Premier League Roundup: August 13 – 15

What an opening week of fixtures to start the 2016-17 Premier League season. In this segment, I’ll be giving you the scoop from all the matches played over the three day period.

SATURDAY:

Hull vs. Leicester: A tale of two cities, as Hull, pinned by many as relegation favourites, shocked the defending champions Leicester with a 2-1 win. N’Golo Kanté’s departure and Huth’s injury were felt in this match, but I was really impressed with new signing Ahmed Musa’s pace he brings to an already blistering attack. Here’s hoping things turn around for Ranieri’s side as they look to face a Arsenal side beleaguered with injuries.

Burnley FC vs. Swansea City: The man with the golden voice, Sean Dyche is back in the Premier League!! Unfortunately, his side didn’t pick up a victory after a late winner from Leroy Fer sealed it for the Swans. If only Fer was sold to Man City, he’d actually complete the Fer , Fernando, and Fernandinho evolution. Thanks Pokémon!!

Middlesbrough vs. Stoke City: With the signings Middlesbrough made this summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to scrape the top half of the table come the end of the season. The same can also be said about Stoke, who have made some decent signings as well such as Joe Allen. It ended in a 1-1 draw, with goals from former Manchester City winger Alvaro Negredo and #LegGoalsGuy Xherdan Shaqiri.

Manchester City vs. Sunderland: Pep’s debut in the Premier League proved to be a winning one, with the blue side of Manchester winning 2-1 over Moyeseh’s Black Cats. Some surprising exclusions from City’s side, as Willy Caballero started over surefire number one Joe Hart, and Kolarov being deployed in a centre-half position alongside newcomer John Stones. It’ll be interesting to see how far Pep can take this team, as this’ll be the first time he’s not presented with a “stacked” team like he did at Barcelona and Bayern.

Crystal Palace vs. West Brom: A 1-0 victory for the Baggies courtesy of Salomon Rondon. I think he’ll have a crack at challenging for top scorer in the EPL, which leads me to believe that he could be the Odion Ighalo wild card factor this year!

Everton vs. Tottenham: Two teams which I think will finish in the top six this year (and thus get a spot in European competition), we saw goals from the two attacking midfielders in Barkley and Lamela, ending in a draw. It’ll be interesting to see the integration of Yannick Bolasie (of Crystal Palace fame) slotting into Everton’s squad, with the idea of Bolasie, Barkley, Delofeu, and Lukaku up front already sounding like a nightmare for defenders in the Premier League.

Southampton vs. Watford: And at last, the 1-1 scoreline trend ends. Goals from newcomer Nathan Redmond (filling in Sadio Mane’s shoes quite nicely there mate!) and Etienne Capoue. If there’s one thing that I can say about Southampton’s season, it’s that every season where they have a new manager, they overachieve, so here’s hoping Claude Puel (who worked with Hatem Ben Arfa at previous club OGC Nice) can replicate that success!! In other news, new manager Walter Mazzari has a chance to replicate Claudio Ranieri as being Italian managers appointed in the summer that can win the Premier League 😉

SUNDAY:

Bournemouth vs. Manchester United: As a Chelsea fan, it is hard to see Mourinho leave for another club (more like rival over the past couple years), but he was victorious with a 3-1 victory against up-and-comer Bournemouth. Goals from Wazza/Shrek/Wayne Rooney, Zlatan, and Juan Mata (a former Chelsea player!) sealed the deal for the Special One, who are my favourites to win the Premier League this season!!

Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Being a neutral, this was a great match to watch. Not exactly Liverpool-Borussia Dortmund, albeit having the same scoreline, but really really close. Had I been an Arsenal fan, I’d be moaning at the lack of proactive behaviour coming from the board, and to top it all off, their most needed position (a striker) had their top target (Alexandre Lacazette) score three goals in the French league. Times they are a troubling for the Arsenal. Liverpool on the other hand were really good in the second half, where 3 out of their 4 goals came from obliterating a weak defensive line, including two young and inexperienced center-halves. Really admiring this new Gegenpressing style Klopp’s implementing at Anfield, and it’ll only be a matter of time before he gets the Reds their elusive first Premier League era trophy.

MONDAY:

Chelsea vs. West Ham: I previously mentioned my affection for Chelsea Football Club, and it was Jose Mourinho who really got me into the club in the first place. Now that he’s gone and replaced with Antonio Conte, I was nervous to see how he’d perform in the first game against a really strong West Ham side. It was a match for the ages as they say, with controversial calls from referees (e.g. a tackle on Oscar from Winston Reid), defensive sharpness from both sides, and of course goals. Eden Hazard (what a run of form he’s been in lately!!)’s goal was offset by James Collins’ amazing strike, only to have the winner come from the one and only Diego Costa. Great start to the season from the Blues, and here’s hoping we can carry the momentum and carve out the same defensively astute (hopefully bolstered by the signing of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli) that Conte successfully crafted with Italy at the Euros.

Until next time folks,
Kelvin Pau

 

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2016 UEFA Super Cup Review

UEFA. It’s a complicated organization, so much so that the word complicated seems like an understatement. But what we do get out of this is some amazing football, and that was the case with the UEFA Super Cup, a trophy that pits the winner of the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League (Real Madrid) against the winner of the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League.

FORMATION AND PLAYERS:

Real Madrid (2015-16 UEFA Champions League winner): 4-3-3 (Casilla, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kovacic, Vazquez, Morata, Isco, Asensio)

Sevilla (2015-16 UEFA Europa League winner): 3-4-3 (Rico, Kolodziejczak,, Carriço, Pareja, Vazquez, Iborra, N’Zonzi, Kiyotake, Vitolo, Vietto, Mariano)

1st HALF:

Goal(s): A 20th minute screamer from Marco Asensio opens the floodgates for this match, with an incredible curler on the top left-hand corner. Ultimately, that led me to make him my Man of the Match for his display tonight. He’s also 20 years old, so let that sink in. The second goal came in the form of a new signing from Sevilla in Franco Vasquez, who came over from Italian outfit Palermo this summer.

Controversial calls/Cards: Not much in the way of disciplinary issues between both sides this half, although we’ll see it becoming a recurring theme in the second half and into extra time.

Overall thoughts: Really dull match that prided itself on possession-based football, something the Spaniards have a liking to. Kiko Casilla (Real Madrid goalkeeper) was solid, especially in the 29th minute when he saved an amazing shot from Daniel Carriço. And gotta give a shout to Dani Carvajal’s nutmeg on former Premier League player Steven N’Zonzi.

2nd HALF:

Goal(s): We had to wait until minute 71 before we got a penalty shot converted from former Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger Yevhen Konoplyanka. The penalty came from a tackle inside the box from Ramos on Vitolo. Where it got super interesting was in the 92nd minute, where we saw an equalizer from Sergio Ramos to make the match 2-2 and send it into extra time. Add that to the list of clutch goals the defender’s scored over the years!

Controversial calls/Cards: The aforementioned penalty, along with a tackle from Carvajal (more on him later) in the 83rd minute, a tackle from Asensio two minutes later, and a red card for Kolodziejczak after a stamp on Franco Vasquez was all in the books for the ref, who by all accounts didn’t have much to worry about.

Overall thoughts: Much better performance from both teams made for a much better atmosphere in Norway. Really looking forward to the season ahead for these two teams, who will most certainly place and compete for European spots this season!!

 

EXTRA TIME:

All there is to talk about is Carvajal’s winner after cutting from the right flank past Adil Rami (of France’s Euro 2016 squad fame) and into the back of the net.

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

Why Mad Men on AMC is the Premier TV Channel and TV Series Duo

Apologies for not writing a post on Saturday, for I was feeling under the weather and didn’t have the energy to think of creative ideas pertaining to the aforementioned title. On another note, May the Fourth be with you everybody!! While one would surmise the fact that this blog post is about Star Wars, I thought I’d rebel against the Force (in reality, I already made a post about my thoughts on the new Star Wars movie back on Friday) and talk about another guilty pleasure of mine: AMC’s Mad Men, which, in my opinion, is the main reason why a person would tune in to AMC (Channel 51 for all you Rogers customers out there). While the show will be airing its seventh and last season this year, here are some reasons why the duo of AMC and Mad Men work so superfluously on our television sets.

Going back to the history of AMC, it was originally called American Movie Classics. Seen as a competitor to TCM, or Turner Classic Movies (channel 45 for all you Rogers customers out there), it displayed classic movies including the Humphrey Bogarts, the James Deans, and the Marlon Brandos of the world. Much of the critical acclaim any of their movies had dealt with character development, and ability to effectively portray a character unbeknownst to the audience. Having seen The Sopranos, one of my all-time favourite prime time shows hosted on a cable network, I knew exactly what I was getting into with a writer of Matthew Weiner’s calibre; exceptional writing, plot and character development, with the occasional twist here and there. The idea of bringing together a dramatization of the turbulent era that is the 1960s, coupled with the focus on advertising men (or ad men, for short) in the mecca that is New York, was certainly a sign that Weiner did his homework on the classic movie roots of the 80s company. Making Mad Men into a full-length film wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially given the recent trend of period pieces being the new thing (see: Game of Thrones, The Tudors last decade, and movies like The Other Boleyn Girl). Just don’t tell that to Michael Bay.

It should be noted that at the time the first season of Mad Men was released, AMC was transitioning into its fourth year of original, scripted programming. Rival HBO already had two hits on their hands prior to 2007: The Wire, and The Sopranos. The company really had to take a risk with this series, and it paid off handsomely. Not only was this a revival of the AMC channel as it transitioned into the modern era, it was the revival of original scripted programming as a whole. What followed suit were shows like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Better Call Saul, shows which have garnered widespread acclaim. To put this into perspective, having Mad Men on AMC served as a launching platform for great original shows and, after quite some time, has finally caught on with the masses. Allow me now to give you a sports analogy here: in the early part of the last decade, Manchester City FC, a football team who were often in the shadows of everyone’s favourite team, Manchester United, spent time in the lower leagues (i.e. leagues not named the Premier League). Even after the promotion to the Premier League in 2002, it didn’t get any attention until 2008, when they were purchased by some dudes from the UAE. Then, three years later, they won their first Premier League title since the late sixties, which, coincidentally was the time frame of Mad Men. The point is this: both items of interest (the AMC channel and Man City) both dealt with rough beginnings in transitioning from one thing to another, but, after much hard work and commitment, was able to win over audiences all over the world.

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P