Sunday, August 14, 2011

Opening Weekend Impressions Or Why Anyone Who Says They Know What's Going to Happen This Year Is Full of It...Myself Included

Non Indianapolis readers of this blog, allow me a brief, geographically specific indulgence. Of the soccer bars in Indy, there's really only one place to watch a match without being annoyed ad nauseum by the conversations around you. That place? Chatham Tap on Mass Ave. I spent the better part of the morning there yesterday and as the only Fulham fan present, was forced to watch our frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Villa sans sound on the telecast. No worries. Surrounding me was a trove of Liverpool fans hanging onto every touch of the ball at home to Sunderland and a few delusional Arsenal supporters pre-drinking for what they must have known was going to be an underwhelming visit to Newcastle. C'mon, Gunners, the writing is on the wall. Still, I admire your fantasies.

Anyhow, these fans were genuinely knowledgeable. Everyone was abreast of the new singings for his club and those of the other clubs and everyone posited well informed opinions of how his team should play, who was injured, and what substitutions made sense. Compare that with today's adventure to Union Jack in Broad Ripple. Now, I like Union Jack, don't get wrong. The Chicago style pizza is first rate as is the meatloaf. Plus, it's only a block or so away so going to watch a match between two teams I don't really care that much about (United and West Brom) is not too terrible an undertaking. Having said that, I wanted to strangle the fans sitting near me. Actual conversations heard amongst the gathered at Union Jack:

"I think it's a ninety minute match. I guess this is overtime given that they're in the 93rd minute." It's injury time, ass.

"Danny WellbAck is sooooo much better than Dimitar Berbatov." Berbatov scored 20 goals last season and it's WellbEck.

"How did City do this weekend?" They play Monday.

"Anderson doesn't have a first name. No one in Brazil does. It's a Portuguese thing." They all have first, middle, and last names, they just put one on their jerseys.

"Why aren't Chicharito and Evra playing? Ferguson must be getting old." They're both hurt. Ferguson is old, but not old enough to name two crocked players to the bench. He sends crocked players to Sunderland.

"Bud Light is so good fresh out of the tap." Bud Light is terrible no matter where it comes from.

"Why isn't Scholes even on the bench?" He retired.

Ok, now that I've gotten that off my chest, onto impressions from the weekend!

Liverpool V Sunderland - I still stand by my claim that Liverpool can win the league this year. They looked bright going forward and Charlie Adam seems perfectly suited to be a great KOP hero. He's got the right amount of steel and quality to really stake a claim to the Liverpool midfield and that incredible gap toothed scowl has "Scouser" written all over it. If Suarez converts his penalty in the first half, Liverpool cruise. Also, Sunderland are not the Sunderland of years past. There's real quality in this team and the new signings, given some matches to gel, should see them finishing comfortably in the top half. Seba Larsson's goal was a thing of beauty.

Bolton v QPR - Half empty stadium. 4-0 drubbing. Inept defending. QPR is going down. Bolton looked good. Admittedly, this was against QPR, but Bolton were without Stuart Holden and Lee Chung Yong. Owen Coyle has completely revamped Bolton's "hit it long and hope Kevin Davies kills a guy and then hammers it home" style of play. They actually play football and should also look to finish comfortably in the top half.

Blackburn V Wolves - Is it any wonder Steve Kean immediately called upon Venky's to open up the transfer coffers following Rover's loss to Wolves? The writing was on the wall and now it's been read by anyone associated with Blackburn. This is not a good side and I stand by my claim that they are relegation front runners.

Wigan V Norwich - This was like watching the Special Olympics.

Fulham V Aston Villa - The Cottagers looked a little out of sorts for the first half and seemed to run out of ideas once they got into the offensive third of the pitch. Having said that, the second half was much better going forward and Fulham settled for the draw only because they couldn't finish. As for Villa, Emile Heskey is still alive? N'Zogbia is a great bit of business. Shay Given may be the signing of the year.

Newcastle V Arsenal - Listening to the Arsenal supporters critique the match was hilarious. Is there a group of fans in the Premiership more like their manager? If only this, if only that. Sorry guys, but it just isn't happening. I could write on and on about what a truly inept talent Theo Walcott is or how passing the ball a minimum of six times in the box is not a way to score goals or how Arsenal is now a glorified feeder club, but that would just be cruel. Additionally, how fun is it to watch Joey Barton and his faux Fascist faux hawk wreak havoc on everything? I hope he stays at Newcastle if for no other reason than it's obvious he gives two shits about anything other than being Joey Barton and he has to know he's the best player Newcastle have. His Premiership greeting card (red card) to Gervinho was priceless. Also, do Gervinho and Sagna have the same hairstylist? It looks like they both have two gay tarantulas perched atop their heads. And speaking of ridiculous haircuts, quote of the day from my buddy Rich, "Song is only one mistimed tackle from being sent off and one frilly shirt away from being part of Prince and the Revolution." Indeed.

Chelsea V Stoke - Granted, the Britannia is a tough place to play, but you're Chelsea. All the other front runners drew yesterday. Go on and stake a claim as a title favorite...or don't. Asmir Begovic stood on his head to keep Stoke on even terms. Quality goalkeeping.

Manchester United V West Brom - Speaking of staking a claim, an own goal doesn't exactly put an exclamation mark on a title challenge. Still, United found a way to win and that's what champions do. Having said that, if Evra and now Vidic and Ferdinand find themselves in the training room with injury layoffs, things could get dicey for a while. What's a back four of Fabio, Smalling, Evans, and Jones look like in the matches to come? Combine that with de Gea flapping at every ball served into the box. Again, I think he'll come good, but it's going to be that much more difficult with a makeshift back four in front of him. West Brom can consider themselves unlucky to not have come away with the draw.

Manchester City V Swansea - Tomorrow's match will be telling. If City do anything other than destroy Swansea it's almost as if this weekend didn't even happen for the legitimate top four challengers. C'mon Swansea!

Final thought: A disturbing number of Google searches for "Charlie Adam's teeth" led UK readers to this blog. Hope you found what you were looking for. Charlie Adam could kill a man at twenty paces with a toothpick with that kind of front tooth gap.

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