The Premier League Title Race; Does anyone actually want to win it this year?


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On a Saturday where Arsenal decided they weren’t too keen on top spot by giving away a 2-0 half team lead to Spurs, and Chelsea inexplicably fell to their third Premier League defeat in four games, you have to wonder – does anyone actually want the title this year?

We all know by now that we can never write Manchester United off. 94th Minute winners and dodgy 1-0’s will characterise their season as ever. A simple victory yesterday against Wigan has moved them level on points with Chelski at the top of the league, with Arsenal 2 points behind. All this without their best player for most of the season so far (see Pat’s blog on Rooney’s injury), and some pretty terrible defending throughout the season, has shown why Fergie is always there or there abouts come the end of the season.

But what about the new top 4 candidates? Or should we say, title challengers?Tottenham and Van der Vaart have shown a few times this year, not least yesterday against Arsenal, that they’re serious about being ‘in the mix’ as Harry Redknapp calls it. Money Bags City have failed to impress so far but still find themselves 5th with a game in hand on 4th placed Bolton, meaning a win would take them to within a point of the Gooners. That leads me nicely on to Bolton, who surely can’t be considered Title challengers, can they?! Johan Elmander has been in great form, and Owen Coyle has assembled a solid squad who actually play great football – what a transformation from Big Sam Allardyce and Gary ‘the Gnome’ Megson. With Tottenham at 6th also level with City and Bolton, a nice little chasers’ pack is forming, and it will be fascinating to see where it finishes this year. I’d like to briefly play devil’s advocate and suggest Sunderland aren’t too far off either. When Darren Bent’s back, I fancy him and Gyan to form a potent partnership up top. Watch this space. -read on>

Good Kop – Bad Kop: Which Liverpool can we expect this season?


The last few years have left me pretty confused as to which Liverpool I’m going to get this season. There’s the Good Kop; Title challengers, consistency, incredible goal scoring form from ‘Nando and Stevie and impenetrable at the back. But there’s also the Bad Kop; Negative football, dire in front of goal, shaky at the back and no ambition or creativity from midfield. The other week’s win over Chelsea (following a nice little unbeaten run) left some journos reaching for the ‘Liverpool on the up’ Headlines, but then a dodgy draw with Wigan last Wednesday and a dire 2-0 defeat to Stoke begs the question: which Liverpool can we really expect this season? Lawro said on 5Live at the weekend that he can’t see Liverpool making the top 6 this year. Pessimistic or Realistic?

Let’s start with the gaffa. Last season, Roy Hodgson was everyone’s favourite manager. He took a small, cheap Fulham squad and stretched them to about 60 games in a season – including an incredible Europa League Final against Athletico Madrid and a decent upper-mid-table finish, (following top 7 the year before). It was an obvious promotion to get the Liverpool job, which he rightly described as one of the biggest jobs in football, but it’s also left a bit of a dent in Hodgson’s reputation, going by performances and results so far. There are times when I think his Fulham squad last year were better than this Liverpool lot, and I’ll come back to that, but it’s also tactics, creativity and even managerial swagger that seem to have deserted Roy on his move from South West London to Merseyside. -read on>

Has the English Premier League become a ‘Selling Division’?


When Henry left Arsenal in 2007 for Barcelona (at a bargainous £16.5 Million), he stated that ‘Barcelona would be the only club I’d leave Arsenal for’. Or something like that. Christiano Ronaldo said something similar when leaving Man U for Real Madrid (at a ridiculous £80 Million). ‘It’s everyone’s dream to play for Madrid’, he stated to a Spanish paper after a Utd match. These two are the highest profile cases in recent years, but there have been countless transfers away from English clubs to “bigger” European clubs, often for crazy wonga. Namely, Flamini to Milan, Hleb to Barca, Vieira to Juve, Robbie Keane to Inter, McManaman to Madrid, Owen to Madrid, Beckham to Madrid, Graveson to Madrid (no comment), Lassana Diarra to Madrid, and even Mourinho to Madrid (fair enough that was from Inter), let alone Bale to Madrid (Oh sorry, not yet…).

In the last decade to fifteen years, a culture has emerged of English Clubs selling (or being forced to give up) their prize assets to European Heavyweights. Henry and Ronaldo’s statements about Barca and Madrid representing a peak for a footballer’s career, as well as Mourinho’s hype of Madrid, highlighted a weakness in the power of English football. -take a peak>

Priceless and Pointless Pundits…


I’ve been having a few thoughts recently about football pundetry and its standard, and knowing how Patrick and I fancy ourselves as MOTD Master Men and Sky Sports Specialists, I thought it appropriate to get my feelings out.

I read an hilarious post recently on a BBC Blog from a fan disappointed in the low standard of pundetry from a particular ex-pro. I’ll let you guess who he’s on about…

“Second Rate Footballer = Second Rate Pundit
Second Rate Journalist = Second Rate Presenter

Second Rate Presenter + Second Rate Pundit = third rate show

Why haven’t you been sacked yet?”

I think about the times when I’ve disagreed with a pundit, or when I’ve thought TV has put on some absolute muppets to fill a whole on their overly expensive studio sofas. I grew up with Des Lynam anchoring MOTD. Alan Hansen to me was a legend: a man who understood the game, experienced great success within it, and wasn’t afraid to share his mind – “Yu tolk aboot poor defeeendin” was one of his most used quotes, and one my Dad and I often repeated. I still hold that view on Mr. Hansen. As a defender myself, I like how he sees the game. He sometimes talks nonsense, but don’t we all? (After all, “you don’t win nothin with kids” do you Alan?!).

The newer generation of football pundits seem far less aware of the game, and much more aware of saying something safe on TV. -take a peak>

Hopping on the Bandwagon


“Two football loving University graduates, sick of dire journalism and average football blogs online, team up to bring a fresh look at the world of football.” Hi I’m Joe, and that’s what I want the Times Top 100 Blogs to read next year when this site is in full swing. I’m the proud co-founder and blogger of Upper90Magazine alongside Patrick. We’ve grown up together loving football, from playing in the street to the same team at weekends, to hard fought battles on PES and FIFA (debate to follow!). I currently enjoy Saturday Afternoon football as a Centre Back (think Richard Dunne) with my team in Loughborough and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a mad Arsenal fan (but not the type who hates Spurs it must be said). We’re looking to have a laugh here but also write up about a genuine passion of ours, and it’s great to have you on board.

I’m going to follow on from Patrick’s quick fire ‘get to know me’ round… -take a peak>

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