erics

I am a contributing writer and run the social media for SoccerProse. You should look up our Twitter and Facebook accounts at SoccerProse. Find me on Google+


Posts by erics

Rafa Benitez

QPR stun Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea started out the new year with a loss to the team at the bottom of the Premier League table. Coming into the match, 28 points separated Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers, so it seemed safe to assume Chelsea would easily win, especially playing at Stamford Bridge.

However, QPR was able to secure their second win of the season at Chelsea’s expense. The thing that makes this QPR win even more surprising was the fact that, after a rough start to his managerial career at Chelsea, Benitez has lead Chelsea to positive results recently. In their last four games before Wednesday, Chelsea beat Sunderland 3-1, Aston Villa 8-0, Norwich City 1-0 and Everton 2-1. This fine run of form lead QPR manager Harry Redknapp to comment on Benitez and Chelsea before the match.

“He has walked into a squad of players there who are Champions League winners. You’ve got a chance, haven’t you? You’d have to be a real dope to mess it up with that group of players – Hazard, Mata, Lampard,” according to ESPNFC.

It seems as though the gulf in quality between the players on the respective teams was not enough to give Chelsea a win. Chelsea is now 14 points behind league leaders Manchester United with a game in hand. They are now in fourth place in the Premier League with a slim point lead over both Everton and Arsenal.

This win could also provide QPR with some confidence as they try to claw their way out of the relegation zone. They are five points behind Southampton, who is currently in seventeenth place. With less than half the Premier League season remaining, it is going to be a real battle for QPR to get out of the relegation zone and remain in the Premier League. However, Harry Redkapp is currently happy with the win.

“I can’t remember many better wins than this one, with Chelsea flying at the moment,” Redknapp said after the match.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

Arsene Wenger

Transfer Time

With the January transfer window, the holidays could be coming soon for certain clubs. Therefore, we are going to take the time and look at some of the possible transfer scenarios, both plausible and far-fetched.

Let’s start with Arsenal. Arsenal is currently in seventh place in the English Premier League, 16 points behind league leaders Manchester United and three points from Champions League qualification. Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have been known to sell off their prized players (Fabregas and Van Persie) without bringing in proper replacements. However, they did make a splash during the last transfer window, bringing in Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Lucas Podolski. Now it seems as though they may be looking to spend once again in order to finish in the top four.

Arsenal is looking to add Nani from rival Manchester United. This past summer, United was able to secure the transfer of Robin Van Persie from the Gunners and Arsenal is hoping previous negotiations between clubs can bring Nani’s price down. According to the Daily Mail, “The Old Trafford club want in the region on €20 million for Nani, who has fallen out of favor with manager Sir Alex Ferguson. But Arsenal want a cheaper fee and are highlighting Van Persie’s summer move north in their attempts to secure a lower price.”

In addition to Nani, Arsenal is looking at the possibility of a loan for former Arsenal and current New York Red Bull player Thierry Henry.

One player who could be leaving the Premier League is Gareth Bale.

“Real Madrid have stepped up their pursuit of Gareth Bale by putting together a €33 million bid to try and prise him away from White Hart Lane,” according to the Daily Mail.

Tottenham have claimed Bale will not leave the club, but it may be hard if Real continue to up the amount they are willing to pay for him. Tottenham are currently in fourth in the Premier League, but the loss of Bale could hurt the side and their quest to make it back to the Champion’s League.

Finally, we come to Manchester United and one of the seemingly far-fetched transfer rumors. The Daily Mirror is reporting the possibility of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho to make the move to Old Trafford.

“But with a growing belief this could be Fergie’s last season, United may gazump PSG to bring in both Ronaldo and Mourinho, who is among the favorites to succeed Fergie, in an amazing coup,” according to the Daily Mirror.

So far, these are the most interesting transfer rumors and we will continue to keep an eye on players leaving and coming into clubs during the January transfer window. Let us know what you think about all the latest transfer rumors.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

CR7

Champions League Final 16

The matchups have been set for the final 16 of the Champions League. The round of 16 matchups are as follows: Galatasaray v. Schalke, Celtic v. Juventus, Valencia v. PSG, Porto v. Málaga, Arsenal v. Bayern, Shakhtar Donetsk v. Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan v. Barcelona and Real Madrid v. Manchester United.

Obviously, since these teams made it to the final 16 of the Champions League, all the games should be entertaining and hopefully close. However, it is interesting to note how some of these teams, that are supposedly the best in Europe, are struggling in their respective leagues. Schalke is currently seventh in Bundesliga, which is only good enough for Europa League qualifying. Valencia is currently 11th in La Liga, 25 points behind league leaders Barcelona and seven points from Champions League qualifying. Arsenal is currently fifth in the Premier League, 15 points behind league leaders Manchester United and two points from Champions League qualifying. Finally, AC Milan is currently seventh in Serie A, 14 points behind league leaders Juventus and six points away from Champions League qualifying.

All of these teams have made it through Champions League group stages to become one of the final 16 teams to compete to become the champions of Europe. However, the teams mentioned above would not make the Champions League next year if the season ended today, and they are not close to competing for the title of their respective leagues.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, PSG and Juventus are all currently atop their leagues. I found it interesting how far away these teams are in terms of success in domestic leagues. In theory, this would create some lopsided results in the round of 16. But, one of the great things about the Champions League, similar to March Madness with NCAA men’s basketball, is the ability for lesser teams to upset the favored teams. This is why a team like Chelsea was able to win the Champions League last year.

With all this said regarding the matchups, arguably, the most interesting matchup after the announcement Thursday was Real Madrid v. Manchester United. Jose Mourinho was brought into Real Madrid to win a Champions League title. In addition to that, there are also several other interesting storylines associated with this game. The first of these storylines is related to Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho has been under fire recently for poor results. Madrid is currently 13 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and Mourinho has pretty much conceded the La Liga title for the season. This has lead to speculation that he will depart the club at the end of the season. Mourinho has also expressed his desire to return to the Premier League and also the possibility of managing Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson retires, if ever. As the Telegraph has mentioned, this two-leg competition may be a tryout for Mourinho to possibly take over at the club.

The other interesting storyline is Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford. This is Ronaldo’s first return to Old Trafford since he departed for Real Madrid. It will be interesting to see the reception he gets and how he performs at his old playing field. If Real Madrid is to advance, Ronaldo will need to have two good performances to help his team get closer to winning that coveted Champions League trophy.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

Messi

Good times for Barcelona

Barcelona has had a pretty good week so far. On Sunday, Atletico Madrid traveled to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona. Atletico Madrid is currently second in La Liga, and came into the game trailing Barcelona by only six points in the league. However, Madrid left the Camp Nou trailing Barcelona by nine points, a much more substantial margin. Barcelona not only beat their closest competitor, they handled them quite comfortably. They ended up winning the game 4-1, with Lionel Messi scoring two of the goals.

As Barcelona cruised to victory, their rival, Real Madrid, stumbled to another draw, tying Espanyol 2-2. This latest draw leaves Real Madrid 13 points behind Barcelona and likely out of the title race. Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho even believes it will be difficult to win La Liga for a second straight season.

“’I think it is almost impossible,’ [Mourinho] told reporters after the match. ‘What we have to do is play every match to win without worrying about whether we are first, second or third or whether our direct rivals won or lost,’” according to ESPNFC.

Even though Barcelona now has a comfortable lead at the top of La Liga following the weekend’s results, Barcelona fans may be more excited about what happened off the field. Lionel Messi has agreed to a new contract with Barcelona, which will keep him at the club through 2018. Barcelona also signed both Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez to extensions. Their contracts will go through 2016.

Barcelona fans will be rejoicing that their Argentinian star will remain at the club and continue to help Barcelona win trophies while scoring an outrageous amount of goals. So far this season, Messi has 25 goals and five assists in 16 La Liga games. He also has scored 90 goals to this point in 2012. Things are looking pretty good for Barcelona at the moment and their fans should be very excited.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

Rafael Benítez, Chelsea manager

Can Chelsea turn their season around?

This weekend, Chelsea will travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland in the Premier League. Rafa Benitez will be looking for his first Premier League victory as Chelsea manager on Saturday.

Benitez’s terrible start as Chelsea manager already has fans angry and Benitez questioning the security of his position at Chelsea.

An article on ESPNFC said Benitez was not positive about his status following a 3-1 loss to West Ham United on Dec. 1 stating, “Pressed on the fact he did not sound 100 percent sure of his position, he replied, ‘No, I am not 100 percent. We didn’t win today – that is the main thing.’” The same article also stated Chelsea supporters were not pleased with their new manager.

“Chelsea’s fans again made their feelings known, chanting ‘You’re not welcome here’ and joining in with a song from the home fans that went ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning,” according to ESPNFC.

Despite the fact that Chelsea has not a game in the Premier League since Oct. 28, Chelsea remains in third place in the Premier League. However, they are currently in a three-way tie at 26 points with Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion and are ahead only on goal difference.

Right now, despite the negative results, Chelsea need to back Rafa Benitez 100 percent. I am not a Benitez fan and thought it was a bad decision to name his as manger, however, the club needs some sort of stability. Roman Abramovich needs to calm down and let a manager manage the club without overreacting and firing them right away.

Chelsea is currently 10 points behind leaders Manchester United, which is not an insurmountable deficit to overcome. This weekends game provides Benitez and Chelsea are perfect opportunity to get their season back on track and get a winning result.

Sunderland is currently one point out of the relegation zone with only 13 points from 14 games. Sunderland has also only won one game at home this season while losing twice and drawing three times.

Every Chelsea fan will be watching this game intently to see if Benitez can finally get his first win in charge of Chelsea and if Chelsea can get their first victory since Oct. 28. If the team hopes to still compete for the Premier League title this season, they must start getting positive results.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola to Manchester City?

Manchester City was, once again, held to a draw on Saturday. Everton traveled to the Etihad Stadium to face City, but neither side was able to gain an advantage on their opponent and the match ended 1-1. With their most recent draw, Manchester City has yet to lose a game in the Premier League this season, however, they have six draws already, leaving them three points behind leaders Manchester United.

Games away from Etihad Stadium have caused City the most trouble this season. At home, City has won six games and tied twice. They have also scored 19 goals while conceding only six. Once they leave the Etihad Stadium, the team tends to struggle, especially finding the back of the net. City won three games and tied four when playing away from home. They have also only scored nine goals while conceding five goals.

Even though City are only three points behind the Premier League leaders, it seems as though the poor results combined with a group stage exit in the Champions League may cost Roberto Mancini his job. Of course, being at a large club with a high bank account causes the managerial seat to remain hot nearly constantly, and it seems the owners do not care that Mancini brought the club to the top of the Premier League last season.

The Daily Mirror reported on Nov. 29 that Pep Guardiola is set to take over City.

“And now FIFA agent Francois Gallardo has told a Spanish radio station that City are already plotting to replace manager Roberto Mancini,” according to the Mirror. “’Guardiola has a pre-deal to be the next manager of Manchester City,’ he claimed. ‘No matter if Milan or whoever make offers to him.’”

If this is true, it is not surprising. Mancini has been on the hot seat for some time now and Guardiola lead Barcelona to many trophies while playing a beautiful style of soccer. However, the Mirror also said that City will replace Joe Hart.

“In what will no doubt be surprising news to City’s England No. 1 Joe Hart, Gallardo claimed City will also try to sign Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes,” according to the Mirror.

Guardiola replacing Mancini would not surprise me, however, this second claim would be a surprise. Why would you replace Hart with Valdes. If Guardiola wants to take players from the Barcelona team he managed, why did he leave the club? It will be interesting to keep an eye on this story and what the fate of Roberto Mancini and Joe Hart will be at Manchester City. Also, if City overtake United in the Premier League, how can you fire a manager when you are in first place? It is not like City are out of the Premier League race for the title, they remain only three points behind.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

LA Galaxy win

LA Galaxy Win the MLS Cup

David Beckham leaves the MLS on top after the LA Galaxy defeated the Houston Dynamo Saturday. Even though the final score ended up 3-1, Galaxy fans must have been nervous throughout the match.

Early in the match, Beckham played a lovely long ball to Robbie Keane, who played a square ball across the front of goal for what should have been a simple Landon Donovan tap-in. However, Donovan failed to convert the chance as the ball went slightly wide. Then, shortly before half time, Calen Carr scored to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead and momentum. At that point, Galaxy fans must have wondered if Donovan’s missed chance would come back to haunt the club.

The Dynamo’s 1-0 lead, and their title hopes, fell apart during a span of five minutes. Omar Gonzalez scored in the 60th minute and Donovan converted a penalty in the 65th minute to give the Galaxy a lead they would not relinquish. Keane scored an insurance goal on the Galaxy’s second penalty kick of the day in the 94th minute.

The Galaxy’s win gives the club their second consecutive MLS Cup title, but the bigger story of the day was Beckham’s final appearance in MLS. In November, Beckham announced he was leaving MLS.

“I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future,” Beckham said.

This leaves open the discussion of where Beckham will go next in his career. So far, the English star has played in the Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy, and the MLS in the United States. According to the Daily Mirror, Beckham will take his talents to PSG for the rest of the season. Imagine Becks and Posh taking over Paris!

Overall, Beckham has done what he hoped to accomplish with MLS. He helped grow the league and won two titles in the process. Today was a great achievement for the LA Galaxy and a fitting end to Beckham’s time in MLS.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

Credit NBC Sports for the Beckham quote.

mourinho

Real Madrid Struggling

Thirteen games into the La Liga season and the table looks pretty predictable. Barcelona is currently at the top of the table with 37 points, winning all their games except for one draw. Three points behind Barcelona is a team from Madrid. However, it’s not the team from Madrid that you would expect. Atletico Madrid has won 11 games, losing once and drawing once. So where is Real Madrid, the team that won La Liga last season? They sit in third, 11 points behind rival Barcelona. So everything in La Liga is not as predictable as usual so far this season.

The poor start to the season has some people questioning Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho.

“I am simply an employee of the club, like everyone else. I do my best. At the end of the season, we can make calm judgments,” Mourinho said in an ESPNFC story. “It is possible that at the end of the season the club are not happy with my work, and see things they would like to improve. I am here giving my all as always.”

Until Real Madrid’s Nov. 24 loss to Real Betis, the club had been on a good run, winning all five of their games since they drew against Barcelona Oct. 7. However, things change fast in professional sports and with Madrid’s most recent loss, the pressure is back on.

An eleven-point deficit is not impossible to overcome, especially with so many games left in the La Liga season. However, when you are chasing a team as talented as Barcelona, the challenge is much more difficult.

The rest of the La Liga season should be entertaining to watch and keep an eye on Madrid to see if they can claw their way back into contention for La Liga. Their next game is against Atletico Madrid on Dec. 1, which will be no easy task. Mourinho’s seat could get even hotter if Real Madrid fails to win.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com

Adidas F30

Revealed: Adidas F30 TRX FG Soccer Cleats – Leather – Black with White

Cleats can get pretty pricey with all the different variations and colors available today. One good-looking cleat that won’t break the bank is the Adidas F30 soccer cleat. This cleat also has a relatively calm color scheme compared to some of the neon bright cleats available.

The F30 upper is made of Galeo calf leather. The calf leather upper provides a comfortable fit on the field. The kicking area of the cleat is abrasion-resistant to make this cleat extremely durable. Another nice feature this cleat offers is Agion technology. Agion technology is “built-in to combat odor causing bacteria and resist fungal, mold and mildew growth on the treated surface.” This will help keep your cleats smelling nice, even after all the games during a long season.

As I mentioned earlier, the style of this cleat is much calmer than other cleats on the shelves right now. It is predominantly black throughout but has both lime green and white near the heel and insole to give a little color. The cleat also has the traditional Adidas three stripes near the front of the cleat and the instep of the cleat.

The F30 has the same Traxion stud pattern as the F50 to provide great traction and acceleration on natural surfaces. The F30 is also miCoach compatible, which allows you to track your personal statistics and compare with friends and professional soccer players.

If you are uncertain about what size cleat you should order, SoccerPro offers a feature called Shoefitr. Shoefitr compares the size of the cleat you currently wear with the cleat you are planning on purchasing to give an accurate estimate of what size to order.

Even though the F30 is not nearly as light as the F50, it is still a fairly light cleat. It is also very durable and looks great. The best part about this cleat is the price. With the F30, you get all of the great features mentioned above for under $100, which is a great deal. These are currently available for preorder at SoccerPro.com, so head over a check them out today.

Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com