Quickfire EPL Season Review Part 1


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…


Premiership Conclusions


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…

Tipped for the Top: Whatever has happened to Liverpool?

There's a certain irony in the fact that it was a Liverpool beach ball...

There's a certain irony in the fact that it was a Liverpool beach ball...

Reading the pre-season forecasts from many of football’s most well-known pundits before the Premier League season kicked off, it would have been easy to get the impression that Liverpool were shoo-ins to finally lift the Premier League trophy. Every man and his dog (well, except me) seemed to think that this was going to be Liverpool’s season and yet here we are nine games in and they’ve already lost four matches and are looking a little bit all over the show.

While many a Red Liverpudlian will point accusingly at a red beach ball after today’s defeat to Sunderland, the truth is that the Black Cats thoroughly deserved the win and for much of this season, Liverpool simply haven’t looked like a top four side, never mind a team that could realistically challenge for the title. So the question is, after all the pre-season optimism, what on earth has happened to see them slump to such a poor start?

Click through to find out…

Premiership Conclusions


Premiership Conclusions

1. Draws Galore
Despite what some people might say, there’s nothing innately boring about a sports match ending in a draw. While I’ve heard many arguments for penalties to decide league matches as well as many even worse ideas, a good hard fought draw between two evenly matched sides can be a great sporting spectacle. However, it had seemed so far this season, that the draw may have been on its way out, as in the first seven ’rounds’ of this season (i.e. before this weekend) there had been only four drawn fixtures.

However, it seems that this had created some sort of draw surplus in the warehouse where all of the results are stored and this weekend they were dished out liberally – doubling the amount of draws for the season in one round of games as Bolton-Spurs, United-Sunderland, West Ham-Fulham and Everton-Stoke all drew their matches while in the Championship the top three sides all drew, as did League One high-flyers Leeds and Charlton amongst others.

Click through to find out why the draws are back and for more Premier League conclusions…

Premier League Preview: Part Four


Premier League Preview
Football is officially back in business, with the English lower leagues and the A-League now underway, all we’re waiting for now is the kick off of the Premier League next weekend. With that in mind, today sees the final segment of my Premier League Preview. Just five teams remain to be assessed by my “expert” eye, so if you’ve missed the previous three parts you can find them here (1), here (2) and here (3).

The final part sees me run my eye over a couple of European hopefuls in Tottenham and West Ham; Sunderland and Wigan who to be quite honest, could go either way this season; as well as new boys Wolves who will be looking first and foremost at survival but would love to establish themselves too. All of these sides are a little bit difficult to place but I’ve made my predictions and this final part of the Preview will see me finalise my predicted Premier League Table.

Click through to see if you agree with it…

Premiership Conclusions


Premiership Conclusions
Well that, as they say, is that. Survival Sunday, as it was optimistically dubbed, ended in relegation for Newcastle and Middlesbrough, while Everton held on to the ‘best of the rest’ fifth position and Fulham secured the final Europa League place. Everything else is pretty much as you were. Here are my final conclusions of the 08/09 Premier League season, I hope it’s been a good one for you and lets hope the next one rolls around quickly!

1. An Omen for Everton
Everton won against Fulham at Craven Cottage, a comfortable 2-0 victory that completely ignored the Toffee’s previous complete inability to win at the tiny London ground, where they haven’t emerged triumphant since Alan Ball scored the winner in 1966. Of course, the year 1966 means a lot to all English football fans, but to me it actually means a touch more too, and I am optimistically taking yesterday’s result to be a very good omen indeed for the Toffees.

You see, in 1966, Everton won the FA Cup (3-2 against Sheffield Wednesday). And of course, next weekend, Everton will compete against Chelsea at Wembley in the FA Cup Final, the first time they’ve reached the final of that competition for fourteen long years. As a die-hard Evertonian I’m absolutely desperate for us to beat Chelsea and finally add to out trophy cabinet. And considering the last time we won at Craven Cottage we also won the FA Cup in that same year, it could well be a positive sign. I certainly hope history can repeat itself come next Saturday. COYB.

Three more conclusions after the click including: why relegation is a bonus for Newcastle, why the final day results were fitting, why I am actually glad that Man Utd won, and why I feel rather vindicated…

…so go on, click through!

Football, in one.


I’ve just found this photo, and I think it sums up football in one go:

Flipping great.

Flipping great (click to view full size).

Obviously, dominating the photo is Steven Pienaar, celebrating his opening goal for Everton against Sunderland (in a much more entertaining fashion than the “God is Great” t-shirt), but the depth that the image brings creates a beautiful contrast between the elation of winning, of scoring, and the utter despair of losing, or conceding a goal.

The energy that Pienaar has, literally head over heels with joy is so crisp and focused, and then in the background you have the out of focus, slightly blurry Sunderland ‘keeper and defender, which in many ways reflects how football works: it’s all about the winner in the end; to the victors, the spoils; to the losers, bugger all.

Football really is a game of opposites, elation and despair; or rivalries, red vs. blue; and competition, us vs. them. I love this photo for obvious reasons, but I also love it because it contains the essence of football as much as you can capture it in one still image. Ultimately, football is a fluid game, always in motion, but if you had to choose one frame to sum it up, this could well be it. What do you think?