Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks
Manchester City at home has become an unstoppable offensive machine. Playing against the League leaders, Arsenal, Manchester City tallied six times to the visitor’s three.
Arsenal’s defenders have kept forwards at bay but against Manchester City, the Arsenal back four looked porous especially when Koscielny had to leave the pitch hurt and was replaced by the out of form Vermaelen. What made matters worse was that Kieran Gibbs was out and replaced by Monreal.
Arsenal has benefited greatly from the play of Aaron Ramsey on both sides of the ball but for the last two games Ramsey has been missing in action.
Giroud has been their offensive spark but on Saturday Giroud was off his game. If he had converted half of his chances, the result would have been more competitive.
Fernandinho and Toure bossed the midfield as Fernandinho scored a brace and Toure for the ninety minutes kept making passes that dissected Arsenal’s back four.
David Silva returned from an injury and his passes and runs made it a mesmerizing afternoon for the League leaders who may be faltering. If Manchester can transfer the scoring machine to the away games, they will be contenders going down to the wire.
Tottenham vs Liverpool
Liverpool is one of the more impressive attacking teams in the English Premier League. In the first half against Tottenham, they dazzled the tottering spurs and were comfortably ahead 2-0 at half time.
Liverpool has been a first half team for most of the season and, true to form, they faded in the second half. In the first ten minutes of the second half, Tottenham began to take control of the game. A stupid foul by the Brazilian Paulinho against the Uruguayan, Suarez, led to Paulinho being given a red card.
Tottenham was down to ten men and Liverpool was able to re-establish ascendancy. Playing without Gerard and Sturridge, Liverpool scored five goals with Suarez again displaying why he must be considered one of the best strikers in the world, in the same class as Aguero and Van Persie.
Tottenham and Andre Vilas Boas are still in a state of befuddlement as the season marks the half-way mark. The link connecting the defense, the midfield and the forwards is out of “sync”. The transition game is clumsy and impotent. The Bale money is yet to pay the anticipated dividends.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa
David Moyes’ Manchester United tallied three times against Aston Villa. This should boost United’s confidence. The performance of Rooney, Welbeck and Valencia was admirable. The old chemistry is coming back.
Manchester United seems to be getting it all together. What was most heartening was the return of Darren Fletcher who has been out for almost a year with a stomach ailment. With the expected return of Carrick, Manchester United’s midfield should be less problematic.
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace
Every game for Chelsea is chore-like. They won at home against Crystal Palace but Chelsea is not playing good attacking football.
Hazard is the bright light in the attacking third. Torres is willing but he is not in the class of the top strikers in the EPL. Mata’s play is not what it was last season as his form and confidence have been affected by the early season treatment by Mourinho. Willian is rising to the task but Chelsea lacks effective wing play down the flanks.
Ramires remains the workhorse in midfield and scored the winning goal. If Ramires can improve his shooting, that will be a big boost for Chelsea. Too much of the offense is centered around Ivanovic who is not a good “crosser” of the ball.
The team reflects Mourinho’s strength and weakness as a coach. Nevertheless, he gets results yet the modern game is leaving the Mourinho’s of the world behind.