March 16, 2008

English Premier League Weekend Report – 15th March

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:07 am by RJ

What an intriguing English Premier League soccer season this is turning out to be both at the top and the bottom of the table.

3 weeks ago, Manchester United suffered a potentially fatal blow to their title defence as they meekly succumbed to their main city rivals Manchester City in front of a 76,000 adoring yet shell shocked fans at Old Trafford, “The Theatre of Dreams”. With closest rivals Arsenal winning and thus opening up a 5 point lead at the top of the table with 12 matches to go, all Man Utd fans, myself included thought that was it. A 5 point gap at almost the tail end of the season is usually an unassailable one especially with Arsenal brushing aside all opposition with their scintillating brand of attacking soccer.

How the tide has turned 3 weeks on, Arsenal have gone on to draw their last four games and have surrendered the initiative to a rampant Manchester United who now lead the EPL on goal difference after a hard fought 1-0 victory over rock bottom Derby County who are doomed for relegation thanks to the opportunism of the mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo.

With all the attention focused on Arsenal and Man Utd, Chelsea have sneaked up the table unnoticed and are definite contenders for the title courtesy of their 1-0 win against a hapless Sunderland team for whom the scoreline really flattered them. Losing just 1-0 after being battered for 90 minutes would have definately left manager Roy Keane relieved. Chelsea now sit third just 3 points behind Man Utd and Arsenal.

Liverpool on the other hand despite boasting a squad capable of challenging for the title have been some sort of an enigma. Under perform in the EPL but absolutely over perform against the odds in the European where the best sides in Europe have fallen to the tactical mastery of coach Rafa Benitez. However in the EPL , too many points have been dropped culminating in their title hopes fading. Liverpool now sit fourth in the table some 8 points behind Man Utd. Though mathematically possible, it would take a momentous effort plus a dramatic downturn in fortune for the top 3 clubs for Liverpool to win the EPL. Why and how liverpool dont reproduce their champions league form in the EPL should leave all Liverpool fans worldwide baffled.

So the stage is set for the one of the most intriguing title races in recent times. Both Arsenal and Man Utd know that with Chelsea breathing down, any slip up now could prove decisive in the title run in. The race really heats up this sunday when the top 4 all take on each other. Man Utd play Liverpool at Old Trafford, while second placed Arsenal are at Chelsea in what could be a weekend that could prove decisive in the final reckoning.

However before the matter of Super Sunday, Manchester United would have to get past struggling Bolton Wanderers in a must win game that would take them 3 points clear of Arsenal while Chelsea travel to White Hart Lane seeking revenge against Tottenham Hotspurs who beat them in the Carling Cup Final 3 weeks ago. A Chelsea win would take them joint second with Arsenal, so all Man Utd fans around the world including myself would be hoping for Chelsea slip up.

The relegation battle in the bottom of the table is also proving to be equally intriguing. Derby County are good as relegated while any two clubs from 14th to 19th could go down.

Newcastle, under their talismatic manager Kevin Keegan cannot buy a win at the moment, thats baffling as they boast players like Mark Viduka, Alan Smith, Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins who are of genuine international class. They drew 1-1 with Birmingham City with Michael Owen scoring the goal to save the Magpies blushes. They currently sit 14th just 4 points off the drop zone. For a club of that stature, its an absolute disaster.

Besides Newcastle, the other teams in the relegation scrap are Reading, Birmingham, Sunderland, Bolton, Fulham. Apart from Derby County who are rock bottom, any two of the mentioned 6 teams could go down. Will the giants of Newcastle suffer the harsh realities of relegation or would it be any of the remaining 5. The Intriguing Question lingers on.

Well people, this is it for the 1st bulletin of my sports reports. Watch this space for more news as the English soccer season reaches its climax as well as the other football leagues across Europe.
Ciao for now.

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4 Comments »

  1. kurt said,

    #Shank

    Quite a post you have written…
    Bravo dude…

    Abt the post,
    ManU, Arsenal & Chelsea all have equal oppurtunity of winning the title. All they need is the other team to screw up. πŸ™‚

    ManU is on peak of its form, with all its player are in top form, especially Ronaldo, Nani & Tevez(to some extend). With this kind of team they should have no problems winning the league.

    Arsenal on the other hand ruled the League for the major part of the season, but due to Vodoo Magic performed by some ManU fans, they have lost track & are now 2nd in the league.

    Chelsea had a pretty sad season this year, with lots of downs, downs, downs & few ups. They look very patchy this season, mainly after Jose left. They really need a charismatic leader to help them revive their lost form.

    May the Best Team Win; ie Chelsea πŸ˜€

    njoi,
    Kurt

  2. kurt said,

    #Shank/RJ

    Ever wondered WHY there are so many ManU & Arsenal fans??

  3. the "WTF" roomie said,

    Kurt,

    Man Utd may be top now but the worrying fact is that they are over reliant on Ronaldo. If he hits a dry spell or gets an injury, thats it. Where would all the goals come from?

    Arsenal’s form in the EPL has dipped alarmingly but something tells me that they have saved their best for the remaing 8 matches and could yet snatch it.

    Chelsea are definately no where near the one under Jose Mourinho. Avram Grant is far too tactically naive and this has cost them dearly. Having said that they still cant be discounted.

    And as to your question as to why there are more Arsenal and Man Utd fans, simple. They play an entertaining and attacking brand of soccer, thats attracting fans. Chelsea may be effective but far too boring for the eye. Yes its a result based game but entertainment is the name of the game for fans.

  4. RJ said,

    Damn good post – roomie!! I am still getting used to soccer and new to it.

    @kurt – I dont know about the fans, but I have always had friends who like/followed/worshipped ManU and I was forced into it. I quiet like it now – when I am getting to know better. Lets all wait for sunday!
    Have a wonderful match session kurt & roomie – I might treat myself some beer πŸ™‚


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