Premier League 2015-16: Who will finish where?

August 7, 2015

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“The phoney wars of pre-season friendlies and the Community Shield are over and the real business of the Premier League begins this weekend. So it is once again time to dust off the crystal ball and take a guess on how the top flight will unfold over the next nine months. Can Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s grip on the crown be released? Can Arsenal finally turn promise into a Premier League title? Can Brendan Rodgers rebuild Liverpool from the wreckage of that 6-1 humiliation at Stoke City on the final day of last season? The safety net is, of course, that clubs still have plenty of time to alter the odds by making a landmark signing before the window closes, but here goes…” BBC


EPL season preview: Familiar four should compete for 2015-16 title

August 7, 2015

“The Community Shield is rarely a reliable gauge to anything–as Arsenal proved last season by cruising to a 3-0 win over Manchester City then winning only two of its opening eight games of the season–but what was apparent on Sunday was how many of the doubts that have been expressed about Chelsea’s capacity to retain its title were played out.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Premier League Preview: It’s the Most Powerful League in the World, But Will It Ever Be the Best?

August 7, 2015

“Two months — that’s all we get this year. The 2014-15 European soccer season concluded with the Champions League final in early June, but we’re already back at it, as Chelsea’s Premier League title defense starts tomorrow. Last summer’s World Cup delayed the start of the previous season and next summer’s European Championships have pushed up the start of this one, so the summer was short.” Grantland


Copa Libertadores 2015: River Plate complete their redemption cycle

August 7, 2015

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“On a wet and windy August night in Buenos Aires, River Plate ran out as 3-0 victors against Tigres to secure a third Libertadores crown and finally complete their redemptive cycle.  4 years ago – 1,501 days to be precise – Los Millonarios suffered relegation; now they stand atop the continent, the only side to have won back-to-back Sudamericana and Libertadores titles.” Outside of the Boot


Stock-piling of talent in England is ruining romance across Europe

August 7, 2015

“Last season PSV won the Dutch league by 17 points. They scored 92 goals in 34 games and won all but five matches. They were a bright young attacking side under an impressive young coach in Phillip Cocu, the sort of team who might, a couple of decades ago, have had a serious crack at the European Cup over the next couple of seasons before inevitably being broken up as economic reality kicked in. The modern world being what it is, that process has already begun and they’ve lost Memphis Depay to Manchester United and Georginio Wijnaldum to Newcastle United, players who between them represent 36 of those 92 goals (and eight assists). And PSV probably think they’ve done quite well to hold on – for now – to Luuk de Jong, Adam Maher and Jetro Willems.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


What has happened to England’s international support?

August 7, 2015

“Back in the 90s, when Britpop ruled the country, there was a charge of fantastic patriotism. Optimism was placed in a youthful, hopeful Tony Blair, my beloved Liverpool were embarking on a bout of abstinence-based detox of all things silver and support for England’s national team was riding the wave of an Italia 90 based revival. This often took ‘swarms’ (cough, cough) of Brits halfway across the world to watch their national team beat Macedonia, only to trek back again, and straight into work the next day. People, it was safe to say, were loving watching England.” backpagefootball


Partizan Belgrade succumb in the Sandzak Republic

August 7, 2015

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“Saturday was a historic day for Torcida Sandžak, Serbia’s only Islamic ultras group. They’d witnessed their team, Novi Pazar, go a goal down in the opening fifteen minutes, miss a penalty and concede a second in first half stoppage time. All of that came in one of the biggest games of the season, the home fixture with Partizan Belgrade; last season’s champions who had won their opening two matches 4-0 and 6-0. Novi Pazar, by contrast, had lost their opening game at home to newly promoted Javor Ivanjica. And yet somehow they emerged victorious, recording their first ever win over Partizan.” backpagefootball


Southampton: The Gold standard of transfers?

August 7, 2015

“Over the past few seasons, there has been much to admire about the way Southampton football club go about their business. From the development of young players and establishment of a state of the art training complex, to the ‘easy on the eye’ style of their play, it’s easy to see why clubs from across the continent have been casting a jealous eye over proceedings on the south coast on England. While I as Outside of the Boot’s resident Southampton fan could wax lyrical over any aspect of my club, today I intend to look at the one angle that neutrals have only just begun to appreciate – our transfer policy.” Outside of the Boot


Is CONCACAF its own worst enemy?

August 7, 2015

“Congratulations CONCACAF! You finally get to sit at the big kids table in international football. After years of fighting and scratching to gain even a crumb of recognition from football fans across the world, the region of North and Central America and the Caribbean finally has the world’s attention. One would think that the region would be jumping up and down for joy with the Women’s World Cup and Men’s Gold Cup having finished and with Tigres playing in the Copa Libertadores final. But with the officials being carted off to prison and the shining light of the United States dirtied by its own internal issues a time for celebration is now a time for concern.” backpagefootball