EPL Roundup: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and More


Hey, your Internets time is important in this crazy work-a-day whole, so your humble author will try not to waste very much of your time on a Monday morning. In fact, consider this Cal Ripken, Jr. coming in during the eighth inning of a baseball game to pinch hit in order to keep his consecutive games played streak alive. (Let's be honest, which is more impressive, playing 2,000+ straight Major League games or writing a weekly Monday EPL recap blog for a couple years. It's harder to answer than it sounds, right?)

So having seem only bits and pieces of games, scattered match reports and random highlights here are a couple quickie impressions.

* Daniel Sturridge, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. That goal vs. Sunderland was way too ridiculous. Fortunately it was Ian Darke calling the match on ESPN2, not Ray Hudson, but the Geordie's head might have exploded and or broken all the windows in your house with a high-pitched scream.

Is Sturridge the answer at Chelsea? In his last 13 Premier League games, 12 on-loan at Bolton, he's scored eight goals. Compare that to Fernando Torres, who's at 17 games in Blue with one Premier League goal. Put it this way, Chelsea fans probably would rather see Sturridge's name on the teamsheet way ahead of the slumping Spaniard.

* Pretty sure if you want to play defense at Stoke City your initiation into the Potters back line requires eating a swaddling child. Toby Pulis is playing essentially four center defenses across his backline -- Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross, Matt Upson and Marc Wilson -- each are at least 6-foot-1 tall. The Stoke defense blocked, seemingly, half of the Liverpool attempts in their 1-0 home win Saturday, thanks in no small part to an insane sequence of saves by Asmir Begovic, who was a Canadian Youth International.

Stoke won't win beauty contests, but in a weird way their decidedly non-modern approach to the game is very effective -- almost like the Wildcat formation in the NFL -- since other teams aren't used to playing against that level of physicality every week.

Few neutrals are going to flock to Stoke City, but hey, give the club some credit for at least trying to be ambitious. Hey, at the bare minimum the Potters made an FA Cup final, which is more than can be said of the Oakland Athletics under Billy Beane -- another sports team using unconventional means -- and they made a Hollywood about him starring Brat Pitt and some precocious moppets.

* If you read the Friday picks post you saw I was a little negative or a least cool on my thoughts toward Spurs this season. A 2-0 road win at Wolves is certainly a signal of some intent. Emmanuel Adebayor did what he does -- score goals -- this time with a composed finish from close range to beat Wayne Hennessey. Maybe even better for Tottenham? A clean sheet and 90 injury free minutes from Ledley King.

* Manchester City 3, Wigan 0 ... about as unsurprising as a result of the weekend. Sergio Aguero must have thought he was still playing in La Liga going up against an opponent who barely even seemed motivated to try.

* Bolton might have lost to Manchester United 5-0, behind a Wayne Rooney hat trick and Javier Hernandez brace, at least the Trotters sort of put up some semblance of a resistance, if only by Kevin Davies' reckless "tackle" on Tom Cleverly. United play Chelsea this weekend, so at least we'll get to see how the Red Devils fare against a decent team, or if indeed this year will be a two-horse race.

* Suffice to say, if you own Aguero and Rooney in your Fantasy EPL team you essentially have, the 1998 versions of Terrell Davis and Emmitt Smith (pre-"Just For Men") in the same Fantasy NFL team.

* All I'll write about Arsenal is that if you've ever played "FIFA" you've scored at least a couple goals like Andrey Arshavin did Saturday vs. Swansea City when Michel Vorm simply rolled the ball right to his feet. Really. That's what happened. Watch it for yourself. My buddy Doyle would even be shaking his head.

* If Asamoah Gyan is willing to piss away a year in his prime to play for big money in Saudi Arabia, maybe it's not such a bad thing Sunderland got rid of him for the year. Suffice to say, Black Cat fans aren't taking it very well.

* Ruben Rochina seems like he might be a nice little player for Blackburn, but it wasn't enough for me to change my weekend plans to watch Rovers draw 1-1 at Craven Cottage vs. Fulham.

* Fantasy Team of the Weekend goes to friend of the blog, Colin Sebastian's Ooh Aah De Gea with 86 points. He had Rooney and Aguero. 'Nuff said.

* One other Thing Dept.: My friends and I might have made the Guinness Book of World Records run a "catchphrase" into the ground via "professional auctioneer" Dave Hester's ubiqitous, "yeeeeeeep" from the so-bad-you-can't-look-away "Storage Wars."

* One More Other Thing Dept.: Found it funny on Saturday afternoon to peruse my Twitter feed after a long car ride to see seemingly all the sports people entering breathless 140 character lobs about Roger Federer and his U.S. Open tennis semifinal vs. Novak Djokovic. Is the way it comes off when people take interest in a big soccer game?

* One Tiny Music Thing: Tuesday marks the release of the new album by the band "Girls" -- yeah, truly a terrible name for a group. This is going to be a good one, folks. Full endorsement and such.

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