Picking a Football Club, Part 2

If you’ve been following along, I’m trying to decide on a favorite English Premiere League club. I have narrowed the list down to eight clubs, and you can read up why I eliminated the other 12 here.
As a reminder, here are the remaining eight clubs in alphabetical order:
AFC Bournemouth
Burnley
Crystal Palace
Everton
Leicester City
Newcastle United
Southampton
West Ham United

Read morePicking a Football Club, Part 2

Picking a Football Club, Part 1

Now that I have decided to invest my sports fandom in English football, I need to identify to team. Or, as a friend put it, have a team find me. This first cut will be 12 teams, and I will further narrow it down to My New Favorite Team™ within the next few weeks, hopefully before the season kicks off on august 10th.
With 20 teams to pick from, it would be in my best interest of finding a way to eliminate teams quickly to narrow my focus. Instead of exploring the histories of all the teams, I can narrow my list a bit, making it easier to find a story that captivates me enough to become a fan. After all, this is a fandom that will pass from generation to generation, whether or not Lincoln wants to become a soccer football fan or not.

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Cardiff City 2018-2019 Transfer Review

Note: This is the latest post in a breakdown of all Premier League clubs’ transfer activity leading up to the 2018-19 season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window during the upcoming season.
I don’t have the same optimism for Cardiff City that I have for Fulham, and I think the Bluebirds are probably in for a rough season in the Premier League. Despite massive debts and measures to cut the wage bill dramatically (read more about that here), they have spent a sizable sum. My other major concern with Cardiff is their losses, specifically Birmingham City (19th), Bristol City (11th), Bolton (21st), QPR (16th). Additionally, in the League Cup, they lost to eventual relegatees in Burton Albion (23rd place), and that was only after barely squeaking by Portsmouth, a side a division below them, after extra time.
To me, this suggests either a lack of focus, or that they are lackadaisical in handling of the ball against “lower” opponents. Regardless of what it is, there could be a game with 5 or 6 goals conceded this level. They had a few other losses, but they were to quality opponents and thus concern me far less.

Read moreCardiff City 2018-2019 Transfer Review

An Introduction to My New Football Fandom

Hello there, new readers of SportMuse.

This post, and a couple of the subsequent ones, initially appeared on my personal blog. I write a lot of stuff over there, and I plan on continuing to do so when the inspiration hits. But I’ve decided to move all my writing about sports over to this new home. Chris and I have a lot of big plans for this, and his launch here should help indicate what our initial focus is going to be.

So I hope you stick around and see all the stuff we have planned.  

Robert

I’ve decided that it’s time for a new sport fandom in my life. Baseball, something that I have been a casual fan of for most of my life, just isn’t all that interesting to me anymore. I never got into hockey, and I don’t have plans to do so. The NFL is still super huge, but the concussion stuff and other issues surrounding the league have also dampened my enthusiasm. The NBA is still fun to watch – and I look forward to seeing what the Jazz can accomplish this year in the shadow of the Golden State Warriors – but regular season basketball is a long slog for the most part and things only matter come playoff time, in which the Warriors will run roughshod over everyone and win the third title in four years.

Hard pass.

So I’ve decided that it’s time to get interested in the other football. I could make it easy and get fully invested in our local MLS team Real Salt Lake. They’ve even had some success, winning the MLS Cup in 2009 and having some second place finishes in other Cups along the way. But MLS is still not quite a top flight league when compared to the rest of the world, with “premiere” players only coming to the United States at the end of long careers in Europe after their peak earning potential has run out.

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Fulham 2018-2019 Transfer Review

Note: This is the first in the series covering the transfer activity of English Premier League clubs in advance of the 2018-19 season. These posts will be updated regularly as the transfer window progresses throughout the season.

Fulham should be able to avoid relegation this year, they finished with tied with newly-promoted wolves, each with 3 players in the Championship First XI (one of which has since left the team). Overall, they finished 3rd in the Championship and advanced by way of the promotion playoff. In the championship they averaged 1.7 goals for and 1 goal against per game. Fulham lost only 8 games in the championship (1 more than 1st place team, Wolves, who conceded 7), though they drew 4 more times than wolves. They split games with both of the other promotion teams, 1st place Wolves (each team winning the home leg) and 2nd place Cardiff. Fulham lost roughly the same number of games the bottom four teams from the Premier League won, although the Championship does play more games than the Premier League (by 8). Fulham was shut out only 5 times out of 46 matches.

My biggest concern for this Fulham team is the loss of Ryan Fredericks at Right Back, as the team has only Cyrus Christie (25) and Denis Odoi (30) as replacements. Christie was brought in during the 2017 winter transfer window and despite playing almost every minute for Middlesbrough in the championship, he played only 135’ minutes in 5 appearances for Fulham, failing to come off the bench for another 12 games. Odoi on the other hand made 38 appearances for Fulham, although only 3 appearances at his favored right back position, the other appearances coming from 26 as centerback and 13 more as left back. Marchand’s favored position is a center back which should allow Odoi to feature more regularly as starting right back, however, the gap in quality between Odoi and Fredericks remains to be seen.

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Premier League Club Primer: 2018-2019 Edition

Ever had questions about clubs that you were afraid to ask? Here’s the rundown on the 20 Soccer teams competing in the top tier of English Soccer. Some historical facts, some questions to be answered, and some serious takeaways. Here is everything you wanted to know about the clubs but didn’t want (or know) to ask.
During the next couple weeks, we’ll be exploring each teams transfer business (In and Out) to see how well teams have addressed their needs!

Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners
Founded: 1886 (Under a different name)
Location: London
Team Colors: Red/White
Kit Manufacturer: Puma (2014-present)
Kit Sponsor: Emirates Airlines
Ground: Emirates Stadium (2006-present)
Capacity:  59,862
Manager: Unai Emery (first season) replacing Arsene Wenger (1996-2018)
Website: www.arsenal.com
17/18 Season: 6th in English Premier League

Arsenal are a perennial Premier League team, with their only stint in lower-tier football occurring prior to World War I (as part of their progression to the Premier League). Since then, they’ve been a stalwart and are considered part of English soccer’s royalty, the “Big Six”.  While placed in this royalty, Arsenal’s recent form have had them finishing outside of the top-4 which is a perquisite for the UEFA Champions League.  Missing out on the Champions League is a big financial hit for the club, and has been a voiced concern amongst the players; some of whom have run out their contracts or joined rival clubs for the opportunity to compete at the highest level. One of these situations led to a winter transfer window swap for one of Arsenal’s top players, Alexis Sanchez, getting swapped for a Henrik Mkhitaryan who was in poor form for Manchester United so that they didn’t lose him to a free transfer deal.

Arsenal are on their first season Post-Wenger who’s been at Arsenal almost as long as I’ve been alive. So far, Unai Emery, has shown a couple of positives: he’s managed to get some top-tier talent for reasonable prices (by EPL standards) and one particular transfer, Sokratis, was able to overcome reported interest by other Big Six clubs. Arsenal is not a bad side, and I fully expect them to continue in continental competition. Arsenal’s Achilles heel last year was their propensity to give up losses, whereas their EPL opponents could fight for draws. If only a few of those losses were draws, they likely would have been in Champions League competition instead of Europa League.

I think the prospects for Arsenal will be good enough for Champions League this year. Arsenal has also had a larger squad than many teams which has caused some strife for its players (Olivier Giroud –last year, and Jack Wilshere – this year) which eventually have led them elsewhere. I think that clarified expectations under Emery could tighten up the rotation a little and keep continuity (especially in the back) which will allow them to hold on in tight contests.

Click here for an in-depth look at Arsenal’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.

Read morePremier League Club Primer: 2018-2019 Edition