Editor’s Note: Guy Bailey will write columns for The Yanks Are Coming throughout the Barclay’s Premier League season where he discusses the happenings overseas in the world’s most popular sports league. Guy offers a unique perspective on the league as a Brit who lived for a long while in the United States before moving back to Teeside in the past year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter all EPL season at@guyrbailey.
Two weeks heavily packed with Barclay’s Premier League fixtures, plots and libations packed into one edition. Here we go…
2/1/14 – Up for the Cup
The saddest period of any year right now is sifting through the detritus of New Year’s Eve parties, clearing away the holiday decorations and discovering that McDonalds have stopped serving the festive mozzarella cheese bites for another 12 months.
For some managers and clubs, throw in disastrous results over the period and its been a black christmas for the likes of Sam Allardyce and West Ham. Drawing 3-3 at home to West Brom followed by losing to Fulham after leading and having captain Kevin Nolan sent off for an off-the-ball kick so suspicious you might think he’d backed himself in a first red card spot fixing bet with a Malaysian bookmaker. A delighted Dimitar Berbatov scored the winner grinning like somebody who knows he’s on his way to Arsenal to be fed by Ozil, Wilshire and co. Even with Clint Dempsey returning for a farewell lap, Fulham still look as mean and streetwise as the Pillsbury Dough Boy which is why they and West Ham will be down there to the almost bitter end. At least Palace are scrapping with Man City only able to sneak by them 1-0 at home while Sunderland reverted back to form after their spawny, coupon-busting win at Everton so their good luck continue with a 2-2 draw at Cardiff including a last minute equalizer but it ran out at home to Villa as they lost 0-1 and remain anchored to the floor of the EPL.
While Man City have been winning in impressive style, you need to look at the dark, Chelsea shaped form on the radar creeping under the surface and winning just as many actual points if not style ones. Even Mourinho is winding his neck in more in his second incarnation at Stamford Bridge and it’s hard to see the champions coming from another club than these. That said, Arsenal are hanging on in there punch for punch although they left it late to see off Cardiff on New Year’s Day with Nicklas Bendtner, the Dez Bryant of the EPL, scoring a late go ahead goal then proceeding to injure himself while celebrating. The arrival of Berbatov to shoulder some of the load from Giroud may keep them in the hunt but I still think top four is their summit.
Manchester United rallied recently winning six out of six but lost at home to a resurgent Spurs including an ironic denied penalty for Ashley Young, so delicious, Dairy Queen could sell it. Hugo Lloris took out Young as clear as day, leaving him on his backside in the penalty area to contemplate the real meaning of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.
The FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend allowing half the EPL to talk about concentrating on the league on Monday morning while the rest of us keep our fingers crossed for some embarrassing giant killings. The TV companies predictably highlight Arsenal v Spurs as the pick of the bunch but the rest of us ordinary fans would much rather see Nottingham Forest v West Ham (Hey, I wrote this before West Ham fielded their reserve side hoping- key word, as it turns out-for a better result in the League Cup…)or Blackburn Rovers v Man City – any game where the smaller side could do a big boy. The intriguing managerial battle of the 3rd round sees former England coach Steve McClaren of high-flying Derby County entertain the Special One in a competition he has always given the utmost respect for. If Boro can get past a Hull City who have suddenly turned into the football equivalent of the West Coast offense, i’ll see you in the hat for Round 4. (ALAS- IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE…)
10/1/14 – A heavy weight for a Heavyweight
The embattled leader shuffled into the harsh glare of the spotlights, days after another scandal threatened to bring down his administration. He moved quickly to put the blame onto his subordinates, claiming he had no knowledge of their actions but may believe he was intimately connected to them and may have even coached or directed their operations. His position looks more precarious than ever as his most dedicated supporters now turn against him – but enough about Sam Allardyce – what’s Chris Christie up to?
Allardyce, a man for whom the term Lugubrious was seemingly invented for personally, cut a tragic/hilarious figure days after crashing out of the FA Cup 5-0 to championship Nottingham Forest on live TV, Manchester City went one better in the League Cup and doled out another six of the best to a team so low on confidence they wouldn’t fancy their chances against the staff of The Yanks Are Coming right now and heaped further strain onto Allardyce’s ample shoulders. Loanee centre half Roger Johnson coming in from League One Wolves was always a capable, solid centre back but he could have been forgiven for thinking that he was parachuted onto Omaha Beach on D-Day after being placed squarely in the sights of the most lethal attack in Europe right now. He could be the first footballer legitimately invalided out of a match with shell-shock this weekend. West Ham badly need a saviour for their season so it’s handy they have a Jesus lookalike international striker ready to rise again and ascend just before the World Cup squad is selected. A huge six months await for Andy Carroll, Allardyce and West Ham. The club have fought tooth and nail to keep exclusive tenancy rights to the former Olympic Stadium in East London despite it being a mere mile from Leyton Orient’s ground. Next season could very well see them both in the same division, fatally undermining West Ham’s case as being the bigger club. And hey- Brisbane Road is already charming, but, if offered the Olympic venue, Leyton Orient would burn Brisbane to the ground….
Allardyce has had such a bad few weeks that even David Moyes can look at him and think “There’s always someone worse off than yourself”. Only him though as Man Utd’s trials continued with a 2-1 defeat at bottom club Sunderland in the League Cup. Admittedly, it was the result of a criminal penalty decision against them and it’s not just paranoia when Moyes points to some of the egregious decisions they are on the end of recently. Referees simply aren’t afraid of them anymore and are taking out their retribution swiftly and en masse. I would have more sympathy for Moyes but having seen my team on the receiving end of the original mass man protest at Old Trafford I guess paybacks a bitch.
This week sees two huge battles at the bottom as West Ham head to Cardiff City and Sunderland travel to the jerking, reanimated corpse of Fulham now full of life and looking more like Jack LaLanne. Man Utd get a quick chance to get redemption for their FA Cup home defeat to Swansea by welcoming the same opponents in the EPL, Manchester Harlem Globetrotters go to Newcastle and Arsenal, shorn of Theo Walcott for the rest of the season with a nasty ACL injury go to spluttering moribund Aston Villa, the need for another striker now paramount.The odds Brad Guzan keeps Villa afloat for consecutive seasons with no help up top are… well…about as good as getting out of Fort Lee, New Jersey via bridge.
In other news – Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone, he of “Hearts on Fire” magic, predicted the EPL results this week for the BBC – including a 17-0 win for Everton at home to Norwich. Yes, really.
As noted, Guy Bailey writes on the Barclay’s Premier League for The Yanks Are Coming. Want more Guy Bailey? We highly recommend his new book, Blessay From America, a collection of writings made while living in America, where he married a southern belle and saw his son born, which you can purchase here.