Catching Up on the Sports World

Due to work commitments, it has been pretty hard to sit down and write a post (if only I could do this for a living…), but a lot has happened in sports over the past little while that needs to be caught up on.

The Pats deserved it – When the ball went ridiculously and improbably into Doug Baldwin’s hands, it seemed like Tom Brady simply could not catch a break.  He is in the conversation for best players of all time, and his second half performance is among the most impressive in Super Bowl history.  For the first time in some time, Brady ended up on the right side of the score.  Consider his legacy cemented.

The Cavs have turned it on…and they look strong – After an insane (completely and totally insane!) trade deadline in which the Heat appeared to vault back into contention through the pickup of Goran Dragic, the Cavs are the team who look like the top of the town.  They are moving the ball, getting the most of their role players and finally seeing their stars begin to mesh.  Does any team really want to have to play 7 games against LeBron James?  The answer is probably a strong “no”, as now that he has turned it on, it may be tough to stop him.  Take the recent contest with the Warriors – the league’s top defense – in which LeBron scored 42.  It did not matter which elite defender challenged him, he was not able to be stopped.   The unstoppable Cavs seems to be more of a reality, especially in the wake of some key injuries which will be discussed shortly.

The NBA Title is completely up for grabs – Could the Warriors or Hawks or Grizz steal one?  This seemed so far outside the realm of possibility that now that it is probable, it still seems shocking.  Even the Thunder could be serious contenders now that Russell Westbrook is playing out of his mind.  A fun year for the NBA all around in which a lot of surprises could be in store during the playoffs.

Injuries mar an otherwise great NBA season – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh and, sadly, Derrick Rose have all missed significant time this season due to injuries.  For Kobe this may be the end; Bosh, is fighting now for his health; Rose may need to accept that he will never be the player we once thought he could be.  Bosh, meanwhile, has blood clots in his lungs, discovered right after the Heat retooled with Goran Dragic.  The injury is a tough break for one of the most eloquent and hilarious guys in the NBA.  Rose ends his season early again for the 4th straight year.  His knees it seems simply cannot take the pounding of his brutal style of play.  Could he reinvent himself as a 6th man on a contender?  Would that not be the most terrifying sight ever?  His next round of contract negotiations will be very intriguing with all the injuries on the board.

Chelsea still in the driver’s seat – Chelsea gave away two much needed points on the weekend, but remain firmly in the top spot.  Matic took a foolish penalty that may have cost them the game, but they still managed to emerge alright.  Now that City has slipped (thanks Liverpool!) it is going to be important for Chelsea to continue to fight through all the way to the end.  Can the team push through to the end of the season as City, United and Arsenal mount a late charge?  Another down to the wire finish could be in the offering.

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The 2014 Sporties Awards

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2014 Sporties our annual celebration of the best of Sport and the Sports world.  Let’s dive right in shall we:

Game of the Year – Last year of course featured the absolutely bonkers Auburn / Alabama game in addition to the Brady vs. Manning Bowl in which Brady staged an incredible comeback.  This year the contenders are much fewer and farther in between.  There were a couple of crazy baseball games and a couple of crazy football games.  However, the most exciting game I watched?  No question it was the bonkers World Cup match between the US vs. Portugal game which came down to the absolute wire and featured some of the top players in the world playing out of their minds.

Shocking World Cup Moment of the Year – Brazil gets tuned up by eventual champs Germany.  It was relentless, wave after wave of unstoppable strikers and you began to feel worse and worse for Brazil fans.  Simply awful.

Championship Dominations – One theme of the year was definitely beat downs in the finals: the LA Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Seattle Seahawks all cruised to victory over, in some cases, more ballyhooed opponents.  I will also not neglect to mention the Canadian hockey team and their punishing win over the US in the Olympic Finale.

Series of the Year – The best series of the year took place in hockey, and featured the LA Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks in a war that served as the real Stanley Cup final.

Breakout of the Year – The biggest winners of the World Cup was the Men in Blazers who are single handedly bringing soccer to the masses of America through their insanely brilliant show.  During the biggest sports event in the world, the two men locked themselves in a small room nicknamed “Bob Ley’s panic room” where they proceeded to break down football and culture simultaneously.  When they got home it was a quick shift to NBC Sports where they continued to have the highest rated podcast and a shockingly well rated TV series.  They are stone brilliant and they are now both a must watch, and must listen.

Pod of the Year – After the praise I just gave the Men in Blazers, you would rightfully assume they have won the Pod Award…but this is actually a battle that stretched beyond the sports world!  Three of my must listen pods: the aforementioned Blazers, Hollywood Prospectus and SerialHollywood Prospectus is highly entertaining and funny, and includes the occasional deep dive into the movies of David Fincher or the music of Taylor Swift.  It is fun and light and takes pop culture analysis to a whole new level.  Serial tells the story of a 15 year old murder allegedly committed by a young man named Adnan Syed.  The podcast is hypnotic and brilliantly conceived as we wander through the murky depths of a story where we may not want to hear the outcome.  A truly powerful experience; and a very addictive one as I powered through four pods believing I was only on the first one.  Wait?  Isn’t that only three pods when I actually mentioned four?  Yes, because it is high time someone gave praise to the true return of the Starters.   Last year I was almost out on them, as their 44 minute shows were simply not enough time to properly appreciate them.  Given that their time as “The Basketball Jones” was astounding and creative, it felt a little bit as if they were being contained in a small box that stripped away all their talent.  This year I was on the edge of being out completely when I heard they were cutting down to 22 minute shows.  I was done: I tried, but all their zany antics had been stripped away simply because there was not time.  In some ways it was good because it focused their great and insightful basketball minds.  However…it was putting them in a box.  I was done.

And then I heard the news.  On Fridays, the Starters would be unleashing “the Drop” a return to their old, off the walls ways.  Welcome back boys.  Before the first pod I waited with trepidation and had not looked forward to a pod like that for some time.  When I listened, all my fears vanished.  The boys were back.  In the following weeks, they have truly returned to their off the walls roots where their crazy energy and unstoppable hilarity continues.  What a glorious return.  Another year and you might be the pod of the year: right now it is the Blazers for their consistency.

Sports Books of the Year – I read some great sports books this year, many about football (American and otherwise).  The best: League of Denial by Mark Fairinua and Steve Farinua  / Showtime by Jeff Pearlman / Michael Jordan by Roland Lazenby / The Football Business by David Conn and Against Football by Steve Almond.  Another must read is the William Hill Sports Book winner: Night Games by Anna Krien which takes the microcosm of the misdeeds of the Australian Rules Football league and expands it through the sporting world.  An interesting take on the lengths teams will go to in order to protect their players and the depths players will sink to in order to fit in.  An important achievement and must read book.

Team of the Year – The Kansas City Royals because no other team did what they did, with the expectations that team had coming into the season.  Even in defeat they are worthy.  Runners up: San Antonio Spurs, Team Canada and Seattle Seahawks.

Off Field Moment of the Year – LeBron James returns to Cleveland…as read by Frank Caliendo playing Morgan Freeman.  Runner Up: Wait, is that Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter?  What could they possibly be discussing?  Is it possible for all the evil in the modern world ensconced in one luxury box?  Another runner up: remember when Bob Costas got pink eye in Russia?

Sportie Man of the Year – No one and I mean no one, gives Sidney Crosby enough credit.  He deserves to be the Sportie Man of the Year because he guided one of the most dominating hockey teams through a grueling slate to the finals.  It did not look good and certain points but the best players truly shine when it matters most and the way Crosby dominated at both ends of the ice in the final was astounding to watch.  He deserves more recognition for the way he dominates his sport in an especially competitive time: remember when Ovechkin or Crosby was a serious question?  Now it is likely Crosby or Toews.  Crosby though is our Sportie Man of the Year.

Mega Sports Blast

A lot has happened in sports in the last little while, which can only mean it is past time for a mega blast with quick takes on everything that has gone on.

The Cavs cannot win simply playing hero ball – Watching Cleveland play against Denver was an interesting exercise in seeing a stagnant offense both inhibited and freed by the wealth of players on the court.  LeBron could not be stopped when he drove on three consecutive plays to the basket after a series of dribbles and high picks by Kevin Love.  There are too many shooters on the floor for any kind of double teams to take place.  Still the ball movement was completely stagnant and LeBron seemed oddly detached for a guy who was completely dominant.  Love seems to be a bit lost right now finding his place and Kyrie Irving needs to understand what it means to win instead of simply ensuring he gets to score his twenty-two points per game.  Against the Pelicans they were way better, LeBron recording an astounding triple double (including 32 points) and both Love and Irving playing well.  To succeed this team may need the ball in LeBron’s hands – something he was hoping to avoid in coming to Cleveland – in order to facilitate movement.  These things take time and patience, but with the prime and legacy of the best player in the world at stake, time and patience may be something Cleveland finds in very short supply.

Chelsea are unbeaten, at the right time – As their main rivals for the Premier League title continue to play like shells of their former selves (Man City) and other teams are falling off bit by bit (Arsenal, Liverpool), Chelsea continues to rise.  They are a frighteningly consistent team, who are not afraid to play from behind and are not afraid to go into the last few minutes with their backs against the wall.  Their mid-field depth is astounding: Matic, Willian, Hazard, Oscar, Cesc and Schurrle are all fighting for playing time when any of them would be the top choice for any other squad in the premiership.  The depth has been astounding but what has been more impressive is how Chelsea have used their signings to make the team more complete; not simply to make a splash.  Obviously both Fabregas and Diego Costa have played wonderfully, but they have also served to make other Blues players more dangerous (Eden Hazard has been playing some of the best football of his career).  Additionally, it is more than past time that right back Ivanovic properly takes his place as the best right back in football; seriously, who else would take over him?  Even more impressively, Chelsea’s back line of Ivanovic, Cahill, Azpeliqueta and Terry have been consistent and strong.  There has been no major injuries and they have had time to develop a deep bond.  Could they run the table?   No, but a runaway league title is not out of the question at this point.

The Canucks are bad…and should admit they should be worse – Band aiding your team for several years is not the way to get better.  The Canucks have had some strong signings (Vrbata) but otherwise look like the same 8 or 9th best team in the West which continues to be the worst place to be in the league.  You have no chance of winning the Stanley Cup and you have no chance of getting better through the draft.  Had the Canucks hung on to one of their starting goalies perhaps they could have moved up…especially in this draft with the next Sidney Crosby potentially coming down the pipe (Connor McDavid).  Look at how the Avalanche or Chicago got better: by building through the draft and giving players an opportunity to develop the right way, not by scrapping with Minnesota to sneak into the playoffs and then getting run over by a California team.  The time to be bad is now and the Canucks are probably years from realizing it.

JJ Watt is the best player in the NFL…by far – JJ Watt is an incredible talent and his impact on the football field is far beyond that of any other defensive player and is on the same level that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have.  Seeing what he has done on the field this year is amazing and it is unfortunate he will not be up, rightly, for MVP consideration.  Please appreciate him, and what he does.

Will the NFL’s best team please stand up? – Is Arizona the best team in the NFL or is it New England?  Or is it Indy?  Or is it…(insert 3 loss team here).  We do not know, because it seems as if parity is more and more prevalent.  Anyone could win the title this year and that is an awesome thing.

Are the days of talent ending? – Cam Newton, RGIII, Mike Vick…all are players who get by on their natural abilities.  Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady…all are players who seek to get better each and every day at what they do.  The best quarterbacks in the league seem to be those who strive to better themselves each day and work, intelligently, at learning their craft.  Tom Brady throws the ball to where it needs to be, avoids contact and makes plays when it matters most.  Cam Newton relies on his skills and does not seem to be interested in learning the intricasies of the game because he can run fast and throw the ball far.  Mike Vick played the same way each but has become better over time, learning to make two or three reads (one of the reasons he played so well against Philly) and becoming a stronger player.  Colin Kaepernick (one of the smartest players in the league) will be similar to Brady I think with how he uses his brain to get better.  Or at least I hope he will…

Lampard or Gerrard – Why Not Both?

For their entire careers, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard and Liverpool hero Steven Gerrard have been compared to one another.  Year after year they have been the faces of their franchises, and in many ways of the entire Premier League.  No two players of England’s Golden Generation have done more for English football than these two.  Yet, it has always been a one or the other scenario – even though both have the ability to play any midfield position from holding, to attacking and even, at times, defensive.  As their careers wind down and their teams battle for this years Premier League Title, again the question is raised: which one?  A spoiler alert now – I am a Chelsea fan, and this does not end well for Liverpool.

Here is how the stats for both players break down, and quite surprisingly it is not even close:

Lampard 775 total appearances (Premier League / FA Cup / League Cup / England) 251 goals, 0.32 goals per game

Gerrard 507 total appearances; 172 goals; 0.34 goals per game

On he surface it is not close – Lampard dominates in nearly every statistical category, and it is not a tight contest, he wins by a wide margin.  If you look only at the Premier League it becomes even more evident: Gerrard has played 437 games for Liverpool and has scored 111 goals or 0.25 gpg.

Lampard on the other hand has played 547 games and scored 172 goals or 0.36 gpg – comparable you might say to Gerrard’s entire career.  His Chelsea splits alone are comparable to Gerrard and his entire career.  Sports, however, transcends mere stats and both players give more than simply goals.  How many times have both of them come through for their clubs when it matters most?  Even a couple of weeks ago the two were scoring huge goals for their clubs.  Both are still, even at their ages, deferred to on free kicks and both are among the greatest takers of set pieces of all time.  Each player has own trophies for their clubs, and yet both have been key parts of huge disappointment on the world stage.  Few players have done more for the league, and for English soccer (despite some hiccups…) and it is arguably that both belong in a very small club with the most important players the country has ever produced.

However, if you could only have one, the choice is evident.  Lampard is clearly the better and more important player, and he has a Champions League trophy.  Nothing can take away from these guys and their Bird / Magic of English Soccer vibe, but like the two great former NBAers, one is clearly above the other.  Take it from a Chelsea fan, Lampard is a superior player, but along with Gerrard has helped push the league to new heights previously though unattainable.  Truly both are classy English Players who have set a gold standard to aspire to.

Lampard though, and then Gerrard – and that, is without a doubt.

My Life as a Chelsea Fan – Dec 8, 2012

Earlier this week, as Chelsea closed out their Champions League play for 2012 / 2013 under new manager Rafa Benitez it became increasingly clear exactly what kind of roller coaster the team is taking its fans on: a twisty, unending, gut clenching ride.

Fans have had to contend with a team desperately searching for its identity from the top down.  At one point, early in the Premier League season, Chelsea was having their best start in years, were playing ridiculously well and had apparently seamlessly integrated their wealth of new players such as Eden Hazard and Oscar.  The team was riding high at the top of the table and seemed virtually unstoppable.  It was not to last.

As hot as the Blues started, they cooled frighteningly fast – and rather dramatically.  Within six or seven games the team was staring down their worst opening to the season in the last ten years.  Suddenly the passing stopped, the team could not score and the players who had started strongly (Mata, Torres, Hazard) were suddenly non factors.  Within a couple of weeks they were dropping like a stone down the table, fired previous manager Roberto Di Matteo and hired Benitez.

Under Benitez it has been much of the same – the team struggling to get wins.  Until this week they had not gotten a win under their new manager.  Now they have two: the first came during a disappointing finish to their Champs League season.  The team needed to win and they needed Juventus to lose in order to sneak through to the round of 16 and defend their title.  For the first time in a month, they played incredibly well (albeit against subpar competition) and were able to pull out a huge victory.  Without most of their vets (Lampard, Terry) the team fired on all cylinders and netted six goals.  Moreover, their sullen striker Fernando Torres got a huge boost by scoring two strong goals and generally playing hard all game.  One player got them over the hump: after a pair of missed penalties, David Luiz ran up and smashed his penalty into the net to give Chelsea the lead.  There was absolutely no way this was not going in, even if the keeper had managed to get in front of it, the ball would have powered him into the net alongside the ball.  Luiz hammered that ball, and it was a statement shot, along the lines of Wake the F UP!  We need this! 

Ironically enough, Luiz may have accomplished his intended wake up call.

The team was out of the Champions League but they showed exactly what they could do with a little motivation (thanks David!) and a few breaks.  This is a team that has been in transition for a few seasons – a huge core of aging vets are slowly beginning to make way for young, hot talent like Hazard, (the somehow great mid-season pickup) Gary Cahill and Oscar.  Like any evolution it has not always gone smoothly but desperately needs to happen for the team to continue to be successful.

On Saturday, the team played away at Sunderland and managed to snag a huge win thanks to two goals from Torres and another from his running mate Juan Mata.  The most important players for Chelsea are a confident Torres and a strong Mata.  Torres has to keep himself up and has to score as much as he can.  He should be among the most feared strikers in the league and in the past week he has certainly looked (and played) the part.  As for Mata, everything runs through him when Chelsea is successful and they absolutely need to keep him in top form if they are going to regain the top spot in the table.

Currently the roller coaster season continues – and the team sits (rather amazingly) third in the table – but questions remain, among them: just when in the hell will this squad figure out who they are?  Is this a team that should be contending for the top spot in the league, or are they are team that should be battling for relegation?

Then of course, there is the inevitable return of some of the injured vets such as the aforementioned Lampard and of course Captain, leader, legend…odd man out?… John Terry.

My Life as a Chelsea Fan – Nov 12, 2012

Chelsea fans, myself included, have been riding high since the beginning of the 2012 / 2013 Premier League season back in August – and why not?  The team featured a “well compensated” core of new players (Hazard, Oscar) who meshed perfectly with a rotating cast of solid vets (Juan Terry, Torres, Lampard) in a diamond-like formation, which allowed them to storm out to take the top of the table through the first quarter of the season.  Moreover, guys just always seemed to be in the right place at the right time: take Victor Moses, Gary Cahill or the resurrgent Juan Mata, each of whom are playing the best football of their careers.  In the early going of the season, I genuinely thought they might continue to be a team of destiny; a team who got all the breaks and continued to make their way through the table (sort of like Man City last year when everything broke right for them).

Then a few weeks ago I started to get a little nervous about the team when we lost to a team with a name like Shaktar in the Champions League group stage; when the team started drawing all their Premier League games it became increasingly worrisome.  For one thing: this team is too good to draw with anyone.  If Chelsea has one chance this year, it is in their ability to get a result no matter what odds are stacked against them.  A couple of weeks ago with the back to back against Man U, it was time for the team to show whether they could take down their primary challenger for the top spot.

Spoiler Alert: They failed.

In what might be the best game of the season, attended by my good friend @madadub Chelsea fought and scrapped to keep up with United only to lose on a goal in the closing moments by a clearly offside Javier Hernandez (3-2 United).  The clubs squared off again a couple of days later with Chelsea managing to overcome a goal onslaught thanks to a late winner by Victor Moses (5-4 Chelsea).

A split with United left fans even more stumped about the team: are they an elite group of players or not?  Can they come through when it matters, or will they end up a distant third to United and City when the season concludes?  Then there was this weekend: United and City surging to wins again with Chelsea squeaking out another draw when three points were desperately needed.  The thing with teams like Man City and Man U – they get it done, even when all the odds are stacked against them.  City keeps getting last minute goals from its harem of strikers they can bring off the bench, United keeps getting timely contributions from high paid  Hernandez and RVP.

Chelsea?  Leader and legend John Terry gave them a brilliant goal before going off with an ugly sounding knee injury – a massive blow to a foundering club in need of a strong veterans and outright wins.  If they continue to play with a trick or treat style they will surely end up on the wrong side of the top of the table.  As of right now they sit third (one point behind City, three behind United) but already that gap seems vaguely insurmountable the way the team is currently playing.

Keep in the mind the season is still in its early stages, but after their hot start the Blues have cooled – right as United and City are surging.  The team needs to dig deep to withstand the onslaught and keep themselves afloat long enough to make another run at being number one.  Chelsea certainly has the talent to do so, and as they proved last year in the Champions League, they definitely have the moxie needed to be Champions.

For the next few weeks, they just need to show it.

Being Liverpool – A Chelsea Fans Review

Being Liverpool is three weeks into its run and already it feels like watching the training video for Hindenburg pilots given how the season has started for one of the most legendary clubs in the world.

As a Chelsea fan, I have been enjoying the propaganda going on – given that we only seem to see good aspects of this whole process and not the usual back and forth you would anticipate happening on the pitch at a major club.

Then there was last night: during a seven minute (approximately) Luis Suarez section, in which he signed his new contract and hung out with teammates, no mention whatsoever was made of the fact he missed eight games last season for racially abusing Patrice Evra.  Nor was any mention made of the brawl he started against Man United by refusing to shake Evra’s hand.  Hate to say it, but this is a major sticking point for the club going forward.  I understand they may want to attempt to move past it, but this “all access” thing Fox soccer allegedly has seems to be much less than “all” at this point.

As a Chelsea fan I understand sometimes wanting to move past ugly incidents from the past season.  I mean what can you say about John Terry other than he is a leader, a legend, and a man who learns auditorially (or through repeating things he allegedly said…) but for Being Liverpool to blatently ignore Suarez’s past crimes is completely inexcusable and reveals the show for exactly what it is: propaganda.

This is a carefully put together and expertly crafted show which gives virtually no explanation as to the team’s struggles to get back to the top.  Rather it simply shows a monotonous series of training which seems to yield no solutions to the team’s previous season struggles, nor any reasons for hope for this current campaign (aside from a new manager and random series of new transfers).

And yet, here I am hoping I will get the chance to sit through Being: Chelsea.

My Life as a Chelsea Fan – Sept 6, 2012

The 2012 / 2013 Premier League season has already hit the first international break.  We are three games in and it is way past time to complete overvalue my team, as they currently sit at the top of the table.  Chelsea made some pretty incredible moves in the offseason and none has paid bigger dividends then that of Eden Hazard.

Hazard has had – even with RVP floating out for Man U – the biggest impact.  He has rejuvenated the career of Fernando Torres and has, seemingly (we are three games in) secured Chelsea’s future for years to come.  The team is firing on all cylinders at a time when both United and City have stumbled coming out of the gate.  For City there seems to be a slight title hangover and a small case of the “disease of more”, while United is still struggling to gel and Wayne Rooney really does not seem interested in playing all that much.

Chelsea though, is firing.  The team is playing well, and they are playing hard and they are finding ways to win the tough games.  Torres is rediscovering what it means to score goals and Hazard has given the team a dimension they previously lacked.  Defensively the team looks slow at times (looking at you Captain, Leader, Legend) but got younger through the transfer window.  Gary Cahill has come into his own and is playing with real confidence.  Ashley Cole continues to be one of the best left backs in the game and Petr Cech continues to be the best keeper in the game.

It may be time to break up this dynasty because if the season ended right this moment, I would be pretty satisfied with the 2012/2013 Blues.

Free Kicks – Aug 19, 2012

Welcome to the new season of Free Kicks – The Cover Corner’s weekly look at the world of English Premier League Football.  Here are some thoughts on the kickoff of the Premier League season (Editor’s Note: There may be a slight Chelsea bias):

Hazard comes through for the Blues – Chelsea kicked off the first game since winning the Champions League in style with a solid win away at Wigan.  The squad performed well, including againg vets Ivanovic and Lampard (both of whom scored in the opening seven minutes) and new arrival Hazard who set up the opening goal and generally controlled the middle with his quick, attacking play.  Fernando Torres looks fit and had a wonderful chance that would have made the final 3 -0 had it not been cleared off the goal line.  A nice win for the Champs to open their season on.

Tottenham has some work to do – The Spurs made a go of it against Newcastle but desperately need midfielders.  Without soon to be transferred Luka Modric and injured Scotty Parker the squad struggled in the middle.  Strikers are also a concern although diminutive Jermaine Defoe came up huge again.  A tracksuited AVB (attempting to distance himself from his Chelsea image?) needs to find the players to run his system or this team could be in some trouble.  Speaking of which…

Arsenal and Liverpool are in trouble – Liverpool put on a dismal performance against West Brom taking a lopsided 3-0 beating.  Arsenal managed a draw against Sunderland but lacked the miraculous scoring that RVP brought time and again last season.  Arsenal is a team in transition and needs to pull together quickly lest they be left behind by their rivals (selling their two best players is not going to help).  Liverpool on the other hand looks awful and seems to be completely directionless.  New manager Brendan Rogers is going to need a strong hand to pull them up.  Where are the goals going to come from for the Reds, no one seems to know nor really care on this squad.

Man City surives – Despite the loss of top striker Sergio Aguero and being down 2-1, Man City managed to grab 3 points in what is certain to be a tight race to the finish this season.  City has stockpiled ridiculous talent at striker and has refused to let them go – despite rumors of a $40 million offer for Mario Ballotelli the club kept him.  The team certainly has enough talent to win the league and they are a stronger team after bonding last year.  Can they hold off Man U and Chelsea? 

 

The Premier League Preview

Now that I have an English Premier League team to cheer for (in case you missed my epic journey it ended up being Chelsea) I can be excited for a new season.  Finally a sport is being played that I can follow and enjoy – I have tried baseball but can only get into the playoffs.  Chelsea seems primed for a great run thanks to multiple great signings (Hazard, Oscar…) while others did not do much (Man City – keeping their incredible squad together).  Who will come out on top?

Man U.

Man City will be a year better, and they have an incredible team as it is.  However…they barely beat a beat up and hack filled Man U team that had to rely on 90 year olds Paul Scholes (who came out of retirement for crying out loud!) and Ryan Giggs.  This year they made “the move” – just yesterday in fact.  Man U snagged the biggest of transfer prizes: RVP.  Arsenal finally sold their vaunted striker to one of their great rivals.  Having someone to play off of makes Wayne Rooney even more ridiculously dangerous.  Now he has a shored up midfield, a healthy Tom Cleverly and the best striker in the EPL.  City may still have a ton of striker talent and are a more established team, but RVP gives Rooney a new weapon not unlike the old Ronaldo days. 

My Top Five:

1) Man U

2) Man City

3) Chelsea (I really wanted to put them 2nd…)

4) Newcastle

5) Tottenham

Enjoy the kick off on Sunday!