March 3, 2020

EPL FREE KICKS: All good things must come to an end

by In: Soccer

Nobody’s perfect, so it seems.

That’s now the case in the Premier League after Saturday’s shocking upset of Liverpool by lowly Watford. But the most surprising part wasn’t just the fact that the Reds were handed their first loss of the season, it’s that the result was so decisive.

Liverpool looked sloppy, giving the ball away far too often for a side this talented. The biggest example being Trent Alexander-Arnold’s boneheaded backpass towards goalkeeper Alisson that was easily intercepted by Ismaila Sarr and put in the back of the net by Troy Deeney. It may have been the third goal of the game, but it was the perfect example of how this upset happened.

We are now in the eighth month of the Premier League season – remember, this journey started back in August – and Liverpool had yet to slip up, dropping just two points in 27 games coming into this contest.

Could we really expect a team to hold its focus for this long and not have one of these letdowns?

Many will point to the fact that Watford was in 19th place at kickoff to emphasize the enormity of this upset, but isn’t this the type of matchup in which you’d be more likely to see this happen?

Against one of the relegation-battling teams of the league, it’s easier for players to mentally switch off, or not prepare as hard for the matchup.

After all, this is a Liverpool team that had gone 422 days without losing a Premier League match – which previously occurred Jan. 3, 2019, at Manchester City, the Reds’ only loss of the 2018-19 campaign. That’s a long time to go between EPL  losses, though we should point out that Liverpool has actually now lost three of its past four games, including Tuesday’s FA Cup failure against Chelsea and previously falling to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League knockout stage tie.

The FA Cup match featured yet another series of terrible mistakes leading up to the open goal. One that an in-tune squad would’ve easily avoided.

The star of the game was undoubtedly Sarr, who was making his first start in more than a month after dealing with an injury. He outshined fellow Senegalese winger Sadio Mane, who is the reigning African player of the year. The Watford starlet is destined for a big-money move this summer, especially if the Hornets are relegated, and we should see some top teams lining up for his signature.

So, will this setback be the beginning of the biggest collapse in sports history, with the Reds frittering away a sure title? Of course not.

With Bournemouth, currently sitting 17th in the league on the docket this weekend, we should see Liverpool bounce right back for this woeful stretch.

But, what if…? 


Truthfully, the award should probably go to Sarr, but we’ve already discussed Watford’s stunner.

Instead, we’ll go with a throwback performance from one of the best fantasy players of yesteryear: Marcos Alonso.

The Chelsea left back was at his finest against Bournemouth, scoring twice including the game-tying goal. He even had another chance at a late winner, too.

It was the type of display that we regularly saw in 2016/17 and 17/18 when the Blues were title contenders. This week, Alonso turned back the clock and was often the furthest forward player on his team despite playing as his side’s nominal left back.

The Spaniard has seemingly fallen out of favour this season with new manager Frank Lampard, but now has three goals in the past two games.

He has never been shy in attack, often marauding ahead of former teammate Eden Hazard. It has been his defensive lapses that were the biggest detractor from his overall game. But, if Alonso and the Blues are scoring more than their opponents, that’s one way to win games. 


As long as Manchester City isn’t banned from competing in domestic cup competitions, it seemingly won’t have any shortage of silverware. After defeating Aston Villa on Sunday at Wembley, the Citizens have now won three League Cups in a row and five of the past seven … Tottenham is truly at a loss for attacking options and it could get even worse. Already with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min injured and Christian Eriksen sold, Spurs may be without Dele Alli for a game or two as the midfielder faces suspension for a racist video posted on Snapchat. Alli appeared to mock an Asian man at an airport in lieu of the current coronavirus outbreak. Honestly, he deserves the punishment and needs to be made an example of. Racism is never tolerable, especially with the amount of devastation this disease has caused … After yet another howler this Sunday against Everton, David De Gea now has seven errors this season that have directly led to goals. We’re not sure what he was thinking, waiting for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to close before clearing the ball right at the striker … Was Everton robbed of three points by VAR? That decision to disallow the potential game-winner because of an offside Gylfi Sigurdsson was a bit dicey. Sure, he was in an offside position, but he had no impact on the play and even moved his legs to get out of the way of the ball while sitting on the pitch, not obstructing the view of De Gea … Unfortunately for Watford, during its big win over Liverpool, it suffered a big loss. Gerard Deulofeu, one of the Hornets’ top players, suffered torn ACL, ending his season … We knew that Kevin De Bruyne was having an excellent season, but here’s some perspective: His eight goals and 18 assists so far this season have already matched his stunning 2017-18 campaign – and he has done it in 925 fewer minutes … Burnley has certainly rocketed up the table, going unbeaten in six games, winning four and keeping four clean sheets. The Clarets actually sit a point of Arsenal in ninth place, though the Gunners have a game in hand.


Last week the Premier League announced that it would be starting a hall of fame to honour its best and brightest of its existence and that left us with a couple of questions: What took so long and who will be the first two players to be honoured?

With such a limited inaugural class and nearly 30 years worth of amazing players to choose from, there are many players with rock-solid cases for induction.

So, who would we choose?

The first one shouldn’t be much of a debate: Alan Shearer.

The former Blackburn and Newcastle striker is the league’s career leading scorer with 260 – 52 more than second-place Wayne Rooney. He also won the league with Blackburn in 1994/95 and is considered one of the best English players to ever lace up his boots.

The next choice isn’t so easy.

Rooney would certainly be under consideration, but he’s still playing in the second tier with Derby. David Beckham would bring star power as a choice, but doesn’t quite measure up. Thierry Henry is undoubtedly one of the most talented players to play in the EPL, but are his eight stunning seasons at Arsenal enough? Rio Ferdinand should be the first defender to enter the hall, but we wouldn’t put him in the first class. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard will certainly be in there one day, but not yet.

The debate we think is between Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, two Manchester United legends that are certainly among the first choices when putting together any all-time Premier League team.

Giggs, of course has the edge in Premier League titles (13-11) thanks to his longevity, but it’s arguable that Scholes was the more important member of the Red Devils dynasty under manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

While the Welsh winger scored more goals (114-107), the English midfielder was the heart of the team and one of the best passers we’ve ever seen and has a much better goals per game average. Scholes is also much more liked in general as Giggs has a bit of a reputation, many will agree.

While the general sentiment may be to pick Giggs over Scholes, we think it’s the Ginga Ninja that is right call.

And, really, why only induct two players in the first class? If anything the better idea would be to begin with starting XI and then add two new players each year.

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