European Finals are Set
The European Finals are finally set. After a long hard fought season of high level competition, the knockout rounds have finally come to a close. All four of the European finalists hail from England, making this the first time in history that all four teams have come from the same country. There were some MAJOR comebacks in the semifinals.
In the Champions League, Liverpool came back from a 3-0 deficit after the first leg against Barcelona, and won 4-0 at Anfield! Nobody saw this coming, as Barca crumbled away from home. Tottenham lost the first leg to Ajax at home 1-0. In the second leg Ajax jumped to a 2-0 lead before halftime. Then something incredible happened. Lucas Moura went on to score a hattrick in the second half including a goal in the 96′ to win the game and send Spurs to the final. Liverpool and Tottenham will play for the Champions League in Madrid on June 1st.
In the Europa League, Arsenal had a relatively easily going with Valencia, beating them 3-1 in the first leg, and 4-2 in the second leg. After being almost totally eliminated from getting top four in the Premier League, winning the Europa League is their only way to get in the Champions League next season. Chelsea tied 1-1 with Eintracht Frankfurt in both legs which meant that they went to penalties at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea ended up winning on pens with Eden Hazard scoring the winning penalty. Arsenal and Chelsea will play for the Europa League in Azerbaijan on May 29.
The PFA Awards were recently announced to crown the best players of English football. There is the PFA Players Player of the Year, and the PFA Young Player of the Year for both men and women. Virgil Van Dijk won the PFA Players Player of the Year after a dominant season leading the backline of Liverpool. Vivianne Miedema won it on the women’s side after a great season for Arsenal. Raheem Sterling won the PFA Young Players Player of the Year after a breakout season with 17 goals and 10 assists for Manchester City. Georgia Stanway won the award on the women’s side also for Manchester City. The PFA Team of the Year was also announced. The team consists of 6 Manchester City players, 4 Liverpool players, and Paul Pogba. It is pictured below.
Top Four Race
The race for the top four is heating up with only 4 games remaining to play. With Liverpool and Manchester City locked up the top two spots (not necessarily in that order), that leaves 4 teams in the top 6 fighting for the last two Champions League places. Tottenham currently sits in 3rd with 67 points, Arsenal sits in 4th with 66 points, Chelsea sits in 5th with 66 points, and Manchester United sits in 6th on 64 points. All of these teams missed opportunities to gain an edge as all four of these teams lost their last league game. Chelsea lost in midweek to Liverpool 2-0. Tottenham lost to city 1-0 after knocking them out of the Champions League. Arsenal were tripped up by Crystal Palace 3-2 at home. Manchester United suffered an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the hands of Everton. Right now it seems like no one wants top four. Champions League football is on the line with only a few weeks left in the season. There is no room for mistakes anymore. Chelsea and Spurs both play bottom 6 teams in the week, in Burnley and Brighton. On Wednesday, Arsenal travel to 10th placed Wolves, and United have the big game in the Manchester derby.
European Competitions Are Back!
Champions league and Europa League are finally back. The Champions League had its quarter finals first legs on Tuesday and Wednesday. For the first time since 2009, 4 teams from the same country all made the quarter finals of the Champions League. Three Premier League teams were in action on Tuesday. Liverpool played Portuguese side Porto, and the other two Premier League clubs faced off as Manchester City played Tottenham. Liverpool started off with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Anfield. Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino provided the goals. In Tottenham’s new stadium, the Spurs pulled off a 1-0 victory with Heung-Min Son scoring the lone goal in the second half. Sergio Aguero missed a penalty kick in the first half which would have put Manchester City ahead. One Wednesday, Manchester United played Barcelona at Old Trafford. VAR came through for Barca as they won 1-0 off of a Luke Shaw own goal. Two English clubs will be competing in the Europa League on Thursday. Arsenal will face off against second placed Serie A team Napoli, at the Emirates. Chelsea will face off against first placed Czech First League team Slavia Prague, at the Synot Tip Arena. Will 5 out of the 6 English clubs advance to the semis in their competition? We will have to see.
Manchester United Find Their Man
After a disappointing start to the season for Manchester United, Jose Mourinho was sacked. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was immediately put in as an interim manager for the red devils. Ole was a former player for Manchester United, but didn’t have a lot of experience managing at the top level. Especially not a big club like Manchester United, having coached at Molde, a team in Norway who competes in Eliteserien. There were many doubters who didn’t think he could turn around their season. When Ole stepped in charge he transformed Manchester United into an attacking team. Under Mourinho they were very defensive. Ole was a forward when he played so it made sense that he was attacking minded. Ole and his side went on an unbeaten streak and managed to get 14 wins from the 19 games he was in charge. They have closed the gap behind Arsenal in 4th to just two points. They also managed to comeback against French giants PSG to advance in the Champions League. Due to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s success so far as interim manager of Manchester United, he has been rewarded with the full-time manager position with a three year contract. This ends speculation of Tottenham’s manager Mauricio Pochettino possibly taking over the spot. What lies in the future for Ole and Manchester United, given this promotion? We will just have to watch and find out.
Best Names in the Premier League
Today, is a little bit of a different blog because I will be going over the best or most interesting names in the Premier League. The Premier League is a primarily English league, but there are players from all over the world which makes for a lot of diversity and a lot of different names.
First up is the 21 year old defender from Arsenal named Konstantinos Mavropanos. He is originally from Greece and has a very long name, which is also very difficult to pronounce.
Next up is the goalie from Chelsea named Kepa Arrizabalaga. He is from Spain and his last name is also long and hard to pronounce. What makes his name special is that his first name is Kepa and he’s a keeper.
This midfielder from Wolverhampton hails from Belgium, and has a very unique name. His name is pretty funny to say for obvious reasons.
This forward from Watford is from Nigeria, and has more of an ironic name. Having the last name Success puts a lot of expectations on you, but I guess hes doing a pretty good job if he’s a professional soccer player.
This defender from Leicester is from Turkey, and what makes his name unique is the fact that he has so many accents.
This Midfielder from Newcastle who is from England has a very unique name which raises the question, does he have a longstaff?
This defender from Burnley is from England and has a very simple name, but probably causes some confusion.
This forward from Burnley is from England and has a very ironic name because he is 6’7″
Premier League Relegation Battle
There are only 9 games left in the Premier League season, and while there is a race for the title, there is also a battle to not get relegated. The bottom three teams out of twenty get relegated to the Championship. The current bottom three, in order from 20-18 are Huddersfield, Fulham, and Cardiff. Fulham and Cardiff are newly promoted sides, so it’s not a real shock that they’re struggling. Although, Fulham in particular has really underperformed their expectations. Fulham came into the season with the Championship Player of the Year, in Ryan Sessegnon. As well as bringing in big players such as World Cup winner Andre Schurrle, and Jean Michael Seri who was linked with Barcelona before going to Craven Cottage. They have only accumulated 17 points from 29 games, with only 4 wins. Huddersfield sits in last place with 14 points, and they are likely to go down. Cardiff is 8 points above Fulham, but 2 points from safety. The bottom half of the table is very close. There is only a 9 point difference between 16th place and 9th place. In Comparison, there is a 9 point difference between 2nd and 3rd place. At this point in the season, Fulham and Huddersfield will need a miracle to climb out of relegation. There are a great deal of clubs who could slide into 18th place and go down. It will be interesting to see how the table shifts by the end of the season.
Updated Premier League Leaders
This is an update of a previous blog showcasing the leaders in various aspects of the Premier League. It has been about 11 games since the last Premier League leaders blog was posted, and there have been some changes. Here I will show the new and updated leaders of the Premier League.
Premier League Standings
- Liverpool- 69 points
- Manchester City- 68 points
- Tottenham- 60 points
- Arsenal – 56 points
- Manchester United – 55 points
Liverpool go top of the league with one point over Manchester City. Arsenal and Manchester United swap positions as the gunners move into well known territory in fourth. They are 4 points behind Tottenham, with a game between the two in the coming weekend. Chelsea aren’t currently in the top 6, but have a game in hand, and can go level with arsenal with a win.
Premier League Top Scorers
- Sergio Aguero- 18
- Mohamed Salah- 17
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- 16
- Harry Kane- 15
- Sadio Mane- 14
Sergio Aguero is the new leader in Premier League goals in the updated standings, scoring 4 goals in the last 2 games for City. Last year’s golden boot winner, Mohamed Salah, sits in second place, 1 behind the leader. Sadio Mane also creeps in the top 5, showcasing Liverpool’s success this season.
Premier League Top Assisters
- Eden Hazard- 10
- Ryan Fraser- 9
- Paul Pogba- 9
- Leroy Sane- 9
- Christian Eriksen- 9
- Raheem Sterling- 9
Eden Hazard takes the top spot for most Premier League assists. He is the only player in the Premier League with at least 10 assists and 10 goals. There is a 5 player tie of 9 assists each. 2 of those players being from City, in Sane and Sterling. Paul Pogba jumps into the mix after a great start to life under Manchester United’s new boss.
City Go Top!
It’s currently early February and there is a new leader of the Premier League. Manchester City went top of the league with a 2-0 victory over Everton in midweek. They overtook Liverpool who have been on top for almost the whole season. Although, Liverpool have a game in hand, and play Bournemouth on Saturday. Manchester City are the current champions, but had some rough times over the season. Recently squandering points to Crystal Palace and Newcastle. They have crawled back and are level on points with Liverpool, and City has a slight advantage on goal differential. Let’s hope Liverpool don’t slip again.
Premier League Players in TOTY
EA Sports recently released their annual Team of The Year for Fifa 19. A team of 11 players comprised of players who have had the best 2018. 2018 was a huge year for soccer especially because it was a world cup year. With France winning the most coveted prize of international football, their players obviously had a boost in making the team. The TOTY has players from 4 of the top 5 leagues in Europe. There are only 4 select players from the Premier League who made the best 11 from 2018. Those 4 include:
David de Gea
De Gea is known worldwide for being one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and he was selected as the best for 2018. De Gea beat out the likes of fellow Premiership players in Alison and Lloris. De Gea saved Manchester United from defeat many times in 2018 with brilliant reflex saves. He also put in work at the national level with Spain. Even though Spain didn’t have the best World Cup, he still showed why he is one of the most dominant keepers of recent years. He was rated 97 for hid TOTY card in Fifa 19 making him the highest rated goalkeeper in the game.
Virgil Van Dijk
VVD has been the best defender in the Premier League since his move to Liverpool from Southampton last season. He too had a monster 2018, helping his team go to the Champions League finals. He didn’t play in the World Cup as the Netherlands didn’t qualify but they are trending upwards and advanced to the Uefa Nations League semi-finals where they will play England. This season he has led the #1 defense in the Premier League and is the main reason his team sits atop the Premier League table.
Kevin De Bruyne
KDB is another amazing player who had a tremendous 2018. KDB is a master at playmaking, who can set up goals as well as finish them. KDB won the Premier League with Manchester City in 2018. He was a key player in a dominant season for City. He also helped Belgium finish third in the world cup.
Kante is the second midfielder from the Premier League in the TOTY. He was a rock for Chelsea in the Premier league in 2018. He controlled everything that went through the middle of the park for Chelsea. His biggest accomplishment in 2018 was helping France win the world cup. He was an integral player in Les Bleus second world cup win.