April 15, 2015

United rules Manchester once again

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It was like the good ol’ days were back at Old Trafford.

After the famed Manchester Derby, the red side of town was the one doing all of the celebrating while the once-noisy neighbours have been silenced.

It’s not just a one-game thing either, these two sides look to be headed in different directions.

Since the new year, City has faltered, including its brutal run of poor form while Yaya Toure was away at the African Cup of Nations.

It’s very clear that this team needs to restock its shelves, but I’m not sure if it has the cash – ironically – to do it. With Financial Fair Play in effect, this team will have to sell off some assets before reinvesting the cash.

Then when you consider the need to find an eventual replacement for Toure, a bonafide Champions League-calibre striker to pair with Sergio Aguero, a winger and a top-class centre back, that’s a lot of cash needed.

And don’t forget that this team will probably be looking for a new manager this summer, as the owners don’t like failure at all.

As for the Red Devils, they’re soaring and have essentially locked up their spot in Europe next year. A far cry from what happened last season under David Moyes – though the start to this campaign was pretty rough.

But it looks like the learning period is over and this is a team that will only get better and then further strengthen over the summer.

Now, you could even debate how much change is needed.

Both Ashley Young and Maraoune Felliani had great games. It shouldn’t be forgotten that these were two guys supposedly on the outside looking in when the season began.

Sure, there will be need for a new striker with Falcao’s loan ending and Robin van Persie reportedly leaving. But attracting a world-class attacker shouldn’t be a problem when you play attractive football like LVG’s side currently is.

As for the derby itself, a few little bits of history were made.

-This was the first ever that a United player wasn’t booked in the derby – amazing considering that Fellaini and Phil Jones share the favourite colour of yellow.

- This was the 87th time in a row that City couldn’t come back in a game while trailing at the half in the EPL. This streak dates back to 1995.


Plenty of ink is being spilled about whether Arsenal has an actual chance at catching Chelsea atop the table, but I’ll save you the time of reading about it: It ain’t going to happen.

Even without Diego Costa and Loic Remy, Chelsea was still able to grab three points from QPR.

It’s these type of 1-0 performances that remind how good of a manager Jose Mourinho is. He is perfectly fine with suffocating a game and then snatching the points at the end.

While earlier this season, the Blues seemed free-wheeling on the attack, I’d expect more close results as the Special One inches towards the EPL title.

Arsenal showed a lot of grit to grind out its result against Burnley, which should’ve been a lot easier than it was.

This type of result was something that the Gunners haven’t always been able to pull off in the past and it could show some actual growth from this squad.

It’s a shame that it all but too late.


You have to love Cesc Fabregas’ mask. There’s not much more intimidating than a player wearing one of those graphite face protectors … The Alan Pardew-Newcastle breakup might go down as one of the most lopsided ones in recent memory. His Crystal Palace side has been flying high since he arrived while the Magpies continue to look average at the best of times … It looks like a managerial change wasn’t enough for Sunderland, which continues to falter more often than not … Christian Benteke has started to show the form that he had before rupturing his Achilles at towards the end of last season. He is quickly helping us forget that Aston Villa once went more than a month without scoring a goal … What happened to West Brom’s defence? Watching a Tony Pulis side give up three goals to bottom-feeders Leicester is just strange.


Sure, he’s young, but Raheem Sterling should really know better.

The Liverpool starlet was in the news again this week after photos came out of him smoking some sort of pipe.

This is also coming off the back of him turning down a 100K per week contract to stay with the Reds.

So, are we sure this guy has it all together? Or is he just being a youth acting out?

When it came time to play this week, Sterling was hit or miss – and really that was the very definition of the phrase.

His goal to open scoring came off some beautiful ball control, a slick dribble and the type of outside of the foot shot you usually only see when playing FIFA.

But then there was the miss of all misses. Sterling, wide open in front, with the ball at his feet, a wide open net in front of him and no defenders around him, put the ball wide.

It’s the kind of thing that needs to be seen to be believed.

Really, with his name popping in so many headlines recently, you would think that Sterling is getting advice from teammate Mario Balotelli on how to stay in the tabloids’ firing line.

Instead, he should be concentrating on his game and getting better.

Or else, we’re going to start seeing a lot more misses than hits – just ask Super Mario how it’s going for him.

Twitter @danbilicki

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