TSG has been going full blast as we doctor up Operation schematics, cover the USMNT, prep our March Boarding Passes for the US Roster for South Africa, and get ready to unveil our Brian Ching Big Aloha shirt (coming soon).
In that vain, we asked some regular contributors to weigh in this week and help contribute to our weekend column. This roundtable’s theme: “England & You.”
First some introductions:
He’s a contributor to many a publication online, including EPL Talk and the San Diego Examiner, welcome SD resident Richard Farley.
Hailing from San Luis Obispo, the same school that brought you current Everton reserve starter Anton Peterlin, is Matt “Biggy” Biggerstaff. He writes–occasionally at ConstantlyOffsides.com–and sporadically is a good thing as he is gainfully employed by a friend of mine.
Our 3rd guest is Boston soccer man Patrick, a frequent column contributor who always keeps us in the know. Thanks Patrick. He also helped pen one of our most popular pieces: “What is American Brand Soccer?”
From Die Hipster Brewing, the guys who brought you Eddie Gaven Pale Ale and will soon bring you a commemorative Jimmy Conrad brew, welcome Scott Riley. By the way, Dax II (Pale Ale) is out…email those guys if you are interested.
And bringing up the rear as always, I’ll contribute a few little bullets here and there.
Disclaimer: Most views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, The Shin Guardian….unless you think they’re really good.
Away we go:
Which one USMNT player would you like to see in the EPL specifically, playing to improve his abilities come World Cup 2010 who is not currently over there?
Richard: Tossing out players who are too old and discarding players who would not see time in the EPL, Michael Bradley might be the choice, though he’s already in a major league. There would be a whole new set of challenges if Bradley went to (say) Wigan, played for Roberto Martínez, and was coupled with Hendry Thomas. I’m not sure there’s a logical choice amongst the other 50-or-so players in the set-up.
Biggy, CO: At this point, no one. As seen by Holden, unless a starting lineup spot is a lock, a move is a precarious move to make. Currently I’d much rather have everyone playing with their respective sides, with the emphasis on playing. Hypothetically speaking, Robbie Findley.
Riley, DHB: Does Danny Szetela exist? Are we flush with medium size fast dudes? If we are cultivating central defenders, Omar Gonzales from LA seems like he’s got the size and athleticism to compete. We also need a pure striker but there is isn’t one that comes to mind that is appropriate for the EPL. We can keep an eye on this Luis Gil guy for RSL as well. (Editor’s note: Hey Riles, you just stole two lines from our March Boarding Pass piece…thanks a lot.)
Matthew, TSG: Honestly, I’d love to see one King of Honduras Jonathan Bornstein man a flank at Emirates with a very offensive team around him. He’s in that Bacary Sagna/Ashley Cole mold in my mind and seems like a Wenger type.
(Saturday) This weekend, Chelsea v. Manchester City….does City have a shot in this one?
Patrick: Every time I look at City’s roster I shake my head — based on that talent they simply should be putting a better product on the pitch. I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat any team in the Premiership, but with Chelsea hungry to get back on track after their setback at Everton, I’d be surprised if this was the week City knocked off a Big Four team.
Richard: Yes, though tactically, it’s difficult to see a plan Mancini can employ to break down Chelsea’s defense. The aerial threats of Lescott and Adebayor will test Chelsea’s set piece defending. If Tévez returns, City has their magic man. A Chelsea team missing Cole, Bosingwa, and Essien will be stretched by Wednesday’s trip to Italy. I have trouble imagining Chelsea losing this match, but there are a lot of reasons to believe I lack imagination.
Biggy, CO: Yes, without a doubt. Chelsea has been quite inconsistent, and if Tevez is back, watch out. He has been a beast, and City seems to get up for the big ones, and not much else.
Riley, DHB: Not a chance. Getting dumped by Stoke in the FA cup versus losing to Inter Milan in the CL are two very different things. Chelsea’s rebound anger vs Citeh’s? Advantage: Chelsea. Wild card: Does Caveman Anthony Kiedis show up? Does he want to eat our babies?
(Good thing we put that disclaimer in above because I have no idea what those last questions mean….oh wait…I think he means this..)
USMNT: Having not gotten on the pitch for the senior side (until Wednesday), did Stu Holden make the right move before the World Cup?
Riley, DHB: I’m writing this after it looks like he went 90 against Spurs (mixed feelings about him not scoring there :)). According to Sky, he was the users’ highest-rated Bolton player. With Bolton probably having to make serious changes to stay out of relegation, we may get more Stu. Right move Europe? Yes. Right move Bolton? He’s in a great spot to let us know based on their situation and Bolton’s game moving away from pure physicality to a bit more attractive football.
Patrick: Holden isn’t Donovan, so expecting him to make an immediate impact at Bolton is overly optimistic. Coyles still believes in him, so let’s give him some time before getting concerned. Personally, I think his development for the 2014 cycle is most important, and that moving to the EPL is the best possible move for a player with his style and skillset.
Richard: Yes. Long run, this should make Holden and the USMNT better, though for 2010 it might set him back. Hopefully, the plan for South Africa will not require significant contributions from Stu.
Coyle acquired Weiss and Wilshire. With them, it’s difficult to see Holden getting meaningful playing time, particularly since each of Bolton’s remaining matches will be important. In terms of his career, Stuart had no real choice. Coyle has liked him for some time and was willing to pave his path into the Premiership. I’m not sure that opportunity would have always been there, and with the issue surrounding MLS, this was the best option – short and long-term.
Matthew, TSG: My problem here is the glut of midfielders and whether or not Stu knew that was the case before signing. That being said, I think Stu has the talent and the moxie to succeed this year….and I think he’ll be playing a lot on the senior side even this year.
Biggy, CO: Yes. This move is about a lot more than just WC2010 for him. He needed to head abroad and it will pay off in the World Cup, it just might not be until 2014. As important as play time is, considering the MLS would just be ramping up in the next couple months and the possible (#*$%^ forbid) MLS strike, he isn’t missing a ton stateside. His destination might have worked out better but it happens.
(Sunday) Carling Cup Final: Does Aston Villa have a shot against Manchester United? Will they go with Brad Guzan who got them there or go back to first team keeper Brad Friedel for the final?
Biggy: Villa has been my favorite team to watch this year outside of Arsenal and not only do they have a chance, but at the right price I would wager money on them to win. Their offense is very dynamic and United can be beaten by just about anyone. I see Friedel starting most likely just based on the fact that it is for some hardware, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was Guzan.
Richard: Absolutely. Villa’s taken four points from United and has the defense to neutralize Rooney. It’s unclear United can find goals on Rooney’s off days (see, Saturday, Goodison). Villa has the strength on the flanks to match United, potentially using Downing or Young to pin Valencia.
O’Neill switched to Friedel in the last round of the FA Cup. I think O’Neill does the same here. Penalty kicks? Friedel versus whomever gets Ben Foster’s iPod.
Patrick: I think the Villains have a lot of respect for Brad Guzan, respect he’s earned throughout the cup and even earlier this season in Italy where he led them to a great win in the Peace Cup. Friedel has his plate full with Villa’s pursuit of fourth place, so look for Martin O’Neil to stick with Guzan. As for the game’s result, is anyone willing to bet against Wayne Rooney given his recent run of form?
Riley, DHB: Aston Villa has a shot, even though I’m not as high on them as I was earlier in the season. If O’Neill agrees with me, he might want to take the best shot at hardware versus banking on a 4th place EPL finish. If that’s the case, he goes with Friedel and Guzan cries his way to the Newcastle starting 11. Unless Brad learns the Ohio/British accent soon, he may not want to wait for Friedel to retire (guessing he’s already in the know on that issue).
What’s something else you’re looking for in the EPL this weekend?
Patrick: Tottenham/Everton. The Premiership’s hottest team are taking on a club fighting tooth and nail to maintain a top four position in the table. A win by either team could say a lot about how the table will shape up this year.
Richard: I suppose you have to look at the bottom of the table this weekend, no? Bolton hosting Wolves and Portsmouth going to Burnley. If the hosts don’t get three points in these matches, what hopes do they have for winning their relegation battles?
Those matches, plus Arsenal going to the Brittania. It’s possible Chelsea only gets one from City. If so, Arsenal can move to within four, provided they avoid replicating their FA Cup result.
Riley, DHB: Spurs/Everton! Everton are on fire and Spurs figured out that benching Crouchy results in less long-ball and these things called ‘goals’ from a suddenly happy Pavlyuchenko. My dream (and Fantasy Premier League) scenario: 4-3 Spurs. Defoe and Modric each with two (assisting each other of course) and Donovan has a hat-trick. Is that too much to ask? Also, anyone think that the FSC programmer is a Spurs fan? Can’t believe how many games they’ve shown this season. Wife is less than stoked.
Biggy: Will Holden see the pitch is really the main focus along with Spurs v Everton, which has to be the game of the week. An offensive battle, to say the least, Tottenham doesn’t even usually pretend to play D. Should be a good one.