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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

Gylfi Sigurdsson of Tottenham Hotspur and Nascimento Ramires of Chelsea

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Chelsea visit White Hart Lane today to take on former manager Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur, a side the Blues have not lost to since 2010.

Villas-Boas will be looking for his first three points against Chelsea, who are now managed by his mentor, Jose Mourinho. Second-place Spurs will hope to continue their impressive streak of home shutouts Saturday against a Chelsea offense that is slowly starting to find its stride following a tough losing streak.

In other English Premier League action, Manchester United host West Bromwich Albion, who lit up the scoreboard with the Red Devils in last season’s 5-5 finale. Meanwhile, after failing to record a single win in their Capital One Cup title defense, Swansea City will be looking to turn it around against first-place Arsenal.

The Spurs-Chelsea showdown in the English capital will be followed later in the day by another massive derby in the Spanish capital. After 14 long years without a win over gigantic rivals Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid return to the Bernabeu in hopes of duplicating their 2-1 victory in the Copa del Rey Final a few months ago. While Atletico have recorded six wins in six matches in La Liga play this season, Real will hope the home debut of record signing Gareth Bale can help them catch up to their two biggest rivals.

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 – NBC Sports Network – Tottenham vs Chelsea

10am – NBC Sports Live Extra – Aston Villa vs Manchester City

10am – NBC Sports Live Extra – Fulham vs Cardiff City

10am – NBC Sports Live Extra – Hull City vs West Ham United

10am – NBC Sports Live Extra – Manchester United vs West Bromwich Albion

11am – Univision Deportes – Paris Saint-Germain vs Toulouse

12:30pm – NBC – Swansea City vs Arsenal

1pm – MLS Live – Toronto FC vs DC United

2pm – beIN Sport en Español – Real Sociedad vs Sevilla

4pm – beIN Sport – Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid

6pm – Univision Deportes – Veracruz vs América

6pm – Univision – Cruz Azul vs León

7pm – MLS Live – Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake

7:30pm – MLS Direct Kick – New England vs Houston Dynamo

8pm – Univision Deportes – Monterrey vs Pumas UNAM

8:30pm – MLS Direct Kick – Chicago Fire vs Montreal Impact

10pm – Univision Deportes – Chiapas vs Pachuca


    • And then hit the crossbar on a PK. I was hoping he’d get the hat trick. However, I can’t stand the Fire supporters song that just goes “Fire! Fire! Fire, Fire Fire!” So unimaginative…

  1. Another goal for Fredy Montero.

    I read a couple weeks ago that Fredy was tied for the lead in goals among Europe’s top 6 leagues with some guy named Messi. He’s had 1 goal since then, as has, I think, Messi. So he *might* still have that distinction now.

  2. Aron Jóhannsson just scored. Sweet goal. Ball bounced to him right outside of the box on the left . . . he was patient with it and got into position. Lifted an arching shot right over the keeper. Showed some real skill there.

  3. Aaron Ramsey has seemingly gone from an average PL player to a world class performer in one off season. Every time I see him now he’s doing something wonderful.

  4. Living on the west coast I tend to DVR the early games (don’t really want to wake up at 4:45am), so learned to avoid the blogs and twitter until I’ve watched the two early games (TOT v CEL and AV v MU). What a comeback for AV. Now have turned the tv over to hubby who’s a big college football fan, so will be the ‘other’ football the rest of the day.

  5. after that first half who’d have thunk AV had 3 goals in them? First goal looked to be offsides but still, MC was dominating fully and now in the 85th they’re down one. Bacuna the man for AV

      • seriously! how he and that team turned it around in the second half was very surprising to say the least. throughout the first half they looked slower to the ball and in tracking runs, just looked slower to a man and got handled soundly

  6. also, nottingham forest’s winning goal (1-0) was from a corner created by lichaj’s deflected shot. yes, lichaj, who apparently is just no good at going forward. right, gw?

      • sorry, but if you want proof, you actually need to watch the player play. and anyone who thinks going forward is lichaj’s weak point obviously hasn’t been watching.

      • Easy now. I don’t really disagree with you at all. I just thought it sounded kind of funny the way you made the point here.

      • Nate,

        Lichaj won a corner with a deflected shot?

        I guess he was watching Parkhurst win a corner for the US in the Mexico game which led to EJ’s goal in Columbus.

        Lichaj had four seasons to convince a variety of managers at Villa that he was worth keeping.

        He could not do it.

        Compare that to, for example, Geoff Cameron , who not only convinced Tony Pulis he was worth buying and then keeping around but has now convinced Mark Hughes he deserves to continue being a starter.

        The difference? Cameron is consistent.

        On his best day Lichaj may well be a marginally better right back but you can usually count on Cameron to show up and give his best.

        At Villa Lichaj was sometimes crap or was sometimes great but mostly he was mediocre. And he was never good enough to win a run of games not influenced by the health or incompetency of others.

        The fact that he is now at Forest is proof of that.

        As I have said in previous posts, I haven’t seen him play at Forest and if he does well at there then fine. If you have seen him there then tell us whether their style fits with what the USMNT does.

        I have no problem if JK calls him in now.

        But I wouldn’t be surprised either way.
        Robbie Findley had a run of 23 appearances there in 2011-12 and never got a sniff of a USMNT call back.

      • what are you going on about? i wasn’t comparing lichaj to the other right backs in our pool. i was simply taking another opportunity to laugh at your opinion that he’s not good going forward.

      • i think lichaj should have been called in by klinsmann by now, but getting forward has always been his strength. defensive positioning and instincts needed to improve. i haven’t seen him play in a long time, but those are generally things that improve with minutes, so hopefully he is getting there.

      • Talk about a strawman. I have never heard anyone criticize Lichaj’s ability to push the attack. The problem he has is he stinks defensively….a hacking, fouling machine.

      • Wasn’t it always the opposite? How he so solid because a game where he shut down Bale and was really solid for a span of three games or so, but in that time was shi* going forward?

        I used to be in agreement with that sentiment based on that sample of games a season ago, but the truth of the matter is that Lichaj probably needed to climb down the latter in order to move up it. I don’t think this speaks negatively to his ability or talent ceiling at all either.

        He was brilliant at Leeds and now he’s doing well at Nottingham and no doubt we’ll see him doing so in the Premiership inevitably though this time with consistency. He just needed consistent playing time to find himself as a player and more importantly faith from his manager.

        You can’t expect a player to be primed and ready for all aspects of the the game, if he’s just not (speaking to his time with Villa). I really don’t think he’ll turn out like Frankie Simek or where Jonathan Spector is headed if he doesn’t get out of Birmingham.

      • Frankie Simek

        Now there’s a guy I really wanted to see for the US. It’s a shame about that ankle injury but I guess he’s lucky that he is still playing professionally at all.
        It was touch and go for a while.

        I’d like to think Spector has a chance with the USMNT but he probably needs someone, namely Geoff Cameron, to get injured.

      • I agree about Simek and Spector,

        Haven’t heard much about Simek after his trial for DC, but I’ve always wanted to see him in MLS. Used to try and catch when he was at Wednesday. Much like Spector left West Ham, he should’ve never left.

        With Spector it doesn’t help, that he’s such a utility player and is at RB one game and in the center another. And your right about he’s exclusion on account of Cameron. It seems like we so many utility players that can play all along the back and defensive Mid positions.

        The question is would he even get in with an injured Cameron, or would Orozco and even Edu be ahead of him.

        It doesn’t help Birmingham is currently in the relegation zone either, as is Bolton.

      • From the Birmingham Mail:

        Mat Kendrick
        24 May 2013 08:58

        Aston Villa: Mixed feelings as Eric Lichaj signs out of Villa Park

        Eric Lichaj

        With his latest haircut, Eric Lichaj bears a slight resemblance to Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver – and the aggressive American defender is the next cab off the rank to depart Villa.
        “Are you talking to me?” was Robert De Niro’s famous line from the film and the answer in Lichaj’s case is ‘No’ after it was decided a contract extension would not be discussed when his deal expires next month.
        There will be mixed feelings about Lichaj leaving but, at 24, and with US World Cup ambitions, the full-back needs first-team football after just 30 starts and 12 substitute appearances.
        Matt Lowton has impressively made the right-back role his own and with efforts being made to move Alan Hutton out, Villa have only utility player Chris Herd to provide cover, although defensive reinforcements are on Paul Lambert’s summer wishlist.
        Some reckon Lichaj could still do a job as a squad player for Villa and that the club will struggle to get cheaper defensive back-up; others reckon he is not quite good enough and will find his level in the Championship, which is where he could soon end up.
        Beyond doubt is the Illinois-born battler’s combative style. When he left the States, Lichaj didn’t need a green card to become a resident over here but he has picked up 11 yellow cards, including six last season.
        This all-out commitment has made up for the odd lapses in positioning and concentration that have undermined his efforts to become a regular.
        In Lichaj’s defence, he has shown the versatility to fill in at left-back and has been as good a No.3 as Villa have had in recent seasons, although that probably says as much about the problem position as the right-footer’s proficiency on the opposite flank.
        But the former Leyton Orient and Leeds loanee does not offer the same forward threat – even with that long throw of his – as first-choice duo Lowton and Joe Bennett for a manager who often asks his full-backs to provide the team’s attacking width.
        Lichaj will be remembered most fondly for taming Gareth Bale at Villa Park in December 2010, even though Spurs won 2-1, while limiting Eden Hazard in a defeat by the same scoreline to Chelsea a fortnight ago proved to be a decent farewell display.
        He will also be known for growing for charity during ‘Movember’ the type of handlebar moustache not seen since the days of William McGregor, while the celebrations for both of his goals will not be forgotten. He did the chicken noodle soup dance, dreamed up at university, and carved ‘19’ in honour of Stan Petrov in the Villa Park turf following his first and last strikes against Hereford and Chelsea. Lichaj is a popular figure in the dressing room and will be missed, but his impending exit shows that, under Lambert, the Bodymoor academy badge of honour is not in itself proof of Premier League quality.
        It is a warning that academy graduates must achieve high standards or will be moved on without sentiment.

      • tl;dr: the journalist says that lichaj wasn’t as good going forward as two other defenders. strong criticism, indeed.

      • “wasn’t as good going forward as two other defenders. strong criticism, indeed.”

        Strong enough for Villa to let him go.

        It is consistent with the profile for JK’s USMNT full backs in that it partially explains Lichaj’s lack of call ups.

        Dolo and Chandler , who have been absent, are complete two way players. Parkhurst is more of a two way type and Cameron is probably better defensively, though he might get better this season.

        The other main candidates, FJ, Evans, Castillo, DMB, Torres are probably more comfortable going forward.

        In any event it’s obvious that JK is looking at the fullbacks for offensive width.

        If Lichaj can do that for Forest consistently he will get a look.

      • I don’t disagree with how you see the players in our outside backs at all, I just feel like we should do a better job embracing the players weaknesses and alter our formations too it them.

        I think Diskerud at this point has shown he’s shown he needs to be in from the start. In combination with the fact that we don’t really have a true two way player as an option at LB, we should have Fabian Johnson, some would say Beasley, play as a wingback and have Diskerud pinch into the center midfield from the left in combination with Bradley and Jermaine Jones. Bedoya has shown he can do the job and do it well on the right side, running back to play D all night, which would play right into the fact that our two best options as of now at RB are either Cameron or Parkhurst and neither are going to win awards for the skills on the offensive end, so let them push up to the half way line, any further sparingly, and be ready to cover for Gonzalez.

        I hate too say it, but the reality is Dempsey isn’t in form right now and Donovan is, so he should play right below Altidore. Dempsey hasn’t shown a complete loss of form yet and because one lackluster game, he shouldn’t be benched yet, but given another and this will be the conclusion every one will come to anyways. Dempsey and Donovan as the forwards don’t work, as evident by the Costa Rica game so until the time being, I guess Donovan should start on the right in Bedoya’s place, with Dempsey paired with Alti, but Dempsey just doesn’t have it now.

        I know there would be a lot of politics in play with dropping Dempsey, but Klinsman has already set the president with the Donovan thing and the exclusion of Bocanegra, so he can do this and it would very logical as a manager to do so. Ppl will complain and say, this is crazy considering his credentials and what he’s done for us in the past, much like with Donovan, but if it need be, then it’s one that has to be made. We did quite fine without an out of form Donovan, and can do so with an out of form Dempsey, not in the starting eleven.

        But hopefully this won’t happen and in the game against Scotland this isn’t the reality of things and Dempsey looks as sharp as he was when playing for Spurs, but again if need be.

      • Platonias,

        Don’t you think you are being a little pessimistic?

        I think the USMNT will go further by emphasizing their strengths rather than trying to cover over their weaknesses. Though that usually winds up being the same thing.

        Which is what I think JK is doing.
        As for Dempsey’s form, the 2014 World Cup is not being played next month.

        There are about 6-7 months left and the balance of the club seasons, before JK has to pick a roster.

        Some guys who are in great form now will be crap then and vice versa.

        Some guys who are healthy now will be injured then and vice versa.

        This is not Clint’s first rodeo. He knows how to build up to the Cup.

      • @GW

        On Dempsey, I’m not really speaking to the WC, but in the upcoming months if his bad form were to continue, I would rather he be dropped from the starting eleven sooner then later.

        Don’t get me wrong. I want him at the WC. And even in his bad form he’s going to be there and a out of form Dempsey will probably be a better option then an in form Terrence Boyd for the Nats. But now that we have depth, we have the privilege of doing these things, just like any other big national team. Take Wesley Sneijder for the Netherlands as example.

        I thinks it’s necessary to be pestimistic and wary of potential threats to the progress of the national team.

        And when speaking of the formation, I agree that playing to your strengths and covering your weaknesses are essentially the same thing when your conceiving your formation and roster.

    • It’s funny that people think he’s bad going forward. That’s been one of his strengths for a while. His main weakness was his tendency to forget to show up and defend on occasion. It looks like he’s doing a little better on that front these days.

    • on Siggurdson’s (sp) goal announcer said team was different this year, allowing Sig to take command of a role that he and Demps shared well last year. No reason why Demps couldn’t have stayed instead of Sig.

      • I really think the decision between Siggurdson and Clint was just about age. They wanted one and kept the young one.

      • True, but you’re making the leap that AVB would have listed Deuce anywhere near the the 18. And that just wasn’t gonna happen unfortunately. I knew Dempseys fate was sealed when I heard AVB call Sigurdson “Siggy”… but refer to Deuce as “The Player”… dude wouldn’t even use his name
        I miss waking up Saturdays and watching my fave player gut it out in the PL,… but AVB wanted Deuce about as much as he wanted the clap

      • A better thing to say would be

        Last year AVB needed Clint. This year he doesn’t as he has players that fit what he wants better and bought a ton of them.

      • So if he would’ve stayed, he most certainly wouldn’t of played.

        A man’s decision to move for personal reasons is alright by me, but it certainly isn’t doing anything for the Nats. and if he doesn’t start banging in goals in MLS, he.won’t be doing anything for American soccer period.

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