Monday, November 28, 2011

Ball Harambee Nov. 28

Liverpool Slows the Manchester Train By Bagga Wilks

Manchester City before clashing with Liverpool seemed to have the weaponry to crush all their rivals. But Dalglish’s Reds held them to a draw. Liverpool’s performance was so herculean that were it not for some spectacular goalkeeping by Joe Hart down the stretch, Liverpool would have emerged victorious.

Liverpool attacked with speed and with purpose. Suarez, as is per usual, troubled Lescott and Kompany. Liverpool won every 50/50 ball and played with greater intensity.

Manchester City having played in the Champions League early that week, lacked spark. Yaya Toure was not his usual energetic self. Silva failed to be mesmerizing and Aguero was ordinary. Nasri was substituted in the second half as Mancini sought to get some spark from Balotelli. Balotelli was in the game for only a few minutes before trigger happy Martin Atkinson gave him two yellows. Balotelli had reverted to his infantilism.

Manchester United also played in the Champions League. Nonetheless, they deserved more than a draw in their match against Newcastle. In the last 15 minutes of the game, they swarmed all over Newcastle but just could not find the second goal to put Newcastle away. But what made matters worse is that the replays showed clearly that the penalty given to Newcastle from a well-timed tackle by Ferdinand was a clean tackle.

Arsenal is not in a position to drop points as they started the season so poorly. Again showing the wear and tear of playing early in the week in the Champions League, they could only manage a come from behind draw with Fulham. Fulham was the only team before Liverpool to hold Manchester City to a draw. Fulham does not score that many goals but they are a robust running, tackling team that leaves everything on the field after ninety minutes.

Arsene Wenger game Arshavin a start and an opportunity to show why he should be in an Arsenal shirt after the January transfer deadline. What is clear with the Arsenal team is that the wellspring of creativity stems from Gervinho. Only when Gervinho replaced Arshavin did Arsenal arise from their slumber. Van Persie is a deadly marksman. Walcott is electric but Gervinho is the straw that stirs the drink.

Chelsea played during the week but they had the lowly-placed Wolves as their opponent. Chelsea ran the wolves out of the forest and built back some confidence. That victory takes some pressure off Villas-Boas. Romeu had his first start as Chelsea’s defensive mid-fielder and played with maturity despite his youth. Mata is a savvy playmaker and Sturridge is showing his worth as a goal scorer. David Luiz played for ninety minutes without cracking up and one hopes that Villas-Boas is having a calming influence on the Brazilian. Chelsea had a downhill ride this week. Let us see if they can find the gears when they have to ride uphill against formidable opponents.

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