Liverpool – Season of Destiny

So last week Brendan Rogers was in the hot-seat and the latest focus of the Alan Pardew project.  So how did the week go? Not so well.  While looking much better as a team they contrived to allow three goals on what appeared to be Man United’s only 3 shots on goal.

So exit Champions League, slowly drifting out of contention in the league.. time to focus on the Milk Cup.

Aside:
The Milk Cup should remind any fans of the Reds of much better times when “The Moustache” ruled over Europe.

But why am I here? Because sometimes you have to make fun of fans.

Week of December 14, 2014 – Premier League Picks

So it’s already the weekend and there are some key games this week.  For those players that are playing one game at a time, this is that game at that time.

13-Dec-14  
Sunderland1-0West Ham
West Bromwich Albion2-2Aston Villa
Leicester City 1-3Manchester City
Crystal Palace1-1Stoke City
Chelsea 4-0Hull City
Burnley 1-3Southampton
Arsenal2-1Newcastle

I picked West Ham last week after my brain insisted that their run of form can’t be a fluke.  This week my brain insists that West Ham just aren’t that good.   Are they good enough to beat a team that has managed just two wins this whole year?  I would hope so.  But they won’t.

Every week I’m convinced West Brom will play well and score 2 good goals only to allow their opposition in to level it up.  Every stopped clock is right twice a day.. this prediction might hold once a season but I feel very good about it this week.  Local derby, at home and the undeniable truth that West Brom need to start moving up the table as much as I expect Aston Villa to move down the table.

It’s hard to see Leicester putting up much of a game against a team from Manchester (despite winning at the team from near Manchester 5-3 earlier in the season) with Sergio in the team; but the Kun Aguero is out and Dzeko is again set to take a starring role as the under-appreciated goal-scoring machine he is 48 in 114… now if he could finish as well as he gets chances, it would be closed to 90 in 114.  He’s like a loaded gun that gets jammed rather frequently but is quite effective if it actually goes off.   I think Silva is back though and that bodes well because his movement frees up Ya Ya and makes him more effective.  David Silva is the little engine that can and does – he could setup Dzeko ten times.. so I expect at least two goals.

Crystal Palace will draw with Stoke and of all the games being televised this should be one of the least watched.   Stoke work hard as a team, Crystal Palace work hard as a team.  All that hard work sounds like a grind it out draw.

Chelsea lost last week.  Hull have won only one game in their last ten.  Time for Chelsea to show their dominance once again.  I do hope they hit a long injury spell in their second team so that the FA Cup game against Watford in January will be fair.  For this game, the result is going to be as lopsided as a rubber faced male post-stroke.

This is a critical game for Southampton ( aren’t they all? No they aren’t).  Suffering two losses in a row against top teams could dent confidence at a time when they have more tough matches scheduled over winter.   Points against the top teams are bonus, losses against the lower teams is poor form.  I fully expect a comfortable win though to show that they are still European material.  If they lose?  Expect a lot of chatter and a potential downswing in expectations.

Arsene was going to be Alan Pardew but he went to Europe and fixed all the negativity by winning with Podolski (guy needs more starting time).  I know Newcastle are playing decent football but Arsenal should still hold on for the victoire!  Allez-Giroud!

14-Dec-14  
Manchester United 2-2Liverpool
Swansea City 1-1Tottenham Hotspurs

This week’s Alan “I’m a part of this club and not being fired” Pardew award goes to a rather surprising entry this week.  Brendan Rodgers is looking at a team sitting almost at the top of the table, the top of the bottom half of the table.  He’s looking at a team that got bounced from Europe with a lackluster must win game.   There has been chatter about team selection, team style, and team substance.  Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson (no creative juices really flowing there) are playing while Mallela sits on the bench.  Meanwhile,  Rickey Lambert is on the bench with Balotelli.  It’s not the fact that they’re not playing, it’s the fact that this is what BR has brought in to the club.  Ouch.

Looks like BR has got his cannons ready to fire at the arch nemesis team from near-Manchester.

I will press the Launch button if pressed.

So this week, being in the Alan Pardew seat means that his team gets a result against Manchester United at the old toilet?  No..

What is there to say about the disappointing Spurs?  Basically that they’re really no more or less disappointing that any other team in terms of position, mid-table.  That said, they are disappointing because there were high expectations set with Soldado scoring in Spain, Dembele once looking like one of the most gifted possession midfielders in the league, and the likes of Lamela showing speed in the gaps.  Kyle Walker got hurt, Soldado stopped scoring, and Ryan Mason become the play-maker.  That just does not look very good.  Soldado scored so maybe there is a run coming? I’m not sold so I give them a tough draw.   Money at the bookies should be on “My Name is Harry Kane” scoring the equalizer late on.

Bookmaker Tip:  Combination bet on 1-1 with Kane scoring.

15-Dec-14  
Everton 2-0Queens Park Rangers

While Rodgers is enjoying the current hot-seat, Martinez gets to watch his team continue to struggle: 18 pts from from 15 games is a bad record but that’s really not the worst of it. Everton are below Aston Villa and the “Chosen One” Mourinho is looking like a genius in getting great value from Lukaku.  I haven’t given up on on him yet – he’s young, he’s big, and he has potential.  I’m hoping he doesn’t end up being like Kevin Campbell – always so close to being great (37 goals in 130+games doesn’t scream disappointment but not very mind blowing) but Everton and Martinez need him to start showing up consistently.

They’re playing QPR though, so while the game will be tough, I see them pulling out a decent victory.  So….Martinez, be careful, the APP is looking for it’s next manager.

Not the Alan Parson Project
Not the Alan Parson Project

Please Stand. Sir Elton is here.

So December 12th, Elton John is in the house and it’s all because of a new stand.  He paid for a lot of the Rouse stand which they renamed the Graham Taylor stand…and now he gets his own stand.  I’m fairly sure when he visits he gets a better seat though.

Let’s hope he gets to see a Wigan game that reminds us of the recent Fulham beat-down.

watford stand

 

So, for those that are interested, this is the new layout.

stadium-plan-vicarage-road-watford-fc

Courtesy of http://www.footballgroundguide.com/watford/

FA Cup Draw: The Lucky Winner Is…. the often lost “focus” on the league.

Well it was the FA Cup draw this week and lo and behold it went really well for teams that in the former first division that enjoy the thrills and spills of a long cup run.    Here’s to you Watford… a gift in the first real round… a trip to Chelsea.  Not only is it Chelsea, it’s likely to be a Chelsea actually interested in winning every trophy there is to win.

w
FA Cup Chelsea vs Watford (see watfordfc.com for full image and details)

On the bright side, there are those that will say that a loss early in the cup will allow the team to focus on the Championship and a promotion push.  That sounds good in principle but that’s just a way to placate losers.  The other member of my household has a little thing for Sheffield Wednesday and the Citeh – so that’s one team into the round of 4th.

Arsenal vs Hull is interesting because it’s a repeat of last year’s final but then it’s Hull so that’s about as interesting as it gets.

With Liverpool struggling an away game to Wimbledon will invoke thought’s of Lawrie Sanchez (though strict lineage makes it a different team).

Upset of Upsets… but less upsetting than become the MK Dons

 

FA Cup third-round draw

Arsenal v Hull City
Southampton v Ipswich
Stoke v Wrexham
Charlton v Blackburn
Dover Athletic v Crystal Palace
AFC Wimbledon v Liverpool
Manchester City v Sheffield Wednesday
Aldershot or Rochdale v Nottingham Forest
West Brom v Gateshead
Blyth Spartans v Birmingham City
Aston Villa v Blackpool
Rotherham v AFC Bournemouth
Huddersfield v Reading
Oxford or Tranmere v Swansea
Cardiff v Colchester
Bolton v Wigan
Sunderland v Leeds
Burnley v Tottenham
Millwall v Bradford
Derby v Southport
Brentford v Brighton
Fulham v Wolves
Leicester v Newcastle
Scunthorpe or Worcester City v Chesterfield
Everton v West Ham
Cambridge United or Mansfield v Bury or Luton
Chelsea v Watford
Barnsley or Chester v Middlesbrough
QPR v Sheffield United
Accrington or Yeovil v Manchester United
Preston v Norwich
Doncaster v Bristol City

Liverpool vs Man United

I’ve been reading a lot of this:

 

“Most major footballing nations have one fixture that is unquestionably the biggest in the country: whether El Clasico (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid) in Spain, the Superclasico (Boca Juniors vs. River Plate) in Argentina, Der Klassiker(Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund) in Germany, Le Classique (Paris Saint-Germain vs. Marseille) in France or O Classico (Benfica vs. FC Porto) in Portugal, the theme is familiar and the implication clear.

English football is different. It lacks an equivalent contest, although the biggest game is usually considered this weekend’s fixture: Manchester United vs. Liverpool. It’s clearly England’s rivalry in a historic sense, but it’s peculiarly lacking in major showdowns over the years.”

What?

I’d rather sit down and watch a Liverpool v Everton game, or even, United vs Citeh, for that matter.

Liverpool vs Man United is just another top team game, that’s all.

Source: http://www.espnfc.us/barclays-premier-league/23/blog/post/2193368/manchester-united-vs-liverpool-is-close-to-a-classicbut-lacks-major-drama

Week of December 7, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Another December week and some interesting notes taken away from the mid week.

Firstly, I need to quit picking against West Ham – maybe they really aren’t relegation fodder?  Secondly, I need to quit picking against Aston Villa … nah, this week was an anomaly against a more mediocre team.  Liverpool maybe turning the corner?  Everton still going in a straight line?  Spurs showing up at the weekend before disappearing again.

Perhaps most gratifying to my prognostication ego;  a poor start to the winter for Southampton – losses to Arsenal and Citeh – and it’s not looking to get easier any time soon; a Manchester United team shaking off it’s early season stuttering.  Let’s see if the form holds!

6-Dec-14  
Newcastle United1-1Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur1-0Crystal Palace
Stoke City1-2Arsenal
Liverpool 1-0Sunderland
Hull City2-2West Brom
Queens Park Ranger 1-1Burnley
Manchester City2-0Everton

Alan Pardew, latest bookmakers favorite for Manager of the Year, stays at home to take on the current undefeated top of the tablers, Chelski.   According to the “Chosen One”, Newcastle play a lot of games like friendlies; however, they make an effort to try against his team which is the burden of being the best.  It’s not often the Jose throws compliments around so I think a  back-handed one is better than nothing.  It does perhaps indicate a certain wariness about the trip up North.

Pardew says that it will be impossible for Chelsea to remain undefeated this year.  I don’t disagree but I am not sure that the Magpies have what it takes to take a victory.

Friendlies? We don’t play Friendlies…

Spurs beat Everton last week and Soldado scored!  No doubt somewhere a very lucky punter won a bet on that gamble!  Then they got trounced by Chelsea.  So which Spuds will show up this week?  Winners or Losers?  It’s hard to say but the result is probably more dependent on the play of the Eagles.  It’s hard to be positive about a team that lost to Aston Vill, so Spurs it is.  Barely.

Arsenal are a good team that have had poor form.  Alexis and Danny Welbeck are beginning to work well together.  Giroud scored a cracker against Manchester United so it’s easy to think they’re prime to have a positive winter.  It will be tough but despite people’s opinions on the frailties of Arsenal’s defense, Mertesacker is a World Cup winner and Chambers is not too bad.   While it took a last ditch effort against 10 to beat Southampton, they beat Southampton.

Liverpool are another team destined to eventually get going.  It’s shocking to look at the table and see them in the top 10 but they are there and I think are definitely priming for a run back to the top 5.  A tough Sunderland team will keep it tight.

Hull and West Bromwich are two teams.   Two teams two goals each in a tie.  Sounds fair but not a good result for either as they are both lower in the table than they would want to be at this stage of the season.

Queens Park Rangers are in the position they’re likely to occupy for a long time: bottom three.  Burnley are in the position they’re likely to occupy for a long time: bottom three.  Burnley have been playing fairly well and have started finding the net again (it’s right there between those posts!) so it’s a good chance to try and make a gap between them and their fellow relegation candidates.   It’s one of those days that fate interrupts and reminds them that both of them deserve to be near the bottom and forces a last gasp equalizer from QPR.

Everton have been disappointing this year and it’s hard to see where things will change.  I predicted a big year for Lukaku but it doesn’t seem that he’s able to be the constant threat that you need a goalscorer to be.  He’s a slightly less complete Welbeck which isn’t something that you’d try and build a future on.   Manchester City have been finding ways to win.  YaYa and Sergio are both a constant threat to score and that’s the difference between the teams.   Both of them will make good on at least one threat each.

7-Dec-14  
West Ham2-1Swansea City
Aston Villa1-1Leicester City

West Ham will win.  I’m now convinced that this is not just a fluke – they keep winning!  The Swans are just not as consistent and this week is a down week.

A derby game of sorts.  A clash between the team at the bottom of the table and the team that I think might end up near the bottom of the table.  It’s not going to be long before Lambert is going to start feeling the pressure.  It’s now nine games without a win for the Foxes – a run that Villa snapped against Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.  In this game there are no winners.

 

8-Dec-14  
Southampton 2-3Manchester United

Southampton can’t lose three in a row, can they?  Why yes they can, and they will.  Manchester United will play their famous 2-4-2-1 formation and outscore the Saints in a back and forth dual (in case you’re wondering, I only count the three defenders as 2/3 of a player each).

And in the holiday spirit… a kind of “who will they sell next?”

Open a Door and Receive a Player!

 

 

Week of December 2 and 3, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Ugh… it’s December and I have to remember to update these picks during the middle of the week.

Manchester United are set to benefit from the December Crunch; however, Stoke are an organized and annoying team that I think will be organized and annoying and hold the Reds to a pretty non-satisfying tie.  1-1.

Swansea are one of those cusp teams that look good and play nice but can then lose any week.  Any week that they’re not playing QPR, that is. 2-1

Liverpool are going to turn it around.  No really, they will. There is all this talk of Gerrard being “past it” being “too old”.  Well if Fat Frank can score goals for city there’s no reason that Stevie G can’t for Liverpool.   I did a search to see how old he looks and was surprised to find he still looks quite youthful! 1-2

Old Stevie G

I’m not sure about Newcastle.  Now that Alan Pardew has take his team away from the drop zone into a title chasing new position in just  few weeks, it’s tough to know what they will do next..surely lose a few and here him talk about “the football club” and “this club’s fans” in the context of relegation and firing once again.  It can be convenient to not name the club you’re managing on the off chance you end up somewhere else.  But Newcastle can beat bottom team Burnely, despite their positive run.

The Wests are playing… the Brom and the Hammers.  This has 2-2 written all over it.

Crystal Palace and Aston Villa had opposite runs last year.  The Palace fighting off relegation and Aston Villa fighting for a win.Should be an engaging team but I’m continuing to put all my faith in Villa going down. 1-0

2-Dec-2014  
Manchester United 1-1Stoke City
Swansea City2-1Queens Park Rangers
Leicester City1-2Liverpool
Burnley1-2Newcastle United
West Bromwich Albion2-2West Ham United
Crystal Palace2-1Aston Villa

Tough games for all but this is the second game in a treacherous run for the Arsenal Feeder team  Southampton – I truly wonder where they will end up at the end of December.  if they retain a position in the top 3? Chalk them in for Champions League.

A tough Sunderland team held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw so this is a great chance for Manchester City to pick up some points on the leaders.  Ya Ya is running into some decent form, appearing in and out depending on who he has to try and carry.  Aguero is always good for a goal – some real form from Navas, or a little more penetration in the final third and they should put in a hatful of goals.  Will be tough to keep a clean sheet with Kompany out .   This is not the high-flying city of last year – this is the barely good enough Chelsea version of City. 1-0

Everton a poor loss at the weekend to a struggling (but higher up the table than you’d think)  Spuds.  If you listened to the interview with Roberto Martinez you’d think it was down to them not playing their best, Spurs playing better, and just some mistakes here and there.  Roberto – you’re not working as a TV analyst anymore!   It’s actually quite refreshing to hear straight talk from the boss.  Everton at home against a poor Hull side?  Should be a win.   Fully expect a “superlative” goal from Ross Barkley so we can continue in this believe that he’s a top international and future hope for England. 1-0.

This Game we Will be Thumbs Up!

Arsenal will come out on top this week on the simple basis that they can’t continue to not win.  Southampton won’t drop too far..but this is going to be a rough patch for Ronald K and his boys.

Chelsea are too good for an average Spurs team though nothing would bring me more Premier league joy than the Y*d Army taking it to the Blues and crushing them.  Never bet with your heart! My brain says it’s a no brainer which leaves me to wonder what I should be using to choose this result. 2-0

3-Dec-14  
Sunderland 0-1Manchester City
Everton1-0Hull City
Arsenal 2-1Southampton
Chelsea 2-0Tottenham Hotspur

 

Week of November 29, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Well, the last November games are here… and then it’s the December crunch where I have to remember to post more than once a week.  But without further ado, let me roll out this weeks picks. I’m aiming for a 100% record this week but I’ll settle for for the current form of most of Arsenal’s midfield – average.

 

29-Nov-14  
West Bromwich Albion1-2Arsenal
Swansea City 2-0Crystal Palace
West Ham United 1-1Newcastle United
Queens Park Rangers 2-1Leicester City
Manchester United2-0Hull City
Liverpool2-0Stoke City
Burnley1-0Aston Villa
Sunderland1-3Chelsea

 

30-Nov-14  
Southampton1-1Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur1-2Everton