Archive for the ‘Why I root’ Category
My cousin, a Tottenham supporter, recently asked me how I was feeling about this weekend’s Wigan-Chelsea matchup. I jokingly said I expect a 4-0 victory, but then conceded that I was OK with something like a 3-1 loss. Coming off a 4-0 loss to Blackpool, it’s pretty awful to think that starting the season being outscored 7-1 would be deemed acceptable.
Afterall, the last time these sides met, Chelsea was yukking it up and winning 8-0 to close out the EPL campaign.
Making matters worse is an apparent row between Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and Charles N’Zogbia that may have kept the French midfielder out of last weekend’s match against Blackpool. Martinez claims there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on here and there’s still a decent chance that he’ll play this week. I’m still holding out hope that N’Zogbia will stick around, but this does not seem to bode well.
Such is life as a lower-table supporter, I guess.
Then again, maybe I’m being too pessimistic. Sports in general, and soccer especially, is full of upsets. Look no further than last year’s Chelsea-Wigan match at DW Stadium.
You could be forgiven for forgetting that Wigan won that match, and not by some fluke, either. The score was 3-1 and Wigan never trailed. Wigan took the lead at 16′ on a Titus Bramble score. Chelsea equalized right before the half. But Peter Cech was eventually red-carded, Wigan converted the penalty and then put the game away witha 90′ strike.
That marked the first time Wigan would ever beat a “Big Four” side in 34 tries and would ultimately be the first of three victories against those teams, as Wigan went on to also beat Arsenal (3-2) and Liverpool (1-0) at home.
Last season’s victory over Chelsea, it should also be mentioned, came in the midst of a not-so-different run of form. Wigan entered that match having lost four of its first six EPL matches and had also lost to Blackpool (4-1) in the Carling Cup.
I’m not going to pretend as if I think a victory is likely on Saturday, but I think the game should at least be worth watching. There’s no way Wigan can play worse than it did last week and even tying Chelsea would give me some valuable bragging rights, which I would probably have to forfeit if I don’t at least watch the match.
Maybe it’s my naivete, but I am genuinely excited about Wigan’s chances this year. I’ve read predictions that have run the gamut from near certain relegation to competing for a spot in Europa.
They have a fresh striker in Mauro Boselli, who early reports suggest may be one of the top transfers to hit the Premiership this season. The Argentinian was one of South America’s top strikers the past two seasons and was the leading scorer in Copa Libertadores while helping lead Estudiantes to the title in 2009. He scored two goals in Wigan’s final warmup against Dundee, and that $10 million transfer may turn out to be a decent bargain.
He seems poised to create quite a scoring duo with Hugo Rodallega, who was the team’s leading goal scorer last season. The 25-year-old Colombian closed out last season with goals in three of four matches and appears to finally be adjusting to the English game.
Both players are of similar stature and seem to play similar styles, so it will be interesting to see if that’s a problem or not.
The midfield, too, seems to offer some promise of hope. Charles N’Zogbia is another youngster (24) and just earned his first cap for France in their recent friendly. There have been rumors swirling that he’ll leave the team, but if he stays it could be the difference between fighting off relegation and aiming for something much more significant.
Mohamed Diame, just 23, has shown much promise as more of a defense-minded central midfielder. Unfortunately, he also has been linked in transfer rumors.
Quite honestly, I’m not sure what to think of this team. I’ve never followed EPL closely, so the fact there are a bunch of players that seem interesting seems great. The fact that so many of them are young, seems promising, but also potentially scary. It’s hard to imagine that a bunch of guys in their mid-20s will be able to hang with players that are in their athletic primes and have more years of high-level competition under their belts.
Still, I am quite honestly looking forward to this season. No matter what happens — barring a complete collapse in which relegation becomes a foregone conclusion — I’m expecting this season to be exciting. If that means the Latics will be fighting for their Premiership lives, I’ll be sure to find that interesting. If they end up being the surprise side of the league, that would be even better.
My biggest concern is figuring out how to watch these games without making my wife leave me (the early morning starts will not be popular).
There are lots of ways that we Americans come to love a team in the Premiership.
Some of us our born into fandom and actually live the life of Fever Pitch.
Some of us choose our teams based on their kits.
Sometimes it’s a particular player that draws our interest.
Maybe it’s because a team hires a bunch of our countrymen.
Me? I swear to god that it came to me in a dream.