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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

James Milner of Manchester City celebrates his goal, 2-4

Photo by Joe Toth/ISIPhotos.com

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

Two days removed from an entertaining Boxing Day of action, a jam-packed stretch in the English Premier League schedule continues Saturday with six matches to kick off the weekend.

After West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United kick off the day at Upton Park, second-place Manchester City could take over the top spot in the league for at least a temporary basis with a home victory against Crystal Palace. Man City have been dominant at the Ethiad Stadium so far this season, posting a 9-0-0 record and a +31 goal differential. A surprise result for Crystal Palace could be a big boost in their campaign to stay out of the relegation zone.

Elsewhere, Manchester United will look to follow up their comeback road win against Hull City with a road win against Norwich City. The day’s action will wrap up in South Wales as Cardiff City try to end their disappointing run in recent weeks with a victory against Jozy Altidore and last-place Sunderland, who are coming off a shock 1-0 victory at Everton.

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):

TODAY’S SOCCER ON TV

7:45am – West Ham United vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Network

10am – Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace – Premier League Extra Time

10am – Norwich City vs. Manchester United – Premier League Extra Time

10am – Aston Villa vs. Swansea City – Premier League Extra Time

10am – Hull City vs. Fulham – Premier League Extra Time

12:30pm – Cardiff City vs. Sunderland – NBC

191 comments
    • TomG

      Yeah, should have shot that. His confidence is shot. He needs to be better at keeping that confidence even when things aren’t clicking. The best strikers are typically unreasonably even irrationally cocky. It’s good that Jozy is such a great passer and wants to get teammates involved but he needs to be a bit more selfish.

      Like

  • Madden's Chin

    Playing yourself off the team dude. Why am I still watching this? If he doesn’t want to put in the effort, why should we?

    Like

  • Francois

    Great thru ball down the wing from Jozy puts Dossena through, who cuts it back Giacherini and his shot is blocked. Nobody wants to talk about the passing of Jozy, who has been the best passer for Sunderland this game, minus a few giveaways.

    Like

    • beachbum

      just played another nice one in there too, the service he wishes any other player on his team could provide him, frankly

      Like

    • usaalltheway

      You got it Francois!

      Jozy’s passing has been great this half. 🙂

      Sunderland works much better when Jozy plays the link between midfield and the final third (like Beach Bum pointed out above in a different post).

      Like

  • Madden's Chin

    Do not do a Twitter search of Jozy’s name. Needless to say, he’s lost probably every fan that isn’t American.

    Like

  • MidWest Ref

    Jozy is not playing any better than the rest of his team. Regardless of whether he has potential, he is not showing it today.

    And the team seems to play better with Fletcher who is a meat and potatoes, traditional EPL player.

    This move has been terrible for JA. Hopefully, he is making a boatload of cash.

    Like

    • beachbum

      the 2nd half of play seems to disagree with your assessment seems to me,

      I’ll provide a different one: the fact Poyet moved Jozy underneath to do the linking work that Sunderland has been unable to do ALL year speaks volumes since now they are actually linking forward and he’s in the middle of it

      it pulls him away from goal a bit but it’s hard to argue with how much different this team looks this half compared to the entire year to date

      now a goal from Fletcher! this combo could be good for Sunderland, certainly it’s showing on the field so far this half

      Like

      • MidWest Ref

        appreciate yourt comments, but we do not se eye to eye.

        Jozy saw more of the ball in the second half, but he made no passes that resulted in shots or attacking play.

        he lost the ball quite a few times when he was trying to hold up play

        once fletcher came on the team was more energized and direct.

        jozy did not seem to be on the same page with the rest of the team and in fact made a few bad giveaways that stifled the attack

        Like

      • beachbum

        yes, we disagree. Jozy in the middle of Sunderland finally linking forward and in the middle of Poyet’s halftime adjustments and system change; it was something from Poyet to make those moves he made considering what happened to Borini at halftime, but it turned out they finally had a player in the middle 3rd who could hold the ball in there and connect with simple passes. Sunderland kind of sucks at that all year you know. All of the sudden there is space outside and Sunderland players have that 2-3 extra seconds to move forward and find space. yes he was imperfect in the 2nd half but also stepped up and responded after the bad 1st half

        cheers

        Like

  • Francois

    Nice flicked on header by Jozy across goal but nobody is making the run to get on the end of it.

    Like

    • John

      What I think is funny, is the people calling for Johannsson to start on the national team. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen what 30 goals in the Eredivisie means at this point.

      Like

  • Tony in Quakeland

    Sunderland is bad, dreadful, atrocious, miserable. embarrassing, lousy, junk… I’m running out of synonyms.

    Like

  • beachbum

    awesomeness. this team is evolving right before or eyes and Poyet deserves a TON of credit for the moves he made at halftime today

    yes!

    Like

  • Bob

    Jozy has been really bad. It cannot be blamed on him getting poor service. He’s been poor all around.

    Like

  • Kingsly Alexander

    You see this pattern developing when Altidore started fluffing shots.

    Now none of his teammates trust him and he doesn’t trust himself, which is even more disturbing.

    I said they’ll revert to Fletcher and you can’t blame them.

    I’m really afraid Jozy is gonna find himself on the bench in the second half of the season.

    Idk hopefully he’ll be loaned out.

    Like

    • Benjamin C.

      Are you referring to the same teammates that killed attacks, turned the ball over consistently, and crumbled under defensive pressure? Because that describes every other Sunderland player for the first 70 minutes or so.

      Like

      • Kingsly Alexander

        Stop it. I wont even indulge, because for better or worse that is the team surrounding him and its also the team that got the two goals, without Jozy having a hand in them

        Jozy is playing bad and nothings going to change around him because there aren’t any funds for the January window.

        Like

      • Benjamin C.

        You’re completely right. Every other Sunderland player was world class. I apologize profusely for questioning your immense soccer knowledge.

        Like

      • Kingsly Alexander

        Jozy is in a bad scenario, whether we sit around blaming his teammates or Jozy’s mental fortitude, it wont matter because he’s stuck at Sunderland and nothing it going to drastically change unless Jozy starts putting away the chances he gets to score and he’s had at least 1 good, solid chance each game.

        Like

      • Benjamin C.

        I agree with you here. I would love for Jozy to start putting those chances away. And he definitely needs to get a couple, considering his a confidence/momentum player. I am not a professional soccer player, but I am guessing that if your midfield only provides you with one or two chances a game, the psychologically pressure to score can become crippling. He needs something to get the season going, but I just won’t give up on him and call him garbage like some ‘fans’ do on this message board.

        Like

      • Kingsly Alexander

        the ppl who call Jozy garbage are just that.

        Jozy is a quality player. I hoped after that Chelsea match mid-week things would turn around for him. Ppl get pissed when I say he needs to put in goals or he’ll be dropped, pointing to everything else he does, hold up, flick on and such, but the reality is you have to put in some goals eventually or you’ll find yourself on the bench, especially with Fletcher healthy now and scoring.

        Like

    • Benjamin C.

      Fair assessment here. Inconsistent is the best word for it, and can be applied to most of the players on the pitch for Sunderland. Those saying he was just plan awful don’t seem to know much about soccer. Ask his teammates and they would likely laud him for the hard work and some of the balls he played today.

      Like

      • Benjamin C.

        So did every midfielder that played for Sunderland today. Jozy also played some really good balls to his own teammates and consistently fought hard throughout the comeback. Pessimism at its highest.

        Like

      • beachbum

        good to see more reasonable folks post here too

        poor first half, good second half, and part of the change in tempo Sunderland executed successfully in the second half.

        and I agree with JS below, would like to see Jozy/Fletcher paired more

        Like

  • JS

    Sunderland played well the last twenty minutes. Jozy was had a poor game overall, but not nearly as poor as most of you make it sound. Playing underneath his link-up play was solid. I’d like to see Fletcher and Altidore start together more often.

    Like

  • M

    I only saw the last 20 minutes and he looked pretty active, won a few free kicks and they scored 2goals. Not bad

    Like

  • Amru

    Jozy did much better in the second half getting involved in the play. Had to drop deep to provide link up play which took him away from the goal. Again not a terrible performance but you can tell he’s lost confidence in himself

    Like

  • Benjamin C.

    For those saying Altidore will be dropped in favor of Fletcher: Sunderland played its best soccer when both were on the pitch. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. I would predict Poyet will do this more in the second half of the season, particularly at home when three points are more realistic. Plus, Borini may be out for some time after today’s health scare (best wishes to him and I hope it is nothing major). Jozy will continue getting time and, hopefully, he will have a good run of form. There is plenty of time left in this season.

    Like

    • Kingsly Alexander

      They won’t be playing two strikes every game. Their bottom of the table and managers fighting relegation are going to favor a one striker system in favor of a midfielder or a defender.

      The more successful Fletcher is the worse the situation will be for Jozy and the worse the teams looses the more the team will start to prefer Fletcher.

      Like

      • John

        Even if Jozy is on the bench and gets limited minutes, does it even matter for the national team? Sure you want his confidence high going into the World Cup but I don’t see any other options at the spot other then maybe EJ. I guess we’ll have to see how he does in DC.

        Like

      • John

        I like AJ but we’ve only seen him score against a Panama team with tears in there eyes and the same Eredivisie teams Jozy had no problem scoring all over last year.

        Like

      • GW

        KA,

        Sunderland are best when both Fletcher and Jozy are on the field.

        If it’s just Fletcher all you get is Route One/ Stoke Pulis ball. That could work but only to a point because Sunderland are not as disciplined as those Stoke teams were. Jozy gives them some variety in their attack because he seems to be able to drop a little deeper and link up in a way that no other Sunderland player can.

        Ki S.Y. has promise but he is not consistent.
        Ironically the one player they could really use is LD.

        Like

      • John

        They’ve looked generally much better the last few weeks then they did today. I think the short turn around and Borini being sick of coarse had an effect.

        Like

    • John

      Sunderland doesn’t have enough players, to not try and get something out of everyone they have.

      Like

  • MLS_Soccer_Talker

    I don’t understand how anyone can say Jozy’s playing is horrible….That whole Effing team sucks..I can’t go two halves of watching them play!!! Defend, defend, kick ball..All Day. No joke , but 2013 SKC team could trash them. 3-0.

    Like

    • Madden's Chin

      Don’t let their relative poorness disguise their talent. Sunderland would trounce SKC and it wouldn’t be remotely close. It’s like the age old argument of how would the worst NFL team do against the best NCAA team.

      The Jaguars would beat Alabama by 50 to 100 points without breaking a sweat.

      Benny Feilhaber is the highest paid player on SKC. He makes about 312K a year.

      The annual average salary of a player on Sunderland–including all bench players–is over 2 million. The average of a starting player is much higher.

      Like

    • Fredo

      Just about every MLS center back tandem would mark runners in the box better than Sunderland’s did. Given that, I think SKC could score on Sunderland. It would be a game

      Like

      • GW

        Fredo,

        That is easy to say when you know that we will never be able to prove it one way or another. By the way Sunderland’s first choice CB pair were out.

        It would be a game but it would depend on whether Sunderland decided to show up or not..

        Like

  • dude

    In the past, Fulham had several Americans on the roster, and was nicknamed “Fulhamerica.” Sunderland should just follow this to it’s natural conclusion, and make the squad the US National team through relatively inexpensive moves. Bradley wouldn’t come, and Dempsey would have to be on loan, but it would keep you from being relegated.

    I know, would never happen, but dear God, it would be better than this #$%^, and Jozy would get some teammates who know how to make simple passes, and feed his feet.

    Like

  • Horsewhistle

    US Soccer is reporting that Klinsman will be going on loan at Sunderland for two months so he can remain in form and coach at the highest level in preparation for the World Cup. This is a condition of his new contract that was awarded to him.

    Like

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