Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forgotten, But Not Gone

photo by dgray_xplanevia PhotoRee

How far has Nedum Onuoha fallen in the EPL pecking order?  Last year, he was starting for Sunderland and slaloming (there's really no other way to describe it) through the Chelsea defense to score a goal he'll never forget in a famous victory at Stamford Bridge.  This year, I didn't even realize he was on the Manchester City roster until I saw him turn up for the Carling Cup matchup against Arsenal at the Emirates on Tuesday.

And let's not forget Kolo Toure's return to the City starting eleven, either. Eighteen months ago, the man who spent seven seasons playing for Arsene Wenger was captaining Manchester City.  Nowadays, Toure apparently spends more time concentrating on his role as team dietician than he does playing defense.

And what to think of the re-appearence after a(nother) lengthy injury rehabilitation period for Owen "Benedict" Hargreaves, who made just his second appearance playing for the Sky Blues on Tuesday?  Having recently returned from his hamstring "issue," I was certain Hargreaves had hurt himself again when Sergio Aguero was sent to warm up inside the 10 minute mark but, alas, the Argentine was only being called on as part of a tactical switch by Roberto Mancini, and -- somewhat miraculously -- Hargreaves was allowed to play nearly 80 minutes rather than being immediately stretchered off the pitch.

Playing so many answers for the "Where Are They Now?" gameshow all at the same time, it's an absolute outrage that Roberto Mancini neglected to insert Wayne Bridge into City's starting lineup.  The former England international and best friend of John Terry must be buried pretty deep in the doghouse not to get a runout in Tuesday's contest.

Not wanting to be left out of the Forgotten Man sweepstakes, Arsenal countered with some long-lost names and faces of their own. Marouane Chamakh -- remember when his "physical presence" was going to give the Arsenal attack a completely new dimension?  Me neither -- and Emmanuel Frimpong (I could say his name a million times and never get tired of it.  I just love how it sounds like a fancy entree: "Waiter, the little missus will have the Shrimp Frimpong, if you please.") both made their way back into the Gunners' lineup after periods of time so lengthy that they each had to be shown where the team's shower facilities were located.

Prior to tonight, Chamakh had become a player so permanently affixed to his spot on the Arsenal bench that the Emirates' groundskeepers have been trained to trim his hair when they mow the pitch, and I haven't seen Frimpong since he lost his head and all the hair on the sides of it (donated to Chamakh, apparently) just prior to gaining his ill-fated red card in the season's first contest against Newcastle.

They were joined on the pitch by another player Wenger must surely regret signing, Sebastien Squillaci, who -- if he was smart -- should have spent all of his recent time in the Arsenal wilderness studying Spanish, all the better to feel more at home when he's shipped off to Espanyol in La Liga come January.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the game's only goal was scored by someone who needs no introduction, as Sergio Aguero's 12th tally of the season handed City a slim 1-nil victory on the night.  

With the loss, Arsenal's trophy drought looks set to extend itself safely into its 7th season, and while City move onto the semi-finals of the League Cup competition, it was only after Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko both logged another 170 minutes plus of combined action -- an exacting toll that could be paid at the business end of the season.

This is farlieonfootie for November 30.

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