The Premier League Title Race; Does anyone actually want to win it this year?

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On a Saturday where Arsenal decided they weren’t too keen on top spot by giving away a 2-0 half team lead to Spurs, and Chelsea inexplicably fell to their third Premier League defeat in four games, you have to wonder – does anyone actually want the title this year?

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,

Arsenal Bottle it Again

Arsenal frustrate me a great deal. If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know I’m a huge fan, but I can’t get my head around their inability to punish the top 2 teams when they’ve slipped up. In the last three or four seasons, there have been numerous occasions when Chelsea or Man U have dropped points on a Saturday, and Arsenal have bottled the chance to overtake them on the Sunday. We saw it yesterday. 2-0 at half time to their fiercest rivals, 3-2 defeat at full time, oh and Chelsea lost to Birmingham on the same day. Arsenal could have gone top of the league. Wenger (no not Wagner), is a hero, but he’s failed to cure Arsenal’s vertigo in the Prem. The glory days of the last decade went with Henry and Vieira, and Arsenal have failed to scale the heights since. The squad looks better this year than it has for a while, but you can’t buy ‘bottle’, resilience or ambition – it comes with form and experience, and Arsenal have only had one of those for a few years now.

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.

Premier League Odds from PaddyPower 20/11/10

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!

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Read a similar blog post by upper90magazine: ‘Are Manchester City ready to win the Premier League?


About fatronaljoe
Now then. Recently graduated from Loughborough University, I love football; be it trivia and history or technique and tactics. I'm a mad Gonner with a curious interest in boyhood club Northampton Town. I play Sat afternoon football as a solid centre back! That'll do for now...

6 Responses to The Premier League Title Race; Does anyone actually want to win it this year?

  1. Paul P says:

    It saddens me but my head tells me United will win it this year. They just don’t seem to lose which is the first step to winning the league! And with Rooney yet to come back to top form, and money in January, coupled with the greatest manager ever, I can see them winning. And in my opinion, they’ll be the poorest squad ever to win it!

    As a QPR boy I hate Chelsea but I’d rather see them win than united! Arsenal would be my first choice, but let’s not be silly…as you correctly point out, you can’t buy mentality.

    I’ve never really liked Tottenham, but I hugely respect what they’re doing. Playing attractive football, and not scared to use the odd English player either! Still hope Hodgson gets the England job though.

    Interesting to note you haven’t mentioned Liverpool. They’re only 9 points of the top, with Torres fit again, Roy in charge, and the season being as crazy as it is…well call me crazy but you never know!

    Enjoying the blog, keep it up.

    • fatronaljoe says:

      Thanks Paul.

      I agree about Man U, they’re annoyingly good at grinding out results but I’ve definitely got some issues with added time and ref pressure at Old Trafford. Might be a conspiracy theory in there somewhere!
      Totally agree too that they’d be the weakest squad to win it! Great shout.

      I think most football fans would like to see Arsenal win the league again, but they’ve now nurtured a group of players without the winning mentality of Vieira, Henry, Toure etc who filled our trophy cabinet back in the day. Fabregas and Nasri are really exciting prospects though.

      Not a fan of your idea of Hodgson for the England job!! Do we really want more negativity than we’ve already had? For me Redknapp is far and away the best candidate. Everything about his style tactically and managerially would suit us. Every player knows him and respects him too. Get Jamie Redknapp in as assistant and I think the 2014 World Cup is on our radar!!

      Liverpool did get a mention but they’re too inconsistent and rely too heavily on Gerard and Torres to be up at the top. Interesting how they’ve climbed the table though. I’m fully prepared to be wrong on that one!

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Paul P says:

        You won’t be wrong on Liverpool, I’m fairly certain, sorry – I obviously wasn’t reading hard enough and missed the mention! I made the point to just further highlight the truth of your argument; Liverpool have played SO badly and are only 9 points of the top! Crazy!! United have drawn 7 and are joint top!! No one wants to win!!

        The reason I want Roy is that he has past international experience (see Switzerland 1994 World Cup last 16!) and he has worked at a number of different European clubs with a lot of success. Big and small – Inter in Italy and was it Malmo in Sweeden? And that’s just for starters…if you read his wiki page and you’re not slightly challenged to prefer him to Harry I’ll be surprised!

        ‘Arry on the other hand, doesn’t have that continental experience (alongside the premiership success which Hodgson also shares) or the international experience which I think is more important. Managing a club and a country are two very different things which is why specalists like Hiddink do so well internationally.

        That said, Harry is without a doubt a very strong candidate for the reasons you’ve mentioned above!

        As for 2014, I’m afraid I’ve given up hope! Our problems are deep rooted and long term as had been reported of late. We simply don’t have anywhere near enough coaches at grass roots levels. Spain and Germany put us to shame in that respect. (Can’t find the link but there was a good BBC article on this shortly after the last World Cup)

        Sorry for the long post, been doing a lot of history recently so not had much football banter, letting it all out at once!!!

      • Paul have a read of Does England Lack talent, it delves in to what I perceive as England’s problems, think you will like it!

  2. patrickfc says:

    Great blog post Joe…personally I think Man U; played rubbish, been without their star striker…but still unbeaten!

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