Monday, August 8, 2011

The Manchester Derby

By Bagga Wilks

Both Manchester teams have made moves to improve their respective squads. Mancini of Manchester City still thinks he needs two or three more players to round out his squad while Sir Alex made his moves early and spent the pre-season integrating the new players into his squad.

In the Community Shield game on Sunday, August 7, 2011, the match-up between Manchester City and Manchester United was a preview of what we can expect from the EPL for the 2011-2012 season. Chelsea with their new coach Vilas-Boas has also been busy filling in gaps in their over laden squad. Arsenal seems likely to start the season much weaker than the previous season. Rather than gaining key players, Arsenal is poised to lose key players. Clichy is gone, Fabregas is partly out the door and Nasri’s future is undecided.

The big Serbian, Dzeko, showed his worth when he picked up a dribble and from outside the box, let loose a scorcher that beat the new Manchester United goalkeeper. That spectacular goal put Manchester City in front with a comfortable 2-0 lead at half time.

The game was far from over as Manchester United aggregation of Rooney, Young, Welbeck, Anderson and Nasri discombobulated the usual impregnable Manchester City’s defensive line. Smalling scored a header from an Ashley Young spot kick and a combination of passes from Cleverly, Welbeck, Roooney and Nasri ended up with Nasri tying the score. In the last minute of the encounter, it was the Nasri show as he outhustled Kompany and dribbled around the keeper to give his team the 3-2 victory.

The chemistry of the Manchester United players will only get better as the season progresses. Welbeck and Cleverly have been out on loans and they have returned to their host club with renewed confidence and maturity. Ashley Young was quite an acquisition and Anderson with the retirement of Scholes seems all set to be the ball maestro in center field. And then there is the balding but not aging Rooney, playing behind the striker, working his intermittent magic. The only possible weakness is the replacement of Van de Saar. The goalkeepers in the wings will be in need of protection from the likes of Evra, Smalling, Vidic and Ferdinand. I would not be surprised that the youngster, Phil Jones could wrest the starting position as central defender from the oft-injured and aging Ferdinand.

Manchester United are the defending EPL champions. Barcelona showed in the Champion League Final that they were a cut above Manchester United. This year, Manchester United is an improved team and should be far more competitive against Barcelona if fate brings the two teams to the Champion League final in the 2012 season.

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