Premier League Picks – Week Two

•August 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Having correctly predicted the score of Liverpool vs Arsenal and Man Utd vs Newcastle, plus getting the correct result for 3 other games, my score for week one was 9 points, and I’m hoping to improve on that this week. The scoring is explained at the bottom of my Premier League Analysis post.

The week gave us a huge surprise, as nobody was expecting Blackpool to batter Wigan, were they? But will the Tangerines use this result to push on forwards, or will they get cocky and think that the Premier League is a walk in the park? Chelsea were the other big winners of last week, and have really laid down the gauntlet for Manchester United to come and get them. Both teams will expect another three points this week, but one may slip up. Here’s my perception of the second weekend in the 10/11 Premier League season.

Arsenal vs Blackpool

Ian Holloway’s Blackpool will have taken so many positives from the Wigan game and are still in dream land. I think this week is where they come back down to earth though. An Arsenal side who were extremely lucky to get a point at Anfield on Sunday will need to get three points in this one if they are to declare their title ambitions. If they don’t get the victory here, it will be the bottom half of the league for the Gunners, who havn’t won the League since 2004. The Tangerines will be lucky to get anything out of this one, as Arsenal have turned the Emirates into a difficult stadium to come to. Sorry Blackpool fans, but I think you’ll be on three points for a couple of weeks now. I’ll go for a 3-0 victory for the Gunners, as they could rest a few players once the game is past Blackpool.

Birmingham vs Blackburn

After Tim Howard’s howler for Everton gifted Blackburn three points last weekend, Rovers will have received confidence from the home win. The trouble is their away form. After Birmingham’s promotion, many thought they would be stuck in a relegation fight last season. Instead, they managed to finish in the top half of the league and make St Andrews a fortress. After a late goal by Liam Ridgewell gave the Blues a point at Sunderland on Saturday, they should finish this weekend on four points. Alex McLeish is the right man for the job, and it looks like there are good things to come from Birmingham. I doubt Blackburn will have enough firepower in the game, but may give the Blues a run for their money. A 2-1 victory for Birmingham is my guess.

Everton vs Wolves

As I’ve just mentioned, Tim Howard was at fault for the Blackburn goal last week. He will be out to prove his is still a top goalkeeper, and nothing would demonstrate that more than if he were to keep a clean sheet this week. Wolves, after a great victory over Stoke last week, will know they have the credentials to stay up this season. A point at Goodison would be great for them, but with the Toffees needing the points more, the determination could lead them towards the win. Louis Saha will look to get Everton off the mark for the season, and a couple of goals wouldn’t have do the trick here. 2-0 to the Toffees.

Stoke vs Tottenham

Stoke’s form at the Brittania kept them way out of the ‘drop zone’ last season, and they will need to carry this form into the 10/11 season if they want to stay in this league. I can definitely see weaker teams that Stoke City, but they will still have to play well. Tottenham can always pose a threat to teams, and were extremely unlucky not to have taken all the spoils against Manchester City last week. Jermain Defoe looks as lively as ever, and this could be the week he breaks his duck for the season, though the Potters can be brilliant defensively. With Abdoulaye Faye and Ryan Shawcross at the back, they will make it difficult for Spurs. Despite this, it only takes on mistake and Tottenham will punish you, and for that reason I think they will get the three points they desire. 1-0.

West Brom vs Sunderland

Many football experts have said that West Brom will go down this season, and after a horrifically poor defensive performance against Chelsea last week, I don’t think they are far wrong. Manager Roberto Di Matteo should have restored some confidence though, and the Baggies could scrape a point here. Sunderland will still be down after the 2-2 draw with Birmingham last week, when at 2-0 up it looked like the points were in the bag. Without suspended Lee Cattermole, and having offloaded striker Kenwyne Jones, there will be plenty of pressure of Darren Bent to get at least 15 this season. Playing away is always difficult, and I think this game will be tight, and both teams will be more focused on defending. Unfortunately for the neutral a 0-0 draw is on the cards here.

West Ham vs Bolton

After being beaten comfortably by Aston Villa last week, West Ham need some points on the board. Bolton will also be looking for something to add to the point they got against Fulham. The Hammers will be desperate to avoid the relegation scrap at the end of the season, having finished 17th last time. Avram Grant does have the managerial qualities though, and his team are the bookies favourites in this one. Strikers Frederic Piquionne and Carlton Cole were in great form last season, and 10 goals a piece should steer West Ham to safety. Owen Coyle’s came to Bolton when they were also in the relegation scrap, but seemed to hoist them up the table gradually. After a point last weekend, I think Upton Park will be too much for Bolton. 2-0 West Ham.

Wigan vs Chelsea

Wigan go into this match with a goal difference of ten less than Chelsea, after a single game. Although the hosts won this fixture 3-1 last season, I can’t see a repeat performance from the Latics. Chelsea know that there can’t be any slip-ups if they are to retain their Premier League crown this season, and dropping points at Wigan won’t be in their plans. The hosts do have goal threat in Hugo Rodallega, although the Colombian has been linked with moves out of the DW Stadium. I don’t need to mention Chelsea’s goal threat having seen the show they put on last week, and it could be the same again for Carlo Ancelotti’s team. With Wigan being beaten 4-0 at home against Blackpool, I think that Chelsea will be out to beat that and put 5 past Wigan. It may just be one or two nil, but there’s no denying that Chelsea have the ability to get more. Can they get five? Yes. 5-0.

Newcastle vs Aston Villa

The Magpies need some points on the board fast if they are going to stay up this season. They lost last week, but at Old Trafford not many teams come away with anything. Manager Chris Hughton could be axed if results don’t go his way, and he will want to reassure fans that Newcastle can stay up with something in his first Premier League home game. Aston Villa performed remarkably well under Kevin MacDonald last week, and he could be looking into the full time job if the performances keep coming. Both teams will look to win this one, but unfortunately only one team can. Despite selling James Milner, I think Aston Villa have enough quality to get another win under their belt. 1-0 Villa.

Fulham vs Man Utd

After last week’s draw at Bolton, Fulham would bite your hand off if you offered them the same result here. Man Utd, as they do in every game, will be looking to win, and will need to be at their best after losing this fixture 3-0 last season, their heaviest defeat of the campaign. You can’t see past a United victory though, as they won’t want to slip up and give Chelsea a lead on them in the race for the title. Mark Hughes will know all about Alex Ferguson after playing under him for Manchester United, but should still struggle against Fergie’s team, who have the ability to dominate games. Wayne Rooney should be off the mark before long, and I’m going for a 3-1 victory for United in this one.

Man City vs Liverpool

City were very fortunate to come away from Tottenham with a point. I can’t recall many shots on target, and if it wasn’t for goalkeeper Joe Hart then they would have been battered. The team hasn’t quite gelled yet, and it will probably take a few weeks for that to happen. Liverpool were not as fortunate last week, with Pepe Reina’s own goal denying them 3 points. New signing Milan Jovanovic could fill the void left as a result of Joe Cole’s red card, but the Reds should still leave with something. Both teams drew in their opening fixtures this season, and I think they’ll still be even after 90 minutes. 1-1.

So with the title very much still up for grabs, I think that it will be a few weeks yet before the men and the boys are separated. Thanks for reading the blog. Don’t forget to hit subscribe at the top right if you enjoyed the post, and leave a comment below if you wish. All comments have to be read before they are published, and I take great interest in reading what people have to say.

FIFA 10 Ultimate Team

•August 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

You might be used to reading my posts about the Premier League and football in general by now, so I thought.. Why not write about something a bit different? As a huge fan of EA Sports FIFA 10, I thought I would keep the football theme going by writing about the hugely popular add-on, FIFA 10 Ultimate Team.

What is Ultimate Team?

FIFA 10 Ultimate Team is based on the idea of a trading card game, where gamers can exchange ‘coins’ they have earnt in return for players from FIFA 10. The idea is to assemble a squad of players, and play matches with this squad either online or offline to earn yet more coins. It’s not as simple as it sounds though; as once you have acquired a player, you will need to keep renewing his contract to play matches. Also, just like FIFA 10, players can get injured whilst playing in your team, and also become fatigued. Cards like these to boost fitness levels, stop injuries, and increase contract length can be acquired either by trading with other gamers, or purchasing ‘packs’, which contain a random selection of players, contracts, and a few other surprises.

Assembling Your Squad

I’ve looked at many different approaches to building a successful squad in Ultimate Team. So many gamers I have played against online have just bought all Man Utd players, or all Barcelona. I wouldn’t advise this though, as the main idea of Ultimate Team is.. To build the ultimate team. I realize that building a team of world beaters costs quite a few coins, but my entire team probably cost me only 50,000 coins. You’ll need to choose a theme for your team first of all, mine is strong players. Of course, the obvious choices are the likes of Didier Drogba and Nemanja Vidic, but those may be out of your price region. Instead, think of other strong players that could do the trick. I have Julio Baptista of Roma in my squad, and he cost me under 1,000 coins! If you’re looking for a pacey squad, then forget Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, go for players like Theo Walcott or Nadir Belhadj.

If you’ve assembled your themed squad and played some games, you should have found some weak links in your team (which is a good thing). Finding a better player to fit the position is the best option, and gradually your team should get better and better if you’re spending the coins you’ve earnt wisely. But what if you’re not getting anywhere? If you want to make coins fast, then a better approach is trading…

Trading

I’ve made over 50,000 coins from trading, and am going to teach you a few tricks of the trade. Firstly, gamers are suckers for ‘Buy It Now’ offers in the trading area. When selling players or other cards, you can put a starting price on the card, and a Buy It Now price. It’s an online auction basically, just like eBay, but with your Ultimate Team coins. The most common mistake people make when buying a player is to do a search filter of the player they want, and buy the cheapest Buy It Now offer. For example if I searched for Theo Walcott with a maximum Buy It Now price of 3,000 coins, I’d end up buying the cheapest card on offer. As there is more than one copy of each player, there would probably be about 10 Theo Walcott’s with a BIN of under 3,000. Buying the cheapest one seems a smart thing to do right? Wrong. Even if there is one available for 2,000 coins, I wouldn’t recommend buying it.

The cheapest way to buy players is to bid in the online auctions. Through bidding against other gamers to your budget, you can acquire cards for a lot cheaper. For example if I still wanted Theo Walcott, I could keep bidding on one of the cards until I got to my budget of say 1,500 coins. If outbid, simply try the same thing on another Walcott card, until you get him for the price you need.

NOTE: As the stock market is always changing on FIFA 10 Ultimate Team, the prices I am giving do not necessarily represent the exact cost of the players mentioned.

Now you earn your money. Say you’ve bought your Walcott for 1,500 coins, then why not sell him on for more? Sounds obvious, but most people miss this idea. If you put him back on the market with a start price of 1,500 coins, and a BIN of 1,800 coins, you can’t lose! The lowest he can sell for is 1,500, and then you break even, but because a BIN of 1,800 will be the lowest on the market, there will be many people looking to buy your card at that price.

If you manage to sell, you’ve made an instant profit of 300 coins. Not many I know, but repeating the process 10 times could get you 3,000 coins. With this, you target a more expensive player than Theo Walcott, e.g Gabriel Agbonlahor. By repeating the process, coins are made effortlessly. If you buy Agbonlahor in an auction for 2,000 coins, and sell him for a BIN of 2,500 you’re making 500 coins instead of 300 on Walcott. As I said before, gamers are suckers for BINs. Once you have enough coins, start buying and selling a more expensive player. In no time you will be buying the likes of Wayne Rooney for 50,000 coins!

The same method can also be used for contract cards if you don’t have many coins. Bid up to 250 coins on all gold contract cards, and then sell them on with the low BIN of 350. If you win 10 of these contracts, and sell them all for 350, you’ve made 1000 coins, enough to add a decent player to your themed squad.

Mistakes People Make

There are two methods of coin making that are really pointless. The first is discarding players. Each gold player had a discard value of 300 coins or more, and each shiny gold player has a discard value of 600 coins or more. Say I buy Diego Lugano (Uruguay CB) for 600 coins, I could discard him for around 610 coins. The problem here is that everyone knows about this method, so you will struggle to buy that cheap. Also, a 10 coin profit is not worth a lot, you’d have to repeat this 100 times just to get 1,000 coins to buy a decent player.

The other method is packs. In the Ultimate Team store, you can purchase packs of gold, silver, or bronze cards. Most people use gold packs, because they generate better cards. They cost 5,000 coins for a normal pack, or 7,500 for a ‘Premium Pack’ which supposedly gives you rarer players. Having tried the method myself, buying gold packs and selling off all my players, I can say that the average you get is about 4,000 from selling them on. You’re much better off trading, unless you get extremely lucky and get a player like Lionel Messi worth 300,000 coins! The chances of this are about 10,000/1 though, so good luck with that.

Finally, there is no duplication glitch. You’re bound to get messages from other gamers saying they have a duplication glitch, where you send them one of your best players and they give you two or three of them back. All these people do is never return you card. It means they get it for free basically, at your expense. Please don’t fall into this trap, as there is no glitch and never will be.

You’re All Set

Hopefully I’ve given you all the information you need to be a success and create a truly great squad on FIFA 10 Ultimate Team. Good luck with your trading, and maybe I’ll play against you online one day!

If you want more tips on FIFA 10 Ultimate Team then you can follow me on Twitter and ask me, or send me a message on Facebook. I have plenty of tips that I’m giving away for nothing because I don’t go on Ultimate Team as much as I used to. Also, if you enjoyed this post then you can Subscribe by email at the top right of this page.

Happy Gaming!

Football League Round-Up – Week One

•August 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I realized today that I had my Football League Round-Up post saved onto my computer. It’s rather late, and I’ll hopefully be doing another one tomorrow, for the weekend’s football that has just been played in the Football League.

Championship


Unusually, this season’s Championship started on a Friday, with newly promoted Norwich up against Watford. Having been 2-0 down, the Canaries found themselves 3-1 down in the last minutes. Matthew Nelson scored in the 91st minute, but it was too little too late as Watford claimed all three points in a 3-2 win.

Elsewhere in the Npower Championship, Reading lost 2-1 at home to Scunthorpe, Preston were beaten 2-0 in their own back yard by Doncaster, and bookies favourites Middlesbrough were beaten 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium by Roy Keane’s Ipswich.

Elland Road had an unhappy return to the Championship too, as Leeds lost 2-1 to Derby.

There were some home wins aswell though, as QPR overcame Barnsley 4-0, Hull won 2-0 against Swansea, and Crystal Palace beat Leicester 3-2. Burnley also returned to the Championship this season and grinded out a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest.

Bristol City went down 3-0 at home to newly promoted Millwall though, who are looking good after winning the League One playoff last season.

Just one match on the Sunday in the English second tier, as Cardiff and Sheffield United played out the only draw of the opening weekend; 1-1 it finished.

League Table

League One


All twelve League One games were played on the opening Saturday this season. 28 goals were scored, but only the 2-2 draw between Exeter and Colchester had more than 3 goals. Yeovil beat Leyton Orient 2-1 at home, and Peterborough saw off Bristol Rovers 3-0. Elsewhere, there were 2-1 away victories for MK Dons at Walsall, Oldham at Tranmere, and Brighton at Swindon.

Plymouth started their campaign with a 1-0 win away to Southampton as well, and Huddersfield ran out 3-0 winners Notts County.

There were home wins though, for Carlisle 2-0 over Brentford, Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 over Dagenham and Redbridge, and Charlton 1-0 over Bournemouth. Rochdale and Hartlepool played out a 0-0 draw, giving both teams a share of points for starters.

League Table

League Two


The opening weekend’s League Two fixtures saw 25 goals, averaging just over 2 goals per game. Accrington Stanley played out a 0-0 draw with Aldershot, as did Burton Albion with Oxford United. There were a few score draws too though, Gillingham 1-1 Cheltenham, Southend 1-1 Stockport, and Stevenage 2-2 Macclesfield.

The goal dry weekend was livened up however, by Chesterfield winning at home 2-1 against Barnet, Rotherham doing the same to Lincoln, and Shrewsbury getting a 3-1 victory over Bradford. Torquay were the biggest winners, and went top of the league with a 3-0 victory against Northampton.

In other games, Port Vale claimed a 1-0 away win at Bury, and Hereford did exactly the same at Crewe. Wycombe hosted Morecambe too, and home advantage did the trick as Wanderers won 2-0.

League Table

Thanks for reading, I hope to post a Football League Round-Up weekly, but doing my Premier League Picks and Premier League Analysis will take up a chunk of my spare time. If you enjoyed the blog, then you can Like or Comment below.

Also, subscribe to this blog on the right hand side and get my exclusive prediction list of where every Premier League and Football League Team will finish. The article will be emailed directly to you, and will not be posted in my blog.

Premier League Analysis – Week One

•August 16, 2010 • 2 Comments

Who’d have thought it? Tangerines win 4-0 away in their first Premier League game, Blues hit West Brom for 6 on the opening day, and goalkeeping gaffes cause problems already. The 10/11 season, tipped to be the ‘most competitive yet’ has not fallen short of expectation. New signings have been shown off, problems have developed in most teams, and we know it’s going to be an exciting season of football action.

Tottenham vs Man City

With City seeking revenge over spurs for nicking last season’s coveted fourth place spot, you’d have thought we’d have seen an action packed opening fixture. It wasn’t particularly though. A couple of efforts from Jermain Defoe, a Peter Crouch header and a wickedly deflected effort couldn’t beat in form goalkeeper Joe Hart. Also, a volley from Tom Huddlestone required a save from the young goalkeeper. City offered very little going forward. Shaun Wright Phillips looked to have the only clear cut chance for the visitors, but Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s excellently timed tackle saved Spurs. At 0-0, Manchester City will be disappointed by the game, as the new signings didn’t seem to gel or create chances between them. Tottenham will take more positives than negatives from the game, knowing that if they keep creating chances they are bound to get goals.

Having gone for a 1-0 home win in my Premier League Picks, I could, and probably should have been right.

Aston Villa vs West Ham

After the departure of Martin O’Neill, Aston Villa looked like they might struggle in this one. Temporary manager Kevin MacDonald was inexperienced too, but was able to put together a team capable of getting goals. Looking solid at the back, Villa’s main focus was going forward. A mistake early on let in John Carew, who’s nick round Rob Green was hit against the post by James Tomkins after a defensive error. From that moment on, the Villains never looked back. Stewart Downings opener looked to be offside, but Stilyan Petrov’s header was fully legitimate to make it 2-0. Young prospect Marc Albrighton then set up James Milner for the third, in possibly his last game after being strongly linked with Manchester City. West Ham offered little going forward, and were comfortably beaten.

A 2-1 prediction was a bit out, as Villa cruised to victory. It’s going to be a long hard season for Avram Grant’s West Ham.

Blackburn vs Everton

The visitors were expected to get an opening day victory in this one, with their Europa League/Champions League prospect for next season. It wasn’t to be though, as after creating few chances in the opening minutes, goalkeeper Tim Howard left the ball behind him after a catch, leaving Nikola Kalinic to put in what would turn out to be the winner. Rovers didn’t sit back after the goal though; with Steven N’Zonzi’s header and Ryan Nelsen’s volley which should have both hit the back of the net. Some late pressure from the Toffees wasn’t enough to salvage a point though, despite some desperate defending at the end from the home side, who claimed all three points.

My prediction of 2-0 to Everton was way off, and Blackburn definitely deserved the win.

Bolton vs Fulham

This game had draw written all over it. Fulham were the stronger side last season under Roy Hodgson, but Bolton had a job to do today and coped reasonably well.  A couple of efforts from Fulham struck the woodwork, but there is little to talk about in this 0-0.

I went for a 1-1 draw, which, with both teams level at the match’s end, wasn’t too far out.

Sunderland vs Birmingham

Both teams looked contenders to win this one, with Birmingham’s top half finish last season, and Sunderland’s home advantage. It also seemed that both teams could have won it, and the Black Cats struck first blood with a Darren Bent penalty. They were reduced to 10 when Lee Cattermole was sent off for a second bookable offence, but doubled their lead when Birmingham’s Steven Carr headed into the back of his own net. A Scott Dann header got the Blues back on track though, and a scrambled in Liam Ridgewell goal rescued a point for Birmingham in the 88th minute. Sunderland will be disappointed to not claim all three points after being 2-0 up, but a hugely encouraging second half for Birmingham should set them up nicely for the rest of the season.

I went for a 1-0 win for the Black Cats, whose poor defending led to them not getting the win.

Wigan vs Blackpool

The Tangerines first game in the Premier League looked to be a six pointer in the race to stay up, even on the first day of the new season. Blackpool set up well and were terrific in the opening minutes. They eventually broke the deadlock through Gary Taylor-Fletcher in the 16th minute after a great ball across from Marlon Harewood, and they never stopped going after that. The ex-Aston Villa striker then grabbed a goal for himself with a great effort from the edge of the Wigan penalty area, and was on the scoresheet again 5 minutes later with a tap in from close range. Alex Baptistes cross then beat Chris Kirkland in the Wigan goal at his near post to round off the scoring, 4-0 to Blackpool. The result got the whole footballing nation talking, as a dismal display from Wigan was severely punished by newly promoted blackpool – a dream start for them.

I predicted a Wigan win in this game, and couldn’t have been more wrong in truth. An excellent display from Blackpool has really established them in the Premier League.

Wolves vs Stoke

After being caught up in the relegation scrap last season, Wolves were looking to get early points on the board in this six pointer. Stoke will be looking for a top 10 finish this season after acquiring striker Kenwyne Jones from Sunderland. The Potters started brightly, with Jones hitting the crossbar in the opening minutes. It was the home side who opened the scoring though, Karl Henry tapped an 18 yard free kick to David Jones, who flicked the ball up and volleyed it in via the underside of the bar. Steven Fletcher then headed in from close range to give Wolves a 2-0 lead. Abdoulaye Faye then brought the game back to 2-1, but for Stoke’s pressure late on, they couldn’t find the equalizer.

Having predicted a 0-0, this game was a lot more interesting than I’d have thought. Wolves will be happy with three points on the opening day, and although it’s early days, they should once again avoid relegation.

Chelsea vs West Brom

William Hill’s offered 1/8 odds for Chelsea to win this, and rightly so. The champions were never likely to slip up on opening day, and West Brom were unlikely to put up much resistance. The Baggies offered extremely little in this one, as the Blues dominated the fixture. Didier Drogba had a free kick parried in the sixth minute by Scott Carson, but Florent Malouda was there to put in the rebound. The Ivory Coast striker then put in a free kick himself, going right through the Albion wall. He then added a rebound, before Frank Lampard made it four. Drogba had his hat trick though in the 68th minute, and right at the last Malouda was there again to make it 6-0. West Brom will know that they are in for a long season and will struggle to avoid relegation, while Chelsea still look hot favourites to retain their crown.

A 3-0 prediction flattered the Baggies, who were poor defensively.

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Having signed Joe Cole from Chelsea and keeping Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, Roy Hodgson was looking to take all the spoils in this one. Arsene Wenger though had other ideas. He has brought Marouane Chamakh to the club in an attempt at some overdue silverware to for the Emirates. The match had a cagey opening, with both sides failing to break the deadlock, although in half time stoppages Joe Cole saw red for a challenge on Laurent Koscielny, on his Premier League debut for the Reds. It was the 10 men team who were first on the scoresheet though, as David Ngog shot into the top corner on 46 minutes, beating Manuel Almunia at his near post. A few chances then followed for both teams, before a Chamakh flick hit the post but spilled out of the hands of goalkeeper Pepe Reina afterwards, giving the Gunners a last minute point to take back to London.

My score prediction of 1-1 was exactly right, though both teams could, and maybe should have had more.

Man Utd vs Newcastle

Last season’s Championship winners weren’t given an easy task when they were told they would be going to Old Trafford on the opening day. However, Alex Ferguson’s team almost went behind in the opening minutes, with an Andy Carroll header which should have hit the target. After defending and attacking well, Newcastle conceded through a Dimitar Berbatov effort in from 7 yards. Darren Fletcher then fired in from close range to put the Red Devils 2 ahead at half time. No real chances would fall for the Magpies in the second half, but United still created chances. They only knocked in one in the second half though, Ryan Giggs’ volley beating Steve Harper in the Newcastle goal.

I went for a 3-0 win for United and again got it spot on. This was probably a scoreline which reflected the game.

Points Tally

To score myself each week, I will give 3 points for predicting the exact scoreline in my Premier League Picks, and 1 point for correctly choosing the result; either home win, away win, or draw.

Having correctly predicted the score of Liverpool vs Arsenal and Man Utd vs Newcastle, plus getting the correct result for 3 other games, my score for the week one is 9 points.

Hopefully I can improve on this scoreline next week, and I should be posting my predictions on this coming Thursday, 19th August. Thanks again for reading the post. If you enjoyed it, you can comment in the box below, talk to me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or subscribe to the blog by clicking ‘Sign me up!’ to the right hand side of the post.

England 2-1 Hungary – Match Analysis

•August 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

England came from behind to dramatically win 2-1 against Hungary this evening in a Friendly match at Wembley.

It was a bright start from Fabio Capello’s men, who had a corner kick in the 2nd minute, that frustratingly came to nothing after Phil Jagielka commited a foul during the delivery. A minute later, England came again and Steven Gerrard linked up with Wayne Rooney, who put the ball in the net after a through pass from the Liverpool captain, only to be called offside. Another half-chance fell in in the 6th minute, to Jagielka, who poked the ball just wide after a defensive scrap from an England corner. The Everton defender didn’t know much about it though. Hungary also had a header from midfielder Akos Elek saved by Joe Hart on his full debut.

The athletic Theo Walcott soon made his mark on the game too, and in the 13th minute got to the byline, and cut the ball back, only for debutant Adam Johnson to to sky the ball over from 12 yards. Midway through the first half, England cut through again and this time, after a breakaway, Frank Lampard played a through pass to Steven Gerrard who was inches away from poking the ball beyong Hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. Steven Gerrard was the next to go close with a free kick just tipped over for a corner by the Tracksuit Bottomed keeper. The final 10 minutes showed a lacklustre England, who were greeted by more cheers than boos at the half time interval after not managing to score.

Substitutes Bobby Zamora, Michael Dawson, Kieron Gibbs and Ashley Young all came on for a 2nd half that proved to be lively. Young was the first to deliver, but his cross was too far in front of the stretching Zamora. The Hungarians also sent a message that England weren’t the only team in the game, after a through ball into Gergely Rudolf, which could have cause trouble if the referee hadn’t stopped play for handball. By now, Wayne Rooney had really got into the game, and some of his fancy footwork won England a free kick on 54 minutes. Adam Johnson took the free kick from 33 yards, but failed to play in Gerrard. When the ball came back to the Manchester City winger, he lashed the ball a few inches over the crossbar.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 62nd minute… by Hungary. A missed tackle from Dawson let in Zoltan Gera, and the Fulham striker sent the ball out wide, where a cut back led to a deflection from the underside of Phil Jagielka and was cleared off the line by Dawson. After the referee was unsure of the ball crossing the line, one of the linesmen awarded the goal. Later replays show the ball not crossing all of the line. Capello, being angry at the decision, soon had something to be happy about when Steven Gerrard broke through and lashed the ball home from 30 yards to equalize, just 8 minutes after conceding.

Now the scores were level again, England could push forward. Or could they? A shock move from Fabio Capello saw Wayne Rooney be replaced by James Milner, who stayed quiet throughout the game. It was Gerrard again though, who, four minutes after netting England’s first, was on the scoresheet again. After receiving the ball from Ashley Young, the Liverpool captain twisted and turned his way past three defenders in the box, before touching his World Class finish beyond Kiraly. The midfielder wouldn’t get his hat-trick though, being taken off for a standing ovation, and being replaced by Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere. The 10th win in a row at the ‘New Wembley’ was almost wrapped up for the Three Lions, but Tamas Priskin played a late ball through to Gera, who hit his one on one shot straight at Joe Hart.

The final whistle got a good reception from the forgiving England fans after the teams 2-1 victory. They play Bulgaria in their opening Euro 2012 qualifying match at Wembley on the 3rd of September.

Liverpool FC Season Preview

•August 11, 2010 • 3 Comments

Although I only started this blog 2 days ago, this is the fourth post. Having not been able to wait until the Premier League fixtures are confirmed, I thought I’d write about other things instead. My team of choice, Liverpool, are facing a struggle to get back into the top four this season. Under new manager Roy Hodgson, I assess their chances of qualifying for the Champions League, and winning some silverware.

Summer Signings

Joe Cole shows his Liverpool colours after signing on at Anfield

Hodgson made a statement right from the word go by luring Joe Cole to Anfield. Having been tempted by other clubs, Cole felt he would be most at home with Liverpool. The tricky winger can cut inside and score goals out of nothing. His service to Fernando Torres will have to be good, and with Cole lining up next to Steven Gerrard, the Kop attack will be given a new dimension. The gaffer has also signed Danny Wilson from Rangers. The defender was thought by many to be a good signing, but in truth I don’t think he will get many games at all with Carragher, Agger, Skrtel and Kyrgiakos all above him in the pecking order.

Many players have been rumoured in to Liverpool in the past week or so, but will depend on money from either new owners or the sale of Javier Mascherano, who wants to leave the club for family reasons. Barcelona and Inter Milan are interested in the holding midfield player, who will cost around £20 million. Kenny Huang and Yahya Kirdi seem the other source of transfer spends, with the Chinese and Syrian battling it out to succeed Tom Hicks and George Gillett. If either make money available, then Hodgson’s main aim will be bringing in a new striker to either partner Torres or cover when the Spaniard is injured. A few days ago, it seemed that Peter Crouch was going to return to Anfield with a transfer from Tottenham Hotspur, depending on them signing Nice striker Loic Remy first. As a fan of Peter Crouch myself, I was saddened to see interest in him drop recently. The new target seems to be Carlton Cole, who scored 10 goals in 26 starts for West Ham last season. The English forward would cost Hodgson around £12 million though, a high demand.

Christian Poulsen in action for Denmark

Liverpool recently confirmed the signing of Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen from Juventus. His move, costing around £10 million will be funded by the exit of Javier Mascherano, who wants to leave the club for family reasons. Also, Shaun Wright-Phillips has been told he can leave Manchester City, due to their oversized squad which has had to be cut down following the Premier League’s new rules. Liverpool and Arsenal are the clubs most interested in the winger, who would fit in nicely on the right flank of Hodgson’s team.

League Ambitions

After the shocking season for The Reds that was 09/10, where they finished a lowly 7th, it can surely only get better. Having brought in the new players, Liverpool look a stronger side than that of last season, where injuries to Gerrard and Torres were a major blow to the campaign. The team that has been assembled this season would have almost definitely finished in the top four of the 09/10 season, but it must be noted of the improvements the other teams have made to their squads. Last season’s champions Chelsea have landed Yossi Benayoun and have almost got their hands on Brazillian midfielder Ramires, who can replace the departed Michael Ballack. I’m sure you’ve also heard Manchester United fans going crazy about new striker Javier Hernandez. The Mexican can play one-twos with team mates and sprint past defenders and is tipped to be one of the players of the season. Arsenal have snapped up a star in Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh. The ex-Bordeaux striker, who netted 10 Ligue 1 goals and 5 Champions League goals last season, chose The Emirates over Anfield.

Manchester City show off £24m signing David Silva

Manchester City too have signed about 600 new players, or so it seems. German full back Jerome Boateng, Spanish winger David Silva, and Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure have all joined the club.

Hodgson’s men will have a tough time in this season’s Premier League, with up to 5 teams in contention for the title. Of course, they have the perfect goalkeeper to help them to at least a top four finish in Pepe Reina, who for two years running received the Premier League’s Golden Glove award for keeping the most clean sheets in a season (05/06 and 07/08). But they can’t just rely on Reina. Defenders Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel will be the main men in front of him, letting through as little as possible. If those two need cover, full back’s Emiliano Insua and Glen Johnson will be able to help out, as well as going forward and hopefully getting crosses into the penalty area. Midfielders Gerrard, Aquilani, and now Poulsen will be carrying the ball from defence to attack, and supplying the wingers with crosses. Currently it looks like Maxi Rodriguez and Joe Cole will be given this job in the ‘Best Eleven’, but a swoop for Wright-Phillips will give the manager another option. Up front, it looks like it will still be French striker David Ngog filling in when Torres isn’t around, unless funds are made available. Dirk Kuyt also deserves a mention, as he scores in big games and can play out wide or up front. This team is looking as strong as ever, but as always with Liverpool the question is where is the depth? Promisingly, the reserves sauntered to a 2-0 victory in the Europa League qualifier with Rabotnicki Skopje of Macedonia. I hope that they gained experience from the victory, and are able to make the jump into the first team when the big names need a rest. A 38-game season is long, and no doubt Liverpool will go through bad patches, but I’m sure this squad has the ability to reinstate Champions League football to the club.

Cup Dreams

The Liverpool fans would love to see some silverware at Anfield like in 2006

With so much emphasis on finishing in the top four, I’m not sure that a cup run will be high on the wish list. Personally, the cups are my favourite part of the season, with giant killings and plenty of goals. Since our FA Cup success in 2006, the fans have been disappointed with results. Fortunately though, Roy Hodgson has experience in cups, after reaching the final or the Europa League against all odds last season. He should lead the club to at least the quarter final stage. Domestically, The FA Cup should also see a good run for Liverpool if the draw is kind. Home draws against lower league opposition until the later stages will be important, as reserve players can be fielded, and the first teamers given a rest. Similarly, the Carling Cup will be one to look out for too, as Liverpool look to consider every piece of silverware.

My Predictions

Premier League – 4th

Europa League – Semi Finals

FA Cup – Final

Carling Cup – Fourth Round (last 16)

Thanks for reading this post, and if you havn’t had a look at any of my other posts then please do. Any queries? Just pop a comment in the box below, or email me directly at bov94@hotmail.co.uk.

Elliot Leach’s Top 5 Season Performers

•August 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

After telling a friend of mine about my blog, I decided to let him try his hand at a post! Here, Elliot Leach will count down from his top 5 Premier League hopefuls for the up and coming season.

So here we are. A new season of the Barclays Premier League is upon us after a rather, controversial World Cup in South Africa. Many players performed, many players didn’t, many – are in the Barclays premier league. I am going to give you a brief insight into my thoughts on which of our favourite football stars are going to perform to expectations this year.

5 – Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney celebrating a goal

Although many of us were not happy with Wayne’s performances at the World Cup for England by any means, due an outstanding level of football he played at club level in the previous season for Manchester United, I’m sure he won’t continue the terrible form he had in South Africa. Although I believe personally that Wayne Rooney was used as a scapegoat at the World Cup for England’s shoddy performances, maybe because I am in fact a Manchester United fan. Either way, due to his uptake in performance in pre-season and the Community Shield and what I have previously seen of Wayne Rooney, I feel his genius on the football field for Manchester United this year safely parks him in my top 5.

4 – Cesc Fabregas

C

Cesc Fabregas playing for Arsenal

Although right now you may be thinking that Fabregas will not do well because of his interest to leave Arsenal lowering his self esteem, I think otherwise. Fabregas has played exceptionally well at the World Cup showing great fluency and drive for Spain. He is able to work with other players in great passing movements, and can even shoot from long range. The fact he has chosen to stay shows the players he still believes in his club, and he will be driving to prove the fans he does really want to stay at the Emirates. His fast tempo and quality footwork means that Cesc Fabregas slots in nicely at number 4.

3 – Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge celebrating for Chelsea

Yes, Daniel Sturridge is not exactly a well known star and is by no means more able than the players I have already listed. But, because I have had no recent signings in my list I wanted to get one in. Daniel Sturridge is a very quick, clinical shooter and passer and has already proved to us that he can perform well even at the highest level of football for Chelsea. I feel he will add great depth and width to Chelsea’s play, and can easy create space and is always mobile. I also feel that Sturridge will score a reasonable amount of goals contributing nicely to Chelsea’s season, and for that reason, he finds himself at number 3.

2 – Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez celebrates after his goal against Chelsea

Alex Ferguson picked up this ‘little pea’ as he is known in Mexico due to his performances against teams like France and Argentina at the World Cup. He showed he could make runs, pass well and even score goals. He moved from Guadalajara in Mexico to Manchester United at a relatively modest price of £7 million, and has already proved himself as a Red Devil in pre-season; scoring then and in the community shield against Chelsea!  He works well with his team mates, and can receive his team mates passes easily. He’s shown pace, agility and confidence and for that reason is my number 2.

1 – Joe Cole

Head shot of Joe Cole wearing the colours of Liverpool FC

What can I say about Joe Cole? He is an exceptional football player and has already proved himself so many times for several Premier League teams, notably Chelsea. He was a great play-maker and could run down the wing, deliver cross after cross and pass after pass at sublime level. He has won trophies with Chelsea and has also been an asset to England in Tournaments. He can bring others into the game and show the younger players a thing or two. Although Chelsea struggled to fit him in, I found it ridiculous that they had to let his contract expire, and had to release him. He will contribute excellently to Liverpool this year and has shown us what he can do in pre-season. Liverpool lacked pace and confidence and Joe Cole will fit into the squad perfectly. Because of his position, he can work well with Gerrard and give Torres the delivery he needs to perform. For these reasons alone, I find it hard to give this Liverpool ‘snap-up’ anything but number 1.

Thanks for reading my Top 5 Season performers, I may do a couple more posts in future. Feel free to comment below and I will try and get back to you.

Other posts in this blog: Premier League Picks – Week One, Who’s Up For The Cup?

 
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