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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

EvertonChelsea (Getty Images)


After a road loss to Manchester City last weekend knocked them out of the FA Cup, Chelsea will look to stay in pole position for the English Premier League title against an Everton side that got the best of them earlier this season.

The Blues fell 1-0 to USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard and Everton at Goodison Park earlier this season, but they have risen to the top of the EPL table since their loss on Merseyside. Chelsea, who still have not lost in league play at Stamford Bridge this season, are unbeaten in their last 18 home matches against Everton. The Toffees have struggled on the road in recent weeks and will most likely need a positive result to keep them in a Europa League spot.

In other Saturday EPL action, second-place Arsenal will take on USMNT forward Jozy Altidore and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium. While relegation-zoned Sunderland have only lost once in their last 10 matches across all competitions, Arsenal have not lost a home match in league play since Opening Day against Aston Villa.

Elsewhere, Manchester City host Stoke City at Ethiad Stadium, while struggling Manchester United look for a road win at Crystal Palace before the start of their Champions League fixture with Olympiakos next week. In Spain, Barcelona visit Real Sociedad in hopes of keeping their lead above rivals Real Madrid, who host Elche at the Bernabeu.

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 – Chelsea vs. Everton – NBC Sports Network

7:45am – Heart of Midlothian vs. Celtic – Fox Soccer Plus

9:30am – Hamburg vs. Borussia Dortmund – GolTV USA

10am – Arsenal vs. Sunderland – USA Network

10am – Real Madrid vs. Elche – beIN Sports USA

10am – Manchester City vs. Stoke City – Premier League Extra Time

10am – West Bromwich Albion vs. Fulham – Premier League Extra Time

10am – West Ham United vs. Southampton – Premier League Extra Time

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

11am – Marseille vs. Lorient – Univision Deportes

12pm – Celta de Vigo vs. Getafe – beIN Sports en Español

12:30pm – Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United – NBC

12:30pm – Wolfsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen – GolTV USA

2pm – Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona – beIN Sports USA

2pm – Montpellier vs. Ajaccio – Univision Deportes

2:45pm – Bologna vs. AS Roma – beIN Sports USA

4pm – Almeria vs. Malaga – beIN Sports en Español

5:30pm – Nacional (Uru) vs. Danubio – GolTV USA

6pm – Club America vs. Pumas UNAM – Univision

8pm – Pachuca vs. Morelia – Univision Deportes

8pm – Tigres UANL vs. Veracruz – UniMás

9:05pm – Club Leon vs. Santos – Telemundo

10pm – Atlas vs. Monterrey – Univision Deportes


    • “”Howard superb all game long, and then makes a meal of a play in stoppage time””

      He’s a specialist in doing this, in case you haven’t been watching. (not stoppage time, just big match time)

  1. interesting stat: Sunderland’s second leading scorer is a sub…… Giaccherini. How does Poyet not start this man. JA, AJ, Borini, Giac, should be your front 4. with Bridcutt and Ki filling out the mid. simple 1 ST, 2 ST doesnt matter. JA and borini as 2 strikers with AJ and Giac out wide, ki as cam and bridcutt as cdm. JA as 1 ST with borini as CF/CAM, Giac and AJ out wide and ki and Bridcutt as cdms….. can it be more obvious……..

    • There is no telling about coaches’ motivations. Maybe he didn’t do well in training or he was late for practice. There are all kinds of ways to become a bench warmer. With Altidore its obvious with others not so, and then there is betting over all kinds of items from throw-ins to who scores and who doesn’t. Read “I Am The Secret Footballer”. That book contains all kinds of good stuff.

      • true, yet in Poyet’s recent interview he spoke in detail about Giac saying “[ He’s a great player but I can’t seem to find a place to get him in the lineup. It’s not his fault, it’s on my, I just can’t figure out a spot to play him]” –paraphrased–. It was a believe in the last week or so if you want to find the interview and read the actual quotes.

        basically Poyet feels others have earned it more? im sorry but talent reigns supreme. Put your best 11 on the field for the majority of games…… especially when your squad lacks creativity and you have the most creative player on your team on the bench.

  2. Sunderland’s best players by talent (roughly):

    Giac, Borini, AJ, JA, Bridcutt, Ki, Brown, Bardsley, O Shea, Colback, Alonso, Larson, Gardner, Wickham, Cattermole (as for the rest, who cares)

    I still cant understand why Poyet can’t get his starting line up right…… PUT GIAC IN THE STARTING 11, he’s the exact creative flair you need to pair with borini to create chances. It would help Jozy as well. so frustratingly obvious. put your best players on the field FFS

    • I think Poyet’s going to be forced to start making some tactical changes, especially after today’s start. Do you know if Sunderland currently possess players capable of providing service from the wings?

      • AJ is the RW but he’s the kind of player that cant do anything with his right, he’s basically a RW that looks to only cut in along the 18 and shoot or lay off pass for a streaking mid, AJ does a good job at that tho. I still feel he’s better suited as a LW.

        Larson has good curve on crosses yet has played more centrally under poyet behind the winger. Larson also isnt really a full 90 type of player.

        as for the rest of the team there is no real crosser besides the LB M. Alonso, whom i believe would maybe be a better LW (he’s left footed with good possession and terrible at defense, positionally and 1v1).

        I feel Poyet’s system, ironically, strives to be like Arsenal’s possession and quick 1 touch passes at the top of the box to diessect defenses. sadly the mids for Sunderland never have met a shot from 30 that they didnt fall in love with like a highschooler…….

        where sunderland can improve are on seeing ground passing lanes in the final third (eg the same way Arsenal scored the 1st and 3rd goal today). granted this is like asking a JV team to play college level but still, shouldnt Sunderland want to get better? there were several times where players had open streaking players up front and held on to the ball looking for some long shot and eventually lost the ball. Giac is the only player i feel sees this and tries to create simple, quick ground passes near the box to create chances.

        i could go on but really, whats the point………. haha

  3. That’s 3 straight games with a late lead for Fulham and a total of 2 points to show for it. Frustrating to watch what would have been the points that took them out of the relegation zone slip away late.

  4. Tough loss for Stoke. Admirable effort. After going down a they had a couple good attacks.

    Cameron – Shawcross – Pieters are remarkably solid across the back. So happy for Cammy and what he’s achieving at Stoke.

  5. If March 5 happens, Packwood and Onyewu ought to get a runout, while Spector ought to get a call as a fullback and Lichaj as a left back. Ream has also played left back this year some. We have defensive options. Maybe Chandler or Spector can play defensive mids if JJ isn’t healthy.

    • Chandler ? not even sure he will have resumed training from his injury by then. He is a long long shot for Brazil at this time.

      • Chandler will see the field in about 6 to 7 weeks. If he is on form, it will be difficult not to put him on that plane considering the teams the U.S. will face.

    • ” Packwood and Onyewu ought to get a runout, while Spector ought to get a call as a fullback and Lichaj as a left back.”

      Agreed all around there, except,

      Spector & Klijestan as holding-mids in a 4-2-3-1, good bye SpongeMikeSquarePass and JJ…

  6. At what point do we stop subjecting ourselves to this torture, guys? I’ve gotten up for every Sunderland match I can this season, only to be disappointed EVERY time. It’s one thing to root and hope for Jozy, but his team is just so abjectly terrible, I’m not sure it’s worth the emotional investment anymore. On the fence about whether I will tune in anymore this season.

  7. Jozy off. My take is that Poyet feels Jozy can only function as a target striker. If he thought he was clever or skilled enough to play as an out-and-out striker, then he’d have him out there still otherwise why would he take him off?

  8. Biases aside…. the Twittersphere provides perfect insight into why England continues to fail miserably internationally and at the club level.

    Not joking, there are more than a handful of vocal supporters who believe Borini is their best player. Apparently running fast without purpose and no tactical awareness is rewarded…

    • This is why English teams always get someone sent off when they play teams with high tactical awareness (Germans & Spaniards). In England if you can run for days and have the touch of a donkey you’re a star player.

  9. Jozy actually played very well, it seemed. Every touch was right to a teammate, putting them in a good position. Unfortunately most of the rest of the team was playing as if their mom forgot to give them their medication this morning. I think spazzy is the only word I can think of to describe their demeanor on the ball.

  10. with Giac on, Sunderland already have more creative play. i cant wait til the day Poyet starts

    Borini Giac AJ
    Ki Bridcutt
    (enter whichever 4 defenders)

    4-2-3-1 with talent and creation up front

    • Not sure why this hasn’t gotten a better response, but for the most part I agree with you, I think this would be a pretty decent lineup.

    • it’s because poyet doesn’t play a 4-2-3-1, he plays a 4-3-3/4-5-1. he can get a bunch of bad players to play not quite so badly, but he’s known to be pretty inflexible about his system.

      • really?…… 4-2-3-1 is basically a 4-5-1….. similar positioning. So call it what ever formation you want but get those players on the field was the point…

      • the “5” in poyet’s 4-5-1 consists of 3 holding players and two attacking players (roughly).

        if you did split it into 4 lines, it read more as a 4-3-2-1, but an unusual 4-3-2-1, because the “2” would be split out wide.

      • semantics… the larger point was that he needs to have his best players on the field….. whichever formation works. Jozy as the “1” with some form of Giac, Borini, AJ, Ki and Bridcutt…………… cal it a 4-1-1-1-1-1-1 for all i care, haha. but just get them on the field. Colback is a solid sub along with Gardner, Cattermole, Larsson and the rest

    • He was probably their best player… despite doing not much. He made quality runs and don’t think he even misplaced a single pass.

      Sounds like Jozy and Adam are being protected for the Wembley final.

      • FWIW Jozy was pretty invisible today. His only decent touches came when he dropped deep (not unique to today). However, because watching this game was making my eyes bleed I fast forwarded the 1st 20 minutes of the 2nd half (watching on DVR). Because Sunderland is SO awful, and their strikers are so isolated it took until Giaccerini’s goal for me to have a clear enough view to identify who was at striker (about 13 minutes). I defy ANY striker in the world to function effectively under those circumstances

  11. i truly hope Brett watched M Alonso, who was marking Rosicky during that whole play, just stop running with Rosicky….. allowing him to run open into the box off a wall pass, alonso literally just gave up.


      • apologies for the overkill. Brett seemed to want to lay into me a few matches ago saying that Alonso’s ability to help in the attack made him a good choice for LB. I however like defender’s to defend first, then attack second (like Dani Alves, etc). I’m basically just tryin to poke at Brett until he stops sitting on his tongue today. If he’s watching this game there’s no way possible for him to stick up for Alonso’s defense….. its terrible as usual. Ill stop tho. haha

      • As I pointed out back then, managers who favor defenders who are better at attacking than defending are called ex-managers. It doesn’t matter the sport, defense wins championships.

      • You shouldn’t make stuff up. All I ever said about Alonso was that Poyet plays him at LB because he wants his fullbacks pushing the width. Your obsession with him, and me, is nothing more than deflecting the focus from Jozy’s inefficacy.

      • Brett’s alive!!!!!!!

        all i ever said about Alonso was that he’s bad at defense and Sunderland would be better with an LB that plays defense. and there’s no obesession with either of you, just comically laughing at the fact that once again Alonso proves my point, terrible at defense. half of Arsenal’s goals today were his fault (he left giroud open on the first and let Rosicky waltz into the box and shoot on the third goal) and many more chances they had came from his side.

        glad to know you’re still alive…

    • He might be a bad defender, but he’s one of the better service providers on the team. I don’t care about how many goals they give up because I don’t care about this team, but the one thing I do care about is more scoring opportunities to Jozy so in that sense, he’s one player I want on the field.

      The only players I don’t want out there are the ones who’s job it is to get the ball to Jozy who elect not too

      • then move alonso up to LM, get colback outta there……… but what would be even better is Giac AND Jozy on at the same time, with borini and AJ. seems so obvious

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