Demolition Derby

Liverpool Rout Neighbors Everton 4-0 in 222nd Merseyside Derby

By Greg Hudson

No rivalry in American sports can compare to an English derby match. Certainly, the U.S. has classic sporting rivalries: Yankees and Red Sox; Steelers and Patriots; Canadiens and Bruins. But nothing in America approaches the intensity found when two teams from the same city square off in the English Premier League, where opposing fans are kept segregated to prevent violence that threatened the future of European football during the 1970s and 80s. Derby games, matches between local rivals, are particularly heated and often produce the most intense and hostile atmospheres both in the stands and on the pitch.
While all local derbies are special, the Merseyside Derby is something truly unique. Liverpool and Everton football clubs are located less than a mile apart, separated only by a small park, so the entire city is divided between Liverpool red and Everton blue. But what makes the Merseyside Derby, England’s longest-running local derby, so special is the relationship between the opposing fans, who, away from the field, support each other through good times and bad, earning the nickname the “friendly derby.” In recent years, however, the fixture has produced many memorable and hotly contested games. In the past 20 seasons, no matchup has produced more red cards than the Merseyside Derby.
When the two sides met at Everton’s Goodison Park in November, another hot contest produced a stunning 3-3 draw which saw both teams rally from losing positions in the second half. The match was not without controversy, however, as Everton’s Kevin Mirallas escaped what should have been a red card for a tackle on Luis Suarez which was both late and high and actually drew blood from the right knee of the Uruguayan striker. Mirallas later provided an assist for Everton’s second goal, sparking debate among the two sets of fans as to whether or not Everton really deserved the draw, or whether Liverpool really deserved to win. Tuesday night, Liverpool set out to answer those questions definitively, this time in front of their home crowd at Anfield, where they had not lost in 9 games, and where Everton had not won in their last 13 visits.
Both teams entered the game after being struck by an injury bug plaguing defenders in both camps. For Liverpool, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, and Jose Enrique were all unavailable through injury, along with midfielder Lucas Leiva, while Everton were forced to play without start fullbacks Seamus Coleman, nursing a pulled hamstring, and Brian Oviedo, out for the season after horrifically breaking his leg the previous week. In their places Everton fielded John Stone and Antolin Alcaraz, a significant step down in terms of defensive strength, which would be a concern against Liverpool’s high-powered strike pair of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, who had combined for 33 goals in 22 matches.
But it was the visitors who opened the brighter, attacking Liverpool right from the kickoff, and less than a minute was on the clock when local phenom Ross Barkley sent a long-range effort whistling over the Liverpool crossbar, much to the relief of keeper Simon Mignolet.
The Reds soon found their stride however, and created a chance of their own just moments later after some scintillating passing enabled Jordan Henderson to slot the ball into the Everton penalty area for Suarez, whose shot was blocked back to Henderson, who volleyed over the crowd and forced a strong save from American keeper Tim Howard.
It set the tone for an attacking, end-to-end game which took shape during the opening 20 minutes, and a trend quickly developed: Everton possessing the ball well but failing to carve apart the Liverpool defense, and Liverpool counterattacking with fast-paced breaks looking to set up Suarez or Sturridge.
The two strikers, who combined for 33 goals entering play, soon figured out the Everton defense and began peppering Tim Howard’s goal with shots, and it was little surprise when the Reds took the lead after 20 minutes when Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard rose highest to head home a Suarez corner. It was Gerrard’s eighth career goal against Everton, more than any other player in the history of the derby.
Liverpool, known for striking twice in quick succession, looked to press home another goal, but Everton responded well to falling a goal behind and dominated the game for the next ten minutes, bending but not quite breaking the Liverpool defensive resolve, with Mirallas firing just wide from the edge of the 18-yard box on 32 minutes.

KD for MVP ??

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By Stefan Anderson

When you mention MVP Candidates for this season, you probably have your choices down to maybe Kevin Love or Lamarcus Aldridge for wild card picks or maybe even Carmelo Anthony for his great play. But the definite choices belong to Kevin Durant and the reigning 4- time MVP winner LeBron James. The two have been known to be close not only in stats but also as good friends off court practicing with each other and making each other their biggest competitors.

After LeBron, earned his first ring against Durant in 2012 and then repeating in the following year, Durant has always the 2nd best to James since their encounter in the finals. But the two envy each other many ways that keeps this rivalry going. With both of the stars envious of each other’s success and wish they could do what each other do. Durant is jealous of LeBron’s MVP’s and Finals MVP’s, and LeBron “jealous” of KD’s “shot selection”. They both have their own reasons to envy each other and after this season KD will finally get his revenge by earning this year Most Valuable Player award.

Here’s Why:

LeBron James is on pace to have one of the greatest seasons for a swingman in NBA History. With the chance to average 25 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and while shooting an astounding 60 percent from the field.  Those numbers will go down in history but ahead and right behind him is Kevin Durant. King James has already been on record for saying that he is jealous of KD’s shot selection and wishes he could have the opportunity to shoot like Durant. KD only takes 3 more 3’s and field goals than James per game. Durant is not only a better complete scorer than James but has been shown as a better playmaker this season. Durant not only is averaging 31 ppg, he is also averaging 5 assists per game not only taking on the scoring load of his team due to the loss of his sidekick Russell Westbrook. LeBron on the other hand is taking a small hike in his play making statistics, James is only 6.5 assists and 7 rebounds per game, which are some player’s career highs, but for King James this is one of one worst seasons in his career.

Durant has not only been the best player in NBA this season he is also doing it on the best team in the Western Conference, as well.  Not to mention, the fact that have been playing without their point guard and explosive scorer Russell Westbrook. Since Westbrook’s injury on December 27th, the Thunder have been on a tear. With a current winning streak of 8 straight beating some of the Western Conference’s elite, The Spurs, Warriors and Portland , without Westbrook’s help. During this current stretch without Westbrook, KD has stepped up for his team, averaging 38 ppg in the last 10 games. While Miami on the other hand without LeBron James’s sidekick, Dwayne Wade, have not shared the same success. While Wade has missed a few games due to knee injury, The Heat failed to capitalize without Flash, by posting a 5-6 record without Wade. Which gives all the reasons why Durant finally deserves his opportunity receive his first MVP award this season, he has been the best player in NBA, his team and has stepped when his team needs it the most.

With so many storylines between the Thunder and Heat, LeBron and Durant, tonight’s matchup in Miami is going to be a great match. Especially with Miami holding a current 3 game regular season streak over OKC and also defeating them in NBA Finals in 2012. Should be a sight to see. 

Starting Point Super Bowl Picks

ImageCourtesy of Craig Kanalley 

With the big game coming up on Sunday, we have a great game with the NFC’s Champ , The Seattle Sehawks and the AFC’s Champ, The Denver Broncos. Us here at The Starting Point, have our predictions on the big game and who could win it all.

Greg Hudson – Broncos 20, Seahawks 16

 I think the Broncos defense stands a solid chance against Marshawn Lynch after shutting out Legarrette Blount and the Patriots’ running game in the AFC Championship game. My X-Factor is the weather. There’s been a lot of talk about Richard Sherman’s Legion of Boom against Peyton Manning’s all-star receiving core, but how much of an impact that battle has will depend on whether either team will be able to establish a passing game in the expected sub-freezing temperatures in the Meadowlands. A run-dominated game would be a very interesting showdown indeed.

Stefan Anderson – Broncos 28, Seahawks 20
The Broncos Rush Defense has ranked 8th in the NFL all season and only allowed 2 100-yd rushers all season. Although I believe that “Beast Mode” will earn his yards but the Broncos front 7 will contain him enough to force Russell Wilson to make plays versus Champ Bailey and that Broncos secondary. My X-Factor will be the Broncos Defense as well as Percy Harvin, who could give some that can cause damage to that Broncos secondary and change the outcome. With the temperature being the mid 20’s to 30’s for the Sunday evening matchup, I don’t see it being the “Snow Bowl”, ultimately it will be a classic grudge match between the two best teams and should be one of the best super bowls we have seen in years.
Maceo Lester – Denver 31, Seattle 27

It’s Peyton’s year, he’s been focused and determined all year he knows his legacy is on the line and he wants to go down as one of the greats. Nothing can stop him right now, he’s the x-factor he will have control of the game.
Kelsey Miller -Seattle 20 , Broncos 17
I choose Seattle because the defense is primarily the heart and soul of that team. gonna be tough to score on young healthy talent, and I feel the game will come down a field goal. Haushka has a good leg. Peyton’s gotta use Moreno because Seattle will heavily play the passing game and play option. My X Factor is Marshawn lynch. Broncos are without Von Miller so there’s a small gap in the pocket front line of the defense. Broncos secondary, Bailey and Rodgers-Cromartie will be playing the pass heavily so they have to run the ball.

Started

By Stefan Anderson

I created this blog for college grads and/or upcoming graduates that have a passion for sports journalism and breaking the sports media field, but cant reach the proper platform due to many different circumstances. When I came up with the idea of creating this blog I wanted to give my collegues and fellow sports journalists that platform. That is where the idea for the Starting Point came about, hence the name.

My fellow collegues and I would like introduce you to The Starting Point with great pleasure. Hope that you all subscribe and induldge in our writings and enjoy our work. Thank you and stay tuned in.