England - Premier League
24 years is a long time to wait for football fans, but it may only be a few more weeks for the Scousers. They ran out to an early lead against Norwich and held off a spirited fight back for a 3-2 win, their 11th in a row. To make things even better for Liverpool, Chelsea fell to a 2-1 loss to Sunderland. Mourinho’s men went up early, only to lose to a late, controversial penalty. Jose was not OK with it. Sunderland’s win keeps them back in with a chance to save themselves. Of course, they drew with Manchester City last week too, making them every Liverpool fan’s second favourite team now. Remember the balloon-on-the-field saga? All is forgiven. Liverpool are 5 points clear with three games to go. Not an unbridgeable gap, though it’s all in their hands from here. Liverpool vs Chelsea – 1am Monday 28th (NZT). Save the date.
That relegation battle didn’t take too many other twists this week. West Brom were done by City, Fulham were well beaten by Spurs, Cardiff nicked a point against Stoke. Aston Villa earned a valuable point against Southampton, snapping a 4 game losing streak, Swansea had a vital away 2-1 win and Hull lost big to Arsenal. The Gunners needed that win to hold on to fourth place, which they did, despite Everton ruffling some feathers up north. They welcomed David Moyes back to Goodison Park with a shockingly comfortable 2-0 win over Manchester United. United only managed 2 shots on target, despite needing the win to have any realistic chance of improving on their current 7th place position on the table. Rumour is now that David Moyes is on the chopping block, having finally lost the faith of a supportive Manchester United board. If it happens, Ryan Giggs is expected to finish the season out as player manager. Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp is a name being thrown around for the long run.
Spain - La Liga
The thing about La Liga is just how disparate the standard between the top teams and bottom teams is. The lower quality sides have virtually no chance of beating the top boys, which is what made Barcelona’s loss last week so shocking. Therefore the table doesn’t change a whole lot week in week out, unless the big fellas are playing each other. Only two of the top three sides won in the last seven days, but that was only because Real Madrid didn’t have a game after their Copa del Rey victory. That means they fall to third, only they now have a game in hand. Atletico Madrid kept their lead in tact with a 2-0 win over Elche, once again with an opposition player sent off. Diego Costa scored the last minute penalty following Cristian Sapunaru’s dismissal. This after David Villa missed one for Atletico earlier in the game. Poor old Sanuparu conceded both penalties. Miranda finally gave Atletico the lead in the 72nd minute in what was a tense game, and 2-0 was the final score. Another clean sheet for the best defence in La Liga.
Barcelona had their own troubles in trying to keep pace. Playing against relegation threatened (to put it lightly) Atletico Bilbao, they still had the best of possession, though nowhere near to the degree they usually do (a measly 56%...). Not that they didn’t still have their chances. Bilbao had a few too, and it was they who opened the scoring after halftime. Barca were on the verge, with only 30 mins left to play, of another embarrassing and devastating loss to a lesser team. Instead they showed some fight, and Pedro equalised, before Lionel Messi buried the winner all within the space of 240 seconds. 2-1 it ended and Barca stay in the fight. Bilbao are a loss away from confirmed relegation.
France - Ligue 1
Remember Dimitar Berbatov? Yeah well the joker with the silky touch and finishing ability has put back PSG's title celebrations by scoring the only goal in Monaco's 1-0 win over Nice. The former Manchester United and Fulham big lad did this... cooler than a polar bear's toe nails.
Despite how awesome his effort was, PSG still remain in the prime position. PSG played Lyon in the French Cup final, which they won and so they've got a game in hand with Monaco seven points back. PSG play Evian Thonon and Sochaux this week to catch up and they should bag two easy wins against two teams near the bottom of the table. Lille didn't do too much to put pressure on either either PSG or Monaco with a 0-0 draw against Marseille who sit in 6th. Lille look to have secured a Champions League spot. Monaco play AC Ajaccio who are dead last so if PSG manage to slip up then things could become very interesting. Mona
Italy - Serie A
Juventus continue to dominate the Serie A with a 1-0 win over Bologna which saw Juve squeeze a Paul Pogba goal past a resolute defensive effort from Bologna. AS Roma are determined to push Juve... which has really just made Juve play better, but they kept the pressure on with a 1-0 win over 4th placed Fiorentina who now look to be out of the Champions League battle. Napoli appear to have done enough to maintain 3rd with a 1-1 draw with Udinese, but the back news out of the Serie A involves Napoli hitman Marek Hamsik drawing plenty of interest from other clubs, especially some in the EPL after rumours swirled regarding his unhappiness in Naples. Obviously Napoli are pretty keen to keep him and they should do with Hamsik outlining his love for Napoli only a few weeks ago... but if he wants out it will get very interesting.
Germany - Bundesliga
There really isn’t much left to happen in the Bundesliga, just the formalities. Bayern are champs and they bounced back with a win – 2-0 away to Braunschweig, thanks to late goals from Claudio Pizzaro and Mario Mandzukic. Dortmund won too, in a 4-2 thriller, while Schalke fell to Stuttgart, meaning Dortmund are a win away from guaranteed second place, and Stuttgart are four points clear of the relegation playoff spot, with the bottom three teams all losing. Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg kept Europa League pace with wins, and Borussia M.Gladbach lost, falling to sixth.
Get It On Record
New York based (but Lancashire born) graphic designer, James Campbell Taylor, has created a bunch of these images in which he reimagines legendary footballers on old album covers. They're all really cool. Check out the lot of them on his website: