|photo by dsasso||via PhotoRee|
The second of two pieces this morning. Check out Columnist Scott's rantings below:
o The Drog may be temporarily back at Cobham, but oh how we bet Rafa Benitez wishes the big Ivorian could play at Stamford Bridge, as well. How the Chelsea hierarchy ever thought it was possible to go through a whole season with two strikers while loaning out their third is beyond all reasonable understanding -- especially when compared to the riches contained on the benches of the squads the Blues hoped to compete with.
o But even if he hasn't won any games in the League yet, Benitez has begun to address a serious flaw that had developed under the guidance of Roberto DiMatteo: over-dependence on certain key personnel, leading to over-use of that same personnel, further leading to under-production from the very men the club needs most. If the poster boy for this movement was none other than the 2011/12 edition of Manchester City's artful dodger David Silva, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard were becoming valid candidates for this year's award. Always a believer in squad depth and rotation, Rafa seems to be addressing the flaw, correctly realizing that the physicality and pace of the English game do not lend themselves to fielding the same key players for virtually every game.
o But speaking of squad rotation, here's an interesting counterpoint: you may be able to get away with playing a consistent side if you're not overly involved in numerous competitions. While a lack of European games may lead to a stronger Premier League campaign for Bobby Manc's boys in sky blue, it could also present a real issue for the Italian boss man: with no European games on the docket, playing time at Eastlands will be at a real premium this spring. Sir Alex has correctly noted that it may be difficult for his cross-town counterpart to keep all of the egos on his side in check given the paucity of opportunities now staring them directly in the face.
o And furthermore, as Sir Alex has pointed out in the past, there's nothing like a midweek game to get your mind off a disappointing weekend result. If City are to suffer one or two of those in The upcoming weeks, will the locker room tensions survive an entire week of not playing?
o In closing, here's our brief thoughts on tomorrow's Manchester derby: We're expecting a tightly contested match in which the defense of both sides will be featured, at least initially. If City are to score first it will be highly problematic for the Reds, even with all of the comeback power that United has been able to harness this season. And with City having not lost at home in quite some time, we'll not be so bold as to choose Sunday for their first home defeat.
Despite the defensive nature of a match that we believe will open cautiously, we do see some goals. We'll be happy with a 2-2 draw, but feel we are more likely to see a 2-1 or 3-1 City victory which would move them back to the top of the table -- on goal difference. And one final note: We hope we have to eat our words...which we'll gladly do.
This is farlieonfootie for December 8.