Sunday, September 11, 2011

Arsenal: From the Bottom Up

By Bagga Wilks

Arsenal finally posted a victory in the Premier League edging out the newly promoted Swansea 1-0. The goal that made the difference was a gift given to Arsenal by the Swansea goalkeeper who threw an unexpected ball to his defender which the alert Ashavin intercepted and perceptively put the ball in the back of the net.

This was the new Arsenal with Arteta as the playmaking midfielder and Mertesacker as the eleventh hour imported central defender summoned to marshal a defense below Premier League standards. Vermaelen is hurt again but when he returns the Belgian and the German should make a formidable central defender duo in the English Premier League.

Arsenal played without Gervinho and Alex Song who are serving a three game suspension after being red carded in previous encounters. Frimpong filled in for Song. The new Arsenal will be tested throughout the season. What will be critical is whether the young midfield players like Song, Frimpong, Diaby (when he returns) can move beyond runners to be finishers. The same will apply for the full backs, Gibbs and Sagna.

Arsenal created openings against Swansea but failed to finish decisively. If the new aggregation can cease giving up goals in the late stages of matches and demonstrate the killer-instinct at finishing, then Arsenal can remain if not an elite team, a team that is middle tier and competitive.

Manchester United: Making Mincemeat Out of Lesser Opponents

Last year, it was a truism that on any day in the EPL, any team on any day could emerge triumphant. That might not be the case in 2011-12. Chelsea and Manchester City seem to have moved to another level and should roll over lesser opponents as the season unfolds. In the case of Manchester United, the drubbing given to Arsenal and Bolton indelibly establishes offensive superiority. Manchester United scored 8 against Arsenal and 5 against Bolton.

Rooney when in form is an unstoppable scorer of goals. His style is different from that of Messi or Ronaldo. He is at his best when he is free to roam like a buffalo soldier, striking with lethal passes to his colleagues and finding spaces and angles to score goals in bunches.

Playing with Ashley Young, Welbeck, Nani, Cleverly and Anderson has brought Rooney’s game to another level where he must be regarded as one of the better offensive players in the world of soccer.

Anderson this season is not the young indecisive player he was in yesteryear. He has arrived as a formidable midfield player in the English Premier League. Mano Menezes, the Brazilian coach will have to call Anderson as a starter in Brazil’s mid-field. The extant mid-field is lacking in creativity and Anderson as he has done for Manchester United will make a stark difference in the bumbling Brazilian mid-field.

Three titans have emerged in the EPL, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. As with the clashes that pit Real Madrid vs Barcelona which produces the best of ball in La Liga, when the three titans clash in the EPL, soccer fans will see in living color some of the best soccer drama in the world.

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