With August rolling around, it’s noticeable that the amount of globe-trotting amongst the Premier League clubs has dropped off noticeably. There’s only a certain amount of first class lounges and adoring masses the players can have before it starts to get annoying. It’s a comparatively quiet week for friendlies. That’s partially down to clubs returning from exotic destinations ahead of domestic friendlies and it’s also due to the fact there are some genuinely important games coming up shortly. And the Europa League.
Fresh after giving Arsenal a sound 2-0 beating on Friday, Manchester City bring an end to their Asian Tour with a game against an Malaysian XI. 24 hours later, they’re pencilled in to take on Oldham at Boundary Park and unless they’ve found a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum, the guys who started on Monday, probably won’t be making an appearance.
There are still a few Premier League teams trying to milk the US market however, chief among them, Tottenham who bring the curtain down on their stateside adventures by taking on New York Red Bulls. Amongst others, they’ll face former north London tormentor, Thierry Henry and possibly, the new signing, former Everton corner-flag basher, Tim Cahill. Swansea are over on the west coast where they face that team who are only one major tectonic plate shift away from having what sounds like a very distasteful name, the san Jose Earthquakes. On Wednesday, Stoke are in the Sunflower State to take on Sporting Kansas City.
The award for ‘most randomly glamourous friendly of the week’ surely must go to Norwich. On Tuesday they welcome Dutch champions and general ‘we’re still a major force in Europe-ers’, Ajax to Carrow Road. Things are only marginally less glamourous few days later as they travel to Buckinghamshire to face the Dons of Milton Keynes who were formerly the Dons of Wimbledon.
The weekend offers a few interesting ties. Not actually interesting like a game of any importance, more ‘interesting’ as in random trivia. Two European Cup winners that have fallen on hard times since then go head to head when Aston Villa make the short trip to Nottingham Forest. The fact that Gus Poyet once qualified as a ‘big-name signing’ shows how far Chelsea have come in the last 15 years. The Uruguayan scored some cracking goals in his time at the Bridge and his management career has begun well. His Brighton and Hove Albion side play host to Roberto di Matteo’s side on Saturday afternoon.
Phileas Fergie’s ‘Around the world in an ambitious pre-season tour’ continues this Sunday as Manchester United travel to Norway for a game against Valerenga. There have been some encouraging signs for a couple of United’s new acquisitions in this pre-season and more of the same would almost make the extensive travelling worthwhile. Everton had to cancel their trip to the Far East at the last minute due to wrangling over appearance money, but they make a welcome return to action and bizarre Ian Holloway analogies when they take on Blackpool on the seaside.