2005/06 Soccer Thread

Didn't get to see the Portsmouth/Rovers game, Wounder, but I was up at 7:30 am on Saturday for the Spurs game. We should have thrashed City abit more conclusively, but I think this might give Jol and the boys something to work on for this week.

Prederick wrote:

Anywho, Manchester United beat Arsenal 2-0 this weekend (no links because i'm feeling lazy) and Tottenham beat Manchester City 2-1, leaving the Gunners in 6th place and five points out of a Champions League place. On the upside, Arsenal have a game in hand, and will play Portsmouth at Fratton Park this Wednesday, and then West Brom on Saturday, which are six points they really should (and, if they want to get the much-needed momentum and get into a better position, must) get. If anything, this Arsenal season will be worth watching for the days between Wednesday the 19th and Tuesday the 25th, when Arsenal will play their two-legged tie against Villareal and take on Tottenham at Highbury in a fixture that may decide who gets the final Champions league spot.

What I do love about all of this Tottenham-Arsenal talk is that it completely forgets poor Blackburn, who sit in 5th place, a point ahead of the Gunners and with as much of a chance as anyone else to make it to the Champions league.

Its an interesting race, Pred. Alot's going to depend on Man City's performance in the final two weeks, with games against Blackburn & Arsenal.

Here are the schedules for the three of them, including this week:

Tottenham Hotspur
Apr 15th Sat Everton (A)
Apr 17th Mon Man Utd (H)
Apr 22nd Sat Arsenal (A)
Apr 30th Mon Bolton (H)
May 7th Sun West Ham (A)

- We can't assume anything about Spurs final five games. They're all going to be a challenge, but I expect them to take at least 7 points out of the mess.

Apr 15 Sat W.B.A. (H)
Apr 22 Sat Tottenham Hotspur (H)
May 1 Mon Sunderland (A)
May 4 Thu Manchester City (A)
May 7 Sun Wigan Athletic (H)

- All the games here are winnable for Arsenal. They've certainly got the easiest schedule for the end of the season. But you factor in Champions League play, and there's the possibility of dropped points. Here's hoping its in the Spurs game.

Apr 16 Sun Liverpool (H)
Apr 19 Wed Birmingham (A)
Apr 29 Sat Charlton (A)
May 2 Tue Chelsea (H)
May 7 Sun Manchester City (H)

- Rovers should take at least 6 points out of this, but I can't see them winning, or even salvaging a point, against Chelsea or Liverpool. They should beat Birmingham handily, but either the Addicks or Man City could very well turn the upset.

In all honesty, I don't know who's going to pull it off. Its all going to hinge around Spurs/Arsenal next week. But if you fancy a shot at predicting, try the Premierleague.com's predictor.

Ho-kay. So...

Arsenal drew this weekend to Tottenham in the big London Darby. But, today they went out, and got away with some incredibly negative tactics to beat Villareal 1-0 on aggregate. I do mean got away with because if you saw the game, Villareal really deserved an equalizer. Arsenal looked as boringly bad up front as i've ever seen them. Credit to Eboue, Campbell, Toure and Clichy for doing a bang-up job at the back, but sod the rest.

Tomorrow is AC Milan v. Barca with Barca up 1-0, with the Away Goal no less. I think it's going to be an Arsenal v. Barca final, although after the strength of tonight's performance, my money's heavily on Barca.

And lastly, everything's gone to pot at Juventus.

For the record, the Spurs-Arsenal game was a fantastic match. Gripping. Every second of it.
Though there's been a big to-do about it, I essentially agree with Nick Webster's appraisal of the situation. However, I both rue and lament the result. Gotta hand it to Henry, though. He's a genius on the pitch, and has the execution to back it up.

Boy, a full three points would have been sweet, though...

I wager its a Barca v Gunners final, as well, with Barca on top.

What about the remainder of the season in the EPL, Preds? You going to put your money on any horses? =)

Well, Chelsea's obviously going to win it, and i'm tipping Liverpool for the FA Cup, although i'll bet that none of their strikers will score in the match.

My top 10 looks like this.

1.) Chelsea
2.) Man Utd
3.) Liverpool
4.) Tottenham
5.) Arsenal
6.) Newcastle
7.) Blackburn
8.) Bolton
9.) West Ham
10.) Wigan

I know, I know, Blackburn falling behind to the Toon? But, I think that the goals will just dry up for Blackburn and Newcastle will sneak into a UEFA Cup spot, setting up another glorious early exit from the competition next year.

And no, I don't see Arsenal overtaking Tottenham now. That said, if Bolton beat Tottenham and Arsenal (as they should) beat Sunderland, all bets are off. If West Ham manages a draw, who knows. But I think Bolton and Tottenham will draw, and Arsenal won't be able to make up the points it needs to in time.

I see your point with regard to Blackburn, but I just can't see the Magpies slipping by. They're not a terribly strong team, but Newcastle have a fantastic ability to let things slip. But that said, if Mikey comes back, they may have a shot at UEFA.

That said, here's my table:

2 Man U
3 Liverpool
4 Tottenham
5 Arsenal
6 Blackburn
7 Newcastle
8 Bolton
9 West Ham
10 Wigan

I also think its great to see Reading and the Blades back up in the top flight next season. My bets are on Palace or Watford to clinch that third playoff spot. Dowie's just such a good manager & coach. And Watford's had the stronger season... But everybody's level going into the playoffs.

Okay, in short...

Chelsea wrapped up the EPL title, but Mourinho's apparently not in the best of moods. He made words about having possibly wanted to leave the club, due to lack of recognition, for one, of his achievements. Peter Kenyon, Chelsea's chief executive, is on damage control.

Chelsea beat Man U for the title, but the real news is that Roonaldo went down injured, and may have taken England's World Cup ambitions with him. It's a broken foot, apparently, and morale has taken a hit because of it.

Pompey's staying up. Meaning Birmingham, West Brom and Sunderland are all headed down.

2nd place will be an interesting race, Man U and Liverpool both have 79 points, although Man U have two left to play, both at Old Trafford, while Liverpool have just one, so that should be that.

If Arsenal want to pip Tottenham to that 4th spot, they need to hope that Spurs lose to West Ham, as even a single point mean Tottenham are headed for the Champions League.

Also, reading have a crapload of points.

There was a fun article on Slate a while ago on Nike's "Joga Bonita" ad campaign, which i'm torn about. I like it, even though it...

A.) Is there to sell shoes first.
B.) Emphasises offense way too much. There's 11 men playing dammit.
C.) Has too much of a hard-on for Brazil

Yet still, I can get behind their message. I just wish it really was some not-for-profit viral ad thing that had gotten started. Something like the "Stand Up, Speak Up" campaign, although I know, that's another largely Nike creation.

Anywho, the article talks about whether the "Joga Bonita" thing can translate to American sports, where the maxim is "Work your ass off, leave everything on the field" and so on, not "play beautiful". Fun for a thought, and someone ought to really pass it on to the MLS. I do believe if the MLS was averaging 3.5 goals a game, fans would be there.

As I said, i'm torn on the whole "Joga Bonita" thing. NikeFootball's ad campaigns are always spectacular, and this is no different. It's inspired, especially the new "The Chain" video feature, which is trying to create one long Football tricks ad from videos sent in by users all around the world. Genius, really. I just wish the people doing it weren't hoping we'll shell out for a new pair of $150 boots as well.

EDIT: Not to leave out Nike's competition, since the WC is as much about Advertising as it is about the sport, Adidas has their +10 ads, which is all about a star player (or you) +10 others. For fun, of course.

I've seen the Joga Bonita ads in the U.S., a lot more than I thought, in prime time no less. I've read all the simple-minded positive articles about Soccer's growth in the U.S., but i'm still skeptical. Since there's definetly going to be an advertising blitz in the next month, anyone think it'll have any effect? Will the MLS benefit, or are we creating more Europhile fans?

I'm more torn about the fact Nike gets its shoes made by 12 year old children in China for .40$ an hour. Without a dental plan even!

dejanzie wrote:

I'm more torn about the fact Nike gets its shoes made by 12 year old children in China for .40$ an hour. Without a dental plan even!

That too. I just didn't want to come off too Hippy-ish.

Prederick wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

I'm more torn about the fact Nike gets its shoes made by 12 year old children in China for .40$ an hour. Without a dental plan even!

That too. I just didn't want to come off too Hippy-ish. ;)

Yeah, leave that to us pink-o communist Europeans

Pink-o, my boy, Pink-o.

That's what I said. Right?

That sound you hear is the screaming of hundreds of thousands of Tottenham fans.

A masterclass hat-trick from Thierry Henry saw Arsenal bash past Wigan 4-2 on the last day at Highbury, while goals from Carl Fletcher and Yossi Benayoun has torpedoed Tottenham's Champions League campaign, as they lost, 2-1.

So, in short...

Arsenal 4-2 Wigan
West Ham 2-1 Tottenham

This means Arsenal pip Tottenham to 4th place and the Champions League on the last day of the season. Ouch.

There surely will be some controversy after this however, as a bout of food poisoning among the Tottenham players had brought about the question of delaying the kickoff. Tottenham made the request, but it was denied by the FA, and they played anyway, and Tottenham's going to be desperately angry/sad about this. On the upside, it probably would've hurt twice as much if Arsenal had pipped them to it via winning the CL.

EDIT: It looks like there'll actually be a criminal investigation into the Tottenham food poisoning by Scotland Yard. My goodness. Could something untowards be up?

The Final Premiership Standings...

1.) Chelsea
2.) Man Utd
3.) Liverpool
4.) Arsenal
5.) Tottenham
6.) Blackburn
7.) Newcastle
8.) Bolton
9.) West Ham
10.) Wigan
11.) Everton
12.) Fulham
13.) Charlton
14.) Middlesbrough
15.) Man City
16.) Aston Villa
17.) Portsmouth
18.) Birmingham
19.) West Brom
20.) Sunderland

Quickie End of Year Notes:

-Fantastic season for West Ham and Wigan.
-Thierry's staying now, I think.
-And it look like Ruud van Nistelrooy is leaving Man Utd.

Not to forget: Anderlecht won the Belgian championship on the last day, by defeating revelation Zulte-Waregem 3-0. Adversary Standard lost 0-2 at home to AA Gent, the team of the second round.

It was also the day of goodbye for Anderlecht monument Par Zetterberg. The talented Swede won 6 titles with the club, and 3 more with Olympiakos. It was an emotional farewell, with 28.000 tifosi waving him off into a scouting function at the record Belgian champion. With Kompany, Wilhelmsson, Tihinen and to a lesser extent Zewlakow and Traore leaving with Zetterberg Anderlecht will face a tough next season; and some harsh negotiations during the transfer season. If they don't want to get embarassed at the Champions League again that is, for which the Belgian champion is selected without play-offs for the first time.

I can't say I didn't it coming. Who cares why it happens? It just seems to happen to every team I support. Must be my fault.

Let's look at the recent record...

Cardinals? Best record in baseball, but can't make it happen in the playoffs for the past three years.

Colts? Absolutely shocking performances in the playoffs for the last four years by a team that should steamroll the entire NFL.

England? Fantastic win in the Ashes, the collapsed on the subcontinent for a multitude of reasons, none of them good.

Now Spurs, too? The chance for Champion's League football stolen by the Gunners on the last day of the season, with half the team out injured and the other half hit with food poisoning on the eve of the biggest derby match in the last 15 years...


Are you by any chance a Standard Liège supporter? That would explain a lot

Or an Inter Milan supporter.

So, a news-wrap up as we hit the end of the season and prepare for the World Cup....

Ruud is definetly leaving. News to a lot of people, The man scored 21 times this year and over 150 times for the club. But as many before have found out, you run afoul of Sir Alex, and you're gone.

Barca are Champions in Spain, and it's goodbye to Zinedine Zidane.

There's more corruption afoot in the Italian game.

Mourinho shows humility? No way!

Cory Gibbs goes to Charlton. Hey, more Americans in the Premiership then.

Tim Howard heads to Everton. Best of luck to the #1 GK in the 2004-05 season.

And in our last, possibly insane bit of news, Sven-Goran Eriksson has named wonderkid Theo Walcott to his provisional WC squad. Theo Walcott, who hasn't played a senior game for Arsenal this season. He hasn't played a single minute of Premiership football. Sven has left out Jermaine Defoe, the top scoring English striker Darren Bent, and others. Some think it's a good idea and some really, really don't. I'm not sold personally.

The next two weeks should be fantastic for Footy fans, if you've got Satellite in the U.S. It's the UEFA Cup Final on Wednesday, FA Cup final on Saturday, and the Champions League final next Wednesday. Huzzah!





The plot thickens at Juve. Also, for a primer on good conspiracy theories, do yourself a favor and check out a few Pro-Juve fansites. Apparently, this whole thing is Berlusconi's doing and Juve are the cleanest club ever.

Weekend Wrap-Up...

Liverpool and West Ham played a classic in the FA Cup. Absolute classic game. Which, of course, I didn't get to see.

Michael Ballack is officially Chelsea's man.

Looks like Sheva's headed to Chelsea.

Juve won the Scudetto, but the scandal is still on.

More From Italy.

And some notes from Spain.

Prederick wrote:

Michael Ballack is officially Chelsea's man.

Looks like Sheva's headed to Chelsea.

Is there anyone they can't get their hands on? They're creating an All-Europe team of individual stars. It'll be interesting to see how Chelsea meshes next year. I hope its the same way a large burning plane meshes with the ground.

Maybe I'm just alittle bitter.

Well done to the Reds and Hammers, though, for a great cup final. All credit to West Ham for the fight they put up.

It's not just you Haakon. Many people loathe Chelsea's "Gotta catch em' all" money-spending ways. For me, they're one of many reasons I'm glad I have North American sports, our salary caps and our revenue sharing. If the decision in the Charleroi case goes the G-14's way, we'll be that much closer to a European Superleague with all the money going to a select, greedy few. Europe can keep that.

Yeah, it's funny how the Belgian clubs - who have very little advantage in making the market bigger and more free, seeing where we stand now - have made it possible for a G14 to arise (Bosman ruling, now Charleroi). It's also funny the European market is less regulated than the American

I get a feeling Chelsea likes to buy rotten bastards. Drogba isn't exactly known for his fair play, and now Ballack? Yuk!

Well, I love Thierry Henry, and I was rooting for Arsenal...

...and noone can say that Thierry has anyone but himself to blame for Arsenal losing. Yes, Lehman's sending off was massive, but Thierry had two gilt-edged chances to put Arsenal ahead, one early before the Red Card, one late that almost surely would've killed the game, and he blew them both, as much as I hate to say it. I'm sorry Thierry, you blew it. Especially that latter chance. You chip that, or hit it with some conviction, and you're lifting the Champions Cup.

Or, in short, Barca 2 - 1 Arsenal.

All in all, it was a sad ending for Arsenal. If they were going to lose, they should've lost with 11 men on the pitch, not 10. And this is a sad way to Pires to say his goodbyes.

Welp, maybe Fulham will finish 6th next year. On to the World Cup!

Both those goals were stoppable. The keeper got 'megged for crying out loud!

The second definitely was. Almunia was unlucky to keep it out, honestly, but I don't know if Lehman would have done any better.

I've started a World Cup thread here.

The Premier League is running a Fantasy World Cup as well. If you want to join in, I've created a league called 'The Cup'. PM with your email for a invite, if you'd like.

This reminds me: does anyone play Hattrick here, the online management game? I play VC Dhau in V.61 in Belgium.

I don't think the first Barca goal was stoppable. Eto'o flicked it just above the ground, making it nearly unstoppable for a keeper already near the ground. Believe me, if you've played footsall you know. The second one, he should have gotten the ball. Maybe.

The first Almunia wasn't stopping. The ones that levitate like that are unstoppable, yeah.

The latter I think he should've gotten to, but I won't blame him. I do just wish Lehmann hadn't gotten himself sent off, changed the whole game.