Kieran Davies looks at a week’s worth of rotation and pop star meltdowns.
So, a weekend approaches of frustration for football fans as their teams no doubt put out weakened teams under the delusion their fringe players are good enough to overcome lesser opposition. Some will be found out, some will find their gamble paying off, but no fan would refuse the opportunity of silverware this season.
One thing we have learnt over the last week is that if Premier League teams were popstars Liverpool would be Britney Spears. One minute, the top of her game, wowing crowds, everyone wants to watch her live, mesmerised by her craft. The next minute she’s shaving her own hair off and having a public mental breakdown. The life of a Liverpool fan has more ups and downs than the day in the life of a window cleaner. What makes matters worse currently is the club and manager’s unwillingness to strengthen the squad in the January window. Against Swansea it was evident to see that when teams get eleven players behind the ball when not in possession, Klopp’s side struggle to break them down and their bench has no creativity of flair player who can change a game in an instant.
Just when football fans up and down the country thought it were safe to come out from behind the sofa as word got out that Man City were actually beatable, Sergio Aguero wakes up and nets a hat-trick as Pep’s side get straight back to winning ways. Something would have to go drastically wrong for City to lose the title now. Only their excursions in Europe potentially have the ability to falter their title charge. Finally, it is safe to put Sky Sports News on again without being bored to tears over the Alexis Sanchez saga. United have got their man and yet again Arsenal fans have to go through the hell of seeing one of their heroes kissing the badge of a fellow Premiership club. Making his debut against Yeovil, Jose’s men coasted through to the next round with ease. It seems between now and Wednesday you couldn’t rule out either Manchester club strengthening their squads.
Arsenal fans will be expecting to see their team bring in reinforcements before the closure of the transfer window. Having lost Sanchez but acquired Mkhitaryan, Gunners fans will not be happy unless they see some big-name players join the ranks at The Emirates. What makes matters worse is the constant media attention linking their club to every player under the sun. With the fans turning on the manager at any given opportunity, what he would have to do in this window to win them over baffles most. Tweets fly into Chelsea’s twitter account from every person taller than Ant and Dec in a bid to see if their services are required for their vacancy as ‘plan B’ striker. Carroll, Crouch, Slimani, Barnes, Dzeko and Giroud have all come under consideration so far. Conte seems left wanting in his squad currently and we can no doubt expect some additions before Wednesday. Not expecting to catch City but more focussing on their European charge as well as league endeavours.
A lot of teams will look to rotate their squads for the FA Cup which opens managers up to the age-old question of not taking cup competitions seriously. This being the most prestigious domestic trophy and surely a prize worth adorning in the trophy cabinet of any club up and down the country at the close of the season. Ideally, managers hope to canter past opponents without having to play their big-hitters but the magic of the cup tends not to let favourites have such an easy ride and every tie is open to a giant-killing. Whether it be preparing for European knockout fixtures or trying to retain Premier League status, rotation is a temptation that can lead to your downfall. Without this, we wouldn’t have the deep filled love we do for the FA Cup and why we can all recall our favourite games since we followed the beautiful game. Whether it be Ricky Villa, weaving his way through a defence or Steven Gerrard driving in a 30 yarder against West Ham…………this trophy attracts us to it like a mouse to peanut butter. It’s addictive. We want it, we crave it, we absorb it. Games appear on terrestrial TV, enjoy the football one and all. No trips to pubs or friend’s houses required, every house up and down the country is wired into the FA Cup. It’s an institution, it’s the BBC and never should this change.