Tag Archives: Chelsea

Gavin Vs. Daddy – EPL Prediction Challenge

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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

LIVERPOOL V ATHLETICO MADRID

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

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

CHELSEA V HULL CITY, PREMIER LEAGUE

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

Carlo Ancelotti – Will Chelsea become Champions again?

Chelsea FC v Seattle Sounders FC

After a somewhat disappointing finish to the Premier League season, only picking up the FA Cup, Chelsea were on the hunt for a manager yet again.  Having sacked Avram Grant before the previous season for Portugal’s national team boss Luiz Felipe Scolari had not worked out so well for owner Roman Abramovich.  Replacing Scolari took too long in the eyes of most, and I have to say I am one of those, but bringing in Russia’s national team manager Guus Hiddink to finish the season as caretaker manager was a stroke of genius.  Hiddink righted the ship and got Chelsea playing football that the fans wanted to see.  This play would see Chelsea make the FA Cup final, securing a win against Everton for the trophy, but unfortunately bowing out of the Champions League a round early this year in defeat to future champions Barcelona.  Though the level of play had risen considerably since his arrival, Hiddink declined Abramovich’s offer to make the position permanent, instead staying on full time with the Russian National Team.  And the search began.

The list for manager candidates to take over at Chelsea could not be a long one, taking into consideration the ability to deal with superstar players and their egos, and the expectations of the owner and fans.  So, knowing Hiddink was not going to return it was time to get to work.  This summer would not be one of waiting around on another national team manager as last summer was for the Blues, announcing June 1, 2009 that now ex AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti would be in charge at Stamford Bridge.  Ancelotti had resigned from Milan less than 24 hours before the announcement was made, after Milan’s final game of the season that saw them defeat Fiorentina 2-0.  Would Ancelotti be the man for the job at the Bridge?  He has a history with star players and difficult managers, making him look like the perfect candidate to come into Chelsea.

Ancelotti has a long history in the game, stretching back to his playing days with Parma in 1976.  He also saw time with Milan and Roma during his playing days, and earned 26 caps for the Italian National Team, participating in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups.  Ancelotti would start back at the bottom when his management career landed him with Serie B side Reggiana in 1995, earning the club promotion would be his only accomplishment with the team before leaving for a bigger job the following season.  Ancelotti would leave Reggiana to take over at Parma until 1999 and then stepped up to Juventus for another two seasons.  After bringing Juventus back up to the top, Milan would bring him in to help improve upon their side that had been struggling.

In Italy, Ancelotti is proven.  He has won every major award you can win in Italy and even managed a few European titles as well.  He is one of a small number of people to have won the European Championship both as a player and a manager, the newest to the list being Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola.  So it is time to branch out and leave Italian football behind.  Ancelotti will be Chelsea’s third Italian manager and fifth manager in the last 2 years time, but he will be looking to lead the team to glory in England and in Europe.  If you want titles you must bring in a man who knows how to win them.

Will Ancelotti be able to translate his success in Italy to success in England’s top league?  Only time will tell but judging by the teams preseason this year the future for Chelsea looks promising.  Ancelotti will have a job on his hands this season at the helm, but good coaching is good coaching, and I think he is starting out on the right foot for the London based club.  They might not win the League this season or become European Champions, but the outlook for a chance at these trophies looks promising.

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