Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

Marko Arnautovic of Stoke City and Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea in action

Photo by Kieran McManus / ISIPhotos.com

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

The weekend’s FA Cup Fourth Round action wraps up today at Stamford Bridge, where manager Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side will look to keep their impressive home form going and exact some revenge on a fellow English Premier League club.

Chelsea host Stoke City, who defeated the Blues 3-2 last month in a wild match at Britannia Stadium. Mourinho’s men have not lost an EPL match since they fell to Stoke, and their only loss since then was a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup. Chelsea have won six consecutive home matches across all competitions heading into their rematch with the Potters, and they have only dropped points twice at Stamford Bridge this season.

In Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will try to reinstate their respective leads over rivals Real Madrid, who moved to the top of the La Liga table Saturday with a 2-0 win against Granada. Atletico Madrid will hit the road to face 19th-place Rayo Vallecano, a team they defeated 5-0 at the Vicente Calderon earlier this season. Later in the day, former league leaders Barcelona take on defensive-minded Malaga at Camp Nou.

Other matches of note today include AS Monaco’s home meeting with Olympique Marseille, the first match for the second-place French side since star forward Radamel Falcao’s ACL tear last week. In Mexico, a resurgent Chivas de Guadalajara side will try to continue their push up the table against struggling Atalante.

If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action. (Today’s TV schedule is after the jump):

7:45am – Hibernian vs. Celtic – Fox Soccer Plus

8am – Sheffield United vs. Fulham – Fox Sports 2/Fox Deportes

8:30am – Go Ahead Eagles vs. Ajax – ESPN Deportes/ESPN3

9am – Inter Milan vs. Catania – beIN Sports en Español

9am – Cagliari vs. AC Milan – beIN Sports USA

10:30am – Chelsea vs. Stoke City – Fox Sports 2/Fox Deportes

11am – Bordeaux vs. AS Saint-Etienne – beIN Sports USA

11am – Osasuna vs. Athletic Bilbao – beIN Sports en Español

11:30am – Hamburg vs. Schalke 04 – GolTV USA

1pm – Rayo Vallecano vs. Atletico Madrid – beIN Sports USA

1pm – Puebla vs. Chiapas – Azteca America/ESPN Deportes

1pm – Toluca vs. Monterrey – Univision Deportes/Univision

2pm – Sao Paulo vs. Oeste – GolTV USA

3pm – Barcelona vs. Malaga – beIN Sports USA

3pm – AS Monaco vs. Olympique Marseille – Univision Deportes

6pm – Atlante vs. Chivas de Guadalajara – Univision Deportes

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, Mexican Soccer, Your Running Commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

104 Responses to Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

  1. usaalltheway says:

    What to make of Chandler?

    That seems to be the question. Does he get the nod for a friendly? If so, is that good or bad sign?

    How about Cameron? If he puts on another solid performance today, like he usually does, against a top flight team, will JK finally realize he is the heir to Dolo’s throne?

    Let’s see what happens.

    • Brett says:

      He will play the games in Europe, likely becoming a key player for 2018

      • usaalltheway says:

        Cameron is currently 26 years old. Maybe 27.

        That means he will be 30 0r 31 in 2018.

        I doubt that he will be the same player at that time.

        He is such a great player. Why is that so hard for you guys to see?

        • Alex C says:

          I think he was referring to Chandler.

        • John says:

          Cameron is 28, will be 29 in July

        • Drewbles says:

          Pretty sure he was talking about Chandler. Cameron has been a consistent call-up, not sure why you think that would stop.

          • usaalltheway says:

            I didn’t say anything remotely close to that.

            My reference is to WHERE on the field Cameron is played.

            To my memory Cameron has started at RB only once in the last year. Apart from that he has been a center back or a midfielder.

            Perhaps I am a little off, but it is true that JK uses him as a centerback or a sub mostly.

            That was my point to clear things up.

    • Joe says:

      One thing on which we can all agree is that Brad Evans and DeMarcus Beasley should merely be cover (if that) for the starting fullbacks.

      • usaalltheway says:

        AMEN.

        Actually, I would love to see the Beas on the left flank. He still has the chops for that.

        As for Evans…well, all I can say is that it isn’t good that JK keeps playing him. If he doesn’t make it to Brazil, that won’t be good for moral in the locker room. “You mean you have him play a key role in the whole of qualifying but he isn’t here with us?”

        You know what I mean?

        • usaalltheway says:

          morale*

        • Joe says:

          I do know what you mean. I can see both Beasley and Evans making the 23, but only for their versatility and experience. I wouldn’t want either of them to be handed too much time on the pitch.

    • bryan says:

      He will be in brazil.

  2. biff says:

    Fabian Johnson with a broken hand during yesterday’s game. Anyone know how it happened?

  3. John Lowe says:

    Is Dempsey starting for Fulham today?

  4. Tom says:

    Dempsey ain’t even on the bench!

    • Alex C says:

      It maybe because they are saving him for PL games, and this is the FA cup.

      • Joe says:

        Looking at the rest of the lineup, I would agree. 1-1 late on; maybe the manager has erred.

      • Jay in Florida says:

        After what happened to Falcao and Oveido we should be happy Dempsey isn’t playing against one of these non league teams.

        • GW says:

          Are Manchester United a non league team?

          That is who Holden was playing against when he tore up his knee?

        • biff says:

          Why do you always have to be so belligerent, GW? You know darn well that is not the point Jay in Florida was trying to make? Ridiculous.

          • GW says:

            biff,

            Falcao could have been injured on his training ground or playing with his dog if he had one.

            Anyone who thinks playing a non league team somehow made him more susceptible to that particular injury is lazy in their thinking.

            After all, his teamate could have injured him in training like you accused Chandler of doing to Gonzo.

            • Arkie says:

              You’re right, there’s no more danger that a less skillful less athletic side will resort to physicality or be more likely to mistime a challenge than another first division team…

              • GW says:

                Given the kind of mistimed challenges I’ve seen in EPL games I’m amazed that knee injuries don’t happen more frequently.

        • Michael Stypulkoski says:

          Sheffield United are not a non-league team.

  5. Joel H says:

    I may be misinterpreting the rules, but the way I read the FA Cup rules it appears that players on temporary loan aren’t eligible to compete.

    • Joel H says:

      Reply fail. That was meant as a reply to the thread above.

    • Joe says:

      Not to be funny, but aren’t all loans temporary? Are you saying a player must be loaned for a full season (as opposed to Dempsey’s two-month loan) to be eligible?

      • Joe C. says:

        I am also not sure on that point. Borini, a loaned player, played yesterday for Sunderland. Perhaps it is a full-season rule?

        • Charles says:

          They can put a clause into the loan contract whether the player can be cup-tied or not. If its a short loan, most teams wouldn’t want the loaned player to be cup-tied for that season.

          • Charles says:

            Basically, you can only play in the FA Cup for one team, so if you have played for your parent team, or if the parent team wants you to remain eligible to play for them, then they wouldn’t allow the loaned player to play in cup matches.

      • GW says:

        The team loaning out the player seem to have a lot of options on who their player can play against, the length the length of the loan etc.,etc.

      • Joel H says:

        Temporary is the wording in the rules. I interpret it to mean less than a full season. Just my interpretation, but honestly I have no clue.

  6. Bean says:

    Cagliari is up 1-0 over AC Milan. It has been a tough season for the Rosseneri. I have high hopes for Seedorf turning this club around, but it won’t be easy. The offense is potent, but the defense remains a bit soft for Milan. Kaka has been very good this season, and the addition of Honda should help. They really need El Shaarawy back in the mix though.

  7. biff says:

    uh-oh. Chelsea playing their A-team. Mourinho taking the FA Cup seriously. Cameron starting.

    • Bean says:

      Stoke City, despite their ugly style, is never a club to take lightly. I imagine that Mourinho realized that Stoke could shock if he put out a weaker line up.

  8. John says:

    So does Jones make he bench today?

  9. Joe says:

    Where would this team finish in MLS?

    ——-Howard——-
    Spector—Onyewu—Ream—Lichaj
    Cameron—Williams
    Holmes Shea
    Altidore—Agudelo

    • Sandtrout says:

      My guess — middle of the pack. Weak defense.

    • Maykol says:

      Definitely playoffs. I believe tim ream was an all star in europe. Plus if you are using US players in europe, the bench would also include kljestan, boyd, and doskerud. And if you start fabiam johnson and timmy chandler, i doubt most teams would stand too big of a chance against them

    • GW says:

      Tell who the rest of the squad is and then I’ll tell you.

      Most EPL teams have squads ranging from 24 to 30+ players.

  10. Bean says:

    The Stoke City defense has lived up to their reputation so far. Very stout defending that is fun to watch in its own way.

    • Joe C. says:

      Agreed, it’s been a fun game to watch. Lovely defending by Stoke, but Chelsea seems to easily have the better of it today.

      • Bean says:

        Mark Hughes has made some good changes at Stoke. The Potters have looked surprisingly good right up to the final third where it falls off. They look good playing out of the back, and are quick on the break.

    • Increase says:

      Tony Pulis knew what he was doing. It is just ugly. Ugly but brilliant.

  11. q says:

    CAMERON has been IMPRESSIVE at Stoke. Despite his age, could you guys see him moving to a bigger club if he has a good WORLD CUP and finishes the season strong?

  12. Bean says:

    Hazard went down way to easy with a scream that influenced the referee again. A soft yellow to Cameron. The awarded FK that culminated in the goal for CFC was also soft.

  13. usaalltheway says:

    How about that little run by Oscar?

    Sooooooo close to a beautiful finish by Eto’o (spelling?).

    I dig it man. Great stuff.

    • Joe C. says:

      Oscar made our Geoff look a little silly there. I was only going to watch the first half, but I think this game may be too fun to miss the rest.

      • usaalltheway says:

        Oscar is very good. He made four of Stoke’s players look silly. Too bad Cameron had to be one of them.

        I have seen most of the first half. You should totally watch the rest. Very entertaining.

        • Joe C. says:

          Yeah, I guess I’ll just have to be productive a bit later. I don’t get the opportunity to watch games live that often.

  14. usaalltheway says:

    Anyone else feel that Stoke gets a little too much “hate”?

    That really aren’t that bad at all.

    They could use a better striker but all in all, a solid team.

    • Brett says:

      If Jozy played for them and they weren’t scoring goals you would consider them so terrible because even the amazing Altidore couldn’t find the net with such sub-par support.

  15. usaalltheway says:

    So far, Chelsea is bossing this second half.

    Stoke can’t make anything happen.

  16. timothy says:

    If jozy doesn’t score today, that’ll prove his move was a mistake and he is a total failure. It doesn’t matter that Sunderland played yesterday

  17. Sandtrout says:

    I seriously need some good news from U.S. soccer. Seems like we have some older stars who are fading (Dempsey, Donovan), without enough young firepower to replace them. Altidore’s on the skids. J. Jones…. who knows? (never liked him anyway, but Jurgen does). Bradley is on his underwhelming Canadian adventure. Not finding a lot of hope right this minute.

  18. Sandtrout says:

    I see no signs of a party, Mr. “Royal We” Stypulkoski.

  19. Alex C says:

    Interesting what Jozy’s coach Poyet said today (quoted from ESPNFC article): “Asked after the game if he felt his striker was suffering from a lack of confidence, Poyet replied: “I think it’s a little bit of everything. In the first half he was going to the near post and the ball it was going to the the second [far post]. It was going to the near post and he was going to the second [far post].”

    Is he saying that Sunderland players were deliberately avoiding Jozy when serving the ball, or that Jozy was deliberately avoiding the ball due to lack of confidence? Any thoughts? He also said “”From the moment I’ve been here it’s the first time [Mavrias and Altidore] played together. There is something that you need to know about your teammates, but we’ll try to put it right.”

  20. GW says:

    Mr. C.,

    Nice post.

    Here’s what Poyet had to say about Jozy back in November when Poyet first got there:

    “But it’s also a run of form that’s completely at odds with the American striker’s national team form, having scored eight goals in his last 10 games for the Stars & Stripes.

    How to make sense of these polar opposite goal-hauls gel is perplexing. So is it time to panic at the Stadium of Light?

    ‘Absolutely not,’ is the response from Black Cats manager Gustavo Poyet.

    “Sometimes it is hard — it is very easy to look at a player and say: ‘Oh, he doesn’t score goals.’ But sometimes you have to look at how you play, especially if that player has scored in other teams and not in yours.”

    “In a situation like this, I always analyze myself when I used to play,” Poyet said. “What worked for me as a player? Well, I needed crosses, so the worst team I played in was my national team.

    “In my national team in the years that I played, we were a team that played through the middle — we never played the ball out wide. No wingers. That meant we weren’t crossing and that meant I could not score. I was rubbish!

    “So then people would be saying: ‘Why is it that he is scoring so many goals in Europe when he can’t score for the national team?’ And the answer was simple — different teams. The Uruguay team’s style did not suit my game and this is my point at Sunderland. We need to find a style and a system which plays to the strengths of our best players.

    “If you don’t do that for Jozy, then it is going to be difficult for him to score and we will work on that.”

    • Alex C says:

      So it may be he just thinks that the team and Jozy are out of sync, and there is nothing “deliberate” being done either way, as I implied in my earlier post. I like that interpretation better.

      • Byrdman says:

        I gather from the last line that he understands that Jozy has done it elsewhere and is able to do it here. Interesting that he calls him one the best players. Hope for Jozy , maybe

    • Leo says:

      Even on the USMNT, Jozy wasn’t looking too hot for a while, until Klinsmann finally got tired of people calling for his head and put someone up top with him. The goals started pouring in.

      I think Jozy did an interview talking about how seriously he studied while at AZ. They drilled their style into him and he responded. Right now I see what’s going on on the pitch as according to Poyet’s plan. Jozy draws fouls in important places and creates space by drawing multiple defenders with his runs. I think the outstanding question is whether or not Poyet will be able to bring in players that suit Jozy’s style of play. I’d imagine it would suck having to bring in 4-5 players for Jozy rather than shipping him out and bringing in one forward that can hold up possession.

      • GW says:

        Good point. about Jozy studying.

        It is a matter of degree but I get the impression Jozy is not a “natural” player, that he likes to have a well thought out system mapped out for him ahead of time as it seems they did at AZ.

        At AZ I got the impression the structure was already in place and they set about to teach Jozy how to play within that structure.

        At Sunderland the whole thing is being built on the fly. Jozy and everyone else, is learning on the fly. Comparatively speaking Sunderland has been a pretty helter skelter offense, the kind only a junk yard dog like Clint might score in.

        If you look closely at the games where Jozy finally broke out of his US slump it is not so much they put someone up there with him in a 4-4 2. It was more like the team started attacking more as a unit. In the second half of the B & H game, the US attacked with a 5 man front with Jones staying in the B& H half while Mikey stayed in his half.

        Poyet seems to be doing a great job given the cirmcumstances. The main question is will he run out of time?

      • John says:

        If you go back and look at each goal for Jozy over the summer,
        Germany-a quick cross from Zusi,
        Jamaica- a quick cross from Zusi,
        Panama- a quick low cross on the break from Fabian
        Honduras- a centering pass from Fabian
        Bosnia- pass from Fabian, free kick, through pass from Bradley
        Jamaica- a centering pass from Castillo

        Jozy thrives from service from wide positions and he just isn”t getting that at Sunderland. He doesn’t play with wide players but is flanked by 2 strikers just looking for there own shot. Even the fullbacks like Bardsley cut inside more often then not. Its not about Jozy playing along someone it’s about the team having width, something the US also lacked for a while.

    • Increase says:

      Oddly, I think the same applies for Fletcher. You have to put the ball on Fletcher head from him to score. They aren’t doing that either.