Cabbage & Caviar - Week 3
18 Mar, 2014 1:01 AM GMT
Cabbage & Caviar - Week 3
Jose Mourinho is first up in the cabbage stakes this week. Chelsea were outplayed at Villa Park on Saturday as the Blues boss started to feel the pressure. Not only has he been bigging up Manchester City's title credentials but he's now holding the door open for them. Perhaps he is becoming a little distracted by his own mind games. After 67 minutes against Villa, he originally wanted to substitute Willian for Schurrle. Willian had already been booked, but he changed his mind and hauled off Oscar instead. Willian's second yellow (and subsequent red) was debatable to say the least but it's always a risk when you've already been booked. After going a goal down late on, his team completely lost their discipline as Ramires saw red for a shocking challenge on El Ahmadi which was almost immediately followed by Mourinho being sent to the stands himself for complaining to referee Chris Foy. In his post match interview, Mourinho said he didn't want to comment on anything about the game as he didn't want to be "accused of bringing the game into disrepute." He didn't seem to mind about that too much when he was poking Barcelona's Assistant Manager Tito Vilanova's eye out during a touch line brawl not so long ago. Jose, you're not so special this week I'm afraid.
Runners up this week are Newcastle United. A poor display from the manager-less Magpies away at Fulham. Having sold their best player in Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain in January and with their top scorer Loic Remy sidelined through injury, Newcastle lacked any imagination or creativity. The Newcastle fans who made the 574 mile round trip will probably be feeling a bit short changed and rightly so after witnessing a pretty toothless performance. Newcastle have a poor record at Craven Cottage and despite having the lion share of the possession, they failed to capitalise against a team that will more than likely be playing Championship football next season. The Magpies have now slumped to ninth in the table and are shipping an average of two goals a game so far in 2014. With their manager recently busting some touch line moves that wouldn't look out of place on WWE Raw, it's not a great point in the season for Newcastle and with some difficult fixtures on the horizon, it's looking increasingly like mid table mediocrity for the North East side.
This week's Cabbage Kings are David Moyes and Manchester United. A team in transition, aka crisis and regression. They were outclassed, outwitted and outplayed in every aspect of the game by their arch enemies Liverpool on Sunday. Hapless defending, weak and clueless in midfield and a misfiring and out of sorts attack. Yes, this is last season's Premier League champions I'm talking about. Merely a shadow of the team that dominated the league last season under Sir Alex Ferguson. There are many theories as to why United are struggling, most of which point to David Moyes. This defeat is a double whammy for United as not only will it hurt like hell to get thrashed at home by Liverpool but in doing so, they have given their bitter adversaries a huge shove towards the Premier League title. United's performance was littered with lacklustre displays from key senior players and bizarre and untimely substitutions by a manager that many believe is clearly out of his depth. There followed a complete lack of confidence, a number of defensive errors, poor tactical decisions, consistently giving away possession... you get the picture. Many United fans are losing patience and are asking whether it's now possible to un-choose 'the chosen one.' After the final whistle, a furore of negativity regarding Manchester United and David Moyes broke out on social media and in the press. This is truly cabbage indeed from a team that may not win the title again for a long time. What a difference a season makes.
Now for the caviar...
Plenty of contenders this week but my first nomination is for Cardiff City keeper David Marshall. Despite ending up on the losing side after a very late goal by Seamus Coleman at Everton on Saturday, David Marshall put in yet another heroic display between the sticks. It's not the first time this season he's pulled off a string of world class saves in a match. He was terrific for Cardiff as they battled for a point against a tough Everton team at Goodison park. In the end, it wasn't to be as the Bluebirds came away with a defeat but Marshall can be proud of yet another top drawer performance, producing some wonder stops that will surely be contenders for save of the season. Whilst Cardiff remain in a very precarious position in the relegation zone, it could be a lot worse if it wasn't for David Marshall. The 29 year old Glaswegian is a product of Celtic's youth academy and Cardiff acquired his services from Norwich City in 2009 for £500,000 which is dirt cheap in today's Premier League notes. He's having a phenomenal season and if Cardiff do manage to stay up, they'll owe a lot to the capable hands of their burly shot stopper.
Runner up in the coveted caviar prize this week goes to Manchester City for their gutsy and resilient display at Hull. After crashing out of two cup competitions in 4 days, City needed to bounce back with a win to ensure their league title challenge remained alive. Hull City, buoyed by their recent FA Cup success were looking to cause an upset so there was a fair amount of pressure going into this game and City rose to it majestically. A lot has been said and written about City's potent attack in the first half of the season but with their talismanic skipper sent for an early bath, City needed a very strong defensive performance and they got it. Even the slightly dodgy Demichelis rose to the challenge. They were very well organised and with Javi Garcia dropping back in defence, Pellegrini didn't even need to make any immediate substitutions, despite having Joleon Lescott on the bench. Defending well is never enough for City and blessed with a plethora of attacking talent, they soon made Hull look like they were the ones with 10 men. David Silva ended his goal drought with a strike worthy of winning the caviar award on it's own and Edin Dzeko sealed the deal. City showed they had both the quality and the character to turn a potential banana skin into a huge stride towards the Premier League title. Classy.
In an unprecedented twist in this week's Cabbage and Caviar, I've chosen a double award for the caviar winners. I simply couldn't decide between Aston Villa's inspired performance against Chelsea or Liverpool's delectable despatching of Manchester United, so, the spoils are shared. After awarding the sought after prize to Aston Villa last time for their impressive win against Norwich, I said that I probably wouldn't be mentioning them in the caviar stakes again, I was wrong. Villa were simply magnificent against Chelsea. Lord knows why they don't play like that every week, they'd be right up there challenging the best if they did. Fabian Delph was sensational in midfield and they defended heroically, frustrating Chelsea into submission. Chelsea had left the door ajar for the chasing pack but after Villa's victory, it's now wide open. A fantastic goal by Delph and an all round team performance worthy of only caviar.
Liverpool have featured in the caviar stakes every week so far and deservedly so. They continue to produce the goods under Brendan Rogers and this week was certainly no exception. Perhaps going to Old Trafford isn't the same challenge as it used to be but take nothing away from Liverpool as they looked the real deal. Rogers set the midfield in a diamond formation with Gerrard at the base, Henderson and Joe Allen just in front with Sterling ahead of them just in behind the strikers and it worked a treat. Allen and Henderson bossed the midfield and yet another fantastic performance from the enigmatic skipper saw the reds run riot in Manchester United's back yard. It was only 3 but could and should have been more as Liverpool dominated proceedings in a way they could only have dreamt of two or three seasons ago. So when are people going to start taking Liverpool seriously as title contenders? The big guns still have to go to Anfield and Liverpool are the form team of 2014. I know I've already mentioned how poor United were but take nothing away from this rampant Liverpool team. It's caviar all round for the Merseysiders... put the champagne on ice.