Monday, 22 September 2014
At the end of a contest that produced the expected result, there was an unexpected moment, a hug between Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho.
If the two men have decided to get along after a few years of discord then its perhaps as well. They will be seeing quite a bit of each other over the coming years.
Before this season started, most people had Manchester City and Chelsea as the two teams most likely to win the Barclays Premier League. Perhaps we should go further now. After only a month of the new season, they look the only teams capable of winning it.
There was resilience, organisation and devastating quality. There were goals from substitutes and contributions from players operating in unfamiliar positions.
There was an absence of panic from Manchester City when they fell a man, and then a goal, behind. Equally there was no complacency from Chelsea when they won a lead the general pattern of play had not pointed to.
Despite the late drama, the pairings of Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala and John Terry and Gary Cahill were the stand-out features of this game. Partnerships like those win titles, despite the millions of pounds invested in 2players at the other end of the field.
Happily, City were able to regain parity. Happily because it left us talking about a fair result and a remarkable Frank Lampard story rather than the referee’s influence.
City’s equaliser was interesting and told us much about their qualities. James Milner had performed terrifically down the right side, providing evidence that English players can thrive at City if they are good enough.
But it was from the position of left back that he advanced to provide Lampard with the opportunity to equalise.
Substitutes are increasingly important in the Premier League, especially to those clubs with Champions League commitments. Squads win championships, as they say.
Andre Schurrle is a good one, too. The German showed this during the World Cup in Brazil. Here, he timed his far post run perfectly in the 71st minute, allowing him to make the most of a superb Eden Hazard cross that was enabled in the first place by a superb turn and pass from Costa.
This is what makes these teams so impressive, so effective. Costa, for example, had endured a difficult afternoon. In trying to impose himself physically on City captain Kompany, he had failed.
In essence, he had lost one of the pivotal personal duals of the game. Still, though, he was able to influence the outcome.
Both clubs have benefited from long-term planning and transfer strategy. As United are finding, big money deals pushed through at the last minute will only take you so far.
Mangala was immense on his debut on Sunday, only slightly less effective than Kompany. Costa also emerged to play his part, too.
Chelsea and City were fine teams last season but they have improved and whether anyone else can really get near them is very doubtful.
Former Arsenal man Gervinho has revealed just what was hiding underneath that trademark headband – with fans unable to believe what the Roma attacker really looks like without it.
The Ivorian never seemed to be blessed with a lot of hair, but the striker decided to take on Cagliari on Sunday without a hairband – unveiling a hairline that essentially starts on the back of his head. Lol he should just stick to his headband or what do you think?
CHEQUE, REALITY CHECK, AND BODY CHECK:
In a summer transfer window where large numbers were put out on cheques to get in the best players and Man Utd got little money in return, Sunday's game against Leicester gave them the best of the lot. A reality check.
3-1 up after 60minutes in the game, the Red Devils were somehow able to leave the game with nothing after losing 5-3 to the newly promoted side. Man Utd might have an attack that teams can only be jealous of but got a defensive cover as strong as chitin.
In summary against Leicester City, Man Utd looked like a combination of Real Madrid and Real Betis, and best bet is when you have that you could come out with results like Sunday's.
Foul or a body check? Nothing should be taken from the Foxes, they prowled and stay resilient and were able to come out with a massive victory and nothing should be taken away from them.
Man Utd were very good last week but very poor were QPR, and it is snakes and ladders back for the Red Devils but like Kanye West said "It was all good just a week ago..."
An injury to your last season's secondary striker and your title campaign this season looks already in smoke.
Liverpool have lost three games already this season and while their performance against Ludogorets could be blamed on long return to the Champions League stagel it was unconvincing and it clearly spilled over to Upton Park with the same display against West Ham.
For now, the Reds might have kissed their own title chances goodbye, emphasis on the 'for now' and Raheem Sterling at the moment is the only bright light in Liverpool's dark run.
Brendan Rodgers must get it right as quick as possible or might see his team crash so early in the season, Mario Balotelli seems to be the only one who knows what to do at the moment in the team, and I'm not talking about performances. Levitation.
NO CONTEST FOR TOP FOUR:
Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham and Man United. One of these teams come the end of the season is going to regret not capitalizing at the start of the season to cement their chances for a top four finish.
Already, though early with five games, Chelsea, Man City, and Arsenal seem to have next year's continental tickets and the rest have no major interest in doing so, forget the Southamptons, Aston Villas and Swansea up there at the top half of the table, it is all mirage.
Surprisingly all four teams lost their games to inferior teams this past weekend. One of those teams would have a big regret even though three would lose out. It all depends on the price they pay for it.
The atmosphere at St. James' Park against Hull City looked like the team were in a relegation battle with few games to go.
Five games already and it is a do-or-die affair for Newcastle or perhaps their manager. Two goals down against the Tigers, the Toons were able to snatch a point thanks to a double from Papiss Cisse and the celebration from Alan Pardew was a testimony to the level of his job insecurity.
It is still the weekend as at write-up and after publication, the Magpies' boss could still be sacked but as for today, he lives to fight another day but tomorrow never dies as erratic owner Mike Ashley is the man with the golden gun.
There is this belief that Pardew could turn things around, there is this rumor contrary to that saying he might not be the one to do it.
JUST THROUGH THE CHANNEL:
The Wizardry of Oz can only be manifested through the middle of the pitch. Get him on a broom on either side of the middle of the pitch and he is going to zig-zag his way into wilderness.
Criticisms have been hammered on Mesut Ozil about his performances this season and his best supporters countered by saying he has been played out of position this season.
Against Aston Villa, the German international was handed the no 10 role thanks to Alexis Sanchez being dropped and rewarded such decision with a goal and providing assist to newboy Danny Welbeck.
He looked like his old self and carried the team well with nice touches and spread the ball as we know him to do so in the past. Question is, what happens when Sanchez returns to the team- 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 once again?
Written By: Chuka Follow @chukaMVP
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Sunday, 21 September 2014
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli was the victim of racial abuse on Twitter on Sunday following his reaction to Manchester United's shock defeat to Leicester.
Balotelli, part of the Reds side which lost 3-1 at West Ham on Saturday, tweeted: 'Man Utd...LOL' in response to United's 5-3 loss at the King Power Stadium.
His tweet was met by a string of racist messages, including one from an account called @CraigSainsbury which read: 'F*** you Mario you f****** n*****. Got eat some bananas and get ebola you dirty monkey.'
The account from which the tweet was sent subsequently appeared to have been closed.
Legends are often recognised as such by their ability to up the ante at all times in their chosen path in life. HELLO! Nigeria got the rare opportunity of having two legends in this edition – footballer, Jay Jay Okocha and Wimbledon Grand Slam record holder – Roger Federer.
Former captain of the Super Eagles, JayJay Okocha a legend in the world of football graces our cover this month. For a man with a laudable career, it is refreshing to see -as we interview him, that he is affable and without pretence.
Coach Stephen Keshi has again been rated the top national team gaffer in Africa following another survey conducted by an independent agency called Football Coach World Ranking.
The out of contract Super Eagles head coach interestingly is rated amongst the world’s best; occupying the 14th position while coming in distant second is recently sacked Ghana Coach Kwesi Apiah who is ranked 32nd in the world. While the parameters which led to these ratings are not clear, many have picked holes in same even as public opinion no longer favours The Big Boss to continue as Nigeria gaffer
An incredible photo was snapped of Mario Balotelli leaping out of the way as Raheem Sterling scored against West Ham for Liverpool.
It appeared as though Balotelli was floating in mid-air as Sterling took his shot.
Unsurprisingly, the Internet had a field day with the image of Balotelli. Because A) it was incredible and B) because it's Balotelli.
Let's take a look at some of the best that photoshopping talent offered up.
|Balotelli sits on Gerrard after his slip last season|
|Balotelli features in super Mario game|
|........He then visits the pool|
|.....and then the WWE|
|......before going to the toilet|
West Ham United netted twice inside the opening seven minutes en route to a 3-1 victory over Liverpool at Upton Park.
The hosts burst out of the blocks and saw their early endeavour rewarded as Winston Reid bundled home inside 90 seconds and Diafra Sakho doubled their advantage soon after.
Raheem Sterling was able to pull one back for Brendan Rodgers’ visitors, who have now lost three of their opening five fixtures, but a poor clearance from Mamadou Sakho late on led to Morgan Amalfitano being teed up to seal the win for Sam Allardyce’s side.
Danny Welbeck scored his first goal for Arsenal in their 3-0 Premier League win at Aston Villa, while Newcastle came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Hull.
Three goals in as many first-half minutes sealed the deal for Arsenal against previously in-form opponents at Villa Park.
Mesut Ozil began the scoring just after the half-hour, with a left-foot shot from Welbeck's cross.
Then England striker Welbeck headed in his first for the Gunners since his move from Manchester United, thanks to an Ozil cross, and an Aly Cissokho own goal made it 3-0 after only 36 minutes.
Papiss Cisse was the saviour for under-pressure Newcastle manager Alan Pardew with two second-half goals in a 2-2 draw at home to Hull.
The visitors' Nikica Jelavic struck just after the break, and then Mohamed Diame made it 2-0 with 20 minutes to go. But substitute Cisse replied in the 73rd and 87th minutes to salvage a point after all for the Magpies.
Southampton are up to second after continuing their fine early-season form with a 1-0 win away to 10-man Swansea
Swansea striker Wilfried Bony was sent off after two first-half bookings, and Victor Wanyama's first goal for the Saints settled the outcome in the 80th minute.
Burnley and Sunderland took a point from their goalless stalemate at Turf Moor.
In the lunchtime kick-off, a late equaliser in each half earned QPR a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Stoke.
An 11th-minute header from Mame Birame Diouf and then Peter Crouch's left-foot shot in the 51st put Stoke manager Mark Hughes on course for victory on his return to one of his former clubs.
But each time the hosts came up with a response, Steven Caulker heading them level three minutes before the break and then a Nico Kranjcar free-kick making it all square again with just two minutes left.