So Easy A Dog Could Do It … And She Did

Cal's Corner, Extra Time, News, World Cup

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 about to start, I decided that instead of writing an article previewing the matchups that I would let my dog make some random choices.

In all honesty, this is the best way to do it.

With this World Cup being so unpredictable, as well as filled with late goals and superb drama, I felt as if this would allow for fans, like you, to kick back and relax with a video rather than reading a lengthy Knockout stage preview.

Gone are my predictions of Egypt in the semifinals, Panama drawing with England and Russia finishing last in their group.

Now, it’s just good old random predictions.

Made by a dog. A cute dog. I mean look at that face.

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Juuuuuuuuuuuuussssst one quick prediction for old time’s sake.

Okay, here it goes: Russia beats Spain, 2-1. Golovin the game-changer as they beat an unconvincing Spanish side.

Alright, done now.

As always, enjoy and chat me in the comments.

 

– Cal

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UCL Review — Liverpool vs. Real Madrid: Klopp, Reds Fall Short in Kyiv

Cal's Corner, EPL, Extra Time, News

Sorry for the late update on this, everyone. I was in New York celebrating my 21st birthday on Sunday (shameless shoutout).

And thanks to Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, I was really tempted to start those celebrations a day early.

First things first, credit to Real Madrid for capturing yet another Champions League title. Believe me when I say it’s not easy to win the UEFA Champions League.

But to win three trophies in a row and have claimed silverware in four out of the last five tournaments? Now that is an impressive feat and it must be recognized.

Bleacher Report‘s Sam Tighe said it best:

Liverpool certainly didn’t play their best game, but football is game of opportunities. Madrid capitalized and benefitted from the ones they got. Props to Los Blancos.

It was a disappointing finish to an otherwise unbelievable season for Liverpool.

A second consecutive Champions League berth, the rise of Egyptian star Mohamed Salah and an unlikely run to the Champions League Final is certainly nothing to scoff at.

But the final itself? Well …

The Salah Effect

When Sergio Ramos took down Salah midway through the first half, Liverpudlians and Reds fans all over the world collectively held their breath for the winger’s health.

Salah did come back on to the field briefly, but only before the pain was too much to bear.

It was heartbreaking to see a player who is destined to be a Ballon d’Or candidate have the biggest game of his career stripped away from him, by a historically dirty player.

But do I think Ramos wanted to hurt Salah? No. Did he want to take the Egyptian down to the ground? Yes. And was he more aggressive, knowing Salah was the key player for Liverpool? Hell yes.

With Salah, Liverpool had Madrid on their heels early, pushing into the offensive end right off the bat, and the Reds had a stellar chance with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shot that unfortunately was right at Keylor Navas. Salah even had the match’s first shot just 45 seconds in.

But without The Egyptian King, the Reds looked like a four-year old kid at Walmart without his mom.

Madrid eventually regained momentum and began controlling the possession and dictating the game’s ebbs and flow. These were the factors that Liverpool needed in order to control and ultimately compete.

Many thought that Salah’s injury would encourage Liverpool to play more aggressive, and provide the Reds with an extra incentive to win.

Even I joined in.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Liverpool made it interesting with Sadio Mane’s workmanlike goal, but the offense was lackluster overall. There were some small bursts and chances, with the best being Mane’s shot off the post, but nothing really threatened Navas and the Madrid backline other than that.

Loris Karius: Mayhem in Net

Man, this is tough for so many reasons.

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: you have to feel sorry for Karius. He made two massive mistakes in the biggest game of his career thus far. In the end, they were ultimately the difference.

Karius’ first blunder came after Isco nearly gave Madrid a 1-0 lead, with his shot smacking off the crossbar.

Moments later, a missed overhead pass to Karim Benzema, which turned into bewilderment on behalf of Liverpool, saw Karius scoop the ball up and carelessly toss it off the outstretched foot of Benzema.

At first glance, you may think that Benzema knocked it out of Karius’ hand.

But no.

Karius’ poor throw to Liverpool defender Andy Robertson left Liverpool down 1-0 without Madrid really cracking the Reds’ defense.

In the later stages of the Final came the German keeper’s second mishap.

On as a substitute, Madrid winger Gareth Bale settled a pass, eyed up a shot, moved in a for a better shot, hit the ball well, but it was right at Karius.

As soon as the shot was hit, most people assumed it would either be parried away or caught. A ball with such dip and pace, especially from the foot of a player with Bale’s quality at that range would unlikely be caught.

But Karius had other plans.

He went for the catch in a good position, only to then take a quick step over to the right and have the ball sneak between his hands and in for Bale’s second of the match. It was the decisive third goal for Los Blancos.

At that point, it was 3-1 Madrid with little more than 10 minutes left to be played and Liverpool left emotionally and mentally drained.

But despite all that, what makes this loss tough to swallow is the fact that, for the last 5-7 seasons, the Reds have struggled with finding a reliable goalkeeper. Liverpool has been unsuccessful in finding a replacement to proven and experienced shot-stopper Pepe Reina.

Lately, Liverpool has entrusted younger, more promising keepers such as Adam Bogdan, Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. But none have managed to make a lasting impression on the squad.

Liverpool were defeated in a Champions League Final, and it arguably boiled down to the multiple blunders made by the team’s last line of defense. It’s the type of loss that hurts, stings and sucks.

The Great Escape

I know I complimented Real Madrid earlier in the article, but let me be very frank about this: Madrid escaped with the trophy this time around.

Last season saw a complete dismantling of Italian giants Juventus, in a final that ended 4-1 in favor of Los Blancos and was never really a contest.

Just two seasons ago, it was the experience and leadership of Madrid that carried them past rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties.

In 2014, Madrid was rescued by a Ramos header, coupled with the collective brilliance of Ronaldo, Bale and Marcelo in extra time, which ultimately salvaged the Galacticos from the graveyard.

This time, Madrid were fortunate and benefitted from Liverpool’s poor goalkeeping on the day.

Liverpool lost this game. Madrid benefitted from the careless mistakes made by a Liverpool team rattled after losing their best player. Klopp’s Reds, anxious for the chance to be recognized as one of Europe’s biggest clubs again, dropped the ball.

From the kickoff, Madrid was considerably flatfooted before being bailed out by Karius at the other end.

Bale’s bicycle kick goal gets no argument from me.

It was one of the most impressive goals I’ve ever seen. Ever. It was immaculate from the timing of the jump, to the connection of the ball to the Welshman’s boot and the moment the ball hit the back of the net.

But Madrid certainly was far from impressive.

Ronaldo didn’t do much at all. In fact, someone needs to check Alexander-Arnold’s back pocket to make sure the Portuguese star isn’t still in there.

Let’s also not forget arguably the Final’s second-best moment.

It’s that hustle and tackle on one of the legend’s of the game that you cannot teach.

Man of the Match

Gareth Bale.

Bale struggled to fit into the First Team at Madrid this year, but the Welshman showed everyone that he can still play with the best in Kyiv, this past Saturday.

His golazo is one thing, but his energy and willingness to go forward provided a spark that Madrid desperately needed in order to get over the hump and capture their fourth Champions League trophy in five years.

Karius may have gifted Bale his second goal of the match, but when you look at the mechanics of his shot and the movement of the ball that in and of itself is a beautiful thing to watch.

Bale became the first substitute to score two goals in a Champions League Final, and in this day and age, where we see star athletes controlling almost every aspect of the game — Lionel Messi, LeBron James, etc. — this feat is certainly impressive.

What’s Next?

Liverpool is definitely on the right track. Klopp’s side just need a few more pieces in order to continue to compete.

Naby Keita and Fabinho will join the Reds at their Melwood training ground on July 1, but the Reds should continue looking for a new keeper, too.

Alisson of AS Roma is on Klopp’s wish list, as well as Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak. Both are young but established players, who would certainly be capable of solving Liverpool’s keeper conundrum.

Additionally, adding another center back may be in the works.

Virgil van Dijk is the record-signing, but Dejan Lovren isn’t. Look for Liverpool to target a defender with experience.

Adding explosive players like Nabil Fekir and Thomas Lemar would give Liverpool a level of depth that would have the Reds competing for both a Champions League title and Premier League Trophy in the upcoming season.

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Klopp will be making some moves in the transfer market. (Courtesy: Fox Sports)

For Madrid, decisions will have to be made regarding Bale, Isco and Marco Asensio.

All three are top-tier players who would bring Los Blancos a few pretty pennies. But questions remain whether Madrid will be willing to throw money at the players, in order to keep them in the Spanish capital.

Bale wants out for more first team minutes.

Isco has been itching for a new move and teams all over the world are ready to shovel money at the feet of Zinedine Zidane for Asensio’s services.

It’s a big summer window for all three players, but also the player in Ronaldo.

In a post-game interview, Ronaldo sure sounded like a man on his way out. But then, hours later, the Portuguese star appeared committed to a future that includes staying at the Bernabeu.

Nobody knows what Cristiano will do, but with Paris-St.Germain, the former front-runners for his signature, in deep water with Financial Fair Play rules, a move to the Ligue 1 Champions looks unlikely.

MLS? Commissioner Don Garber sure gave David Beckham a great deal. Ronaldo could get all that and more. Heck, Garber could make him the Assistant Commissioner, give him a future franchise, and more.

And Cris, if you’re reading, I hear Philadelphia is lovely this time of year. Just saying.

Final Thoughts

It was a disappointing Final, but again, Madrid is Madrid and Liverpool will be back at this stage soon.

Aaaaaannnnnnd you heard it here first: Mohamed Salah will lead Egypt to the Quarterfinals in Russia and take home the Ballon d’Or.

Thanks again. Chat me in the comments or reach me at @caldymowski on Twitter. Cheers.

– Cal

Cal’s Corner: Previewing the Showdown in Kyiv

Cal's Corner, EPL, Extra Time, News

Now that the English Premier League season is over, Liverpool are preparing for their biggest game since 2007: the 2018 Champions League Final against Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo. Mohamed Salah. Gareth Bale. Roberto Firmino. Zinedine Zidane. Jurgen Klopp.

If these names don’t have you excited like Jurgen, then I’m concerned for you.

Arguably two of world football’s biggest clubs will clash at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 26, with hopes of taking home the UEFA Champions League trophy.

So say farewell to the Premier League campaign and hello to the Champions League Final!

Recent Form

Liverpool ended the EPL season on a good note, dispatching newcomers Brighton and Hove Albion 4-0. It was a game the Reds needed to secure Champions League football for next season, too, regardless of the result of Saturday’s CL Final.

Klopp’s Reds looked dominant in possession, and their attacking brilliance was on full display, albeit against a weaker side. Salah bagged his record-breaking 32nd Premier League goal, which will surely provide another boost to the Egyptian’s confidence.

As for Sergio Ramos and the Madrid defense, well, they will surely be tossing and turning in the nights leading up to Saturday.

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Salah with the Golden Boot. (Courtesy: Goal.com)

Liverpool did, however, fail to make their fans feel completely safe heading in to the final.

After defeating a AS Roma side 5-2 in the home-leg, the Reds allowed that same Roma side, which was practically dead in the water after the first-leg at Anfield, to crawl back within a goal in the second-leg, only before running out of time.

It has left many Liverpudlians wondering if the first-leg Liverpool side, the one with goals and a free-flowing offense, will show up, or if the lackadaisical and slightly too-comfortable second-leg team will feature. Only time will tell.

As for Madrid, Los Blancos handled their business with Bavarian giants Bayern Munich who, for whatever reason, have failed in the last five years to take the leap in asserting their dominance on the rest of Europe.

Ronaldo’s brilliance for Madrid in the Champions League has been marvelous over the last four seasons, a key reason why the UCL trophy has resided at the Santiago Bernabéu for three of the last four.

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The Portuguese Prince is ready for another UCL crown. (Courtesy: Daily Express)

But all is not well in the world of the Los Campeones.

Madrid had a rough year by their standards, finishing third and 17 points behind rivals FC Barcelona in the league and prompting Zidane to claim that La Liga was more difficult to win than the Champions League.

Talk about saving face for a man who might be under the biggest pressure in his management career.

Additionally, Madrid didn’t help their confidence with their performance in the La Liga finale, blowing a 2-goal lead in a draw against Valencia CF, a strong side who claimed a Champions League spot for next year with a fourth-place finish.

Madrid are the champions, but are not as formidable as you think.

Zidane’s Job in Madrid Depends on This Game

Now some may consider this a hot take, but hear me out.

Zidane has won two consecutive Champions League trophies with Madrid, and did lead them to their first La Liga trophy since 2011, a season ago.

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Could Zidane be out with a UCL loss? (Courtesy: Daily Mail)

But that was a season ago.

And in Madrid, if the team’s performance isn’t exceptional, the manager is the first to go. Just ask Carlo Ancelotti after winning La Decima with Madrid in 2014, or Rafa Benitez who spent less than a season at the helm. Zidane could be next to go if Saturday doesn’t go as planned.

All of Madrid Have Written Off Liverpool

Madrid and the Spanish press have all but given the trophy to Los Blancos. Spanish media has called it the most one-sided final ever, and has claimed Liverpool aren’t even a top-10 club in Europe.

But, if history has showed us anything, underrating a team is never a good thing.

Remember the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team? Champs. The 2010 New York Giants? Champs. The 2014 Kansas City Royals? Champs.

As the saying goes, ‘You can’t win on paper.’

Will the Third Time Be a Charm For Klopp?

He lost the 2013 UCL Final to Bayern. He lost the 2016 Europa League Final to Sevilla. Jurgen is due for his day in the sun.

Klopp will make sure his team is ready to play against Europe’s big boys, and he has so already. Liverpool made mincemeat of Manchester City in the Quarterfinals and then, a tense second-leg, secured a spot in the Final against a scrappy Roma side.

Hey, all Thanos wanted in Avengers: Infinity War was to watch the sunset knowing his job was complete. Jurgen deserves that, too.

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Marvel’s biggest villain, Thanos. (Courtesy: Time Magazine)

Salah Could Make a Ballon d’Or Case

Before you write me off as crazy, just remember the season the Egyptian had.

After a poor run in England with Chelsea, Salah sought refuge in Italy with Roma. There, he ignited a club with his electric play, and proved to be a valuable player. And when Liverpool came calling in the Summer, he certainly did not disappoint.

Salah’s record-breaking year not only captivated the entire Premier League, but the entire footballing world. Dubbed ‘The Egyptian King,’ the Reds winger has proven himself to be one of the most impressive players all year, scoring early and often.

A win in the Champions League Final would most certainly put him up against Messi and Ronaldo for Ballon d’Or.

And look at this:

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Tighter than you expected, right?

Key Players

Very simple here: it’s Ronaldo and Salah.

Both of these players are offensive maestros and are critical to their team’s success. Now this doesn’t mean that Liverpool and Madrid aren’t capable of winning games when their stars struggle. It just means that when the stars are on, it’s nearly impossible to beat them.

X-Factors

Andy Robertson is going to have the biggest challenge of his career in that he will have to try and own the wing that Ronaldo plays on.

Robertson will have a tall-task with the Portuguese star, but is more than up to the task. In 5 UCL games, Robertson is averaging just under two tackles and is limiting his fouls. But what’s most impressive is his 87% passing rate. For Liverpool to win, Robertson will have to be a defensive stalwart, but also will have to contribute offensively as well.

When Luka Modric plays well, Madrid are almost always in the driver’s seat. The Croatian midfielder brings experience, zen, and passing brilliance to a side riddled with talent. His comfort on the ball and in tight areas is mesmerizing to watch.

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If Modric can control the middle, the match may be over soon. (Courtesy: Sports Illustrated)

Modric will have to show physicality in the final, as Liverpool have two bruisers in the center of the park with Jordan Henderson and Georgino Wijnaldum.

Prediction

It’s extremely tough to call. On one hand, Liverpool have an offense that can virtually score whenever they want when it clicks, but the defense has always been an issue in big games.

With Madrid, it’s tough to overlook three titles in such a short span, but then again, this Madrid team hasn’t had the same level of consistency this year as Madrid teams in the past.

I think it’s a tough match, but I believe in the Reds.

I see Firmino striking early, Dejan Lovren connecting on a header in the 68th minute, and then Ronaldo sliding a goal home with under four minutes remaining to make it interesting.

But, in the end, it’s Red confetti raining down, Jurgen Klopp is dishing out hugs, and fans are praising the Egyptian King. 2-1 Reds.

Thanks for reading along. Chat me in the comments with anything. Cheers.

– Cal

A Premier League All-Star Game? South Side Starting XI

Cal's Corner, EPL, Extra Time, News

In part two of A Premier League All-Star Game? Cal Dymowski, Philly Football Daily’s Premier League contributor, offers his potential Starting XI for a South Side All-Star team. 

You’ve had a week to digest my picks for the North Side team, a side that’s attacking prowess would strike fear into most international teams.

In fact, I’m willing to bet the North team would probably win a group at the upcoming World Cup in Russia. Chat me in the comments, and let me know which group you would want to the see the North Side in, and how far they’d go at Russia this summer.

Now it’s time for the South!

Here’s a reminder of how the teams would be split up:

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I elected for a classic 4-4-2 formation with the North, but the South has different players, with different strengths. A 4-4-1-1 seems to be a unique formation that would benefit this team. However, my backs will be treated as wing backs. I’m a big fan of those, and the South is FULL of them.

Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Harry Kane is an obvious no-brainer on this list.

He’s second in the league in goals scored with 24, and has claimed the last two Premier League Golden Boot awards. He’s a true striker with a keen eye for goal, and his ability to score with both his feet and head make him dangerous at any moment.

Watch out for his range as well. Kane has 3 goals outside the box this season.

Wingers: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Christian Eriksen is everything you want in a winger.

Eriksen has the ability to drop into the center of the park to receive the ball, and has shown great attacking skill. The Denmark international has racked up 7 goals and 8 assists this season, and ranks 12th in the league with 1,757 total passes.

He’s an experienced veteran that brings leadership, and has extreme confidence on the ball.

Eden Hazard’s speed and skill are what sets him apart from the rest.

Hazard can change directions in a flash, and he is always looking for an opportunity to go at opposing defenders. Hazard’s 11 goals this season are one thing, but his 79 accurate long balls show that Hazard is always seeking to feed his teammates and pile on the offensive pressure.

Oh, he’s really good at dribbling and controlling the ball as well. Just watch for yourselves:

 

Central Attacking Midfielder: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

The World Cup winning German is definitely a featured player in this team. Despite a rift with manager Arsene Wenger (Out?), Ozil has still played exceptionally well this season.

Mesut Ozil is currently tied for 8th in assists with 8, and the German has created 12 big chances this season for the Gunners. Now I know this All-Star game is based off of a ‘What have you done for me lately?’ basis, but I can’t overlook the simple fact that in 141 career Premier League appearances, he’s got 82 wins. 58% of the games he plays in comes out to three points.

Ozil definitely has something in him that changes a team’s fortunes.

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Dele Alli (Tottenham)

Two straight Premier League titles, a Player of the Season award, and a stud in a strong French team, I would not only choose N’Golo Kante in the squad, but he would be my first overall pick and my captain, too.

Kante has 391 total tackles since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, and he has changed the culture of the Chelsea midfield with his defensive-minded approach. He’s very smart, physical, and reads the game so, so well.

He’s, quite honestly, a manager’s dream.

 

It’s hard to duplicate 18 goals and 7 assists from a season ago, but Dele Alli has tried his best. Alli started slower this season than most expected, but he has since proven his quality as the campaign has dragged on.

Alli’s chemistry and familiarity with Kane makes him a dangerous assist man. I also like his movement throughout the pitch. He can play central, move out wide, cut in sharply, and he’s always is ready to take on a defender.

Just 21, he’s arguably the league’s most promising young player, too, racking up 6 goals and 9 assists so far this season. And 99 appearances in the Premier League at that age is also not too shabby.

Defensive Midfielder: Oriol Romeu (Southampton)

This pick will definitely get some backlash, but I love Oriol Romeu.

Romeu’s size and physicality create issues for strikers and attacking midfielders alike. He’s been one of the few bright spots for a Southampton squad who find themselves sitting in the relegation zone.

He’s won 193 duels, 77 tackles, made 46 clearances and no errors leading to goals. The Spaniard is a rock for a Saints squad that desperately needs more tenacious players like him.

Defenders: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)

I like wing backs that can push high up the pitch, and Marcos Alonso epitomizes just that.

Alonso has a wicked left foot, as demonstrated in his free kicks this season. He’s got great pace and vision that couples well with his ability to recover. I also admire his vocal leadership on the pitch, constantly communicating with his keeper and other defenders.

Hector Bellerin is the fastest player in the league, and the Spaniard can pop up at anytime.

Bellerin’s always looking to take the ball from the back and move it up the pitch. He’s amazing on the give and go as well, reading the opposition and moving without the ball. His close down speed on 50/50 balls? Majestic. Go to the 1:09 mark below.

 

RIGHT?!

Jan Vertonghen is the perfect center back for this squad.

If you haven’t noticed, I prefer players with great skill and passing ability. The Belgian definitely checks off the passing box, leading Spurs with 2,022 passes this year.

Additionally, in the 17 wins he’s appeared for the London club, 13 have been clean sheets. He’s the anchor of a staunch Tottenham defense that’s only surrendered 25 goals this year. But what sets him apart from other center backs is his successful recovery rate, getting back and making a play 67% of the time he’s been beat.

Don’t test Jan, he’ll get ya.

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)

Tough decision here, between Thibaut Courtois and Hugo Lloris, but in the end I went with the lankier of the two.

Courtois’ huge frame and vision allows him to stop virtually any type of shot that comes his way. Just look at the paws on that man! Despite Chelsea’s struggles midway through this year, the Belgian (yes, another Belgian on this squad) has 57 saves and 13 clean sheets for the Blues.

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Courtois after a match. (Courtesy: Goal.com)

Substitutes: Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Richarlison (Watford), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)

I love Dusan Tadic and his quality on the ball. He’s sadly just not strong enough to beat out some of the others in this Starting XI. However, Tadic is a game-changer who could come in in a close match and be the difference.

He’s a real goal threat, too, especially from free kick range. Just ask Arsenal.

 

Lloris is a leader and a Premier League veteran. His winning experience and management of the game make him a great addition to the squad, and an awesome mentor to Courtois.

Honestly, I may flip a coin between him or Courtois, if the match were to go into penalties. Lloris has 58 saves and 13 clean sheets, making it a pretty close call …

I’m a big fan of Wilfried Zaha.

He makes some irrational decisions, and he can play out of control at times, but both his energy and pace are incredible. I compare him to Alabama Men’s Basketball player Collin Sexton (shoutout March Madness): both have immense skill, fire and ability but play on a mediocre team.

If Zaha was on another club, we’d probably be discussing whether he’s a definitive starter.

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Alabama’s Collin Sexton, the Zaha of college basketball. (Courtesy: USA Today Sports)

My family plays Fantasy Premier League on Togga, and for the longest time my dad was in first. That reason was Watford’s Richarlison (And Kevin de Bruyne, but that’s another thing).

The Watford striker has come out of his shell this season, netting 5 goals and 4 assists in 31 appearances. He’s got a crazy defensive work rate as well, recording 58 tackles this season.

Cedric Soares is a great backup because he plays in the wingback position. Soares has great speed to him. The Saints are a squad mired in poor form, but Cedric is definitely a bright spot in the darkness of the relegation zone.

I put him on the bench. Will I rue it? Maybe.

Toby Alderweireld’s season has been riddled with injury, but when the Belgian is fit, he’s a stud. 5 clean sheets in 10 matches this year, and a threat off the corner kick, too. Just watch below. Is it clear why he’s in the squad, despite playing so few games?

 

Well there’s the South Side squad. Filled with players from Chelsea and Tottenham, but let’s be real here: they’re the best two clubs in the South (sorry, Arsenal).

Again, my team is based off my preferences, so if you disagree, make your own damn team!

I’m serious. Make your own team and Tweet me @caldymowski with your picks. Let’s compare and debate. Bonus points if you include players not from Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham.

Thanks for indulging in Romelu Lukaku’s brainchild with me. Check out the squads and let me know what side you’d root for or manage, and what the final score would be.

Now it’s time to get Premier League management on this. Cheers.

-Cal

King Salah: The Player of the Year

Cal's Corner, EPL, Extra Time, News

OK, as I write this, I am going to say it both really loudly and really slowly for everyone reading this to hear …

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Alright, I’ve had my fun. Now seriously, let me write this again for everyone: Mohamed Salah is the Premier League’s Player of the Year.

I write this every week, because every week the Egyptian amazes me. Salah causes the thousands of jaws inside Anfield and the KOP End drop in collective fashion, and the Egyptian sends my three brothers and father into euphoria every time he fires the ball into the back of the net.

Salah’s offensive brilliance is easy to see, and it only gets better when you look at the numbers. He currently leads the league with 28 goals, tied for 3rd in assist with 9, and his shot accuracy is at 48%. This is just in the Premier League, and there are still six games to be played.

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Salah in a game. (Courtesy: Liverpool FC)

Salah’s pace, coupled with the energy he brings to every match, simply cannot be beat.

He’s been fit for practically the entire season, missing just a few matches due to a lower-leg injury. Liverpool’s man has a keen eye for goal, and Salah’s killer instinct to run at the defense has made Liverpool the second-highest scoring team in the league with 73 goals. Manchester City has 85. Pep Guardiola’s to thank for that.

Most Reds’ supporters thought they had seen the days of great forwards pass them by. Liverpool fans almost unanimously accepted the plight when Luis Suarez bit Diego Godin and Daniel Sturridge’s body began to give out.

Failed experiments with Iago Aspas, Mario Ballotelli, Fabio Borini, Christian Benteke and many, many more only furthered that belief, with none of the strikers listed above able to solidify themselves as clinical enough in front of goal.

35 million pounds and one hopeful Premier League season later, Liverpool have a forward who can truly do it all. Salah can play on the wing or in the center, although the Egyptian is arguably at his best when allowed to float and create chances.

Salah is going to beat the Premier League record for goals in a 38-game season — a record that stands at 31 and is jointly-held by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and former Reds striker and cannibal, Luis Suarez.

Yes, Watford have been struggling, but there is simply no excuse for a team of eleven men to let one man beat them four times, off four shots on target. And, if you thought that was bad, Salah also assisted on Liverpool’s other goal.

Salah showed off his quick feet on his first strike.

He showcased his ability to finish off a cross on the second.

Salah’s unselfish side showed with an assist on the third.

He then topped it off by beating four Watford defenders on the fourth.

And the fifth? Well, Salah followed the play and cleaned up like a good striker should.

Just check them out for yourself:

King Salah is the most exciting player in the Premiership since Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy took the world by storm during his impressive 11-game scoring streak in the 2015/2016 season that was capped off by a league title.

In just about any other year, Salah would hand-deliver the trophy to Anfield. It just so happens that his incredible run is occurring during one of the most dominant Premier League campaigns ever. Again, thanks, Pep.

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City’s Pep Guardiola approves of a 5-0 win over West Ham. (Courtesy: BBC)

NBC’s Arlo White said it best: he’s a goal scoring machine.

Liverpool sit in third place thanks to a poor performance last week versus Manchester United. But the Reds face struggling Crystal Palace, Everton, Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City in their next five games. This stretch promises wins and goals from Salah in them.

King Salah needs is fit for a new crown come May: the Premier League Player of the Year.

-Cal