Category Archives: EPL

Posts about action in the EPL

Are Arsenal supporters jaded by the quick start?

Football - Arsenal v Cardiff City FA Cup Fourth Round Replay

So after watching the opening weekend of the EPL and the opening matches of the UEFA CL, I have only one question regarding Arsenal.  Is the side good enough?

Arsenal fans may think so, given their 6-1 defeat of Everton on the weekend and their 2-0 win against Celtic at Parkhurst, but I still believe there are questions to be answered by the side.  No more than a week ago the fans and the press were all over Arsene Wenger for not picking up more during the transfer window, after losing Adebayor and Toure to Manchester City, but since their opening match I have not heard one word of doubt from anyone speaking about the Gunners.  It is as though 8 goals in two matches has jaded the public into thinking that the Gunners have not lost a step, and will be able to challenge for silverware this season after all; something they have not picked up in a few seasons.  But moving forward in this term there are still questions to be asked about the strength of the squad, and let’s not forget; Arsenal have won nothing yet.

So Gunner and footy fans alike, let’s have a look at the Arsenal scoring history to date.  There have been 8 goals scored by the side, which is great for your record, but look a bit closer and you will see that only one of those goals was scored by an Arsenal striker, and by the time that goal was scored the match had been over for almost 45 minutes.  Does this worry anyone?  It would worry me if I were an Arsenal fan.  Cesc Fabregas contributing and putting two goals in himself in the second half of the Everton match is one thing, but look at your other scorers.  Eduardo put the last of the six on the board in the 89th minute of the Everton match, Denilson scored on a shot from distance against Everton, new boy Vermaelen scored on a header from a set piece against Everton, defensive winger Gael Clichy put a cross/shot in that was deflected past Celtic’s keeper, and central defenseman William Gallas has netted in both fixtures, though he did not seem to know much about the goal against Celtic.  Would this worry me as an Arsenal fan?  Of course it would, and how could it not?  Out of 8 goals scored, all of them but one have come from places other than the front men, with half the goal total coming from the defense and another coming from a holding midfielder.  I would be asking questions about the future if I were an Arsenal fan.  The front men need to score, maybe not all the goals, but a better percentage than they have contributed so far.  Arsenal have quite a few options up front already, but I would not doubt the goal total will be a reason for Wenger again to get out of having to spend any money.

Another area to question in regards to Arsenal is the defense.  Do they have enough to make it through the season?  The starters at the moment are doing well and contributing on both ends of the pitch, but how much depth is there should something happen.  New arrival Varmaelen has already had to come into the starting lineup, and while he has not disappointed and actually looks like a quality option, how much depth is behind them?  Now with what I would consider a quality replacement in Phillipe Senderos, after doing nicely during his loan to AC Milan last season, they want to sell him; further weakening an already shallow depth list in defense.  This does not seem to be the brightest move when your main replacement is Silvestre, who has a history of finding himself unfit to play for long spells.  Though at the moment it does not look like an issue, I think it is a question Wenger will have to answer before the season is over.

The only other real question I have is the youth in the side.  Now I know that most of these young players have been playing in Europe for years now, and that they have experience in the big games, but is that enough.  As Wenger has trimmed some of the fat from the side, he has left the team lacking in depth, and with a side who’s young players often find themselves injured; it becomes a question that needs to be asked.  Yes they can play in the big games and produce, but how much pressure is going to be put on these young players as they have become the majority in the side?  If enough of them can stay healthy to always have the depth they need, I think they will be fine, but look out for the pressure put on players if injuries creep into the side during a busy schedule.

So to answer some questions for you all.  I do not hate Arsenal.  In fact I like watching them a great deal, as they play very attractive football.  These are questions that I think have been put on the back burner after a strong start by the side, but that are still issues going forward.  I do not see Arsenal having the depth and strength to challenge for the title this season, but if they can keep their youth performing they should find some success in the cups this season.  So beware Arsenal fans, as the season is long and the matches do not get any easier as things progress.  I feel that this lack of scoring from the forwards is an issue that needs to be addressed, but as long as the midfield and defense continue to score with regularity the side should still at least look dangerous.

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Filed under Arsenal, Champions League, EPL

Gavin Vs. Daddy – EPL Prediction Challenge


So since I am already up against two cats in the EPL prediction game this season, Fumo from 24th Minute and Mr. Wilco from Ginge Talks The Footy, I figured what would it hurt to have a competition with my own son at my blog.  He has now post picked the first round, not like it would have mattered much as he is two, and made his picks for Week 2.  So during the week when I post my EPL predictions, I will try to get his as well and we will see how much you really need to know to pick winners.  So here is a look at his Week 1 picks, a comparison of wins and losses between us, and a look at his Week 2 picks.  He enjoys picking the games for me so I am more than happy to let him participate.

Gavin’s Week 1 EPL Record:  6 – 4

My Week 1 EPL Record:  5 – 5

Gavin’s Week 1 EPL Picks:

**Bold denotes winner, no bold refers to a draw

Chelsea  v  Hull

Aston Villa  v  Wigan

Blackburn v  Manchester City

Bolton v  Sunderland

Portsmouth  v  Fulham

Stoke  v  Burnley

Wolves  v  West Ham

Everton  v  Arsenal

Manchester United v  Birmingham City

Tottenham v  Liverpool

Not a bad start for the little guy, but let’s see how he holds up during a long season.  This should be interesting as he has the jump on me so far by picking Wigan, Arsenal, and West Ham to take first round matches.  He did fall short however on results where he picked Hull, Blackburn, and Burnley to gain 3 points.  So now looking forward at Week 2, here are Gavin’s picks.

Gavin’s Week 2 EPL Picks:

**Bold denotes winner, no bold refers to a draw

Sunderland  v  Chelsea

Wigan  v  Wolves

Birmingham City v  Portsmouth

Burnley  v  Manchester United

Hull City  v  Tottenham

Liverpool v  Stoke City

So let’s see what happens now.  He seemed pretty determined and excited about his Week 2 picks, so we will see how he holds up going into Week 2.  The challenge looks to be a tough one this season, but I am up for it and I know he is as well.

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Filed under Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Chelsea, EPL, Everton, Fulham, Hull City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Portsmouth, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, Uncategorized, West Ham, Wigan, Wolves

EPL Week 2 Predictions – Mid-week action to start off week 2


So with Week 1 in the books it is time to move on to Week 2 in the EPL.  Starting mid-week this time around and finishing on Sunday, it should be another good week of EPL footy.  Last week I managed to go .500 in my picks and I am hoping to improve upon that this time around.  So here are the picks for the upcoming weekend.

Last Weekend:  5 – 5

**Team in bold denotes the winner, no bold means a draw

Sunderland  v  Chelsea

Wigan v  Wolves

Birmingham City  v  Portsmouth

Burnley  v  Manchester United

Hull City  v  Tottenham

Liverpool v  Stoke City

So looking forward, Chelsea should have no trouble making it past Sunderland this weekend as they travel to take on the Black Cats.  Wigan will continue on their hot start by taking 3 points at home against Wolves, though I think Wolves will find their first Premier League goal of the season in this one.  The hardest match to pick was Birmingham v Portsmouth, so I have chosen it as a draw, with neither team impressing in week 1.  Burnley’s schedule only gets harder as they welcome in Manchester United, who should have no troubles, even with injuries in the side.  Hull City performed well in Week 1 against Chelsea, but look for the Tigers to fall again as they welcome in Tottenham, who shocked Liverpool in week 1 by downing them 2-1 at White Hart Lane.  Finishing out the weekend will be Liverpool v Stoke City.  Though Stoke found a result in week 1, look for Liverpool to bounce back at Anfield and defeat City in week 2.

This should be a good weekend for football, as many sides continue in their quest to obtain a spot in Europe during the week, the action will not disappoint this week at all.  I hope your sides all got the result you were looking for in week 1, and if not, it is only the beginning of a long season and you cannot do much worse.

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Filed under Birmingham City, Burnley, Champions League, Chelsea, EPL, Hull City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Portsmouth, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, Wigan, Wolves

Weekend Prediction Round Up – My predictions under review

So to make this a bit easier and limit the number of posts I need to make per week, I have decided to one big weekly prediction roundup post.  This post could change format some in the future but for now we can consider it a work in progress.

Overall Record:  14 – 24

Last Weekend(Combined Results):  6 – 10

MLS:  1 – 5

EPL:  5 – 5

So it was a rough MLS weekend, and because of this fact I will be changing up how I pick for the MLS in the future.  A new format will be unveiled for the MLS with this week’s pick, to follow soon.  The EPL on the other hand only held a few shockers that tripped me up on the weekend.  EPL fixtures will be up very soon as the week kicks off tomorrow, but I am feeling hopeful that this week will see me break even in the EPL and advance with a winning record.

All in all, I neglected the MLS this weekend to watch all but 2 EPL matches and therefore missed some great action I am sure.  I am working on seeing what all happened, but with all the upcoming action this week, I am not sure when I will have the time.

For now this little blurb will be where I put the weekend prediction results, the only change coming when I add in the Champions League after the groups are decided.  The EPL season is looking a lot more promising than the MLS at the moment, but I am sure my readers, as well as myself will enjoy the new format come this weekend.

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Filed under EPL, MLS

EPL Week 1 – 6 road wins, 4 home wins, and 1 upset


The Premier League season kicked off with a foggy start for some, mainly us Americans who had to wake bright and early to catch the opening match between Chelsea and Hull City.  It would go on to become an interesting weekend in which we found out a lot about what to expect this season, and though you might want to write a few sides off already, do not judge so quickly.  I only missed two matches this weekend, Stoke City v Burnley and Bolton v Sunderland, though many of the rest were watched at a later date during a busy weekend.  Here is what I saw and expect going forward.

Chelsea  2 – 1 Hull City

This match was entertaining from start to finish, having many Chelsea fans on the edge of their seats throughout after Hull’s new boy Stephen Hunt started off the scoring in the 28th.  Chelsea were not rattled and never looked like they would lose this match though, unless they failed to find the back of the net, which would also not happen.  A rejuvenated Didier Drogba would lead Chelsea to their opening win this season as he netted in the 37th and 90th to give the Blues the victory they were expecting on the opening weekend though; the 90th minute GWG was a beauty though as Drogba trying to cross the ball to the backpost actually chipped Hull’s keeper and found the net for the win.  Hull played Chelsea hard throughout though and actually deserved a point from this one in my opinion.  Do not write Hull off yet though as many of us have, including myself, because if their new signings come together and they can find the net consistently, they could be a side to be reckoned with this term as they fight to stay in the top flight.

Portsmouth  0 – 1 Fulham

I watched this match at a later time on the DVR and found myself fast forwarding to keep interested.  Aside from the Zamora goal in the 13th, the match had a lot of back and forth play and neither side looked to be able to hold possession for long.  Portsmouth looked like they would equalize many times throughout, but whether it was by luck or just poor finishing; they never quite found the final touch needed.  Fulham have added depth and should continue to improve as the season moves on, but Pompey looks to be in for a long season that could very well find them fighting for their lives in the end.  It was a hard match to watch, but I doubt anyone expected a different result in this one.

Wolves v West Ham

Another match watched from the DVR a day later.  I was actually looking forward to seeing Wolves play and was excited SETANTA decided to give us a free weekend as I cannot seem to bring myself to pay for the channel monthly.  Now do not pass judgment on Wolves by this one game because they had their moments.  They are this season’s West Brom of the promoted sides, bringing up what looks to be the strongest of the 3 teams, but did not show it on the weekend.  If the shots had found the net for Wolves this game could have very well have been a draw, but as it stands, they were unable to score in their first outing.  Both sides controlled the match for lengthy spells of time, but it was the Hammers in the end who found the net in each half to earn the 3 points.  Noble would send a strike from outside the 18 in the 22nd for the Hammers, and in the 69th Matthew Upson would send a header past the Wolves’ keeper from a corner to seal up the victory.  Wolves can do nothing but improve from here, and I would expect nothing less now that the opening day jitters should be out of their system.  West Ham on the other hand.  Well just look for them in the middle of the table and they should not be hard to find throughout the season.

Blackburn  0 – 2  Manchester City

I had to step out so I watched this match today, as I was just as curious as everyone else about the new Manchester side.  All the new big names for City would see the pitch in this one, except Roque Santa Cruz, who was not even on the bench.  City would make one substitution bringing on Tevez for Robinho, giving Tevez around 20 minutes to run around as he likes to do, but he really contributed very little as had Robinho who he replaced.  Adebayor would open up his account with City by scoring in the 3rd minute and old boy Stephen Ireland would finish out the match in the 90th with his own.  Blackburn just lacked the luck needed and the final ball to even the match up though, as City gave them many opportunities throughout the match.  City should improve as the season moves on and the players find their connections with each other, but do not look for Blackburn to have an easy season, as lack of a quality attack could lead to a poor finish this term.

Bolton  0 – 1  Sunderland

I did not get to catch this match, but I have to say I thought it was going to end in a draw.  Neither one of these sides looked to have the strength to take this match.  New boy Darren Bent found the net early on though, giving new manager Steve Bruce his first win with the Black Cats.  I have no further judgment to pass on these sides at the moment, but it does not look as if Sunderland will have the hardships many have predicted for the season, and we know Bolton will find a way as always to stick around.

Aston Villa  0 – 2  Wigan

I am not sure many could say they predicted this outcome when looking at the Week 1 fixtures, but if you did you most undoubtedly were a Wigan fan.  Coming off the Peace Cup victory, Villa looked to have a decent side coming in to the new season, and a depleted Wigan side with a new coach should have been no problem for them; but it was.  Villa’s defense was poor throughout this match and they never managed to link up properly to get themselves in position to score.  Ashley Young would try to take over the match for Villa, but his efforts would fall short as he never managed to keep his head up long enough to get anyone else involved, most times picking himself up off the ground after an attempt to draw a foul.  Wigan would surprise though as Hugo Rodallega launched a beauty into the net around the 30th; one that will most likely be up for goal of the week.  Finishing off the Villains would be Wigan winger Jason Koumas, who would find his way past Friedel from a tight angle to all but seal the match for the Latics in the 56th.  Wigan could impress this season, though many people did not and do not think they have the squad to compete throughout the season.  Villa should bounce back though, but now we know how badly the loss of Barry and a cohesive defense have affected the side.

Stoke City  2 – 0  Burnley

I was not able to catch this match, but it looks like a rough start that will not get any smoother for Burnley, as they face Manchester United next week.  Letting in a goal from Stoke defensemen, Ryan Shawcross in the 19th and Stephen Jordan’s own goal in the 33rd, all but sealed the fate for Burnley in this opening round.  I am looking forward to seeing the side play, and Stoke have started on the right foot to avoid relegation again this season.

Everton  1 – 6  Arsenal

Now if you had told me there would be a 6-1 score line in the first week, this would not have been the match I would have picked.  Maybe Chelsea could put up that many on Hull or the attacking train of Manchester City could have pulled in and dropped off half a dozen goals at the Riverside, but not against Everton, a team who pushed the top four last season and was thought to do so again this season.  Also, coming into the season, who thought Arsenal would ever be a side linked with a 6 goal performance?  Definitely not me, and I bet not you either.

Everton would come out competitive for the first 20 minutes, actually controlling much of the play, when Denilson launched a rocket to beat Howard and start off the scoring frenzy.  Now most would think that knowing Arsenal, they might tack on one or two more by the end of the match, not today though as they added two more by half time.  New boy Vermaelen would find the net in the 37th and William Gallas would finish out the half with a goal in the 41st, strangely enough these still aren’t the names you would expect to see on the score sheet.

Arsenal would not rest though, scoring 3 minutes into the second half through Cesc Fabregas to make it 4-0 early on.  Everton would hold Arsenal off for a bit after the 4th, but Arsenal were not done yet as Fabregas added another in the 70th and Eduardo would come off the bench to add his own in the 89th, making it 6-0 to Arsenal.  You would think that we would be done now as I did, but we were not.  Everton, though beaten throughout the match, never gave up, and Louis Saha would put them on the scoreboard in the 90th to finish out the match 6-1.  If you were an Everton fan I cannot imagine your thoughts after this one, but I do not think it can get much worse.  Everything went wrong for Everton on the day, but they should bounce back and have another strong season.  Arsenal on the other hand showed that they can score, and in bunches.  They are hungry for silverware this season and if they continue with this kind of form there is no reason they will not see any coming back to the Emirates.  Both sides should be interesting to watch the rest of the way though.

Manchester United  1 – 0  Birmingham City

Birmingham does not beat United, nor have they ever if what I have been able to find is true, and today would be no different.  Most people tuned into this match to see how United would be without Ronaldo, and I would think they would not be surprised to see that they are not doing so well.  I will say this though, United always start slow and I would not write them off quite yet.  Birmingham put on a good performance today and showed that they should be a side that can come away with some victories this season.  Rooney managed to find the net in the 34th to put United up with the only goal they would need today, and though the side is a bit injured at the moment, they got their point.  Opponents should look out for Birmingham though as their new boy Benitez looks dangerous and could prove challenging for opposing defenses in the future.  Look for City to bounce back and start to pick up some results as this season progresses, they should be able to beat out some of the other troubled teams this term to keep a place in the Prem in the end.

Tottenham  2 – 1  Liverpool

This was my major pick for the week.  Many people have talked about Spurs this summer, but most have really just poked fun at them, never really considering them contenders of any sort.  Liverpool helped matters some today though by just playing awful.  I am not sure they knew how bad the loss of a link up player like Alonso would be, but if the performance against Spurs was any indication, Benitez needs to get a replacement in fast.  Scoring for Spurs was Assou-Ekotto in the 44th from an awesome rebound from a free kick and ex Newcastle player Sebastian Bassong in the 59th to seal the deal.  Spurs would give Liverpool hope though as Liverpool picked up a penalty when Spurs’ keeper Gomes took down Glen Johnson in the 55th, resulting in a PK from Gerrard that evened the match up for 3 minutes.  Liverpool could be in trouble if they do not get going soon, missing points they need if they plan on challenging for the title this season, but I do not see them finding their 20th this season.

So to close out I would have to say it was a good weekend.  ESPN started us out bright and early to kick off the season and FSC brought the weekend to a close with a great match, showing the first real upset of the season.  I am already looking forward to the midweek matches and only hope some of these sides can get things going in the right direction.  I am going to give out a Player of the Week rating to one player each round this season, and I think this weeks is obvious as Didier Drogba has come back from his sulk and dragged his team to victory in Week 1.  So let us all get ready now as the next round is literally right around the corner.

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Filed under Birmingham City, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Chelsea, EPL, Hull City, Portsmouth, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, Uncategorized, West Ham, Wigan, Wolves

What you should expect this weekend in the EPL…

Soccer ball in stadium

So today is just another day right?  Wrong!  Today is the day before the kickoff of the new Premier League season and you all should be ripe with anticipation for it.  Compared to American sports the EPL has a very short off season, but an off season filled with transfer rumors that leave us fans foaming at the mouth for the new season to start.  I have posted my predictions, entered my fantasy leagues, and previewed every team from 1-20 for the coming season, now I ask you, what have you done?  Are you ready for the season to kick off?  So to help get some of you off to the start of the season I am going to do a quick, or what I hope is quick anyways, preview of the opening weekends action.  I posted 5 matches to look out for this weekend already, so I will start there and give a brief bit of attention to those that are left.

To start out the weekend, and this is not one of my five, Chelsea will be welcoming Hull City to Stamford Bridge.  Now you may ask why I should watch this match.  I give you two reasons right here.  1) Chelsea has looked stellar in the preseason friendlies and is looking to recapture glory by unseating Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United.  2) Jozy Altidore has joined Hull City.  Now I know some of us hope that Chelsea do not dethrone United, me being one of them, but Chelsea look tough and are the only likely candidates this round.  Also, some may be saying, why should we care about Hull City?  Well the most likely answer is that if you are reading the crap I sling here then you are most likely American, and should care what one of the future stars of our national side is up to.  Jozy is new to England and this will be his big test.  Hull are more than likely going to be relegated at the end of season, but who could possibly miss the opening match of the new season?  Unless it happens to not be televised, this is looking more and more likely as we are waiting on word from ESPN about a possible airing of the match.

Back to my matches to catch this weekend is Aston Villa taking on Wigan Athletic.  Seems a boring match when you look at it, but Wigan are going to look completely different this season than last and Villa will be missing a key ingredient too.  Wigan lost a lot in the off season with Antonio Valencia departing to Manchester United and manager Steve Bruce stepping aside to take the Sunderland job, but the Latics have brought in new manager Roberto Martinez and promised him a full 3 seasons.  Does this mean Wigan will fold this season and rebuild through the Championship?  It is likely to happen, but Martinez will want to prove his salt as manager and try to keep the boys up in only his 3rd season at the helm of a club.  Now Villa looked good in the preseason I was able to see, winning the Peace Cup over Juventus and bringing in some more young English talent.  They will be without their former Captain Gareth Barry, who has opted to move to Manchester City for a large payday, but will they really miss him?  I would like to think a player such as Barry would not disrupt this side going into the new season.  O’Neil has managed to hold on to many key players on the squad and they should again have a good start to their season.

Moving to much greener pastures at Manchester City this off season, but does money spent buy you a winning side?  I do not think they will crack the top four this season but an opening round trip to Blackburn should not worry them much.  This match will finally show the fans the new look of City, but with manager Mark Hughes sitting near the top of the sack list, a victory against a mid table side such as Blackburn will not be his saving grace.  City can come out and win 6-0 as they did at times last season, but unless their form evens out and they get results regularly, look for Hughes to be gone sometime this season.  It should be an interesting watch this weekend though as City rolls out the big guns.

I have predicted there will be two upsets this weekend of the big four.  The first will be by Everton, as they welcome Arsene Wenger and his young Arsenal side to Goodison for an early season showdown.  Everton have been pushing to get into the top four and this could be their opening shot of the season if they can manage to keep their proverbial foot on the throat of the Gunners throughout.  Arsenal have lost more than they think with Adebayor and Toure leaving in the off season, and a weak defense aside, it does not look promising that a side that has struggled to score at times in the past will prove themselves any stronger this season.  David Moyes will work his genius for cash strapped Everton as always, but this could be the final chapter for Wenger at the Emirates.  Look out for this match as it promises to be entertaining if nothing else.

The other upset on the weekend looks to happen at White Hart Lane.  Tottenham will welcome in the weakened Liverpool on the opening weekend and fans will finally find out how much Liverpool have been hurt by their recent losses.  Alonso is off to Madrid and Gerrard looks to be out injured for the opener, so where is the play going to come from?  I do not trust the likes of Lucas or Benayoun to lead a midfield, and neither should LFC supporters.  This will be a hard one to swallow for the Reds, but look for Spurs to come out and give them a game.  Nobody is really talking about Spurs to loudly this offseason, and honestly that could help them.  They have the talent in their stables and if Harry Houdini can get it right, they should be able to capture three points early, putting them way above their starting point in the last term.  This should be a telling match on the side of both teams, letting fans in on what we have not seen during the offseason.

My 5th match to look at this weekend was the Manchester United versus Birmingham City match.  Now United should be able to take this match with ease, but that is not why I put them in this slot.  This will be a first look for most at the new United, post Ronaldo era.  Can they recapture the title this season, and who will step up to provide the spark that Ronaldo gave the side?  I think I know, but I have not heard his name mentioned yet this off season.  United fans look out for Anderson this season.  He is still young, but with the aging midfielders around him, he should be able to shine this term.  Luckily with the choices at keeper limited that there is a strong defense, but the keeper situation will need to be solved shortly if United are to keep up without dropping too far behind.  Birmingham City will also be interesting to watch, though they should not win this match.  They have brought in quite a few new faces in the off season, with high hopes of succeeding in the EPL this time around.  I think they might just have enough if they can get points where they should and not drop points against teams around them in the table.  It will be a telling match though, as we see a newly promoted against United with a new face.

Other notables to look at will be Steve Bruce’s opening match with Sunderland at the Reebok.  Will he be able to make it work for the Black Cats this season, and will Bolton continue to show just enough to find themselves safe at the end of the season, or will one of these two sides be fighting it out in the relegation zone come the end of the season?  I picked this match to be a draw and I honestly think it will be a physical match from both sides as they try and scrap for the win.

West Ham will find themselves against last season’s Championship winners Wolves in the first round, and though I have faith in the Hammers to find themselves mid table as always at the end of the season, I do not see them getting out of this one with full points.  It should be an interesting match, as we see what the new boys can do against the Hammers, but West Ham are not known for their scoring prowess, therefore making it hard for them to get enough to leave with more than a draw.  Both of these sides should be fun to watch this season.  Wolves could very well do as Stoke City did last season and finish near the middle of the table, or they could fail horribly as West Brom did and find themselves fighting for their lives week in and week out, lets hope they stay true to form as one of the top sides coming up.  West Ham on the other hand always seems to find their spot early and maintain.  Zola will be in his first full season with the side, and things are looking up for the Hammers.  They are always entertaining to watch and should provide nothing less this season either.

Will Portsmouth be sold or not?  That has been the question all summer long at the club.  Dropping the side to almost bare bones is going to make it tough to have enough fight to stay up this season and Pompey will most likely find themselves battling week in and week out for precious points.  Fulham on the other hand have stocked the cabinets this off season ahead of their European campaign.  Fulham should take this away win at Portsmouth easily, but at times the side tends to struggle on the scoring end of things.  If nothing else the action will be entertaining to watch.  Portsmouth will look like a train wreck from the start and Fulham should take charge and hopefully find their scoring touch early on.  Lets just hope as American fans that we get a chance to see Dempsey reclaim his form and Eddie Johnson actually grace the pitch for a bit, even if he happens to come on late as a sub.  This match should give Fulham what could be called an extra preseason match to get some of their new faces out on the pitch ahead of a tough schedule that is coming for the side.

And to finish it off a side that shocked the Premiership last season, and the new boys, and I do mean boys.  Stoke City will be welcoming in promoted side Burnley on opening weekend, and look to maintain the form they finished off the season with last term.  Burnley will be entertaining to watch as their manager has done it with youth like Wenger, but will they have the bottle to do it against Premier League sides all season?  This match should be entertaining with the young boys and the Delap throw ins, but in the end look for Stoke to take it at the KC Stadium to start off their second campaign in the top flight.  Should Stoke manage to stay up again, and I think they will, there will be many pundits who predicted them to finish dead last in their first season that will still be shaking their heads.  Stoke are entertaining to watch and I am hoping Burnley does not disappoint either as I am looking forward to this opening round matchup.

So there it is.  Try to get some sleep tonight.  I know we are all excited and on the edge of our seats.  Now it is time to look out for something amazing to happen as the magic of the new season fills the air.  Make sure all of your predictions are in and your fantasy sides chosen, and get ready to sit back and watch the stories unfold.

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Filed under Birmingham City, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Chelsea, EPL, Hull City, Portsmouth, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, Uncategorized, West Ham, Wigan, Wolves

Opening Weekend – A Look Forward and Predictions for Week 1 of the EPL Season

Chelsea FC v Inter Milan

So we are moving closer to the opening of the “Real Football” season and I can honestly say I am nothing but excited.  Will United win a 4th straight?  Will Hull avoid the drop again this season?  Does money buy success in Manchester?  And who wins the sack race this season?  All entertaining questions, and I know everyone has their own set and I know I could add many more, but what is the point right now when we are about to see it start to play itself out?  So in keeping with the times I am going to throw out my weekend predictions for the opening round of the EPL season.  Now hopefully this goes better than my MLS predictions, as a league of parity does not help in the prediction game.  So to start it off here is week one followed by a few words on why I picked what I did.  Keep following and feel free to bust my chops when I am wrong or you think I am way off.

**winners in bold, lack of bold represents a draw

Chelsea v  Hull City

Aston Villa v  Wigan

Blackburn  v  Manchester City

Bolton  v  Sunderland

Portsmouth  v  Fulham

Stoke City v  Burnley

Wolves  v  West Ham

Everton v  Arsenal

Manchester United v  Birmingham

Tottenham v  Liverpool

There are a few close ones this week and I believe at least one upset of the big four in the opening weekend.  Chelsea should walk right through Hull on the opening weekend, coming off a successful preseason compared to Hulls to little to late offseason signings.  Villa should make it easily past Wigan on the opening weekend with the Latics getting used to a more slimmed down roster that lacks quite a bit of experience.  Blackburn will be the first victims of cash happy City this season as City take down Blackburn in the end.  Bolton will play tough at home as always but I see Sunderland getting a goal in this one and drawing with Bolton at the Reebok.  Portsmouth will fall week one to Fulham.  This could be the beginning of a long season for Portsmouth, but Fulham will struggle and barely pull out 3 points in this one.  Stoke City will start with the young boys from Burnley and while I do not feel Stoke are a dominant side in the EPL, they are strong at home and will serve the young kids their first defeat of the new season.  Newly promoted Wolves will welcome West Ham to the Molineaux Stadium on the opening weekend and receive their first point with a draw against Zola’s Hammers.  Everton will come out strong and healthy in the first weekend of the season and shock the struggling Arsenal by taking all three points at Goodison.  United are known to start off slow but I am not sure we cannot expect anymore than three points on opening weekend as Birmingham travel to Old Trafford to take on the Champions, will be a new look for United but Birmingham do not have a chance in this one.  White Hart Lane looks to be housing a strong side this season, and with Gerrard possibly missing and Alonso now out, Liverpool look ripe for the picking on the opening weekend.

So there is a look at the opening weekend’s schedule and here are 5 matches to look out for this weekend.  Check out the list and enjoy a good weekend of football, as I know I will.

  • Aston Villa  v  Wigan – A new look at Villa without Barry and Wigan’s new boss with an almost completely new side.
  • Blackburn  v  Man City – Does money buy success?  Everyone will have an eye on City this weekend.
  • Everton  v  Arsenal – Do Everton look to unseat Arsenal in the top 4, starting on opening weekend?
  • Manchester United  v  Birmingham – How is the new look United?  Can they do it without Ronaldo?
  • Tottenham  v  Liverpool – Are Tottenham the dark horse this season?  How will Liverpool cope with their offseason personnel losses?

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EPL Preview – Hull and Burnley

Premier League: Hull Survive Despite Losing To United


Starting into their Premiership season last term, the Tigers were out and running quick, looking to finish well into the top half of the table and even challenge for Europe.  Though this was the case early, the rest of the season for Hull saw them fail miserably at times and have difficulty against all opponents, avoiding relegation by one full point on the final day of the season.  The Tigers have had a lot to do this summer to repair the ship and add players in the right places to help keep them afloat again this season.  Most are predicting Hull to not have such a wonderful sophomore season, and I am no different, as I have pegged them to finish 19th.  Manager Phil Brown is leading the sack race in the preseason and the additions to the side have been slow going as Hull have just really brought in some new signings in the past week.  All this said though, I still do not see a promising outcome for the Tigers this season.

Key Additions: Steven Mouyokolo (Boulogne), Seyi Olofinjana (Stoke), Jozy Altidore (loan from Villareal), Stephen Hunt (Reading), Kamel Ghilas (Celta Vigo)

Loss: Samuel Ricketts (Bolton)

There are still rumors of Hull signing Real Madrid starlet Negredo, but as with other sides in the Premiership who have interest in the youngster, I will believe it when I see it.  The only additions that have any sort of experience at this level are Olofinjana with Stoke and Hunt from his time with Reading.  These two are the older of the signings, both just short of 30, so look for them to provide some veteran leadership on the squad going forward.  Mouyokolo is unproven at this level, having come from a lower division French side, but look for him to show in the Tiger’s defense this term.  Ghilas and Altidore both ply their trade up top and Hull will be looking for the two youngsters to produce and produce early as one of the Tiger’s weaknesses last season was production from their forwards.  Unless Brown gets sacked early enough for a decent manager to come in and turn the club around I do not see my prediction in any danger.  Hull will meet relegation this season, but how they do it will be the interesting part to watch.

Sports News - January 14, 2009


Premiership new boys Burnley have a lot on their plate this term.  Having come through the playoff to gain promotion, the side is no stranger to hard roads, but does a hard road in the Championship prepare them well enough for the Premier League?  I think not, although I have come to wonder if maybe this side might do a bit better than I originally predicted.  Manager Owen Coyle has managed to make his boys work, having played spoiler to a few Premier League sides in last season’s FA Cup and Carling Cup, before bowing out in the end of both to Premiership sides.  The Clarets will be looking to hang on in the Premiership at the first asking, but the road is going to be hard and the hill to climb out of the relegation zone will be steep.  I know I have predicted them dead last, but look for this young side to show some promise, if for nothing else but the future of the club.  Coyle has brought a few new faces into the club without losing much, so there should not be many changes in what was a decent Championship side last season.

Key Additions: Fernando Guerrero Vasquez (loan from Independiente del Valle), Richard Eckersley (Manchester United), Brian Easton (Hamilton), David Edgar (Newcastle United), Steven Fletcher (Hibernian)

The only loss the side suffered was a loan of Alexander MacDonald to Falkirk in Scotland.  Vasquez is another young talent for Coyle, coming out of Real Madrid’s youth system.  He should provide some in the attack, though he looks slight and maybe not physical enough for the English game.  Fletcher is the other front man the Clarets have brought in this offseason, and though he is young he has seen some time in Scotland and should be ready for a bit more physicality up top than Vasquez will be at the start.  Bolstering up the defense was the key this offseason though, having brought in 3 defenders out of the 5 total transfers negotiated.  Coyle has made this side work for him in the Championship, but the lack of age could either prove genius or costly, and I for one am betting on costly at the moment.  Coyle is not Wenger and Burnley hardly have the youth talent of an Arsenal, but being young and determined can have its advantages too.  If nothing else Burnley should be an entertaining side to watch this season, though I will not be expecting to seem them around more than the one season before the drop back down.


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EPL Preview – Portsmouth and Wigan

Portsmouth goalkeeper David James makes his point.


After struggling in the Premier League last season, Portsmouth will look to bounce back this season.  Following a win in the FA Cup final during the 2007-2008 season a Pompey side who looked to have a promising season under manager Harry Redknap would find the 2008-2009 season one in which they just barely managed to avoid relegation come the end of the season.  Portsmouth has since lost their manager and many key players as the club are looking at new ownership and a new challenge in the upcoming season.  To stay in the Premier League this season Pompey will have to scratch and claw their way into safety without some of the players who helped them retain their place the previous season.

Key Additions: Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn), Steve Finnan (Free), Frederic Piquionne (Lyon), Antti Niemi (Free)

Losses: Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Pele (Genoa), Djimi Traore (AS Monaco), Sean Davis (Bolton)

During this offseason Portsmouth have not had money to spend, with the club being in negotiations for sale, and therefore had to make smart moves to add to their squad in the transfer market.  Crouch who had only been with the club for one season rejoined former boss Harry Redknap at Tottenham and Johnson moved on to greener pastures with Liverpool.  Having lost these two plus Traore were large hits to the club who will be looking to avoid relegation again this season.  Adding to their defense with Finnan and Mokoena will bring some veteran experience to the side, and the addition of Piquionne from Lyon should add to the Forward spot that Crouch vacated this offseason, but is it going to be enough?  Portsmouth should stay up this season and if their sale goes through they should see a massive cash influx for January.  If they can keep it together with the rag tag squad they have to start the season and snatch a few results here and there, they should be able to avoid relegation, just barely though.

Football - West Bromwich Albion v Wigan Athletic Barclays Premier League


A good season last term, finishing eleventh, will not be an easy act to follow for Wigan this season.  The Latics have lost a lot this offseason and with a new manager they will be looking for a new era to take shape.  Coming into his third season in management, Roberto Martinez will be looking to lead a much weaker Wigan side through the Premier League, hopefully avoiding relegation.  He has had a guarantee from owner Dave Whelan that he has three years, even if the club falls to relegation in his first season in charge.  Now whether we will be looking at Wigan as strong competitors in the EPL or if we will see a team in the beginning stages of rebuilding is the question?  Martinez has a guarantee but I do not see him not wanting to succeed in the EPL in his first season with the club.  There have been a few additions to the club in the offseason, hopefully off setting the losses the side has suffered in the last year.

Key Additions: Garcia-Penche Jordi Gomez (Espanyol), Hendry Thomas (Olimpia), Jason Scotland (Swansea City), James McCarthy (Hamilton), Scott Sinclair (Chelsea)

Losses: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Steve Bruce (Sunderland)

Now while it seems as though the additions to the club will fill the slots needed in the side, many of the new faces are unproven at this level.  The loss of Valencia and Bruce were big losses in the offseason, but if Martinez lives up to his young reputation as a manager, he should have the club working hard and improving throughout the season.  If their defense can hold up and they can get a few goals in they might just have a chance to avoid relegation this season, but it is unlikely.  Given the talent in the Premier League, Wigan will be on the short end of quite a few results this season even if they fight until the end.  Results against other clubs around them in the table and a few surprises could help them just avoid the drop though, but as I said before, I see them coming up short in the end and rebuilding next season in the Championship.  Good luck to the Latics this season though.

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EPL Preview – Wolves and Blackburn



Being one of the stronger sides to gain promotion of late, Wolves will be looking to show their worth by staying up in their first season back in the EPL.  Wolves spent almost none of last season out of the automatic promotion spot, gaining the advantage early and displaying strong play throughout the season.  Wolves look to be Premier League ready and should find it no problem to stay in the league this season.  Following manager Mick McCarthy’s three year plan, Wolves are back in the Premiership and looking to regain their place atop the elite clubs in England.  A few additions have been made in the offseason to help Wolves in the upcoming season which should help add depth and quality to the side.

Key Additions: Andrew Surman (Southampton), Marcus Hahnemann (Reading), Greg Halford (Sunderland), Ronald Zubar (Marseille), Kevin Doyle (Reading), Nenad Milijas (Red Star Belgrade)

Loss: Darren Potter (Sheffield Wednesday)

Hahnemann was let go by Reading in the offseason and Wolves will be looking to his veteran leadership in the back to help strengthen a defense that will be tested this season by some of the strongest sides in the league. Surman, Halford, and Zubar had suffered disappointment at their former clubs, but with their offseason moves they should see plenty of playing time and a rejuvenation of their careers as well.  Adding Milijas to the midfield will help strengthen the side in the middle, adding leadership and experience in the middle.  Thought to have had interest from other clubs in the EPL, Doyle joins Wolves from Reading, strengthening an already strong front line that hopes to provide many goals for the club this season.  The club will be looking for results this season and I think they will find them where they need them.  I have them finishing around the 14th spot this season, which would keep them in the EPL for another season and give them something to improve on for the next.  Not having used a lot of players on loan to help them gain promotion, Wolves should be just as dangerous as last season, having no problem staying up in the first time of asking.

Football - Blackburn Rovers v Wigan Athletic Barclays Premier League


Finishing off last season in the 15th position, I do not see Blackburn moving up much.  The will be safe as manager big Sam Allardyce will be leading them from day one this season, but the talent is just not there going into the new term.  Not saying that there is no talent on the team, but at the moment Blackburn’s roster looks to be one of mediocre players in the EPL.  Big Sam should be able to work his magic and keep the side up, but I do not see them pushing up any farther than maybe 13th position.  A few losses in the offseason have hurt them, but Sam has brought in some new faces as well to try and add depth and quality around the pitch.

Key Additions: Franco Di Santo (loan from Chelsea), Gael Givet (Marseille), Lars Christian Jacobsen (Everton), Steven N’Zonzi (SC Amiens), Elrio van Heerden (Club Brugge)

Losses: Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven), Matt Derbyshire (Olympiacos), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth), Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City)

Perhaps the biggest loss for Blackburn will be Santa Cruz, the side’s main goal getter, but I think Ooijer who is a solid player will be a big loss for the side as well this season.  Di Santo should add to the gap left in the attack by Santa Cruz’s departure, but as a young talent Di Santo is still unproven in the league.  Givet and Jacobsen should help strengthen and add depth to the defense, while N’Zonzi and van Heerden should add new dimensions to the midfield.  The club still lacks a real attacking presence but they will fight out enough results to stay competitive until the end of the season.  Big Sam will be looking for more attacking power going into the season, but at the moment the market looks inflated for options at forward.  Hopefully things will work out for Sam and the boys at Blackburn as they usually provide a good match to watch throughout the season.  They will be competitive but do not look for them to break into the top ten and challenge for a European spot this time around.

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