Monday, March 5, 2012

The Top of the Premiership Takes Shape

Liverpool versus Arsenal and Spurs versus ManYoo were the two trump fixtures of the weekend. Both resulted in away wins and no one should really be surprised.

Liverpool are a poor team and were only a penalty kick away of being embarrassed by Cardiff City at Wembley. That they could not see off a Championship side after 120 minutes of football speaks volumes. Dalglish's clever rhetoric has let slip a little of late, especially with his atrocious defence of Luis Suarez but whilst he has the owners temporarily fooled after the 'glory' of Wembley, the reality is they are still a very average side with no hope of Champions League football never mind challenging for the title.

Arsenal remain a good but spineless football team with a centre forward currently in the form of his life. Van Persie alone is leading Arsenal back up the table and they are now favourites for a Champions League spot.

Having watched Spurs in two consecutive weekends that would define their season, there seems to be good reason that the FA have not yet approached Redknapp for the England post.

In between going two up at the Emirates and Defoe's late consolation yesterday after ManYoo had switched off, Spurs have shipped eight goals without reply as they have been humbled horribly twice. Redknapp has been tactically inept fielding a previously untried 4-4-2 against two of the best attacking teams in the country. True he was without Bale and Parker yesterday but ManYoo have also had a whole host of injury problems and ManYoo were far from at their best yesterday. Spurs were simply poor.

Redknapp has been blessed at Spurs with the likes of Bale and Modric and in having a canny chairman that has served up the likes of Van Der Vaart and Adebayor on a budget. Tactically all Redknapp has ever done is basically 'go for it' and with no cheque book to fall back on, one would wonder what would happen to England against the top sides, there could be more Bloemfonteins to come.

Spurs will now be looking nervously over their shoulders at Arsenal. Before the start of play at the Emirates, Spurs were ten points clear of their North London rivals with dreams of extending that lead to thirteen. That lead is now only four points. Watch this space.

ManYoo are going to run City all the way in the title challenge and as this blog has mentioned many times before, Ferguson may well remain the trump card. ManYoo were far from their best yesterday yet they still saw off Spurs comfortably and their run in looks entirely straightforward, City are ahead on points but the red side of Manchester is starting to gain some ominous momentum.

City are doing everything that is required of them, simply beating whatever is put in front of them. The squad seems more together than at any point under Mancini and Tevez coming back into the fold might work incredibly well for them, he remains a player of the very highest calibre and will want to put himself in the shop window before the Summer.

If Chelsea were a horse, they would have by now been taken out into the barn and shot, such is the dismal nature of their decline. AVB has been fired - see today's other blog - and Roberto Di Matteo has been given the reigns until the end of the season. It is hard to see Di Matteo doing any worse in terms of results but Chelsea look in serious danger of losing out on Champions League football which would be disastrous given the financial fair play implications.

It is said that a title win for Manchester City would be hollow, ManYoo fans know that this is far from a vintage team and that Ferguson will retire some time soon. Arsenal fans know they are simply papering over the cracks and Chelsea fans are suicidal. The reality for Liverpool is they have no hope currently of winning a title no matter how many times King Kenny repeats 'Liverpool Football Club' at press conferences.

Where is the cheer we ask? Certainly not at Villa Park, Wigan or Blackburn. Only the newly promoted Norwich, Swansea and the rejuvenated North East in the shape of Sunderland and Newcastle seem to have much to smile about, it has indeed been a Premiership silly season - No Nonsense.