5. La Liga: Oops, Wrong Scoreline
Levante took down Mourinho’s Madrid in an unexpected win at home. Bigger? Granada with its first win–in 35 years in La Liga by beating reeling Villarreal–in a chippy affair that saw the recently-promoted El Graná survive seven yellow cards without a red attached.
On-loan Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche notched the lone tally while New Jersey native Giuseppe Rossi missed a penalty to even it.
Villarreal are thinner squad this year and Champion’s League has taken their toll on them. They should rebound after they get knocked out there, but I have a bad feeling for the Yellow Submarine this year.
4. MLS: The Pacific Northwest 6, The East 0
Darlington Nagbe. Whoa Darlington Nagbe.
I was going to tweet on Friday the following, “Every time I see Nagbe play, the kid is more mature than the last time.” Then Nagbe scored on a great positional header and I thought, “If I put that tweet out now, I’m going to sound like a homer.”
But wow. Nagbe’s got the handles, he’s always looking up with the ball at his feet and he reads the game very well, being complementary when called for or being responsible to find the open spot when a primary option is needed.
At some point Timbers fans, be prepared for that kid to go to Europe. Timbers set the Revolutionaries packing on Friday, 3-0.
Up the I-5, Seattle (as we surmised in our preview) proved that United last’s trip out West to face Chivas was a fluke, with another 3-0 whupping of an Eastern Conference foe.
At the beginning of the year, we questioned Freddy Montero’s commitment and while Montero is misfiring Mauro Rosales has been absolutely critical to any success up in the Emerald City with his playmaking. Going to be interesting facing Seattle in the playoffs, if Rosales is healthy after the player was cut down in the waning moment Saturday and left the affair with a knee injury.
(As for the third northwest team, the Whitecaps got smashed–as we easily predicted as well–at the Galaxy, but mea culpa to Bruce Arena who actually rested Landon Donovan and David Beckham when the game was in hand.)
3. EPL: Flying…
Norwich City as TSG’s Neil Blackmon pointed out in his EPL preview are going to sneak up on some folks. Well, they flat-out thumped Bolton on Saturday. A 2-1 scorline, but the Canaries controlled long stretches of the run-of-play.
How good is Stu Holden? Bolton are lost without him calming the midfield. They look terrible in the center of the pitch and are having a real hard time linking up to Kevin Davies without him.
(And note: The value of Gary Cahill has dropped about 33% – 66% since the campaign began.)
2. Liverpool: Jettisoned…
A 4-0 loss at White Hart Lane. Moving on…
It certainly seems that at least personnel-wise the Reds’ skipper Kenny Dalglish knows what he’s doing. Two central midfielders shipped out this campaign, Alberto Aquilani (despite a header for his first Rossoneri goal this weekend) and Raul Mereiles look underwhelming in their new club situations.
The former got lit up with his new side by a brilliant hat trick from probably the best pure ball striker in the game today Edison Cavani while the latter….
1. EPL: The Big One In the Barclays
Manchester United continued it’s torching of opponents. This time with a clinical dissection of Chelsea at Old Trafford, 3-1.
I watched this game on delay after countless announcers called it a “well-played game by both sides.”
Didn’t see that.
United stretched the field perfectly with excellent off-ball movement by Chicharito, Nani and Phil Jones. The Red Devils kept running, kept moving throughout and their width opened up opportunity after opportunity.
In the back, Phil Jones is sure looking like a more powerful version of the next Rio Ferdinand with his ability on the ball going forward, balanced by his strength and speed combination in defense. Outstanding pick-up.
Even Anderson–despite a few errant touches–was active in creation in the 1st half. (Note, he shouldn’t be the long term answer in the midfield for United, but he aside from one very poor 5-minute stretch was snappy in providing support and deft in getting the ball wide once he received.)
Meanwhile, Chelsea–well it can be sugar-coated a million different ways, but if Chelsea are this season the Chelsea they were Sunday, it’s not going to be a pretty one.
Once again Chelsea relied too much on it’s fullbacks to provide width while a strategy in the first half to flood their right flank with runs by Ramires, Sturridge and Torres with Mata filling behind them was a poor one. Ramires doesn’t have the on-ball creation and Torres–despite his single wonderstrike on the day–was statuesque on many an occasion.
Raul Mereiles and Frank Lampard joined the party in the attack all too infrequently as well.
The second half saw Chelsea move Sturridge to the fight flank and go missing while the Blues did get some things running through Nicolas Anelka of all people on the left flank. Still a very discombobulated team at this point with a midfield that looks to lack creativity as a unit.
And finally, whoever is the fitness coach at Chelsea should be fired. Period. Hands on hips in abundance early in the second half for many of those in Blue. That’s absolutely unacceptable.