Friday, March 25, 2016

All the very latest football news and gossip across Europe!

Here is a round up of all the latest football news/gossip across Europe today, which includes the likes of: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Slaven Bilic, Barcelona, Remi Garde, Isco, Christian Benteke, Antonio Conte, Juventus, Mario Gotze, Jurgen Klopp, Fernando Torres, Mesut Ozil, Juan Mata and Rafael Benitez to name but a few!

Manchester United are planning a sensational summer swoop for PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic. United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward hopes to tempt Ibrahimovic with a two-year deal worth a staggering £250,000-a-week - Daily Star

Napoli are also considering a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic should Gonzalo Higuain leave in the summer. The Italian daily report that the club are ready to make a two year offer to the Swedish striker which would see him earn £3milllion a year - Tuttosport (Italian sport newspaper published in Turin)

Barcelona are planning a mosaic tribute before the El Clasico game with Real Madrid on 2 April to their former player and manager Johan Cruyff, who has died of cancer aged 68 - Marca (Spanish newspaper)

Premier League academy players will be made to attend social media workshops in aftermath of Adam Johnson child sex scandal - Daily Mail

Aston Villa are considering former Swansea City boss Garry Monk, 37, as a replacement for current boss Remi Garde - The Sun

West Ham are planning to reward manager Slaven Bilic with a new contract – but won’t make a final decision until January. West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan said in the Mirror: "I will give Slaven a new deal in January. I just want to see that he is not a one-season wonder" - Daily Mirror and

Liverpool and Arsenal are poised to move for 23 year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Gotze - Daily Express and Daily Mail

Barcelona are keen on Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil. According to the Spanish media, the Germany international is keen to return to Spain, while Barcelona could look to offer makeweights in any potential offer to drive down the size of the transfer fee. Arsenal are interested in the Barcelona trio of Arda Turan, Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez - AS (Spain's leading newspaper)

Juventus will be keeping one eye on the availability of Chelsea stars Oscar, Willian, Nemanja Matic and Eden Hazard in the summer. It is reported that Antonio Conte - if he lands the Chelsea job – will look to make big changes to the squad, which could mean he’ll have to shift some of his higher earning players - Tuttosport (Italian sport newspaper published in Turin)

Liverpool may offer striker Christian Benteke, 25, as part of a deal to land Roma's Argentine midfielder Leandro Paredes, 21, who is currently on loan at Empoli - Daily Mirror

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is preparing a summer move for Stuttgart and Serbia left winger Filip Kostic, 23, although work permit issues could hamper the move - Bild (German tabloid newspaper)

Roma have reportedly slapped a £35m price-tag on midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who is a possible target for Chelsea and Manchester United - Daily Express

Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has been linked with a shock move to Turkish side Fenerbahce - Daily Express and A Spor (Turkish Sport TV channel)

Inter Milan are tracking Manchester duo Gael Clichy and Juan Mata -

Manchester City are eyeing a move for 24 year-old Leicester City midfielder N'Golo Kante - Daily Star

Manchester City
and Juventus are ready to compete for Real Madrid's 23-year-old Spain midfielder Isco, and James Rodriguez could also be heading for the exit at the Bernabeu.- Daily Mirror

Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, 21, could be one of Pep Guardiola's first signings at Manchester City, after the Blues agreed to meet the Frenchman's £39.6m release clause - Daily Telegraph

Fernando Torres is attracting interest from Lazio. Torres is currently on loan at Atletico Madrid from AC Milan, and his contract with the Serie A side expires in the summer - Corriere della Sera (An Italian daily newspaper published in Milan)

Juventus and Spanish international striker Alvaro Morata last night opened the door to a close-season move to Liverpool or Arsenal - The Sun and Daily Mail

and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez, 25, is good enough to play for Barcelona, according to former midfielder Xavi - Al-Araby Al-Jadeed (An Arabic and English media outlet headquartered in London)

West Bromwich Albion
and Crystal Palace are both eyeing a move for 20 year-old Werder Bremen midfielder Florian Grillitsch -

Leeds United midfielder Lewis Cook, 19, is £10m summer target for Everton and Stoke City - The Sun

Despite reports that 18-year-old Marcus Rashford is set to sign a new contract at Manchester United, it is our understand that nothing is imminent. However, given his form, a new contract is likely in the near future. He is currently on a £1,000-a-week deal -

Manchester City
fans will have to pay £71 for a ticket to watch the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final away to Paris St-Germain. The tie is on 6 April - Manchester Evening News

Marko Arnautovic
says moving to Stoke City "breathed new life" into his career but is not sure if he will sign a new contract with the club -

Newcastle United striker Adam Armstrong, 19, will stay on loan at League One Coventry City as Magpies boss Rafael Benitez does not want to scar him in a relegation fight. Armstrong has scored 19 goals in 33 league appearances for the Sky Blues -

Norwich City and Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty has agreed to join Birmingham City on loan for the rest of the season -

World Cup-winning Germany midfielder Toni Kroos thinks England have a good chance at Euro 2016 - The Sun

England U21 boss Gareth Southgate says England are right to be cautious about calling up Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford - Daily Star

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Myths and Legends about St. Patrick's Day!

St Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is one of the biggest celebrations around the world, with ex-pats from the United States to Hong Kong celebrating everything Irish on 17th March - the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461). St. Patrick's Day is that one day of the year when everybody is Irish......or at least pretends to be!

Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival, but what does that actually entail? When it comes to St. Patrick's Day history, the United States has all kinds of traditions that, frankly, aren't even Irish. Who was Saint Patrick anyway? And what myths and legends about this Irish holiday have we all been blindly thinking are true for years?

Below are a list of some of the most interesting/unusual St. Patrick's Day tales I could find, as I try to separate the myths from the reality, and let you in on the truth and history of how this particular holiday came about and is truly celebrated.

1/ THE MYTH:  St. Patrick was Irish

THE REALITY: Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in history. Born in Britain to a Christian family of Roman citizenship, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They transported him to Gaelic Ireland, and he spent six years in captivity before escaping back to Britain. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church’s second missionary to Ireland. Patrick began his mission to Ireland in 432, and by his death in 461, the island was almost entirely Christian.

Some historians claim his name is in dispute, as later documents, from after Patrick’s time, list his birth name as "Maewyn Succat." His two letters are signed by "Patricius," and he probably adopted the name Patrick from the Latin for "well born" (meaning of aristocratic or high-ranking birth)

2/ THE MYTH:  St. Patrick wore green

THE REALITY: In modern celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day, revelers wear green, eat and drink green foods and turn everything they can dye green. This tradition is said to commemorate St. Patrick’s use of the shamrock in his religious teaching, but didn’t really become a part of his feast celebration until the 19th century. In reality, St. Patrick wore blue.

3/ THE MYTH:  Leprechauns are inexorably linked with St. Patrick’s Day

THE REALITY: While the little green, red-bearded troublemakers are an important part of Irish folklore in general, they have literally nothing to do with the historical St. Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns didn’t appear in Irish literature until the Middle Ages, well after Patrick’s return to Ireland.
While you’ll probably see drawings of leprechauns during your St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, it’s not because of their link to the holiday, it’s just because they make a handy representation of  "something Irish" – mostly due to pop culture depictions.

4/ THE MYTH:  The Irish get very drunk on St. Patrick’s Day 

THE REALITY: Originally, 17th March, the recorded day of St. Patrick’s death, was celebrated as a Catholic feast and a quiet religious observance. The first largely public celebration of St. Patrick’s Day took place in Boston in 1737. It did not become a national holiday in Ireland until 1903. In fact, until the 1970's, pubs in Ireland were required by law to be closed on 17th March.

5/ THE MYTH:  St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland

THE REALITY: The legend of St. Patrick says that he is celebrated for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. The only problem with this legend is that biologists now believe there were never snakes in Ireland. Before the last Ice Age, Ireland was simply too cold for snakes to survive, then when the glaciers receded, it left the land an island, impossible for snakes to reach. Fossil records from the country corroborate this, as no evidence of snakes has ever been found among the animals living there. Most likely, the legend of the snakes is a metaphor for St. Patrick driving paganism out of Ireland by converting so many people to Christianity.

6/ THE MYTH:  Chicago dyes the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day, so why don’t they dye it blue the rest of year?

THE REALITY: The Windy City does dye the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day. This tradition began in 1962 when the parade organizer, head of a plumbers’ union, noticed that the dye that had been used to find sources of river pollution stained his clothing green. He thought it would be a great idea to use enough dye to turn the whole river green for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Researchers say the environmental impact of the dye is less than that of the pollution from sewage-treatment plants.
But as for dyeing it blue the rest of the year - bodies of water are the color they are because of the light that gets filtered through the water, not because of what’s in them. Fill a glass of water from the Chicago River, and it’ll be neither green nor blue, but clear.

7/ THE MYTH:  America has more Irish than Ireland

THE REALITY: There are more many people in America who have full or partial Irish ancestry than there are in Ireland. According to a US Census of 2013, nearly 34 million Americans had Irish ancestry - around 10% of the total population. The population of Ireland is just four and a half million people.

The areas of America that retain a significant Irish-American population include the metropolitan areas of Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Baltimore, New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where most new arrivals of the 1830–1910 period settled. As a percentage of the population, Massachusetts is the most Irish state, with well over 20% of its population claiming Irish descent.

8/ THE MYTH:  Corned beef and cabbage are the traditional St. Patrick's Day feast

THE REALITY: In America, sure. But debates rage as to whether or not this is actually a traditional Irish meal. Proponents say it is, based on the curing of ham to use on long ocean voyages. Others say it’s a more American twist on traditional Irish cuisine.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. The Irish, like pretty much everyone else, would salt-cure meat – but cows were expensive and needed for producing milk, so they’d rarely be slaughtered for food. Irish corned beef was extremely popular in England in the first half of the 1800's, but it was far too expensive for rural Irish tenant farmers to eat.

However, Irish immigrants in New York City’s Lower East Side couldn’t get the pork they were used to eating, as it was much more expensive in the US. So they bought corned beef from their Jewish neighbors because it was cheaper. The corned beef found in pubs and on dinner tables in America is much closer to traditional deli corned beef than what was for sale in Ireland 200 years ago.

To wash this down, those who want to be truly Irish will have a pint of Guinness. The brewer says more than 13 million pints will be consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. So raise a glass!

9/ THE MYTH:  St. Patrick’s Day parades stepped off in Ireland 

THE REALITY: The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually held in New York City in 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the British Army during the Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence (1775–1783), marched through the city to celebrate the religious feast day and their Irish roots. The first parade in Ireland took place in Dublin in 1931.

10/ THE MYTH:  The shamrock is the symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, but for extra luck, you really want a four-leaf clover – which is also Irish

THE REALITY: Four-leaf clovers are prized for their rarity, and as such, are thought to bring great luck. But the difference between the shamrock and the four-leaf clover is more than just a leaf – one is a symbol of national pride, and the other isn’t!

The four-leaf clover isn’t intrinsically Irish in any way, being a universal symbol for good fortune – and one that can be found everywhere. In fact, the clover with the most leaves in history (56, to be exact) was found in Moroka, Japan in 2009.

11/ THE MYTH:  You kiss the Blarney Stone on St. Patrick’s Day to get the gift of the gab

THE REALITY:The Blarney Stone is another one of those intrinsically "Irish" things that people use as shorthand for Irish culture. But it has nothing to do with St. Patrick, as Blarney Castle wasn’t built until 1446, a thousand years after the time of St. Patrick. As an aside, both native Irish people and hygiene experts agree that actually kissing the Blarney Stone is incredibly unsanitary and quite overrated as a tourist destination.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Statistically, the EA Sports best performing players in the English Premier League so far this season!

The EA SPORTS PPI (Player Performance Index) is the only official player rating index of the Barclays Premier League which measures a player's all round contribution to the success of his team using six key indices:

The intention is to remove any opinion bias and only work with proven statistical measurements which become more accurate as the season progresses.

Season 2015/16 - Last update: 08/03/16

For those of you currently playing 'Fantasy Premier League Football' you may want to take note!


1. Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester) 356 EA Sports PPI  
2. Petr Cech (Arsenal) 340
3. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 321
4. Jack Butland (Stoke City) 319 (right)
5. Adrian (West Ham) 294
6. Heurelho Gomes (Watford) 289
7. Joe Hart (Man City) 284
8. Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea) 270
9. David de Gea (Man Utd) 267
10. Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) 267


1. Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) 468
2. Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) 412
3. Charlie Daniels (Bournemouth) 404
4. Eric Dier (Tottenham) 403
5. Wes Morgan (Leicester) 400 (right)
6. Ashley Williams (Swansea) 395
7. Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) 380
8. Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) 379
9. Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) 370
10. Robert Huth (Leicester) 364


1. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) 779
2. Mesut Özil (Arsenal) 625
3. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) 587
4. Ross Barkley (Everton) 567
5. Dimitri Payet (West Ham) 534
6. Dele Alli (Tottenham) 508
7. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) 484
8. Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle) 477
9. Yaya Toure (Man City) 454
10. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea) 441


1. Harry Kane (Tottenham) 755
2. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) 743
3. Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 639
4. Odion Ighalo (Watford) 620
5. Sergio Agüero (Man City) 522
6. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 485
7. Diego Costa (Chelsea) 441
8. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) 419 (right)
9. Troy Deeney (Watford) 415
10. Marko Arnautovic (Stoke) 408

The Six Key Indices:

1. Winning Performance

Players receive points for time on the pitch in a successful team. Players will receive more points if they play the full 90 minutes in a winning team. This index shares league points won by a team between the players according to the minutes they are on the pitch. Only time on the pitch and points scored are taken into account in this first index.

2. Player's Performance per match

Players receive points for positive influences on a winning performance (shots on target, tackles, clearances, saves etc). Players have points taken away from their score for negative actions such as shots off target and receiving yellow and/or red cards.

3. Appearances

Players receive points for minutes on the pitch. The number of points won by ALL teams in the Barclays Premier League are divided among the players according to the number of minutes they have played. This does not take into account the result of a match, it awards points purely for playing time.

4. Goals scored

Players are awarded points for scoring goals. These points are only given to the goalscorer.

5. Assists

Players are awarded points for assists. These points are only awarded to players that make the assist.
Assists are awarded to the player from the goal scoring team who makes the last touch before the goal is scored.
If after this touch, an opposing player touches the ball outside the penalty area altering the intended destination of the ball, then no assist is given, except if this intervention directly results in an own goal.
In the event of a penalty or free-kick, the player earning the penalty or free-kick gets an assist if a goal is directly scored, but not if he takes it himself, in which case no assist is given.

6. Clean sheets

Allocates points for clean sheets to the whole team. The proportionate split of the points is weighted according to the player's position. Therefore a goalkeeper will be awarded a greater proportion of the points for keeping a clean sheet than a striker. The points are also awarded proportionately to the time spent on the pitch.

N.B. The overall EA SPORTS PPI is a correlation between all of the above indices. The Index only includes actions that can be measured objectively and does not reward one action more than another (e.g. a pass by a midfielder will not gain more points than a tackle made by a defender). Subjective factors relating to individual players' skill levels or evidence of a specific flair, such as a particularly spectacular pass or goal, are not included within the index.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Babe of the Month - Hanging out with Sierra Blair-Coyle

Sierra Dominique Blair-Coyle was born 30th January 1994 in Scottsdale, Arizona and is arguably the most recognizable female professional rock climber today.

Sierra hardly needs an introduction. When she’s not climbing and modeling, this 22-year-old keeps busy studying marketing at Arizona State University and interacting with her some 200,000 Facebook followers.

Sierra, has been climbing since the age of eight has been competing professionally since the age of 14.

Before she discovered climbing, Sierra wanted to become a model, actress, and singer. After she discovered climbing, she wanted to become a professional rock climber. Being able to do both she says: "is like living two childhood dreams, so to speak."

The first time Sierra climbed was on a wall at a local outdoor mall at Desert Ridge. She instantly loved climbing and would beg her parents to take her back every single day! After that she told her parents that she wanted to start competing in rock climbing. At the time, Sierra said that her parents did not know that climbing was an organized sport. Luckily, there was an article in the newspaper two weeks later about a local climbing team and how they had just competed at the Nationals. she immediately went to the gym, joined the team, and started competing!

However, her path to the top has been far from easy, as she battled through a severe back injury as a teenager which threaten to cripple her - and end her dreams of being a climber.
At the age of 16 Sierra started having lower back pain. She eventually had an MRI scan and they found she had a bulging, torn and herniated disc in her back.

Sierra said: "The thought of giving up climbing didn't occur to me when my back was hurt because people get injured in all sports. The more athletes you meet the more you realize everyone is walking around broken. All that matters is how you move forward. Luckily I am healed now, but my back will still act up from time to time."

Voted one of the Top 99 Most Outstanding Women of 2015 by AskMen, she has also been a World Cup Competitor (2010-2015) and two-time U.S National Champion as a junior competitor, in 2005 and 2007.

Outside of climbing says: I want to live a life that I love, doing what I love. It would be great to model more, travel (even more!), work with animal shelters, go to graduate school.......the list goes on. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish in this life!

Sierra is sponsored and/or affiliated to the following companies/organisations:
Sanuk, Falken Tire, SPY, Climb X Gear, Asana Climbing, BlueWater Ropes, The Law Office of Devin W. Quackenbush, Cell Med Clinics, Tea of a Kind, Uncle Andy's Jerky and Quotable Cards.

You can follow Sierra on 
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr

* Some photographs courtesy of Jackie Sterna/Media Drum World and ESG Photography