Gerrard Trophy

Hodgson’s Days Maybe Numbered After Europa Snoozefest

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“You’ve got Di Canio, we’ve got your stereo,” was a song once sung by the Anfield faithful, but now a days the snarky criticism is often turned inward, and less creative. The repeated chants of “Kenny Daglish,” and the reception shown to Gerard Houllier show that Roy Hodgson is all but settled in his new post at the club. Granted, he has a very little time in which to make an impact, but his record on the pitch has not endeared him to many fans.

The men in Liverpool jersey were always in for a hard season of ups and downs, especially once the power struggle between the now infamous American ownership of Hicks and Gillett and the club administration spilled first into the papers and then onto the streets. But even then, the resurgence of form that has seen Liverpool move up into the top 10 can hardly be regarded as a stunning success by Hodgson. His signings seem to have been equally uninspired and more targeted for a club like Fulham than one with the top flight ambitions of Liverpool. No offense intended to the Fulham faithful of course, but one question….Does you butler know your reading this?

Anyway, the real question is how long can the embattled manager hold on to his job, and do the new owners at New England Sports Ventures truly support him for the long term. He may have defended himself with strong words today saying he believes in his ability, but the look on his face spoke of desperation, and frustration. Hodgson is right about one thing, nothing with the team will change until the new owners decide to invest some money in new players. If the display tonight at Utecht is any measure of the squads future, then an injection of new blood is desperately needed. It seemed most of the Reds were asleep during one of the most boring matches in the history of the club. The BBC live text commentators took to making puns at each other they were so fed up with the match. At times, I felt like I might need a defibrillator to stay awake.

As the performances of the first team continue to stink of mediocrity, Hodgson days will begin to be numbered. If this woute is any indication, we may not be seing him on the touchline for much longer indeed,

Hodgson: “It doesn’t bother me because I can’t do more than I am doing, I can’t work harder, I can’t work better,” added Hodgson, whose team play his former club Fulham at home in the league on Saturday evening.
“I have great confidence in my ability, I don’t think there is any reason not to have.
“I know the players are working as hard as they can to win matches for Liverpool and therefore me as manager.”

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Scream for Barca, Iniesta

Absurd Rumor of the Day: Iniesta to Manchester City

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According to Yahoo! Sports, Ballon D’Or front-runner and  World Cup champion Andres Iniesta  may be out the Catalan door and stepping onto the Eastlands ground in the January or summer transfer window. A couple of things surprisingly do add up in this move:

- Barcelona sit in $575 million of debt, a number that the board is desperate to reduce or eliminate all together (as evidenced by their 5-year, $150 million shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation).

-Iniesta’s value will never be higher again and he will likely secure an $80-$100 million price tag, a fee that Manchester City will gladly put on the table to secure their man (as evidenced by their ridiculous transfers over the past couple campaigns). The English club have virtually unlimited resources and would be willing to offer Iniesta nearly any size wage packet.

These are somewhat fair points. However, the jig is up here. There are many ways which the club can make money off of transfers without selling one of the best players in the world. Take Dani Alves. The Brazilian wing back has 18 months left on his deal and would be an asset on almost any team. He would garner a decent size transfer fee, especially with his links to Manchester City in the past few weeks. With the addition of Adriano and Barcelona B players to a thin squad, Alves seems replaceable. If Alves becomes indispensable, 20-year-old starlet Bojan Krkic is another viable option for sale. With the stunning form of Pedro over the past year, Bojan has been forced to limited cameo appearances off the bench late in games already decided. With his talent, the Spaniard would love to get some reliable and quality minutes with a club. Amazingly, Manchester City will be linked with prying away the youngster and with the inevitable departure of Tevez and Adebayor at the Eastlands, the club will be looking to find a quality replacement to build around in the future. Bojan, Balotelli, and Jo as a three pronged attack will be a nice compromise with the club’s captain more than likely showing himself the door.

Bottom line: Pep Guardiola is not Arsene Wenger. He will not sell players at the height of their value just to cash in on the player. Barcelona play the most attractive football on the planet thanks to Iniesta and company and Guardiola would be a fool to let such a talented player walk. Did anyone ever ask whether Iniesta wants to leave the best club in the world? Think about that…throw this rumor in the trash, along with a bunch more in the future.

652373_04_Puma_Foundation_Graphic_Stadium_Tee_White

Puma Foundation Tee Review

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Who remembers playing the old FIFA games on the Sega Genesis? I certainly do, and that’s precisely why I plucked the Puma Foundation Graphic Stadium Tee off the racks in the shop. The soccer t-shirt has been in the shop for some time, and, until recently, I didn’t really know what to make of it. It’s pixilated goodness to be sure, but only now did it strike me as reminiscent of the old Sega FIFA games. I’m talkin’ about FIFA ’93 and ’94.

Alright, there are so many cool things about this shirt. First, the game that’s going on across the chest and upper abdomen is frozen in an action moment. A player is executing a bicycle kick from just outside the six yard box. The goalie is attempting a save, but, to be honest, I’m not sure where the ball is. Either way, it’s a goofy little touch that I’m glad Puma included. Aside from the game on the pitch, there is an awesome crowd lining the field. Puma worked a multitude of looks throughout the crowd as well. Dudes with ponytails, guys and girls with headbands, guys with baseball caps, red hair, green hair, blue hair, etc. The crowd definitely makes this shirt stand out to me. On the whole, the crowd adds another nod to the lighthearted and fun theme of the shirt. Oh, the stadium seating also has another cool aspect. There are camera people sitting on the roofs of the stands, you know, getting that award winning shot. On the bottom left hand side of the shirt, Puma even included a couple ambulances and a security guard in front of the door, just in case you wondered if this were for real or not. As for the puma logo, well, they pixilated it and stuck it on top of the stands. It’s definitely big, but it isn’t overbearing or anything. Good work Puma. One last little thing—the back of the shirt has a tiny ref holding a red card on the bottom, just to keep you in check.

Overall, I dig this shirt a lot. It’s a different style than you’ll find with any other brand, and it takes a funny nostalgic take on the game. Don’t worry—you won’t look like a little kid in this shirt. It’ll look more like a signal to others that you rocked the Sega FIFA back in the day. At $27.99 a pop, these shirts aren’t the cheapest. The price may be pushing it a little, but, as I’ve been saying so much recently, this would be perfect for a holiday gift.

Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com

Arsenal v. Man Utd

Match Preview: Arsenal v. Manchester United

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If you had asked me for my dream match this season in August, a match with the quality to impress, and the power to truly change the fortunes of the leagues biggest sides, it would have been Chelsea v. Manchester City, but since then the men in Arsenal jerseys and Manchester United kit have proven that they are the most volatile combo one could hope for. Now, for the last two weeks I’ve felt like Moses trying to get blood fro ma stone, desperately hoping for some show of quality out of England that could match the excitement of the Champions League. Today, I think I’ll finally get it.

Arsenal and Manchester United have a storied history of beating the blood out of each other when they meet, as happened in 1990, and I’m looking forward to a cracking, but bad tempered match. Granted, you won’t have Roy Keane and Eric Cantona working as hatchet men, but I’m sure Vidic will get a chance for an elbow or two. Either way, if should be a great match and here’s why.

Alex Ferguson’s men are on the top of the world at the moment, although they may wonder how that happened. It certainly hasn’t been down to their play on the field which has looked at times to be as bad off as Wayne Rooney’s marriage. However, now that the man in the Rooney jersey is almost back to match fit and they have a long tradition of improving throughout the season to finish at the top. Paradoxically, the worse their troubles at the start of the season the better they seem to fair at the end. The saga involving Ronaldo’s “enslavement” at the club being a particularly absurd example.

As for Arsenal, they have two things working against them. Their open style of football leaves them open on the break, and they have an atrocious record when playing against to flight opponents. United have won 4 of the last 5 meetings between the two teams, destroying Arsene Wenger’s side by sitting back and waiting for them to over extend themselves by committing too many players to the attack. They then parry the assault through the skill of Ferdinand, and run down on the break catching Arsenal out of position and slot the ball past the seemingly greased hands of Lukasz Fabianski. Its worked to great effect in the past, and I’m relatively certain Ferguson’s men will try to make it work again, but they will need to be in top form for it. Keep in mind, most teams try this against Arsenal, but don’t have the quality to stop their attack, or the speed to punish them on the break.

I think its going to come down to the form of each side. If United are playing at their peak, and Rooney makes those incisive he was so famous for, the Gunners don’t have a hope in the world. On the other hand, if Arsenal can count on Nasri, and Fabinski and the not so dynamic Koscielny and Squillaci stay awake, it could definitely go their way. Fabregas is doubtful, which will hurt them, but they should be able to bring him on in the second half if they need to. As for United, look for Chicharito to feature with Rooney playing second fiddle as thye try to catch Arsenal on the break. Overall, it should be an exciting and fast paced match with great goals.

I’m predicting Man Utd 1-2 Arsenal

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Adidas Predator X FG Electricity Review

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I am feeling the full adipower Predator X electricity’s as I hold them in my hand. They are out and like the Nike Safari Superflys, if you like, or can get past the color, they area classy pair of boots for the serious football player who wants some adipower in his shot.

Posted by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Keane in the Face

Match Day Sale at soccerpro.com (20% off Man Utd and Arsenal)

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So our friends at soccerpro.com have let us in on a little secret, through there not so secret mailing list, that in honor of the massive Manchester United v. Arsenal clash all licensed items for both teams are 20% off. The sale runs through the 13 of December, and you don’t need a coupon code so its open to everyone, not just an inner circle. You may not be able to tell looking at the homepage, but check the prices on Manchester United jerseys, you’ll see its true. For my part, I’m grabbing an Arsenal jersey.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Adidas AdiNova v. Adidas Copa Mundial Video

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So would you rather be caressed by the Adiprene insole of a Adidas AdiNova turf shoes, or feel the history of a storied Copa Mundial boot on your feet?

Posted by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Hamza Boudlal Makes a Scorpion Save

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In another video thats sure to go viral soccerprose.com brings you Hamza Boudlal, a relative unknown for KACM Marrakech. He actually did this scorpion kick save in the 82nd minute of a match that was tied 1-1. Few goalies have ever attempted this in match, the most famous being Rene Higuita against England during the 1994 World Cup. He then acts like it was no big deal. If this is normal in the Moroccan league, I’ll have to start paying more attention to soccer in Magreb. The man must have an ego to match Cristiano Ronaldo or he’s a completely lost the plot….

Posted by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Arsenal Crest

Arsenal v. Partizan Belgrade After Match Report

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Well it was a cracking, but sometimes frustrating affair for both teams in the cold of the Emirates as Arsenal beat Partizan Belgrade 3-1. The match was a relatively open end to end affair, but the first half had to be frustrating for the Gunner faithful. It didn’t seem to matter where the ball cam into the Partizan area from their defense simply would not crack under the pressure. A penalty was always coming out of this hostile environment, and sure enough on the turn of the 15th minute Jovanovic brought down Van Persie in the penalty area, leading to a pot kick. Van Persie, the perpetually injured but sometimes stubborn forward, picked himself up and slotted the kick home for the Arsenal jersey first. The rest of the half was marked by Partizan staying on the back foot and hoping to score on the break. It looked like a second goal was coming for Arsenal, but it was Partizan who would grab the advantage as they pushed forward on the break. They had hardly been in the Arsenal half for most of the match, but because Cleo’s curling shot from the edge of the box took an ugly deflection off Sebastien Squillaci’s back, it somehow looped over Lukasz Fabianski and landed in the back of the net.

With the scores level, Arsenal went back on the attack pressing men forward, bringing on Walcott as a sub for Arshavin with 25 minutes left. It turned out to be an inspired choice by Arsene Wenger as the youngster found the back of the net within minutes taking a deflected Sagna cross onto his chest and smartly slotting it into the goal. Again, the superb and consistent pressure by the Gunners allowed their skill to show. The final goal, to the delight of Gunners fans, came from Alex Song combining with Nicklas Bendtner, who has just come on for Marouane Chamakh. His pass slipped Samir Nasri clear inside the box who turned to slot home Arsenal’s third goal of the night.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, the match didnt end there as Bacary Sagna caught Aleksandar Lazevski on the edge of the box and somehow his challenge was deemed worthy of a red card by referee Paolo Tagliavento. It didn’t look too rough to me, a free kick maybe, but surely not a red card. From the resulting free-kick, Radosav Petrovic smashed a shot that Fabianski punched away.

Overall, it was an interesting match, but not the best I’ve seen so far. It seems Tottenham are the best English side to watch this year, with Arsenal displaying an awkward, nervy streak at times during the match. I don’t think Partizan have deserved two goals from tonight’s performance, but to be honest, I’m not sure if Arsene Wenger’s side have what it takes to compete with Barcelona or Real Madrid. After the match, Robin van Persie said: “As a football fan, Barcelona or Real Madrid… but we will have to wait and see.” I’m not sure how many Gunners will be looking forward to that after tonight.

Arsenal 3-1 Partizan Belgrade

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com