September 23, 2014

Lampard the hero and the villain

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

As the great Sir Ian Darke once said, “You could not write a script like this.”

After being let go by the club that he became a hero at, Chelsea’s career leading scorer, Frank Lampard, came on as a sub and scored the game-tying goal for Manchester City on Sunday.

A class act all the way, Lampard did not celebrate the goal and even applauded the travelling Blues fans after the game.

It was a fitting end and one that you could almost feel coming.

Despite being down to 10 men thanks to Pablo Zabaletta’s second yellow card in a very gritty game, City didn’t shut up shop like most teams would have. It made for an exciting end to the game after the Blues had pulled ahead on neat pass and finish from Eden Hazard to Andre Schurrle.

After a neat bit of passing by City, the ball came to Lampard, who pounded it home on the volley – something he has done his fair share of times for Chelsea.

The end result was that we saw two teams that are destined to be at the top of the table come May, fighting it out for early positioning. When these two sides meet again in late January, you can expect another good matchup with even more on the line.

CARE TO TAKE SOME BLAME, LVG?

At the 61st minute, the scoreline was Leicester 1-3 Manchester United.

At the 83rd minute, the scoreline was Leicester 5-3 Manchester United.

But don’t blame United manager Louis van Gaal, it wasn’t his fault and he’ll never admit it.

Of course this meltdown was on the high-priced players.

LVG has changed the system twice now since becoming the Red Devils manager, switching now from a 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2 diamond formation. You have to wonder if the players are absorbing what he’s trying to do here with all the changes.

Radamel Falcao made his first start and had a lovely assist on Robin van Persie’s goal. But offence was never going to be the problem. Even with new defensive signings Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind on the pitch, United still shipped five goals against a promoted side – including four in 20 minutes – before being knocked down to 10 men.

LVG has done a poor job with a much better than David Moyes had. With an opening fixture list of Swansea, Sunderland, Burnley, QPR and Leicester, United has collected just five points.

What will happen when they face one of the top teams?

We’ll find out soon enough and if the form doesn’t improve, we’ll start hearing the calls for yet another manager to get the sack.

LIVERPOOL IN THE RED

In the past week, Liverpool has lost to Aston Villa at home, nearly settled for a draw against Romania’s Ludogorets and then lost to West Ham 3-1. I thought this team was supposed to contend?

While some credit should be given to the Hammers, who look splendid in attack for the first time in my memory, Liverpool’s problem is the same as it has been under Brendan Rodgers: The defence isn’t good enough.

And it will be tested even more with injuries cropping up. At one point, Raheem Sterling – one of the team’s most gifted creative players – was playing right back due to injuries. That’s a supreme waste of his talent.

Until Rodgers figures out how to get some stability on the back line, the Reds just can’t contend.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

The one top-six contender that actually won this weekend was Arsenal, which took care of business against a flu-riddle Aston Villa side. The man of the match happened to be the much-maligned Mesut Ozil, who has taken more than his fair share of slack on this blog. So will his goal and assist stop the criticism? Of course not. Ozil’s shot was lucky to beat Brad Guzan and the only reason he shot it was that there was no one left to pass to. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and say he’s back to world-class standard … Hull City’s Nikica Jelavic had an early goal-of-the-season candidate against Newcastle. That near-bicycle kick was hit as well as it could’ve been … Spurs looked out of sorts being upset by West Brom. You have to figure that playing in Europa League during the week did the team no favours … With Newcastle’s comeback victory against Hull, it appears Alan Pardew has saved his job for at least one more week. But the harsh reality is that it was still just a point against a rather average side and the Magpies are still on the bottom of the table … The last time that Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all failed to win on a weekend? November 2010 … Hey, FIFA 15 is out today! What are you doing sitting around reading this blog! Grab a copy and play!

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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