Quickfire EPL Season Review Part 1

29.05.11

United ended the season in triumph.

So another Premier League season has come to a close, and it was one of the most closely contested in recent years. The quality may not have been the best – at least not at the top – but a pretty epic relegation battle has nevertheless seen three decent sides condemned to the Championship. So how will each team look back on this season? For a full account, you’d have to ask a fan of each club, but here’s a quickfire review of how I see the top ten – the bottom half follows later.

1. Manchester United (P38, W23, D11, L4, F78, A37, Pts80)
Well, a season in which you end up as champions can only really be called a success, but it will have hurt to end by being outclassed by Barca at Wembley and United weren’t as imperious as you’d expect of the leagye winners this season, so Sir Alex will know that he has a busy summer ahead of him if United are to improve and ensure they can remain on top next season.

Click through for the rest of the top ten…

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Who will win the Premier League? (Part 1)

10.08.10

Who will emulate Chelsea's success from last season?

Less than a week to go until the Premier League gets under way for the 2010/11 season, and things are shaping up nicely. Starting at the bottom, Newcastle and WBA are familiar faces back for another crack at the Premiership while last season’s bottom half strugglers will hope Blackpool are the minnows they appear to be. At the other end of the table, the ‘big four’ seems to be disbanding – do we now have a big eight or a top two/three with six/five teams close behind? Only time will tell.

The big question at the start of every season though, is who will be champions come May next year? It’s a very difficult question to answer – as proved last season when many “top” pundits couldn’t look past Liverpool who had a woeful season. I myself – without sounding too smug – got it spot on last year, predicting Chelsea would finish top of the pile in my Season Preview. Can I repeat the trick this time around?

Read on and find out my prediction…


Premiership Conclusions

20.12.09

You might well say it’s a bit early to be drawing conclusions from this weekend’s Premier League action given that there’s still plenty of fixtures to be played tomorrow and Monday, but I think we can safely say that Saturday’s action both on and off the pitch has given us plenty to be discuss to be going on with. Plus, tomorrow is likely to be both my last day with an internet connection for some while and very busy, so there’s no time like the present.

To business at hand then and as I said yesterday, this season’s Premier League action is proving to be nigh on impossible to predict. We’ve now had two weekends full of surprise results and the established order that has developed over so many years seems to be quickly unravelling. It’s hard to know what to make of it at times but I think at least some conclusions can be cautiously made.

Click through to find out what they are…


Are the ‘big four’ crumbling?

13.12.09

Chelsea's defence undone for a third time by Everton: are they crumbling?

Last week Manchester City came from behind to beat Chelsea by two goals to one and many a football pundit saw that as proof that, despite all the draws and flattering to deceive, the Eastlands Billionaires could be a real threat to the ‘big four’ this season. Thus, after Everton’s injury-decimated side also matched Chelsea with a 3-3 draw yesterday, the same logic could be used to suggest that my beloved Toffees too, could realistically hope to breach the big four this season.

Such logic is clearly flawed though, because even as an Evertonian I’m realistic enough to know that we pose no threat to the Champions League spots and City’s inability to beat Bolton yesterday has seemingly confirmed that they too lack the necessary consistency to ‘break’ the top four. However, I still think we may see an unfamiliar team near the summit of the Premier League this season, considering Chelsea’s recent stutters alongside those of the other ‘big four’ clubs, it could be argued that they are not as untouchable as they have been in recent seasons.

Click through for the full article…


European Football: Three Conclusions

18.09.09
Will Evertons new star Bily help Russia shine in South Africa?

Will Everton's new star 'Bily' help Russia shine in South Africa?

After a full midweek’s worth of Champions and Europa League action, we should have plenty to talk about. Unfortunately, most matches involving English sides went… pretty much as planned. Still, I’ve drawn a couple of conclusions from this little lot of results, do let me know what you think…

1. Russia are going to have a cracking World Cup.

We all remember just how well Russia played at Euro 2008. I watched an awful lot of that tournament when I wasn’t moping around and wishing England were there, and the Russians were brilliant. Not only were they technically good, but they just seemed to run and run and run and then, for a change, run some more. They work incredibly hard, have great discipline and are a very effective team. Plus, they were managed by Mr. Magic himself, Guus Hiddink.

Click through for the rest of this, plus two more conclusions…


Simulating Progress: One Step Forward but Two Steps Back.

15.09.09
Cool, calm and composed: attributes of a great high-diver.

Cool, calm and composed: attributes of a great high-diver.

So UEFA have back tracked on their decision to ban Eduardo for his blatant dive in the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League match with Celtic a few weeks ago. After all the discussion that the incident has provoked, this is a pretty tame ending to the saga with UEFA backing down after Arsenal showed that “there was contact between the keeper and Eduardo” and thus convinced UEFA “that the referee hadn’t been deceived in taking his decision on the penalty.”

Eduardo has followed a fine Arsenal tradition that sees players speaking unwisely in public by asserting that he is “very pleased we have finally arrived at the truth” despite the fact that the whole world still knows that he dived, and if anything the abuse he’s received since the incident will now increase. I’m a bit mixed on this reversal though, because while UEFA did somewhat unfairly make an example of the Croatian, it looked like they were finally going to make a stand against diving.

Click through for the full article…


Be Quiet Wayne: Claiming Sainthood just makes you a Sinner.

06.09.09

Wayne Rooney: clearly a hypocrite.

Wayne Rooney: clearly a hypocrite.

So on Thursday, despite the entire nation seeing him blatantly dive to win a penalty against Arsenal at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney insisted that he is an “honest player” who doesn’t deliberately try to deceive the referees to win penalties. A few days later, Rooney – this time in an England shirt – again tumbled to the ground unnecessarily, appealed to the referee and was awarded a penalty. Rooney certainly isn’t the saint he claims to be, mainly because of his own hypocrisy.

And this is what really rankles with me. While I despise players for diving in football, and I think it’s a dishonest and shameful thing to do, I fully understand why they do it. The gain from diving for a penalty is enormous, and the chances of pulling it off in today’s game are very high. It’s no surprise that players do it and we all know that it goes on. The blame for that lies with those who haven’t been forceful enough in stamping it out, but when Rooney makes such hypocritical claims, he makes himself look stupid.

Click through to find out why…