Archive for September 21st, 2009

Weekend thoughts: Chelsea look strongest but United have the edge

Add comment September 21st, 2009

Gael a force once again
After suffering some torrid times in recent weeks, it was good to see Gael Clichy put in a strong performance against Wigan this weekend. Whilst I’m undoubtedly an advocate of the 4-3-3, it can leave the full-backs a little exposed. Alex Song is still learning his job as the holding midfielder, but covering the wide areas is something Gilberto Silva used to manage masterfully. Hopefully Song can improve in that respect.
Clichy was helped on Saturday by Wigan’s decision to employ Charles N’Zogbia as an orthodox right winger. This meant he constantly looked to drift inside, making his attacking play predictable and leaving space outside him for Clichy to exploit.

Rosicky’s return going to plan
Cross all available digits and then whisper it quietly, but Tomas Rosicky’s return to competitive football (thus far) could not have gone better. His cameo on Saturday was yet another demonstration that in twenty months out of the game he has not lost a yard of pace or a millimetre’s precision on his immaculate first touch.

A mouthwatering prospect
Rosicky’s return means our squad is overflowing with creative talent: there’s Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri (remember him?), and beyond that the likes of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. It’s an intoxicating mix, and if Arsene is ever fortunate enough to have them all fit and available he’ll have a lot of fun selecting the right combinations to unpick whichever defence we may be facing.

Idiotic reporting
This report in The Independent, which described Emmanuel Eboue’s celebration against Wigan as “running to the visiting Wigan fans in the corner and sliding on his knees, mimicking the infamous celebration of Manchester City’s Emmanuel Adebayor a week ago”, is sensationalist rubbish. What’s more, it was impossible for Eboue to celebrate in front of the Wigan fans: they didn’t bring any.

“Grandslam Sunday” yields no surprises
Whilst there were a few twists and turns along the way, I don’t think anyone could have claimed to have been surprised to see United and Chelsea triumph over City and Spurs respectively. Yesterday’s winners are undoubtedly the front-runners in the title race, with the edge perhaps going to United, who have already beaten supposed competitors in both City and ourselves.
Chelsea continue to churn through the Premier League like a hideous diamond-shaped monster-robot-thing. I think they’ve been blessed somewhat by the fixture list: a relatively easy start allows them to build momentum and a lead, whilst their fixtures during the African Nations Cup (a time when they will be without the likes of Essien and Drogba) see them face a collection of swashbuckling but ultimately rubbish sides.
Spurs won’t finish in the top four this season; Man City might. I was convinced City had no chance of doing it this year but their early form is giving me some rather unpleasant food for thought. Much like us, they occasionally look flimsy at the back; much like us, they’re capable of scoring goals-a-plenty. Unlike us, they don’t have the distraction of Champions League football.
Are City title contenders? My instincts say no, not yet. Are Arsenal? Only if we recover from two Mancunian humblings to win a few games on the bounce.

Carling Cup Kids ready for action
So tomorrow, it all begins again. The next generation of Carling Cup kids will take to the field with nothing to lose and everything to prove. All eyes will be on Jack Wilshere’s first start of the season, but I’ll be intrigued to see how Philippe Senderos gets on in his first appearance since returning from Milan. Ahead of that, Sanchez Watt’s pace in the channels makes him an exciting prospect, while the combative Coquelin might look for a chance to impress in the holding role.
Expect the kids to line up in a 4-3-3: the system is now being used at every age level throughout the club – it’s certainly here to stay.

Till tomorrow.

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