Monday, March 17, 2014

The Premiership - The Title Race is on

Chelsea's defeat at Aston Villa - Mourinho has never won at Villa Park - on Saturday lit the blue touch paper for the teams in red on Sunday still harbouring title aspirations.

Prior to this weekend, talk was focused mainly on whether City could overhaul Chelsea but such was the performance of Liverpool in particular that it is not just the ex Liverpool player pundits that are now believing they can lift their first title in nearly quarter of a century.

Of the top four teams with everyone fit, Liverpool's squad probably looks a level below the others but it matters not a jot when you have a front line firing like theirs is.

Belief is huge within the team and as dire as United were yesterday, this was a Liverpool we have not seen for some time and huge credit must go to Brendan Rodgers.

United ironically themselves proved last season that a centre forward in the form of his life could drag his team to the title with a reasonably mediocre support cast.

Luis Suarez has seen several of his teammates - Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling are just two -
inspired to new heights this season whilst Steven Gerrard appears to have adapted superbly to his new deeper role.

Questions can still be asked of Liverpool's overall quality but points on the board say it all and there is no doubt that their players are also benefiting hugely from being so relatively fresh given their early exits from both cup competitions and no European football.

Whilst their squad may not be equipped therefore to cope on multiple fronts, it does appear to be supremely equipped to focus on the one that is the Premiership this season.

Liverpool will no doubt be feeling now that should they win their two home games against City and Chelsea then the title could well be theirs.

Chelsea were the only casualty of the top four this weekend with a painful loss at Villa Park. Jose Mourinho has done much to tighten Chelsea at the back but the lack of goals from a central striker may finally be beginning to bite.

Spurs handed all four goals to Chelsea last week but with Oscar looking jaded, no reliable 'No9' option and Frank Lampard no longer a weekly goal machine, much of the burden is falling on Eden Hazard.

Chelsea remain in a good position and Mourinho may still yet be the trump card but two sending offs against Villa will not aid the Blues' cause either. Three points at home to Arsenal are now a must.

City enjoyed a regulation win against Hull City and will expect three points at home to Fulham before trying to hammer further nails into Davie Moyes' waiting coffin at the weekend before travelling to the Emirates.

How City cope with these huge away days - they also have to go to Anfield - will dictate whether they can go on an win the title.

Arsenal it still feels are the longest shot of the four given their tendency to fold in the big games. They remain extremely good at beating Spurs, should win the FA Cup and should also see this season as some kind of progress, the title may be a step too far however.

Right now, Liverpool have their tails up, City will be aiming to regain the type of relentless form they showed earlier this season, Mourinho must have Chelsea regroup quickly and Wenger will look to build on the success at White Hart Lane.

All four sets of fans can harbour realistic title ambitions right now and whilst the Premiership may be down on overall quality right now, it is certainly not down on the excitement level - No Nonsense.