Posts Tagged English Premier League

London Olympics: Football’s Headache in Uniting a Kingdom


At club level, England boasts of some of the world’s best football teams such as Liverpool and Manchester United, alone with eight European Cup wins to their name along with the London duo of Arsenal and Chelsea while Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City should probably have their ambitions of breaking the Big-Four’s monopoly taken more seriously based on both’s improvement over the last few seasons, culminating in Spurs reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter final in only its first appearance last season and City lifting the last FA Cup, defeating city rivals United along the way.

The rest of the British Isle lies well behind the English Premier League both competitively and lucratively with the closest competition, the Scottish Premier League, being a standard golf course apart from matching the EPL’s prowess and global appeal with some yards to spare.

While the biggest clubs from the other nations of the British Isle have been unable to match their English counterparts, those nations have actually produced quality footballers that have reached the heights, some of whom are Liverpool’s Scottish manager Kenny Dalglish who is part of Celtic’s greatest team of all time along with fellow Scot Jimmy Johnstone. Other fine footballers these nations have produced are Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Gareth Bale from Wales, Darren Fletcher, Craig Gordon, Kris Boyd and Allan McGregor from Scotland as well as Irishmen John O’Shea, Ian Hart, Roy Keane and Robbie Keane among many others.

Unfortunately, most of these footballers along with their English counterparts have achieved naught in their international sojourns despite their potential being capable of earning such acclaim as evident with their individual successes at club level.

Hence, the British Olympic Association’s move to have a Great Britain football team participate at the London Olympics of 2012 rather than the individual nations with the logic being to afford footballers from each nation of the Isle such as those aforementioned; and the individual nations on the side, the chance to have a taste of success at the international level.

It should be noted that the closest international success came to any nation of the Isle was at the European Championship of 1996 with England only able to reach the semi-final stage. A decade and half of underachievement at four FIFA World Cups, three European Championships and three Olympic Games have since been endured.

This gives credence to the BOA’s idea of a Great Britain football team representing at the Olympics London will host. The manner the Association has gone about bringing the team to fluid fruition may however have put the dream in jeopardy with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations claiming that the BOA only approached the English FA with the idea, and therefore cannot be seen to be in agreement with creating a football team for Great Britain.

The trio also stated that being a part of the proposal will confuse the individual identities of the nations. This is despite that FIFA has assured the BOA of each nation’s identity remaining intact in the aftermath of them contributing to the cause.

I strongly believe both sides should drop the egos and reach a compromise on the matter because in reality, none of the nations in the Isle can put up a commendable showing, let alone win Olympic gold come 2012; England’s U-21s a typical reason as to why. Having the best of each nation however may see Great Britain put up a commendable performance in front of the cheering faithfuls on home turf.

As it is now, should BOA go ahead with its plan of having a Great Britain football team for the first time since the Rome Olympics of 1960 without reaching a compromise with the trio that are being initially stubborn, then such team will likely predominantly compose of English players. Any success achieved then would not be shared!

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EPL Players of the Season 2010/11


Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez, the little pea in the big league

Snapped up from Chivas Guadalajara just before a commendable World Cup campaign in South Africa for Mexico, ‘Chicharito’ arrived Old Trafford, scored 13 goals in 21 league appearances and made such an impact at the Theatre of Dreams that Dimitar Berbatov’s long overdue return on goals for the money spent on him could not save him from losing his first team place to the diminutive Mexican.

Peter Osaze Odemwingie
Mostly condemned for moving to a club of Westbromwich-Albion’s stature by fans back in Nigeria and abused racially for leaving Lokomotiv Moscow by fans of the Russian club, Osaze went about his business and his sterling performances for the Baggies through the season; bagging 15 goals along the way, was more than enough to silence his critics and announce his talents to the English game. Being named PFA Player of the Month twice added good icing to his cake.

Robin van Persie
This Dutchman’s form for Arsenal, laden as always with time on the sidelines due to injury, deserved a trophy but just like his goal in the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City, it simply didn’t prove enough. Van Persie however should be proud of his individual performances this season having finished with 18 league goals this season; the first of those scored on New Year’s Day, equalling the record held by Cristiano Ronaldo and former teammate Thierry Henry for most goals scored between January and season’s end. He also shot his way to breaking Didier Drogba’s record of scoring in six consecutive away league matches by scoring in nine consecutive away league matches.

Luka Modric

Luka Modric

Luka Modric (Spurs' engine) would be the player in the background with both arms raised, with Van der Vaart (Spurs' sleek exterior) celebrating in the fore

Where Rafael van Der Vaart was the sleek outer design of the Tottenham Hotspur team, Croatian playmaker Modric was the engine under the hood that truly ran the show with space-opening passes, playing self and team out of trouble and providing the occasional assist. Modric indeed is the unsung star of Tottenham this season and you just feel a far less calamitous goalkeeper and more consistent forwards will see the top echelon of the Premier League be even more competitive.

Darren Bent

After leaving Sunderland in January the dearth in goal became obvious at the Stadium of Light, much to the benefit of Aston Villa where between the New Year and March he became top scorer of the Villans with 10 goals in 16 league appearances; including two in a memorable win at Arsenal at on the penultimate weekend of the season

Wayne Rooney
All he needs is a moment to show why every opposition defender is ever unsettled when Rooney appears on the starting sheet of Manchester United on any given weekend and weekday. Every season his game improves steady and his scoring touch has remained at a good level for a forward, his team play has improved tremendously and it’s when the team performs that managers are happy; individual performances come as added bonus really.

Leighton Baines

Leighton Baines

Leighton Baines played in all of Everton's league matches this season, scoring five while at it

Everton would be better off in the league had the club attained same level of consistency as Baines. His occasional goals and high return on assists only bettered by Cesc Fabregas and Didier Drogba (according to Opta Sports) along with assured performances week after week for all 38 league matches amazingly, deservedly earned him the club’s Player of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season as well as Goal of the Season.

Jack Wilshere
Bolton Wanderers had a request to have the teenage English midfielder back on loan at the Reebok Stadium rejected few days to the start of the season and it proved to an invaluable decision by Arsène Wenger as evident by a consistent return of stellar individual performances for Arsenal all through the 49 matches he played in all competitions; one that deserved a trophy as reward… one that eluded the team.

Gareth Bale
Most unfortunately for the Three Lions of England, Bale is Welsh. A fact that made his explosive form for Tottenham Hotspur one worthy of much praise and enough for him to win the PFA Player of the Year although… winning that accolade was perhaps a bit of a hasty decision from the Queens’ men.

Edwin van Der Sar

Edwin van der Sar

Edwin van der Sar saving Anelka's spot kick in the 2008 Champions League final

This here is a Dutchman that has tasted the highs (Ajax) and endured the lows (Juventus and at Fulham; no offence to the Cottagers) of football hence retiring on a high at Manchester United after a top quality season of performances in all competitions is just what van Der Sar derseves. Van Der Save earned that nickname with string of saves that belied his 41 years and hopefully the Red Devils won’t go through the conundrum of finding a replacement like it did after Peter Scheimichel retired.

Rafael Van Der Vaart

Rafael van Der Vaart

Rafael van Der Vaart applauding Spurs' fans after a match

Following in the individual steps of countrymen Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder… out of Real Madrid, van der Vaart added a bit more flair to the game of Tottenham Hotspur, culminated in his 13 goals in 28 league appearances for the Lilywhites and a commendable campaign for the club; one that saw Spurs reach the Champions League quarterfinals in its maiden appearance in the competition.

Ryan Giggs

Ageless Welshman has now won one less league trophies than Arsenal has in its history. If that does not hit you enough in the face, think of it this way; only three clubs in all of England has won more league titles than he has… and the picture should be settling in now. Even at the ripe age of 37 when it is goalkeepers that attain their peak, Giggs proved very instrumental in Manchester United’s title winning campaign with his experience coming in handy and the evidence of speed in him still that belies his age. This here is a Welshman that has got better with age.

And others worthy of making this list fall below:

Didier Drogba

Samir Nasri

Charlie Adam

Antonio Valencia

Dirk Kuyt

Nemanja Vidic

Brede Hangeland

Nani

Charles N’Zogbia

Carlos Tevez

Yaya Toure

Dimitar Berbatov

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2009/10 Premier League fixtures Released


The Tentative fixture list for the 2009/10 Premier League season in England has been released earlier today with champions Manchester United handed a home tie against newly promoted Birmingham City from the weekend of August 15.

New Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will begin his Premier League reign at home against Hull City that barely escaped relegation last season while Merseyside and North London will witness cross matches with Everton hosting Arsenal and Liverpool starting at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

More at MyNaijaNews by clicking the following link http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/3169/29/

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Decision Time for Premier League Big Four


 

 

Emmanuel Adebayor scores against Villarreeal in the UEFA Champions League 1st leg at El-Madrigal

Emmanuel Adebayor scores against Villarreeal in the UEFA Champions League 1st leg at El-Madrigal

It would be foolhardy for any football loving person to say (at this moment in time and in the seasons to come) that the English Premier League is not the strongest in the world and the reason is not far fetched…Queensland is guaranteed at least one club in the UEFA Champions League final for a fifth consecutive season.

 

This run began in 2005 when Liverpool performed a most remarkable comeback to defeat AC Milan on penalties, then Arsenal had to contend with watching Barcelona drool on the trophy in 2006; and later sell their Igwe to the club at a fee that still baffles me…

2007 was AC Milan’s time to gain revenge on Liverpool with a well earned 2-1 win; Liverpool was outplayed in that match, while in 2008 we were dished an all English final between Manchester United and Chelsea whose fans made SO mush noise on the fateful day you’d think PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii had become prophets of football!

Also in three of the last four seasons, the Big Four of English football have all made it to the quarterfinal stage of the competition and I dare say all would’ve made it to the semi-finals as well had it not being that UEFA separated teams from same country until the semi-final stage. But still, three clubs for a third season running…that’s nuts!

I’ll be looking forward to this season’s semi-final pairings; they are classic encounters with Chelsea and Barcelona meeting for the first time since two key factors left; Ronaldinho and Jose Mourinho, to be replaced by the Trinity (Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry) and a Dutch wanderer (Guus Hiddink) along with the mafia at the Bridge (think Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Ballack and maybe Cech).

That match promises to be the goals as Barcelona (or more specifically the Trinity) just can’t but score while Chelsea have grown a “if you score three, well we’ll get four of ours” attitude lately.

Against Barcelona though, it would be in Chelsea’s interest to drop that mentality or some damage will be done to their mentality simply because Barcelona not only scores goals aplenty (and sometimes way too easily), they barely concede much these days. No wonder Messi was bold enough to say Barcelona at this point can achieve absolutely anything ala la Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League; perhaps the English league if they were drafted to play in it too!

In my personal opinion, I’d rather not have an all-English final this season. That means I’d rather not have Chelsea play in the final…not out of hate but simply to spare my ears of the episode that played themselves on the untarred roads of Las Gidi…as in, someone should teach these folks some decency!

If the Blues make it through though; which I along with more than half of the football world very much doubt for obvious reasons, all well and good too for the status of the English Premier League in Europe.

But really, the semi-final to watch is Arsenal against Manchester United because not only are these two arch-rivals (good old days of Roy Keane and pat Vieira nose to nose) but this would be the first time ever they’ll play each other in Europe and as derby rights go, both sides would love to have the first scalp on the other for that sake and a place in the “Roma Finale”.

This brings me to a fact everybody seem to be overlooking and sincerely I don’t know why. Arsenal, more than any, hold the key to the destiny of their ambitions to end a trophy drought as well as the other three’s trophy ambitions.

Arsenal still play Liverpool (away), Chelsea (home) and Man U (away) in the league and I’m not going to write out the scenarios that could play out should Arsenal win all three of those (very possible) or lose all three (very possible too) or lose two and win one and so on and so…

Then there’s this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley and as expected, my Blues’ frenemies have been telling me how Arsenal will fall bad and hard and yada yada yada…I’ve reserved my comments since the day we beat Hull City…I’m still not going to say jack to those noisemakers except one thing…Shut up!

And finally, there’s the semi-final against United. On paper, this match is vey balanced unlike the other semi-final, so the thing is if Arsenal win, United will squarely focus on the Premier League while Arsenal could play its cards at winning the Champions League and gaining an automatic spot in next season’s group stage notwithstanding their league position at the end.

Should United win, the Red Devils will have to divide attention on the UCL and EPL (not forgetting FA Cup), therefore giving Liverpool (and Chelsea) a chance at the league and Chelsea a go at Europe. Arsenal meanwhile would then focus on finishing 3rd in the league (very very possible should it win those three league fixtures) which in case you didn’t know would earn an automatic spot at next season’s Champions League group stage…

With all said, it’s my opinion that Chelsea could end up the biggest losers of the four having more to lose than they realise; Chelsea could actuallly win a treble! Liverpool would’ve been the biggest losers but they won’t be losing a Champions League semis or final nor are they in the FA Cup…it’s just the league for them. Man U is in the same shoes with Chelsea while Arsenal have the FA Cup and Champions League to really worry about.

 

My prediction:

Premier League title: Manchester United
FA Cup: Would actually lose for Everton to win it
Champions League: Anyone but Barcelona (this one’s my guts talking)

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