1. Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) – click the arrow above, right, to see the combined XI based on current form and fitness – Asmir Begovic has been one of few players at Chelsea whose performances and commitment hasn’t been called into question. However, with the Blues leaking so many goals and Mignolet having kept four clean sheets, this decision was simple. 11 11 11 2. Right back: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) – Branislav Ivanovic was one of the first names to make it into last year’s Premier League team of the season; what a contrast this campaign has been for the Serb. Nathaniel Clyne has easily brushed Ivanovic aside to make our combined XI, despite having not yet hit top form for the Reds. 11 11 6. Centre midfield: Ramires (Chelsea) – As much as this position should be commanded by Cesc Fabregas or Nemanja Matic, the pair simply haven’t been performing to the standard expected to earn a place. Ramires has been limited in his appearances since the start of the campaign, yet has impressed in Chelsea’s last few games, with Jose Mourinho turning to the Brazilian to divert pressure away from Fabregas and Matic. 9. Attacking midfield: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) – On form, Cesc Fabregas, or even Oscar, may be the favoured option ahead of Coutinho. Right now, however, the Liverpool midfielder is the superior option in the No.10 role. 11 Chelsea host Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, and with just three points separating the sides, it’s anticipated to be a full-blooded encounter.Jose Mourinho has an excellent Premier League record over Liverpool, while Jurgen Klopp boasts the better of the head-to-head results with the Portuguese manager – so this is an incredibly challenging fixture to call.CHELSEA VS LIVERPOOL: FIVE KEY BATTLES THAT COULD PROVE CRUCIALAnd to increase excitement ahead of the 12.45pm kick off, we’ve put together a combined XI.This was no easy task given a number of big-name players from both sides are suffering for form and fitness – does Eden Hazard make it? Cesc Fabregas? Philippe Coutinho?To find out our selection, click the yellow arrow above, right. 11 11 11 11. Striker: Christian Benteke (Liverpool) – This was one of the toughest battles, with Diego Costa difficult to leave out. However, Benteke, despite his fitness concerns, has been the more threatening in front of goal. The question is, will he start against Chelsea? 10. Left wing: Willian (Chelsea) – In May, it would have been unfathomable to imagine PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard missing out on a place to any other player in the Premier League. However, with the performances of the Belgian having been described by some as ‘pathetic’, he hasn’t earned a spot. Willian still has much to prove, with his defensive work poor, but he has been a rare spark for Chelsea in the final third. 11 5. Left back: Cesar Azplicueta (Chelsea) – Jose Mourinho has retained faith in Azpilicueta this season, with the left back one of few that hasn’t been dropped by the Portuguese manager. The Spaniard is far superior in his defensive capabilities than compatriot and Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno. 11 8. Right wing: James Milner (Liverpool) – Milner has settled into life quickly at Liverpool, becoming one of the first names on the Reds’ team sheet. While he favours a central role, as he proved at Manchester City, he is at his most influential in a wider midfield position – and Jurgen Klopp seems to have quickly taken this view. 4. Centre back: Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool) – Sakho has been excellent for Liverpool this season and is expected to only improve under new manager Jurgen Klopp. Skrtel has been a clear weak link at the back for the Reds, and Sakho is quickly outshining the performances of his defensive partner. 3. Centre back: Kurt Zouma (Chelsea) – With Gary Cahill, John Terry and Martin Skrtel to contend with, this was no simple choice. Zouma, however, has grasped his opportunity in Chelsea’s first-team with both hands, not shying away from the pressure in west London at present, and thoroughly deserves his place. 7. Centre midfield: Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) – While Emre Can often makes the headlines for his performances in the Liverpool midfield, Lucas’ influence must not be underestimated. The Brazilian is key to the Reds, with his ability to break up the play essential, and was perhaps undervalued by former manager Brendan Rodgers.
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesOctober 20, 2014; NPR, “Parallels”It’s always difficult for an established organization to examine its long-standing tradition and policy. To do so with a large degree of publicity is even more complicated and stressful. The Catholic Church’s recent 2014 Synod on the Family, a meeting of the Church’s bishops held in Rome, demonstrates the opportunities and pitfalls of metaphorically having the world looking over an organization’s shoulder while it’s deliberating. Discussing controversial issues like the role of gay people and gay unions in the Church and the Church’s relationship to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics ensured that every statement and voice inflection would be scrutinized for clues.NPQ has reported on the Vatican’s desire to address the Catholic Church’s teachings related to the family, including an essay-format questionnaire distributed to millions of Catholic leaders and lay people around the world last year. The 2014 “extraordinary general assembly” of the Synod of Bishops was designed as a “working session” to review materials developed to date (including the survey results) and develop a working paper to be prepared for the next regularly scheduled Synod. [Synods are held every two years, with the next scheduled for 2015.]According to a report from the Catholic-oriented news site Aletia.com, the process of drafting both the interim and final report was prone to misunderstanding and incomplete communication. Some bishops objected strongly when the Vatican initially announced that the draft (interim) report would not be made public. The preparation of the draft report used extensive background information not available to synod participants (or the public), and it wasn’t clear that the more than 700 technical changes to the interim report would be ready in time for participants to vote on the final report at the end of the synod last Saturday.In an interview with ABC News, Archbishop Timothy Dolan refers to the 2014 session as an “antipasto synod” designed to “set the table” for an ongoing conversation. Dolan describes Pope Francis’s frequent use of the term “accompaniment” to describe the desired role of the Church in people’s lives. Dolan says the Pope is seeking a middle ground between Church progressives on the one hand who desire to expand the Church’s recognition of nontraditional relationships (same-sex relationships, heterosexual relationships without marriage, and those who have divorced and remarried “outside the Church”) and conservatives (especially African bishops) who champion the Church’s traditional teachings on marriage and family relationships as the basis for understanding God and humanity’s role in the world.Some see the Vatican’s willingness to have a foundational conversation about the family and family relationships as movement away from traditional dogma, while others point to the many paragraphs in the Synod’s final report that reaffirm traditional Catholic tenets. Some point to the demotion of Cardinal Burke as evidence of the disfavor of the Pope for traditionalists, while others see the addition of two traditionalist cardinals to the drafting committee for the Synod’s final report as a sign that the interim draft went too far and correction was needed.For centuries, the Vatican has been known as a place where political intrigue has been raised to an intricate art form. How much of the debate is theater and how much is substantive? Only the insiders know for sure. The conversation, debate, lobbying, and analysis of each viewpoint and pronouncement will continue for some time to come. In a very fundamental way, the purpose of the debate is to influence the viewpoint and actions of one person—Pope Francis—as he leads the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.—Michael WylandShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares read more