03 August 2005

Approaching Departure

It's not necessarily easy being a soccer fan in the US. But there is one advantage: soccer never really stops. True, the Euro leagues ended back in May, and there weren't any major summer tournaments this year. But we still have MLS, and World Cup qualifiers, so there's been a lot going on.

Obviously we haven't been posting, though. That's going to have to change now that the seasons are upon us. I'll try to do some catch-up on some of the summer's events before long. But let me start with a look ahead to the English season.

We kick things off with the Community Shield this Sunday, which of course will feature Arsenal vs. Chelsea. It's easy to attach too much to this game; obviously, both teams are eager to make their marks this season, and they're prime competition for each other. But last year proved how little this game means, as Arsenal's 3-1 win over Man U in the Community Shield was completely overshadowed by their sketchy 2-0 loss at Old Trafford, and the disappointing 2-4 loss at Highbury. In other words, don't count on this game to predict anything.

But, of course, it's still important, and both teams have a lot riding on the game. Chelsea is desperate to prove that last season's romp was not a one-time event. Arsenal too have much to prove, most obviously that life after Patrick Viera will still be sweet. Also, the war of words has been prominent in recent weeks, mostly coming from the Chelsea side but with some Arsenal contributions as well.

So, what will we see on Sunday? The game kicks off at 9:00AM CDT on Fox Soccer Channel. It wouldn't surprise me to see a fairly cagey match from the two managers, with a few key players rested on both sides. It is a long season, after all. But I'm sure that the players will be eager and ready for the game. Despite the war of words, we will see some entertaining football. The two teams produced two open and free-flowing matches last year, and I expect no less this time through.

There's much more to watch this season, but that's a pretty good start. Let's get this going!

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