Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports


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Where to Find Me This Fall & Scattered Thoughts

This past Wednesday, I started an internship at Blackandbluereview.com, a Charlotte-based website that covers the Carolina Panthers. Every Wednesday going forward, I will be heading downtown to help conduct interviews and write articles. My first story came from a ridiculous interview with receiver Philly Brown. You can read that here. Look for at least one of those per week.

Even though I’ve done college basketball coverage for two years, I never really considered it real journalism. I was just a college student after all, even at the NCAA Tournament. But as I stood in the Panthers locker room Wednesday looking for somebody to interview, I realized that I was unabashedly doing real sports journalism. I can’t deny how cool it was standing there interviewing Michael Oher, him of The Blind Side fame, at his locker. I did my best not to be starstruck, but at the end of the day, I am now covering the NFL, and that is just awesome.

At the moment, I’m trying to learn a little about the Panthers each day with a full schedule at school. It’s hectic, but I wouldn’t prefer it another way. So while the content on this site might be sparse and irregular the rest of the fall, I’m still writing. About Davidson for my school newspaper (see my latest piece on our goalkeeper Matt Pacifici here) and about the Panthers.

Now to some scattered thoughts on the world of sports.

-The Patriots offense looked awfully good last night, especially considering that at times, they had three rookies in on the offensive line. Tom Brady just seems to get better each year. There’s no stopping that offense if he, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski stay healthy. However, the defense worries me. DeAngelo Williams should not be looking that good. Once the emotions die down, I think we’ll get a better sense of what kind of a team we really have. But while that wave of hatred is there to ride, I wouldn’t want to play the Patriots.

-Right now, it looks like Ben Cherington’s final success was not trading away Jackie Bradley Jr. “to give him a fresh start.” His presence in the lineup and in the field each day makes baseball worth following. Although I haven’t been able to watch as much as I’d like recently, it brings a smile to my face every time I see what Jackie has done that day. This dismal season has become worth it because of how it gave JBJ chance to resurrect his career in Boston. The next step is putting him in center field every day, but for now, I’ll take him in the lineup. This BBC outfield could be the real deal.

It’s hard to know exactly what to make of the Red Sox success right now though. I’m inclined not to trust what Travis Shaw is doing, yet I”m confident that Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello have finally turned the corner in Boston. The way they are playing is going to open up a lot of options to explore in the offseason. Once the ace is mail-ordered, the Red Sox can begin to think about having a legitimately strong team. Plus with all the talent in Single A right now, we have the potential to get really creative with trades.

-Arkansas should have no problem with Toledo tomorrow. While it’s easy to see the blowout of week 1 and immediately discard it, it’s worth remembering that UTEP was no cupcake. And Arkansas tore them apart. I came away incredibly impressed with the state of the defense. The loss of the three core defenders was always going to be overblown, but I wasn’t ready for the defense to look that good already. If tackling improves this week, they should be good to go by the time we get to SEC play in a couple weeks.

Aside from the receivers, who were excellent, I wasn’t as impressed with the offense. Everyone is talking about the improved play of Brandon Allen, but he still has those glaring misses on easy throws that will cost the team points against better teams. And aside from the one long run on a meaningless play, Alex Collins didn’t do a whole lot. The offensive line has to do a better job of making roles at the line of scrimmage, because too often Collins is getting nothing. However, the balance is tremendous. With defenders guessing, Arkansas will be able to lean on play action passes to the real superstar of the team, Hunter Henry. He and Jeremy Sprinkle should tear defenses apart this season.

-Tomorrow should be a good test for Arsenal. But one that if they fail will send out alarm bells. Stoke City has morphed into a pleasing side, but their results show a side that is still coming together. Now is the time to beat them. This is no longer the Stoke team that will sit back and rough Arsenal up, so it’ll be up to the midfielders to create chances. A couple goals would restore confidence in the team. I’m glad to have the EPL back though, as the international break was as boring as a League 2 encounter. Tomorrow will be a good day

-Can it be basketball season already?

 

 

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Week 4 Observations from the EPL

Now in the grind of junior year until May, it’ll be hard for me to find time to write for the blog on a regular basis. But I hope whenever possible to crank something out in whatever form that may take (it may be short like this one). This weekend, I was able to catch a good deal of the action across the EPL. So that’s what this will be about. I hope to have something else up by Friday about Arkansas football ahead of the new season. But in the meantime, here are three observations from week 4 of the Premier League.

Red Cards Galore

One common theme across the league this weekend was unfortunately a glaring number of debatable red cards handed out. In general, I’m one who is hesitant to give out a red, so for me, this weekend wasn’t a great one for the referees. However, I will never dispute a high tackle or a two-footed challenge. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s red for Newcastle against Arsenal fell right on the edge for me. Was it a weak red? Yes. But it was also an incredibly dangerous tackle that could have snapped Francis Coquelin’s shin. I do think the level of intent wasn’t there, so maybe it was harsh. For Philippe Coutinho, the matter was more straightforward. His tackle had to be a second yellow. Mark Noble’s on the other hand was a disgrace. That was by no means a red. Both of them for Stoke were silly and foolish, but hard to argue. On the whole though, it’s not a good weekend when there are so many red cards, especially early in matches.

Arsenal slog

That might have been the most boring Arsenal win I’ve seen in recent years. I won’t complain because three points was all that was necessary, but it’s worrying how little Arsenal is creating right now. Something is off either in the tactics or in the minds of the forward players. Without Mesut Özil, there really was very little happening up front. The excuse that Newcastle had everyone behind the ball is an old one. So many teams defend like that against Arsenal at the moment that by this point, they should be figuring out how to combat that. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring on the transfer market, but I’m not expecting much. However, the more I watch, the more I’m convinced there’s a place for Jack Wilshere in the side. He is somebody who can open up space in a crowded area by attacking. Instead of passing the ball around, he would drive at defenders and open things up. When he’s back, I might try him in place of Aaron Ramsey and see what that is like for a game. I think the international break is coming at a good time, because Arsenal haven’t really built any momentum at this point. And this a fantastic time to play Stoke, with Bojan not yet back and two key players suspended.

Neutrals Delight

Who doesn’t love watching the big boys get beaten up? Rarely do we ever get weekends where Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United all lose, and I must say it was terrific. The results were shocking, but they say a lot about the frailties of the big clubs at the moment. Everyone can be beaten. These are all teams in transition, and it shows defensively. United looked decent, but were hit on the counter by a smart Swansea team. And Chelsea and Liverpool were just flat out bad. Remember how everyone thought I was crazy for having Swansea and Crystal Palace 5th and 6th in my predictions? That doesn’t look so terrible now does it? I continue to be impressed with the teams in the middle of the table this year. There is just so much talent coming in from abroad that is turning these teams into formidable opponents. With Manchester City looking the clear number one in the league, numbers two through twenty haven’t ever so close.

Week 5 Predictions

Everton 2 Chelsea 1
Watford 0 Swansea 1
Norwich 1 Bournemouth 1
Crystal Palace 1 Manchester City 3
Arsenal 2 Stoke City 0
West Brom 1 Southampton 0
Manchester United 2 Liverpool 0
Sunderland 1 Tottenham 1
Leicester City 2 Aston Villa 2
West Ham 1 Newcastle 0


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5 Observations From Week 2 of the EPL Season

Back in the USA for the second week of the Premier League season, I’ve come to appreciate how good NBC’s coverage is across the board. Aside from the Mesut Özil bashers in the studio, they do a tremendous job both pre and post match and in game coverage. Especially with games now being shown on USA Network, we can have no complaints stateside. This past week we were treated to four days’ worth of games. Here are five things we learned. For my analysis of Arsenal’s win over Crystal Palace, click here.

One team is standing above the rest

To this point, four sides have all six points. However, of the four, one is standing well above the rest thus far. A week after handling West Brom, Manchester City dismantled the title-winners Chelsea, handing them an embarrassing 3-0 loss. I’ll get to what it means for Chelsea, but for City, this was a dramatic statement that they can win the league. Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany both look to have reverted to their form from two years ago, and Sergio Agüero showed in minutes why he is the league’s best player. However, what is impressing me the most is their ruthlessness. Right from the opening seconds yesterday, they laid siege on Asmir Begovic’s goal. Agüero never stopped attacking. There was added excitement from the addition of the new stand in the stadium, and massive hype for the match, but nonetheless, they were miles better than Chelsea. City is not messing around.

Chelsea have serious problems to address

Where City looked full of options, Chelsea seems to be stuck in a one-track style of play, unable to succeed without Eden Hazard playing his best. As I’ve pointed out before, their lack of depth, especially without Oscar, gives them no plan B to turn to. And that was clearly an issue as Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic couldn’t contain City’s midfield. However, Chelsea’s main issue seems to be off the field. All of the stuff about Eva Carneiro being replaced as team trainer is disguising some sort of issue with Mourinho. He’s clearly upset. This week his victim was his captain John Terry, taken off at halftime. Without the squad depth he had at Real Madrid, I don’t think he can afford to take out his anger on his players, even if they aren’t in form. If this is the squad Chelsea will have this year, Mourinho will need to do a better job of supporting his players and staff should he hope to turn things around.

Stoke expose Tottenham’s issues

Another team with a lone point from two games is Tottenham. Despite being two goals up at home against Stoke – who I might add will only get tougher when Bojan Krkic and Xherdan Shaqiri are in the lineup – they coughed away their lead. The penalty was silly, but the defending on the second was equally pitiful. When Stephen Ireland can come on and rip the defense apart that doesn’t speak well to the quality on the field. Bringing off Harry Kane for Erik Lamela seemed odd, but the degree to which Spurs fell off after the switch will be startling. If Kane goes down with an injury, they will be terrible. For me, the only player of real quality other than Kane on the pitch is Christian Eriksen, who can hit a mean free kick. As an Arsenal fan, I can only hope their meltdown is a sign of things to come.

Leicester stay hot

Over the summer, one of my tutors was a man from Leicester, who told stories of many years in the car listening to pained sports talk radio shows bemoaning Leicester City’s frequent demise. Staying up in the Premier League a year ago was for them a true achievement. Two weeks into the season, Leicester City are sitting in second place, with all six points. Going to West Ham this week looked a tough task, but the upstart group continued their stunning goalscoring form under new manager Claudio Ranieri, going up 2-0 early. However, what was most impressive was their ability to keep the scoreline at 2-1 after Dimitri Payet had taken one back for West Ham. Leicester’s defense was dialed in from that point on. They won’t stay this far up the table for long, but wins like this on the road are vital to a team hoping to avoid a relegation fight. Should Riyad Mahrez continue to dominate, the nice people of Leicester might have many more pleasant car rids home.

Despite another win, United lack something

The other two teams on six points are a more familiar name than Leicester City. But unlike the other two teams, Manchester United and Liverpool are not firing on all cylinders. For Liverpool, it’s down to quality and quite a bit of luck from the referees. But for United, it’s a little more complicated. After an own goal saved their blushes in a 1-0 win against Spurs, this week they won with a lone goal from Adnan Januzaj at Villa Park. Yet again, there was very little built through their midfield filled with high-profile signings. In the back Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian have looked terrific, but ahead of them, Memphis Depay and Wayne Rooney are just two of those struggling to make a positive impact. Back in his striker’s role, Rooney has been almost invisible. Maybe they need time to get their new attacking players in sync with one another, but in the meantime, United need to lean heavily on their defense. Don’t be fooled by their perfect record to this point.

Predictions for Week 3
Manchester United 2 – Newcastle 1
West Ham 1 – Bournemouth 1
Sunderland 0 – Swansea 2
Norwich City 2 – Stoke City 2
Leicester City 1 – Tottenham 1
Crystal Palace 3 – Aston Villa 0
West Brom 1 – Chelsea 3
Watford 0 – Southampton 1
Everton 1 – Manchester City 4
Arsenal 3 – Liverpool 1

I’ll be experimenting with different types of Premier League related content in the coming months to determine how I want to write this school year. If you have any ideas, please let me know, either in the comments or on Twitter (@Klaus_Faust).

 


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Luck, Grit and Guile – Arsenal Player Ratings & Analysis

Selhurst Park is going to be one of the toughest grounds to visit this year. Crystal Palace’s combination of experience and pace will make them a threat at all times. So to walk away a 2-1 victor is all the matters for Arsenal today. Though it took a lot of grit, much luck, and a little guile, Arsenal got it done.

Crystal Palace made the mistake of sitting back in the opening minutes, hoping to catch Arsenal out on the counter. That then allowed Arsenal to get in a rhythm, and it was no surprise when man of the match Mesut Özil’s fizzed-in cross was brilliantly turned in by Olivier Giroud. Giroud will never please many in the Arsenal fan base. But it must be said that he gets goals in the end.

If Arsenal’s goal was expected, Crystal Palce’s equalizer was not. Joel Ward, who otherwise had a nightmare of a match defensively, was given space to strike from distance and curved his screamer around Petr Cech and into the corner. Arsenal not only left him uncovered, but didn’t attempt to close him down or even put a leg out to block his effort.

On the stroke of half, Arsenal were incredibly fortunate not to have Francis Coquelin sent off. Already on a yellow card, he halted a Palace counter by pulling someone to the ground. In everyone’s book but Lee Mason’s apparently, that would have been a second yellow, but thankfully for Arsenal, Coquelin stayed on. Had he gone off at that point, the match would have turned on its head. He also might have been sent off early in the second half. The fire in his eyes is normally beloved, but today could have proved disastrous had Arsene Wenger not taken him off immediately after.

After Arsenal got its second goal somewhat fortunately through Alexis Sanchez and an unlucky Damien Delaney, Palace began to attack in earnest, sending many men forward. Petr Cech did little to ease the nerves with many shaky punches. Connor Wickham hit the post at one point, and Delaney headed straight at Cech from close. The end of this match felt exactly like many in year’s past, with Arsenal clinging to a one goal lead with their life. They might have added a third, but poor finishing couldn’t ease the pressure.

In the end, Arsenal got their three points and now have their season back on track. At their best, Arsenal look a sure title-contender. Stretches like the beginning of the match show their potential, but to sustain a challenge, they’ll need the combination of grit and luck they had today.

Player Ratings (1-10)

Olivier Giroud – 7.5/10 – Giroud was given another start ahead of Theo Walcott and made an immediate impact with the goal of the week. Not many strikers would have been able to maneuver their body behind that cross. Apart from the goal, he did well holding up play, but wasn’t as involved as the game wore on. As screams for another striker louden, his goal should keep the critics off for another week.

Alexis Sanchez – 7.5/10 – On his full return to the team, Sanchez was heavily involved from the opening minutes. His pressing saw him take over possession in Palace’s half on a couple occasions, and other counter-attacks had him in on goal multiple times. Tidier finishing could have given him a hat-trick by halftime, but he ended up goalless at halftime. While those were chances we expect him to take, he made up for them by heading in Arsenal’s second via Damein Delaney, attacking the ball in the air with real vigor. On the other end, he didn’t track Joel Ward’s run on Palace’s equalizer, giving him acres of space to line up his screamer. However, it’s good to have him back.

Mesut Özil – 8.5/10 – After every loss, Özil takes lots of heat from fans and the media. It’s quite frustrating to read, as they overlook so much of what makes him great. Look at the stats from today and you’ll see an assist. But this performance was so much more than that, as he was at the heart of everything Arsenal created. Whether he was attacking the left flank on the counter or dropping deep to receive the ball up and pick out a runner, Özil was on his game. I know the haters will always have a voice, but Özil is invaluable to Arsenal.

Aaron Ramsey – 7/10 – Pushed out to the right once again, Ramsey might not have done his chances of playing in the midfield a favor by having such a strong performance. Freely interchanging with Sanchez and Özil, Ramsey was consistently making dangerous runs and opening space up behind him. Once Palace had to stick Yohan Cabaye on him, he was less effective, but still dangerous. He’ll want a goal soon, as his finishing has been poor. On the whole, he had a good game.

Santi Cazorla – 7/10 – Playing his now preferred deep-lying midfielder role, Cazorla showed why he and Coquelin were the regular pairing last year with a steadying performance. In the middle of the park, Cazorla kept the ball moving and helped eliminate all of the errant passes from a week ago. Gone were stray passes going out for throw-ins. And defensively, he was key in stopping players like Puncheon and Zaha by getting out to the flanks to help out Monreal. Cazorla might have had a goal in the final minutes but for a great save from McCarthy.

Francis Coquelin – 6/10 – After his worst performance since his revival, this week was a mixed bag. What killed his otherwise tidy performance was an early yellow card and the subsequent tight-rope walk avoiding the red, which should have been given at the end of the first half. Wenger wisely withdrew him at the hour mark when he looked seconds away from erupting. The anger in his eyes was scary. To that point, he had won many balls all over the park and kept his passing simpler next to Cazorla, eliminating many of the errors in distribution from a week ago.

Nacho Monreal – 7.5/10 – Monreal did a spectacular job dealing with pacy wingers on the left, but what was perhaps more impressive was how he was still able to get forward and supplement attacks without leaving himself susceptible to counter attacks. On the rare instances he was beat, help from Cazorla allowed him to get back in position quickly. At the moment, Monreal is Arsenal’s best defender in my eyes.

Laurent Koscielny – 6.5/10 – Koscielny won his aerial duels like usual, and dealt with Palace’s counter-attacks well despite being on his back foot. And despite all the chaos in the final minutes, his defense held firm. However, he could have done more to close out Joel Ward on his goal, and will be faulted for not even attempting to stick a foot out to block it.

Per Mertesacker – 7.5/10 – Mertesacker had a good game by all standards, proving vital to Arsenal’s defensive grind in the final half-hour. His ability to knock away anything lofted up made Palace seek other options. A particularly noteworthy play was his late sliding block of Puncheon’s shot. Aside from his defensive duties, Mertesacker’s best performance might have been keeping Coquelin from boiling over.

Hector Bellerin – 7/10 – Very clearly the first choice at right-back now, Bellerin had a composed performance. Defensively, this would have been one of his toughest tasks of the year, having to deal with Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie. And while he got beat a time or two, he largely was up to the task; it was notable that Palce weren’t able to routinely attack his side. On the other end, he wasn’t as adventurous as usual given Palace’s threat, but he still managed to send in the decisive cross for the second goal.

Petr Cech – 6.5/10 – I think at this point, we need to temper our expectations for Cech. He could not have done much on the goal, but he didn’t inspire confidence today. He needs to find a better understanding with his defense on how to handle crosses, as these half-punches aren’t really working. However, he did come through in the end with a vital save – though on a header directed right towards him.

Substitutes

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (64th) – 6/10 –  I know everyone loves the Ox, but I’d really like to see him give more of an effort defensively, especially when Arsenal’s protecting a lead. Too many times, he loses the ball upfield and throws his arms up rather than getting back. That being said, his introduction did add another element to Arsenal’s counters. He’ll be disappointed not to have scored.

Mikel Arteta (75th) – 7.5/10 – The captain did terrifically in his short time on the field, halting attacks with strong tackles and even winning a header. His tackle on Lee in the box late on was vital. To be this composed having not played much in the last year is a testament to his talent. This performance should make Wenger more comfortable with throwing Arteta on for Coquelin late in games when he’s on a yellow card, which could be often.

Kieran Gibbs (83rd) – N/A – Gibbs is a great person to throw on late in games and he once again helped shore things up. However, he’ll have a hard time winning his job back from Monreal.


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5 Observations From Week 1 of the EPL Season

On Saturday morning, I made my way to London Euston station with hoards of soccer fans. Manchester United fans came in droves for the 8 o’clock train to Manchester while I joined many fans clad in blue and headed to Liverpool. Four hours later, I was in an Everton pub for the start of the Premier League season. Over the next two days, I would attend two matches and watch another two on tv in full. So rather than dwell on the Arsenal loss and write only about that, I’ve decided to break up this piece into five sections.

Manchester clubs are looking strong

With all the talk about Chelsea and Arsenal’s title race, the Manchester clubs made statements of intent on the first weekend. City especially played at a level which they didn’t often reach a year ago in a 3-0 dismantling of West Brom yesterday. If Yaya Toure and David Silva play they that the rest of the year, City suddenly become title favorites. If City deal with Chelsea this Sunday, the season could be turned on its head after only two weeks. The pressure is squarely on Chelsea in that match. At Old Trafford, United were unconvincing but ultimately successful. With Sergio Romero looking determined to make headlines of any sort with unnecessarily dramatic parries and strange clearances, his fellow newboys stole the show. Matteo Darmian earned the plaudits, but I was also impressed by how seamlessly Memphis and Morgan Schneiderlin fit in. However, what stood out to me above all else was the play of Juan Mata, who was at the center of the action at all times. When United click, they will be a side to be reckoned with.

Arsenal shouldn’t panic, but must address issues

The Emirates was a sad place to be Sunday afternoon. Everyone arrived filled with so much optimism, and left cursing out everything in sight. It was not pretty, and the bad performances across the board were particularly deflating. The loss is on everyone. Not just Petr Cech, Mesut Özil or Olivier Giroud. Francis Coquelin had his worst game in nine months and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain endured a nightmare defensively while Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla looked lost and out of position. Somehow Arsene Wenger didn’t try to expose the fact that West Ham were playing a center back at right back. It is easy right now to say changes need to be made. However, I think patience is needed. Karim Benzema wouldn’t have stopped those two goals from being scored. Aside from restoring Cazorla to the middle to help take some of the burden of distribution away from Coquelin, I wouldn’t make any changes right away. That being said, this needs to be a stark wakeup call. Nobody should be safe from being dropped. A tough trip to Crystal Palace looms, but maybe that’s a good thing. In order to win that match, they’ll need to defend as a team and scrap for goals. It’s time to man up, Arsenal. Or face another long year.

Everton haven’t changed one bit

Like with Arsenal, Everton had aspirations of doing better this year with largely the same group of players as last season. It didn’t take the crowd at Goodison Park very long to realize how foolish that hope was. First off, I want to say how much I liked watching a game there. It felt a lot like Fenway Park, and aside from the grumbling when the Toffees went behind on two occasions, everybody was friendly and into the game. Everton has too many good players not to be better, but their approach looks largely naive at the moment. Despite being able to hit absolute rockets (I had a great sightline for his equalizer this weekend and oh my, did it move), Ross Barkley’s passing is not good enough for him to be a viable number 10. And Tom Cleverley is not the answer on the left, especially given the uncertainty of Leighton Baines’s return. Romelu Lukaku can hold the ball up like no other, but there needs to be more support behind him to get onto balls he knocks down and more width beyond Seamus Coleman, who was dealt with well by Miguel Layun. Only when Aruna Kone came on next to Lukaku did Everton look remotely dangerous. Gerard Deulofeu would seem a good option to fill these roles, but they can’t put too much on his plate right away. Also, despite looking good on paper, this defense is in shambles. For all the talent, Everton looks a long way away from making a sustained run.

Watford and West Ham are quality sides

What stood out to me in the two games I attended was the talent at Watford and West Ham. Unlike most promoted clubs, Watford has assembled a squad full of experienced internationals to complement hard-working types like Troy Deeney, who I thought was spectacular against Everton. Jose Holebas, Sebastian Prödl, and Etienne Capoue are not Championship-level players. And even off the bench, they have players who can make positive impacts. I came away convinced Watford will stay up, as they have the talent and experience necessary to beat a lot of teams. West Ham too impressed me. Dimitri Payet is good enough to play for anybody in the Premier League. But beyond him, West Ham got a standout performances from 16-year-old Reece Oxford, who was a stud in midfield shutting down Özil and Ramsey. And the pairing of Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna looked like they’d been playing together for years. These two teams aren’t going to win the league. But they are good enough to play spoiler week in and week out. They aren’t to be overlooked, and as seen this weekend, they can play with the big boys.

Exciting foreign players are flocking to mid-tier clubs and equalizing the field

What became apparent over the summer is that players around the world want to play in the Premier League. When Stoke City can recruit Xherdan Shaqiri (this deal would be a steal if they can lock it down this week) and Ibrahim Afellay, things have changed. Across the board, middle and bottom clubs have filled up with new players this year, more than I can remember. Aston Villa is unrecognizable from a year ago. Where these clubs used to be filled with marginal British talent, it is notable that many of the new arrivals are foreign, from countries like Benin that aren’t usually represented. If the allure of playing in England can attract big names like Georginio Wjinaldum and Dimitri Payet to the likes of Newcastle and West Ham, maybe this can bring about a shift in the Premier League, one that begins to equalize the playing field a little bit. Even if Crystal Palace and Swansea can’t spend like Chelsea and Manchester United, shrewd signings of foreigners like Yohan Cabaye and Andre Ayew combined with young talent already at the clubs can elevate them to new levels. Even if this shift is a one-off, the arrival of foreign talent across the board will make this an exciting year.

Predictions for Week 2 

Aston Villa 0 – Manchester United 3
Southampton 2 – Everton 1
Watford 1 – West Brom 1
Sunderland 1 – Norwich City 1
Tottenham 2 – Stoke City 1
West Ham 2 – Leicester City 2
Swansea 2 – Newcastle 0
Crystal Palace 1 – Arsenal 1
Manchester City 2 – Chelsea 0
Liverpool 3 – Bournemouth 0

I’ll be experimenting with different types of Premier League related content in the coming months to determine how I want to write this school year. If you have any ideas, please let me know, either in the comments or on Twitter (@Klaus_Faust).