From now until the end of the season, we'll be posting a number of clips from the previous weekend's English Premier League games. If there's a goal, save, dive, lip-read profanity, or hocked sputum we should know about, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. (You might also enjoy our better-late-than-never EPL guide.)
From Craven Cottage to the Champions League? (Fulham 5, Woverhampton 0)
We can't stop writing about Clint Dempsey for good reason. As the understated British commentators might say, Dempsey is "enjoying a fine run of form." Translation: He's on fucking fire. After scoring the only goal in the USA's first-ever defeat of Italy on Tuesday, Clint added two more for Fulham over the weekend to tie his own record for goals by an American in the EPL, with 12. That's good enough for seventh in the league.
Dempsey is already having the best season ever by an American in the EPL and could end up scoring 20 goals. If Fulham stay in eighth place—where they are now—they'd finish at the top of what amounts to the second tier of the Premier League. Which begs the question: Hasn't Dempsey outgrown the friendly confines of Craven Cottage?
Dempsey's made no secret of his desire to play in the Champions League, and let's be fair—it's not going to happen at Fulham. At 29, he'll never be a hotter commodity and although he may not get the long-term deal he wants, it's time for Dempsey to play for and against the best teams in the world. I'll miss rooting for him and Fulham but will quickly get over it while wearing my #23 Dempsey (insert big club here) jersey during next year's Champions League. Something tells me I won't be the only one.
Robin van Persie is Arsenal, Arsenal is Robin van Persie (Liverpool 1, Arsenal 2)
The only player in the Premiership who's been hotter than Clint Dempsey is Arsenal's Robin van Persie. The Gunners came to Anfield in a four-way battle for fourth and the last Champions League spot. A few weeks ago, Arsenal supporters were calling for Arsene Wenger's head, after defeats in the Champions League and the FA Cup. Then Robin van Persie said "enough" and led his team to several stirring wins. He did it again on Saturday against Liverpool, which had almost all the chances, including a few that hit the woodwork. Van Persie only had two shots. He scored them both, giving him 25 goals in 25 Premiership matches this year, seven more than Wayne Rooney and nearly half of Arsenal's total. He trails only Ronaldo and Messi for the European Golden Boot. Arsenal needs to re-sign Van Persie this summer to remain relevant at the top of the EPL. If they do, Wenger might hold onto his job a while longer, and this guy might keep losing his mind in the stands:
AVB was DOA (West Bromwich Albion 1, Chelsea 0)
Sunday was a big day for Russian strongmen. When I woke up that morning and checked the news, I learned that Vladimir Putin had been elected president and that Roman Abramovich had finally fired manager Andre Villas-Boas after this humble West Brom goal torpedoed Chelsea. I wasn't sure which was less surprising.
AVB was Chelsea's eighth manager in nine years since Abramovich took control of the team. Struggling to hold onto the fourth Champions League qualifying spot, taking a 3-1 drubbing at Napoli in the Champions League, drawing Birmingham City at home in the FA Cup—the loss to West Brom was the final straw. AVB we hardly knew you. But we all knew that this is how it would end. Why doesn't Abramovich just descend from his box and manage the team himself? Go full Putin. Just do it.
Et tu, Fox Soccer?
Don't get me wrong, I love Fox Soccer. I don't know where I'd be without them. They provide an invaluable service to stateside soccer fans. Ninety percent of my soccer comes from Fox Soccer. They give us what we want—soccer games, and lots of them, without what we dislike—explosions, hyperbole, Piers Morgan. But recently, they've caught the hype bug from their parent network.
For the past two weekends, Fox Soccer has been splattering a "Clash of the Giants" hashtag, graphic, and video onto everything they broadcast. Sometimes with good reason. England vs. Holland friendly? Sure. Tottenham vs. Arsenal? Manchester United vs. Tottenham? Ok. But Manchester United vs. Norwich City? Man City vs. Bolton? Not so much. I know theme weeks can be fun. Remember Blood Week? But what gives you the goddamn right, Fox Soccer, to throw around hashtags so irresponsibly? Norwich and Bolton have never been giants. I guess #clashofagiantvsashittybottomofthetableclub isn't as catchy.