The Premier League Title Race; Does anyone actually want to win it this year?
November 21, 2010 6 Comments
We all know by now that we can never write Manchester United off. 94th Minute winners and dodgy 1-0’s will characterise their season as ever. A simple victory yesterday against Wigan has moved them level on points with Chelski at the top of the league, with Arsenal 2 points behind. All this without their best player for most of the season so far (see Pat’s blog on Rooney’s injury), and some pretty terrible defending throughout the season, has shown why Fergie is always there or there abouts come the end of the season.
But what about the new top 4 candidates? Or should we say, title challengers?Tottenham and Van der Vaart have shown a few times this year, not least yesterday against Arsenal, that they’re serious about being ‘in the mix’ as Harry Redknapp calls it. Money Bags City have failed to impress so far but still find themselves 5th with a game in hand on 4th placed Bolton, meaning a win would take them to within a point of the Gooners. That leads me nicely on to Bolton, who surely can’t be considered Title challengers, can they?! Johan Elmander has been in great form, and Owen Coyle has assembled a solid squad who actually play great football – what a transformation from Big Sam Allardyce and Gary ‘the Gnome’ Megson. With Tottenham at 6th also level with City and Bolton, a nice little chasers’ pack is forming, and it will be fascinating to see where it finishes this year. I’d like to briefly play devil’s advocate and suggest Sunderland aren’t too far off either. When Darren Bent’s back, I fancy him and Gyan to form a potent partnership up top. Watch this space.
Man U have been wasteful too often this season, drawing half of their games (7 of 14). Their away record has been surprisingly poor also; 1 win, 6 draws and 0 defeats. The stat that interests me the most about United though, is the fact that they are the only unbeaten team in the PL at this moment. Chelsea and Arsenal have both lost 4 games already, which is more defeats than Bolton (who have incredibly lost only 2 games), City (3) and Sunderland (2 also). The simple fact is, a draw gets you a point, and a loss gets you none. That’s why United have kept themselves going at the top, they haven’t had the sporadic defeats to the likes of Wigan, Sunderland, Spurs, and Birmingham etc that Arsenal and Chelsea have had. Let’s not forget also, that Rooney’s just coming back from injury. If/When he finds form again, United will be once again resurgent, and I bet we’ll see far less draws from them.
Chelsea are a different side to the one that won the league by a point last season. 4 defeats this year, including their heaviest defeat since Roman Abramovic arrived on the scene (3-0 Sunderland), have shown a real frailty, something unheard of with this normally solid squad. Missing Lampard and Essien has been a nightmare for Chelsea, and you can see the difference in the midfield when they’re not playing (although I’ve been impressed by Remires so far). The strength in depth seems to be missing this year, with an all-too-often average looking bench being taken to Premier League games. Fair play to them for pushing the young ‘uns in, but they’re not good enough replacements for old Michael Ballack and Deco. Inconsistency never wins the league, and at this stage, that’s how it looks with this Chelsea side. Of course, they still sit top of the table and are waiting for the return of 2 of their best players. I’m not about to write them off just yet,
We know of course that all of the teams mentioned above want to win the title, despite freak results. It looks to me though, that United are the team of the top 3 who want it most. Under SAF, they have exactly the three characteristics I labelled before, even with a slight lack of form. They fight to the end, and as I said, you can never right them off.
Beyond the top 3, grouping an unlikely trio of Bolton, Man City and Spurs, I’d say Spurs want it more. I know ‘Arry has talked up Spurs’ title chances yesterday, but does he really believe they’re good enough to be Champions? Why not. We’ve seen what they’re capable of, domestic and European. It would also be foolish to write them off at this point in the year.
I can’t discuss the title without mentioning Liverpool (see my previous post). A team-mate of mine yesterday said he thought ‘Pool would sneak up the table whilst everyone gets carried away with the other 7 teams at the top. The poll on my previous post so far shows that the majority of readers believe they won’t even make the top 6, let alone top 4 and beyond. I do think, as I said in that blog, that top 6 is beyond them this season, but an attractive victory against the Hammers will certainly restore some confidence to a team who are playing well below their station.
So, who actually wants to win it this season? United and Spurs look to be the most keen this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be there at the end. It’s November, no-one can really predict at this stage who’s got the league in the bag, (PaddyPower will encourage you to though) but if form continues as it has for the top 3, the league could really be anyone’s.
What do you reckon? Surprise Champion this year? Or another Chelsea/United domination? Vote Now!
Read a similar blog post by upper90magazine: ‘Are Manchester City ready to win the Premier League?‘