Man Utd

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.

Champions League Draw!

Football is back!

Today marked the group stage of the European Champions League being set and awards being given out for Player’s of the year.

The stage was set by an array of Footballing superstars including Gianfranco Zola, Gary Lineker and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With three London based clubs in the draw, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham,it marked the first time since 2003/2004 that three teams from one city have made it into the group stage.

Group A – Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente

Group B – Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Tel-Aviv

Group C Manchester United, Valenica, Rangers, Bursaspor

Group D – Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan

Group E – Bayern Munich, AS Roma, FC Basel, Cluj

Group F Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina

Group G – AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre

Group H – Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga, FK Partizan

Some very interesting match ups, with Group G including no less than first ever winners and 9 time champions Real Madrid being drawn with 7 time winners AC Milan. Also featuring 4-time winners Ajax, Group G is the clear “Group of Death” for this year’s draw.

Another interesting match will feature Manchester United battling with Rangers FC, a club that Sir Alex Ferguson scored 25 goals for during his time there in 1967-1969.

Elsewhere, Chelsea FC was drawn with Spartak Moscow, which sees owner Roman Abramovich takes his club to his home country and the return of Russian player Yuri Zhirkov.

First matches are played on September 14th and 15th.

Not only were the groups drawn, but UEFA Player of the Year awards were announced and awarded, here are this year’s winners:

UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan)

Inter Milan continued their winning ways

UEFA Defender of the Year: Maicon (Inter Milan)

UEFA Midfielder of the Year: Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan)

UEFA Forward of the Year: Diego Milito (Inter Milan)

UEFA Player of the Year: Diego Milito (Inter MIlan)

It was a clean sweep for Mourinho and his men in blue stripes, his legend grows and the special one will look forward to completing another clean sweep with Real Madrid this year.

Community Shield Preview and Predos

Football is back!

Yes, the lower England football leagues kicked off this weekend and we have a few international tours to keep us busy, oh and that league they call the MLS was going on, but today the real football season starts.

The annual Community Shield pits defending league champions Chelsea against runner-up Manchester United. The one-point difference at the end of last season will still be fresh in both teams and the battle for dominance between the two powerhouses will ensure this matchup is as exciting as ever.

Last year Chelsea pipped United in penalties, but go into the match this year on the string of four pre-season losses and a run of injuries. Goalkeeper Petr Cech is out, along with defensive stalwarts Alex and Boswinga, while Didier Drogba will start on the bench.

Manchester United has its own set of injuries to worry about with Michael Carrick out for the start of the season and both Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney battling injuries last year, both strikers will play at least 45-minutes but Sir Alex Ferguson will rely heavily on his young stars to fill in the gaps.

Many of the players in today’s match will have much to prove after a dismal, disappointing, disastrous, absolutely horrible World Cup for England and an implosion of France, which leaves Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Florent Malouda, Nicholas Anelka and Wayne Rooney.

This season will be a testing one for Manchester United who have a squad filled with a combination of experience and youth, but time will tell if legends Paul Scholes, Edwin Van Der Sar and Ryan Giggs will contribute at the same level as before or if young stars Nani, Anderson, Smalling and new signing Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez will usher in a new era.

Match Predictions

Henry – Chelsea wins 3 – 2, with Malouda scoring and Drogba hitting the back of the net twice, while Wayne Rooney answers with a goal and sets up Hernandez for his first United goal.

Tom – Manchester United wins 2-1, while Javier Hernandez scores both for United.

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.

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.