Posted on: October 8, 2011 8:33 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 10:22 pm

The weakest EPL Clubs.

  • Bolton, this is an obvious choice, they won their opener big over QPR but have sputtered to 6 straight losses since.  2 years ago, I believe they were in the red zone and hired away manager Owen Coyle from Burnley. Burnley without Coyle went into a tail spin and Bolton preceded to move up into safety. It's hard to feel pity for the Wanderers.
  • Blackburn, 1 win against Arsenal of all teams, memorable one at that. Blackburn during the International break went to tour the land of its owners, India. Blackburn defeated FC Pune 3-0. Somehow, I think this tour will lift the Rovers up some but again, letting Allardyce go has not endeared me to the ownership of the team. Still, I think Blackburn will be playing better.
  • Wigan, one can't help but think Wigan will again make the great escape out of relegation. Manager Roberto Martinez seems to be a standup guy but Wigan really needs to start playing up better and not have predictably poor performances reminding one of the mediocrity that another onetime Premier League team has shown, West Ham. It's almost seems that if one is going to see poor performances week in and week out, perhaps they belong in the Championship.
  • Queen's Park Rangers, QPR has had some good showing but has lost games vs. Bolton, Wigan and Fulham by an aggregate of 12 goals against, zero goals for against Bolton (4-0), Wigan (2-0) and Fulham (6-0). I think this shows that despite having Joey Barton, Sean Wright Phillips and a number of other good players, they may be the weakest of the 3 newly promoted teams.  Anyteam that loses in this manner is suspect. Swansea on the other hand, has started out the season with 4 clean sheets at home, an EPL record. Norwich City likewise, played at OT vs. Man Utd. very competitively and reminded me of Blackpool's form last season, playing an attractive game even in not winning.
  • Sunderland, the Black Cats at 1 win, 3 draws and 3 losses are showing some stability, this really continues from last season where Sunderland seem a poor team but still a cut above the bottom dwellers.
  • West Brom, the Baggies got off to a slow start and their fans will hope that is all it is. In their last 4 games they have 1 win, 2 draws and 1 loss. West Brom seem one playmaker away from a more secure position.

These are the teams susceptible to the drop, I firmly believe Wolverhampton have played mostly close games, losing to QPR 0-3 at home but besides that, they have a GD, goal differential of -4. I don't think they will have much trouble staying up, maybe be a bottom 6 or 7 team at season's end. Fulham likewise is now playing good football, amazingly blasting QPR 6-0. Everton I tell everyone is not as weak as some make them out to be. All the same, Everton is a question mark and perhaps others are right in that they are in for a dismal year. They do not seem to have a real go-to guy but have had acceptable performances in most games.
I view these teams after 7 games. This means that even 20% of the season has not been played so their can be a lot of change. We will see how this post looks in a few months time. All of the teams from 7th place with Aston Villa to last place have 2 wins or less.


Category: Soccer
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:44 pm

Euro Cup Qualifying Update

It's late and I'm tired but I do need to talk about the Euro Cup qualifications for a moment.

Concerning qualifying for the Euro Cup and just to make the playoffs, Scotland has to defeat Spain Tuesday, Belgium has to defeat Germany, that is just to get into the playoffs vs. other 2nd place teams and both matches are away for Scotland and Belgium. Is there a chance even one of them can win???

First off though, Scotland to have that chance must be Liechtenstein away on Saturday, I would think that is probable. That is group I, why does it seem that the last groups always have either Scotland, Netherlands or Spain? Must be a coincidence. And England, France and Italy seem to always be in the middle and Germany in one of the first groups?

Austria stuffed Azerbaijan royally today, about 4-1, Belgium drew Azerbaijan, Turkey plays them on Tuesday...and I would think would whip them.... and Turkey will be playing at home.

Here are the groups at the moment:

In group E, Hungary and Sweden are in a dogfight as well. Sweden plays at Netherlands, Netherlands has a perfect record, has qualified and barely defeated a weak Moldova team today. Hungary will play the Fins. Sweden won at Finland 1-2.

Greece won the group F showdown vs. Croatia, 2-0.

Wales, man, if the tournament was starting now, I'd think Wales would have a good shot to advance but they started too late. Wales defeated Switzerland today and defeated Montenegro last month. This was after sacking their coach. Of course, at Wembley, England only defeated them by 1-0 last month too. Speaking of England, I didn't see it but heard Wazza, Wayne Rooney got a red card allowing Montenegro, granted a good team to come back and make that game a draw 2-2. The game may have been in Montenegro though while the Wales/Montenegro game was in Wales.

Group C. isn't quite decided either, Slovenia, eliminated will end up playing Serbia. Both countries part of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, the game is in Slovenia. I will go with the Slovenes to win this. I believe though Serbia drew the Italians today, the first Serbia/Italy match was abandoned and given to Italy because the Serbian fans were being a bunch of idiots. I'm sure the Serb players are nice guys but the hooligans of Serbia are rather atrocious. Let's hope we don't see Hooligan fights in Poland/Ukraine as at least Poland is known to have hooligan problems of their own as well.

And speaking of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, it looks like Bosnia Hercogovina has qualified for the playoff rounds. I will see the matchups at a future date, the teams play two games against each other, home and away.

Well, my order is a bit out of kilter in speaking about the groups but Ireland and Armenia, yes, Armenia battle for second in group B. Ireland hosts Armenia Tuesday, so though I'd kind of like to see Ireland win it, hats off to Armenia for making it this far and if they win, they'd win the 2nd place of that group while if Ireland wins, they are in 2nd in all likelihood since first place Russia hosts minnows Andorra. Again, consult the tables for all possibilities.

Lastly, in group H, Denmark and Portugal square off while Norway plays Cyprus. Denmark currently has 16 points, Portugal and Norway have 13 so Portugal needs to assure advancing by winning it would seem to me. Denmark not too long ago I believe pulled off the upset of Portugal in Lisbon, that may have been a World Cup qualifier for the last World Cup.

So, this is a run down on the action, much to be decided on Tuesday.

Slovakia who did rather well at the World Cup last time, fail to qualify. I watch one of their players for Napoli I believe. But it is competitive out there.

I'm a Belgium fan, no, it's not in my ancestry but I grew up seeing the Belgium team do well in quite a few tournaments but always the big underdog. That's exactly what they will be this Tuesday. Fellaini from Everton plays for Belgium, I think he's been match fit to play for them though last year was suffering from an injury.

Category: Soccer
Tags: Euro Cup '12
Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: October 4, 2011 10:32 am

Euro Cup Qualifiers/Last Round

Under Construction:

Well, here we are sports fans with the final Euro Cup qualifiers coming up. Of course, there will be playoffs in November to ascertain who indeed advances to next year's tournament. These games are much more numerous than your typical weekend of Premier League games plus there are usually two playing days for each country. Of course, we will be looking to see if our Red Devils of Belgium can still squeeze in.


Matches per Soccerway:
We will look at the more crucial matches and others we just might be interested in.

    Friday: Turkey Germany, Belgium Kazakhstan
    Tuesday: Germany. Belgium, Turkey Aizerbaijan

Germany 24 points (Clinched 1st)
Turkey 14 points
Belgium 12 points

 A close call for Belgium. Seeing how Turkish fans have treated visitors in the past, I think Germany could have a hard time in Instanbul. Oh well, the Turks do often play a very exciting brand of soccer and surely deserve to advance if their point total is better. Belgium faltered by drawing Aizerjaijan last time out. You almost might wonder if a country like Aizerbaijan might roll over for another Muslim country like Turkey. It does not look promising for Belgium. The best Belgium should hope for is somehow defeating the Kazakhs and then Germany to get 6 points and hope somehow the Germans defeat the Turks making the most Turkey can get as 3 points.

   Friday: Slovakia Russia, Armenia Macedonia, Andorra Ireland Republic
   Tuesday: Ireland Armenia, Russia Andorra, Macedonia Slovakia

Russia 17 points
Ireland 15 points
Armenia 14 points
Slovakia 14 points

I think we see 4 teams in contention and in all likelihood, if these teams can win their games, they will advance, easier said than done. Of course, Andorra is basically a pushover. I have no quarrels with any of these teams though it would be nice to see Ireland make the big tournament. Armenia are playing well but Ireland hosts them in the last games. Ireland must watch out for Andorra, they are not always the pushovers they appear to be and Ireland has notably had problems with smaller nations. Even a big soccer country like Italy had problems with Faroe Islands, another minnow country last time out.

Per Ireland, here is a good interview with Robbie Keane, now playing with the LA Galaxy where he has scored twice in only a few appearances. Ireland Republic, Eire, let's not forget basically got a raw deal to go to last year's World Cup and France who went were rather poor, I like the Bleus but I don't like any team that plays a game unfairly. So, I'm hoping the boys in green can make this Euro Tourney, it won't be easy but maybe since Ireland is playing Russia in one of the remaining games, Ireland can get the automatic bid and not go through those playoffs.

    Friday: Serbia Italy, Northern Ireland Estonia,
    Tuesday: Slovenia Serbia, Italy Northern Ireland

Italy 22 points
Serbia 14 points
Estonia 13 points
Slovenia 11 points
Northern Ireland 9 points

Italy apparently has this group in hand but Serbia, Estonia and Slovenia all battle for 2nd, perhaps Northern Ireland has a shot still as well. Those Baltic countries sometimes play some excellent soccer.

     Friday: France Albania, Romania Belarus, Bosnia Luxembourg
     Tuesday: France Bosnia, Albania Romania

France 17 points
Bosnia 16 points
Romania 12 points

It looks like France and Bosnia are in the driver's seat here but the two must still pick up points to assure they advance. Romania might be able to get in with 2 wins.

    Friday: Finland Sweden, Netherlands Moldova
    Tuesday: Sweden Netherlands, Hungary Finland

Netherlands 24 points
Sweden 18 points
Hungary 18 points
Finland 9 points

Some teams that did fairly well in the past such as Slovenia, Slovakia, even Israel and Iceland and Finland as in this group have had a poor outing this time qualification campaign apparently. Still, it would make Finland's day to defeat the Swedes, those countries up there along with Denmark and Norway are great rivals to each other. Hungary only has one game remaining while the Swedes have two games left. I think there is a good chance, Hungary could sneak in to the playoffs as a 2nd place team though all the same.

    Friday:  Greece Croatia
    Tuesday:  Georgia Greece, Croatia Latvia

  Croatia 19 points
  Greece 18 points

This group looks decided except of course, who will get the automatic qualification for the Euro by winning the group and who will have to go through the playoffs. Little Latvia, the Balkan country went to the last Euro '08, so, one might see them give the Croats a good game, perhaps even a draw so Friday's game is pivotal.

    GROUP G:
    Friday:  Montenegro England, Wales Switzerland
    Tuesday:  Switzerland Montenegro

   England 17 points
   Montenegro 11 points
   Switzerland 8 points

It's self explanatory, Montenegro is in 2nd, Switzerland has a shot if they can win their last two games. Wales pulled an upset last time out defeating Montenegro.

    Friday:  Portugal Iceland, Cyprus Denmark
    Tuesday:  Norway Cyprus, Denmark Portugal

Portugal 13 points
Denmark 13 points
Norway  13 points

Norway only has one game remaining against Cyprus. It will be interesting how these games shake out. Surely, Portugal will advance. 2nd place is a bit unclear.

    Friday:  Czech Republic Spain
    Saturday: Scotland Liechtenstein
    Tuesday:  Spain Scotland, Lithuania Czech Republic

Spain 18 points
Czech Republic 10 points
Scotland 8 points
The last group and in subsequent Euros, 24 teams will be playing versus the 16 teams currently, so it will be easier for the likes of Scotland to qualify. That said, I think Scotland still has an outside chance to make the '12 tournament. That outside chance would mean defeating Spain in Spain while the Czechs would have to lose or draw on Friday to Spain. Highly unlikely but you never know.

Scotland felt hard done in the game vs. the Czechs during this campaign that ended in a draw because the Czechs were awarded a PK which many disagree with. Probably was a bad call from what I saw.

This article is mainly my own little worksheet to get a grasp on how things are coming.

Most of the groups are largely decided, however it is clear that some like groups H and B are not. Those may be the only 2 where things are really up in the air.


Posted on: October 2, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 9:36 pm

McClaren resigns, Drogba back, Fulham's hat trick

This is just a news alert, a lot happened in the PL and Championship League for that matter.

Steve McLaren resigned as Nottingham Forest manager,  good luck Steve, bloke seems to have some bad luck but coached FC Twente in Netherlands well as well as Wolfsburg but Forest have really been in decline this year for some reason.

Didier Drogba, Guy almost broke his neck out there and maybe he returned playing last week  but he's back and played against Bolton.

Andy Johnson got the first hat trick Fulham has ever had in the Premier League in the Cottagers romp over Queen's Park Rangers.

Likewise, Frank Lampard got a hat trick, one wonders how many hat tricks the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United have in the history of the Premier League or even before it was called that as England's topflight. Liverpool and Arsenal too.

Speaking of Arsenal, watch Thierry Henry a bit and he certainly is key to the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have had quite a few problems of late with winning games but should be in the playoffs.

Lastly, what was this Stoke City was wearing as a kit at Swansea? Looked a bit like Inter Milan jerseys and in that, they were okay, Tony Pulis, Stoke City manager is a Welshman and Stoke City lost to a Welsh team. I had to wonder if Tony really hated the loss as much as losing to some other teams. Good for Swansea. The announcer said something like 3 of their first 4 games at home have been clean sheets for Swansea, a Premier League record.

Relegation is going to be the dickens this year, Wigan looks poor and likewise for Bolton and Blackburn. West Brom is barely pulling their own and could really use a win in their next game. That may be against the Wolves, I will have to see.
Category: Soccer
Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:23 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:53 pm

What's up with Toon??, Other news

Newcastle, I think Lawro, Mark Lawrenson, former Liverpool player and now a tv personality picked Aston Villa last week was it or the week before to defeat Newcastle, didn't happen and now I know he picked the hosting Wolves to defeat Newcastle and Newcastle won that game today while drawing I believe Villa. Chelsea is bound to win tomorrow but as of this writing! Newcastle is in 3rd place and still has not lost a game.

I never really liked Pardew as coach but he must be doing something right and not only this, Newcastle transferred both Joey Barton and ah, the current Liverpool player, the one with long hair, erm....Andy Carrol, right....

So, let's take a quick look at the PL games awaiting Newcastle in the near future.

They host Tottenham, so as host, I've got to think they can get a draw, then they will play Wigan at home and you've got to pencil that in as a win, then Newcastle will play at Stoke City on October 31st, Halloween?? You've got to think that would be quite a scalp for the Potters to get let alone, Stoke City surely will not lose at home. Still, just think, Newcastle has a chance to go unbeaten in August, September and then October, not to shabby. I suspect Toon would likely lose to Stoke City but let's check out more games,

In November, they play Everton and November 19, at Manchester City, surely, this is likely to be a loss, possibly only their second loss and that follows playing Manchester United next at OT, well, they should be able to save on gas money and then, after that Chelsea. That is far enough to look into the future.

So, let's run down their next few games real quick again.

@Stoke City
Everton or Evertron as some say!
@Man City
@ Man Utd.

Even looking at the squad at Soccerway, the squad looks strong but I've got to believe the Barcodes are punching above their weight.

Still, look at the roster? I always like any team that is so heavily English/British and that team definitely is. Let's not forget either that just two years ago, Newcastle was playing Championship League Football, they were bloody relegated!

Back to the squad, let's take a quick count:

15 English
1 Scot, 1 Irish, the latter, Best of all names seems to be getting a good number of their goals, scoring 3.
I just call all of the above, HomeNation players, an Irishman isn't a Brit but he's not a foreigner either, French, Americans and Dutch seem to me to be barely foreigners as well in today's football world or at least in today's Premier League which is so widely followed in the world today.

5 French
1 Ivory Coast
2 Argentina including the bushy haired Coloccini who has been with Newcastle for quite a few years now, a good player, I know he was there when they were relegated.

Rounding it out, it looks like Newcastle has
2 other Africans and a Slovenian, Dutchman, Hungarian and Norweigan.

Pretty Impressive really, however, if one looks at match appearances, these foreigners do seem to be getting a lot of playing time vs. say, the typical English/homenation players. One needs to look at it closely and then draw their own conclusions.


Checking out other soccer news, Millwall has slipped into the relegation zone of the Championship League, my gosh, they were in the playoffs for promotion last year or the year before.

The Championship League often has a more exciting race for the title and top places.

Brighton Hove and Albion who started off brilliantly are now falling in the standings after 10 games of a what?? 44 match season, something like that. Southampton though dropping some games seems consistent and in first place, Middlesbrough stays up as well only 2 points behind in second place with 20 points. In fact, Derby and West Ham are still on those teams heel and both teams have a draw and loss in their last 2 games.

I've heard before the PL is for glory hunters and the Championship League is what you watch if you like real tight races. There might be something to that but those last 7 teams in the league need to start upping their wins and draws.


Category: Soccer
Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:40 pm

The Mexican League

Mexico, I really want to say a great country but the drug wars have made it seemingly a bad place, on TV now, is the Santos Laguna team hosting Cruz Blanca and it looks like a close to the state of the art stadium in Torreon where I assume this game is being played, in that area at least, La Laguna indeed means that area of Torreon Coahuila and Gomez Palacio and Lerdo Durango, double check your maps, but this is the same stadium where violence recently broke out causing one game to be abandoned and then, on another day soon after, a weekday, there was a gunfight once again with fatal results.

The Mexican League is probably in the top 10 soccer leagues in the world, I'd have to say even better than the MLS, I think there is actually a power ranking of leagues out there based on statistics that affirms this, something I've seen talked about at bigsoccer.

Here is the table for the Mexican League, as far as I can tell, the top 8 teams then have a playoff to determine the Champion. You can see now, many of the top scorers in the Mexican League are coming from South America, I'm not sure what this means, we do know a # of top players in Mexico are now playing in Europe rather than Mexico.

If one follows the Mexican League, I honestly think you will see more drama and excitement than in the American league, not only that, for the past few Saturday's, they've had 3 games on of the Mexican League along with an MLS game on the Spanish Channels such as Univision, Telefutura, etc. check your listings. Sunday's generally have at least one game so they really air a lot of the Mexican League games.

It's really pretty good but it does seem Mexico has some serious problems, it is hard to really analyze the extent that it effects the common person there. Some areas, I believe are relatively untouched by the violence like Puebla, then you have a few teams that are in drug territories, I really would not want to be on a team that played in Juarez and perhaps a few other cities.

Our LA Galaxy barely got by the Monarcas (Monarchs) of Morelia this past week.
Category: Soccer
Posted on: September 28, 2011 9:28 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 9:06 am

The Victory Movie and other sports movies

I stopped buying DVDs at Walgreen's where I go occasionally when I saw it was an unneccesary expense unless they have something really good, the World War I movie, Noel is a great movie but anyway, I was at Walgreen's tonight and they had 2 sporting movies I enjoy, 'Victory' or 'Escape to Victory' as it is called in the UK with Sylvester Stallone, Bobby Moore, Ossie Ardiles, Pele, Michael Caine and others. Then, it is actually 2 movies for the pirce of 1 ($3.99 not too bad) so the ohter movie is 'American Flyers' which is a cycling movie with Kevin Costner in it, I really like the music in American Flyers especially the main theme "Let's go, American Flyers" and at times, I've been an avid cyclist .....anyway, I happened to have the VHS video of Escape to Victory but I really did want to get the American Flyers movie some time and there they both were together.  You'll find no shortage of criticisms of these movies but all in all, they are pretty cool. Escape to Victory has been called the best soccer/football movie of all time. I don't know why, there are quite a few baseball movies around that are thought of as being very good but there really are not even that many American football or soccer movies that are called great. Well, it's nice to have the convenience of a DVD on one's computer. Oh, and of course, "Hoosiers' the basketball movie is surely, if not the greatest, one of the greatest sports movies around, I would think the Knute Rockne movie, rather old is also a great American Football movie (with the memorable line, "Do it for the Gipper"). Maybe I will talk about all sports movies in some blog post. From Blockbuster, I did happen to watch the "Hand of god", dramatization of the life of Diego Maradona in Spanish and made by an Italian/Spanish collaboration. It was fairly good.

As long as I am here, I will say other good soccer movies would have to be, sorry, some people call it cheesy but all in all, the hooligan movie "Green Street" I enjoy, probably because I'm an American with not too much of an idea of how the real hooliganism is or was in England, even with some awareness, I do like it though it may not be a real soccer movie. Real soccer movies are movies like Goal and Goal II, I think there is even a Goal III. The Robert Duval movie in my view is better than the "Goal" movies where Duval plays a manager of a small Scottish team. 'A shot at glory' is the name of that movie. Of course, there are movies in other languages about soccer, the German movie "Miracle at Bern".

As long as I started this blog, I did go ahead and look to see what are thought of as being the best soccer movies of all time:

Well, how could I forget the one on Brian Clough?? "Damned United", I read the book too. Yes, I liked it, at times, we have to be in the mood for a movie just like last week, despite my being a big believer in the Championship League of England, I opted to pick a few Spanish games instead, I just wasn't in the mood to pick West Ham vs. Peterborough.

I also have the movie "The Cup" about some young Tibetan Monks going to a whole lot of trouble to try to watch the World Cup final on TV. It was okay. Forbes mentions 'Shaolin Soccer' which I've heard about but have not seen oh, and I'm sure 'Bend it like Beckham' is on the list, I've only seen parts of that one but it looked okay.

Does Forbes not even mention the "Goal" movies, I thought the first one was reasonably good, the guy went to play for Newcastle.

Here is a list of the best American Football movies:

But I think baseball is where the great movies are found even if it is not my sport, "Field of Dreams", "Babe Ruth story", in fact, I even have '61' on Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, good movie again.

Say what you will about 'Escape to victory', the opening, 2 minutes in when they roll the introductory credits and title I've always loved for dramatic effect, the Red Cross car top at first when the camera is so close I would think reminds one of the St. George's flag, the beginning has always been bad and cool and looks like you are about to see a real war movie. Really pretty good and the game vs. the Germans is pretty good as well.  5 Stars? I don't know.

Category: Soccer
Tags: movies, Victory
Posted on: September 27, 2011 12:29 am
Edited on: September 27, 2011 12:48 am

Wayne Rooney does Zumba!

I thought some of these classes real big now like Insanity, P90X, some of these very cardiovascular exercises might help in Soccer agiltiy, guess what? Top scorer at this time in the Premier League Wayne Rooney does Zumba.  At times, I really love Zumba, lots of fun. The article also says?? Hmmn, belly dancing too, well, as a matter of fact, men can do belly dancing as well, it obviously comes off a little different but Zumba, the right Zumba can be a lot of fun.

Other news!! Who are the most bitter rivals in England? Liverpool and Manchester United? I can't say, I don't think one can say one rivalry is bigger than another but I do know Millwall and West Ham are big rivals, heck, Millwall, I believe there slogan is something like "Nobody likes us, we don't care" or "Everyone hates us, we don't care", something like this but you've got to have a chuckle, poor Avram Grant, he could not get that West Ham team to work last year and there seemed to be a shortage of good managers around. Anyway, it's just a shirt but hey, kind of funny. Of course, to the uniniated, West Ham got relegated. Still, West Ham is looking good this year.

Championship League is exciting, West Ham would like to get in on one of the automatic promotion spots meaning 2nd or 1st. As it is, they are in the playoff positions. I always think sending one team out of four up is exciting but rather hard on the teams that fail themselves as Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest have in I believe at least 2 straight years. 

Lastly, Blackburn was once a formidable team, man, it seems they have gone down the tubes lately but I read in that same Indian newspaper from above, come internationals weekend, weekend after this, Blackburn is going to have a mini tour of India and will play a game there on October 7th. There bosses are from India. Maybe it will give them a good kick in the rump. Could it effect this weekend's game with Man City? Man City will probably still blitz 'em good.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or