Festive season to provide mixed fortunes for clubs
While the rest of European leagues are taking a winter break, the English Premier League has entered a defining week. The holiday fixtures usually provide a defining period for most clubs. In a space of a week a club can reinforce its position, revive its fortunes or regress in an unforgiving spiral towards relegation. Club managers also use this time to study their tactics and squads to determine which areas need reinforcing in the January transfer window and which players they need to offload. The frenzy of activity on and off the pitch around this period makes the EPL exciting.
Many pundits have suggested the talent and depth of Manchester City makes them overwhelming favourites to clinch the title. The Citizens reinforced their position at the top of the table by beating Arsenal and Stoke at the Etihad stadium. Arsenal pushed Manchester City all the way and almost nicked a draw, Stoke were simply poor. Despite their wins I think the “wow” factor in Manchester City that intimidated many teams at the start of the season has waned especially in games against the big sides.
I still think that Manchester United are in pole position to seal the title. Sir Alex Ferguson started the season brightly but then experienced a dip in the embarrassing loss to their neighbours. What’s admirable is that his side has coped well with injuries to key players and the disappointment of exiting the Champions’ League.
Spurs have been picking points and are in a fantastic position to challenge for the trophy or guarantee an automatic Champions League spot. I think all the hype about the north London side can be attributed to the manager’s nationality. The English media would like to see Harry Redknapp doing well and that’s why they make a lot of noise about his achievements. Spurs have a lot of tough games ahead so I think the champagne should remain in the cellar for now.
Chelsea have been an enigma this season, they have shown glimpses of fine form and awful displays. It’s unbelievable that the club sidelined Nicolas Anelka, a player I believe still had a lot to offer to the Blues. Chelsea’s seesaw campaign will lock them out of the title race. That Fernando Torres is in such poor form does not help. For Liverpool the nightmare is just beginning, if Luis Suarez gets suspended following his racism scandal then Anfield should brace itself for a difficult few weeks.
As for Arsenal, it’s incredible that they have managed to turn the tide when many had written them off. I however, find it quite fascinating that some Arsenal fans are satisfied with the teams’ performance so far. It’s true that Arsenal matched Manchester City in their recent clash with a big side but the fact is they left Eastlands with no point.
The question therefore is, did Arsene Wenger play his best side? I think he didn’t. He should have dropped Mikel Arteta for Emmanuel Frimpong. I have got into trouble with this suggestion. Some fans say that Arteta has improved Arsenal, the question is how? Alex Song, a defensive midfielder, has shown creative inclination compared to the Spaniard. The Cameroonian has five assists, same as Gervinho closely followed by Theo Walcott, which leaves Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey filling the numbers.
Arsene Wenger should consider effectiveness to seniority. It was quite amusing that when Arsenal were chasing the game against Manchester City, Andre Arshavin, whose performance has been dismal, replaced Theo Walcott instead of the effervescent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Russian’s contribution made pathetic sound like a compliment.
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