Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't Call It A Comeback

It’s been quite some time since WSOTA had a post, but I’m looking to bring some life back to the old blog. It’s been an interesting year in the Prem, so there’s not a whole lot of time for nostalgia… but enough to say that it’s good to be back.

A quick recap: -Obviously, coming off a World Cup year, players looked a bit dull early on and have looked more than a bit fatigued as the season’s passed. The usual suspects (Ferguson, Redknapp, Wenger, et al.) are clamoring about the restructuring of international friendlies to mostly deaf ears.

-An additional official on each end line has been added to European competition. In all the games I’ve watched, they’ve made a grand total of zero calls and made no impact whatsoever. Oh—and goal line technology still doesn’t exist.

-Chelsea came roaring out of the traps after the summer and looked like they were going to run away with the trophy… until they hit the worst skid they’ve had in a decade, and fell out of the top 4. United have been how they always are: ruthlessly efficient, consistently getting results and consistently scoring goals after the 85th minute. They have lacked a bit of flair and attacking prowess at times, though, despite Berbatov picking up some slack in the early months. Arsenal were pushing them hard for a bit, but then reverted back to what they always do and imploded: crashing out of the CL, losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham, and taking big blows to their title hopes all in the space of about 10 days.

-Man City, United’s “Noisy Neighbors”, have been a Jekyl and Hyde show all season. Led by the swaggering Tevez (who has either professed his love for City or announced his retirement each weekend), they’ve been brilliant on some days and toothless on others. At this stage, they look likely to finish in the top four, which Mancini will swear was his only goal. City and Liverpool both crashed out of the Europa League, by the way.

-Liverpool drudged along in the bottom half for most of the season, but have mounted a late fight back. Luiz Suarez (I’ll talk more about transfers in a sec) has been brilliant, and they’ve climbed into the top 6. But a European place looks out of reach. Still, credit to King Kenny for turning things around on Merseyside.

-Spurs have been much like City, although Spurs fans won’t like that comparison. They show up for big occasions and look dazzling, but then can’t score on relegation sides. Bale has been scorching for them, terrorizing Inter Milan on their way to a good CL run that has surely ended in Madrid. Van der Vaart also looked like the signing of the season early on, with he and Modric providing tons of creativity and Lennon and Bale setting fire on the wings. All that said—they’ll still finish 5th and miss out on the CL.

-TRANSFERS: Where to start? As mentioned above, I’d say Van der Vaart is still in pole position to be signing of the season, but Suarez for Liverpool looks promising, and Chicharito Hernandez has been in great form for United. My personal favorite signing: Stephane Sessegnon for Sunderland, whose pace and dribbling has been spectacular. A few clubs lost their minds in the January window: Villa spent 25 million on Bent, Liverpool spent 35 million on Andy Carroll (who still had a month of injury left), and West Ham nearly bankrupted themselves on Wayne Bridge’s wages. Still scratching my head on that one. Unfortunately though, the biggest transfer dud has been Chelsea’s: 50 mil on Fernando Torres. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

-There’s been a lot of talk about the Prem being “weaker this year”, because the gap between the top teams and the cellar dwellers is smaller. It’s all a load of hooey: of the 8 teams left in the CL quarters, 3 are English, 2 are Spanish, 1 Italian, a German and Shakhtar, this year’s over achievers. Pretty standard stuff. I think the tightness of the table speaks to the strength of the Prem, not the weakness. And whatever the cause, it’s a positive thing—I much prefer to follow a League where 5 teams are in for the title from the start, instead of two.

Whew. That’s a big recap. It’s been an eccentric football year for sure, but some things never change… Rooney’s still behaving like a shaved ape, Arsenal are still ‘too immature’ to challenge, Messi’s still unplayable, and Nicklas Bendtner still thinks he’s the best striker in the world.

Stay tuned with WSOTA. We’re going full speed ahead.

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