Monday, February 25, 2013

Arsenal & Chelsea: Searching for the Right Fix

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

From the opening whistle to the final whistle, Mancini’s Manchester City outplayed Benitez’s Chelsea. Benitez didn’t come with a match plan and Manchester City dominated mid-field for the first twenty minutes. The Chelsea manager failed to make an adjustment.

Last season, Yaya Toure came back from the African Cup somewhat fatigued. This year before going, he looked like a spent force. This year, Toure returned from the African Cup rejuvenated. In the match up against Chelsea, the Ivorian gave his best performance for the season. He scored in the second half after Frank Lampard had missed a penalty.

Yaya Toure is a well paid mid-fielder and demonstrated on Sunday why he is regarded as one of the better mid-field players in the world. When he and David Silva are clicking, City becomes a formidable offensive force. Aguero was not at his best in this most crucial of games. When Tevez joined the fray in the second half, he showed his worth as his strike put City up 2-0. That was match and game.

What ails Chelsea? They performed like players who are not well paid and nothing is at stake. Juan Mata, their playmaker, was missing. Lampard was outplayed in mid-field. Chelsea in big games lack chemistry. On the field, they appear leaderless.

Manchester City ran all over them. Ramires did not play well. And when Benitez made a change and brought in Victor Moses and Oscar, both failed to have an impact on the game. Chelsea has an abundance of talent and a wealth of resources but their season is a reflection of their purchase of Torres for $50 million. Money has been squandered and the owner will have to recognize that greatness is not achieved overnight but through steadfastness and sticking with a coach who, over the years, hopefully sooner not later, will be able to synchronize the abundance of talent.

Arsenal and Chelsea are sailing in similar boats. The boats are experiencing choppy waters. In the case of Arsenal, the boat is not yet sinking but it is taking in water.

Arsenal was trashed Bayern Munich at home in the first leg of the UEFA Champion’s League 3-1. They barely pulled out an eleventh hour victory against Aston Villa this past weekend.

The newly acquired playmaker, Cazorla, came alive in this game and netted a pair of goals. Arsenal has slipped from the days of Henry, Viera and Berkamp. The players acquired over the summer are still adjusting to the rigors of the EPL. As in yesteryear, Arsenal’s defense is porous. With the departure of Alex Song, there is no specialist defensive mid-fielder and the only creativity in mid- field is Wilshire.

Arsenal’s acquisitions have panned out to be duds. And the young players on the farm are still struggling with their development. Whither Wenger? He is a coach who has lost his luster. He achieved greatness many moons ago. He should exit graciously. Wenger is now ready for Arsenal’s wax museum.

No comments: