Here we GO!

 

Here we GO!

As the Premier League returns to our screens this afternoon City Times corners Liverpool legend John Barnes for a quick chat to help you find your perfect match of the day

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Published: Sat 16 Aug 2008, 2:15 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:50 PM

TWENTY TEAMS, nine months, 380 meets and over a billion fans worldwide; it can only mean one thing. Oprah has finally got round to establishing her own domestic pie eating challenge cup. Of course not lads and lasses! The day of reckoning has arrived and the Premier League is back on our screens once more. Today sees the 2008/2009 season kick off and what a season it is sure to be. After a far too long summer it’s back to Saturday and Sunday afternoons transfixed by the best league, showcasing the best talent on the planet all live on Showtime Sports.

Who is there to watch out for this year? Will the title be staying in Manchester (yes)? Will it be going back down South (no)? Or will Liverpool finally get their hands on the only prize that has so far eluded them in the competition’s seventeen year history (doubly no)? Over the course of the season Rob McCaffrey, Derek Whyte and special guests such as John Barnes will provide the analysis on every game for the upcoming 36-week soccer marathon.

City Times caught up with Rob and ex-Liverpool and England legend John Barnes to talk about the Premier League. “This is the second season of coverage on Show Sports and it is going to be bigger and better,” Rob began. “Over the summer I have had people coming up to me on the street and thanking me for the show and coverage which when I first got here I did not imagine would happen. We’re going to have more guests like John here and get in more audience participation. The Premier League is massive and we know everyone likes to be involved so we may even broadcast from out and about in the city so as to get the atmosphere and feel what the EPL means to everyone here.

We’ve got all 380 games so there is going to be a lot of reaction and a lot of great moments.Who can forget Ronaldo’s free kick against Portsmouth last year? Or Torres’s phenomenal season?

I can’t wait to get started and get into the games.”

John then started talking about what the premiership means to him. “The Premier League is the best league in the world. You can see that from the fact that there were three English teams in the Champions League semis and two in the final. You just have to ask players from anywhere and they all say they want to play in England. With the exception of Kaka and a couple of others the best players are there. That is why there hasn’t been many foreign imports this season because the best ones are already there playing in the EPL.”

“After I retired I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and do many things. One of those was Strictly Come Dancing which young kids know me for now rather than my football but the other is my work around the world with Save the Children. I have been to Iraq and Afghanistan and seen firsthand the power football has. Kids with no arms have Manchester United and Liverpool jerseys and play in the street often in dangerous conditions.

Football and especially the Premiership is a big part of their lives they know all about it.”

“This year will be exciting.

I look forward to seeing who will win but really the real excitement is at the bottom. The fight for survival is huge because no one wants to lose the status of playing in the Premier League. The winners will be one from the Big 4 but that is the same anywhere.

In Spain it will be Barcelona or Real, in Italy AC, Inter or Juve. That is a fact you can’t escape but the draw for the Premier League are the individual battles. In Italy if you are four-nil down and you score a goal with twenty minutes to go the player won’t run and get the ball and want to play on for fear of losing 6-1. In England if you have that scenario the player will grab the ball and race back wanting to play on because they feel they have a chance to pull it to 4-4. That is the difference between the leagues, it is far more aggressive and optimistic.”

“I’d like to say Liverpool could win this year but I don’t think they can. Even though I think Robbie Keane will help, more so than Gareth Barry, I still think the squad does not have enough talent to compete with Manchester United and Chelsea. They may close the gap though which will be promising.”

In preparation for the season ahead, City Times brings you a comprehensive round up of statistics and opinions

1 Manchester United like last year will have a stuttered start if they don’t sign an out and out striker sharpish but with the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez I’msure they’ll cope. Favourites to retain the title in magnificent style as always. If they were a pop act they’d be: Madonna. On top for years continuing to appeal to new generations of fans, make headlines across the world, poach youngsters from abroad and raise them as their own.

2 Liverpool Fans across the world will be salivating at the thought of Robbie Keane playing alongside Torres and with prospective signing Gareth Barry raring to join the party Liverpool will finally close the gap on the rest of the Big Four. Unfortunately it won’t be enough to win as with Rafa’s rotation policy Keane and Torres will probably start together about eight times this season if we’re lucky. If they were a pop act they’d be: Duran Duran. Big in the eighties, disappeared, and now making a comeback with the ‘help’ of American money. Their fans may be ‘Hungry Like theWolf’ but that doesn’t make up for a squad still lacking in depth and quality compared to other teams.

3 Chelsea - this bunch of soul sapping no-hopers will continue to eek out one-nil wins at Wigan and Bolton, racking up the points with comrade Abramovich demanding ever sexier football to no avail. Universally hated for buying two Premier League titles Big Phil will leave before the end of the season when he realises that no matter how many of his fellow countrymen he brings in the Chelsea way will always remain constant, bland. If they were a pop act they’d be: The Rolling Stones. Will go on forever in exactly the same way they always have. Past it and drawing ludicrous wages for a product that is no longer very good.

18 Sunderland - I hope I am wrong about this one.

Keano has made some interesting signings and ever ambitious noises can be heard from the Black Cats. However, second season syndrome is a legitimate phenomena and I can just see Sunderland falling into the trap of spending big and failing. Hopefully will be able to stave off relegation with modest, hard working Christmas signings but I’ve got that sinking feeling. If they were a car they’d be a: Delorion. Irish at the core and a product that attracted a lot of initial praise.When the gleam wore off people saw them for what they were, a bit rubbish. Left the company bankrupt.

19 West Bromwich Albion Barring Aston Villa, teams from the Midlands are terrible.

Period. I’msurprised there isn’t a higher rate of absconding when players are faced with living in towns like Dudley andWolverhampton. This woeful collection of third raters will be straight back down no question no discussion.

If they were a car they’d be a: Reliant Robin. An embarrassment to all who are associated with them.

20 Hull - A surprising promotion through the play-offs is never a good sign. Just look at Derby last year.

Hull will be the whipping boys this season but they will take it in their stride and just be happy to be included in the same breath as the top teams in the world. There might be some surprising results but don’t expect anything than total capitulation in the face of world class talent.

If they were a car they’d be a: Smart Car. Good for a year until you grow up and realise you’re living in a dream world. Not enough power to compete with even a modest outfit.

OPENING FIXTURES

SATURDAY AUGUST 16

14:45 Arsenal V West Brom SHOWSPORTS 1 & 2

17:00 Bolton Wanderers V Stoke City SHOWSPORTS EXTRA

17:00 Everton V Blackburn Rovers SHOWSPORTS 3

17:00 Hull City V Fulham SHOWSHASHA EXTRA

17:00 Middlesbrough V Tottenham SHOWSPORTS 1 & 2

17:00 West Ham V Wigan Athletic SHOWSERIES EXTRA

19:30 Sunderland V Liverpool SHOWSPORTS 1 & 2 SUNDAY AUGUST 17

15:30 Chelsea V Portsmouth SHOWSPORTS 1 & 2

17:00 Aston Villa V Manchester City SHOWSPORTS 4

18:00 Man United V Newcastle SHOWSPORTS 1 & 2



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