It feels like I haven’t written anything about sports in forever. The lack of content has been a simple matter of time. Getting back to school has kept me thoroughly busy. And while I’ve actively sought time when I could write for my blog, the problem has been that I just haven’t had time to watch much sports. Every night I’ve got some sort of commitment at 7 or 8, and I get back to my room and find all games I want to watch are over. Last night for example, I wanted to catch some of the Steelers-Ravens game, but I only saw the very first series and the very last series. I’ve even been too busy to go to my school’s sports games.
I can’t imagine how I would have been able to watch the Red Sox this year were they in the pennant race. A year ago, I made time every night to watch the games. But I don’t think that would have been possible this go around. My courseload this semester revolves around hundreds of pages of reading each week, and I’m not able to watch sports and read at the same time – or at least not effectively.
The two sports that work with my schedule are soccer and college football. I can always wake up early on the weekends, and at college, nothing much happens before noon anyway. And Saturdays are usually flexible enough that I can devote a few hours to watching the Arkansas game. However busy I am, I think I need to spend at least a few hours watching sports each week to keep me sane, and Saturday has been that time for me. Then on Sunday, I’m back hitting the library, maybe catching a little of the Patriots.
So sitting here now on Friday afternoon with my first real free time in a while, I finally have time to write. And I have to say, it feels really good. I do want to have more content as we go forward, but it all dependent on whether my schedule clears up at all. But now, I want to get to writing about sports.
Tomorrow is a big day for my teams. At 7:45 am, I’ll arise for the Arsenal-Manchester City game at The Emirates. A year ago, I made the short trip across the pond for this match, so needless to say, I won’t be sleeping in. And a few hours later, Arkansas plays old Southwest Conference rival Texas Tech on ABC. I might even try to watch a little bit of College Gameday to get myself reacquainted with the sports world. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. And of course I’ll have to watch some of the Georgia-South Carolina game if only to hear the best music there is – the SEC on CBS theme gets me fired up like nothing else. I’m getting excited while listening to it right now.
I’ll start with the Arsenal match. This is a big one. I think Arsenal are facing Machester City at the right time. They won’t have had much time to fix what wrong against Stoke City, and they haven’t yet hit their goalscoring stride that will surely come soon. I’m not particularly afraid of their attack at the moment, and don’t think they’ll be putting six past Wojciech Szczesny.
However, that’s not to say I think this match will be much like the 3-0 result in the FA Community Shield. Arsenal themselves are not in a great place, but I think the international break should have settled some nerves that might have arisen after the poor performance against Leicester City. Danny Welbeck’s arrival also has improved morale, both in the locker room and in the stands, and supporters will be fully behind the team.
I’d like to see Welbeck start up top, even with only two days of training under his belt. He has played with enough of these guys in the England setup that he should settle quickly. Going with Yaya Sanogo could inject some doubt into the minds of the players, and that isn’t what you want to do when you’re playing the champions. Even if Welbeck only goes 60 minutes, his presence alone should boost the confidence of those around him.
The lineup I’d like to see is as follows: Welbeck, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Mathieu Debuchy and Szczesny. One other player I want to see involved is Tomas Rosicky. He’s played a bit part in the campaign thus far, and I think he’s one who could get the engine going. Should the attack look stagnant, Rosicky would be the first man I’d bring on.
I think Wilshere should play in place of Aaron Ramsey, as it’s not worth risking his health so early in the year. Wilshere might have some problems with Yaya Toure, but the Ivorian hasn’t been at his best this year. However, Wilshere will need to stay disciplined to help out Arteta, who might not be back to 100% himself.
My prediction for the game is 2-1 Arsenal, which would be a huge confidence boost. The Gunners badly need a win over top opposition, and I think today is the day they do it. Expect a strong performance from the attacking midfielders, who will begin to form an understanding in the final third. It should be a fascinating encounter. But regardless of how it goes, after the endless international break, I’ll be excited enough to see the Premier League back in action.
Now to some thoughts on the Arkansas game. I don’t know a whole lot about Texas Tech, as I’ve yet to watch them play. However, I believe the Hogs are talented enough to hold the fate of this game in their own hands. I have watched most of the previous two games, and generally I have been impressed. Say what you want about Nicholls State, but Arkansas’s offensive execution a week ago was amazing.
My favorite part about this Razorback team is the offensive line. They look like a Bret Bielema team should look. After years of watching Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson harassed every time they dropped back to pass, it’s fun seeing the big boys push around defenders at will. Most of the success the Hogs have had running the ball this year has been down to the massive holes that the line has opened up. Give Alex Collins a little space, and he’ll do the rest.
Even though quarterback Brandon Allen has been better – that term is relative given that he only had to throw 5 times last weekend – I do not trust him with ball. He has thrown far too many costly pick-6’s. As such, I don’t want to see a balance of passing and rushing. I want to see the running backs opening up the pass. If Allen is only throwing on play-action every now and then, we will all be better off. When he tries to do too much, he messes up in a big way. He can’t do that today.
The defense will have their hands full, but they look improved from a year ago. Texas Tech will pose a nice test before the Razorbacks head back into SEC play. I liked what I saw from a bunch of the freshmen that took the field last weekend, so it will be interesting to see how much Bielema plays them with the improved competition.
Were this game in Fayetteville, I would have Arkansas by two touchdowns, but given that the game is at Texas Tech, I think it will come down to the fourth quarter. It will be up to Brandon Allen not to make mistakes. Should he keep the ball safe, I predict Arkansas will take the game in the end. This will be the afternoon that the running back trio announces themselves to the country.
Enjoy the action tomorrow, and check back for post-game coverage. I’ll make sure to find the time.