Dan Dicce made an EPL Title belt with a lot of free time on his hands in Abu Dabi.
Dan Dicce made an EPL Title belt with a lot of free time on his hands in Abu Dabi.
With the completion of week 6 of the EPL, the league table is slowly taking shape. Arsenal are two points clear at the top while Liverpool and Tottenham are treading closely at their heels. This week’s fixtures caused frustration amongst last year’s the top five teams as Arsenal were the only side who didn’t drop points. The premier fixture of the week pitted Chelsea at Tottenham in a London derby. Jose Mourinho did not start Juan Mata in Chelsea’s 10 role, opting for Oscar instead. Tottenham dominated the first half run of play as Eriksen orchestrated the offense. Soldado’s ability to hold up the attack paid off when he assisted Sigurðsson 19th minute goal. The second half provided a change of momentum when Mata entered the game for Chelsea. Chelsea drew even when John Terry headed in a Mata free kick. The Blues were controlling the match and pressing for a second until Fernando Torres picked up his second yellow card. Torres has since received a three match ban for scratching Vertonghen in the face. The man advantage shifted the momentum back in favor of Spurs until the final whistle sounded, ending the game as a 1-1 draw.
Manchester City’s away trouble persisted with a loss at Aston Villa. The first half was a heavily one sided affair as Aston Villa sat on their heels and played a defensive game. The Villans were without their star striker Benteke who is sidelined with a hip injury. The deadlock broke when Yaya Toure hammered home a corner just before half. Villa played much more attacking in the second half and drew even in just 7 minutes on an offsides goal. City scored again shortly after on another corner kick to reclaim the lead. Bakuna scored his first goal for Aston Villa on a perfect free kick to draw even once more. Brad Guzan, the American keeper, provided an assist off a booming long ball just 2 minutes later. The long clearance inexcusably split the City defenders and left Weimann on a one on one with Joe Hart. The conversion was enough to secure Villa a win and the early title of this year’s “Giant Slayer.’
Cardiff City won their first away game in the Premier League with a spare time goal from sub Jordan Mutch. This embarrassing home loss pushed Fulham into the relegation zone and may make Jol the second manager casualty of the season. Bryan Ruiz and Mutch scored near identical curlers but the latter was the winner. Cardiff City won 2-1.
Hull City and Cardiff have both been surprisingly good. Despite being recently promoted, both squads sit mid table. Hull won off a controversial penalty at home against West Ham. A long cross went untouched as Robert Brady collapsed in the penalty area under the pressure of a defender. He converted the game winning goal for his third of the season. The Hammers are just a point above relegation zone. They’re schedule gets no easier as they face Tottenham, Man City and Swansea next.
Manchester United’s troubles persisted as well, falling to West Brom 1-2. The Red Devils have fallen 8 points back of the lead. David Moyes’ side looks uninspired save for Wayne Rooney whose goal was their only of the contest. West Brom’s first goal was scored by Amalfitano, who showed incredible composure to finish a run started in his own half. West Brom scored again in the 67th minute off of wonderful team play and a brilliant finish by Berahino. The Manchester back line showed its age.
Southampton stayed towards the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Palace emerged from half time sluggish and the Saints netted two early goals. Rickie Lambert’s goal was of particular note, curling over the wall before deflecting off the post and in. Southampton face Swansea and Manchester United next. The Saints will look to defend their home undefeated record against Swansea and take advantage of the ailing Red Devils. Crystal Palace will try to fight their way out of relegation against Fulham in two matches.
The final saturday match was the league leading Arsenal away against Swansea. Aaron Ramsey returned to Wales to the sound of resounding boos. Theo Walcott’s minor surgery put Serge Gnabry into the starting lineup for the third straight game. Swansea, true to form, possessed the ball and controlled the first half. Arsenal’s backline held and took control in the second half. Gnabry scored his first Premier League goal in the 58th minute. Four minutes later Aaron Ramsey continued his incredible form, finishing a beautiful team goal that proved to be the game winner. Ben Davies 81st goal wasn’t enough to pull Swansea back and Arsenal moved to two points clear at the top of the table.
Norwich City won 1-0 at Stoke City after Asmir Begovic let in a goal uncharacteristic of him. This was just Norwich 2nd win of the season as they are adjusting to offseason squad changes. Norwich have a difficult road ahead of them as they face Chelsea and Arsenal in their next two fixtures. It will be a difficult climb back to mid table. Stoke will play ailing Fulham on the road next match. A win here will maintain early distance from the relegation zone.
Luis Suarez made his return for Liverpool after his controversial offseason. After harsh demands to leave the team and dramatic tension between him and management, Suarez stayed in Liverpool. His ban for biting Ivanovic last season finally ended and he reminded us just how good he is. Suarez put away two goals in his season debut but Daniel Sturridge continued his form as well. Sturridge put away the first of Liverpool’s 3 goals and provided the assist for the second. Sturridge sits alone ahead of league scoring chart with 5 goals. Giaccherini scored his second league goal and fifth of the season, but thats all Sunderland could manage. Liverpool now sits in second place while Sunderland is dead last with a single point.
The final match of the week was monday at Goodison Park where Everton hosted Newcastle United. Alan Pardew’s decision not to start Cabaye proved costly for Newcastle as Everton dominated the first half. Lukaku had an incredible performance for Everton, scoring twice. The loan deal was a great piece of business for Everton. Lukaku gets the starts he needs to grow as a player and avoids the pressure that comes with being Chelsea’s starting striker. The Everton wing backs created opportunity after opportunity for the Blues, running up a 3-0 lead at halftime. The second half was a change of pace for Newcastle after Cabaye was subbed in. The run of play shifted in favor of the Magpies including a near miss trickling off the post early in the half. Cabaye scored a long shot fantastically placed in the top right corner. Newcastle created a few more opportunities but to little avail. The game seemed over until Remy cleaned up a loose ball Everton failed to clear in the box. The fourth official gave 4 minutes of extra time but it wasn’t enough to complete the stunning comeback. Everton remain the only unbeaten side in the league.
1. Tigres vs. Queretaro F.C.
2. West Brom vs. Man United
3. Newcastle vs. Everton
4. Rubin Kazan vs. Dinamo Moscow
5. Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad
The early League table bears many interesting headlines. The preseason favorites of Chelsea, City and United are not in the top four, Arsenal tops the table despite their lack of depth, and Liverpool has returned to title contention. However, this is very early in the season and table position could be due strength, or lack there of, of schedule. The following table compares the points accumulated this season in comparison with their identical fixtures of last season. It is meant to give a sense of relativity and a better idea of who has improved over the offseason.
While Arsenal have made their way to top of the table, they have dropped 3 points compared to their results of last season, namely, the loss at home to Aston Villa. Chelsea has dropped a significant amount of points as well. Last year, they won at Tottenham, home against Everton, and at Manchester United. This year, they drew Tottenham and Manchester United while losing to Everton. This is a loss of 7 points. However, they beat Fulham at home this year despite drawing them last year creating a net loss of 5 points. Southampton and Aston Villa are the most improved sides while Manchester United has suffered terribly.
Daniel Dicce tiene un 94% en su examen de espanol esta semana.
English teams had a poor showing in the Champions League last year. Manchester United are first glance favorites but the Red Devils have started slow in England. David Moyes will have to improve his squad or risk dropping early points in a talented group stage. Despite the loss of Illarramendi, Real Sociedad are a threatening club. They demolished Lyon in the qualifiers with stunning goals from Seferovic and Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann, the young Frenchman is a very under appreciated talent. He will be called up to the French national side after the World Cup. Bayer Leverkusen is another talented side who have jumped to a great start in Bundesliga. Expect Leverkusen to steal a game or two at home. Shaktar Donetsk enters their fourth straight Champions League where they have advanced in two out of the last three. Many teams find difficulty playing in Ukraine. This advantage will push Shaktar through the group stage.
1. Shaktar Donetsk
2. Manchester United
3. Real Sociedad
4. Bayer Leverkusen
This group has three teams who advanced to the quarterfinals last year (Real, Galatasaray, and Juvenus). Still reeling from the loss of Ozil, Real Madrid needs to balance their La Liga campaign with the Champions League. The offseason acquisition of Gareth Bale will provide a deadly attack which Isco will have to manage. Despite his youth, Isco has earned the starting job from manager Carlo Ancelotti. Juventus was active in the transfer market as well, acquiring striker Fernando Llorente from Atletico Bilbao and Carlos Tevez from Manchester City. This has had a wonderfully motivating effect on Arturo Vidal who has established himself early, as the team goalscorer. Galatasaray will have a rematch with Real Madrid who beat them handedly last year. Burak Yilmaz was the hero for Galatasaray last year as he held the golden boot for much of the season before finally losing it to Ronaldo. The last team of the group is FC Copenhagen who find themselves in the Champions League after winning their 10th Danish Super League. Despite advancing from the group stage in 2010-11, I can’t see Copenhagen winning many matches this campaign.
1. Real Madrid
Paris St. Germain
Should Benfica advance to the final, they will be playing at their home stadium, Estadio da Luz. Benfica failed to advance last year after receiving a tough draw against Celtic and Barcelona. After finishing third in their group, Benfica dropped to the Europa League where they lost in the final to Chelsea. Anything short of advancing from the group stage will be a disappointment for the Portuguese side.This is the only group not to feature a team from the top four leagues, but thats not to say the group is wide open. PSG are the favorites to win this group. The French League champions strengthen their side every transfer window and this summer they spent big on Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani. Cavani and Ibrahimovic form a powerful duo that will test any back line. PSG lost to Barcelona in the quarterfinals of last years knockout round, but they are even stronger this year. Given favorable draws, PSG could make the semi finals. Olympiacos return to the Champions League as Greek League Champions for the eighth time in nine years. They drew Arsenal and Shalke 04 in last year’s group stage and fell to third by one point to Arsenal. Olympiacos will challenge Benfica for the second place spot out of the group stage. Anderlecht enter their second straight Champions League campaign in a difficult group. They finished last after only managing to win one game in their group last year. The same fate is likely in store this year.
The defending champions and treble winners Bayern Munich start as the early favorites despite the departure of manager Jupp Heynckes. Heynckes’ retirement has brought Pep Guardiola to the helm. Guardiola, who won a treble of his own with Barcelona’s 2009 team, is one of few coaches capable of fulfilling such expectations. Bayern had two early signings during the transfer season in Mario Gotze, bought from competitive rivals Dortmund, and Thiago Alcantara, who Pep knows from his Barcelona days. Guardiola lost his first major match in the 2013 DFL Supercup to Borussia Dortmund, but managed to defeat rival Jose Mourinho in the UEFA Supercup. A series of early season injuries have plagued Bayern but they have the depth to open up their Champions League run with a statement win at home vs CSKA Moscow. Manchester City will need to make it out of their group this year. Placed into last year’s group of death, City failed to win a single game. This year, manager Manuel Pellegrini brings his European experience to the Sky Blue side. Pellegrini managed Malaga, who won their group and made a run into the quarterfinals of the tournament before Dortmund pulled back in a controversial win. City have dropped early points in the league with a loss to Cardiff and most recently a scoreless draw with Stoke. Road games in Moscow and Czech will be the difference for them. CSKA Moscow won their domestic league for the first time since 2006. Despite a league championship, CSKA failed to win their playoff round to qualify for the Europa League. They will need to look for leadership from remaining members of the 2011-12 squad that advanced from their Champions League group. Finally, Viktoria Plzen have been a dominant force in the Czech league over the last three years. They qualified after winning out from the second round of qualifiers. However, I can’t see Plzen finishing above fourth. Look for them to steal points and disrupt plans for City and Moscow.
1. Bayern Munich
2. Manchester City
3. CSKA Moscow
4. Viktoria Plzen
Chelsea are clear favorites to win this group. Manager Jose Mourinho has two Champions League titles under his belt but none with this London side. Chelsea were champions of the Europa League last year after beating Benfica in the final. Along the way they beat Steaua Becuresti and Basel, who are also tenants of this group. Shalke 04 were winners of their group last year after besting Arsenal. Shalke is an intimidating ground to play at and they are capable of sweeping at home. Basel will hope to repeat their shocking success of the 2011-12 Champions League where they advanced ahead of Manchester United. I foresee Basel finishing 3rd and making a run in the Europa League. Steaua Bucuresti will struggle with Basel this season. Steaua could finish third ahead of Basel and compete in Europa League.
2. Shalke 04
4. Steaua Bucuresti
This brings us to the group of death. At the publishing of this article, Napoli and Dortmund are winning their respective leagues while Arsenal sits just one point off of first. While it is difficult to name a favorite, last years runners up Dortmund is most likely to win. Their fast counter attacking style will cause problems for Arsenal. Despite the loss of Gotze, Dortmund has one of the best lineups in Europe. Marco Reus is another year older, Dortmund held on to Lewandowski, and the CB pairing of Hummels and Subotic could be the best in Europe. The signing of Mesut Ozil for Arsenal shifted the power of the group. Ozil impressed in his opening game where he registered an assist to the red hot Olivier Giroud. Questions of depth still plague Arsenal but a returning Thomas Vermaelen and a maturing Aaron Ramsey will help the Gunners. One headline of this group is Gonzolo Higuain, who chose Napoli over Arsenal during the transfer window. Napoli sits atop Serie A despite the loss of superstar Edinson Cavani to PSG. CAM Marek Hamsik will have to shoulder some of the weight left to bear by Cavani’s departure. Finally, we come to Marseille. Marseille are the underdogs of the group which is testament to the strength of the group rather than Marseille’s weakness. Group F will have to manage French international Mathieu Valbuena’s creativity and vision. Whoever finishes third in this division should be contenders for the Europa League championship.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Atletico Madrid is the betting favorite to top this group. They impressed early against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup despite losing on aggregate. Atletico also sits atop La Liga at a perfect 4-0-0 with Barcelona. Diego Costa and David Villa are combining to fill the void left by Falcao’s transfer. Atletico should top this group over a weakened Porto. Porto lost midfielders James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho to Monaco. However, Porto still have plenty of talent in forward Jackson Martinez. Martinez will be relied upon to carry Porto through the group stage. Zenit St. Petersburg were drawn with Porto in 2011 where Zenit managed to win 3-1 and advance ahead of the Portuguese side. St. Petersburg is another difficult venue to win at. The Russians have surrendered just one loss in two years after an own goal gave Milan a win last year. Austria Wien will struggle in this group. They entered qualifying in the third round before upsetting Dinamo Zagreb to enter the group stage.
1. Atletico Madrid
2. Zenit St. Petersburg
4. Austria Wien
Barcelona are the obvious favorites to win this group. The Catalans have made six straight semi finals winning two titles. Barcelona will look to avenge their embarrassing 7-0 loss at the hands of Bayern Munich last season. Despite a disappointing loss last year, Barca remain one of the most dominant teams in Europe. They have jumped to an early lead in La Liga and signed Brazilian prodigy Neymar. An aging Xavi and lack of depth at CB could prove problematic for Barca. Expect Fabregas to continue to take a larger role on the team. This will be the third pair of games between AC Milan and Barcelona in three years. Milan was bested in the round of 16 by Barcelona last year despite winning 2-0 at the San Siro. Milan are my favorites to finish second in this group. Celtic was also drawn with Barcelona last year. Celtic pulled off the upset of the league last year when they beat Barcelona 2-1 at home. Celtic finished second ahead of Benfica. Finally, Ajax is placed difficult group for the second straight year. Last year, Ajax was drawn with fellow league champions from Spain, England, and Germany. The loss of Christian Eriksen to Tottenham Hotspur will be a loss in Ajax’s midfield. Expect them to put up a fight and finish third.
Leading Goal Scorer:
Player of the Tournament:
European Power Rankings:
1. Bayern Munich
4. Real Madrid
10. Manchester United
If you put $5.00 straight bets on all of the Dojo’s group winner picks, you’ll win $46.63. Go ahead and have a case of beer on me. Your welcome. – Daniel “Smilin’ Wanderer” Dicce
The Dojo Premier League review comes a day late this week to cover the ending of the transfer window. Major headlines emerged with league changing consequences as a flurry of last minute transfers shifted power in the Premiership.
The league week was contained to just Saturday and Sunday this week, the former holding the less exciting but important nonetheless fixtures.
Manchester City rebounded after their disappointing loss to Cardiff, with a 2-0 win at home. Summer signing Alvaro Negredo found the net for his second goal in as many games. Yaya Toure put Hull City away with his second free kick goal in the 90th minute. While their defence looked better, the Sky Blues are certainly missing their skipper Vincent Kompany. Stoke City continued their fine start with another win over West Ham United. Three points on the road is no easy task, especially at the intimidating ground of Upton Park. Stoke face Man City and Arsenal in their next two games.Everton’s goal scoring problems continued with a 0-0 draw at Cardiff. Roberto Martinez is still waiting to record his first win as manager. These early points Cardiff are taking from Europe quality teams early in the season will help them late in the season. As Everton’s goal drought begins, Newcastle’s ended with a brilliant strike from Ben Arfa. The simple 1-0 scoring line did not give justice to the stat line as Newcastle hammered Fulham. However, the single goal proved enough. Crystal Palace beat Sunderland 3-1 at home. When Sunderland Captain John O’Shea was sent off for taking down Puncheon in the box, Gayle put away the game winning goal. Palace face Man Utd next game at Old Trafford. Norwich City earned their first win of the season beating Southampton at home. The deciding strike came midway through the second half with a driven ball from Nathan Redmond. Redmond’s performance was enough to land him on the Premier League’s team of the week.
Sunday’s matches held more interesting fixtures. Manchester United played Liverpool on the road while Tottenham and Arsenal clashed in the first North London Derby. Liverpool and Tottenham were playing to remain at a perfect 3-0-0 start. First, West Brom hosted Swansea. Both sides had a disappointing opening record, however Swansea had the tougher fixtures. Swansea handled West Brom with a controlling 2-0 win. Laudrup’s side had previously faced Tottenham and Manchester United and have Liverpool and Valencia to look forward to after the break. The first Derby of the day was Liverpool vs Manchester United. Brendan Rodgers beat Manchester United for his first time in his tenure at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with a tidy flick in the third minute. The game was filled with the emotion one could come to expect from this derby. Robin Van Persie and Steven Gerrard had words more than once but Gerrard’s soccer is what ultimately did the talking. The early goal was enough to keep Liverpool on top for another week. The final match of the week was the North London Derby fought between Arsenal and Tottenham. Arsenal was the home side for the first leg of the year. Much more than three points were on the line this match. Record summer signings for the Spurs prompted many pundits to predict this to be the year that Tottenham finally overtake Arsenal in the table. Conversely, at the start of the game, Arsenal had still yet to spend any money in the transfer window. Arsenal had managed to grab former midfielder Flamini on a free transfer. Flamini played a pivotal role in the second half. The game was seemingly make or break for Arsene Wenger. Olivier Giroud continued his scoring streak with a crafty finish midway through the first half. However, this game was won in the midfield. As Jack Wilshere stepped off just before halftime, Flamini entered the game. Ramsey and Flamini’s box to box play disrupted play in the middle of the field. The Gunners held on for an important moral victory at 1-0.
Goals of the Week:
1. Real Sociedad vs Lyon
2. Newcastle vs Fulham
3. Celtic vs Shaktar Karagandy
4. Valencia vs Barcelona
5. Barcelona vs Valencia (First Neymar and Messi link up. Complete hat trick)
Transfer Market Closing Day:
While Real Madrid were busy debuting their all-time record transfer Gareth Bale, Arsenal moved quickly to be the talk of Europe. Earlier in transfer market a series of seemingly unrelated moves ended dramatically today. Gervinho headed to Roma from Arsenal. The arrival of a striker/winger alleviated the need for Roma’s Lamela. Lamela headed to Tottenham Hotspur for 30 million pounds presumably to fill the shoes of Gareth Bale. Gareth Bale left Tottenham to head to Real Madrid, becoming the most expensive transfer in history at 85 million pounds. To finance this deal, Real Madrid sold arguably their second best player Mesut Ozil to Arsenal for 42.5 million pounds. There was wide outrage at Real Madrid President Perez, so much so that they chanted “Ozil no se vende” at Gareth Bale’s unveiling. Ozil will be replaced by Isco in the middle of the park where the youngster has been Ancelotti’s first choice. Arsenal also reinforced at goalkeeper by acquiring Emiliano Viviano from Palermo on loan with an option to buy. However, Arsenal failed to reinforce at cb and striker, the club’s most pressing needs. Manchester United failed to seal the deal with Atletico Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera after a long, drawn out negotiation process. They finally ended Marouane Fellaini’s buyout clause to purchase him from Everton. Manchester United also failed to bring Fellaini’s teammate Baines with him. Everton received Lukaku on loan from Chelsea. With Everton’s scoring problems, Lukaku could potentially become their first choice striker.
Daniel Dicce is going to name his first born Mesut, regardless of gender. @DanielDicce
Chelsea had two contests this week, the first being against Aston Villa. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho continued his line-up experiments by starting Demba Ba up top. His performance was lack luster as Chelsea once again failed to score a goal from their front line. Benteke scored again with a clinical finish in the box. Lukaku entered the game in the 65th minute but also failed to produce chances. The Chelsea goals came from an early own goal and a late Ivanovic header. Aston Villa looked to steal a point away but a controversial no call robbed the Villan’s a penalty. The game ended 2-1. Villa had to forget the match quickly as they headed home to play Liverpool just three days later. Aston Villa were arguably the stronger side and the stats certainly favored them in terms of shots. However, it was Sturridge’s tricky finish that proved the difference to give Liverpool a 1-0 win. While Villa only saved 3 points from their first 3 games, they had 3 strong showings. Crystal Palace and Stoke City both looked to grab their first points of the season at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium. New signing Chamakh opened the scoring in the 31st minute with a brilliant settling touch and a terrific finish. Stoke answered with 2 quick goals to give Mark Hughes his first Stoke win. Giaccherini snagged a quick goal for Sunderland but Southampton evened the score late to tie 1-1. Newcastle drew West Ham in a goalless match. The pressure on Alan Pardew is growing. A ten man Hull City squad stunned Norwich with a 1-0 win. Despite dominating the game, the Canaries failed to score. Everton had an incredibly frustrating 0-0 draw against West Brom as they failed to score despite 22 shots with 8 on goal. Jelavic will need to do better to solidify a starting job. The Gunner faithful’s nerves were put to a brief rest with a 3-1 derby win against Fulham. Oliver Giroud finished his third goal in three games, all competition. Lukas Podolski made his first start to score two more goals before Fulham scored their first. Wenger is still very much under the gun as the transfer market heads into the last week. Tottenham Hotspur did a fair bit of traveling this week. Their European obligations brought them all the way to Georgia for a 5-0 win before heading back home to face Swansea. Spurs had a narrow 1-0 win on another penalty. Record signing Soldado put away his fourth goal in three games. Cardiff City stunned Manchester City at home 3-2. The high scoring line didn’t start until Dzeko fired home a fantastic strike in the 52nd minute. In the 60th minute, Joe Hart gave up a sitter for Cardiff midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, who dutifully put it home. Joe Hart’s goalkeeping was brought back into question when Campbell headed home two headers for Cardiff off corners. Negredo netted his first goal for City too little too late as Cardiff won their first Premier League game. This may confirm City fan’s fears of Pellegrini’s lackluster away record. The premier bout of the week was Manchester United vs Chelsea at Old Trafford. David Moyes’ home debut could not have come against a tougher side. However, the two prospective champions clashed in an entirely underwhelming 0-0 draw. Had it not been for Wayne Rooney’s sheer determination and fantastic play, I would have been slightly more lulled to sleep. However, the match carried interesting headlines. Mourinho continued his line-up tinkering by not starting a striker. Schurlle filled the false nine role but failed to produce much offense. Chelsea’s best chances came by strikes from Oscar. The Premier League remains wide open early on in the Season.
Goals of the week:
1. Real Sociedad vs Lyon (Griezmann)
2. Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona (Villa)
3. Real Sociedad vs Lyon (Seferovic)
4. Tottenham vs Dinamo Tblisi (Rose)
5. Man City vs Cardiff City (Dzeko)
Daniel Dicce can kick a ball over a quarter mile. You don’t believe me? Want to make a bet? Yeah… if coach put me in second half we woulda been state champs… No doubt. No doubt in my mind.