So I decided to try a little something different this week in honor of our limited release Dark Side FC design...
It got me thinking...what would that starting lineup look like? I decided that the Sith would have to only be involved as management as obviously being that strong with the force would have advantages that would completely take any competitive aspect of the most beautiful game in the galaxy away, so that would leave the truly wicked souls of the universe, as well as some of Lord Vader's loyal servants to play for the Dark Side.
Now this is only my take on the Dark Side Starting XI, please feel free to include your suggestions in the comments below, but I have to admit....I think this lineup is deadly.
Goalkeeper: Jabba the Hutt
What Jabba lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up for in size. Now I know a lot of you are saying "but wouldn't he take up most of the goal?". Absolutely! But this is the Dark Side FC, do you honestly thing they give two Bantha Poodoos?
Positioning will need to be his main focus, as both small arms and somewhat slow reaction time will definitely be his downfall. Overall though, Jabba's complete lack of respect for any living organism should give him enough edge to keep clean sheets.
Defenders: Droidekas at left and right back, Storm Troopers at center back positions.
I am not entirely sure how many decisions that Storm Troopers take to heart, as they rarely show much emotion at all. That said, it might hurt a little that they will be forced to work with droids on the back line.
When it comes down to it though, the Droidekas will give Dark Side FC the speed that is needed along the flanks with their versatile shape shifting abilities. The Storm Troopers should hold down the center back positions fine, just so long as that armor stands up better against soccer balls than it does blaster fire.
Midfield:General Grievous, Greedo, Tuskan Raider
I know many would have liked to see Grand Moff Tarkin at midfield, but his age definitely limits his maneuverability at most positions. General Grievous on the other hand has the size to play a more defensive mid role, while the Tuskan Raider's very physical style of play will help open the field up on the attack.
Greedo on the other hand should be great at distributing the ball, and on that odd occasion where he shoots first? Well...we've heard he can blast with both feet.
Forwards: Aurra Sing, Sebulba, Boba Fett
I suppose Aurra Sing could be a controversial decision to start up front, but nobody can ignore that she is a natural sniper and is athletic to boot. Pod Racing Dug, Sebulba on the other hand lacks a little in the speed department, but his unconventional stance makes him a nightmare for officials when calling hand ball fouls.
What would an attacking front be without the ruthless, never say die attitude of the Galaxy's most fearsome bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Quite possibly the scariest being in the galaxy who doesn't possess the powers of the force, just his name on the roster alone will be enough to strike fear into any opposing side.
I hope you enjoyed my Star Wars Starting XI and as I said....chime in with your ideas! May the force be with you.
About a month ago things were looking a bit glum for teams such as Liverpool and Arsenal. Many questioned whether or not they would have a chance at a Champions League placing by the end of the season. However, fast forward a bit and believe it or not...things seem to be a bit more reasonable in the Top 5. Arsenal's recent spell of good matches have put them in 3rd place and Liverpool only finds themselves a game back on 4th place Manchester United. If you listen closely you can still here the Saints of Southampton saying "we're still here", but the cries are getting weaker by the....week (for those of you who are Saints fans, this sort of thing has usually helped them in the past, it's the football Gods way of making me look like an idiot).
As for the battle for first, Manchester City let a huge opportunity slide against Liverpool in Week 27 when they lost to the Reds 2-1 at Anfield. Chelsea now with a game in hand against Liverpool retains their five point lead at the top. Both teams earned three points in Week 28.
As long as the Blues don't let their Champions League woes bring them down, they appear to be comfortable in the driver's seat. However, all it takes is a couple road bumps and everything changes. We know all too well.....that is what we should expect in the Premier League.
Now for my three matches of the week. Please play along in the comment section below!
Match 1: Burnley v. Man City
This is one of those David and Goliath matches on paper, but given that Man City is on the road in an odd environment, I actually predict somewhat of an upset here. Burnley likes to hit big teams early and I expect them to draw first blood and take a 1-0 lead early. However, I do believe Man City will return fire later in the match after an exhausted Burnley side gets tired of defending. My prediction: Burnley 1 - 1 Manchester City
Match 2: Chelsea v. Southampton
As I said earlier, whenever I start doubting the Saints, the Soccer Gods tend to spite me, so this week Southampton, you're in luck. I fully expect Chelsea to roll Southampton at the Bridge. Chelsea will be looking to shake the feeling of losing to a 10 man PSG side in Champions League and unfortunately for Southampton, they will be the victims. My prediction: Chelsea 4 - 1 Southampton
Match 3: Manchester United v. Tottenham
In all honesty, Manchester United shouldn't have a problem handling the Spurs at Old Trafford. That said, the Red Devils have been their own worst enemy losing traction after gaining substantial ground this season. Man U currently sits in 4th place in the league, but I fear that might be in jeopardy this weekend if Arsenal can take care of West Ham. My prediction: Manchester United 2 - 2 Tottenham
This week I am going to take a quick break from Premier League and instead give my Top Five UEFA Champion's League Power Rankings. Basically it's going to be how I see the tournament ending up, the fifth team being my dark horse to potentially make some waves.
UEFA Champions League always brings the drama and this season is no exception, the question is....who will be the hero?
5. Bayer Leverkusen
So here is my dark horse. I know this one could really blow up in my face, as they could easily be knocked out this week by Atletico Madrid, but I feel like this under the radar side could have one of those "but damn do they have heart!" runs through the quarters and more. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see a Dortmund pull a ......Dortmund and rise from the ashes in their match against Juventus, but this year I think the Bundesliga team (besides Bayern Munich) who has the best chance of shaking things up is Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
This one is a tough one for me, because although I am supposed to stay mostly non biased, I will admit that I am a Bundesliga fan and more importantly, I am a Dortmund fan. The biased side of me says "never give up", but the realistic side of me says Juventus seems to be on a mission this season. They've been dominating Serie A for the last four years and this year it looks like there may be shades of 1995-96 UCL run (and yes Pirlo was playing then....only he was playing for Brescia).
Truth is, a part of me feels like Juventus deserves to be higher on this list.
3. Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich is currently locked up in a 0-0 draw after Leg 1 in the Quarter Finals with Shakhtar, however it is hard not to feel like these giants of Bundesliga, as well as UEFA Champions League will be there near the very end. Their team is stacked with World Cup Champions, as well as World Cup Runners Up and players who have lifted the Champion's League trophy. This might not be their most dominating UCL so far, but I expect to see them down to the wire.
They could be the most popular team around the world right now. I remember years ago when I would see youngsters sporting Manchester United jerseys here in the states and every once in a while you would see a Barcelona jersey sprinkled in, these days it seems like the tables have flipped. It's not a shock that with players like Messi and Neymar Jr. that you would establish a widespread fan base and it's also not a shock that having players of that caliber results in UEFA Champions League bids. After missing out on the finals for the past three tournaments, you know they are hungry and looking for their 5th title (European Cup/UCL).
1. Real Madrid
I love to support the underdogs for the most part, but realistically I do see the reigning champs defending their title come June in Berlin. They've blazed through each portion of the 2015 UCL and even when they aren't firing on all cylinders, they are extremely hard to beat (being worth as much as many moderate sized countries can do that for you).
This is just my modest speculation of course and the soccer Gods know I would love to see a tight, unpredictable march to Berlin. With all that said though....I do predict that Cristiano and company will hoist their 11th title (European Cup/UCL).
Just when we thought the Top of the Table was mostly set for the remainder of the season, things got very interesting.
Manchester United dropped a match to Swansea City, while both Arsenal and Liverpool found a way to get three points out of their respective matches....even if there was some referee controversy (when isn't there ammiright?).
Heading into week 27, Liverpool - who is sitting in 6th with 45 points - could actually vault into a tie for third place with a little help, where is the Gunners will be looking to further solidify their spot in the Top 3. Chelsea still sits in the lead with 60 points, but they won't play this week against Leceister City like they were supposed to, as they will be playing in the League Cup Final on March 1st against Tottenham who's match against QPR will also be postponed. 2nd place Man City will be in action though and they will be facing off in an exciting match against Liverpool.
Here are my three matches of the week, please play along!
Stoke City v. Hull City
Kind of an interesting match as Hull City has been playing pretty gritty all season. That said, Stoke City should have the upper hand in this one. My Prediction: Stoke City 3 - 1 Hull City
Liverpool v. Manchester City
You have to love this one in Anfield. Liverpool seems to think they have momentum right now and are set on making a statement down the home stretch. Man City on the other hand could severely put the pressure on Chelsea with a win this week against the Reds. My prediction: Liverpool 0 - 1 Man City
Arsenal v. Everton
We've seen this story a few times this season so far. A team looking to make up ground gets a chance to beat up on a struggling Everton, but end up failing to do so. Usually those matches end up in draws, so this one is an easy one for me. My prediction: Arsenal 1 - 1 Everton
It's been a minute since we last talked Premier League. Since the last Premier League post, there have been some changes to the Top 5, but for the most part, teams seemed to stick with the fashion they've been sporting all year. Here are a few recaps and thoughts...
It was only fitting that after the seasons that Liverpool and Everton have had so far that the latest Merseyside Derby would end in a 0-0 draw. A few days later during midweek play, Liverpool did manage a 3-2 win over Tottenham and Everton kept things close with league leading, Chelsea, only managing to lose 1-0, but overall the 0-0 final between the Toffees and the Reds summed up both sides' seasons perfectly.
The North London Derby:
The North London Derby on the other hand happened to be an exciting affair. It's somewhat safe to say that Tottenham was the slight underdog in this match, but they did manage to pull off a 2-1 win over the Gunners who had been looking a lot better as of late. Unfortunately for Spurs fans, the inconsistency that has plagued both North London sides continued a few days later when Tottenham dropped a game to Liverpool (as mentioned above) and Arsenal got one back against Leicester City. I still like both of these teams to be fighting for UEFA Champions League spots as we go on. Hopefully one or both can start stringing a few wins together.
Weird Week for Man City:
Man City had a couple strange matches since the last time we talked Premier League. Over week 24, they only managed a 1-1 draw against the Tigers from Hull City, but came back a few days later in Week 25 to beat Stoke City 4-1 without a problem. The draw with Hull City helped Chelsea keep a seven point lead at the top and might have opened the door slightly for teams below them. Their rivals, Manchester United have moved back into third place after all....
Alright now time for my three matches of the week, as always feel free to jump in with your predictions in the comments below.
Chelsea v. Burnley
This is a tasty matchup for Chelsea fans, especially since Man City will have to take on a feisty Newcastle Squad this week. Getting three points this week could mean a lot depending on the results from the City match.
My prediction: Chelsea 3 - 1 Burnley
Swansea City v. Manchester United
This is far from a walk in the park for the Red Devils, but they certainly have to look at week 26 as a huge opportunity to grow some deeper roots in the Top 3. They've had a streaky season so far, but have looked decent recently.
My prediction: Swansea 0 - 2 Manchester United
Man City v. Newcastle
As mentioned above, if Man City stumbles against a very game Newcastle side, it could end up very costly if Chelsea does what they're expected to do against Burnley. Personally I feel like this one is a tough one to predict, mostly due to Newcastle's odd habit of spoiling top of the table teams when you least expect it.
My prediction: Manchester City 2 - 2 Newcastle United
2015 is still in it's infancy, but we have already seen the USMNT take to the pitch twice. In their first match they couldn't hold off a Chilean side consisting of many B team players who eventually came back and nabbed the victory and in their second match they managed to end their post World Cup/Czech Republic winless skid with a 2-0 victory over CONCACAF rivals, Panama.
Although the USMNT continues to plummet in the FIFA world rankings (who really pays attention to those though?) and they haven't exactly been performing spectacularly, those of us who have been soccer fans for a while understand the several reasons why we play "friendly" matches and seeing how young players deal with the pressure of playing for their country is one of the biggest ones.
Much will more than likely change before Klinsmann decides on his final roster for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but after the couple matches that we've seen so far, I have decided to feature the Top 3 youngsters that I feel have the most potential to make impact in 2015. Here they are.
3. DeAndre Yedlin
Before 2015 started, I would have said Yedlin was easily the young player with the most potential in 2015, but after the matches against Chile and Panama, I am a little more skeptical of Klinsmann's plans for the Seattle native.
Now given the fact that I am a fan of domestic soccer and trying to keep young talent here, I am very ready to start blaming his move to Tottenham on his lack of fitness early in 2015. However, that's just because I have seen how bad playing in Europe has been for most young American stars and have grown very tired of the wheel of madness that keeps on spinning regardless of the lackluster results it has spit out. Looking at it from a non-bitter point of view though, I suppose the argument could be made that Yedlin would only be in preseason form right now if he was still playing in the MLS anyways. That hasn't seemed to hurt my next two players though...
2. Miguel Ibarra
Now I know I will get booed for placing Ibarra ahead of Yedlin, but if we're talking about expectations? Ibarra has definitely surpassed my expectations. I know he isn't really a "youngster" at 24, but the fact that he was called up from the NASL's Minnesota United, a second tier North American Soccer team, is both incredible and baffling to me.
Why baffling you may ask? Well, from a Coach who continually has bad things to say about North American soccer leagues, I find it kind of funny that Klinsmann would name someone like Ibarra to the USMNT roster. I am completely behind the decision, just confused as to what is actually going through Klinsmann's brain sometimes.
Ibarra still has a lot of work to do before he finds a solid spot on the USMNT roster and I will be the first to say that he lacks the polish that you see from players that continually play at a higher level, but his always attacking mentality is exactly what the US needs and I would love to see Klinsmann continue to roll the dice with him during these friendlies. He's a blue collar attacker and I love watching him play.
1. Gyasi Zardes
This may be a bold statement, but I feel Zardes may be the most promising goal scorer the US has seen since Landon Donovan. Now don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE Clint Dempsey fan, but I feel like Zardes and Dempsey are Apples and Oranges, where is I can find more similarities between Zardes and Donovan.
It's kind of interesting that Zardes will be helping fill a hole that Donovan has left behind with both the USMNT and his club team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, but I am beyond excited to see him progress as a player. He's dangerous as both a helper and a goal scorer and his soccer sense to me is something that the Yanks have needed for a while. From what I have seen so far, post World Cup, Gyasi Zardes is my pick for the most promising up and coming American player.
Now if we can just get Dom Dwyer and Bradley Wright-Phillips to become US Citizens.
What a crazy return to the Premier League after a week off! For the first time in....(maybe ever?), I went 0-3 on my predictions as well. Although Crystal Palace has been looking like a new team under Pardew, Everton decided it was time to finally get a win and snuck by the Eagles with a 1-0 win. All signs pointed towards Chelsea breaking open their lead against second place, Manchester City, but all they could muster was a draw. Southampton had the opportunity to make up some ground against the leaders of the pack, but instead fell to the spoilers of the season, Swansea City.
Yes, week 23 was pretty exciting, but the soccer world wasn't all crazy this week, let's start with.....
The Transfer Deadline
What a snorefest that was this year! Plenty of great rumors leading up to it this season, but in the end? Not a whole lot to write home about.
Arguably the biggest move was Juan Cuadrado heading to Chelsea to take the place of Andre Schurrle who left Chelsea for Wolfsburg shortly before. Now don't get me wrong, I use the term "take the place of" very lightly, Schurrle and Cuadrado are both very different from each other, but I actually think Cuadrado could make Chelsea even more deadly. He's one of those players who can do magical things with the ball and although I love Schurrle's more straight forward approach, it should be fun to see what Cuadrado can do for the Blues.
Aaron Lennon also came up with a big payday transferring from Serie A's Fiorentina to Everton. Sounds like just what the Doctor ordered for Martinez's squad, but allegedly there are some photos out there of Lennon that make Grumpy Cat look happy.....I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Arsenal decimates Villa
The Villains are en route to having the worst offensive season in recent Premier League history. That, however didn't stop the Gunners from running the score against them as they destroyed Villa 5-0 in front of a packed house at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal may be 11 points away from the top of the table, but it still might be a good time for the Gunners to get hot. Right now they look unstoppable (I apologize to any Arsenal fans if I have jinxed them) and who knows how Chelsea and Man City will be able to close out the season? Of course they still have Man U (one point ahead of Arsenal) and Southampton (tied with Arsenal) to get past before that, but all signs point toward Arsenal making a run.
But hey, let's not forget about the Spurs quite yet....
Although even 11 points seems like a large mountain to climb for the Gunners, it isn't out of the question and 13 for Tottenham isn't either.
The Spurs looked good against West Brom this past weekend, defeating Albion 3-0 at The Hawthorns. Although the Baggies are mid table, much like Arsenal, the Spurs have shown a spark lately that could make things interesting headed down the stretch. If not a Premier League title, both of these teams could be looking at UEFA Champion's League spots.
Alright, time for my matches of the week, please do chime in with your predictions in the comment section below.
Tottenham v. Arsenal
Well hey would you look at that? After saying these two should be fun headed down the stretch....they meet in Week 24.
Although I really do believe both sides are finally becoming more consistent this season, I do think Arsenal is the stronger team all together and even though the Gunners are on the road for this one, I think they'll come away with all three points. My Prediction: Tottenham 2 - 3 Arsenal
Everton v. Liverpool
The battle of Merseyside wages on this week as the Toffees host the Reds. As I have stated way too many times on this blog through the season....neither of these teams have quite lived up to expectations, however Liverpool has looked a little better as of late.
So of course I am picking Everton to upset their rivals at home. My prediction: Everton 2 - 1 Liverpool
Leicester City v. Crystal Palace
Both teams are coming off of Week 23 losses, but there are many who still believe in Pardew raising Crystal Palace from the ashes.
The Eagles probably should have at least had a draw against Everton while the Foxes struggled mightily against Manchester United.
My prediction: Leicester City 1 - 3 Crystal Palace.