Tag Archives: Chelsea

Premier league predictions: 7/12/13

DISCLAIMER: I take no blame if following my predictions leads to a failed accumulator…and all the credit if they turn out to be correct.

crystal_ball

MAN UTD v NEWCASTLE UNITED

So many classic games between these two down the years. Who can forget Philip Albert (proud owner of one of football’s greatest ever moustaches) deftly lobbing a forlorn Peter Schmiechal at St James’ as the Toon Army ran out 5-0 winners in ‘96, or a pubescent Wayne Rooney casually cutting short a rant at the referee to smash home a volley from 30 yards back in 2005. And this could be another cracker. United are in a post-Fergie downward spiral of despair/ haven’t won in 3, while Newcastle are the proud holders of both the Manager of the Month and Player of the Month Awards – even after a humbling 3-0 defeat to Swansea.

PREDICTION: 2-1

CRYSTAL PALACE v CARDIFF

Tony Pulis gained his first victory as manager of Palace last weekend against West Ham and will be hoping home form will be the key to saving the London side from what has so far looked like an almost certain relegation. Coming up against a Cardiff side, who despite claiming notable results against Man Utd and Man City this season, find themselves on a run of one win in eight, Palace will be confident they can snatch a second consecutive three points. Palace have had three clean sheets in the past four games, and with this game pitting the two lowest scorers in the division against each other, goals could be at a premium. But then again when Marouane Chamakh is around…oh nevermind.

PREDICTION: 1-0

LIVERPOOL v WEST HAM

With the news England will face Uruguay in next summer’s world cup announced today we could all be forgiven for hoping Luis Suarez gets back to biting people rather than scoring ridiculous goals. Three of his four against Norwich were worthy of goal of the month and Sam Allardyce will be going ultra defensive in this one in an attempt to stifle the Uruguayans threat. Although with the Hammers having played several games this season without a recognised striker, I’m not sure how much more defensive they can get. West Ham have conceded 10 goals since they last scored and with Liverpool having won six from seven at Anfield it looks like a home banker.

PREDICTION: 3-1

SOUTHAMPTON v MAN CITY

A difficult one to call. Southampton have been impressive so far this season, with the likes of Lallana and Lambert playing ahead of an imperious defence (imperious until they conceded three to Villa mid week). Even though Saints midfielder Steven Davis completed more passes (109) than the entire Villa side combined (96) on Wednesday night, the 3-2 defeat means three losses in a row. Man City on the other hand finally got a victory on the road against West Brom last time out. City are scoring goals for fun but if Southampton can regain their defensive stability it could be close.

PREDICTION: 1-3

STOKE v CHELSEA

Stoke do not win against Chelsea. They have never beaten them in the Premier League era and have only scored three goals in ten meetings in that time. And with Mark Hughes’ side stuttering along so far this season you would be hard pushed to find people backing the home side in this one. Having said that Chelsea did concede three on route to victory against bottom of the table Sunderland mid-week and haven’t looked like a classic Mourinho side so far this season. Edin Hazard was unplayable at the Stadium of Light and if he is on form again it could be a long afternoon for Stoke.

PREDICTION: 0-4

WEST BROM v NORWICH CITY

Both teams are firmly established in the “too good to go down but not good enough to challenge for Europe” camp.  Although Norwich need to start putting the ball in the back of the net, and stop having to pick it out of their own soon if they are to avoid being dragged into a prolonged relegation battle. West Brom haven’t won in over a month but have been unlucky in draws against Chelsea and Aston Villa in that time.

PREDICTION: 1-1

SUNDERLAND v SPURS

Gus Poyet has at least got Sunderland putting up some sort of fight in recent games and pushing Chelsea all the way in their last outing at least suggests some of the signings Di Canio made can have a positive impact. But close defeats do not save you from relegation and the Black Cats really need to start picking up points soon. Spurs, and Villas Boas in particular, are also desperate for points at the minute as they seek to kick start their season. The smooth talking Portuguese boss has watched his side struggle to score in the post-Bale era, and with Sunderland having already shocked Man City at home this season, will be fearful defeat here will see him collecting his P45.

PREDICTION: 1-2

Hmm, quite a lot of goals it seems tomorrow. Will make for an interesting MOTD if it pans out anyway.

A B C D E F G H I Jesus Christ, how many groups does the Europa League need!

With 12 groups in total, just comprehending the size of the Europa League requires you to have paid close attention during those Sesame Street episodes as a youth. L is for Ludicrous.

As someone who likes to think of himself as fairly knowledgeable on football in general I have to admit I have paid little to no attention to Europe’s second competition this season and it all just seems a little over complicated for me.

With one eye on Forest’s attempts to climb the Championship table and the other on the more traditional fair of top flight football and Champions League action, games such as Dnipro V Pandurii, and Kuban Krasnodar V St. Gallen have unfortunately slipped me by.

The suits at Uefa, led by Mousier Plattini, have cobbled together the competition out of the ashes of the Cup Winners cup and the Uefa cup format and created a monster.

With big teams fielding weakened sides and blaming their involvement for lapses in league form, and other teams struggling to see the economic value of flying half way across the world to battle out for a 0-0 draw to secure third place in the group, the tournament continues to pail into insignificance. Ever increasingly in the shadows of its much more successful and better looking sibling, the Champions League, teams such as Swansea are seeing the harsh reality of having to play on a Thursday night somewhere in the midst of Europe affecting their league form so far this season.

Another issue. The teams that fail in the Champions league should not be allowed to enter the next stage of the Europa league. Like poor quality hand me down’s these teams shouldn’t be automatically sent to the Europa League for a second chance in the sun. All this does is clog up an already congested system. Plus many of those teams don’t really want to be in the Europa League anyway.

Jon can’t bear to think of a Thursday night kick off

Take Chelsea for instance. Even as they were on their way to winning the competition a couple of seasons ago, they didn’t want to be there. There fans didn’t want to be there. Abramovich didn’t want to be there. And their players certainly didn’t want to be there. With Chelsea about to take part in the showpiece final against Benfica, Jon Obi Mikel came out and lamented the fact he had to “play on Thursday nights in front of Channel 5 cameras”. And bless his little heart, he didn’t know the Europa League song and missed the “prime time” of Champions League football.

While having an AC Milan or Chelsea in the draw might look good on paper, in reality these teams only serve to dilute the respectability of the competition and with 48 teams already making up the group stages it is counter-productive to then add a further 8 at a later stage.

Undoubtedly having a second European competition is key in order to prevent the chasm between Europe’s elite clubs and the rest growing even further but I can’t help but feel a simpler version which keeps itself to itself without accepting cast off’s and winners of fair play tables would be more rewarding; both for the teams taking part and for those of us seeking a competitive enjoyable tournament.

Because at the minute all the Europa League seems good for is giving Jermaine Defoe a run out.

Sporting Week in Pictures (October 21 – October 28)

Back by popular demand / I haven’t had time to get a new post up in a while. But here are the latest images from the past week in the sporting world.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2477863/Sunderland-v-Newcastle-Black-Cats-fans-wear-horse-masks-punched-police-horse-Bud.html

Sunderland’s first win of the season also happened to be the first Tyne-Weir derby since their infamous 3-0 victory last April against Newcastle which led to one Geordie punching a horse in the face (passion can do strange things to people). We cannot confirm or deny that this is the same horse in question but  Sunderland fans were keen to remind their north-east neighbours of the event on Sunday afternoon. Winning the game 2-1 also ensured they have the bragging rights for a few months at least.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2478231/Has-Joe-Hart-lives-Sportsmail-looks-biggest-2013-errors-Chelsea-calamity.html

You can see it all going through his mind; “Where has the ball gone?”, “Why am I jumping so high?”, “Where can I go on holiday next summer?”. Joe Hart’s error allowed Fernando Torres in to score an injury-time winner in the big Chelsea-City game at the weekend. The England no.1 is definitely going through some dodgy form but as of yet he hasn’t quite reached the heights of Rob Green v USA or Paul Robinson v Croatia and from a purely selfish point of view, as long as he carries on doing it for City and not England it’s ok with me.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/golf/10412836/Rory-McIlroy-Phil-Mickelson-and-friends-get-into-the-spirit-with-some-fancy-dress-at-Shanghai-HSBC-Champions-event.html?frame=2717496

 We have all seen Ian Poulter’s deathly competitive stare in recent Ryder Cup matches and no doubt Phil Mickelson has been on the end of a few of them in his time too. But I doubt he has ever been faced with Poulter complete with massive sword before. Fair play to Mickelson, he snagged himself a pretty fancy looking weapon of his own at the recent HSBC Shaghai golf event, but judging by the American’s look of concern he isn’t going to be asking for that trophy any time soon. And maybe it’s just me but I’m pretty sure traditional Chinese warriors did not wear sponsor-laden visors as part of their uniform.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/surfers-ride-biggest-ever-waves-at-nazare-during-st-judes-day-storm-8910801.html?action=gallery&ino=4

While most people were hiding indoors in the UK and across Europe as the St. Jude storm hit the classic foolhardy surfer instinct kicked in for others. Here you can just about make out through the rain Brazilian Carlos Burle taking on what in official surfing terms is called “an absolutely massive wave” off the coast of Portugal. Not technically professional sport but it’s dedication if nothing else.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/24691160

Oh wait hold on I forgot this was only supposed to be sporting images. Next.

http://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/manu-the-beast-vatuvei-scores-three-tries-as-kiwis-beat-samoa-at-rugby-league-world-cup/story-fndujljl-1226747962417

Rugby League players are not known to be the sharpest tools in the box and Sonny Bill Williams did little to help that image during New Zealand’s victory over Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup. The man who can’t make his mind up whether to play League or Union (or occasionally box) also seemingly struggles to remember where the try zone ends. After sauntering past the Samoan tackles all he had to do was put the ball down. Unfortunately that proved a step too far. Luckily for him New Zealand were already 36-24 up and went on to win the game 42-24. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-league/24704332)

Sporting Week in Pictures, August 22-30

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-2402275/US-OPEN-2013-Dan-Evans-beats-Kei-Nishikori.html

Dan Evans became the most talked about British tennis player for a few hours at least as he defeated Japanese number 11 seed Kei Nishikori in the first round of the US Open.  For a man who in April admitted “I am obviously pretty bad at my job” after struggling to keep to the regimented schedule of professional tennis it wasn’t a bad few hours work.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-29/celtic-joins-big-guns-in-group-stage/4920500

Jamie Forrest scores a 92nd minute winner for Celtic against Shakhter Karagandy to secure Neil Lennon’s side a place in the Champions league group stages having started the game with a 0-2 deficit after the first leg. If only Karagandy had been able to sacrifice a lamb before the match as they usually do maybe the result would have been different?

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=1986806.html#barcelona+milan+ajax+celtic+drawn+together

All Celtic’s hard work means glamour ties against Barcelona, AC Milan, and Ajax rather than the masterfully dull and money-sapping Europa League. All in all Man Utd and Chelsea have the easier of the draw while Arsenal will have to work hard to qualify from a group containing last years runners up Dortmund. Bayern v City also looks interesting.

Umpires Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena assess the light meter
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/23

These guys make it too easy…

The finale of the ashes came around in typically exhilarating fashion on Sunday as, with England needing just 21 runs with just 24 balls remaining, those in charge saw fit to end the days play, and thus the series, due to bad light. I’m not sure if you can make them out through the darkness but the picture shows the umpires and Michael Clarke either searching for mobile phone signal or using one of the many technological advances offered in cricket, “light checker-out-erer” I think its called.

Final results: England 3, Australia 0, Weather 2

Wigan win
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-league/23794947

Sam Tomkins secures the 2013 Challenge cup for Wigan Warriors with a last minute try to seal a 16-0 victory. A record 19th final victory took place in near torrential rain (take note cricket) at Wembley and was the first time since Wigan beat St Helens in 1989  that a team had managed to achieve a clean sheet.