1. Caught the end of the Liverpool v. Manchester City match yesterday afternoon. I have no idea what to make of either of these sides. Liverpool got it handed to them by discarded ex-manager Roy Hodgson’s West Brom squad after not being able to score over two legs against Braga in the Europa league. City were also ignominiously bounced from the Europa league by Dynamo Kiev before annihilating a freefalling Sunderland side 5-0.
Yesterday Liverpool showed what they could be next year and beyond with Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez leading a revamped attack capable scoring through the air and with pure class, swagger and technique when needed. While City showed that despite the undeniable layers of talent they possess they’re still just a collection of players (soft, moody ones at that) and not a cohesive unit, as the Reds ran them out of Anfield with apparent ease.
To make matters easier for their hated inter-city rivals Manchester United, ahead of this Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal match at Wembley, Carlos Tevez suffered a hamstring injury and most likely will be unable to lead City’s attack. Isn’t it amazing how fate seems to favor United at every turn. Maybe Edin Dzeko, ‘the brilliant’ Mario Baletelli, et.al will finally earn the massive amounts of money outlaid by City brass for their services. I’m not hopeful. As Steve McManaman said after yesterday’s match, a 4th place finish for a team with this much money invested in it is “just not good enough.” After results like these, I can sympathize a little more with Arsene Wenger when he says things like:
“There are teams who invest ten times more than us, one player cost more than the whole team and they are behind us. I don’t understand the way people think…Some of the clubs behind us have done nothing for 20 years, yet suddenly they get a lot of praise. I don’t understand.”
2. I watched the Chelsea/Wigan match in a bleary, suspended animation style hangover state at Murphy’s Law pub in DC. Not much to report — other than that the Law makes a mean brunch, I still can’t recognize the freshly shorn Florent Malouda and there definitely seemed to be a handball in the blurry sequence of play which resulted in the match’s lone goal. Roberto Martinez referred to the goal as a “crime” in his post-match remarks.
Part of me is sadistically enjoying Fernando Torres titanic struggles to score and not cry through his floppy hair on the pitch as the staggering number of Euros paid for his services seems to hover oppressively in the air around him, muddying his instincts and movements. It isn’t really a personal dislike. I didn’t mind Torres on Liverpool, but the sheer magnitude of the money involved, coupled with Chelsea’s arrogance, has conspired to make observing his difficulties at least a little enjoyable. Having written that, though, if he erupts for 3 goals at Old Trafford today — I’ll buy one of his jerseys.
3. The Spurs/Stoke City match was a serrated, spirited explosion of goals. I like the Potters’ intensity and tenacity more each time I see them play, but Spurs…I think their position in the table is sadder and more wasteful than Arsenal’s. Modric, van der Vaart and Bale (notice the name missing), among others, are just so dynamic and exciting to watch. Even taking key injuries into account, Spurs’ January-February swoon (further testament to what a lengthy grind the Premiership campaign truly is) remains baffling. I hope they can bump City out of the last European spot and qualify for the Champions League again. Their rematch with Arsenal at White Hart Lane next week should be one of the most exciting fixtures remaining in the season.
Lengthy tactical observations by the Guardian on Torres’ struggles to adapt in Chelsea
Will Udinese’s Alexis Sanchez be the latest player to be ruined at Man. City’s big money?
Sunderland chairmen Niall Quinn will launch an investigation into the club’s implosion.
The Guardian Blog’s 5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend
The Fifth Official unloads on ‘Crouchy’