FOX Soccer Exclusive
Dempsey gives Spurs point, City a lift
Once again, I think all fans will agree Epic Sunday lived up to its name. Despite the weather across England, we saw some very interesting games in London – though I think the team that will be happiest is the one up in Manchester!
City are the big winners this weekend after United dropped two points in a performance that they will be disappointed with. This Manchester United team is not a vintage side in my opinion: they still have a lot of trouble in the back and today they were really working every time Spurs sent in a cross. I’m also not convinced by their goalkeeper, who punches too many balls out that he should collect, including the one that led to the goal.
But that said, we all may look back and think that the game was actually a decent result for United. Fact is, Spurs are on a good run of form, a testament to what Andre Villas-Boas has worked with this team. They really took the game to United in the second half and fully deserved the point if not more. You also have to congratulate Clint Dempsey. For me, he’s been a model professional in how he’s coped since joining the club. It’s a difficult thing to settle in at a top club and I think in spite of all the criticism he has taken, he’s just kept his head down and stayed hard at work. He was justly rewarded for that today.
Arsenal are in trouble, no doubt about it. They are very thin in their numbers without Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski and they have to find some reinforcements. Their fullbacks were very poor today, and the defense as a whole is not very good. What worries me is how badly they fell apart after the first goal. Yes, you can point to a foul by Ramires but you play to the whistle. Arsenal make basic mental mistakes like that too often and they don’t seem to communicate well at all. Now, they did alright in the second half – you saw how much more effective Theo Walcott is when he goes right down the middle – but over the 90 minutes, Chelsea were by far the better team.
What worries me about Chelsea is their nerves. Even at two goals up they looked troubled. Part of the problem is that they expose themselves at the back too often because so many of their midfielders are up on attack. John Obi Mikel and David Luiz have taken a lot of stick, but the fact is, the Chelsea back four needs one of them in front of that line to relieve the pressure. You saw that style of play and how well it worked under Jose Mourinho – when Chelsea got 1-0 up, the Blues never looked like giving a goal away. They’ve lost that resolve. I think Rafa Benitez needs to work to get it back.
As I said on the program today, City were the big winners. It was a typical Roberto Manicni show: not great, but very professional and they kept a clean sheet. David Silva coming back into form and to get a solid win without Yaya Toure is very important for that team.
Liverpool’s also been a big topic on the channel, especially after we aired BEING:Liverpool, and I think their game against Norwich was the best we’ve seen from them all season. It’s not a coincidence that it comes after Lucas returned to full fitness and Brendan Rodgers signed Daniel Sturridge. They have some very big games coming up against Arsenal and Manchester City so we’ll see if they can keep it up.
Unfortunately, we have to finish up with my old team, and it’s not a happy topic. Newcastle have gone from being a side I’m concerned about to being deeply worried about. They are not scoring goals, they look very nervous when teams come at them, and the defending has been mediocre. They are in a relegation battle now, and I have to say they are in deep trouble. They have a little break now to try and sort matters out, but they need to get some cover and get it quickly.
I really enjoy hearing from you guys, so drop me a line via Twitter to my account @warrenbarton2. You can always ask a question anytime via @FOXSoccer, and the best ones get chatted about on air. I’ll see you next weekend for the FA Cup, and as always, thanks so much for reading and watching FOX Soccer!