Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grafite for Wolfsburg (v Werder Bremen), 23 May 2009

In a season of unusual league winners (Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia getting "first" league winners, AZ winning in Holland) we can add another to the list as unfancied Wolfsburg took their first ever Bundesliga title on Saturday after a 5-1 demolition of Werder Bremen. Winning an unprecedented 14 out of their 17 games after the winter break, Felix Magath's side (although it is no longer Felix Magath's side as he's off to Schalke) take the title for the first time in their 64 year history.
Bayern Munich were second and take a Champions League spot and Stuttgart finished third (they go into the Champions League quaklifying round). Hertha were a very creditable fourth and Hamburg finished fifth.
Armenia Bielefeld and Karksruhe are relegated, whilst Cottbus play Nurnberg to decide the final promotion/relegation place.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Michael Owen for England (v Argentina), 30 June 1998

Predictions are here.

"....it is certainly true that in recent years he has never been quite able to keep a note of polite peevishness out of his voice. So that most of the time he sounds like a junior executive complaining to the receptionist at his conference hotel that the provision of UHT milk cartons with the in-room tea and coffee making facilities is wholly inadequate."

Harry Pearson bemoans the declining career of ex-BBC Sports Personality of the Year Michael Owen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Craig Fagan for Hull City (v Bolton Wanderers), 16 May 2009

So, here we go. The final predictions for the 2008/9 season...

I just have a sneaking suspicion that Newcastle are going to fluke their way out of the bottom three. A draw whilst Hull lose, perhaps...?

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

and wildcards from the European Cup Final

Barcelona 2-1 Manchester United
First goalscorer: Eto'o (Barcelona)
First booking: Evra (Manchester Utd)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Diomansy Kamara for Fulham (v Newcastle United), 16 May 2009

Newcastle's defeat to Fulham on Saturday pushes them back into the bottom three and therefore requires the result of the Hull City v Manchester United game to go their way next weekend.

I can't help thinking that this leaves Sir Alex in a bit of a predicament. Having sewn up the title with a listless display against Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime, and with a Champions League final four days after the Hull game you could hardly blame Ferguson for leaving out his "star" names and sending a reserve team out against the Tigers.

The problem here is that the age old issue about "the integrity of the league" rears its head. Can you imagine the storm that would develop if Ferguson sent out a team made up of fringe and reserve players who were duly dispatched by Hull therefore sending Newcastle to the Championship? (admittedly, this scenario involves Hull beating any team Ferguson chooses to send out which, in their form, is pretty unlikely).

The other factor of course is that Shearer famously turned down Sir Alex on a couple of occasions, and so there is not much love lost between either Ferguson and Shearer or, let's be fair, the United faithful and the Toon manager.

Early reports suggest Ferguson is likely to leave out some of the bigger names players for the game (Rooney and Ronaldo have been mentioned) and I very much doubt he'd send out his under 15 team simply to send Newcastle down. If the Geordies lose to Aston Villa, it will of course all be irrelevant. If they don't, though, Ferguson's team selection will come under the most intense scrutiny and any sense that he sent out a considerably weakened side will incur the ire of every Newcastle fan for years to come.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Michael Carrick for Manchester United (v Wigan Athletic), 13 May 2009

OK, in the home straight....

Bolton 1-0 Hull
Everton 2-1 West Ham
Man Utd 1-1 Arsenal
Middlesbrough 1-0 Aston Villa
Newcastle 1-2 Fulham
Stoke 0-0 Wigan
Tottenham 2-1 Man City
West Brom 2-4 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn
Portsmouth 2-1 Sunderland

and wildcards from the Bundesliga again (my, it is close....)

Hannover 1-1 Wolfsburg
TSG Hoffenheim 0-2 Bayern Munich
Hertha Berlin 2-1 Schalke

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carlos Tevez for Manchester Utd (v Manchester City), 10 May 2009

"....Meanwhile the club's Argentine star Carlos Tevez has signalled his desire to leave at the end of the season. Ferguson has restricted Tevez's appearances in recent months, claiming that whenever he sees him charging down the wing, "it's like one of those dirty great Orcs from Lord of the Rings coming at you in 3D"....."

The Daily Mash gets to grips with the Carlos Tevez transfer story in the way only they can.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eduardo for Guingamp (v Rennes), 9 May 2009

A couple of small "end of season" updates.

French Ligue 2 side Guingamp became only the second non-top flight club to win the French Cup on Saturday (and the first for 50 years) when they came from 1-0 down to beat Stade Rennes 2-1 in front of a sell-out 80,000 crowd at the Stade de France.

Ex Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra gave Rennes the lead in the 69th minute but two strikes from Brazilian frontman Eduardo in the 72nd and 83rd minutes gave the minnows a famous win and a place in next season's Europa League.

(in Ligue 1 it looks increasingly likely that Lyon will finally lose their seven year grip on the league title - they are seven points behind joint leaders Marseille and Bordeaux with four games to play).

In the heady non-league heights of the Unibond Premier League, FC United of Manchester found the level of competition harder than in previous seasons. Entering the final day of the campaign knowing that a win would secure a play-off berth, the Reds only managed a 1-1 draw with Bradford Park Avenue in front of nearly 4,000 at Gigg Lane and so agonisingly finished one place outside the play-off positions. Eastwood Town were promoted as champions and will be joined in the Blue Square North next season by Ilkeston Town who beat Nantwich 2-1 in the play-off final.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Andres Iniesta for Barcelona (v Chelsea), 6 May 2009

Hello. Predictions time again....

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

Wildcards from the Football League play-offs:

Burnley 2-1 Reading
Bury 1-1 Shrewsbury
Sheff Utd 2-0 Preston