Kieran Davies looks back on seven days of narcissism, renegades and barn doors.
Ronan Keating was once quoted in a famous song as saying ‘you say it best, when you say nothing at all’. These are wise words that Manchester City’s manager and players should take heed to. Since Vincent Kompany proclaimed ‘a Man City quadruple is just a matter of time’ his side have looked anything but capable of winning every competition they enter. Unless of course the competition was ‘Narcissist of the Year’ in which case Manchester City seem to have this one nailed on. Norwich City even proved last time out that it doesn’t take a Mourinho or Tito Villanova to outwit City and teams need to stop listening to their own hype about Pellegrini’s men. Although having seen both Kompany’s and Pellegrini’s post match interviews after the Barcelona game, ‘men’ may not be the best adjective for these two currently as both of them seemed petulant when questioned. If anything this game was boring to an extent for Manchester City’s inability to breakdown Barca. Personally away from home I think the way to get at Barcelona is a high tempo, frenetic game and hope that the fans are in good voice too. Give them no time on the ball and harass them in possession. If this was pointed out to City before the game they must have then got the idea that it was ‘opposite’s day’ where you do the opposite of anything you are supposed to. Based on this week’s Champions League matches involving British clubs the Premier League needs Liverpool back in the competition seemingly just as much as the accountants are telling Liverpool they need to be.
Nothing beats those passionate European nights at Anfield and I’m sure Barcelona would have found this a much more daunting task in front of that passionate vocal crowd. Maybe if we do look to colonise the moon it may be an idea to model any moon base on the blueprints of the Etihad Stadium as this structure seems to stand well in areas of no atmosphere!! Talking of games that would struggle to set some tinder alight let alone the world, Arsenal and Manchester United played out a 0-0 draw at The Emirates in their last league game. This was a poor match with United fans convincing themselves by full time ‘that was a good draw away from home’ where as the reality was ‘this was a good draw for everyone apart from these two teams’. Liverpool showed they were able to grind out a result away to a hard working Fulham coming from behind twice to win the game. Gerrard’s 90th minute winner could be a big goal in the grand scheme of their season and this man carries on doing it. Liverpool are in formidable form of late having crushed Everton and Arsenal in recent weeks and now with this being their only focus and no European distractions they should now treat every game like a cup final and who knows where they could finish. Top 4 is looking a realistic ambition while Tottenham continue the chase of Rodgers’ team. They had a convincing win at Newcastle with the in-form Adebayor playing a big part again which is integral to the side’s season now with Defoe having left for the MLS and the fact that Soldado couldn’t hit a barn door with an oversized shuffle on what we have seen so far this season. Tim Sherwood’s team have now put a bit of distance between themselves and 6th place Everton but the toffees do have a game in hand but with this weekend seeing them travelling to Stamford Bridge that gap may only increase by the end of it.
Cardiff City have a massive game this weekend at home where they entertain Hull City. This is a must win game after recent results. From what I have seen of Cardiff this season their achilles heel is their defence. While their keeper Marshall is without a shadow of a doubt in the best three keepers in the league this season on this season’s form he is often fighting a losing battle. Caulker has disappointed and his positioning and marking has been terrible. Ben Turner often looks like a double decker bus trying a three point turn in a one way street and the full back positions have been a problem all season.
With this weekend’s opponents my concern for Cardiff would be, is their defence good enough to keep Long and Jelavic out for 90 minutes and if you are honest with yourself the only way that will happen is if Marshall puts in another heroic display. Both Man City and Arsenal have what would be considered as routine fixtures at home but after the draining performances with ten men in the week it will be interesting to see the quality in the depth of their squads. Yes Man City have enough money to buy the moon no doubt but I don’t think the squad has this quality of depth. The one thing Cardiff and the likes do have going in their favour is that it is so tight at the bottom this season that a couple of wins and you can find yourself in mid table. That won’t be the case forever and they need to start taking advantage of this before finding themselves adrift of the pack. Just look at West Ham a bit of form from Kevin Nolan and the boys and suddenly Sam’s team find themselves in 11th spot. Since the closure of the transfer window, having signed no replacement, Newcastle look a side that have lost their creativity and engine room in the loss of Cabaye. Luckily for Geordie fans I think they already have too many points to get dragged into a relegation battle.
So its official, teams in mid table can afford to pay players £300,000 a week. This is what we can take from Rooney’s new contract at Old Trafford. That’s a bold move from Rooney as this side won’t be involved in any European action at all next season. Then you have the dilemma of this supposed £200m war chest Moyes has to strengthen. What type of international player will go to a team not in Europe on the back of promises and pipe dreams about an era gone by? Renegades that’s who, players who are only interested in their bank balances. If you are very shrewd you can find exceptions to the rule but with the pressure on Moyes the sort of signings they can expect is a Wesley Schneider of a player on about £200,000 per week. It’s a real catch twenty two situation when out of that Champions League clique. Liverpool are still striving to get back in that fold after some baron years out of it. Every Liverpool fan will see this now as a karmic balance as their rivals now have to tackle the same problems while the Anfield outfit look a good bet for Champions League qualification. West Brom take on Fulham in the ultimate six pointer. The loser of this game could find themselves in real trouble. You have to fancy West Brom for this one being at home where they have recently taken points off Liverpool and Chelsea at The Hawthorns.
Tony Pullis has transformed Palace’s fortunes since his appointment. The way he has done this other sides near the bottom should take note of as it’s a simple premise. Sure things up at the back and if you’re not conceding goals you have something to build on. This weekend they face Man Utd at home. This will be a good game as there is no love lost between these two since a crazy Frenchman went all ‘House of Flying Daggers’ in the home section. United will no doubt have their eagerly anticipated three amigos in the team again (Rooney/Van Persie/Mata) can they make this the club’s first win with them all in the side? This is by far one of the best Premier League seasons for years as it is so tight across the league that one weekend’s worth of results can change the whole complexion of the table. Unfortunately last weekend’s FA Cup action was a bit of a damp squib but that just underlines how much more valued the Premier League is to clubs nowadays. It is sad to see but money talks that’s no revelation but we can certainly expect to see some better, more exciting encounters this weekend.