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Sports Then and Now



The Changing Face of Soccer in England’s Top Tier 0

Posted on January 22, 2020 by John Harris

We’re now into a new decade and Liverpool are on route to shattering English Premier League records left, right and centre but how else has the game evolved over the past 10 years?

VAR 

The technology in the Premier League is unquestionably one of the hottest topics on people’s lips this season. The introduction of VAR – video assisted referees – came in at the start of the 2019/20 season and it’s fair to say everyone is divided on whether or not it’s a good thing for the game. The concept was well received but the manner in which it’s being used is killing the game for many fans as celebrations are being put on hold and goals are being determined by the smallest margins with offside decisions becoming laughably tight. 

Then, of course, there is the length of time it takes for decisions to be reached. This and the lack of engagement with fans in the grounds are the biggest complaints with the argument regularly made that the same issues don’t occur in other sports such as the NFL where Super Bowl 2020 will be televised globally in the coming weeks to prove how tech can enhance the game just to rub salt into the wounds of soccer. 

Goal line technology 

Despite the teething issues with VAR it would be too much of a sweeping statement to claim that soccer can’t do technology. In 2013, goal line technology was introduced and has been a roaring success as it transmits a signal in milliseconds to confirm when the ball has crossed the line. Sure, you no longer get talking points like the infamous ‘ghost goal’ but key decisions, such as potentially title deciding decisions like in last years match between Man City and Liverpool,  are correct.

Read the rest of this entry →

Premier League Forwards: Then and Now 0

Posted on February 19, 2018 by John Harris

Since 1992, the Premier League has caught the imagination of sports fans everywhere, and over the last 24 seasons, it has risen to become one of the most popular leagues in the world; indeed, by some measures, it is the most entertaining competition on the planet.

Alan Shearer scored 260 career goals in the Premier League.

Alan Shearer scored 260 career goals in the Premier League.

There are many reasons behind the Premier League’s success, but one factor has consistently helped to make it an enthralling spectacle, and that’s the number of top-class forwards who have graced the competition over the years.

From early stars such as Alan Shearer and Andy Cole to the current leading scorer Harry Kane – the favorite with sports betting companies to clinch the 2017-18 top scorer title – Premier League fans have been blessed with some prolific forwards. To celebrate the league’s heritage of top-quality strikers, we take a look at five of the all-time greats and compare them to the current season’s top five goalscorers.

Then: the all-time Premier League strikers

If there is one striker who is synonymous with the Premier League, it is the competition’s all-time leading scorer, Alan Shearer. In 441 games for Blackburn and Newcastle, Shearer scored 260 Premier League goals, topping the scoring charts for three seasons from 1995 to 1997. Strong, tireless, and dominant in the air, Shearer was the quintessential English striker.

Shearer’s main rival was the mercurial Andy Cole. A controversial figure, he moved from Newcastle to Manchester United, for whom he won five Premier League titles. Blessed with pace and a silky touch, Cole won over the Manchester United fans and formed one of the Premier League’s deadliest strike partnerships with Dwight Yorke.

There are a number of candidates for the title of the Premier League’s first overseas star, but none were as deadly as Thierry Henry. Signed by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, Henry became a global star, mesmerising defenses as he helped Arsenal to become one of Europe’s top sides. No top ten Premier League striker scored his goals more quickly. Read the rest of this entry →

Guess the English Football League Mascots 0

Posted on February 13, 2018 by Barrie Smith

Premier League-2018Even the most stalwart football fan could be forgiven for not remembering the name of every mascot.  While they’re a big deal across the pond, the mascots of the beautiful game don’t always take center stage.

With a few exceptions, usually because of things like Partick Thistle’s mascot Kingsley looking like a sentient nightmare. But if you’re a serious fan of football, the kind who’s memorized every players number and who makes a killing at the Premier League betting game because of your outstanding Premier League predictions, then it stands to reason that you ought to be able to recognize a mascot and tell us what club they come from.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to be unreasonable and ask you to name them too, it’s just a test to see if you can match them up to the right club. Are you going to hit the back of the net or are you heading for a red card?

Who Will Be Relegated From the English Premier League? 0

Posted on September 03, 2012 by Thomas Rooney

West Ham is trying not to be the team relegated from the English Premier League this year.

The task of many of this year’s Premier League soccer clubs will be simple. Finish 17th and avoid a fast track to the Championship.

Newly promoted sides Southampton, Reading and West Ham have all invested hefty mounts in a bid to avoid an instant return to the country’s second tier of soccer.

I can’t remember too many seasons in Premier League history where the outcome of business at the bottom of the table has been so difficult for a punter to call, with so many managerial changes in key jobs at the bottom end of the table, the prospect is scary.

I mean lets face it how exciting would it be if we could go into a last day of the season with potentially four clubs able to win the title and at the bottom a potential seven could still go down. Can you tell I don’t follow a Premier League team yet? Sometimes, it might be better to spend time looking for the best online casinos, but soccer gets me going! Read the rest of this entry →

Fevered Pitch: Strange and Terrible Tales From the World of Soccer 5

Posted on September 18, 2010 by Andrew Jeromski

If you are one of the five or six people who have actually read any of my other irresponsibly chimeric screeds (hi Mom, Aunt Kate), then you no doubt realize I have a peculiar fondness for the bizarre and the off beat.

I also possess a passion for the sport of soccer, which is a fortuitous thing, as the world of association football is literally overflowing with all manner of chiseling crooks, dangerous thugs, craven lunatics and twisted perverts. This means that the well of weirdness that FIFA keeps in the secret attic of a small church in southern France will never run dry, much to the satisfaction of those like myself who take great pleasure to revel in the arcana of the beautiful game.    This is something that many American fans overlook; the petty dramas of the transfer market, the vicious hatred between rivals fans, the wealth of impossible personalities and the far fetched happenings of international soccer.

Take the case of the Togolese national team. I mean, imagine you are a Togolese international, and you awake one morning, switch on your TV and see a match report from a friendly in Riffa, Bahrain that you are pretty sure never happened–at least not with the Togo team you play for. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bob Cousy: The Houdini of the Hardwood
      January 31, 2020 | 4:05 pm
      Bob Cousy

      As we reach the halfway point of the NBA season, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month the first in a long line of superstars to play for the Boston Celtics.

      Before there was Bill Russell and Larry Bird, the Boston Celtics were powered by a 6-foot-1 inch guard from Holy Cross. Bob Cousy was the on-the-court leader for the Celtics in the era during which they emerged as a basketball power.

      Read more »

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