Sunday, August 30, 2009

Classic Cherry

Joe Ross at The Score shared this. Says all you need to know about Donald S.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Up and Coming Canadians

Two up and coming Canadian strikers potted goals in their head to head Carling Cup game last night, with David Hoilett's Premier League Blackburn coming out on top of Simeon Jackson and his League One's Gillingham.

from ESPN Soccernet...

David Hoilett capped off an impressive full debut with a goal as Blackburn overcame plucky League One Gillingham 3-1 in the Carling Cup second round.

The Canadian teenager was lively throughout and grabbed Rovers' second goal less than a minute after half-time as they eventually eased through to the third round.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I has a happy!

I have a feeling a certain friend of mine will enjoy this immensely.

Turns out Lucas just looks good because the rest of the team has forgotten how to play that game called soccerball (or is it footballball?). Torres has retired from being a striker in favour of falling down a lot and looking angry/sad. Gerrard looks bewildered, like he just woke up and can't remember who he is. Then, for a second, he remembers! And he shoots, no matter where he is or what direction he's facing. Then Torres falls down again. Angrily. And sadly.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Can Lucas really step up and fill the Alonso void?

(For brevity's sake it shall now be referred to simply as the "A-gap")

Lucas, oddly, seems to be actually delivering while under pressure. In the lead up to the Premier League season, Benitez singled Lucas out as the outstanding performer in Liverpool's (rather non-outstanding) preseason. Again, after Liverpool's abysmal display at White Heart Lane against the ... hehehehe...Lillywhites (that's an actual nickname for Spurs, Alex, Google that shit), Benitez picked out Lucas, along with Glen Johnson (who, to be honest, looks sharp as hell) and Reina (ditto), as the only players to play up to the required standard. He was then, by all accounts, extremely useful again in Liverpool's dismantling of Stoke City. Turns out it's not just Liverpool fans that are paying close attention to his progress. See the following:

Shit. Not bad to get a call up against Argentina. God I hope he can fill the A-gap. I'm still not really convinced. But I'm open to the possibility. Best case scenario, Lucas plays so well that he keeps Aquilani out, or at least makes Rafa the gaffa consider the idea. Go on son!

In an entirely unrelated, but equally awesome, matter, Nilmar has received another Brazil call up. Who is Nilmar, you ask? Let me tell you.

Let me tell you all about Nilmar.

Nilmar, by (around) the year 2011-12, will be the single greatest and most valuable football player in the entire world. According to Fifa07. Or maybe Fifa06. But, let me tell buy that guy and you just tuck him away somewhere. Stick that little fella safely up on the shelf and you wait. He's like those little dehydrated dinosaurs that you leave in a cup of water overnight. Get up the next morning and Nilmar is a giant terms of...goal scoring...proportions. Sorry, that metaphor was hard to keep in line. But honestly, I've won many a Premier League title (not to mention FA Cups and Champions Leagues) for Liverpool with trusty old Nilmar. He comes good about 5 seasons in. It brings a smile to my face to see random video game bullshit take place in real life. Where the hell do the EA Sports people get their player info? Honestly, have you ever heard of Nilmar (except what I've told you right now)? They should be scouting for some European giant. At least, that is, if Nilmar actually becomes the worlds greatest and most valuable player. Should be an interesting game against Argentina.

...I think it's on Setanta...

Oh. Before I go. Just wanna give a couple of Fantasy Premier League shout outs:

First up, a hearty Fuck Yeah! to my boys from Stoke-upon-Trent. Go the Potters! A clean sheet for Faye and Sorensen. Nice work boys!


Yo! Cesc! My Gameweek Captain. Hey, I know it's just for the gameweek. Don't worry big guy, its still a big deal. You know only the cream of the crop (or Lampard) get to captain Red Star Coburg- it's a big deal even if for just one little week. Which is a good thing for you. Because rest assured that is all it will be, my friend. You're ass is dumped for Gerrard next week. Suck my nuts. Beat pompey 4-1? You don't score? And, you go off after 45 minutes? I beseech you, kind sir, to suck my nuts.

Good day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Turn around!

Beer Pong Olympics 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cutting off at the pass

This is just a shot across the bow, to cut off any complaining about supposed penalties before they appear here. It was not a penalty, it was a shoulder to shoulder challenge and because he was reaching for the ball, it was legal. Rafa can bite me.

We, undefeated
Against top 4 opponents
The title awaits

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Premier League Haiku- Volume 1

Chelsea versus Hull
Hunt made them look average
Drogba got lucky*

*Director's Cut Alternate ending:
"Kyle looked quite worried"

Black oil-fortune shirts
Suit northern mercenaries
Ireland is ice-cold

The Hammers did it
Fantasy league makes me care
But why no Cole goal?

Toffees and Gunners
My mouth falls slackly open
Sweet baby Jesus


When is the next bus?
City of Man. Stadium
Glimmers in distance

A-League Awesomeness

Last night I was treated to one of the best football games I have ever seen. Round two of the A-League season saw the Melbourne Victory (reigning champions) try and recover from their gong-show of a season-opener (which, perhaps purely for the sake of cosmic symmetry, was one of the worst games of football I have ever seen) against an in-form Brisbane Roar. The game ended 3-3 with Melbourne coming back twice from two goals down, with Melbourne's Costa Rican international, Carlos Hernandez, stealing the draw for Melbourne with two fantastic strikes. What made the game truly fantastic, however, was that all the goals (accept the softly-awarded Roar penalty) were top quality. Have a look at this.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Prem Predictions 09-10

I predicted Chelsea to win the title last year because of ManU's loss of C-ron at the start of the season due to injury. While they did drop points, they quickly recovered once he returned. This year, he doesn't return. Plus they lose their hardest working player in Tevez. Rooney (not to mention Owen) is a band-aid, so relying on him for the extra offense might not work out.

Meanwhile Chelsea is so deep in the midfield, once Joe Cole is back they are even going to have trouble finding minutes for everyone. They could hurt at center back if either one of Carvalho or Terry go down for a long period. But they have probably the most dangerous strike partnership to choose from up front with Drogba and Anelka (convince me otherwise, Man City).

Two Torres' is what I see Liverpool needing to win anything. I just don't see the depth that will get them through another long CL run while holding off teams in the Prem. Still a quality team with the most dynamic offense around (again, we'll see in time about Man City).

When it comes down to it, there just isn't much movement at the top anymore, and that's exactly where I see these three ending up.

1. Chelsea
2. Liverpool
3. Man U

However, I think there is definitely room for movement in the 4-8 slots.

Arsenal has been weakened, but has youth and talent behind them. Depth is getting to be an issue and will struggle to keep above the pack below them.

I just don't see Man City making the strides this year to break out. Only one significant signing (so far) has been made to bolster their defense, where I see their problems coming from. If they go through a goal drought, there is going to be drama and infighting. Robinho was no revelation for them last year.

Although Everton aren't starting very healthy, they have some depth and should only get stronger as the year goes on, getting Yakubu, Jagielka, Anichebe and Arteta back in time. If they can keep Lescott, they have the best shot at breaking the top 4 monopoly. Tim Howard was stellar all summer, best keeper in the Prem now if you ask me.

Spurs will likely start bad, on a account of center back injuries to start the year, or just because they always do. There is a lot of hype about Modric for this season, but did he really get that much better over the summer? Wouldn't bother me one bit if he backed it up, great player nonetheless. I'm more excited about what Aaron Lennon will do. Should be some great goals and questionable defense this year. The only question is whether not having the UEFA Cup to worry about gives them enough strength to challenge at the top.

4. Arsenal
5. Everton
6. Man City
7. Tottenham

I just don't see Villa hanging in there this year. Lost Barry and Laursen retired, Downing is a ways off from healthy. Not sure if I believe in their defense holding up to some potent offenses this year.

Fulham seem to be progressing again slowly. Have hung on to Hangeland so far and haven't really taken any steps back. Schwarzer and Dempsey have re-signed and will be key players for them this year. If they can find consistent scoring, they'll finish top half table.

Sunderland has been stocking up in the last little while. No huge moves by any stretch, but this is a competitive team which can take some steps forward this year. Bent is still a quality forward.

Bolton is another team that I think fits the same billing as Sunderland. I thought they were destined for the drop last year, but I'm glad I was wrong because this has always been one of my favorite teams to watch.

West Ham and Blackburn should have enough talent to slot into the bottom-middle of the table, that's all I got.

8. Aston Villa
9. Fulham
10. Sunderland
11. Bolton
12. West Ham
13. Blackburn

Two teams that I've read are questionable to stay up, but on paper look good enough to me are Hull and Birmingham. I have a soft spot for Hull, and if Bullard is healthy and with Altidore up front, they add significantly more talent. I like the Hunt signing too.

14. Hull
15. Birmingham

I see 12-20 being a dogfight this year. Anything can happen. Can Portsmouth get stability? Will Delap surprise/fluster defenses with his throws? Will Burnley win a game? Can Wigan cope with losing so much talent since the middle of last season?

16. Stoke
17. Wigan
18. Portsmouth
19. Wolves
20. Burnley

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't Cair Canada

Here we go again. The last time this happened, you'd have thought I learned my lesson. Apparently not. If there was a way to put Air Canada on any more notice than they are already on, I would. My latest issue is the 4th one in my last 4 trips with this airline. That's right, they are managing a 100% customer unsatisfactory rating. Their planes had no air vents on our way back from Hawaii, we were delayed twice for hours en route to Italy, they bumped me on my flight last fall, and now this.

This story begins from the last one (link above) where Air Canada pissed me off and I subsequently got a $200 voucher from them to use within a year. Since I was going to watch the TFC v. Real Madrid game in Toronto, I figured this was a way to chink away at Air Canada's profits a little.

I went to the TO airport yesterday on my way home. Because I was traveling to the airport on public transit, I wanted to get on a later flight to avoid any possibility of missing my flight. However, there were no direct flights in the early afternoon. Now, being naive (read: stupid), I figured the 45 minute layover in Winnipeg was fine. I mean, it's not like I was traveling with Air Cana... D'oh!

All I wanted was to get back in time for my soccer game last night. I knew instantly that wasn't going to happen when the AC agent at the gate came on the mic and said "I know a lot of you are frustrated..." I guess a different flight to Winnipeg got canned and people we having problems getting home. But hey, what do I care? They screwed somebody else for a change. But the message went on: "the plane has be over-fueled and they need to figure out a way to get the fuel out, so there will be a delay."

This is where it gets really funny. What does AC do next? They remove all the checked luggage from the plane and send the plane out an hour late of course! Because goal number one is maximum inconvenience. Bad airlines make Alex something something, but fortunately I didn't have any checked luggage. So they missed me on that one. Nice try though guys!

But since we left an hour late, there was virtually no way I was going to make the flight to Saskatoon. Something I was already resigned to when we left Toronto. But it turns out we were going to get to the gate in Winnipeg at 5:10PM. Since my Saskatoon flight was scheduled to leave at 5:00PM and since nobody who was connecting (and there were more than just me) had any checked luggage, all we would have had to do is run onto the plane and it could leave. A total of 10 minutes of inconvenience to the Saskatoon flight.

Of course, that wouldn't happen. All I got was a friendly "here's your new boarding pass." They didn't even apologize for the inconvenience. They must get screamed at so often by passengers they piss off, they probably stopped caring long ago. And they didn't buy me a meal for wasting 4 hours of my time either.

It really amazes me that this airline can piss so many people off and still continue to operate. When do we all smarten up and say enough is enough? This time, I am. WAKE UP PEOPLE! JOIN THE REVOLUTION! I DON'T CARE IF YOU TAKE WESTJET, OR A ZEPHYR, OR EVEN WALK! GET OFF AIR CANADA FOR GOOD!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ok, Shifting Gears

While I appreciate that someone is getting excited for the start of the Prem season after the incredibly short break they get for summer, this blog is starting to look like a Liverpool fan's club. It's time to turn the tide and talk about another title dreamer (snap!), Tottenham Hotspur.

While being linked with almost everyone (not too noteworthy) under the sun this summer, things have been relatively quiet. I'm very sad that the rumour of bringing in Canadian International Julian De Guzman didn't pan out. I really don't like Wilson Palacios and with Didier Zokora gone, Willy will likely see a bulk of the midfield holding role. Another disappointment was the bringing in of Peter Couch. Though I'm not particularly affable toward the guy, I must admit he does have soccer talent instead of basketball talent for unknown reasons. Lastly, I was kind of hoping Jenas would be on his way out. Alas, it has yet to happen.

The huge crisis which is bound to condemn the team to another slow start is going to be the injuries on defense. Hopefully Ledley King can play a part at the start of the year, despite not even kicking a ball in preseason training, but Dawson and Woodgate are out. I think had they all been healthy (of course King will never be healthy), they would have had a good shot at starting on the right foot this year. They don't have to worry about the Europa League, so they can focus on the league. But I can't see anything good coming from the losses on defense.

Goaltending is also a concern, because as much athletic talent as Gomes can display, he is prone to flapping around like he's a blindfolded fat kid looking for the pinata.

But the good comes from strong options going forward. In my opinion, Aaron Lennon is the top threat in the league on the wing. And I think he will really show that this year. His ability to get space and spring down the wing, taking men on and flying by, and getting balls into the box will bode well for the poachers inside it. I think Keane, Defoe, and Crouch are all best scrapping for goals in the box. None are much threat outside of it (like a Fernando Torres).

So there, I think I've stepped up and represented North London blue, white, and bright yellow. Come on you Spurs!

On second thought...

Check out the pass from Mascherano for Liverpool's second goal this morning. Xabi who?

Jeez, that was fast

Liverpool sign Alberto Aquilani for £20m to fill Xabi Alonso's berth looks like Rafa has had this deal in the pipeline for a long time. From what I've read, it sounds like Liverpool had already completed an agreement with Roma over Alberto Aquilani, including agreeing terms with player himself, in anticipation of Alonso's departure. Now that it is all over and done with, Benitez has admitted that Alonso had asked to leave as long ago as May. One can only assume, then, that the deal has taken so long because Rafa was keen on extracting the maximum possible fee from Real Madrid for Alonso's transfer. Though I'm disappointed to see Xabi Alonso depart, it sounds like he had his heart well and truly set on leaving, and in that light, the way Benitez handled the negotiations for the transfer were masterfully done indeed.

On paper, this deal does look like a rather tidy bit of business. Aquilani is only 25- two years younger than Alonso. He has captained both Italy's under-19s and under-21s. The above article reports that both Chelsea and Arsenal had previously tried to sign him as a teenager. A quick YouTube survey indeed revealed a player that looks to possess a great passing game as well as a thunderbolt of a shot. Selling Alonso for 30million pounds, and buying Aquilani (a younger model) for 20million pounds seems like some pretty astute management. I am, however, not without concern.

It sounds like Aquilani is a tad injury prone. Indeed, he had surgery in May on his ankle and it doesn't sound like he'll be fit for the opener against Alex's beloved Spurs. For me this is a worry. He won't have any real pre-season with the squad and will be facing the task of acustomizing himself to a new style of play which is much, much quicker than the rather sub-standard Italian league. In this repsect, Aquilani will take some convincing before truly filling the gap left where Alonso's comforting mid-field assurance used to be. Having said that, there are some amazing strikes (and passes) in his YouTube repetoire. A couple of those would go a long way towards erasing Alonso from the minds of fans.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Goshdarn mothertruckin slug-in-the-ditch

Rafael Benítez rewarded with £30m as Xabi Alonso seals Madrid move

First off, let me just say that I am Jack's complete lack of surprise. Secondly, let me just say there aren't words for how much I hate Real Madrid. I could handle it when they were busy buying everyone else's best players (okay, I thought it was hilarious). But now...well...they make me vomit a little bit in my mouth. Thirdly, let me say stupid, stupid Rafa. He pissed Alonso off last year when he inexplicably thought that Gareth Barry was somehow better than Xabi and tried to offload him to Juventus. It would seem that Alonso has been harbouring significant resentment since then. Otherwise it's a bit baffling why a player who has spent five seasons at Liverpool, each one bringing them closer and closer to the title, would choose now to leave. Last year was Liverpool's best ever points haul since the inception of the Premier League. This season holds (or at least it did till Alonso bailed) the most promise for the title in recent memory. Especially with Ronaldo leaving Man Utd. In my opinion, Benitez has made a pretty big mistake in his treatment of Alonso last year and must shoulder a significant chunk of the blame for this outcome.

The only silver lining is that he had the balls to hold out until he got the full 30million pounds he was after. I must admit that that represents a decent bit of business considering we bought him for only 10.5million pounds in 2004. And it does mean that Liverpool will have some cash to splash out before the end of the tranfer window. However I am deeply concerned about a lack of real creative ball-playing midfielders. There aren's many of Xabi's callibre in the world, and virtually none for sale right now.

So what does this mean for Liverpool's season? Well, bluntly, either we bring a new playmaker, or...we don't. Apparently we are linked to Roma's Alberto Aquilani, though I must admit to know very little about the player, except that he's Italian. And apart from Zola and Vialli in their hey-day at Chelsea and fascist goal scorer extraordinaire, Paolo DiCanio's stint at West Ham, Italians haven't really faired that well in England. Apart from that, talk of David Silva (the Valencia left-winger/forward) is bubbling up again. While I think Silva would be an amazing addition, giving the left wing some serious pace and skill, without someone like Alonso to ping those cross-field Pro Evo passes to him, his skills could well be marginalised. Lucas is decent at breaking up play, but his passing range is far from inspiring, and besides, Mascherano is far better as a destroyer (and distributor) anyway. To bring in Silva without a bringing in a play-making midfielder would probably mean dropping Gerrard deeper than he's played since Torres' arrival (as he is the only other player really capable of hitting those kinds of amazing, long-range passes). But of course that would mean breaking up one of the best attacking partnerships currently going in world football. It must be said that Alonso's sale (on paper at least), looks like a step backwards just when Liverpool were promising to push on.

Having said all that, I'm still going to attempt to end on an optimistic note. These moves are nothing if not exciting. Sometimes I think I'm more addicted to transfers and transfer rumors than the actual sport. Xabi's departure, while definately a loss on its own, does add an element of mystery to the upcoming season, at least from a Liverpool fan's point of view. How will we play? Will a new hero step up? Will Benitez surprise us all with a late transfer-window coup? It's important to keep in mind, I think, the fact that Alonso himself requested the tranfer. If he doesn't want to be there, it doesn't make much sense to force him to stay. Not when there would be heaps of players who would jump at the opportunity to play for the team Alonso has been so keen to leave. On the pitch Alonso will be hard to replace, but not, I should think, impossible.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Drogba pulls a Seedorf

Against Milan, his current team.

And the referenced goal: