December 6, 2016

FREE KICKS: Sky Blue on Blue violence

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

The end of the Manchester City-Chelsea game featured something I don’t think anybody expected to see: A wild tackle, near-brawl and two red cards six minutes into injury time.

With two teams as talented as these two and two managers that preach discipline, it was completely uncharacteristic to see what amounted to a complete loss of control.

It all started when down 3-1 in the 95th minute, Sergio Aguero – he of all that silky smooth skill – lost the ball and went studs up into David Luiz’s shin.

This touched off a huge scrum in which it looked like the only blows thrown were by Cesc Fabregas, who slapped Fernandinho in the face. The Brazilian, understandably outraged at the Spaniard, grabbed him by the neck and then shoved him over some advertising boards.

Both Aguero and Fernandinho were sent off for the remaining moments of play, but more importantly, will be suspended for the next four games.

Considering the game was all but over, why would Aguero launch himself at a defender like that? Only bad things were going to happen and now he only hurts his team by being forced to watch from the stands.

The game itself was another outstanding performance by the Blues. In fact, City didn’t even score their goal, it was an own-goal by Gary Cahill.

This was a huge six-pointer at the top of the table, with Pep Guardiola’s side slouching to fourth place, four points behind Chelsea. The fact that it was at the Emirates makes the result even bigger. City will need to retaliate when it visits Stamford Bridge later in the season – and not in the way that it did in injury time this week.


Last week it was a tossup between Alexis Sanchez and Fernando Llorente, but this week the Chilean left no doubt. Sanchez is our first repeat winner of the season and couldn’t have deserved it more for his hat-trick performance against West Ham. Heck, he even threw in an assist for good measure.

It took the Gunner just 14 minutes in the second half to score three goals and blow this game wide open.

The prettiest goal of the three – though they were all pretty nice – was the final one. After breaking in alone after the linesman completely blew an offside call, Sanchez scored on a pretty chip after a masterful step-over fake shot which put Irons goalkeeper Darren Randolph on the floor. It was a true masterclass in finishing.

With Sanchez in elite form and Aguero now suspended, expect a lot fantasy players to go for that swap this week.


Dimitri Payet had a beauty of a freekick that came back off the bar for Andy Carroll to head home. By all rights that should’ve been the Frenchman’s goal … Sunderland won its third in four games by downing Leicester City. We know the Foxes are concentrating on Champions League, but sitting on 13 points from 14 games is the worst title defence in EPL history through that many games … Hope you don’t have Christian Fuchs in your fantasy team. The Leicester defender has zero points from his past 247 minutes … What an amazing chip by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. That one stayed on the line what seemed like forever before finally bouncing over it … How as Marcos Rojo not given a red card for that wreckless challenge against Everton’s Idressa Gueye. Diving in two-footed with your studs up should have a been a straight red and additional punishment, not a simple yellow. Gueye is lucky to not have his leg broken and Rojo is lucky he’ll be allowed to play for the next month … Another Toffees player was injured in much less harrowing circumstances. Yannick Bolasie will be out for months after suffering a severe knee ligament injury following what looked like a harmless challenge. While some may have mocked him for staying down, we should know better that some knocks are more than meets the eye … West Bromwich Albion are currently sixth in the table, but have only kept three clean sheets this season. Quite frankly, I’m not sure which stat is more surprising. Imagine that, a Tony Pulis team winning with offence … Tottenham quickly reminded Swansea about its place in the league, battering the Welsh side which was coming off last week’s feel-good win over Palace … Putting Hull City vs. Middlesbrough as the Monday game was the EPL equivalent to seeing the Colts vs. the Jets on Monday Night Football. This are hardly the games you want to be showcasing.


We’ve said it before and we’ll no doubt say it again: Liverpool can’t truly contend for a title until it sorts out its back end.

This week the Reds had a 3-1 lead in the 72nd minute against Bournemouth before letting it all slip away.

Settling for a draw after blowing a two-goal lead that late would be bad enough, losing the game is an entirely different story.

The Cherries stormed back and potted three goals in that final quarter of the game, knocking Liverpool out of first and into a tie with City for third, ahead on goal differential.

This comes on the heels of Liverpool actually looking competent in defence, keeping a pair of clean sheets coming in.

But Loris Karius did his best Simon Mignolet impression in injury time, coughing up a huge rebound right to Nathan Ake, who gladly deposited the winner in the back of the net.

It’s just another example that you can’t win a title being good at just one area of the game. As good as the Reds’ offence is, we just can’t take them as serious title contenders until the back line is shored up.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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