Do you want to win or be the reason for winning? As football (American and European) season descends upon us like Shark Week, I got to wondering about the aforementioned question. We are arguably in the finest part of the sports year, and a lot of blow hards as well as Yahoo Sports Contributors will bellow about winning and what it takes. I think about this as my friend The Unit as we have gone back and forth about the silly transfer season in soccer, and why players make moves versus those that don't. The example I’ll go with this time is former Arsenal, now Barcelona player Cesc Fabregas. Cesc made the move to Barcelona because he felt his chances of winning would improve, and he knew the guys he trained with back in his youth. His frustration with Arsenal grew and grew as Robin Van Persie, among others, flew the coop in search of greener pastures. For some reason, the Cesc issue got me pretty good and now I need to figure out why. One of the first things I thought about was Theo Epstein. The former Boston Red Sox GM who led them to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, ending one of the most infamous title droughts in sports history. Not that there wasn’t tumult during his time, but if you look at the bigger picture he was a smashing success. He could’ve easily rested on his laurels and stayed there and been a king for life. His next challenge was an even larger one: GM of the hapless Chicago Cubs, whose title drought makes the Red Sox look like the baseball Giants. If Theo wins there, who tops that, getting World Series trophies for those 2 clubs? This is the logic I applied to Cesc. If you win at Arsenal, my goodness the goods that await you man! Then the homie Unit brings me back down to reality when he says "Arsenal will never win." Sadly he’s right; they are destined for 3rd and 4th place finishes for a while until the money situation is improved. (Higuain to Napoli??) For some reason this doesn’t sit well with me. He wants to win, but doesn’t want to be the reason for it. In his soccer prime at age 26 you’d think that he’s still in that mind frame of wanting to be “the guy” or, “the main guy” but he seems content to bide his time until Xavi hangs up his boots. Do you really think that sits well with him when the accolades are being handed out and they (Messi, Neymar, Iniesta, Pedro, etc.) are being lauded and his contributions are being relegated to minor status despite what his numbers tell you? The Lebron James and Dwight Howard issues come to mind as well when dissecting this question. As noted by the great Bomani Jones in his column, the Lebron and Howard decision were polar opposites even though they lied in the same vein. Lebron James clearly made his based on basketball and what team gave him the best chance of winning. On the other hand, Howard wanted to be the star attraction, THE REASON for winning. The fact that he and Kobe never got along also proves my theory on Howard. He underestimated the Lakers fans, the Lakers winning tradition and why those things were held in such a high prestige. He didn’t want to sit under Kobe’s proverbial wing and learn how to do it. He felt that he knew enough about winning without him. He will now have his chance with the Rockets. It’s not for me to say whether he or Cesc made the right call but I’ve learned that even though winning is the only thing that counts, we all have our own way of going about it.
The 201213 UEFA Champions League Final between German clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund took place at Londons Wembley Stadium. I meet a couple of friends at a local watering hole to take in the festivities. In an ode to the great Bill Simmons, I decide to do a running diary of the events. Enjoy
12:18 pm - Arrival at Trinity Hall. Sparse crowd. I’m the first brotha here (!!!) I meet my man David (AKA Muscles AKA The Mexican German). Cider is the beverage of the day. I order an Angry Orchard (Sam Adams joint!!) or as the waiter called it "Apple Juice". (Side note Apple Juice? Underrated)
12:24 - 2nd brotha arrives!
12:25 - He leaves
12:27 - Nice guzzle of cider.....Yea buddy!
12:27 – Ewww! Mavs hat. By the looks of things, a large Bayern contingent. This Son of Bitch walks in with a Mavs Dirk jersey! (Your sports fans Dallas!) He also orders a fucking Sweet Tea!
12:38 - Fox flashes a graphic that says Bayern allowed only 18 Bundesliga goals. Tremendous
12:41 - Another a-hole shows up...IN A CHELSEA shirt! And this Bastard is here in a Roma Shirt! What’s this, a Europa final??
12:44 - The Dirk jersey guy explains "This is all I have that’s German" really?
1:09 - Another Chelsea shirt!
1:23 - FC Dallas shirt in the building.
1:24 - Another Dirk wearer in the building. They acknowledge their kinship and keep it moving.
1:30 - The greatness of the "These are the Champions!!" Ring throughout the pub!! It’s time boys and girls
1:38 - Head and shoulders commercial with CJ Wilson and Josh Hamilton shows on screen and a chorus of boos erupts
1:41 - After an hour of pestering all who walks in his path for a cigarette, the homey Mark finally procures one
1:49 - Gus Johnson and Warren Barton with the call
1:57 - A smatter of boos as Mario Goetze is shown on screen. Goetze headed to Bayern in the summer. Business
1:59 - Lewandowski shoots one straight from about 30 yards out. Parried by Neuer. Dortmund clearly the aggressor early
2:07 - Another nice chance for Dortmund by Manuel Neuer is there with the save
2:11 - Franck Ribery escapes a potential red card with an elbow to Lewandowskis’ head. Bayern misses two point blank chances. Action heating up in the 29th minute
2:17 - Arjen Robben misses a runaway but easily put away by the Dortmund keeper Weidenfeller
2:19 - A shot of Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp. He looks scary. I wished my name was Jürgen.
2:23 - Arjen Robben with another missed chance. Any day now Robben, which is Dutch for "Missed Champions League goals"
2:29 - PS4 signs. ....Me so horny
2:40 - Halftime. Scoreless. Both Goalkeepers have been exemplary
2:57 - Why does Gus announce Franck Ribery's name like "Rib Eye"?
3:01 - Goal Bayern Mario Mandzukic off a Robben pass. 61st minute 3:09 - Ilkay Gundogan with the equaliser off a PK. Dante just kicked Reus clearly in the nuts. A potential red card. Having already booked for a yellow, why didn’t Dante get a 2nd one and brought Bayern down to 10 men?
3:14 - Subotic saves the go ahead goal with a tremendous effort. Clearly an Oh shit moment for both clubs
(Writers note: I stepped out at the 80th minute so the rest you will read will be from a rewatch. Gotta love DVR)
The last couple of years havent been too kind to Arjen Robben. His Netherlands were embarrassed in world cup 2010, followed by another international disappointment in Euro 2012. Oh yea sandwiched between those two was another less than stellar effort in for Bayern in last years champions league final vs Chelsea. But in the 89th minute those memories were eradicated as his goal gave Bayern the win and erasing over 30 years of European frustration. His effort was stellar throughout as he (wait for it) seized the moment. Bayern dominated the 2nd half as they had more scoring chances and kept the ball in their zone. With Mario Goetze headed to Bayern with Lewandoski rumored to follow it looks as if Dortmunds ride has ended. But I dont think so. They, like Bayern have a good system rolling with replacements on the way and money. "Next man up" will be the plan. Bayern also has additions with Pep Guardiola ready to take the helm for a retiring Juup Heynckes. Im not ready to claim a German takeover in European soccer but both cubs look strong going forward. Never figured who the Dirk jersey wearers were rooting for. Germany wins no matter what.
When anyone starts with the line "With all due respect", or "I don’t mean any harm", or anything akin to that, you should know what’s coming next. As Chris Isaak begged his lady to "please let him down easy" in his classic 90s cut Wicked Game, there’s something in all of us that understands that hardships will occur, but it’s how you deal with them that matters. I say all of this because of my continued education in the sports media world has knocked on my door and served me a nice reminder that this is a world populated by thirst; the willingness to say ANYTHING (Tiger vs. Babe Ruth @THEDEEPDIG ring a bell?), and the need to be so damn defensive about everything.
Now, yours truly has been guilty of all the above before but I know as soon as it rears its ugly head I immediately snap out of it. I want to have good logical sports discussions with everyone. We don’t have to agree about everything. Let’s just have a decent conversation about a shared passion. Why does the "hater" term come up as soon as something is said, you feel is a personal affront to you? The recent John Tortorella press conference was another reminder of how media types aren't doing anything these days. (My producer says they're our colleagues, but I won’t bite) The New York Rangers coach recently chastised the gathered media for not asking admirable questions and not doing their job. I am 100% behind this, and there are other media folks that share my thoughts on this.
I’d rather not say anything until I have something smart to say. I am admittedly not a good question asker, but I’ll mainly attribute that to my lack of experience. My first Mavericks game brought those issues to light as there was no way I was asking Rick Carlisle anything to risk his wrath or his sneering looks anytime someone asks a stupid question. The glut of Internet based radio shows, sports bloggers, etc. has caused us to reach for anything, ANYTHING to get clicks, listens, whatever to get the attention. Who cares about undrafted FA's in Cowboy's camp? Is Carson Palmer elite? This is worth reading? Hey yall, I’m a rookie to this and make no claims as some sort of all-knowing individual on this thing, but I’m going to fucking try to maintain a level of savoir faire to this to quote the late great Patrice O’Neal "High level".
So, "colleagues", let’s get better at this. Let’s not stoop to declaring James Harden elite after 64 regular season games, or that Melo is clutch, or that the Cowboys will do anything of significance. (Ok I said that) Let’s be better! As the great Bob Ryan says, "Im not a predictor, Im an analyst."
As always, JaVale is warming up.
David: If you could just give me 3 lines introducing yourself and why you're a draft nut.
Chad: My name is Chad Woodroof and I'm a draft nut due to my whole 30 years of existence being surrounded by Football. I don't consider myself an "expert" so to speak, but watching as much total football as I have, I think I have a little bit of a good grasp on what College teams do (especially Quarterbacks) and how that would translate to certain NFL teams.
David: Please give one winner and one loser of the draft and why? By winner, I mean who got the maximum "value" from their picks; By loser, I want to know who wasted the most picks?
Chad: The winner that got the Max value of their picks to me would have to be San Francisco. Now, the Eagles had a similar draft last year as the 49ers and we see what happened with that, but as of today I would say getting DE Tank Carradine and WR Quinton Patton where they did were steals. I was a big fan of TE Vance McDonald and LB Nick Moody but they went about where I expected them to go. It was hard to choose between them, the Cardinals and Redskins but I pick SF.
As far as the worst value I would have to say the Cowboys. Now when I say that, I base it off of the 1st round pick but who's to say if he starts 8/10 years and plays decent that it wasn't a good value. As of today, just off that pick alone, I would have to go with them. Everyone else they took was right around where they should have gone except for maybe Randle the RB from Oklahoma State. Probably should have been picked a round earlier.
David: Name me the player who benefits most from his slide?
Chad: Floyd the Defensive Tackle from Minnesota. The fact that he gets to play beside Kevin Williams and Jared Allen will be great for his Rookie year and help his transition. Williams also reworked his contract and only has one year left on his deal, so Minnesota benefits just as much.
David: Who had a good draft that no one is talking about?
Chad: I think the Detroit Lions. Slay the CB from Mississippi State was high on a lot of draft boards and will be a starter probably week 1 as well as their 3rd Round pick Warford, the Guard from Kentucky will also start day 1. Warford at the Senior Bowl was very impressive going against the best Senior talent the NCAA had to offer. Theo Riddick where they got him was a good value and you know he'll probably be the Running Back that they'll use to compliment Reggie Bush. DE Devin Taylor and Punter Sam Martin weren't bad picks either.
David: Quietly, who did you think had a bad draft and why?
Chad: I would say the Cleveland Browns. I know that Lombardi doesn't like to draft guys that he feels doesn't carry value but Cleveland needs help NOW! Not next season. Was it a good move to stack up on some draft picks? Of course, but I think their Season suffers due to how they addressed the draft.
David: What non 1st round pick will make the biggest impact on his team this year?
Chad: That's a hard question for me because I'm a fan of so many guys that got drafted later on, but I'll go with one of the Running Backs I said earlier, Joseph Randle. I think Dallas needs a solid Running Back with Murray always hurt, and that he'll get a chance sooner than some might think and could also be as valuable as Alfred Morris was to the Redskins, however Randle won't be a 1600 yard back his Rookie year.
David: Today, who are your offensive and defensive player(s) of the year?
Chad: Offensive player of the year, I'll give that to Tavon Austin. Defensive Player of the year, I'll say Matt Elam. Elam already reminded me of a mini Ed Reed. No better place for him to have gone than Baltimore.
David: Give me 3 Undrafted Free Agents to look for?
Chad: Even though I'm not a big fan of his, Da'Rick Rodgers. I think Buffalo will have him on the field sooner than later. Kevin Reddick LB out of UNC I thought was a 2nd/3rd Round talent. I couldn't believe no one took a chance on him. Lastly, Kwame Geathers Defensive Tackle. His Uncle (Jumpy) successfully played as well as his other siblings of his currently play in the NFL. The kid seems to have the bloodline.
David: What team made the worst 1st round pick and why?
Chad: I would say Miami. I wasn't a fan of Dion Jordan at all in the top 10. I thought people were too in love with what he "could be" and to trade up (even though they basically didn't give up much at all to move up) to the 3rd spot and take a guy because of his could be potential that lacked elite production, I thought was a horrible decision. When you're picking that high, you can't afford to not take a player off of wishful thinking in my opinion.
As an old man and aspiring writer, the process of writing has
proved to be tedious and yet rewarding. My best buddy David AKA The Unit has
unparalleled discipline. He writes too, but it comes so easy to him unlike me
personally who somehow needs a grand cause to write about. How petulant of me to
think that the small things in life don’t matter, but somehow through more
self-command and the consistent voice of the super producer @hollywoodcold85,
I'm back again.
The thing is, this week won’t be about how lemon booty fresh the
Nets look, or how the world is claiming that light skin brothers are "making a
comeback" with Steph Curry who is shooting his ass off in the 1st round so far.
This week could be for those types who claimed that James Harden was elite, oh
about 20 games ago. (Where ya'll at?) The Knicks fans man. I remember my Dad
always telling me "Act like you been there before." So, I’ll forgive these
Knicks fans for now, but damn ya’ll have 13 more wins to go before your goal is
reached. BREATHE a little. Anybody watching the Hawks/Pacers series? Could you
be paid to watch it? Just checking.
Those that know me know that I am a Laker fan. Fandom for me is
a study in hypocrisy, realness, and the harsh lessons you learn about yourself
as an individual. The "sweeps" of ‘89 and ‘04. The end of the four titles in a
row pursuit in 2003; Jordan stamping out Magic in ‘91. I could go on. My pops
thinks I’m too harsh on them as well as myself, but when a title standard has
been established, THE WAY they went about it was the key. As I coast into my
40s, I’m learning Jason Garrett is right; it is all about the process. So, my
admiration for the Lakers is an all-encompassing one. I’m not one of these "We"
using Soccer Mom fans who think he’s contributing to his team’s success in any
way. None of the "We" pom-pom wavers are taking any responsibility for this
abomination of a season in which NONE of the expectations were met. Let’s not
go into details as to why because none of us are insiders, but it was an
organization wide failure.
My particular venom goes to Jim Buss, but that’s too easy of a
target. I wrote on these things beforehand about how I didn’t think this year
would net the Lakers another title, and for me until the situation dictates
otherwise its title or bust. By that, I mean the season is a failure. Now cue to
Laker fans hissing at me claiming that I’m a fair-weather fan. Here’s the deal.
I rooted for them this year knowing it would be a failed season. I don’t abandon
ship, but any Laker fan out there puffing your chest out about 7th or 8th place,
and thinking that was a worthy accomplishment just shut up and close your mouth
now. This was a failed season by any stretch. Right now, idgaf if Howard comes
back, who could be the next coach or if Jim Buss will sell. Those things will
work themselves out as they usually do. I’ll be looking forward to them again in
November. Probably another failed season but its cool. It’s not just about one
year as my thirties continue to teach me. 2 titles in 5 years? Yea I’m good.
It’s about the name on the front not on the
It could be worse…
I could be a Mav fan. Ewww
I've been a neglectful sports guy to my ever growing fan base. My producer has
whined enough that I'll come out my vacation/lazy spell/writers block to
(hopefully) hit you a little more often than I have been. I know you've missed the
quality that I have provided for so I'm going to be a good boy and give you some of my
thoughts on the recent events across the sports globe. Unlike a few a of my sports brothers, I
wont crown Carson Palmer an elite Qb. (Shouts to @btthesportsguy)
playoffs have tipped off and Knick fans are acting like its 1994 all over again
(they lost then too) A Celtic team that started off fast and aged quicker than a
Mafia Wife, lost game one to the NY ''Melos'' as they won their second playoff
game since 1999. You read it right a WIN. So good for you Knicks maybe you can win a
series now. Anyone enjoying that Chi Town offense? The Bulls play hard and all,
but can't score on rookie mode. If their form holds, I'm anxious to see if DWill and
Lopez can make LBJ at least break a sweat in their next series. The fact that TNT
scheduled the Pacers/Hawks game at noon tells you all you need to know about
that. Per the great Peter Vecsey, Jeff Teague is worth a look and Paul
George, for me, is also worth a look. (George had a triple double in their game 1
Heat & Bucks tried to be exciting when Brandon Jennings opened his
mouth, but he wears Under Armour so what does he know? Over in the west, (my)
Bean-Less Lakers look overwhelmed versus the Spurs in game 1 as no one not named
Steve Blake could do anything, thus clogging the middle and rendering Gasol And
Howard ineffective despite combining for 36 points and 31 boards. The injuries
to David Lee and Kenneth Faried have dampened the Warriors/Nuggets series a bit
but I say it will still go to 7 games anyway. CP3 proved to be too much for Mike Conely as the
Clippers went ahead in their series. Who else is going to support Gasol and
Randolph? That will be the key for the Grizzlies. Jarryd Bayless anyone? Don't think so. As for the
Rockets, they guard no one and Serge Ibaka is hitting threes now. (20 threes made in
2012-13. Two career coming in) so this series looks to be over in 5.
Anyone see Gilbert Melendez's left leg last night? Looked pretty bruised after a razor close loss to
Benson Henderson in the UFC Lightweight Title. Henderson won on
two cards 48-47. This was Henderson's fourth straight title defense.
The Champions League semifinals start up Tuesday with Barcelona and Bayern clashing heads while the second match features Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. While both German teams
look strong, I expect an all Spanish Champions League Final at Wembley.
This wont be the same amount of time between writings. My producer won't allow it.
But he's my man and he means well.
There's a possibility that this division could produce three playoff teams, although, if I were to eliminate a team, it would be the Bears. Brandon Marshall has been reunited with Jay Cutler but how happy does that make you? The Packers have tweaked that awful defense last year, while The Lions will have to adjust as the hunted rather than the hunted. Minnesota? They have nice unis. Records and division finish in parenthesis.
Bears (8-8 third place): Brandon Marshall and Cutler Reunion: Winners? When they were teammates in Denver for two years, Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler combined for 206 catches, 2590, and 13 touchdowns. In Chicago, where free agent receivers (e.g. Marty Booker, Mushin Muhammed) have arrived and offered a glimmer of hope only to fizzle shortly after, Marshall is the latest arrival to help the Bears in coach Lovie Smith's final year on his contract. Whether that can be replicated in The Windy City will determine the fate of this team in what could be argued is the best division in the NFL. How much do Urlacher, Briggs,Tillman, and Peppers have left? All four players are on the other side of 30 and have been the identity of this team for the last several years. Age is already showing itself with Urlacher who has been slowed during the off season with a knee injury. A productive season from this foursome could lead to a possible dethroning of Division Champ Green Bay
Packers (12-4 first place): Giants in their head? A home playoff loss to the Giants removed any good feelings of a 15-1 regular season for the 2010 Super Bowl Champs. Green Bay was exposed in the worst was for example: The O-Line, running game,and the lack of getting the opposing teams offense off the field on third down. Aaron Rogers and his plethora of WR's will lead the way,and new addition Cedric Benson has been brought in to give the team some (enough?) balance.
How bad was this defense last year? Last in passing yards allowed. 27th in passing touchdowns allowed. 27th in sacks. 26th in 3rd down percentage allowed. Notice a trend? This must change if The Pack want to return to the Super Bowl.
Lions (9-7 second place): Off season carryover? With an off season of arrests and the releasing of several players, several are wondering if the Lions can capitalize on their first playoff appearance since 1999. Who's their starting RB? Jhavid Best. Stefan Logan. Kevin Smith. That three headed monster combined for a whopping 778 yards and 6 TD's. Even in this 5,000 passing yard NFL, you need a at least more than 6 COMBINED TD's from three running backs to have success. Who's Calvin Johnson's "John Taylor"? Megatron's greatness is undeniable, the most gifted, physical, and dynamic receiver in the NFL right now, but even he cant catch ALL of Matt Stafford's throws. Brandon Pettigrew, Titus Young, Nate Burleson, need to adopt the roles of Starscream, Demolisher, Devastator, and Barricade if the Lions are to be any good in 2012.
Minnesota (5-11 fourth place): The $96 million knee? While I specified the aforementioned Megatron as the most physical and gifted RECEIVER in the NFL, A.D. may be that regardless of position. This explains his Usain Bolt like recovery from a torn MCL and ACL. While his status for the opener on September 9 is in question, the fact that he will be listed a probable is miraculous enough for a team devoid of great talent and a young QB.
Ponder Second year progress A surprising pick at number twelve, Ponder took over early in the season for The Corpse Known as Donovan McNabb, and proceeded to throw for a very rookie like 13 TD's and 13 interceptions while only completing 54.3% of his passes. Pecry "Migraine" Harvin returns but promising rookie Greg Childs was lost for the season with a knee injury. Jerome "smoke sumn" Simpson joins the team to 'spice" up the receiver corps.
Nine wins won this division a year ago. That will probably be the same this year although I think the Giants will prevail. I don't trust the Eagles to keep Michael Vick upright and the Cowboys have several holes at key positions. The Redskins are essentially starting over with RGIII. Predicted record and division finish in parenthesis.
Cowboys (8-8 Third): Who does Tony Romo trust besides Witten? With Miles Austin battling 3 years of hamstring issues, and Dez still in his (developmental?) stage, can Romo get the Cowboy offense going without his best WR threats? How quickly can Claiborne/Carr impact the defense? A great pass rush helps the secondary and vice versa. The latest Cowboy additions via draft/free agency respectively to add to the Cowboy defense, whom Rob Ryan has proclaimed the most talent he's ever coached. In my opinion, Anthony Spencer is the key. With only 21.5 career sacks, the former 1st rounder needs to compliment Demarcus Ware and give the Boys a formidable 1-2 pass rush punch.
Eagles (9-7 Second) : Michael Vick says there's a dynasty in the making. Don't you have to make the playoffs first? After Vince Young's Dream Team comments this team opened 1-6 and it was over after that. There's a lot of offensive firepower on this team with McCoy, Jackson, and Maclin. A potential rallying point could be the loss of Garrett Reid, son of coach Andy Reid. Does the defense continue to make strides under 2nd year DC Juan Castillo? After a slow start in 2011, the Eagles rebounded to finish in the top 10. Interesting number. 8 wins: 31 sacks 8 losses: 19 sacks. Qb pressure is a must led mostly by Trent Cole.
Redskins (5-11 Last) : How quickly does RGIII and his receivers assimilate with each other? Pierre Garcon, and Josh Morgan join veteran Santana Moss and last years surprise rookie (and Former Hurricane) Leonard Hankerson to give RGIII a few targets to work with. Trent Williams and Fred Davis status with Commissioner Goddell wont help the rookie QB tho.
Is Helu Shanny's next 1,000 yard rusher? With over a 1,000 total yards in his rookie season, Roy Helu Jr. looks to join Davis, Portis, etc as backs that have thrived under Mike Shanahan.
Giants (10-6 First in NFC East) : Super Bowl Hangover? Eli Manning and company return after their second Super Bowl win in 5 years. This team has several two ring holders on this group so they'll be well equipped to deal with any slow start.
Which is the biggest loss-Manningham/Jacobs. I'm going with Jacobs on this one. Hakeem Nicks (health is utmost with him) and Victor Cruz give Eli a serious advantage, possibly the best in the NFL. Jacobs, who took his 7 touchdowns with him to San Francisco leaves the Giants RB depth without any proven talent after Ahmad Bradshaw. DJ Ware, with 81 career rushes is the most proven backup.
One advantage of being an American soccer fan is the mid-week European League (Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1), these are the times when you get live midweek matches like we did Tuesday involving Chelsea and recently promoted Reading FC. I don't know anything about Reading FC, but they're playing Chelsea on ESPN2 and its the Premier League. It's definitely worth checking out especially when you add ardent Chelsea supporter and one of my best friends Alex in the building and it'll be entertaining to say the least. This is always true w/Alex while he watches his beloved Blues. Its a nerve racking chain smoking affair,and this Tuesday was no different. An early penalty conversion by Frank Lampard put Chelsea ahead 1-0 and Alex has his arms are up and the times are good! And like Texas weather, the jubilation turns into multiple cigs being burned and curses at the TV. Two goals in a matter of four minutes by Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie put Reading up 2-1 at the break. Siphoning the fury of my man Alex were Ramires who missed a wide open Fernando Torres and forgot to track back on a few defensive plays.
The second half gets started and you immediately notice that Chelsea is a bit more determined to maintain possession. A substitution in the 57th minute ushers in newly acquired Brazilian international Oscar for Ramires which brings a slight smile to Alex's face as his patience with him was running Kate Moss thin. John Obi Mikel is substituted out for my man Daniel Sturridge as Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo chooses to go with an offensive minded attack. It pays immediate dividends when defender(?) Gary Cahill takes advantage of a large amount of space to blast one from outside the box to equalise it at 2-2. A seemingly offside Fernando Torres scores in the 81st minute to take the lead and defender (again!) Branislav Ivanovich seals it in extra time as Chelsea goes 2 for 2 in opening the EPL campaign. Alex is quite happy with Hazard as he has created 2 penalty chances in the first two matches. Also getting his attention are Oscar, and surprisingly Torres. Number 9 was open on several occasions and his teammates (Ramires and Sturridge in particular) failed to deliver him scoring chances. This is important for Torres to see success early in the year as he looks to replace Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. 6 goals in two matches aren't too shabby and Alex can hang his hat on that. A third match in 8 days awaits Chelsea as Newcastle comes to Stanford Bridge. I'm guessing the over under on Alex's cigarette smoking will be 7 in a 2 hour match. Take the over