Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks
New coaches, new players, new teams, newness galore has brightened the
veteran English Premier League in 2013.
There have been changes in broadcasting. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports
has been pushed aside and replaced by the new glitzy NBC Sports. Bein, the
interloper coming in from the Middle East, has broadcasting rights for the English
Champions’ League, LaLiga and Serie A.
The EPL has started with a bang with last year’s champions Manchester
United beating up on Swansea. Once again, it was the Van Persie show as his
performance demonstrated the valuable nature of his acquisition to Manchester
The fate of Wayne Rooney is still to be decided. Rooney came on as a
substitute in the second half but it is clear that he would like to relocate to a team
where he will again be the “supreme striker”.
Chelsea under the second coming of Jose Mourinho, looked dazzling in the
first half and were up by 2-0. They took their foot off the pedal in the second half.
The fortunes of players change depending on the whim and the
philosophy of the manager. Under the Mourinho regime, Lampard and Terry are
back as starting stalwarts. David Luiz is supposedly hurt and did not play and the
rumors persist about his move to Barcelona.
Juan Mata and Demba Ba did not feature and the new Chelsea is
overstocked in midfield. This will make it difficult for players like Mikel and Victor
Moses to see much time. Some of Chelsea’s excessive baggage will be off loaded
before the transfer window closes.
Hull lost 2-0 to Chelsea on their Premier League debut but particularly in
the second half, they gave a decent account of themselves. When Liverpool and
Huddleston entered the game in the second half, the Hull City squad looked less
of a second rate team. The acquisition of the two former Tottenham players
should strengthen the Hull squad.
Tottenham without Bale squeezed out a victory against Crystal Palace. The
sole goal came in the form of a penalty. Tottenham has a rejuvenated squad with
Soldado as the new striker and Paulinho, et al, in midfield. It is apparent that Bale
is on his way to Real Madrid and the Bale-less Tottenham will struggle to score
Most of the top tier teams have looked to bolster their roster with new
acquisitions except Arsenal. Arsenal lost to Aston Villa 3-1 as they took the lead
in the early start of the game and thereafter everything fell apart. The left full
back, Gibbs, was hurt and had to leave the field. They gave up two penalties and
Koscielny received a second yellow and the unchanged aggregation of yesteryear
had to finish the game with ten men.
Arsenal as a club lacks imagination. When one looks at the new talent that
Chelsea , Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham have brought in, it becomes
clear that Arsenal scouting of players is too limited and lack the outreach of the
top tier clubs.
Brandon Rodgers’ Liverpool is a classical example of astute acquisitions.
Last season, he went out and acquired Sturridge and Coutinho. Suarez’s future is
still up for grabs but he also brought in Kolo Toure to strengthen his back four.
When Liverpool plays, it is clear the kind of soccer philosophy that is on display
and the players with the dexterity to play that brand of ball. Liverpool also won
on their 2013 debut with Sturridge’s goal. Arsenal seems condemned to the
wilderness as in recent years they have lost the cream and replaced them with
players who are quite mediocre. Wenger is a sad anachronism