MO2H 6: Arsenal

For this episode of Match of Two Halves our team of the week is Arsenal, and we discuss their season not just in terms of the Premier League, but also the Champions League and the FA Cup.

We’ve recently moved hosting solutions (having reached the download limit on Podbean – an achievement so insignificant that it happens without anyone even noticing. Like winning the Capital One Cup) so it’s now slightly better to download the podcast rather than listening in the in-line media player on this page. Download it for free here (follow the link, then right-click and save) or via iTunes, where you can also subscribe to make sure you get access to the latest episodes as we make them. Comments/questions/answers to the football trivia(l) questions all very welcome on the blog or on the Facebook page.

To sing along with us, click on “Continue Reading” for the lyrics.

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MO2H 5: Spurs

This week on Match of Two Halves we are joined by some more fans of the EPL, Faizal and Richard, and some more fans of fans of the EPL – their wives, Hana and Jenny. Our team of the week is Tottenham Hotspur, the team that Faizal has supported since boyhood. Or has he?

Or download it here. (Follow the link, then right-click and save)

If you enjoy our Premier League jokes and speculation, please subscribe on iTunes or like/share us on Facebook. To sing along with us, click on “Continue Reading” for the lyrics.

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MO2H 4: Liverpool vs Southampton

Match of Two Halves returns after a week’s break, just like the Premier League. We don’t actually time our holidays around the fixture list – the FA Cup break just happened to coincide with a lovely weekend away with friends in Lisbon, and our reaching our the monthly limit for free podcast hosting. Anyway, like Liverpool and Tottenham, our European adventure is over and we’re back to concentrating on the Premier League. This week we cover football news, trivia and games, along with a focus on the battle between Liverpool and Southampton, who are at the time of writing both still in contention for the Champions League positions.

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Or download it here. (Follow the link, then right-click and save) Premier League songs, jokes, analysis, games and speculation – tell your friends or share on Facebook! To stay up-to-date with new episodes you can subscribe via iTunes to A Match of Two Halves. To sing along with us, click on “Continue Reading” for the lyrics. MO2H artwork Continue reading

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MO2H 3: Manchester United

Episode 3 takes us to the third-placed team in the EPL – the team of our hearts, Manchester United!

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Featuring more songs, more jokes, more speculation and a match day report from Old Trafford, as well as the answer to last week’s football trivia question.

To sing along with us, click on “Continue Reading” for the lyrics.

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MO2H 2: Chelsea vs Man City

As the top two teams in the league (so far) face off, we talk titles:

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Episode 2 of our singalong football podcast focuses on Manchester City and Chelsea, where we look at tactics, potential setbacks and try to answer the question “which team is more evil?” Join us for more analysis, predictions and speculations – plus a football trivia question and more songs, as we are helped out by my talented cousin Ryan (he’s an Arsenal fan).

Do leave opinions, questions and trivia answers in the comments below.

To sing along with us, click on “Continue Reading” for the lyrics.

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MO2H 1: Transfer News and the Season So Far

After a long hiatus…we’re back! But now we’re podcasting:

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Or download it here. (Follow the link, then right-click and save)

In Episode 1 we discuss the season so far as well as players and managers who are on the move.

We’re already working on Episode 2 but would love your questions, opinions and predictions – please leave a comment on this post.

And did I mention it’s a singalong football podcast? Click on “Continue Reading” for the lyrics in order to join in with the songs.

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EPL 2013 -14: Raging Against the Dying of the Light

At home with two Manchester United fans:

So, who do you want to win the Premier League?

Mathematically there are no good options! It’s our historic rivals (Liverpool), our local rivals (Man City) or the Team of Evil (Chelsea). 

Indeed. Why are Chelsea evil, particularly?

I don’t like the look of that Mourinho. He has the sneer of Machiavelli and the silver hair of a Bond villain.

You used to like Brendan Rogers, remember, the sad potato?

Nowadays he looks totally different. They say he is cheating on his wife and has had a makeover for his new girlfriend. Now he looks like a smug potato.

Liverpool better not win the league.

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Oh Captain, My Captain: Ron Vlaar

What a year it’s been for the EPL – so much to write about given the most mixed-up season since I first learned what EPL stood for. Coming back after a long hiatus (a bit like Robin Van Persie) we could write about a topic close to our hearts, such as the short-and medium-term outlook for our beloved Manchester United – but having just experienced the cuticle-destroying agony of the Fulham draw at Old Trafford, that feels a little raw. Or something close to home – as close neighbours to the Arsenal stadium we could give some views on match-day atmosphere for the top teams, which I think has changed since the days when my uncle and father in law could buy tickets for Manchester United, Man City and Arsenal every week with their student grants. Or in a season where so far over one third of the Premier League managers have been sacked, we could do some analysis on the impact of sacking the manager.

Instead, we hope you enjoy this post based on tenuous links between the captains of premier league football teams and famous captains from fact and fiction.

Captain Ron Vlaar (Villa) vs. Captain America (America)

captain vlaar

Well, I sort of see where you are going with this one.


Ron Vlaar is a defender, and Captain America is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain America defends, presumably, America, whereas Ron Vlaar is part of the last line of defence for an American goalkeeper.

Is he?

Yes. Also Ron Vlaar plays for his national team – Holland – whilst Captain America was part of the US Army.


Wasn’t what what you were thinking?

Actually what I was thinking was that Captain America works for America and Ron Vlaar plays for Villa.


You know – Villa. If you say it like you’re trying to scare someone it sounds like VLAAR!

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Pre(diction) Season 2013-2014

So…as the open transfer window lets the warm breeze of speculation blow around the room, our thoughts turn to 2013-2014 and what the table might look like in the EPL.

It’s also the time of year where many offices run Premier League sweepstakes. So what better opportunity to combine our skills of geeky data analysis and feminine intuition.

Leaving the top seven for now (more on that later), our starting point for the middle of the table to the relegation zone is last year’s stats. I believe that in terms of single metrics, shots on target is the best indicator of a team’s points – it is more informative than goals scored/conceded, but still simple.  We’ve started by looking at (total shots on target) – (total shots on target against) for each team, for the 2012-2013 season. Limitations – it underweights teams with good goalkeepers, and overweights long-shot teams like WHU, STK and those creatures of the 80s-90s, the Wombles. Essentially, it doesn’t take style of play into account, and therefore it’s more of a blunt instrument that we’ve applied to the bunfight going on around and just above the relegation zone, where teams are quite tightly matched. (If we had the data, we would have double-weighted the results for the second half of the season – if you know where to get these, please let us know in the comments)

That gives the following:

MAC 115
TOT 113
LIV 91
MAU 65
ARS 62
EVE 59
CHE 50
SOU 13
WIG – relegated -12
NEW -13
WBA -19
SWA -39
STO -40
NOR -45
AST -48
FUL -52
QPR – relegated -58
WHM -62
SUN -68
REA – relegated -112

So, as we can see, the extreme losers, Reading, who were the first confirmed relegators, were real outliers. QPR was in the next bunch of Swansea downwards, and Wigan was much higher, but lost a lot of games by small margins, leading to their relegation despite having a decent team. With the following amendments (mostly for transfer activity), we end up with this bottom two thirds:

Newcastle – weakened vs last year by loss of Ba
West Brom – significantly weakened by loss of a Belgian (Lukaku)
Norwich – up two places for strengthened squad
Swansea – down one place due to Europa League commitments, despite strengthened squad and good pre-season
Cardiff – random insertion of top promoted team amongst bottom 8. No information on goals
Stoke – new manager, not much transfer activity
Aston Villa
Hull – random insertion of second promoted team – Steve Bruce’s good transfer record might be enough to keep his team up
West Ham
Sunderland – Di Canio continues to struggle with indiscipline in the squad, weakened by loss of a Belgian (Mignolet)
Crystal Palace

Which leaves the all important top 7, four or whom will qualify for the Champions League. The top four will almost certainly be determined by the binary outcomes of three of this summer’s transfers, who have attracted huge amounts of press coverage and almost as much actual cash.

Transfer: Bale to Real Madrid – VERY LIKELY

Real always get their man. With the PFA Player of the Year (and Young Player of the Year), Tottenham, along with Man City, were streets ahead in our stats table. This is likely to change next year as Bale will surely be breaking the £ transfer record as he heads to Spain.

Impact: Tottenham weakened despite other positive transfers.

Transfer: Luis Suarez to Arsenal – LIKELY

Despite Suarez being rightly vilified for both this bark and his bite, Arsene Wenger seems ready to give this dog a new home. And as Suarez continues to handle the delicate situation with his customary grace, it is difficult to envisage him staying and playing nicely at Anfield. The Gunners might need his shots – but if Suarez arrives at the Emirates, they should make sure to be up to date on theirs.

Impact: Liverpool substantially weakened, Arsenal strengthened

Transfer: Wayne Rooney to Chelsea – UNLIKELY

Oh deary dear. Oh Wayne. I understand Coleen not wanting to move overseas, but surely Chelsea would be a (Stamford) bridge too far? We cannot think of any reason why Manchester United would sell to such a close rival, and Rooney’s natural position (in the hole) is not a natural fit with Mourinho’s favoured team structure. Whether Rooney is trying to run away from his rival RVP, his new (old) manager, or his old (but sort of still there) manager, we don’t think Manchester United will cut him loose.

Impact: hopefully none, but if it happens then Chelsea will surely win the league and Mourinho will come up with some unbearably smug epithet for himself. And John Terry will turn up in full kit. If not, then we predict the top seven as follows. And John Terry to turn up in fullMan City kit.

1. Man City – streets ahead in terms of shots on target, although losing Tevez and Balotelli from last year, net transfer activity is roughly neutral. Manuel “the Engineer” Pellegrini will hopefully build morale from last year’s dangerously unsound levels.

2. Chelsea – the return of two Belgians (Lukaku and de Bruyne) will improve the weakest part of their team, the strike force. And Chelsea are propelled up one place from last year’s league position by the fireworks heralding the “Special One” (unless it proves to be a lot of hot air).

3. Manchester United – with heavy but realistic hearts, this pair of Red supporters sadly expect that without SAF the Red Devils will reach a position reflecting the innate strength of the squad.

4. Arsenal – in fact the Two Halves of this blog have strongly debated the possibility of a Suarez-enhanced Arsenal finishing ahead of Manchester United. Whilst there might not be much to choose between Suarez and Van Persie, the difference might come down to Manchester United’s defence which was leaky for the first half of last season and Arsenal’s, which at times seemed to resort to outright sabotage.

5. Tottenham Hotspur – Oh Spurs. Having missed out on Champions League football because of food poisoning (2006), mathematics (2013) and an unbelievably poor quality Champions League win from Chelsea (2012), next year we expect White Hart Lane to be destroyed by a single lightning bolt the night before their crucial game, and the coach taking them to the new venue to get horribly lost and delayed by a runaway herd of sheep, causing the players to collapse on arrival due to chronic pins and needles. The ends of AVB’s moustache will sink low with grief, as they do whenever he thinks of his lost Bale, and Daniel Levy will console himself by swimming in a pool filled with 85 million pound coins.

6. Liverpool – Kop on Kopping on.

7. Everton – As with Manchester United, with the departure of David Moyes, our central prediction is for Everton to stop punching above their weight and start punching at or around their weight. May be weakened further if Fellaini follows Mr Moyes Manchester-ward.

So that leaves us with the following:

Man City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Everton, Southampton, Newcastle, West Brom, Norwich, Swansea, Cardiff, Stoke, Aston Villa, Fulham, Hull, West Ham, Sunderland, Crystal Palace.

For the work sweepstake though, on the basis that the marginal payoff is higher for unexpected results, we’re going to tweak it slightly so that for the close calls at the top, we’ll switch it round to the less popular views (i.e. favouring less supported teams) to give the following:

Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs, Liverpool, Everton, Southampton, Newcastle, West Brom, Norwich, Swansea, Cardiff, Stoke, Aston Villa, Fulham, Hull, West Ham, Sunderland, Crystal Palace.


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Oh Captain, My Captain: Ricky van Wolfswinkel

Discussing the likely rankings for this year’s Premier League:

Norwich might do better than last year – they’ve just bought a new striker. And he’ll probably be their captain.

Really? Does he have an amusing name?

I’m glad you asked me that; his name is…Ricky Van Wolfswinkel.

Captain Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (Norwich) vs. Captain Maugrim (Narnia secret police)

Captain Wolf

So, Maugrim is the captain of the secret police working for the Witch in Narnia.


The secret police are wolves.


Maugrim is the captain of the naughty wolves, and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel has a name that sounds a bit naughty and wolf-related.

That is…just terrible. Terrible.

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