Tag Archives: EPL

Lunch: Monday Night Football

Manchester City rejoices after breaking a scoreless tie this afternoon. Photo: Jon Super

Manchester City rejoices after breaking a scoreless tie this afternoon. Photo: Jon Super

You’re not a die-hard soccer fan, and that’s ok. Most of us aren’t die-hard college basketball fans, yet odds are good we’ll collectively tune in to watch Louisville and Michigan compete for the right to wield scissors. But everyone appreciates a good Derby, right?! And United-City is always an entertaining watch, so I present to you: TOW’s “Average American Guy Talking Soccer” Report.

Man City have struggled as reigning champions, but have also struggled to stay healthy. Manager Roberto Mancini  has responded to this adversity by publicly calling out the players who are healthy and griping he didn’t get funds to add more talent in the summer. But given the extraordinary talent/payroll already on his side, I can’t imagine anyone taking Mancini’s complaints too seriously.

It’s not pretty, but United have been grinding their way towards retaking the Premier League crown. Unlike City, United did add talent during the summer, and there’s no questioning Robin Van Persie’s impact in his first year as a Red. United have a goal differential of +38 for the season, an impressive margin for any champion.

As for today’s impact: really there isn’t much. United has a comfortable lead in the table, and City is locked into the top 4. But there is more than just 3 points at stake. City ripped out the hearts of United fans last May, and the rivalry has never been more fierce. While a United win would only pad their healthy lead, City wants this victory if only to prove a larger point: that they aren’t going anywhere, and the title, while it might be settled for this year, does not have a permanent residence at Old Trafford.

When the final whistle was blown, it was Manchester City a goal ahead and three points the better. City had excellent pace from the start, as both teams played an open game early. But as the minutes progressed, it was City who had more solid possessions, while United was held to sporadic efforts on goal.

Scoreless at the half, many wondered if this would be a fourth consecutive 1-0 result for United. But City continued to play explosive, and broke through with a cannon from James Milner six minutes in. But less than ten minutes later, United equalized in ugly fashion- which has been their style during this campaign. Phil Jones knocked a ball off Vincent Kompany for what was ruled an own goal.

This year, City had never lost a match after taking a lead. Conversely, United is the best comeback team in the League, a large factor in their lead in the standings. Something, or someone, had to give. And that someone was Sergio Aguero.

Sergio Aguero started today on the bench as he is slowly returning from injury, but he made his mark with a spectacular finish in the 79th minute. Similar to the finish that won City the crown last year; Aguero raced towards the right post around the defense, and delivered a powerful blast to the near post side.

The final ten minutes was slow and physical, but United were unable to take advantage of any chances. A corner in the 95th was snatched by Joe Hart, and City was able to snatch the win. While United will ultimately win the war, this battle proves that City still has the talent to retake the top spot, regardless of what their manager thinks. If City can stay healthy next season, there is little doubt they will contend for a championship.

Breakfast: The Rafa Benitez rant we’ve been waiting for!

Over the past several seasons at Chelsea, the club has seen its fair share of high profile managerial scrutiny. Between the likes of the menacing “Jabba the Hut” stature of Avram Grant, and the underachievement of current Spurs manager, Andre Villas-Boas, the Blues are no stranger to weariness at the helm.

However, what happened yesterday seems to have raised the club’s normal standard for crazy.

Following a 2-0 FA Cup victory against former EPL side Middlesbrough, current manager Rafa Benitez sat in front of the media in what was supposed to be your typical game analysis and agenda for the near future. Instead, to the media’s delight, the Spaniard decided to go OFF on his club’s supporters AND his billionaire boss, Roman Abramovich (full tirade below).

Well, that’s one way to rally the troops. Just call out your fan base and announce you’re giving up at season’s end. Brilliant strategy, Rafa. I’m sure you haven’t given any more ammunition to your side’s supporters. They will definitely stop making banners and singing songs about your ultimate demise and departure from Stamford Bridge.

Regardless, I guess some sympathy may be warranted in this situation. The poor guy has to show up to matches, no matter home or away, and listen to songs about him being sacked and wanting Di Matteo back in charge.

However, this is nothing new for the London squad. Since his purchase of the club in the 03/04 season, Abramovich has been the most trigger-happy owner in England’s top flight hiring and firing 6 different managers in only 9 seasons.

As always, two sides of rumors have begun swirling following the press conference. On one end it has been noted that Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, will sack Benitez earlier than expected after his comments. Other speculations assume it is back to business and that Rafa will hold onto his managerial responsibilities until the end of the season.

This bumpy road for the Spanish manager just will not flatten out.

Check back for further updates on this story. @TheOrangeWedge has you covered.

Dinner: Gareth Bale is ON FIRE


(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Take note, soccer universe. Gareth Bale is currently the best footballer on the planet.

Taking the pitch today at Boelyn Ground to face the West Ham Hammers, Bale didn’t care much about the homage towards club legend, Bobby Moore. Instead, he decided to put on one of the better performances of this year’s English Premier League campaign.

After a lousy turnover just outside of the West Ham 18-yard box, Gareth Bale capitalized with a clinical left-footed finish to put the Spurs up 1-0 in the 13th minute of play. The remainder of the game proved to be one of topsy turvey fashion as both sides went into the latter parts of the match all-squared at 2-2.

One single firework ensued.

Bale’s laser from 25 yards out put his Spurs ahead in the 89th minute and was the ultimate deciding factor as Tottenham snagged a crucial away victory, 3-2. The win also secured an a 3rd place spot in the EPL for the Spurs as they leapfrogged Chelsea, who lost to Manchester City yesterday.

A massive result, indeed. But what’s more impressive is the Welshman’s current form in both the EPL and Europa League, respectively. With 2 goals against Newcastle on February 9th, 2 goals against French-side, Lyon, on Valentine’s Day (both stunning free kicks) and 2 more crackers in today’s match, Bale is having one of the better month’s in recent memory.

This season, a tally of now 21 goals in all competition has shown supporters and naysayers alike the widened skill-set he has. We’ve always known about his speed and ability to distribute from a wide position. However, not since the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo as a member of Manchester United has the world seen such pure shot power from both active plays and free kicks.

What’s even scarier? He’s showing no signs of slowing down.

At just 23 years of age, Bale has proven he’s got more tricks up his sleeve than once recognized. At this rate, he could end-up making a serious push for the EPL’s coveted “Golden Boot” award for the most goals scored by season’s end.

The summer transfer window of 2013 will certainly be an interesting one as all eyes will be on Tottenham Hotspur. Will they be able to reach deep enough into their pockets to keep this high-flying scoring machine? If he stays in this kind of form and good health, it will be an interesting development to follow.

I’d assume he may be complaining of some irritable back issues as of late, after carrying his team now for well over a month.

Dinner: Premier League Predictions: Race to the Top…or Bottom.

Looking for absolute futbol bliss? You’re living it. Thus far, the month of February has jam-packed an array of highly contested fixtures between the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League, and the English Premier League. Not to mention, the foreplay of those midweek FA Cup matches. It’s always fun to see a couple of Davids (here’s lookin’ at you, Oldham Athletic) put up a fight or even snag an upset against the Goliaths of the EPL. But alas, we have reached our comfort-zone of weekend matchups. Here are a couple contests to keep on your radar:

Manchester United vs. Queens Park Rangers
Loftus Road Stadium
Saturday, 2/23/13 @ 10am EST

Manchester United

After a comfortable FA Cup victory against Reading this Monday, the Red Devils look to continue their recent form, as they travel to White City to face the league’s bottom-feeding Queen’s Park Rangers. Although this may have the look of a seasonal spanking, don’t be surprised to get a good game out of this one. Wayne Rooney has been said to miss the game all thanks to a sinus issue. Yes, you read correctly. Do the training facilities at Old Trafford lack your normal standard for nasal cleansing? Someone please find Mr. Rooney a tissue or twelve. Looking at season’s past, this is your typical United game where they could easily lay a fat egg. Everything’s going swimmingly. Massive away result against Real Madrid in the Champions League. Cruising through the EPL. What could go wrong?

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney

Queens Park Rangers

In QPR’s case, when you are begging for 20 points…it’s never a good sign. But that’s what Harry Redknapp’s team needs more than anything at this stage. This squad seemed to be getting on a more consistent track earlier in the month. With slightly convincing performances (both 0-0 draws) against Manchester City and Norwich, the defense seemed to be intact. That was until the next week’s 1-4 thrashing against the next “Hansel” of the EPL, Swansea. So hot right now. A home win against United has the potential to boost morale and lift them out of this laughable group of relegation-dwellers. Key word there is “potential”. But something has to change for the Hoops or they are looking at another nail-biting fight to stay in England’s top flight, at best.

Predicition: Manchester United 3, Queens Park Rangers 1

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal
Emirates Stadium
Saturday, 2/23/13 @ 10am EST

Aston Villa

The club that was once a staple among the middle-tier contenders of the Premiership is suffering through its poorest form in recent years. Struggling to stay out of the relegation zone, Villa could use a writhing Bob Knight speech to rally these troops. Without the consistency of a once brilliant Darren Bent, Aston Villa currently lacks the composure in front of the net to capitalize on the chances they have had. Every soccer meme distributor online will tell you that bringing Heskey back to their lineup will save Villa’s sorry soul, but I’m pretty sure on-field rape between male players would be seen as a straight red. After a straight-up DEPRESSING FA Cup loss to Green Street Hooligan adversary, Millwall, Aston Villa needs that shock victory we’ve seen around the league as of late. Now visiting a deflated Arsenal squad, we’ll see how this lackluster group of wankers can keep up with the attacking quick midfield play of Carzola and Wilshere.


The Gunners have seen better days. Roughly around the late 90’s. After being recently outclassed at home by the German power, Bayern Munich, the men of Arsenal once again find themselves questioning whether they’ll ever have the grit to make a run for ANY sort of title. Heck, they’ll take a Carling Cup at this point. Outside of the Champions League, this squad hasn’t shown any sort of true consistency league-wise either. It always seems to be one step forward, then two steps back with this crew. Now sitting one spot out of Champions League contention, Arsenal has a simple job ahead of them: beat Aston Villa at home. It’s a job that they are certainly capable of, given the talent that their roster boasts. But if for some reason the word “draw” is even being muttered after game day, you can bet on skipper Arsene Wenger receiving even more scrutiny than he already is. Like, a lot of it. Sky Sports is relentless.

Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere

Prediction: Aston Villa 0, Arsenal 2

Chelsea vs. Manchester City
Etihad Stadium
Sunday, 2/24/13 @ 8:30am EST


Following a close call at the Bridge against Czech frontrunners, Sparta Prague, Chelsea can breathe a sigh of relief. If not for Eden Hazard’s injury time rocket, the Blues would be one somber bunch heading into a tough weekend matchup against Manchester City. Manager Rafa Benitez has been able to scrounge up a couple decent results as of late for his club after being under close surveillance following a poor start to his campaign as manager at Chelsea. Juan Mata has been nothing short of spectacular for his side. Leading his team in assists (9) and second only to Frank Lampard in goals (10), the Spanish international maintains a heavy influence everywhere on the pitch. He has been able to dictate the mobility and pace of Chelsea’s attacking forefront and wingers on a consistent basis. If the Blues are looking to maintain this stranglehold on the 3rd spot for Champions League contention, they need to keep Mata as that centerpiece. As for their means of attack, this debacle remains to be seen. We’ll see if Torres can be more aerodynamic without his Miley Cyrus hair and hopefully Demba Ba can see through his Rip Hamilton mask.

Demba Ba

Chelsea’s Demba Ba

Manchester City

After smashing 4 goals past Leeds in the FA Cup, City are doing their best to forget that woeful performance against Southampton. Although the loss may have all but cost them a chance at a second consecutive EPL title, this squad has seen this script before. As much as I do enjoy a hearty belly chuckle at Mancini’s confidence, being 12 points out of a tie with top dogs United, he’s predicted a collapse before. To bank on something like that happening again, while unlikely, will rely more heavily on their performance through the remainder of the season. Even a poor United performance has shown results of a 1-0 or 2-1 in their favor thanks to a little addition to the squad named RVP. Moreover, City has the necessary firepower to engage their rivals in a race to the top. This race continues tomorrow on their home turf.

Prediction: Chelsea 2, Manchester City 3