Archive | April, 2013

English Premier League, Week 35 Game of the Week

29 Apr

Recap of Last Week: In what was a tightly contested, well-played match, Arsenal and Man United notched a draw at the Emirates thanks to goals from Theo Walcott in the 2′ and by Robin van Persie off a PK in the 44′. Arsenal gave Man United the “Guard of Honor” which was particularly awkward for former Arsenal star van Persie as he ran out onto his former home pitch.

This Week:

Manchester United vs Chelsea FC

Manchester United vs Chelsea FC

Sunday, May 5th, 9AM (CST) Old Trafford

Why This Game is Intriguing: The battle for 3rd and 4th place continues into this week, and Chelsea is right in the thick of things as we enter the 4th to last week of the season. Chelsea is currently in 3rd place, just 1 point ahead of 4th place Arsenal and 3 points ahead of Tottenham. As we already know, Manchester United enters this game as Premier League champions, and how much they desire to win will definitely impact the final score of this game. What exactly does Manchester United have to play for? Their home fans at Old Trafford? My guess is Manchester United will seek motivation for this game in the form of FA Cup revenge. The last time these 2 clubs played was back on April 1st at the Stamford Bridge for the FA Cup quarterfinal, where Chelsea won 1-0 off a goal from Demba Ba early in the 2nd half. Expect United to make a statement at home in this match to avenge that loss.

Other Reasons to Watch This Match: Chelsea and manager Rafa Benitez are fortunate to have a deep roster, for Chelsea plays this match against United just 3 days after playing FC Basel at home for the 2nd leg of the Europa League semifinal. Chelsea enters the Europa League match up 2-1 with their 2 away goals, but there is no doubt Chelsea is operating here as if both games are must wins- and they definitely are for a club seeking to get back into the Champions League next season and to continue this streak of winning trophies. The trio of Juan Mata, Oscar, and Eden Hazard continue to develop and getter each game, and those are the three players to look out for in this match against United.

Soccahaus Prediction: Man U 3, Chelsea 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Swansea vs Man City, Tottenham vs Southampton, Liverpool vs Everton, QPR vs Arsenal

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La Liga, Week 33 Game of the Week

23 Apr

Recap of Last Week: I predicted Valencia to blow out struggling Malaga, and I was right- but the end result was even more mind boggling than I could have thought. Valencia absolutely took it to Malaga, beating them 5-1 thanks to two goals, including 1 pk for Roberto Soldado. Valencia had 7 more on target shots than Malaga had, and the Andalusian side is left reeling and in real doubt of losing their bid to play in the Champions League again next season.

This Week: 

Valencia CF vs Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad vs Valencia CF

Sunday, April 28th, 2pm (CST) Anoeta

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because the top 3 in La Liga is set, and the fight for that final, 4th place spot and Champions League bid will most likely be won by one of these two teams, making this matchup as critical as any i’ve covered in La Liga this season. Real Sociedad hasn’t participated in the Champions League since the ’03-’04 season, while Valencia has been in it the past few years running and even advanced to the round of 16 this season. The winner of this match likely will join FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid as La Liga representatives in the UEFA Champions League.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Form. Real Sociedad’s last match was an ugly, 0-0 draw to Osasuna, a club nowhere near the position of these two teams. Valencia meanwhile, as mentioned in the recap, comes off a huge, dominating win over a club thats actually put together a very nice season in Malaga. Roberto Soldado and Jonas continue to provide the scoring for Valencia, while Real Sociedad is a much more balanced club on the offensive end. 3 points here would be absolutely huge for either of these two clubs, because not only does a victory seal 3 points, but the loser also doesn’t add any points to what is an incredibly tight race for 4th. There are some other huge games this weekend, most notably the Derby Madrilieno between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid (a preview of the Copa del Rey), but this match between Sociedad and Valencia is without a doubt the most important of the week.

Soccahaus Prediction: Valencia 3, Real Sociedad 3

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid, Real Zaragoza vs Mallorca, Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona,

English Premier League, Week 34 Game of the Week

23 Apr

Recap of Last Week: In what was one of the most thrilling games of the year, the Spurs came back to beat 2nd place Manchester City by a score of 3-1. City scored their first goal early in the 5′ (Nasri), but Tottenham went on a ridiculous run, starting with American Clint Dempsey’s goal in the 75′, followed by Defoe 79′, and capped off by none other than Gareth Bale in the 82′. Also, a word of note- yesterday, April 22nd, Manchester United clinched the Premier League title. Congrats to the Red Devils.

This Week: 

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Sunday, April 28th, 10am (CST) Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: This is going to be a wild, wild finish in the EPL because at this point, teams 3,4, and 5 are separated by just one point each. So for this preview, I realistically could have chosen to cover Chelsea (playing Swansea) or Tottenham (playing Wigan), but this game appears to be the best matchup come game day. These 2 clubs last played each other back on November 3rd- a 2-1 victory for Man U led by goals from former Arsenal star Robin Van Persie 3′ and Patrice Evra 67′. With the title already in hand, how will Sir Alex Ferguson manage his club for the remaining 4 games of the season? Do some games, like this one against long time rival Arsenal, mean more than say Man U’s last two games against Swansea and West Brom?

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: The Gunners are in great form, and if Arsenal can get through this game even with a draw, there is a great chance Arsenal doesn’t lose a game the rest of the season. Arsenal has not lost a game since the North London Derby back on March 3rd, and after this match against Man U, Arsenal’s remaining schedule includes QPR, Wigan, and Newcastle. Arsenal, currently in 3rd place, is just 5 points behind 2nd place Manchester City, and is 1 point ahead of Chelsea and 2 points ahead of Tottenham. The key players for the Gunners in this match will be Santi Cazorla (leads the club in goals with 12) and Theo Walcott (leads the club in assists with 10). Going up against former teammate Robin Van Persie will be tough, as the Dutchman is coming off one of his most spectacular performances of his entire career, scoring a 1st half hattrick to seal the Premier League title last Monday against Aston Villa.

Soccahaus Prediction: Arsenal 2, Manchester United 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Man City vs West Ham, Tottenham vs Wigan, Everton vs Fulham, Newcastle vs Liverpool, Chelsea vs Swansea

La Liga, Week 32 Game of the Week

18 Apr

Recap of Last Week: Mexican Giovani dos Santos, a player I highlighted in the preview to this game, scored the game’s only goal in extra time as Mallorca went on to beat Celta de Vigo 1-0. The two clubs entered the game as the bottom two clubs on the La Liga table, and while this result didn’t change much, Mallorca and Celta switched places as last and second to last teams, and Mallorca does have a very good chance of avoiding relegation.

This Week: 

Valencia CF vs Malaga CF

Valencia CF vs Malaga CF

Saturday, April 20th, 3pm (CST) Mestalla Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Both of these clubs were in the Champions League for this current season, and while both made it to the knockout stage, there is a chance that neither club makes it back next season. Malaga and Valencia are tied with 50 points a piece, and are 5th and 6th in the La Liga table following Real Sociedad (54 pts), Atletico Madrid (65 pts), Real Madrid (68 pts), and league leaders FC Barcelona (81 pts). 3 points here would be huge for either team in order to gain ground on Real Sociedad, a club that has played incredibly well as of late. Valencia plays Real Sociedad in a couple of weeks, so be on the lookout for a preview of that match.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Malaga and Valencia have played very inconsistently, and both will have to straighten things out if either plans on catching Real Sociedad for that 4th and final spot. Both Malaga and Valencia have only notched 2 wins in their last 6 matches, as compared to Real Sociedad who have won 4 of their last 6 matches. Valencia has 2 excellent goal scorers in Roberto Soldado (15) and Jonas (11) who are used to playing on the big stage. Malaga’s scoring is a bit more spread out, but their focal point, Isco, is the engine that makes this offense go.

Soccahaus Prediction: Valencia 3, Malaga 0

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Real Madrid vs Real Betis, FC Barcelona vs Levante, Deportivo vs Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna vs Real Sociedad, Sevilla vs Atletico Madrid

English Premier League, Week 33 Game of the Week

18 Apr

Recap of Last Week: In a game that I personally am very glad I was unable to watch, Arsenal and Everton drew 0-0 at the Emirates Stadium in North London. Arsenal is in 4th place heading into the weekend, while Everton is in 6th place. The Tottenham Hotspur are right in between them in 5th place, and remain just 2 points behind their rivals.

This Week: 

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City FC

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City FC

Sunday, April 21st, 7:30AM (CST) White Hart Lane

Why This Game is Intriguing: Tottenham desperately could use a win here to gain on Arsenal (the Gunners play Fulham this weekend), but are facing the 2nd best team in England right now in Manchester City. The Citizens have won their last 3 games in a row, including an incredible 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. After a couple of bad losses to Everton and Southampton, City looks to have rebounded and are playing with a swagger that is starting to resemble the attitude the club played with all of last season. Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero are playing incredibly well as of late, and even better the two are playing well together on the field at the same time.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Will Gareth Bale play or not? It is clear that Tottenham can beat anyone when Bale is in the lineup, yet the club, while still pretty good, is only a shell of itself when the Welsh star isn’t playing. Tottenham is fighting desperately for a Champions League birth, and will be paying close attention to the scores of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Everton. Manchester City and Tottenham played each other back in November at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, where City won the match 2-1 off an Eden Dzeko winner in the 88′. While the score was close, City dominated the matchup, putting up twice as many shots and dominating the possession battle 62% to the Spurs 38%. This game will be thrilling because Andre Villas-Boas and his Tottenham club know how important it is at least get a point out of this match. A tall task, considering City is a juggernaut with (quite literally) a wealth of talent.

Soccahaus Prediction: 2-2 draw.

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Norwich vs Reading, Fulham vs Arsenal, West Brom vs Newcastle, Liverpool vs Chelsea, Manchester United vs Aston Villa

La Liga, Week 31 Game of the Week

15 Apr

Recap of Last Week: Real Sociedad took advantage of Malaga’s Champion’s League schedule by beating the Andalusian side 4-2. Malaga’s players were exhausted and some of its key players Isco, Juaquin, and Jeremy Toulalan all rested for the match. Sociedad holds a slim 2 point lead over surging Valencia, so the Basque club cannot afford to take any team lightly as it heads into its final stretch of the season.

This Week:

Celta de Vigo vs Mallorca

Celta de Vigo vs RCD Mallorca

Monday, April 15 2pm (CST) Iberostar Estadio

Why This Match is Intriguing: There are 8 games remaining on the La Liga schedule for each of these teams, and considering both Celta de Vigo and RCD Mallorca are at the very bottom of the league table, this game is a must win. Mallorca has lost their last 3 games in a row by a combined score of 13-4, including a 2-3 loss to lowly Deportivo la Coruna. Victor Casadesus and Israeli striker Tomer Hemed lead the club with 8 goals a piece, and Mexican Giovani Dos Santos leads the club with 6 assists. As much as Mallorca is struggling this season, the club has some talented pieces who are likely to go elsewhere should Mallorca be relegated.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: The last time Celta de Vigo won a game was back on February 23rd, and that was to Real Zaragoza, a club struggling as well to remain in Spain’s top flight division. Celta de Vigo, one of the three teams along with Valladolid and Deportivo la Coruna to be promoted from the Segunda division last season, is struggling to stay afloat in La Liga. Galician forward Iago Aspas leads Celta in goals and assists, and his talent is unquestioned. Should Celta be relegated at the end of the season, it will be interesting to see what happens with Iago Aspas- the player has been with Celta including the B team for his entire life- but it is clear his talent may allow him the opportunity to continue playing in La Liga.

Soccahaus Prediction: Mallorca 2, Celta 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Real Madrid vs Real Betis, FC Barcelona vs Levante, Osasuna vs Real Sociedad, Sevilla vs Atletico Madrid

English Premier League, Week 32 Game of the Week

15 Apr

Recap of Last Week: I managed to accurately predict the correct score, a 2-1 victory by Manchester City in Old Trafford. The winning goal came in the 78′ by none other than Argentine international Sergio Aguero. His run combined with his top shelf strike over the outstretched hands of United keeper David de Gea was a magical moment for City. With 7 games left, United holds a 12 point lead over Manchester City.

This Week:

Arsenal FC vs Everton FC

Arsenal FC vs Everton FC

Tuesday, April 16th 1:45 PM (CST), Emirates Stadium

Why This Gamie is Intriguing: Because if the season were to have ended after last week’s games, both of these clubs would be on the outside looking in on a top 4 finish and a UEFA Champions League birth. Arsenal, currently in 3rd place is 6 points behind Manchester City. Everton, currently in 6th place, desperately needs a win to help make up for their 3 point deficit behind both Chelsea and Tottenham who are tied for 4th. This midweek premier is an important game for both of these clubs, as Arsenal is looking to solidify their bid for a Champions League birth, as Everton is looking to crack the top 4.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Form. Both of these teams come into this game in excellent form. Everton has not lost a game in a couple of months- the last one coming February 23rd to Norwich City. The most impressive win in that stretch was a 2-0 victory over 2nd place Manchester City. Arsenal also hasn’t lost in quite some time, the last loss coming back on March 3rd to North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal seems to have to turned a corner since that loss to Tottenham, and now have their sites set on once again returning to Europe’s greatest soccer tournament.

Soccahaus Prediction: Arsenal 3, Everton 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Man City vs Wigan, West Ham vs Manchester United, Fulham vs Chelsea