Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United. The match was exciting. With Juan Mata’s volley and David De Gea’s save, there were world class skill displays. Though, with two own goals and two dubious penalties, it was not FOX’s asked for advertisement for what purports to be the world’s most exciting soccer league. It did, however, address a couple longstanding issues.
David De Gea faces an uphill battle to lock down the starting job the rest of this season. The kid is talented. His save should be proof enough for his fervent detractors. Shot-stopping, though, remains only part of the skill-set required. The Spaniard still struggles asserting himself on crosses and handling physical play. Just 21, he may become less tentative with time. Though, with a title within grasp this season, prudent patience is not a luxury Man United can afford.
It’s quite possible Andre Villas-Boas’ first season at Chelsea may be his last, even if the Blues do stay in the Champions League. The Portuguese has been given little time and an aging squad ill-fitting for his playing style. That said, the 34-year-old has often displayed a naivety, suggesting he may not have been prepared to steer one of the world’ stop clubs and superstar players who are his contemporaries.
Roman Abramovich has been hovering around the Chelsea training ground. Jose Mourinho has been rumored to want out of Real Madrid this summer. Reuniting to complete an unfinished task in Europe could be the perfect opportunity neither could pass up.
Symbolic Crisis. England may be the only country where the captain matters, but heading into Euro 2012 it could matter a great deal. John Terry, for the second time, has been stripped of his position as Three Lions captain as he faces a trial this summer for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand (Chelsea fans classily booed his brother Rio on Sunday). Though rather than eliminate a distraction, the move may have exacerbated it. Terry will not lead England, but that does not mean he won’t play for England. Coach Fabio Capello “absolutely” disagreed with the decision to change captains and, presumably, may call him up regardless. The dignified route would be for Terry to retire himself from international play, but no one would ever accuse John Terry of being dignified.
Misleading Result. Arsene Wenger wore his magical puffy coat. On Saturday, there was no need to recede into it. His Arsenal team stormed to a 7-1 win over Blackburn, with goals from Robin van Persie, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and even Thierry Henry. The audacious win will boost confidence. It moves them within three points of Chelsea. It’s still nothing to get jazzed about, coming at home, against the then 18th placed team that was down to ten men and without its two best players. Even with Robin van Persie, the club has been listing, without him they likely would sink.
Slap Happy: Normally, Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes a tumble in Februrary. This year, the Swede chose to save himself going through the motions. He needlessly slapped Salvatore Aronica in the face, during AC Milan’s 0-0 draw with Napoli. The act earned him a three-match ban. If Milan lose their appeal, he will miss the crucial showdown with table-toppers Juventus on Feb. 25. Milan are just a point behind the Bianconeri, but their opponents have a game in hand.
Century Mark: Neymar scored his 100th career goal to put Santos ahead 1-0 over Palmeiras. Not quite as impressive as this goal or this one, but still, well played. His teammates, apparently, made him into a human cake to celebrate.
[Photo via Getty]