Big Sam Allardyce is back and as usual, he went to Liverpool and got a result. Jurgen Klopp made an interesting comment, ” No one expects WBA to play 6/4 whatever it is called !” Maybe it was a dig at Big Sam ‘s strategy. Big Sam’s response, ” When you come to Anfield you have to stay in the game!” Indeed ” Staying in the game ” is what his team did and when the chance came , they took it leaving Liverpool frustrated.
With Big Sam as with Jose Mourinho, the fans and opposition managers will know what to expect. It is all about defensive organisation, team work, hard work by the players and the occasional attack. No manager can defend a 0-0 like these two, no manager can defend a goal like these masters of defence. Big Sam was once quoted , ” It is better not to concede than to score !” But it seems , Jose is failing to implement this strategy with Tottenham. Yesterday after scoring early, Tottenham again conceded right at the death. Wolves were worthy a point and with better finishing could have grabbed the winner. For a Manager who prides himself in his defensive organisation, The Special One must be tearing his hair in frustration. Maybe for Tottenham , old habits die hard, they just have to surrender the points from a winning position, it is in their DNA.
In other news, the Gunners, Arsenal rediscovered what it means to win a football match. Credit must go to the manager Mikel Arteta for trusting the youth. Smith Rowe Smith 20, Martinelli 19 and Bakayo Saka 19 showed the hearts of lions and might just have given their manager a stay of execution. Arteta needed this result and his young guns did it for him. Even the much maligned Granit Xhaka stood up to be counted . He scored a brilliant free kick and that goal made me eat humble pie. I had wondered why he was in the team and what a way to answer the critics. His overall disciplined performance might have gone a long way in persuading doubting Gunners fans about his commitment to the cause.
Young Saka capped the good performance by the Gunners by scoring that cross shot. ” I saw the keeper off his line and i thought let me chip him..!” he said without blinking an eyelid. Only he knows if he was saying the truth. But the Gunners fans will not be bothered, they will be happy with the result. Victory had proved elusive and this one will be cherished.
What was a very good result for Arsenal will however lead to many questions about Chelsea and their manager Frank Lampard. The team looked lethargic. ” In the premier league, you cannot show lack of desire… !” said the manager. Lack of desire, well well, it is difficult to say that about a team with Ngolo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisc and Mason Mount in midfield. These are quality players and definitely the manager should be getting a lot more from these stars. The buck stops with him and he should get that consistency and desire back.
It is proving to be a tight race with Manchester United and Manchester City very much in the mix. Everton are punching above their weight and Leicester City continue to make progress under Brendan Rodgers. However the safe money is still on Liverpool.
In conclusion, let me spare a thought for Sheffield United, they are having the ultimate Second Season Syndrome. 13 matches without a win, it is turning out to be a nightmare season. Contrast this with Aston Villa who also struggled last season. They are having a dream season and credit must go to the Board which showed patience with the manager. The manager Deane Smith is repaying the faith and has turned last season flops into real challengers for a top six finish. This is a wonderful turnaround. The only downside for Zimbabwe fans is the lack of game time for Nation ‘s golden boy Marvellous Nakamba. Hopefully he will contribute more to this Villa revival.
With Covid 19 continuing to wreck havoc, football is an escape. I hope nothing will happen to stop the football just as i hope that soon football will also be back in Zimbabwe. Indeed in times such as these we all need God and yes, we need football, it keeps us sane!