Tag Archives: Champions League Bid

Premier League, Week 38 Game of the Week

18 May

Recap: Newcastle’s horrible slide continues, as they lost 1-2 at Loftus Road to lowly, and newly relegated Queens Park Rangers. Fear not though you Magpies. A draw or loss by Hull City, regardless of your own outcome against West Ham United, will ensure your safety in the Premier League next season.

This Week:

Hull City Tigers vs Manchester United

Hull City Tigers vs Manchester United

Sunday, May 24th, 9am CDT, KC Stadium

Why This Game Is Intriguing: With the Premier League title already decided (Chelsea), and 2 of the 3 relegation spots secured (Burnley and QPR), all eyes will be on the Hull City Tigers, who literally are in a must-win situation. A loss or a draw to Manchester United (a likely scenario), will ensure the Tigers of relegation back to the Championship. Hull is led by Nikica Jelavic with 8 goals, and midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady with 5 assists, but overall lack the quality to really compete in the Premiership.

Other Reasons to Watch this Match: Mission accomplished for Louis van Gaal and his Manchester United Red Devils. After a disastrous season last year under David Moyes where the club finished 7th and out of European competition, Manchester United, after a bit of a rough start to the season, have managed a guaranteed top 4 finish and Champions League bid. They have taken down their rivals in Liverpool and in Manchester City en route to 69 points through 37 games played. Despite abysmal performances and injury concerns to strikers Robin van Persie and Radamal Falcao, van Gaal has been part of  and responsible for a resurgence of players such as Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, and Chris Smalling. Going forward, this club has a nice mix of youth and experience, and knowing how Manchester United spends, adding Memphis Depay among what are sure to be other key transfers, will see this club competing for the Premier League title next season.

Soccahaus Prediction: Bye Bye Tigers. Manchester United 2, Hull City 1

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Premier League Week 36 Game of the Week

4 May

Recap: Sunderland took a major step towards avoiding relegation with their 2-1 home win against the Southampton Saints. While it does look like Burnley and QPR will be dropping, with 4 matches left to play, Sunderland must fend off the likes of Hull City, Leicester City, Newcastle and Aston Villa.

This Week: 

Chelsea FC vs Liverpool FC

Chelsea FC vs Liverpool FC

Sunday, 10am CDT, Stamford Bridge

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because the Champions of the Premier League, Chelsea FC, will be deservedly honored and celebrated in this home match against Liverpool FC. Last season, these two clubs finished in the top 4, with Liverpool coming within a Steven Gerrard slip of winning the league against this same Chelsea team. Now, in this match this Sunday, the Liverpool players will be standing lined up outside of the tunnel to give Chelsea a guard of honor as they come onto the pitch. Say what you want about Chelsea’s style- and I have often been critical of it many times on this site- they won the league not just fair and square, but in a prolonged, dominating fashion. 13 points ahead of 2nd place Manchester City is a sign of the clinic these Chelsea players put on all season long, from start to finish.

Other Reasons to Watch: There is still much to play for if you are a Liverpool player and/or fan. Just 4 points behind arch rival Manchester United for 4th place- Liverpool will do everything they can to get a string of wins and earn a Champions League bid. They will need some help from the Red Devils, who have 3 very tricky games remaining: at Crystal Palace, vs Arsenal, and then at relegation fighters Hull City. If Liverpool can qualify for the Champions League over Manchester United, that would be considered a huge victory, and to some extent, a successful season for Brendan Rodgers’ club. Liverpool has had an up and down season, in large part due to the departing player of the year Luis Suarez who bolted to Barcelona after the World Cup. Liverpool can salvage a lot, in particular the likelihood of retaining Brendan Rodgers, if they can finish 4th in this year’s Barclays Premier League table.

Prediction: 1-1 draw

 

Championship Sunday, Game(s) of the Week

9 May

Recap: Manchester City continued their march towards winning the league with a sensational 4-0 performance over Aston Villa at the Etihad. It might have taken awhile for City to get going, with their first goal coming from Edin Dzeko in the ’64, but the goals thereafter just kept coming. City has shown great resilience all season, and this match was no different.

Game 1: 

Manchester City FC vs West Ham United

Manchester City FC vs West Ham United

Championship Sunday, May 11th, 9am (CDT), Etihad Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: It’s very simple for Manchester City. Beat 12th place West Ham, and the Citizens will win their 2nd Premier League title in club history, and the club’s second in just 3 seasons. Tie West Ham, then all Liverpool has to do is beat Newcastle United with a goal differential of 7- which, barring a miracle, is impossible. Should City lose to West Ham, and Liverpool beat Newcastle, then the title will belong to the Reds. Manchester City has just this 1 game to win, and win at home, and they’ll be celebrating with their fans in the Etihad and onto the streets of Manchester.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: The last time these 2 clubs met was on October 19th, and Sergio Aguero led City with 2 goals as they beat the Hammers 3-1 in London. Aguero has been on and off injured much of the season, and did not feature in the 4-0 romp over Aston Villa. Even though Aguero’s goal against QPR just 2 years ago was the most significant City goal in Premier League history, City has proven that with the likes of Edin Dzeko- City has more than enough to get by without their best player. With an in-form Yaya Toure, City frankly has little to worry about as they face a team they likely would beat 9 times out of 10. But, Championship Sunday is known to produce some last minute drama….

 

Game 2:

Liverpool FC vs Newcastle United

Liverpool FC vs Newcastle United

Championship Sunday, May 11th, 9am (CDT), Anfield

Why This game is Intriguing: Because Liverpool can still win the title. As mentioned above, should City lose to West Ham, and Liverpool beat Newcastle, Liverpool will win the Premier League title this season, the season that celebrated the lives of the 96 lost in the Hillsborough Disaster 25 years ago. A draw or loss to Newcastle would eliminate any chance of winning the title, while a win against Newcastle combined with a City draw to West Ham would only benefit Liverpool if it were to defeat Newcastle by 7+ goals. The chances are extremely unlikely that Liverpool will win the title, but as long as there’s still a chance worth fighting for, you can bet the Reds will not give in.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Liverpool have only scored 6 goals or more just once this season, so Liverpool really really really (did I say really?) need West Ham to beat Manchester City to give the Reds any chance at all to win this title. Even if Liverpool finish 2nd, they still have plenty to be proud of. They were the beast team in the league for much of the season, while earning a bid to be back in the Champions League is definitely an accomplishment worth celebrating. They have some of the best players in the league (Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard, Mignolet), one of the best managers in the league in Brendan Rodgers, and a tradition and winning history that is almost sure to lure some quality players to Anfield in the future.

Soccahaus PredictionS: Manchester City 3, West Ham 1. Liverpool 4, Newcastle 1. Manchester City wins the Premier League title.

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Fulham vs Crystal Palace, Cardiff vs Chelsea, Norwich vs Arsenal. Because this is the last time you’ll see Fulham, Cardiff, and the Canaries in the Premier League for at least a year, and probably longer.

La Liga, Week 34 Game of the Week

14 Apr

Recap: What a stunner! Granada defeated FC Barcelona 1-0 thanks to an early goal by Yacine Brahimi in the ’16. Granada won despite being outshot by the Catalans 29-5 and outpossessed 81% to 19%. With Atletico Madrid defeating Getafe and Real Madrid defeating Almeria, the top of the La Liga table looks like this: 1. Atletico w/82 points, 2. Real Madrid w/79 points, and 3. FC Barcelona w/78 points.

This Week: 

FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao

FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao

Sunday, April 20th, 2pm (CDT), Camp Nou

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because FC Barcelona is reeling after getting knocked out of the Champions League to La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid last week, and losing to a bottom feeding club in Granada over the weekend. Their La Liga title hopes received a crushing blow in Andalusia, and despite the 29 shots, Barca really didn’t look like a team that dominated the game. The Catalans also have a huge game this Wednesday at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia where they face arch rivals Real Madrid for the Copa del Rey final. This game against Bilbao is critical to not only keep Barca’s title hopes alive, but to also stop the bleeding over the disastrous results, both on and off the pitch.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: The Basque club has had an excellent season, but this game too means just as much to them as it does to Barcelona. Currently in 4th place, Athletic is looking to fend off surging Sevilla for the 4th and final Champions League bid. Sevilla is on a hot steak, winning 8 of their last 10 La Liga matches, including a huge win over Real Madrid in that span. Just as the top spot in La Liga is up for grabs, so too is the final Champions League spot. Even a single point here for Athletic would be an extremely positive result in their quest to return to Europe’s most prestigious competition. Bilbao continues to be led by striker Aritz Aduriz and winger Markel Susaeta.

Soccahaus Prediction: 1-1 Draw

Other Games this week worth watching: Atletico Madrid vs Elche, Osasuna vs Valencia, Sevilla vs Granada, Real Sociedad vs Espanyol

English Premier League, Week 12 Game of the Week

13 Nov

Recap of Last Week: I predicted a 2-2 tie between the defending EPL champs Man City at home against the surging Tottenham Hotspur. I was definitely correct in predicting the Spurs would hang tough at the Etihad Stadium, but City once again won the game off a last ditch effort by none other than Edin Dzeko. His goal in the 88′ secured Manchester City’s current 2nd place spot in the overall EPL standings behind arch rivals Manchester United.

This Week: 

Arsenal FC vs Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday, November 17th, 6:45 AM (CST), Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because this is the North London Derby, one of the best rivalries in all of England. Less than 5 miles separate the Emirates and White Hart Lane. Arsenal leads the all-time series with 72 wins, 47 draws, and 53 losses to the Spurs. Both of these clubs are microcosms of North London as whole; diverse, multi-ethnic fan-bases that span a multitude of ages,  socioeconomic class structures, and religions. As is to be expected with this matchup, players who were once regular starters for one side have jumped to the other team. This fixture includes two such players in Spurs’ French defender William Gallas and Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Gallas played 4 seasons for the Gunners from 2006-2010, and now is playing his 3rd for the Spurs where he has been named captain by manager Andre Villas-Boas. Adebayor also played 4 seasons for Arsenal from 2005-2009. After two seasons at Manchester City followed by a brief loan spell at La Liga champs Real Madrid, Adebayor is back in London for his second complete season with Tottenham.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Both clubs need a win to remain contentious for a Champions League bid. Currently Tottenham is in 7th place with a record of 5-2-4, while Arsenal is just behind them at 8th place with a record of 4-4-3. Both of these clubs have yet to win a game in November, and both clubs each have a horrendous loss on their schedule. Tottenham lost at home to Wigan Athletic 0-1, and Arsenal lost at Norwich 0-1. Arsenal and Tottenham have the talent to make a serious run at a top 4 finish, but bad losses such as those cannot happen if such dreams were to become realities. Spurs striker Jermain Defoe has been lights out so far this season, leading his club with 5 goals and tied with several others for 2 assists. Arsenal’s attack is more balanced- Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Gervinho all have a team leading 3 goals a piece. As far as overall talent, while it is clear both of these clubs have some gaping holes and could definitely use another standout player or two to vault themselves to the top of the league standings, at this point in time Arsenal and Tottenham are very even in what should make for an entertaining game.

Soccahaus Prediction: Arsenal 2, Tottenham 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Manchester City vs Aston Villa, Reading vs Everton, Liverpool vs Wigan, West Brom vs Chelsea, Newcastle vs Swansea, Norwich vs Manchester United

Summer of 2011 I visited and toured the Emirates Stadium (I am on the far left):

My friends and I at the Emirates Stadium, Summer of 2011