Sep 22, 2012, 1:20 PM EDT
An international break has passed. So has a European match day. Throw in an FA Cup weekend (maybe a League Cup day) and the full gauntlet of English soccer obstacles will be in place.
That’s when the schedule becomes just as difficult an opponent as most teams will face, but after a quick look at Saturday’s Premier League results, a number of clubs are already face-to-face with their 2012-13 realities – bad news for most:
- Everton won the day’s opening match, 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. The game was over when Nathan Dyer saw red in the 58th minute. Swansea was already down two goals. At home against a team expected to compete for Europe, Swansea City should have been more competitive, especially if hopes of pushing on from last year are to come to fruition. But today’s result was a reminder. Just because the first matches of the season are most anticipated doesn’t make them the most important. Swansea beat Queens Park Rangers and West Ham by a combined 8-0. Since, they have one point in three matches.
- Southampton had been the league’s worst team through four rounds, something which changed drastically with a 4-1 win over visiting Aston Villa. The Saints were without a point through four rounds, though their schedule had included Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. Today was a reminder of the obvious: There are beatable teams in the league. The Saints failed in their first meeting with one, falling to Wigan, 2-0. Today they made amends, taking advantage of one of the Premier League’s weaker teams.
- Aston Villa’s a very sad case. They’re a great club, one that should be dominating the space between London and Manchester. Right now, they’re not very good. Not only do they seem destined to fight relegation, but given the lack of fight we saw last year, this may be another huge club careening into the Championship. Their personnel is lacking, their new coach is still settling in, they’re coming off a horrid campaign, and there’s a growing sense of ennui emanating from the fan base and front office. It’s a recipe for a 4-1 loss at a newly promoted side.
- Back to the Latics. Today they lost at home to Fulham, 2-1. For those of us bullish on the Cottagers, it’s not a surprising result, but it’s still a point of concern for Wigan fans hoping to avoid the pattern that’s defined the Roberto Martínez era. Under the current boss, Wigan’s seasons are defined by seven months of bad, two months of good, and barely enough points to stay up. That they do stay up (and they seem to have a formula for doing so) is the reason why Martínez is in frame when jobs like Liverpool’s and Aston Villa’s open up. But a home loss to Fulham is a reminder that Wigan’s likely in for another season of seven-and-two.
- Sunderland has yet to trail this season. They’ve also yet to win, remarkable in a game where goals are so scarce and so important. But when you watch Sunderland, you’re left with the impression the team’s lucky to be undefeated, the Black Cats having been second best to their opponents for most of the season. Kevin Nolan’s 90th minute goal on Saturday came after West Ham had built a 23-5 advantage in shots. It wasn’t an unfortunate turn for Sunderland. It merely righted what would have been one team’s fortune. If Sunderland’s course keeps correcting, their first loss will come soon.
- And finally, Chelsea. They stay top of England thanks to Ashley Cole’s 85th minute goal against Stoke, giving the Blues a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge. With 13 points through five games, Chelsea’s taken advantage of a very easy opening schedule, something which will come back to hurt them in the long run. When all four competitions are in full swing, the Blues will wish one or two of their important, place-deciding fixtures were scheduled for less congested times. There’s nothing Roberto Di Matteo can do about that – let’s hope he didn’t pick this fixture list – but just as Southampton’s schedule exaggerated their problems, Chelsea’s exaggerates their quality.
Saturday results: Swansea City 0-3 Everton; Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City; Southampton 4-1 Aston Villa; West Brom 1-0 Reading; West Ham 1-1 Sunderland; Wigan 1-2 Fulham
May 23, 2013, 11:24 PM EDT
Manchester City overcame a 3-goal deficit at Busch Stadium in St. Louis as Edin Dzeko bagged a brace to beat Chelsea 4-3.
May 23, 2013, 11:03 PM EDT
Just days after Jose Mourinho mutually parted ways with Real Madrid, he will be completing a deal to become Chelsea’s next manager, says Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports via Twitter.
May 23, 2013, 9:54 PM EDT
Roberto Martinez has given himself more time to decide on his future at Wigan, and also gave them a wish list.
May 23, 2013, 8:44 PM EDT
Asmir Begovic is apparently intending on showing up at the door of another club to start training.
May 23, 2013, 7:16 PM EDT
AS Monaco, rich with the injection of money from a Russian tycoon, are set to make a huge splash, possibly as much as €70 million.
May 23, 2013, 6:35 PM EDT
The United States U-18 squad drew with the hosts in the middle of three group-stage matches during the 19th Annual Lisbon International Juniors Tournament.
May 23, 2013, 6:05 PM EDT
20-year-old Jonathan Osorio picked up his debut call-up to the Canadian national team along with three other Toronto FC teammates ahead of their friendly against Costa Rica on Tuesday.
May 23, 2013, 5:11 PM EDT
“Football clubs live on and we’ll live on, we’ll move on.” They’ll move on, they have to. But will they effectively?
May 23, 2013, 3:56 PM EDT
With the upcoming Champions League final this weekend featuring an all-German cast, Germany secured another massive Champions League achievement today.
May 23, 2013, 3:33 PM EDT
Anyone else bothered by the way Bayern Munich have conducted themselves ahead of this Saturday’s Champions League final?
May 23, 2013, 2:39 PM EDT
Sunderland’s central defender will say goodbye to the English Premier League in exchange for a switch stateside.
May 23, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT
Chelsea fans will be delighted, while those supporting Manchester City are sure to question who’s on their team’s mind.
May 23, 2013, 1:37 PM EDT
Should the champions of the Europa League be awarded a spot in the following season’s Champions League?
May 23, 2013, 12:07 PM EDT
The city’s decision to permit Columbus to wear angers Espanyol fans, who believe Barca receives too much support from local institutions.
May 23, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
Despite notching an impressive 104 goals in 185 matches since moving to the Bernabeu in 2007, Higuain has struggled this season.
May 23, 2013, 10:04 AM EDT
With Arsenal rumored to be courting Swansea center-back Ashley Williams, Thomas Vermaelen has some decisions to make.
May 22, 2013, 11:51 PM EDT
Serie A’s two Milanese clubs have yet to move for new head coaches.
May 22, 2013, 11:06 PM EDT
Over the last three months, Rafa Benítez has reignited a floundering career.
May 22, 2013, 10:14 PM EDT
The hits just keep on coming for the NWSL’s hard-luck team.
May 22, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
The U.S. Open Cup draws sometimes need a decoder ring to decipher. Here’s a quick-and-dirty look at the MLS teams’ futures.
- Yahoo! reports: Mourinho to sign 4-year deal with Chelsea, will be unveiled June 2 0
- Anyone else think Bayern Munich is playing dirty? 6
- With PSG willing to match Wayne Rooney’s wages, Manchester United has somebody to bail them out 3
- Looking at the United States’ roster ahead of their Canada rematch 1
- A stadium for New York City FC – tougher than you think 9
- It’s official: Manchester City and the Yankees will own and operate Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team. (35)
- Why MLS was so focused on New York as the 20th market (18)
- Notes from today’s big announcement on MLS, NYCFC the Yankees and the rest (14)
- Gareth Bale set to re-sign with Tottenham – But is it a good deal for the Welshman? (9)
- Possible temporary homes for New York City FC (9)
- Watch LIVE: Sharks-Kings, Game 5
- PHT: Wings push Hawks to brink of elimination
- PHT: Kreider keeps Rangers alive | Highlights
- PBT: Hibbert says Battier's knee to groin intentional
- OlyTalk: Lochte says Phelps will return soon
- CSN: Francona returns to Boston | Legacy?
- Posnanski: Hornets more than a name to Charlotte