Your top 5 games for Americans to watch this weekend:
(And when we say to watch that doesn’t mean an American has to be playing just that we’re suggesting you check out the game if you’re around some HD in the States.)
5. Sunday: Bolton over to Goodison to face the Toffees
The skinny: After a blazing start, the Bolton Wanderers find themselves bobbing around the middle of the table–currently 8th–as the season hits the home stretch.
Is Europe out of the question for Bolton?
Well a lot will depend on the impact of Daniel Sturridge, the single reinforcement for Owen Coyle’s troops in the January window. With Kevin Davies showing some wear-and-tear and Johan Elmander slumping from his early season form, the Chelsea loanee will be needed to stretch the field and find the net even more. (Sturridge has made it count in two outings thus far (two goals) and TSG took a small step towards becoming a “believer” on his game.)
Everton, notoriously a slow starter, hasn’t had that mid-to-late season kick that it usually does. It will be even harder now as Jack Rodwell, who moved from potential to realized on the player bar, finds himself on the PT table for the next four to six weeks.
That will pair two like-minded central midfielders in Fellaini, a true difference maker for the Toffees, and Mikel Arteta, paid like a difference maker, in the middle…the duo has not always complemented one another.
Will Fellaini play up to use his noggin or sit deep to play the true holding role he excels at. Will Arteta drift outside right and lose his game further?
However they’re deployed, they’ll face the hard-checking duo of Stu Holden and Fabrice Muamba, both who caught a break during the FIFA dates.
This one will be a battle of the midfield here and despite the Rodwell loss I see Everton being stout at home and eeking out the win.
4. Saturday: Pachuca v. Puebla
The skinny: The Herculez Gomez Bowl.
Now a starter after being hitched to the bench for the beginning part of the campaign, Gomez features for a Pachuca team that is getting moldy in the basement of their Clausura group.
Puebla is not doing much better in their group, uncomfortably resting just above the cellar dweller in their group.
Both coaches are under fire for their under-firing teams and need the victory.
Has anyone seen Paco Torres lately?
3. Saturday: Roma v. Napoli
The skinny: It is con…..gested up top in the race for the Scudetto. Inter has roared to life with the Spaniard now banished, and Roma is currently on the outside looking in for a spot in Europe sitting seventh.
A huge one Saturday as
Roma heads to Napoli Napoli takes the Marek Hamsik Show on the road and heads to Roma looking for than a point for their excursion.
2. Monday: Big London vs. Little London
The skinny: It’s basically been Clint Dempsey or bust for the Cottagers this year on the attack.
What makes Dempsey’s push for his first EPL double digit scoring year all the more impressive is that the stork dropped off a new bundle of joy for the US forward just this past Fall.
Usually that means lack of sleep, for Deuce it appears to be inspiration.
Bobby Zamora’s return (two weeks in the offing) can’t come soon enough as Fulham really don’t have a pattern for their goals with Dempsey seeming to conjure up some impressive shots out of thin air.
For the Chelsea, it’s been the Blues lately. Unable to shake off the midseason doldrums and now having the pressure to integrate a new striker into the mix.
The writing seems to be on the wall for Nicolas Anelka to finally take a walk, yet, incredulously Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti used Anelka–to ambivalent results–in the key attacking forward role last game. Le Sulk in a role that plays conduit to the Drogba-Torres firepower up top? Really?
So with that new striker incoming, Chelsea left arguably their most important player, Florent Malouda, out of the line-up for 80% of the match last week and are relying on a diamond shape that forces a 30-year-old and World Cup-drained Ashley Cole and a recently returned, but not fully fit Jose Bosingwa to fly up the flanks. More confusing still.
What in the world is going on at Stamford Bridge. Can’t blame John Terry for this, can you?
1. DERBY!Manchester’s Derby
The skinny: Manchester City vs. Manchester United. Quickly rocketing up from the bottom of depth charts like a bad Oasis anthem, has a similar feel to the Red Sox-Yankees’s clashs early in the 2000’s. The upstart City team starting to splash the cash and quite yet able to quell the monstrous and historical goliath down the road.
This weekend sees the Fergies’ looking to recover from their first stumble of the season and playing at home. By all accords, to the home team at Old Trafford should go the spoils.
And that’s why this is Manchester City’s biggest statement game of the season as a potential six point swing is only in the offing if Mancini’s side challenges the Aons. With a monumental win, City would find them right in the mix for the title at two points back, 54 to 52. Lose and it’s likely a goal of Champion’s League or bust at the Eastlands.
A few weeks ago, City took to the road and after toying around with the idea of going head-to-head with Arsenal for the first ten minutes or so, battened down the hatches, closed up shop and decide to play for the draw against the Wengers.
Champions are made by going for it and Man City needs to step up in this category. Let’s hope they let it roll and in turn the game is open on Saturday.
Note: TSG’s Shaun Webb will be live-blogging this one.
* Re-Juventus vs. even more rejuvenated Inter: I know this game should probably go up in the top five (and probably ahead of Roma-Napoli), but Quagliarella, Milito, Chivu are all absent for this one. Nevertheless, with Leonardo moving Wesley Sneijder back to the midfield (after Rafa Benitez forsook him in a false nine role), the match bears watching just for the Dutchman’s play of late.
* Championship: Hull City vs. Preston North End: Americans only here as Brad Guzan looks to keep his strong record in goal for Hull City going and faces Easy Eddie Johnson on loan from Fullham. I surmise this is your last shot to be a grown-ass, EJ.
* Super Lig: Bursaspor vs. Eskisehirspod: Jozy’s squad takes on the mid-table contender on Sunday. Altidore will get a playing time, but the question is where and how much with Scotsman Kenny Miller slamming them home for club and country and 20-year-old sniper Sercan Yildrim starting to look like a superstar in the making for his homeland.