Category: England

Is The EPL The Best League?

An argument as old as time (well an argument as old as the past several decades) is whether the EPL is the best league. A case can be made for every league and opinion usually changes over time. Lately, there have been many who have considered the Bundesliga the best league in the world while in the past few years many have argued for La Liga since they have two of the best teams in the world. At the end of the day it is all subjective because the best league in the world in each fan’s mind usually is the league where their favorite team plays (unless they are an MLS fan who thinks that, then they are delusional).

This video does a great job of articulating the many different arguments both for and against the EPL. Each and every argument is both logical and illogical because the fans who hold each argument ignore key facts to better prop up their opinion.  Outside of one of the leagues going completely bankrupt and every player having to be sold there will be no definitive answer which league is the best for the foreseeable future. That’s why we love the Champions League because we can just watch the best teams in the world play each other.

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I am Back!So is the Premier League!

Good evening all! After a brief hiatus chasing the ever elusive perfect GMAT score, I am officially BACK! AAAAAAAND so is the premier league! (Try not to contain yourselves too much, I know you missed me more). So many important events have occurred while I was on “holiday”, so I would like to begin my comeback by giving to you basically a tweet preview (120 characters….ish) of each Top Flight english squad to help kick off the 2015/2016 campaign! Should be easy…right?

Lets start with the easiest team to dissect:

ARSENAL

WIll Petr Cech be the high-caliber keeper that turns the gunners from choke-artists to proper contenders?Will Wenger sign another striker…Benzema?

AFC BOURNEMOUTH 

1899: Inaugural season; 1997:Club almost folds due to more than 7 million pounds of debt and unable to pay its players, supporters raise 1.4 million pounds; 2015: 1st EVER BPL season. #Moneyball

ASTON VILLA

No Benteke, delph, or Cissokho. Lets see what Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew can do. Brad Guzan… better be ready for action. Adama Traore?????

CHELSEA

Will the deadly Fabregras, Matic, , Oscaar, Hazard combo troll the BPL again and win the League? Is Douglas Costa more injury-prone than the glass-kneed RVP? Is John Stones the Batman to John Terry’s Bane?

MANCHESTER CITY 

Bye-Bye Dzeko. Is Sterling Liverpool’s or ManCity’s reckoning? Is he a selfish, underdeveloped youngin that will crack under pressure faster than batman’s back smashing on Bane’s Knee. Pellegrini out? Pep in? (Lots of Batman analogies today, huh?) 

MANCHESTER UNITED

No RVP. No Di Maria. LVG vs De Gea. LVG vs. the Glazers. LVG vs. Wayne Rooney. LVG vs. BPL. Rooney, Schweini and Schneiderlin to lead the way.

LIVERPOOL

RODGERS’ LAST CHANCE. No more Stevie G., Onto the Henderson Captaincy era. Will Benteke or Ings become the Luigi or Bowser to Super Mario. Millner earned this contract and will become a fast leader of the team. 

SWANSEA CITY

The Succesful Monk philosophy for 3 more years. Couple new faces…ahem Eder. Season opener vs. returning champs Chelsea is a tough draw.

SUNDERLAND

Coates, Kaboul, M’Vila in. Veringi, Wickford out. Giacherini stay.  Adam Henderson’s off-field woes postponed to next year. Will they be in the vyng for relegation. 

SOUTHHAMPTON

Big shoes to fill from Schneiderlin loss. Will the Stingiest defence in the BPL last season returrn to its surprising form. No Osvaldo and possibly no Fonte. Can Graziano Pelle score at the same rate this season. Lots of questions.

TOTTENHAM

Mo Po has his hands full. Spurs need a return to consistency. Lloris is looking for UCL football, will he convince the talented shot-stopper to stay. Is Harry Kane truly the next Bale? Sell Lamela?

LEICESTER CITY

Bad Choice in hiring Ranieri (Roma fan here). Already lost your best player in Esteban Cambiasso, who’s next? Son of Schmeichel?

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Steve McClaren has arrived. He now works for the worlds Stingiest Owner. Good Luck. Atleast you resigned Coloccini… lets hope for less reds this year.

CRYSTAL PALACE

My dark horse of this years BPL. Yohan Cabaye? What a steal! An influx of talent will only help solidiy a young and scary XI. Cabaye, Bolasie connection will be nice.

Norwich City

Fighting to not be relegated right back down to the Championship. 

WEST HAM UNITED

Farewell big Sam. Farewell Upton park? The era of Bilic is already in shambles by “sacrificing”Europa League. Andy Carroll may be healthy for once. Valencia injured. Downing was sold to his hometown club. Will Payet actually make the hammers better?

WATFORD

The signings of decent players like Behrami, Berghuis, Nyom and Britos will help this team produce some surprising results. Let’s hope they can remain afloat and stay in the top flight.


WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Ricky Lambert + Saido Behrani connection may be a match made in heaven. The 22 year-old is loooking to build on last year’s successful campaign that was filled with 20 solid goals.

EVERTON

Tim Howard looks like he enjoyed his off season, possibly too much. Let’s hope he wwill come into the season strong and in top form.  Romelu Lukaku will look to net many more with the help of new-boy Tom Cleverly.  May be a contender. 

STOKE CITY

May be a surprising contender as well to finish close to the top of the table.  What they lost in Asmir Begovic, Stoke gained with Shay Given. Look to Marco Van Ginkle to shine and push this young team throughout this season. Xherdan Shaqiri could definitely help!

Do you agree? disagree? please lets us know what you think! Thats all for now folks. 

Italian Artist Makes Monument To England’s Soccer Failures

$900,000 Monument To England’s Football Failure

From CNN.com:

If you enjoy laughing at the England football team — calling all Germans and Scots — and you have a spare $900,000, then Sotheby’s has the very thing for you.The auction house is offering an untitled work by Italian sculptor Maurizio Cattelan that chronicles — in painstaking and painful detail if you are English — every defeat suffered by the England team between 1874 and 1998. Cattelan has carved all the defeats into a large (and it would have to be, wouldn’t it?) piece of black granite, meaning the lucky buyer can be constantly reminded of a succession of ignominious afternoons and evenings.

The artist says of his memorial stone-style work simply: “I guess it’s a piece which talks about pride, missed opportunities and death.”Known for his humorous and satirical art, Cattelan had plenty to work with as he recorded defeats starting with a 2-1 loss to Scotland in Glasgow in 1874 and ending with another 2-1 setback against Romania at the 1998 World Cup.

I’ll admit this is funny. That is easy to admit because I am not from England. If I was English though then this work of art would just depress me. The English are known for having a good sense of humor but I bet this monument would just cut them to the core. After all, the English take a lot of pride in their soccer and to see their failures they known all too much about succinctly summed up on a slab of granite might just be too much for them to take. The worst part is that the sculptor is Italian. It’s like getting laughed at by your more successful brother. And it’s not even like they can shut him up anytime soon. There are four years between every World Cup and the English have a lot of ground to make up. The current English roster looks young and talented but, judging by their performances in the past few international tournaments, who knows if they will put it all together.

Post World Cup Rankings Update

With the close of the 2014 World Cup comes the ending of the biggest International Soccer competition until Russia in 2018.  This tournament caused the biggest movement of FIFA’s rankings until the next major tournament, so these rankings should be relatively stable until CONMEBOL’s Copa America (2015/2016) or UEFA’s Euro (2016).  Copa America and Euro will of course result in changes, but only for certain regional confederations, whereas the World Cup helps and/or hurts every FIFA team in the world.  Let’s get into these preliminary rankings, starting with the prediction for the new top 30:

Predicted rankings 14 July 2014
Predicted rankings 14 July 2014

Below is a chart showing how teams entered the World Cup Finals and how the final results moved them around:

Predicted Top 30 Changes
Predicted Top 30 Changes (ordered by pre-World Cup rankings)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Given that Spain, England and Italy were all bumped from the tournament in the Group Stage, Spain fared quite well only dropping to number 8.  Italy and England were not so lucky, falling to 18th and 25th respectively.  The impressive tournament performance by CONCACAF teams advancing to the knockout stage (Mexico, USA and Costa Rica) only allowed Costa Rica to move up from 28th to 23rd.  The United States dropped from 13th to 22nd and Mexico held at 20th. Those European teams that made it out of the Group Stage did quite well, especially the Netherlands (15th to 3rd), France (17th to 6th) and Belgium (11th to 5th).  Of course, these are all predictions using the FIFA Prognosis Tool (better than WebMD) and will be either blown out of the water or confirmed come Thursday when FIFA is set to release their next rankings update.  IF these predictions hold true, the highest ranked team that is not a member of UEFA or CONMEBOL is…Algeria, at 19th in the world.  I’ll bet nobody called that one.

 

Check in after FIFA releases their new rankings this Thursday for a comparison of FIFA using FIFA math and my attempt at using FIFA math.

FIFA Rankings Update

FIFA won’t be officially updating the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings until after the World Cup Finals are over (July 17th to be exact).  Here at the93rdminute, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with (approximate) updates to the World Rankings as the world progresses through the next four rounds of games.  You might be saying, “How on Earth can those brilliant minds at the93rdminute, my favorite soccer blog, know what the rankings will be?!?!?” and the answer is…math! We are using the FIFA Ranking Prognosis Tool, which can be found here. Essentially, the tool allows you to calculate your favorite national squad’s possible ranking points by inserting the results of recent matches.  For more on how the ranking points are determined, see here.

Below you can see the top 30 teams before the World Cup, with their estimated ranking points after the group stage.

As of 26 June 2014
As of 26 June 2014

The next image displays the newly ordered rankings, which has Colombia taking over first place and not surprisingly Spain falling off the top of the mountain.

As of 26 June 2014
As of 26 June 2014

There are a few surprises with how the math works out, like the USA dropping two spots and losing ranking points, Brazil barely staying in the top 10, and England and Italy plummeting.  Although Jürgen and the boys advanced to the knockout stage, they only managed a win against Ghana, the worst ranked team in the group.  A draw against Germany or a win against Portugal would have been a net gain of 50-100 ranking points, putting the Yanks near the top 10!  Math is crazy, I know.  Brazil played a relatively weak group (Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon ranked 20th, 18th, and 56th respectively) and didn’t exactly blow them all out of the water. As for England and Italy, they have had better group stage experiences that is for sure.

We will be updating this after every round (or more often) throughout the World Cup and see how it compares to the official rankings in a few weeks. Keep coming back to the93rdminute for all your FIFA-related mathematical skepticism!

Changing Of The Guard

Deep down we knew like this day would come. No good thing lasts forever and that rings true for legendary football players as well. In fact, the careers of most football players end too abruptly. Those that do not end soon enough makes us often wish they had (I am looking at you Michael Owen.). Therefore, it should come as no surprise that so many legendary soccer players and coaches that we grew up with have decided to put their cleats back in their lockers and slip on a pair of Oxfords. It should not, but it does. These players represent a part of our football fandom that has been so much a part of us that it is not as easy to let go of as Jack was to Rose in that frigid Atlantic ocean. While it is always hard to lose a football legend, English football is losing several in a very short period of time. Fate is not always fair.

At the end of this season we must wave goodbye to four English greats: Jamie Carragher, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Sir Alex Ferguson. As tears well up in our eyes we must take time to reflect on what they have given us. Their loyalty (Beckham was loyal to England), their durability, their will to win, and their love of football are admirable qualities that do not manifest themselves in every great football player. There is an old adage that says “They don’t make them like they used to” and this holds true for all these men. Their talents were many and they gave everything they had to English football. However, like they do at Buckingham Palace, there must be a changing of the guard. These legendary players and coaches must retire so that other up and coming players and coaches can step-in to fill the void. Nostalgia is a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it helps us fondly remember our past through rose colored lenses, but also a curse because it prevents us from looking forward. Who knows who will be the legends of the future. Whoever they are though, they have pretty big cleats to fill.

England and France – Just O.K.

I had high hopes for this meeting between these two European powerhouses. Unfortunately, the exciting moments were few and far between and I found myself close to asleep near the end. If this is how England intends on playing their competitive opponents, it’s a disappointment. I’m sure there are plenty of English fans thrilled with a point and only Sweden and Ukraine remaining, but with the amount of talent in England it’s unacceptable.

The first half was dominated by France, but England found a few week spots in the French defense (Milner had a golden opportunity which he should have put away) and England were able to convert a spot kick against the run of play. Nasri, Benzema, and Ribery were creating some issues for a well-organized backline protected by Gerrard and Parker. Nasri evened up the score not too long after England’s goal with a well-driven ball just outside the area. France continued to press England for the remainder of the first half but could not find a way past the buses England had parked in front of Joe Hart.

The second half was a little more back and forth ; England even managed to string three passes together. But the half was played at a much more reserved pace and both sides were content with a tie for the last 20 minutes or so.

Can’t blame him…

French Outlook: Clearly offensively potent, they looked like Barcelona trying to break down Chelsea in the Champions League semi, but I don’t think they have the requisite skill to try to walk it in. With an aerial threat like Benzema, France would do well to mix it up a little. I don’t recall Benzema’s head getting on the end of many, if any, crosses today. The downfall of France will be their backline. While certainly apt to get forward, the outside backs were less than outstanding defensively. Evra was downright lazy at times; the chance Milner was unable to finish in the first half was courtesy of Evra tracking with Milner only to a point, at which Evra slowed and half-heartedly attempted to pull Milner offsides. England was able to cause problems with only a few men going forward; once France meet a more balanced opponent (Spain, Germany, Netherlands, etc.) it will be hectic back there.

England Outlook: Bright spots were few today. What England should take away from this one is they didn’t play well, were outshot 19-3, and still tied a strong French side. I thought Welbeck and Oxlade-Chamberlain did very well given the lack of support and their relative inexperience in major competitions. Young was another aggressor for England and it will be fun to see these guys continue to build on that relationship. Gerrard and Parker were attached to the back four and their contributions were in the form of strong tackles rather than any playmaking. I am optimistic that this was simply a warm-up for an English team with plenty of issues (injuries) to deal with leading into the Euros and the intensity and attacking aspect of this team will ramp up leading into the next stage. Despite my disappointment in the performance today, they are still are very strong squad that could go places given the experience and resilience of their backline and goalkeeper. Let’s hope to see them gain some confidence after game one take a few more risks going forward.