Friday, 6 November 2015

A good week for English co-efficients

In what was fast becoming a situation of desperate measures for the Premier League's beloved fourth place trophy, ironically the club most accused of treating it as such was the one who did it the most damage this week.

Arsenal's 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich was in many ways a righting of the wrong that occured when the Germans were vanquished a fortnight ago in London. despite having all the territory etc. Any war imagery is unintentional, I swear!

The Gunners' proud record of maximum progression in 15 Champions League group stages is one that is under threat, yet this is one season where Premier League success, or at least the top two, may be within reach. Perhaps skipping their inevitable drawn out hammering by one of Europe's elite will allow their confidence to remain. And hey, there's always the Europa League, a definitely winnable competition.

Man City gave probably the most impressive and polished performance of the week, with a stunning display of speed and savagery on the counter-attack. Brendan Rodgers will have been spitting his well-pruned feathers at the sight of Raheem Sterling's goal and it must be said - could Sterling have been right all along? He certainly seems to have taken to life at the Etihad, like a duck to water you might say. Must stop thinking about ducks...

In all fairness, finishing was always his week point, but to give such a calm and precise conclusion to a thrilling break, and an all-round potent display, is feasibly proof that Liverpool was holding back a talent. It's much easier to initially flourish at anything when you are not immediately looked upon as the main man. Sterling had perhaps one season under the "promising youngster" tag before Suarez was chased out of town and Sturridge self-combusted. At City, Aguero, Bony and De Bruyne, not to mention the likes of Silva, Nasri and Navas, are already top quality attacking options. He is now free to learn, absorb, grow into the top player everyone unfairly assumed he was.

It is also impossible not to wonder whether Sterling would have still been at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp. While it must be said that Rodgers did achieve success that Klopp would be hoping to emulate, his most recent record was worrying. Under Rodgers, Sterling was...stalling, much like the rest of the side. There had been glimmers of the post-Sterling Liverpool sparking into life, most notably in that draw at Arsenal. Yet it was the equivalent of a spluttering engine, soon to burn out completely. The philosophy was tired and, most damningly, muddled.

Klopp, in just a few weeks, has certainly got his ideas across. His ideals of rock and roll football were not a million miles way against Rubin Kazan. As far as 1-0 hammerings go, this was right up there. High pressing, thrilling attacking football - there is a reason why his Dortmund side was so successful.

Man United and Chelsea also did their own bit for the cause, but I am not going to wade into the perpetual Rooney/Van Gaal/Mourinho storms this time. Too early in the morning for that. By all means though, get your fix of superstar soap opera! Don't forget to check out the Facebook page for the Messi vs Ronaldo Great Keyboard Warrior War. I need to get wars and ducks out of my system... This'll do - would you rather face an army of duck-sized horses, or a lone horse-sized duck?

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