LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 24: Luka Modric of Spurs in action during the FA Cup Quarter Final Replay match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham at White Hart Lane on March 24, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

English Premier League: Unbeatable Hart Gets City To Scoreless Draw Vs. Tottenham

The English Premier League kicked-off its 19th season Saturday morning with Manchester City's visit to White Hart Lane.

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Cottagers Confidential: David Stockdale Shutout Gets Fulham Point At Bolton

Joe Hart was not the only surprise starter in goal to get a point for his club on the road.  David Stockdale, starting in place of the Arsenal-linked Mark Schwarzer in goal, kept a clean sheet against Bolton, giving Mark Hughes a nil-nil draw in his Fulham managerial debut.

SB Nation's Fulham FC blog, Cottagers Confidential, had the review:

On the road, Fulham have been very poor the last few seasons. I noticed a different away team watching the game today. They were very aggressive and definitely went for the win. I am pretty confident that Mark Hughes will be happy with the effort in the second half.

The back four were great today. Stephen Kelly played a great game filling in for the injured Paul Konchesky. Dickson Etuhu stood out in the central midfield. Up top Bobby Zamora was physical and in good form. As I mentioned prior, Clint Dempsey coming in late in the game gave the Cottagers a boost. It was a nice effort all around by the club.

However, the one player who really stood out was Fulham's goalkeeper David Stockdale. Fulham might have a young promising goalkeeper of the future. Only time will tell if Stockdale will become a consistent goalkeeper. In Fulham's first game of the season, Stockdale was as solid as can be in a 0 - 0 draw at Bolton.

For more Fulham coverage, you can visit Cottagers Confidential and read Russ Goldman's match report: Stockdale Is Solid In Net As Fulham Play A 0 - 0 Draw With Bolton.


7500 To Holte: "Great Start" For Aston Villa In 3-0 Win Over West Ham

The first goal of the 2010-11 Premier League was scored at Villa Park, Stewart Downing giving Aston Villa an early lead over West Ham United.  Goals by Stiliyan Petrov and the seemingly soon-to-be departed James Milner gave Villa a 3-0 win.



SB Nation's Aston Villa blog, 7500 to Holte, had the match review:

West Ham seemed to come alive in the first few minutes of the second half, or perhaps their powers were triggered by the thunder and lightening. But they only managed possession for about fifteen minutes before Villa regained domination.

In the 66th, it was all about the man that's set so many tongues a-waggin' recently. Marc Albrighton, who was spot-on all match, sent a lovely ball into James Milner, who positively smacked it into the back of the net. He didn't celebrate much (choosing to take the classy route and give the credit to Albrighton) but Villa Park erupted, and they gave him a standing ovation when he left the pitch soon after, being replaced by Nigel Reo-Coker. If that was his Villa swan song, I'll take it.

For the full match review (Aston Villa 3-0 West Ham United: Game Recap) you can visit Kirsten Schlewitz's post at 7500 to Holte.


Tottenham Hotspur Held To Scoreless Draw By Joe Hart, Manchester City

A dominant first half from Tottenham settled into a more even second half, but Manchester City was never able to significantly threaten Gomes and the Hotspur goal, leaving the first half heroics from Joe Hart to preserve a nil-nil draw to open the Premier League season.

It was a result Roberto Mancini seemed intent on from the match's onset, playing a 4-5-1 featuring all of Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Yaya Touré in central midfield.  Carlos Tévez was along up-top, his normal strike partner Emmanuel Adebayor getting a late run-out.  Summer signing David Silva failed to make an impact in his first match with the Citizens, leaving City's attempt impotent.

Spurs, on the other hand, create numerous changes, with all of Benoit Assou-Ekkotto, Gareth Bale, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko getting quality chances.  A man of the match performance from goalkeeper Joe Hart kept Spurs from scoring and gave Manchester City an away point.


Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester City: Joe Hart Gets City To Halftime Scoreless

Tottenham Hotspur's impressive opening 45 at White Hart Lane has been thwarted by Joe Hart, the Manchester City goalkeeper starting over lat year's first choice, Shay Given. The England international made dramatic saves on Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Gareth Bale, Peter Crouch, and Jermain Defoe to keep the match drawn nil-nil at halftime.

Spurs spent most of the half without the ball but were able to quickly get into attack with the passing of central midfielders Luka Modric and Tom Huddlestone getting the ball wide to Gareth Bale, with Manchester City finding no answers for the Welsh starlet.  Tottenham would outshot City 5-1 (shots on goal) in the first half.

While City has held 60 percent of the possession, Roberto Mancini's 4-5-1 has led to a lack of strength in their attacking third.  Carlos Tévez has started alone at forward, with David Silva and Shaun Wright-Phillips in wide positions.

But the story of the first half was Hart.  His start over Given was a mild surprise, but Mancini's decision and the young `keeper's play is the only thing that's kept the Citizens in the match.


We Ain't Got No History: Chelsea-West Bromwich Albion EPL Match Preview

Chelsea plays the late match on the English Premier League's Saturday docket, starting their title defense by welcoming newly-re-promoted West Bromwich Albion back to Stamford Bridge. SB Nation's Chelsea FC blog, We Ain't Got No History, has a preview:

Preamble: It's time to kick off this year's Premier League season, and like last year we open up against a relatively small club at home, and should expect a comfortable win. But the Baggies will hardly roll over just because we're anticipating a stroll through the park, and if last year's opener is any indicator of what's to come we could be in for a tight game. Of course, last year was a full year ago and the last few matches at Stamford Bridge have been amongst the most relaxing games in Chelsea history, but we're Chelsea fans and thus supposed to be slightly on edge.

The full match preview can be found in Game Preview: West Bromwich Albion at Chelsea, the first of many at SB Nation's new Chelsea FC blog, We Ain't Got No History.


Off The Bar And Out: Your Opening EPL Weekend Preview

Over at Off the Bar and Out - one of the blogs in the SB Nation Soccer family - Sam Fels gives us a preview of the weekend's action in the English Premier League, including a view of Birmingham City's trip to the Stadium of Light to take on former manager Steve Bruce and Sunderland:

Sunderland v. Birmingham: More than a few have tipped Sunderland to threaten being relegated. They might be a little too solid for that, but with Kenwye Jones shipped off and Darren Bent not fit, a team of scientists may be required to figure out how they're going to score. Especially against a Birmingham side that specialized in keeping things tight last season. Serbian beanpole Nicola Zigic will make his debut in a game that can't possibly feature more than one goal.

Thoughts on all nine weekend matches can be found in Watery Tarts Throwing Swords: Your Opening EPL Weekend Preview at Off the Bar and Out.


Cottagers Confidential: Bolton-Fulham, English Premier League Preview

Amidst the main slate of Saturday matches in the English Premier League is Fulham's first competitive match post-Roy Hodgson.  The Cottages are at the Reebok Stadium playing Bolton Wanderers, and SB Nation's Fulham blog, Cottagers Confidential, has a preview - five keys to victory:

Fulham go into the match with a manager in his first game in charge of the club. They also have the Mark Schwarzer speculation to deal with. However, Fulham bring to the Reebok close to the same team that went to the Europa League Final. This is the beginning of a hopeful season. As I did last year I do my previews with my "keys" to winning. Below are"my 5 keys to victory for Fulham against Bolton"

1. Fulham need to grab the early lead in this match. Fulham have struggled terribly on the road. I think it is vital to get off to a fast start and take control of this match. It is tough to come from behind when you are not at home. I am hoping for a fast start.

Russ Goldman's four other keys to Saturday's match can be found in My Five Keys To Victory For Fulham Against Bolton: Match Preview , one of his latest offerings at Cottagers Confidential.


English Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester City Kick-Off 2010-11 EPL Season

Last season's fourth and fifth place teams in England play Saturday's early match, opening the 2010-11 English Premier League Season.  Manchester City is in London to visit Tottenham Hotspur, the 7:45 a.m. Eastern start.

Roberto Mancini made headlines before the first kick-off with the news that Joe Hart would start in goal over Shay Given.  The Manchester City manager also mildly surprised by starting Emmanuel Adebayor, Adam Johnson and Joleon Lescott on the bench.

Harry Redknapp's surprise was starting Wilson Palacios on the bench, a lineup choice he had been making at the end of last season, electing to play Luka Modric in the middle with Gareth Bale on the left.

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