Football and mathematics do not mix!
Posted: May 06, 2012
This past week, I watched matches that can be truly described as bizarre in their unexpected and almost incomprehensible results.
Wigan FC, a team struggling at the bottom half of the English Premiership to stay afloat and survive the drop to the relegation zone, took on Newcastle United FC, a solid team that was chasing a place amongst the top four of teams that go on to play in the prestigious UEFA Champions League, and did them in, Newcastle United did not know what hit them. They were rattled with an unbelievable four goals, with Wigan Athletic FC putting up one of their best displays of the entire season. Nigeria’s Victor Moses led the Wigan attack in a bewildering display of speed, skills and shooting power. He shone like a thousand stars and scored a brace in the process.
One week later, the same Newcastle United had to play against a resurgent Chelsea FC that had only a week earlier defied all odds and predictions, made nonsense of all mathematical permutations and calculations by playing an inspired but ‘negatively’ defensive football to humble the best team in the world. What happened? It was like a resurrection from the dead.
With their hopes of ending up in the UEFA Champions league qualifying zone hanging on a thread after the Wigan defeat,Newcastle United FC went to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC and performed a football miracle.
Chelsea were brimming with confidence. Even Torres walked onto the lush green turf of Stamford Bridge with a swagger for the first time since he became a member of the ‘Blues’ eleven. He had failed to impress all season but had suddenly woken up and scored a hat-trick only a week before the Newcastle United FC match to renew his confidence and get some release from his prison of missed chances and a drought of goals.
So, Stamford Bridge is usually not a place where opponents seek and get points.Chelsea FC, even in their worst form do not have a history of surrendering cheap points on their hallowed ground.The evidence is therefore for all to see with their home matches all season until that match. Even with their fast ageing ‘gladiators’ they had qualified ahead of teams like Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs for the finals of the English FA Cup which they are favourites to win this weekend,given their recent performances since the exit of Andre Villas Boas and the entry of Roberto Di Matteo as interim manager.
Last Tuesday night, football turned an anticipated script on its head. In 100 minutes of pulsating action Newcastle United did to Chelsea exactly what Chelsea did to eliminate Barcelona from the UEFA League Championship.Chelsea FC attacked for most of the game but Newcastle United FC deservedly carried the day, absorbing everything thrown at them, and replying with two of the best goals of the entire Premiership this season, courtesy of Papiss Demba Cisse!
Earlier down the road this season, I recall how Arsenal FC had lost scandalously to Manchester United FC in their first meeting,eight goals for any team in the world against Arsenal FC was unheard of.I do not know how they recovered from the shock of that woeful performance, but they did. They shook off the humiliation, started playing well again, and are now comfortably placed at third position on the Premiership table.
At the top of the Premier league table with same points as the leaders, Manchester City FC, with two matches to the end of the season, are Manchester United FC. How they got to that position is still an incomprehensible development for purists of football. How can a team that parades it oldest and weakest in decades be atop the Premiership? Earlier in the season,this same team was beaten black and blue by their city rivals at Old Trafford by six goals to one. Even with that defeat they maintained an eight point gap ahead of their closest rival.
This season Man U have had no real depth in terms of exceptional talent and performance, yet at the end of the season in two weeks time they could be declared champions again. Alex Ferguson himself has said that winning the Premiership again depends on Manchester City floundering against unpredictable Newcastle FC this weekend. I believe Manchester United’s achievements have all been down to the ingenuity of legendary Fergie who has been carefully guiding, meandering and manoeuvring his average team through the minefields of the Premiership! He has been doing with Man U what Jose Mourinho did in Spain, shepherding a great (that’s the difference) Real Madrid FC to winning the La Liga ,even beyond touching distance of the greatest team in the world, Barcelona FC.
The trend of unpredictability of matches has been very common this season across Europe. Results of matches have been totally against the grain of ordinary analysis. No one is certain what would happen. Results have oscillated from the obvious to the bizarre, to the extent that an ordinary-looking, averagely-performing, ageing Chelsea FC are in the finals of the English FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League and could win both. Manchester United FC at their weakest and putting up some of their most ordinary performances in decades, are in a position to also win the English Premiership. Barcelona FC, the best team in the world with some of the best players, playing some of the best football could end the season without any silverware!
These are some of the things football in 2012 is offering the world. Indeed, football and mathematics do not mix!
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