Monday, August 19, 2013

The Climate Change in the EPL

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

New coaches, new players, new teams, newness galore has brightened the veteran English Premier League in 2013.

There have been changes in broadcasting. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports has been pushed aside and replaced by the new glitzy NBC Sports. Bein, the interloper coming in from the Middle East, has broadcasting rights for the English Champions’ League, LaLiga and Serie A.

The EPL has started with a bang with last year’s champions Manchester United beating up on Swansea. Once again, it was the Van Persie show as his performance demonstrated the valuable nature of his acquisition to Manchester United.

The fate of Wayne Rooney is still to be decided. Rooney came on as a substitute in the second half but it is clear that he would like to relocate to a team where he will again be the “supreme striker”.

Chelsea under the second coming of Jose Mourinho, looked dazzling in the first half and were up by 2-0. They took their foot off the pedal in the second half.

The fortunes of players change depending on the whim and the philosophy of the manager. Under the Mourinho regime, Lampard and Terry are back as starting stalwarts. David Luiz is supposedly hurt and did not play and the rumors persist about his move to Barcelona.

Juan Mata and Demba Ba did not feature and the new Chelsea is overstocked in midfield. This will make it difficult for players like Mikel and Victor Moses to see much time. Some of Chelsea’s excessive baggage will be off loaded before the transfer window closes.

Hull lost 2-0 to Chelsea on their Premier League debut but particularly in the second half, they gave a decent account of themselves. When Liverpool and Huddleston entered the game in the second half, the Hull City squad looked less of a second rate team. The acquisition of the two former Tottenham players should strengthen the Hull squad.

Tottenham without Bale squeezed out a victory against Crystal Palace. The sole goal came in the form of a penalty. Tottenham has a rejuvenated squad with Soldado as the new striker and Paulinho, et al, in midfield. It is apparent that Bale is on his way to Real Madrid and the Bale-less Tottenham will struggle to score goals.

Most of the top tier teams have looked to bolster their roster with new acquisitions except Arsenal. Arsenal lost to Aston Villa 3-1 as they took the lead in the early start of the game and thereafter everything fell apart. The left full back, Gibbs, was hurt and had to leave the field. They gave up two penalties and Koscielny received a second yellow and the unchanged aggregation of yesteryear had to finish the game with ten men.

Arsenal as a club lacks imagination. When one looks at the new talent that Chelsea , Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham have brought in, it becomes clear that Arsenal scouting of players is too limited and lack the outreach of the top tier clubs.

Brandon Rodgers’ Liverpool is a classical example of astute acquisitions. Last season, he went out and acquired Sturridge and Coutinho. Suarez’s future is still up for grabs but he also brought in Kolo Toure to strengthen his back four. When Liverpool plays, it is clear the kind of soccer philosophy that is on display and the players with the dexterity to play that brand of ball. Liverpool also won on their 2013 debut with Sturridge’s goal. Arsenal seems condemned to the wilderness as in recent years they have lost the cream and replaced them with players who are quite mediocre. Wenger is a sad anachronism

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