Category Archives: English Premier League

Arsenal and Tottenham share struggles in North London

By Ryan Fleming

Obviously it isn’t true. Each team wants to win each game, be the best in its division and play in Europe next season. It’s pretty simple. What’s also just as easy, is watching Tottenham and Arsenal and how they both seemingly don’t want to do well. Of course, both of the North London clubs have aspirations to succeed and it has shown earlier this year (ie: Totts’ run in the Champions League and Arsenal’s impressive Dec/Jan run).

As of late, though, acting like their in cahoots, both clubs are playing down to to their competition, refusing to be the bullies, and instead getting picked on themselves. Arsenal’s downfall is basically lack of experience and, at least in my eyes, a definite lack of motivation and emotion. In the Gunners’ case, at least their manager owed up to the club’s seemingly two-month downfall.

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Poor showing in Madrid leaves Champions League strategy in shambles for Spurs

By Michael King

Effectively, Tottenham’s Champions League hopes have ended; for both this year and next. The Spurs gambled on making a deep run in the competition would out-weigh failure to qualify for next year’s tournament via a Top 4 English Premier League finish.

And now they have little to show for it.

It’s perhaps unfair to argue this position with the ability of hindsight in light of Tuesday’s dreadful performance against Real Madrid. The 4-0 loss in Spain during the first quarterfinal leg puts the London team in an insurmountable hole. Overcoming a four-goal deficit on aggregate is beyond the capability of this team, especially given its most recent performances.

This was not the same Tottenham team that twice appeared the better side against Inter Milan in the CL group stages and defeated AC Milan last month in Italy.

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Jack Wilshere proving his worth for Arsenal

Jack Wilshere may not have gotten the respect he deserves from Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, but he certainly proved his worth on Tuesday for Arsenal when the two teams faced played.

By Michael King

As Arsenal manager Arsene Wegner sorts through the aftermath of Tuesday’s Champion’s League loss at Barcelona, there are of course few positive takeaways. Yet one, involving his young English midfielder, remains promising. Though his team was thoroughly outmatched Tuesday, Jack Wilshere continued to prove his versatility and quality as a midfielder for a top club.

It’s unclear if Wilshere himself felt he had something to prove entering the return leg at the Camp Nou, but he certainly played like he did, even if his teammates did not.

Barcelona headman Pep Guardiola now infamously singled-out the Englishman earlier in the week, claiming Wilshere lacked the ability to play for the Catalans and was only fit for the reserve team. Even more disparagingly, Guardiola suggested that Barca had many players of Wilshere’s ability.

There seemed to little motive behind the manager’s verbal attack, and even less factual support for his claims. In actuality, Wilshere has rapidly developed into an excellent midfielder, one whose importance is increasingly critical to his team.

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Champions League succes take center stage for Tottenham

Harry Redknapp has Tottenham challenging for its first European Cup since the Spur's won the 1984 UEFA Cup. Tottenham advanced in the Champions League after beating Serie A side AC Milan. (Courtesy Wikicommons)

By Ryan Fleming

If you’re an Arsenal fan you have to grimace, knowing all in well that the team you utterly despise more than all, Tottenham, has advanced farther than you in the Champions League. Not only do you have to be sadden, even frustrated, you have to be utterly embarrassed.

It might be a strong word to use, but for a team that wasn’t supposed to advance past the qualifying stages in the first place, to move to the next round while you sit at home has to be rather, well, embarrassing. Sure, you can point to the absolute fact that you had to face a harder opponent and one that is up for the “World’s Best Club Team Ever” award. But in Spurs’ perspective, you didn’t and they did.

Much of the plaudits have to be toward Peter Crouch (despite his silly play that certainly cost Spurs a goal on Wednesday). Crouch, like every team knows, when on the field is the focus of attention, yes, even more so than the spiky-haired Gareth Bale. The lanky, often seemingly unathetlic-looking forward, scored the lone Tottenham goal that saw them off to the next round. One goal you say? Where’s the credit for the Spurs defense? I was getting to that.

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Phil Dowd did his best as Liverpool and Man United game got ugly

Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United blacked out the media after Sunday's loss to Liverpool. Sir Alex couldn't complain too much about the performance of referee Phil Dowd who kept the game in control despite some late first-half bust ups. (Courtesy AtilaTheHun Flickr)

By Jonathan Gold

If there had been a way, this weekend, for referee Phil Dowd to use big wooden paddles painted red and yellow to dish out whacks on the ass instead of simply brandishing red and yellow paper cards, I’d have been all for it. Some of the behavior from both sides during Manchester United’s visit to Anfield was reprehensible and detracted unfairly from a great game.

How completely have Liverpool been transformed after the departure of Roy Hodgson? This was a team so mired in misery that the fans wanted Rafa Benitez back, poor demented souls. Contrast any of the abject results from earlier this season – I’m sure Kevin remembers them all – with the bright, authoritative performance in front of a rapturous home crowd this weekend.

OK, none of Dirk Kuyt’s three goals was exactly spectacular where he was concerned – but there were moments of genius in the build-up play, mostly from Luis Suarez, noted World Cup villain. His weaving dribble up the byline was electrifying to set up the first, and he produced a nice free kick that van der Saar couldn’t hold onto for the third. That said, the term “poacher’s instinct” is overused, but that’s exactly what he displayed to grab an unlikely hat-trick.

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Liverpool continues turnaround by beating Manchester United in derby

Dirk Kuyt works tirelessly for Liverpool and does whatever the club asks of him. His hard work paid off against Manchester United when he scored three goals, all from less than six-yards out, to secure Liverpool's win over its dreaded rivals. (Courtesy n.macca Flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

Kenny Dalglish celebrated his 60th birthday on Friday, but the real party was put off until Sunday when ‘King Kenny’s’ men beat up on Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, 3-1. The win, a crowning achievement over Liverpool’s hated rivals, marked the high point thus far for the remarkable turn around under Dalglish.

Since his appointment, Dalglish has lead Liverpool to a 5-2-2 record in the league, wins over top-four teams Chelsea and Man United are the highlights of his time. The Scot brought faith back to the club, something that was sourly missing. His moves in the January transfer window reignited the team.

The purchase of Luis Suarez from Ajax could be the best buy of the year for any team. Suarez quickly adapted to the Premier League. His performances so far would put him in contention for EPL Player of the Year despite making so few appearances because of the January transfer. He’s a game changer, and he is just getting started.

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Arsenal let another trophy slip, but EPL still in sight

By Jonathan Gold

About the only thing Arsenal fans can take away from the awful joke that has been the last 72 hours of English soccer, the Gunners are still just four points behind Manchester United – and with a game in hand, no less.

Without trying to excuse in any way the horror that was this year’s League Cup final, let me point out that it was, in fairness, the League Cup final. It’s cold comfort, of course. There’s no getting around the fact that it’s far and away the least prestigious silverware that top-flight clubs regularly contest.

Manchester United, however, might not have lost in such a hands-over-faces horrifying way, but their loss to Chelsea could very well be a lot more important.

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Eric Lichaj needs to succeed at Leeds

Elland Road (picured) is one of England's most storied stadiums, and Lichaj will be able to get more first team playing time at Leeds United in the second half of the season rather than sitting out at Aston Villa. Leeds United is one of England's most stories clubs. (Courtesy Auz Flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

Eric Lichaj found himself in a tough situation at Aston Villa this year. The 22-year-old American defender began making his way into the first team and establishing himself as a young defender to watch in the English Premier League early in the season.

Lichaj started fighting for a spot on the first team because of inconsistent play from Luke Young, Ciaran Clark, and Stephen Warnock. Then Gerard Houllier took the vacant position as the club’s long-term manager and replacement for Martin O’Neil. Houllier brought in Kyle Walker from Tottenham on loan to play right back for Villa, making Lichaj a surplus to requirements. The American has been given a way to get back on track, a chance to catapult his carrier back on the fast track, with a loan move to Leeds United for the second half of this season.

The move to Leeds for Lichaj could be a real boost for his young career, even if he isn’t getting playing time in the Premier League. The American is getting a chance to play for a club fighting back from some hard times in the Championship.

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Manchester City has to wait for next season to challenge United for EPL

By Kevin Koczwara

Roberto Mancini had Manchester City in prime position to challenge for the English Premier League title, but he couldn’t find a way to shut down Manchester United and Wayne Rooney in one of the most anticipated derby’s of the season. The loss will ultimately be his team’s shortcoming in the race for the league. The league looks unrealistic now, even in the boldest of dreams for City fans.

Old Trafford was the place to make the mark. To settle the score. A chance to put league leaders United on the back foot. It was a chance to hand the Red Devils their second loss in a row after starting the year undefeated until a loss to Wolverhampton a week ago. City could have cut the lead to two measly points — Manchester United with a game still in hand — and delivered a devastating mental blow to United.

“I like to play this game. I like to play at Old Trafford because it is better to win there than at home,” Mancini told the press on Friday before the game. “Because when you win away in a derby it is more important for our head and our personality.”

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Chelsea and Lille on different paths this season

Didier Drogba and Chelsea had their hopes of repeating as English Premier League with the unexpected loss to Liverpool over the weekend. (Courtesy Eric P Flickr)

By Ryan Fleming

In one of the more unpredictable weeks in the soccer world this year, there are a couple things to take note of, if you haven’t already.

1. Chelsea are struggling … still.

Despite their recent acquisitions of Davie Luiz and Fernando Torres, the Blues slipped, slid and went away with a whimper after their 1-0 loss to Liverpool. Naturally, much of the hype from the match surrounded the former Liverpool frontman, Torres, and how he would fair against his old club and if he would or would not celebrate if managed to score. Fortunately for the Reds new manager Kenny Dalglish, Torres was barely existent on the field, save for one scary moment that Jamie Carragher so gracefully blocked away.

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