It’s a monster Saturday for soccer, with the English Premier League back in action. There are a few noticeable changes both on the pitch and the sidelines from last year. Andre Villa-Boas now leads the Hotspurs as they’ll try to pay back Chelsea for knocking them out of the Champions League. Both Fulham and Arsenal are missing their leading scorers from last season, with Clint Dempsey still refusing to play for Fulham and Robin van Persie completing the transfer from Arsenal to Manchester United. Aside from personell changes, what are the key questions facing each club this season? Ian Darke, of course, has the answers. This and more in today’s Daily Kick Around.
English Premier League
Before we get to Saturday results, let’s look at the key questions for each club this season, courtesy of America’s favorite English soccer announcer, Ian Darke, for the newly branded “ESPN FC”. Darke’s first question was how Arsenal would fare without leading striker Robin van Persie, and after their season-opening match vs Sunderland, the question still remains, as the home team “enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked a killer instinct in the final third.” Fulham, on the other hand, had no trouble scoring without Clint Dempsey, drilling Norwich City 5-0 in their home opener. Manchester United fans can breathe a little easier, after the club rejected a transfer of Chicharito to Chelsea. Andre Villa-Boas was sacked at Chelsea last season before the club made a miraculous comeback to claim the Champions League title, bouncing the fourth-place Tottenham Hotspurs out of Champions League contention for this season. Now Villa-Boas, head coach at Tottenham, aims for payback as he will try to get the club back into the top four. He’ll have to do better than today’s result, however. The Spurs fell to Newcastle United, 2-1. Swansea City shocked QPR 5-0 at Loftus Road. QPR had hoped that many of their new additions would make an impact to help dig them out of last season’s basement, but it was Swansea’s new face, Miguel Perez Cuesta, aka “Michu,” who made the biggest impact with two goals to lead the Swans to the win. Liverpool hoped to make a statement in their opener as they attempt to return to the top of the tables, but it didn’t go as planned, as they fell 3-0 to West Brom, losing defender Daniel Agger to a red card in the 58th minute.
Major League Soccer
The Cascadia Clash is back, as Seattle takes on Vancouver this afternoon, but the Whitecaps will be without Barry Robson, suspended for “aggravated dissent” in Wednesday’s loss to FC Dallas.
Columbus Crew’s new DP, Argentina’s Federico Higuain, could be on the pitch for tomorrow’s match against the Houston Dynamo:
Warzycha said Higuain’s role will be fluid, but emphasized that the Argentine would be deployed in familiar positions where he can find space and time on the ball. One of the players likely to be feeding Higuain, midfielder Milovan Mirosevic, said he is anxious to get their partnership off the group and suspects it won’t take long for the pair to click, just as he and [Jairo] Arrieta have done.
Follow us on @AerysSoccer for more EPL and MLS commentary and reactions this weekend!