Manchester City beat Arsenal 1-0 to reclaim their two-point lead atop the EPL table. David Silva slotting in a rebound provided the victory margin, though, in truth, this match could have gone either way. It also could have been higher scoring. City muffed clear chances on net. Arsenal had an RVP goal get ruled offside and a penalty shout go unacknowledged. So it goes.
The match was open and exciting, but it was a better advertisement for the league’s entertainment quality than its tactical discipline. Despite the skill displayed, neither team controlled the game. Either would have been smacked by Barcelona with that type of effort.
Arsenal’s fullbacks, or the lack of them, looked like the decisive factor. The Gunners needed to create down the wings to use their pace, but without Sagna and either Gibbs or Santos on the left they received neither overlap nor consistent crossing. Players out of position or missing markings allowed a lot of space at the back.
The loss likely knocks Arsenal out of the EPL title race. Though, that can’t have been their true ambition. The true test, after the historically poor loss to Manchester United, was to see if they could compete on the highest level. The Gunners proved they could. The race for the EPL’s Champions League chairs could get mighty interesting.
World’s Best Club: The Club World Cup Final between Neymar and Barcelona did not live up to its billing, as a bellwether for the next Brazilian superstar. Barcelona just dominated. They won 4-0. It wasn’t even close. Injuries forced them into a peculiar 3-3-4 formation, yet they still suffocated possession and should have won by more. That’s now Barcelona’s 13th trophy in 16 competitions under Pep Guardiola, which is insane.
Tough Test: Real Madrid was coming off a devastating 3-1 loss to Barcelona. They faced one of their hardest away tests of the season against top-half side Sevilla. The match was must-win, to maintain their three-point lead at the top of the table. The pressure was on, and seemed mostly irrelevant. Real took a 3-0 lead at halftime and cruised to a 6-2 win. Ronaldo scored twice. The Spanish Primera Liga: Feel the excitement.
Winter Vacation: Landon Donovan will rejoin Everton on a two-month loan, hoping to recreate his successful 2010 spell. He will be eligible for eight EPL matches from Jan 4 through the Merseyside Derby on Feb. 25. It will be interesting to see where they use him. Donovan played down the wing for Moyes last time, however, the Toffees have scored just 16 goals through 15 matches. They don’t have a player with more than three. It’s possible Donovan could appear through the middle to liven Everton’s play up front.
Another MLS star who could be loaned to an EPL club is Thierry Henry. The 34-year-old has been training with his former club Arsenal. Arsenal must sign a striker for January, as they will be shorthanded during the African Nations Cup. Henry is cheap, knows the system and should be well rested. He’s been conserving strength since leaving Barcelona.
Premature Beckgasm: France Football, one of the world’s most prestigious soccer publications, reported David Beckham would attend Paris St. Germain’s match with Lille to be unveiled after signing a new 18-month contract worth around $18 million. The problem? Beckham did not show up. He’s reportedly still in England, home of Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers who were also interested in his services. Stay tuned…
Best Own Goal Ever: Festus Baise, a defender for Sun Hei in the Hong Kong 1st division, connected with a cross and sent a majestic reverse scorpion-kick over the keeper’s head into the far corner. The trouble? It was his own net.
[Photo via Getty]