More ups and downs in the Premier League as NONE of the Big Four got maximum points out of their two matches in the last week. This is gonna be one helluva season…
Top of the Table
My predictions that Chelsea will stumble as their fixture list gets tougher are proving right with each passing week. The good thing for the Blues is that none of the other Big Four teams seem to be capitalising.
The impact from Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Everton and close shave against bottom of the table Portsmouth was lessened by Manchester United’s loss to Aston Villa, Liverpool’s loss to Arsenal, and Arsenal’s draw with Burnley.
The bad news for Chelsea is that the fixtures that my prediction are based on, away games against United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and home games against Arsenal and Man City, are all yet to come, as is the African Nations Cup when they will lose their two best players this season – Didier Drogba and Michael Essien.
United were woeful against Aston Villa, even though they dominated for much of the second half. There was no cutting edge to their play, none of the magic required in the final third to separate them from their opponents.
Arsenal will be sweating on the fitness of Cesc Fabregas, whose substitution on the stroke of halftime with what seemed to be a hamstring injury was arguably the turning point in their drab draw with Burnley. Losing Robin van Persie was a huge blow to both their style of play and morale. Losing Fabregas for any extended period of time, on the other hand, would be a fatal blow to their already slim title hopes.
Player of the Week
Didn’t quite notice any standout performances last week, so Didier Drogba’s two-goal show against Everton makes him my player of the week.
With Fernando Torres on the mend, he has to be the best striker in the world at the moment. His consistency has been simply outstanding, and there is never a comfortable moment against him if you’re an opposing defender.
His latest brace of well-taken goals were not enough to give his team all three points, but they did prove his undeniable talent.
Goal of the Week
There can only be one this week: Maynor Figueroa’s goal from inside his own half was simply magical.
It reminded many of a young, floppy-haired midfielder back in the late 90’s who scored a similar goal against Wimbledon. But David Beckham was an expert passer of the ball. Figueroa is a tough-tackling left-back.
When his Wigan team won a harmless looking free kick against Stoke City in their own half, Thomas Sorensen was just outside the Stoke six-yard box and relatively safe.
But Figueroa strode forward from his left-back position just as the ball stopped rolling from the tackle which had brought the free kick, and struck the ball first time. It was so well struck towards the top left corner, Sorensen would probably have found it difficult to save even if he was on his line.
Special mention should also go to Andrei Arshavin’s rocket against Liverpool. The Russian strikes the ball with so little backlift of the leg that defenders just don’t know when he’s going to shoot. He showed that again last weekend, and Liverpool just couldn’t do anything about it.
What’s with Wayne?
Not for the first time this season, Wayne Rooney was mediocre. Playing against a Man City reject in Richard Dunne, Rooney produced another frustrating performance – all perspiration but no inspiration.
Rooney is a hard-working, selfless player, but few would put him on the same level as match-winners like Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres or Steven Gerrard.
The truth is, Rooney is at his best running, working and creating for the rest of the team, and he only happens to be good and persistent enough to score some goals along the way.
Fergie needs to realise this and find a real world-class attacker/goalscorer up-front (Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen do not belong in that category) for Rooney to truly shine.
The commentators and pundits like to say Rooney plays with the undying enthusiasm of a child, but the quality of his game still needs to mature if he wants to live up to the title once given to him of being potentially the world’s greatest player.