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Old Trafford
#1
The scoreline was a familiar one. Tottenham Hotspur 1, Manchester City 5. Two seasons ago on the final Sunday in August of 2011, Roberto Mancinis Manchester City won by the same scoreline at White Hart Lane. Those who watched closely that day were blown away by the utter arrogance in attack a new-look City showed with the ball. Those who werent there paid no attention because, on the same afternoon, Manchester United thumped Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford and that was all anyone talked about the next day. Hiding in the shadows of the Old Trafford storylines was arguably the finest performance Manchester City had produced in decades. Sure, a 6-1 win at United would follow, as would a title, but, under Mancini, City never again played as well as they did at Tottenham that day. Since that afternoon at White Hart Lane, City have undergone some dramatic changes off the field, but you had to look hard for them on the field on Wednesday night. Their latest victory came with eight of the same starting XI from that win over two years ago. In goal, Joe Hart remains and Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and, to a lesser extent, Gael Clichy remain regulars in defence. David Silva and Yaya Toure, arguably two of the finest midfielders in the league, are just as important now as they were back then, joined by even better talent in Fernandinho and Jesus Navas. Samir Nasri, who played back in 2011 at Tottenham, is currently injured, but has played his best football for the club this season. And up top, the deadly strike pairing of Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, who got the five goals between them in 2011, had an opportunity to start together with the in-form Alvaro Negredo not fully fit. But that is where the similarities end. The first 5-1 win gave us a rare glimpse of what City could become. The latest 5-1 win confirms they are finally what they hoped they could become back in 2011. Nine months after their first 5-1 win at Tottenham, Manchester City were Premier League champions, however, this was not achieved the way many imagined after watching their clinical victories at Spurs and Manchester United. Far from it. After blistering out of the blocks, like a 1500-metre runner in a marathon, City hit a wall hard midseason and struggled to get any offensive spark into their game. In 10 away games, from the end of November to the middle of April, City scored just five goals (only two from open play,) won two, drew three and lost five. Mancinis men had been worked out, as teams sat deeper, and City couldnt find the code to unlock them. While City struggled, Mancini moaned, Mario Balotelli caused trouble on and off the field and Carlos Tevez played golf and sang karaoke after being sent home to Argentina after a bust-up with his manager. A team that had gone from the threat of bankruptcy, in the wake of the Thaksin Shinawatra fiasco, to the top of the table in less than four years had no identity and gave neutrals many reasons to dislike them. Fast forward to 2014 and Manchester City are back at the top of the Premier League. This time, however, there is no circus at the Etihad. Gone are the distractions and gone is their rigid, narrow and predictable attack. Large amounts of money continues to be spent on quality players but, despite that, gone also is the disdain towards them. Football fans fueled by jealousy are taught to dislike the best and that came easy when the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho led teams featuring world class, high-maintenance divas like Cristiano Ronaldo, John Terry and Wayne Rooney to glory, but this current Manchester City presents a whole new set of challenges for haters. This is a football club that is so easy to admire. It is true that the new Man City have yet to win anything, but it is also possible that they could sweep the domestic treble - Premier League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup - come May. Past teams in such pursuit would be tormented at every ground of chants suggesting they would win nothing, but thats not happening with this City team. The way fans of English football have stared at the revolutions taking place at Barcelona and Bayern Munich is the way they currently look at the class and guile being produced by Manuel Pellegrinis men. While they should be angry and jealous at the money and success that has come their way, they are romanced by a style of breathtaking football so often unseen on English shores. They watch and admire a true leader in Kompany, the guardian of a back line including a centre-half partner that everyone still feels is the clubs major weakness. For most clubs, whether it be Martin Demichilis or Matija Nastasic, it would be their strength. Theyll watch in awe of Yaya Toure, a player no one in the sport is like, dominating the crucial midfield, where games are so often won and lost, with a ferocious combination of power, strength and football intelligence. Theyll watch "Space Invader" David Silva drift away from defenders better than anyone else in the league, moving in from the flanks and producing delicious passes to hungry strikers and rampaging full backs, who have added more gears under "the engineer" And theyll watch the brilliance of Sergio Aguero, arguably the most talented player in the league, who can hold a ball up better than anyone and finish with both feet in such a deadly fashion. It is a spine that cannot be challenged, in terms of talent through the middle, in the Premier League. Navas, Negredo, Fernandinho, Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov are all having wonderful seasons and are more than just extras in this plot, drawn up by the brains of Chief Executive Officer, Ferran Soriano, and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, formerly of Barcelona. The Spanish duo knew when they took over that the clubs identity had to be dictated by what they did on the field and not by what big personalities did with fireworks or golf clubs.Removing the likes of Tevez, Balotelli and Mancini was part one of the project. Hiring a gentleman in Pellegrini, who wouldnt make himself bigger than the club, was part two of the project. Getting their team to express themselves and play at a high level each week was part three. One hundred-and-fifteen goals in all competitions by the end of January suggests that this part has already been completed. An astonishing 85 goals in their last 23 matches in all competitions shows that even the most adventurous plans, drawn up by the Spaniards, can be matched. The final part of the plan is the need to fill the space created in the clubs trophy cabinet. On Monday, they meet Chelsea (You can catch action live on TSN2 at 3pm et/12pm pt) and start a 28-day journey where they will play Mourinhos men twice, Barcelona twice in the Champions League and travel to Wembley to play Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final. By the end of it we will have a more clearer idea of what City can accomplish this season. Already, however, we have a clearer idea of what City has become - a Premier League powerhouse gaining more and more admirers every week. Chicago Blackhawks Store . The future hall of famers stole the show at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, with Jagr moving into seventh place in all-time goal scoring and Brodeur stopping 29 shots as the Devils downed the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Chicago Blackhawks Pro Shop . A-Rod is also disqualified from any post-season play. So at the tender age of 38, he will miss all of next season. As a result of missing the coming season, hes also out $25 million (which coincidentally is my hourly rate). https://www.cheapblackhawks.com/. However, after review it became clear Kadri kicked the puck in. Cheap Blackhawks Jerseys . Kuznetsov, who was selected by the Capitals in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has been playing for his hometown team Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL. Blackhawks Jerseys China . After a first half in which he thought "the lid was on the basket," the Toronto Raptors coach watched his squad mount a second half surge to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91.Each week, we will run down the top waiver wire pickups with a focus on the coming week and rest of the season. QUARTERBACKS Philip Rivers (@ Titans) Week - 36/47, 419 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTAfter a dismal 2012 season, Rivers has turned back the clock so far in 2013, throwing for 614 yards and seven touchdowns with only one interception through two weeks. Rivers spread the ball around nicely in the win over the Eagles hitting eight different receivers while matching Michael Vick punch for punch. Bottom line, he just looks more comfortable in Mike McCoys new offence and could easily produce solid numbers this season. He is still a borderline QB1 at this point, but a very solid QB2. Ryan Tannehill  (vs Falcons) Last Week - 23/34, 319 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INTThe Dolphins are off to a 2-0 start thanks in large part to Tannehills solid quarterbacking. After a good Week 1, he turned in an even better performance in the win over the Colts and got on the same page with Mike Wallace which bodes well going forward. The Dolphins running game is a work in progress while the passing game is starting to fire so you can expect Tannehill to throw the ball quite a bit. He also has appealing matchups against Atlanta and New Orleans in the next two weeks. Others to consider - Alex Smith (@ Eagles), Carson Palmer (@ Saints), EJ Manuel (@ Jets) RUNNING BACKS James Starks (@ Cardinals)Last Week - 24 touches, 168 yards, 1 TDThere is a very strong possibility that Eddie Lacy will sit out this week at Cincinnati. The Packers have a Week 4 bye so there is no sense rushing him back from his concussion. That opens the door for Starks who turned in an extremely fine performance against Washington after Lacy went down. Running backs with a solid chance at topping 100 yards arent often available so go ahead and grab him for this week. Even when Lacy gets back, Starks has probably earned himself a bigger share of the Packers carries with his huge day against Washington. Bilal Powell (vs. Bills)Last Week - 14 touches, 70 yards, 1 TDThere is limited upside with Powell given that he is locked into a timeshare with Chris Ivory in the Jets backfield. That said, the split looks to be pretty even, so Powell should see around 12-14 carries per week and catch a pass or two on check downs giving him some value. If you need depth at running back or a desperate for a flex play you could definitely do worse. Danny Woodhead (@ Titans) Last Week – 17 touches, 64 yardsWoodhead appears to have taken over second spot in the Chargers running back hierarchy behind Ryan Matthews and ahead of Ronnie Brown. While he has limited value as a runner, Woodhead will see lots of work on third down which puts him in position to catch a lot of balls from Philip Rivers who loves his check downs. Eight of Woodheads 17 Week 2 touches came in the passing game giving him definite value in PPR leagues. Donald Brown (@49ers)Last Week - 7 carries, 30 yardsWith Vick Ballard shut down for the season, Brown becomes the Colts de facto No.2 running back behind Ahmad Bradshaw. He isnt close to being worth a flex play right now, but with Bradshaws injury history might be worth a pickup if you have room to stash him on the bench. He is one foot injury away from being a starter. (09/19 Note: With Indianapolis acquiring Trent Richardson Brown should no longer be considered) Others to consider – Andre Ellington (@Saints), Pierre Thomas (vs Cardinals), DaRel Scott (@ Paanthers), Brandon Jacobs (@ Panthers) WIDE RECEIVERS Eddie Royal (@ Titans)Last Week - 7 catches, 90 yards, 1 TDIf you grabbed Eddie Royal after his two touchdown performance in Week 1 youre probably feeling pretty smart right about now.dddddddddddd Royal followed up his two touchdowns in the opener with three more against the Eagles. His five touchdowns through two weeks actually match his total output from the previous four years. The TD rate is clearly unsustainable but he has finally developed some chemistry with Philip Rivers and with Malcom Floyd out indefinitely, Royal will continue to see plenty of targets. DeAndre Hopkins (@ Ravens)Last Week - 7 catches, 117 yards, 1 TDHes already owned in over half of all leagues, but if Hopkins is available in your league, grab him. The Texans rookie had a productive Week 1 with five catches for 66 yards and followed it up with an even better performance in Week 2. With good speed and excellent ball skills he has established himself as the clear No.2 in Houston behind Andre Johnson. Hopkins has solid WR3 potential and if Johnson is forced to miss any time, his value is even higher. Kendall Wright (vs Chargers)Last Week - 7 catches, 54 yards, 1 TDKenny Britt is supposed to be the Titans No.1 receiver, but he is in the doghouse and Wright looks like the much better play. After a disappointing opener, Wright bounced back with a strong effort in Week 2. He was targeted a team-high 11 times and hauled in seven of those looks including a six-yard TD in the first quarter. Tennessees offensive scheme and Jake Lockers inaccuracy limits the potential for Titans receivers but Wright maintains a pretty high-ceiling and has value as a WR3 in PPR leagues. Marlon Brown (vs Texans)Last Week - 4 catches, 45 yards, 1 TDBrown has found the endzone in back-to-back weeks to start the season. With Jacoby Jones sidelined and a serious lack of depth at receiver, Brown is quickly establishing himself as Joe Flaccos No. 2 behind Torrey Smith. If Ray Rice is forced to miss any time it could mean even more targets for Brown. The Texans have also allowed six passing touchdowns in the first two weeks making this a decent matchup for Brown this week. He is a solid depth receiver and a good pick up for bye weeks. Others to consider – Andre Roberts (@ Saints), Robert Woods (@ Jets), Ted Ginn (vs Giants), Aaron Dobson (@ Bucs) TIGHT ENDS Charles Clay (vs Falcons)Last Week - 9 catches, 108 yards, 1 TDClay has opened the season with back-to-back five catch performances and picked up 109 yards against the Colts in Week 2. He also added a rushing touchdown on a carry from the one-yard line. Hes not really a TE1 at this point but is a good pickup in two tight end leagues and a solid bye week replacement. The goal-line carries are an added bonus and worth keeping an eye on. Tyler Eifert (vs Packers)Last Week - 5 catches, 110 yards, 2TDsFor now, the Bengals are going to use Eifert and Jermaine Gresham fairly evenly which limits the value for both. However, Eiftert is simply a better player and has the potential to be a star. He can line up anywhere in the offence and should eventually start to shoulder more of the offensive load for Cincinnati. Hes no more than a TE2 right now, but if you have room to stash him, it could pay big dividends in the long run. Others to consider – Coby Fleener (@ 49ers), Heath Miller (vs Bears), Jordan Reed (@ Lions) ' ' '
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