Friday, October 26, 2012

Europa League, Merseyside Derby, Chelsea vs. Man. U., MLS Forecast


We'll begin with Europe's second-tier club competition today. There were a lot of 1-0 wins. We didn't see any of them. Anyway, Inter Milan beat Partizan Belgrade 1-0. Liverpool beat the Russians with the cash (Anzhi) 1-0. Not to be left out, Newcastle downed Club Brugge 1-0. Tottenham drew, Lazio drew...sorry, started to nod off there. Here's a wrap.


So, no more DHL for Manchester United training jerseys. Bummer. We just bought several for all the SSN staff. Those crafty Glazers think they can get a better deal.

We can't wait to get our hands on the ManU General Motors kit...

It's the final weekend of regular season play in Major League Soccer. Here's The Forecast for what's on hand as things get ready to get nasty in the playoffs.

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith has his opinion of the Arsenal "crisis".

Paul Hayward has an interesting piece on how the Premier League's star is beginning to wane. We don't disagree with his points.

Grant Wahl has a look at what a Copa America in the United States would really mean. Basically, it would be the biggest tournament to take place here since 1994. All the best of South America plus the Mexicans and us? Not too shabby. It would certainly be entertaining. That said, it turns out it's not yet a done deal. There is much left to discuss. Let's hope it actually happens.

We've got a couple of sweet matches coming up this weekend in England, and they're both on Sunday. Certainly the pick of the litter is Chelsea vs. Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Both of these sides have been able to overcome defensive issues with impressive attacking flow. It'll be interesting to see how things pan out. Chelsea won't have FatPard or Terry and United won't have their Japanese ace. Kagawa's been ruled out for four weeks. Here's a preview. If you're in the U.S. check out Fox Soccer Channel at 12:00pm EDT.

The other biggie is the Liverpool Derby that will take place at Goodison Park. These clashes often fail to get going, mired in anxiety and caution. Hopefully things will open up a bit for this edition of the Merseyside Derby (first contested in 1894). If you're in the U.S. check out ESPN2 at 9:30am EDT. Here's a preview. And here are a few things to look for in the EPL this weekend.

We love predictions here at SSN. Here are Lawro's (he likes United to win at Chelsea) and here are Paul Merson's (Merse is going for a Chelsea victory).

Sadly, there aren't really any big games in Spain, Germany, or Italy. None of the "top clubs" face each other. Oh, well.

Martin Rogers has a column about it being time for the U.S. to think about moving forward without Landon Donovan. Yeah, we know.

We'll leave you with The Joy of Six: It's Memorable British Champions League Group Performances.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Atrocious Arsenal, Shitty City, Mundane Madrid, Unimaginative Milan

Copa America is coming to the United States! 2016 will see the best of South America grace our shores. Jeff Carlisle talks about it.

Champions League? OK.

We took in the Arsenal/Schalke encounter. More like Norwich/Arsenal Part II. Another simply horrid performance from the Gunners. Andre Santos, what were you thinking? And why wasn't anything done when the problem was there for all to see?

John Brewin, Richard Williams, Raphael HonigsteinJeremy WilsonAmy Lawrence, Phil McNulty, and Kevin McCarra all have something to say about it. Oh, and is the club being ruined?    And Wenger says sorry.

Manchester City also lost at Ajax. Bit of a surprise there as Ajax are certainly not on the par of Schalke or Dortmund. It means it will be very difficult indeed for City to advance to the knockout stage. Henry Winter was in Amsterdam to see it all go down.

Elsewhere, Milan continued their horrid season with a loss at Malaga. And Ronaldo scored (shocking!) but Madrid failed to win at Dortmund, with the German champs winning 2-1. The Bundesliga is stronger than it's been in a while, there's no doubt. And the leading clubs are playing some attractive football. Hats off.

Here's a CL wrap. Here's a look at the tables.

What else is going on? That's really about it. The Europa League is operational today so the likes of Liverpool, Inter Milan, Tottenham, Lazio, Newcastle, and Napoli are in action. If you really care about any of that, we're sure you can track something down.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Messi the Model, Paolo in Italy, Champions League, Freddie

The Dirty Tackle is usually good for a laugh. Here's Messi the Model. So terribly Argentine. We love it.
Heartbreak for Celtic...
We forgot about Paolo and Raphael yesterday. They keep us up to date on Italy and Germany. Here's Paolo (Pirlo!) and here's Rafa (Derby!).

The Champions League delivered some great action yesterday. With a lot of head turning and moving around the room, we were able to catch most of Man United/Braga, Barcelona/Celtic, and Shaktar/Chelsea. Let's start with United. More sketchy defending but another victory. The Little Pea was the star with two vital goals. How long can they keep this up? You've got to think that things will be very difficult indeed once in the knockout stage. You simply cannot concede at this rate and expect to continue to be successful. Richard Jolly was at Old Trafford.

Over in Ukraine the holders suffered a brutal loss. The scoreline actually flatters Chelsea. Shaktar could have had a few more. With Chelsea be the first holders ever to be knocked out in the Group Stage?

Celtic. Poor Celtic. They were literally 15 seconds from an epic draw on the road to Barcelona and couldn't hold on. Barca were simply irresistible at times with their tiki taka but Celtic somehow managed to hold the to a goal. Until the very end. Regardless, the Scots should hold their heads high.

Here's a little CL wrap.

Today's action has the potential to be just as good. Real Madrid are in Dortmund, Schalke are at Arsenal, and Man City go to Ajax. All three of those are toss ups with the potential for plenty of goals.

Wednesday usually brings us an expanded Americans Abroad look. The focus here is on Mo Edu who moved to Stoke two months ago but hasn't seen much action. Why anyone would want to get near that wanker Tony Pubis is beyond us, but there you go. Hopefully things will work out for Edu. He's 26 and in his prime.

We'll end with an interview.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Podcast, Champions League, Top Scribes, Yanks Abroad

Let's start with The Podcast. Jimbo, Sid Lowe, etc. The best in the business, as far as we're concerned.

Speaking of Sid Lowe, it wouldn't be Tuesday without a look at his update from Spain. And who's the other top scribe in Spain? Mr. Ball, of course. Phil traveled to check out Falcao in the flesh and has a report. Rock me, Amadeus.

Remember Landon Donovan? Sounds like he's ready to put up his boots and move to the booth. Ugh. Can you imagine Landon Donovan and Warren Barton together? Shoot us all. Now.

Tuesday also means Americans Abroad (at left). Not too much happened but it's good to get an update regardless. Speaking of America, here's stuff about MLS. Playoffs?! Playoffs?! Yes, Jim Mora. Calm down. And Ian Darke is curious about Team USA.

Ajax. Once dominant. Not so anymore. Here's an article prior to their match against Manchester City tomorrow.

Where is Tim Vickery? He's in Brazil doing what he does best.

Jason Burt in The Telegraph: Dark Forces Must Be Stopped. Indeed.

Thankfully, there's actual football to view today. In our estimation, the best matchup is Shakhtar Donestk against Chelsea. It'll be interesting to see how the Blues fare in the Ukraine after their big win against Tottenham on Saturday. Elsewhere, you've got Juventus playing at some team with a lot of weird letters or symbols or something, Celtic at Barcelona (who cares about Scottish football anymore? There used to only be two OK teams and now there's just one), Bayern at Lille, and Braga at Old Trafford to face Fergie and United.

Louise Taylor on The Hunter. That's it.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Riots, Racism and More

We managed to watch two matches this weekend. Chelsea look good. Their defense is suspect without, dare we say it, John Terry organizing things, but they more than make up for it with the craft and guile of Mata, Hazard, and Oscar. Tottenham looked good as well. They just didn't have enough. And a special thought for Adebayor who came on at the end and played like the wanker he is by fouling and generally assisting Chelsea to see out the win. As always, Henry Winter has a good assessment.

Arsenal went to Norwich. At least, there were some human beings in Arsenal kits running around at Carrow Road. Abject? Uninspired? Pathetic? Yes, yes, and yes. Credit to Norwich, but really, it's becoming all to familiar for the Gooners out there expecting some sort of change in fortune. The movie Groundhog Day comes to mind. At least Wenger got angry and actually blamed the players. 

Elsewhere in the EPL there were few surprises as the top clubs went about their business. Man City in particular pulling another one out of the hat at The Hawthorns.

You read something about racism in the title of this post. Rio refused to wear a t-shirt. Fergie got upset. There were claims of racist language used at the Sunderland/Newcastle match. Terry will wear an armband. Ugh.

You read something about riots in the title of this post. Over in the Ruhr Valley, bitter rivals Schalke and Dortmund clashed. And their fans freaked out. And we decided to bring out favorite Schalke fan back for a little fun. (At left.)

Monday MLS Breakdown? Yes, here it is. D.C. United are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Over in Spain, Barcelona won a thriller in Coruña, 4-5. It went from 0-3 to 2-3 to 2-4 to 3-4 to 3-5 to 4-5. The match had nine goals and nine yellow cards. Cesc was sublime. Also, Falcao scored his tenth goal in ten matches. He won't be at Atletico Madrid for much longer, we're afraid. We'll catch up with everything over there tomorrow via Phil Ball and Sid Lowe.

Some idiot in Cyprus threw an explosive device on the field.

In Serie A, Pirlo continues to be forever young by leading Juve to a win over Napoli. The Old Lady is now top of the league. Lazio beat Milan and suddenly Inter are in third place thanks to everyone's favorite insane footballer, Signor Cassano.

Finally, The Fifth Official is a Monday tradition. And he/she loves it when Arsenal shit the bed.