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16 and 17 jan BPL reactions

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Reviews of yesterday’s matches: Stoke City 1-1 Liverpool Again, this match substantiates the fact that Liverpool have completely reversed their trend and now they always score first before being pegged back by their opposition. Gone are the days when they would concede goals in the first half before staging a miraculous and legendary comebacks. Another fact would be that I was right in my last post that in this match (which was the next match after the Reading debacle), Rafa Benitez is still Liverpool’s boss and that Lucas is in their starting line up. Both were correct, and one more fact is that (why my Liverpool posts always sound like the Rafa Rant?) identical to the Reading match, Liverpool failed to impose an attacking mentality against a supposedly weaker team and they duly paid the appropriate price for the cowardice tactic which was evident in their midfield, in which there was Javier Mascherano and King Lucas, the latter an absolute automatic choice even if he scores 10 own goals in the previous match. Again, Benitez should have employed a more attacking approach to “stoke” Stoke right from the start of the match and build early lead, and that is how big teams should approach matches with smaller teams and gain the 3 points. Granted, Benitez did not have many options to employ the aforementioned attacking approach as I assume Ryan Babel will not feature in a Liverpool shirt anymore forever (and that’s how long the Benitez tenure would last!) especially after the recent reported twitter debacle, and even if it was only a media hoax to chase deadlines, it is widely known that Babel and Benitez already have a strained relationship. However, it was a total criminal to favour Benitez’s favorite son Lucas while condemning the supposed Messiah from Madrid on the bench! Even though Maxi Rodriguez would be having his first ever taste of English football, I dare say that he would have much more impact than Lucas, and probably a fairytale debut for him and perhaps he would have relieved and put a smile across millions of Liverpool faithfuls across the globe. It was a crime to start the incompetent and ineffectual Lucas while ignoring Maxi Rodriguez. At least, he should have gambled by starting Maxi Rodriguez rather than sticking to a failed and incompetent player in which the end result is known, which is ZERO, and perhaps for last night, collecting a nice, shiny, yellow colored card! Another player which could have been thrust to action would be Albert Riera, instead of the more defensive minded Philip Degen. Actually, when the much maligned Sotiris Kyrgiakos scored the goal which broke thee duck yesterday, it somehow put a tingle of chill down my spine as well as guilt. The main reason is because I had been carried away in my previous post by the media bashing of Liverpool after their exit from the FA Cup and predicted Liverpool to go down easily to Stoke, but when the goal was scored, it harshly reminded me and perhaps many more that Liverpool is always at their best when they are pinned down and they seem to draw power from the flak and all the bashing they get from the media and it was only fitting that Kyrgiakos was to score the goal. But then, we have to remember that Liverpool has swapped their trend as well as their luck with Arsenal, in which Liverpool is now the team which scores first before throwing everything away later on. Stoke left it very late when Robert Huth scored the equalizing goal right at the death, and Liverpool was left to taste their own medicine which they administered so ruthlessly to their opponents in the past (West Ham and AC Milan fans, you guys know this better than most). Once again, two invaluable points have been dropped -it could have been three had Rory Delap not injured early in the match- and Liverpool continue their free fall, and besides luck, ruthlessness, and never-say-die attitude, they have lost their place In the elite group of Barclays Premier League, as well as the dominant status in Merseyside, and Everton’s victory against Man City, sums it up in te best way possible, in which there’s a shift of balance of power in Merseyside as well as in the Barclays Premier League. Liverpool fans, get over with it, the Premier League is in transition and after being dominated by Arsenal, Man Utd, and Liverpool, this is time the Prmeier League has new faces in its elite group, such as Tottenham, Man City, and Everton. Out with the old, and in with the new. Chelsea 7-2 Sunderland Another of those 9+ goal thrillers besides the Tottenham match against Wigan. Many people including myself had doubts about Chelsea’s capabilities in securing the maximum three points prior to this match mainly due to the fact that they were without their crucial key players such as Didier Drogba and Michael Essien who are currenly away in the African Nations Cup, and compounded by the inability of Petr Cech to keep clean sheets (not that it matters anymore due to the final score). Again, add to the contrasting away form of Sunderland in comparison to the Bent-infused home form as well as the Kenwyne Jones transfer speculations, all of those factors would blend nicely to produce a draw. However, we have to get this in our heads, if we are not already by now, that Chelsea is simply pure class at home. They win at home, and that’s a fact, and a mentality fostered solidly during the reign of Jose Mourinho, and lest we forget that the core and in fact almost all of the current Chelsea players are the same players under Mourinho at that time and it is not surprised that their mentality and the aura of home invincibility is still intact even after the Portuguese have left Chelsea for some time by now and even have infused this mentality on Inter Milan. In any case, Chelsea proved that there’s life even if everyone has condemned Chelsea to mediocrity without their African players, and that we are all reminded that Chelsea has a squad which is very strong and has depth to cope not only with African Nations Cup, but even to the worst of injury crisis . It also serves us to remember that players in Chelsea are ready to take on the burden of the roles of the other such as how Ballack took on the mantle of Essien in dominating the midfield and chipping in with the occassional goals while Anelka took on dual roles as himself and as Didier Drogba successfully and efficiently. Assuming that they carry on with this form, even if it’s only at home, it would be certain that the BPL trophy will be decorated by blue ribbons this summer and it would certainly go a long way in proving people wrong that the BPL is a boring league no thanks to the recent Manchester United hegemony. Manchester United 3-0 Burnley The extreme thrashing that Burnley was tipped to be at the end of in Old Trafford did not materialize, even though nevertheless, the Red Devils came out top in a convincing, albeit seemingly, in a 3-0 victory. Seemingly convincing because we have to remember that Man Utd is a very solid team in Old Trafford and it is the “Theatre of Nightmares” for visiting teams as even if they are able to give the hosts a fight, they have to endure all the way to the end of the match, especially with the presence of “Fergie Time” likely to cause any team to collapse at the end. Couple this with the fact that Burnley is always burned away from Turf Moor, and they are just not burned away, but they let in more goals than how a fishing net would let in water pass through them. That’s how bad Burnley is away from home, and we have to remember as well that Man Utd fielded their strongest team yesterday which included Rooney, Valencia, and Evra to name three and a 3-0 victory against Burnley at home was not that convincing for Man Utd, but at least Man Utd fans could borrow a phrase coined by Mourinho, “I don’t care, a win is a win”. Indeed, Man Utd fans, just say that when the BPL trophy has to leave Old Trafford this summer. All in all, this relatively narrow margin of victory against a hapless Burnley team is not known whether it was due to the “new manager effect” of the newly arrived Brian Laws (who?) or it is because of Man Utd’s continuing recent slump of form. I would like to think that it is the mixture of both. Man Utd’s slump of form failing to get them more goals for a convincing and glorious thrashing and the new manager effect which somehow strengthened the team to thwart the barrages of attack from Man Utd. In short, it was the gulf of class that prevailed. Tottenham vs Hull City 0-0, but it was not a drab and insomnia curing draw between two overly cautious team (a la Juventus vs Milan 2003 Champs League Final). This is the kind of draw one would experience at least a few times in one’s stint in the famous Football Manager game, and in this case, the team which is in control of the player is Tottenham. I think by now, FM players who read this have got the point, but I will explain anyways. This draw is one in which one team -which is Spurs in this case- which dominates the other in all aspects of the game and the only thing missing is the goals and the man of the match is the opposing goalkeeper. This is a very frustrating draw in FM, and I believe even more so for Harry Redknapp. Spurs had 63% possession, 30 shots (11 on goal), and had a whopping 14 corner kicks. The heroic of Boaz Myhill thwarting every single cannonball fired by Spurs proved to be the decisive factor in this match. I could sympathize with Mr. Redknapp, as the pain must be much greater in real life than in Football Manager, which was already very painful when I experienced it in the game. Wolves 0-2 Wigan Nothing much to say for this game besides this game being a relegation scrap in which the winner could be one of the two teams, but for this particular case, it was nevertheless an open attacking game, and the fact that Wigan players have more Premier League experience over the Wolves players won the game for the Latics. Everton 2-0 Man City Again, this is an even match between two resurgence blue teams in their respective cities which have recently staking solid claims in replacing their respective red shirted arch-rivals. Just like the previous match, this match could go either way. However, Everton hogged all the glory and the points from this match is because we have to realize that Man City is dreadful away from the comforts of the City of Manchester Stadium, and this is a disease which is carried away even after Mark Hughes has been replaced with Roberto Mancini, this was evident in how Robinho was only 1/10 of what he is capable of in Manchester, again a chronic disease which was the main factor in Hughes getting the sack. Even with the fact that Roberto Mancini has seemingly put things right, it is pertinent to remember that all those victories might just be a false dawn as all those victories were notched at home and the only away match I could remember of was none other than the unconvincing 1-0 victory in Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium and I would think of it as a victory in gulf of class rather than a convincing away performance by the Citizens. When they are exposed to a hostile away environment such as yesterday in Goodison Park, they simply collapsed and as soon as the next home game arrives, the better for Man City to rebuild their shattered confidence back on track and gives Mancini a breathing space -which is extremely scarce in Man City- to think about how to solve the problem of his players, especially Robinho and Tevez, whose skills deteriorate to only 1/10 remaining in away matches. Another problem would be that all those previous victories were simply the honeymoon period and the “new manager effect” of Roberto Mancini, and unfortunately for Man City fans across the globe, the honeymoon period is over, marked by the demolition job of Blackburn, although I would still expect Man City to excel in their next home game, but like it or not, the tough time starts from here and now it is up to Mancini to formulate a concrete strategy on how to rectify this problem and get the momentum and form, at least to be close to the honeymoon period, back as soon as possible, and mainly to rectify the “Homesickness” disease facing his players, and that’s what he was hired for. Otherwise, we would see yet a new face in Man City’s white hot seat probably even before summer starts, and all of us Man City fans could say goodbye to Champions League Football next season, and of course forget about decorating the BPL trophy with sky blue ribbons. What makes it crucial for Roberto Mancini to weave his magic on City as soon as possible is that, another sacking would mean more instability to the club, and this means that Man City would be back to square one or even dropping down a notch, and this could spark a players’ revolt and mind you, this time they might not stay on at the club! To add insult to injury to Man City fans, each sacking would only push Sir Alex Ferguson closer towards his aim of outlasting 20 Man City managers in his Man Utd career!

Written by cp

17/01/2010 at 11:55

Posted in Uncategorized

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