Well TSG came roaring back and then some….in our preview of the weekend in the EPL and beyond. After a dismal week before that saw us project an Arsenal-Fulham draw or Fulham win — we knocked down easy ones and tough ones over the harvest moon weekend that are worth further investigation.
Some quick hitters in review:
• Bolton – Tottenham: We thought Tottenham had the look of a contender this year and Saturday proved it as they came back twice to muster a 2-2 draw at Bolton. No Defoe, no Modric, no problem. Well done Hotspur.
• Manchester United – Sunderland: Let’s remind first that Manchester United has always started off the EPL campaigns slow, however they have never looked as lost offensively as they did on Saturday. A 2-2 draw saw Berbatov continue his brightening play (as we suggested), but worse saw Man U utterly confused on offense without quarterback Ryan Giggs.
Per our column a few weeks ago, Paul Scholes is not just looking over-the-hill-of-veteran status, but ancient. His pace and linking were terrible so much so that Fergie brought in Anderson to jump start the second half. The calls for Ribery and perhaps more importantly a dynamic attacking midfielder to spell Giggs (who will surely tire as the season goes on) and pair Fletcher will only grow louder.
One more note, if you’re Fabio Capello how do you not give Darren Bent a chance? It took him some years, but he’s sniper-like with the ball near the goal right now. An absolutely perfect take to break the 0-0 draw early on against the Red Devils. Give him a shot.
• Here’s one we didn’t knock down: The play of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho against Liverpool. In the 2-0 Chelsea win, you had Drogba play likes he’s capable for spurts (which was enough), but you had both Terry and Carvalho turn up the heat and consistently shut down the interior play of Torres and Gerrard. I think you’ll see a different result at Anfield as arguably the entire defense for Chelsea got away with quite a bit of shirt pulling, but for this day Terry and Carvalho were near perfect in front of second teamer Hilario.
While Ashley Cole was only slightly above average in this one, Glen Johnson looked down right immature with his emotions getting the best of him and he attempted offense up the right flank. Johnson’s too good for Benitez not to sit him down and explain to him the rewards of composure–wait Benitez, composure? Okay maybe Stevie G sits him down.
Excellent commentary from Kevin Palmer at ESPN’s Soccernet on the game by the way.
• Well we told you we weren’t believers and now you know why, a 1-1 tie for Everton against Stoke. Next!
• Uh, how come Arsenal are not getting more press? That’s, count’em, four games of four or more goals in the EPL campaign; a 6-2 drubbing of
Blackburn. Oh, and lest we forget some shear luck in them not taking a win a few weeks ago at Old Trafford.
We’ve seen this type of offensive display before, but only in spurts from the likes of Manchester United (with Ronaldo) last year and the year before. We haven’t seen this ratio of offensive output in awhile.
And the Wenger team is young, missing their best striker from last year, and still dealing with a few injuries.
I can’t even count the weapons and varying offensive talent of the litany of Arsenal offenders that they rotate each game.
Rosicky, Walcott, Van Persie, Bendtner, Arshavin, Fabregas, Vela, Eduardo. Not to mention Gallas and Vermaelen coming up on the corner pieces. Good grief, imagine that coming at the USMNT in a game?
Next year, a little more seasoning, their year. And now even Fabregas has committed.