Friday, May 2, 2014

Of cajones and champions

It seems much of the drama remaining in the EPL will climax this week-end where the 2 main protagonists, Man City and Liverpool, have their toughest games remaining. The Citizens visit Everton where they have an appalling record, while Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace where full points are not a certain conclusion. It is general consensus that the Kops will easily dispose of struggling Newcastle on the last day while City should win its remaining home games against the likes of  Aston Villa and West Ham (though, that is by no means with 100% confidence).

Everton v/s Man City is the big one. The Toffees have surpassed all expectations all year long and have an outside chance for a UCL spot, although I don't think they will get it because Arsenal should finish the season strong. They have beaten the likes of Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea at Goodison Park, so they will pose City problems. I think they will fancy their chances here even though getting a result will hand the title advantage to their much-hated city rivals Liverpool. The downside for them is that they will play without their main midfield anchor in Gareth Barry as he's ineligible to play against his parent club. Whether the return of captain Jagielka in defence after a 10-week absence is a good or bad one remains to be seen. It will be tough to get back defending against the most awesome attacking team in the league.

On the other side, Man City will have been buoyed by last week-end's results which gave their title charge major impetus. They are now back in command of the title destiny. The return of Yaya Toure has made a huge difference to the team and the availability of Silva from injury on Saturday makes them an even more formidable force. When on-song, whether at home or on the road, their football can reach the realms of fantasy. Add to that the appearance of Aguero on the frontline guarantees that they will have their chances to score. They will score in that match, no doubt.

If I am to pick a weakness with this talented City team is their mental toughness. They were unable to beat Sunderland a couple of weeks ago at the Etihad when nothing short of 3 full points were necessary. When they won the league a couple of years back, they struggled mightily to overcome QPR at home on the last day. This is a team that lost to Wigan in the FA Cup final last year. Hence, this could very well be a team that can beat Everton this week, but possibly lose points against Villa or West Ham in their next games.

Liverpool have the advantage of playing their game against Crystal Palace a day later. They will be able to decide when to throw the kitchen sink if needed, based on City's result. I think because of this, they will beat the Eagles. With their attacking mind-set, last-ditch goals will happen.

The Kop fans have reason to be hopeful of a City misstep. It might not happen at Everton, it might happen after that, who knows? Or it might not happen. Pellegrini's reputation is also quite massively on the line here. With that squad, failure at this stage would be disastrous. As Diego Simeone would say, do they have the "cajones" to see it through?

No comments:

Post a Comment