The Big Red Machine grinds toward glory

Posted by David Hirshey

Andrew Yates/Getty ImagesMartin Skrtel and LFC are on the cusp of a first league title in 24 years.

If there were any justice in the world, then Liverpool would win the league this year and newly minted Harvard Business School lecturer Sir Alex Ferguson would be forced to teach a course entitled Building A Championship Team The Scouser Way.

Of course, if there were any justice in the world, then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho would be operating a Tilt-A-Whirl in Lisbon instead of plotting to ruin The Miracle on Merseyside.

Here's how my scales of justice work. Continue Reading...

The King reigns again in New York City

Posted by David Hirshey

Buda Mendes/Getty ImagesNaturally, Pele is seen as one of the faces of the 2014 World Cup.

Even now, at 73, with an artificial hip and a pinched nerve in his back, Edson Arantes do Nascimento can still glide through packed defenses. His movements are more deliberate than those from his storied pomp, but the muscle memory remains intact, enabling him to evade a mob of grasping fans and barking paparazzi with the same economy of motion he used to elude Italy's famed catenaccio in the 1970 World Cup final.

Pele, the original "Great One," was in New York last week to launch his new book "Why Soccer Matters," at a Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue and, as always, he was late. Continue Reading...

John Terry's error turns the Prem title tables

Posted by David Hirshey

Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesJohn Terry's unfortunate goal has added extra fuel to the Prem's title race.

When you think of the world's most beautiful sights, a few come immediately to mind. Paris at twilight. The Grand Canyon at sunrise. A Spurs fan sobbing pretty much any time.

But all those exquisite images pale compared to Saturday's awe-inspiring vision, one that made my heart soar, my body levitate off a bar stool and my beer splash in a perfect parabola onto the guy sitting next to me.

Yes, I'm speaking of the glorious sight of John Terry with his face in the dirt after crumbling to the turf following his spectacular own goal. Continue Reading...

Has Arsene Wenger stayed too long at Arsenal?

Posted by David Hirshey

Glyn Kirk/Getty ImagesIf Wenger's 1,000th Arsenal game is any indication, it's time to move on.

I once asked Arsene Wenger if he had a Plan B going into high-stakes away matches. Before deigning to descend from the high moral ground at Arsenal's training center, he looked at me as if I was something that had just been scraped off the blood- and mud-soaked studs of Ryan Shawcross' boots.

"We have only one plan," he said, voice dripping with Gallic hauteur, "and that's to play the right way."

Ah, the right way, which, of course, is Arsene speak for his way -- always going forward with pace, power and panache, the three P's that drove the Invincibles, the best league team in English history, an outfit that went a season unbeaten, won a boatload of major trophies, always played in Europe and more often than not produced the most beautiful soccer this side of Barcelona. Continue Reading...

Home humiliation epitomizes Moyes' failure

Posted by David Hirshey

John Peters/Getty ImagesMan United aren't just struggling; they're in a difficult free fall.

Elitist Europeans proclaim that Americans simply don't understand the true spirit of world soccer, but they should have seen the display this past Sunday at my local watering hole. Large bald men who looked like they may have either spent time in the military, the MMA or both had been hired to menacingly ensure that the Liverpool and Manchester United supporters didn't intermingle.

(Later, these same Vin Diesel stunt doubles kept Spurs rabble and Arsenal faithful apart while monitoring the North London derby. Continue Reading...

A special letter to the Special One

Posted by David Hirshey

IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images Jose Mourinho said all the right things -- in this case, nothing at all -- as his side fought back to beat Fulham and seize control of the Prem.

Dearest Special One --

I know I haven't always been your biggest cheerleader over the years but I've got to say, you really impressed me on Saturday at Craven Cottage.

For the first 45 minutes, your team looked like it had left its confidence, verve and aggression in Istanbul, and you had every right to be in a hot funk. This was a game Chelsea needed to win to maintain your "We're just squatting in Man City's spot" lead atop the Premier League table and, by all reasonable measures, you should have had little difficulty doing so against an opponent speeding in the HOV lane toward relegation. Continue Reading...

Will Chelsea lose their Prem handle?

Posted by David Hirshey

Ben Stansall/Getty ImagesIt doesn't matter whether or not John Terry got the decisive touch vs. Everton. What counts is Chelsea's good fortune atop the Prem.

Everyone has his own definition of hell. For Jean-Paul Sartre, it was other people. For Kim Kardashian, it's being ignored. My personal inferno is being surrounded by a bouncing mob of delirious, beer-drenched, kitted-out Chelsea fans raising their voices to the heavens in praise of Him.

No, not the Special One. Worse. The Revolting One.

"His name is John Terry and he's the leader of our team / The greatest team in England that the world has ever seen."

Now it would be one thing if this crowd were exalting Terry for, say, scoring the decisive penalty in a Champions League final. Continue Reading...

Arsenal more than ready to take on Bayern

Posted by David Hirshey

Getty ImagesBayern Munich are coming to the Emirates on Wednesday, will Mesut Ozil and Arsenal be ready for the Champions League trophy holders?

Let’s give a big North London willkommen to Bayern Munich, bullies of the Bundesliga, reigning champions of Europe, and, as the German tabloid Bild screamed after their last visit to the Emirates, “menschenfresser” or maneaters.

Is there an Arsenal fan alive who doesn’t wish to forget that traumatic night a year ago when Bayern feasted on their hosts in the Champions League round of 16? So ravenous were the Bavarian giants that even though the score was a semi-respectable 3-1, it felt like the Gunners and their CL hopes had been devoured whole. Continue Reading...

Did Arsenal peak too soon?

Posted by David Hirshey

David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty ImagesDid anyone expect Arsenal to get humiliated like they did at Anfield?

I think we can all agree that Shakespeare was a pretty smart guy. Clever writer, cute beard, brainy fella. So when he complained about "giddy fortune's furious, fickle wheel," I should have listened. I shouldn't have plopped down my entire life's savings on a line of "Arsenal 2013-14 League Champions" T-shirts, lunch pails and pillow cases.

Oh, immortal bard! How could you let fortune's furious wheel nail me right in the fickleness? Then again, what did Shakespeare know about Gunners misfortune? Continue Reading...

Will Mourinho come to regret selling Juan Mata?

Posted by David Hirshey

Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty ImagesJuan Mata is set up to thrive at Man United. And it would be sweet for the Spaniard if he could hurt Mourinho in the process.

Damn you, Special One.

This was supposed to be my weekend off. I had scheduled a tasty Saturday brunch with the part of the family that I can actually stand and that can actually stand me (it's only one person). Friday night had seen Arsenal bust out a 4-0 thrashing of Coventry in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Lukas Podolski bagged a brace and leaped ahead in the annual Arsene Wenger "almost like a new signing" derby after a four-month injury layoff.

I was richly entitled to a Friday night filled with sweet top-of-the-league dreams, so what in the name of the polar vortex was I doing on Saturday at 8 a. Continue Reading...

Mourinho counting his lucky stars for picking Chelsea over United

Posted by David Hirshey

GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty ImagesJose Mourinho's celebrates Chelsea's win over Manchester United, a side that he was linked with before the Red Devils hired David Moyes to replace Sir. Alex Ferguson.

For 15 glorious minutes on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United fans briefly forgot the grim reality of their Premier League fortunes and made believe that all was right with the world.

As their team attacked the Chelsea defense with the kind of energy and conviction that reminded them of those heady days of seasons past, the supporters reverted to their old cocksure, swaggering selves.

"Jose Mourinho, you wanted this job," they chanted at a very grumpy-looking Chelsea manager who was reported to have coveted the United throne so fiercely that he blubbered like a baby when David Moyes was crowned instead. Continue Reading...

Arsenal tell Tottenham to 'mind the new gap'

Posted by David Hirshey

David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty ImagesTim Sherwood and Arsene Wenger shared cordial moments on Saturday though the Spurs' manager will have been far from happy at full-time.

Far be it for me to gloat, but all things considered, 2014 is off to quite the flying start. First, Super Nicky Bendtner scores the winner for Arsenal against Cardiff. I didn't dream that, right? Because in his honor, I'm now wearing my mustache with a top knot.

Saturday saw Spurs come swaggering into the Emirates for the North London FA Cup derby, on the back of three victories in the first four games of new manager Tim Sherwood's 4-4-2 revolution, and end up skulking out two hours later enveloped in a haze of despair and disgrace. Continue Reading...