Archive | Premier League RSS for this section

Jordan Henderson: Golden Boy, Problem Child

Kenny Dalglish’s decision to feature Jordan Henderson has had unfortunate consequences.

Mashed peas and football—that’s what England does.

0-1 to Stoke, three down to Spurs, if this downward trend continues we might start thinking that ‘King Kenny’ is actually a cantankerous, milky-eyed old man with a penchant for selling talented foreign imports (Meireles) and buying in vastly inferior, twice-the-price British replacements (Henderson) and not, as Liverpool fans would have it, the Second Coming of Christ Our Saviour. -Tom Midlane.

On June 9th, Liverpool bit the bullet and paid the surcharge, known as the English premium, to sign Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson before other rival clubs stepped in and absconded with the talented young midfielder. But there was little need for worry, since no one is more seduced by this “asset” than Kenny Dalglish.

After failing in January, Liverpool finally rescued the eager Charlie Adam on July 7th from Blackpool. Adam was well aware that he was an addition to a central midfield already populated by the well established Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva. But for some reason, Adam included Henderson in this list, as if a month was sufficient time for Henderson to be considered a player Adam would have to unseat. It may have already been clear to him that Henderson was the manager’s “golden boy”, a status as embedded as proven experienced veteran.

The following week, Liverpool signed winger Stuart Downing, who would find less competition on the left with the right-sided utilitarian Dirk Kuyt, the shadow-of-former-self Joe Cole, substitute Maxi Rodriguez, and of course the golden boy who, if pushed from the center, would move to the right.

Add to this the return of Alberto Aquilani on July 4th from a season-long loan at Juventus, the undecided fate of Joe Cole, an eventually healthy—if fragile—Gerrard, the in-form Raul Meireles, and Liverpool have got themselves a glut of midfielders—ten including Kuyt or twelve if counting Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing. Kenny Dalglish—befitting a king—had the pleasure and privilege of abundant choice (as well as the attendant problems of those left out who think otherwise).

Read More…

Arsenal’s Defensive Frailties Don’t Hold in loss to Blackburn

These guys are so new that they should be shaking hands with each other first.

Own goals are by nature accidental, unless it’s Serie A. Most of them are deflections, the goal scorer guilty of being the last object to make contact with the ball. In Arsenal’s loss to Blackburn, there were the two own goals, the first by Alex Song and the second by Laurent Koscielny. This says less about defensive frailty than about bad luck joining disastrous form simply for the sadistic pleasure of it.

Arsenal has had a history of giving up one-goal leads. Time and again, the defense can’t hold out because they have not been good enough either physically or mentally. But losing a one-goal lead early in the second half to Blackburn—the first of three unanswered goals—doesn’t follow suit. If it did, then the fact that two of the four starting defenders have played only one Premier League match between them and have never played together before at any point in their careers. Laurent Koscielny has one season behind him. The own goals are a misfortune of transition not pathology, which still doesn’t excuse the performance.

9-17-11

Sergio Agüero’s Umlaut

Sergio Agüero’s name on the back of his Athletico Madrid jersey had an umlaut. Unveiled at Manchester City in July, his baby blue jersey also had an umlaut.

His graphically rendered name on television broadcasts of Manchester City matches has no umlaut. When Google anticipates that his name is being typed into the search field, Sergio Agüero’s name has no umlaut, but his Wikipedia site spells his name with an umlaut. When the URL is bookmarked it will appear in its folder as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergio_Ag%C3%BCero, where an un-umlauted name looks like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Balotelli

Read More…

Manchester City “has come a long way, baby”

Two wins from two matches, Manchester City look like title contenders.

What is it Carlos? Have you become self-aware or is your agent near?

August 2008 marked year zero for Manchester City. The old identity was razed, while the hope that tradition can be reinjected into the pursuit of global domination—side effects include nausea, diarrhea, migraine, anger, befuddlement, and in some cases, infantilism. Without notable figures like Sven-Göran Eriksson and Noel Gallagher to confirm a history, the takeover of the club by Abu Dhabi United Group might have marked the club’s founding instead.

In these three years, City has steadily climbed the table, finishing tenth, fifth, and third. The ascent from nameless mid-table club to title-contending quasi-galacticos is the result of bottomless wealth clearing the path before it, as well as on occasion astute management.

Manchester City, the nouveau riche arriviste. If still a poor Mancusian’s Manchester United, if still lacking the sophistication and tradition of the elite clubs, if rough-edged from the ostentatious display of wealth and clumsy mastery of protocol and manners, then they can now at least command descriptions in French. Samir Nasri can help translate.

Read More…

Week Three: Some Post-match Feuilleton

Aston Villa and Wolverhampton discover the benefits of mutualism, intended or not; Arséne Wenger is rudely introduced to disaster capitalism; Viagra is not a Spanish word, but might as well be at Chelsea as Juan Mata looks to be the panacea (also not Spanish) for creative dysfunction; Tottenham, more Arsenal-esque than ever this season, fall short of equaling the humiliation.

Arsenal supporter after Manchester United scored their sixth goal and then a minute after that.

Aston Villa 0—Wolverhampton 0

Television announcers almost always note Fabio Capello’s attendance at Premier League matches. In attendance to scout and judge, the either stern or frightening Capello contributes texture to the broadcast’s atmosphere. Capello’s reputation as stern or frightening is played up into the myth of some transcendent austerity that has finally begun to show cracks during his time as England manager. The characterization becomes the perfect setup to argue that only the supreme importance of the England national team could  exert the necessary weight of pressure to crack this nut. But forty-six years since England won the World Cup is a diatnt menory that has moved past the burden of history into facoid. The reality is that England has been mediocre for some time. Ther should be much pressure to surpass this.

Capello is there at Villa Park. Thinking Okay, we’ll let’s have a look at him, the camera seeks him out of the crowd and we know he’s hard at work as he should be, if England is to sustain or emerge from mediocrity.

Much like the last time we saw him at some other game a week ago, he’s sitting motionless, staring out at a blade of grass, chin lying on his chest and hemmed by concentric rings of aged skin like a melted Elizabethan collar. If the apparent refusal to improve his poor English is a sign of unwillingness to integrate into English culture, then one should look elsewhere for proof of effort.

Read More…

Arséne Wenger Seeing What He Hadn’t Seen Before

 Arséne Wenger’s double take at the score and the reality.

 9/1/11