Manchester City had an uphill task, to go into Newcastle’s ground and beat an ever-improving team. At the end of the first half being scoreless, Manchester United fans found cause to hope.
Mancini in the second half finally came to his senses and took off Nasri, brought on De Jong to play defensive mid-field and that freed up Yaya Toure to play further down the pitch. Aguero, Tevez, Nasri and Silva failed to put Manchester City ahead. It was Yaya Toure who broke the game open and by the time of the final whistle, had carried his team to victory with two goals.
Toure has to be recognized as one of the better mid-field players in the game. He can kick with ferocity, pass adroitly and make penetrating runs that forces defenders on their back heels. One could see the difference in Manchester City’s mid-field when he left for the Africa Cup. Once he returned and recaptured his early season form, Manchester City became the unstoppable force that they had established in the early part of the season. Manchester City poised to win the league.
The F.A. Cup
Chelsea scrambled to a 2-1 win over Liverpool. It was a typical Liverpool performance. They controlled much of the game but racked up one more in the loss column. Dalglich would have enhanced his chances to win the FA cup if he had started Andy Carrol who once inserted in the second half, showed his strength in the air and his ability to score goals.
Chelsea has fared well under Di Matteo. They play Munich on May 19 for the European championship and they have won the FA cup. Under Villas-Boas, the players failed to respond to his behest. He failed in the management of his players.
Under Di Matteo, the entire squad was used and the results have vindicated his managerial capabilities. But under Villas-Boas and under Di Matteo, Chelsea remains a team easily dominated in mid-field. That is because they are actually playing with three in the attack and three in mid-field. With Mata on the field, they are essentially playing with four forwards. With Frank Lampard aging and Mikel with his limited work rate, Chelsea is vulnerable in the midfield.
If Chelsea is going to build on their improved performance, Di Matteo will have to alter that formation.
Wenger’s Woes Continue
Arsenal is poised to finish third in the E.P.L. but they are a team lacking a playmaker, intermittently lackluster in mid-field and unpredictable in defense.
Arsenal’s attack is about speed merchants Walcott, Chamberlain, Gervinho and the wizardry of Van Persie. Rosicky has played up to the best of his ability but that is not good enough. Aaron Ramsey needs to be sent out on loan as since returning from a broken leg, his performance has been disappointing.
Before Arteta’s injury, the mid-field showed signs of coming together. In his absence, the Arsenal midfield has looked innocuous. Arsenal has acquired Podolski and Van Persie can play the “Rooney” role dropping off the striker. But other than Song, there needs to be more steel in midfield.
Wenger has confidence in his younger players but in the highly competitive world of European soccer, you do not reap dividends unless you are willing to invest in the best. Wenger will make profits for the corporation but the trophy cabinet will continue to be bare.