20 Teams, 20 Thoughts: An American-Tinged EPL Opening Weekend Preview

The Prem is back….

TSG Staff contribution

After last year’s 6-part Premiership preview, the expectations were high this year.

We let you down. Our board has instructed us to cut back our budget of $0, free writers were asked to take gouging pay cuts, even TSG’s plan to actually, finally!, get itself a respectable logo is wallowing somewhere in nice-to-have-land somewhere in Q4.

But our stock is still stronger than Manchester United’s. Bang!

Let’s do this–albeit briefly–to get us juiced for tomorrow’s EPL, BPL, The Prem, The Barclays, season.

Twenty thoughts, twenty teams. Go, in no particular order:

After the snow falls, so does Cole…

West Ham: Welcome back Carlton Cole.

Folks, mark this date on your calendar: November 10th.

Tens of thousands of England fans will be pushing for Cole to be back in the national team picture.

Now mark this date on your calendar: March 15th.

I will remind TSG fans that tens of thousands of England fans once wanted Carlton Cole back in the national team picture earlier in the season.

Aston Villa: Marc Albrington still looks like an elf and Shay Given is still likely the starting goalkeeper. Brad Guzan is back-backing up and Randy Lerner–despite a sale of the Cleveland Browns–probably won’t deposit to much more in the coiffeurs.

Paul Lambert is on the scene and they brought in a few players from the Dutch league in the offseason, but one of them was Aussie Brett Holman whose play a few years ago at Blackburn was as mundane as his name. Yawn.

The EPL’s most boring team. [Nods head]

What they need is some Bob Bradley in their life. Too bad they passed on his son. That Roma transfer fee would’ve been nice.

Aston Villa kicks off against West Ham this weekend and how appropriate is that, because the Villians are a good bet to do the dipsey-do drop-pop that West Ham did in getting relegated and returning to the Prem a season later. I’d bet on it.

Dempsey is holding for chances to embarrass Terry at another location…

Fulham: I don’t feel bad for Fulham.

Clint Dempsey holding out, someone cue some Barry Manilow (“Looks like we made it!“).

Moussa Dembele smelling the warm and abundant green bread wafting across the straits from The Real Madrid.

Each year, Fulham play and act as “the little team that could” in London. The Cottagers play well enough to be respectable given their “small club” status, but they top out–not aspirational or good enough to challenge to be hovering closer to Prem bridesmaid status.

Each year someone on Fulham wants to go, last year it was Bobby Zamora. Do we feel bad for a club that continues to aggregate talent, but doesn’t take a shot at greatness for at least one season even though their manager has enough money to erect a freaking Michael Jackson statue outside the park? I don’t now. And you shouldn’t either.

Bottom’s up at McBride’s bar!

Stoke City: Will the Brit flacks accept Geoff Cameron as really a rich man’s Phil Jones or will they discount his abilities because he originates from near where the Boston Tea Party went down and doesn’t speak with the right accent or show the right papers at the border?

Here’s a question–and we’re probably sounding like a baffoon here–has Cameron eclipsed Lamar Odom as the best present-day alum in the history of URI?

(One quick final note, we think Emile Heskey ends up at Stoke City, right? FC Direct Football and vertical stripes do have a slimming effect. Can we book it?)

Chelsea: Can we all just take a step back here.  Does anyone realize that Ashley Cole will play his 200th match for Chelsea this year? Everyone recognizes that Cole is good. Good at defending, good at crossing, good at bombing runs. Great with a semi-automatic bb gun aimed at an intern–that’s neither here nor there–but the player is great.

Despite what largely seems like some major stains socially, Ashley Cole probably is the best defender of the past five years–at the very least he it top five. Who else could you put in that bucket? Maicon, dominant once, but now largely ambivalent about his play. Phillip Lahm, sure and terrific, he’s up there. Anyone else? Gasp, John Terry? Vidic? Sure but he’s been injured too. Carlos Puyol? Yup.

You’re top three are Cole, Lahm, Puyol, right?

In other news, Shaquilukaku out on loan, that’s a shame.

The Great Presider…

Tottenham Hotspurs: That’s a pretty suit you’ve got on their AVB, with an exquisite purple hering bone lining. Tailored to perfection.

Do you even like Scotty Parker AVB? Because, you know, he’s so not Juan Mata on the ball.

Will Andre Villas Boas play prettyball with the Spurs when their GM Dan Levy is extremely shrewd to a frugal bent?

Might Dan Levy’s moves be just shrewd enough? Says here that former Hoffenheim, by way of Swansea, man Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the best buy summer buy. He will not be Rafael Van Der Farting around on the ball. Kid can play.

 Norwich City:  Hello Chris Houghton. Remember when he got dumped out at Newcastle and everyone–Jonathan Wilson!–was aghast. Hypocrisy! “Houghton is a fantastic manager.”

Well you’re back here in now in the Prem Chris…lay some hurt on Prison Stripes.

Everton: Pretty boy Jack Rodwell, the single buy for Manchester City this offseason.

That’s $12M on the return. Then there is Tim Cahill, that’s what, maybe $2M at best?. That’s $14M subtract $4.5M for Steven Pienaar’s (triumphant?) return. That’s $9 and change for what? Lining pockets or actually improving the team.

Is a portion of that enough for a January buy of Landon Donovan? Probably? Will it happen?

Everton is still looking pretty with two of their defenders most recently on the backline of the Three Lions. Maroune Fellaini Potential Realization Project might happen this year. What can they add? Will they add?

Oh and of course Everton will abide by the Everton rule again this year, mainly, “Can we start this campaign off even worse than the year before?” Given that this is a trend, at some point, Everton should just close up shop, tell the FA to concede all their games until January, save up some player salary and operating expenses and buy someone reasonable in January, I don’t know, like Mikel Arteta, no…some scorer, Carlton Cole, scratch that, someone and really make their second half push that much better.

Liverpool: Does Andy Carroll have a few moneyballs  in him this campaign? Next.. damn over-saturated media team. Done with you. Do something after Turkey, would you.

QPR:  Will the real Abet Taarabt please stand up? Thank you.

Fisticuffs: Ji-Sung Park, Fabio Da Silva. Sunderland is getting mighty steamed that sloppy United seconds are headed Queen’s Park way.

Better question here: Has anyone every seen Fabio and Rafael Da Silva in the same place at the same time? Ponder that.

Swansea City: Bye bye bye, Brendan Rogers to the aforementioned Liverpool who is taking his n’synced attacking program to Kopville.

In is Michael Ladrup.

More in is Michu from Rayo Vallecano, who should be on your fantasy team right now. 10 goals, 4 assists at minimum.


West Brom: I like Chris Brunt. You should look like Chris Brunt. Baggie captain Chris Brunt should be a star, nay he is, should be a SUPERSTAR, but he cries out, “MEDIC!” far too often on Saturday.

Is this the year Chris? You’re 27. I want more YouTube hits Brunt, like five million more.

I see it. I see it. Prem best eleven for the man who has committed his career to the Hawthornes.

Wigan: How messed up is Wigan.

Here goes.

Their manager is lauded as an expert and was photoshopped in a picture with Liverpool owner John Henry this offseason.

They’ve got some serious skill in Victor Moses, Franco DiSanto (TSG have) and the on-loan Ryo Miyaichi but they play on a field that makes it feel like they’re running with gum on the soles of their cleats. If any team should want to play on a plastic pitch, it’s this one.

Someone will get poached in January and Wigan will just survive the drop and Martinez will be photoshopped again next year.

Newcastle: Chiek Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonás Gutiérrez, Hatem Ben Arfa and now Vurnon Anita…me oh my. Not since the days of Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, Keane has their been this

Too Krul To School in goal.

Papissba Ba-Cissé up top!

The Tynesiders are downright scary looking on paper this season.

Reading: Can someone explain to me how Bobby Convey ever played for Reading? This is their fan base (below) upon promotion last year:

[sorry brain cramp on Reading; they’ll be fun to watch though]

Southhampton: See Arsenal entry below …. & Dear Southhampton, please deal directly with United or City going forward & make a few more bucks..

Arsenal: Woe is Arsenal. Rights?

RVP, kissing the badge early. Oops! Wrong one.

The Robin Van Persie transfer must be crushing, but not how you think. This isn’t Cesc Fabregas going back to his academic upbringings. RVP said today he listen to that little kid in him, but that little kid wore a highly respected shirt at Highbury.

This isn’t even Arsenal selling off the Van Shot Ripper to Juventus.

This sale makes that statement that Manchester United is now an echelon above you. You, Arsenal, aspire to Manchester United. Eish!

Will you believe your Arsenal fan-friend this year when they are 12 points out with 6 weeks left again and regal you that they are not mathematically eliminated. Now you will not. No intent. No aspiration.

Arsenal, the Southhampton of the Premiership. That said, I expect a better team attack from Wenger’s wonders this season. They brought in Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla; three offensive players that can give them multiple looks up top.




[Sunderland just finished laughing about fleecing Liverpool in that Jordan Henderson transfer thing.]

Rumor is Lee Cattermole tested positive for marijuana smoking in the offseason, the FA found that to be a performance-enhancing drug.

Wait a second, Nigel De Jong is from Holland. What the hell was his childhood like? How did that angst happen?

Manchester City: YAYA SEE! YAYA RUN! YAYA SMASH! … Jack Rodwell clean up mess.

Ed Norton cannot stop me!


Manchester United: Can someone please photoshop Malcom Glazer’s mug on J Wellington Wimpy.

Who would have thought though that Manchester United’s stock would plummet less than Facebook and Zynga? Well, not Zynga, but….

Season’s up!

23 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mbw on 2012/08/17 at 12:06 PM

    As much as it pains this proud mountaineer to report, Geoff Cameron is not a WVU alum, having transferred to Rhode Island after his sophomore year. Meaning the most famous WVU sports alum will remain the man on the NBA logo.


  2. Posted by John Mosby on 2012/08/17 at 1:22 PM

    I doubt there are many redskins fans who would say there is a more famous mountaineer than mr Sam Huff, and DC is a heck of a lot closer to Morgantown than LA.


  3. Posted by Union on 2012/08/17 at 1:43 PM

    Really was looking forward to some Liverpool analysis. Now I’m broken.


  4. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/17 at 4:32 PM

    Quick EPL fantasy guide. Saw some terrible guidance on Grantland today.

    Here are some pointers:

    * Check the health/fitness of players before buying anyone. Understand if they are an injury risk or not. Check their age. Players who are in their 30s are more likely to have higher risks of injuries (that’s a fact).

    * Know which teams start fast and which teams start slow. For example, Everton starts slow nearly every year, same with Manchester United (typically). This doesn’t mean don’t buy a player from either squad it merely means set your team up appropriately to understand that players from these teams are typically long term investments.

    * Know your squads. For example, can you expect Swansea to be as good losing Sigurrdson & Brendan Rogers? Probably not. So a Nathan Dyer buy is a risk, not a good buy.

    * Know your injuries. The worse thing you can do at the beginning of a season is start with a player who is injured or doubtful. Why? Many first timers panic and transfer that player out of their line-up reducing his value. I noticed this today with Coloccini who is doubtful tomorrow. I just didn’t take the risk of keeping him and swapped him out for Skrtel.

    * Understand positional changes: Gareth Bale is a great example. He’s listed as a midfielder, but he’s playing further up the pitch. What this means for his scoring is uncertain as yet, but my bet is he’ll score more.

    Defenders who play often in the midfield are extremely valuable as well.

    Much of EPL fantasy is how you manage the first two months of the season. That’s where bargains can be had because of volatile player value movement due to panicky buyers and sellers.

    Oh and one more. EPL stands for … well it means something like English Premier League.
    There’s an emotional value to players (see: Walker, Kyle) — English nationality players are usually at a premium to their true value.

    (Our league is up on the right)


  5. Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2012/08/17 at 5:07 PM

    I’m relatively new in my fandom of club football so I was wondering if you all could help me out here. Is the whole Dempsey-Fulham affair a regular occurrence in professional soccer? Im sure there are a million factors at play and the situation is more complicated than it looks – Clint’s desire to play for a potential CL club, a frosty relationship with Jol, Fulham’s desire to get fair value for Deuce and not just give him away, etc.

    But this whole thing just makes Dempsey look like a little bitch. Maybe I’m way off with that opinion. I’m willing to concede that I might be overlooking some major factor involved. But why not just play out your final year in SW6? The clubs that have expressed an interest (Liverpool, Everton) aren’t really in a better position than Fulham when it comes to CL play. So suck it up, play your ass off, score 20+ goals again this season at Craven Cottage, and then negotiate with whoever you want next summer. Am I missing something here?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/17 at 5:13 PM

      Well what we don’t know was what was said in his last contract negotiation.

      For example, when Brek Shea re-upped with FC Dallas, I’m sure there was a conversation around a desire to play abroad. The longer contract gives MLS leverage in the situation.

      In terms of Dempsey, same thing. You don’t know what was said during the last contract. It’s different in soccer, because the transfer request of a player is typically honored if they want to move.

      It’s more difficult for Fulham, because Dempsey is a key part of their team and they really won’t get back the true value of what he brings to the club. Additionally, it’s like Fulham is bringing in a lot of money. They have less transfer velocity so they can’t make a mistake.

      In terms of Dempsey, I would say that, yes, pending internal conversations he should be playing instead of holding out, but we don’t know if Liverpool made a $6 or $7M offer and Fulham is just holding out for more.


      • Posted by John Mosby on 2012/08/17 at 5:27 PM

        Matthew, if Liverpool made an offer, why would jol say fulhAm have received no offers? Unless it wasn’t a formal written offer, in which case it would not be an offer anyway.


        • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/17 at 8:13 PM

          I’m fairly certain Jol said “firm offer”.

          I’m guessing if he wanted $100 and you offered him $50 dollars that would not be a “firm ” offer.

          Anyway, this should probably be settled before the window closes otherwise, Fulham are stuck with an unfit, disgruntled player whose value is dropping the longer he sits around.


          • Posted by John Mosby on 2012/08/17 at 8:39 PM

            A team makes an offer, it does not matter if it is a firm one or a soft one, besides, what jol said was firm interest, which means nada.

            There is another team that could be stuck with an unfit player as well and they have a couple very crucial game in September


            • That may be as far as you are concerned, in which case you will have to take this up directly with Jol who is best equipped to tell you what he means by what he says.

              If reasonable people are in charge of this thing then something should get done before the deadline, Otherwise, everyone loses.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/18 at 6:37 AM

              Firm offer means formal, no? Rather than one chairmen making an inquiry about Dempsey…

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/17 at 8:25 PM

      In addition to what matthewsf said the latest turn of events means the onus is on both Fulham and Dempsey to get it done now.

      • If he does not replicate last year, which may be tough to do, he will lose value
      • He’s not getting any younger
      • Clint wants to build towards the 2014 World Cup. If he transitions this season
      it would be better than having to transition in 20 13.

      It is too bad it has dragged on this long because now his value has taken a hit and getting him back to playing for Fulham, if he winds up having to do that, will be tough. Which is why I think something will get done before the window closes.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/18 at 3:10 AM

      You’re also missing the fact that Dempsey was left out of preseason trips by Fulham not because he refused to show up. There was a lot of talk that Dempsey wouldn’t be playing for Fulham this weekend from Jol because he wasn’t fit because they hadn’t used him in preseason. As is usually the case there are two sides to every story and Dempsey has kept quiet about his side so far.


      • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/18 at 5:49 AM

        The reports I read said Clint was injured and he and Jol agreed he should not go on these trips.
        Of course, I’ve also read reports that contradicted that.
        It’s a little like listening to the guy at work complain about his divorce. I think it is probably best to take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Both sides will do what they have to.


  6. Off topic here, but in light of the recent post about the playoffs race and goals for, I figured I would share something that’s kind of amusing I found while looking at the playoff standings.

    Chris Wondolowski has outscored Chivas USA thus far
    Alvaro Saborio and Kenny Cooper are one goal shy of Chivas USA
    Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane are only three goals shy of Chivas USA despite playing less games. (GP: Henry – 17 | Keane – 20 | Chivas USA – 21)


  7. Posted by dth on 2012/08/17 at 9:09 PM

    OT, also, but: if you get the Pac-12 Networks and are a fan of women’s soccer, I recommend watching Stanford from time to time. They play some nice stuff.

    Totally unfamiliar with the men’s side of things in college soccer, but I imagine some teams play some good stuff (maybe?)


    • Posted by Nelson on 2012/08/17 at 10:54 PM

      I caught myself watching some ACC women’s soccer tonight. While I do appreciate women’s soccer, I think I watched more tonight because of the players than the game. the beautiful game…


  8. Posted by dth on 2012/08/18 at 8:14 AM

    The worrying thing for Liverpool is that they already look quite a bit like a Brendan Rogers team. It would appear the team is undertalented.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/18 at 10:11 AM

      Or that Brendan Rodgers has been figured out. Their only wins last season after March were Blackburn and Liverpool. That was out of 8 games including a 3-0 loss to Blackburn and a 4-4 tie to Wolves. Swansea had a lot of games last year where they conceded a lot of goal. They were -7 in goal differential.


      • Posted by evan on 2012/08/18 at 5:26 PM

        didn’t see the Liverpool game or the Arsenal game, but i watched Tottenham vs. Newcastle and it seems Tottenham could definitely use a player like Deuce. it seems the only forwards on their roster now are Defoe and Vandervart? and they got plenty of cash from the Modric sale. i’d like to see Dempsey go to Tottenham or Arsenal. or Everton would be a good fit as a darkhorse. Liverpool not so much…


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