Crisis? What crisis? Left for dead a week ago, Liverpool FC emerged from the ashes to knock the Premier League's best teams out of both domestic cups. LFC showed great strength in adversity, and that characteristic can take a club a long way toward reaching its goals.
The Reds are poised to ride the wave of momentum created by the Carling Cup semifinal victory over league leader Manchester City, and the FA Cup fourth-round win over Manchester United. A fit and rested Luis Suarez is set to return to action next week. And big games are on the horizon in the days, weeks and months ahead. Watch out for Liverpool. That's all I'm trying to say. Now let's get on to the questions.
Are you following the African Cup of Nations? Who do you think will win it?
— Eddie, Oakland, Calif.
Hi, Eddie. I'm a big fan of the African Cup of Nations and have been following the results. But I haven't managed to catch any of the games. Believe it or not, writing about soccer every day leaves little time for actually watching soccer. I'll be sure to tune in when the knockout rounds begin next week.
I'm still trying to get my head around how Senegal crashed out of a group it was predicted to easily top. I'm not sure what the story is, but egos and a lack of chemistry certainly played a role. It always does.
As for the winner, I'd have to go with either Ghana or Ivory Coast. They are the two top nations in African soccer at the moment, and have fared well in the group stages so far. I'd love to see these two teams meet in the final. I think many neutrals would agree.
If these two teams contest a dream final, I'd have to go with Ghana. Ivory Coast may have been at its strongest 18-24 months ago. Ghana's Black Stars are in the ascendancy and will be looking to win their first ACN crown since 1982. Thanks for the question, Eddie.
Who was your role model?
— Juan Manuel Aponte
Hello, Juan. I always like these types of questions. Personally, I have a number of role models, but none bigger than my mother and older brother. My mother has achieved so much in her life, and fought and sacrificed for every bit of it. She inspires me every day. My older brother simply paved the way for me. He's two years older, so I pretty much did everything he did, growing up. I still use him as a model for how to go about my business.
Professionally, I have many models and influences, but I've got to tip my hat to Seamus Malin on this one. Now retired, he's "the godfather" of American soccer television personalities, calling games for audiences in this country for over four decades. He was deservedly inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005. We were colleagues for a brief period over a decade ago, and I learned a lot about how to watch, write, talk and think about the beautiful game from him.
What's up with Carlitos Tevez? Is he going to one of the Milan clubs? I hear he's headed back to Manchester. Is this true?
— Paulo Braga, New Bedford, Mass.
Paulo, just when I thought this story couldn't get any stranger it did. According to the latest reports, Tevez looks set to end his nearly three-month long strike and return to Manchester City. There were long and drawn-out negotiations about a possible move to AC Milan, Inter Milan or Paris Saint-Germain, but it doesn't look like he will move before the transfer window closes at midnight on Tuesday.
If and when Tevez returns to City, it will certainly cause unrest in the dressing room. The Argentine abandoned his teammates because of his sour relationship with manager Roberto Mancini, and I have no idea how he will make that right with them (or supporters).
The reports also say he will train and play with the reserves, but I have a feeling that may not be the case. City is short of attacking options — Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero are less than 100 percent fit — and last season's joint-top scorer in the Premier League (Tevez) could help the club in a time of need. I have a feeling he'll return to first-team action sooner, rather than later. We'll keep a close eye on this saga. Thanks, for the question and local support, Paulo.
After losing to Manchester city, does Tottenham have a chance to win the league title. And who if anyone will they make a move for in January?
— John Pappanikou, Waterbury, Conn
Hello, John. Spurs' 3-2 loss to Manchester City last week was a real blow to Tottenham's title charge. It's too early to say it was a fatal one, but Spurs' title hopes were significantly reduced. There's no denying that.
I'm not sure who they will make a move for in January, as much of the transfer talk has surrounded players leaving the club. Roman Pavlyuchenko and Gio Dos Santos want out. Jermain Defoe, Niko Kranjcar and Steven Pienaar want to play more than they do, and could push for transfers this week. And Arsenal could launch a sensational raid on Gareth Bale (just kidding).
Spurs will look to add another striker to its ranks before the transfer window closes. They have been linked to a number of goal scorers, including Marseille's Loic Remy. But it's unlikely the North London club will add any big names between now and Feb. 1. Thanks for the question, John.
Who in your opinion is the best all around player in soccer right now if you had to pick, and why?
— Derrick Cabral
Hi, Derrick. I'll play it safe and go with Lionel Messi. At 24 years old, the Barcelona and Argentina star has won more individual and team honors than I care to count. He is nothing short of a phenomenon, and players like him come around once in a generation.
There are plenty of good ones out there, and even a few greats. But Messi is a legend. His name will ring out 100 years from now. Consider yourself lucky that you had a chance to see him. Thanks, Derrick.
Who is your favorite player?
— Robin Sherry Fernald
Hello, Robin. I have a favorite player. I really do. But I won't tell you who it is. I can say it's someone that I have written about on NESN.com and will certainly write more about that player going forward. If you want to dig through my crates and sift through stories, you may be able to figure it out.
When he or she retires, I will reveal his or her identity. Sorry to be coy, but I do that sometimes. Take care Robin and thanks for the question.
That's all for this week. As always, thanks for the questions and keep them coming.
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