Soccer is back! Calm down, Jack!!!

He's coming to get YOU.


And if it seems like soccer never left that's because it pretty much didn't. The Euros began two weeks after the Champions League final and the Olympics followed closely on the heels of the Euros. Then a few preseason matches and here we are. The Eredivisie and SPL have already started. England, Spain, and France start this week with the Bundesliga and Serie A to start next week.

As always there have been plenty of off season moves. I don't follow the other leagues as closely as the Barclaycard Premier League so that's all I'll really mention here, but even just there there have been too many to even keep track of. (And they're not done yet. Still two weeks until the transfer window closes) The biggest move has probably been the diabolical switch made by Robin van Persie from Jack's beloved Arsenal to larry's beloved Manchester United.

I considered doing a full blown preview of sorts but I was worried I would end up with something around 80,000 words so instead I thought I would just make some random statements.

  • Chelsea went on the biggest spending spree, paying about $75 million just for midfielders Oscar and Eden Hazard, then for good measure picked up another midfielder, Marko Marin. Why so many midfielders? In defense, John Terry and Ashley Cole are aging but David Luiz is very entertaining. He looks like Sideshow Bob and is just as likely to make a terrific blunder as he is to do something fantastic. They have a lot of talent. Should be in the top four this year. I think Torres is going to have a very good season.
  • Though Arsenal lost RVP they acquired some fantastic players, my favorite of which is Santi Cazorla. If they can avoid injuries and if Jack Wilshere ever gets healthy they will be dangerous. Emmanuel Frimpong is another very talented youngster who is currently out injured for at least a couple months. He's very exciting but a bit raw. One of the funnier moments of last season was on January 2nd when, (on loan at Robert Plant's favorite team, Wolves) against Chelsea in the 24th minute and for no reason I could determine, he gave referee Peter Walton (who has since retired) a two-handed shove in the back. (Maybe you just had to see it.) He should probably lay off of the anti-semetic tweets though.
  • Tottenham losing Luka Modric to Real Madrid will hurt but they picked up Gylfi Sigurosson and Vertonghen and with new manager Andre Villas-Boas they are going to be fascinating to watch. They have a pretty flowing and athletic team. (Except Scott Parker who flings himself all over the field with reckless abandon in order to block opposing shots. He's going to miss the first month or so due to injury.)
  • Along with RVP United got another excellent player in Kagawa. With Nemanja Vidic healthy (and maybe Darren Fletcher coming back too) United could get the title back. Like Chelsea they have some questions at the back. Chris Smalling is injured, I'm not sure about Phil Jones with his penchant for charging upfield, and Rio Ferdinand is not getting any younger. (And Rio Ferdinand is a choc ice, if "choc ice" is what he says it means. What a bad liar he is.) (Update: He just got busted for it. Disrepute it is!) They have a good deal of depth even if Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are just about past it. Will Chicharito stick around now that he has fallen further down the depth chart? Ashley Young should really stop diving.
  • Manchester City didn't do much other than take a pretty good young Rodwell from Everton. (Where would he play? Seriously. He's going to be grabbing bench most of the season.) They probably didn't need to do much though. If Carlos Tevez is motivated and plays a full season and if Mario Balotelli can show the kind of composure that he did in the Euros that team can be awesome. Of course those two are capable of all sorts of weirdness. Can City win it again and progress further in the Champions League? Sergio Aguero is awesome and Samir Nasri is a twat.
  • Liverpool. Not a fan. Luis Suarez is not an easy fellow to like, and it is much more than the racism charge (or the fact that he bit that dude on PSV). (I don't think he is a racist) Liverpool really did not cover themselves in glory last season with regard to the Suarez-Evra incident and for some reason Suarez just continues to bring it up. It's been fun watching them try to offload Carroll after paying about $45 million for him a year and a half ago. I'm not enamored of Brendan Rodgers either. He did great with Swansea but I've heard quite a few people give some of that credit to Roberto Martinez and Paolo Sousa. He also made an agreement with Swansea that he would not go after any of their players (unless another team made an offer for the player or the player was listed for transfer) but hey, look! What do you know? Now Joe Allen is on Liverpool. Huh.
  • I'll be rooting for Aston Villa to begin heading in the right direction this year based on a managerial change. Alex McLeish out, Paul Lambert in. They snagged three pretty good players from the Eredivisie. It would be nice if they got rid of Alan Hutton. That guy's a butcher.
  • Maybe I give Lambert too much credit but I fear that Norwich City may be in trouble. I hope Chris Hughton can keep the Canaries up.
  • QPR is certainly trying to cement their Premier League status by spending loads of money. I'd feel fine if they were relegated. Either way, hopefully Joey Barton goes away.
  • It's hard to not like Wigan Athletic. They seem a little similar to Everton in that it seems they start every season badly but pick it up towards the end of the season. (The difference being Wigan is always battling relegation whereas Everton just battles back from low-mid table mediocrity.) Among the seven wins from their last nine games last season Wigan beat Stoke, Man U, and Newcastle at home and Liverpool and Arsenal away. It was awesome. (One of those nine games should have at worst been a draw. They lost 2-1 to Chelsea but were egregiously robbed on an absurd offside call and basically played Chelsea off the field.
  • Arsenal fans will want to keep an eye on Wigan this year as Ryo Miyaichi has been loaned there for the season. Hope he gets some PT. He looked hella hyphy when I saw him on Bolton last season.
  • No idea what's going on with Fulham other than they got Hugo Rodallega from Wigan and lost Pavel Pogrebnyak to Reading. I keep hearing about "Deuce" wanting to get a chance to play in the Champions League but also have heard his name in connection with Liverpool. Those two things seem like they're going to be mutually exclusive for a while.
  • I like West Bromwich Albion but don't have much to say about them. After boing-boinging for so long they have managed to stay up two consecutive seasons now. They finished 11th in '10-'11 and 10th last season. We'll see if losing Roy Hodgson will cause them to slip down the table or even cause them to go back to their boinging ways.
  • I like a bunch of players on Sunderland. Especially James McClean, Sebastian Larsson, and Stephane Sessegnon. But not Lee Cattermole. He should probably be imprisoned.
  • Oh. Everton. They're pooty goo. Like Everton a lot. Marouane Fellaini is a riot. And of course there's Tony Hibbert. (Shout out, Toonder!) David Moyes is one hell of a manager. They are a selling club but he manages to continually get them in or near a European place. Fantastic.
  • I don't know how I made it this far without talking about probably the best story and one of the best teams to watch last season. Newcastle. I hope they can keep it up while also competing in the Europa League. Papiss Cisse scored, for me, the goal of the season and maybe the goal of the century against Chelsea (replay of this goal starts at 0:52 (no audio). (The first goal is pretty awesome too but i'm talking about the second one.) (And click here to see Steve Claridge's reaction.)) Cheik Tiote is fabulous. He's an absolute destroyer.
  • Stoke City. Lots of folks don't care for their style of play. It includes lots of physicality, kicking the ball very far, and massive Rory Delap throw-ins. Some people wonder whether even Barcelona could handle Stoke at Stoke on a wet, windy Tuesday night. Peter Crouch scored what some people think was the goal of the season last year against Manchester City. (But don't try to tell Jack that he meant to do it.)
  • I don't know a whole lot about the three promoted teams, West Ham, Reading, and Southampton other than West Ham got a lot of grief last year for playing like savages and Sam Allardyce can be a jag. I only saw them in their game to win promotion last year and was rooting for Blackpool.
  • For not many real good reasons I would like to see Reading and Southampton stay up and QPR and West Ham to go down. I think I like the manager of Reading, Brian McDermott.
  • Hey Hoodlight, when are we going to see Leeds back up with the big boys?

So I thought maybe I'd try this soccer fan post thing and see if it works and if it does we can keep it going. The objective of course is to have a spot for the soccer comments to congregate and to avoid clogging up the ol' rumpus room. Secondary objectives are not irritating people who don't like soccer and avoiding unintentionally disappointing people who see a whole lot of new comments on the RRRR and get all excited only to find a fifty comment sub-thread about whether or not somebody thinks Demba Ba can make it through a whole season without his knee falling off (I doubt it) and wonders if he can coexist with Papiss Demba Cisse (not sure of this one either).

Oh dear, I may be more excited than Jack. I think I need to calm down.

(Good preview podcasts at EPL Talk. Also, the best podcast in the world has just started up again in advance of the new season: Men In Blazers.)

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