Monday, September 24, 2012

Separating the Sheep from the Goats

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

Teams playing in the Championship European League were forced to do double duty this week. There is a lot of money generated in Championship League football but the grind of playing two games in a couple of days must take a toll on players in terms of injuries, fatigue and mental exhaustion. But in today’s world, professional sports is all about money.

Manchester United vs Liverpool

Liverpool remains in the relegation zone. They lost 2-1 to Manchester United. Before mid-field player, Shelvey was sent off for a dangerous tackle involving Johnny Evans, Liverpool was in control of the game. They were playing Rodger’s style of football but did not count on the referee issuing a red card in the 40th minute and a penalty, which broke a tie game in the second half. The officiating spoiled the exciting encounter and gave Sir Alex’s team three points they did not deserve.

Chelsea vs Stokes

Stokes, despite playing away from home, showed true grit against their rich counterparts. They battled with Chelsea until Ashley Cole broke the impasse late in the second half.

Di Matteo made some changes to his team. Oscar started and both Mata and Hazard were included. Although the two playmakers were side by side, Chelsea experienced difficulty breaking down the stolid Stoke defense. Hazard was not himself and had to be substituted. One wonders if the rigor of playing in two leagues will not affect the play of a gifted playmaker like Hazard. The season is still young and some of the players coming over from Europe have had problems with fatigue.

Arsenal vs Manchester City

Manchester City lost a heart-breaker earlier in the week to Real Madrid. In this game, Arsenal had also defeated Montpellier earlier that week.

The Manchester City vs Arsenal was a good game. David Silva, the Manchester City’s attacking architect has not been himself. Silva played for Spain in Euro 12 and looks far from the player he was last season. Despite all the firepower up front, Manchester City is dependent on Yaya Toure’s penetrating runs and Silva’s silky moves.

Arsenal will be a contender in the EPL. Gervinho is a deft dribbler yet an inept finisher. If he can improve his kicking, that will add to the potency of the Arsenal attack. Giroud is yet to display his goal scoring prowess but Podolski and Cazorla are up to the task of the EPL and gave Arsenal a dimension that they lacked in recent years. These are forwards who are willing to kick from outside the penalty box.

The two teams played to a draw. That was a just score and even though in the past there had been red cards galore, the game was played in the proper spirit and the officiating, unlike what occurred in the Liverpool vs Manchester United, was highly professional.

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