Spanning The Weekend Globe: EPL Go!

Wow, seems too long since we did a spa-spa-spanning the weekend globe.

(You guys liked those computer graphics) Wayne Rooney, folks: Likes to go clubbing rather than fight for country...

We’ve got a full docket of MLS games…and the kickoff to the Wayne Rooney League.

Oh, and not only that, you have Carlos Bocanegra’s St Etienne taking on Charlies Davies’ Sochaux and Maurice Edu kicking off his first potential full season campaign with Rangers.

Let’s get started.

SATURDAY:

EPL

• Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City

The Hairy Redknappers defend their home turf in the early, early game Saturday morning against what we presume will be Manchester City’s “A” team as they still need to pair 35 players (kidding), 2 trainers and 5 chickens from their traveling circus.

Gareth Bale: Can he be transformative...

Will this be the season of Gareth Bale? The Welsh youngster was everyone’s darling in the 2nd half of the EPL campaign last year after finally being healthy.

With the advent of the 4-2-3-1 and teams camping in their own box, a player like Bale–big enough to knock in a header in the box, fast enough to kickoff a counter and sharp enough with his foot to play in service–can be downright spooky and dominant against opponents.

Let’s see how Redknapp has his team mustered here for the first one.

• Aston Villa vs. West Ham

Big Bird Friedel is back...

Brad Friedel between the pipes against for the Villains and Bob Bradley not patrolling the side lines…but this game is still interesting.

Does Young American Eric Lichaj make the 18? We say yes.

Will Carlton Cole continue to be an enigma in a West Ham shirt or will he be dealt? Does the Hammers best offensive weapon, Alessandro Diamanti, finally start this year?

Will Jonathan Spector earn the respect of new coach Avram Grant and the fans?

• Bolton vs. Fulham

Yes folks, for the first time in perhaps forever, you will see a brash and exciting Bolton team. However, can they get off against a notorious stingy Fulham defensive side under new coach Mark Hughes?

Will disgruntled Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer, upset about not being allowed to play at Emirates with Wenger’s crew, be listless or boisterous?

• Blackburn vs. Everton

Rodwell...the future of England?

Does Everton have the best English central midfield? It’s possible.

Media hoopla is abuzz with nationalizing the very Spanish Mikel Arteta who doesn’t sniff his heritage’s nattie team.

His bookend is, however, the very English and very talented Jack Rodwell who is going to put it altogether this year and begin to have the EPL opponents do as he says. (He’s also the inspiration for TSG’s EPL Fantasy name (wait, have you joined?), “Chest Rodwell).

Plus the former and the latter, Everton still boast a capable Tim Cahill and always promising Marouane Fellaini in the middle. Everton are looking pretty inside.

(Update: Can’t resist…need to throw the ‘froman clip in here)

Back to the game, does that Everton central midfield boss Blackburn’s elder midfield at home? Will Jermaine Beckford start up top with Louis Saha in a 4-4-2, or will David Moyes stick with last year’s 4-3-3 revelation?

Elsewhere:

• Sunderland vs. Birmingham

…and so begins The Year of Cameron Jerome. Mark it.

• Wigan vs. Blackpool

Hard for TSG not to root for Blackpool, especially because if any of the Premy newcomers (West Brom, Newcastle, ‘Pool) have a shot earn a victory opening weekend, it’s actually Ian Holloway’s squad on the road.

MLS:

• New York Red Bull vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Henry: Not in Spain, but still running with the Bulls...

What a difference a year makes? A long this time last year, new TSG readers were asking us if we could preview and report on MLS.

One year later, the most exciting game on the docket for the weekend is actually in the domestic league…and TSG is a little more qualified to offer an opinion.

First of all, I expect this to be a statement game–for L.A., and that’s dependent upon Bruce Arena waking up the troops.

The Galaxy just fumbled through a miserable stretch of their season, but what I saw was a team that looked a little tired more than anything else.

The New York Red Bull PATH train is just starting to warm up, but that’s a few big parts to try to integrate on the fly.

A few things on this one:

Juninho...looking for Marquez at every turn...

• Juninho meet Rafa Marquez. Rafa Marquez, Juninho. Odds that Juninho gets a gash, contusion or takes an otherwise hobbling hit in this one from the Mexican Karate Kid? 2 to 1.

• I’m a big believer in Tim Ream’s…potential. After a whole gushing of praise for the youngster earlier this year, I finally got around to seeing Ream play a few games…and I can understand why fans like him…

…but he’s not there yet. He needs to improve his angles and knowing when to attack up the pitch and when to sit back.

• Speaking of backlines, the one thing that will put L.A. at severe risk in this game is a bad spell by its defense. The Galaxy’s defense is given to horrible stretches here and there. You’re not going to want to have too many of those against Angel, Henry and friends…

…especially with what I see is as a somewhat pedestrian Donovan Ricketts. I don’t have a whole lot of history to go on, but Ricketts to me has looked a little slow for an All-Star keeper this year. Just a smidge.

Elsewhere:

• DC United vs. FC Dallas

Sorry RFK faithful, this is not the home game you want…facing a team that hasn’t lost in over 50 days and with last year’s top striker starting to get it going.

Will the news of Jamie Moreno’s pending move to hang up the boots possibly spur United on?

How aggressive is new coach Ben Olsen in this one? Does he really want to pressure high and risk a Dax or Ferreira midfield connection to a streaking Cunningham?

• Chivas USA vs. Seattle Sounders

It’s Jonathan Bornstein Commemorative Poster Night at Home Depot Center, so expect at least one goal by Seattle.

And probably another as Chivas’s net minder Dan Kennedy is now out for the season and Seattle is starting to roll.

More coming…

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33 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dollymix on 2010/08/13 at 1:15 PM

    I seem to be the only person who thinks that Gareth Bale is actually useless and remembers that he failed to win the first twenty-odd games he played in for Spurs. He’s the new Theo Walcott, only he can fail to deliver as a fullback as well!

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/13 at 1:22 PM

      Not in the least…I called him overrated last year until his second half.

      He’s still young though.

      Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/08/15 at 7:42 AM

      If Gareth Bale was American, you’d be singing a different tune. Fact.

      Reply

  2. Love the Bornstein comment, the only lingering question is whether the posters will be passed out before or after the game? Doing it after the game gives Seattle a little bit of impetus to “posterize” him during the game.

    Maybe this is a better theme night when Chivas plays up in Seattle.

    Reply

    • Posted by darrellm on 2010/08/13 at 3:18 PM

      so if they are having a commemorative poster(ized) night for bornstein, does this mean they had a commemorative moustache night for kljestan

      Reply

      • Probably not, but all other MLS clubs should start marketing like this…obviously it’s a family crowd and the humor may not be what you want to teach little Johnny and Suzie, but for the rest of us, it would be killer.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/13 at 3:28 PM

          Nick/Darrell – not only have you both spawned a phenomenal idea…but I will put up a column asking on suggestions per team later today and then I’ll take the good ones to each front office.

          PROMISE.

          Reply

        • Posted by darrellm on 2010/08/13 at 3:37 PM

          glad my first major post could spawn such a great idea

          Reply

  3. Posted by Andy on 2010/08/13 at 2:11 PM

    Thank you for that comment about Rickets. Every time I watch a Galaxy game the announcers are gushing over him, but he seems more apt to trip over his feet while chasing a ball than to make an important save. I don’t know the numbers but it would be interesting to see what his shot – save ratio is vs his goals against.

    Reply

    • Posted by Kevin on 2010/08/14 at 10:52 AM

      Some people are really stupid whenit cones to keepers and a low GAA doesn’t mean anything. The LA backline has been solid this year and it’s showing very well for ricketts. Since 2006 excluding this year people have applauded onstad as a good keeper because we’ve had one of the best backline in the league. In reality neither are outstanding, but no matter how bad onstads GAA is this year I would rather have him mind the nets for my team than ricketts.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Mike on 2010/08/13 at 2:24 PM

    Game of the season…..Bolton vs. Fulham….ie….Clint Dempsey(maybe Eddie Johnson) versus Stuart Holden. That is if they earn time on the field. Looking forward to seeing Holden become a regular with the Wanderers. Ok, maybe not game of the season.

    Goal.com preview —>http://tinyurl.com/22mdbpf

    FSC tape delay Sat, 1:30pm CT

    Reply

  5. Posted by dth on 2010/08/13 at 2:36 PM

    One additional note: I’m excited to see how Tristan Bowen matches up with the Red Bulls defense (assuming Bruce Arena doesn’t get silly and not start him). If Bowen spends most of his time on the wings, he’ll do well: Albright and Borman do not impress me, at all–I think it’ll be a miniature version of Neymar v. Spector that we all remember. If he spends more time in the middle, that should be interesting, given that he’ll be clashing with Ream, Marquez and (possibly) Tchani.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Ryan on 2010/08/13 at 3:13 PM

    Eddie Johnson is really worth keeping an eye on…if you’re a MLS fan. With just one year left on his contract, if he can’t get going in the first few weeks of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got his release and came back to MLS. He may not have ever gotten going in Europe, but he could be a game-changer in the last month of the MLS season and playoffs.

    Reply

  7. Posted by apasciuto on 2010/08/13 at 3:21 PM

    i just realized i can watch 18 continuous hours of live soccer tomorrow…oh my.

    Reply

  8. Stu with a great first half and just had a great ringer off the post.

    Dempsey comes on and Fulham looks like a completely different attacking team. What the f**k was hughes thinking.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Soccernst on 2010/08/14 at 1:21 PM

    Michael Bradley found net for bmunchen

    Reply

  10. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/08/14 at 1:26 PM

    So what do we think about Everton’s away kits this year?

    Reply

    • Posted by Soccernst on 2010/08/14 at 2:01 PM

      As a father of two girls, they are popular at our house: I like the boys in pink. The boys in pink must be tired from run run running. Do the pink boys need a naptime? Daddy please turn off the TV.

      Reply

  11. Posted by Soccernst on 2010/08/14 at 1:48 PM

    Couple other updates:
    – Peterlin started for Plymouth Argyle
    – JPP got decent sub minutes in Wycombs draw
    – Neither Boca nor CD9 dressed in France (may not be news)
    – Both Lichaj and Spector rode the pine. Good news for former bad for later.
    – Edu went 90 for Rangers in their opening day win
    – Kljestan rode the pine while Anderlecht cruised 4-0
    – Excited that stu started and showed well, ringing woodwork and looking threatening

    Looking forward to Pachuca this afternoon

    Reply

    • Posted by Soccernst on 2010/08/14 at 2:15 PM

      - 18 yr old Conor Doyle got 20 mins at forward today for Derby. Good news for sure.

      Reply

    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/08/14 at 2:31 PM

      Awww how sweet. Looks like they found a favorite EPL team.

      Did Stu play in the middle? And where was Demps located?

      Reply

      • Posted by Kevin on 2010/08/14 at 4:53 PM

        Stu played centrally but from what I saw Bolton liked to play wide. It’s kind of ironic that although you could argue he’s a winger, stu has found a niche centrally in both of his clubs that enjoy playing up the wing.

        Reply

      • Posted by Eric on 2010/08/14 at 4:57 PM

        Stu did play centrally and ran his tail off. He was very defensive minded but did really well.

        Reply

        • Posted by Kevin on 2010/08/14 at 5:36 PM

          I think he attacked quite well and made some good runs that didn’t quite get the delivery he needed. I don’t think he was playing defensive but he did show off some tackling skills.

          Reply

      • Demps played as a striker/withdrawn striker and added a massive spark to Fulham’s attack as soon as he got on the field.

        Reply

  12. Posted by dude on 2010/08/14 at 2:17 PM

    Mark Hughes learns a lesson: Start Dempsey.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Matt B on 2010/08/14 at 9:07 PM

    Lawrie Sanchez, Roy Hodgson, Mark Hughes. Every time a new coach comes to Fulham, for some reason they don’t start Dempsey right away. But sooner or later, they realize his ability and Deuce ends up being a focal point of the offense. Incidentally, the announcers said today that Dempsey is the longest-tenured player at Fulham right now. That was shocking to me.

    Reply

  14. Posted by BW on 2010/08/14 at 10:50 PM

    I tuned in at the very end, but I thought I heard an announcer describe Dempsey as listless. I wasn’t too pumped at that observation, but here folks seem to think he did OK if not good??

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/08/15 at 1:57 PM

      Watched the replay this morning. Holden was the one they were describing as listless right before he struck the post. He disappeared from the game for the first 25 mins of second half but was solid the first 45. Needs conditioning to influence for full 80 but he has the makings of a good EPL player. Takes most of their set pieces and did well.

      Demps came on at 70+ and looked dangerous throughout his 20 mins on pitch. Just missed Zamora with a few good idea through balls to goal. Still has a tendency to put his head down too much and shooting/attacking like he’s trying too hard.

      I would love to see Donovan make a move to EPL. Got that out of my system.

      Reply

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