Premier League Gameweek 1 Roundup

Photo courtesy of premierleague.com

 

 

It’s been a long three months, but the Premier League is back with a bang. An entertaining Gameweek 1 featured only one goalless draw, and had its share of surprises.

 

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester

Coming into the first game of the week, Arsenal were missing all of their starting center backs. The result? Sead Kolasinac moved over from wing back, Nacho Monreal was stuck in the center, and poor Rob Holding was the only actual center back playing at center back. For Leicester, Shinji Okazaki surprisingly started alongside Jaime Vardy instead of new signing Kelechi Iheanacho.

As an Arsenal fan, this game was just pure stress. For the neutrals it must have been fantastic. Record signing Alexandre Lacazette put the hosts in front after just two minutes with a sublime header, only to see Leicester pull ahead through Okazaki and Vardy. Right before the break, Sead Kolasinac kind of/sort of/shouldn’t have found Danny Welbeck for the equalizing goal.

In the 56th minute, Jaime Vardy found the back of the net to put Leicester back in front, 3-2. Arsene Wenger immediately decided to throw on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. They both scored, Arsenal won, and you all probably watched it anyways.

Watford 3-3 Leicester

Many things are constant in the red half of Liverpool. The first is signing Southampton players. The second? They are really, really bad defenders. Goals from Stefano Okaka, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and a dramatic last-minute equalizer from Miguel Britos offset strikes from Liverpool.

Burnley 3-2 Chelsea

No, that’s not a typo. Sam Vokes (twice) and Stephen Ward propelled Burnley to a shocking 3-0 lead over the defending champions at Stamford Bridge. Alvaro Morata and David Luiz managed consolations for the box score, but one question lingers.

What is going on with the Blues?

Crystal Palace 0-3 Huddersfield

Look at the Terriers! Picked to finish last by the whole world, Steve Mounie’s brace thrusted them to the top of the early table. An abysmal showing by Frank de Boer’s side, especially in defense, certainly opened the door. Mounie ran through it.

Everton 1-0 Stoke

There’s not much to say, is there? Wayne Rooney’s header was the only time Everton weren’t just playing it around the back like they didn’t care, and Stoke obliged them.

Southampton 0-0 Swansea

The Saints had 29 shots. Twenty nine!Ā Only two were on target.

Just. . . just move on.

West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth

Tony Pulis grabbed the most Tony Pulis of victories. A header from Ahmed Hegazi put the hosts in front and West Brom promptly spent the rest of the game trying to send long balls to Jay Rodriguez.

Manchester City 2-0 Brighton

Kevin de Bruyne —> David Silva —> Sergio Aguero goal.

de Bruyne—> Silva—> Lewis Dunk own goal

A typical win at the Etihad. Or in Brighton. Either way, it was BORING.

Tottenham 2-0 Newcastle

Dele Alli and Ben Davies scored in the second half to deliver an away win for the Spurs. Newcastle were content to defend, getting booked left and right. It didn’t work.

Manchester United 4-0 West Ham

West Ham were very poor defensively, and Romelu Lukaku took advantage, scoring two . Nemanja Matic seems to have unlocked Paul Pogba’s center midfield potential, as they dominated the Hammers. Hammered them, in fact.

 

That’s all for today! Next week I will round up Gameweek 2, and the article will likely be out on Tuesday. Until then, don’t destroy your FPL teams šŸ˜€šŸ˜ŽšŸ™„

Premier League Predictions III: The Top Four

Today I predict the top four of the Premier League. If you missed the first two parts of my EPL predictions, please go back and read them.

Arsenal. Liverpool. Chelsea. Manchester City. Those four teams will make up the top four, starting in the fourth spot with. . .

Liverpool. The Reds bolstered their attacking lineup with the ā‚¬42 million capture of Mohamed Salah from Roma. The problem is, as Arsenal fans like me painfully learned with Mesut Ozil, attacking players tend to get pushed around for about half a season before they become accustomed to the Premier League’s version of the world’s game. Playing Philippe Coutinho in the center of midfield won’t help their playmaking either.

What is left to be said about last year for Arsenal? Their record 19 year streak of finishing top four was broken and the Gunners will compete in the Europa League this year. Fans changed their tune when Arsene Wenger signed some striker (!) named Alexandre Lacazette. This Lacazette guy is actually very good. Mesut Ozil is going to break every assist record imaginable thisā€”oh wait, he did that two years ago.

Mesut Ozil is going to break all of his assist records this year if Alexis Sanchez stays. Arsenal could finish even higher if not for second-placed Chelsea. When John Terry is your worst departure, you’ve had a pretty solid transfer window. When Alvaro Morata and TiemouĆ© Bakayoko come in to South London? Ā Unheard of. Look at what happened to the last five champions of the Premier League. They got off to abysmal starts the year after. Add the fact that Eden Hazard will miss the first month of the season. Chelsea should be on fire late a lĆ” Arsenal 2015, but it won’t be enough to top. . .

Champions Manchester City. Has Josep “Pep” Guardiola finally assembled the team he has wanted at the Etihad? New signings Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker will start on either side of the defense. Danilo won’t even start. Bernardo Silva and Ederson Moraes have been signed to start at right mid and goalkeeper respectively. Considering that Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are the other attacking midfielders, this side will score goals. Lots of them. In defense, Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany form a formidable center-back partnership. If they’re healthy.

 

Did you agree with my predictions? Perhaps you thought something different. Let me know in the comments!

Premier League Predictons II: The Europa League race

Yesterday I detailed my predictions for the bottom half of the Premier League table. Today it’s 10-5, the race for the Europa League.

I really like this Newcastle team. Henri Saivet and Tim Krul return from their loans to a side that added Javier Manquillo, Florian Thauā€”I mean Lejeune, and Mikel Merino. Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie highlight a midfield that dominated the Championship last year, and that’s just the start. If not for their relative inexperience I would put them higher.

In 9th is West Ham. The Hammers still haven’t replaced Dmitri Payet, and that won’t hinder them to the extreme, but they will be pushed by Newcastle.

In eighth is Southampton. Fraser Forster in goal is never a bad thing, and they won’t be lacking chances in the final third with the likes of Dusan Tadic in the attacking midfield.

Here is where it gets really hard. Chelsea. Arsenal. Manchester City. Manchester United. Tottenham. Everton. Liverpool. All have great squads. All but the Spurs have improved them, and that’s why TottenhamĀ are in seventh. They finished second last year, sure. Their Pythagorean win total placed them at sixth. Mass regression is due, and they’re playing at Wembley. They never do well at Wembley. When all the other top seven sides have boosted their stars and depth, you don’t want to stand pat.

In sixth place, stop me if you’ve heard this before. Perennially underachieving Manchester United won the Europa League last year, and participating in the Champions League this year will be a test for the Red Devils. They lack the squad depth to challenge in the league and in Europe. Despite the signing of Romelu Lukaku, they will still finish sixth.

Look at Everton splashing the cash in the transfer market! Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford, and Michael Keane joined early. Then the aforementioned Lukaku left for exactly fourteen times the priceĀ Ronald Koeman secured Sandro Ramirez for. Gerard Delofeu’s departure will be a blow, and the squad’s chemistry will suffer for a month or two. However, once they get going, look out!

Tomorrow I will post my top four predictions. As always, leave a like if you enjoyed and your feedback in the comments is appreciated!

Real Madrid 4-1 Juventus: Reviewing the Champions League final

A wild game, to say the least.

Cardiff, Wales was the site of the Final of the most prestigious club competition in the world. It’s also Gareth Bale’s hometown. Bale was left on the bench, though, as Real Madrid cemented their place in history, becoming the first team in 27 years to winĀ the Champions League back-to-back years.

Once theā€”um,Ā interesting pregame show had been cleared, Juventus almost immediately went ahead when Miralem Pjanic’s 20 yard effort in the 6th minute forced a terrific save from keeper Keylor Navas.

In the 20th minute, Real Madrid made them pay for their attacking play. It was a typical Madrid counter-attack: deadly and not wasting time. Karim Benzema fed Cristiano Ronaldo, who then played a sweet one-two with Dani Carvajal on the wing and made no mistake with the 15-yard finish.

Juventus didn’t roll over and play dead, though. On the stroke of halftime, superb build-up play from the Italian giants led to Mario Mandzukic scoring one of the best goals of the year, a terrific overhead kick that Navas’s outstretched fingers couldn’t reach.

In the second half, however, it was all Madrid. Goals from Casemiro, Ronaldo, and 20 year old substitute Marco Asensio sealed Juventus’s fate, though the Asensio goal wouldn’t have come to be if Juventus hadn’t decided to roll over and play dead. They did and it did.

Leave your suggestions, comments, and other feedback in the comments below!Ā Leave a like if you enjoyed this article, and good riddanceā€”I mean goodbye.

Premier League: What the top teams can still accomplish this season

***”Magic number” refers to the amount of points the team must grab in the last two/three games, the amount of points teams below or above them must drop, or both in combination.

 

Chelsea

  • Win the league and fend of Tottenham’s late charge. MAGIC NUMBER: 4
  • Win the FA Cup: MAGIC NUMBER: Beat Arsenal.

Tottenham

  • Win the league. MAGIC NUMBER: 10

Manchester City

  • Clinch a Champions League spot. MAGIC NUMBER: 6

Liverpool

  • Clinch a Champions League spot. MAGIC NUMBER IS 5

Arsenal

  • Clinch a Champions League spot. MAGIC NUMBER IS 13
  • Beat Chelsea to win the FA Cup

Manchester United

  • Clinch a Champions League spot. MAGIC NUMBER IS 11.

FA Cup: Arsenal topple Manchester City 2-1 in extra time

Three times was Arsene Wenger’s squad an arm’s length away from an agonizing defeat that would have put the nail in the coffin of an Arsenal season ruined by injuries. First, five minutes before halftime Leroy Sane (sah-nay) burst down the left hand side and delivered a sensational cross to Sergio Aguero. Aguero’s header probably crossed the line before Petr Cech’s parry, but Raheem Sterling hammered it in for good measure. But wait. The assistant referee ruled that the ball had passed out of play before the cross. No goal.

Second and third, in the 79th minute, Yaya Toure crushed a shot goalwards, only to have Cech tip it over the bar at the last second. Three minutes later, Kevin de Bruyne hit the crossbar. By then it was 1-1 with goals from Nacho Monreal for Arsenal and Sergio Aguero for Man City.

Arsene Wenger chose to stick with the 3-4-3 formation that so benefited Arsenal against Middlesbrough, deploying Nacho Monreal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the wide midfield positions. It paid off in the 14th minute of extra time when Mesut Ozil’s superb delivery, via free kick, was miskicked by Danny Welbeck. It landed in front of Alexis Sanchez, and the Chilean did what he usually does. He buried it. 2-1 Arsenal. Ball game.

What I Would Do #3: England

Welcome back to the What I’d Do series. Today it’s a team falling out of contention internationally. Is it due to a lack of talent? Far from it. Managerial turmoil has shaken up England’s squad more times than players should have to endure. Here is what I would do with the England national team.

At goalie is Joe Hart. Hart has been largely forgotten in the Premier League, but he has been a terrific goalkeeper on loan to Torino. So good, in fact, that he earns a starting spot here.

At left and right back, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are terrific for Tottenham. Walker gets the nod over Nathaniel Clyne due in part to his remarkable defending, but also because he is just so good at running down that right wing and causing problems for the opposing defense.

ForĀ the center backs, it’s Chris Smalling and John Stones. Stones played incredibly well for Everton, and was rewarded with a summer transfer to Manchester City. Smalling is the cog that makes theĀ Manchester UnitedĀ defense tick. You couldn’t pick anyone better in these positions.

At the two center defensive midfielder (CDM) spots are two Liverpool men. Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson don’t always play for England, but when they do they are terrific. (Also considered: Eric Dier, Jack Wilshere)

In front of the CDMs is the CAM superstar Dele Alli. Alli has been one of the breakout stars of the 2016-17 Premier League, even earning Player of the Month honors once. He is the obvious choice here.

At left midfielder, who else? Raheem Sterling is always in the England squad, he always performs well internationally (edit: except against Iceland), and I have picked him here.

At right midfielder is Theo Walcott. Prior to this season, Arsenal fans were calling for Arsene Wenger to sell him. That didn’t happen, and Walcott has had theĀ best season of his career. He’s playing.

At striker is another former Player of the Month winner. Harry Kane edged out Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck because of one reason: Goals. Kane scores loads and loads of goals. England needs that. They have such a creative midfield, and Ā they need someone to put those chances in the back of the net. Harry Kane is their man.

 

Be sure to put your suggestions down in the comments below!