Saturday’s Overseas Features: Derbies & Dollars

We did our little MLS preview last evening. No flames over at that post yet so I think–until you tell me otherwise–I emerged unscathed from your primary review of TSG’s MLS knowledge.

The Dollars barb above is to the relegation-threatened and the Champ’s League seeking teams….lots of pins and needles this weekend.

Now to some select games overseas:

Brawl City? Manchester United vs. Manchester City

Saturday, 4:45AM PST, ESPN2

This is Ryan Gigg's 28th Derby....

Hey, can us left coasters get any love. 4:45AM, again. I’m going to predict another .4 rating here for ESPN2 on this one.

You know who’s got the most riding on this one? It’s not Carlos Tevez who has proved his investment against his old and throughout the league this year.

D-I-M-I-T-A-R Berbatov. In one fell swoop, Berbatov just might be able to buy a little love from the United faithful with a game winner or big time play. Probability though? Not likely.

Many see a run-out for either Scholes or Giggs here. I see Ferguson again going with in-form Darron Gibson and Darren Fletcher in the middle to provide cover to Rafael and Evra on the wings for Bellamy and everyone’s darling du jour Adam Johnson (he is solid though.) Vidic and Ferdinand will have their hands full with Adebayor and Tevez, but I think they’ll hold up admirably.

If Manchester United can move the ball effectively on transition through midfield (and Gibson should he play over Scholes here would be key) than the match-up you’re looking for is how Berbatov and Rooney find space and create chances against a very pedestrian central defense of Kolo Toure and Vincent Kompany.

Altidore & Co. will be trying to dance out of St. Andrews with a win....

Birmingham vs. Jozy Altidore

Ian Dowie, please step up and earn your pay….like right now.

As we mentioned over the past few weeks, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal have all marched up to Birmingham and found a resolute, well-coached squad and have all marched home with nothing more than a draw.

Now Hull go up to Birmingham in desperate need of a result.

I fear for their defense against the likes of McFadden and Benitez. Fear. Boaz Myhill better have his Wheaties.

Rovers vs. Toffees

Saturday, 7AM PST, FSC

Anybody see Big T midweek. Sure two went over the line on him, but they weren’t his fault. Big T was pure class. A great time for the USMNT’s #1 Indispensable Player to be rounding into form.

They’ll need him to be up at Ewood Park where Blackburn always plays strong and Mikel Arteta, but are rumored to have Heitinga suiting up.

London Playbill: Tottenham v. Chelsea

Saturday, 9:30AM PST, FSC

I may…I may just be more excited for this one here.

Chelsea playing at full capacity and Tottenham coming off a midweek thriller against Arsenal.

"I'm sorry Joe."

Hey Joe, remember my comments about Gareth Bale a few months ago. I was wrong; my apologies. The Welsh youngster looked world class on Wednesday.

Ashley Cole is back; Aaron Lennon is not. Getting worried GeorgeCross.

Here’s a question, say Walcott breaks a nail…is, gulp, Shaun Wright Phillips the next viable speedy wing option?

The Dempseys go up against the Wolverhampton Hahnemanns

Marcus you’ve earned team nickname status. Fulham’s official Web site says Dempsey is angling for a return.



Schalke ’04 v. Bo’Munchen

Saturday, 6:25AM,

I watched Mikey Bradley last week against the Rico-less Frankfurters. It’s a dichotomy of Michael(s) as Bradley’s defensive positioning for his club side is impeccable. I’m hoping to catch this one…and how could I not? ESPN3’s got it at a very manageable 6:25AM PST.


Let us know what games he didn’t feature that we should have….

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/16 at 1:10 PM

    Regarding Spurs vs Chelsea, I am torn. On the one hand I want Chelsea to win as I don’t want United winning a forth title in a row (and “G” Neville getting another medal), but I also want Spurs in the top 4, meaning 3 London clubs in the CL.

    Yes, Matthew, I am not happy that Lennon is still sidelined. If anything was to happen to Walcott, I think I’d rather see Young, Downing or even Johnson ahead of Wright-Philips. However, Cole is a very important part of the England puzzle and Capello will be pleased.

    Bale forms a very good partnership with Assou-Ekotto, so I think the LB needs a mention too.

    You’ve got to love Sir Alex putting the boot in “It is the first time since I have been manager that we are facing City when they have a genuine chance of achieving something.” Plus GMP have told the managers not to wind-up the situation. Will the early kick-off help with alcohol related grief? Will Noel be singing the blues? A draw would be a good result for London!


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/16 at 1:45 PM

      And I forgot to mention the interesting match-up regarding Rooney and DeJong when Rooney comes deep – and how will City deal with the overmanning ?


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/16 at 1:59 PM

        That’s precisely why Berbatov is the key player to me.

        He *does* have an uncanny ability to possess the ball and DeJong follows Rooney than you have Berbatov you can either take it to the hole OR layoff to Valencia and Nani.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/16 at 2:19 PM

          True. Or you let City’s full backs deals with United wide men, and leave Kompany to deal with Berbatov…

          I would agree with you, but did you see Berbatov’s display against Blackburn and United and the glorious chances he squandered?


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/16 at 2:24 PM

            I have watched and criticized Berbatov from the beginning. Everyone puts it up to his style of play.

            He absolutely magnificent at holding the ball. He doesn’t get enough credit for that. But for some reason, he cannot find the net. If United wanted someone like that, it would come a lot cheaper than $30M

            I wrote before on TSG that the Tevez decision by Man United and Sir Alex was a good one. Tevez will “burnout” with age. Someone like Berbatov…let’s call it someone like “Good Berbatov” has enough skill and “economy of motion” that he would have had a spot at United for ages.

            But it’s almost like he doesn’t buy in to the philosophy or the responsibility of his role. He’s pressing on shots, but at Tottenham he was free to do as he pleased….be creative without repercussions. He can’t do that–and rightfullly so–at United and I think his game has suffered for it.


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/16 at 2:39 PM

              Matthew, I agree with your statement for the most part “absolutely magnificent at holding the ball. He doesn’t get enough credit for that”

              My biggest critique is that this is only true when the ball is play to his feet, rather than for example, chasing a over hit ball played down the channel.

              With Rooney generally being tasked more to stay in the central area, somebody has to do the ‘dirty work’…

              Great discussion though!

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/16 at 3:04 PM

              Agreed. To his feet or on the ground but never in the air.

            • Posted by KMac on 2010/04/16 at 5:18 PM

              First, George and Matthew you both make some great points about Berba….some other factors to mix into the collective discussion:
              Just looking at Berba’s Stat’s at Leverkusen, Spurs and Man U…he’s doing what I would expect of a 29 yr old playing in the shadow of Rooney. Seems with a couple of exceptions, he’s always been good for 12-15 goals per season on average (with the exception of a couple of above average years at Leverkusen scoring 20/21 respectively in 2004/2005 and 2005/2006. (Must’ve been Landon and Jermaine Jones’ being on the team that helped him ; )
              For a guy who’s acclimated to the Prem for ~5yrs – that’s all I would expect of him from the current Man U play/form and squad. He’s on track to hit his typical goal production or slightly better. Standing in the shadow of Rooney, and still sitting a goal away from the top 10 in the Prem “ain’t bad”

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/16 at 6:04 PM

              Fair points KMac. I think his conversion ratio would be a more apt indicator, as I think although he scores as much as you think he should, given historical performance, are you saying his chances have remained constant too? Of course I don’t have this data, but just a thought…

            • Posted by KMac on 2010/04/16 at 8:04 PM

              George, well played as usual…I will have to some more serious research on chances.

              In the mean time, I found some interesting analysis supporting the gist of my point here:


              Love to tear it apart with you George when I have time and insight that is not superfulous, you’ve got a great football mind!
              With respect,

  2. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/16 at 2:43 PM

    With Chelsea’s aerial threat, what do you think Tottenham’s defensive strategy will be? Even though Dawson and King are good in the air, surely they cannot be too narrow inviting Chelsea’s wide men to cross?


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