Monday, November 21, 2011

Ball Harambee Nov. 21

The Unmanageable City by Bagga Wilks

Newcastle United before clashing with Manchester City was not only an undefeated team but one that was playing above expectations. Playing against Manchester City, they lacked the fire that they had displayed from the commencement of the season. Their strength was not their talent base but their willingness to pressure the ball for ninety minutes. They did get a consolation goal but the Manchester City giants reduced Newcastle to eleven dwarfs.

We are still a few weeks from the half-way mark of the EPL, but if past is prologue, then Manchester City will march to the championship of the EPL in grand style.

Mancini has to be judged the coach of the year. Their defensive form has been solid since the season began. The mid-field with Yaya Toure has been a torrid force and with Balotelli, Aguero and playmaker David Silva, they score goals in bunches.

Arsenal vs Norwich

Arsenal creates chances in bunches but scores goals spasmodically. With the superb finishing of Van Persie, the Arsenal attack which includes Gervinho and Walcott, has demonstrated their potency. Both Gervinho and Walcott are capable of dazzling defenses. What they need going forward is to finish like their skipper, Van Persie.

Arsenal problematic is not up front but is in their mid-field. They have three competent mid-fielders in Song, Ramsey and Arteta. The question is that Arteta and Ramsey are similar players. Arsenal needs a runner in mid-field and an attacking mid-field player that is more penetrating than Ramsey or Arteta. They beat Norwich quite easily and have put together five back-to-back victories.

Chelsea vs Liverpool

Arsenal’s back four has looked better since Vermaelen’s return but Chelsea’s back four continues to look shaky. The Liverpool/Chelsea match was a game of two halves. Liverpool had Chelsea mesmerized for the first 45 minutes but only got the go-ahead goal because of a defensive error by Mikel, the defensive mid-fielder.

Villas-Boas made some changes in the second half. Mikel was taken out, Sturridge brought in and Mata moved to the center of the pitch. Malouda who has been re-discovered by the coach, had a sensational second-half and it was not long before Chelsea equalized from a Malouda run and a cross and a tap in by Sturridge.

Liverpool in the second half was playing like an electrical car that was running on low voltage. Chelsea was all over Dalglish Reds but could not get the go ahead goal. Against the run of play, Glen Johnson who is back to top form after his injury, won the game for Liverpool with a scintillating solo effort where he left the Chelsea’s defense spread-eagled and placed a shot passed the outstretched hands of Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Cere.

The Blues lost and are still searching for the right combination. This is a difficult task for a young coach with a demanding boss and a team with an abundance of mercurial personalities.

Manchester United vs Swansea

Ferguson’s problems are not dissimilar from that of Villas-Boas. Manchester United took 3 points from Swansea but it was not in the normal convincing Manchester United manner. For the match against Swansea, Sir Alex brought in Giggs and Park and had Rooney and Hernandez up front. Manchester United looks disjointed and the just promoted Swansea looked more comfortable on the ball. If Swansea had taken their chances, the score line could have been different.

The scramble below Manchester City will get even more intense among those vying to play in the UEFA league next year. There is still a lot of sorting out to be done, as the English would say.

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