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Manchester United 1 – 0 Southampton


First home game. Mourinho is yet to know a loss. Pogba was back and starting. Henrikh still didn’t find a place in the starting XI. But there was this sense of anticipation. Proven manager, electrifying characters on the pitch. In came a team that managed to beat United twice in the last three trips here. They claimed they are in for a good game.

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And it indeed was a good game. It just happened that United were much more clinical. Direct forward play. With Zlatan in the box, wingers no longer play intricate small passes to build in the final third. The 4-4-1-1 switching to 4-4-2 during a rampant attack, back to a 4-5-1 when defending. The top three – Zlatan, Wayne and Anthony swapping positions in the front line; the bustling pace of Valencia and Shaw on the wings; the solidity of defence by Marouane in the center protecting a well marshalled partnership of Bailly and Blind.

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Pogba’s first touch resulted in a swift counter attack that almost lead to a goal in the first minute for the Saints. But as the game grew on, his nerves settled and he started enjoying, gliding across the pitch and beyond players. Strong, fending off position, brilliant ball control and a number of times the ref offered an advantage as he was fouled. He was solid in partnership with Marouane, but at the same time making leaping forays box to box.

 

Tough to keep the limelight away from Zlatan. A seemingly innocuous cross from Wayne, with no pressure on him as he crossed. Fonte was ready to clear it off, but in a split second, Zlatan towered over him, hindering Fonte’s leap. He generated pace, purely from his neck muscles as the ball flashed across the flailing hands of Fraiser F. #DaretoZlatan.

 

Welcome to the theatre of dreams. #GGMU. The fortress is back.

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Community Shield 2016-17 Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City


I was looking forward to a football match after the Euros. Watching the ‘International Cup’ , ‘Champions Cup’ and all that nonsense was just a waste of time with players just getting game time and managers and players (new and old) learning the trade and exchanging ideas.

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Zlatan with Rooney behind looked good on paper. But it was the back 7 that was shining in the first 30 odd minutes. Rooney was awful on the ball, while Ibra was not getting enough balls to feet. Valencia was definitely the performer at full back with probing darts forward as well as solid defence. The darting Lingard run which seemed to take Leicester by surprise considering the monotony that was ongoing prior to it. The subtle change of pace, accompanied by composure from the young lad meant he etched his name into history books having scored in consecutive FA cup winning and community shield winning sides.

Shaw was happy to be bit more conservative moving forward. Martial hardly ever got into the game and the link up between those two haven’t been great. Shaw did get caught out twice and fortunately got away with it.

The lack of pace will be a big factor when the season begins. With the squad available to him, now that Pogba is confirmed, Henrikh will be a strong creative force. Mata being subbed in and then out is probably an indication to him of how little play time he is going to get under Jose. The presence of one left footer in the midfield is more than enough. The dynamism of Henrikh will be always preferred over Mata. Mata deserves full play time and needs to move to another club for his own career.

Zlatan was quiet for most of the game primarily due to lack of service. His defending of corners were awful to begin with, but he settled in well towards the latter half of the game.

And of course he did get the most important touch in the end, as he rose early to a well crafted Valencia cross to outmuscle Morgan in central defence.

Can’t wait for one more week to see the battle begin. Bring it on premier league

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The Kuwait Towers


IMG_4049-1Weekends have become much more eventful now that a former colleague and friend Dr. Sid has joined me in Kuwait. Last night I took him to the Kuwait Towers. Was good to be inside it again. Last time I was in there was 6 years ago.

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Reflection off the elevator that was going to take us up the Towers

The towers opened only this National day in Feb 2016 after all the renovation. The new work means we now get plenty of graphics on the towers varying according to the occasion.

I was predicting a French flag last night following the Nice incident. But it didn’t happen.

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Wound up going to good old Pizza hut near the Salmiya coop. From a rumbling center to one that has become so quiet, how times have changed with the newer generations clammering up to shopping ‘malls’ nowadays.

 

I will miss you.


We have known each other for less than a year. The odd thursday evenings when we used to play volleyball. I saw bits of me in you – stubborness, determination, flair for all sports. And that encouraged me to compete.

When I spoke to your aunt today, my eyes were flooding; it’s been a very long time since I felt a personal loss. She said you always had a lovely smile on. I agree. A great sense of humor, guile and wit. Defying all odds, opting to travel in a path that you carved as your own.

You and Alwin have been asking me to join you to watch the Euros. I haven’t been able to make it due to one reason or the other. But I wanted to see the final with you guys.

I am thankful to the ultimate healer for allowing me to spend some moments with you which I will always cherish. We mostly played in opposing teams in our volleyball matches to balance the sides. But last night I was glad I was on yours.

I will miss you.