Hello and welcome to this week’s winners and losers column. This piece looks at the players and managers performances during game week 16. Who are the winners and losers this week? Keep on reading to find out.
As usual, this column is in the spirit of good fun and as usual, your comments and opinions are welcomed.
Winners and Losers for Game Week 14 & 15
Losing Sturridge and Steven Gerrard through injury meant that the Liverpool team was suddenly without 12 goals and 8 assists. To further put their performance against Spurs this Sunday into context, only 2 of their previous 7 away games resulted in a win [Aston Villa & Sunderland for the curious ones among you].
Manchester City’s dismantling of the league leaders installs them as firm favorites to win the title this season. What makes Liverpool’s performance far superior is that they played away from home against a quality opposition and title contender missing 2 influential starters and obliterated their opponents. The two main conclusions from this game for Liverpool are as follows:
1. Firstly, Suarez is unplayable at the moment. There is no better player in the EPL and arguably, in any professional football league at the moment. Glen Johnson mentioned before the game how insatiable his desire to win is and how this at times, leads him to questionable actions. We know Suarez wants Champions League football and if he has it his way, Liverpool will finish in the top 4 this season. But if he can maintain his form? This team could win the league. Yes, his current form is THAT good.
2. The second conclusion is a bit obvious but bear with me. Liverpool will go only as far as Suarez takes them. Yes Sturridge was impressive leading the line during his absence at the start of the season but unless you can tell me with a straight face that Sturridge can replicate the Liverpool captain of the night’s performance regularly, the fans of this Merseyside team must pray nothing happens to him.
Before we begin, just how good has Pablo Zabaleta been? For all the plaudits Aguedo receive for scoring amazing goals, the Argentine right-back has continued to be the team’s most consistent performer. Back to the Etihad stadium. When the game begun, City dominated possession for the first 10 minutes. I was watching the game with my brother, a die-hard Gooner and he told me as soon as Arsenal got some touches and moved the ball around, they will get a feel of the game and sweep City away. To be fair, Wenger’s boys appeared to be finding their foothold in the game after City dominated the opening spell only to have Aguero score a goal that they never quite recovered from.
I am tempted to write more on how City had an amazing week [beating Bayern & Arsenal], having Kompany back in their line-up or the implications of losing Aguero for the next couple of weeks. This column will take the road less travelled and say nothing. We will discuss much about City as they are now firmly thrust in the spotlight as the title favorites but for now, this author commends Pellegrini and his charges for serving up some scintillating football this week.
At what point does Everton become part of the list of teams viewed as title contenders? They are dispatching teams with ease as evident by their most recent score line of 4-1 against Fulham at Goodison Park. Their record against the big boys is impressive as their only loss came against the hands of Manchester City at the Etihad, fast becoming the venue most teams want to avoid. Roberto Martinez has been a huge hit and the players as well as the fans have taken a liking to him.
His top priority should be convincing Lukaku to make this loan deal a permanent move. Quite ambitious, I know. A more realistic target perhaps should be a quality forward to lead the Everton front line and a tricky player like Barcelona-loanee Deulofeu. There is a lot to be happy about for the Toffees and whatever their league position ends up being this season, Martinez’s air of confidence suggests that this team is only going to get better. And just in case you’ve forgotten, they have been this impressive without their best player Leighton Baines. Leighton who? Exactly my point.
It was rather academic this choice. After a torrid couple of weeks for Moyes, his team is back on winning ways. United fans and pundits are skeptical about this latest result. Afterall, Moyes’ team have had a couple of results that suggested they were back on winning ways only to falter when it matters the most. Their performance at Villa hints at perhaps what has been the cause of their misfortune this season. Confidence and consistency. Cleverley looked a different player and after his own scathing assessment of his performance this season, he looked like the player he promised to be all of last season and the season before during his loan spell at Wigan. Welbeck was as ever, hardworking and a willing runner but most importantly, scored goals. He seems to remember the process of scoring goals and in RVP’s absence, he could get an extended run in his preferred playing position.
We finally got to look at a central back pairing of Evans and Jones and it looked good. Moyes has a lot to be happy about with Fletcher’s return a welcome boost if not for team morale but for the fact that it’s another central midfield option to choose from. Due to United’s yo-yo thus far, this column advices fans against raising their expectations. In fact, the team seems to perform better when they are not fancied to win [think Bayer Leverkusen and against Arsenal].
A quick observation from the game, Rooney was playing in the midfield, ‘in-the-hole’ position that he hated under Ferguson last season as the former coach adjusted his formation to accommodate RVP. Under Moyes, not only is he perfectly content doing so [he does not only say so publicly but look at his performances, he plays like he means it] but if reports are to be believed, OT executives are looking into extending his contract with the Manchester Club. A year ago, he handed a football transfer request because of the position he was forced to play. Football eh? It never makes sense.
This column is conflicted because even though by virtue of a vital win that gifts them the opportunity to go into the Christmas break as league leaders, this writer was not convinced by Chelsea’s performance and truth be told, this has been true all season. They have been playing just enough to win games and secure points. Which is a hallmark of Mourinho teams but this current Chelsea team is doing that less convincingly. It is entirely possible that after watching City, Liverpool and Manchester United deliver on goals, this column was left un-impressed by Chelsea’s 2-1 win against Crystal Palace.
The reunion has not gone as well as both parties hoped. Chelsea fans really can’t start a #MourinhoOut campaign as he was the architect of their most successful spell of dominance in English football and despite his team not being good, they seem to get the job done. You can file Chelsea’s indifferent campaign this season under the ‘confusing phenomenon of the 2013/2014 season’ which includes Moyes’ appointment as Fergie’s successor, Manchester City’s Jekyll-and-Hyde performances [i.e. Their contrasting home and away fortunes], Ramsey’s improvement as a player and Swansea’s inability to hold on to a lead for all 3 points to mention but a few. Maybe Soccersouls will investigate some of these phenomena over the remainder of the season. We do have a crack team of investigators on staff.
Marouane Chamakh– The last 3 games have resulted in 3 goals for the Moroccan. He is all that’s been good about Crystal Palace’s attack under new manager Pulis and will be key if they are to not face the drop this season.