Weekend preview

Can Holden hold the potent Villa midfield?

Well after a goal fest this week in the two euro competitions, we’re back to domestic league play.

Brad Friedel and Aston Villa host the Holden Wanderers.
This is caretaker managers, Kevin MacDonald’s last game in charge before Gerard Houiller becomes the gaffer.

I for one, wanted to see the Frenchman take over the USMNT national job. Amongst the footballing world he’s considered a tactical genius with impeccable knowledge of the game, but in the public eye he comes off more as a bit of buffoon. He’s got great pedigree winning trophies at Liverpool and with Lyon and was responsible for creating the dominant French side of the late 90’s and early aughts, but isn’t given that much respect. Hopefully he can take Villa to that next level.

Both teams coming off losses in the previous weekend, will look to right the ship with an emphatic win. The majority of play will take place in the midfield. Look for Holden to attempt to stifle A. Young, Petrov and Downing and that Elmander can continue his fine vein of form.

Lichaj hasn’t been making the bench let alone the starting 11 recently, but the season is still young.

Blackburn play Fulham at Ewood park. With the unfortunate injury to Zamora, look for Dempsey to play up top a little more and partner with Dembele. Sparky and Fulham remain one of 5 unbeaten teams in the EPL and will look to jump into the top four with a win.

Damien Duff has been proved fit and will provide nice width and balls for the Fulham strikers to latch on to.

Can Blackpool continue their dream start?

Chelsea host plucky little Blackpool, and anyone outside of Stamford Bridge will be pulling for the seaside town to pull the upset of the season. Already in 4th with two away wins they have exceeded expectations, but it’s early doors. Look for them to get thrashed but one can dream!

The big one this weekend pits two teams who haven’t had the best of starts. Man United host Liverpool in the North West derby. Both played midweek, though with different results. United were stifled by a determined Rangers side and Liverpool were comfortable 4-1 winners against Steaua Bucharest whilst also resting Gerrard and Torres.

For Liverpool, Joe Cole is back after serving his three game suspension and Torres and Gerrard should replace Ngog and Lucus, though I hope Meireles gets the nod over Poulsen.

United should be fully fit minus Valencia who suffered a season ending injury mid-week. Rooney with a clear head and no mean ol Everton supporters to make him cry should be back leading the line with The Berba.

The key to this matchup…Is Ferdinand fully fit?

In the Championship, Conor Doyle was a late sub in last weeks game against Hull. Will he get a full 90 against Barnsley? We say he should.

Juan Carlos...pick me please

Rest of Europe. A typically British statement, but there you are. Midweek, Jozy Altidore started and played a full 90 against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa Cup, but the Yellow Submarines were sunk 2-0. Altidore played okay but didn’t do himself any favors by failing to connect from a cross from fellow American Rossi late in the game.

Currently 6th (with one win, they’ve only played two games); on Sunday they go to Levante, who are rock bottom with two losses and 6 goals against them. If this is ever an opportunity for Jozy to stake a claim in the side, this is it!

After getting thumped 4-0 at home, Michaelbradleybach visit bottom of the table Stuttgart. The Bundesliga has been full of surprises this year and is a highly entertaining league to watch. I’ve been a M’gladbach fam for many many years, as I had an uncle who supported them in 60’s and 70’s, and with Bradders on board, all the more reason.

Dolo and Beasley visit winless Vfl Wolfsburg as their manager, the “wally with the brolly” McClaren is starting to feel the pressure.

Serie A is in full swing as his Ligue 1 and off course the MLS.

16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by narkid on 2010/09/18 at 5:29 AM

    can we talk about houllier a little for the mens team top spot. houllier was actually the coach of the french team that failed to qualify in 94 and houllier came into the french team back in 88 before the 90 world cup, another which france failed to qualify for. then when france did not qualify for 94 this coach blamed the players. france of course did not even have to qualify for 98 as they were host and houllier was just an assistant. and this is the coach you want to take over the mens team? does he so badly wish to come to america and “fix” our program?


    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/09/18 at 8:47 PM

      Houiller was responsible for the creating the academy that taught and nurtured all the players who won the 98 cup and 2000 Euros. He’s a defensive minded coach and has a very strict tactical ideas of how to play the game. I’m not sure if you remember the final game of the 94 qualification (they needed 2 points from 2 games to qualify), but they were through until Ginola started joking around with the ball and lost it, that gifted Bulgaria (i believe that was the team they were playing against) possession and they scored and knocked the French out.

      He took over a Liverpool team that was more known for their partying than football and made them one of the stingiest defense’s in the EPL, winning 6 trophies in a 6 year span. He then went to Lyon where he won 4.

      The reason he would be good for the USMNT, is that he would insure that they don’t give up at least 1 goal a game in the first 15 minutes. The team would be more disciplined and not lose the ball as much as they do. The USMNT need to be more focused and be able to not rely just on heart and a couple of players, but have every player possess the skill to trap, keep and pass the ball without gifting possession needlessly. Houiller can do that.

      Houiller was manager of France from 92-93. He was an assistant in 88 as well as technical director where he began the building process for building the French squad for later years.

      He didn’t have the best of records as the French manager, but his success as a club manager and setting up teams and squads to be more defensive minded and better tactically is well proven.


      • Posted by narkid on 2010/09/19 at 1:50 AM

        you make some good points bout the french coach. he of course could be considered one of the architects of the most recent french team as well, the one that went to south africa and bombed out of the event in disgrace. yeah, houllier moved into the french national team situation and france missed two world cups, 90 and 94. the icing on this french pastry is that zidanes first game with the french team came just after the 94 world cup and guess what, zidane scored two goals in his first game with the team, sort of as if to say, what were you thinking not playing me earlier.

        houllier may have turned liverpool around, but come on, he changed the entire team, so he is able at the club level to bring in the players of his choosing, that does not sound like a coach who can excell at the national team level, which is something he obviously was not successful with, even with his own nation. to me, the best thing for a villa is the fact that gary mccallaster is an assistant. let see what kind of success the frenchman brings back to the epl.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/09/20 at 6:38 AM

          I think he would have been a good choice for a Technical Head of Youth Football, as France do have one of the best youth programmes in world football – and he could have certainly made suggestions to the USSF regarding Bradenton considering that France have produced talent that has reached the top, so they must be doing something right.

          Not so sure I would want him as head coach though. But that’s just me.


  2. Posted by Sinn Fein on 2010/09/18 at 1:54 PM

    heard there was an Eddie Johnson sighting in the Fulham game. Any news on how he looked?


    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/09/18 at 3:27 PM

      I didn’t see the game but this is, I believe, the second time Eddie Johnson has come on to replace Deuce as a sub. I think it shows that Sparky is trying to get him out there as a spark (no pun intended) toward end of games to hopefully nick a goal.


  3. Posted by scweeb on 2010/09/18 at 3:29 PM

    watching the game right now. . . Dempsey got a goal but dosen’t look like he is playing to well with the team right now. fulham message board is kinda suggesting that him and ej aren’t getting a long with the rest of the fulham boys.


    • Posted by Freegle on 2010/09/19 at 6:21 AM

      I did think it was odd that he was nowhere to be found during the celebration after their first goal against wolves last week. Now he spurns his other teammates to run to the bench and find EJ after this week’s goal. He had never been a “jump in your teammates arms” kind of guy when it comes to celebrating goals but it does seem like he is specifically avoiding them. Either way, if there’s anyone who can play at a high level despite being a pariah on his own team, it’s Deuce. I’m not too worried about it.

      On the other hand, maybe he’s just trying to avoid salcido because he hates anyone that plays for mexico. I could get behind that logic


      • This isn’t the first time he’s found EJ during a goal celebration…there were a few last year.

        As for hating Salcido, I’m not sure there’s too many pros out there who carry the international rivalries into the club locker rooms. And as much as I hate El Tri when we play against them, we do need them to continue to grow with us otherwise we’ll have to find a new confederation llike Australia did because FIFA will begin taking away our WC places if everyone sucks but us.


  4. Posted by scweeb on 2010/09/19 at 12:35 PM

    The only thing i hate about it is EJ looked pretty good out there. I think what he is lacking to make some really good plays for fulham is just team chemistry. I would really like to see him in this next game coming up for US get him a little more playing time and hopefully he can produce and show fulham he deserves more time on the pitch.


    • Posted by bunkelUSA on 2010/09/19 at 6:39 PM

      I agree, I would absolutely love to see EJ find some success in England. I always forget he’s only 26, if he can find some minutes and confidence, he could probably be a serviceable striker for the US of A this cycle. It’ll be interesting to see how Hughes deals with the loss of Zamora…maybe EJ can nail down a role as one of the first striking options off the bench.


  5. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/09/20 at 12:06 AM

    Ouch. Way to play the Benedict Arnold card there.

    EJ made some good runs and was clearly very active when he came on. Made his presense felt all the while getting chewed on by the manbeast that is Chris Samba


    • Benedict Arnold?

      Surely not wanting Mexico to fall off the face of international soccer doesn’t make me a traitor. My point is A) Rooney and Fletcher don’t hate each other in the United dressing room even though England and Scotland have a mutual disdain for each other, and B) loathing Mexico when we play them and wanting them to stumble a bit here and there but still perform just below our levels is good for CONCACAF, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/09/20 at 6:59 AM

        I *always* want Scotland to fail. Always have and always will. But the difference is that England aren’t the best team in the Confederation and we don’t need Scotland for the Confederation to succeed. Not sure how I would feel about needing Scotland to do relatively well in order for UEFA to keep it’s WC spots etc…


        • That’s the beauty in having a confederation with 52 nations where at least 30 are in the top 75 in the world. We in CONCACAF are not as fortunate, yet.


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/09/20 at 6:39 PM

        actually I was referring to the part where you crossed out Rossi being a fellow-American….


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