By Aidan Elder | Chief Sports Writer
It’s been was a pretty busy week as the Premier League teams continued their preparation for the new season in some of the world’s most exotic locations. And Stevenage. Here’s a run-through of what’s been happening for some of the teams in action in the last few days.
Roberto di Matteo got to play with his new toys and it worked out pretty well. Chelsea beat the Seattle Sounders 4-2 in the Emerald City in the first game of their US Tour. The good news is Eden Hazard and Marko Marin look like they’ll settle right in at Chelsea – thanks mainly to their ability to pick up goals from deflected shots. They picked up a goal each with Romelu Lukaku bagging a brace of classic striker’s goals that will earn him unfounded comparisons with Didier Drogba. Josh McEachran had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde game, showing muscle and flair at some points and then handing the Sounders a goal at another. Di Matteo pretty much changed the entire time at half-time meaning anyone who isn’t currently sunning themselves on a beach somewhere got some playing time.
Manchester United beat AmaZulu in Durban in the first part of Fergie ambitious ‘Around the world in 18 days’ pre-season tour. Rio ‘questionable tweet’ Ferdinand marshalled an unfamiliar rear-guard with Carrick and Scholes leading a slightly more familiar midfield. Chicharito, Dimitar Berbatov and Federico Macheda shook off the splinters to make up a three pronged attack. The Italian got the crucial goal and Shinji Kagawa made his non-competitive debut near the end. United won and played some nice football, but they also coughed up a few chances, which might be a bit of a worry if you’re the type of person who reads a lot into experimental United sides playing meaningless marketing exercises friendlies. Anders Lindegaard had a good game, which probably isn’t a great reflection on how the defence played.
A strong-ish Tottenham started the game with Stevenage. A less strong Tottenham finished it, but it was enough to get them a comfortable 2-0 win over the suburban outfit. Jan Vertonghen looked commanding on his debut and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored ten minutes into his meaningless friendly debut, but considering it was against League 1 opposition, it’s advisable not to get too excited. Yago Falque added a second goal near the end.
Aston Villa made it two meaningless friendly wins out of two in Philadelphia by beating the city’s MLS side 1-0. The Villa website describes it as ‘fairly comfortable’ which, using our Premier League club website propaganda to English translator, translates to ‘we still can’t defend properly’. Nathan Delfouneso scored the decisive goal and Paul Lambert got to give most of his top names a run out, so you can’t ask for much more than that.
Earlier this week, Newcastle beat Monaco 1-0 in a game watched by about four people on Monday evening in Germany whilst Manchester City’s pre-season misfiring continued. Roberto Mancini fielded a team featuring Tevez, Aguero and the Toure brothers on Tuesday night, but City couldn’t captilise on their domination against the Bundesliga 2 side meaning they’ve yet to find the back of the net in two pre-season games.
Fulham had similar goalscoring issues on Sunday against Koge, but got over it against Leipzig on Wednesday thanks to a 4-0 thumping of the German side. Liverpool look set to take Clint Dempsey off the Cottagers’ hands, so the brace from Italian teenager, Marcello Trotta came at a good time. The coveted Amercian played no part in the game, but Martin Jol did get to stretch the legs of most of his other big names, making it a useful evening’s cakewalk for the Premier League side.
QPR recorded an easy 5-0 win over a Sabah XI in Malaysia. New signing, Park Ji Sung was handed the captain’s armband and Bobby Zamora, Heidar Helguson, Jay Bothroyd scored a goal each with Djibril Cisse bagging two and most likely some sort of new hairstyle.
Nigel Adkins had the luxury of switching almost all of his Southampton team at half-time versus Etoile Carouge. We didn’t recognise many of the names in the starting XI to begin with and that’s probably going to be the way it remains thanks to their collective performance in the first 45 minutes. Southampton were losing 1-0 to Swiss 2nd Division side at half time, but after some major tweaking, eventually ran out convincing 4-1 winners, thanks largely to a hat-trick from Billy Sharp’s 11 minute hat-trick which he started in the 70th minute.