Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The EPL’s Big Bang

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks
Soccer fans are known for their age-old loyalty to their respective teams. That loyalty remains unchanged. But sports has become more of a cut-throat business. Management has no loyalty to players and players have no loyalty to management or fans.

A professional footballer has a limited time to make big bucks. Once that age has passed, the earning power can resort to zero. Management is eager to replace players who are suspected to be over the hill.

Arsenal develops players and once the opportunity arises for ‘fatter’ contracts, youngsters who were groomed under the system, readily jump ship. In the last two seasons in the Premier League, Arsenal has had snatched under Wenger’s watch, premier players of the caliber of Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy, Van Persie and Song. Arsenal, bereft of Van Persie in the 2012 season, is yet to score a goal and Van Persie in his first start for Manchester United, tallied for his new club.

The EPL is off to a sensational start. Swansea looks like an improved team in 2012. West Ham United looks bound for relegation. Liverpool is still sorting out its pattern under the new manager. Tottenham’s woes of 2011 have continued into 2012. One wonders how long AVB will survive. Manchester United was shocked by Everton in the Opener and thrashed Fulham in their second encounter.

Manchester City is struggling to get back their chemistry as they managed to rally to beat newly promoted Southampton in the opener and barely emerged with a draw playing away against Liverpool.

Chelsea has started with a bang. They beat Wigan in their opener, did the same to Reading and last weekend, easily defeated the disappointing Newcastle.

The new Chelsea has discarded some of its old guard like Drogba and Anelka and has acquired playmakers Hazard and Oscar. Torres is the striker at the helm and has thus far combined well with the Belgian, Hazard.

What has been striking about this season is the search and acquisition of playmakers. Arsenal brought in Cazorla. Chelsea brought in Hazard to conduct the symphony. Manchester United acquired Kagawa as their wizard in mid-field.

Manchester City is hoping that David Silva will recapture his 2011 form which has eluded him thus far for the new season.

Some teams are out of the blocks faster than others. Most teams have played two games. There are 36 more to go and the avoidance of injuries to key players will determine who will finish in the last four to qualify for the coveted championship league. As the old adage states, the race is not for the swift but for those who can endure it to the end.

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