Monthly Archives: January 2013

Joey Bada$$ vs The Based God

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Beef in hip hop fuels the game and makes it that much better and that much more entertaining. We’ve seen great duels in the past from Biggie and Pac, to Jay-Z and Nas. Just recently Meek Mill managed to bring out the best in Cassidy.

But a new feud has developed. Through the eyes of twitter Lil B released a track yesterday titled ‘I’m The Badass’, referring to Brooklyn’s finest young MC Joey Bada$$. To hip hop analysts this was just an attempt for Lil B to stay relevant and make himself heard. After all this is The Based God we are talking about, the enigma of rap.

Remember when DMX came out and called Lil B “Lil Bitch”, you could imagine The Based God at the time becoming elated and relishing the opportunity of being a trending topic for the next week.

You can’t take him seriously, to be honest I don’t think Lil B can take himself seriously either, but I guess that’s why his fans idolise and worship him, similar to football’s greatest mystery Mario Balotelli. Even I, a critique of modern day hip hop find him to be particularly intriguing simply because I don’t know what he’s going to do or say next. You could possibly title him as the smartest dumbest man in hip hop if that makes any sense.

So with the diss track released you would have excused the Pro Era MC for deciding not to retaliate. But he gave into the hype of the twitter world and the encouragement of his beloved fans and released a reply titled ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job’. Game, set and match there was a victor in hip hop’s most recent duel. Lil B take a bow, you’re the victor homie.

Joey came at Lil B hard, but what else were you expecting? A 17 year old kid, who just recently finished work with the icon that is DJ Premier. Lyrically Joey could annihilate most artists in the game today and would have been better feuding with someone with much more hip hop credibility.

Earlier in the day I tweeted something along the lines of “Joey Bada$$ sending for Lil B, this just isn’t fair”, and it isn’t fair there is no contest, no comparison, no competition, we know who the superior MC is. As a fan of Joey and the Pro Era movement I am hoping this young cat will learn from this rookie mistake and go on to cement his place amongst hip hops finest in the near future and leave Lil B to continue being… Lil B.

Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)

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Weekly Tribute: Michael Owen [Week 6]

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During the last few weeks you may have noticed I’ve tried to broaden the scope of my Weekly Tribute’s and I hope you have enjoyed it but now let’s get back to my bread and butter, football. This weeks tribute goes to a player whose football career has run parallel to my own Michael Owen.

May 6th 1997, a baby-faced 17-year-old Michael Owen burst onto the scene with a goal against Wimbledon. Around that time a 6-year-old literally baby-faced me also burst into the football scene. Though we started at the same time, sadly that kind of ends the similarities in impact of myself and Michael. Where I scored hundreds impersonating Owen over the park, Owen scored hundreds in a career of triumph and tragedy.

Owen’s career though not over, promised so much and whilst delivered a lot, does pose the question, what might have been?

It’s no secret persistent injuries have affected Michael’s career and also sadly his legacy. In a career which has seen Michael represent three English giants, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle. A world giant Real Madrid and also now Stoke. Michael should have no regrets, sadly upon leaving Liverpool his career never reached the same heights.

Michael’s glory days undoubtably came in the red of Liverpool, 118 goals in 216 games, his lightning pace and ice cool finishing allowed Michael as a young man to become Liverpool’s main striker, remarkable especially when considering it meant ousting the man Liverpool to this day call God, Robbie Fowler. Michael’s spell at Liverpool was also trophy laden, personal accolades flew in; two Premier League Golden Boots, PFA Young Player of the Year, European and World Player of the Year. From a team perspective Owen helped Liverpool to; The Uefa Cup, Charity Shield, European Super Cup, two League Cups and the FA Cup.

For a time Michael Owen was viewed as one of the world’s very best strikers, this earned him a move to Real Madrid. Owen’s spell in Madrid was one of mixed results but not as many will state a complete disaster. Owen managed a season at the Spanish giants scoring a credible 18 in 41 which is made more impressive by only starting 15 times.

It was after Real Madrid that Michael’s career slowly moved towards tragedy and sadly as of yet shows no real sign of moving back towards triumph. Owen moved to Newcastle from Madrid and received a heroes welcome at Saint James’s but he left Newcastle as a villain. In 4 years at Newcastle Owen spent a huge amount of time battling injuries. Despite this Michael managed to net 26 times in 71 games a credible amount for a striker but Michael’s time will not be remembered for this but will be remembered for relegation.

After his disastrous spell at Newcastle, Michael made a move that stunned football by signing for Manchester United fierce rivals of Liverpool. This surely placing Owen back at the top would allow Michael to return to triumph?

What followed at Manchester United was Michael Owen playing a bit part role featuring very fleetingly. Michael did manage to obtain a Premier League winners medal and secure a legendary United moment by scoring against title rivals Manchester City deep into extra time.

Michael Owen can now be seen winding down his career at Stoke. Looking through Owen’s career most players would kill for a career like that but not Michael he will feel like injuries have robbed him of what might have been.

In the early part of the Noughties, Owen looked a shoe in for the England all time goal scorers record. As it stands he looks to have finished just 9 short and finds himself in 4th, tragic as injuries all but retired Michael in 2008.

Owen deserves a tribute because many seem to have forgotten just how good he was in his prime, the amount he has achieved and stellar career despite injuries he has managed to achieve.

Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)

2013 NBA All-Star Reserves Announced

All-Star Reserves Announced

In addition to the starting fives of the East and West, that were announced last week on the 17th of January, the NBA announced the All-Star reserves. Ahead of the New York Knicks rematch to the Boston Celtics at the Boston Garden, the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan and the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh headline the 14 player list. This list has been selected by the coaches as reserves for this 2013 NBA All-Star Game. Duncan earns his 14th selection, trailing only to Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant who has 15 along with Boston’s Kevin Garnett among the active players, while Bosh secures his eighth trip to the All-Star Game in 10 NBA seasons.

Five first-time All-Stars join Bosh as reserves in the East: Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Jrue Holiday (Philadelphia 76ers), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls). The Bulls’ Luol Deng, making his second consecutive All-Star appearance, rounds out the East reserves. One of the most exciting Point Guards in the league, Irving is deserving of his spot on the list dropping 40 points in his last game on Tuesday.

Joining Duncan as reserves in the West are LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers), James Harden (Houston Rockets), David Lee (Golden State Warriors), Tony Parker (Spurs), Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder). It’s the first selection for Houston’s new starlet Harden and averaging 26+ points a game surely warrants it. With All-Star weekend in Houston it just wouldn’t be the same without a Rocket. absolutely deserving of it. It’s the second All-Star nod for Lee, Randolph and Aldridge, while Westbrook earns his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game. Parker is an All-Star for the fifth time in his career.

It’s sad not to see J.R. Smith not selected for the Eastern reserves with his electrifying displays this season lifting the Knicks offence with his contributions off the bench. The strongest conference to pick has to be the Western with so many teams playing so well but for me Steph Curry and Serge Ibaka deserved a looked in on the Western team. My wildcard Damian Lillard didn’t make the cut, hopefully next year for the rookie.

NBA Commissioner David Stern will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game. If the injured player is a starter, the head coach of that team will determine who replaces him in the starting lineup.

The 14 players selected were chosen by the 30 NBA head coaches, who were asked to vote for seven players in their respective conferences — two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. They were not permitted to vote for players from their own team.

The East and West All-Star coaches and coaching staffs will be determined by the best record in the conference through games played Sunday, 3rd of February. The Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau and the Thunder’s Scott Brooks coached the East and West squads, respectively, last season and are therefore ineligible for the honor this year.

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)

Fulham For The Cup – A History Of Fulham Manchester United In The FA Cup

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Swansea and Bradford’s run to a major cup final has left me dreaming, dreaming that this could be Fulham’s year, the year we finally get our day in the sun again. In 134 years London’s oldest professional Football club have never won a major domestic trophy the closest we have come is the Friendly Final of May 1975 a 2-0 loss to West Ham United at Wembley, that’s almost 38 years ago.

It seems like everyone has won something except Fulham, every year we have the same dream and increasingly it seems that dream is ended by either Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester United. An amazing statistic is Fulham have played more games against Manchester United than any other team in the FA Cup (13 times), playing against the world’s biggest team so often has arguably played a deciding factor in Fulham’s remarkable barren history.

Lo and behold who have Fulham drawn in this year’s FA Cup 4th round? Manchester United! In my time supporting Fulham there have been some memorable FA Cup ties against Manchester United there was the 5th round exit in 1999, where Keegan’s Division 2 Fulham gave Manchester United a serious run for their money. In that game a shocking miss from John ‘Costus’ Salako could have put Fulham 1-0 up at Old Trafford and could have arguably changed history, knocking United out of the FA Cup, ending United’s treble campaign early, alas is wasn’t to be Andy Cole the scorer in a 1-0 victory.

Next up came Fulham Vs Manchester United at Craven Cottage in 2001 again like in 1999 this Fulham team was flying, Jean Tigana’s side leading Division One, for me this game was memorable because I saw David Beckham and many of the other treble legends yards in front of me, again FA Cup heartbreak with United edging the game 2-1. 2004 saw United again win 2-1 this time at Old Trafford. The last time the two sides met was a comprehensive 4-0 win for United on the bank’s of the Thames, a defeat Fulham avenged by beating United at The Cottage two weeks later in a historic 2-0 victory, which had most asking the question why couldn’t that have been in the FA Cup instead?

With just two wins against the Red Devils in the FA Cup in 13 previous ties in 1905 and 1908, I know I’m praying that it’s 14th time lucky. We deserve a cup run and if Swansea and Bradford can do it as have Portsmouth, Cardiff, Millwall and Stoke in recent year’s why can’t we do it?

The FA Cup is for dreaming and I’m dreaming of an unlikely victory this Saturday at the Theatre of Dreams.

Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)

Weekly Tribute: The Football Factory [Week 5]

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For this week’s Weekly Tribute I am going pay homage to the film that I felt made possibly the biggest cultural impact on my generation. The film that made the greatest impact on me and other somewhat impressionable teenagers of my age range was The Football Factory.

When Nick Love’s, The Football Factory was released in 2004 I would have been 14 years old and I find it fair to the say the film adaptation of John King’s novel had a fair influence on myself and my peers. Now I’m not attempting to make myself look like an expert on Football hooliganism but as someone who has attended football since the age of 8, which has included long amounts of time in the pubs of Fulham, I can say I had an amount of understanding of the casual culture but the influence of The Football Factory was so vast many people with no real connection to Football or casual culture began to take a huge interest in the sub-culture. The introduction of casual culture to mainstream British society is arguably the film’s lasting legacy.

The Football Factory was not a ground breaking film in terms of the subject matter it choose to represent, the hooligan genre of film had been done before and had a similar effect upon the society of the time which it shocked. In 1993 Gary Oldman became a star thanks to his appearance in the gruesome, The Firm which documents his efforts to unite firms from around the country to fight in an international alliance. What The Football Factory did do is open the gates for other films to expand on the genre since The Football Factory was released their have been a range of other hooligan films, off the top of my head; Green Street, Rise of the Footsoldiers, Away Dayz, The Rise of a White Collared Football Hooligan, Cass and The Firm (remake). The fact that The Football Factory allowed so many copy cat films to be produced illustrates the effect and popularity of The Football Factory.

Along with restarting a genre of films not explored for a decade, The Football Factory properly introduced us to actors who have gone on to be the corner stones of British movies since their breakout roles in The Football Factory actors including Danny Dyer and Tammer Hassan who went on to star together in Brit film classic The Business.

What The Football Factory did though to a certain extent was introduce the casual culture style of behaviour and dress back into mainstream culture its biggest achievement in my eyes was that it made it acceptable to be a geezer.

Along with its effect and popularity I would also like to pay tribute to the film in general for those that have yet to see it. Nick Love as ever does a great job in directing a thoroughly watchable film that has a great story with moments of comedy, heart-break and some memorable quotes. Much like I said with The Wire, The Football Factory is a must watch!

Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)

JR Throws Jabs At Kris

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Since Kris Humphries marriage to Kim Kardashian came to an end after just 72 days he has been the butt (pun intended) of most people’s jokes. From Kanye West rapping “Lucky I aint have Jay drop him from the team” to just the other week when 6-foot-1 Rajon Rondo got ejected from the game for fighting with Kris. It just never seems to stop for the Brooklyn Nets power forward.

Yesterday was no different, when even in victory no one lets Kris see the light. In a fierce ‘Battle of the Boroughs’ at Madison Square Garden between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, the Nets tied the series at 2-2 when they won 88-85. Kris Kardashian Humphries took to his Twitter to post of his celebration when Knicks guard J.R. Smith instantly shut him down.

Now trash talk is normal in the NBA as we have seen with the Carmelo-Garnett saga but with Kris Humphries it’s that much more comical. Kris is never too far from a taunt or two about his marriage, which he is still seeking an annulment with claims he was duped into a fake marriage for publicity. Kim K prepares to give birth to her first baby with her current boyfriend Kanye West, but since the two are still husband and wife California laws say Kris Humphries is the “Presumed Father”.

#PoorKris

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)

My Breakout Star of 2013

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2013 will undoubtedly see players prosper whilst others falter, similar to 2012. Take a look at Luka Modric and Alex Song, two players who following exceptional seasons at their North London clubs made big money moves to both Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, have found it hard adapting to their new surroundings, having to adjust their game to accommodate superstars such as Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta and Ozil.

Although there are a few players that get may have a groundbreaking 2013 I have identified one starlet, who could be a future Ballon D’or winner if his form from the latter stages of 2012 continues. That man is Stephan El Shaarawy.

Recognised by his rather distinctive hairstyle, El Sharaawy is hardly a household name in these parts. However those with real football intellect and scouting capabilities on FIFA 2013 will acknowledge that Italy and AC Milan have a real gem within their ranks. The 20 year old starlet made the move from Genoa in the transfer window last season and was used as a sporadic asset to AC Milan’s side in his first season.

With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Robinho and Alexandre Pato all ahead of him in the pecking order, last year was not the greatest plateau for the Egyptian-Italian to exert himself in Italy’s premier league. However with the departures of Ibrahimovich and on-going injuries to Pato, El Shawaary has now found himself becoming the focal point of AC Milan’s attack.

Playing as an inside forward, a role likened to Cristiano Ronaldo, the Pharaoh, as called by fans in Italy has found himself playing with far more freedom and less defensive responsibility. With this he has so far produced a great feat of scoring 14 goals in 21 appearances so far this season, a feat only bettered by Edinson Cavani in the league scoring charts.

As well as his goal scoring abilities this season he has continued to show flashes of brilliance through his exceptional dribbling and his knack of picking out a key pass. He has all the qualities to be the leader of his generation and at the age of 20 is well on course to being the breakout star of the 2012-2013 campaign.

Yes there is a long way to go in this season and AC Milan has been anything but great this year, they will most likely struggle to qualify for next seasons Champions League, but El Shaarawy’s exploits this season should have AC Milan feeling optimistic for many years to come.

Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)

Fulham’s Transfer Window 2013 An Update

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With just nine days left of the transfer window Fulham find themselves in an even worse position than when I described this transfer window as vital. There have been more points dropped and little sign of improvement in January with shouts for Jol’s head getting louder, pair this with absolutely no reinforcements joining the paper-thin squad and the relegation battle we all fear is becoming a growing concern for all in SW6.

It’s not like there hasn’t been encouraging sounds emanating from the club with Jol stating he has money and recognises the need for signings to replace the vital players he lost back in August, Dembele and Dempsey haven’t been replaced and Fulham have clearly suffered. Despite their being positive noises from Jol not one player has put pen to paper this month which leads me to ask two questions, do we have the money? And do we trust Jol with it?

Let me deal with the question do we have money? Yes. I do believe there to be money in our war chest, there simply has to be. The sales over the summer and the release of many of the clubs higher earners should have left large sums of money for transfers. Fulham should have made a fair profit in the summers window from the sales of Dembele and Dempsey. Losing Etuhu, Johnson and Murphy from the wage bill must have helped also. I estimate that our kitty has around £17million, without goings of around £8.5million for Richardson and Berbatov and money made from sales roughly being £25.5million. So whilst there appears to be money none has been spent yet, there are two possible explanations for this, the first being any spare money at the club is being used in the costly but beautiful redevelopment of the Riverside stand. The second is a more sinister theory Jol is simply not trusted.

A growing number including myself have begun to grow distrustful of Jol and his methods and want the man whose contract expires in the summer to go sooner, this though is another issue for another post which I’m sure I’ll get around to. It appears also the club, not just the fans, are beginning to doubt the Dutchman. As he is out of contract in the summer it appears the club do not want to give him anymore money which could be used for the next manager and also put to better use than by Jol who has built at best an unbalanced squad and at worst a team of number 9’s.

Regardless of if we do or do not have money, signings are vital and like every club we have been linked with our fair share of players. Ones that have been confirmed are Derek Boateng and Tom Huddlestone. Taking the latter talk has gone very quiet of this signing since Jol declared an interest, my theory being Huddlestone will remain at Spurs due to the injury of Sandro. The other player Derek Boateng, looked a done deal earlier in the month, just like in the summer, the prospect of seeing the Ghanaian in SW6 now looks slim. The danger with the Boateng transfer is that its taking an age to complete and may fall through and as he is the only name that has been linked its worrying that we may have placed all our eggs in one basket with no back up plan for the gap in the squad most in need of plugging.

The two mentioned have been the only concrete transfer targets this month which is worrying but there has as usual been plenty of paper talk. Linked heavily have been Jack Butland and Paul Robinson but even more strongly linked has been Maarten Stekelenburg. Also supposedly on our radar have been M’Vila, Darren Bent and Will Hughes.

Despite being linked with some very promising names I am in no way hopeful of this being the resounding transfer window success I hoped it would be. I can see Boateng signing but beyond him I can see it being a traditional end of the window for Fulham with low quality squad fillers coming in on loan or for a nominal fee not the big star names we need.

Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)

Arsenal Need Cavani

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Ok it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that Arsene Wenger needs to make some signings fast, real fast. His team lack the credentials to be anything less than Europa League hopefuls, that would be good for some clubs, but the standards of Arsene and the Gooners are that much greater. I have recently spoken about my defence of Arsene and how I feel he is the right man for the job and nothing has really changed since.

He still has enough knowledge of the game to guide Arsenal to the summit of the Premier League once again. He has one of the brightest young prospects in European football in Jack Wilshere and has some decent players around him to help the Gunners to progress. But that just isn’t enough.

They need names, well one big name to send fear into the opposition. Giroud is a decent player but if I was a manager I would feel happy to pair my new centre backs against him, he just doesn’t put fear in me, this coming from a Non-Arsenal supporter of course.

Recently I have been reading of Arsenal’s interest in Napoli’s Edinson Cavani. This signing would be nothing more than a much needed revelation at the Emirates. He is prolific, strong, quick and screams fear. Possibly one of the best out and out number 9’s in world football at the moment. His value has been reported as £35m which isn’t a bad sum considering some of the audacious fees being floated around by Arab owners in some quarters.

Theo Walcott may feel disheartened if this signing comes to fruition after putting pen to paper on a new deal after much deliberation and getting the green light in playing as a striker. However a player like Cavani can only help Walcott’s progression, who still appears to be a slow learner of the game, however still effective.

The potential acquisition of Cavani should enable the more creative forces of Wilshere and Carzorla to finally find a striker who can finish off chances endlessly. Again not discrediting Oliver Giroud but with RVP banging in the goals left right and centre in the other end of the country, to remind fans of what they are missing, Arsenal really do need some firepower to bolster their quest for Champions League football next year and you won’t get much better than Edinson Cavani.

Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)

Arsenal’s Losses

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As Arsenal currently sit 6th in the Premier League, with yet another loss this time to fellow contenders Chelsea I’m just not impressed. I’ve finally reached my breaking point. Teams like Swansea and local rivals Tottenham Hotspurs have taken Arsenal’s game and beaten us at it. It would seem even Liverpool are now the epitome of what Arsenal once stood for. Brendan Rodgers has adopted Arsene Wenger’s philosophy of fast-paced flowing football with a youthful squad.

Since David Dein’s departure in 2007 Arsenal have never looked the same. The Arsenal board, players and coaching staff haven’t had the same belief. The day that David Dein left was the most significant day in Arsenal’s recent history and saw the demise of one of Europe’s strongest footballing empires.

To me, that day ultimately lead to us losing Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor in 2009 to the then growing force that is now the Premier League champions. Two seasons later we lost influential players again in Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy to Barcelona and Manchester City, respectively. Then the following season we saw our two best players, in Robin Van Persie and Alexandre Song, follow suit to the exact same regions.

It didn’t hurt so much for me to see then captain Fabregas going back to Barcelona as to me this was inevitable his heart was forever at his childhood club. I was still consoling myself with the idea that we’d still have Nasri who was more than capable of stepping up to the midfield maestro role. Then he left!

But when RVP left, our leader and by far the best player sold to our fiercest rivals Manchester United, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He was the catalyst behind Arsenal clawing their way back to Champions League football.

It is approaching Arsenal’s eighth year failing to win silverware and it seems to sit quite alright with Arsenal’s board. Since Arsenal moved from Highbury Stadium to the Emirates in 2006 the trophy cabinet is empty.

There has been a growing trend at Arsenal of selling our best players towards the end of their contracts to make a profit. Although these are the crucial components, the building blocks even, that Arsenal need to keep just to stay afloat and challenge the biggest team.

This repeat factor of Arsenal leaving it till the last to get players to sign contracts is something I fail to understand. Yet it was this that made Theo Walcott signing a new three-and-a-half year contract such big news. It seems that Theo is as valuable as our previous number 14, Thierry Henry.

It scares me how the British media are now overrating Jack Wilshere in arguably the weakest Arsenal side in seasons. He’s my favourite player in the team but the British media could be Wilshere’s downfall just like it has been for so many at Arsenal. Andrei Arshavin and Thomas Vermaelen to name a few.

There are too many undeserving players in the side. A past-his-best Bacary Sagna, an injury prone Abou Diaby and then you have Aaron Ramsey and Gervinho. And if I’m being critical I have to say that even the man we call “Santi Claus” just doesn’t produce enough for me, easily getting marked out of games and giving the ball away cheaply with sloppy passes.

The optimism I had in previous season’s just isn’t there anymore and as much as I’d like to support Arsenal and Arsene Wenger all the stress that they give me is beginning to take its toll on my health.

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)