Football Station


Turn Around Time

The first half of the EPL Season has almost come to a close in what is one of the tightest tables we have seen in years.  Manchester United sit top and deservedly so after going undefeated in all competitions (scratch the Carling Cup defeat to West Ham).  Neighbors City hold the coveted 4th place spot with Tottenham snapping at their heels and riding a high after topping their Champions League group and beating would-be Top 4 contenders Liverpool in a lively game in London.

There has been no shortage of stories coming from England this season, and it’s our job here at Football Station to bring you the best, brightest and horrible.

Owen Coyle and Bolton Wanderers

The Scotsman came from a sinking Burnley ship to manage the Wanderers in what has become the managerial success story of the season so far.  What was once a hard nosed defense-first Northwestern outfit has become a slick passing and clinical side

Cocky, seductive and just plain sultry. Coyle's proved part genius this season in the EPL this season.

under the guidance of Coyle.  The Wanderers sit 6th currently, and one has to wonder: just how long can they keep this up?  Boasting a win over Tottenham, a hard fought draw against United and having a win at Everton snatched from their grasp with a last gasp goal from Jermaine Beckford, Coyle’s boys have maintained that defensive resolve while learning to press as a unit into the attacking half. Keys to their success are: American Stuart Holden and South Korean Lee Chung-Yong and Bolton’s record signing Johan Elmander putting in more than his fair share of goals up top.  Other than their monthly opener at Eastlands and closer at Chelsea, Bolton’s games in December are all winnable and could easily maintain a 6th or 7th spot going into the New Year.

Liverpool’s Stop-Start Season

Just what the hell is going on in the Northwest this year?  The humiliating defeats to Manchester City, Everton and Blackpool highlight a Liverpool season that hasn’t had a heap of good news coming its way.  With the exit door blaring, Roy Hodgson’s

Skeptical Roy

ill-advised outbursts seem to be making him more friends than enemies.  Benitez hits out at Roy, Roy hits back, Benitez hits back again, Roy apologizes.  Roy criticizes Glen Johnson’s form, Glen Johnson responds, Roy apologizes.  Roy says he is disappointed his Daniel Pacheco, now he says he has a bright future at the club.  Is he manic?  He’s like a 5 year old version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a speech impediment.  The January transfer window will either be his saving grace or nail in the coffin, so he had better make it count.  But with names like Keisuke Honda (reportedly a bid has been tabled) and Eden Hazard (more of a rumour) being linked, he just might have a little genius inside that huge coat.  They do have a run of fixtures coming up that most would fancy and don’t face too stiff of competition until the 5th of Februrary when they travel to Stamford Bridge (if you don’t count Everton and Stoke).  If Roy plays his cards right (e.g. playing Pacheco and more youngsters and not playing Poulsen) he could find himself knocking on 4th place’s door.  Oh, also Tom Hicks and George Gillette are taking LFC back to court. Awesome.

Zero to Hero

£30m has never looked so good.  Dimitar Berbatov is firing in goals like it’s his job.  Finally. Because it is his job.  And he used

Andytar Berbacia

to suck at his job.  That said, the Bulgarian ace has been in a rich vein of form with the Red Devils and is currently sitting Top Scorer of the Premier League with 11 goals. And with Blackpool next on the fixture list at Old Trafford, the Andy Garcia body double’s odds of scoring are looking pretty decent.  The Seasiders have allowed 18 away goals this season (2nd in the EPL).

Shape of Things to Come

While it may be fruitless to try and lay down a prediction for the second half of the season, I may as well try.  Chelsea have Tottenham coming up, United have Arsenal, then Chelsea have United, then Arsenal have Chelsea…as you can see, there will be much movement within the top 5 or 6 in coming months.  Nothing will be set in stone until May 22nd rolls around.  However, with the look of things, United and Chelsea are still looking favorites for the title.  Arsenal have a fantastic squad, as do Spurs and City, but shortcomings in each squad will prove decisive in their respective bids for the crown.  Arsenal have proven time and again that they can’t last the full season and often drop results come the tail end of the season.  Manchester City are going through issues within the squad and with the manager (shocking) and that will eventually provide their fall from the Top 4.  Tottenham have a legitimate shot at going for 3rd or even 2nd should results go their way.  They have a solid squad, a good looking schedule and are playing football that wins games.  The only blotch on their otherwise shiny squad is the injury to Rafael Van der Vaart.  The Dutchman has been instrumental this year in providing goals and scoring them himself, and it will be interesting to see how the Londoners cope without the big man.

Prediction – The Top 4 won’t have the same occupants this year as it did last year.  Manchester City should rest in 4th but may even snag 3rd spot from under Arsenal’s noses if they don’t clean up their act in the latter half of the season.  Who says money can’t buy happiness?  It will be a slug fest for top spot and the May 7th game where United host Chelsea could well decide the title.  Tottenham and Liverpool will find themselves in 5th and 6th place, respectively after a fruitful transfer window for the latter pays dividends.

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Rafa Out!

After six years at the helm of the Liverpool FC by “mutual consent”.  He will be given a compensation package rumored to be somewhere in the range of £3-5 million pounds, a much lower offer than the £20 million that was being touted around several months ago.

Benitez is responsible for bringing names such as (among others) Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia, Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson and most

The big man getting a head start on praying for a new job.

notably Fernando Torres to Anfield, and, despite 3 trophies during his tenure (Champions League 2005, FA Cup 2006, Charity Shield 2006), the axe has been called for by quite a number of people.

The Spaniard, now 50, moves on to greener pastures which look to be in the shape of Inter Milan who have made their interest in him known.  Now, the question has become, who will follow Rafa out of Liverpool?

Rumored replacements for the hotseat are current Academy Director Kenny Dalgish who is said to actually be leading the search for a new manager, Fulham boss Roy Hodgson, Martin O’Neill of Aston Villa, Mark Hughes and possibly Frank Rijkaard.  Whether there is any truth in that conjecture remains to be seen.

Until then…



Beauty & the Beast in Group B

Group B –

Argentina

Nigeria

Korea Republic

Greece

Group B looks, off the cuff, a tame group.  Who would say otherwise?  Argentina should have a fairly easy task with all three teams, but, I suppose, the second spot is up for grabs.  The stingy Greeks will be defensively stout, as they always are.  Korea won’t have the home field advantage they had in 2002, but will still have a few tricks up their sleeve.  And Nigeria will probably be tipped to take the second spot, but funny things happen at the World Cup and this one should be no exception.

Greece – Probably the most boring team to watch it football.  How they won Euro 2004 is remarkable, but their defensiveKyrgiakos will test the resolve of attacking play resolve and their grinding out of wins got them the trophy.  The Greeks will look towards Theofanis Gekas for goals, Liverpool’s Sotirios Kyrgiakos for defensive leadership and Giorgos Karagounis for everything in the middle of the park as the Captain is also the most capped at 32 years old.  It’s hard to doubt Greece’s ability after their historic upset of the Euro 2004 tournament.  Still though, it’s hard to look past the attacking threats of Argentina and Nigeria.  They will probably watch footage from that 2o04 for inspiration and ideas…seriously.

Korea Republic

Like Greece, the Tigers will be looking to draw on experience and their 2002 World Cup run as the driving force behind this campaign.  Their oldest player and most capped at a whopping 129 games is goalkeeper Woon-Jae Lee and their most experienced at an elite level is without question Manchester United midfielder and captain Ji-Sung Park.  Park will float in right behind Dong-Gook Lee in attack with Chung-Yong Lee looking to press forward on the left as well.  They will have to rely heavily on their work rate to get them through as they are quick but not as quick as Nigeria and not as technically gifted as Argentina.  If they progress it will be because of their hard work and a little luck.

Nigeria – Do not underestimate the Super Eagles in Group B, as they have terrific pace and a lot of experience in the squad.

Obafemi Martins will lead the line against Group B

Three members (Joseph Yobo, Yakubu, Victor Anichebe) of it ply their trade at Goodison Park of Everton in England.  Portsmouth (Kanu, John Utaka), Fulham (Dickson Etuhu), Bolton Wanderers (Danny Shittu) and notably Chelsea (John Obi Mikel) boast Nigerian players.  Obafemi Martins is another player I’m expecting to make things happen in South Africa.  Martins once played for Newcastle and now plays for Wolfsburg in Germany.  His pace paired with the pace of Victor Obinna will give the physical Greeks something think twice about as well as the rest of Group B.  The captain, Kanu, stands the most capped, and his creative play will allow Martins to perform well, however his age has looked more noticeable as of late.  In qualifying they conceded only one goal in six matches and had a perfect run.  With John Obi Mikel steadying the ship in the middle of the park, breaking down attacks, and starting moves forward, the Nigerians are well equipped in all areas.

Argentina – How do you solve a problem like Argentina?  Maradona’s rag-tag group of players look unbeatable on paper, but have failed to impress as Maradona has come under intense scrutiny back in Argentina.  Obvious stand outs for the team are Lionel Messi, who has more individual honors than you can count on both hands, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and up and comer Angel Di Maria.  Their attack is probably the best in the world with Higuain, Aguero, Tevez, Messi and Milito all big time names.  Their midfield is commanded by the hard tackling Javier Mascherno and their defense steadied by Martín Demichelis.  The only question mark over La Albiceleste is the team chemistry.  For some reason, they have not been able to click into full gear and many are hoping they find their feet soon.  Maradona is taking the majority of the blame as he rotates more players in and out than anybody ever has.  His style is almost similar to Rafael Benitez’s bizarre rotation policy at Liverpool.  Still though, they’re not the best at the tournament, but they are too good to not advance out of their group and past a few more games.

Prediction –

1. Argentina

2. Nigeria

3. Greece

4. South Korea



Weekend Preview – Sunday – Gameweek 29

March 6th, 2010

EVERTON v. HULL CITY – Sunday, March 7th

After a shaky start to the season, the Toffees have turned things around and are steadily moving up the table.  Recently, they’ve toppled Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City and there aren’t many sides that would want to tackle this side at home, especially Hull City.  It’s hard to look past the fact that the Tigers are offensively challenged on the road, not to mention, winless.  The arrival of Donovan has proven to be a worthwhile investment while reports are circulating that he is pushing to make his move to Goodison Park permanent.  Regardless, the Toffees are looking strong at the moment, while Hull is looking very much like a dying animal.  They could be on their way out unless they find some form.  There’s only one way this game will end.

Everton 2 – 0 Hull City

LIVERPOOL v. WIGAN – Monday, March 8th

Wigan’s leaky defensive record on the road may be their downfall in this fixture against a Liverpool team who isslowly finding form and getting their stars back from injury.  Wigan are winless in their last nine matches and are going to need to park the bus in front of goal to be able to get any points from the Reds.  However, with Liverpool’s shaky form recently, that might just be enough to throw them off.  Expect Benitez to field his strongest team possible as any slip ups from here on out will be curtains on their Champions League aspirations.  And with Gerrard, Torres and possibly Johnson back, the Reds should be coming out firing on all cylinders.

Liverpool 3 – 1 Wigan

PORTSMOUTH v. BIRMINGHAM – Tuesday, March 9th

This is a crucial fixture for Pompey and Avram Grant’s men must find a way to get a win if they want to even think about EPL survival.  Hopefully for the cash-strapped side, they won’t have one eye on Wembley as retaining their top flight status should be top of their to-do list.  Unfortunately for them, Birmingham are having a very decent season and sit 8th with more away wins than Portsmouth have home wins.  Pompey have actually won three of their last four, one of which was against Birmingham in the FA Cup.  This fixture will be an exact replay of their game today (March 6th).  Pompey look to have the upper hand, but I think we’ll see a different game on Tuesday and Pompey will be even hungrier to emulate their recent victory over the Blues.

Portsmouth 1 – 3 Birmingham

SUNDERLAND v. BOLTON

Sunderland are winless in their last 14 matches.  Yes, 14.  They haven’t taken 3 points since November 21st against Arsenal.  That pretty much sums up their plight and the reason that they are now being dragged into the relegation dogfight.  Even with their seemingly sound squad, Sunderland are hopeless at the moment.  Steve Bruce had better churn out a result somehow or he could be tipped to be the next manager ousted.  Bolton have a hard time scoring on the road, and (other than today) haven’t scored in their travels in their last six matches.  Not many goals are scored at the Stadium of Light, and this match probably won’t be any different.

Sunderland 2 – 0 Bolton



Transfer News – September 16th

Transfer News – September 16th, 2009

DAILY MIRROR:

  • Newcastle boss Chris Hughton wants to sign Fulham forward Diomansy Kamara and Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood on loan.
  • Hull could allow Caleb Folan and Daniel Cousin to join Middlesbrough and Newcastle respectively on loan.
  • Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is giving former Sunderland goalkeeper Jurgen Macho a chance to return to the Premier League.
  • Bolton have agreed a deal worth up to £1million with Wolves to sign defender Mark Connolly.
    The French-Senegalese hitman has been targeted by a number of clubs.

    The French-Senegalese hitman has been targeted by Newcastle

    DAILY STAR:

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has blasted Manchester City manager Mark Hughes for trying to defend Emmanuel Adebayor.
  • Rafa Benitez says the Premier League has rushed through the introduction of a quota system for home-grown players too soon.
  • Former Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton has applied for the manager’s job at League Two side Rotherham.
  • Stoke defender Andrew Davies has rejected the chance to join Plymouth on loan.
  • Sheffield United boss Kevin Blackwell is ready to battle with Ipswich, Colchester and Barnsley to sign Danny Shittu from Bolton.DAILY MAIL:
  • It has emerged that Liverpool’s kit sponsorship with Standard Chartered is worth more than the £120million a year reported.
  • Liverpool chief Tom Hicks has hit out at the Arab owners of Manchester City and insisted that there £120million transfer spending spree is ‘unsustainable’.
  • Olympiakos have expressed interest in making Bryan Robson their new coach.
  • James Vaughan has been given approval by Everton to join a club, which could be Middlesbrough, on loan.

    The EPL's youngest goal scorer could be on his way out of Everton.

    The EPL's youngest goal scorer could be on his way out of Everton.

  • Former West Ham and Liverpool defender Julian Dicks has been appointed as manager of Grays Athletic.DAILY EXPRESS:
  • Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung wants Birmingham to spearhead a revolution in Chinese football, after formally lodging his takeover bid.
  • The Scottish FA yesterday kept faith in George Burley by backing him to continue as Scotland manager.THE SUN:
  • Newcastle are lining up a loan move for Fulham’s Diomansy Kamara to cover for Shola Ameobi.
  • West Ham are set to open an academy in Minna, Nigeria.
  • Carson Yeung’s Birmingham takeover is just six weeks away after his company made an £81million offer in cash.
  • New Portsmouth owner Sulaiman Al Fahim insists there will be money to spend in January even though Peter Storrie says the club remains short of funds.
  • Michel Platini’s plan to make the clubs live within their means was approved by UEFA yesterday.DAILY RECORD:
  • Alex McLeish has welcomed the decision to save Scotland manager George Burley’s job.


  • Liverpool Down, But Not Out
    August 25, 2009, 12:08 PM
    Filed under: premier league | Tags: ,

    Liverpool fans shouldn’t be losing too much sleep these days (despite opening their campaign with two losses from three games).  Sure it’s nice to get out of the gates early, boost confidence and send a message to the rest of the league, but, hey, nobody’s perfect.

    Remember last season?  By the end of September, Manchester United had only amassed five points from four matches and sat around mid-table but still found a way to go on to win the league.  Remember Hull City?  They took three points from Fulham, Newcastle, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham as well as drawing Blackburn and Everton.  However, despite being joint top of the league with Liverpool and Chelsea around October, they only missed relegation on the final day of the campaign.

    If there’s anything we’ve learned from past campaigns, it’s that every team’s own individual one is subject to fluctuations in form – no doubt about it.  The real test is how do they deal with it?  Usually the managers are put in the hot seat, who then may deflect the blame to owners and funds made available.  Which will undoubtedly become the case with Liverpool, unless they can shape up.

    What’s wrong at Liverpool?

    The loss of Xabi Alonso was detrimental to both the appearance and fluidity on the field of the Merseysiders.  However, it’s time for them to get over it – players come, players go.  Benitez seems to be content for now with partnering Mascherano with the young Brazilian, Lucas.  Watching him play, he looks ages away from Xabi Alonso, but how many aren’t?  With the acquisition of Alquilani, Benitez could have an ample replacement…except he’s injured for two months.

    For now, fix the formation – Pull Gerrard back, Riera out left, tuck Benayoun up front behind Torres and drop Lucas.  Done deal.  We know Benayoun has the creativity to make scoring chances, Riera can run at full backs with success, and Gerrard is Gerrard.

    The young Brazilian is finding it hard to find his feet at Liverpool.

    The young Brazilian is finding it hard to find his feet at Liverpool.

    To me, Benitez has proven his inability to call the shots on young guns and replacements for his squad.  With the purchase of Lucas, who’s been mediocre in most cases, we have a midfielder who can’t really…do anything.  He’s not a bulldog, ball winner like Mascherano, he’s no Alonso by spraying the ball 30 yards to open play, and he doesn’t look like much of a playmaker – so what is he?  With other purchases like Voronin, Babel (who is failing to live up to his expectations and you know it) and Mark Gonzalez (who?), it looks like Rafa is having a hard time with finding good new blood.  And now, he’s bought a midfielder for £20m who will be out for 2 months and a center defender who is supposed to be cover for their back line, but he’s not fit either.  What is Benitez playing at?

    It’s no secret that Benitez doesn’t get on swimmingly with the American owners, but not many in Liverpool seem to at the time.  The fans call for their heads just about every game with banners, signs and Spirit of Shankly protests.

    However, despite all of this, the media is only scaremongering.  Liverpool aren’t in any trouble – yet.  Yes, they’ve dropped points to two teams with Top 4 ambitions, but they’re just about as alive as anyone in the hunt for the title.  Here’s why –


    How they can bounce back –

    Liverpool’s next five fixtures are Bolton (A), Burnley (H), West Ham (A), Hull City (H), Chelsea (A).  Not the best set, but not too shabby, either.  They should, by all means, pick up points from Bolton (despite them being tricky to break down at the Reebok) and Burnley.  West Ham proved to be a tough nut to crack at Anfield, however on the return fixture to Upton Park, the Reds tossed them aside, 3-0.  Hull City has enjoyed a decent start to the campaign, but I can’t see them taking three points from Liverpool at Anfield, especially if they play the way we’ve seen them do before against Real Madrid and Manchester United.  Obviously, Chelsea at the Bridge is the fixture most are drooling at.  However, if things don’t come into perspective in Liverpool soon, it may well be a walker for Chelsea.  But I’m calling the Reds to bounce back.

    The urgency is now officially instilled.  With the first loss at White Hart Lane, most pundits and fans were calling upon the fact that it was opening day, nerves were being settled and there was still plenty of football to be played.  However, now, we have seen Liverpool pick up 3 points from a possible 9 and their rivals ascend the table.  Lighting a fire under the Reds seems to be the best way to produce their magic.  When they were 2-0 to City, they produced a stunning comeback and won.  Go back further, when

    The Liverpool captain scoring the second of four at Old Trafford last season.

    The Liverpool captain scoring the second of four at Old Trafford last season.

    they were 3-0 down to Milan in Istanbul, one of the most memorable comebacks in history.  When they were down 1-0 to Olympiacos and needed to win by two goals, they pulled through.  What happened last season when United were top dogs for the second half of the season?  Liverpool produced the best football in the league and missed the title only due to their inability to beat poor teams at home.

    The main concern has to be their complacency.  They’re a hard team to put a finger on, because sometimes they are throttling teams like Aston Villa, Manchester United and Real Madrid and others dropping points to West Ham, Hull and Stoke.  When did the last three happen?  First half of the season.  When did their biggest wins happen last season?  After Christmas.  When someone lights a fire under the boys, they produce.

    Furthermore, I understand that Rafa walked out on their training session before the Stoke game and threatened to quit, but the Reds romped over Stoke and instilled confidence once more.  Maybe the Spaniard should threaten to leave more often.

    The urgency flame is now lit, watch it burn into a bonfire.

    -Caleb Sonneland



    Transfer News – August 23rd

    NEWS OF THE WORLD:

  • Wayne Rooney is to be offered a stunning new contract in line with the biggest earners in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal are ready to open contract talks with Cesc Fabregas to fend off Barcelona.
  • Everton will demand a Premier League probe into their claim that Manchester City tapped up Joleon Lescott.
  • David Gold and David Sullivan will step up their bid to buy West Ham next week.
  • Fulham defender Brede Hangeland will not leave the club in the current transfer window despite the interest shown by Arsenal and Everton.
  • Portsmouth manager Paul Hart plans to offer former Wigan striker Henri Camara a Premier League lifeline.
  • Martin O’Neill is plotting to prise Jermaine Jenas from Tottenham with a £12million bid.

    The Republic of Ireland winger has been targeted by Redknapp.

    The Republic of Ireland winger has been targeted by Redknapp.

  • Wigan are poised to make a £3.5million bid for Bristol City midfielder Marvin Elliott.
  • Harry Redknapp has targeted Celtic stars Aiden McGeady and Scott Brown to bolster his Tottenham squad.
  • Phil Brown could turn to Matty Fryatt to solve Hull’s striker problems.
  • Everton and Blackburn have stepped up their interest in Norway winger Erik Huseklepp.

    STAR ON SUNDAY:

  • Chelsea will smash the British transfer record with a £40million move for Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero.
  • Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou is considering his future, despite being offered a new deal.
  • PSV Eindhoven winger Balazs Dzsudzsak claims Arsenal are preparing an offer for him.
  • Daniel Cousin is facing showdown talks with Phil Brown at Hull.
  • West Ham have asked Livorno to name their price for Italian hitman Alessandro Diamanti.
  • Newcastle have held move talks with the representatives of free agent Peter Lovenkrands.

    SUNDAY PEOPLE:

  • Furious Everton chiefs are to report Manchester City to the Premier League for allegedly tapping up Joleon Lescott.
  • David Beckham’s contract at LA Galaxy has a secret get-out clause, which could see him move to one of Europe’s top leagues.
  • Thailand manager Peter Reid is poised for a shock return to English football – as assistant to Tony Pulis at Stoke.

    The Argentine has long been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid.

    The Argentine has long been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid.

  • Chelsea are aiming to spring a major surprise before the transfer window closes – with sources in Spain claiming Sergio Aguero is on his way to Stamford Bridge in a £42million deal.
  • Joe Cole is set to be handed a new four-year contract worth around £90,000 per week.
  • Fulham will stage an ambitious late bid to sign Bordeaux hitman Marouane Chamakh.
  • Stoke boss Tony Pulis is ready to shatter their transfer record with a £12million bid for Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones.
  • West Brom’s wantaway midfielder Borja Valero will complete a deal to Real Mallorca this week.
  • David Moyes will spark a late transfer window buying spree with Russian star Vladimir Bystrov at the top of his shopping list.
  • Harry Redknapp is ready to make a cut-price move for West Ham midfielder Scott Parker.
  • Dietmar Hamann has turned down Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Notts County and will instead move to Portsmouth.

    SUNDAY MIRROR:

  • Dean Ashton is set to announce his shock retirement from football.
  • Everton will ask the FA to investigate their claim that Manchester City made an illegal approach for Joleon Lescott.
  • Rafa Benitez has told Liverpool’s fans they can put their money on him staying at Anfield for the remaining five years of his contract.
  • Arsenal want William Gallas to extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium.
  • Portsmouth are ready to sell Niko Kranjcar if a club will meet their £8million asking price.
    The Spanish mastermind looks set to remain loyal to his Liverpool contract.

    The Spanish mastermind looks set to remain loyal to his Liverpool contract.

    SUNDAY EXPRESS:

  • Everton are going to war with Manchester City after finally agreeing to sell Joleon Lescott for £24million.
  • Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is bidding to end once and for all the rumours that he is ready to walk out of Anfield.