Archive | August, 2011

Manchester teams looks to continue strong start

26 Aug

Both Manchester United and Manchester City have started the season in dominating fashion and will look to continue that form Sunday against Arsenal and Tottenham, respectively, teams both fighting for their first wins of the season.  Meanwhile, Liverpool aims to improve on last season as they take on Bolton, where they only won once in the first eight games of the year (yikes).  Definitely a solid slate of games this weekend, especially considering the top four clash between Aston Villa and Wolves kicks off action for game week three.

TV SCHEDULE
Saturday, August 27

Aston Villa vs. Wolves – 7 a.m. ET/ESPN2 (Live)
Wigan vs. QPR – 7:23 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Swansea vs. Sunderland – 9:53 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Chelsea vs. Norwich – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Blackburn vs. Everton – 10 a.m. ET
Liverpool vs. Bolton – 12:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Sunday, August 28
Newcastle vs. Fulham – 7:53 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Tottenham vs. Manchester City – 8:30 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
West Brom vs. Stoke – 9:53 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Manchester United vs. Arsenal – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

2011-12 Champions League group stage set

25 Aug

After a tediously boring draw earlier today, the Champions League groups are ready to go for another year of action. Group A ended up as the toughest draw with Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City and Napoli. Of course, Barcelona and Manchester United have one team in each of their groups that could pose a challenge.  The first group games are set for Sept. 13-14 and the complete schedule can be found here.

Oh and in case you were wondering, Lionel Messi won the first UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, which was announced after the draw to the surprise of approximately no one.

Group A
Bayern Munich (GER)
Villarreal (ESP)
Manchester City (ENG)
Napoli (ITA)

Group B
Inter (ITA)
CSKA Moskva (RUS)
Lille (FRA)
Trabsponzor (TUR)

Group C
Manchester United (ENG)
Benfica (POR)
Basel (SUI)
Otelui Galati (ROU)

Group D
Real Madrid (ESP)
Lyon (FRA)
Ajax (NED)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

Group E
Chelsea (ENG)
Valencia (ESP)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Genk (BEL)

Group F
Arsenal (ENG)
Marseille (FRA)
Olympiacos (GRE)
Borussia Dortmund (GER)

Group G
Porto (POR)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)
APOEL (CYP)

Group H
Barcelona (ESP)
AC Milan (ITA)
BATE (BLR)
Viktoria Plzen (CZE)

Premier League predictions

12 Aug

The 2011-12 Premier League season starts tomorrow and I can’t wait. I am so ridiculously excited.  My prediction?  This is one of the closest title races in a long time and it comes down to the last couple weeks. As much as I hate to say it, I think that Manchester United will win its second straight title as Chicharito takes the league by storm. I peg Man City as runners-up as the team builds on its success last year. Even without Tevez, Sergio Aguero is more than capable of picking up the slack. Liverpool makes a triumphant return to the top four after two years out and Chelsea rounds out the top four.

Champion: Manchester United
Top Four: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea
Relegated: Swansea, West Brom, Wolves
Golden Boot: Chicharito, MU

TV SCHEDULE
Saturday, August 13
Blackburn vs. Wolves – 2 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Delayed)
Fulham vs. Aston Villa – 9:30 a.m. ET/ESPN2 (Live)
Liverpool vs. Sunderland – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
QPR vs. Bolton – 9:55 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Wigan vs. Norwich – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Delayed)
Newcastle vs. Arsenal – 12:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Sunday, August 14
Stoke City vs. Chelsea – 8:25 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
West Brom vs. Manchester United – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Monday, August 15
Manchester City vs. Swansea – 3 p.m. ET/ESPN 2 (Live)

*One more plug for Fantasy Premier League: http://fantasy.premierleague.com and the code is 1335966-299712!

Lots of promise for Liverpool

12 Aug

So now that the Premier League season is about to start, I’ll be doing a better job of blogging (I swear!).  I can’t stand writing about summer transfers because it’s all just a giant cluster and you never know what the hell is going on, thank you Cesc Fabregas. Anyways, it’s that glorious time of the year again when anything is possible and everyone can dream of beating Manchester United.

Oh, what a difference a year makes for Liverpool Football Club.  There’s new owners,  a new (well, in a sense) manager, a pretty much completely new midfield, and new optimism.

Kenny Dalglish reinvigorated the team after an awful start last year and that energy carries over to the new season.  Liverpool’s new owners (thank god) showed that they were willing to spend money both in January and over the summer.  January signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll made an immediate impact, specifically on the mentality of the fans.  Suarez in particular was a creative spark that Liverpool was missing.  The team wasted no time this summer signing every midfielder possible including Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, as well as defender Jose Enrique and goalie Alexander Doni.

Much has been made of all the options that Liverpool has in the midfield and who will play where. There’s a multitude of strong possibilities and in all honesty, it’s a good problem.  Depth is not a bad thing.  I, for one, am intrigued by what formation the team will play in the opener tomorrow to try to accommodate the best team possible.  With all the possibilities, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a few games to figure out the group with the best chemistry.  (And as a quick side note, the ridiculous amount of options made it incredibly difficult to figure out whether to pick an LFC midfielder on my fantasy team.  I didn’t, at least not until there’s some semblance of a regular starting lineup.)

At the forward spot, LFC will rely heavily on Suarez and Carroll.  Suarez is coming off an MVP performance for Uruguay in their Copa America title run.  While the duo did not get much chance to play together last season as Carroll was still recovering from injury, their chemistry will be key to success this season.

The defense was bolstered with the signing of Enrique from Newcastle, but the center back spot in particular is still a little on the thin side.  Martin Skrtel is hurt and Daniel Agger is probably going to get hurt tomorrow because that’s just how he rolls, which leaves old man Carra in the middle.  The team will likely make use of young players like Martin Kelly, John Flanagan and co. and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, although there might be some growing pains along the way.

After the way that Liverpool ended the season (minus the last two results), fans have every reason to be optimistic about this season.  The Reds are more than capable of putting together a strong season and making a run back into the top four.  I am so pumped.  Is it Saturday yet?