Archive for the ‘EPL’ Category

Chelsea vs. Manchester United: Trophy-Spotting?

Is Chelsea playing for more than just pride at the Bridge today?

Do Sir Alex and his Red Devils have the trophy within his sites and nearly within reach?

Sir Alex: Even if the lenses are foggy, the trophy is clearly within site....

Live commentary today on the Blues vs. the Devils from the Bridge.

Chelski starting line-up: Cech, Luiz, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba, Torres

MUFC: Van der Sar; O’Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Scholes, Fletcher, Carrick; Rooney, Hernandez, Nani

Wednesday Action: Champ’s League & Cannons

One word: Cesc...

A gaggle of good games on the program today. Go:

• The Great Cesc Coaster….

Stoke head to the Emirates in today’s appetizer match.

Arsenal? Volatile. A premium performance against Barcelona followed up by “dropping” a draw to Leyton on some wonderment near stoppage time.

Stoke for their part are much stronger at home, but come in having failed to concede more than two goals in any match this season in the Premiership, the only team to do so.

Call this one the Army-Air Force game. Stoke will try to go over the top to Kenwynne Jones, Ricardo Fuller and company while the Wengers will look to play the ball on the ground through the midfield and carefully dissect the Trentmen’s backline.

And as always, please don’t climb on the cannons:

• Champ’s League: Finals rematch: Bayern tries to go galatic on Inter

Olic still out of action...

The visitors to the Giuseppe Meazza could really use the industry of Ivica Olic in this one…unfortunately the Croatian is still out of action.

Bayern takes to Milan today hoping avenge last year’s final loss. They may not find Jose Mourinho on the touchline but they’ll still have to handle Samuel E’to who has been–in this writer’s opinion–quietly brilliant in both league and Europe action this year. Look for him to attack the Germans down the left flank while “even quieter” Maicon–still brooding over not being relocated to Spain–attacks down the right flank.

Bayern will counter with the typical pair of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. While Ribery has been down right pedestrian this year, Mario Gomez up top is coming in in serious form and will try to throw some haymakers at Inter’s central defense.

Mourinho is a “galactico” but Inter should prevail at home.

• Triumph? Manchester to Marseille

First, let’s get some Man United info out of the way. Bebe, remember him, the United signing that Ferguson never saw in person? Yeah, he’s already rumored out of Old Trafford at the end of the year.

Cantona? Calls Fergie a genius here and says Manband Berba is “great.”

Today? Man United to the south of France to face Gignac, Remy and a Marseille team that have been ho-hum at best in Ligue 1 action.

Key match-ups?

Will Evra’s rose have a thorn in Loic Remy floating out behind his forward runs on the “port” flank?

And America’s best friend Andre Ayew attempts to boss the Redhead Devil midfield.

I’m sorry, did we mention Cantona?

Manchester Derby: Live Commentary

Nani scores the first goal, though no acrobatic celebration.

United right the ship after last weeks blip against Wolves. City had their chances, but United defended well. Lets see if the rest of the chasing pack have an answer to United’s derby win.

TWEEET TWEET TWEET - The game ends with no real drama. United were clinical in putting the game away.

91:00 - 4 minutes of added time. On the bench, Lord Ferg is fuming.

88:00 - Giggs and hair have a weird relationship.

84:00 - SWP has no imagination in any of his passes. He telegraphs everything. At one point he had so much potential, but in the end became one-dimensional, though something about his games keeps getting him picked by every manager he’s played for.

81:00 - 10 minutes left. Should be riveting! City still passing very well, but their end product is nothing to write home about as Dzeko blazes one over the bar.

78:00 – GOOOOOAAAL. What an amazing goal from Rooney. That came out of no where.  Nani sends in a poor cross that is behind Rooney, but he launches himself up and bicycle kicks the ball straight into the back of the net. Goal of the season. WOW. Untied 2 – City 1.

77:00 – Little Mikey Owen pretends to care about the game as he half-heartedly stretches. Harry Potter is sitting behind him

74:00 – United are giving City much to much space in the center of the pitch. They finally cut in between a SWP and Dzeko one too to clear. Game is completely open as Nani waltzes across the halfway line all the way to the box and has a shot that goes well over. He was barely challenged.

71:00 – Even at 105 years old, Giggs is a master down the wing. Unstoppable as he sends a delicious cross, but its well cut out by the City defenders and Silva brings it forward.

69:00 - Game has opened up again as both teams look to be the next to score. City’s attacks seem to be more convincing as even SWP gets into it with a nice little run.

67:00 – Lord Ferg counters by sending in the Berba for Anderson.

65:00 – GOOOOOALLL. Dzeko. The Bosniian has been on for less then 5 minutes and one times a cross off Silva’s back and completely wrong foots Van de Sar. A little lucky and Silva should be credited with that goal, but a goal is a goal and it’s all level here at the Theater of Dreams. United 1 – City 1

63:00 – Tevez and Silva certainly have developed a good understanding and ping it around the United box. Tevez brings it down and sends a teasing cross that agonizingly bounces around the penalty spot, but not a light blue shirt in sight.

60:00 – Good move from Mancini as Milner comes of for Dzeko. Should have started the game or second half like this. Lets see what the former Wolfsburg striker can do in 30 minutes.

59:00 - Dzeko’s trackie bottoms are off. Entrance is imminent.

56:00 – Silva turns three defenders with one jinx, but his well struck shot is straight into the inviting arms of Van de Sar.

55:00 – Scholes with an acrobatic and bizzare back-pass that befuddles Van de Sar and goes for a corner. From it City win another.

52:00 - City start of brightly, but like the first half, have nothing to show for it. Oddly their first move is to take Kolarov (who has been largely absent) and replace him with SWP!!!! Dzeko anyone?

TWEEEET - and City start the second half.

PEEEP PEEP. Halftime. Well it was all City in the first half, but United counter well and take a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.

46:00 – City respond well, but United have grown in confidence as a nicely worked move ends with a Giggs shot over the bar.

41:00 – GOOOOOOOOAAALL. What a well worked counter attacking goal by United, as Nani scores his 10th to give United a 1-0 lead. Giggs supplies the pass that Nani expertly controls, takes one touch and easily slots past Joe Hart. City were dominating the game, but United are up a goal. United 1 – City 0

38:00 - Shot of Gary Neville on the bench. Thought he retired?

34:00 – Giggs left alone out wide and sends in a peach of a cross that Fletcher charges in and heads directly at Hart. Nice bit of football from the red half of Manchester, but the Scot should have done better.

31:00 - City still pressing. Most of their attacks are coming from Zabaleta and Richards and typically end with Silva and Tevez. United’s rear guard standing firm but for how long?

24:00 – As one might expect, the game has slowed down a bit, but at the same time opened up as well. Both teams are getting time on the ball.

16:00 – City have looked the more dangerous team as they are making the better runs coupled with the crisp penetrative passing. Van de Sar hasn’t been challenged though.

14:00 – Micah Richards just manhandles Giggs as the Welshman goes of on one of his trademark mazy runs. Everything was within the rules, but that is no way to treat the elderly.

12:00 – Another random surprise here, but Micah Richards is playing very well and and very effective as a wing back. will get back to you re his defensive duties.

11:00 - Nani gets a little space and sends in a pile driver of a shot that whistles inches over the bar. He then complains to the ref about something.

8:00 – Lots of shoving and blocking and end to end stuff, but nothing that has troubled either keeper.

4:00 – Silva and Tevez have a lovely one two that leaves the Spaniard one on one with the Van de Sar, but at a very tight angle. His shot trickles inches wide.

2:00 – This one is started with all the pace and verve of a runaway locomotive. Milner brings it out of his own penalty area all the way past halfway, but is well tackled by Scholes. Not sure what was more impressive or surprising.

David Silva has been quietly having a very productive season and has brought out the best in Tevez

TWEEET TWEEET – and United kick off and in seconds win a corner

————————-

Sadly no Balotelli as a match up between the fiery Italian with tons of talent and Rooney would have been fun to see. Dzeko on the bench? Not sure why, but i guess Mancini knows what he’s doing.

————————-

Here are the line ups

Manchester City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, Milner, Barry, Toure Yaya, Kolarov, Silva, Tevez.
Subs: Given, Wright-Phillips, Dzeko, Boateng, Vieira, Jo, Toure.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Scholes, Anderson, Nani, Rooney, Giggs.
Subs: Lindegaard, Brown, Owen, Berbatov, Hernandez, Carrick, Rafael Da Silva.

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Morning everyone. It’s stupid o’clock here on the west coast, and TSG studios is up and stupid.

Sunday Forecast: Stormy With A Chance For El Nino?

Will he kiss this badge?

Wrong day for The Shin Guardian to be working on a Saturday.

Dempsey with a bucket, Arsenal leak four to “earn” a draw. Mighty Unitey chewed up by Wolves.

Sunday we’ll be firmly planted before American footie.

Early on West Ham vs. Brum and Celtic vs. Rangers in the Scottish Cup.

Then the Fernando Bowl as the new look Anfielders take to the Bridge. Does Liverpool go with a 1-3-6-1 or whatever that was late last week?

See you Sunday.

London Footie Map: Where Not To Wear Red

Very cool graphic in the latest Wired magazine, courtesy of my pops (whose story I’ll have to tell sometime).

Wait, Wired magazine? Yes, gives me a chance (or excuse) to talk about something else….the Long Now Foundation. Just check it out. Hard to explain.

Anywho, an extremely fastidiously crafted map off all London footie. Never walk down the wrong supporter street again. Click to enlarge.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

American Fullback in Brum: Eric Lichaj

Eric Lichaj...

If only we had asked the right question at the beginning of the interview. That question: “Eric, are you a fan of interviews?”

Because, the conclusion of our conversation with Aston Villa defender Eric Lichaj went something like this, “Anything we missed Eric? Any questions we should have asked?”

Eric’s reply?

“Nothing really. I don’t really do a lot of interviews. I’m not a big fan of them.”

Lichaj’s roommate with the 88’s at the Bradentown Academy in Florida where the Aston Villa rightback spent time in his teens, Preston Zimmerman, confirmed it with us, “You might as well consider the interview a success if you were able to get anything out of him at all…haha.”

So that explains Eric’s direct, curbed, but still accommodating responses.

TSG spoke with Eric via a speakerphone in the media office at Villa the day after last week’s Sunderland game and after an early morning workout at “The Barn,” the name of the Villa training complex.

We meandered through a whole host of questions with Eric during the exchange, trying at multiple points to crowbar out just a little more detail.

Eric, for his part, seemed slightly bemused by the interview and called it himself at the end when he said, “Look, I’m just a regular guy.”

In fact that’s the just impression we got in speaking with him. A regular, fuss-less, quietly confident guy, who is solely focused on moving forward in a very black-and-white way…see goal, attain goal.

For American fans, Lichaj’s no-nonsence demanor seems like a perfect component to Bob Bradley’s squad. All the better for the American fullback in Birmingham who looks to have a leg up on the rightback role in Rio De Janiero in a little less than four years.

Now, we launch into our Eric Lichaj conversation. And a huge thanks to the media team at Aston Villa for working us in.

TSG: Bit of a tough stretch for Villa here, what’s the mood around the team?

Eric: Well, it lifted a little when we got a good result against Chelsea. But yesterday, we lost 1-nil versus Sunderland.

Our hopes are still high though and we think we’re going to start getting some points.

TSG: You recently began starting…what was it like getting out there with the first unit for the first time against West Brom?

Eric: I had already played a couple of games with the League Cup so it wasn’t anything big. I just looked at as I have to do my job because we were in a bad spot [Luke Young out injured].

TSG: Is it easier subbing in for you or easier when you’re with the starting team?

Eric: Pretty sure every player would say it’s easier starting than coming on as a sub.

Because you come on in the 2nd half you have to get used to the pace of the game pretty quickly. You have to warm-up on the sideline and that’s not really a proper-warm.

Lichaj: Rarely Baled out...

TSG: Now you knew we were going to ask you about going up against Gareth Bale. You did a more than admirable job in defense of him. How’d you prepare for Bale and that game?

Eric: I didn’t really prepare any specific way. Before the game I had some of the guys who played against him before give me advice. Obviously Carlos [Cuellar] was covering me whenever I slipped up and that was good.

It was good to shut him down and I did a decent job, but we still lost the game. So not really that sweet I guess.

TSG: Right. What was some of the advice you received about defending Bale?

Eric: The guys were just telling me about how quick he is. I always ask what for what foot they use and what moves he does where.

Also some stuff on “when he does this, he likes to go down the line.”

I think I handled it pretty well.

Bailing out Balotelli and then some against City...

TSG: Agreed. However, the follow-up game against Manchester City was more challenging.

You played a different type of winger going up against Silva, Johnson and even against the striker Balotelli a few times. Was that difficult?

Eric: I really wasn’t use to playing a full game. Two games in a few days on short rest was tough. I’m not using that as an excuse though; I just had a bad game.

TSG: How do you rebound from a game like that. Do you go talk to the coach? Do you prepare any differently?

Eric: Oh no. It’s just keep working hard and putting it behind me. Everyone makes mistakes.

I made a mistake in the beginning of the game. I just have to keep working hard and keep doing what I do.

TSG: Do you prepare differently for each type of forward you encounter during the season?

Eric: I don’t prepare any differently. Usually I find out which is their dominant foot, how quick they are and whether they like to cut inside or not.

Just little things like that and I take it from there.

TSG: What were your goals heading into this year and how’s the progress in attaining them? Are they within your reach?

Continue reading

Sunday: Galaxy Making News, More

Let’s catch us both up on some happenings from the past two days:

• Anyone got a pretzel?

Brat-City!

Multiple reports have Edson Buddle en route to Germany to sign a deal with Bundesliga 2 side FC Ingolstadt. Quite an American contingent has recently traipsed through the Bavarian side.

Former Revolution defender Amaechi Igwe is currently at the club while Freddy Adu recently trained there. (Sure seems to this writer that the Adu trial just helped grease up the Buddle move as they share the same agent.)

Buddle will get a chance to save the relegation-teetering squad from dropping, pick up some dollars in the process and maybe catch a few eyes. Will be interesting to see the deal terms and length on this one as here was a Galaxy spokesperson comment on December 16th of last year:

“Bruce Arena expects to sign Edson Buddle to a new contract to be with team in 2011.” So this could be a short-term, keep the team up thing with Buddle returning in the summer? Just our one cent here.

Galaxy must find some redundancy up top beyond signing Juan Pablo Angel if they are going to make their Cup chase happen in earnest this year.

And, this sort of sets the value on US strikers. Robbie Findley to Nottingham Forest, the second division in England while his World Cup striker counterpart goes to the second division in the Bundesliga.

• Becks spurned

Sky Sports reporting that insurance issues put the kibosh on a David Beckham loan to Tottenham Hotspur.

Nevertheless everyone’s favorite England midfielder is expected to train with the club for a month.

This is better news for the Galaxy I guess.

• ‘Pool – United

Ken Daglish takes over the reins from Roy Hodgson for Liverpool when they play in just about half an hour here at Old Trafford.

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