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Mission Merseyside: Matchday One

Soccer: World Cup Qualifier-Mexico at USA

Arsenal-Everton is the one match today stills scheduled to take place despite the inclement weather enveloping Southern England. Stay tuned to MLS Talk for the latest on American football hero Landon Donovan’s Premier League debut. We’ll have post match thoughts right after the conclusion of the game, right here.


Going forward Donovan had some spectacular touches and runs. His movement off the ball was outstanding, while his positioning in the Arsenal half was also quite good. Donovan’s corner assisted on the Leon Osman goal, and Donovan’s set piece service was also second to none in this match.

Defensively, Donovan was less successful. He made some vital challenges on Arsenal counter attacks, but hesitated on clearances and didn’t pick targets coming out of his own end quite as well.  His hesitation on a clearance coupled with a failure to close down Denilson directly led to Arsenal’s first goal.

The Gunners struggle in these sorts of weather conditions because they like to play football on the ground, and this setup well for the Everton counter attack, which Donovan helped to lead out of the the Toffees own half.

But on the attacking end, Donovan’s performance was more consistently dangerous than anything I have seen from Clint Dempsey in this three plus EPL seasons. (But Dempsey picks moments and specifically times his runs to make a maximum momentary impact, often times leading to decisive goals) In that respect, my post of last week which compared Dempsey favorably with Donovan was off the mark. Conversely, Dempsey’s confidence and flair are something we still want to see Landon acquire in his English adventure.

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  1. Richard Harris

    February 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Hi all,

    I’m a lifelong Everton fan from the UK and i’ve been reading some of the posts here wandering why all the arguments!!!
    Here in ‘lil o’l England I have watched over the years quite a few yanks coming to play in our league & to be honest I have been surprised how many have fitted in really well – Obviously a few keepers come to mind (must be that you play your football with your hands from a young age!) But Harkes, Dempsey,Supa Joe Max-Moore and now Landon Donovan have shown how well your players have progressed. I was at the Arsenal game and was really pleased how Landon played
    He will learn so much playing at our club & maybe our players will learn things from Landon. Already there is talk in the stands about how David Moyes should buy him now – I hope that there is substance to the rumours!
    I don’t think you’ll have many beatings at the World Cup if all your team have the same drive, determination and effort that Donovan posseses. I wish you well and hope to meet you in the final – Rooney scoring 3 to Donovan’s 2 would be a great ending!!!!!!
    See y’all later’
    Richard Harris

  2. Jon

    January 16, 2010 at 11:42 am


    There are quite a few times when I think you’ve missed the bigger picture, but don’t let the outlandish critics get to you. I still visit this site because you’re not like the mainstream football writers in the US.

  3. Eric

    January 10, 2010 at 10:11 pm


    I often disagree with you on how negative you are about players (DMB comes to mind, you were right)

    I’ve got to say though, that this is a very well done commentary on Donovan’s debut. Also, good job manning up and admitting error in part of the Dempsey vs Donovan statement instead of trying to back pedal. Ignore all the haters and keep on writing, you do a good job.

  4. Nicole

    January 10, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Kartik, I thought you were very fair in your assessment of Landon’s game today.

    I’m glad Landon played well. It’s amazing, really, how well he played given the circumstances: the weather, training only about 4 or 5 days after having been off for about 7 weeks, new teammates, against one of the top teams in EPL, with the spotlight on this game since virtually all others were cancelled.

    I’m looking forward to his next game.

  5. Seybold

    January 10, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Thanks once again Kartik/Gaffer for your exhaustive analysis/coverage of Donovan’s debut. I’m sure I’m not the only American that’s relieved he didn’t look out of his depth.

  6. jake

    January 9, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Good job Donovan! I thought he played with the pace of the game pretty good and created some nice chances during the match. In my opinion, there were two negative aspects to his game I thought Donovan displayed. One being that a few of his passing choices out of the midfield were a bit rushed and possession was either lost or came really close to loss of possession because of it. Secondly, he looked to be playing it safe today by looking for a simple pass rather that taking on anybody. The one time he did have a great flash, when he beat Traore and slashed into the box then left footed it just to the left of the goal where no Everton players could reach it, showed what he is capable of.

    I suppose we got what we could expect from him. A good corner assist for the goal, some mixed passing, great threatening runs down the wing, ok but not fantastic defensively, good pace and all against one of the top teams in the world. As far as the negative things, I really think it probably had to do with him being a little apprehensive about screwing anything up out there. Hopefully this game, with most of the reviews, especially from David Moyes, should give Donovan the confidence to be successful.

    P.S. To Kartick and the Gaffer, there really are civil adults that read this blog. I have no tolerance for racist crap from the idiots of this world so thanks for banning that A- hole.

  7. Nick

    January 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Jammer, I share your affection for censorship. I nominate you to be the arbiter of which comments are ridiculous and those which are merely contrarian. Open forums for free speech are offensive to me and my religion. Also, I am deeply offended by any comments that are critical of the San Jose Earthquakes and request that all such comments be censored.

  8. short passes

    January 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I have never been a big fan of Donovan but I was impressed that he agreed to put it all on the line with this temporary transfer. Taking all the analyses into account it looks like he had a very good outing. However, he’a got a ways to go and it’s definitely too early to be saying that he has surpassed Dempsey’s performance in the EPL. It would be great to see both of them pushing up each others level of play.
    Gaffer — thanks for the strong action. I realize that this type of forum is in many ways just reflective of the terrible level of discourse in society at large. However its really nice once in a while to have the door slammed on these neanderthals.

  9. Nick

    January 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I don’t fault Donovan on the clearance that led to the Arsenal’s first goal. The ball was coming off a bounce and it had no momentum to work with. Donovan headed it as far up field as possible. The actual shot came from outside the box, went through 3 Everton players, ricocheted of a 4th, and then slipped passed Howard. I can hardly blame Donovan for successfully heading the ball out of the box.

  10. zhe fulano

    January 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm


    Don’t change a thing. I’ve said it before: whether I agree with your opinions or not, they always motivate some spirited debates on this forum. This is one soccer fan that really enjoys and appreciates that, and I know I am not alone because my three huge soccer fan friends – one Canadian, one Dutch and one Spaniard – now regularly log on to this site regularly for your articles.

    I have no stomach for racist rants or threats. There should be a zero tolerance policy towards that kinds of abuse. Ban the morons. Keep the articles coming.

  11. zhe fulano

    January 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I’ll repeat here what I said on the other thread re: Landon’s debut.

    It was a very respectable first performance. A player coming onto a new team needs time to understand his role on his new team. He also needs time to develop a chemistry with his teammates. This was game 1 for Landon at Everton. He had the benefit of neither and yet turned in what would be a respectable performance by any measure, and it was against one of the top teams in one of the top leagues in the world.

    Landon was not intimidated playing Italy, Spain or Brasil. He is not going to be intimidated by Chelsea, Man. U. or any other EPL team. With every game will come more familiarity with his new role and his teammates. He and Everton will only get better.

  12. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    January 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Gaffer, I don’t get the vitriol.

    People can disagree civilly. I understand my posts sometimes come across in a dogmatic fashion, but commentary is meant to be authoritative. If you disagree state specifically why, and if you want your own forum, start your own blog or ask Gaffer if you can contribute to this site.

    We don’t have a monopoly on opinion or analysis.

    • The Gaffer

      January 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      Kartik, I don’t get it either. Either the poster is a teenager or stupid. I’m all for people disagreeing with opinions, but when it festers into hate, it goes too far. An intellectual debate seems beyond some people.

      The Gaffer

      • Eric Altshule

        January 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm

        This kind of vitriol is nuts to me too. I see a lot of comments from readers who seem to be magically throwing up their hands in outrage and typing at the same time. I often disagree with Kartik, but no matter how strident he may sound on occasion, his comments come from a place of knowledge and passion for this game. This is an opinion site about soccer, and Kartik has opinions. Anybody who finds himself foaming at the mouth over someone else’s opinions should schedule a total neurological work-up at the earliest possible moment.

    • Paul

      January 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      I think one of the things that bugs readers, including myself, is how unnecessarily negative your commentaries can be. See my two comments on the Happy Holidays post for details. Add nasty comments about race and here comes the vitriol….

      Good commentaries don’t need to be “authoritative”–they need to be accurate and smart, as well as clear, generous to other voices, and evenhanded.

      • ngog

        January 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm

        Paul, who are you to be one to criticize someone for their opinions? Really? Do you know what an opinion is?

        Kartik and Gaffer, I appreciate the news you bring us and your opinions. If you post something I think I saw differently, then I try to state my own opinion in contrary to what you wrote, but it’s formulated and based on my own thinking.

        Too often you get muppets on here who either follow a crowd or decide they are going to be a turd in a punchbowl.

        My advice: treat them as the minority. As a high school teacher, it’s a technique I’ve used to make sure I cater to the ones who care and not the moral minority who most of the silent majority wish would shut up.

        Just keep doing your thing. Your work is top notch!

        • Paul

          January 9, 2010 at 4:37 pm

          Well, yes, I do know what an opinion is, and, yes, I think I have the right to challenge an opinion. ngog, I don’t know where you are going with point, and I am not going to engage in a battle of intellect to see who has the “right” to opine. I thought I was just stating what would be the best manner of doing a commentary, and that commentaries don’t need to be “authoritative” to be effectual. What seems to happen is that Kartik, in an attempt to be authoritative in his commentaries, sometimes can come across in a rather inflamatory manner. Reacting to the cool-aid swilling pollyanas in the major soccer news outlets, K and others have tended to focus on the negative aspects of US soccer–revealing the “true” state of US soccer, the negative aspects of our game that certain homers, who have abondoned their journalistic credibility, fail to see. I believe the state of US soccer is not as bad as K sees it–but things are certainly not perfect, and the situation could turn worse (ie our play in the world cup) if a few things go wrong.

    • SoccerKowboy

      January 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm

      That’s what happens when you let 12-year-olds post.

  13. Paul

    January 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    wow….the holidays really brought out the worst in people. K, thought your comments were concilliatory and fair. I wouldn’t competely take back everything you said about Donovan versus Dempsey–one game does not make a career in the english league. Let’s see how Donovan competes during his loan and then compare the two players.

  14. The Gaffer

    January 9, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Rhett, your IP has now been banned from posting to this site based on your death threat to Kartik (that comment has been removed). If these type of comments continue, you will be reported to law enforcement. Seriously.

    The Gaffer

    • Jammer

      January 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm

      On one hand, props to you for allowing his first comment to stand where 99% of blogs would have deleted it immediately. On the other hand it’s a distraction from the topic at hand and censorship of ridiculous and off topic comments would improve the discussion.

  15. over there

    January 9, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Landon’s debut called “eye-catching” by most of the British press. Good work Landon.

  16. albiceleste_10_maradroga

    January 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    “…and this [huh?] setup [sic] well for the Everton counter attack, which Donovan helped to lead out of the the [sic] Toffees [sic] own half.”

    That’s FOUR ERRORS in just one clause of one sentence. You couldn’t even pass freshman composition at the high school I attended, and you presume to call out Landon Donovan?

    You can’t even write, Krishnaiyer. Your analysis is a joke and your writing mechanics and grammar are a disgrace. Get bent.

    • Rhett

      January 9, 2010 at 1:59 pm

      What do you expect for an ESOL Hindi speaker. We don’t need his type talking about anything or even being here.

      Maybe his cricket analysis is better. We can hope.

      Gaffer, stop hiring people who couldn’t finish the 5th grade as part of your affirmative action hiring program.

      • Kartik Krishnaiyer

        January 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm

        I don’t speak Hindi and graduated from college and went to Graduate School. But you are the real American, so I’ll just shut up now. (I actually am more conservative on racial issues than you’d think and believe in assimilation first and am generally against multi culturalism….but you wouldn’t care about that)

      • ngog

        January 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

        You both are losers.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      January 9, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      That’s what happens when you are trying desperately to get a post up quickly and that is a line I added later.

      As far as my analysis being a joke, you are entitled to your opinion, but the Guardian Football page listed an article I wrote on this site which got flaming comments from most here as their “favorite thing this week,” showing at least someone in the press appreciates my analysis.

      • timmyg

        January 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm

        “Dempsey has never put in a complete shift like he did today.”

        Hey Rhett — if you don’t talk, no one knows you’re stupid!

  17. Rhett

    January 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    It is about time you admitted what is obvious to anyone that watches calosely and without bias.

    Donovan is a world class talent, while Dempsey simply looks good at Fulham because of the system and players around him.

    Dempsey has never put in a complete shift like he did today. He does fancy step overs that make people oh and aw but he is not nearly as consistently dangerous as Landon.

    Still the confidence and flair you speak of him having is actually cockiness and a bad attitude. We don’t need our best player, our signature player developing that crap.

    • ngog

      January 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm

      Are you kidding? Was that the first or second English game you watched in your life? Dempsey doesn’t put in a complete shift?

      YOu must be someone who looks at the stats and sees Donovan as the leading scorer for the US team and pretends he doesn’t score 70% of them on penalty kicks.

      Knocking Dempsey after the impact he just made minutes after being substituted the other day against Stoke? Smacks of a muppet who knows nothing but hot dogs and apple pie.

  18. Chris Webb

    January 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Landon did very well in his debut. Assist on the corner and essentially ran all over Jimmy Traiore at left back. Got into good positions on the field. You can tell though that the team was hesitant to run anything through him giving Peinar more of the play on left wing.

    Well done on his debut and hopefully this will dispel the terrible overplayed notion that he is the single worst player to ever play in the Champions League for his “display” against Liverpool in a 3-1 loss with Leverkuesen.

    Somehow, I think one of Roma’s players probably had a worse day in their 8-0 loss to Bayern Munich a few years ago. The power of the English press indeed…

  19. Andrew

    January 9, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Hope to see more runs from him next week.

  20. B

    January 9, 2010 at 11:39 am

    What channel is the game on? I’ve been looking all over the place and I still can’t find it.

  21. Jess in Portland

    January 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Landon has an assist in his first game!

  22. Joe in Indianapolis

    January 9, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Landon is in the starting 11

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