ETW had a great weekend thank you for asking. It was superb actually. Liverpool didn't play so any remnants of hope that resurfaces during their matches was locked up for the weekend. No second loves for ETW as its first love is problematic enough because of useless emotions such as hope and love. Gah. Waiting and suffocating wasn't a favourable option but the weekend started that way. While ETW embodies all the misery that is inflicted upon poor souls known as fans, partaking in such suffering was never part of ETW's plans so distractions were sought over the past couple of days.
Waiting for Manchester United and David Moyes to experience a new reality was becoming an undeniable irritant. Googling "Brendan Rodgers" and "Luis Suarez" for new articles became slightly boring after the 53rd time. Slightly mind you. The only option was to watch other teams play and ETW doesn't enjoy watching other teams play because there's nothing at stake for ETW. It's Liverpool or nothing and the only use other teams have is to play Liverpool before buggering off somewhere in the background of ETW's footballing calendar. However, there was no Liverpool the past weekend so sojourning to foreign lands was a prerequisite for sanity to be preserved even if sanity is quite overrated.
Manchester City had business with Wigan in Sunday's FA Cup quarter final but it felt like a revenge mission in the build up to the game. Once upon a time, before Man City were "holistic" and free from the defensive affliction known as Martín Demichelis, Man City lost to Wigan in the FA Cup final. Demichelis is another addition to the list of ageing defenders of pedigree who have struggled in England's top flight. Sure, he is composed on the ball and assists in a studious approach to building attacks from the back but Manchester City need a reliable defensive friend for Vincent Kompany. It won't be Joleon Lescott or Dedryck Boyata. It should be the young and talented Matija Nastasić but injuries and growing pains necessitate the addition of a regular partner for Man City's captain. England's richest club would benefit further from a defensive or versatile midfielder to provide an extra option in midfield. It must be difficult turning to Javi García in the unshakeable knowledge that regret will come to pass and pretending that Jack Rodwell's occasional place on the bench is for anything more than decoration. Purchasing Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando in January would have continued the trend of sensible squad improvement.
Man City's squad deficiencies (a strange but reasonable notion) aside, Wigan won the game after going two goals up and were excellent value for another shock victory. Once again the Football Gods reminded Man City fans that their long suffering history cannot be escaped. Manchester United's noisy neighbours may possess boundless cash wrapped in oil but it seems that some things may never change for the club. They have benefited from staunch supporters through good times and bad. While times are undoubtedly much improved, there'll always be dash of misfortune to hit Man City just because it is Man City. To the credit of the club's supporters, they have been vocal and steadfast through lean times but that result wasn't unexpected in the context of the club's history. It's like when Liverpool look like doing something and enter a game appearing to be on the precipice of adding that result but suffer disappointment nonetheless. Fun.
Tottenham travelled to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side under the leadership of the man Guardiola can't compete with because he's the man. I know what you mean Pep and ETW ardently hopes you face Mourinho in the Champions League quarter finals. Do your worst you sexy footballing savant, do your worst. Chelsea did just that against Tottenham without actually doing their best to do their worst. It was a strange experience for ETW and if pity was an emotion that ETW would entertain for a team desiring to usurp Liverpool in any way, it would be directed at Tottenham. In fact, such misguided pity would be concentrated on the unfortunate managerial existence of one Tim Sherwood.
Click as Commanded
Click as Commanded
One writer purporting to represent The Liverpool Offside with distinction continued to rabbit away on Sunday's open thread. Perhaps he was excited because one of his ghastly verbose articles possessed something worthy enough for Ed to reference. Who knows? This writer, who will not be named for legal reasons, thought Sherwood's use of Kyle Walker at right wing to support Kyle Naughton at right back was the wrong tactical move. What he overlooked but must have later realised over the course of the game was that Chelsea concentrate much of their attacking play on the left side. Therefore, it would only be natural for Sherwood to fortify the right side of Tottenham's defence. Adebayor was predictably selected as the lone striker and his greater goal threat from open play yet Tottenham's central midfield zone did not appear as strengthened as one would expect considering the formation that was deployed at the outset of the match.
Tottenham started better than Chelsea did and started the second half still level with a goal yet to be scored by either side. In fact, Tottenham looked like a side that could compete against rivals of note until they didn't. Sherwood's tactics and positional changes looked solid until they didn't. Like a game of Jenga, one bad move saw the whole game crumble rapidly with no chance of a revival. Poor Tim Sherwood. He looked like a broken man in the post match press conference. What could he have done to deserve such a pitiful reaction from his players? Yes, Tottenham looked dangerously susceptible to through balls as they have done all season and a high or highish defensive line with Michael Dawson doesn't work but four nil? Mourinho cleverly adapted Chelsea's defensive line to suit the physical capabilities of John Terry and perhaps Sherwood could help his task by looking at how his London neighbours are arranged defensively.
AVB suffered three humiliating defeats, didn't learn from his mistakes, led a talented team that struggled to score goals, and wasn't miles away from the top four when he was sacked. Tim Sherwood has suffered two humiliating defeats, appears to be learning from some of his mistakes, has got one striker who can score goals even goalscoring remains a problem, isn't miles away from the top four, and looks like he'll be sacked at the end of the season. Is it fair? Probably not but Tim should get on the phone to Rafa because the Spurs manager is an interim manager in everything but name. While Rafa Benítez secured a managerial job with Napoli on the back of CL qualification with Chelsea and a Europa League win, Tim Sherwood might have to settle for fending off any challenge from Manchester United for fifth spot and a deep run in the Europa League to display some of his credentials to potential employers.
Chelsea win again and Mourinho continues his assault on the gullibility of humankind with insincere utterance after insincere utterance. ETW enjoyed the spiritual footballing blood that was spilled on Sunday even if a Chelsea victory had to be involved in such delightful destruction of dreams. Manchester City will have to face Liverpool in April's allocated Sunday slot instead of denying Arsenal another chance to lose to lesser opposition in a domestic cup final. Tottenham's miserable month of March may seal Liverpool's qualification for the Champions League if their players continue to show such resilience and discipline. Get rid of Tottenham first then Chelsea second. Priorities people.
ETW really wasn't bothered about watching any games this weekend but Sunday's games affected Liverpool. Chelsea's win affects Liverpool in another way but those miserable tidings will be shared later in the week. What have we learnt from all this? Nothing at all. Rival teams suffering is fun but watching someone's genuine disappointment and hurt is uncomfortable. That's the problems with hopes and expectations. That's when ETW reigns supreme.