Tag Archives: FA Cup

End of 2014/15 Premier League Season Thoughts

26 May

The End of the Premier League season is here, meaning the only games left until August are the Champions League Final in Berlin, the FA Cup Final at Wembley, some Euro qualifiers and friendlies, and of course, the summer international and exhibition tournaments.

My overall thoughts on the season: Congratulations to Chelsea. They were the best team in the league all season, and their consistency and ability to go undefeated against top teams such as Manchester United, Manchester City, and Arsenal reflects their resilience in contrast to their performances last season.

2 clubs that exceeded expectations: 

Crystal Palace: The Eagles from South London hired Alan Pardew on January 1st, at which time Crystal Palace was in the relegation zone 21 matches in. 5 months and 17 matches later, Crystal Palace finished in 10th place, their most successful season in their 109 year history. Yannick Bolasie, the young Congolese winger, emerged as one of top talents in English football.

Southampton: They lose Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and their 24 goals combined they scored last season to Liverpool . They lose manager Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham . Many believed this club would fall apart, and finish in or around the relegation zone.

2 Clubs that fell short of expectations:

Liverpool: It was clear Liverpool wasn’t going to be able to match last years success given the departure of player of the year Luis Suarez to FC Barcelona. It was thought however, with the additions of the Southampton crew listed above, Mario Balotelli, and the continued development of Raheem Sterling, that Liverpool would manage a top 4 finish and at least do better than they did in the Champions League. Brendan Rodgers is on the hot seat, as longtime Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard takes his remaining talents to sunny Los Angeles.

Newcastle: To me, Newcastle should be what Swansea was this year, and the past couple of years. A legitimate top 10 club, playing exciting football while conquering on occasion some of the league’s best (Arsenal, Manchester United, etc). Newcastle is far from that, and staved off relegation on the very last day of the season. The Magpies have a long summer ahead of them, starting with finding a new manager.

Memories from this season: In no particular order: Chelsea winning the league handily, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Didier Drogba Premier League exits, Charlie Adam’s Goal, Leicester’s run down the stretch to avoid relegation, Crystal Palace’s improvement after hiring Pardew, lack of success in the Champions League for English teams, Newcastle’s collapse, Diego Costa’s immediate impact…

What I look forward to next season: Changes in personnel of all of the teams, the success/struggle of the newly promoted teams, will Chelsea repeat?, changes at Anfield, the continued rise of Manchester United,

Advertisements

Premier League, Week 34 Game of the Week

20 Apr

Recap: Chelsea beat Manchester United by a dull score of 1-0, thanks to a goal in the 1st half by Eden Hazard. Chelsea “did what it had to do to win”, playing a very defensive 2nd half and limiting the Red Devils’ attack.

This Week:

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Sunday, April 26th, 10am CDT, Emirates Stadium

Why this Game is Intriguing: Because these two clubs are not only the best two clubs in London, but the best two clubs in English football. Chelsea has just about sealed their fate as the winners of the Premier League, as they currently lead the 2nd place Gunners by 10 points. Even with a Chelsea loss here, it’s hard to imagine the Blues dropping points against some of the remaining opponents on their schedule, including Leicester City, Crystal Palace, West Brom, and Sunderland. Coupled with the fact that Chelsea has been knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup, these remaining matches after the Arsenal game will be taken incredibly seriously by Jose Mourinho and company. Chelsea has a way of creating a wall (or as many call it, a bus) in front of their own final third, and it will be incredibly difficult for Arsenal to have its chances.

Other Reasons to Watch: Arsenal is gunning for 2nd place. While the Gunners have all but secured another top 4 finish and Champions League bid, they remain just 1 point ahead of 3rd place Manchester United, and 2 points ahead of 4th place Manchester City. Arsenal have had a fantastic season despite major, long term injuries to key players including Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, the Ox, Jack Wilshire, and more. Arsenal would hate to finish 4th, because that would mean that they would have a play-in series, and thus 2 more key games to even qualify for the Champions League group stage. While it is impossible for the Gunners to overcome Chelsea in the standings, a victory over the Blues, and a victory for Arsene Wenger over arch nemesis Jose Mourinho, would do wonders for the pride in red based in North London.

Prediction: This one remains tight, and low scoring. I’ll go with 1-1 draw.

EPL Week 33, Game of the Week

13 Apr

Recap: The Manchester Derby was a delightful match, featuring some of the top players in world football. It was Manchester United that came away with a 4-2 win, and a game in which the Red Devil’s dominated.

This Week:

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Saturday, April 18th, 11:30am CST, Stamford Bridge

Why this game is intriguing: Form. Again. Manchester United is in splendid form, particularly after beating rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford 4-2 just last week. Louis van Gaal’s men are currently in 3rd place, just 1 point behind Arsenal, and 8 points (and 1 game) behind 1st place Chelsea. Now 4 points clear of City, the Red Devils have all but reached their #1 goal at the start of the season: Finish in the top 4, and earn a UEFA Champions League spot. United is one of, if not the biggest club in the world, with a globalized fan base. Their story this season, while not yet complete, is absolutely worth the headlines and the news coverage they receive. Chelsea have won their last 3 matches in a row, and having been eliminated from the Champions League and the FA Cup, winning the league is their only chance of getting a trophy this season, minus the Capital One Cup.

Other Reasons to Watch: The Manchester United midfield is something to behold, and while it did take awhile, this unit is the strength of the club. Marouane Fellaini is showing glimpses of the player he was at Everton before David Moyes brought him with to Manchester. He scores, he’s unselfish, and he’s a large presence in the box on crosses and corner kicks. Juan Mata is an intelligent Spaniard- the archtype of a number 8, and a player with great ball handling skills, vision, and scoring ability. Ander Herrera and Daley Blind are smooth passing defensive midfielders (Blind the more defensive of the two, Herrera more offensive). This unit thoroughly dominated the likes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho in the Manchester Derby, and have really stepped up in the latter part of the season.

Prediction: United is on a train that can’t be stopped. I’m going Red Devil’s 3, Chelsea 1

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

English Premier League, Week 25 Game of the Week

19 Feb

Recap of Two Weeks Ago: In what was a relatively easy game for Manchester United, the Red Devils beat a solid Everton team to go ahead 12 points in the league. After Manchester City’s stumble against Southampton, I expected Manchester United to take full advantage of the opportunity to stretch their lead in the league to double digits. Manchester United won by a score of 2-0, thanks to first half goals by Ryan Giggs 13′, and Robin Van Persie 45′.

This Week:

Manchester City FC vs Chelsea FC

Manchester City FC vs Chelsea FC

Sunday, February 24th, 7:30AM (CST) Etihad Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Take a minute to swallow this: Second place Manchester City has not won a premier league game in over a month. City’s last three premier league games have been compete disasters, including a 0-0 draw to last place QPR, a 2-2 draw to the inconsistent Reds of Liverpool, and a 3-1 defeat at Southampton. Aside from City’s success thus far in the FA Cup, most English Premier League fans believed, especially given this club’s talent, that last year’s league title win was no fluke. 2nd place City is only 4 points ahead of Chelsea heading into this matchup, meanwhile 4th place Tottenham Hotspur is right on Chelsea’s tail, only trailing by one point in the standings.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: The defending Champions League title winners are still fighting to secure a birth in next year’s tournament, and earning 3 points at the Etihad will go a long way towards attaining that goal. Chelsea’s 3 headed monster of Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata continues to grow and improve as the season moves along under manager Rafa Benitez. The English Premier League season is finished to the extent that Manchester United’s 12 point lead will be not be overcome- but spots 2,3, and 4 are all very much up for grabs, with Chelsea and Manchester City in prime position to earn two of those spots. After Manchester City’s loss to Southampton, some of the Fox Soccer reporters observed that several of City’s players had seemingly given up on their manager Roberto Mancini. Rafa Benitez too has received a great deal of criticism since he took over the Chelsea position. Both of these coaches hot seats could become a lot cooler with a win in this matchup.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 3, Manchester City 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Norwich vs Everton, QPR vs Man U, Arsenal vs Aston Villa, Liverpool vs Swansea, Newcastle vs Southampton, West Ham vs Tottenham