FA Cup, League Cup,Champions League and Europa League Update

The Premier League took the week off and the focus shifted to the largest and most prestigious tournaments in Europe. This time of year the schedule gets a bit crowded, especially for top teams who are still active in multiple events, trying to fit in multiple games….and still stay competitive in the Premier League…quite a task. Let’s start with the oldest and most famous English Tournament, The FA Cup. It really is quite amazing.

The FA Cup

This is the grand daddy of English soccer tournaments.  It was started in 1870 and has run continuous since then.  The winners purse is $2,000,000 pounds.  Yes, that’s 20 times larger than the League Cup, also played with teams in English Soccer, but not quite as prestigious as the FA Cup.  Some serious cash for the winning team. Entry is available to the top 10 divisions of English football.  It is 100’s of teams who can gain entry into the tournament.  In theory, the local pub team in England can enter and win.  Not likely….but just knowing you could win makes this a really cool event with great history!  In 2011, over 700 teams entered the competition.  Crazy!  Due to the size and scope of the tournament, it starts in August each year and the finals are in May.

Here is what they are playing for…plus that cash we mentioned earlier.

We have now completed the 5th Round of the Fa Cup an here is a quick update on the remaining teams. We are down to the Final 8—Quarter Finals. The next games are March 16/17.

Waford vs. Crystal Palace. Two teams from the Premier League.

Swansea City vs. Manchester City. The favorite and top team from the Premier League against the 13th place team from the Championship Division. It’s kind of Like a #1 Seed playing a #8 Seed in the NCAA March Madness. A pretty big favorite in Man City….so let’s all cheer for Swansea!

Wolverhampton vs. Manchester United. Two teams from the Premier League, and since Man U knocked out Chelsea last weekend, we are all cheering for Wolves. Come on Wolves!

Millwall vs. Brighton. Another Premier League team (#14) verse a Championship Division team (ranked #19 in their league) . This would be like a #4 Seed in March Madness taking on a #10 seed. So we all know their is always an upset in March Madness with a lower seed team winning. Millwall is now my Favorite team left in Fa Cup. This would be a huge upset for a team ranked this low to get to the Semi-Finals, the Final Four. Let’s all cheer for the underdog. It’s what the FA Cup is all about.

League Cup Update

The finals are this weekend and the match up features this years most dominating European team, Manchester City versus struggling Chelsea. Manchester City is still alive in 4 huge competitions: League Cup, FA Cup, Champions League and also for the Premier League Title. A quadruple is still possible. Not sure if anyone has ever done the quadruple? I will research that. Their last match up in the Premier League, Manchester City humiliated Chelsea 6-0. And they play again just a few weeks later. Oh my. Any chance Chelsea can make it a game….any chance they can win….that is a big ask, but at least let’s make it a game Chelsea.

UEFA Champions League Update

Take the Top 32 Teams in Europe and put them together in a round robin format for the first round, home and away for the next round, Quarter Finals, and Semi-Finals and then an amazing Finals. It’s a pretty amazing tournament and features some of the most exciting soccer in the world. The best teams, the best players, the best stadiums…it makes for an amazing event. We are now in the Knock Out Round of 16. The first leg has been completed and here are the results.

Roma (Italy) 2 Porto (Portugal) 1

PSG (France) 2 Manchester United (England) 0

Tottenham (England) 3 Borussia Dortmund (Germany) 0

Real Madrid (Spain) 2 Ajax (Netherlands) 1

Lyon (France) 0 Barcelona (Spain) 0

Liverpool (England) 0 Bayern Munich (Germany) 0

Athletico Madrid (Spain) 2 Juventus (Italy) 0

Manchester City (England) 3 Schalke 04 (Germany) 0

The next games are March 5/6 and 12/13. Still a lot of drama with two games played at 0-0 draws. A few 1 goal games still give teams a chance to comeback and advance. Looks look at one of the crazier games from the last leg. Penalties, Red Cards, Free Kicks and a late goal…oh my. Enjoy.

Europa League Update

For teams not able to qualify for Champions League, we get the “little brother” tournament. Not the best teams, but still some pretty good teams, a few great players, the stadiums are a bit smaller…..but a pretty good tournament too. I am pretty interested this year, as Chelsea are in the Europa League…plus the winner gets a spot in next years Champions League…and that might be Chelsea’s on;y chance to get back to Champions league. Ugh! We are down to the round of 32, so still a ways to go. The Round of 16 is about set. The draw for the next round of games is soon, so more to follow once those games are announced. Still too many teams from too many countries but here are a few you probably recognize:

Spain: Sevilla, Villarreal, Valencia

Italy: Napoli, Inter Milan

England: Arsenal, Chelsea

Portugal: Benfica

Had to throw in a Chelsea game….it’s been a slow spell for them so had to take a win when I can and show some highlights.

Premier League kicks in again this weekend….so get your popcorn ready!

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Premier League Match Week 26 Update

Week 26 is in the books. 12 Games left and we now have a battle at all stages. A huge battle for the League Champion is now official. Manchester City is now officially in first in the Premier League. Liverpool seemed a shoo in at the midway point but that has all changed. Liverpool cooled off and Manchester City has gotten hot. Most feel Manchester City is the best team in Europe but Liverpool got out of the gates so fast. But now….its all square and Man City actually has the tie breaker on Goal Differential. It should be close the rest of the way. One note to consider: Manchester City have a game in hand, having already played 27 games….so all you Liverpool fans….win your next game and you are right back in first. I needed to create some drama, so kept that info for the end of the paragraph ! Bloggers prerogative!

As well, the race for the Top 4 and qualification for Champions League is going to be a real battle. Tottenham have positioned themselves in good shape, sitting at third and 9 points clear of 4th. The real battle is for the 4th spot. Three teams within 1 point. Surging Manchester United sit at 51 points. They have been hot but show signs they may have lost some form in the last few games. Injuries also are hitting them hard. Can they keep it going. Arsenal and Chelsea have both had some poor form recently and now sit at 50 points. Chelsea hit rock bottom this past weekend, suffering their biggest defeat in over 20 years in the Premier League losing 6-0 to Manchester City last weekend. It felt like 3-1 loss watching it live, but sometimes things can just unravel on you quickly. Manchester City had 5 shots in the first half, Chelsea had 8. The score at halftime Man City 4 Chelsea 0. Ouch. Two horrendous defensive mistakes, 1 amazing shot and 1 unfortunate tackle that ended up becoming a great layoff pass all turned into Goals. It was just that kind of day for Chelsea. Two great scoring chances were also snuffed out. As a Chelsea fan, hope they recover quickly, as it can’t get worse….I hope!

I hate doing it, but I guess I have to take my lumps. I had to show the amazing strike from Sergio Aguerro against Chelsea. It is his 11th hat trick in the Premier League, tying him for the career lead in hat tricks and a really, really good shot. Enjoy…I didn’t at the time but certainly appreciate the quality in this shot. wow!

As a treat, thought I would drop in the Top Goals of the year thru Week 26. Some pretty impressive strikes….which is your favorite. Enjoy!!

Winners over the past week include:

Manchester United 3-0 over Fulham.

Watford 1-0 over Everton.

Arsenal 2-1 win over Huddersfield Township.

Liverpool 3-0 over Bournemouth.

Cardiff City 2-1 win over Southampton.

Burnley 3-1 over Brighton

Tottenham 3-1 over Leicester City

Race for the Title & Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie 

1- Manchester City 21-4-2. 65 Points. Have played an extra game!

2- Liverpool   20-1-5 65 Points.

3- Tottenham  20-6-0   60 Points.

4-Manchester United     15-5-6   51 Points.

5-Arsenal  15-6-5   50 Points. 5th on Goals Scored Advantage

4-Chelsea   15-6-5  50 Points

Wolves, Watford, Everton and West Ham United round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

There are now 8 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Crystal Palace (27), Brighton (27), Burnley (27), Newcastle (25) and Cardiff City (25) sit just outside the 18th spot and are hanging on to the Premier League. The new bottom three:

18. Southampton 5-12-9. 24 Points

19. Fulham 4-17-5. 17 Points.

20.  Huddersfield 2-19-5 11 Points.

Unless something changes quickly, Huddersfield is toast! Fulham is about to be toast, but that 18th and last spot, man, that will be interesting.

Match Week 27 Preview

Game of the Week. #4 Manchester United vs. #1 Liverpool. A really big game for both clubs. Manchester United has surged but hope they take a loss….Chelsea needs some help. Liverpool need the win to take back control of 1st. Let’s go Liverpool!!

Get ready for an exciting finish to the season. 12 games to go.

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Premier League Match Week 25 Update

Time top catch up a bit. The Premier League is rolling along and this weekend is finishing up Week 25. 13 Weeks to go and things are definitely taking shape. Battles are forming for the League Winner, as well, battles will be fought for a Top 4 Finish and finally, the Relegation Zone is heating up as teams position themselves to remain in the Premier League next year.

A few big developments over the past few weeks, first, the big news, Liverpool is human, after losing to Manchester City they have NOT looked like a runaway League Champion. They look vulnerable. The past three weeks have produced a dramatic 4-3 win over Crystal Palace and then two draws against Leicester City and West Ham. Pretty underwhelming results. Manchester City has taken advantage of the dip in form for Liverpool. Over the past three weeks they have wins over Huddersfield and Arsenal but aso a confusing loss to Newcastle. They have picked up a point on Liverpool and after an early match this week have actually caught Liverpool with 62 points. Liverpool will play this weekend with the chance to regain the top spot, but the certainly of a Title no longer exists for Liverpool.

Chelsea have hit a drop in form and are holding desparately to the 4th spot. A bad loss followed by a big win, so the question is which team will show up. The game of the week was Manchester City vs. Arsenal and it featured a hat trick from the leagues best striker, Sergio Aguerro. The second goal is a thing beauty. The third goal…..well…not so much….I think a Hand Ball that was not called.

I keep finding highlights with the cool Spanish announcers. Exciting! Just sounds better in Spanish. In other developments, Gonzalo Higuain has delivered for Chelsea, scoring two goals in his home debut. Can the new striker keep Chelsea in the Top 4? Manchester United are still rolling, having not lost since they named their new manager and fired Mourinjo. Only 1 draw to blemish their run. Now sitting in 5th and looking like a serious threat to finish Top 4. It should be a pretty tight race beteeen Chelsea, Manchester and Arsenal.

Week 25 Recap

Winners over the past week:

Tottenham 1-0 over Newcastle. Kane. Ack soon, so watch out.

Wolves 3-1 over Everton.

Chelsea with the 5-0 thumping of Huddersfield.

Crystal Palace 2-0 over Fulham.

Cardiff City 2-0 win over Southampton.

Manchester United with a tight 1-0 win over Leicester City.

Race for the Title & Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie 

1- Manchester City 20-4-2. 62 Points. Have played an extra game!

2- Liverpool   19-1-5 62 Points.

3- Tottenham  19-6-0   57 Points.

4-Chelsea   15-5-5  50 Points

5-Manchester United     14-5-6   48 Points.

6-Arsenal  14-6-5   46 Points.

Wolves, Watford, Everton and Bournemouth round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

There are now 6 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Newcastel (24), Southampton (24), and Burnley (24) are sitting just outside the relegation zone. The new bottom three:

18. Cardiff City 6-15-4. 22 Points

19. Fulham 4-16-5. 17 Points.

20.  Huddersfield 2-18-5 11 Points. Unless something changes quickly, Huddersfield is toast!,

Match Week 26/27 Preview

Game of the Week. #4 Chelsea vs. #1 Manchester City. A really big game for both clubs. Manchester City chasing Liverpool and Chelsea hanging on to 4th. Somethings gotta give, probably Chelsea.

Week 27 features Liverpool v. Manchester United. Is Man U going to make some noise and be a player for Top 4 while hurting Liverpool’s chances to take down a Title.

Get ready for an exciting finish to the season. 13 games to go.

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Premier League Update Match Week 22

So we are past the crazy Christmas week when the games are coming fast and furious, 2 games a week and how in the world can anyone keep up with that. This darn work thing keeps getting in the way. Full time blogging sounds like a nice gig, there is just that cash flow problem…oh well… you just need to give me a chance to get caught up this week.

A few big developments over the past few weeks, first, the big news, Liverpool finally lost a game, and oh what a game it was. Liverpool lost to title holder Manchester City in an epic battle. It was a real edge of your seat type of game. I tried to stop watching a few times as I had things to do, but I could not walk away. It had that intensity that makes your nervous watching. Constant action, an energy about it, the players felt it, the coaches felt it and certainly the fans felt it. All the talking TV heads agreed, it was the best game in the Premier League this season…by a long way. The two best clubs in the league slugging it out. I was a bit drained afterwards. Never more than a 1 goal lead and scoring chances all the time. The result was in doubt right up to whistle. Check it out.

Spanish highlights just make the game more exciting, don’t you think. This game needed something special and it just sounds better when you here “goooooooooooaaaaaaaaal!

The second big development the past few weeks is the re-emergence of Manchester United. They’re Back! This was a season that was really falling apart. Jose Mourinjo was on watch to be fired the entire year. The 3rd season curse was alive and well. The team was flat, the fans were frustrated, and the results were not good. Sitting around 7-8th in the table all year with no real direction. Paul Pogba, the best midfielder in the world was not happy, lost his captaincy, and was benched multiple times. Something had to give, and give it did when Mourinjo was finally fired after their really poor performance against Liverpool, losing 3-1 and getting dominated. Replaced by a club legend who over 10 years scored 91 goals for Manchester United in his career, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was names Caretaker manager and has righted the ship. Players are loose, confident and playing their best soccer of the season. 6 straight wins have Man U now in striking distance of a top 4 finish. In a real teat last week, Manchester v=came up big against a Top 4 team Tottenham. It was really the GK that shone brightest. David de Gea put down his claim form the best GK performance of the season with 11 saves, many of them epic and amazing. A single counter attach strike gave Man U the lead and then it was the de Gea show. Check out this amazing GK performance.

Week 21-22 Recap

A strange few weeks with only three teams able to win back to back games. Other games/winner of note were:

Manchester City with 2 wins, over Liverpool and Wolves.

Burnely with two wins over Huddersfield and Fulham.

Manchester United with two wins over Newcastle and Tottenham

Race for the Title & Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie 

1- Liverpool 18-1-3  57 Points

2- Manchester City   17-3-2   53 Points

3- Tottenham  16-6-0   48 Points

4-Chelsea      14-3-5   47 Points

5-Aresnal     12-5-5   41 Points

6-Manchester City  12-5-5   41 Points

Watford, Leicester City, West Ham United and Everton round out the Top 10.  Bournemouth and Wolverhampton dropped out of the Top 10 with recent losses.

Relegation Zone

There are now 6 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Burnley with two massive wins recently (21) ,Southampton (19) and Cardiff City (19) currently safe but sitting just outside the relegation zone.  The new bottom three:

18. Newcastle United 4-12-6   18 Points

19. Fulham 3-14-5  14 Points.

20.  Huddersfield 2-15-5  11 Points

Match Week 23 Preview

Game of the Week. #4 Chelsea vs. #5 Arsenal. A really big game for both clubs. Arsenal and Chelsea have both had nice moments this year, but both need 3 points desperately to maintain their Top 4 hopes.

Get ready for an exciting finish to the season. 16 games to go.

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Premier League Match Week 19 Update

We are officially at the halfway point of the season, 19 games complete and 19 games to go. So, what is the story of the year? Liverpool, maybe but for me the real question is:

What is wrong with Manchester City! That is the the Hot Take from this week. After dropping their first Premier League game to Chelsea a few weeks back, they have now lost 3 of their last 4, losing to Crystal Palace and Leicester City in back to back games. Last years runaway winner is struggling. Their mini-slump has turned into a crises in Manchester. The next two games are huge. A game Sunday against Southampton where they need to find some momentum and then….a showdown with Liverpool. Win and they are right back in the race. Lose and they go down 7 points and maybe it’s over. Liverpool is now halfway to an unbeaten Premier League season. It has happened only twice in history. First accomplished by Preston North End in the inaugural Football League season on 1988-1989. A total of 27 games, winning the league and the FA Cup. A record of 23 wins and 4 draws over the season. The only other time it was accomplished was in the 2003-2004 season in which Arsenal became the first team to go undefeated in a 38 game Premier League season, finishing the year with 26 wins and 12 draws. Can Liverpool be the 3rd. Lots of work to do, but the dream is still alive.

Match Week 18 Recap

No feature matches between Top 6 clubs this week, but some very interesting games and results to report. The score that really shocked everyone was the Leicester City 2-1 win over struggling Manchester City. For Leicester, that is back to back big wins, having taken down Chelsea the game before. Manchester City had their chances, but it just seems when you are in a bit of a funk, that things just don’t go your way. Man City actually took a 1-0 lead, but Leicester City keep pressing all game. Two really nice goals, one on the counter attack and a rocket shot from Ricardo off a corner kick stunned Manchester City. Wow. Back to Back losses. Incredible. Did I ever tell you that this league is hard!

Let’s check out some highlights.

In other games the winners were:

Everton 5-1 over Burnley.

Liverpool rolls on with a dominating 4-0 win over Newcastle.

Tottenham is building momentum after thrashing Bournemouth 5-0

Manchester United seem to have forgotten Mourinjo after 2 wins. 3-1 over Huddersfield.

Chelsea back on track with a 2-1 win over Watford.

West ham with a 2-1 win over Southampton.

Race for the Title & Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie 

1- Liverpool 16-0-3  51 Points

2- Tottenham   15-4-0   45 Points

3- Manchester City  14-3-2   44 Points

4-Chelsea      12-3-4   40 Points

5-Aresnal     11-3-5   38 Points

6-Manchester City  9-5-5   32 Points

Leicester City, Everton, West Ham United and Watford, Bournemouth round out the Top 10.  Bournemouth and Wolverhampton dropped out of the Top 10 with recent losses.

Relegation Zone

There are now 5 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Southampton (15) and Cardiff City (15) currently safe but sitting just outside the relegation zone.  The new bottom three:

18. Burnley 3-13-3   12 Points

19. Fulham 2-12-5  11 Points. Their first week out tof the 20th spot on a few months.

20.  Huddersfield 2-13-4  10 Points

Match Week 20 Preview

Game of the Week. #1 Liverpool vs. #5 Arsenal. The first of two big weeks for Liverpool. Will they be caught looking ahead to Manchester City. Can Arsenal protect their title as the only undefeated Premier League Champion in the modern era of 20 teams.

Get ready for an exciting second half to the season.

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Futsal, Coaching, and My Favorite Team

Being a soccer coach has been a real pleasure in my life. It wasn’t planned or expected, I just kind of fell into it as my kids grew up and found the game. I found my first favorite team a few years back coaching my son’s U11 team. A rag tag bunch of kids who were not good enough to make the C1 team and ended up playing in back to back State Tournaments (runner up at U11). A bunch of kids who just loved the game and worked hard all season. It was pretty cool to see several of those boys make it on the High School Varsity squad, become starters and make it to a few State Tournaments with Memorial a few years later. Coaching youth players is like that…can you just give them a few good years and prepare them for the next level….can you inspire them to work hard and develop their skills….and can you balance that out with them having some fun and a great experience along the way.

So that takes me to my latest favorite team, a group of really incredible players I had the good fortune to coach for 4-5 years from U10 and up until they headed off to high school. They are about to try out for their first high school team and I had a recent chance to go watch the core of that team play in a Futsal League game. Coaches are not to supposed to have favorite teams or favorite players, but there just are some groups that stick with you. This was one of those groups. It was the first time I had coached a group of girls and what an experience it turned out to be. Having 3 boys of my own, it was my first time trying to figure out teenage girls. I loved it. I think I got lucky. A group of talented, hard working and respectful players. A bunch of born leaders in the group as well. I can count on one hand the number of bad practices I had in 5 years. Plus there were a ton of great memories; winning seasons, winning tournaments, a bunch of smiling faces and watching the players develop into top notch soccer players. A few of my favorites include watching them as 8th graders playing in the high school league and holding their own, winning a few games, and putting a pretty good scare into the Memorial Freshman and Sophomore teams. Over the past summer, watching them beat a team comprised of current high school players was pretty rewarding. It was the moment I could take a pause, take a deep breath and feel like we did it together….we got them ready for high school.

Now a new challenge awaits these girls and I am really confident they have what it takes. I mentioned to them at the Futsal game I was expecting them to challenge for some Varsity spots in the spring. Not sure they were thinking that, but it was important to put that thought in their minds. Once they accept it as a possibility, and it really is, then they can just relax and play their game and see what happens. My only regret is that I don’t get to coach them anymore. But I do get to keep watching them, cheer them on, maybe offer some advice or a pep talk if they need it, and just appreciate the time I had with them. At the recent Futsal game, I decided to take a little video for the Blog. A trip down memory lane for me. Pretty cool and really proud of them as I watched. Just to see where their games have advanced and how well they played together. While walking off the field I was approached by a father from the opposing team, a St. Croix team of Freshman I think, maybe a few 8th graders that the girls had just dominated. He was asking how old the girls were, I think their parents assumed they were all older, Sophomore or Juniors. When I told him they were all Freshman but had been playing together for 4-5 years, he was a bit surprised, but also, very complementary of their play. “Those girls are pretty good” he said….and I agree, they are pretty good.

Here is some of the video I took. Sorry to Teagan…she scored twice but too fast for me to catch the goals. My bad! Sorry to MJ as well, she really dominated the first half, but I did not get to the video rolling until the second half…was too caught up just watching them play; the teamwork, the passing, the unselfish play, the movement and field awareness. It looked really good. Maybe more than good, it was impressive stuff!

An example of the ball moving really quickly to secure a shot, winning the ball back quickly and then looking for the dangerous thru ball. Didn’t work out, but the movement and thought process is perfect. The combination play between Teagan, Shelby and Grace is really good. All 1 and 2 touch soccer. The ball moves really fast!

This would have been quite the highlight if Shelby scores. More excellent combination play and a great seeking long ball from Greta. What a turn and cutback from Shelby and then….just a few inches lower and that is bar down and the best goal of the game.

Goal Keepers don’t get much love so thought I would share this video. Greta almost scores off the corner but then St. Croix has a nice spell of passing to get an open shot near the box. Addison correctly anticipates the shot and has a nice kick save on what probably should have been a goal.

Dropped this one in as another great example of their play. Greta wins a ball back using really good tackling technique, the ball falls to MJ who immediately plays hard and direct pass to Greta who has advanced down the field. A really nice pass played to feet. Greta traps, turns and shoots before the GK really is aware of what is happening. The touch and control of the ball is really high quality!

So that’s my stroll down memory lane. Not everyone from the team is playing in Futsal, but many of the girls that started as U10 players stuck together. I wish Molly Brickner had been there. Big expectations for her as well. A great player, a real anchor on the back line and one of the team leaders who made my job coaching much easier. A coach on the field who just gets in. Throw in all the other great players who were part of those years and you see why it’s one of my favorites. Just so happens this group of 7 started it all many years ago.

I am working on a new favorite team, coaching U13 Girls with a bunch of gritty, hard working, talented players who just love the game. Sound familiar. Give us another few years and maybe I’ll have a team that might challenge for my all time favorite, but it will be hard to beat that first group of girls. Sorry Austin….I know, I know, you should be my favorite team. Can I have more than 1 favorite team?

Thanks for letting me share.

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Champions League and Europa League Update

Champions League

The Champions League group stages are complete and we are now on to the Round of 16 head to head clashes. Let’s take a look at the match ups. These are set up as Home and Away matches over the next month. First round games beginning Feb. 12/13 and Feb. 19/20. The 2nd round of games are scheduled for March 5/6 and March 12/13.

Roma v Porto

Manchester United v PSG

Tottenham v Dortmund

Ajax v Real Madrid

Lyon v Barcelona

Liverpool v Bayern Munich

Athletico Madrid v Juventus

Schalke 04 v Manchester City

If you are counting by country: England (4), Spain (3), Germany (3), Italy (2), France (2), Portugal, Netherlands.

Europa League

Europa League is on to its Round of 32. The top 16 from qualification and the 16 who did not qualify for Champions League. too many teams to mention. The Round of 32 is in February and then we can get down to 16 and we can talk about the teams. Arsenal and Chelsea are both still alive from the Premier League as well as Napoli and Inter Milan from Italy. Sevilla, Villareal and Valencia are alive from Spain. Likely the winner comes out of this group of teams.

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Premier League Match Week 17/18 Update

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

Match Week 117/18 is officially in the books.  The games are coming fast and furious over the Christmas break. Midweek games combined with Weekend games means we get double the fun with the Premier League. The big story of the past few weeks is Manchester City…and not the good kind of news. Manchester City is beatable, they are human, they have flaws, they will not dominate the league in 2018/19 like they did last year. They may still win, but it will be a race to the finish this year. The other big story is Liverpool. they remain unbeaten in the Premier League after 18 matches and have now taken a 4 point lead in the table. Impressive. It might just be their season, things are falling their way, late goals, amazing finishes, but a lot of soccer left as we are just at the halfway point in the league. the other big news is Boxing Day is coming. Get ready on Wednesday to catch some soccer. 10 games fill the schedule for this Christmas Soccer tradition in England.

Match Week 17 Recap

The feature match this week was the clash in Manchester United and Liverpool. One of the must see games of the year when these two traditional powerhouse clubs get together. It was the tale of two teams going in opposite directions. Liverpool surging to the top and Manchester floundering a bit in the mid table. The Jose Mourinjo watch was still in full effect during the week and as fate would have it, this marked his last game as Manchester United coach. The separation in on field performance between these two teams was striking. So much so that a few days after the game, Man U fired their enigmatic coach. Poor play, player revolts, fan frustration all boiled over in the loss. Jose Mourinjo’s third year curse strikes again and he is out as coach of the most famous club in England.

Let’s check out some highlights.

Klopp’s decision to insert Shaqiri was quite a move. He scores twice over 7 minutes. The Liverpool magic continues. Both goals off deflections, but a well earned victory. Night and day in terms of the quality of play on the field.

In other games the winners were: Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton, Tottenham, Watford, West Ham, Southampton with a huge win over Arsenal, and Chelsea.

Match Week 18 Recap

The weekend games produced some interesting results.  There were no marquee match ups but there were some interesting scorelines. The big news was Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace. After taking a loss in Week 16 against Chelsea, folks figured Manchester City would get right back on a long winning streak. Not so fast says CP. In a rather shocking result, Crystal Palace, hovering around 14/15th in the table, shocked man City 3-2 and produced one of the biggest wins in their recent history as well as one of the top goals of the year….a stunning strike from Townsend. You will want to watch that few times…an upper 90 volley from 30 yards. Leicester City somehow got a win over Chelsea with only 24% possession. Chelsea really gave that one away. A cross bar and a post denying Chelsea after controlling the game. Manchester United hit for 5 goals in their first game without Mourinjo. The players seemed free and loose and played with passion missing under Mourinjo. Not to be outdone. Tottenham hit for 6 goals in a stunning offensive display against Top 10 Everton. Wow! When Tottenham is focused, they are really dangerous.

Let’s check out the highlights.


Other winners on the weekend include:

Liverpool 2-0 over Wolves.  Liverpool now lead the premier League by 4 points and still undefeated in league play. Arsenal 3-1 over Burnley. Southampton 3-1 over Huddersfield. Bournemouth 2-1 over Brighton and Watford takes down West ham 2-0.

Race for the Title & Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie Liverpool 

1-Liverpool 15-0-3  48 Points

2-Manchester City   14-2-2   44 Points

3-Tottenham  14-4-0   42 Points

4-Chelsea      11-3-4   37 Points

5-Aresnal     11-3-4   37 Points

6-Manchester City  8-5-5   29 Points

Watford, Bournemouth, Leicester City and Wolverhampton round out the Top 10.  Everton dropped out of the Top 10 with back to back losses.

Relegation Zone

There are now 5 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Southampton (15) and Cardiff City (14) currently safe but sitting just outside the relegation zone.  The new bottom three:

18. Burnley 3-12-3   12 Points

19. Huddersfield 2-12-4  10 Points

20.  Fulham 2-12-4  10 Points

Match Week 19 Preview

Game of the Week. It’s Boxing Day!

No marquee match ups, but what the heck, we get 10 games all in one day.  Just enjoy some great soccer. Can Manchester City shake their mini slump against a surging Leicester City team. Cam Liverpool stay undefeated in league play.

Merry Christmas.

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Premier League Update: Match Week 15/16

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

Match Week 15/16 is officially in the books.  Not quite the full Match Weeks these days as the Premier League is now getting busy with mid week games for awhile.  As we get closer to Christmas it will be pretty intense, 2 games per week, plus Champions League and Europa League and the the craziness of the 40 games in 14 days that is the Holiday break.  If you enjoy top flight soccer, get your DVR ready from December 22 – January 4th.  And then there is Boxing Day…the day after Christmas for you Yankees.  We love our American football tradition on Thanksgiving but the Brits love their “football” on Boxing Day.  10 games from early to late.  We get treated to three games here in the states.  If you love the game the next month is really a great time to be a fan.

Match Week 15 Recap

The feature match this week was the clash in Manchester between Arsenal and Manchester United…a clash of #4 and #7 in the table. It was really a battle of which team would win and be a contender and which would maybe fall away and be a pretender to a Top 4 claim.  A back and forth affair with both teams responding well to adversity.  As fate would have it, not sure we got any answers from this one.

Let’s check out some highlights.

In other games the winners were:

Bournemouth, West Ham, Brighton, Manchester City, Wolverhampton with a shock win over Chelsea, and Liverpool.

Match Week 16 Recap

The weekend games produced some interesting results.  The game of the weekend was #1 Manchester City vs. #4 Chelsea.  Chelsea coming off a very disappointing loss mid week to Wolverhampton.  After leading 1-0 and dominating the game, they just lost their control of the game and had a mental let down alowing two late Wolves goals to lose 2-1.  A bad loss for a Top 4 team.  Manchester City rolled on with another dominating performance 2-1 over Watford.  The game was critical for Chelsea.  Another loss and that would be two in a row and likely dropping out of the Top 4 and at risk to extending their mini slump.  Manchester City had not lost in the Premier League in 22 games.  Unstoppable was the claim.  Chelsea coach Sarri had never beaten Pep Guardiola and everyone seemed resigned that Manchester City would roll again.  As a Chelsea fan, I was worried for sure.

Let’s check out the highlights.

For a Chelsea fan the game was awesome.  We absorbed the pressure from Man City and kept their big guns pretty quiet.  Only 4 shots on goal the first half and nothing too dangerous. We started to come into the game mid way through the half and had some nice possession till half.  The scoring sequence was classic counter attack.  Playing out of the back and under pressure, David Luiz hits an incredible long cross field pass to Pedro.  50+ yards right onto his foot.  Pedro attacks and finds Willian with another cross field pass.  From there the ball finds its way to Hazard who drops a great pass across the box and …boom.  Kante with a screamer for 1-0 at the break. Chelsea has a strong start to the second half and almost gets a second early in the period but then later in the half a corner kick breaks it open for a comfortable 2-0 win.  Appropriate it is Luiz and Hazard as they both played well all game.

Other winners on the weekend include:

Liverpool 4-0 over Bournemouth.  Liverpool now lead the premier League!! Burnley 1-0 over Brighton.  Manchester United with their most complete game of the year and a 4-1 win over last place Fulham.  Arsenal 1-0 over Huddersfield, Cardiff City 1-0 over Southampton, West Ham 3-2 over Crystal Palace.  Tottenham keeps rolling with a 2-0 win over Leicester City and Wolverhampton makes it two in a row with a 2-1 win over 10 man Newcastle.

Race for the Title & Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie Liverpool 

1-Liverpool 13-0-3  42 Points

2-Manchester City   13-1-2   41 Points

3-Tottenham  12-4-0   36 Points

4-Chelsea      10-2-4   34 Points

5-Aresnal     10-2-4   34 Points

6-Manchester City  7-4-5   26 Points

Everton, Bournemouth, Leicester City and Wolverhampton round out the Top 10.  Everton could replace Man United if they win tomorrow.  The first time in a month that Manchester City has not led the race. There was a sense they may run away with it again this year, but after the loss to Chelsea, there is a new feeling, the race is on.  Liverpool is for real.  Might be a two horse race, but at least that is a race!!

Relegation Zone

There are now 6 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Newcastle United (13), Crystal Palace (12), and Burnley (12) currently safe but sitting just outside the relegation zone.  The new bottom three:

18. Huddersfield 2-10-4   10 Points

19. Southampton 1-9-6  9 Points

20.  Fulham 2-11-3   9 Points

Match Week 17 Preview

Game of the Week.

#6 Manchester United vs. #1 Liverpool.  This a a huge game for both teams.  Liverpool now leading the Premier League.  Manchester United with their best performance of the year this week.  A clash of two of the biggest names in soccer.  An emotional fan base on both sides.  Can Manchester U revive their season and threaten a Top 4.  Can Mourinjo give a master class coaching performance.  Can Klopp smash Jose and tell the world, we are in this to win this! It should be very interesting.

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Premier League Update: Match Week 14

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

Match Week 14 is officially in the books.  It was an exciting weekend of games with two big London Derbies and the Merseyside Derby as well.  Traditional rivalry games with lots of emotion.  And one of the craziest and most unbelievable finishes I have ever seen….no really….I am not kidding.  If you did not see the end of the Liverpool vs. Everton game, check it out below.  It was a stunner.

Match Week 14 Recap

The feature match this week was the clash in London between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur…a clash of #3 and #5 in the table.  It was an interesting match up.  Tottenham coming off a huge win last week against Chelsea.  A very talented team who has been on the verge of being a championship club but just can’t quite get there.  Huge wins followed by confusing losses.  Arsenal in their first year with new coach Unai Emery, trying to rebuild themselves into a Top 4 club.  Lots of history and great tradition, but has not been a contender for the Premier League title since 2004/2005.

Let’s check out some highlights.

Arsenal is starting to believe, watch out for them the rest of the way. A real statement win for Arsenal.

The other amazing game this weekend was Liverpool vs. Everton.  Liverpool in 2nd in the table and needing to stay close to put some kind of pressure on Manchester City, try to not let them run away with the title again.  Everton having one of their better starts to a premier league season and winners of 5 of their last 6.  Could Everton make a big statement and take down Liverpool.  Could Liverpool continue to keep pace with Man City.

Make sure to watch till the end, it will be worth it.

I mentioned it at the top, but I don’t think I have ever seen anything like that goal.  Not sure what the Everton GK was thinking.  Seemed a pretty easy decision to just pop it back out of play.  Maybe he was worried about a corner kick??  Or better yet, why touch it at all, it was over the post, would have either hit the netting or the back side of the cross-bar and ricochet out of play.  But to try and catch it?  Pickford actually keeps the ball in play and with his touch causes the ball to pop straight up and hit the cross-bar a second time….never seen that.  And to top off the craziness, there is Origi, right in front of net to header/shoulder it into the net with just seconds remaining before the whistle.  A stunner for Liverpool and a crushing blow to Everton.  A cruel ending and not deserved.  A draw was a fair result.  When you add the Everton header earlier in the game that was somehow kicked off the line as it was going across, wow! Tough, tough loss for Everton.

In other games the winners were:

West Ham 3-0 over Newcastle United.

Brighton 2-1 win over Huddersfield..

Chelsea with a nice solid win over Fulham, 2-0.

Cardiff City with a big win over Wolverhampton 2-1..

Manchester City with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth.

Leicester City with a 2-0 win over Watford.

Crystal Palace wins 2-0 over Burnley.

Only 1 draw this week, but it was significant. 18th place Southampton went up 2-0 and held on for a 2-2 draw against #7 Manchester United who dropped more points.  Man U is danger of missing out on European football next year, Europa League or Champions League.

Manchester City still look unstoppable.  They are still crushing everybody.

Race for the Title and Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie

1. Manchester City  12-0-2  38 Points

2. Liverpool    11-0-3   36 Points

3. Chelsea    9-1-4   31 Points

4. Arsenal      9-2-3   30 Points

5. Tottenham   10-4-0   30 Points

6. Everton 6-4-4   22 Points

Manchester United, Leicester City, Bournemouth, and Watford round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

There are now 7 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Crystal Palace and Cardiff City both with wins and a critical 3 points.  Crystal Palace now at 12, Newcastle United at 12, Cardiff City at 11 and Huddersfield with 10 points sitting just outside the relegation zone.  The new bottom three:

18. Southampton 1-7-6   9 Points

19. Burnley 2-9-3  9 Points

20.  Fulham 2-10-2   8 Points

There are now 3 distinct groups in the table. The Top 5 teams are all at 30 points or higher and starting to separate themselves from the pack.  The mid table teams range from 15-22 points and are ranked from 6th to 13th in the table.  The bottom group, fighting to stay up, range from 8-12 points and rank 14th to 20th.

Match Week 15 Preview

Game of the Week.

#7 Manchester United vs. #4 Arsenal.  This a a huge game for both teams.  Arsenal coming off the huge win against Tottenham and now go right back into a big match against Manchester United.  Back to back huge games.  Emotional games.  Statement games.  It would really put the league on notice that Arsenal is back.  Manchester United needs a big win.  They have struggled all year but are hanging around in 7th.  This could catapult them up the standings or signify they are mid table this year.  A month ago we all thought Mourinjo was just days away from being fired….he survived.  A bad draw against Southampton and then a loss to revitalized Arsenal might put him back on the watch list.  It should be very interesting.

 

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