Wow, a great Saturday of soccer is nearly in the books….at least for the games we previewed.
Fulham just lost to Arsenal 1-0. Fulham played Arsenal pretty much even throughout the entire match and it was a Robin Van Persie first touch and shot in the 52nd–that the announcer called “delicious,” loved that–that was the difference.
I kept watching the central defense of Fulham and wondering what could have been for the USMNT if Brede Hangeland had favored the U.S. over Norway. After a shaky first ten minutes, Hangeland was super solid in the middle.
Loved Fulham skipper Roy Hodgson’s strategy. Hodgson had his charges challenging and trapping Arsenal way up the pitch, above the halfline, forcing them to go over the top and challenge Hangeland, Konchesky and the defense in the air as oppose to build momentum through linking passes through the middle. Fulham mastered that strategy in the first, however tired in the 2nd which started to see more combinations from Arsenal.
In conjunction with Hodgson’s wishes, strikers Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson and very forward wingers Clint Deuceman and Zoltan Gera (who came on for Damian Duff) and chief middie Danny Murphy played extremely strong front checking forward and shutting down passing lanes. Johnson was particularly strong today. If it were not for Cesc Fabregas’s creativity, Arsenal would have had much less going on in the 1st half for sure.
I’m trying to figure out how Emirates Nicholas Bendtner can justify a sleeve tattoo when he’s such a whiner and wuss. C’mon Bendtner, this is the EPL, not La Liga buddy, suck it up.
Our favorite Clint Dempsey was active and showed again how he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He scissored a knock-on goal early on that by all rights should have been a goal. For USMNT, Dempsey made a passionate charge down the left flank in the 92nd minute as Fulham pressured to even. That is all I will comment.
It might have taken 4 decades, 3 years, 4 months…and whatever else, but my good friend Chris can finally break out his Tomas Rosicky jersey. Rosicky, the oh-so-oft-injured midfielder, made his 2nd straight EPL sub appearance in a row for Arsenal after coming on against Wigan last week. Rosicky has a knack for being cool on the ball even when in traffic and he produced a number of passes to start Arsenal counterattacks after his arrival on te pitch.
USMNT fans, you might remember Rosicky as the assassin that turned a 1-0 Czech lead into a 3-0 Czech demolition of Americans in their first group game in WC 2006.
Liverpool made Hull City look childish in their 6-1 dismantling of the Tigers. While an early Geovanni tally matched the score at 1-1. The day belonged to Fernando Torres…again…as the Spaniard was clinical in his trifecta. He is the best striker in the EPL bar none. You take him away from Liverpool and they are not nearly as menacing up front. As we Twittered early, JZA would have been wise to fixate on Torres as he watched from the bench. Jozy entered in the 83rd, but by that time Hull was beat down and having difficulty just clearing their box.
If you watched this game, you can clearly see that Phil Brown deserves to stay on as coach. It was evident from the opening minutes that his talent was shockingly deficient compared to Liverpool, yet the team played hard throughout and we’re a victim of coming up against more and better athletes.
Steven Gerrard had an “only Steven Gerrard goal.” We’ll try to find it and post it.
Alberto Riera abused the right flank of Hull’s defense–there is no better word his work on the wing today.
Liverpool’s Andrei Vironin either looks like a American Revolution Minuteman or a porn star. I haven’t decided yet, and that’s about all from this one.
We didn’t preview the USMNT U-20 squad game against German, and that’s probably a good thing–since the Americans fell hard 3-0. We don’t get to see enough of the player regularly so it’s hard to comment on them. That’s being said, here are a few nuggets:
Defender Ike Opara and forward Brek Shea did really nothing to earn the promotion that their haircuts have gotten them leading up to this tournament. Shea had a few nice touches, but the cameras often caught him yelling, not talking with teammates. Opara, as I commented in another piece, looked like he prepared for college talent–looking extremely guilty on fouls and not finishing some tackles.
Tony Taylor who I had not watched before was the root of most of the U.S. chances and was probably the only U.S. player with enough speed and offensive moves to really challenge Germany.
I thought the U.S. looked highly disorganized, but I didn’t really expect anything.
As TSG reader Antonio pointed out, Dilly Duka came on for 15 minutes and looked Feilhaberian in his command of the ball.
I actually got up for the Everton 1-0 win this morning. Once I got past their nightclub-attire jerseys, I saw a team that’s got a lot of potential. The announcers were saying that Everton is rolling, but I would say that they still do not have the offensive consistency that they’ll need throughout the season; just 1-0 to Portsmouth. In other news, Tim Howard had his customary two or three game-saving punches.
While we were off on suggesting that Fulham could draw or win today and further off in suggesting a Chelsea domination of Wigan, at least we got the key player right. Hugo Rodallega was the difference maker as Wigan beat the Blues 3-1. Rodallego won a penalty early in the 2nd that also saw Chelsea’s Petr Cech sent off.