EPL

English Premier League – Power Rankings

With all teams having eleven games under their belt and just over a quarter of the season done with, it’s time to look at which teams are hot and which teams have started to slide down the rankings.

Who’s Hot

Fergie continues to create greatness.

Manchester United, 2nd– Outside of fan circles, Manchester United continues to be underrated, despite not losing in any competition this season. The Red Devils are just two points behind Chelsea and although Wayne Rooney has been a distraction for much of the last few weeks, Alex Ferguson’s boys continue to push their way forward.

 

Newcastle, 5thDespite a few rough weeks, the Magpies have pushed forward and find themselves fifth in the standings. After a two goal comeback to pick up a point against Wigan on October 16th, Newcastle has scored 8 goals in their last three League games, and picked up a big victory over Arsenal this past week.

Liverpool, 9th With Fernando Torres firing on all cylinders this past weekend, blasting two goals past League Leaders Chelsea, the Merseyside team has picked up three straight League wins. A team that stuttered out of the gates and were quickly in the relegation zone, Liverpool has picked up its form and Roy Hodgson looks to be turning the ship around, but they still have a lot to prove.

Who’s Cold

He hasn't got a "Kalou"

Chelsea, 1st The League leaders looked a shadow of the team that stormed out of the gates at the start of the season. Missing Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba. Salomon Kalou continues to be lacklustre in front of net, scoring once since September 19th, and was a poor replacement for Drogba on Sunday.

 

Tottenham, 7th – Despite excellent European form, the team that were highly rated coming into the season have just two wins in their last six league games and the 4-2 loss to Bolton this weekend highlighted a season already filled with inconsistent play on the pitch. This is a team full of top rated players and I wouldn’t expect them to finish the season out of the top five but have a lot of work in front of them to improve on their current standing in seventh with 15 points, a total that five teams are sitting at.

West Ham, 20th – Just seven points this season and a total meltdown in the second half of this week’s game against Birmingham saw them give up a two-goal lead and settle for a draw. Robert Green has continued his fantastic World Cup form and lacks confidence in-goal for a team that looks destined for relegation.

 

 

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Quote of the Week – Despite a string of bad publicity for out of favor striker Wayne Rooney, England teammate Frank Lampard had this to say about the Manchester united player, “Confident, very good to be around, funny, and one you want next to you as a mate if you go to war or if you just want a laugh. He’s a lad’s lad and that’s what I love about him.


Player of the Week – Liverpool’s Pepe Reina faced a stern test against Chelsea, but turned away their talent with some spectacular saves and picked up the clean sheet for his team.

 

Owen Hargreaves: A synonym for injuries, let downs and heartbreak.

Disappointment of the Week – The highly anticipated return of Owen Hargreaves was a complete, utter failure, when the England Midfielder limped off the field just six minutes into his return. Fans for England and Manchester United will have reason to worry as Hargreaves suffers another blow to his career.

 

 

 

Henry Whitfield is a sports contributor to the Dalhousie Gazette and provides commentary on local sports in and around the HRM. You can follow him on twitter@HenryWhitfield or on his blog, Sports With Henry.

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This Week In Sports (Jul 16th)

This week is the launch of our new segment, This Week In Sports, where we will recap what we judge to be the best, most interesting and newsworthy stories of the past week in the wide-world of Sports.

Whether it’s Baseball, Football, Darts, Cricket, Water Polo or bridge, if it’s newsworthy we’ll throw it your way. If you have suggestions or idea’s, or want to throw a newstory our way fire it to henry.whitfield@gmail.com or leave it in the comment section.

This Week In Sports (Jul 16th Ed)

  • In baseball the Year Of The Pitcher continued into the All-Star break, with a close 3-1 win by the National League over the American League. The stellar pitching also continued in the Home Run Derby, where Corey Hart’s pitcher managed to help him go homerunless in the second round.

 

  • Perenial choke-artist Evgeni Nabokov has flown the coop and run back to Europe with his tail between his legs, the San Jose Sharks had informed the goaltender that his services were no longer needed to help them with their string of playoff mishaps; They  already resigned Marleau to fill that role.

 

  • In the NBA, the Miami Heat performed a coup in bringing Toronto favorite Chris Bosh and reigning NBA MVP LeBron James to their city, whilealso  re-signing their own fan favorite Dwaye Wade. This prompted the New York Knicks to temporarily lose their mind and sign Amare Stoudemire for a contract that could be worth $100mil over five years.

 

  • Roy Hodgson, former Fulham saviour and the new Liverpool manager, has come out and informed the public that neither Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres will be leaving the club anytime soon. However, the manger seemed concerned that he was unable to locate and contact Argentine Javier Mascherano; this isn’t really news, as the midfielder was no where to be found for much of the World Cup and the 2009/2010  season.

 

  • In sad news for the world of baseball, the owner of the New York Yankees has died. George Steinbrenner, who was made a part of pop-culture through Seinfeld, passed away on the morning of the All-Star game after what was described as a massive heart attack.

 

  • Lastly, in a plug of shameless self promotion, Sports With Henry broke an exciting news story on the status of highly-touted European draft pick Martin Frk and how contract negotiations are going with the Halifax Mooseheads, Allan Walsh says Have faith.

The Beginning of The End

Part Two: Time for the Silverware…

Now on to the boring stuff, winning trophies!

 After Norwich managed to secure the League One title last week all eyes were on Leeds, watching if they were able to secure second place and promotion to the Championship. Effectively ending the downward spiral Leeds have been on since 2003, all they had to do was go to fourth placed Charlton and win; Charlton meanwhile were in a hunt of there own, if they could beat Leeds they would be within two points of second place themselves and take the fight for automatic promotion to the wire.

 However because there’s no excitement on seeing a teams win before the last day Charlton managed to pull of a late goal 1 – 0 win to give themselves,  Millwall, Swindon a lovely grandstand finish for second place.

 The Premier League is a little more exciting this year than in previous years, with the trophy still undecided, and the real excitement is to whether Liverpool can do the unthinkable, beat Chelsea, without Torres and in so doing send the title effectively to Old Trafford for not just the fourth year in a row but for the 19th time overall meaning that Manchester United, their oldest and fiercest rivals.

 This will allow Sir Alex Ferguson to succeed in his mission of “Knocking Liverpool off their !@#$#  perch” and become the most successful English club of all time. However, if the Scousers fail to beat Chelsea then they risk not only losing the last champions league place, a position surely needed by the American owners in order to sell the club, the manager, in order to not only stay and keep his best players but attract them too.                                                                                                                    

Elsewhere in the battle for fourth place,  Manchester City (Citeh!), Tottenham and Aston Villa all played today with Citeh beating Villa and Tottenham securing a nervy win over Bolton to put them to within touching distance of the line. They still need to win or hope Citeh lose next week or else it will be the blue half of Manchester with a huge bargaining chip along with all that money which will make the best players in the world take notice.

 Either way it looks to be a great day of football in store, check back later to see my reaction to the day’s events! And check my twitter for a live feed update (as best as my heart will do!)

 Thanks for reading my first post I know it was a long one but keep an eye out for my next few including my World Cup preview coming in the next few weeks!

 Tom Dobbyne throw’s his own spin on current sports affairs and offers satirical commentary on current events. Follow him @TomDobbyne or on Facebook as English Tom.

The Beginning of the End

Part One: The Promotion Battle

 English Tom here, and for my first post we’ll be breaking down the final weeks of the English Football League, from top of the top to the lowest of the low.

 With two weeks of the Football season remaining, many things in English football have yet to be decided;

 In English League Two, who would join newly promoted Nott’s County? Below in League, would One it be Leeds to join Norwich in the Championship after 3 years of league one hell? The Championship Playoffs last spot is still up for grabs with Blackpool and Swansea fighting tooth and nail.

 All of that is before we even bring up the Top Flight. I the Premier League, three-time Manchester United and Chelsea are so close that a slip-up from either side will take the trophy from the Manchester chamber of honour.

 Meanwhile there is the small matter of who is going to have to endure the hardship of relegation. In the Premier League, everything is confirmed Portsmouth (Henry wipe that smile off), Burnley and Hull will be playing the likes of Bristol City  in the Championship next year. Portsmouth’s money problems will  have hopefully have been resolved over the summer or they will head the way of Leeds United and other great clubs and be lost to the depths of the English league system. (Can someone please stop Henry’s smiling?)

 Burnley and Hull, should both be strong enough to mount and will challenge next year so long as they managed to hold onto there key players, Burnley will have to improve defensively whilst Hull will need to solve there goal-scoring crisis, namely by signing someone who can put the ball in the goal, anyone will be an improvement. To be honest, I’m sure there’s a Hull fan out there somewhere that will be willing to show the others some passion.

 The Championship relegation battle is all but over. Peterborough and Plymouth are done, and it’ll take a huge turn around for Sheffield Wednesday to survive the drop but the fate of the draw and the beauty of football lives on in the fact that they play there relegation rivals Crystal Palace today and whoever comes out with a win will be celebrating survival whilst the other …… relegation. Needless to say this game is huge, (so it’ll be a bore – draw then.)

 In League One, Wycombe joined a desperately poor Stockport in relegation, and will be in League 2 next year. I expect Southend to join them, and then a three way tie between Gillingham, Tranmere and Exeter to be decided next week, however a excellent result for the Gills today against Southampton (told you to stop smiling Henry) and Tranmere finding an excellent display against Millwall to win 2 – 0 and Exeter only managing a draw the last relegation spot looks likely to be the 3 game scenario (for those unaware of this rule allow me – find yourself a bar with three TV’s put each game on a different telly and you have yourself the best moment in sport, three teams who each know how the others are doing fighting for survival – great stuff).

 In League Two, we have the fight between Grimsby and Barnet for joining Darlington in the Blue Square Premier League. Saturday morning Grimsby were on 41 points to Barnet’s 45, Barnet were in control of there own destiny as a win for them would have sealed Grimsby’s demise and as the football Gods would have it they decided to pit the two clubs together on this the penultimate day! Needless to say Barnet messed up and Grimsby managed a 2 – 0 win to take their fight to the last day.

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 Tom Dobbyne throw’s his own spin on current sports affairs and offers satirical commentary on current events. Follow him @TomDobbyne or on Facebook as English Tom.

Footie Gone Wild..

When the Title race has been closer than John Terry and Wayne Bridge’s  ex-girlfriend, there was bound to be some wild moments in the closing weeks of the English Premier League season.

Super Scholes – After dropping to 4pts below Chelsea, the defending champions were all but considered out of the race for the title. Heading into the Manchester Derby verse Man City this past weekend, Manchester United needed a win to stay on course. After Man City showed they’re a legit contender and kept the score at nil-nil, the ageless sensation Paul Scholes showed why he’s still starting at his age and put away a header in extra time to pull off a 1-nil win and throw the pressure back on Chelsea.

Choking Chelsea – As a self admitted die-hard Chelsea supporter, this weekend was gutting. After watching Man Utd win in the last moments, we needed a win. 90 Minutes later, I’d watched John Terry go off with a Red, and my boys in blue lose 2-1 in a lacklustre performance against Tottenham Hotspur. Needless to say, with Liverpool still to go our 1pt lead is a little small for my liking, but at least I can count on Rafa doing something illogical to lose that match.

And fourth goes to… – Well, speaking of those delightful and struggling Liverpool boys, the question begs: Who will finish fourth this season? Liverpoolsits 5 points behind the pace and in seventh, while Aston Villa sits in sixth two points ahead at 61 on the season. Both teams have played 35 matches, while Man City sits in 5th with 62 points and Tottenham with 64 points and both of them have a game in hand. With Tottenham still to face Manchester United, i’m going to throw it out there that the table finishes like this:

4th – Man City // 5th – Tottenham // 6th – Aston Villa // 7th – Liverpool

Poor, Poor Portsmouth – What a story, as a Saints fan, well, it’s wonderful to see that our neighbours who once waved 20-pound notes at our team when we were relegated twice, is now going down in the same way. Karma anyone? However, announced today that the team faces 120-million pound debts, its unfortunate that a team destined for their second FA Cup final in two years faces such a problem. This is the clearest indication that ownership issues in the EPL are out of hand and more must be done or the league will start to chip away. With most teams with some debt (Chelsea is Debt Free by the by), things need to chance quick.

The Special One – Am I the only one not surprised that Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan beat Barca in a convincing 3-1 manner yesterday? Seriously, one of the best managers in the world (Enjoy him soon Manchester United fans), he is a masterclass tactician and showed why he has dominated with Porto, Chelsea and now Inter Milan.

Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.