Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Morning Keeper – EPL Week 1

Summer vacation is over for the more than casual soccer watching fan as the English Premier League kicked-off with some excellent matches and interesting storylines. Thankfully Fox Soccer Channel and DirecTV worked out their differences so all of the EPL matches are now carried in HD instead of 1984 basic cable SD. If you are looking for a scoring re-cap, hit up or any of a million other soccer websites, this is a quick look at some of key stories from the weekend.

Joe Hart got the nod to start in net over previous number one starter, Shay Given, for Manchester City against Tottenham on Saturday and he did not disappoint. Seeing as many shots in the first twenty minutes as a groom does at this bachelor party, Hart played out of his mind saving no less than four certain goals and ended up holding Tottenham to a scoreless draw. Of course the camera constantly panned to Given on the bench who was even showing signs of being impressed; whether it was Hart’s play or the extra-comfortable reserve seats we don’t know. As much as the club would like to have both keepers available, Shay’s days at Man City are drawing to a close as the cornation of Sir Hart was carried out on Saturday.

Apparently Didier Drogba never heard of the expression, “go easy on the new guy,” as he unloaded on West Brom with three goals and one assist all before being replaced in twenty minutes left in the match. That’s what Chelsea does, they score goals early and often, leaving their foot on the gas pedal the entire season. Even with the league title in their hands with just a victory last season, Chelsea still lit up Wigan for eight goals in the final match last season. There’s a lot of talk about Manchester United reclaiming the title this season, but my money is on Chelsea this season unless injuries become a factor.

As stated in our previous blog entry, if you are new to the EPL and looking for a team, Blackpool is a fun pick. One of the three teams promoted from the Championship League last year, Blackpool is probably considered the least likely of the three to fend off relegation by the end of this season. However, no one told Blackpool this information as they went to Wigan and won 4-0 on Saturday and currently sit in second place in the league. Sure it is only one game in a very long season, but you have to love the little guy showing up for the fight. The Tangerine Army will have to get a draw against Arsenal next weekend before anyone will take notice, one can only hope. Blackpool’s boss, Ian Holloway, has also stated that he plans to spend some money and try to get some transfers in the next two weeks to strength the team.

Finishing out the weekend you have to feel for Pepe Reina, goalkeeper for Liverpool, after a Three-Stooges-like own-goal to give Arsenal a point in the 1-1 draw. After going down a man before halftime, Liverpool went on to score right out of the lockeroom and then held The Blues at bay until the 90th minute. Let’s give credit to Reina, he probably had the second best goal keeping effort of the weekend (behind Joe Hart) if you can ignore the own goal. But in this beautiful game all goals count whether scored from 40 yards out or fumbled in by your own goalie.

Manchester United host Newcastle United later today to close out the weekend, which should be a good test for the Championship League winners from last season. Looking forward, the matches to watch next weekend will be Fulham versus Manchester United on Sunday and Liverpool at Manchester City on Monday.


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