Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nathan Ellington for Derby (vs Charlton), 15th December 2008

Predictions time again.

Blackburn 1-1 Stoke (bub-bye to the guvnor)
Bolton 2-1 Portsmouth
Fulham 1-0 Middlesbrough
Hull 2-1 Sunderland
West Ham 2-2 Aston Villa
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Newcastle 1-1 Tottenham
West Brom 0-2 Man City
Everton 0-2 Chelsea

wildcards from the championship

Birmingham 1-1 Reading
Derby 2-0 Watford
Doncaster 0-2 Wolverhampton
Southampton 1-0 Nottingham Forest

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nemanja Vidic for Manchester United (v Sunderland), 6 December 2008

Hey. I have updated the league table and *everything*. Heh heh heh.

The Champions League group stage is a waste of time. Time for straight knockout again, methinks (snowballs chance in hell, of course). Anyway.

Aston Villa 2-0 Bolton
Liverpool 2-0 Hull
Man City 2-1 Everton
Middlesbrough 1-2 Arsenal
Stoke 1-1 Fulham
Sunderland 2-1 West Brom
Tottenham 0-1 Man Utd
Wigan 2-1 Blackburn
Chelsea 2-0 West Ham
Portsmouth 2-1 Newcastle

and it's that brilliant well-conceived FIFA World Club Championship thing again... (three teams from Asia, one from Europe and one from South America. Hmmmm.)

Adelaide United 0-2 Gamba Osaka (an interesting repeat of the Asian Champions League final, this)
Al Ahly Cairo 2-1 Pachuca Club de Futbol

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cassio for Adelaide United (v Wellington Phoenix), 5 December 2008

The Australian A-League was only created as recently as the 2005/6 season and so remains in its relative infancy. Set up along extremely American "franchise" guidelines, an initial eight team league was created around the main population centres of the country (plus a team from New Zealand).

Now in its fourth season, the A-League appears to have been a qualified success. Expansion for next season has already been confirmed (with the elaborately named North Queensland Fury (based in Townsville) and Gold Coast United set to join in 2009. 2010 is likely to see the addition of more teams including one from Canberra, a second Melbourne and/or a West Sydney side.

Whilst the profile of football in the country has been raised in recent years (the Socceroos qualification for the 2006 World Cup and the successes of some Aussie players in major European leagues have certainly helped) the quality remains questionable. Whilst it has certainly improved - Adelaide Utd reached the final of this season's Asian Champions League - what I have seen of the competition is broadly akin to the lower leagues of the UK. Queensland Roar's captain (for example) is ex Rangers and Crystal Palace clogger Craig Moore and their vice-captain is ex Manchester City lunatic Danny Tiatto. I note Kevin Muscat and John Aloisi amongst a list of more prominent players.....

Displacing the main national sports of the country was always a tall order - rugby league, cricket and AFL remain more popular - attendances remain reasonable. Just under 9,000 saw the Central Coast Mariners 1-1 draw with the Roar last weekend, whilst 6,621 were at Perth's Members Equity Stadium to see ex-Tranmere striker Eugene Dadi's brace help see off Melbourne Victory.

The attraction of the A-League as a retirement destination for has-been stars seemed initially to grab some publicity - Dwight Yorke was Sydney FC's initial "marquee" signing - but I think the rise of the American Major League might have put paid to this also. Several prominent Australian stars have expressed an interest in returning to their homeland to end their career and therein is the league in a nutshell - a collection of aged, over-the-hill ex-stars and an abundance of players that wouldn't cut it in League Two. Most Australian football fans passionately follow a European team - based on their ancestry, relatives or other reasons - and might look out for their "local" (ha, ha) teams A-League results also.

Still, the league continues to grow in size and the addition of further teams in areas of population concentration will only help attendances, I guess. That two of the current Australian international squad ply their trade in their home league, however (and both for the Newcastle Jets - the reigning Grand Final champions) tells you most of what you need to know.....

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Carlos Tevez for Manchester United (v Blackburn Rovers), 3 December 2008

g'day all. I am going to write about the A-League, in due course. Ooh. I bet you can't wait.

Arriving in Brisbane at midnight on Tuesday, I slipped into a borderline coma before jetlag awoke me at 6am the following morning. I made a cup of tea and flicked the telly on to watch the local programing, and was faced with the spectre of Arsenal v Wigan in the Carling Cup. Live. At 6 in the morning.

Time differences are *weird*.

Arsenal 2-0 Wigan
Blackburn 0-1 Liverpool
Bolton 0-2 Chelsea
Fulham 2-1 Man City
Hull 2-0 Middlesbrough
Man Utd 3-0 Sunderland
Newcastle 1-0 Stoke
Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
West Brom 2-1 Portsmouth
West Ham 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

and some wildcards from the Hyundai A-League:

Central Coast Mariners 1-1 Queensland Roar
Perth Glory 1-2 Melbourne Victory
Newcastle Jets 0-1 Sydney FC