Monday, April 4, 2011

Reflections on the Weekend That Was

I had a keg of Sierra Nevada Glissade Golden Bock delivered to the house on Wednesday in anticipation of some good friends from out of town arriving.  My first draw from the tap was a disaster, though: way too much foam and much too little beer. At first I chalked it up to the keg rolling around on it's trip to my house, but as it sat overnight I began to form a clearer idea of the problem: the coils in my outdoor kegerator had become clogged with leaves, and as a result the kegerator wasn't cooling enough, thus allowing the beer to be warmer than it should have been.  The result?   I was looking at pouring much of the keg down the drain, the very same place that Arsenal and Chelsea saw their title chances go this weekend. 
Arsenal's Draw had Samir Nasri Looking as if He'd Had One Too Many Sierra Nevada Glissades
Blackburn put up a brave fight against Arsenal, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Gunners in the process of gaining a vital point at the Emirates. Rovers' midfielder Martin Olsson best personified the giving-everything-they-had performance Blackburn turned in, throwing his body to the ground in an effective -- if painful -- lesson on how to block a point blank shot.

I thought referee Phil Dowd had a pretty good game on Saturday, with the exception of the red card on Steven Nzonzi, which was overly harsh. Blackburn was giving as good as they were getting to that point in the match, and Dowd's decision effectively condemned Rovers to hanging-on-by-the-skin-of-their-fingernails status for the game's final 20 minutes.  That they were able to hold out against an Arsenal side at home shows just how deep a tailspin the Gunners are in at the moment.  

And speaking of hanging on, the Potters gave Chelsea all they could handle on Saturday, as well, and the Blues were fortunate -- thanks to the acrobatics of a Petr Cech, who looks ominously back to his best just in time for the Champions League matches with United -- to hang on for the draw. The Brittania is always a tough place to get a result for visiting teams, and it was full credit to Tony Pulis and his team that they were not content to play for the draw at home.  Stoke looked by far the likelier of the two sides to win it in the second half's waning moments, and Chelsea once again looked rather ordinary. 

I'm tempted to declare Wednesday's game against United will be another test of where Chelsea is at this moment in the season, but the more I see Carlo's boys play, the more I'm beginning to think that this is a proud but tired club, struggling with the weight of expectations against the reality of where they currently sit in the table. The Blues seem able to rouse themselves for the "big" games (witness the game against United at the Bridge a few short weeks ago), but then come undone when playing mid-table sides. I'm certain the departure of Ray Wilkins, and the addition of a Fernando Torres (who no one save Roman seems to have wanted), had something to do with it, as well, disrupting a team chemistry which has not been re-created to date.

So, when all was said and done this weekend, the reality was this: I was able to get the keg back under control -- cleaning the coils led to a lower temperature in the box, and a significant reduction in foam -- and United took control of the League this weekend, as well. Arsenal and Chelsea may still be in the race -- the latter if barely so -- but the once and future Champions in Red kept the pedal to the medal, and continued to grind out the results. They may not always be pretty (in fact, for the first half on Saturday they were actually very ugly), but they're almost always effective.

This is farlieonfootie for April 4.

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