EPL Weekend Review: Arsenal, Everton, Manchester United, Liverpool and More

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How does slang involve from basically an inside joke among friends to part of the cultural lexicon ... or at least to an entry on Urban

Without delving too deep into that query -- you probably need somebody like the kids are listening to like that Little Wayne guy to say ... err "drop" it for your funny little term to achieve rapid acceptance -- let's instead celebrate a downright great term for soccer ... and life as defined by my friend Jared.

"The Swede."

The what now?

Here's the quick origin story. During one of our numerous late-night sessions of "FIFA 11" on XBox Live(*) Jared was exceedingly frustrated. You could hear it through the tinny speaker on XBox wireless headset. He was despondent ... as if he just lost his dog. The phrase, "Dude, I suck tonight," was probably uttered a few times.

(*) Get in line, ladies.

Eventually Jared dropped the line, "I'm the Swede."

Yes, the Swede. No matter what Jared did in the game that night, he couldn't do it right. First touch on a dribble? Given away to the defender. Defending on a corner? Bulled off the position. More than anything, he couldn't finish in front of goal, thus earning "Swede" honors.

From my best guess, the term originates from Jared's friend who might have invented it to describe Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but that might be an Urban Legend. Not sure and it doesn't really matter all that much. The Swede is the Swede.(*)

(*) Admittedly it's a little close to the term, "Sweding" from Michel Gondry's "Be Kind Rewind."

For whatever the reason it's just a perfect way to sum things up on a day when nothing is going right, despite your best efforts without allowing yourself to get too upset in the great karmic scheme of the universe. Sometimes you're simply the Swede.

Can't close out a game of darts by hitting the bullseye? The Swede.

Leave a running back who scored 30 points in a fantasy football game on the bench? The Swede.

Screw up a bunch of chances in the most-watched club soccer match in the world? The Swede.

If you watched El Clasico Saturday afternoon between Real Madrid and Barcelona, our old pal Cristiano Ronaldo was The Swede defined. In fact, he was so Swede he should have changed his name to Cristiano Rönaldo after the match.

Anyways, that's me sharing.

Maybe you'll call yourself or your friends "The Swede" the next time life decides to say no-sir, no-way, whatever your best intentions are, you're simply aren't going to win today.

Thanks for listening.

Always a Classic:

Let's get this out of the way first, Barcelona's 3-1 win over Real Madrid was the best victory and best game ever. E-V-E-R.

Okay, the hyperbole out of the system? Due to work commitments the Clasico was the only match I watched on Saturday, going to (of all places) Buffalo Wild Wings with my friend Mike to watch it, creating the existential question: which makes you a bigger "tool" and or "douche", wearing a Cristiano (or fat) Ronaldo Real Madrid jersey in public or a Messi Barcelona shirt (if you're over the age of 13)?

Remarkably enough, at this chain sports bar located inside of a mall -- at Christmas time no less -- Barca and Real dominated the numerous televisions. In fact, there were about 20 TVs/screens with the Clasico on them compared to one with the Army/Navy football game. Try telling that statement to 1999 version of yourself.

Wild Wings even pumped in the sound from GolTV and (begrudgingly) I'll have to credit Ray Hudson for keeping the histrionics in check. Never been the biggest Hudson fan since he tends to overshadow the game itself, but Saturday he was good, or the best he can be.

One odd aspect of watching the game in this setting, there were certainly people in the restaurant and bar intently watching the match, except when stuff happened for or against their side, most people weren't sure how to react -- one guy after Xavi scored told his friend to kiss the Barcelona crest on his shirt. There was minimal trash talking between the stubbly guy in the Barca shirt of the Ronaldo fan wearing an Ed Hardy hat. Suppose it's difficult to work up a lot of animosity for the other team when you've probably randomly started rooting for the team two years ago. It's not the politics of the Franco regime or Catalonian identity probably mean all that much to anyone outside of actual people from Spain.

More than rooting for any other team in Europe, casting your lot with Real or Barca is front-running at its core, since these two teams are never -- ever -- by the way La Liga is structured ever going to be bad.

For me, the Clasico is difficult to truly love since I pretty much hate both teams. Between the two sides there are about five guys I don't mind for being massive tools. On the other side are the likes of Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Gerard Pique. (Ugh.) That said, as a fan of soccer I can still respect the massive amount of talent and skill both teams bring to the table every time they step on the field -- when those players decide to play and not play-act.

And if you don't appreciate the work of Sergio Busquets for Barcelona, well, you probably shouldn't be allowed to watch soccer at all. In fact, the only sporting event you should even be allowed to watch is the Las Vegas Bowl (on repeat).

It was also heart-warming, at Christmas time, to see Cesc Fabregas finally freed from his prison at the Emirates in North London and truly thrive for the Catalans. Nothing makes you happier than watching a guy whine his way out of a pretty good situation for a slightly better one. As they say, "Good on ya, Cesc."

Saturday's Clasico was a tad ironic since the game changed on a goal right before the half by Alexis Sanchez set up by a pass from Lionel Messi. The irony is that Barcelona is lauded for doing things, "the right way" and developing players, whereas Real Madrid is lampooned as villains in white for buying player after player.

Well, both Sanchez and Fabregas were plucked from clubs over the summer for mega money ($60 million range combined) from Udinese and Arsenal respectively.

One thought on Real Madrid is that whenever they play Barcelona it seems they're missing a link in the midfield. It's almost as if, lets throw out a line of attackers -- Ronaldo, Benzema, Ozil, Di Maria -- back them up with some midfield hatchet-men and defenders and see what happens.

More-and-more this match is like a Red Sox/Yankees game from a nuetral perspective ... trying to put your rooting interest behind the team you loathe slightly less.

And when you boil it down, both teams make it hard to root for them with the unreal amount of play-acting, diving, gesturing, pantomiming, etc. Yeah, you're going to say this game is theater, but it gets to be too much sometimes -- which seems to be encouraged by Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

The Clasico is what it is, a huge talking point whether you're a partisan, a nuetral or in my case ... a hater.

Around the League (Relevant Teams Version):

As mentioned above, didn't get to see a lot of games this weekend in the EPL aside from bits and pieces of Liverpool/QPR on my laptop. These are the big teams, so let's "break them out" so to speak and go through them quickly.

Arsenal 1, Everton 0 -- Robin van Persie scored the winner and what a winner it was! Goal of the Year? Certainly the "Dutch" Goal of the Year. Pure class and all that jazz. Helped, too, that Everton went without a shot on goal for the second straight week.

Manchester United 4, Wolves 1 -- Was almost a game at the start of the second half ... and it wasn't. Wayne Rooney (him?) scored some goals. United feel a little better about themselves as they finally looked like Manchester United again.

Liverpool 1, QPR 0 -- This was almost the perfect script for Liverpool. Luis Suarez scores. The defense keeps a clean sheet and everybody gets ice cream afterward.

Stoke City 2, Tottenham 1 -- Spurs undefeated streak is over. Partisans to Tottenham will point to two non-handballs on Stoke inside the box and an on-side goal from Emmanual Adebayor that was waved off. That said, Spurs were lifeless in the first half and slept-walk through the 45 minutes allowing a sloppy first goal to Mathew Etherington and then failing to mark on a long throw allowing another to Etherington (who was one of 100 ex-Spurs players currently at Stoke.) Bottom line, every team is probably going to drop points in the Premier League this year due to incompetent officiating.

Major props to the Stoke fans, however, for chanting, "Huth There It Is" in the vein of the 1994 classic party jam by Tag Team.

Around the League:

It's probably never a good thing when your team winning a match is treated with raised eyebrows, but Wigan fought back from an early one-goal hole at West Brom and won 2-1 to move off the bottom temporarily. ... Maybe Clint Dempsey's worst game for Fulham, deflecting a shot by Scott Sinclair for Swansea's first goal and then having his penalty kick saved by Michel Vorm. Robert Green likely drank a couple shots in celebration. Fulham now haven't scored in six Premier League games this year after Saturday's 2-0 defeat. ... Norwich City beat Newcastle United 4-2. The question now is how far the Magpies slide down the table after their great start. A lack of quality depth has doomed many a team. ... Sunderland won 2-1 against Blackburn in Martin O'Neill debut as coach. He seems to walk on water or something, that or Blackburn is just terrible defensively.

Fantasy Team O' the Week:

Not sure if they're related but Emma Graham's Think Pink United and Sepp Graham's Graham MSHA each scored 79 points. For what it's worth, my team -- Team Gulati -- was atop the table after Saturday's games. Yeah, I'm coming for all of y'all.

One Other Thing:

Wrote about this briefly a couple weeks ago, but there isn't a better guilty pleasure television show these days than "Storage Wars" on A&E other than maybe "Gold Rush." You can lose yourself in the seemingly marathons they run of the show every other day. It's just brilliant "reality" television.

That said, the spin-off show, "Storage Wars: Texas" might be the biggest atrocity on television at the moment and that includes "Whitney."

If there was a way to extend a pair of digital middle fingers in its direction, I would.