Let’s go in reverse and end with the EPL this time.
We start with non-Gooch Milan news. Each week prior, I think we’ve ended with our Gooch Watch segment. Now’s it Ronaldinho watch.
A midweek report that Ronaldinho might retire early were refuted by the former player of the year. TSG sees a Ronaldo-like revival for the Brazilian….oops that doesn’t bode well.
A Slightly Different World Cup Preview
Murders are down! Burglaries are up! I really don’t know what to say on this one. Good job, Jo-burg?
Less than a year to pitch time in South Africa and crime is on the rise. Killings are down though, so if you can deal with the little stuff like lost items and assault you should be fine.
As someone who has spent time in South Africa, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of deterrent security there that is accepted as a standard way of life. If you’re traveling to RSA for 2010, please make safety a priority. I’m not trying “just to scare you.”
Double the Dos Santos
That’s right. Looking into the future, the USMNT will have to contend with not only striker nightmare Gio Dos Santos from ElTri, but his midfielder brother. Jonathan Dos Santos, all of 19, has been called up for a friendly between Mexico and Columbia slated for Dallas, TX on October 30th. The younger Dos Santos–gasp–is currently on the B team at Barcelona and apparently close to being promoted. Great, just what the USMNT defense needs.
Seems Jay DeMerit’s groin injury has healed, just in time for him to focus on healing his eye. According to Yanks Abroad, DeMerit won’t see the field for the foreseeable as he’s having trouble just seeing out of an eye that he sliced with his contact and became infected. Read the whole story at Yanks-Abroad.
Among the Dress Like the Thugs
While my brother commented last week that the MLS should not strive for thuggish fandom, the exact opposite is occurring across the pond. It seems that questionably colored and patterned track suits are making a comeback in English fashion. The vintage gear, popularized by the kitsch movie The Firm (starring a young Gary Oldman), pitting rival hooligan crews (also called firms) against one another, is getting promoted and purchased all over the UK. Can’t you just see the new breed of Chelsea “fans” buying these threads up at top dollar and wearing them to the game? The Headhunters must be keeling over right now.
Perhaps Bob Bradley knows something we don’t know? Maybe he’s a trendsetter?
To the EPL We Go
• Portsmouth, Everton, ESPN. C’mon Portsmouth?! Everton comes off two very strong performances, including Tuesday’s smash-and-grab job—3 goals in the 1st half–on the way to a 4-0 victory against Hull City. Portsmouth comes in….well they’ll be participating to the best of their ability. A long list of uhh-ohhs for the Fratton Parkers. They’ve recently dealt Nico Kranjcar to Tottenham, their goalie doesn’t want to play for them and it’s only October and the now the bottom of the pack club has already said they’re not going to look to buy in the January transfer window. Fans of Pompey should just commiserate with fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates at this point.
(Friday Update: Apparently it’s even worse for Portsmouth. ESPN Soccernet is reporting the club is in serious risk of heading to administration and needs a major influx of cash. Two notes here: “Administration” is when banks you are owed money “call” for the money and an impartial party comes in to sort out the mess. The ESPN picture has the names reversed in the picture with Storrie being on the left, not the right.)
• How about last week’s derby darlings Man U heading to Stoke to face a very resilient Stoke team? Alas Stoke is without their strike pairing of Ricardo Fuller and the underrated James Beattie.
Still, Sir Alex’s goalie selection should be an interesting one. Stoke played well at home last year and if Ferguson goes with Tomasz Kuszczak (pronounced i-doe-nyet-na-oe) after his solid effort in the Carling Cup Wednesday against Wolverhampton, you might see Ben Foster’s star setting not just for the Red Devils, but the England natties as well.
Three weeks time will surely see 38-year-old Edwin Van Der Saar reclaim his throne.
(Update: Looks like TSG spoke to soon here, Ferguson offered a vote of confidence for Foster this morning.)
• Arsenal, fresh off wiping out Wigan, head to Craven Cottage to face the Dempseys. This will be Fulham’s 2nd challenge of the season after they got pretty much manhandled by Chelsea. Arsenal still have some questions on defense despite the play of import Tom Vermaelen.
That said, I am starting to come around to those that think Vermaelen is the second coming of Nemanja Vidic. Sure, he’s 3 inches shorter but he has been just nasty in the air this year.
Back to the game, if Fulham, specifically Danny Murphy and the Texas Deuceman can maintain some possession in the midfield, this will be a good match. If Fulham is challenged in midfield and offensive possession through the opening 20 minutes or so, look for them to huddle in close to goal and counter attack sporadically.
I think Arsenal has a little bit of let down here this week and comes up against a physical opponent. I can see a 2-1 Fulham win at best and a 1-1 draw at worst.
• Saturday also sees a Jozy visit to Mr. Gerrard’s neighborhood. Hull City’s last line of defense Boaz Myhill has been nothing short of
amazing in goal on the year, but if I’m him on Saturday I’m duct taping myself in a serious amount of bubble wrap. Liverpool looked their strongest in dismantling West Ham last week and to say Hull City’s defense has only been leaky would be like saying Ashley Cole is quite a gentleman.
JZA was rested against Everton, but we’d love to see him in there against the Red’s Jamie Garragher. Garragher has a wealth of experience and technical ability to throw at the American youngster and it will be interesting to see how Jozy deals with it….if given enough opportunities to work with possession.
• Poor Ledley King. We mentioned Owen Hargreaves earlier in the week who again is making headlines for his umpteenth return from injury. However, it is King and his central defending that we think England national side misses out on even with Upson, Terry, Ferdinand and Lescott.
Despite King’s coin flip chance of making the line-up each week, the skill and continued class is obvious. As Tottenham take on lowly Burnley at home this week, you likely won’t see King, but here’s to the talented central defender making his way back…again…quickly.
• We mentioned it a few weeks ago, however is there a classier guy than Frank Lampard on the pitch? While most of the plaudits go to the Anelka-Drogba strike combo and a resurgent Michael Ballack, Lampard has adapted to his role, uttered not a peep as his offensive chances have diminished, and continued to make an impact in the midfield. He is still just as critical to the Blues success. What a great attitude from a great player.
Chelsea travel to Wigan this weekend and look for Lampard and the Blues dominance to continue, regardless of Didier Drogba’s calf. Check out Hugo Rodallega for the home side, a definite up-and-comer with two goals in six games. It’s not quite an Amr Zaki start, but still impressive.
• While Sunday gives you Sunderland-Wolverhampton, Monday sees redemption for ESPN with a decent match-up of the Citizens vs. the Hammers. West Ham, with no wins since opening weekend, got a verbal kick in the ass from top goalkeeper Robert Green who scolded his team’s effort. That type of commentary either lights a fire or induces further malaise, but nothing in the middle.
Thus far in the campaign, the sum of the parts does not equal the individual efforts for West Ham.
Carlton Cole, once the subject of vitriol among fans and pundits, has continued the goal scoring streak that he began last year and looked strong up top.
In the middle of the pitch, Livorno import Alessandro Diamanti looks and plays like Pavel Nedved. The Italian already has six shots on and one goal in less than 120 minutes of collective EPL work. On Tuesday, he followed that up by providing chance after chance as West Ham threatened but didn’t shut the door on Bolton. If that’s not enough, there has been even some positive Keiron Dyer moments lately.
Now they just have to put it all together.
This should be a game with quite a bit of offense and one where West Ham might surprise the Adebayor-less homeside. I’m sensing a 2-1 win for the Hammers…however if the final match of the week ends 5-1 Citizens I wouldn’t be surprised either. Let’s see what Green’s comments do.
And finally, in somewhat irrelevant news, in the Bundestinysanfrancisco League, the San Francisco Black Sox completed their shocking turnaround of a season with a +33 goal differential and 3-2 Championship win last night. The Black Sox boast a former USMNT U-23 player, a few post college standouts, and one very question-mark of a player in yours truly.
We’ll update this post throughout the weekend.