Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #221

The Century Men
8 Clubs That Scored More Than 100 Goals In The 1930-31 Football League Season

1. Arsenal (127 goals, Division One champions - see below)
2. Aston Villa (128 goals, Division One runners-up)
3. Chesterfield (102 goals, Division Three North champions)
4. Crystal Palace (107 goals, Division Three South runners-up)
5. Everton (121 goals, Division Two champions)
6. Lincoln City (102 goals, Division Three North runners-up)
7. Sheffield Wednesday (102 goals, Division One 3rd place)
8. Tranmere Rovers (111 goals, Division Three North 4th place)

All teams played 42 games.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Would losing the Football League Show be that bad?

Despite being on the cards since the new TV deal was announced in April, the mainstream media has used the recent scheduling controversy of the BBC’s Football League Show to declare that the programme may well be axed at the end of the season. This is on the basis that the BBC have not renewed their contract with the Football League and according to reports, have no intention of doing so.

First the early rounds of the FA Cup on ITV and now the Football League Show. It seems that lower league football is struggling to find a home on terrestrial TV in the UK. It is possible that with more imaginative scheduling and audience profiling, they may find the format and timeslot that will suit its core audience. However, it does appear that a significant portion of football fans who watch Match Of The Day on Saturday night change the channel when the Football League Show starts. You could blame the dominance of the Premier League, the late night scheduling of the programme or Steve Claridge. The fact remains that an existing football-heavy audience watches something else when the programme starts and that is not good.

It is also worth considering that the highlights have been up for grabs since the early part of 2011 and the other Free-To-Air commercial broadcasters seem uninterested. This suggests that they do not believe they can make it work or that the League are charging too much money. If that is the case then is it really in the interest of TV Licence payers to bid for the rights to something that commercial broadcasters don’t want? Before we all throw up our arms in outrage about the BBC’s decision, we should consider the fact that Football League is either too expensive or not as popular as we think it is or want it to be.

However, the Football Fairground is all about the silver linings and forever in search of the Utopian dream so with the prospect of no weekly highlights show for the Football League, the opportunity exists for the League to do something more interesting with their highlights. If the broadcast realm cannot find a home for them then surely the digital realm can. At the very least, the Football league should open a YouTube channel with free, extensive highlights available to all and sharable for all.

Imagine what top independent Football League sites like The Seventy Two, The Two Unfortunates and We Are Going Up could do if they could utilise this footage. If that seems a little fanciful then why not sell licences for footage to commercial football websites and have cut down free versions for non-commercial bloggers. The digital solution may not be a universal one (particularly for viewers in rural parts of the UK who have little or no broadband coverage) but it is surely a more interesting way of dispensing free highlights rather than waiting for terrestrial broadcasters to get round to showing them. In years to come there may be opportunities to develop applications for viewers to build their own highlight show, tailored to their own club and division. If the Football League cannot appeal to a mass audience then maybe the time has come to embrace its niche.

It will require investment and no doubt some delicate negotiations with Sky Sports who produce the coverage but if the Football League can’t find someone to pay for their free stuff then perhaps they should consider giving their stuff away for free.

The Football Fairground Periodic Table

For no other reason than it's Christmas and few of us working very hard right now, we present the Football Fairground Periodic Table - an opportunity for you to while away the hours with a football-related piece of whimsy.

The premise is simple: we simply want to fill the table shown below with the names of football players whose initials match the letters in each of the cells. So for instance, element 105 - Dubnium - has the letters 'Db', so in our world that element gets renamed 'David Beckham'.

The thing is, despite our undoubted intelligence, we couldn't possibly fill in the whole table on our own, so we'd like you to help us out. If you can think of a name to go in one of the spaces on our periodic table, leave us a comment below or contact us on Twitter by sending a message to @FutblFairground using the hashtag #ffpt. The first name suggested for each element will earn the contributor a mention in our 'Contributors' section below.

As you can see, we've already filled in some of the spaces to give you an idea of what to do. The footballer names can be from anywhere in the world and from any era, but ideally they should be someone we've actually heard of so please curb your temptation to send us the name of a Venezuelan non-league reserve goalkeeper unless you really have to.

One thing to accept right from the start is that we won't be able to fill all the cells as some contain triple-letters like 'Uut' and 'Uup'. Given that there can only be so many football players with the first name Ulysees - let alone a middle name beginning with the same letter - we've decided to grey those out. As for all the other tricky ones, we'll just have to leave those unnamed for the ages.

*** UPDATE *** UPDATE ***
It's all over - our Periodic Table is complete! A huge thanks to all of you for your contributions - we couldn't have done it without you!!!

(Click image for larger version)

6, 19, 33, 42, 47, 82, 87, 89, 91, 105: @coakleyftbl
9, 12, 18, 24, 43, 116: @_pjt
5, 15, 21, 35, 98, 106: @micrich3
16: @terryduffelen
37, 56, 84, 86: @Dockx_1
7, 77: @UFJamesT
70, 94: @mirkobolesan
92, 104: @footysphere
1, 90: @365DaysFootball
45: @aidenmccartney
59, 61, 64, 74, 80, 109: @unitedite
8: @amcgarrie
28, 29, 49, 53, 63, 67, 97, 101: @AGibneyftbl
11, 14, 31, 34, 38, 51, 55, 57, 58, 65, 76, 81, 95, 103, 111: @andrewcharding
3, 4, 10, 13, 20, 22, 23, 27, 30, 46, 48, 50, 54, 66, 69, 73, 83, 88, 93, 99, 112: @mattrowson
102: @jwking 
17, 25, 36, 52, 78, 96, 107, 110, 114: @theexiledrobin
62, 100: @jon_hartley
75: @2ndyellow
26, 32, 41, 46, 60: @abujaandy321
108: @davidrbiggs
39, 44, 79: @grahamsibley
2: @scamp27
68, 72: @theiron
71: @jamiecutteridge

...also an honorary mention for @MiguelitoG1979 who came up with Uns Uwe Seeler for 117! Many thanks to all of you that have suggested names for our Periodic Table - give yourselves a gold star!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas & New Year TV Preview: 24 December 2011 - 2 January 2012

Saturday 24 December

12.45 St Mirren v Rangers, SPL, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The mid-table of the SPL is becoming a tight bunch and, despite some less than optimistic results of late, St Mirren are still in the chase for a top four finish. Rangers have put their recent blip behind them and maintain a four point lead at the top of the table.

Monday 26 December

12.15 AFC Wimbledon v Oxford Utd, League Two, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Wimbledon fans will be hoping Santa brings a change in fortunes as they go into this game on a run of nine without a win. While their newly recovered league status isn't under threat so far, it won't be long before collars are started to be tugged if things carry on as they are.
17.30 Birmingham City v West Ham, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Almost certainly picked out as a fixture for the individuals in the boardroom rather than any on the pitch activity. Chris Hughton is still making Birmingham look more like a silk purse than a sow's ear and they are still unbeaten at home - not an easy away day for Big Sam's men.
20.00 Stoke City v Aston Villa, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Meanwhile, on the other side of the second city, Villa are dropping like a stone. Worrying in that there are teams below them who look far more likely to have a positive change of form than Villa do right now. Not a great time for a trip to the Britannia, but then when is?

Tuesday 27 December

14.15 Sheffield Utd v Notts County, League One, Sky Sports 1/HD1
In the UK we're still on holiday working our way through the remaining turkey. This afternoon's offering sees the Blades breathing down Wednesday's neck for the second automatic spot while County's hopes for a play off berth have taken a dent with recent results.
14.35 Bangor City v Prestatyn Town, Welsh Premier League, S4C
It's "gwichian gwaelod" time for Prestatyn Town as they try to hold on to their top half place in the penultimate round of fixtures in the Welsh Apertura. Bangor are in a three-way tussle for the top, a point either side of Llanelli and The New Saints.
17.00 Swansea City v QPR, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
An evening double bill of Premier League action features all the newly promoted sides. QPR have found the going in the top flight the hardest, to the surprise of many, while Swansea continue to impress. This tie was 0-0 in the Championship last season, even if that scoreline is repeated it'll still be worth watching this one.
19.30 Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
Paul Lambert's side are deservedly top half and there's no reason why they can't hold on to it. Spurs' have put the Stoke result behind them and with the distraction of Harry Redknapp's tax evasion trial just a month away, need every point they can to maintain their top four placing.

Wednesday 28 December

19.45 Celtic v Rangers, SPL, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The 8th (EIGHTH) Old Firm tie of 2011. Celtic are just up in the head to head this year with three wins to two (11-8 on aggregate), though a win for them here probably won't be enough see them snatch top spot.

Friday 30 December

19.45 Liverpool v Newcastle United, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Demba Ba, signed by Newcastle for free, scores 13 goals in 16 league games. Andy Carroll... nah, it's just too easy. Don't be surprised if you hear Liverpool fans giving a one minute's applause on the 7th minute for poor old Luis Suarez - it's the sort of thing they'd do.

Saturday 31 December

12.15 Leicester City v Portsmouth, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The last couple of ties between these two have been the David Nugent show. He scored the winner for Pompey the last time they visited the Walkers Stadium in March but was on hand to get the equaliser for his new club Leicester when the sides met at Fratton Park just five weeks ago.
12.45 Manchester United v Blackburn Rovers, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Remember Slim Pickens riding the A-bomb at the end of Dr Strangelove? Ok now imagine it's Steve Kean as Major Kong. Yeah, that.
17.20 Leyton Orient v Charlton Athletic, League One, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Get 'round the Joanna and 'ave a good cockney knees up on New Year's Eve. Former Charlton stalwart Kevin Lisbie lines up against his old club for the O's and has rediscovered his scoring touch after joining on a free in the summer. Charlton fans will hope Bradley Wright-Phillip's goal-spree will start again, after a blistering start he's gone four games without a goal.

Sunday 1 January

12.30 West Brom v Everton, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Lunchtime, New Year's Day? That's going to be pleasant.
15.00 Sunderland v Manchester City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Bono once sang "nothing changes on New Year's Day" and in this case he'll be right. Three points to City.

Monday 2 January

12.15 Hibernian v Hearts, SPL, Sky Sports 1/HD1
If recent months are anything to go by, Hearts players will still be waiting for their December pay-cheques when this game kicks off. Hibs of course have troubles of their own on the pitch and sit just above Dunfermline at the bottom of the table on goal difference alone...
15.00 Dunfermline v Celtic, SPL, ESPN/ESPN HD
... goal difference that won't be improved by this fixture.
17.30 Fulham v Arsenal, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
And so, Robin van Persie's "goals in a year" tally gets reset to zero.

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #220

Follow the star
13 Clubs From Around The World With 'Star' In Their Name

1. AS Inter Star (Burundi)
2. Étoile Filante (Burkina Faso)
3. Étoile Filante (Togo)
4. Étoile Sportive du Sahel (Tunisia)
5. Free State Stars FC (South Africa)
6. JKT Ruvu Stars (Tanzania)
7. L'Etoile de Morne-à-l'Eau (Guadeloupe)
8. North East Stars (Trinidad and Tobago)
9. Platinum Stars (South Africa)
10. Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
11. Sivutsa Stars (South Africa)
12. SV Estrella (Aruba)
13. Tropic All Stars (Turks and Caicos Islands)

Football Fairground would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 19 - 22 December 2011

Monday 19 December

19.45 Crystal Palace v Birmingham City, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
You've got to go back nearly seven years for Palace's last win over Birmingham. Current form and league position suggests this will be a draw, but Dougie Freedman really needs to address that 'Goals Scored' column at home more than anything else right now.
19.45 York City v Kidderminster, Blue Square Premier League, Premier Sports
A tasty non-league treat to get you in the festive spirit. Both teams are on good form and gunning for a play-off place; York already occupy one of the appropriate positions as things stand, but a win for The Harriers will see them in the top five too.

Tuesday 20 December

17.00 Siena v Fiorentina, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Plenty of Italian action on ESPN this week and it starts with this clash between two clubs in god-awful form at the moment. Think of it as a chance to watch them before either or both get relegated as seems likely.
19.45 Cagliari v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
A small chink of hope for Cagliari comes in the form of Milan's recent slip up in a 2-2 draw against Bologna recently. Unfortunately it does still require the home team to do something, and sadly they've only notched up one league win since the start of October. Three points for the Rossoneri.
20.00 Blackburn Rovers v Bolton Wanderers, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Battle of the Bottom Two, as t'were. In a nutshell, Stoke have won more matches this season than Blackburn and Bolton put together. Armed with that information, we'll leave it up to you whether you decide to tune in or not.

Wednesday 21 December

17.00 Udinese v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
The Monochrome Derby, as I believe they call it in Bella Italia. The winner of the last six meetings between these two has alternated consistently. If the pattern continues, the winner of this one will be Juve. And that's about as scientific as this TV Preview gets, fact fans.
19.45 Inter Milan v Lecce, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Only one win the league for Lecce since mid-September, which is why they're bottom of the Serie A table. Strangely, scoring goals hasn't been a problem for them, but against Inter's stingy defence, they've got a snowball in hell's chance of success.
20.00 Wigan Athletic v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Wigan are fair hanging on by the skin of their teeth at the moment, even salvaging a last-minute equaliser against Chelsea last weekend. Liverpool are playing with more consistency than Chelsea at the moment and should comfortably avoid such a disappointing outcome here.

Thursday 22 December

20.00 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Apparently Harry Redknapp's fronting a new TV ad campaign for Carlsberg. The slogan goes something like "Harry Redknapp doesn't criticise referees, but if he did, he'd probably be the biggest bloody hypocrite in the world..."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #219

Country File
21 International Teams And The First Opponents They Faced In An Official Match

1. Argentina: v Uruguay (won 3-2, 1901)
2. Australia: v New Zealand (lost 3-1, 1922)
3. Brazil: v Argentina (lost 3-0, 1914)
4. Canada: v Australia (lost 3-2, 1924)
5. Cameroon: v Djibouti (won 9-2, 1960)
6. China: v Finland (lost 4-0, 1952)
7. Egypt: v Italy (lost 4-2, 1928)
8. France: v Belgium (drew 3-3, 1904)
9. Germany: v Switzerland (lost 5-3, 1908)
10. Ireland: v Bulgaria (as Irish Free State, won 1-0, 1924)
11. Israel: v USA (lost 3-1, 1948)
12. Italy: v France (won 6-2, 1910)
13. Japan: v Republic of China / Chinese Taipei (lost 5-0, 1917)
14. Mexico: v Guatemala (won 3-2, 1923)
15. Morocco: v Iraq (drew 3-3, 1957)
16. Netherlands: v Belgium (won 4-1, 1905)
17. Portugal: v Spain (lost 3-1, 1921)
18. South Korea: v Mexico (won 5-3, 1948)
19. Spain: v Denmark (won 1-0, 1920)
20. Tunisia: v Algeria (lost 2-1, 1957)
21. USA: v Sweden (won 3-2, 1916)

Weekend TV Preview: 16 - 18 December 2011

Friday 16 December

11.00 UEFA Champions League and Europa League draws, British Eurosport
The two Manchester clubs have found their way into the draw for the last 32 of the Europa League, and the world will focus on their fate just as much as it will on the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League.

19.30 Bayern Munich v FC Cologne, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Koln icon Lukas Podolski returns to Munich again, and he does so in decent goalscoring form. His two trips to his old club since he re-signed for Koln have been goalless affairs; Poldi was substituted in his last home games against Koln for Bayern.

Saturday 17 December

12.30 Aberdeen v Hibernian, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Aberdeen are rubbish, but at least they got the week off to a good start with a 2-1 win at St Johnstone, Scott Vernon and Ryan Jack on the scoresheet for the Dons. Hibernian are even more rubbish and have won just three times all season.

17.20 MK Dons v Preston North End, League One, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Two teams with hopes of promotion meet wherever it is Franchise play. The hosts are pushing for an automatic promotion place but are in third place and eight points off the top. Preston have halted a bad run of form and dragged themselves back up to tenth.

17.30 Wigan Athletic v Chelsea, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Wigan hosted Chelsea in their first ever Premier League game, back in 2005. They put in a fantastic performance and looked set to hold the Blues to a point, but Hernan Crespo popped up with a delicious winner deep into stoppage time.

19.00 Athletic Bilbao v Real Zaragoza, La Liga, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Basement club Real Zaragoza have lost four consecutive league games ahead of their trip to the Basque region to face mid-table Athletic. They sit rock bottom in La Liga and are already three points and a whole lot of goal difference behind the club directly above them.

19.45 AC Milan v Siena, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
There's something on the line for each side in this stripy little Christmas party season number. The Rossoneri go into the weekend two points behind leaders Juventus, while a defeat at San Siro could leave Siena in the bottom three.

21.00 Sevilla v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Sevilla look to make up ground on Levante but it's unlikely they'll be doing so on Saturday. Real Madrid put in a mighty first half showing in last weekend's Clasico, but had to stomach defeat against Barcelona. They won't be enjoying the taste.

Sunday 18 December

07.30 Kashiwa Reysol v Al Sadd, Club World Cup Third-Place Playoff, ESPN/ESPN HD
Japanese champions Kashiwa have been a bright spot of the tournament just days after snaring the J.League title, but lost out to Santos in the semi-finals after seeing off both Auckland City and Monterrey. Momentum, eh?

10.30 Santos v Barcelona, Club World Cup Final, ESPN/ESPN HD
So, the pundits got the final they wanted and what a final it could be. We will witness the meeting of Leo Messi and Neymar, the prodigious Brazilian whose superb goal got Santos on their way against Kashiwa. Barcelona will be without David Villa, who's a bit broken.

12.00 Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
QPR are the very picture of inconsistency, which is a lot better than just being rubbish. They've won four, drawn four and lost seven since returning to the top flight, and sit reasonably comfortably in mid-table. United, meanwhile, have lost just once in the league.

13.00 Portsmouth v Southampton, Championship, BBC1/BBC1 HD
An enjoyable afternoon is in store for Southampton fans, who will be kettled all the way to Portsmouth on a so-called "bubble trip" to this Hampshire derby. Quite how turning buses into sitting ducks makes anyone safer is anyone's guess.

14.00 Juventus v Novara, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Juve top the table and should have little difficulty staying there on Sunday. Novara picked up a good result earlier in the week but are second from bottom as they visit Juventus' beautiful new stadium, where they are yet to taste competitive defeat.

14.05 Aston Villa v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
On Sunday I will be heading to Birmingham, leaving London early to enjoy the famous Birmingham German Christmas market and stuff my face with Bavarian goodies and warm alcoholic things. Oh, and there's a football match afterwards to - if it can be called football when Alex McLeish is involved.

16.10 Manchester City v Arsenal, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
No bitterness here, oh no. With City hoovering up players like there's no tomorrow, Arsenal seem to think they're the biggest victims. They have a case: Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Kolo Toure paved the way for Samir Nasri to slime his way north in a protracted and nauseating transfer in the summer.

16.30 Borussia Moenchengladbach v Mainz, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Mainz picked up two draws in a busy long weekend, settling for a 0-0 with Hamburg on Saturday and a 1-1 with Koln on Tuesday. Next up, high-flying Gladbach, who begin the weekend in fourth place but have failed to win in their last two matches.

19.45 Napoli v Roma, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
A rivalry that asks and gives no quarter, Napoli v Roma always promises blood-and-thunder derby matches. This fixture was settled by two late goals for Napoli last season to give them a 2-0 win, a repeat of the trick that earned them a late 2-2 draw the season before.

20.00 Valencia v Malaga, La Liga, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Valencia are in third place and sit six points clear of ambitious moneybags club Malaga. The visitors have a chance to halve that deficit on Sunday evening, but don't bank on it: Valencia don't lose many at home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

English League Medal Table

Someone once said 'no-one ever remembers who the runners-up were', but here at, we're happy to prove that statement wrong. Not only that, but we're also happy to remember who finished third too - specifically with reference to former campaigns in the Premier League and old First Division.

And how best to calculate top three finishes in all previous league campaigns? Why, with an Olympic medal table metaphor, of course. Witness thus (click image for larger version)...

As you can see, Manchester United occupy the USA position in the table, just ahead of Liverpool who take on the mantle of Russia for the purposes of this flimsy premise. (Imagine that the next time those two teams play.) Arsenal are third as China, so to speak.

At the other end of the table with only a token bronze medal each are Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Norwich and West Ham. Or Venezuela, Afghanistan, Israel and Moldova in our world.

And who in the table would be Great Britain, we wonder? Perhaps Sunderland - a team that once achieved much but is now merely a shadow of its former self.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 12 - 16 December

Monday 12 December

19.45 Roma v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Udinese's win over Chievo on Sunday sent them to the top of table, a position Juve should retake here against an out of sorts Roma side that haven't managed to get fully into their stride this season under rookie coach Luis Enrique.
20.00 Chelsea v Manchester City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
Roman Abramovich's Invitation XI take on Sheikh Mansour's Invitation XI. They've spent over £1.5 billion in total so far. I'm sure it's well worth it.
00.15 Tigre v Velez Sarsfield, Argentinian Apertura, Premier Sports
Boca completed an undefeated Apertura with a win over All Boys. Tigre can leapfrog today's opponents and finish as high as fourth with a home win.

Tuesday 13 December

19.30 Yeovil Town v Fleetwood Town, FA Cup 2nd Round Replay, ESPN/ESPN HD
A dramatic ending in previous game saw Fleetwood snatch a late draw coming back from 2-0 down; player-coach Jamie Milligan keeping his composure to score an equalising 89th minute penalty to keep the Conference side in the competition. A home tie against Blackpool in the Third Round awaits the winners.
19.45 St Johnstone v Aberdeen, SPL, Sky Sports 1/HD1
A chance for St Johnstone to regroup after being beaten 3-0 at home by third spot rivals Motherwell at the weekend. Aberdeen have gone almost two months since their win in the SPL.

Wednesday 14 December

10.30 Santos v Kashiwa Reysol, FIFA World Club Cup 2011 Semi Final, ESPN/ESPN HD
Yay! Midweek daytime football! Kashiwa Reysol were only crowned J-League Champions on 3 December and entered this tournament as representatives of the host nation five days later. They've already knocked out the Oceania Champions, Auckland and the CONCACAF Champions Monterrey to take on the Copa Libertadores winners. The other semi-final is the same time tomorrow with the final on Sunday.
18.00 Besiktas v Stoke City, UEFA Europa League Group E, ESPN/ESPN HD
Stoke need only a draw to finish top of their group. While the home side only need a draw to make sure they go through, they know a win will see them go through top leaving Stoke to face a seeded team in Friday's draw for the next round.
20.05 Macclesfield Town v Chelmsford City, FA Cup 2nd Round Replay, ESPN/ESPN HD
The guarantee of a home tie against Premier League opposition for the winners here adds even more to this fixture. While Bolton may not be the make for the most spectacular draw it almost certainly makes sure the cameras will be along too.
20.05 Fulham v Odense BK, UEFA Europa League Group K, Channel 5/Channel 5 HD
Match 14 in the tournament so far for Fulham sees them take on the bottom club in the group. They need to match whatever Wisla Krakow manage against Twente to secure their second spot and place in the last 32 - so just the nine more games to go then after this
00.15 Universidad de Chile v Liga de Quito, Copa Sudamericana Final 2nd Leg (1-0), Premier Sports
Difficult to see past Universidad for this one - they've steam-rollered their way to the final and their domestic title. They currently on a run of 34 games undefeated in all competitions. The side almost went bust in 2007 but was rescued when the club ownership moved from the University into private hands.

Thursday 15 December

10.30 Barcelona v Al Sadd, FIFA World Club Cup 2011 Semi Final, ESPN/ESPN HD
Pep's superstars, still basking in their weekend Clasico victory, enter the tournament and take on the Qatar side that won the AFC Champions League on penalties last month. Al Sadd beat the CAF Champions, Esperance of Tunisia, 2-1 in their quarter final at the weekend.
18.00 PAOK v Rubin Kazan, UEFA Europa League Group A, ESPN/ESPN HD
PAOK are through and only need a draw to finish top. Rubin know a draw will be good enough for them to go through. Draw it is then.
18.00 Shamrock Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA Europa League Group A, ITV4/ITV4 HD
Last week, people got themselves in a right old tizz when Lyon managed to overturn a huge goal difference deficit against a frankly hopeless Zagreb side while Ajax got spanked at home to a Real Madrid side who were wearing flip-flops. The entirely unsubstantiated cries of "fix" went out across Twitter and other outlets - could the same thing happen two weeks in a row?
20.05 Birmingham City v NK Maribor, UEFA Europa League Group H, ITV4/ITV4 HD
A win for Birmingham leaves them looking at the other fixture in the group to see if they scrape through as runners up. If Brugge win or draw at home to Braga both of them go through with Brugge finishing top. If Braga win they finish top and are joined by Birmingham - but only if they beat Maribor, of course.
20.05 Udinese v Celtic, UEFA Europa League Group I, ESPN/ESPN HD
Simple equation for the Bhoys, they have to beat Udinese to finish second in the group and progress through to the next stage - though they'll need to do what no other Celtic side has done before and win in Italy. The travelling support should have no trouble making themselves heard in a largely empty Stadio Friuli: the attendence only just passed 10,000 when they played Atletico.

Friday 16 December 2011

11.00 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Draw, British Eurosport
Live from Nyon, it's what we've all been waiting for - the end of the group stage nonsense and the return of the away goals rule. Arsenal and Chelsea are seeded as group winners and will be looking to avoid Milan, Napoli or the mighty Basel. Match dates: 14/15 and 21/22 February 2012.
12.00 UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Draw, British Eurosport
Manchester United and Manchester City enter the draw as seeds, with Olympiakos, Valencia and the 12 group winners and will play their first leg away. The current holders, Porto, join the remaining Champions League third placed teams and the 12 group runners-up as unseeded teams. As with the Champions League, for this stage, teams from the same association or who played each other in the group stage can't be drawn against each other. Match dates: 16 and 23 February 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #218

Bogey visits
Oldest Dates Upon Which Current Premier League Clubs Last Won An Away League Match Against Other Premier League Clubs

1. November 21 1925
Swansea's last league win at Chelsea

2. March 14 1951
Swansea's last league win at Man City

3. January 2 1954
Bolton's last league win at Liverpool

4. March 20 1959
Stoke's last league win at Liverpool

5. January 13 1962
Bolton's last league win at Arsenal

6. March 3 1962
Norwich's last league win at Swansea

7. April 22 1967
West Brom's last league win at Liverpool

8. October 7 1967
West Brom's last league win at Fulham

9. May 11 1968
Sunderland's last league win at Man United

10. September 25 1971
Swansea's last league win at Blackburn

11. January 8 1972
Wolves's last league win at Man United

12. March 3 1973
Fulham's last league win at Aston Villa

13. April 27 1974
Stoke's last league win at Chelsea

14. October 4 1975
Man City's last league win at Arsenal

15. April 21 1976
Stoke's last league win at Man United

(For information: Fulham are yet to win a league match at Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool; Norwich are yet to win a league match at Wigan; Swansea are yet to win a league match at Everton, Liverpool, Man United, QPR and Tottenham; and Wigan are yet to win a league match at Arsenal, Blackburn, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United, Newcastle and Norwich.)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Weekend TV Preview: 9 - 11 December

Friday 9 December

19:30 Hertha BSC Berlin v FC Schalke, Bundesliga, ESPN/HD
Hertha lie in ninth place in their first season back in the First Bundesliga. However, their last win was at Wolfsburg in October. Schalke are a poor fourth, in my opinion and may be vulnerable to Hertha's pacy attackers. Look out for Pierre-Michel Lassoga up front for the home side. The 19 year old has six goals this season.

Saturday 10 December

12:30 Hibernian v Rangers, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/HD
Hibs have only mustered two points from the last five games. Their dismal season could use a shot in the arm against the Champions. Unlikely, despite Rangers only having won one league match in three.
12:45 Southampton v Blackpool, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Dropped points against Leicester, Birmingham and Middlesbrough have derailed the Tangerines slightly. Nevertheless, this remains a tantalising fixture involving two top teams in the Championship.
17:20 Barnsley v Ipswich, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Oooh, get Burnley with their four game winning streak. Ricardo Vaz Te and Graig Davies are you men to watch if your looking for first goalscorer. Ipswich are trying to avoid an 8th (eighth) straight defeat and another paid off manager.
17:30 Hannover 96 v Bayer Leverkusen, Bundesliga, ESPN/HD
Eren Derdiyok and Sidney Sam for the away side are Youtube specialists at the moment. Leverkusen stuttered at the start of the season but have their mojo working both domestically and in Europe. Hannover are tough bastards but haven't won a League game since 23rd October!!
19:45 Inter Milan v Fiorentina, Serie A, ESPN/HD
Hard to believe that Inter are fifteenth in the Serie A table. Clearly there is some restructuring required but in the meantime it's more headaches for Ranieri.
21:00 Real Madrid v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
The Big One. Victory for Real will establish the psychological advantage for Jose Mourinho in his quest to wrestle the title away from his former guvnors. He might just do it too.

Sunday 11 December

13:00 Sunderland v Blackburn, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Martin O'Neill returns to management in a fixture that only a mother could love.
14:00 Bologna v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN/HD
The Serie A title is shaping up nicely, thank you. Milan will be disappointed in themselves if they have not put some heat on the leaders, Juventus.
15:30 Stoke v Tottenham, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Just when both sets fans thoughts they'd get a Sunday off, Sky drag them away from the Snooker in what is a less than inspiring fixture. Tottenham's great league run continues and look every inch a Champions League team. Their record at the Brit is pretty good to boot.
16:30 VfB Stuttgart v FC Bayern Munich, Bundesliga, ESPN/HD
The away side have been struggling without Bastian Schweinsteiger. This fixture, last season finished 6-3 to Bayern. In fairness, Stuttgart were hopeless and are much improved, if not inspiring to watch. To be honest, I'm giving this one a miss.
18:30 Athletic Bilbao v Racing, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Just the one defeat in weeks for Bielsa's boys but not enough wins.Muniain is having a breakthrough season under the Argentine Bielsa's tutelage. If you're a student of the game then you'd do well to check this out.
19:45 Novara v Napoli, Serie A, ESPN/HD
Job done in Europe in Napoli. Now to concentrate on getting back in for next season. Novara are not very good.
20:00 Velaz v Racing, Argentine Apertura, Premier Sports
The last knockings of the Apetura are played out between to upper mid table sides. Not much to see here.
21:00 Espanyol v Atletico Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
It's Barcelona v Madrid part two only without the unbearable shrillness from Sky Sports.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 5 - 8 December 2011

Monday 5 December

19.45 Lazio v Novara, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Novara jumped off the bottom of Serie in their last game with a win over Parma, and followed it up with a Coppa victory over Catania. Their short purple patch meets a formidable foe this evening, though. They travel to Rome to face high-flying Lazio, who are looking to bounce back from a loss against Juventus.

20.00 Fulham v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
Both have been managed by Roy Hodgson in recent years, with very different memories of the nauseating old goat. Fulham haven't won in three and it's not going to get any easier with the visit of Liverpool tonight. The Reds are in rude form and will be disappointing with anything but a win at Craven Cottage.

Tuesday 6 December

19.45 Chelsea v Valencia, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
The season so far has been a bit of a struggle for Chelsea - you know, relatively speaking - and the quest to qualify from Group E has been a big part of that. They'll be glad when it's over, but only if they defeat Valencia to progress from the group. Unfortunately for Andre Villas-Boas, they didn't manage a victory in Spain.

19.45 Olympiakos v Arsenal, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Unlike their rivals from across London, Arsenal are home and dry in Group F. Their hosts on Tuesday still have a realistic hope of success; they're a point behind Marseille, who face a significant challenge of their own on the same evening. The Gunners can take it easy having already ensured that they will top the group.

19.45 APOEL Nicosia v Shakhtar Donetsk, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
APOEL have made history in this year's competition and although they can be reached by either of the teams in second and third they cannot be overtaken by both; they will be in the next round which is a remarkable achievement from a very difficult group. Shakhtar have been an unmitigated disappointment in the UCL this season.

19.45 Barcelona v BATE Borisov, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Unbeaten Barcelona have plenty of breathing space and have comfortably topped Group H. Their opponents on Tuesday are BATE Borisov, who are yet to win a game in the group stage this season. This is a dead rubber in the purest sense, so it could go either way. My money's on a free-flowing victory for the home team.

19.45 Borussia Dortmund v Marseille, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Marseille's destiny is in their own hands as they travel to Dortmund to face the Bundesliga champions. BVB's form has improved lately but Marseille have no option but to go for the win. They'll also be keeping their eyes on Arsenal's game in Greece, where the Gunners can seal the French side's path to the next round.

19.45 Porto v Zenit St Petersburg, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Porto host Zenit in a straight shoot-out to join APOEL in the next round. A draw will do the job for Zenit, who have only lost once - to leaders APOEL - and have already defeated Porto in this campaign. It's now or never for Porto, who need a triumphant European night in order to progress.

19.45 Genk v Bayer Leverkusen, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Bayer are in good form domestically and sit pretty at the top of Group E. A win in Belgium will guarantee that the German outfit finish at the top of the group, a target that should be achievable given Genk's showing so far in this year's competition. A goal difference of -14 after five games is quite unimpressive.

19.45 Viktoria Plzen v AC Milan, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Another dead rubber, this time in the Czech Republic were the Rossoneri have exactly nothing to play for. Their hosts probably don't either - even a defeat wouldn't take them to the bottom of the group (for all that matters) unless BATE defeat Barcelona.

Wednesday 7 December

19.45 FC Basel v Manchester United, UEFA Champions League, ITV1/ITV1 HD
It's a huge night for Basel, who welcome Manchester United but require nothing less than victory. If they were to beat the Red Devils they would join Benfica in the next round, but a draw is not enough for the hosts, who trail the English champions by a point. ITV might just have picked an absolutel slobberknocker to show this Wednesday. What do you mean they always show United?

19.45 Manchester City v Bayern Munich, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Like their city rivals, Manchester City are up against it in the last game of the Champions League group stage. In Group A they host unbeaten and in-form Bayern Munich but they do not have their fate in their own hands. Even a win is not enough to guarantee without a result going their way elsewhere.

19.45 Villarreal v Napoli, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
The result City require is a a Villarreal win over Napoli, or a draw if City get the job done in full against FCB. The bad news for Roberto Mancini and his expensively-assembled unit of doom? Villarreal have lost all five Champions League matches.

19.45 Ajax v Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Flawless Real Madrid are the team to watch in Europe this season. Victory in the Champions League or La Liga this year would arguably be Jose Mourinho's greatest achievement, and if the season to date is anything to go by then they are capable of overcoming Barcelona. They've already qualified from their UCL group, winning all five matches so far.

19.45 Dinamo Zagreb v Lyon, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
There's nothing left to play for for Dinamo, who sit at the bottom of Group D with five defeats to their name. Two 0-0 draws between Lyon and Ajax mean that if Ajax lose and Lyon win, the tie-breaker will drop to the fifth level - that will see Ajax through on goal difference unless there's a seven-goal swing.

19.45 Benfica v Otelul Galati, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
This know-nothing writer fancied Basel to nick a place in the top two spots in Group C, and suspected that they might do so at the expense of Benfica. The Portuguese side has taught me to predict nothing in football. Two wins and three draws in a tight group leaves them atop the mini-table looking ahead to the knockout rounds.

19.45 Inter Milan v CSKA Moscow, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
The Nerazzurri haven't been pulling up any trees domestically in this season's campaign but they've picked up three wins in the Champions League, enough to guarantee first place in Group B. CSKA need a win, and they need the result to go their way...

19.45 Lille v Trabzonspor, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
...when Trabzonspor head to France to face Lille. The bottom three in the group are separated by just one point, but even a CSKA win will only be sufficient if these two draw. If there's a winner here, they're through.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #217

The 100 Club
21 Coaches That Have Managed International Teams On More Than 100 Occasions

1. Carlos Alberto Parreira
Over 240 matches with Kuwait, Brazil, UAE and Saudi Arabia

2. Bruce Arena
117 matches with USA

3. Sepp Herberger
167 matches with (West) Germany

4. Guus Hiddink
Over 130 matches with Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia and Turkey

5. Roger Lemerre
137 matches with France, Tunisia and Morocco

6. Claude Le Roy
166 matches with Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Oman and others

7. Valeri Lobanovski
Over 120 matches with Soviet Union

8. Henri Michel
160 matches with France, Cameroon, Morocco, Ivory Coast and others

9. Bora Milutinovic (pictured below)
Over 280 matches with Mexico, Costa Rica, USA, Nigeria, China and others

10. Richard Moller-Nielsen
119 matches with Denmark, Finland and Israel

11. Egil Olsen
113 matches with Norway and Iraq

12. Morten Olsen
118 matches with Denmark

13. Antoni Piechniczek
127 matches with Poland, Tunisia and UAE

14. Sepp Piontek
142 matches with Denmark and Turkey

15. Sir Alf Ramsey
113 matches with England

16. Guillermo Stabile
127 matches with Argentina

17. Guy Thys
114 matches with Belgium

18. Philippe Troussier
109 matches with Japan, Qatar, South Africa and others

19. Berti Vogts
191 matches with Germany, Kuwait, Scotland, Nigeria and Azerbaijan

20. Walter Winterbottom
139 matches with England

21. Mario Zagallo
Over 200 matches with Kuwait, Brazil, UAE and Saudi Arabia

Weekend TV Preview: 2 - 4 December 2011

Friday 2 December

16.45 Euro 2012 Draw, BBC2
If our own Euro 2012 draw wasn't exciting enough for you, here's UEFA doing their best to match us for professionalism.
19.30 Fleetwood Town v Yeovil Town, FA Cup 2nd Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
Fleetwood pulled off the biggest shock of Round 1 with a 2-0 win over Wycombe - with only 10 men for most of the match. They're on cracking form in all competitions at the moment and as such have an excellent chance of adding The Glovers to their list of scalps.
19.45 Crystal Palace v Derby County, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Only one story to speak of here - Palace's momentous League Cup win over Man United during the week. Dougie Freedman and his men deserve their place in the semis (if not the Final itself) purely by showing how much they valued the competition which Lord Ferg and Co. clearly don't. Anyway, this is a league match, but that shouldn't alter the fact that Palace are easily capable of extending Derby's poor run of form. Unless they're all knackered and injured, of course.

Saturday 3 December

12.45 Newcastle United v Chelsea, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2/3D
All the talk of AVB needing to win this game to keep his job is preposterous. It'll be the next one against Valencia he has to win.
17.00 Sporting v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
A win for Real will be their 14th on-the-trot, thereby leaving them one short of a record set in the 1960/61 season. Gijon's last home win against Real was 17 (DIECISIETE) years ago, so expect another cakewalk here.
17.20 Bristol City v Middlesborough, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
It's a sign of how bad The Robins' start to the season was that they're still only fifth from bottom despite taking ten points from the last twelve. A recent 2-0 win over Southampton shows they've turned a corner to some extent, and the visit of Boro should make for excellent teatime viewing.
17.30 Aston Villa v Man Utd, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Emile Heskey looks set to make his 500th Premier League appearance in this one, thereby putting him in an exclusive club with only five other players... but who are they? This isn't a quiz - we genuinely don't know. Go on, tell us?
19.00 Barcelona v Levante, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
When Levante's table-topping run came to an end, they went on a three-game losing streak, but they got their act together by beating Gijon 4-0 last Sunday. Though this match may be another step backwards for them, a draw would conceivably give them sustainance before the visit of Sevilla next week.
19.45 Inter v Udinese, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Inter started the long walk back to respectfulness last time out with a win over Siena. Udinese, however, beat them 3-1 at the Stadio Friuli back in January.
21.00 Valencia v Espanyol, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Espanyol have managed a total of just one goal in their last three La Liga games. Sadly for them, Valencia are eating teams like Espanyol for breakfast right now.
22.10 Colon v Racing Club, Argentinian Apertura, Premier Sports
You'd expect to find Colon somewhere near the bottom, but they're actually fifth in the Primera Division table, just two places behind their opponents. ('The Football Fairground Book of Colon Gags' is on sale from 16 December.)

Sunday 4 December

11.30 Feyenoord v PSV Eindhoven, Eredivisie, ESPN/ESPN HD
The last time these two teams met, Feyenoord won 3-1, thereby going some way to eradicate the humiliation of Ajax's 10-0 win when they faced each other in October 2010. PSV are on fine form, however, and can even look forward to a the knock-out stages of the Europa League having topped Group C this week.
12.30 AFC Totton v Bristol Rovers, FA Cup 2nd Round, ITV1/ITV1 HD
Little chance of Totton banging in eight like they did in the last round against Bradford Park Avenue, but a win is certainly possible in front of a home crowd against at Bristol Rovers side struggling for consistency.
12.45 Dundee United v Celtic, SPL, Sky Sports 1/HD1
No real contest here, despite Celtic's 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid during the week. The Bhoys are now only four points behind Rangers in the table and look to be restoring the Glasgow stranglehold having given Motherwell the elbow recently.
16.00 Wolves v Sunderland, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
At time of writing, we're not sure whether Martin O'Neill has actually been instated as the new Sunderland manager. If he has actually accepted a job offer for a change, The Sound of Football podcast will need to write some new material, that's for sure.
17.00 Sutton United v Notts County, FA Cup 2nd Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
County visited Gander Green Lane a couple of years ago and made off with a 1-0 First Round win. Whatever the result this time, Sutton stand to make a pretty penny out of their Second Round Cup outing and provide them with the means to develop the club further in the foreseeable future.
19.00 Mallorca v Athletic Bilbao, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Other than a surprise slip-up against Granada last week, Bilbao are doing rather well at the moment. Certainly better than Mallorca who already look like they'll soon be involved in a relegation battle.
19.45 Parma v Palermo, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Both teams are on a seemingly endless win-loss repeating cycle at the moment. Palermo, however, have to win this to stay in touch with the top four, while Parma need to win to stay on the coat-tails of Palermo.
20.30 Granada v Zaragoza, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Both teams are in the bottom five. Granada have won one at home all season, Zaragoza none away from home. Avoid.
22.10 Boca Juniors v Banfield, Argentinian Apertura, Premier Sports
Top v Bottom! Twenty-five points separate these two teams, yet they've played out a draw in each of their last two games. Stranger things have happened...