14 August, 2010

Start Your Blackpool Bandwagon Up Now

I've been telling you guys for the last month or two to watch these guys. Granted, Wigan are no world beaters, but Blackpool is the scrappy team you want to follow. Case in point? 4-0. That's the score they just beat Wigan by earlier today. Now, it wasn't the biggest defeat today. That went to Chelsea crushing West Brom 6-0 (I think "the Godfather" is ahead picking Didier for the Golden Boot, cause he knocked in a hat trick today).

Now the scoreline flatters Blackpool (although they had defeated Wigan 4-1 last year in the 2nd rd of the Carling Cup), because Wigan held more possession (58% to 42%), had a slightly better passing rate, and had a goal disallowed at the beginning of the 2nd half. That said, welcome to the big league Blackpool.

1st half goals:

Special 1 TV (Ep5)

Have to go to the video replay to see if Sven was pimping himself...

Video: BBCComedy

The Beautiful Game (pt 4)

Dust storm on the pitch...


13 August, 2010

2010-11 EPL Predictions

El Nino "The Godfather"'s
1. Chelsea
2. Liverpool
3. Manchester United
4. Arsenal
5. Manchester City
6. Tottenham
7. Everton
8. Fulham
9. Wigan Athletic
10.Bolton Wanderers
11.Blackburn Rovers
12.Aston Villa
14.Newcastle (P)
15.Birmingham City
16.West Ham United
17.Wolverhampton Wanderers
18.Stoke City
19.Blackpool (P)
20.West Bromwich Albion (P)
"The Professor’s"
1. Manchester United
2. Arsenal
3. Chelsea
4. Liverpool
5. Manchester City
6. Everton
7. Fulham
8. Tottenham
9. Sunderland
10.Aston Villa
11.Stoke City
12.West Ham United
13.Blackburn Rovers
14.Newcastle (P)
15.Birmingham City
16.Wigan Athletic
17.Bolton Wanderers
18.West Bromwich Albion (P)
19.Wolverhampton Wanderers
20.Blackpool (P)
"Mr. X’s"
1. Manchester United
2. Chelsea
3. Manchester City
4. Arsenal
5. Tottenham Hotspur
6. Liverpool
7. Everton
8. Sunderland
9. Birmingham City
11.Blackburn Rovers
12.Wigan Athletic
13.Newcastle (P)
14.Aston Villa
15.West Ham United
16.Bolton Wanderers
17.Stoke City
18.Woverhampton Wanderers
19.Blackpool (P)
20.West Bromwich Albion (P)

-Newly promoted teams are noted with a (P)
-These are based on signings as of 8/10/10

Player to Watch:
"Mr. X"- Jermane Beckford, Everton.
The kid put away 31 goals in 52 in all appearances for Leeds last year, including 1 against ManU and 2 against Tottenham. In an interesting side note, Beckford has yet to be called up for the England team and qualifies for Jamaica, Grenada and England due to heritage. Everton is a strong squad and expect them to get the ball to Beckford often this year. (Runner-up: Didier Drogba, Chelsea. He’ll miss the first few games for Chelsea this season while recovering from surgery, but if he fails to regain the form he had last season, expect Chelsea to tumble from the top 3 spots as a tight race between the top 6 teams this season will boil down to who screws up first).

"The Professor" - Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez , Manchester United.
The reason I mention the nickname “Chicharito” is because that is the name that will appear on the back of Hernandez’s #14 jersey. You have all seen him play for Mexico internationally, where he has scored more than a goal every two games at the senior level (9 goals in 16 appearances with El Tri). An interesting fact: FIFA's statistics show Hernandez was the fastest player in the World Cup, with a top speed of 32.15 km/h. (Runner-up: John Obi Mikel, Chelsea. Chelsea let Michael Ballack go back to Germany this off-season. Why do you think they did that? Watch John Obi Mikel - who has stated that he now wishes to be known as Mikel John Obi - step into Ballack’s midfield role seamlessly and lead the team to victory.)

"The Godfather" - Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal.
Assuming he stays in England, and I believe that he will this year, the Spaniard will be keen to prove his worth amid all the transfer hoopla and lack of playing time during the World Cup. He holds the key to Arsenal’s success and will be needed to free up the likes of Arshavin. Like a baseball player in his contract year, expect an elevation in his scoring and overall numbers. Will try to establish himself as one of the top players in world worthy of a huge Barcelona contract in the near future. (Runner-up: Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa, 13 goals last year and looking for a potential transfer. Considered by some an underachiever, I see him as the primary option on a Villa team that will be unpredictable this year. He will need to produce right away if he is expecting a major contract in the near future. Expect him to expand on his goal scoring prowess to position himself for a transfer to a team such as Liverpool. Just need to make sure Villa holds it together enough to give him scoring chances).

Golden Boot Award:
“Mr. X”-Javier Hernandez, Manchester United.
Originally, it was going to be Tevez, but he's been turning pouty as of late, and with wonder boy of the hour, Chicharito, on fire, I'm switching to the Man U striker to light it up. Aside from all the other comments by our writers here, he seems to be scoring at will lately, and as seen in the Community Shield, he scores even when he misses (he put a ball off his own face and in). (Runner-up: Darren Bent, Sunderland. This guy is greedy in front of the goal. He put in 24 in 38 games last season after a move from Tottenham and with no other real proven game in and out goal-scorer on the squad, Sunderland will rely on him to keep the scoring up).

"The Professor" - Wayne Rooney, Manchester United.
Wayne had 34 goals in 44 appearances for the Red Devils last year. Coupled with the fact that he completely disappeared at the World Cup, and you have someone itching to prove himself to the nay-sayers. I expect him to maintain his torrid run of goal scoring this season. (Runner-up: Fernando Torres, Liverpool).

"The Godfather" - Didier Drogba, Chelsea.
The reigning leading scorer in the premiership will have to be dethroned before I give his title away. Well poised for another run. Remember, boys and girls, he is recovering from a broken elbow, not a torn ACL or fractured ankle. (Runner-up: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United)

Most Improved Team:
"Mr. X"- Man City.
Adding Boatang, Silva, Kolarov and Toure and possibly Balotelli to an already pimp squad makes for a scary lineup. Sure they are throwing around money like an NBA #1 draft pick rookie at a strip club, but right now, they can afford to and until they can solidify a CL place, expect them to keep bringing in the talent. There is always the problem of throwing an all-star lineup together from scratch each year, but if anyone can handle it, it’s Mancini. (Runner-up: West Ham. Considering it’s working with a shoestring budget, the pick up of Piquionne, Barrera and Hitzlsperger were well done, but ultimately, their team isn’t going to be world beaters until they can get their finances in order).

"The Professor"- Manchester City.
Well, without repeating much of what was said above about City, on paper, they have an all-star lineup, including a great coach. Whether they can blend that all to produce winning on the field will be another story.

"The Godfather" - Man City.
I agree with Mr. X for all the same reasons.
I also concur with his assessment of West Ham United. While by no means anywhere near a top-of-the-table finish, they have made enough moves to keep themselves out of the usual fight to stave off relegation.

Most Over-rated Team:
"Mr. X"- Liverpool.
Yeah, I said it. Call me a hater-Spurs fan. This team has admittedly put nearly everyone on the chopping block. They have a new coach (who’ll do well, given some time), but that usually means a wholesale clearance of players that do not fit his mold of a team. Players usually step up to be sold or just crumble under the pressure. Add to that the fact that Hodgson has admitted that they are going to possibly forgo playing well in Europa League to solidify the team and you are just asking for trouble. There is also the matter of the ~£473 million in debt that the team is carrying and if they go anywhere near a winding up order, this team will flounder. *Of note is the Syrian ex-Unicef worker Kirdi and company that are in final negotiations to purchase Liverpool. If this is truly resolved before Sept. 1, they may flounder to start, but should have a stronger 2nd half of the season. (Runner-up: Spurs. It pains me to say it, but they need 2-3 more players for the starting 11, they have some significant deadweight on the bench eating up salary and they are under the pressure of fans wanting them to maintain their surprising 4th place position in the EPL from last season as well as doing well with their first CL berth since the 60s. If Levy can pull some strings to bring in some solid producers, even if it’s from off the bench, then I’ll be happily proven wrong).

"The Professor" - Aston Villa.
Anyone who thinks Aston Villa can replicate or even improve upon last season's sixth place finish is delusional. Their competition has improved immensely in the off season, while Villa is counting on James Milner and Gabriel Agbonlahor repeating their surprise success last year. We know Emile Heskey's best years are behind him and will not remain a starter much longer. However, bright spots include the continuously improving midfielder Ashley Young and ageless goalkeeper Brad Friedel, so I may eat my words later this year. You know what? Scratch that. They lost their coach, they're selling half their squad. They’re toast. (Runner-up: Tottenham).

"The Godfather"- Manchester United.
No real improvement and the failure of
Anderson mean that the pressure lies squarely on the shoulders of Berbatov and Rooney. While I have no doubt that this team has top 3 potential, an aging Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are no longer enough to make the Red Devils prohibitive favorites this year. Note: written before I saw Chicharito Hernandez play in preseason. If he can take over for Berbatov, this team is looking dangerous in Europe. (Runner-up: Sunderland. Nothing exciting here except solid back line and defensive minded midfield play. Lack the firepower for a repeat finish in the top half of the table, and Darren Bent is not going to help find their passage to European cup play anytime soon).

Team to Watch:
"Mr. X"- Newcastle United.
If it isn’t for the self-destructive owner, Mike Ashley, then watch because this team because of the self-destructive Joey Barton (he who has kicked players, put out cigarettes on teammates and been to jail for attacking fans). This team is either going to over-produce or just simply implode. Add to the mix that they picked up Dan Gosling in the off-season due to a contract snafu at Everton and you have the makings of a possible mid table team. Not bad for having been in the Championships last year. (Runner-up: Blackpool. I’m just digging their manager Holloway. I’ll be recording Sky Sports just to hear his post game highlights).

"The Professor" - Newcastle.
Returning back to the EPL, Newcastle has a good squad that has the makings of a mid tier team. Sure, they could use to dump a few players and an owner, but this is a team that has been playing in Europe 6 times in the past decade and they just won the Teresa Herrera Cup in penalties against Deportivo de la Coruna with a goal by, of all people, Joey Barton. (Runner-up: Fulham).

"The Godfather" - Chelsea
This team is absolutely loaded and added Yossi Benayoun to boot. No news is good news, and with a rested Drogba look for them to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. It’s their league to lose. (Runner-up: Liverpool Joe Cole is one of my favorite players and has been underutilized to a criminal extent at Chelsea. I also anticipate some big acquisitions if an anticipated change of ownership comes through).

Surprise of the Season:
"Mr. X" – Gareth Bale, Spurs. I know it’s not much of a surprise that I’m picking a Spurs player, or that it’s Bale. For me, it’s penance. Not many of you know that I called for him to be sold during the winter break last year. He has tremendous ability, but couldn’t find what to do with it for most of his career. Add the horrid fact that he was in the lineup for 24 straight matches at one point without a Tottenham win, and you could see he was a bad juju for Spurs. His dramatic turnaround is exactly what Tottenham needs with CL play and I expect to see him make a career high seven goals this season leading Spurs into the elimination rounds of the Champions League.

"The Professor" - Lee Chung-Yong, Bolton. Blue Dragon, a literal translation of his name and a nick name of sorts, Lee is coming off a fantastic World Cup where he put goals past Uruguay and Argentina. At 22, he will need to have a great season if Bolton is to stay above relegation. He was named one of the top 50 rising stars by the Times last year. Get to know his name.

"The Godfather"- Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Manchester United. On the preseason tour for Manchester United, he played one half for Guadalajara and scored on his new team. He’s even managed to score 9 in 16 appearances for Mexico including against Argentina, Netherlands and France, and he’s only 22! This guy has some serious skill and I can’t wait to see what he does.

Sookie Sookie Now

Ahhhh yeah. I'm feeling clairvoyant at the moment. Rumors are floating on two sites (Whoateallthepies and Theoriginalwinger) that Bob Bradley has stepped down from the USMNT. The USSF claims this is untrue through an ESPN piece, though. If true, then he will be your next Aston Villa coach.

We called this here first, although it didn't take a brainiac to figure this had a high likelihood of happening. BB, we wish you luck and may you get the word out about US coaches so that they can get the experience abroad that our USMNT players have only recently experienced en mass.

Photo: Frumpzilla

Ex-Colonies = Footballing Success

Yeah, kind of long title right? But it gets the point across. For those of you who didn't read an earlier article of ours about how France poached Guadeloupe (the small, former French colony in the Caribbean) for several players in the 1990, 1994, and 1998 WC teams, the idea is simple: Invade a country at some point, release it to it's own affairs, pimp FIFA into not accepting them as a full member (partly because they can't afford the bribes) and then allow their players free access to your country, if and only if they accept the fact that they are banned from playing from their home country for 5 years after they retire from the French squad. Oh, and you don't get to qualify for the World Cup with your home country either.

Basically, France can thank the likes of several players of Guadeloupe birth, or those that are direct descendants for it's inflated respect in the 1990s. So, what am I getting at this time? Maybe the Dutch should join the French on that line of over-hyped teams that owe their former colonies.

12 August, 2010

England v Hungary Highlights

Coming courtesy of the FA, highlights of the near tragic mess by England on home soil. Must have been the pitch, yeah, that's the ticket. Gerrard pulls back two late to save face in front of the English faithful after Jagielka manages to keep the poor goal scoring against alive with an own goal in the 62nd.

Video: TheFA

Mexico v Spain Friendly Highlights

If you were like me, you forgot this match was happening because of the US v Brazil friendly. You shouldn't ever forget a match at Azteca, especially when Chicharito scores again. WTF?! Again? This guy is en fuego lately. And to quote ESPN, "You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him..."

Spain pulls one back late to equalize. Final 1-1.

Video: Ordepbalboa

10 August, 2010

USA Match Ratings vs Brazil

Warning: contains spoilers. The Brazil/USA friendly just ended, and first of all, I want to compliment myself on predicting the starting lineup relatively accurately.

Next, the match ratings. These match ratings are purely the opinion of The Professor. I would not presume to rate the Brazilians, so I will only rate the USA players.

Javier Hernandez Redirects Goal in 3-1 Win vs. Chelsea

Man U put a stamp on the beginning of the season (technically the season doesn't start yet, but the Community Shield is the lead-in to the season) with a 3-1 win vs. Chelsea yesterday.

We'll see how long this clip lasts on youtube before they take it down, as they have several others:

That's Chicharito Hernandez putting the chip shot off his own face and into the goal against Chelsea. Not the most impressive of goals, but at least he didn't put it in row "Z" like Zamora is prone to do while at Fulham...

Video: Chicharito14Rooney10

Cartoonist Provides Only Pictures of Southampton Loss

Yeah, another of those "you can't make this up". Southampton decided to ban photographers and force all media outlets to purchase game photos from one single accredited media source for this season.

So what's a fan to do to get coverage of the game for their team? Well, Plymouth supports at the Herald sent a cartoonist to draw the game. It's short, it's sweet, it's actually funny.

Cartoon: Herald

Movsisyan Goes Armenian

Yeah, it's a mouthful to say. The 23yo American/Armenian was born in Baku, Azerbijan in 1987, but his family moved to LA as anti-Armenian violence grew stronger in his homeland.

Drafted by MLS in 2006, he scored 20 goals in 81 appearances over 3 years before making the move to Europe with Randers in the Danish Superliga where he has since been on fire. Since his move, he's now scored 8 in 17 games include a handful in the Europa League qualifying.

Not bad for the 23yo forward. The obvious question is why Armenia? The team is ranked 96th in the latest FIFA rankings. He could play for the US.

09 August, 2010

It's Official, Aston Villa is Going to Suck This Year

Okay, so I'm extremely late to the story. Martin O'Neill just resigned effective immediately from AV earlier today. Guess having his players sold out from under him whenever the owners thought they could make a pretty penny got to him.

In all deference to his abilities, he was a decent manager that over-performed. Instead of going back to the drawing board, he's just going...

So, the question is, who's out there that would coach AV? Sure they are going with a caretaker manager for the moment, Kevin MacDonald (their reserve team coach), but I don't figure they are going to stick with him for the long term.

08 August, 2010

Two More Reasons to Like Blackpool and Their Manager Ian Holloway

One, for the quotes alone.

After a recent win,
“To put it in gentleman's terms, if you've been out for a night and you're looking for a young lady and you pull one, you've done what you set out to do. We didn't look our best today but we've pulled.
Some weeks the lady is good looking and some weeks they're not. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi.
She may not have been the best looking lady we ended up taking home but it was still very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much and let's have coffee.”

LA Galaxy v Real Madrid Highlights

In case you missed this one, Higuain decided to recreate the Brazil v US Confed's Cup game right in our back yard by spotting us two goals in the first half then scoring two himself as Real came back and won 3-2 in front of 90,000.

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Video: MLS

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