Tag Archives: Barclays Premier League

Positive changes have LFC looking toward bright future

27 May

Liverpool didn’t exactly finish the season on the best of notes, getting shut out in its last two games against Tottenham and Aston Villa.  The losses meant that the Reds finished in sixth place, one spot out of Europa League qualification.  Even though it’s disappointing to not be playing in Europe, who would have thought we’d even have a chance at it in January?  I, for one, thought we would be lucky to even finish in the top half of the table, but oh, how things can change over the course of a year.

2010-11 was one hell of a dramatic season for Liverpool with the painfully long, drawn-out ownership battle taking center stage early on and fraying nerves everywhere.   It didn’t help of course that the team was playing rather poorly and looking like they would all rather get a root canal than be on the pitch.  In the end, the bad guys were ousted and John Henry and Fenway Sports Group took over.  While new ownership does not necessarily mean success is in the offing, John Henry and co. helped kick start the change in atmosphere around the club.

It wasn’t too long before they decided that Roy Hodgson was not the right man to lead Liverpool.  At the point of his termination, Hodgson had the Reds in 12th place and only four points clear of the bottom three – clearly unacceptable.  For the first five months of the season, the team looked like a bunch of lost puppies out there.  There was no hustle, no passion, no heart.  It was incredibly depressing to watch.

Enter one Kenny Dalglish.  You might have heard of him, he’s a little bit of a legend.  He signed on to be the caretaker manager of the club through the rest of the season after Hodgson’s departure and there couldn’t be a starker contrast between the sides PD (pre-Dalglish) and AD (After Dalglish).  While Hodgson’s side relied way too heavily on the long ball, Dalglish clearly emphasized the importance of passing.  It did take a little bit of time for the players to get used to the system (LFC did lose its first two games under Dalglish), but once they did, they were a new (and dangerous) team.

Of course, the season’s drama couldn’t simply go away with the hiring of a new manager.  During the January transfer window, rumours started popping up about Fernando Torres wanting to leave the club.  At first, I’m sure I was one of many to dismiss it all as typical transfer BS, but as the rumblings got louder, I got more worried.  (In retrospect, I’m not really sure why as its not like he was in stellar form prior to leaving).  He ended up signing with Chelsea and Liverpool was able to use the absurd amount of money they received to buy Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Looking back, it was an awesome decision.  Torres never found his stride at Chelsea either, scoring a grand total of one goal and honestly, I’d rather have players that want to rock the red for LFC.   And Suarez?  Well, he is something else.  The Uruguayan didn’t score a lot of goals, but he certainly set up his fair share.  He was an excellent signing and will only become more dangerous for LFC.  Carroll is a bit more of a question mark.  He was hurt a good chunk of the spring, but he also has potential to be a big scoring threat.  They’re both young and talented, which is exactly what LFC needs to be successful in the future.

Anyways, getting back to the team, as they became more and more comfortable under Dalglish, you could see the positive changes.  There was hustle and fight and determination – all the things you should be seeing out of a top flight team.  Players like Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez stepped up to the plate big time and the passing game quickly became one of their strongest attributes.  By no means were the final five months of the season perfect, but there was drastic improvement and hope for the future and that’s really all you can ask for out of such a turbulent season.

Dalglish recently signed a three-year deal to stay on as manager, which is obviously great news for both players and fans.  Steven Gerrard will also return after missing the last three months of the season with injury.  There are younger players stepping into key roles like Lucas and Jay Spearing.  There should be some action on the transfer market this summer as well because let’s face it, we struggled with width all year and could definitely do with some strong wingers.

It really is an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan – a major turnaround from this time last year.  I’m already pumped for next season.  Is it August yet?

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Premier League TV Schedule – Week One

14 Aug

The Premier League season begins tomorrow, how very exciting!  I’ll write more about my predictions for the season a little bit later.  Anyways, here’s the schedule (along with US TV times) for opening weekend.

Saturday, August 15

Chelsea vs. Hull

Aston Villa vs. Wigan – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

Blackburn vs. Manchester City – 9:30 a.m. ET/Setanta (Live)

Bolton vs. Sunderland

Portsmouth vs. Fulham – 5:45 p.m. ET/Setanta (Delayed)

Stoke vs. Burnley – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Delayed)

Wolves vs. West Ham – 5 p.m. ET/Setanta (Delayed)

Everton vs. Arsenal – 12:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

Sunday, August 16

Tottenham vs. Liverpool – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

Manchester United vs. Birmingham – 8:25 a.m. ET/Setanta (Live)

Worried about the Reds

22 Jul

Xabi-Alonso-Javier-Mascherano_2317467Maybe it’s just me, but I can kind of see Liverpool’s shot at an elusive Premier League title slowly crumbling.  I know it’s early to be worried about the season, but EPL kick-off is less than a month away!  The reasons for my worry…

1. Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano – Alonso wants to go to Real Madrid.  Mascherano wants to go to Barcelona.  There’s no deals yet, but there’s obviously a lot of time left in the transfer window for that to happen.  If they both leave, Liverpool will have a heck of a time replacing them.  They were crucial to Liverpool’s runner-up finish last season since they are excellent at controlling the midfield.  Even if just one of them heads to Spain, it will leave a huge gap in the Reds midfield and they don’t currently have anyone that can excel in that role.  I’m going to try not to dwell on this too much since as of right now, it’s all rumours.

2.  Steven Gerrard is in court – He’s in court on charges of affray after a nightclub fight in December.  There’s a possibility he could go to jail.  I have absolutely no clue how likely that is, hopefully not very, but even so, the mere idea of losing Gerrard makes me want to cry.

3. The squad hasn’t won a preseason game yet – Again, I realize that it’s early in preseason, but it’s not exactly like Liverpool is playing top level sides.  Combined with the above factors, it makes me slightly uneasy.  However, it’s preseason and obviously it will be a different mindset for the squad once the regular season kicks off.

Now on a positive note, I do think that it was a smart move to sign defender Glen Johnson.  The price was a little steep, but it’s a position Liverpool really needed to fortify.  Not only is Johnson a solid defender, but he’s also a threat to attack.

Happy Holidays Paul Ince, you’re fired!

16 Dec

Blackburn manager Paul Ince has been fired after a less than successful start to the season. The team has only managed three wins and has gone winless in their last 11 games and sits second from bottom in the table. Not a great start for Mr. Ince.

In the era of wanting immediate results, Ince is one of six managers to lose their job so far this season. Six of 20 – that’s 30% of Premier League managers that have been sacked since the season started four months ago.

Now I’ve said this before, but just because someone was an excellent Premier League player, that doesn’t automatically make them a successful EPL manager. I can understand the appeal of bring a player like Ince in as a manager, but again, in his case, he’s only had two seasons of management experience before moving to Blackburn. Years of experience are key in being a successful Premier League manager. I realize the only way to gain experience is to manage, but it doesn’t have to be on the EPL level.

Sunday’s Premier League Results

14 Dec
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Craig Bellamy scored early for West Ham in their 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

Portsmouth 0, Newcastle 3 – Mr. Michael Owen scored the first goal in the 52nd minute and Newcastle rolled from there, taking their first away win of the season and moving out of the bottom three.

Chelsea 1, West Ham 1 – West Ham scored first on a Craig “Crazy Man” Bellamy goal in the 33rd minute, but Nicolas Anelka scored his 16th (16th!) goal of the season to tie it at 1 apiece.  The West Ham defense held strong and kept Chelsea winless at home in their last three.  With the draw, Chelsea remains a point behind Liverpool in the table.

EPL Table through Dec. 14

    1. Liverpool – 38 pts.
    2. Chelsea – 37 pts.
    3. Manchester United – 32 pts.
    4. Aston Villa – 31 pts.
    5. Arsenal – 30 pts.
    6. Hull City – 27 pts.
    7. Everton – 25 pts.
    8. Portsmouth – 23 pts.
    9. Wigan – 22 pts.
    10. Fulham – 21 pts.
    11. Bolton – 20 pts.
    12. Middlesbrough – 20 pts.
    13. Stoke – 20 pts.
    14. Newcastle – 19 pts.
    15. Tottenham – 19 pts.
    16. West Ham – 19 pts.
    17. Manchester City – 18 pts.
    18. Sunderland – 18 pts.
    19. Blackburn – 13 pts.
    20. West Brom – 12 pts.

Saturday’s Premier League Results

13 Dec

Saturday’s Results

Middlesbrough 1, Arsenal 1 – Emmanuel Adebayor gave the Gunners an early lead, but former Arsenal player Jeremie Aliadiere tied the game for Boro on an excellent header off a cross from Tuncay Sanli (seriously, check it out, it was a sweet goal).  Arsenal falls to fifth with the draw while Boro sits in 12th position.

Aston Villa 4, Bolton 2 – Villa dominated the game from start to finish.  Gabby Agbonlahor scored twice and added an assist.  With the win, Villa moves into the top four over Arsenal.

Steven Gerrard scored twice for Liverpool in their 2-2 draw with Hull.

Steven Gerrard scored twice for Liverpool in their 2-2 draw with Hull.

Liverpool 2, Hull City 2 – The Reds went down 2-0 AT HOME before a brace from Steven Gerrard tied the game in the first half.  Despite some chances in the second, Liverpool couldn’t pull out a victory and now only have a 2 point lead at the top of the table.  A win by Chelsea tomorrow knocks the Reds to second.  Hull continues to impress and now sits in sixth.

Manchester City 0, Everton 1 – Everton has certainly showed their flair for the dramatic the past couple weeks.  After a heart-breaking loss to Aston Villa last week, Tim Cahill scored a last minute goal off a corner kick to give Everton the 1-0 win.  Everton now sits in seventh while Manchester City is only two points clear of the drop zone.

Stoke City 0, Fulham 0 – Stoke has now tied three straight Premier League games while Fulham has drawn four straight.  Fulham is now 10th in the table while Stoke is one point back, but sits 13th based on goal difference.

Sunderland 4, West Brom 0 – Sunderland came out of nowhere to dominate West Brom and move out of the relegation zone.  Added confidence due to Roy Keane’s absence?  Who knows.  West Brom sits at the very bottom of the table with only 12 points.

Wigan 3, Blackburn 0 – Wigan tallied two goals a minute apart in the first half.  Blackburn has now dropped six straight and sits in 19th with 13 points.  Paul Ince’s job security is not looking so hot right now.

Tottenham 0, Manchester United 0 – Spurs held Manchester United scoreless and kept them six points back of Liverpool.

Sunday’s Schedule

Portsmouth vs. Newcastle

Chelsea vs. West Ham

Premier League Schedule for Dec. 13-14

12 Dec

This weekend’s fixtures…preview commentary will be added later.

Saturday, Dec. 13

Middlesbrough vs. Arsenal

Aston Villa vs. Bolton

Liverpool vs. Hull City

Manchester City vs. Everton – 10 a.m. EST/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

Stoke City vs. Fulham

Sunderland vs. West Brom

Wigan vs. Blackburn -8 p.m. EST/Fox Soccer Channel (delayed)

Tottenham vs. Manchester United – 12:30 p.m. EST/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

Sunday, Dec. 14

Portsmouth vs. Newcastle

Chelsea vs. West Ham – 11 a.m. EST/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

*In other news, the transfer window deadline has been extended to Monday, Feb. 2 since Jan. 31 falls on a Saturday.