Team/Player of the Week: 2/5

By Kiran Balan and Joe Ballard

It was another terrific weekend of soccer in the EPL, and while our team of the week was a simple choice, there were so many great individual performances we couldn’t limit the award to just one player. So have a look at DB20’s first ever player(s) of the week as well as a team who “gunned” down their opponents this weekend. Read more of this post


How Do You Solve A Problem Like De Gea?

Mark Bosnich, Massimo Taibi, Fabien Barthez, Andy Goram, Paul Rachubka, Raymond Van der Gouw, Ricardo, Tim Howard, Roy Carroll, Edwin Van der Sar, Ben Foster, Tomasz Kuszczak, Ben Amos, Anders Lindegaard, and David De Gea. These are the 15 goalkeepers who have started for Manchester United since the legendary Peter Schmeichel retired in 1999. Whereas Newcastle had Shay Given, Blackburn had Brad Friedel, and Bolton still has Jussi Jaaskelainen, it’s been something of a circus in the United goal for the majority of the last 13 years (the Van der Sar years aside). Read more of this post

Team/Player of the Week: 1/29

With the EPL taking a break this weekend, the F.A. Cup proved once again that the old magic is still alive, with several upsets and surprise results taking place. While Clint Dempsey and Fulham made last week an incredibly simple process, this week we’ve got so many good choices that along with our usual team of the week, we’re including a few shoutouts to other teams who also pulled off excellent results. So our final team of the week award for January goes to a club from League Two, while our player of the week is a certain popular member of the US Women’s National Team! Read more of this post

Carling Cup 2012: Year of the Underdog

Strange results have been in abundance in the Premier League this season- even by its normal standards- but the Carling Cup has also thrown up its share of surprises in 2011/12. Crystal Palace only went to Old Trafford and stunned Manchester United, while Cardiff City took care of Blackburn Rovers in the quarterfinals. The semifinals pitted the two remaining Championship sides against each other (won by Cardiff), while underdogs Liverpool defeated league leaders Manchester City in the other tie. This means a second division team will be in the Carling Cup final for the first time since 2001, when Birmingham City narrowly lost to Liverpool in a penalty shootout.

Many neutrals are thrilled by this prospect, and rightly so- who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Well, others are saying that the final will be dull and predictable and that they should just give the trophy to Liverpool now. They lament that the final won’t be contested by two “bigger” teams and therefore assume it won’t be exciting. This is, quite frankly, ridiculous.  Read more of this post

EPL Team/Player of the Week: 1/22

In a new feature at DB20, my colleague Kiran and I will be choosing a “team of the week” and a “player of the week” from each weekend of English Premier League matches. We’re hoping most weeks will be debatable for all of us as well as our dear readers but quite frankly, this week’s choices were simple. Without further ado, here is the inaugural EPL Player/Team of the Week! Read more of this post

The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game: Darlington FC

“Who?” and “Why should I care?”

These were probably and understandably the first two questions to enter your head. So let’s answer them. Darlington, a fifth division English football club, was born in 1883 and is older than most Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Chelsea. They are known as The Quakers, the nickname being a reference to the religious movement that influenced the town of Darlington for many generations.  They have previously won a few divisional league titles, reached the last 16 of the FA Cup, and won the FA Trophy last season.

Why should you care? Because greedy, foolish owners are prowling around in every professional sport and this is an important story of a very old soccer club brought to the brink of extinction by the scandalous actions of a former owner.  The players and staff involved with clubs like Darlington are paid (far) less in a year than Yaya Toure is paid in a week. Some players don’t even make enough to play football full-time; they take on nightly jobs during the week after training during the day. These are young men struggling with bills, families, laundry, and car problems just like you and me. The only reason the club played their league game last weekend was because their amazing fans raised £8,000 to ensure it went ahead. And on Monday the club’s entire playing staff was laid off. Read more of this post

Tottenham Hotspur: 2012 Premier League Champions?

It already seems a lifetime ago when the “Big Four” – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool – consistently dominated the rest of the Premier League. Everton broke the barrier once, but quickly fell back into their upper mid-table position. But over the past couple of years that barrier has been shattered by Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. You already know all about how City and their riches are taking over the league, but the path of Tottenham and their old-fashioned “wheeler dealer” manager Harry Redknapp is a little less obvious. For the past few years, they’ve become known as pretenders to the title race. But it’s time to forget about that – they are the real deal this time around. Here’s why: Read more of this post