February 13, 2014

The Red chihuahua running with horses

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It looks like the race for the Premier League title has another legit contestant, even if Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says his team is just “a Chihuahua that runs between the horses’ legs.”

After coming back to beat the league’s worst team, Fulham, the Reds are now just four points back of Chelsea for first place – something that even Luis Suarez couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of the season.

The fact that Liverpool has gotten to where they are in spite of such rotten defending at times is a real testament to how great its offence is. Only Manchester City has scored more goals than Liverpool’s 66 and Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have combined for 39 goals themselves, which is more than 15 other team’s totals.

But back to the issues in defence: For those who haven’t seen Kolo Toure’s stunning own goal, I recommend YouTubing it immediately. It is one of those plays that could never be replicated.

Lost in the shuffle of that tremendous OG is the fact that Martin Skrtel was could easily beaten on that pass, perhaps covering too much for John Flanagan.

What the Reds need to truly contend is some cover for the back four. Injuries have really hurt them out wide and losing Lucas to injury once again takes away their best defensive midfielder.

While the Reds were looking for a winger and attacking options in the transfer window, Liverpool really needed a backup plan in central midfield. Steven Gerrard isn’t going to be the anchor that this team needs.

At least, with a light workload thanks to not having to compete in Europe and having been knocked out of both domestic cup competitions, the Reds could mount a serious threat to the title. Their depth could’ve been an issue if their fixture list was as congested as the other top teams, but now it’s not a factor.

And even though Joao Carlos Teixiera didn’t look anything special in his substitute appearance, he could be a nice player down the road. Although, I’m sure Victor Moses wasn’t too pleased watching the youngster get called upon in that scenario.


Thanks to a huge storm and extremely high winds, two games were called off on Wednesday, Manchester City-Sunderland and Everton-Crystal Palace.

While Everton and the relegation-battling sides won’t feel too much effect from a rescheduled game, City will feel a big squeeze in their fixture list coming up.

Competing on four fronts – the league, FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Champion’s League – will have the Sky Blues run ragged in their quest for an unprecedented quadruple.

But maybe, for now, a game off may help. City has struggled in its past two games, being blanked by Chelsea and lowly Norwich, and are without key pieces Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho. Maybe this time to regroup will help the cause and reignite its drive for four.


While many expected a good game from Arsenal-Manchester United, the correct call was to be cynical about the two out-of-form teams.

A goalless draw is what we got, even though both sides did have some legitimate chances they squandered.

But the thing that was most noticeable was the lack of impact from both sides’ top attacking midfielder. Juan Mata and Mesut Ozil did little to create and haven’t really impressed of late.

Ozil is on a shocking run of form, collecting just one assist and no goals since mid-Decemeber. Mata has just one assist from coming over from Chelsea, although he is adapting to a new role and new team.

For either of these sides to make a strong run down the back stretch, those two are going to have to be more influential than they have been.


How crowded is the relegation battle? Swansea sits in 10th place right now with 28 points and is just four points out of 18th. I can’t remember the bottom of the table being this congested at this point of the season and it should make for a interesting run to the finish … That was quite the knock that Fulham keeper Martin Stekelenberg took in that collision with Suarez. A lesser man would have been knocked out of the game, but the Dutchman played on with a mouse under his right eye … Another terrible performance from listless Newcastle. If it weren’t for the points it accumulated before selling off Yohan Cabaye, I would say this team would be fighting the relegation battle at season’s end.


Is there a curse at the top of the table? It seems recently that every team that has come into the gameweek on top has suffered some kind of setback.

This week, Chelsea may have come out on top, but Jose Mourinho’s little horse dropped points against struggling West Brom.

In fact, the Blues looked quite off form most of the game and the late equalizer was a fitting finish to the game.

It just goes to show that even the best manager in the world can’t get his team up for lesser sides every time out.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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