Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Premier League: Our predictions, your predictions — Update

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UPDATE: Now with added rollcall of shame! Click here for full details of just how badly our panel did

The new Premier League season is upon us and this year we at the Reuters Soccer Blog have decided to stick our necks out as never before.

Instead of the usual season previews, picking one of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool to win the league and the new arrivals to struggle, we’re doing this the hard way and giving our predictions on a match by match basis.

So without further ado, here are the predictions from a random group of Reuters bloggers. Couldn’t agree more? Couldn’t agree less? Give us your predictions too and see if you can do better than our own modest efforts. We may even keep a running score…

Arsenal v Celtic in play-offs. Is this what Platini wanted?

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The draw for the Champions League final qualifying round raises the question whether Michel Platini and UEFA have done the right thing by giving teams from Europe’s less heralded leagues a better chance of reaching the money-spinning group stage.

On one hand, restructuring the qualifying campaign has opened the group stage doors to Latvian champions Venstpils, Cypriots APOEL Nicosia, Hungarian title holders Debrecen and Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol.

Wenger’s unrivalled Midas touch

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Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez may feel he got a good price for Xabi Alonso but he is in no danger of dislodging Arsene Wenger as the Premier League manager with the Midas touch.

Wenger has received criticism of late for not ‘spending big’ on replacements for departing first-teamers. He should be receiving credit for earning a huge pile of cash for players no longer in his plans. Does anyone in football generate as much money from transfers as Wenger?

First round of the title battle: United v Arsenal, Aug 29

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The new Premier League season kicks off on August 15 and the first real eye-catching fixture is at Old Trafford a fortnight later when Arsenal visit champions Manchester United for the first twist in the title race.

United manager Alex Ferguson will clash with new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti at Stamford Bridge on November 7, two weeks after visiting rivals Liverpool at Anfield.

Wenger makes his point with customary elegance

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“Highly intelligent” and “Arsene Wenger” sit neatly together in countless newspaper columns outlining the exploits, achievements and travails of the cerebral Arsenal manager.

Consequently there was no elaborate deconstruction required following an interview with a French television channel at the club’s training ground this week.

Things we should all love and hate about football

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Soccer magazine FourFourTwo has published a superb article this month: 49 Things We Hate About Football — Even Though Its Still The Best Thing on the Planet.

I reckon every real fan would agree with almost all of the things we probably hate about football and I give you a random selection of their choices, in no particular order:

For Sale: Thousands of nearly new Arsenal flags

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Don’t be surprised if you see this message on eBay in the next few days: “FOR SALE: 57,000 red and white flags as good as new — only waved for eight minutes. Apply Arsenal FC, Emirates Stadium, North London.”

For Arsenal’s fans not only stopped waving their freebie flags after eight minutes, but they also stopped believing in their side after an hour as thousands of them trooped away from the stadium no longer able to watch as Manchester United demolished their young team.

Are UEFA’s rules on red cards too harsh?

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Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher will miss the Champions League final in Rome later this month after UEFA said there was no chance of overturning the red card he received against Arsenal on Tuesday.

Fletcher conceded a penalty in United’s 3-1 semi-final second leg win in London after he brought down Cesc Fabregas, but replays showed he touched the ball first.

Ruthless United through to Champions League final

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A couple of early thoughts on Manchester United’s ruthless demonstration of superiority against Arsenal tonight (click here for the full match report).

1. United are over that little blip they had against Liverpool and Fulham and look to be timing their run-in to perfection. They have no significant injuries, Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be getting his mojo back and, as they showed once again against Arsenal, they ooze class right the way through the team.

United in for Ribery? Well, it would stop Barcelona getting him

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It says more about the value of the pound than it does the value of Franck Ribery that the sum United are supposed to be prepared to pay for him is so high — 63 million pounds, if there’s anything to the story in this morning’s Guardian.

That sum is a shade over 70 million euros, which is a slightly less ridiculous amount than the 100 million euros it would have been a year or two ago but is still, of course, vastly overinflated.

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