Posts Tagged ‘ Fulham ’

Turf Wars: A History of London Football

Turf Wars: A History of London Football

This book went on my wish list and moved to the top of the pile when a copy ended up in my hands thanks to a huge Chelsea supporter.

The premise of the book is daunting as is stated in the title: A History of London Football. The author is very comprehensive, taking the reader from the early days of the pre-cursors of the Football League in the 19th century all the way to the 2015/16 season. There are even clubs in there that I had never heard of before.

I have to admit that the book can be a little dry at times. Covering over a 125 years of football is a big ask. Besides the nomadic nature of most clubs in the early, the book touches on key moments, either of a club’s location or success on the pitch. The first two-thirds or so would take multiple readings for me as I am not as familiar with those times but the last section of the 90s to the most recent seasons was really interesting.

Not a book for everyone. I might have focused more on the big teams, but if you want an expansive history of football played in London, this is the book for you.

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For more book review, check out my Recommended Reading page.

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Old Futbol Buffet–Couch Potato Edition

Saturday was a beautiful autumn day in Lansing, with citizens out and about shopping, enjoying the weather and tailgating for the big MSU/OSU football game.  How did I enjoy the day?  Sat inside a home or bar and watched over eight hours of footy.  The day began with the 7:45am Arsenal v Chelsea and ended with the 4pm Sevilla v FC Barcelona match.

Arsenal 1  Chelsea 2

Arsene Wenger probably did not sleep Saturday night.  The Gunners are the most eye catching team in the Premier League at the moment, yet the results are not following.  The hosts dominated the European Champions but were sucker punched twice and got nothing from the match.

The first Chelsea goal came out of nothing as Arsenal shambolically defended a free kick.  The Ox, on for the injured Diaby, left David Luiz open.  The Brazilian missed the header but Torres was able to volley home as Koscielny got twisted around.

The Gunners struggled without Diaby initially but eventually found their attacking strategy, which was to get into wide areas.  Eventually the alien known as Gervinho made up for last week’s debacle with a fantastic finish.  Halftime came with matters all square and Arsenal having every chance of winning.

They kept pressing after the interval but were wasteful in front of goal.  Arteta did a solid job of winning the ball back, but he was slightly culpable for Chelsea’s second goal. He was slow to react after losing the ball and put Vermaelen in trouble.  The resulting set piece was floated in by Mata and the bending ball was not dealt with. Then AFC put on their subs but these changes unbalanced the team, as the Ox ran around all over and Theo was marginal.  Giraud should have equalized towards the end but his effort hit the side netting.

Chelsea put in a veteran performance and the Gunners did everything but convert their chances. The Blues probably only had a handful of chances, scored two and Torres, who was meh, made a hash of a break away.  The back line for CFC was solid and Cech made two great saves.  As for Arsenal, Cazorla was decent but missed two chances outside the box.  Jenkinson was fantastic, showing real drive and determination at right back.  Still waiting for more from Podolski though.

The Arseblogger tried to keep things in perspective after the Chelsea game, noting that Arsenal were superior for most of the match but failed to take their chances and made mistakes at the defensive end.  Fair comment and I think the Gunners are a top four side, with one caveat—can they do it against the smaller clubs?  When they play Wigan and Stoke and Reading can they unlock packed defenses and maintain concentration for the one or two moments they are under pressure?  If the Gunners can, then they will be right there.  If not, then a fourth place (or lower) awaits them.

Zonal Marking was not impressed by this clash of London teams (although he was impressed with Oscar), focusing his analysis on the each team’s left side and Arsenal’s substitutions and shape after going down 2-1.  What I saw as Arsenal unbalanced after Diaby’s exit, ZM explained as a move to width as Ramsey moved inside and the OX, naturally a wide player, played in the right hand channel.   As for the Gunners finish to the game, their lack of shape (ie almost no linked midfield) allowed Chelsea to maintain possession and kill off the game rather than keep it the high tempo which kicked in after the Blues’ second goal.

Fulham 1  Manchester City 2

The Cottagers got off to a great start as Mark Halsey, the villain of last week’s Liverpool/Manchester United match, awarded a very soft penalty.  Petric converted and for 85’ minutes, it looked as if Fulham would hang on for a point.  But alas, the Citizens overwhelming talent won the day.

Kun Aguero canceled out the opening goal just before halftime and then Mancini threw on attacker after attacker in search of the winner.  Eventually it was Dzeko who won the points scoring almost immediately after his introduction with minutes remaining.

Big result for City given the outcomes of the day.  Unfortunately for Fulham, who tried to hold into the second half, Riise’s poor clearance created the half chance for Dzeko. David Silva was head and shoulders the best player on the field, gliding past defenders, creating chances and pulling the strings.  Special mention must be made of Brian Ruiz who did everything he could for the hosts.

I must have been watching a different game than Kristian of Cottagers Confidential.  He felt that Fulham deserved a draw.  True, they defended well and did whatever they could to stop the Citizens but they were hardly dangerous.  Also, he didn’t feel Ruiz did enough, which, considering the circumstances, he did all he could for the cause.  Fulham were surprisingly good for me.  As I told my mate, I wouldn’t have thought that Baird and Sidwell were a Premier League center midfield pairing, but they marshaled the game well.  The team as a whole was well organized and will give lesser teams trouble.

Suffering Bruin jotted down some thoughts after the game for the Bitter and Blue blog.  Can’t agree with him enough about using some sort of video to weed out fouls and resulting penalties like the one on Riise.  Despicable.  He also mentioned the lack of pace for City.  I don’t see it that way.  I see clever, technical players who are able to maintain possession in tight spaces and create chances in other ways (example would playing in Zabaleta in time and time again) rather than mazy or heaving runs from all over the pitch.  City are right behind the chasing pack and now turn their eyes toward Borussia Dortmund.

Manchester United 2  Tottenham Hotspur 3

Much was made of Spurs poor record at Old Trafford so of course United crapped their pants and gave up a 23 year unbeaten run.  The Red Devils first half was utter dreck as their defense was exposed time and time again.  Vertonghen got things up and running, driving right at the United defense and no one picked him up.  His shot ricocheted off Evans and put the visitors up just two minutes in.

Things got worse minutes later as Bale beat Rio for pace and scored the second.  The opening 45 minutes showed a couple of things—Spurs have got real pace that unsettle the best teams; Giggs and Scholes can’t start and or play together at present; every time RvP goes down, the Red Devil Nation holds their collective breath.

The second half produced the usual United fightback, as Nani converted a fine cross from Rooney.  Dempsey immediately replied as Defoe wriggled free, setting up Bale, who unleashed a vicious blast that was only partially saved by Lindegaard and Dempsey tapped in.  Kagawa was able to quickly reduce the margin back to one but that was to the end of the scoring.  A fine effort from Spurs and despite dropping into a defensive shell, they left with all the points, their third league win in a row.

Rooney’s introduction gave the hosts a spark and he was terribly unlucky on his free kick that hit the post.  Kagawa is still positive but doesn’t play towards goal so his impact can be negated.  Scholes still has it but the team must be working around him for to influence the game.  The comeback was inspiring and depressing at the same time.  Southampton required an amazing effort and Liverpool needed the helping hand of the referee.  12 points from six matches and yet this team is nowhere near top form.  Only time will tell if this is the typically slow start and if real problems are on the horizon.

Spooky was thrilled with the result.  His thoughts at Dear Mr. Levy see a team starting to move in the right direction, full of speed and hunger and led by a coach coming into his stride.  I agree with him that Walker struggled and will need to improve defensively in order to shore up the defense, but with the firepower available, performances like the first half could be the norm.

Reading Doron’s comments at the Stretford End 24 hours after the match put things in perspective.  Besides praise for Scholes’ second half, the lack of presence in midfield, which affected the entire first half, and Rooney’s introduction, Doron addressed the fact that Fergie got the line up wrong, simple as that.  He will not make the same mistake next time.  My guess is that he will use a more athletic, high energy team that stretches Spurs as they exposed United in the first half.  He made the changes and almost salvaged something from the match, but the poor start and key moments went against the Reds.  His statement towards the end should be put on the United locker room bulletin board:

Why oh why can’t United start games like they seem to have to start second halves? In every game bar one in the league we’ve had to come from behind which isn’t good enough at all. Can’t the players be motivated from the off or is it more to do with Fergie picking the wrong team to begin with and having to make changes?

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MMMSL Over 30 Playoff Final

CCFC claimed the over 30 playoff title last night in a 4-3 in Double OT thriller over Grand Saints.  Down 2-0 early (Hagan and McNally?), we battled back to 2-1 (Christensen)  before halftime and then the two teams did their best Manchester United/Tottenham impression.  CCFC scored right at the beginning of the second half through James Glenn before Grand Saints responded moments later to make it 3-2 (Drauer?).

Later on Brett earned a penalty, which was converted by Wael Awad to make it 3-3.  There were several chances for both teams to win it in regulation but extra time it would be.  Not much in the first period, but early in the second session, Brett won another penalty.  Will Robinson slotted it home to put CCFC ahead.

We then had to survive an onslaught to run out winners.  Fantastic season for the lads.  12 win and 2 draws in the regular season (Champions) and playoff champions.  Our first double since 2006 that made the post match beers that much more satisfying.

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Articles

Jonathan Wilson commented on Liverpool’s start to the season (the worst since 1902) ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.  Their poor start may be down to two factors—tough fixture list (Arsenal, City and United) and conversion of chances (somewhere in the neighborhood of 6% before Saturday’s match).  On the plus side, while passes attempted remains static, their completion percentage is higher, so Rodgers may be having some sort of effect and the Reds are pleasing to the eye.  Wilson posits that: The good news for Rodgers is that passing, the absolute core of his philosophy, has improved, even given the tough start. The bad news is that individual errors keep undermining the effectiveness of the overall structure.  Maybe the season really did start on Saturday with their 5-2 thumping of Norwich.

Grant Wahl touched a couple of interesting tidbits in his weekly column for Planet Futbol.  Klose’s honesty (he admitted using his hand and got a goal overturned); Stuart Holden’s return to Bolton; Sounders vote of confidence of their GM; and Columbus hosting USMNT games.

Old Futbol Buffet–The Easter Bunny stole my football

I only saw about 15 minutes of footy last weekend, but it was the most important 15 minutes.

I didn’t get up in time on Saturday morning to watch Spurs v Sunderland, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the 90 minutes did not provide any goals.  Spooky lamented the lack of energy and tempo in his wrap up at Dear Mr Levy.  None of the 10am ET games interested me, so my wife and I packed up for a four drive to Columbus, Ohio to pick up my son, who was Spring Break, and visit my sister.

This trip meant that I missed the Palermo/Juventus and Real Zaragoza/FC Barcelona games.  During pit stops I would check scores and was thrilled to see the Old Lady and the Blaugrana win their respective matches.  Juventus now lead the Serie A table by one point and control the destiny of the scudetto.  Bonucci’s goal was all about wanting it more than anyone else and Quags scored a deserved second after all of his work coming back from injury. Barcelona came back from an early goal to cut the margin to three behind Real Madrid and keep the pressure on.  Los Merengues could only draw at home against Valencia and the margin is now four points with El Clasico two weeks away.

On Sunday, we attended the Easter Service at my sister’s church, which meant I missed Manchester United v QPR and Arsenal v Manchester City.  Now only that, I would miss the watch party at the local pub back in Lansing. But we walked into the restaurant, and, to my surprise, the TV was showing Arsenal v City in glorious HD.  I was put in a quandary.  Do I spend time with the family or watch a key moment in the English title race?  I tried to do both.  After craning to see the TV, I finally just got up and stood in front of the TV.  Arsenal were in a period of dominance but lacked the final ball.  Then all of the sudden a City turnover was pounced by Arteta who lashed a shot into the bottom corner to give the Gunners the lead.  At the moment I took the fork I was using and metaphorically stuck in the blue side of Manchester.

But the star of the weekend has to be Clint Dempsey, who scored two fantastic goals in Fulham’s win.  His free kick was pure magic and his intelligent movement made the second goal an easy header into the back of the net.  Can he possibly remain at Craven Cottage next season?

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Podcasts

The SI Soccer Roundtable panel looked ahead to the Champions League Semi Finals, with some disagreement about whether Bayern Munich are heavy underdogs or legitimate contenders.  Plus there was a quick of review of early MLS stories including KC’s unbeaten start and Galaxy’s rough opening weeks.

Jonathan Wilson was back on Off the Ball on Thursday to discuss Sunderland’s form since Martin O’Neill took over for Steve Bruce.  The stats are pretty similar but the points earned are the real difference as the Black Cats have climbed into the top half and have proved a handful for top teams.

Old Futbol Buffet–One Eye on Work and the other on Footy

The weekend was busy for me and in the world of footy, and I didn’t get to everything on Monday’s post.

In England, Jonathan Wilson urges patience as Chelsea continue their transition from Mourinho’s Old Guard to whatever the future will look like with AVB at the helm. Looks like their early season wobble is behind them, although the late Wigan draw will not have helped. My guess is that the Blues will pass Spurs and the real test will be the Champions League, where they have been drawn against Napoli. If the Blues press in their current fashion, they will be beaten, so hopefully AVB gets his message across before February.

Meanwhile, in Serie A, the guys at Juventiknows gave their thoughts on The Old Lady’s win over Novara, which included several players who have not seen the field much this season. Hopefully Quags can get back to his goal scoring best and De Ceglie can provide cover and quality at left back.

As for the entire league, Paolo Bandini recapped the weekend in Serie A, focusing on matches involving the teams from the capital. Lazio continue to challenge and they earned a draw against fellow contender Udinese while Roma have had good results heading into the break (draw against Juve and a win against Napoli).

After Tuesday and Wednesday’s matches, Paolo reflected on a Serie A campaign that heads into the winter break with a struggle at the top involving teams, each with an issue.  AC Milan, the defending champs, back on top after a slow start.  Juventus, traditional power, unbeaten, and hard to break down but maybe lacking that cutting edge that will deliver the shield.  Udinese has lost key players but keeps hanging in there, producing an extraordinary home form.  Lazio is back in the hunt but can they go one step further than last year? And there is Inter, left for dead again but quietly rising up the table and now sit in fifth, ready to pounce if they top teams slip up.  Can’t wait for the second half of the season.

I don’t follow German soccer as much as I would like, but I enjoy reading Uli Hesse, and he wrote a column about events in the Bundesliga as the league heads into a proper winter break, with teams not returning to the field until January 21. One of the items he mentioned was Raul’s hat trick against Werder, which I had heard about on one of Sid Lowe’s appearances. Some have even mentioned that he may be back in the frame for the Spanish National Team. Poppycock. Another thing Uli touched on was the excitement of the league, especially at the top of the table.

Alexandra (@AlexandraJonson) from Total Barca was able to talk to Graham Hunter in the wake of El Clasico to get his thoughts on that game and the future of the Blaugrana. Graham was very high on Barca’s performance against Real, saying that it was better than the 5-0 thrashing last November because of the circumstances: poor away form and the early goal. But where he really got going was about the prospects coming through La Masia, especially a Cameroonian named Dongou. I had just read about Sergi Samper, so to hear about another player of great quality is exciting.

Tim Vickery asked Brazilian football to examine Barcelona’s philosophy in the aftermath of Barca’s 4-0 win against Santos. Neymar was a non-factor as Barca passed and passed and passed the South American champions into brutal submission. He wraps his thoughts with the following statement:

The value of defeat is always in the lessons that it can teach. Perhaps the big lesson that Barcelona have taught in Yokohama is this: if Brazilian football wants to keep on winning not only titles but also hearts then it would be well advised to get back in touch with elements of its own tradition. There is an argument against the view that possession football is outdated and that the central midfielders should be unimaginative giants. Its case was made loud and clear in Japan this Sunday.

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Matches

Udinese 0 Juventus 0

In preparation for the match, Adam Digby posted a piece about previous Juventus trips to Udine, which reminds supporters how far this current team needs to go to hit the heights again. Maybe this new look squad will match the class of 2001, but I think most fans would be content with improvement over the last two years of inconsistent play and embarrassing results.

Going into this match I had a lot of anticipation. A true top of the table clash, Udinese had not lost at home and Juventus had not lost all season. After the Juve game against Napoli, I was expecting fireworks, but that didn’t come off. Despite my excitement and desire to be fully engnaged in the match, I really had to get some work done before the holiday break. I watched as much as I could so you’ll have to take my thoughts for what they are worth.

There was some confusion about the formation, but it looked like Pepe was playing somewhere between a forward and midfielder depending on how quickly Juve were able to transition. Vidal was great, working hard and getting stuck in, and Pirlo blew very hot and cold, with some incisive passing and frustrating turnovers. Towards the end of the first half I tweeted: if marchisio finds his finishing boots or matri finds his dribbling boots, this match is over. The defense seemed to get caught on the counter and each player in the back was responsible for poor decisions in either execution or thought.

Halftime came with no score, and the fluidity of the first half was gone in the second period. Matri and Pepe committed too many turnovers and Estigarribia almost an auxiliary left back. Udinese’s attack was blunt to be kind. Di Natale was pretty selfish and, since he was not firing on all cylinders, he could have involved the team more. But then I looked at those around him, dribbling into blind alleys and missing simple passes. Guess I would have tried to do it myself too.

Conte subbed Matri and Pepe for Quags and ADP respectively, which helped a little bit but Quags not able to really test the goalkeeper. Juventus looked the more likely to score but the final whistle blew with no goals. A disappointing match to watch but as someone mentioned on twitter, Juve have played most of the Scudetto contenders away, so if they take care of business at home, the Old Lady has a real shot at a Champions League place.

At the end of the match, I summarized on twitter thusly: Juve=poor, esp in 2nd hf. Pirlo very inconsistent, Esti worthless, Matri not on form & team not fluid/crisp. But unbeaten & top of table.

Fulham 0 Manchester United 5

Again I wanted to watch this match but figured it would be a dire 1-0 affair. Boy was I wrong.

United went right at the Cottagers, with Nani setting up Welbeck after five minutes. The Red Devils continued the pressure and Nani got the second off a short corner. Fulham were toothless going forward and were punished on a United counter as Nani found Giggs just inisde the box and his deflected shot looped over the keeper for United’s third. Halftime came and there was only one side in it. Much better start from Fulham as United had eased off and the hosts looked to take the saran wrap off the goal. They failed to capitalize and United eventually came back into the game with about half an hour remaining. The game petered out with a series of half chances from each side, when Rooney added a sizzling strike and Berba chipped in with a sublime finish with just minutes to go. An easy victory and United get the Holiday Program off to a great start. The only downer was injuries to Young and Jones. Looks like Young might be out for a little bit while Jones took a nasty elbow from Dempsey and the coaching staff is waiting for results to see the extent of the injury.

Tottenham Hotspur 1  Chelsea 1

An electric start to the match with Spurs creating several half chances.  The home side played a weird formation, with a straight forward backline but a midfield of Bale on the left with Modric, Parker and VdV (basically no out and out right midfielder) in front of Sandro, who looked excellent, with Adebayor up top.  Sandro made a perfect tackle in the middle of the field on Sturridge and released Bale, who put in a dangerous ball across the six yard box which Adebayor was able to redirect into the goal. Chelsea responded and minutes later Drogba flicked in a ball that bounced off Ashley Cole’s arm before he crossed for Sturridge to tap in. The rest of the half was chippy, plus stop and start due to injuries to Ivanovic and Mikel, which allowed me to see Romeu play.

The second half started with Chelsea in control as it took Spurs almost 15 minutes to snap out of it. At the interval, Harry subbed Pav for VdV, which did . . . nothing. For the Blues, AVB brought on Torres for Drogba. Why? Drogs had been dangerous in link up play and at the end of crosses. Not sure what the Portuguese manager was thinking.  The last quarter of an hour was exciting with teams creating and missing chances and Cech in particular coming up big saves.

An exciting match, lacking that last bit of quality, with the London teams shared the points while the Manc teams flashed a wry smile.

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Podcasts

The World Football Phone In did an epic four hour show, complete with all three experts and a live studio audience.  Have to say it was pretty cool.  Here are some of the topics they covered:

  • Borges of Santos
  • Possible European Super League.  Brassell thinks that the Europa League may eventually come good and dismissed the super league because of domestic rivalries and teams may tire of finishing mid-table year after year.
  • Sean Wheelock commented on Beckham’s legacy in the MLS.
  • When asked about a fantasy Christmas gift, Tim Vickery mentioned a 1950 Brazil home jersey because that was the last they played in white.  Wait? What?
  • The panel and guests discussed racism in the world of football.
  • Finally there some funny anecdotes on coaching rants including Keegan, Kinnear, and several others that were not fit to air.

The guys at the Manchester United Redcast were in better spirits heading into the break after a couple of nice victories.  The squad seem to be finding their groove again.

Old Futbol Buffet–Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and family.  Even though I had a lot to be thankful for and was surrounded by my entire immediate family, I gorged myself on football, both association and American, for several days.  Saturday was another slice of heaven: Manchester United v Newcastle United, Arsenal v Fulham, Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid, Lazio v Juventus, and Getafe v FCB.  Games started at 10am and went to 6pm.  AWESOME!!

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Manchester United 1  Newcastle United 1

Saturday started off with a thrilling encounter at Old Trafford.  The Red Devils came out of the blocks firing but Newcastle was able to weather the storm and give as good as they got.  Chances were created at both ends but halftime arrived with no goals.  Manchester United were gifted a goal early in the second half as Ryan Taylor cleared the ball and it rebounded off Hernandez. The Reds tried to finish the match off but did not bring their finishing boots, and their profligacy in front of goal was punished as the AR gave a dodgy penalty kick to Newcastle which evened the scores.  From there United poured on the pressure but could not score, with nearly every outfield player missing a chance.  Krul and the Newcastle rearguard defended desperately and made several key (and amazing) saves, leaving the Theater of Dreams with a vital point.

United are in a funk.  In the league, they could be seven points down by Sunday afternoon (note: City drew so they remain five points behind), and they still have work to do in the Champions League.  Looking at United’s lineup and bench against the Magpies, you have to wonder about Fergie’s strategy.  With Macheda and Valencia the only attacking options, I’m not sure what he planned to do if he was down.  Then he only brought Macheda with three minutes and stoppage time remaining.  United have more points than they did at this point last year so it seems plausible that they could still win the league, but I’m not sure.

Arsenal 1  Fulham 1

After breaking for lunch, my brother and I watched Arsenal and Fulham.  Again the visitors came to play, and the result was an entertaining match that ended in a 1-1 draw.  Arsenal clearly got the same supply of finishing boots from Nike, adidas, etc, as Manchester United did, as they could not find the back of the net despite several clear cut chances.  The Cottagers hung in there and were rewarded in the second half when Riise’s run caused confusion in the Arsenal defense and Vermaelen put it in his own net.  The Gunners laid siege to the Fulham goal and finally equalized eight minutes from time as Vermaelen made amends with a well placed header.

After a hard fought European performance in mid week, the Gunners probably didn’t have quite enough to turn the match around.  Their five match league winning streak ends but they continue a great run up the table.  Walcott had several nice moments and RVP was quite good as well except for his finishing.

Towards the latter stages of the Arsenal game I fired up the Madrid Derby, which I’ll talk about in this week’s Morbo Minute post.

Lazio 0  Juventus 1

The final game of the triple header was Lazio against Juventus, which was a game full of fire, with crunching tackles, quality scoring chances and red hot intensity.  Both teams could have scored a goal or two in the opening period, but only the Black and Whites converted their chance, countering quickly and Matri played a fantastic ball that Pepe put away.  Lazio dominated the second half, pinning Juventus back and firing away at Buffon, who responded with several good saves.  The team held firm, closing the Lazio players down and blocking as many shots as they could, with the post stopping the one they couldn’t.  Conte made a couple of subs to stem the tide, and these moves paid off with a little more possession and several half chances.

Again the work effort and commitment of the Bianconeri was something to behold.  Their win sets up a cricial game with Napoli on Tuesday. Napoli must win to get their league campaign on track, currently nine points behind Juventus, while a win for the Old Lady would put them four points up on Udinese.  Each game gets the fans more and more excited about the prospects of the season.

Here are some post match comments from the gang at Juventiknows.  Obviously the excitement level is building with each hardworking performance.  Marco does put the match in context though:

This wasn’t as good a performance as the Fiorentina or Palermo games, but a bit back to the other wins like against Inter. A few defensive mishaps, a lot of good efforts on goal, and generally, the team deserved the win and that is impressive away against a solid team like Lazio Conte’s Juve is unbeaten and in 1st place (with a game in hand) and has just picked up a 4th consecutive win. That is beyond any of our wildest dreams from the summer. As Tandredi Palmieri said on Twitter, Conte has done a remarkable thing with Juventus. The team now is expected to win, not expected to not lose.

Paolo Bandini spared a thought for the Old Lady and two veterans leading their resurgence: Pirlo and Buffon.  Plus he commented on the Palermo v Fiorentina game and discussed the kerfuffle between Osvaldo and Lamela at AS Roma.  Ouch.

The day ended on a down note as Barcelona lost for the first time in any competition since April. A day later and I’m still kinda stunned.  Hopefully I’ll be able to put some thoughts together for Wednesday’s post.

Another great day of football, filled with goals and passion and drama.  Juventus continue their fight for the title, while Manchester United and FC Barcelona may have seen their title struggles come to an end.  United are five points down to City and FCB are six points behind Real Madrid.  I know it’s only November but championships can be won this early.

I was not able to keep the feeding frenzy going on Sunday as I had to drive back from Ohio.  I missed Liverpool nicking a point off City, Bilbao going down for the first time in a dozen games, Bayern losing again, Milan crushing Chievo, PSG getting thrashed by Marseille, and Levante scoring four past Sporting Gijon.  The league races in France and Germany are shaping up nicely.  Something to look into over the coming weeks.

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Podcasts

Looks like Michael from Men in Blazers is a Chelsea fan, so they spent the a majority of the opening section talking about last week’s Chelsea/Liverpool game before moving on to other EPL action.  They had Ian Darke (excuse me, Sir Ian Darke) on from ESPN to get his thoughts all the footy he has seen in recent weeks (EPL, US friendlies, MLS Cup).  This is a highly entertaining pod and I recommend it.

Off the Ball had a phenomonal series of podcasts last week.  Simon Kuper, Sid Lowe, Raphael Honigstein, Roberto Gotta and others.  I suggest listening them to all to get insights into La Liga and the Champions League games.  The guys had Grant Wahl and Graham Hunter on Thursday, who talked about where Becks might end up and the enjoyment of the Champions League Group Stage respectively.

Finally, Beyond the Pitch had Dutch International and current Ajax coach Frank de Boer on to talk about Ajax’s season thus far.  He feels they are on the right path and hope to surge up the table to defend their domestic title while making the knockout stage of the Champions League.

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Articles

Adam Digby took a look at the naming rights for stadiums of Newcastle and Juventus, and how each club is going about in very different ways.

Grant Wahl posted on si.com a couple of weeks ago about Fox winning the World Cup rights for 2018 and 2022.  I’m very skeptical.  A lot can change in the next 6 years or so, but hopefully the Fox team will go more towards sophisticated coverage instead of the dumbing down, robot filled JV squad that viewers have been getting.  If Michael Strahan or Curt Menafee or any other American Football personality is any where near the telecast, we may have an #OccupyFox movement.  And no more explaining plays on a small field.  Really demeans the people involved and doesn’t actually communicate anything.  Perhaps you have heard of ESPN Axis?

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That’s it for now.  Next weekend is shapely up nicely for another football watching binge. More to come on this on Thursday.  TEASE!!

Old Futbool Buffet–Opening Day Snoozer

The EPL kicked off this weekend and I was planning on watching Spurs (my second team in England) and Everton, but the London riots caused the game to be postponed. Scanning the rest of the English fixtures, nothing really caught my eye so I moved on to options in the Bundesliga. My original choice was Bayern Munich v Wolfsburg, because I wanted to see if Bayern could avoid an 0-2 start to the season. A follower on twitter suggested Hoffenheim v Dortmund, which would pit an up and coming challenger versus the current champions.

In the end, I missed all of the Saturday morning kickoffs. I hosted a poker game on Friday night was suffering in the morning. I ended up sleeping and lazying around most of the morning before pulling up my boot straps and cleaning the house. Bayern scored late to secure three points and Hoffenheim beat the champs. In England, Manchester United B pegged back Liverpool and Arsenal were held by Newcastle, where it sounds like there were incidents aplenty.

After getting some housework done and running some errands, I logged on to ESPN3 to see what replays were on. Fulham v Aston Villa was the only English game to I gave that a go. Figure I could see a little Clint Dempsey and the beginning of the Alex McLeish era at Villa.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the Fulham GK jersey, which was bright neon green and had Kappa logos all the way down the arms. Then I had a Phillip Senderos signing. Wow, he’s still terrible. I spent most of the match trying to decide who was worse, him or Andy Johnson. What is it that Johnson does? He runs around, sometimes into dangerous areas; he receives the ball, which almost always results in a turnover; when he finally gets a chance, he misses it.

Villa had a good spell for most of the first half, knocking the ball around, asking a few questions, before Fulham rebounded towards half time. They continued their momentum into the second stanza, with Zamora very dangerous, calling new keeper Given into action several times. In the end, neither team could break the deadlock.

Didn’t see much from Dempsey, who mostly played on the left but moved centrally from time to time, and, with the introduction of Dembele, played more of an attacking role. Heskey and Petrov committed potentially dangerous fouls in the second half that would have had Klinsi holding his breath. Thought Murphy had a decent game, picking passes to give Fulham an attacking edge. Agbonlahor disappeared in the second half and seems as if his time has gone.