Tag Archives: Juan Mata

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

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English Premier League, Week 11 Game of the Week

17 Nov

Recap from 2 weeks ago: Although not the most dominating of efforts, Chelsea handled Liverpool at Anfield thanks to goal by Gary Cahill and Diego Costa. Chelsea remains in first place, 4 points clear of the surprising Southampton Saints.

This Week: 

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Saturday, November 22nd, 11:30am (CST) Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Teams 6 (Arsenal) and 7 (Man United) in the Premier League face off in North London. Just a point apart, this is a crucial game as we head into the middle of November. The Gunners are coming off an ugly loss to Swansea City, a game which they controlled for about the first 60 or so minutes, before things got wildly out of hand. Man United won their last game at home against Crystal Palace thanks to a 67′ goal by Juan Mata. While not as significant of a rivalry as say the Manchester Derby, the North London Derby, or Liverpool vs Manchester United, this game, because of the history of the two clubs, has meaning beyond just two good teams playing.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: What does the future hold for both Arsenal and Manchester United, and where they end up finishing could all come back to this game. Both clubs are struggling mightily stringing together wins in a row, and both are dealing with bad injuries. The laundry list of injuries for Manchester United undoubtedly is hurting their chances: Falcao, van Persie, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera- each have missed or are slated to miss several games. For Arsenal: Olivier Giroud, Debuchy, Arteta, Ozil, Koscielny. Both of these clubs have Champions League aspirations, but have a ways to go. Even the Europa League, particularly for Manchester United, would be a positive step in the right direction for the club- however, as it stands and the way these clubs have looked, missing out on the top 6 entirely is a possibility that both would like to avoid.

Soccahaus Prediction: 1-1

English Premier League, Week 36 Game of the Week

6 May

Recap of Last Week: I incorrectly predicted the winner of the game, and I definitely overestimated the amount of goals that were scored in this game. Chelsea beat English champs Manchester United away at Old Trafford by a score of 1-0 thanks to a goal by Juan Mata in the 87′. This game was not without controversy, as Manchester United defender Rafael was unjustly sent off- David Luiz received a minor elbow from his fellow brazilian, and video clearly shows Luiz was just fine, faking an injury.

This Week: 

Chelsea FC vs Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea FC vs Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, May 8th, 1:45pm (CST) Stamford Bridge

Why This Game is Intriguing: Tottenham Hotspur needs to win or draw this game, plain and simple, if they want to finish top 4 and participate in the Champions League next season. This might be, for all intensions and purposes, one of the most important matches in the history of Tottenham Hotspur football. The Spurs are currently in 5th place with 65 points, while Chelsea is currently in 3rd place with 68 points, and Arsenal is in 4th, just in between these two clubs, with 67 points. Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham- 3 London based clubs with tremendous followings both in England and around the world, are fighting for the final 3rd and 4th place spots- and there will be one loser who misses out. It’s not just making the prestigious tournament- it’s all of the added bonuses that come with being a Champions League club- most notably all of the revenue and exposure the club attains for an entire year and beyond.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: A rematch with much larger stakes. These clubs last met on October 20th at White Hart Lane, where Chelsea won 4-2 thanks to goals by Juan Mata in the 66′ and 69′ minutes. This time around though, the Champions League is staring both of these clubs in the face. Chelsea is playing some outstanding football as of late both in England and in the Europa League, and the Blues have a roster deep enough and capable enough to handle the rigors of winning both in Europe and at home. A loss here for Tottenham would be absolutely crushing- if the Spurs fail to qualify for the Champions League, there is a very good chance Welsh star Gareth Bale and Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas leave and go elsewhere.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 3, Tottenham 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Sunderland vs Stoke, Manchester City vs West Brom, Wigan Athletic vs Swansea

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

English Premier League, Week 14 Game of the Week

27 Nov

Recap of Last Week: A 0-0 draw was the last thing I expected from the Chelsea vs Man City game, but given the off field issues that occurred just days before kickoff, the result shouldn’t be too much a surprise. After a 0-3 loss to Juventus in the Champions, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich decided to fire manager Roberto Di Mateo and hire former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.

 

This Week:

West Ham United vs Manchester United

Wednesday, November 28th, 2pm (CST) Old Trafford

 

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because West Ham United has been the biggest surprise of the newly promoted teams to the Premiership. Finishing in 3rd place in the Championship League last season, I don’t think many expected West Ham to be in the top half of the league 13 games in. At 5 wins and a total of 19 points, West Ham has outplayed fellow “promotees” Southampton (3 wins, 11 points) and Reading (1 win, 9 points). The club from East London is currently involved in some controversy: During last week’s game between West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur at the White Hart Line, some away fans were reportedly singing anti-semitic slurs directed at the home fans. An investigation is currently under way by the FA, so stay tuned to see what the investigation turns up and if any punishment/sanctions are levied against West Ham. Yossi Benayoun, an Israeli midfielder of Tottenham and formerly West Ham United, admitted he was “embarrassed” by the actions of what he called a minority group of West Ham Supporters.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Manchester United has been on a roll, winning 10 of their last 12 EPL matches. As the current EPL leaders, the next two games should be cakewalks (Home against West Ham and then at Reading) before Manchester United plays arch rivals Manchester City at the Etihad. Robin van Persie continues to impress, as his 8 Premier League goals are good for 2nd in the league behind Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (10). Wayne Rooney is tied with Juan Mata at the top of the assist table with 6. Even with a loss to Galatasaray in Turkey last week, Manchester United will still finish in 1st place in Group H, and is in prime position to advance to at least the semifinal in Champions League play.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester United 3, West Ham 1

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Chelsea vs Fulham, Tottenham vs Liverpool, Swansea vs West Brom, Wigan Athletic vs Manchester City

 

 

English Premier League, Week 9 Game of the Week

23 Oct

Recap of Last Week: I incorrectly predicted a 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at the White Hart Line. I underestimated both the pace of the game, and sheer firepower Chelsea possesses- even without Chelsea captain John Terry. A 4-2 result for the Blues was the final, with goals by Cahill 17′, Gallas 47′, Defoe 54′ , Mata 66′ & 69′, and Sturridge 90′. Chelsea is the class of the EPL this season.

This Week:

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Sunday October 28th, 11:00AM (CST), Stamford Bridge

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because this matchup features the 1st and 2nd place teams in the English Premier League. As mentioned above, Chelsea is a class above the rest, particularly after a convincing 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur, the same Hotspur team that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford just a few weeks ago. Wayne Rooney is back to scoring goals, and it seems as if the pairing of Van Persie and the English superstar is going to work out just as Sir Alex Ferguson planned. Both teams are playing a lot of football, as both face Champions League group play competition on October 23rd, play each other in the EPL on the 28th, and then play each other again in the Capital One Cup on the 31st (also at Stamford Bridge).

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Some of the top talent not just in England, but throughout the world will be playing in this match. Let’s start with Juan Mata- no one on the planet is playing better football than the Spaniard for Chelsea. His pace (and 5 assists) anchor the attack for the Blues, while Fernando Torres is finally starting to resemble the player he once was while playing for Liverpool. On the other side, Robin van Persie is tied for most goals in the Premier League with 6, while Wayne Rooney is one of the top assist men with 4. Both of these clubs rely on ball pressure and forcing the other team into costly turnovers. While no one would argue against the fact that Chelsea is the best club in the league right now, what remains up for debate is just how far apart the Blues are from 2nd place Man U and 3rd place Man City. This game should at least give some insight into just how good Chelsea is relative to the two or three teams fighting for 1st place.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 3, Manchester United 2

Other Games This week Worth Watching: Reading vs Fulham, Wigan vs West Ham, Arsenal vs QPR, Man City vs Swansea, Everton vs Liverpool, Newcastle vs West Brom, Southampton vs Tottenham