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Hodgson Leaves Liverpool

Hodgson departs Liverpool after a miserable spell at the club.

Roy Hodgson has left Liverpool by mutual agreement. Hodgson’s time at the club was unfruitful with the team under-performing in the league, and an nearly exit from the league cup. The Liverpool faithful will be hoping that a club legend will be able to improve on the teams performances this season. Liverpool hero, Kenny Dalglish will be managing the club until the end of the season. Read the full story on BBC Sport.

On a brighter note, a video to cheer up Liverpool fans and remind them of the glory years of Kenny Daglish and Liverpool Football Club.

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Premier League Prediction

This season the premier league is the tightest it has ever been, with no less than five teams still in the hunt for the title and eleven or twelve teams who could be relegated come the end of the season. At the just over the half way point these are my predictions for where each team will finish at the end of the 2010/2011 season!

BOTTOM 7

20th Place: Wigan Athletic

Although they currently occupy 19th position in the league, I predict they’ll finish rock bottom. The teams around them, Wolves and West Ham, have both performed better than Wigan but been hard done by in terms of results. The reason why I think that The Latics will finish last isn’t because of the manager, Roberto Martinez, who is a very good young manager, but the squad’s lack of ability. With the acceptance of French midfielder Charles N’Zogbia and Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega the squad obviously lacks Premiership standard quality. The other player in the squad capable of producing Premier League quality is the former Crystal Palace youngster, Victor Moses, but he’s out with a long term injury.

19th Place: Blackburn Rovers

The team who I believe will have the biggest fall from grace is Blackburn. They currently occupy 9th place in the league, but this is misleading because they are only 7 points ahead of Wigan who are currently 19th. The Blackburn owners, the Venky’s Group, have made an awful decision by sacking Sam Allardyce. Sacking a proven manager at this level is just ludicrous. What he did at Bolton was nothing short of miraculous as he guided them from the second tier of English football to European football in a 8 year spell. The owners clearly have some money to spend, but seem to know very little about the game with their outrageous bid to try and sign the former Barcelona star Ronaldinho from AC Milan. This transfer never materialised because Ronaldinho decided to go back to his hometown Gremio in Brazil. Without Allardyce Blackburn will struggle to stay up.

18th Place: West Ham

The team who have been propping up the table for most of the season are Avram Grant’s Hammers. Grant took over from Gianfranco Zola in June 2010 and is treading on very thin ice due to the Irons poor form so far this season. I predict Grant will become the next manager to be sacked in the Premier League following his side’s poor form in the first half of the season. After suffering a 5-0 demolition by Newcastle at St. James Park in their last game, West Ham will find it very hard to drag themselves out of the relegation zone. However West Ham could easily prove me wrong because a win would see them move above Fulham who currently 14th in the league.

17th Place: Blackpool

Ian Holloway’s Tangerines have been the team of the season so far. They have wildly exceeded expectations, seeing as they were bookies favourite to be rock bottom all season they have done magnificently. They were even top at one stage, albeit for 2 hours! Currently sitting in 13th place (with games in hand) the Seasiders have accumulated 25 points with exactly half of the games played. This early season good form allows for the inevitability of a dip in form, but I still think they’ll have enough to stay up, probably needing only 15 more to be safe. This is achievable as long as they keep in-form midfielder Charlie Adam fit.

16th Place: West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies are currently in 16th and I reckon their capable of maintaining this come the end of the season. However they will need to improve on recent form seeing as they have now lost 5 on the bounce. Roberto Di Matteo, former Chelsea player, has bought them up from the Npower Championship and is aiming to establish Albion as a Premier League team and shake off their tag as a ‘yo-yo’ team between the two divisions.

15th Place: Everton

The toffees have had a slow season so far under long-standing manager David Moyes, who’s been at the club since March 2002,and currently sit in 11th in the league. Everton usually have a stronger second half of the season, but I don’t believe they’ll finish as high as they have in previous campaigns, notably the upstaging of their main rivals Liverpool in the 2004/2005 season when they stole 4th place in the league and the lucrative Champions League place. The main reason I believe they won’t achieve higher than 15th is because of money. Their spending in recent years doesn’t even scratch the surface of the amounts of money that has been spent on players by the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and most recently Manchester City.

14th Place: Newcastle United

The Magpies would have been predicted much higher on my list if they would have stuck with Chris Hughton but instead the Newcastle board decided to sack him and replace him with Alan Pardew. This decision has shocked the fans and players, but with Mike Ashley in control of the club I’ve began to expect these types of decisions. Their on pitch form has been indifferent to say the least, beating Arsenal at The Emirates, spanking Sunderland and Aston Villa at St. James’ Park, knocking Chelsea out of the league cup at Stamford Bridge and most recently beating Liverpool at home. All of these results suggest that Newcastle will do very well this season. However other results are evidence to the contrary. Getting spanked by Bolton at The Reebok and loosing home games to three sides who Newcastle would expect to beat; Blackburn, Stoke and Blackpool. Despite their 5-0 demolition of West Ham, where Leon Best scored a hat-trick on the same night he scored his first ever premier league goal, their inconsistency at home will be there downfall, which is why I think they will finish 14th, which isn’t too bad for a newly promoted club.

MIDTABLE

From 13th place to 8th I predict;

13th Place: Aston Villa

12th Place: Wolverhampton Wanderers

11th Place: Birmingham City

10th Place: Fulham

9th Place: Stoke City

8th Place: Sunderland

MIDTABLE Summary

The most impressive side out of these teams has to be Sunderland. Under the guidance of Steve Bruce, Sunderland are currently in 6th place, with great performances from young boys Danny Welbeck (on loan from Man United) and Jordan Henderson, who is now capped for England. However I predict that they Liverpool and Bolton will be too strong for them come the end of the season. The poorest team out of the lot, by their standards, has to be Aston Villa. Since losing charismatic Irishman Martin O’Neill at the start of the season the club has struggled and find themselves in the relegation zone. Normally a top 8 team without fail I believe they’ll struggle to even achieve 13th place. I think Wolves will finish the season very strong and will finish highest out of the newly promoted teams in 12th, which would be a great achievement for Wolves, seeing as they would happily take 17th. They’re a team on the up which was emphasised by their 1-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield.

TOP 7

7th Place: Liverpool

Liverpool have made a terrible start to the season for their high standards. After appointing Roy Hodgson as manager in the summer and signing, what was seen as at the time, the best free transfer in the market in Joe Cole, Liverpool’s expectations were high. However after a string of shocking league performances they found themselves in the bottom three and they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of league two outfit Northampton Town in the League Cup. On a positive note the club has seen the young Brazilian midfielder, Lucas Leiva, grow in stature after a very strong first half of the season, notably his man of the match performance in Liverpool’s best result of the season beating the reigning champions Chelsea 2 – 0. Liverpool’s recent form has been poor but I fully expect Liverpool to have a much stronger second half of the season, whether it’s under Roy Hodgson or not.

6th Place: Bolton Wanderers

I was confident that Bolton would do well right from the start of the season for one reason. Owen Coyle. What he did at Burnley was phenomenal and now his management style has transformed Bolton from a long ball team, under the likes of Sam Allardyce and Gary Megson, to a team that plays the types of football that Barcelona and Arsenal would be proud of! The results he’s got so far see Bolton sitting 7th in the table, which is justified by their outstanding performances so far this season, tippified by the contribution of striker Keven Davies. Davies’ performances this season earned him his first England senior cap at the age of 33. The performances of young American midfielder Stuart Holden is another reason why Bolton are 7th in the table, but come the end of the season I think they will secure 6th place.

5th Place: Manchester City

I think City will fall off the pace. Their lack of ambition to win the league was outlined recently at the Emirates Staduim when they played for a 0-0 draw. City have improved since last season with some good results but in terms of challenging for the title, it’s not going to happen. Even though they’re currently 2nd I can’t see them challenging Man United for the title. A lack of harmony in the squad will also affect the performances on the pitch with their best player Carlos Tevez threatening to leave and players falling out in training. All these aspects is why I believe City are not title contenders and I predict a strong second half of the season for Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and United. Leaving City missing out on lucrative Champions League football for the second year running.

4th Place: Chelsea

Carlo Ancelotti is very lucky to still have his job, and to be honest I can’t see him still at Chelsea this time next month! They’ve lost 6 games already this season compared to Man United’s 0. Their dip in form coincided with the dismissal of Assistant Manager Ray Wilkins. There most disappointing result of the season, and possibly for many seasons, was the 3-0 loss to Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. Their most recent result was also massively disappointing for a team challenging for the title. It was a 1-0 loss at the Molineux against Wolves who are in a dog fight to avoid relegation. Chelsea are still capable of a top four finish, thanks to the class of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba but there current form needs to improve dramatically.

3rd Place: Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Redknapp. What a fantastic job he’s done at Spurs. Finishing in the top 4 last year not only meant Champions League football for the North London club but it also disrupted the dominance of the four biggest clubs in English football, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. I predict they’ll go one better this season and secure 3rd place. I don’t think they have a genuine chance of winning the league but I can see them challenging for a big part of the season. This year their shining lights have been Gareth Bale and new signing Rafael Van der Vaart. Bale has tore teams apart with his pace down the left wing and Van der Vaart, playing behind the strikers, has been a revelation for Spurs. If Redknapp strengthens in the transfer window with the likes of David Beckham and/or Andy Carroll then maybe they could push for a top 2 finish.

2nd Place: Arsenal

I believe Arsenal have the potential to push United all the way this year. They haven’t spent as much money over the last few years as the closest competitors but long standing manager Arsene Wenger has compiled a very talented squad and, providing he keeps them fit, they can challenge for the title. Having recently beat Chelsea, overcoming the hoodoo of not beating them home or away for 11 games, I believe they can now push on and mount a serious title challenge. Samir Nasri’s form has been essential for Arsenal this season and they’ll need him firing on all cylinders for the rest of the season if they’re going to challenge the mighty Manchester United. I also believe that Wenger needs to strengthen his defence by signing an accomplished centre back to come in and tighten up their leaky defence.

1st Place: Manchester United

Unbeaten after 20 games this season is the reason the Red Devils are top and will stay there! As much as I’d like to see a new team win the league, like Spurs or City, I just can’t see United losing this one. The experience of winning more Premier League titles (11 out of 18) than all the other clubs put together will be massively beneficial heading into the second half of the season, which historically United do better in. United’s start striker this season has been Dimitar Berbatov, scoring 14 goals in 16 starts in the league. With Wayne Rooney miss-firing it’s a switch of roles between the two strikers from last season. I hope I’m wrong but, with games in hand on their title rivals, I can’t foresee anything but a United title at the end of a season. Hopefully they don’t run away with it!

Team mates: Inter Your Nan FC

A Soccer AM-esque report on my team mates for my six-a-side team, IYNFC.

Best trainerAsh ‘Turk’ Ahmet, he loves it. He’s what’s known in the game as a keeno.

Worst trainerJoe ‘Daki’ Walker, he refuses to turn up so it’s gotta be him!

MoanerJamie ‘Disabled’ Avery, he loves slating players when they can’t finish, most famously, “YOU’RE WOEFUL!!”

Hardman – Declan ‘Ramires’ West, he’s as strong as a bull and he’s not afraid to put in a dirty challenge! Which I love!!

Quickest playerMitch ‘CBA’ Ford, he’s the quickest by a mile!!

Slowest playerChris ‘Catface’ Forni, he’s slow but he reads the game well. Declan ‘Ramires’ West is more of a reader than a runner as well.

The JokerWesley ‘Weasel’ Prickett, I’m always trying to wind people up and expose myself just for the banter!!

Most SkilfulRohite ‘Romer Simpson’ Gurung, his feet are amazingly quick and he always manages to skin me in training!

Least skilfulAndy ‘Homo’ Savage, he tries but he’s truly awful.

Most IntelligentJamie ‘Disabled’ Avery, he knows many interesting facts that baffle us lot.

Least intelligentNathan ‘Gareth Gates’ Long, it’s like talking to a four year old sometimes but we all love him!

Worst Taste in MusicJoe ‘Daki’ Walker, but then again who am I to talk!? I know nothing about music.

Worst dress senseAsh ‘Turk’ Ahmet, the t-shirts he wears are comedy but from a fashion point of view they’re pretty bad.

Best dancerAndy ‘Homo’ Savage, on a night out the ladies love his old-school romantic moves!!! I envy him!!!

And…. Who is the longest in the shower???Declan ‘Ramires’ West has a huge…. I mean he takes ages 😉

Five of the best players from the Premier League this season

Bale running down the left wing

Gareth Bale (Spurs)

Bale’s been in sparkling form all season. Not only in the league, but also in Europe scoring a hat-trick against the reigning champions of Europe, Inter Milan, at the San Siro. The pacey Welsh international has scored 7 goals in the league this season and his outstanding wing play has contributed to Tottenham occupying 4th place with many sensational performances. The young winger’s performances have grabbed the attention of the biggest clubs in the world, but Spurs insist he is not for sale at any price.

 

 

Nasri on top form this year

Samir Nasri (Arsenal)

This season the Frenchman has really proved himself to be a world class player. Scoring 9 league goals from midfield in just 17 games, his performances have wowed  the public and pundits alike. Nasri’s importance was emphasised in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Fulham at The Emirates Stadium where Nasri scored both goals. Nasri has enjoyed being played in a more central role this year, filling in for Cesc Fabregas who missed the start of the season through injury.

 

 

 

Berba celebrating goal number 5 against Blackburn Rovers

Dimitar Berbatov (Man United)

The Bulgarian striker, who cost United over £30 Million from Spurs, had many critics last season, with people in the game questioning his desire, but this season is a different story. He sits top of the league goal scoring chart with 14 goals in 16 games, averaging 1 goal every 98 mins. Berbatov’s excellent season was outlined by his 5 goals in a 7-1 demolishing of Blackburn at Old Trafford and a sensational hat-trick against United’s fierce rivals Liverpool in a 3-2 win early in the season at Old Trafford.

 

 

 

Van der Vaart dictating play

Rafael Van der Vaart (Spurs)

He joined Spurs in the summer for around £8 million and was probably the best signing made by any English club in the summer. Joining from Real Madrid, the attacking midfielder has bought a new level of class to Tottenham’s play. The Dutch International’s most valuable contribution was arguably Spurs’ boxing day victory away at Villa where he scored both goals in a 2 – 1 victory for Harry Redknapp’s Spurs. His return from injury has been a real boost for Tottenham over the busy holiday period.

 

 

 

Tiote using his strength against Sunderland's Steed Malbranque

Cheik Tiote (Newcastle)

The 24 year old defensive midfielder has been in fine form this season forNewcastle United. He hasn’t received the same amount of praise from pundits as Andy Carroll or Joey Barton, but his performances have been integral to Newcastle’s good form so far this season. The young Ivorian’s defensive prowess is the middle of the park has allowed the skipper, Kevin Nolan, more freedom to attack.

Premier League Review – 13/14 Nov 2010

The Title Race – is this Arsenal’s year?

Can Chelsea retain their Title?

Chelsea 0 – 3 Sunderland

No lie. this result was the shock of this weekends fixtures, probably the entire season so far, and not even the most optimistic of Sunderland fans would have predicted this. It probably had something to do with Chelsea missing both John Terry and Alex at the heart of their defence, whilst also missing the influential central midfield partnership of Michael Essien and Frank Lampard. But saying that you cannot take anything away from Sunderland, who became the first team to score at stamford bridge, with goals from Nedem Onouha, Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck, since march of this year when Aston Villa lost 7 – 1 at the hands of the champions.

Will they make it 12 Premier League titles?

Aston Villa 2 – 2 Manchester United

After being 2 – 0 up and seemingly cruising  with both goals coming in the 72nd and 76th minute respectively, the Villains through away their lead. And in the process through away 2 points and the possibility of a morale boosting win over the most successful team in Premier League history. This result is typical of Man United who have become infamous for late comebacks over the years, but this result is still not good enough for the United faithful who expect to be frontrunners in the chase for the title. Nemanja Vidic’s late goal ensured United unbeaten run in the League this season continued

Can the new boys achieve the success of the past?

Everton 1 – 2 Arsenal

This was a great result for Arsenal and a great weekend overall, with Chelsea losing at home and United drawing their game, they went into second in the league 2 points behind Chelsea. A first half goal was smashed home by Bacary Sagna before a low drive from Cesc Fabregas early in the second half gave Arsenal a 2 goal cushion. Everton put up a bit of a fight in an otherwise Arsenal dominated game, but it was too little to late when Tim Cahill netted a late consolation.

Arsenal – they have the players capable of winnning the league that’s for sure. The manager is also in the world class category… So is this Arsenal’s year? Who knows. I certainly can’t predict anything in football! Chelsea are still the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers, and you can never write off Manchester United but I have a hunch that Arsenal will come good this year after 5 trophy-less years.