Monday, January 14, 2013

January and the African Exodus

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

Manchester City, trailing Manchester United by seven points, faced the once mighty Arsenal devoid of YaYa Toure tour de force in mid-field and Kolo Toure’s sometime presence as a substitute central defender, came along with 2-0 victory and coveted 3 points.

Arsenal is mired in a quizzical state of stagnation. In two years they have lost five world class players and replaced them with “so-so” players. Not long into the Arsenal vs Manchester City game, Koscielny was issued a red card as he prevented Dzeko from scoring with a wrestling tackle. Arsenal was condemned to play the juggernautish City with ten men.

Down 2-0, Arsenal gave a better account of themselves in the second half. Young Wilshire was his old penetrating self. The injury-prone Diaby returned and played sixty minutes without sustaining another injury. To return to form, Diaby needs time on the pitch.

Arsenal will not bring any new players in the transfer market. A player like Falcao would be a great addition but Wenger and the Arsenal management are not risk takers. All signs point to Arsenal ending this season below fourth place and losing money by not qualifying for the lucrative UEFA Championship League.

Brandon Rogers Reconstruction of Liverpool

Liverpool is in the throes of a makeover and is still far below the elite clubs. They acquired Daniel Sturridge in the January market and he did not start but came on in the second half and finished off a goal after a well struck ball by their skipper, Gerrard. Liverpool’s mid-field is quite ordinary and Garrick, Cleverly and Welbeck simply out-wizard them in the first half.

Even before the whistle blew to start the game, we knew that Skertel and Agger could not contain Van Persie who opened the scoring with a Van Persie-like finish. Evra scored the second goal from a Van Persie free kick, the 5 ft. 8 in. defender leaping above the opposition. That was his fifth goal for the season, quite a remarkable record for a left back.

Rogers lost much of Johnson’s ability by starting him at left full back. Johnson is not as effective going forward from the left side as he is from the right side. Their leading goal scorer, Suarez, was not a factor in the game. The substitutions that Rogers made to the Liverpool team did not change the game. He took off Sterling and kept Downing in the game and Downing has the distinction of playing for ninety undistinguished minutes.

QPR vs Tottenham

Harry Redknapp faced his old club and for ninety minutes for the first time this season kept Tottenham scoreless. Queens Park Rangers managed a point but remained poised for relegation. Mark Hughes was a disaster as a manager but old Harry used some old tricks to extract the best from his new team since his debut. Sean Wright-Phillips has returned to form and the team is defensively less porous. Harry has a steep hill to climb for Queens Park Rangers to avoid relegation.

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