Tag Archives: Newcastle

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,

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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

Premier League Week 37 Game of the Week

12 May

Recap: I predicted correctly; a low scoring, 1-1 draw in which Chelsea celebrated its league victory in front of their home fans. Eden Hazard scored in the first half, but it was none other than Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard who scored the tying goal off of a set piece in the second half.

This Week: 

Queens Park Rangers vs Newcastle United

Queens Park Rangers vs Newcastle United

Saturday, May 19th, 9am CDT Loftus Road

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because if you are a QPR fan, this is your last home game of the season, and your last home game in the Premier League, that is, until you are likely promoted once again next season. QPR has been officially and mathematically relegated (along with Burnley), though QPR has a long history of promotion and relegation into and out of the Premier League. QPR’s hopes were slim last weekend: they desperately needed a David vs Goliath result against defending champions Manchester City on the road to have any chance of remaining in the Premier League. They were crushed in convincing fashion, 0-6 at the Etihad. QPR’s best player, Charlie Austin, had an incredible season carrying this club with 17 goals- and you can be assured that he will be swapping his horizontal blue and white stripes for another kit in England’s top flight: he is simply too good to be playing the Championship next season.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Newcastle cannot afford a loss, or really even a draw here against an inferior opponent in QPR, if they wish to remain in Premier League. Newcastle finds itself just 1 place above the relegation zone, and just 2 points ahead of Hull City for that final relegation spot. A Newcastle loss to QPR combined with a Hull City win over Tottenham would force Newcastle to be in a must win situation in the season’s final week against a challenging West Ham United. The Magpies have not won a match since February 28th against Aston Villa, losing their following 8 straight matches in a row before drawing West Brom this past weekend. Newcastle is a big club with an enormous fan base, huge stadium, and mega brand. They have a whole lot to lose in this game against QPR if the club isn’t focused on earning all 3 points.

Soccahaus Prediction: For all of Newcastle’s problems and bad run of form, they are simply better than QPR. Newcastle win 3-1.

English Premier League, Week 10 Game of the Week

3 Nov

Recap: The Manchester Derby was not nearly as high scoring as I had predicted, rendering just 1 goal from Kun Aguero in the 2nd half. United were forced to play a man down for the entire 2nd half after Chris Smalling earned 2 yellow cards for overaggressive challenges. United played extremely well given the circumstances, but it was not enough to overcome their hated rivals.

This Week: 

Liverpool FC vs Chelsea FC

Liverpool FC vs Chelsea FC

Saturday, November 8th, 6:45pm CST Anfield

Why This Game is Intriguing: Chelsea is flying high and leading the league as they continue to win under skipper Jose Mourinho. Despite their undefeated record, Chelsea’s last 3 matches have not come easy: A close 2-1 win over QPR at home, a draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United, and a 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park against London rivals Crystal Palace. Combine that with their Champions League campaign- the Blues must continue to withstand injuries and a loaded schedule in order to win the Premier League. They have the talent, depth, and motivation to achieve these goals (because they went trophyless last season)- so it will be interesting to see how they hold up come spring time.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Liverpool Football Club is struggling mightily, and their last 7 games have produced just 2 wins, including an ugly, thrilling win over QPR. Last week produced a heartbreaking loss at Newcastle United, where a defensive blip by Alberto Moreno in the box led to the only goal of the game for the Magpies. Italian striker Mario Balotelli has received a lot of criticism for Liverpool’s rough start- and even though he hasn’t performed well, the defense and weak midfield isn’t up to par. Missing Daniel Sturridge definitely hurts, and losing striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona, the Premier Leagues best player last season, clearly has a negative impact on the club as well. All that said, Anfield is a home ground that often inspires Liverp’ool to achieve the unexpected. A victory here, or a well fought draw is not out of the question given the fact that Liverpool are at home.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 2, Liverpool 1

English Premier League, Week 5 Game of the Week

22 Sep

Recap: Down a man, Frank Lampard scored in the final minutes against his old club for Manchester City. The 1-1 draw was an outstanding result for the Citizens as home, because it was Chelsea who dominated much of the game, and are currently the league leaders. This is a game City can look to build upon.

This Week:

Chelsea FC vs Aston Villa FC

Chelsea FC vs Aston Villa FC

Saturday, September 27th, 9am (CST) Stamford Bridge

Why This Game is Intriguing: 2 games, 2 draws for Chelsea. First against against Schalke at home in what was frantic, come from behind effort on the part of the Germans in the Champions League, and second at the Etihad in a hard fought, emotional game against Manchester City. Chelsea will look to bounce back from those results, and that shouldn’t be too hard considering they have the top goal scorer in the Premier League in Diego Costa (7), and the top assist man in Cesc Fabregas (6). As is typical with Jose Mourinho managed teams, this Chelsea squad is compact defensively, dangerous and attacking on the wings when on the counter, but not as poised or intelligent when it comes to possession. Against Schalke, unless Chelsea were on the counter, they seemed lost just passing the ball around, without much flair going towards the net.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: Aston Villa is currently in 3rd place, having won 3 games, drawn once, and lost once. The lone loss was a blowout at home to Arsenal, the lone draw was at home to winless Newcastle, and the 3 victories came at Liverpool, at Stoke, and at home to Hull City. Gabriel Agbonglahor is a real threat going forward, as is Austrian Andreas Weiman. Fabian Delph is an incredibly athletic and intelligent midfielder, who recently made his first international appearance with the English National team. Anchoring the defense is Aly Cissokho, formerly of Liverpool, Valencia, and Lyon. American Brad Guzan is one of the best goal keepers in the Premier League, and has played sensationally thus far in the early season. Aston Villa was in real danger of being relegated last season, but already this season the club looks to be much improved.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 4, Aston Villa 1

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.

English Premier League, Week 38 Game of the Week

28 Apr

Recap: So Liverpool’s 16 match unbeaten streak comes to a halt at home to Chelsea. Liverpool now has 2 games left, at Crystal Palace, and then home to Newcastle to close out the season. Liverpool needed 7 points from their last 3 games to secure the league title, but falling to Chelsea now puts the pressure squarely on Manchester City to win out and perhaps win, for the second time in history, the Premier League title.

This Week:

Everton FC vs Manchester City FC

Everton FC vs Manchester City FC

Saturday, May 3rd, 11:30am (CDT) Goodison Park

Why this game is intriguing: The saying often goes “we are prisoners of the moment”- well in this case, yeah, i’ll buy that, because depending on the result of this game- there might even be a more important game next week- the final week of the Premier League. This game is VITAL for both Everton and Manchester City. For City, it’s simple- win out at Everton, home vs Aston Villa, then home vs West Ham- and they are champions of the 2013-14 Premier League season. Everton also needs to win, though their hopes of securing a top 4 finish and Champions League bid hinges upon Arsenal and how the Gunners perform in their last 2 games. Everton has stumbled as of late, losing 2 of their last 3.

Other Reasons to watch this game: World class players. Players who will feature prominently in the World Cup in less than 2 months will take the field in this game. For City: Joe Hart, Kun Aguero, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta- these guys will be counted on to not only perform well in Brazil, but will also be trusted to captain their teams to victory. For Everton- Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku, Tim Howard, Leighton Baines, and Phil Jagielka will all be key players in the World Cup. But before all of that, both sets of players have some serious work to do- and some trophies possibly to win, before they set out to join their national teams in Brazil.

Prediction: Manchester City 2, Everton 1

Other Games worth watching: West Ham vs Tottenham, Aston Villa vs Hull, Stoke vs Fulham, Arsenal vs West Brom, Chelsea vs Norwich, Crystal Palace vs Liverpool