|photo by twob||via PhotoRee|
...from Correspondent Ed:
The League Cup and the FA Cup have taught us some lessons. First, the difference between the top tier of English football and the middle tiers isn't that much. Part of this is the higher level of play in the lower leagues than in the past. Part is also that the premier league teams just aren't that good. And of course there's that difference between teams that want it more and teams that don't. It's amazing how far hustling will get you.
But again, let's not diminish the abilities of some of these lower level teams. Bradford City at times looked phenomenal against Chelsea-- consider their last goal, patience in a tight spot, a terrific run, and clean finish. And so did Middlesbrough. Dare we also say Cambridge? Well maybe not, but they did seem to reveal the overall weakness of the fourth place team in the league.
And what if that pesky Liverpool team? Well, they looked pretty good at times against Chelsea in the league cup, even for a team without a striker. Had that team included Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, would it have even been close?
And what of MLS bound Stevie G.? Did he look old? Did he look slow? Well, in my opinion he looked the smartest man on the pitch, making great passes and runs out of an unfamiliar right forward position. On defense, he effectively closed down Nemanja Matic on several occasions. Consider also Steven Gerrard's replacement at the holding position, Lucas Leiva. Lucas was certainly all over the field but his reckless tackles gave him one yellow and could easily have had him tossed out with a second yellow at least three times thereafter.