Monday, September 12, 2011

Jarring, and Other Random Thoughts on EPL Week Four

photo by Chris Makarskyvia PhotoRee

It was jarring to see Mikel Arteta in an Arsenal shirt on Saturday. It's always strange the first time you see a player identified so strongly with one club suddenly wearing another team's kit. Likewise Niklas Bendtner at Sunderland -- although it was refreshing to see he's still useless, no matter which shirt he wears -- and maybe a little bit less so, Peter Crouch at Stoke.

o Fernando Torres didn't look very happy sitting on the Chelsea bench Saturday. Nor did Florent Malouda. I wonder what the atmosphere is like inside that locker room.... My sense is that it's probably closer to Manchester City's than it is to Manchester United's. At the latter, it's expected that you're going to spend some time on the bench -- that is, unless your name is Wayne Rooney or Nemanja Vidic. At the former, however, all of the players who signed there were originally lured in under the pretense that they'd not only be starting, they'd be leading the 'revolution.' It's a massive difference in mindset.

o Arsenal may have won Saturday, but they continued to look completely impotent in front of goal this season. No matter what personnel Arsene tries, his boys can't seem to find the back of the net. That is, unless the opposition goalie throws his clearance right at the feet of the closest defender, allowing the ball to settle nicely in front of Andrei Arshavin with the goal begging. If that's what it takes for Arsenal to score, though, it's going to be a very long season indeed at the Emirates.

o Liverpool found out on Saturday just how tough the away trip to Stoke is. I read somewhere on Twitter that the last three English champions (United, Chelsea, United) all won their away games at Stoke, but needed goals post the 80-minute mark to do so. I guess Liverpool won't be joining that club, but that'll only be a real surprise to their most ardent supporters.

o A good deal of the intimidating atmosphere at Stoke comes down to the brutal crowd at the Brittania, but don't let anyone tell you they're not witty. Witness the gem they came up with on Saturday, which I thought was by far the best chant of the weekend: "I bet you're still drunk," directed straight at Scouse striker Andy Carroll, who was watching the action from his customary £50MM seat: the bench.

o Peter Odemwingie didn't take long to get on the scorer's sheet, did he? After missing the Baggies' first three games, the Nigerian stuck a fine side-footed volley in the back of the net before the game at Carrow Road was three minutes old, picking up right where he left off last season.

o Teams just up from the Championship are finding it kinda difficult to score this season. Swansea's gone four in a row without finding the net, and Norwich couldn't scare up even a single goal at home against West Brom. It's a bad sign when a defender is tied for being your leading scorer, as is Richie De Laet, the on-loan Manchester United man.

o I was impressed to see the impeccably observed moments of silence for 9/11 in the EPL on Sunday. Saw some American flags in the stands, as well. Thanks go out to our British friends and colleagues for remembering the terrible tragedy and marking it in such a solemn way. The crowd at Carrow Road was so quiet pre-game that you could hear birds chirping in the stadium vicinity.

o Blackburn's road uniforms make me think of what the Pittsburgh Pirates would look like if they played women's softball.

o Clint Dempsey looks a completely different player for Fulham than he does for the USMNT. He scores for both teams, but he appears to play a much more vital role for the Cottagers than he does for the American team. He certainly gets more touches of the ball for Fulham -- and perhaps that view explains why he scores more for them, as well. Give Deuce the ball and good things are bound to happen. Let's hope Klinsi is reading today's blog.....

This is farlieonfootie for September 12.

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