Here in the United States, NBC’s Premier League debut was amazing even to the point of engaging non-soccer fans and non-Premier League supporters. The studio shows hosted by Rebecca Lowe were informative and engaging. The only complaint I have was with the large number of commercials in the 7am-7:45am ET Premier League Live timeslot leading into the Liverpool-Stoke City match.
Robbie Mustoe’s analysis was spot on throughout the weekend and Robbie Earle did well also. Most surprising was the high-level of analysis and insight provided by Kyle Martino, the lone American on NBC’s studio team. Martino was on the mark with his analysis of Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace. Before the match, he made an observation about Hull City’s squad selection and tactical setup that I was making via text message to my friends and on Twitter around the same time. That observation was the surprise decision by Steve Bruce to omit Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore from the starting XI.
Martino’s observation, which I echoed was very prescient. The Tigers were undone by not having a midfield that could control the tempo in the first half or slow down the game by getting a foot on the ball. Once Bruce inserted both, Hull City looked like they could compete with Chelsea. Granted, the Blues were by this time on cruise control but Bruce’s changes saw the shape of the match transform.
ESPN FC’s panel of experts revealed on Friday that no one had picked Manchester United to win the title. I keep hearing about how David Moyes hasn’t upgraded the squad the way Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs have done this summer. But many seem to have forgotten that Manchester United ran away with the title last season. And in Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley, they have two young blossoming English internationals who continue to improve dramatically from season to season. Both played critical roles in the Red Devils 4-1 undressing of Swansea on Saturday.
Much of the attention prior to Arsenal’s opening loss to Aston Villa at the Emirates was about the lack of signings Arsene Wenger has made this summer. But I feel a more important subject is the number of players that the Gunners have allowed to leave the club on a free or on loan, thus undermining the depth of the side. In particular the developing Francis Coquelin and Ignasi Miquel could provide important depth as the Gunners face a crisis defensively due to injury. At the very least, these young players should not have been loaned out until replacements were bought.