Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weekend Preview and Saturday Open Thread

It seems we have now reached the point of the season where the leagues turn quite serious. Two-thirds of the way through, around a dozen matches to go, about time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

After the jump, have a look at the weekend's action. And, as always, have your say in the ol' comments.

As usual, let's start with the EPL....

7:45 EST Aston Villa v. Cheslea
10:00 EST Arsenal v. Sunderland
10:00 EST Middlesbrough v. Wigan
10:00 EST Stoke v. Pompey
10:00 EST Bolton v. West Ham
12:30 EST Manchester United v. Blackburn

The big match would be the early game, with Aston Villa, Chelsea and Arsenal locked in a battle for third and fourth. Villa's upcoming matches will likely determine their season -- if they can stay in the top 4 through early April, than they're looking quite good indeed. Meanwhile, Arsenal and Man U should each have no trouble at home against lesser competition. And after that it's just the big jumble in the lower half of the table.

Tomorrow's matches:

8:30 EST Fulham v. West Brom Albion
10:00 EST Liverpool v. Citeh
11:00 EST Newcastle v. Everton

Further down the English leagues, Bigus' Norwich host Burnley as they try to get out of the Championship relegation zone. My own Exeter City should be in good shape in League Two against Chester City, who are on a six-game skid.

Elsewhere, in the Bundesliga, here are the highlights (all matches at 9:30 EST)....

Stuttgart v. Hoffenheim - The Hoff try to get back on track
Bayern Munich v. Cologne - Featuring Lukas Podolski's former and future employer
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Hannover 96 - A battle of Americans: Michael Bradley against Steve Cherundolo
Wolfsburg v. Hertha Berlin - Can Hertha stay top of the league?

Tomorrow there's another big match with Bayer Leverkusen v. Hamburg SV. Hamburg is in title chase and Leverkusen could haul itself back into the discussion with a win.

And in la Liga...

2:00 EST Barcelona v. Espanyol - It's a derby match.
4:00 EST Sevilla v. Atletico Madrid - Does baby Agueradona make a difference? Can Atletico get back into CL contention?

And tomorrow is Osasuna v. Numancia in a relegation 6 pointer.

Enjoy all the action! And big ups to the Fan's Attic with the assist with the previews above.

133 comments:

jjf3 said...

and fucking le sulk..."with Chelsea style"

phil said...

I hate Chelsea, but that was a lovely goal. Lampard's effort was fantastic in the build up.

And the feed is gone. Is it just me or are the feeds getting shut down much faster of late?

jjf3 said...

It was a nice piece of artistry...I really thought Fat Frank had pushed it a tad too far forward, but Le Sulk chipped it beautifully. And to beat Friedel, of all people...

and games like this are why I spend the $15 a month...

jjf3 said...

Young off the post on the free...

jjf3 said...

Big Phil REALLY lost this team...I haven't seen Spartak look like this since the first month of the season...

ü75 said...

Dammit. When faced with the question of which high-priced striker to pick up this week, I chose Torres over Anelka.

jjf3 said...

Torres still has time to redeem your decision, especially against Citeh's defense, u75...

ü75 said...

Maybe. But early markers like this tend to dissipate my confidence in the baby-faced one. Hell, he probably won't even play for some reason.

jjf3 said...

S1TV was brilliant...David in Milan commenting on his "prison hell" in the US, and making fun of Tom Cruise and "old mother Hubbard"...

jjf3 said...

Villa starting to up the tempo and the threat...nice save by Cech

ü75 said...

Come on Gabby. Finish.

Villa are in this, again.

phil said...

John Terry is a petty thug.

jjf3 said...

@phil: I've always assumed that was a given...

Gern said...

Anyway both these teams can walk away with zero points?

phil said...

Innovative new strategy by Drogba: whenever you lose possession, fall down and scream.

So Chelsea at least learned one new tactic from Scolari.

phil said...

Very poor offside call on Barry there.

jjf3 said...

well, he was only onside by about a yard or so...

I know its a tough job, but can't you at least get the blatantly obvious ones right?

jjf3 said...

MON goes seriously aggressive...

Precious Roy said...

Shit... is it still snowing? Or did it just start back up?

ü75 said...

So, who does the 92nd minute OG come off of?

Precious Roy said...

When did Deco become so awful?

jjf3 said...

I'll take Alex, though it couldn't happen to a better guy than JT

Precious Roy said...

+1 to the guy in the frame behind Drogba making the jackoff hand gesture afer he shanked that.

ü75 said...

Thanks for the lost fantasy points there, Bosingwa.

Precious Roy said...

Could be worse ü, I started Quaresma.

Andrew said...

Good morning, UFers. Is everyone going to Mesopotamia for all their scoring needs?

phil said...

PR, it just started snowing again. 4" on the way.

F-n Bosingwa costing me points. dick.

phil said...

How the f*ck does he call that on Heskey?!?!?!

Andrew said...

Terry gets the yellow, for being a thug and all.

Precious Roy said...

Just for fun I put a weather widget for Stockholm on my 'puter, next to the one for Chicago. And it's almost always warmer in Stockholm.

Andrew said...

@Phil: Awful call on Heskey.

Ballack almost had that goal after Deco's brilliant set-up.

Is Gabby in the game? Or is Heskey/Carew up top with Young on the wing?

Precious Roy said...

Okay, Arsenal. Three points there to be made up. Don't shit the bed at home.

jjf3 said...

damn...that second 45 made my $15/month worth it for February...

Spartak - back to form, or new manager bounce?

Andrew said...

Ah yes, CL footie back from its break next week. The Chelsea/Juve match-up intrigues me.

Andrew said...

@jjf3: Both. Even though I only watched the las twenty, it seems Gus has given the players new confidence in their ability.

phil said...

Andrew & jjf3, let's not forget the third option: Roman's thugs waiting in the dressing room can be a powerful motivator.

Precious Roy said...

jj3:A buddy of mine and I call it "the Black Lab Bounce." Meaning: you fire a coach who's lost the team and you could hire a black lab and that underachieving team would start winning.

Andrew said...

Roman's thugs? Like Boris the Blade? He's not Russian, he's Uzbekistanian.

Spectator said...

@PR: I'm all for moving to Stockholm if you want to come with!

Andrew said...

Arshavin just wide. Almost had Emirates fall in love with him.

ü75 said...

Nice goal for SF Bolton.

Spectator said...

Stupid Fucking Bolton manage to score a goal

Andrew said...

RvP attempting the Billy Gauloise mohawk. He isn't attempting, however, to show extra effort.

ü75 said...

2-0 for SF Bolton. Davies this time.

Spectator said...

Stupid Fucking Bolton manage to score another goal!

ü75 said...

Damn you RvP. Making me yell out curses with my son in my lap.

Spectator said...

Oh Van Persie you gotta score that one!!

Andrew said...

RvP just wide of the post on a wonderful through ball. Just a foot wide on the chip. That's the way the league has been for us this year . . .

ü75 said...

WHU is done for today. Down 2-0 and an injury sub 15 minutes in.

Ibracadabra said...

Glad I took the Under 2.5 assuming C Cole was out and Bolton were inept... and 2 goals already before I wake up.

fucking gambling

Spectator said...

Oh Arshavin looking very nice

ü75 said...

Arshavin is starting off well, huh?

Andrew said...

Arshavin again with a wonderful strike, saved.

Andrew said...

@Spec, Umlaut: He is actually shooting inside the eighteen, instead of trying to make an extra pass for the sake of aesthetics. We'll see how long that lasts under Wenger.

ü75 said...

True, Andrew.

ü75 said...

NCFC go up 1-0. They need it, having slipped into the bottom 3.

Andrew said...

Does anyone have a reliable stream? Or at least a better one than what I'm watching at the middle eastern place.

Bigus Dickus said...

OH JAMIE JAMIE....JAMIE JAMIE JAMIE JAMIE CURETON.....

UP THE CITY......

ü75 said...

Mine's fine there, Andrew.

ü75 said...

Is Kenwyne Jones channeling Heidi?

Andrew said...

Yeah, mine improved significantly since I last posted.

ü75 said...

Get some power on that, Bendtner. Come on.

Andrew said...

Bendnter has a decent header, Fulop turns it around the post.

C'mon fellas . . .

ü75 said...

Jussi Jaaskawhatever just pulled a Jens after getting touched. Tried to provoke a reaction from Upson, who just walked away.

ü75 said...

In Scotland, Rangers have turned a 0-1 defecit to Kilmarnock into a 3-1 lead within 6 minutes.

Andrew said...

I think Song will end up being the other mid to play with Cesc. He's left his early season subpar form behind. Plays hard, pursues well, makes incisive passes.

ü75 said...

Luton go up 2-1 on Derek Smalls' favorite club, Shrewsbury.

Spectator said...

Luton up 2-1 against fourth place Shrewsbury

Spectator said...

Ha, we all love Luton

ü75 said...

Wow. WHU have a 1 on 1 which di michele puts about 8 yards wide.

ü75 said...

Apparently so, Spectator.

ü75 said...

Burnley equalize at NCFC. :(

Ibracadabra said...

Andrew - you are right. he has quietly looked good. any word on fabregas and/or essien's returns? looking forward to slotting in one or both in a fantasy capacity.

Spectator said...

Arsenal are giving me an ulcer

ü75 said...

Aberdeen are down 0-1 to Dundee United on a penalty. Last time they hosted the tangerines, Aberdeen lost 0-1 on a penalty.

The Dons have turned back into pumpkins after a nice midseason run.

Ibracadabra said...

watching tal ben haim on an iraqi feed. i feel like the government of dubai is allowing me to come in to the country for a tennis match. so privileged. and then i realize i'm watching ben haim.

ü75 said...

Essien is apparently close.

Andrew said...

@Ibra: No idea on Essien - thought he was done for the year. As for Cesc, the initial diagnosis was 3 months out. He's commented lately on getting back onto the pitch sooner than expected, but nothing definite. It's all conjecture.

Andrew said...

Toure's chance cleared off the line. I'm feeling that ulcer, Spec.

Ibracadabra said...

sky announcer: "at halftime its the same old Arsenal... plenty of possession but nothing to show for it."

imagine this team with walcott and fabregas back..

Andrew said...

I love watching the South African commercials. iPhone commercial with a SA accent is pretty good.

jjf3 said...

Alright, fine gents, I'm off to run some quick errands and then head to the bar to watch my Rovers get eviscerated by the ManU killing machine.

Please, please, please G-d, let Rovers find a way (ANY way, I don't care if it includes stormtroopers, hello kitty, and Samba shanking VDS) to score before the 88', and deny VDS the all-time record...I'll even accept a 5-1 loss under those conditions...

sincerely,
jjf3

Andrew said...

Come on you Gunners. An hour gone, more possession than Germany in 1942, world class talent going forward, and yet the game is still nil-nil. Do something! Stop piddling around the pitch!

Spectator said...

Where have I seen this before? Sunderland with 10 man packed in the back, Arsenal with loads of possession but no ability to get a decent shot on goal.

Spectator said...

Spector with an assist for West Ham. Why isn't he in the American side again?

Spectator said...

C'mon, score you fucking Gunners!

Andrew said...

This is bad, bad finishing football on Arsenal's part. We control 90% of the field, but God forbid we manage to put the ball between the posts.

Andrew said...

I have more confidence in either Clichy or Sagna scoring than RvP or Bendtner.

Bendtner wanted first team football. He got and has fuck-all with it.

ü75 said...

Yay. Aberdeen equalize at 2. Zander Diamond making up for giving up that penalty in the 10th minute.

ü75 said...

Back to the bench, Vela.

Spectator said...

Oh lord Vela, stay composed! And here comes Eboue. *sigh*

Ibracadabra said...

re: spectator -

spector has had too many injuries over the past 3 years though i think he got a call up in the gold cup - he will definitely get his chance under bradley sooner or later - just needs to feature regularly and is still very young... the US could use another good defender.

Goat said...

Andrew, speaking of bad finishing...

Andrew said...

Vela blows the chance of the game. Fucking awful.

And on comes Eboue for Song. That's inspiring, Wenger. True leader of men.

JT said...

West Ham game is decent. Should have just made it 2-2 but it was cleared off the line. They're lining up to score at the mo, Bolton playing 10 men on the goalline practically.

Goat said...

Just as I was about to say that Vela had to do something to atone, he blows another chance.

Andrew said...

What the fuck has happened to Vela? He's missing worse than Helen Keller. And that's not hyperbole or me trying to be funny.

COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!

If we don't score in the next 10 minutes, we can kiss 4th and all the CL money goodbye.

JT said...

Stoke 2, Pompey 1. All 3 goals within 5 minutes, including a penalty decision and a woeful non-call for offsides that allowed Stoke to take the lead.

ü75 said...

I don't know that I've ever seen Clichy subbed out.

Andrew said...

Kieran Gibbs on, Clichy heads straight to the locker room. Losing Clichy would be devastating.

Goat said...

u75--that can't be good

Goat said...

And...down goes Sagna

Spectator said...

@Ibracadabra: True that Spector has had lots of injury problems. Would've made sense to at least include him in the squad against Mexico though. Seems like a step up from Danny Califf and Marvell Wynne.

Arsenal might as well not be playing anyone in central midfield today. As if it couldn't get any worse, Clichy comes out with an injury and looks like Sagna just picked up a knock. I'm guessing that Arsenal have just guaranteed fifth and will crash out of the CL, all in the same couple weeks. Brilliant.

Ibracadabra said...

Rushden are up 9-0 at Weymouth, glad I captained lee tomlin this week in blue square fantasy premier league

ü75 said...

Result of the day (so far)
Weymouth 0-9 Rushden & Diamonds

Andrew said...

My feed is gone, so is my belief in Arsenal ever scoring another goal. The game may not be over, but this has been a woeful performance. Sunderland put ten men behind the ball, and we can't think of any way to break them down.

It won't matter when we get Cesc, Eddie, Walcott, et al. back because by that time, we won't have any shot at fourth.

Goat said...

They've got no one to carry the team on their back and ensure that they don't lose.

ü75 said...

@Ibra-
I think you may be a bit too much into fantasy.

Goat said...

Absolutely dreadful from Gallas.

Spectator said...

Arsenal really do deserve to finish fifth. It'd be a shame if Aston Villa collapse.

Andrew said...

Looks like Almunia is making a run on VDS clean sheet record.


/ebullient

JT said...

dear oh dear, Gunners. Sorry.

Precious Roy said...

FUCK!

Ibracadabra said...

@ u75: come on - you're telling me you don't have a 500 euro buy-in blue square fantasy premier league team either?

Andrew said...

Excepting for Arshavin's performance, I picked up nothing positive from that game. We can possess, but we can't finish and that's never, NEVER, good enough. If this were an anomaly, I would be okay, but we've now gone 360 minutes in the Prem while scoring only once. That is all kinds of suck. Wenger knows how other teams are going to play us, and yet we do nothing.

I'm going back to bed.

Precious Roy said...

In the 66th we had a bit of a break then maybe Song held it up and reversed field.

I knew then we weren't going to score.

Spectator said...

You know, Song + Denilson essentially equals one midfielder. Too bad they take up two starting spots.

Ibracadabra said...

@ spectator:

5th? If Everton beat Newcastle - they are 1 pt behind Arsenal. 44 - 43...

Perhaps 6th if this Arteta / Cahill / Jo connection proves worthwhile

Precious Roy said...

I think Denilson leads the EPL in pass completion percentage. And probably not a single one of them wasn''t to someone wide open standing 2 feet from him.

God that bench shot of Ade, Rosicky, Cesc and Eduardo was painful.

Precious Roy said...

Won't they be 2 points back? Thought Arsenal entered the day 4 points up. They didn't lose. It just feels that way.

Ibracadabra said...

roy -

I stand corrected. everton will be down 2 pts with a win.

Ibracadabra said...

good old reliable Fox Soccer Channel:

"Rio Ferdinand 294 appearances for Manchester United THIS SEASON"

Spectator said...

*sigh* Okay sixth it is.

In fact, Denilson is tied for most outfield starts this season with Clichy. That's just pathetic.

Agree with PR about the shot of Arsenal's bench. And Walcott wasn't even there either.

Spectator said...

Looks like the record will have to wait. Kuszczak is starting.

The Likely Lad said...

man u will not be losing any more league games this year.

and what's with nani's hair, does he know it's not the 50s and he's not in the rat pack?

The Likely Lad said...

yee-haw!

Spectator said...

Well well well.... Man U give up a goal!

The NY Kid said...

Evans wrongly denied a goal, but it's ok because he's a rapist.

Spectator said...

Those Hooters girls need their own sitcom, they are just that hilarious.

Spectator said...

My prediction that "Arsenal and Man U should each have no trouble at home against lesser competition" is looking pretty foolish.

Spectator said...

Wow off the woodwork for Blackburn!

Spectator said...

Oh Paul Robinson should've at least got a hand on that one

The NY Kid said...

I really hate Ronaldo.