Chelsea and Manchester City came up with the goods in Europe this week with both teams winning convincingly at home.
The Blues dispatched Schalke 3-0 while City turned on the style, Alvaro Negredo hitting a composed hat-trick as Manuel Pellegrini’s men hit CSKA Moscow for five.
Here are a few things we can take home from these two games.
1. Samuel Eto’o should play ahead of Torres
The 32-year-old Cameroonian was only brought in as a stop-gap, a band aid in Chelsea’s striking wound. After Mourinho missed out on Rooney even after his much publicized pursuit of the Englishman, he turned to a former general of his in Eto’o. The capture was not greeted with much enthusiasm by fans and observers alike, after all, despite the player once being of
undoubted ability, he aged and lost a yard of his killer pace. Most did not expect much, and his first few games did not produce much. However, it can be said that the three-time Champions League winner is starting to find his feet.
Eto’o displayed his uncanny experience and instinct for the second time this season when he charged down Schalke keeper Timo Hildebrand’s attempted clearance into the net for his side’s opener. Against Cardiff, he lurked behind the goalkeeper David Marshall and sneaked in to tap the ball to the path of the waiting Eden Hazard once it had left Marshall’s hands. He added to that tally with a clinical finish on the break after Schalke had forced Petr Cech into a great save on the other end.
When he came on for Torres against Newcastle, Eto’o had two chances to score and almost equalized for Chelsea. Torres had been anonymous for most of the match and this coupled with the Cameroonian’s lively display against Arsenal in the Capital One Cup should be enough to convince Mourinho that Eto’o really should be starting ahead of the inconsistent Torres.
2. Julian Draxler is the next big thing out of Germany
The Bundesliga has of late been known to produce some of the best creative midfield talent (Gotze, Kroos, Ozil, Muller immediately come to mind) and the German production conveyor belt seems unending at the moment. One Julian Draxler is the latest to be added to that list and the 20 year old once again displayed his enormous potential at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.
Draxler scored 11 goals last season and has already drawn comparisons with his country mate and legend Michael Ballack – despite playing in a more advanced role. Against Chelsea, he was the brightest spark for Schalke and went close twice, Petr Cech denying him on both occasions. You get the feeling that he would have almost definitely ended up with a better return on the goals or assists front had Dutchman Klaas Jan Huntelaar or Jefferson Farfan featured. Draxler is surely one for the future and a move to a bigger club beckons for the burgeoning Germany starlet.
3. Alvaro Negredo and Kun Aguero are currently the deadliest strike duo in Europe
Yes there are a few individuals somewhere in France who would want to be in with a shout but with them, its been mostly one not the other making the headlines. Confused? I’m referring to one Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. These two were supposed to be the ultimate forward pairing - one, a giant, embarrassingly gifted Swede, with a touch to match Lionel Messi’s and power to rival Cristiano Ronaldo, and the other an absolutely ruthless Uruguayan, with a deadliness like Il Finomino’s (the Brazilian Ronaldo) and an eye for goal like Raul’s or Ruud van Nistelrooy’s. However, these two are yet to catch fire together. Zlatan has been in absolutely destructive form and is probably the hottest striker in Europe at the moment but that has not helped Cavani’s cause much. Laurent Blanc has hesitated to play them both and has often introduced the former Napoli man for Ibra off the bench. City’s deadly duo has had none of that though.
Negredo and Aguero have returned the the term ‘strike partnership’ in its purest sense to the footballing dictionary this campaign. However, it is not a simple return to the stronger, aerially-dominant forward partnered with a nippier, sharp-shooting, fox-in-the-box type finisher of days gone by. Now, City, United and Liverpool can name two strikers capable of surpassing 20 goals a season. For United, Rooney operates as a number 10 more or less, while at City, Sergio Aguero has almost a free role alongside David Silva feeding off Negredo.
City’s duo is certainly the ones in top form, as at least one of Aguero or Negredo have scored in the team’s last eight games in all competitions and they have netted 16 between them in this period. As they continue to gain a better understanding in what is still their first season
together, they have to be the best to be the highest-scoring partnership, even if Edin Dzeko is sure to thwart some of their game-time and Aguero can be injury prone.
However, it is hard to get overly excited over their prospects of being the highest scoring partnership until teams like United start to find some attacking fluidity and verve. Overall, City have struck 28 times in the league, Liverpool and United back with 17. The duo scored all five
goals against CSKA and on this evidence, will score many more for the Sky Blues. Europe…..notice is served.
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