The Premier League enters the home straight this weekend, making this the perfect moment to laud the player who has excelled most consistently across the course of the season. Though the official baubles have long been distributed, they were voted on while there was still a lot of football left to play. Staunch believers in democracy that we are, we humbly present this short list and also encourage SportsNation viewers to vote early and often in crowning their own Premier League MVP. GARETH BALE (Tottenham Hotspur) This was the season in which Gareth Bale lived up to the hype.
NEW YORK -- Landon Donovan is buzzing. I meet American soccer's most celebrated player the morning after he'd used his quick feet and accelerated vision to deliver a goal and two assists in the second half of a comprehensive 4-1 dismantling of the Philadelphia Union. The relaxed energy and easy confidence Donovan exudes as he strolls in off Seventh Avenue to meet me are in stark contrast to the clutter of tourists and street vendors who choke Times Square behind us. The Los Angeles Galaxy forward is in town for Sunday's MLS showdown against the New York Red Bulls (1 p.
For a historically unsuccessful Northern club unaccustomed to winning silverware, victory in this weekend's FA Cup final could offer a much needed dose of glory. But enough about Manchester City. Its preseason dreams surely were oriented toward the twin peaks of Premier League and Champions League. Perhaps this should be Wigan's day. The gutsy, unfashionable outfit has never won a major trophy, yet the sting of a midweek Premier League defeat against Swansea means the team staggers into Wembley preoccupied by the all-too-real prospect of relegation.
A die-hard Evertonian friend of mine had the good fortune to be seated by David Moyes at an end-of-season awards a couple of years ago. Resplendent in black tie and relaxed by the open-bar environs, the two spent the evening bonding over Goodison Park tales. As the coffee was served, my emboldened pal tapped Moyes on the shoulder and asked: "The one thing I don't understand is what keeps you at Everton Football Club." - Video: Moyes appointed Man United manager - Payne: Moyes must allay Rooney fears - O'Farrell: Moyes - The manager and the myths - Stats: How suited to Man United is Moyes?
When NBC's "The Golden Girls" arrived on British television in the late 1980s, the sexagenarian sitcom instantly became a cultural phenomenon. Not just for its "only in America" qualities that tended to attach themselves to any U.S. export, be it the bouncing bounty of "Baywatch" or the mechanical miracles routinely engineered by Mr. T and the rest of the "The A-Team." Rather, the show's power lay in its core message -- the notion that older people could thrive in their twilight years, an anathema for an English society that had largely cast its elderly aside.
After the biting, it's back to the football. And not before time. With his "Man vs. Food" antics and resultant 10-game ban, Luis Suarez has single-handedly transformed the Premier League into world football's version of Shark Week. Since Sunday, the carny image of the Player of the Year nominee locking his mandibles around an opponent's upper arm has been over-exposed, powerful enough to shunt Manchester United's title-winning triumph into the shadows. Thankfully the action is poised to recommence this weekend, which means London's finest -- Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham -- will resume their bruising race toward third and fourth place.
Alexi Lalas' Twitter feed is a curious place. It's less a social stream and more a Star Wars cantina of ideas where the emotional and the rational, the laid-back and the provocative coexist. Mingling among apologies for deteriorating personal hygiene -- "Fair warning: I run among you but I haven't showered. Make way or suffer the horror of my wake." -- are the occasional moments of clarity, like when he tweeted the following a few weeks ago: Last night this was discussed: If you live in the U.
Even on teams you despise, there are players it remains difficult not to love. However strongly rooting for the 2009 Yankees felt akin to cheering on House Lannister, I could not help but admire the straight-up slugging style of Hideki Matsui. Many NBA fans who resented the Chicago Bulls' MJ-era dominance still savored B.J. Armstrong's 3-point accuracy. Even those who find Barcelona's dominance too mechanical to stomach have to respect the selflessness of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Manchester City's David Silva is one such player.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre is a man who believes slow and steady wins the race. His club have recently emerged as one of the Premier League's form teams. Only the Manchester sides and Chelsea have gained more points since the beginning of December. Buoyed by the extra gear Daniel Sturridge has provided alongside the effervescent Luis Suarez, Liverpool has shaken off an inconsistent start to the season and are now just seven points off the Champions League places. Yet the lifelong Liverpool fan was reluctant to dream about the possibility.
For football fans, there is always hope. But that is often what kills you. Liverpool may have lost last weekend's marquee clash against Manchester United 2-1, and found themselves trailing the league leaders by 24 points, yet manager Brendan Rodgers remained optimistic. "We're not 24 points behind in terms of quality," the Liverpool manager claimed, hinting the second-half addition of Daniel Sturridge almost earned his team a point. Daniel Sturridge. That Daniel Sturridge. The raw talent unable to earn Manchester City's trust, and then Chelsea's.
When I grew up in Liverpool in the 1980s, the journey to Manchester was 50 minutes by train. It was easy to sense when the halfway point had been reached. The crude graffiti spray painted along the railroad tracks suddenly flipped from menacing Mancunians to threatening the safety of trespassing "Scouse Wankers." Liverpool and Manchester are a mere 36 miles apart, yet they have been at each other's throats since the Industrial Revolution. The two North West giants have vied for dominance through commerce as a cotton town battling a historic port city, pop music's "Mersey Paradise" competing against "Madchester" and even rival soap operas, as Coronation Street crushed Brookside.
There is only one thing Frank Lampard has failed to win in his 12 seasons at Chelsea Football Club: the respect that is due to him. The 156 Premier League goals he has blasted home are the fifth-most all time -- an immense achievement for a midfielder. The 534 appearances he has ground out rank fourth all time. No one has matched the nine consecutive seasons he has netted at least 10 goals. Yet as his Chelsea career winds down, he seems doomed to leave Stamford Bridge as the Premier League's Vincent van Gogh -- a man whose inimitable contributions will be truly appreciated only when he is no longer with us.