Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My EPL Decision

So, it has been a while since I updated…it’s been quite hectic in life the past few weeks. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been keeping up with the beautiful game, especially the EPL. First off, congrats to Manchester United on winning the title. They played well this year and it is truly deserved. Since the season is over, it is time for me to make a decision on the EPL team that I will be supporting next season. It was definitely a close call between a couple of teams, but in the end, I let my heart and my gut do the choosing. I think it’s a good one. First, a recap of the teams in the mix:

-Manchester United
-Manchester City
-Newcastle United

After looking at the team’s histories again and comparing the success of the clubs and what I liked and disliked about each, I crossed off Everton, Arsenal and Man U from my list. That left Newcastle, Fulham, Chelsea and Man City. Then, I looked at play. Newcastle being relegated did not cross them off my list, as I had eliminated them from consideration before the final weekend. Their fans are very passionate and they have a rich history in the top flight of English football. Yet, their players played as if they were resigned to making the drop. With about 6 weeks left in the season, when they desperately needed to step up and make some plays to keep their position in the Premiership, they phoned it in. Even on the last day, with Hull’s loss they needed just 1 goal to stay up and send Hull City back to the Championship. They scored…into their own net. That own goal by Duff sent Newcastle packing for life in the 2nd tier next season. It was the players that eliminated Newcastle…lack of heart when they needed it the most.

So now I had 3 teams on my list: Fulham, Chelsea and Man City. I liked everything about these teams, liked their rich past, their wonderful future…but like I said, in the end it came down to my gut and my heart. I like a ton of players on each team, and with Man City’s owners deciding to spend whatever it takes to make them a top-4 squad next year, their future is very bright. However, I have made my decision and I am quite at peace with it. My EPL team is:

In the end, my great friend, a lifelong Chelsea fan, put me on to the team that I liked the most. Following the Blues is something that I feel at home with, and the games I saw with Chelsea were very exciting, win or lose. I found myself, in a similar way that I do with my all-time favorite Real Madrid, riding the wave of excitement and heartbreak with every game. But, come next season, I will be fully following Chelsea Football Club as they try to reclaim the Barclay’s Premiership title.

In the next few weeks, I hope to buy a Chelsea jersey with one of my favorite players in all of English football, Frank Lampard. If I buy a second one ( c’mon you know me), skipper John Terry will get the nod. And I look forward to seeing Chelsea for the first time in person July 24th at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore as they play a preseason tournament game against AC Milan. Come on you Blues!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Champions League Semifinal 2nd Leg

Well, over the course of the next two days, the UEFA Champions League Semifinal 2nd legs will be played, and we will find out who will square off in the Final in Rome on May 27th. Today sees Arsenal try to overcome a 1-0 aggregate deficit against Manchester United at Emirates Stadium, while Wednesday will see an all-square Chelsea and Barcelona face off across town at Stamford Bridge. The first leg at the Camp Nou saw a 0-0 draw between the Blues and the Blaugrana, while a John O’Shea goal is the only tally in the Man U-Arsenal tie.

Once again, there is a chance for an all-England final…but will it be? Will Arsenal be geared on by their fans to overtake Man U, who still have a chance for the double? Will Chelsea beat able to beat Barca, who is fresh from their pounding of my favorite team, Real Madrid, and head back to try for redemption in the Champions League final?

Nothing really left to do except play the matches. In today’s match, I see a 2-1 victory by Arsenal, with Man U moving through on the away goals rule. Tomorrow, I see Chelsea coming up with something magical, winning 3-1 at the Bridge and sending them through to a rematch against Man U in Rome. In less than 30 hours, we will know who will move on for a chance to raise the finest silverware in club football.