Round 12 2017/18 – North London Derby Day

This post is being brought to you this week from Chi-Town where I’m planning on seeing the non-round football as attempted by the Bears against the Lions.   My dedication to the cause is so great that even on vacation I’m posting a weekly kick-off summary.

This week’s predictions see a lot of similar picks so I expect the winner this week to be a lucky exact thrown in.

Weekly Guesses

There are a few of interesting items to point out from the picks this week. There is a seemingly unanimous belief that a Jose Mourinho led team will keep a clean sheet.  Personally, I put that down more to the fact that they are playing at home where goals are hard to come by for the visitors or just the fact that the visitors are Newcastle.    The other is that Liverpool are a consensus attacking team and goals should be expected.  I haven’t checked to see if Jordan Henderson is playing to prevent that from happening so it’s probably not a bad prediction.   Burnley are a unanimous home win pick which is remarkable when you consider their home form last year.

I would also point out that everyone picked Citeh again this week but that hardly seems interesting anymore.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

Probably the game of the week is the North London Derby.  Until recently there was a 15 year pattern that was religiously followed by the Arsenal.

  • Arsenal need to buy players to win the League
  • Arsene buys a player and sells more
  • Everyone calls for Wenger to be fired
  • Arsenal finish fourth.

There was also a pattern at spurs.

  • Don’t win anything

Things look like they may be turning a corner with Arsenal continuing their slight slide and Spurs looking more and more like contenders for a trophy; however, I would not be surprise to see a Spurs team without a trophy and Arsenal 4th come season’s end.

I expect an open game that will ultimately end in a tie.  Robbie Savage noted earlier this week that  Spurs need a fall back from Harry Kane – someone who can score and attach when the main man is out hurt.  Erickson is a play-maker but is not a domestic league goalscorer.  I know Zidane doesn’t really rate Gareth too much so maybe a signing in the transfer window will happen.

Gareth and Monkey

Meanwhile, a draw seems a fair result.

Bournemouth vs Huddersfield Town

The first few games saw the Cherries really struggling to put together a solid game but they have turned the corner.  Huddersfield have been doing well but they are struggling for goals despite their decent form so I expect this to be the part of the season where the new boys start to struggle now that they’ve been watched and dissected by the better managers.  Eddie Howe will bring a prepared team and they will comfortable sit on a two goal lead for most of the game before keeping it interesting at the end.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Stoke City

Probably the toughest game of the week to get a handle on. Shaquiri (not to be confused with Shakira or Harry Enfield) has been playing well. Stoke have put together a few results when Mark Hughes was starting to look in danger….and Brighton have been over-achieving.  Scrappy draw and another interview with Chris Hughton where he lauds his team’s efforts and says they plan to stay up.

Burnley vs Swansea City

Burnley have been playing well but things are a little testy at the training ground with Sean having to consistently deny rumours that he’s the favorite to take over at Everton.   It will still be a home win as I see Swansea being the team that will continue to struggle.

Crystal Palace vs Everton

Woy’s Boys are playing the bad team from Merseyside.  Neither team is particularly good but Everton managed to beat Watford last week (sigh) and Palace look a little better with Zaha (the baby giraffe) David Unsworth is a tough nut who seems to be managing the Toffeemen right now with a laundry list of replacements being lined up. The list is so long and so populated with currently employed managers, at this point I don’t know if pulling Peter Reid out of retirement isn’t an option.

Peter Reid and Monkey

I always think teams “show up” for temporary manages so a shock away win wouldn’t be a surprise but the small stadium and nutty fans will keep this to a draw.

Leicester City vs Manchester City
I’m not picking against Pep again this year.

Liverpool vs Southampton

The good team from Liverpool plays a defensive free football but this won’t matter as they will spend ninety minutes camped in the opposition half.  VVD wants to join Liverpool so I doubt we’ll see much of an effort from him.

Manchester United vs Newcastle United

Mourinho likes to keep a clean sheet more than he likes his team to score.  I expect a cagey (boring) match which will see two very late goals from the substitute (whether that be Martial or Rashford) and then an endless discussion where Zlatan fits into things.

Watford vs West Ham United

With all the negative talk at West Ham and all the postive talk at Watford it would probably come as a surprise to people that over the last 5 weeks West Ham have more points than Watford.  I expect the new boss to get a new resurgent team spirit and for it to be a solid away performance.  I also think that trigger happy Watford may take the 10 million offered by Everton for their manager.  Watford seem to believe that the team come before the manager.

West Bromwich Albion vs Chelsea

Lose to Citeh and you get written off.  Beat United and you become overrated.  There’s the summary for Chelsea.  West Brom will play for a draw and fail to keep a clean sheet.

This was hacked together quickly so probably full of errors.  I will try and do better next week…. do better in making up an excuse, that is.

International Week – Random Puzzle Update – Part I

Thought this week I would document a puzzle that I’ve completed by Heye. I bought the puzzle at Amazon because I found it somewhat amusing. I thought I would snap a few of my favorite scenes from the puzzle for your enjoyment.

This will be a two-part series! It’s like a home-away qualifier.

How A Puzzle Starts

A puzzle starts like this.  Obviously.

How A Puzzle Really Starts

This is how a puzzle really starts for me.  Every piece face up. Edges in the pile.  Usually I will have one further pile for the initial sort -I don’t have enough brain power to do a sophisticated multi-sort.

 

Dentist Chair

Sheffield 1996.  Probably the peak moment of Gazza’s career happened about 10 seconds before alcohol became involved.
Teddy providing the smouldering good looks and the lack of smarts.

Don’t Forget To Floss

The Bully

Dave Mackay hated this photo because he thought it made him look like a bully; however, he always signed the image and accepted it’s one of the most famous moments in sports.
A signed one is owned by ME courtesy of JE.

 

Not A Bully

Cloughisms

Brian Clough isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; however, he is the owner of some of the classiest/funniest/most disrespectful quotations of all time (Bill Shankly has some better ones).

 

“Cloughism”

Kung Fu Cantona

Manchester some time in the 90s.  I didn’t see this live but I can still remember my housemate letting me know about this in the morning.  I thought he was winding me up like Fish wind up Seagulls near a trawler (or something).

 

Hong Kong CanPhuey

Cantona The King

One of the most cocky goals every scored.  From Zero to Hero.

I Am The King

Terry Butcher

Made the cover of every magazine at some point – Terry Butcher bleeding to death.  In the background

Tis But a Flesh Wound

In the background is the best streaker of all time:

Broken Arm Final

In 1993 Steve Morrow scored the goal that beat Sheffield Wednesday  and in his celebration he broke his arm live on TV.  I remember laughing at the time which is a bit mean.

 

Break An Arm!

Baddiel and Skinner recreated the event (they will be featured in part 2):

Saint & Greavsie

I grew up with S&G and I loved Jimmy.  I’ll never forget when he was commenting on a game and a hapless striker clean through failed to score – Jimmy just said “You’ve got to drop your shoulder, son”.  Greatest finisher of all time (maybe).

 

Saint and Greavsie

 

 

Part Two coming soon!

Round 11 2017/18 – Picks and Results and Lots of Zeroes

I know that in writing this blog or commentary that I often make mistakes (all of which go unreported1) but I don’t worry because I know even the proper news outlets get their results wrong.

Point is, that I try my best to get everyone’s picks right but it you really really care about where you finish be sure to check your predictions.  I’ll try and get them up a bit quicker.

Guesses

A Very Bad Start

This week’s picks (ok, last week’s picks that I’m posting a week late) were quite interesting.  I knew the games would be challenging to pick as the big teams were playing each other and that meant a lot of smaller teams were head-to-head.  Worse, the teams you would normally fancy was often the away team.  After five games the scoring was looking bleak; I cannot every remember multiple people starting a week with FIVE (5) completely wrong guesses.  At this point it was looking pretty bad for me.

It was a terrible start.

A Disappointing Start
Great Start

Better Finish

By the end things improved for the most part with everyone picking up 3 results out of 5.   Maybe we were better prepared for these results.

Better Prepared

But it was a complete reversal for AM and ME in their person tete-a-tete with ME moving from last-to-first and AM falling from first-to-last with the lowest total I’ve seen for a long time.  I was bailed out by correctly picking Liverpool as 4-1 winners – a total no-brainer that I’m surprised everyone else missed.  I did actually pick Huddersfield 1-0 West Brom but entered it incorrectly on the form as 0-0 and so I have to stand by my official entry which drops me to 2nd.

Weekly Leaders

Overall things are still relatively close at the top but with the bottom three slowly drifting off the bottom and looking for a solid result.

Current Leaders

For interest I thought I would put how everyone is generally picking.  Each box shows how far your personal table (based on your picks) ranks the teams against where they actually are in the table.  Green means that the team is overachieving relative to your picks and red means that they are underachieving relative to your picks….

Quick test:  Who is overrated and who is most underated?

Average Table

Underrated:

Image result for chris hughton cheer
Give My Underrated Self a Hand

Overrated:

They Fired My Overrated Self

Don’t forget your picks

1Actually, when the form responded with the incorrect teams I got a number of very concerned emails. So thanks.

Round 10 2017/18 – Results (New Server)

Hopefully the site is up and running after a quick migration from one host to another host.  There was nothing wrong with the existing server but unlike Citeh or Chelski I don’t really need to be spending money on one server when I already have a good one available.  I don’t think I can send my server off on loan to a second tier blogger.  Let me know if you find anything not working (but don’t look too hard).

This week’s final results:

All Guesses In

This week’s final results table:

Where do You Rank? Last if you’re ME

There are some head-to-heads of note – namely the friendly competition between AM and ME.  I don’t mean to point out the obvious but they’re like polar opposites.  Literally.

This week’s aggregate table:

Aggregate Effort

Comments

I did get a couple of comments this week.  LS wrote “Do you win anything for coming last? Asking for a friend…”.  Firstly, there’s barely a prize for coming first.  This past year it was a bottle of Kraken Spiced Rum.  It was nice to be able to do an in person presentation of the prize.

Kraken For The Winner

Secondly, I wasn’t aware that you knew LJ 😉

AB wrote “At least my name is top of the list when entering initials for these submissions……..”  I’m not sure that’s true! We’ll have to check this week’s entry form

AB at the Bottom

Nope!

Don’t forget to pick.  I’m hoping to do some analysis this week.

Puzzle Picture

I had completed the Football History puzzle a few weeks ago.  This weeks sample shows Mr Taking Le Tiss saying goodbye to the Dell.  He came up in conversation this week when a couple of us were discussing the worst penalty in the world which we thought may have been Anthony Martial vs Benfica for a while before realizing that was a little harsh.

Round 09 2017/18 – Picks and Results in One

The Friday game caused some consternation this week but everyone got picks in.  I think they were all  made in time or with a degree of honesty but I don’t know what time this server runs on to know whether anyone cheated and picked a 3-0 result for the West Ham vs Brighton game after kick-off.

The Inspired Choices

As usual there are the standard across the board picks – everyone picked Manchester City and everyone picked Manchester United – and everyone was successful half the time.
As usual there were a few swing games that created separation in the leaderboard including Spuds playing against the 0-4-3 formation Liverpool and the Swans being eaten by the Foxes.

Winners and LJ

AB was this weeks winner with an exact (including the 3-0 Brighton score-line) a jump from last-to-first.  It tightened up after that and ended with LS and LJ being last.  I don’t want to say that LJ is not doing well but the aggregate scores show he is not doing well so I don’t have to! I haven’t really paid attention to the top of the table but I’m sure it’s no accident.

Overall Aggregate Leaders

The table below shows the table as it would be if our picks were all averaged into actual results.  I think this provides and interesting summary of where we hit and where we miss.  Use it as input into your picking strategy.

Mediocre aka Average Table

Here is another view that shows how your picks match to the actual table.  The number is how many places you are off the actual position.  So, for example, JCE (yours truly) has Watford 5 places lower in 11th and Southampton 3 places higher in 7th.  Not sure if I should change the signs and colors to make it more obvious or not.

How Bad Are We

Chelsea vs Watford
Watford will take the game to Chelsea and give them a run for their money.  They will hold it close and maybe have the lead as late as the last third of the game but they will likely end up just short.

Everton vs Arsenal
Everton have started the season poorly and need a good start to kick-start their season.  They will probably take a lead but the superiority of the London team will come through and they will win by 3 or 4 goals.

Huddersfield Town vs Manchester United
Trafford have not been dominant and Huddersfield are a solid defensive unit.  It will probably be tough for Man U to break through and score and I expect Huddersfield may sneak a win.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a make-shift defense gifts a goal to the home team.

Manchester City vs Burnley
Regular lack of suspense win for the Citeh

Newcastle United vs Crystal Palace
The eagles are struggling and Zaha being back won’t fix that.  Expect a NE win.

Southampton vs West Bromwich Albion
Tight game but the advantage goes to the home team.

Stoke City vs Bournemouth
I think this is the point where we start questioning whether Mr Hughes should be managing after Bournemouth pickup an important win.

Swansea City vs Leicester City
Swansea will struggle against Leicester in a low scoring affair.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool
A lot of people think this could be close.  Those people haven’t seen Lovren play.  Easy win for spuds-u-like.

West Ham United Brighton & Hove Albion
We all know this was 0-3

Note:
It is easier to predict games on Tuesday!

This week’s Entry

Round 08 2017/18 – Results

Looked like I was going to win handily this week after correctly predicting a Liverpool versus Jose Mourinho in boring mode draw and an exact in a Burnley versus Hammers early on but it was not to be as my picks went slightly south and I lost out to AM again.  I’ve included Mark Lawrenson this week by mistake and he would have won had he been invited to play.

Homeless Looking Man

It’s scary to me that I remember that guy as a player.  It’s a reminder that I’m pretty old.

What is AB doing?

So, congratulations to AM who has edged ahead in the ME head-to-head!

Collective Genius

Above is the average table for all of us.  I’m tempted to remove AB because “two points”?  Do you even follow the Premier League? 🙂

Enter this week 

Round 08 2017/2018 – Premier League “Puzzle Week”

This past week I completed the 3000 piece Football History puzzle and I thought it would be interesting to share some of the details over the course of the next few posts.  This is basically an admission that coming up with ideas to write about is quite hard and having pretty pictures is a cop-out.

Puzzle Complete

This puzzle comes from Roundhead Illustration and it’s quite fun and produced by a fan off the Hertfordshire Deer team North of the South and South of the North (Watford).  It definitely has a bias for those who were there when football became the new professional in the 1990’s and also has a little more Hornets than one would think belongs in a History of Football… I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that the Luther Blissett  doesn’t stand up in historical terms to the Kippax, Stretford End, Spion Kop, the Clock End,  might bhave been better served as more significant English stands.  I’m sure Europe or South America have other stands I’ve never heard of that are more famous than the LB stand.

Here are the picks:

Guesses

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Everton
Everton have really got off to a bit of a slow start.  Ronald Koeman was backed by the chairman this week so I would fully expect another loss to end in another salad type incident.

Et Tu Crouton!

[Explanation: It’s a Caesar salad being stabbed in the back].
Brighton aren’t a good team and Chris Hughton seems like the nicest manager in the Premier League.  Maybe they hand Everton the win or maybe they just aren’t capable of scoring.  Either way, Ronald survives another week.

Burnley vs West Ham United
West Ham are still not good and they are 1 point away from home bad.  Burnley are reversing last years trend by being better away than at home and I see that trend continuing with a poor home performance.  A key player is back in Lanzini and while no one player makes a team, one player can make a team better and so a draw is a fair result.

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
Palace might never score.  Chelsea certainly won’t let them.  A walk in the park.  A gentle stroll in the country. An afternoon nap.  More or less a day off for the Blues.
I expect this to be so boring that it won’t need any commentary  [Link courtesy of AB]

Leicester City vs West Bromwich Albion
Despite me thinking Leicester are better than they were last year their position speaks otherwise.  WBA are the normal inconsistent team that grafts random results that they always seem to be.  It’s not the biggest rivalry of the week but I expect the teams to get a little chippy.

Liverpool vs Manchester United
Liverpool are at home.
Manchester United are a better team.
Liverpool are free scoring.
Jose Mourinho knows how to setup a defense.
Man United will always score at least one.
Coutinho knows how to hit free kicks under the wall.

Final score 1-1.

Of course, we would love it someone beat them…. GGMU is getting old 🙂

I’d Love It

Manchester City vs Stoke City
It’s hard to see a team scoring 5 goals every week struggling to beat a team that’s not good travelling.

Southampton vs Newcastle United
Southampton are proving once again you can get some results even with a team that gets reset every year.  Newcastle won a couple on the bounce but they’re a bottom six team.

Swansea City vs Huddersfield Town
Getting late so the summary is getting shorter…. this could be 0-0 or any other combination of something-0.  I simply don’t see Huddersfield scoring.  I’ll give Swansea 1 and let’s make it an o.g. for grins.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Bournemouth
One of the witty comments for the week:

Dad supports spurs.
Dad loves spurs.
He is blinded by his love of spurs.
Spurs are **** apart from Rose, Kane and Dele.
Who will be at old Trafford……

This was based on the discussion that last year ME had the ridiculous prediction that Spuds won 37 of 38 games and won the league by a margin.  He picked them again this week and this week he’ll be right…. unless the Wembley jinx is real… the Spurs team again Lithuania was terrible!

Watford vs Arsenal
Watford started well but Chalobah is out and news I was previously unaware of came in the form of another entry form witty….

“Isaac “no” Success just can’t score even when paying for the privilege…”

Nice one ME. Double entendre complete with a dig at his achievements at Vicarage Road.  Well Played.
Arsenal, the gunners with a big cannon, will easily dispatch the Moose.

A final note to “AM” – I’m sure your picks will beat ONE of the “E”s.  Finishing behind all of us would be embarrassing 🙂

Round 07 2017/18 – Results “Black Jack”

This was a high scoring week (for some of us). Things were looking close on Saturday but a crazy set of Sunday results moved BE to the top of the pack.
There was a fairly big score this week….let’s see if you can guess what it was without looking.

A Good Hand

Maybe that wasn’t enough of a clue.  Maybe this is….

A Good Player

Twenty one points!  This is the highest score of the year and a high water mark for everyone to shoot for.  It is a lot but I should still point out that this is still four points short of the ridiculous total put up by KMFE last year that stands as the record since we started making picks 3 years or so ago.

Weekly Leaders

As mentioned, last year 25 points put KMFE to the top of the overall charts – a position from which she slowly fell.  This year, 21 points has put BE firmly at the top of the charts but we’ve been here before. It is from the top last year at the half-way point of the season that she started the magnificent slide from first to last suffering the kind of second half collapse we would expect from Watford. So don’t give up hope if you find yourself last Livi.  My advice:  Stop picking against Liverpool!

Aggregate Scores

Looks to me like the new members [LS, AB] are struggling while the experienced players [BE,JCE,ME,JE] are hanging out at the top.  LJ is an experienced player who continues to lose and live by his mantra “I think knowing football is actually a hindrance”.

Next week a quick summary of who these initialisms actually are!

Entry Form for Week 8

Round 07 2017/18 – Picks “Crystal Palace as Arturo Gatti”

Three late picks this week but hopefully they will get them in before the games start.
I need to buy JE a new alarm clock to remind him to get his picks in.

Time I got my Picks In

 

Guesses

Arsenal V Brighton & Hove Albion
Santi Cazorla is apparently scheduled to come back after Christmas which seems remarkable after the nightmare he’s been through trying to get in shape.  He is a living example of what 8 surgeries does to your muscle definition.  It’s a shame because he was such a skillful and creative player… a bit like Ozil (who looks a lot like Enzo Ferrari) if he bothered to actually show up and try.

Mesut Ferrari

The announcement ties in nicely to an comment received with the picks this week:

“German satirical film “Er ist wieder da” (Look Who’s Back) draws some similarities with current leader of USA — yet offers a far more articulate main character”

I’m not going to get all political here but the movie seems quite strange!

Back to the Arsene’n’all… even with Ozil’s running around a lot while not doing much the other 10 should have enough to keep Brighton quiet.

Bournemouth V Leicester City

Leicester have been seemingly decent and have suffered from a horrendous opening schedule but they only have four (4) points so it could well be that I’m once again overrating them as I did most of last year.  The Cherries have been equally dire and have slipped up frequently at the back.  A draw seems to be a fair result with Vardy running his tail off.  Leicester will take an early lead and Bournemouth will score late and everything in between will be a turgid affair… a bit like a dirt sandwich*

This Game, a.k.a. Dirt Sandwich [Book available at Amazon]
*Dirt sandwich is a euphemism for sh*t sandwich but my BE prefers euphemisms and nicer language.

Chelsea V Manchester City

Chelski and Manchester Pretty (see comment above) both won in Europe against Champions League foes in Europe.  Unfortunately, Aguero lost against a lamp-post in Europe.  Everyone seems to be expecting a high-scoring game so I just followed like a sheep.  I don’t think Chelsea are all that solid in the back.  Well they are decent at the back except for the England International.

Everton V Burnley

Soon Everton will have to play better.  Being bottom of a Europe League group says nothing positive about your team but they’re playing Burnley at home.  Koeman will force the defence to play better.

Huddersfield Town V Tottenham Hotspur

The Terriers will dig and try an get a result.  A result would be 0-0.  I don’t think they will keep Harry Kane from scoring.. and if they do… they’ll not stop Dele Alli from scoring… and if they do they’ll not stop Ericson….and if they do then maybe Lloris comes up for a corner to score or something.  Anyway, Huddersfield 0 Spuds More.

Manchester United V Crystal Palace

ME noted: “I have Crystal Palace to score their first goal this week…but they will still get thumped.”
That made me think of the poor Arturo Gatti facing Mayweather when Mayweather was Mayweather and Mayweather wasn’t Money.  Gatti would wander forward getting the odd jab in but would get thumped in return.  Watching the video you realize how good Floyd used to be – I don’t think you’d find a video of Palace showing how good they used to be.  I think the boys from near Manchester will end up winning.  I do think they’re not as good as people want them to be.

Newcastle United V Liverpool

As expected, after three consecutive wins the Tyneside fans thought they had a chance at Europe and started living in dreamland.  They’ll soon be shaken back to reality when they realize that they have to work hard just to stay up. Comfortable away win.

Stoke City V Southampton

Stoke are a sometimes spoiler team.  Southampton are sometimes a spoiler team. Two spoilers spoil the game.

West Bromwich Albion V Watford

The Hornets played WBA well both games last year and should have picked up six points.  This year Watford are three away wins in a row so clearly destined for Europe rather than fighting at the bottom of the table. Let’s make it four (4).

West Ham United V Swansea City

Time for West Ham to win.