Sunday, 23 November 2014

NFL Ones To Watch Week 12....

Normally, this can be found over on UKFirstDown but due to technical difficulties I am able to post it here !

Last week, Eli Manning threw 5 INTs, Peyton Manning also lost and for now, Tom Brady holds the advantage in the play-off run. This week’s Ones To watch are New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills in an AFC East duel, Arizona Cardinals vs Seattle Seahawks and Washington vs San Francisco’s 49ers.
New York Jets [2-8] vs Buffalo Bills [5-5]
The Jets recently named Michael Vick starting QB and their decision paid dividends before their bye last week as they beat the Steelers in Week 10. The Jets season sees their offense ranked at 26th, defense at 7th, passing at 32nd and their rushing is 5th. Vicks season to date looks like this: 57 completions from 102 attempts totalling 528 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. Running Back Chris Johnson recently agreed that if Michael Vick had been starting, the Jets would be winning / have won more games, and on the season he has rushed the ball 85 times, for 360 yards at an average of 4.2 yards per carry scoring 1 TD. He’s also caught the ball 17 times for 116 yards at an average of 6.8 yards per catch scoring 1 TD. Eric Decker can really move the chains as he is averaging 10.5 yards per reception from his 43 receptions totalling 450 yards and 4 TDs. It’s a far cry from his final season in Denver in which he amassed 1288 yards and 11 TDs at an average of 14.8 Yards per catch, but his QB was Peyton Manning then, but he still has a high average of more yards than needed for a first down. Jets’ defense has 27 sacks total, and Sheldon Richardson has 3.5 of those, Calvin Pace has 4.0 Muhammed Wilkerson leads the defense in sacks [4.5] from 48 combined tackles [28 total, 20 assisted].
Buffalo enter with their offense ranked at 25th, defense ranked at 6th, passing at 20th and their rush game 25th. Kyle Orton has 146 completions from 228 attempts for 1580 yards 10 TDS and 3 INTs. In rushing the ball, the Bills have three guys whom average about the same yards per rush [4.2, 4.1& 4.3] and it is Fred Jackson [4.3] whom has the only rushing TD of the regular three. Jackson has 58 carries for 249 yards. CJ Spiller and Anthony Dixon are separated by 1 carry and 9 total yards. 69 to 68 carries respectively with 287 and 278 yards respectively. Sammy Watkins leads all receivers with 5 TDs and they have come off 45 receptions for 649 yards and he averages 14.4 yards per reception. Like the Jets, the Bills have a couple of guys who dominate in terms of sacks with Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams each have 10.0. Williams has those off just 27 tackles [4 assisted] and as a staff the Bills has 12 INTs although 0 have gone all the way back to score.
This battle between AFC East foes will likely come down to defensive displays, although similar things were said about the Eagles trip into Green Bay last week, and we all know what happened there. *Due to snowfall in Buffalo, this game has been moved to Detroit’s Ford field, and also to Monday with the Lions on the road in New England.

Arizona Cardinals [9-1] vs Seattle Seahawks [6-4].
The Cardinals enter play with the 20th ranked offense, 13th ranked defense, 11th ranked passing and their rushing is 31st. It’s hard to fathom a team that’s only lost once [Bronchos] can be viewed as an underdog, but that’s how Head Coach Bruce Arians sees the situation as “going  up there, everyone is an underdog, They’re the World Champions” he told the Arizona Republic . Drew Stanton is the QB as Carson Palmer succumbed to a season ending knee injury, and [Stanton]has 67 completions from 125 attempts for 920 yards 5 TDs and 2 INTs. Larry Fitzgerald is questionable for the game, but if he can go he can build on his 46 receptions for 658 yards at an average of 14.3 yards per completion and 2 TDs. If Fitzgerald is unable to suit up for the game, the catching duties will fall to primarily Andre Ellington who has 41 receptions for 356 yards for 8.7 yards per catch on average and scoring 2 TDs also. John Brown could also be a feature, although he doesn’t start many games [he could get the start if Fitzgerald misses the game] and has 34 receptions for 468 yards with a 13.8 Yard per completion average and 5 TDs and looks to be a very promising rookie and he could go on to be the next Larry Fitzgerald. Andre Ellington also has the majority of the rushing load with 186 carries for 624 yards at an average of 3.4 YPC and has scored three times.
The Defending champion Seahawks enter with their offense at 11th, defense at 3rd, passing at 30th and rushing at 1st.
I’ll start by looking at their strength and Marshawn Lynch has 177 carries for 813 yards averaging 4.6 YPC and scoring 9 TDs. Lynch also leads the team in receiving TDs too with 3. Doug Baldwin has the most catches with 44 which he’s taken for 485 yards at 11.0 YPC and scoring 2 TDs. Russell Wilson has completed 182 passes off 291 attempts for 2019 yards for 13 TDs and 5 INTs. Wilson’s average yards per pass is down on his previous two seasons [8.2 in last year’s Super Bowl victory campaign] to 6.9, a whole yard lower than his rookie season the year before. Defensively, ‘The Legion of Boom’ look slightly out of sorts compared to seasons past, but Richard Sherman has made 37 tackles on the season [7 assisted] and that’s nearly as many as the whole of last season combined where he made 48 [regular season only]. Sherman also made 16 Pass Defences and 8 INTs [1 pick six] last year, compared to this seasons 4 and 1 respectively. Coming out of Seahawks HQ is a suggestion that Sherman could also be used in a WR role, as the offense has also been lacking some punch, and as head coach Pete Carroll told reporters “He was a good receiver growing up and has a tremendous catching range [as witnessed in his defensive play]. He'd love to do it and he’s ready, so if we get an emergency situation we’re going to him”.
It’s an important game for both teams, but one in which the Seahawks can’t lose if they are to retain any hopes of trying to go back to back, though one more loss anywhere might be too much to overturn and the Cardinals themselves will be trying to win as every win ensures the likelihood of a bye to the business end of the playoffs as the NFCs best team and to become the first team to compete in a Super Bowl in their own stadium.

Finally this week,
Washington [3-7] vs San Francisco 49ers [6-4]

Washington enters with the 8th ranked offense, 10th ranked defense, 7th in passing and 16th in rushing. The QB position has been somewhat of a revolving door and could be about to change again with RGIII struggling, but as it stands he enters play with 72 completions from 100 attempts for 763 yards 2 TDs and 3 INTs. The Washington team as a whole have 13 TDs and 13 INTs, and that in itself is one of the reasons why this team aren’t winning as many games as their numbers dictate they should. In catching the ball, DeSean Jackson is making the most of his receptions with 40 for 819 yards averaging 20.5 per catch with 4 TDs. With 10 team rushing TDs, Alfred Morris has 6 of them from 172 carries for 701 yards averaging 4.1 Yards per carry. Ryan Kerrigan leads the defense with 7.5 sacks from 41 tackles [10 assisted ]. Trenton Robinson has their only Interception return for 14 yards, although didn’t get to score from it, and the other 2 INTs were downed at the spot.
San Francisco enters with the 18th ranked offense, 4th ranked defense, 23rd in passing and their rushing game is 7th. Kap has 194 completed passes from 318 attempts for 2394 yards and 14 TDs. Frank Gore isn’t having his best season and has amassed 158 carries gaining 648 yards with a pair of scores. Gore also has caught the ball 8 times scoring once [a 55 yard effort] with 98 yards. Gore scored 9 times on the ground last season. Anquan Boldin is dynamite with his 56 catches going for 688 yards at an average of 12.3 yards per reception and scoring 3 TDs. Michael Crabtree has also chipped in with 4 scores from 43 receptions for 509 yards averaging 11.8 Yards per reception. Of the 49ers 16 INTs, only one has gone all the way back [Dontae Johnson] although Perrish Cox has 4 picks.
Both teams are loaded with playmakers who are capable of making a huge play when its needed most and this should be an entertaining battle, and the Washington team have turned a corner recently which could provide the catalyst to see off the more consistent 49ers. 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Rebuilding Aston Villa..

In my last blog about AVFC, I stated that "Somewhere in the rubble, is a foundation which will come to bloom next season . There are a few current Aston Villa players who I believe have no future, but I will comment on them after the season concludes away to Tottenham next month".

The Time is Now to address the situation going on in the confides of Villa Park.

Players I would let go [in no particular order]
Nathan Delfouneso [which actually happened] Has never looked good enough to be a Premier League player, but can still have a thriving career elsewhere.
Jed Steer [LOAN] , Nothing against him, I just don't see how not playing him improves him as a player, he should be given the chance to prove what he can do elsewhere.
Enda Stevens - I'm not sure why he got signed in the first place, but he did look useful on the rare occasion he wandered onto the big green enclosure surrounded by angry fans, bless him.
Ciaran Clark - Has often been given the nickname 'Calamity' due to his error strewn displays, I feel he just tries too hard, but he just isn't a good enough central defender.
Ryan Bertrand - Technically, doesn't belong to us, but I wouldn't make his Loan permanent as he just didn't do enough I don't think, although he did look a massive improvement on what we had at the position, until he missed a game due to ineligibility, then he looked forever lost.
Alex Tonev [LOAN] I still believe he can be a really good winger, he just needs time to settle, in a less hostile atmosphere, although with changes happening all around the club, perhaps he's in the best place. Still a regular run playing every week whill do wonders for his confidence.
Yacouba Sylla. Doesn't add anything special, should go while he's still relevant and can gain a little sum back.
Nathan Baker . Like Clark his Central Defensive partner, he just isn't good enough for this level at this time. Maybe one day he can be, but I wouldn't risk it happening under our watch.
Grant Holt. Like Bertrand isn't under contract to Aston Villa, but I would ensure he doesn't get that way as well. Did OK when Benteke was lost for the season, but I would have rather seen Robinson, Helenius or Bowery given a run in the team and the loan signing could have been used elsewhere of need.
Jordan Bowery - Until his cameo appearance in the final games of the season, I'd forgotten he was even a Villa player. Played well against Hull, but was pretty absent in the finale. Hasn't really had the regular first team action he needs to play well, as it stands is probably fifth on the depth chart which means unless there's an injury crisis, he wouldn't normally grace the bench.

Players I would sign [in no particular order]

Thomas Kuszczak - Brighton - Free His experience in the game should be a good fit in Aston Villa, and I'd definitely offer him a contract. He has worked under Sir Alex after all, who better to learn from ?
Marc Albrighton. Key when he featured, and often turned in man of the match performances. Sadly, this too has not been done as he's been released. Terrible decision.
Gareth Barry - Manchester City - Free. Would be amazing to get reunited with a player who still has it at the top level. Most Villa fans have got over his leaving, but he can really help the midfield which would free up so many other options he would be like having three new players.
James Milner - Handled his exit with class, and would love to see him back crossing the ball in to create chance after chance. Come on home Jimmy !
Charlie Austin [Providing QPR don't get promoted]. A 20 goal a season striker, would surely be a welcome addition to Aston Villa. 20 goal a season strikers are rare to come by anyway so I would put a bit extra into securing him, to form a menacing 2 headed attack with Christian Benteke [post injury].
Shaun Maloney - Struggled last time although he had homesickness troubles, seems more settled this time, so should remain a force, playing behind the strikers or doubling as a winger to assist Milner / replace him late in games.
Jonathan Woodgate - Middlesbrough. Has had injuries in the past, but has also played for Real Madrid. Good player, and would bring in a Centre back with experience which would be needed. In his final year of his contract, and he may be unwilling to leave his boyhood club, I'd certainly check in with him.

While I concede it's highly unlikely as things stand Villa could actually sign them, these are players I firmly believe they should target, given who might be available, and all could be considered realistic. The only problem with a few of them might be wages, but then, if you aren't prepared to pay top dollar, you end up paying for Yaouba Sylla.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Aston Villas Hour of need ...

What they need will be explained [hopefully] within this entry.

Firstly, I would like to point out to those that don't follow football, or Aston Villa that this has been a very trying season, for many different reasons, but it has all come to a head this week with the suspensions of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa .

This announcement , and the following one which saw Gordon Cowans and Shay Given as assistants to Paul Lambert for the relegation avoiding run in, have seen a new lease of life around B6, and all things considered it would explain a lot as to why the players looked petrified playing at times.

There are many reasons as to why Culverhouse and Karsa have rumoured to have been suspended for, but it is clear, at many stages this season alienation and bullying is at the tip of the iceberg. For a while. things haven't seemed quite right, although nobody really knew why. Talk of players being sent home from away games alone, or being dropped because of a lack of belief in youth [even though that was supposed to be the plan] and being quoted as unavailable due to injury. [There have been a suspicious amount of Achilles heel injuries on an unrelated related note] although sadly, Christian Benteke's is real.

Moving on to another issue, the dropping of players.

A large portion of the Summer's new recruits have failed to properly settle, and once promising players, Tonev, Helenius have been relegated to bench warming roles [Although last home game against Fulham, Tonev looked back to his Bulgarian best. and even regular starters Weimann and [this one isn't really specific to this season] Agbonlahor  Good players don't suddenly become so bad they'd struggle in the non leagues [ no disrespect to the lower leagues] and bad managers don't suddenly become incapable of managing to walk from the beach to the ocean without getting lost.

Another point I would like to touch on is the idiotic morons who would troll an ill advised Q&A with Joe Bennett. They call themselves fans, although some questions were enough to raise a small chuckle, on the whole I'd be embarrassed to call myself a fan if I behaved in such a manner. The reason it's idiotic, is he'd played a handful of games in Lambert's tenure, yet people blame him for the position the club finds itself in, he is just one man, one player, and the same people also refuse to criticise Benteke for having more enrgy in flailing his arms up and down when he doesn't get the ball.

Back to my original point here, I don't condone the lack of a plan B,C or D there is barely a plan A at times, and making a substitution with less than 10 minutes to go to find an equaliser, much less a winner, is baffling, but it happens time and time again. I've been on record as saying " that kind of decision should be reserved to see out victories or to ensure points don't get dropped in the final few minutes". Lambert's lack of flexibility is eerily similar to Martin O'Neills reign where he has his XI and that was that. I'm sure there is a silver lining under all of this obscurity, but it starts this weekend in the penultimate home game vs Southampton.

Somewhere in the rubble, is a foundation which will come to bloom next season . There are a few current Aston Villa players who I believe have no future, but I will comment on them after the season concludes away to Tottenham next month.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

My Graduation

So, I graduated?
Someone tell me it isn't a dream, and I did gain a degree. I do have pictures to prove it, but maybe it’s a cruel practical joke and I don’t really exist? Though, if that’s true, how did this get written?
I am so honoured to have taken this ride and along the way met some truly fantastic people, and for these people I will be forever grateful for their dealing with my 3 am rants about whatever it was I couldn't do, or just taking the time to care about how I was doing with certain tasks. It was this, that although might not sound like much to you, definitely helped me to take a deep breath and refocus my efforts and slow everything down around me to enable me to make the decisions with a clear head. I've never properly thanked these people, because to me I had no idea how to do so in a way that was more than a thank you, because I felt it deserved more than a word. Though I'm a huge believer in the little things meaning more to me with something as huge on the line as my future, simplicity wasn't ever going to cut it.
Now, I know that I’m not the first person to graduate university, and I won’t be the last, but if you know where I've come from, or where I've been then I might as well be. I know I'm pretty special to the world, and I know I have a lot to give, and I will prove it.
I seem to be walking around taller and prouder since I graduated, and I've recently become accustomed to spring fever, and I [with help] have transformed my entire man cave, and who knew that to get a better night’s sleep is to turn the bed around? Well see, I've now given you all a better quality of life, as you’ll sleep better, and in turn get more done when you’re awake. Just a small tip but I feel infinitely better since doing so.

I love the spring, it reminds me that the best time of year is to come, and up to now the best time of the year is behind me, in regards to the aforementioned graduation, 2014 is going to be pretty huge all being well. I will do everything in my power to ensure it being so!
I'm finally accepting where I am in life, and what to do to get where I want to be, and where I want to be is right there with you on this ride of a lifetime. Strap in, settle down and I will guide you through this year with positivity, Heart-felt thoughts of gratitude, and excitement of what’s to come.
I sincerely believe in myself, I always have, but now I have a new found belief that no matter what the situation is, I can turn it around, whether I end up homeless, or I get stranded with no money miles from home, or I could be down in a darts match by over 300 points, so long as I have my legs, I’ll be fine !
[those are just extreme scenarios, but the darts one really did happen, and I still managed to remain competitive].

I’d rather have regrets for trying something and it failing, then not trying it, and this too happened, but I won’t share the actual event in which I felt this [as it will ruin the feel good vibe I’ve worked hard to produce here].
To close, I am honoured to be in this position, but the real opportunity lies just around the corner, and I will say to you all, do not be afraid to try anything new.

Thanks for reading . 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Behind the Visuals.

There is always an iconic piece of music, whether it be television, film, or in the rare occasion a score to a video game which takes it into a whole other level, and some of you may be aware that soundtracks are a passion of mine, and every week starting from next week, [Week Beginning March 3rd 2014] I will post starting with Number 10 the 1st entry on my top ten list of Television Theme Songs. I will also do a Top 10 Songs from within film, and eventually get onto a top Ten Songs list all of which I'm really looking forward to putting together for you all.

The only things some people may know are two entries on each list from personally knowing me but they don't have any idea where any of the entries will come in. Set your excitement phasers to mouthwatering excitement !

Thank you for reading this, and I'll urge you all to know that, it isn't necessarily going to be from a show I watch or enjoy, but if the TV theme is iconic enough to me, then it is worthy of inclusion and some just happen to entertain me with their television programmes content.


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

In need of greater Arsenal ...

Now, last night, Aston Villa took on Arsenal at Villa park on a cold night. For 65 minutes, we all felt the cold, then the team woke up and we weren't aware of our surroundings, and the crowd was full of energy, full of life, as was the team.

Sadly, they were already 2-0 down at this point [due to a minute of two mistakes] . This happened not long after losing Nathan Baker to a mild concussion, and a very scary moment in which he didn't move from the moment he went down, and I suspect he was already out before he hit the turf, for a further five or six minutes. They hadn't really looked like losing, until then, and didn't deserve to lose either, as Arsenal weren't that dangerous in my opinion. Something needed to happen, something like, maybe a Benteke goal, but given that he hadn't scored for 11 hours it was unlikely, wasn't it?

Suddenly, down he went and sent a diving header [which probably could have been scored with either foot] but whose complaining? A goal is a goal, and for the tall striker, a much needed confidence boost, and he looked a different player for a small period before it, but mostly after, he had a new sense of self belief, but that's only natural for an out of form player.

It was certainly refreshing to hear applause and pride from the crowd at the final whistle, instead of the usual booing, to which he have recently become accustomed. It was a moment of clarity, that when everybody is back and fit and playing well, we are definitely a team that can, and will cause problems for any team. I said at the beginning of the season, that there will be some dark times ahead, and in the future the team will start winning more regularly, and be more competitive for longer, and the beginning of "The Project" is.... Now.

I will reiterate, a creative midfielder is still needed, as is a more experienced CB, it is a position were they just can't keep healthy, and Baker is definitely better than Clark. Without Vlaar, there's little chance of a win, Vlaar is really the key for keeping the back door locked. That said, 2014-15 is tipped to be one of high potential, which should be fulfilled, for the most part.

Last night, it finished 2-1, and Villa one another day, might have had more, but sometimes that's football.