Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suarez And Carroll Partnership Blossoms For Liverpool

Luis Suarez never has a bad game. A body of perpetual motion, the Uruguayan's movement and elusiveness remain Liverpool's most dangerous attacking threat. El Pistolero's immensely positive contribution in games are often tinged with slight regrets. He does not score as many goals as he should have, considering the amount of chances he creates game in game out. Having said that, his presence in a Liverpool red alone is worth the admission fee to the match as he gives his all and tries his all for the team and for the fans.

True to form, the wee man, Luis had a major influence against West Brom. His very presence in the Baggies' penalty box frightened the life out of Olsson and forced Jerome Thomas into conceding a penalty. A penalty that allowed the Reds to take early control of the match against their former manager's team.

Adam Johnson's Stunning Strike Glosses Over Citizen's Gritty Win

Mancini and his Manchester City have shown us many sides to their character this season. They are resolute in defence, even without the collossal Nigel de Jong. City have shown that they are not content to sit back on a lead. They have served up game after game of excellent attacking football, never resting but always probing. And against Wolves, they showed that they can be patient, they confirmed that they have believe in themselves and more importantly, City proved that they too know how to win while playing "ugly".

This match against Wolves at home, was supposed to be the crowning glory of an excellent week as Mancini's City came back expecting to bask in the adoration of their fans. Unfortunately, Wolves proved tougher to subdue with Welsh No. 1 Wayne Hennessey equal to everything that Aguero, Silva, Nasri and Dzeko threw at him.

In the end, Manchester City had to wait before they scored their customary three goals against Premier League opposition. Adam Johnson racing all the way from defence, collected a pass from Yaya and fired home a 20-yard curler past the Wolves keeper.

Captain Vantastic's Derby Hattrick Makes It 29 Out Of 28

A high scoring game was not something that I had expected from a Chelsea-Arsenal derby match. Then again I had forgotten that Arsenal does not know how to defend this season nor did I remember that Chelsea has yet to keep a clean sheet this season. And so, we were treated to an eight-goal slugfest in which the Blues and the Gunners went after each other blow-for-blow until that defining John Terry slip. If blame throwing would be allowed, Florent Malouda's right foot must take sole responsibility for this heavy Chelsea defeat.

And so Arsenal's inspirational Captain Vantastic struck a much deserved hat-trick against their London rivals. He also scored his 29th goal in 28 matches, a remarkable record huh? He must surely be the most in-form striker in the Premiership, ahead of even Kun Aguero and Super Mario. The flying Dutchman has had so many injuries in the last two seasons, we had forgotten just how good he really is. This season RVP's goals has lifted Arsenal from the bottom three into seventh place.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Manchester United In For A City Mauling?

Sir Alex Ferguson, in retrospect, bottled it at Anfield last weekend. In contrast, Roberto Mancini decided to freshen up after the international break and Manchester City got their just reward. It is the "noisy neighbours" who are stepping onto the "prawn-sandwiched" 75,000 capacity-filled Theatre of Dreams as the Premier League leaders.

United starts and finishes all their games strongly. Their movement and quick passing right from the get-go, often forces the opposing teams to make mistakes. The Red Devils also finishes matches very well. No team in the Premier League (bar Liverpool two seasons ago) has ever come back from losing positions more times than the "comeback kings" of Manchester United. This is reflected by their 22 goals scored at the 0-30 mins and 66-90 mins period.

City has a more controlled game, a bit like an Italian team. Their patient buildup play usually stretches defenses and creates numerous goal mouth opportunities. The Citizens have scored 19 goals between the match periods of 31-75 mins, showing that they kill off the opposing teams while able to conserve energy in preparation of the next game.

Both teams have been playing football that is exciting, full of flair and entertaining to watch. The Manchester Derby has been highly charged in the recent seasons and this meeting at Old Trafford will have the added significance of Premiership leadership at stake.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Talismanic Robin Van Persie

When Robin Van Persie stalled on his Arsenal contract talks earlier in the month, there were tremors felt everywhere. Clubs were perking up their ears, waiting for new development. Arsenal fans were quaking....dismayed that yet another "home-grown" star is on the verge of leaving. Arsenal has not been known to keep their stars with huge wage packages and therefore it will not be hard to imagine the departure of the Dutch star come end of this season. After all, Arsenal in recent times, have turned into a selling club, more intent to balance finances than winning silverware.

It has been frustrating times for RVP. Hardly fit last season, he has been in sterling form in this campaign. The one bright spark for Arsenal all season, Van Persie was Arsenal's talisman again against a stubborn Sunderland at The Emirates. His two goals put the gloss on an indifferent and difficult Arsenal performance as Sunderland worked extremely hard to thwart the famed Gunners' short passing game.

Arsenal still look shaky in defence, even with the addition of Mertesacker and Andre Santos. Sessegnon had an excellent game tormenting the whole of the Arsenal backline but his efforts were let down by a lack of adventure from his Black Cats' team mates.

Are We Finally Seeing the Mature Super Mario?

Mario Balotelli is knuckling down to life in the Premier League. How else can you explain two accomplished performances in his two latest outings? Scoring goals has always been easy for the Italian, his attitude has always been questioned. This season, however, he has let his boots do the talking.

With Tevez sulking, Aguero injured and Dzeko returning from international duty, Super Mario made his second successive appearance in Man City colours. He repaid Mancini's faith in him with a goal and looked to be the one player capable of unlocking the Villan defence. If anyone can get the best out of the temperamental Italian, it is his old Inter boss who knows Balotelli better than anyone.

Balotelli have learned from his earlier outbursts and now is contributing to Manchester City's relentless pursuit of the Premier League title. Although City have had fairly easy opposition (apart from Spurs), their attacking play has been breathtaking and the likes of Aguero, Dzeko and Balotelli have to be credited for making the Blues an awesome attacking unit

Chicharito Breaks Anfield Reds Hearts

I don't know what Sir Alex Ferguson was thinking, but he showed no respect for Liverpool by fielding an understrength lineup. No Nani, no Rooney, no Hernandez and no Anderson. By playing two defensive midfielders in Fletcher and Jones, Liverpool should and could have done a lot better than just a draw. The return of Steven Gerrard was the focus of the match and though he wasn't quite the marauding midfield giant of previous seasons, he was still our Steven Gerrard. He started the match as the most advanced of the midfielders and ended it playing as a defensive midfielder.

The first half was rather lethargic which could be expected considering the heavy international schedule last week. The match could have been so much more interesting had Luis Suarez scored instead of shooting straight at De Gea. Kenny Dalglish left Andy Carroll out of the starting lineup which seemed like a poor decision, given the quality of Steven Gerrard's corners and crosses. I would put my money on Carroll scoring if it was he and not Henderson's head had met Downing's delicious injury-time cross.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Manchester City Shows Strength In Depth While Berbatov Blows Bubbles

Roberto Mancini had learned from the Fulham lesson and as David Platt said, Mancini freshened up his team after the Champions League defeat at Munich. He rang in changes for the match against Blackburn and the replacements repaid his faith in them by scoring four goals against Rovers.

Mario Balotelli, Samir Nasri and Adam Johnson together with David Silva were the difference in another routine match for the Citizens. Everytime Adam Johnson plays, he always makes an impression on those who watch him. Fabio Capello obviously feels the same way as I did since he selected Johnson for the England squad.

With Tevez and Dzeko benched for their Munich outburst, Balotelli took his chance and produced another excellent performance. He even afforded a smile after his goal, and this is a player who does not celebrate goals. Mancini has got the Premier League's most talented squad and he must utilise its potential to its fullest advantage.

Dirk Kuyt's Vision Created Andy Carroll's Derby Goal

My buddy, Ed and I continued our almost weekly dissection of Liverpool's weekend performance after a friendly game of indoor futsal. Now Ed is a guy with a rather thought provoking mind. While we were both thrilled that "The Beast" Andy Carroll opened his Premier League account this season with a brilliant derby goal, he remarked how Dirk Kuyt's excellent run and "dummy" duck created the room for Carroll to rifle the ball past Tim Howard.

That got me thinking. Did the Dutchman know what he was doing when he ducked under the ball as Enrique cut the ball back from the byline? Or was it just that the ball was hit at a speed that Kuyt had no choice but to avoid contact with the ball? I watched again the video replay of Carroll's first goal for Liverpool to make up my mind. In the lead up to the goal, Kuyt ran to the near post taking Distin with him, he knew Carroll was centrally placed, showed great vision by avoiding the ball, allowing Carroll to pick his spot with a sweet left footed finish.

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