ProSoccerTalk daily soccer re-set

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What we’re thinking, what we’re watching, what’s coming on the blog today and the RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day). Setting up your day in soccer:

Soccer Birthdays:

Normally we honor individuals, but today’s big birthday is actually an anniversary (a birthday for inanimate or imaginary things).

One hundred fifty-two years ago today, the first ever game between clubs took place at the oldest ground in the world – Sandygate Road in Sheffield, England. That’s where Sheffield F.C. played host to Hallum F.C. on what was undoubtedly a frozen and soggy South Yorkshire pitch. Somebody’s boss left them a ball for Boxing Day, and without ProSoccerTalk and four tiers of league soccer to occupy their holiday, the restless of Sheffield took to the field.

Actually, the game wasn’t quite that random. Until 1860, Sheffield Football Club had only played against itself, but when Hallum complemented its cricket club with a soccer team, the stage was set for the first intra-club match. England’s day-after-Christmas holiday was the perfect day. With no offsides but the innovation of free kicks for fouls put in action, Sheffield won a match said to more resemble Australian Rules than Association football.

Today, Hallum sit at the ninth level England’s pyramid. Sheffield F.C. sits one level above in the Division One of the Northern Premier League South.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day:

Jason Moore

Ahead on the blog today … Big Important Story of the Day … AND What you should watch on TV:

Expect a lot of Boxing Day coverage. Save West Ham and Arsenal, who had their match postponed (“proposed industrial action” being our euphemism of the month), the rest of England’s Premier League is in action, as is the entire Football League. Check out our snapshots of the Premier League games here.

We’ll also get you caught up on the stories leftover from the holidays. Between Christmas Eve and Day, we’ve all been away for a while.

Background noise while blogging:

It’s amazing how fast you can get through South Park when you just roll through the episodes. Without commercials, each show’s only 21 minutes long. With 14 episodes per season, it’s pretty easy to blow through a couple of seasons per day … when you have nothing to do but ride a keyboard all day long.

Another amazing thing about South Park: the show’s evolution. You can’t be around for 15-16 years without evolving, but at the beginning, the shock value of the toilet humor was a more central part of the show. Now, the bawdy stuff just breaks up the satire. Which is good.

Twitter daps:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JozyAltidore/status/282569186385989635] [tweet https://twitter.com/GeoffCameron/status/283241309576257536] [tweet https://twitter.com/stuholden/status/283374458473963520] [tweet https://twitter.com/alexmorgan13/status/283765354600222720] [tweet https://twitter.com/laurencheney8/status/283668536583409664]

The picture in Cheney’s tweet:

Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.