17 August, 2013

EPL 2013/14 Predictions

Here we are again.  Your preseason picks to win it all.  Will Liverpool finally return to the top 4?  Can the Special One push Man City out of the way to a title?  Will Spurs finally crack the CL ceiling? Let's find out.
El Nino "The Godfather"'s
1. Manchester City
2. Chelsea
3. Manchester United
4. Tottenham
5. Arsenal
6. Fulham
7. Everton
8. Liverpool
9. Newcastle
10. West Ham
11. Sunderland
12. Southampton
13. Swansea City
14. Cardiff (P)
15. Norwich
16. West Brom
17. Aston Villa
18. Stoke
19. Crystal Palace (P)
20. Hull City (P)
"The Professor’s"
1. Manchester United
2. Chelsea
3. Arsenal
4. Manchester City
5. Tottenham
6. Liverpool
7. Everton
8. West Brom
9. Fulham
10.Swansea City
11.Stoke City
13.West Ham
17.Hull (P)
19.Aston Villa 
20.Crystal Palace (P)
"Mr. X’s"
1. Manchester City
2. Chelsea
3. Manchester United
4. Tottenham
5. Arsenal
6. Everton
7. Liverpool
8. Fulham
9. Sunderland
10. Swansea City
11. Cardiff (P)
12. Newcastle
13. Norwich
14. Stoke
15. Southampton
16. West Ham
17. Aston Villa
18. West Brom
19. Crystal Palace (P)
20. Hull (P)

-Newly promoted teams are noted with a (P)
-These are based on signings as of 8/16/13

Player to Watch:
"Mr. X"-Paulinho, Tottenham
AVB is calling him the next Lampard...  Not sure if that's exactly accurate, but if you look at the remade Spurs, he's got some serious people that he can feed the ball to (Bale, Soldado, Holtby, Dembele, etc) and they can make a team pay.  If he flounders, someone is going to have to pay.

"The Professor" - Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Upon being transferred from Chelsea to Liverpool in early January 2013, Sturridge scored 10 goals in 14 games in relief of Luis Suarez, who was suspended for biting off more than he could chew. Now, at the age of 23, Sturridge makes the volatile Suarez and his baggage expendable. If Sturridge gets the job done, there is no reason to keep Suarez and his appetite in Liverpool any longer.

"The Godfather" -Jozy Altidore, Sunderland
The 23yo American has been on fire for the USMNT of late.  He understands the demands of the EPL, having played for Hull City for one year in 2009.  Consider that he netted 26g in 24 games last year in the Dutch Eredivisie and Dutch Cup last season and 22 goals in all games in 2011/12.

Golden Boot Award:
“Mr. X”- Michu, Swansea City. His conversion rate is crazy. And he's only a midfielder on paper.  Of the top 6 goal scorers last season, the only one who hit the mark more accurately was RVP who was 18.4% to Michu's 18.3%  (Runner-up: RVP)

"The Professor" - Robin Van Persie, Manchester United.  (Runner-up: Bale, if he stays)

"The Godfather" - Robin Van Persie, Manchester United. (Runner-up: Wayne Rooney)

Best Signing of the Offseason:
 “Mr. X”- Soldado, Tottenham.
Spurs need something, anything up top to score.  Last season's lead scorer was Bale, and they only really have two other recognized forwards on the squad, oft injured Defoe and mercurial Adebayor.  Soldado will be the point man up top and expect him to start lighting up the scoring chart with that deep squad behind him feeding him the ball.  If he attracts any attention in the box, Defoe and Ade both could easily finish.

"The Professor" - Jozy Altidore, Sunderland
Obviously he is interesting to us, as fans of the USA, where we have seen him regain his scoring touch over the past year. In 2012-13 at AZ Alkmaar, Jozy scored 31 goals, breaking Clint Dempsey's record for most goals by an American in a season. Jozy struggled in the EPL in 2009-10 at Hull City, who relegated to the Championship that season. This is his second chance.

"The Godfather" -Marouane Chamakh, Crystal Palace
Sadly, we may only get to enjoy the loquacious Ian Holloway for one season.  But I am curious to see if the 29yo Moraccan Chamakh can produce for the newly promoted squad.  He saw little of the field for Arsenal as Robin van Persie's backup after a nice career at Bordeaux, but actually managed 8 goals and 4 assists in only nineteen games over the last few seasons and scored 3 goals in four games in 2010/11 Champion's League action.

Most Improved Team:
"Mr. X"-  Cardiff City.
Sure they returned to the EPL just this season for the first time in about 50yrs, but in dropping £27million on 5 players, Cardiff is seeking to make this a long term thing in the EPL.  Their low goal scoring is being supplimented by Frazier Campbell and new signing Andreas Cornelius.  At 20yo, Cornelius is a beast.  6ft4, 18 goals in 34 matches for FC Copenhagen.  Frazier played for multiple EPL teams before moving to Cardiff where he scored 7 in 12 matches and South Korean Kim Bo-Kyung has been great in the middle for them.  With the addition of former Spur, Steven Caulker on the backline, expect them to surprise. 

"The Godfather" - Manchester City.  
Sure, the team has replaced head coach Roberto Mancini, lost Carlos Tevez, Wayne Bridge and Kolo Toure.  But they hit the transfer market early and with gusto.  They bring in Jesus Navas, who came on for the final 30 minutes of Spain's victory in the World Cup final against the Netherlands.  Stevan Jovetic has played in the last eight CL competitions.  And Alvaro Negredo adds further depth.  The early timing of these signings has given them adequate time to integrate so look for City to come flying out of the gate.

Most Over-rated Team:
"Mr. X"-Man United. While I should be loath to pick them here as they will finish top 4, they've got a new coach in Moyes who has to follow in huge footsteps of SAF.  Couple that with an unsettled Rooney, and De Gea being off and on, and you may see them struggle.  The top 5 this season are all going to be neck and neck and it's going to come down to who chokes first, and I think the top grossing team in the EPL will be that one.  Plus it doesn't hurt that I get to rip on the clueless Man U bandwagoners who wear their gear and have no clue of who's in the starting XI.

"The Godfather"- Manchester United.  It is a telling sign that coach David Moyes is already hedging his bets and stating that it may take "two years" for the Red Devils to adapt to his style and tactics.  What's worse is the inevitable departure of Wayne Rooney, who was brilliant last year and desires a move to Chelsea.  They have been inconsistent in the preseason and the loss to Thailand's Singha XI all-star was telling.  Fans will lament the retirement of legendary Sir Alex Ferguson in a short time.

Team to Watch:
"Mr. X"- Spurs
Wow, what an offseason.  Bale has been tapped up by everyone on the Real Madrid squad except for the water boy. Wait, the water boy has now posted an editorial as to why Bale should join the Berbenau.  Still not sure how this isn't illegal in FIFA's eyes, but if I was Levy, I'd take the 100mil pounds and a pat on the back side and move on.  We already saw them do this with Modric not two seasons ago, so it shouldn't be a surprise that that is how they do it in Spain.  That said, all the Spanish forwards seem to be making their way to the EPL.  Spurs have signed Soldado for a whopping 26mil and with him they get the out and out striker they need.  Paulinho in midfield from Corinthians (a 2nd Brazilian to go with Sandro) and Chadli seems to be the poor man's Bale and they signed him too for less than 1/10th of what Bale should go for.  Really, the only thing they need to concern themselves with now is a couple healthy center backs and you have a solid squad that can press.(Runner-up: Chelsea. If the Special One can't replicate his results from his first go round, we'll be calling him the Fired One before 2/3 of the season is done. Special Runner-Up: Crystal Palace.  My boy Holloway is back in the EPL!  If only he wasn't left scratching for players with pocket change).

"The Godfather" - Tottenham Hotspurs.  Although the departure of Gareth Bale seems inevitable, they have quietly brought in capable players such as Chadli and Capoue and otherwise keep a solid squad intact.  Look for them to qualify for Champion's League with a top 4 finish in the EPL this season.

Biggest Star of the Future:
"The Professor" - Nathan Redmond, Norwich City
At the age of 19, Redmond shows a lot of potential and should get a chance immediately at Norwich. He arrived in the offseason from Birmingham City, where he became a starter upon Birmingham's relegation to the Championship in 2011. Redmond scored 7 goals in 37 games as a 17-year-old in his first season as a starter, in 2011-12, and is likely to start at Norwich City.

"The Godfather"-Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City
The striker with the unfortunate last name has notched 54 goals in 119 appearances between Portugal and Dutch first divisions over the past few years.  Signing with Norwich on a 4yr may be the best deal for both parties.  If he does well, Norwich are moving further up the EPL and Ricky will be doing it as their star #9. (Runner Up: Mario van Ginkel, Chelsea.  The Dutch invasion continues with this promising 20yo transfer from Vitesse Arnhem.  The U21 International midfielder produced 11 goals in 41 games last season for his side who finished fourth in the Eredivisie.  Further, he made his senior debut at the age of 17, back in 2009/10)

Bosnia v USMNT Highlights

Wow... Not like either team was fielding a team of scrubs.  In Bosnia, the US went down early, 2-0...  And made an amazing comeback.

A hat-trick by Jose Altidore and EJ notches another as the US mount a spectacular comeback, 4-3.

Video: Footyroom

15 August, 2013

Liverpool Home Kit 2013/14

Now, I'm no Pool fan, but I think they may be on to something here...  It may be in the best interest of most soccer fans and the EPL to boost kit sales, wouldn't you think?

Video: JodieBennett

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