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Blog - ESPN FC United

 By Ian Darke

Assessing the Premier League so far: Ian Darke's midterm report cards

As Manchester United opened up their 'war chest' in the summer with the signings of Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Radamel Falcao and Marcos Rojo, will United do the same again this January?

At the half way point of the Premier League campaign the picture is starting to fall into sharper focus. The January transfer window may change the prospects of some teams but this is what the teacher's report card might say so far:

Chelsea: Top of the class at Christmas and deservedly so. Hard to find fault with a team that has the perfect blend of silk and steel as well as the Mourinho factor, though you would worry about how any long-term injury to Diego Costa, Eden Hazard or Cesc Fabregas...

 By Ian Darke

An eyewitness account: Brazil's humiliation, Germany's World Cup

It's still mind-blowing that Brazil collapsed in the manner they did vs. Germany.
Brazil entered their World Cup semifinal as underdogs, but nobody expected what followed.

2014 will be remembered for many things in the football world, but there can be few more abiding memories than a truly remarkable World Cup semifinal between Germany and Brazil on July 8 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Ian Darke, who commentated the game for ESPN, looks back on what he considers to have been "one of the most surreal experiences" he has ever had during his career.

"Brazil 1, Germany 7. Do not adjust your television set. That score line is right."

Those were the words with which this...

Heroes and Villains: Arsenal show some grit, Roberto Martinez in trouble

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno explains Arsenal supporters should be asking for their club to win the league, and Shaka Hislop agrees that Arsenal need to address their defensive midfield issues in order to press for a title.

Arsenal were the only member of the current top six to win this weekend, but is it a conspiracy against Chelsea? Jose Mourinho thinks so. Welcome to the latest edition of Iain Macintosh's Heroes and Villains...

HEROES

Writing Burnley off is proving to be a hazardous pastime. Manager Sean Dyche, quite at odds with his contemporaries, chose not to moan about the fixture pile-up, picked exactly the same XI that performed so well in the narrow 1-0 defeat against Liverpool two days ago and subsequently...

Premier League Team of the Weekend, Dec. 28

ESPN FC analyst Craig Burley discusses Manchester City's inability to close the gap at the top, while Arsenal were able to close in on the top four with a win at West Ham.

After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Our panel of experts carefully select 11 star performers along with a manager.

Do you agree or disagree? You can have your say on those picked or overlooked in the comments section at the foot of the article or on Twitter using the hashtag #TOTW. Plus, tune in to Monday's "ESPN FC" (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for more reaction.

ESPN FC's Team of the Weekend.
ESPN FC's Team of the Weekend

Goalkeeper: Hands up -- who had the early kickoff down for a stalemate? Tottenham and...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

#FCtalkingpoints: Prem title, Bale or De Gea, Balotelli, sack race, diving

Cesc Fabregas was yellow carded for simulation in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Southampton, but did he actually dive?

Football always inspires debate, and this weekend was no exception. Here are five burning questions on the ESPN FC radar.

Vote and comment below or on Twitter using the hashtag #FCtalkingpoints.

It might be hard to believe, but the Premier League is already at the halfway point. After Chelsea looked like early runaway winners, the two teams from Manchester have shown some life and are sitting in second, City, and third, United, respectively. 

Who will win the Premier League?

Jose Mourinho has suggested more than once this...

 By Nick Miller

Brendan Rodgers' management of Mario Balotelli has backfired

The ESPN FC crew discuss which Premier League players need to improve.

"There is no question over his talent -- I have played with him and I know how good he is and how good he can be. It is the job of the Liverpool coach to manage him in the right way. He needs to be loved, he needs direction, but most importantly, he needs to know that the coach believes in him."

-- Andrea Pirlo on Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli spent Boxing Day afternoon on the bench at Turf Moor, as his Liverpool team huffed, puffed and scuffled their way to a 1-0 win over Burnley. And according...