Any games on today?
Try this on for size. Full. Slate. Of Premier League fixtures. BOOM.
So, what to watch? The ‘big one’ is likely Man Utd vs Everton at 2:45 PM EST, what with all the “Moyes faces his old club” narrative vibes. Elsewhere it’s a bit of a grab bag…Arsenal vs Hull City might be vaguely entertaining, and Fulham hosting Spurs at 3:00 PM EST is a test for the new gaffer in Rene Meulensteen, and to see whether Tottenham’s shot conversion rate will continue to regress.
There are other league matches today, too. Ligue 1 specifically, in which we have Evian vs PSG at 3:00 PM. The rest of Europe features a few Cup comps. Nothing really good in there so watch only if you have a favourite.
What’s the big story today?
Oh god, FIFA’s gone and changed the World Cup pots for seeding or something involving seeds and plants and South America and a pot marked with an X that has evil treasure in it? I don’t know. Please help, proper journalists:
In an unexpected change to Friday’s draw Fifa announced that one of the nine unseeded European teams in Pot Four, which include England, will be picked at random to switch to Pot Two. That pot currently has only the seven unseeded African and South American teams, so the switch will balance the numbers.
It means two unseeded European teams will end up facing one another and raises the possibility for the first time that England could end up in a “group of death” with Italy or Holland as well as Argentina or Brazil. Or they could still get lucky and draw Colombia, Greece and Honduras. The change was announced on the day Fifa admitted not all of the 12 stadiums required for next summer’s tournament would meet existing deadlines amid rising concern over the construction timetable.
Get it? No? Neither do I really. So thank the good lord above for Dale Johnson, who really digs deep to tell us just what the hell happened yesterday and what exactly it means for the World Cup group stage draw this Friday, December 6th. He also has a timely reminder for the people talking about FIFA “moving the goal posts”:
Let’s make it clear here that FIFA — whatever you think of the decision — has not moved the goalposts. World football’s governing body had never made any kind of announcement about how they would build the draw. It never does until three days before the event itself. We can use precedent to best guess but that is all we can do before the official announcement.
Anyway, interesting. I have no idea whether the popular draw simulators have been updated.
Any other news?
Yeah! That other important thing…we have a World Cup match ball! And it’s not the crappy Jabulani kind that ruined the 2010 World Cup. It’s called the ‘brazuca,’ and no, it’s not capitalized. Here’s a nifty little video from Adidas.
Tony Pulis believes scrappy Crystal Palace’s victory over West Ham last night should give the South London side hope to stay in the Premier League.
Dimitar Berbatov wants to GTFO of struggling Fulham, according to his agent Emil Dantchev: “I don’t usually speculate as nobody knows what will happen in January but what I can tell you is he [Berbatov] is not happy at Fulham. He would like, if possible, to find another option.”
UEFA picks the best 40 players in Europe and there isn’t a Limey among them.
Any fun stuff?
From FC Nordsjælland vs Randers FC in the Danish league (h/t reddit)
Any good reads?
Daniel Harris believes the 2014 World Cup will be the first great tournament in a generation, and why not? Have at it:
But this World Cup could, should, will be different. To the extent that there is ever a standard approach to football, positive tactics are currently in fashion, the modish formations allowing four players to commit almost entirely to attack. Hell, even Italy are at it, while watching England’s final qualifiers was, for the first time in many years, reminiscent of actual enjoyment.
And, despite it all, being in Brazil will help too, not just because it is an inspirational place but by virtue of temperatures conducive to sport. Though it will still be warm, only in Manaus might things be unbearable. The running around required to play fast, exciting football is now a viable option.