I don’t know that there’s much more to be said about the current problems so let’s get specific here.
People are blaming our friend Philippe Senderos for a lot of things and while he sometimes looks shaky it’s my contention that Bobby Moore would’ve been exposed in our current defence. Let’s look:
Right then. At the very top you see part of our big problem in that the ball’s gone straight to our last defender with no midfield shield. As Alan Hansen might say, you could drive a bus through that midfield. So straight off the centre-backs are completely exposed.
Amorebieta gets close and gets turned, after which you see that Senderos and Rooney are both running towards the penalty area and Robin van Persie has the ball. I ask you: is Senderos really supposed to be able to deal with this situation on his own? Of course he isn’t. He realises how desperate the situation is and makes a futile attempt to intercept the through ball, but that doesn’t come off and moments later Rooney’s setting up Valencia.
The last picture is there to show you why Derek Boateng would be helpful: imagine that Amorebieta was in between Richardson and Senderos. Senderos probably doesn’t shade so far across (look at the hole Amorebieta leaves!!), Boateng probably doesn’t get turned so easily and there’s really no threat. Instead the ball gets straight to van Persie against a centre-back, the centre-back sells himself and from there we’re up against it. And everyone blames this goal on Senderos? Not me.
For the second goal Parker loses the ball and oh look, the defence is completely exposed again. Remember under Roy Hodgson we played Portsmouth away one evening and conceded a goal like this? Bullard got caught in possession, exposing everyone behind him. Same here, and straight away it’s 3v3 with, yep, no midfield protection. With nobody to challenge the runner Senderos finds himself with a man ahead and van Persie behind. What’s he supposed to do here? If he goes out too quick it’s too easy to go past him, so he tries to hold his shape and hopes that United misplay their advantage. Emphatically they don’t, van Persie thumping home, but again, if you’re blaming Senderos here you’re being very harsh. Sascha Riether might have been helpful here but look where he was!! Just about in shot on the far right of the penultimate photo…. oh dear.
The third goal had Riether playing the man onside, too. Maybe Senderos was slow following Rooney then but again, the damage had been done.
So yeah, blame Senderos for his awkward looking attempts to fend off an almost impossible situation if you like but we must acknowledge that this is a team defensive disaster and Senderos is only highlighted at the end of it because he’s the only one left back there. There are numerous issues before the centre-backs are brought into play, and again, they’re just so, so exposed.
At this point I can’t think of an argument for not including Derek Boateng. We haven’t seen enough to know that he’s the answer but really something has to happen. If I were Philippe Senderos I’d be furious about how bad my teammates were supporting me.
The 106th edition of the South Wales Derby will make its first appearance in the Premier League on Sunday. Cardiff City will host Swansea City in a fixture that has had its share of blood on and off the pitch. It is somewhat unfortunate that this derby has been absent for almost three years (last played on February 6, 2011). However, there has been no grander a stage than the one at Cardiff City Stadium this weekend.
First played in 1912, the South Wales Derby has been viewed by many as one of the more entertaining in all of British football. With a history of crowd fracases, this derby has two sets of fans that want nothing more than pain for the others. An example came just this week as Cardiff City fans hacked the Swansea City website and using a number of derogatory terms to describe the Swans and their fan base.
This week’s fixture between the two Welsh sides will see two teams facing different Premier League battles. Cardiff are currently fighting the relegation zone as well as instability in the front office. Vincent Tan came into Cardiff’s first season in the Premier League with lofty expectations (some reports saying he wanted a Top 4 finish). Malky Mackay has been rumored to be out for a few weeks now following the firing of the club’s Chief Scout Iain Moody. All the while, Cardiff are still a point clear of the relegation zone, and have not shown any promise of attacking football for much of the season. Rather, they have relied on their defensive shape and gritty play that comes with a Mackay-led club.
On the other side, Swansea, now Premier League regulars are attempting to balance the difficulties of the Europa League with the Premier League. Rumors of transfers for Ashley Williams and Michu continue to circle with the January window approaching. But the Swans have begun to show a solid run of form of late with a 4-0 thrashing of Sunderland followed by a hard fought 0-0 draw with West Ham in less than ideal weather conditions. Still, Michael Laudrup’s side needs to continue their solid form in order to make their way into the European places.
So what should be expected this weekend? For Cardiff, they are finally going to be fully healthy as Andreas Cornelius’ lingering injury appears to be clear if Mackay so chooses to put him on the team sheet. Furthermore, having the fixture at Cardiff City Stadium will provide Cardiff with a much needed boost while they try to add some separation from Norwich and Stoke (both a point behind Cardiff). Swansea will see this match as an opportunity to set sights on the top third of the table. And, although the last derby was in 2011, the result was a 1-0 win for Cardiff at the Liberty Stadium. Craig Bellamy provided that goal and will look to do the same as he is set to return to the Cardiff lineup.
As mentioned, Cardiff will be at full strength for this fixture. This will only be the second league match in which they can make this claim. Swansea are still without the services of Jonjo Shelvey and Ben Davies. These two absences could prove important as Shelvey has shown moments of creativity and Davies has emerged as a star for both Swansea and Wales.
Swansea – Vorm, Taylor, Chico, Williams, Rangel, Britton, Dyer, Routledge, De Guzman, Michu, Bony
As much as this would seem to favor Swansea due to consistency and depth in their squad, this is the South Wales Derby. Historically, Swansea have shined in the league fixtures winning 20 and drawing 16 of the 54 matches. However, this match will feel like that of the Manchester City fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium earlier this season. It is hard to bet against the home side getting points. But, it is too difficult to go against the smart play of a draw. At the final whistle, do not be surprised to see a 2-2 draw and possibly some fans of both sides trying to brawl in the parking lot.
Unconvincing Real Madrid survived a huge scare against bottom side Rayo Vallecano when they conceded two second-half penalties but held on to secure a nervy 3-2 victory in La Liga on Saturday.
Real were flying when a Cristiano Ronaldo double and a goal from Karim Benzema put them 3-0 ahead shortly after halftime at Rayo’s Vallecas stadium in the Madrid suburbs.
It was a stirring performance from Rayo in front of their vociferous fans and overshadowed another fine effort from Real’s world record signing Gareth Bale, whose start in Madrid has been disrupted by injury.
The €100m Wales winger followed up Wednesday’s two goals and two assists in the 7-3 win at home to Sevilla when he set up Ronaldo and Benzema with two excellent crosses.
However, Carlo Ancelotti’s expensively-assembled side were unable to control the match against their lowly city neighbours and were left reeling when Jonathan Viera struck twice from the spot in three minutes after fouls by Pepe and Marcelo.
A valiant Rayo came close to an equaliser several times and Real goalkeeper Diego López saved his team when he tipped an Alberto Bueno shot onto the post in the 65th minute.
Real’s defensive failings will concern Ancelotti but the win trimmed the gap to second-placed Atlético Madrid to two points ahead of Atlético’s game at home to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Unbeaten champions Barcelona are top with 34 points from 12 matches after their 1-0 win at home to Espanyol in Friday’s Catalan derby, with Atlético on 30 and Real on 28.
In the earlier kickoff, Real Sociedad showed off their attacking prowess ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match against visitors Manchester United when the Basque club won 5-0 at home to 10-man Osasuna to climb to seventh.
Edinson Cavani’s move to from Napoli to Paris St. Germain was one of the surprise moves of last summer’s transfer window. The Parisians, after all, already had a world-class striker in Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Having the two of them in the same side seemed almost like trying to cram two lead guitarists into the same group. After all, you can’t have a band with both Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page can you?
But as it turns out, competition from Cavani seems to have inspired Ibrahimovic to discover what’s arguably been the best form of his career.
The two goals that everyone was talking about recently were both scored by PSG in their Ligue 1 outing against Bastia. The first came in the 10th minute in the form of an acrobatic scorpion kick by Ibra, who backheeled the ball in over his head from inside the box. The Swede would go on to score again three minutes later. But his second goal was not the other one people were talking about.
That goal came just pass the hour mark, after Cavani had come on as a sub for the former Milan striker. The Uruguayan burst through a pack of defenders, danced down the touchline around Bastia’s keeper and fired a ball through two other defenders into the back of the net from an angle that was audacious to say the least.
Ibrahimovic rose to his feet to applaud it at the time. Although later, when Cavani scored a second to equal the Swede’s tally for the day, Ibra’s face betrayed something that whatever it was, was definitely not good-natured, brotherly support for one’s teammate.
Ibra again staked his claim to maintain his starting spot on Wednesday with an inspired four-goal performance against Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League. Three out of his four goals were in the classic striker mode. Artful yes, but closed from inside the box, the product of well-timed runs and well-placed balls from teammates like Gregory van Der Wiel. But with his third goal, Ibrahimovic outdid himself yet again.
Pouncing on a loose clearance about 35 yards out, the PSG man fired an unstoppable, curling rocket of a shot to the near corner that was apparently clocked at 70 mph. ESPN commentator and former Liverpool player Steve Nicol called it “the goal of the decade.”
Cavani, introduced at the 52nd minute went on to score himself. But it seemed rather pedestrian by comparison. It was Ibra who put in the day’s true command performance. His four-goal tally has elevated him to a rarified bracket of only ten other players to have scored four in a single UCL encounter.
Ibrahimovic’s form of late has made it difficult not to compare him to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Indeed, on current form, it’d be hard to argue against him being the best player in the world at the moment. If the Sweden striker can keep it up throughout the season and take it into next summer’s World Cup (at the expense of Ronaldo) this may be his best chance to thrust himself into contention for the Ballon d’Or.
A deep run into this season’s Champions League would certainly be a good place to start. The question is, can an Ibrahimovic vs. Cavani rivalry fire PSG all the way to a Champions League final? Maybe. Although many feel it’s still a bit early in terms of the French club actually winning the competition at this point.
But with Ibrahimovic having just re-upped his contract, it’s entirely feasible that PSG may indeed prove to he the club where the serial Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1, and Eredivisie Cup Winner finally gets his hands on the one trophy that’s managed to elude him.
There’s a first time for everything. The Football League in England was founded in 1888, and since its inception there has never been a matchup in the top flight between two clubs from Wales. There are nine Welsh clubs competing in the English football league system and only two have ever won a major honor in England: Cardiff City (1927 FA Cup) and Swansea City (2013 League Cup). It just so happens that both those clubs are from South Wales and have one of the nastiest rivalries in the sport.
There are many derbies of varying intensity throughout the world of football: El Clasico in Spain, Superclasico in South America, Liverpool-Manchester United in England, Derby della Madonnina (the Milan Derby) in Italy, The Kitalar Arasi Derbi (between Fenerbache and Galatasary) in Turkey and The Old Firm in Scotland, to name a few of the more volatile matchups. Most derbies are a result of extreme geographical, political, and/or religious differences. For American sports fans, the power of these derbies can’t be explained by saying “It’s like the Red Sox versus the Yankees or North Carolina versus Duke” because they simply don’t compare when it comes to the air of menace and the level of hatred involved with these derbies.
The South Wales Derby is a footballing war that (for the most part) has gone largely unseen by anyone outside of Wales. Now, with the global reach of the Premier League, this derby will take center stage on Sunday in front of a potential worldwide audience of over 700 million people across 212 territories.
The first match between the two took place 101 years ago. For the better part of fifty years, there appeared to be no tribalism between supporters of the clubs. But that may have changed starting in 1955 when Cardiff was selected as the capital city of Wales. What provoked the citizens of Swansea was not so much that Cardiff had been named ‘capital,’ it had more to do with the feeling that the Welsh government had begun to finance the city of Cardiff, while ignoring Swansea which was only 30 miles down the coast. Many citizens of Swansea still feel that they are ignored by the Welsh government as new monies are continually sent to Cardiff.
Things between the clubs seemed to escalate during a quarter-final matchup in the 1960 Welsh Cup when tension between the club directors spilled out on to the pitch. Those who recall the match described it as “brawl more than a football match”.
Much like some English derbies, the South Wales Derby turned its ugliest during the 70’s and 80’s when ‘football hooliganism’ was at its peak.
Swansea supporters continue to celebrate their most “famous” off the field victory over Cardiff by singing ‘Swim Away’ in honor of one particular clash. The ‘Swim Away’ chant (accompanied by breast stroke actions) derives from a 1988 encounter. Following a defeat to the Bluebirds, the Swansea fans hunted down some of Cardiff’s fans and chased them towards the beach until the Cardiff fans attempted to escape the Jack Army by diving into the bay. By attempting to swim away from the Swansea fans, those Bluebird supporters brought a new emphasis to the Jack’s rendition of ‘Swim Away’. Since then, the ‘Swim Away’ chant regularly resonates from the Jack Army in a taunt at Cardiff fans.
‘The Battle of Ninian Park” took place in 1993 and made headlines across Europe. A comparatively quiet match buildup was marred by crowd violence after the arrival of 1,000 Swansea fans caused the kick-off to be delayed. Hooligans made their way on to the pitch from the grandstand and seats were torn out and hurled at rival supporters shortly after Cardiff scored to take the lead. Many feel that this match brought a tremendous amount of shame to Welsh football.
This kind of fan violence is now a small element of the South Wales Derby. It is really only reserved for a minority of die-hard supporters on each side. But players from both sides have been known to get involved in the taunting of opposing supporters.
In 2006, during Swansea’s LDV Vans Trophy final victory over Carlisle at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Swansea’s Lee Trundle and Alan Tate displayed a Welsh flag they retrieved from the crowd which had the words “F**k off Cardiff” written across it.
The players should be leery of getting involved with antics such as this. This week, the Daily Mirror relayed the story of Andy Legg who played for both Welsh clubs. Legg described receiving numerous death threats in the mail and also recounted a story of one his teammates, Winston Faerber, who had accidentally opened some of his mail:
‘Winston opened one of my envelopes and there was half a razor blade fitted into it,’ Legg said. ‘I’d had some death threats before, but this was pretty nasty.
‘It sliced right into his finger when he opened it. I got a lot of abuse in that initial time after joining, some from Swansea fans unhappy that I left and some from Cardiff unhappy that I was a Jack.
“Frank Burrows, our manager at Cardiff, always used to say, ‘If you can’t take the abuse you shouldn’t be in football.’ I agree with that, but it’s a pretty big rivalry, that one [South Wales Derby]. Oh my God, it’s a big one.”
As both clubs moved into new stadiums and police presence increased, the number of violent incidents has greatly decreased. What remains is the passionate banter between the two supporters groups that will make for an intense atmosphere come kick-off time in Cardiff.
Annis Abraham is a reformed hooligan who was part of Cardiff’s notorious Soul Crew firm in the 1980s. Recently, the Guardian newspaper quoted this Cardiff season ticket holder of 41 years: “We haven’t walked the streets of each other’s ground for 15 years. People say the police are ruining it; they’re not. I don’t stick up for the police usually but they’re preventing a bloodbath. As much as I detest the way they’re brought in at Cardiff and we’re brought in at Swansea, it is needed.”
It could be argued that for the first time going into a derby since 1998, Swansea is playing to retain bragging rights as Wales’ top club. The Swans are competing in Europe (the Europa League), coming off a Capital One Cup victory (2013), and has been in the Premier League since 2011.
Cardiff has won the Welsh Cup twenty-two times and finished runners-up an additional six times. While Swansea has taken home the silverware ten times and been named runners-up eight times.
Cardiff holds the lead in 105 competitive head-to-head matches. The Bluebirds have beaten the Swans 43 times, drawn 27, and lost 35. The last match between the two clubs was held at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea and was decided in the dying minutes on a goal by Welsh legend Craig Bellamy, who gave Cardiff a narrow 1-0 win.
According to the former Bluebird and Jack, Andy Legg:
“It’s the fixture that guarantees goals – only three goalless draws in the past 50 league games – and noise so loud ‘it can shake your body.”
The South Wales Derby will not be up against any other Premier League match this weekend, so the Welsh clubs are taking center stage on ‘Super Sunday’. What viewers are about to witness has never taken place before in the top flight of English football. This is a derby that has been referred to as “the most-fierce rivalry in British football”. For the first time in history, the spotlight of the footballing world will be focused on South Wales.
Against testing the bounds of my wordplay, Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan broke the ice near halftime of a 3-1 win over OH Leuven. He now has seven goals in 13 league games this season, with five of them having opened the scoring.
It was an afternoon of fun, beers were joyfully consumed, classic songs were belted out with gusto and United seemed to slightly regain the swagger of yesteryear. It was, in other words, the sort of afternoon that had proved all too rare so far this season.
Except that United’s leisurely stroll along the Thames could have been even better had Moyes’ men capitalised on a formidable start that had them three goals up within 24 minutes, rather than sit back and negotiate the second half with all the intensity of an 18-year-old waking up stranded on a park bench after a monumental night out.
Still, if there’s one lesson that we’ve learnt so far this season is that we can’t afford to be too picky and the three points will do just fine, particularly considering that the Special One and his troops fell to an unexpected 2-0 defeat at Newcastle earlier today, which means United, while still eight, are only three points behind Chelsea.
But enough of tables, results and what not. United arrived at Craven Cottage on the back of an unbeaten run in London (or Landan, as the natives tend to call it) stretching all the way back May 2011 when they had lost at the Emirates, but without the mercurial Michael Carrick.
Carrick’s absence meant the odd couple that are Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones were again given the nod in midfield after playing against Norwich on Tuesday, while Nemanja Vidic partenered Jonny Evans at centre-back, with Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie tasked with providing goals and creativity.
Rooney and RVP wasted no time in doing just that, as they set up United’s opener after only eight minutes. Van Persie’s pass found Rooney, who seemed to take all the time in the world before setting up Antonio Valencia for the simplest of finishes, as the Ecuadorian netted his second goal of the season – that’s right, Tony has not only scored a goal this season, but he’s done so more than once.
12 minutes later United were at it again. Adnan Januzaj nicked the ball off 1950s-haircut enthusiast Scott Parker, before playing a delightful ball through for Robin Van Persie who dispatched it into the roof of the net with consummate ease, as United enjoyed the luxury that is hitting teams on the break for the first time since a 4-1 shellacking of Swansea on the opening day of the season.
With Fulham’s rearguard about as tight as a NSA’s computer under that has fallen into WikiLeaks’ hands, United trebled their advantage two minutes later as Van Persie eluded the offside trap yet again, before presenting Rooney with an open goal chance the United number 10 could not miss.
So far this season the focus has been on the partnership between Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, but today Van Persie and Rooney proved that they’re as good as any other striking duo in the league, while Antonio Valencia continued to resemble a player on his way back to form and Adnan Januzaj, while not as eye-catching as in other games, produced another fine performance.
3-0 up after 24 minutes, United looked in cruise control and would have been in the second half, bar for the three half-time substitutions David Moyes was forced to make as Rafael and Jonny Evans picked up knocks and were replaced by Chris Smalling and Shinji Kagawa, while Marouane Fellaini came on for Tom Cleverley, who seemed to suffer from blurred vision.
The chances of retaining possession with as agricultural a midfield combination as Jones and Fellaini were pretty much close to nil and so it proved as Fulham, despite their diabolical defending, were allowed back into the game when Rooney deflected a Alex Kacaniklic’s shot beyond De Gea to give the home fans something to shout about.
Yet, despite a sloppy second half performance and a couple of casual clearances, United looked comfortable, although perhaps not as comfortable as they should have been, but they secured back-to-back win in the Premier League for the first time this season and are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions.
Not that the away end worried, mind, busy as they were filling the crisp early November’s air in West London with an array of songs which sent out a message loud and clear: United aren’t back yet, but they’re not as far behind as many would like to think.
With UEFA Champions League matches returning on Tuesday and Wednesday, that means that the clubs competing in that tournament (i.e. the top clubs) play today in order to rest up before their important European matches. As a result, there are eight matches scheduled today with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal in action. The top billing goes to the last match of the day between Arsenal and Liverpool.
Here’s today’s schedule:
Saturday, November 2:
Newcastle vs Chelsea, 8:45am, NBCSN
Fulham vs Man United, 11am, NBCSN
Hull vs Sunderland, 11am, Premier League Extra Time
Man City vs Norwich, 11am, Premier League Extra Time
Stoke vs Southampton, 11am, Premier League Extra Time
West Brom vs Crystal Palace, 11am, Premier League Extra Time
West Ham vs Aston Villa, 11am, Premier League Extra Time
Arsenal vs Liverpool, 1:30pm, NBC, mun 2 Match of the Day, 11pm, NBC Sports Network
Before, during or after today’s matches, join the conversation with soccer fans around the world regarding the games being played in the comments section below.
Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic became only the fifth goalkeeper in Premier League history to score a goal today, joining the elite ranks of other scoring goalkeepers Peter Schmeichel, Tim Howard, Brad Friedel and Paul Robinson.
Here are two camera angles showing Begovic’s incredible goal:
Jozy Altidore scores today. That is all.
UPDATE: Wow, Sunderland are ruining my afternoon. By halftime, they’d gone down to nine men on one of the stupidest fouls I’ve ever seen. Then, they took Altidore and Borini off, leaving the least likely forward to excel in this situation (Fletcher).
A top-three clash in the English Premier League highlights a busy Soccer Saturday of action from all over the world.
First-place Arsenal look to continue their recent success against third-place Liverpool, who are led by one of the hottest goalscoring tandems on the planet. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have outscored more than half of the league’s clubs by themselves this season, but they will face a tough test against an Arsenal team they have not beaten in league play since August 2011. The league leaders would love to get all three points Saturday before next week’s road matches at Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United.
In other EPL action, second-place Chelsea are on a six-match winning streak across all competitions heading into their visit to up-and-down Newcastle United. Elsewhere, Fulham host a Manchester United squad trying to turn their season around, and Manchester City welcome a struggling Norwich City squad to Ethiad Stadium.
Over in the Bundesliga, first-place Bayern Munich face a trip to face a Hoffenheim squad capable of scoring and/or allowing a multitude of goals each match. In Spain, Real Madrid will follow up their seven-goal explosion earlier in the week with a trip to Rayo Vallecano, who have allowed the most goals in La Liga this season. Finally, in Italy, AC Milan look to end their winless skid against Giuseppi Rossi and sixth-place Fiorentina.
If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy the action (Today’s TV schedule is after the jump):
8:45am – Newcastle vs. Chelsea – NBCSN
9am – U17 World Cup – Argentina vs. Cote d’Ivoire – ESPN3
10:30am – Hoffenheim vs. Bayern Munich – GolTV USA
11am – Fulham vs. Manchester United – NBC Sports Network
11am – Hull City vs. Sunderland – NBC Sports Live Extra
11am – Manchester City vs. Norwich City – NBC Sports Live Extra
11am- Stoke City vs. Southampton – NBC Sports Live Extra
11am – West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Live Extra
11am – West Ham United vs. Aston Villa – NBC Sports Live Extra
11am – Real Sociedad vs Osasuna – beIN Sport en Español
11am – St. Mirren vs. Ross County – Fox Soccer Plus
12pm – U17 World Cup- Uruguay vs. Nigeria – ESPN3
12pm- Rennes vs. Olympique Marseille – beIN Sport Play
1pm – Almeria vs. Real Valladolid – beIN Sport en Espanol
1pm – Parma vs. Juventus- beIN Sport USA
1:30pm – Arsenal vs. Liverpool – NBC
1:30pm – Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Wolfsburg – GolTV USA
1:45pm – Ajax vs. Vitesse – ESPN3
3pm – Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Madrid – beIN Sport USA/beIN Sport en Español
3pm – Ajaccio vs Valenciennes – Univision Deportes
3pm – Olympique Lyon vs Guingamp – beIN Sport Play
3:45pm – Milan vs. Fiorentina – beIN Sport Play
3:45pm – Napoli vs. Catania – beIN Sport USA
3:45pm – PSV Eindhoven vs. PEC Zwolle – GolTV USA
5pm – Sevilla vs. Celta Vigo – beIN Sport en Español
7pm – Veracruz vs. Monterrey – Univision Deportes
7pm – Cruz Azul vs. Morelia – UniMas
8pm – New England vs. Sporting KC – NBC Sports Network
9pm – Tigres UANL vs. Club Leon – Univision Deportes
10pm – Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers – NBC Sport Network
11pm – Chiapas vs. Santos Laguna – Univision Deportes
With the play-in round in the books, and the final eight teams decided, the 2013 MLS Playoffs are ready to really kickoff this weekend and The SBI Show breaks down all the action in our latest installment.
Episode 86 of The SBI Show takes a close look at all four conference semifinal match-ups, including the highly-anticipated Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders series, and the tricky New York Red Bulls-Houston Dynamo match.
Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also discuss the latest with the U.S. Men’s National Team, including Steve Cherundolo’s latest injury setback, and Julian Green’s cancelled USMNT camp visit.
Give Episode 86 a listen after the jump:
What did you think of the show? Who are you picking to win MLS Cup? Holding out up Cherundolo recovers?
Manchester United manager David Moyes is reported to be furious with the inconsistent performances of his team in the Premier League. According to latest news doing the rounds, the Scot is contemplating a complete revamp
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in for some major disappointment. According to reports in The Daily Mail, the Gunners’ top target Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender has put pen to paper on a new deal with
Manchester United travel to Fulham today searching for the continuity that’s been sorely missing so far this season as the Reds seek to secure their first back-to-back league wins of the campaign at Craven Cottage.
Three wins on the trot at Old Trafford versus Real Sociedad, Stoke City and Norwich City mean United arrive in London on the back of a six-game unbeaten run in all competition, a much needed improvement after the difficult start to the campaign they endured under David Moyes and the poor results at home against West Bromwich Albion and Southampton.
While United remain under pressure – the feeling is that they’ll continue to do so until they lift some sort of silverware – for once their opponent are too, as Fulham arrive into today’s game – United’s third 3pm Saturday kick off in a row! – on the back of a poor league form and after having been knocked out by Leicester in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.
Having secured an emphatic win away at Crystal Palace two weeks ago, Martin Jol’s men crumbled against Southampton on Saturday, as they failed to create any meaningful chances, while their back four was repeatedly exposed and Jol could be without his best centre-back, Brede Hangeland, on Saturday.
If Fulham’s rearguard is creaking, United’s isn’t watertight either, considering that both teams have already conceded 12 goals this season in the Premier League and David Moyes must address his team’s defensive shape.
Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic returned to the starting XI against Norwich on Tuesday, but both could again miss out to Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, as Moyes is expected to show faith in the younger centre-backs pairing yet again, while Danny Welbeck is still nursing a knee problem and will miss the trip.
With Welbeck out, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie will again be the men United turn to for creativity and goals. The former has scored or assisted 11 goals in his last 15 Premier League away games, while the latter has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League away games, bringing his tally to 16 in 22 Premier League games away from Old Trafford since joining United.
It’d be interesting to see who will partner Michael Carrick in midfield, for while United are theoretically better equipped than the Londoners in the middle of the park – not something Reds get to say very often – Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell are likely to raise their game and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Marouane Fellaini starting, particularly to provide height in defensive situations, given that Fulham have scored a league-high four goals originating from corners this season.
United are unbeaten in each of their last 11 Premier League games in London since losing to Arsenal in May 2011, but the South West corner of the capital is particularly uninviting territory for them, considering that four of their last five league defeats in London have come against either Chelsea or Fulham.
The Cottagers, who sit in 13th place but are only two points clear of the relegation zone, have won just one of their four home league games this season, scoring a meagre four goals and have lost the last five in a row against United, including last season’s corresponding fixture, when a Wayne Rooney goal sealed a 1-0 win for United, after the game had to be interrupted as the lights had gone out.
Hopefully there’ll be no interruptions today and United can bag three points while we make the most of a great day out!
Remember, if you’re a matchday Red looking to buy tickets for upcoming Manchester United matches, you can find tickets for all their games via Ticketbis.com.