Posts Tagged ‘EPL’

Chelsea takes on Manchester City and I’ll be keeping a running blog post while I’m watching the game.  If you look at my Top 5 Hated Soccer Teams list from my previous post you’ll see that these two teams.  Man City is higher on that list so I have (slightly) more venom for them.  I usually would have no use for this game but the whole Wayne Bridge/John Terry drama is too much for me to pass up.  If they weren’t playing each other I’d probably be watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal movie on Super Action, a replay of Korea winning baseball gold at the 2006 Beijing Olympics (for the 1,000th time) or South Korea’s exploits in the 2002 World Cup (for the 100,000th time).  As you can see, my Saturday night TV viewing is very limited in the ROK.

Besides the Bridge/Terry thing there are other important storylines with this game.  Man City manager, Roberto Mancini, may be on the hot seat since his teams poor run of form assures them that they will not win any hardware this season.  That’s not what the multi-billionaire Dubai owner wants to hear from a team he’s spent so much money on.  A loss here might seal his fate.  Adebayor is out of this game because of the red card he picked up against Stoke City.

Chelsea leads Manchester United by only one point after Man U’s win earlier in the week.  A loss here makes the title chase even more interesting.  Man City beat Chelsea at the Eastlands 2-1 on December 5th so the Blues will be looking for revenge.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Bridge and Terry are the main draw here.  Earlier this week, Wayne Bridge turned his back on England and doesn’t want to be in the squad going to South Africa.  Fabio Capello probably has mixed feelings about his decision but, at the same time, it might make his job easier.  There certainly will be less tension in the locker room and England has no shortage of left-backs.  England are my pick to lift the trophy but it’s still too early to be sure.  Bridge said he would refuse to shake Terry’s hand in the pre-game ritual.  Some of Bridge’s Man City teammates said they would do the same.  We’ll see what happens.  Either way, there will be plenty of boo’s and whistles whenever Bridge touches the ball.  I think Bridge and Terry shake hands, they’re professionals

Lineups:

Chelsea – Hilario (GK), Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry (C), Lampard, J. Cole, Mikel, Ballack, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka

Manchester City – Given (GK) (C), Richards, Bridge, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, A. Johnson, Barry, De Jong, Tevez,                           Bellamy

Substitutes:

Chelsea – Turnbull (GK), Ferreira, Alex, Belletti, Matic, Kalou, Sturridge

Manchester City – Taylor (GK), Onuoha, Sylvinho, Toure, Wright-Philips, Santa Cruz, Ibrahim

Referee: Mike Dean

The Game:

Players in the tunnel waiting to come out.  Mike Dean has words with Shay Given.  I wonder if he’s telling him not to refuse to shake Terry’s hand like some players had threatened to do.

Teams making their way out on the pitch and line up for the pre-game ritual.  Chelsea in all blue.  Man City wearing white with a red and black diagonal stripe on their shirts.  The look like River except with the added black stripe and the fact that River Plate’s uniform looks a million times cooler.

Pre-game handshake time.  Things going smoothly so far.  Terry extended his hand, Bridge looked at him but refused to shake his hand.  Crowd erupts in boos.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time.  I was wrong about Bridge being professional about this.

I guess John Terry is the bigger man

Mancini and Ancelotti have a hug and a smile.  Will this be it for Mancini?

1st Half:

Chelsea kick off.  We’re off.

Hilario handles a slow roller well.  It’s not a sure thing with him, given the way he looked against Inter in the Champions league in mid-week.

Boos for Bridge as he takes the throw in.

What’s with Jolene Lescott’s hair?

I wonder how long the crowd can keep up booing Wayne Bridge?

Cheers every time John Terry touches the ball.  Can they keep that up too?

Quick shot by Lampard.  Save Given.

Gareth Barry is not happy for some reason.  Ref has a talk with him.  I think a yellow card for Barry will happen today.

If John Terry scores, Stamford Bridge will explode.

Tevez’ first touch is a hand ball.

Nice move on the right side by Ivanovic.  Quick shot and Given saves.

Fabio Capello in the house.

What’s with all the (bad) tattoo sleeves?

Adam Johnson with a free kick from the right of goal.  Too strong for Kompany to get on the end of it.

Malouda thinks about taking a shot from 30 yards.  Not a good choice.

Mancini knows this isn’t Italy right.  Managers in England aren’t fashion plates.  Take off that stupid scarf!

Drogba hauled down by Richards right outside the box to the left of goal.  Where’s the yellow?  Free-kick.  Drogba over the ball.  Short pass to Lampard.  Quick shot.  Blocked.  Poor choice on the play.

Ballack finally makes an appearance at the 15 minute mark.  Nice shiner.

Drogba makes a nice pass across goal to no one.  Where’s Cole or Lampard?

Rough entry by Malouda on Johnson.  Free kick for Man City to the right of goal about 20 yards out.  Johnson takes the kick.  Straight to Hilario.  Save.  Another poor free-kick choice.

Nice quick shot by Joe Cole.  Given punches.  Possession favoring Chelsea.

20 minutes in and Tevez has yet to touch the ball with his feet.

Crowd giving Hilario sarcastic cheers every time he kicks the ball.  That won’t help his confidence.

Bellamy a mile offsides.  He doesn’t think so.  Of course he doesn’t.

Drogba heads an Ivanovic pass right over the goal.  Close

Chelsea leads in shots 6-1 at the 25 minute mark.

Tevez receives the ball at the center line.  I’m sure Chelsea don’t mind him getting the ball there.  Quick back pass.

Nice run by Joe Cole.  Passes to Ivanovic.  Return pass to Cole too strong.

Anelka has a go from 20 yards.  Right to Given.

Malouda OWNING A. Johnson so far, 30 minutes in.

Drogba shows up on the right makes a cross on goal.  Kompany almost put it into his own net.  Corner.  Ball comes out, to Ivanovic.  Cross.  Drogba, Richards, and Zabaleta go down in a heap.  Drogba and Zabaleta knocked heads.  Drogba gets up but Zabaleta on the ground and looks dazed.  He walks off the pitch slowly.

Joe Cole and Bridge having a chat at 32 minutes.

Richards steps in on Anelka.  Free-kick Chelsea.  Malouda takes the kick from the left of goal.  The kick crosses the field and out.  Poor.

Crowd can’t keep up with booing Bridge.  They’re losing interest.

Lampard’s errant shot goes to Drogba who puts it right over the goal.  Another close one.

Zabaleta returns at 35 minutes.

Nice run by Anelka.  Diagonal for Drogba in the box.  Too long.

Tevez is pretty much just taking up space.  A non-factor.

I forgot Gareth Barry was still in the game (36 minutes).

Is Craig Bellamy supposed to be somebody?

Anelka pretty much doing whatever he wants.

GOAL Lampard at 42 minutes.  Nice pass from Joe Cole.  Lampard was alone in front of goal.  What were Richards and Kompany doing on the play?  Chelsea lead 1-0.

I hope Mancini is just renting.

Surprisingly clean game so far.  Not many whistles.

Man City looks shaky.  Two shots by Cole and Lampard stopped by Given.

GOAL Man City.  Tevez scores (45+2).  Game tied 1-1.  Tevez goes 1 v 2 on the break.  Hilario pretty much just watching as Tevez zigzags and can’t get his hands on Tevez’ weak, rolling shot.  Did I mention Hilario is terrible?

Lescott almost heads in a free-kick.  Hilario overplayed it.  Lucky it was wide.

Mike Dean blows the whistle for half time.

Half:

Terry giving it to the linesman as he walks off.

Lucky goal by City.  Otherwise, they have been awful.  Chelsea in charge of the play.

Can a coach get fired during the game?

2nd Half:

Manchester City kicks off and goes backwards.

Richards makes a hot run up the right but hen he remembers he plays defense and promptly gets confused and loses the ball.

Step in by Terry.  Free-kick Man City right outside the area.  Tevez, bridge and A. Johnson standing over the ball.  Wall set.  Bridge puts it right into the wall.  Malouda makes a run but it fizzles.

Nice effort by Carvalho to keep play alive.  Ivanovic loses the ball in the box.

GOAL Man City (51 min).  Bellamy makes a run on the left side and what looks like a pass turns into a goal.  Right under Hilario’s left hand.  He overplayed it again.

Man City up 2-1 on two goals against the run of play.

Drogba pushed off by Lescott in the box.  Referee says no.  Dean was wrong.  Lescott even extended his arm to push-off.

Ballack taken down to the left of the box.  Drogba will take the free-kick.  Wall set.  Blocked.  Corner.  Lampard takes.  Shot goes through the box.  Cross by Terry.  Save by Given.

Joe Cole is doing a lot of work.

Crowd is a bit dead except for the Bridge boos, which have picked up again.

Zabaleta shown a yellow card (57 min) by Dean for constantly asking for a yellow card.  Karma.

Ivanovic picks up a yellow (58 minutes) for a body on Barry.

Substitutions coming.

Man City:  Wright-Philips for A. Johnson (60 mins)
Chelsea:   Belletti for Mikel (60 mins)
Chelsea:   Sturridge for Joe Cole (61 minus)

I can see the Mikel substitution because he was never really part of the game.

Why did Joe Cole come off?  He was running the midfield and controlling play.  Mistake.

Mike Dean giving Tevez and Terry a taking to after the players had words.  Tevez should’ve been shown a yellow for the push (63 mins).

Sturridge has had two touches and looked terrible.  Fans booing the move.

Long pass by Ballack out-of-bounds.

Ivanovic bails out Hilario by stopping Bellamy on the break.  Corner.  Barry takes and Hilario alertly punches.

Man City has a bit of momentum.  Chelsea has stalled.

Anelka fights his way into the box and takes a quick shot.  Blocked by Given.

Ballack given a yellow (68 mins) for wasting time and tells the linesman to go fuck himself.

Substitution:

Chelsea:  Kalou for Carvalho (70 mins)

Bellamy takes a long-range shot which Hilario surprisingly stops.

Kalou should make a difference.  He looked good against Inter in the Champions League.

Given charges out to anticipate Drogba (71 mins).

Sturridge looks terrible.  Why Ancelotti?

Nice long shot by Ballack.  Given there.

Belletti takes Barry down in the box from behind.  Penalty for Man City and red card for Balletti.  Chelsea reduced to 10 men.  Tevez takes.  GOAL (76 mins).  3-1 Man City.  GAME OVER!!!

Mancini saves his job I think.  Wasn’t Mark Hughes fired after a victory?

Manchester United will stay one point behind Chelsea in the standings.

Substitution:

Manchester City:  Santa Cruz for Bridge (78 mins)

Looks like Mancini wants to score more goals.

Weak shot by Lampard (79 mins).  Save Given.

Wright-Philips with a screamer (80 mins).  Wide right.

Ballack shown yellow/red for tackle on Tevez.  Chelsea down to 9 men.

Fans are starting to stream out as Tevez pretends to limp off.

Shot by Drogba easily saved by Given.

GOAL Bellamy (87 mins).  Wright-Philips makes a nice run on a break from the right and crosses to Bellamy for the tap in.  Where’s Hilario?  4-1 Man City.

Manchester City has three goals against the run of play.

Garbage time.

Substitution:

Manchester City:  Sylvinho for Tevez (90+1)

Anelka is taken down by Barry in the box.  Penalty.  Lampard to take.  GOAL (90+1).  Man City lead 4-2.  Too late to help.

Abramovich looks bored.

Mike Dean blows the whistle to end the game.

Game Thoughts:

Mancini lives to see another day.

The Joe Cole substitution is puzzling because he was a huge part of the game.  Chelsea started going downhill with the introduction of Sturridge.

Sturridge looked out-of-place and tight.

Cech will be out a least a month with the leg injury he picked up mid-week against Inter.  If they can’t hold on to the lead at the top of the table, this will be a major reason why.  Hilario is terrible.  He doesn’t seem to know what to do.  He overplayed all three Manchester City non-penalty goals.  How did Chelsea get stuck with him as their back-up?  With all the money they spend they can’t get a decent back-up?

Chelsea was the better team up until Balletti’s red card.  Manchester City made the most of their breaks.

I don’t think I saw De Jong or heard his name during the whole broadcast.

Lampard looked second best to Joe Cole in the game.

Ivanovic got caught out on many City breaks because of his always going forward.

Referee Mike Dean had a good game.  Not many whistles until the 1st red card.

Manchester United are now one point back and Arsenal is theoretically three points back.

It’s weird watching the game in Korea because I don’t know what the announcers were saying but I could hear their excitement.  Would have liked to have heard the English broadcasters call this game.

Crowd was not as angry with the score as I thought they would be.  They kind of just accepted it.  After Bridge was replaced at 78 minutes, the crowd kind of went dead.

Did I mention how bad Hilario and Sturridge were?

Not City's best decision but they're used to making poor choices. Mancini lives another week.

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Yesterday, one of The Blasian’s (remember him?) favorite teams, Inter Milan took on Chelsea at Giuseppe Meazza in the Champions League Round of 16 clash.  Inter won 2-1 and look good, not great, going into the return match in three weeks time.  Before I go into the actual game let me tell you about these two teams.

Last week my favorite team, AC Milan took on a team I really, really like, Manchester United.  Inter and Chelsea are the opposite of that.  They both make my Top 5 most hated soccer/football/futbol/calcio teams.  Both teams are probably tied for third on that list.  Let’s take a quick look at what that list look likes:

Top 5 Most Hated Soccer Teams
1.  Juventus (Italy)
2.  Manchester City (England)
T3. Inter Milan (Italy)
T3. Chelsea (England)
5.  Roma (Italy)

Even though Inter and Chelsea are on this list I have to admit that I do like some of the players on these teams whereas I hate everything about Juventus and Man City.  Juventus and Man City have no redeeming qualities and there is not one player, coach or member of management I like on either of those teams.

Sure Inter has won a few scudettos lately they but they haven’t won the Champion’s League/European Cup in my lifetime and this makes me very happy.  The Blaisian (who dat?) can say whatever he wants about Inter but you can have all the league championships you want but you’re nothing until you win in Europe.  Plus, don’t think winning one puts you in the same sentence as AC Milan.  Same goes for you Chelsea.  Try to win in Europe before you think you’re on par with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

I’m sad that AC Milan or Manchester United will be out after the Round of 16 but at the same time seeing Inter or Chelsea out makes it a little better.  The one thing that scares me is that Inter or Chelsea will go through to the final and beat AC Milan or Manchester United. That would be my ultimate nightmare.  Although, if it were reversed and AC Milan or Manchester United beat one of those two teams it would make winning the title even sweeter.  AC Milan has one quite a few Champions League/European Cup titles but the one I savor and remember the most is when we beat Juventus in the 2003 final in Manchester.  It was like winning two titles at once.  The Blasian (where are you?) would be unbearable if Inter won the Champions League.

The game:

To be honest, this game wasn’t that exciting.  I thought Chelsea worked hard and deserved better.  I wonder what the referee was thinking on the play where Kalou got taken down right in front of the goal?  Eto’o was disappointing.  Ivanovic (Chelsea) and Sneijder (Inter) had great games for their respective teams.  Maybe the game played too much like a chess match because both coaches knew the other team as well as anyone.  Chelsea better hope that Cech is able to play in the return because Hilario looks terrible.  The guy looked frightened when he came in to the game and can’t execute a goal kick to save his life.

Inter will go into Stamford Bridge with a slight advantage.  That away goal by Chelsea is big.  Chelsea can go through with a 1-0 win but if Inter scores then Chelsea will need to win by two.  Even though I hate both teams, I would love to see Inter crash out first.  Not just because The Blasian (I think he still writes for this blog) likes them but because they are and always will be second class citizens in Milan.

I don’t know if I should say this but I don’t like Mario Balotelli.  Please Blasian (come back soon), don’t rip me because he’s your guy.  It has nothing to do about his skin color.  I have no idea why the Italian fans have a problem with his ethnicity because on the field he’s all Italian.  What does that mean?  He’s such a whiner and goes down in a heap with minimal contact.  How has he not played for Italy yet?  He’d fit right in.

Italy, don't boo Super Mario because he's black, boo him because he dives and whines

Now that all of the games in the first leg are complete, lets take a quick look at the other games and what might happen in the return.

AC Milan – Manchester United (2-3), Manchester go home looking real good.  Three away goals are huge and I have trouble believing that Milan can score two, let alone win by two.  Then again, if Ferguson decides to play Neville on the right then Milan could probably do whatever they want (see Everton).

Bayern Munich – Fiorentina (2-1), Bayern got the benefit of a non-call from the referee and the linesman.  Klose was offsides not once, but twice on the play.  Sure, Fiorentina got an away goal but I think Bayern will find a way to get this done.  Don’t forget that Bayern went to Torino and beat Juventus 4-1 to knock them out of the tournament.

Lyon – Real Madrid (1-0), Lyon shocked Madrid but an ever healthier Ronaldo should make the difference at the Bernabeu.  I can’t muster up any excitement for Lyon because Jean-Alain Boumsong is one of their defenders.  Rangers, Newcastle and Juventus fans know what I’m talking about.

CSKA Moscow – Sevilla (1-1), a good showing by Sevilla in frigid Moscow puts them in the driver’s seat going back to Sanchez Pizjuan.

Stuttgart – Barcelona (1-1), the defending champs were frustrated by the German side and the return should be interesting.  Don’t put Barcelona in the next round quite yet but playing at the Camp Nou should help.

Porto – Arsenal (2-1), Arsenal looked terrible in this one.  Who knew that Almunia, as bad as he can be, is the best Arsenal can do in goal?  That being said, Arsenal rights the ship and advances at the Emirates.

Olympiakos – Bordeaux (0-1), the French leaders look good going back home.  Bordeaux have lost only once at home this season in Ligue 1

You can’t have two favorite teams.  It just doesn’t work.  When I lived in Chicago, some people would say, “I like the White Sox and the Cubs.”  Not possible.  Eventually these teams will meet and you have to choose.  One day (not anytime soon) the White Sox and the Cubs will be in the World Series and then they will have to pick a side.  If they can’t, then they were never a fan of either team.

Pick a side and live with it

I’m a Cleveland Browns fan and I could care less what the rest of the league is doing.  Sure, I have a man crush on Tom Brady but I’d choose the Browns over the Patriots every time.  I’m a White Sox fan and the rest of the league is none of my business.  I did like seeing the Yankees win the World Series but that was because everyone hates them so much.  Being a Clipper fan isn’t easy but there is never a time when it’s alright for the Clippers to lose.  If you play for the Clippers then I love you but if you left us, screw you.

You're dead to me

I thought soccer was different.  There are so many different leagues to follow that it’s easy to have multiple favorite teams.  In Germany’s Bundesliga it’s Bayern Munich, in Spain’s La Liga it’s Real Madrid, in Scotland’s Premier League it’s Rangers, in Argentina’s Primera Division it’s Boca Juniors and in MLS it’s……I don’t care.  My two favorite teams are AC Milan and Manchester United but if I had to choose, and sometimes I do, it’s AC Milan.

How many people know Gattuso once played for Rangers?

On Tuesday night the two teams met at the San Siro.  I didn’t want this game to happen but it did.  Somehow I just knew that when the draw was happening for the Round of 16 in the Champion’s League that these two teams would face each other.  I also knew that UEFA would find a way for Inter and Chelsea to play each other as well.  Random draw, my ass.

They have played each other before, the last time being in 2006/2007, but this game made me realize that AC Milan is my favorite team and always has been and that Manchester United is just a team I like.  I wrote a post saying that Serie A was in decline and that the Premiership was where it’s at.  Sure, that may be the case but I grew up with AC Milan and no other team can get in the way.  I’ve followed United since the days of Hughes, Irwin and Cantona but I’ve been a Milan fan longer.  Sorry United, I tried to fool myself and tell people my favorite teams were Milan and you but I can’t do it anymore.  AC Milan forever.  Forza Milan!!!!

Aways and forever

On to the game:

Manchester United went into the San Siro and beat AC Milan 3-2.  Looking at the score it may seem like it was a good game but it wasn’t.  There were some moments of brilliance but there was also a lot of meaningless and sloppy play.  If you just looked at the stats then the game seemed even and it was for the most part.  The game was ultimately decided on a defensive error between Thiago and Nesta.  Other than that, this game had tie written all over it.

Ronaldinho scored after three minutes with a little help from Evra but the Brazilian wouldn’t have an easy night after that.  Sure, he helped set up Milan’s second goal with a nice pass on Seedorf’s cheeky back-heel but for the most part, United’s Rafael made sure he didn’t have much space to work with.  Rafael did what a lot of defenders fail to do with Ronaldinho and other finesse players, he tried to keep Ronaldinho from putting the ball on the ground.  Ronaldinho did a lot of juggling but Rafael was there when the ball was about to hit the ground.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looked ok but it looks like he’s trying too hard.  He’s heard the boo’s from the fans and the rumblings that he may be on his way out and I think it’s really affecting him.  Hopefully Milan doesn’t give up on him too quickly because I think he can really help this team when he finally finds his touch.

Don't give up on this guy

Andrea Pirlo was brilliant.  The guy is a magician on the field.  Surrounded by so many big names, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves but Pirlo can put the ball where he wants whenever he wants.

I don’t understand what Pato’s role was in the game.  It looked to me as if he was playing too far back to be effective.  He’s not the playmaker, he should be the finisher.  Pato needed to be up front with Huntelaar instead of trying to get the ball to him.  Pato took a more forward position after Inzaghi replaced Huntelaar but I wonder why Leonardo didn’t just keep him up there the whole time?

David Beckham is puzzling.  I’ve seen him in a few games since his return to Milan and I don’t understand what he’s supposed to be doing.  He takes free kicks but other than that he doesn’t look like he wants to go forward at all.  He’s mostly passing the ball back or sideways.  Beckham doesn’t really make things happen.  Is that what happens to you when you play in MLS?  If I’m the other team, I don’t really have to play him close because he’s not taking the space.

Wayne Rooney continues to have his career season.  I hope this carries on to the World Cup.  He was in the right place at the right time on both his goals.  You make a mistake and you pay.  On the third goal Rooney got between Thiago (gonna be great) and Nesta.  They must of both said “you got him” because neither player went toward him when he got the ball in the area.  That was game over.

It's Rooney's world, we just live in it

Antonio Valencia turned this game around.  He came in 65 minutes into the game and paid instant dividends.  His pass led to the second United goal and he was eating Favalli’s lunch for the last 25 minutes of the game.  The left side of the Milan defense couldn’t control him at all.  A young, energetic defender like Antonini (injured) or Abate might have helped there.  Valencia is having an awesome first season at United and I think he’ll be making a lot of money very soon.

You're gonna be a rich man soon

Park Ji-Sung was a bit disappointing.  He usually gives teams fits with his speed and energy but he didn’t look his normal self in the game.  I thought when Valencia came on that Park would do more but maybe they were playing to close to each other.  I think they need to be on opposite sides.

Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes were solid.  The only negative this is Carrick’s late yellow/red card which will keep him out of the return match.  But, I could’ve swore it was another player who made the late challenge and not Carrick but non one is reporting it so I’m sure it will stand.

The referee for the match was awful.  He missed quite a few calls and at least one United handball in the box.  He looked lost out there.  Here’s hoping Olegário Benquerença doesn’t get anymore big games.

If this guy is doing your team's game, get ready to throw shit at the TV

So these two teams play each other again on March 10 at Old Trafford.  Should be fantastic.  With United’s two away goals, AC Milan is in big trouble.  They have to either win by two goals or win 4-3.  Look for some changes in the lineups.  I expect Gattuso and Borriello to be in the game for Milan and Giggs and Valencia (to start) for United.

I like you but I don't "like you" like you

Chelsea plays at Arsenal this Sunday (16:00 GMT).  I hate both teams but I am very interested in what happens.  Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-0 at The Emirates in November so you know the Gunners want revenge.  Plus, a win would put Arsenal back in the title hunt.  They’re currently six points behind the Blues and a loss would surely put an end to any title dreams. 

Sorry Blasian and the rest of the Gunners fans but I don’t see Arsenal winning this one.  Chelsea just doesn’t lose at home.  They’ve won eleven and tied one in their games at Stamford Bridge.  Arsenal have only won twice in the last fifteen against Chelsea.  Also, look for Drogba to score in this one since he has ten goals in his last nine games against Arsenal in all competitions. 

There's a good chance this man will be celebrating on Sunday

I know Arsenal has scored the most goals in the league (60) but that doesn’t mean much against this stout Chelsea defense.  They have eleven shutouts this year, the most of anyone in the Premiership.  Don’t think Chelsea doesn’t need this game also.  They’re only two points ahead of Manchester United and Man U should have their way with Portsmouth at Old Trafford Saturday night (15:00 GMT).  

Personally, I’d like to see a tie here so Man U would be tied with Chelsea and six points clear of Arsenal.  

In other news, John Terry was stripped of the England captaincy.  I think everyone is making a big deal out of this decision.  What does being the captain really mean on the field?  Have England’s chance of winning the World Cup changed now that Rio Ferdinand is the captain?  No.  These guys are professionals and they will come to play in South Africa.  Frankly, I don’t know why he had to lose his spot as captain.  That other stuff is personal and, as much as I hate Chelski, John Terry has always given his heart and soul every time he put on the England shirt.  

I heard a story that Wayne Bridge commented that he wouldn’t play for England if John Terry was still on the team.  Is he serious?  There’s no way Capello outright drops Terry.  If that’s true, have fun watching the World Cup on television Wayne.  I’ll take John Terry over Wayne Bridge any day of the week. 

Wayne who?

Serie A, I used to have eyes only for you but in recent years, other leagues have caught my fancy.  I grew up watching Serie A.  I probably started watching it in 1986 and watched it religiously until a few years ago.  I remember when Ruben Sosa ruled Inter.  When Marco Van Basten could do no wrong.  When Roberto Baggio went from great to the greatest to out of this world.  When Roberto Mancini was a whiny bitch player for Sampdoria then Lazio, before he was the whiny bitch manager of Fiorentina, Lazio, Inter and now Manchester City.  In that time, there has never been a time when I didn’t hate Juventus.  While I still hate Juventus and love AC Milan, Serie A doesn’t hold that special place in my heart.  If I had a choice I’d watch the Spanish La Liga first then the English Premier League.  Who am I kidding; I’d watch any game from the Argentine Primera before any of them.  Since I’m pretty sure a game from Argentina is hard to come by here in Korea, I’ll pretend like they don’t exist. 

Italy just seems to have gotten slower and more plodding over the years.  La Liga is as close as you can get to the Argentine Primera where it’s ninety minutes of back and forth play, with the ball being played through midfield instead of over it.  Serie A teams are better top to bottom but the play just doesn’t excite me as much.  The top eight EPL teams are good and put on a show when they play each other but there is a big drop off after that, in both talent and skill.  For some reason I seem to get Burnley, Hull or Bolton every week.  I know why I get Bolton (Lee Chung-Yong) but why the others?  Every team in Italy seems like it would be content if the game ended 0-0.  In England, every team seems like they want to win, even if they don’t have the skill of the big boys.

There are great players in Spain and England now, more than before.  Back in the day, everyone wanted to go to Italy.  That’s where you made a name for yourself.  We had Jurgen Klinsmann, Gabriel Batistuta, Faustino Asprilla, Rudy Voeller, Frank Rijkaard, and Ruud Gullit.  Now, players would rather go to Spain, England and even Germany before coming to Italy.  Antonio Valencia is having a great season at Manchester United but ten years ago he would have chosen to play somewhere like Parma instead of going to England.  Why????  I think it has something to do with the exposure that England gets all over the world.  In the mid-90’s if you had asked one hundred people around the world who their favorite team was, at least seventy-five percent of them would’ve named an Italian team.  Now, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool would make up a bulk of the answers, followed by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Serie A, I still watch you but sometimes my heart’s not in it.  Please do something before I close the door on you for good.