The Weekend: What Americans Watch

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.)

It's been mostly "hold the applause" for Everton this year. Can Timmy and team turn it up and keep it up?

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?

Hugging Hamsik has become a common occurrence at Napoli...

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.

Clint Dempsey, mischevous in the other team's end all season...

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?

Will the new guy come up big on Derby Day?

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.

Honorable mentions:

* 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.

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33 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John on 2011/02/11 at 12:38 PM

    “Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has confirmed that new loan signing Eric Lichaj will start against Bristol City on Saturday”

    Sweeeet.

    Reply

  2. Posted by EFG on 2011/02/11 at 12:49 PM

    And to add a little more spice to the Manchester derby – Super Mario Balotelli might be available.

    Re: Juventus v Inter – Shouldn’t be much of a contest. Inter is back in full force and Juve looks confused most of the time.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Marc C on 2011/02/11 at 12:57 PM

    Correction on Match #3 – Napoli go to Roma and the Stadio Olimpico

    Reply

  4. […] [The Shin Guardian] – What the Yanks watch?  We agree with 5, 2, and 1.  4 & 3, really?  Maybe I’ll have to give it a try. […]

    Reply

    • Posted by Dave on 2011/02/11 at 7:55 PM

      While I’ll be watching Pumas-Chivas in Mexico(Pumas fan), I would take Tigres-Cruz Azul as the most interesting Mexican match with a Yank Abroad connection. Cruz Azul has a lot of firepower, but are capable of leaking goals at times.
      The caveats are that the level of play in the Mexican Primera may not be as high as you’re used to, and that Tigres were built to get out of the relegation zone, so they don’t take a lot of risks.

      Reply

    • Posted by EFG on 2011/02/12 at 5:06 AM

      The Derby del Sole is usually a pretty fantastic match. Napoli is a great team that people who don’t follow Serie A probably don’t know much about. They have a decent shot to win their first Scudetto since 1990 when they were led by some guy named Maradona. That being said…Forza Roma.

      Reply

  5. Posted by dth on 2011/02/11 at 4:52 PM

    No Rio Ferdinand for the Manchester derby: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/feb/11/chris-smalling-rio-ferdinand-heir

    On account of the news, Mancini just decided to change his formation from 10-0-0 (strikerless! tactical obsessives rejoice!) to 9-1-0. That’ll show United what a ruthless opponent like City will do.

    Anyway, as unlikely as it may seem, Arsenal is in pretty decent position to take this title.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/11 at 5:23 PM

      Vidic would be a much bigger loss in my book. Smalling will be able to handle guys like Rio I think.
      Even Evans can fill in capably for Rio as long he keeps doing his fouling outside the box.

      Reply

  6. Posted by SamT on 2011/02/11 at 7:44 PM

    Matt, you and Deuce are simpatico in the fatherhood sleep-deprivation + raising your game department. Been a good few months for both of you. Hope it continues.

    Reply

  7. Posted by John on 2011/02/12 at 9:36 AM

    Bradley coming on for Villa, Makoun with a Red.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Nelson on 2011/02/12 at 4:12 PM

    Spurs Sunderland came alive in the second half. Kranjcar is a class player

    Reply

  9. Posted by dth on 2011/02/13 at 11:27 AM

    For those of us who want to see Jozy do some business: http://i53.tinypic.com/2n83rk3.gif

    Reply

  10. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/02/14 at 12:12 PM

    Didn’t televise AV this weekend. How did Mikey B show in his first stint?

    Reply

    • On MB:
      MB came on as a sub for the last 20 minutes or so, after Villa was down to 10 men. He didn’t make any major mistakes but didn’t impress either. He seemed a little hesitant, probably due to the fact that he was thrown into a situation where he was playing with new teammates and Aston Villa were trying to repel Blackpool attacks to hold on for the tie. It seemed he was instructed to not overstep his bounds and stay home. He did stay back well and wasn’t running all over the pitch (too much), but his aggressiveness was a bit lacking. There were a few times where he didn’t step up on his man quickly or tight enough. Also on a few occasions he fell a little too deep right in front of the backline (reminded me of US matches when we go into defensive shell mode). He had one cross going forward that fell short (I believe the announcers miss attributed the cross to Collins). Otherwise had a few short connection passes, and wasn’t too involved in breaking up plays.
      Overall he gets a pass for this performance as the situation wasn’t ideal and he is in a new club scene. I am worried about him getting quality time going forward and adjusting to new club teammates (he doesn’t seem to have the most outgoing personality). In order to play consistent minutes he will need to be better at positioning and executing within the constraints of Houllier’s instructions. We will see. Houllier’s summation of Bradley’s minutes this match was basically “he did ok.” Wishing MB luck. He really is excited to be at Villa. It’s hard to shine on your first week on the job, no matter what job you have.

      Reply

  11. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/02/14 at 12:19 PM

    Strange lack of Stu love by the pair doing the Bolton-Everton game. Stu was everywhere and quietly effective as usual but almost no mention during the course of the match. Perfect ball in on the Cahill first goal and never mentioned that Stu put it on his head perfectly. a half dozen all in necessary and well-timed sliding tackles all over the field and no mention of his impact on Bolton’s high pressing style (which is great to watch). Anyone with reasonable football sense would have noticed his impact on the match. Only mention was was when he was told to “man up” after going down from Fellaini’s inadvertent face slap.
    Great typical 110% intelligent effort all over the pitch.

    Reply

  12. Posted by John on 2011/02/14 at 1:01 PM

    Sounds like a pretty good atmosphere at Craven Cottage today.

    Reply

    • Posted by John on 2011/02/14 at 1:49 PM

      0 – 0

      Torres had a chance at the end of the half that the 2007/2008 Torres would have scored. This one….. not so much.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/14 at 1:59 PM

        Watching the last 20 minutes of the 1st half here.

        Fulham is BEGGING for someone to break them down in the middle and Ancelotti has Anelka all wrong.

        They (fulham) are sitting deep of Torres and there is so much space in the center that Anelka, not his skillset, doesn’t know what to do with.

        Reply

        • Posted by John on 2011/02/14 at 2:31 PM

          Torres off for Drogba in the 70th, now watch Drogba score two.

          Reply

        • Posted by John on 2011/02/14 at 2:40 PM

          Fulham absolutely defending for their life right now.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/14 at 3:34 PM

          For all of Chelsea’s possession, they only created half chances, so a lot of credit must go to Fulham – even though I don’t like to see one team playing for the nil-nil [epecially at home].

          Reply

  13. Posted by John on 2011/02/14 at 2:51 PM

    Oh my word…

    Penalty by Luiz on Dempsey with 30 seconds to go!

    Reply

    • Posted by John on 2011/02/14 at 2:52 PM

      Dempsey gets saved and can’t put in the rebound. My goodness.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/14 at 3:31 PM

        Dempsey absolutely bottled it. I am surprised he actually took it because he ran his socks off and it seemed like he couldn’t muster the energy to take it – terrible penalty.

        But I give him a lot of credit for ‘earning’ that penalty. You have to admit that he went down pretty easily and David Luiz was extremely naive sticking his foot out like that, especially when Dempsey was heading to the by-line.

        Reply

        • Posted by John on 2011/02/14 at 3:40 PM

          Dempsey looked absolutely gassed and I think the weak effort reflected it.

          I’ve seen penalties given and not given for similar situations, I think Luiz’s problem was that he committed himself to going for it and when you do that you leave yourself open to a judgment call. He makes that play at the Bridge probably without a call.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/14 at 4:32 PM

          Also, if that happened just outside the box, rather than just inside, Dempsey [or XYZ] is not going down.

          Luiz also slid in recklessly earlier in the half, against Dempsey on the other side of the box – he got the ball that time, but I thought that Luiz’s decision making by going to ground so early was rash, because that time he was actually lucky to get the ball… we shall see in the coming months, won’t we?

          Reply

  14. Posted by scweeb on 2011/02/14 at 5:35 PM

    I hope we have Dempsey for another 4 years

    Reply

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