ESPN

How the Premier League has evolved in 25 years to become what it is today

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 02:21:00 PDT

As the 25th anniversary of the Premier League nears, the FC crew discuss how the league has changed over a quarter century. A quarter of a century ago, a new era of English football began. At the time, only a few things about the newly minted Premier League looked different: more TV cameras, some referees wore green rather than black, and the new backpass rule meant the sight of goalkeepers panicking at having to control the ball brought a few laughs. But one thing really stood out: the hype. After Sky Sports arrived and started to sell football as almost a lifestyle choice rather than simply a sport, suddenly it was...

Cristiano Ronaldo shows he's human; Matic key for Man Utd; Neymar's start

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:52:00 PDT

The FC crew talk the length of suspension that would be suitable for Cristiano Ronaldo's actions in the Spanish Super Cup. It was all set up so nicely. Other than an eight-minute cameo against Manchester United in the European Super Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo hadn't played at all since June. Against Barcelona, in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday, he came in just before the hour mark with his team one-nil up. After Lionel Messi converted a dubious penalty, Ronaldo scored an absolutely stunning long-range goal to put Madrid ahead. So far, so good. He then decided to take off his shirt (OK, he has the body...

One big question for Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City, Spurs, Liverpool

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:36:00 PDT

The FC panel delve into their 2017-18 Premier League title predictions. The new Premier League campaign is finally here, starting with Arsenal's home meeting with Leicester at the Emirates on Friday evening. But what are the major tactical issues facing the title contenders? Here's a run-down of the major question mark about each side's tactical approach. Arsenal: Will they stick with the 3-4-2-1? The immediate answer to this question is simple: yes. Arsene Wenger's decision to switch to a three-man defence last season for the first time in over 20 years completely...

Football gets the Hollywood treatment: previewing the season in movie form

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:32:00 PDT

The FC panel delve into their 2017-18 Premier League title predictions. Craig Burley explains why Ousmane Dembele is a perfect example of the power players possess when it comes to transfer requests. Like it or not, football feels a lot more epic these days. Every big transfer is a saga worthy of the full cinematic treatment and every big game seems suited to the big screen. With that in mind, we've sketched out some of the storylines set to rule over the 2017-18 season and imagined how they'd translate to Hollywood. Posters designed and illustrated by Neil Jamieson Tottenham's new stadium won't be ready until 2018, which means they're playing the current campaign at Wembley Stadium....

Denilson knows firsthand the pressure that comes with world-record transfer

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:57:00 PDT

Denilson had no clue about the amount of pressure that would come with being the world's most expensive footballer. The scene was in itself a carnival of ironies. After being nutmegged by an opponent, Denilson body-checked him and reacted furiously to the referee's decision to award a foul -- from which, by the way, the opposition scored the winning goal. "It seems that the referee wanted go home bragging that he didn't blow the whistle once when I was fouled. Congratulations," Denilson said while still on the pitch. Famous for trickery in his playing days, the Brazilian was the star of an otherwise innocuous...

The many faces of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool's super-animated manager

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 12:14:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol and company talk Liverpool as the club once again turn down Barcelona's bid for Philippe Coutinho. The FC crew talk tactics for Liverpool should star play-maker Philippe Coutinho make a move to Barcelona this summer. Liverpool fans rejoiced when the club announced that Jurgen Klopp had agreed to become manager following the promising but disappointing reign of Brendan Rodgers. Since he took over in October 2015, Klopp has tried to rebuild the Reds into an attacking, aggressive squad, and though the results haven't always been as expected, the entertainment level has always been high. Much of that entertainment, of course, is on the sideline with Klopp himself. He's constantly buzzing around his technical...

Javier Hernandez's return a reminder of very different, more successful days

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 12:13:00 PDT

The FC guys discuss the areas in which Man United were exposed against Real Madrid and deliver their expectations for United this season. Jose Mourinho says Manchester United's UEFA Super Cup loss to Real Madrid was a good learning experience. Nemanja Matic saw the UEFA Super Cup vs. Real Madrid as a good barometer to see where Manchester United stack up among the best. Anachronisms are forever getting younger. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez is only 29, but when he returns to Manchester United for the first time on Sunday, he will be a youthful throwback, a man redolent of an earlier age at Old Trafford. West Ham's striking signing was very much a United player of his period, the late-era Sir Alex Ferguson years. He joined as recently as 2010, but United neither sign £6.9 million forwards any more -- that is only enough to buy 10.9 percent of Romelu Lukaku...

Coutinho saga speaks to Liverpool's continued transfer mismanagement

Wed, 9 Aug 2017 08:40:00 PDT

The FC crew talk tactics for Liverpool should star play-maker Philippe Coutinho make a move to Barcelona this summer. Philippe Coutinho is one of the great success stories of Fenway Sports Group's time in charge at Liverpool. The Brazil international's career on Merseyside has worked out exactly as the American owners dreamt it would. Until now. When FSG took over the club in 2010, they developed a plan. The idea was to make Anfield a prime destination for the best young players in the world, a place where youngsters would get playing time to develop their talents. Coutinho, who could not make the breakthrough...

Brazil starlet Gabriel Jesus poised to become one of Premier League's best

Wed, 9 Aug 2017 03:27:00 PDT

Stewart Robson shares his thoughts on how Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus should be utilised by Pep Guardiola this season. Man City's Gabriel Jesus discusses playing in the International Champions Cup, adapting to the Prem and playing for Pep Guardiola. Back in May, Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus posted a fascinating series of photos on social media: one of which was an image of him three years earlier, participating in the deeply Brazilian ritual of painting and decorating his local streets in the build up to the 2014 World Cup. At the time he was a promising player, full of goals in the youth ranks of Palmeiras, and may have been daydreaming of making his mark on the next version of the tournament in 2018. Now, after moving to Man City...

The Premier League at 25: How it became the world's most popular

Tue, 8 Aug 2017 09:15:00 PDT

As the 25th anniversary of the Premier League nears, the FC crew discuss how the league has changed over a quarter century. The Exploding Heads provide their comical take of what exactly will happen this Premier League season. To fully appreciate the overwhelming success of the Premier League over its first quarter of a century, it's worth flicking through a British newspaper from the early 1990s and assessing the nature of the sport section. Football dominated in some newspapers at that point but in others, it competed for attention with rugby and cricket, vanishing almost completely during the summer off-season. Fast-forward 25 years and the way supporters consume media has changed dramatically: the internet has taken...

If you want Neymar Jr. at your club, you must keep Neymar Sr. happy too

Tue, 8 Aug 2017 06:31:00 PDT

The Eiffel Tower pays tribute to Neymar's PSG arrival, Didier Drogba hits a free kick stunner and more in the Sweeper. Neymar was introduced to a rousing welcome at the Parc des Princes despite being ineligible to play in PSG's season opener. Like countless Brazilian kids for their 18th or 19th birthday, Jr. wanted a car as a coming-of-age present. It was nothing unusual, not even when his father made good performance a condition of whether he would get the gift he wanted. The difference here is that instead of university entrance exams results, Jr. would have to work with his feet. "I told him: 'If you want the car, you've got to win the South American Under-20 tournament and be the top scorer," explained Sr. Yes, the Junior in...

PSG hope Neymar brings UCL glory in exchange for status, comfort, money

Sun, 6 Aug 2017 01:02:00 PDT

Neymar was introduced to a rousing welcome at the Parc des Princes despite being ineligible to play in PSG's season opener. For the last five years, going to the Parc des Princes has been a pleasant Paris night out. You stroll past the chic apartment buildings of the 16th arrondissement and take your seat in the heated stadium. Then you enjoy possibly the best French club team since Saint-Etienne in the 1970s. Usually, Paris Saint-Germain wins; they've been French champions four seasons out of the past five. But every spring, the team ritually crashes out of the Champions League in the quarterfinals, usually to Barcelona....

Five transfer swaps that might work: Aguero to Arsenal, Sanchez to City?

Sun, 6 Aug 2017 02:54:00 PDT

The ESPN FC panel take stock of Diego Costa's latest activity on social media. Direct transfer swaps never ever happen in football, although they're often mooted. But what if they did? What if there was a matchup of personnel so perfect for each side that it made too much sense not to do it? Here are five exchanges that we think could work nicely for everyone involved. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) for Sergio Aguero (Man City) In some situations, it would seem that nobody is happy. Alexis Sanchez clearly isn't delighted with his lot at Arsenal, be that with the team's consistent...

Why does the Premier League feature so many stoppage-time goals?

Sat, 5 Aug 2017 09:34:00 PDT

The Premier League routinely sees more stoppage time, and more stoppage-time goals, than any other league. The Premier League frequently casts itself as Europe's most exciting league, boasting of its unpredictability, its open title race and its frenetic tempo. There's one other crucial factor in its reputation as an entertaining, thrilling and crazy spectacle, though: its propensity for late goals. None of the other major European leagues comes close to England's top-flight for late drama. In 2016-17, the Premier League's 25th season, there were no fewer than 68 goals scored in second-half stoppage...

Bale, Lentini and Maradona: Major transfer fees that outraged football

Sat, 5 Aug 2017 01:53:00 PDT

The FC crew debate whether the price of Neymar's PSG move is a bad sign for football or a special exception in the market. Julien Laurens evaluates Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho as possible replacements for Neymar at Barcelona. The £197 million PSG have paid for Neymar has, perhaps quite rightly, caused some degree of outrage, but this is nothing new. Here are some other big money transfers from football history to have inspired moral condemnation. Alf Common: Sunderland to Middlesbrough, £1,000 (1905) The first four-figure transfer, Common moved from Sunderland to Middlesbrough for a grand in 1905, a desperation move as 'Boro were heading towards relegation. Ultimately it worked, as Common's new team finished...

The Premier League honeymoon is over for Guardiola and Mourinho

Sat, 5 Aug 2017 01:00:00 PDT

With the 2017/18 Premier League season around the corner, Stevie Nicol predicts who will finish in the top 4. Steve Nicol believes that Man City's big summer spending has made the club favourites to win the Premier League. ESPN FC's Steve Nicol reveals his arguments for why his former side will finish ahead of Arsenal this season. Pep Guardiola surely has to deliver the title for Manchester City after such an unprecedented summer of lavish spending. Having gone through a season trophyless for the first time, Guardiola has to prove his sophisticated, complex style will work in England. The surgery on his squad has been drastic as he looks to find the players who can play the "Pep Way"; City have splashed out approximately £130 million on full-backs alone with the arrivals of Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo. Clearly,...

Neymar surpasses Zidane, Ronaldo & Pogba - a history of the transfer record

Fri, 4 Aug 2017 09:22:00 PDT

With the addition of Neymar now official, Julien Laurens weighs in on whether or not PSG can win the Champions League. Angel Di Maria is among the players Julien Laurens believes will have to make way at PSG after Neymar's arrival. Julien Laurens evaluates Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho as possible replacements for Neymar at Barcelona. The FC crew debate whether the price of Neymar's PSG move is a bad sign for football or a special exception in the market. Neymar explains his 'difficult decision' to depart Barcelona and join Ligue 1's PSG via Facebook. Julien Laurens explains why Neymar's move to PSG is one of the biggest events in French football history. Neymar is the world's most expensive player as he joins Paris Saint-Germain for £198 million. The Brazil international, 25, has found his way on to an illustrious list of players who have held the title down the years, from Diego Maradona to Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane to Cristiano Ronaldo.  As Neymar gets used to life following his astronomical move, here's a look at the evolution of the modern world transfer record -- when the fees really started to get interesting... 1973 - Johan...

PSG show it can make financial sense for clubs to overspend on talent

Thu, 3 Aug 2017 11:49:00 PDT

With Neymar's signing official, ESPN FC's Steve Nicol questions the motives surrounding his move to Paris Saint-Germain. Jose Mourinho ignored the reality that he broke the world transfer record last summer while channelling the views of thousands, if not millions of fans. Casting a critical eye over prices that were inflated even before Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain, he said last week: "Some clubs obviously are paying too much, and by paying too much they create a very strange and out-of-control market." If that last aspect may most irritate a manager who values control above most things, Mourinho highlighted...

Neymar's record-breaking move: What it means for Barcelona, PSG and more

Thu, 3 Aug 2017 05:13:00 PDT

PSG's world record signing Neymar is confident he can help PSG become the best team in the world. There's a veritable kaleidoscope of vantage points from which to consider the transfer of Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, aka you-know-who. We're not just talking the most expensive footballer of all time; we're talking a guy who cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars. That's Paul Pogba plus Cristiano Ronaldo with enough left over to cover their wages until Christmas. This is not, as some have suggested, the end of football as we know it. It's either a bold, game-changing move from Paris Saint-Germain...

Why Dortmund breed such good coaches: Klopp, Wagner, Farke, Wolf

Thu, 3 Aug 2017 05:50:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol, speaking shortly after Peter Bosz's arrival, assesses the Dortmund coach's prospects. This is an interesting time for Borussia Dortmund. After finishing third in the Bundesliga last season behind not only Bayern Munich but also fizzy drink-funded upstarts RB Leipzig, internal machinations saw coach Thomas Tuchel depart and Peter Bosz arrive from Ajax. How the first-team reacts to the change and the possible upheaval will be fascinating. But beyond the concerns of the first-team, Dortmund are developing a reputation as a top coaching production line. Jurgen Klopp's move to Liverpool...


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