mcgillianaire: (Football player)
After 29 league games last season, Leicester City had just 19 points and marked nearly four months at the bottom of the Premier League table. If a new season had started immediately after that and included this season's matches, they would have 66 points from 31 matches. To put it in some perspective, this is a list of EPL teams since 1995/96* with the most points after 31 matches. The team in () was the eventual league champion, when different from the leader after 31 matches:

2014/15 - Chelsea            - 73 pts
2013/14 - Chelsea            - 69 pts (Manchester City)
2012/13 - Manchester United  - 77 pts
2011/12 - Manchester United  - 76 pts (Manchester City)
2010/11 - Manchester United  - 66 pts
2009/10 - Manchester United  - 69 pts (Chelsea)
2008/09 - Manchester United  - 71 pts
2007/08 - Manchester United  - 73 pts
2006/07 - Manchester United  - 78 pts
2005/06 - Chelsea            - 78 pts
2004/05 - Chelsea            - 80 pts
2003/04 - Arsenal            - 77 pts
2002/03 - Arsenal            - 66 pts (Manchester United)
2001/02 - Manchester United  - 64 pts (Arsenal)
2000/01 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1999/00 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1998/99 - Manchester United  - 64 pts
1997/98 - Arsenal            - 63 pts
1996/97 - Manchester United  - 63 pts
1995/96 - Manchester United**- 64 pts

** Newcastle United also had 64 pts

Addendum

Jan. 14th, 2016 10:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
In my excitement to evaluate Leicester City's potential achievement, I forgot to mention a couple other aspects of this season's Premier League that has equally confounded expectations and added to the merriment. The first is the almost mirror-like collapse by defending champions Chelsea and the other is the welcome return of unpredictable results for practically every match, including the ones involving the usual top teams (though perhaps excluding Aston Villa). Long may it continue!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
It's been a wee while since I made an entry about O Joga Bonito, but this season's English Premier League has earned it. I can't remember the last time when we were so far into a season (Gameweek 21 out of 38) and a team like Leicester City were still contending for the title. However unlikely it may still seem, the neutral in me wants them to go all the way. It would certainly surpass any achievement since the Premier League began (1992/93) and possibly eclipse the achievements of both Leeds United in 1991/92 and Aston Villa in 1980/81, because of their existing pedigree in English football. Of course, Blackburn Rovers won the title in 1994/95 under Dalglish, but they also had pedigree and their triumph was aided in no small part by owner Jack Walker's millions - the prescient precursor to the business model's successful replication by Chelsea and then Manchester City. No, we'd have to go back to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest - a fellow Midlands club - in 1977/78 to find the most recent equivalent accomplishment. Back then, The Reds won the league title immediately following promotion from the old Division Two - an extremely rare achievement in itself - and they remain the only club in Europe to have won more European Cups than league titles (2-to-1). I suppose even if The Foxes don't conquer the summit of English football, they'd take a place in the top four and entry into next season's Champions League. Even that would be an outstandingly incredible achievement. Goodness knows how excruciatingly frustrating it's been as a Liverpool fan aiming to achieve just that in the past half a dozen seasons. As another famous Scot might muse: Football, bloody hell!1

1 Bill Shankly quoted in the subject, Sir Alex Ferguson in the entry.
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)
As you know, my three favourite sports are cricket, football and tennis. It's been an eventful week for all three and the teams/sportsmen that I support. It started with Liverpool's victory away at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge last Sunday, continued with Roger Federer's demolition of Rafael Nadal during the week and subsequent unbeaten run to his 100th professional tournament final, 70th career title overall and record-breaking 6th ATP World Tour Finals success. In between, there were two close finishes in the Test cricket matches between South Africa/Australia and India/West Indies. Neither of the teams which I wanted to win succeeded, but both matches were a fantastic advert for the game's longer version. Then to cap off the eventful week, Liverpool became only the second club in this season's Premier League to take points off leaders Manchester City, in a game we really should've won. Not a bad way to lead myself into starting a new temp job tomorrow morning!
mcgillianaire: (Default)
I wish there was a job that existed along the lines of "Professional Sport Armchair Spectator" because not only would I be very good at it, but I'd also bring two decades worth of extensive work experience. It occurred to me that in the past ten days, I have been smothered with at least one match/race of all the sports and teams which I follow and/or love. Starting with cricket, India and England have been in action, in football both England and Liverpool have flattered to deceive (as usual), Federer's lost at the US Open, Usain Bolt got disqualified from one race, won another and helped set a world record in a third, while the Rugby World Cup got underway and Sebastian Vettel won yet another Formula One race. Sportsgasmic!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
I became aware of this a few years ago but most people still think it is. I was reminded of it while watching the latest edition of the newly-instituted, web-only Match of the Day 3 programme on Monday mornings, which featured as its guest the British-based American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel. Neither he nor Lee Dixon (a regular analyst and former England international) were aware of soccer's true origins. Therefore I reckon it's important to spread the word across the length and breadth of this country and beyond. Many Britons (and I've noticed it's not just those who follow the sport!) are quick to dismiss any use of the term soccer as an Americanism, as though it were a dirty word. But as Wikipedia amply demonstrates, this misnomer couldn't be further from the truth. Soccer is well and truly British. In fact it was widely used by the mainstream media until at least the 1970s, but quite what happened after that is somewhat of a mystery. Although interestingly enough, according to the Hansard archives, the use of the term soccer by MPs has increased in recent decades (even as football remains the most popular term in Parliament, the media and certainly amongst the hoi polloi)!

EDIT: It's worth pointing out that according to Hansard, the earliest mention of football in Parliament was in 1824, while the earliest mention of soccer (and rugger) was in 1927.

(Note: Even if you don't like MotD or football in general, that programme is worth watching alone for what is possibly the "best" own goal ever scored... by who else but Lee Dixon himself!)
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)
Last night I watched what was probably the game of the season and surprisingly, it didn't involve either Real Madrid, Barcelona or both, even though they were also in action together. It's not easy picking one game out of half a dozen humdingers, Arsenal featuring in at least three of them. But last night was special because I watched it in a pub packed with fans from both sides not far from where the game was actually played. And it was a study of contrasts, as one side went into the ascendency followed immediately by the other. The game ebbed and flowed until Spurs came back from a two-goal deficit to secure a draw against the mighty Arsenal. A bad result for both teams but perhaps more damaging for Arsenal as they seek to end their six-year silverware drought. There's a better chance Spurs will qualify for next season's European Cup. And most hope they do.

Meanwhile, Liverpool remain rooted to sixth which will probably deny them any European football next season for the first time since 1999/00. That's thanks to Birmingham City winning the League Cup and only one of the top five clubs making the final of the FA Cup. However there is an outside chance we could sneak through to the Europa League, if Manchester City win the FA Cup but get pipped to fourth place in the league by Spurs and we finish sixth. That would be harsh on Stoke City who have qualified for their first ever FA Cup Final in their 148 year-old history. And if we don't watch out, the Blue Shite are just 2 points behind us. COME ON YOU REDS!

In the other half of the table, the bottom eight clubs are separated by a mere six points. There may only be five or six games left this season, but it's all to play for! A fitting finale to an exciting Premier League campaign!
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)

My first appearance at Ruse Bar in Borough (near London Bridge) - a Liverpool supporters boozer thanks to the landlord who's a fan.
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)


There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There's no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando
Yes, if I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando...
mcgillianaire: (Liverpool FC)
I think the only way Torres, Reina and Gerrard will stay at the end of the season is if John Henry fires Roy Hodgson before Christmas and brings in a big name like Hiddink. The new owners will also probably have to demonstrate their ambition by splashing the dough in January on at least one major signing. Otherwise we're toast. It's probably too late already. What a disaster the last eighteen months have been. YNWA
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Fantastic news for Premier League fans. MOTD2 will be available for a week, on the Tuesday following its Sunday evening broadcast.

-----

It'll take a while to get used to Colin Murray, who replaces the man you love to hate but love and miss terribly, Adrian Chiles. A cursory search on Twitter suggests I'm not the only one who misses his under appreciated sense of humour and Brummie accent. It is a Brummie accent, right? Any ways, today's show was nice with its cutbacks to old footage, 80s music and titles. Don't you just miss the 80s? I do.

And what happened to, 2Good 2Bad? I really miss it and I hope they bring it back next week. Again, Twitter suggests I'm not alone.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Thanks to the non-stop Oman Air flight, it took me less than 12 hours door-to-door. Just in time to watch Match of the Day! YNWA
mcgillianaire: (Liverpool FC)

The Anfield faithful voice their displeasure at the ongoing financial disarray at England's most successful football club.
mcgillianaire: (Football player)


I cannae believe I turned down an offer to watch The Tangerines qualify for the Premier League at a miserly price of £30 at Wembley!!!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)


This is why I love living in Europe. One of my best mates supports Blackpool FC. They play in the second division of English football but this was their last game of the season and their biggest in decades. The last time The Seasiders played in the top division was 1971. They got relegated immediately and as recent as two seasons ago were languishing in the third division. But since surviving by the skin of their teeth last season, The Tangerines have ripened just in time to qualify for the Premier League play-offs next week. Today's game was crucial because if they drew or lost and Swansea had beaten Doncaster, the Welsh club would've qualified instead. As it were, The Jacks were held to a frustrating goalless draw at home, unleashing a fantastic sea of emotion at the Prince of Wales pub near Victoria Station. Not only is it a Blackpool supporters pub but the pub landlord and his assistants are all lifelong supporters! The game itself was rather boring, even though Blackpool found themselves behind early in the first half. As the second half progressed, the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Brett Ormerod's full-length diving header secured the long-awaited equaliser and calmed everybody down a bit. But the fans wanted a winner. As the match entered the final few minutes, bitten nails were flying everywhere.

Everybody with iPhones tried to find out what was happening at The Liberty Stadium, but as it happened, we all found out their result by the reactions of the fans on the telly! In the end a victory wasn't necessary and Blackpool now meet a certain Nottingham Forest in the play-offs. I know who I'll be supporting, and it ain't the men in orange ahem, tangerine. I got told off for saying that today! So even if Blackpool get through that, there's still the play-off final at Wembley to deal with in two weeks. Either way from what I saw this afternoon, whoever qualifies is probably going straight back down. I got home to watch the Man Utd-Sunderland game and it was noticeably three notches quicker and of much better quality. Oh and we did our bit to help Chelsea move closer to the Premier League title. But is it the end for Rafa?


Blackpool fans waiting in anticipation for the final whistle, and the result at Swansea.


Job done! Swansea draw, Blackpool through, best day in a long time. Long night of drunken revelry!
mcgillianaire: (Liverpool FC)

Two famous banners unfurled at Anfield. The first by Liverpool fans in the mid-90s, the second by Man United fans earlier this season.

If Liverpool defeat Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday, it'll virtually hand Man United the Premier League title. They've won 18. We've won 18. Is that what we really want? But if we don't win, we lose the minute chance of qualifying for Champions League football next season. The odds are stacked against us and we're almost certainly condemned to another adventure in the Europa League. And I'd much rather Chelsea win the title than Manchester United. Surely we won't do the latter a favour? After all, Chelsea still have sixteen to go! Decisions, decisions...
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
The Red Devils were literally seconds away from their first ever back-to-back goalless draws since the Premier League began in 1992. That's how dominant they have been the last eighteen years, so it should've come as no surprise to me when they snatched a last-minute equaliser in stoppage time, away at the Manchester derby. No pressure on Chelsea to beat Spurs later today. Grr, If I hated them before...
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
The Queen has been an Arsenal fan for over 50 years. Prince Charles supports Burnley, while Prince William supports another claret and blue club, but of a Brummie persuasion in the form of Aston Villa, as might interest [livejournal.com profile] drunkendeadcat. And Harry has taken his nan's lead and also supports The Gooners. So much for The Royles being out of touch and football being a sport of the working classes!

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