Liverpool gave up ball possession to Southampton but their deadly counter-attacks gave them the coveted three points to leap above Arsenal and to sit in second place behind leaders Chelsea.
Rodgers opted to strengthen his mid-field so he left out Raheem Sterling and inserted Joe Allen. Liverpool was down to two Ss, Sturridge and Suarez, and not far into the first half, Suarez registered his twenty-fourth goal. Sturridge failed to score but whenever Liverpool went on the attack, both Suarez and Sturridge looked threatening.
Rodgers replaced Coutinho with Sterling in the second half and almost immediately Suarez run led to a cross in the box for Sterling to make it 2-0. Suarez leads the league in goals but he is the most difficult forward to mark when he is in the penalty area with his unpredictable turns and cutbacks. In stoppage time, he turned around a Southampton defender forcing him to give up a penalty which Gerard converted to make it 3-0.
The Brendan Rodgers aggregation has a good chance of winning the EPL title in 2014. Irrespective of their fortunes for 2014, Liverpool is a team for the future. Suarez is the veteran though still in his twenties and players like Sterling, Sturridge, Coutinho and Henderson are still babes in the woods when it comes to professional ball. What is missing is another mature central defender. Liverpool could also use a workhorse in mid-field playing ahead of Gerrard. There are eleven more games to play in the EPL and many entail the contenders playing each other when the coveted trophy is on the line. Manchester City is Triumphant
The Capital Cup was the personification of the competitiveness in the English Premier League. The cup final at Wembley brought together a team at the top of the tables and one fighting to thwart relegation Sunderland played with great gusto and at the end of the first half led the great Manchester City 1-0. In the second half, class trumped intensity. Yaya Toure evened the score with a screamer of a curler. Toure does not know how good he is and if Manchester wins more trophies it will be because of Toure’s magical play in times that demand greatness.
Nasri started at Manchester City slowly after his departure from Arsenal. He did not fare well under Mancini but under Pellegrini, he has played exceptionally well and scored a beauty to dash Sunderland’s hopes of walking away with an upset. The third came from a nicely weighted through ball from Toure to Navas who sealed the deal.
Sunderland gave a good account of themselves. In the early minutes, they rattled the favorites. Sunderland showed intensity and poise. If they can maintain that form for the remaining games, they will give themselves a chance to avoid relegation. Chelsea Marches to the Top of the Hill
Chelsea’s German acquisition occupied the bright lights as they trounced Fulham 3-0, with Schurrle scoring all three. Eden Hazard was not on the score sheet but in his second season in the EPL, he has emerged as a marquee player. His style is different from Ronaldo and Messi. His style is more comparable to Neymar. He teases defenders. His variegated tempo is mesmerizing to those who dare to mark him. He can turn you in or he can turn you out. His passing is exquisite and he knows how to finish. Even more importantly for his boss, his work rate is phenomenal. He plays on both sides of the ball.
Chelsea is in the same developmental stage as Liverpool. Willian, Oscar, Hazard and Schurrle are potentially great players and will blossom even more so in the seasons ahead.
Building great teams require adroitness, complementarity and doggedness. Both Rodgers and Mourinho possess that special quality as managers. The club owners, the fans and the League will reap the dividends of their mastery of their profession. Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks