By Ryan Fleming
In one of the more unpredictable weeks in the soccer world this year, there are a couple things to take note of, if you haven’t already.
1. Chelsea are struggling … still.
Despite their recent acquisitions of Davie Luiz and Fernando Torres, the Blues slipped, slid and went away with a whimper after their 1-0 loss to Liverpool. Naturally, much of the hype from the match surrounded the former Liverpool frontman, Torres, and how he would fair against his old club and if he would or would not celebrate if managed to score. Fortunately for the Reds new manager Kenny Dalglish, Torres was barely existent on the field, save for one scary moment that Jamie Carragher so gracefully blocked away.
Some ludicrous pundits are claiming that the Spaniard is a bust, a flop, an overachiever. What you decide to call Torres, he is neither of those things. Did Liverpool see the best out of him? Maybe. But, the matter at hand is how poor the team is playing as a whole – the loss to Liverpool exemplifies that.
Chelsea managed some spells of possession and might have looked threatening for a moment or two, but not before over-thinking or being outplayed by a Pool defender. Drogba can be put in the same category as Torres, just an apparition on the field. With the Merseyside club’s new signing, Luis Suarez, scoring in Liverpool’s previous game, Torres had added pressure on him to provide and with immediate effect. Torres couldn’t deliver, but more importantly, neither could his teammates.
A single measly shot on goal reflects the rather bemused look that consistently surrounded the truly gifted roster that Chelsea has.
2. Lille could run away with Ligue 1 title.
No, it is not a flower. Though, it might sound like one. Lille is a city located in the North of France and its soccer team has every Frenchman wondering how and why. Despite being held by Auxerre, 1-1, this past weekend, Lille has shown it’s for real.
Not having lost a game since Nov. 10, Les Dogues currently boast the leagues top scorer Moussa Sow (16 goals) and own the best goal differential. Continuing to impress everyone, Lille made it to the second round of the Europa League where they will take on Dutch side PSV Eindhoven later this month.
Aiding the club’s success is an entire lack of consistency by every other team in Ligue 1. The usual French giants Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille, find themselves at ninth, sixth and forth respectively. Nevermind that Les Dogues have only managed one point against the favored teams, it’s how they perform against everyone else. When you take away Lille’s 3-1 losses to Marseille and Lyon, Les Dogues have outscored their opponents 58-27 in all competitions.
While Bordeaux might finally be getting on the right track with manager Jean Tigana in the hot seat. Marseille seems to be gaining some momentum after taking the common course and struggling with consistency. Lyon is limping – picking up only one point out of their last two matches while getting knocked out of the Coupe de France.
Things are a mess in France … and I’m not talking about their politics or national team. It’s Ligue 1 and fortunately for Lille, it doesn’t seem likely to change.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.