Chelsea ran away with the league and left us quasi-neutrals quite bored with the whole spectacle.
But a new season is upon us, and hope is again alive that Mourinho and Co. will crash and burn.
That’s right folks. Our favorite sports soap opera has returned.
I’ve read all the preview articles and listened to all the season preview podcasts. I’m heading out to a pub tomorrow morning to watch the first Everton game of the season (vs. Watford). All that’s left for me to do is predict my top 4 finishers for the end of the season.
Yeah, despite ample documentation of my terrible prediction skills, I’m taking it there again.
- Chelsea – I haven’t seen anything in the pre-season/transfer season to tell me that Chelsea won’t win this title again (yes, including the New York Red Bulls reserves beating them in a friendly)
- Manchester United – They’ve shored up a lot of their problem areas (except for defense). I have to think they’ll be better than they were last season, though I don’t really have any evidence to back that up.
- Arsenal – two years in a row of not having to go through a Champions League playoff? Why not?
- Manchester City – I’m bemused to see some picking them to win the title. Why? Because they signed Raheem Sterling?
Off to bed, as kickoff is at 9:00 a.m.
It’s that time of year again. The time when the major European leagues wind down the first half of the season and send their players off on much needed breaks.
In Italy, Serie A clubs take a two-week break, as does Spain’s Primera Division. The Bundesliga takes six weeks off (nice work if you can get it!)
But the Barclays Premier League continues play right through Christmas and New Year’s. This is what is known as The Festive Period (also “Festive Fixtures”).
Beginning today, the Premier League’s 20 teams will go on a run of fixtures that won’t end until New Year’s Day. It’s one of the aspects of the league’s structure that makes it, IMO, one of the toughest competitions to win.
As a fan, I’m of two minds about this period in the Premier League calendar. On the one hand, I like having football to watch over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. On the other hand, I can’t help feeling like it would be beneficial to give the players some kind of break – especially when all of the other big European Leagues are doing so.
In any event, I will have my eye on these fixtures from Matchdays 17-20:
12/22: Swansea City vs. Everton* and Southhampton vs. Tottenham
12/23: Arsenal vs. Chelsea
12/26: Chelsea vs. Swansea City and Manchester City vs. Liverpool
1/1: Manchester United vs. Tottenham
…when Manchester United and Chelsea lose on the same day. Within hours of each other in fact.
It is beautiful.
It is joy.
It is right.
In other Premier League news, my Everton drew league leaders Arsenal. Only an Everton win would have made this the perfect EPL weekend for me.
…that friends is my Futbol Happy Place.
Everton FC’s Bryan Oviedo did the honors last night, scoring in the 86th minute to beat Manchester United. At Old Trafford.
Only thing that would have made it sweeter would have been Liverpool and Chelsea both losing. But you can’t have it all, right?
Elsewhere, we’ve got one day till World Cup Draw Day. How many Groups of Death will there be this time?
Seems appropriate to give a brief update on the football topics I covered when I last blogged here (sorta) regularly 2 years ago.
Marouane Chamakh left Arsenal to go on loan to West Ham United for the 2012-2013 season. He’s now at Crystal Palace FC, where I hope he’ll have a resurgence (what can I say except I have a soft spot for this player). Also of note: he’s kept that delightful haircut I’m so fond of).
Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal team have bounced back something fierce since signing Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid last month. They’re topping their Champions League Group, and – shocker of shockers – they’re also atop the (admittedly young) Premier League table. Of course, between the time I wrote the post about the media going in on Arsenal and now, the media went in on Arsenal so much harder and more regularly. Now, though, things are looking up for the Gunners, so they’re forced to give grudging credit to Wenger, which amuses me.
My football fandom has expanded to include Everton – the team I’ve chosen to support in the Premier League. In a separate post, I’ll talk about how that happened, and it’ll be a really short one, because not that much thought went into it.