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Premier League Opening Weekend: The games I saw

No use boring you with a complete Premier League digest or something "informative" like that when you can just as easily look on http://www.espnfc.us/ or any number of sites for that kind of detailed, factual information. Instead, let me give you my impressions of a few games I watched this weekend:

Tottenham vs. West Ham United: I feel like Tottenham should have steam-rolled West Ham but West Ham had far more chances in the first half, even a missed penalty kick by Noble which could have completely turned the tables on the game and probably saved them (at least) a tie. I was in a bar watching this game on a tiny, far-away television and couldn't hear the announcers or see the players very well. So in terms of tactical observations or who were my stand-out players...I've got "nil" for you. Tottenham did manage to sneak in an injury time goal off the boot of Eric Dier, saving them the win and their dignity. Right now Tottenham is my adopted Premier League team, but I may have to put them on waivers if I don't see something more than the tepid, un-exciting football I saw them exhibit in this match.

Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace: You've gotta be interested in any team called "Crystal Palace," for god's sake. Clearly the underdog here, CP logged an early goal off a header (really a deflection) by one of their defenders on a corner kick, but Arsenal equalized later in the half and then went ahead later in the game. Final score: 2-1. To mind, there's no real debate here who's the better team. Arsenal were just too damned good, too efficient, and too persistent with quality runs to have lost this game. You could play it 100 more times and they'd win it 90. Starting with Alexis Sanchez (F) who to me seems to be the stand-out player, they've got a dizzyingly deep squad, and their three Germans -- Ozil, Podolski, and Mertesacker -- aren't even starting yet. Arsenal were the classiest and tightest of all the teams I watched this weekend, no doubt.

Manchester City Vs. Newcastle United: Now THIS was an interesting game. Man City are the 13/14 Premier League Champions, going up against the scrappy, young, middle-of-the-standings Newcastle United, a squad which featured four new players on its starting 11. A beautiful goal by Man City's David Silva in the first half provided some relief after what had been a pretty tense first half without many decent runs by either squad; in fact the Man City goal almost seemed like an anomaly or a freak accident. Newcastle held most of the game after that, but Sergio Aguero neatly popped in a rebound shot in injury time in the second half, sealing the deal.

I like Newcastle United, however, for the following reasons:


  • That's the team that the Buzz Feed EPL Team Selector picked for me
  • They're a young, mostly new team consisting of at least three new players from France, one of them a small, scrappy, clever mid-fielder named Remy Cabella, with a black mohawk. For sheer entertainment value, guts, and play-creation, for my money he's the best player I've seen so far. Combined with countrymen Emmanuel Riviere (F). Moussa Sissoko (M) and others, I think this is a squad that could climb in the standings. 
  • They've got this completely bad-ass black and white striped Home jersey's that look like American referee's jersey's but cooler. 
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a tough city in Northeast England with a population of about 200,000, known for mining a lot of coal and producing Newcastle Brown Ale. 
  • The team nickname is the Magpies
  • The term for someone from Newcastle is a "Geordie"
  • Apparently, people from this area have accents so thick, even other English people have trouble figuring out what they're saying.
  • Last but not least: before the game started they held a touching on-field ceremony for two of their supporters killed in the MH17 disaster who were on their way to watch a Newcastle United game in New Zealand. 
Sounds like like Newcastle-upon-Tyne has got some ffffing character, if you ask me. I come from a small city in the Upper Ohio Valley, near Pittsburgh; a once-proud region of the country known for its steel production, now known mostly for not having a lot of jobs (until recently when the whole fracking boom hit). Anyway, I've got a natural predilection to root for the underdog, the tough little guy, one nobody expects to win. That's partly why Newcastle United appeals to me. 



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