Thursday, July 28, 2005

25. Footie Stuff

Chelsea vs AC Milan was a good indication of things to come for Chelsea Football Club. The assured passing, the dictating of the tempo of play, the lightening quick counter-attacks from the wings, and the rock steady defence. All this against arguably the best team in Europe. Ok, so the three main fulcrums of the Milan side did not feature (the great Maldini, the brilliant Kaka and the omnipresent Shevchenko), but it was no less a good test for Chelsea in pre-season. Like Mourinho said, the result (a slim 1-0 win) wasn't as important as to see how the team's progressed.

Wright-Phillips, the 20 million pound boy-midget looked good, leaving Nesta for dead once or twice (no mean feat considering that Nesta is one of the few crop of candidates who's close to replacing Maldini as the best defender in the world). The jury is still out on this purchase (especially considering Mourinho's lukewarm success in the transfer market so far, I mean 24 million for Drogba? Come on!). The boy's got potential though, a low centre of gravity that makes him hard to knock off the ball, and is super fast with good ball control to match. He's also a tireless worker which is always a big plus when playing for the man who loves the ethics of good teamplay. We'll see.

Next up, still too early to judge Del Horno. Arguably Spain's best leftback, haven't seen enough of him to see whether he can match up to the other great leftbacks in world football now (Cole, Zambrotta, Evra, Lahm). But he should easily display Bridge, who's looked clumsy and extremely one-footed on ocassion. No doubt he scored that vital goal that knocked out the Gunners in the Champ's League, still think he hasn't been as successful as he could've been. Well, Chelsea is a long way from Southampton, we'll see how he progresses this season.

Looks like the Lyon midfield powerhouse is next, today there were conflicting reports that Chelsea's already bagged him. I think it would be only a matter of time. Again, don't know too much of this player other than his performances in the Champ's League but from what I've seen, he looks mighty good. A player in the Vieira-mold, he's powerful, quick and agile. Looks a good fit for the EPL. Now I wish that all this crazy money dealings for non-proven players would stop. When you have to fork out tens of millions, I just wished it were for someone of Totti's or Joaquin's caliber.

Liverpool's looked good as well, with Gerrard scoring 6 goals over 3 games, not a bad record. He's already looking twice the player he was last season when, in my mind, he vastly overrated and clearly unsettled (just like Vieira). Well, Pat's gone now, and Gerrard's still here. Maybe now he can step up to show the world that he's the best midfielder in the EPL, tough to displace Lampard, but I just think Gerrard's got that little more to his game (if only he'd stop banging those overhit passes!).

And Arsenal? Ah, hard to judge. Hleb is no doubt a quality buy, and Fabregas and Flamini have looked impressive in patches when called upon. But can they replace the great Vieira in the heart of Arsenal's midfield? We'll see, we'll see. Plus, other than Hleb, there hasn't been that many signings on Arsenal's front. But they still have too much quality in their game not to compete, and in Henry, they have arguably the best forward in the world (yes, even better than Shevchenko).

Man U? Well, Man U will always be Man U. Expect Fergusen and Neville to shoot his mouth off about how Man U will win the league, blah, blah, blah and for Chelsea to watch out, etc. In the end, Man U will finish probably 3rd or 4th (depending on how strongly Liverpool challenges). Ah, I just hate them to bits.

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