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Offside Cocktail
After The Window Shuts

By Osama King Rahman

Oh goody! Football season is back underway. The transfer window has finally shut down. Let's talk EPL for a while, because the other leagues always have two possible outcomes, with the exception of the German and French leagues which have three possible outcomes. This season, EPL has, count it, FOUR possible results. No, really, it's much better that way.

Taking a long shot, let's toss Tottenham into the fray. Make things interesting. After being linked to every player in the world, they end up with Scott Parker and Adebayor. Both are good buys in their own right, especially the latter, considering how badly Spurs need a proven striker. Of course, Adebayor as a proven talent is not stretching it the least bit; he is good. Problem was, Real Madrid have much better players and City has just too many players. Arsene let him go, despite the need for a striker, because he is crazy like that. Scott Parker is a great addition, but does he really complement Luka Modric? No. Luka hates Spurs, apparently, so maybe Levy should have let him go and retained Palacios to provide some brute strength to Scott Parker's brilliant, nifty works. No chance of Champion's League spot or EPL glory for Spurs. A fifth place finish would also be hard to come by, given Harry's penchant for playing a lone striker, while pretending to be offensive. That plan really backfires.

Speaking of plans backfiring, let's say hello to Arsene Wenger. Breaking away from tradition, Wenger tore away from his unhealthy and somewhat illegal obsession, with young and talented boys, preferring experience over tender youth. Enter Mertesacker, Benayoun, Arteta and Santos. All four are pretty solid signings. Mertersacker adds the oomph that Arsenal's defence has been missing for so long, while Arteta and Benayoun are supposed to fill the gaping void in the midfield, left by Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. That gap won't be filled anytime sooner. Having said that, it must be added that although Arteta has some pretty big shoes to fill, if he moulds his feet around them, there is every reason he can do some big things. Arsenal would be vying for fourth place at best.

The two sides from Manchester are a bit tricky to dissect. The Red Devils are in scintillating form. Although once again failing to secure Howard Webb on a permanent transfer, United may still benefit from having him on loan. Like they do every season. Ashley Young has been the key addition to the fray, whilst Welbeck and Cleverley look solid. If United romp to the title this season, it will not come as a surprise to absolutely anyone. Ferguson's blend of all youth and little experience attains perfection like no other. Ferguson did it so quietly, no one even noticed. Unlike Arsene, who was all talk but no cigar. The question remains whether United have a shot at the Champion's league title. Although they have the depth required, it may prove to be not enough.

The blue side of Manchester has an envious array of options. They can field 3 first teams with completely different starting elevens and still give any time a run for their money. Aguero has to be the best buy seen in recent days while Dzeko is running red hot in his purple patch. Oh, and there's Tevez as well. And Nasri. And more players on loan than Everton's team put together. Mega sponsorship deals keeps the cogs at the City machine turning, but wait till the Fair Plays rule kicks in. That will ultimately decide the fate of Manchester City. They will be vying for both Premier League and Champions League glory. Unless, they choke, which they are capable of doing.

Chelsea will be fighting for all the glory, but it is a little too soon to expect a trophy laden season. Andre Villas-Boas is the best man to lead the time, but the Premier League isn't exactly tame. Given time, Villas-Boas can bring about a formidable side, but it will not be happening this season. Roman have patience, you don't have to beat Mansour to the trophy. Mata and Lukaku are brilliant signings and the former has already proven how much the Stamford Bridge boys needed a creative spark. Raul Meireles will blend in too.. Chelsea have what it takes to go all the way to the gold but the team needs time to develop. And the elusive Champion's League? Unlikely. Europe wasn't exactly sleeping when Chelsea splurged in the market. But, apart from the two big signings, Chelsea have also invested heavily in youth, ear-marking talents for the future. If this development continues side by side, then big things are expected in the future.

Let's not waste time on Liverpool. They are a fabulous team. They have more mid-fielders than required. Luis Suarez is the most exciting player for the Kop. Carrol is B-grade, at best. The addition of Bellamy, a surprise in itself, adds another dimension to the Liverpool system. Will they win the league? Not likely. Will they win the Champion's League? No, because as good as Daglish is, he is more of a motivator than a tactician. Sorry.

That sort of sums up the EPL's top for this time. But let's see what happens? Best buy, according to OC? Joey Barton's free transfer to QPR. The man is sheer class. Now, let's see how the proceedings play out. Fireworks time.

This week our topic was 'The Evil-Eye'. Unfortunately, none of the entries comprehended the superstitious leanings behind the selection of such a topic. The entry below packs a punch, lending an eerie feel to the proceedings, which qualifies it as the winning entry. Next week's topic is “Blur”. Keep it interesting and make it unique. 500 words. Deadline: Sunday. Best!

The Evil Eye

By Aishia Fyruz Aishi

I was looking at an old guy across a few tables. He was shuffling a few game cards. He divided them into two piles. Then he started to play all by himself. I ordered a soda and continued watching the guy. He was playing very attentively.

When I finished my soda, I stood up and walked toward that old guy. I leaned on the table. “Hello,” I said in a grim voice.

“Oh, hello!” the guy looked up; “Would you like to play?” he smiled.

“No, thank you. I just wanted to know who is winning, you or him.”

“He got really fine cards and he always wins!” for the first time I noticed that the guy has no back molars, just a few white teeth on the front. May be they are fake too.

“Anyway…” the guy shuffled all the cards into one pile again, “Do you want a cookie?” he changed the subject.

“Why did you ruin the game?” I asked.

“I wasn't going to win anyway.” His smile faded away.

“Oh. My fortune cookie?”

“Yeah, I got one for you.” He fished a cookie out of a bag lying beside him, “Here you go.” He handed the cookie to me.

“Can I break it right now?” I asked him.

“Your wish.” He shrugged.

I cracked the cookie open, “When the sky turns hazel, the clouds are blood red, there's only one word in your mind 'RUN'. But you can't run. Because the path is blocked and there is no second option for you but to 'DIE'. The eye is waiting for you, the evil eye.”

“What does it mean?” I frowned.

“I'm quite not sure. I've never given anyone anything like this before.” The guy looked apprehensive, “But it's not anything good for sure.”

“I don't want it. You take it.” I shoved the strip of paper into his fist.

The guy shrugged, tore the paper into pieces and threw them away. Then he collected all his stuff and stood on his toes to go, “I better take off. Look at the sky. It's so dark. It's going to rain soon. I'll see you later.” He walked out.

The old man walked as fast as he could, almost running. His side bag made a weird noise, like it was alive! The rain hasn't started yet. But the sky was hazel red now. The man started to worry. It started to rain huge drops of blood. The old man stopped. His whole body was soaked in red. The rain was so heavy that he couldn't even open his eyes. Smell of iron was everywhere, salty taste on his lips. He struggled to open his eyes. Everything he could see was just red. He saw someone blocking his path. It was me.

“It's you! You're him! I knew it!” the old man shrieked.

“Like you said before, I always win! And it's not going to change this time!” one of my eyes lit up. It was the evil eye!


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