyenoord, after admitting that he wants to go back, but for the 31 year-old the deal would be now or never and with a Liverpool team on decline, it looks like the Dutchman is set to make a return to Rotterdam.

By Jacob Tucker

Andre Villas Boas: A new dawn and second chance at Chelsea for a number of fringe players

New Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boas has promised to evaluate his current squad before going out the the market and spending irrationally. The 33-year-old technician has been linked with a move for some of the Porto stars that shot him to fame, but so far it has been a quiet transfer window at Stamford Bridge. The end of the Carlo Ancelotti era will sadden some of the squad, who had a close affiliation with the Italian, however other players will be eager to have the slate wiped clean and start anew at the club.

Daniel Sturridge will surely be one of those who will hope to get more first team football under the new man in charge. Having found himself well and truly down the pecking order after signing for The Blues from Manchester City in July 2009, he will hope to be on a level par with Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka in 2011-12, with selection based on performance and form.

With only four goals to his name in his time at Chelsea, the 21-year-old will have been boosted by his loan spell at Bolton last season, where he impressed and found his scoring form. Eight goals in 12 games is a record that speaks for itself, and the Birmingham born attacker looks reinvigorated from gaining playing time in the top flight.

By no means a certainty to get games, Sturridge will be happy to hear that AVB intends to play a 4-3-3 system, which will give him an extra starting spot to contend. Versatile, skilful and with an eye for goal, 2011-12 is a big year for the England under-21 star.

Yuri Zhirkov signed for the London club after an impressive Euro 2008 campaign with Russia, but has failed to live up to the hype of his £18 million transfer fee. With injuries and a drop in form resulting in only 29 appearances in two seasons, predominantly as a substitute, it is make or break time for the former CSKA Moscow man.

The 27-year-old is one of only a handful of left footed wide players in The Blues’ squad, and his versatility of playing at either full back or on the wing will be useful to Villas Boas. The most expensive player in Russian football history has show at times that he can be a real danger to opposition, but needs to be included on a more regular basis to fully meet his potential.

There are a number of other fringe players that will have welcomed a new man at the helm. Paulo Ferreria has seen his career in England fade over the last two seasons, as a starting spot is no longer guaranteed. Yossi Benayoun showed fantastic craft and vision whilst at Liverpool, but has had an injury plagued time in London, whilst centre half Alex slipped out of Ancelotti’s preferences and will hope for more opportunities under AVB.

With potentially more new players to arrive it will be interesting to see the Portuguese coach’s starting XI and matchday squad on August 13th, with all available players given a fair crack at the whip to be included.

What does 2011/12 hold for Daniel Sturridge?

So, if Jones is worth £16.5 million and Henderson £20 million, how much is Daniel Sturridge worth?

With the transfer window well and truly open, ’tis the season for ludicrous over payment. Phil Jones’ 37 senior side appearances for Blackburn and Jordan Henderson’s four Sunderland career goals gave the England under 21 internationals a combined value of £36.5million, which was happily paid by Manchester United and Liverpool. No doubt both players are talented and full of potential, but an overpayment none the less.

It is painfully clear that young English talent is much vaunted and that top flight clubs will pay top dollar to ascertain it. The transfers of Jones and Henderson will have been music to the ears of Everton boss David Moyes, who can now pick a number out of the air and slap it on Jack Rodwell’s forehead, for United and all other potential suitors to match if they want the 20-year-old’s services.

But what of their international compatriot Daniel Sturridge? The Chelsea frontman’s club future hangs in the balance, as after a successful loan spell with Bolton he has returned to Stamford Bridge in search of the big time. Realistically, as talented as the former Manchester City forward is (and he is), his chances of first team football are going to be extremely limited, just like before he went to the Reebok Stadium.

With Didier Drogba struggling to get a game due to Fernando Torres, Salomon Kalou and Nicolas Anelka, what chance does Sturridge have? Add to this the inevitable signings that Mr Abramovich and the eventual new coach will bring to the club, which will more than likely include more attacking talent from the four corners of the globe, and the English born youngster will once more be on the outskirts.

So what are his options? He could stay and fight for a first team spot, but this is a long, arduous and frustrating journey; young, talented players need regular first team football to evolve, and he risks his career going down the same path as Shaun Wright Phillips out of pure stubbornness. Another loan move looks likely, and Owen Coyle and every other manager outside of the top six will be holding their hands up shouting ‘pick me!’ in a schoolboy’s voice if Chelsea decide to go down this route. However, if Sturridge decides he wants to leave the London club and seek a new employer, the fee that Chelsea would likely charge is of real interest.

The Birmingham born forward exudes quality. He has represented England at youth level from under-16′s all the way up to his current participation in the under-21 Championships in Denmark. He scored eight goals in twelve games for a faltering Bolton side at the end of last season, and seemingly gets better with the more time he spends on the pitch.

Strikers generally command higher transfer fees than any other position, thus the criteria above would suggest that in today’s market he is worth more than Henderson, and more than £20 million. Andy Carroll is worth £35 million apparently, so £20 million+ seems about right. Chelsea would be increasingly reluctant to sell him to a top six side, in which case he is gazumped as none of the other teams have £20 million to throw about like the executives at Anfield and Old Trafford.

Daniel Sturridge will not and cannot leave Chelsea permanently this summer due to the ludicrous nature of the English transfer market currently, and instead of maturing into a player capable of being included in Fabio Capello’s 2012 European Championships squad, may face the prospect of heading the line for the Stamford Bridge reserve side in 2011/12.

Published – http://football-talk.co.uk/27923/what-does-201112-hold-for-daniel-sturridge/

%d bloggers like this: