Another week has passed, and none of us achieved anything to further the human race. But we did get to watch some football, so that’s nice. Also Ben is away, so I get a chance to continue being anti-Liverpool with no threat of reprisals.
1. Playing the ball out of defence almost always goes wrong
Whilst for the better teams, passing the ball out of defence is a useful way to keep hold of possession and spring a counter attack, for the less able it all too often leads to disaster, and was at fault for both of the goals Liverpool conceded. Rodgers apparently hasn’t realised that he doesn’t have defenders of the quality of Ashley Williams or Angel Rangel, and in fact benched Jose Enrique, his only defender who can do this kind of thing. Although Kelly may have seen the cross late, trying to control it off his thigh while facing Yaya Toure was moronic, and watching Skrtel try to roll his marker before blindly passing to Carlos Tevez was hilarious. Rodgers needs to learn to work with what he has, rather than what he wants.
2. Money can and will win you the league
It can hardly be surprising that the team to spend most heavily this summer sit at the top of the league. The pointless addition of Victor Moses aside, Chelsea now have a squad to rival United’s, a first XI to scare City and, for the first time in forever, a player that everyone else actually likes, even if the way commentators pronounce his name (Azzarrrr) makes him sound like a pirate-magician. Mancini will have to spend before the window closes, mainly to ensure Kolo Toure can be locked away far from a football pitch.
3. Raheem Sterling might be good, but then again he might not
For a player who on Thursday brought to mind Theo Walcott, and then got to play against a centre-back absurdly ill-equipped to contain him, Sterling is getting a lot of sudden praise. Truthfully he is unlikely to get two such easy games in succession again, and only when has to think his way past an opponent will we see if he’s the real deal.
4. Stoke is a graveyard of football
Stoke vs Arsenal was a moribund, horrible fixture devoid of anything approaching entertainment. Arsenal didn’t help in this regard, with the sort of interminable passing around without going anywhere that happens when teams try to play like Barcelona without Messi or Michu. Of more lasting concern is the continued existence of Stoke themselves. What is the point of playing like this, week after week, with survival your only goal? Since they came up, Stoke have only had two actual footballers (Tuncay and Gudjohnsen), and Pulis had no idea what to do with them*. Stoke have become the embodiment (maybe even a parody) of Old English Football, and remain the incontrovertible proof that for all its sins, football is far, far better off now than 40 years ago.
5. There’s hope for Adam Johnson yet
Hopefully the realisation that he has signed for the worst team in the league will kickstart a Roberto Ayala style switch to Newcastle. Having a Premier League match called off because of rain in August is nothing short of embarrassing, and the FA should quickly realise the only possible sanction is docked points.
*Someone said this on Twitter, but I can’t remember who. If it was you, well done, you were right.