Just to make you all pig sick, I’m writing this during my own winter break sitting in the grounds of an exquisite hotel a few miles north of las Americas on the island of Tenerife. I’m really suffering here for my work as freelance footie writer, trust me. I’m having to stay glued to the ol’ smart phone for Boxing day results, as I sip at yet another gin and tonic, while admiring the way my fiancée looks in her bikini, and avoiding the attention of a blonde Danish girl. My, it’s such tortuous, work. Purgutory, in fact. Now we’re at the halfway stage in the domestic season, let’s have a quick look at how the current state of play is.
Arsenal – Top of the tree at New Year, and baring a major calamity form wise or injuries to several key players all at the same time, will finish in the top three. Arsene Wenger keeps throwing cold water over the speculation his team will be Champions come May, but it’s clever psychology by the Frenchman – makes his players think they have a point to prove to their enigmatic boss.
Manchester City – Under new manager Italian Manuel Pellegrini, becoming a real force to be reckoned with, but have the habit of drawing – and occasionally losing – matches they should easily win on paper. To promote a serious title challenge, need to sort this inconsistency out.
Chelsea – Looming ominously in the background, Jose Mourinho’s team are many pundits favourites to make a late dash and claim the title as theirs. I’m not so sure. Chelsea don’t appear to be ‘ticking over’ as well as previous seasons under the Portuguese, and unless he strengthens his side during the transfer window, third position might be the best they can achieve.
Liverpool – Already lost to the three clubs I’ve already mentioned, but will beat anybody else. Sort this problem out in the return fixtures, and I still see the Premier League trophy being hoisted skywards by Stevie G come the end of the campaign.
Tottenham Hotspur – After a perculiar start to their season under Villas Boas, need to find some consistency if they want that Champion’s League spot, or at very least the Europa League place.
Manchester United – It was never going to be easy for David Moyes, taking over from the most successful manager in English football history, but no-one expected United to be in such a complete tiswas by their own illustrious standards. I can’t see them qualifying for Europe next season, unless they win one of the cups or (miraculously) the Champion’s League. Moyes will be given another season to turn his side around, and no doubt will sign a few choice players, but – as they say – football club directors have very short amounts of patience, and if the worst comes to worst over no European football at Old Trafford next campaign, Moyes may well be shown the door. Sooner perhaps, if they get rolled over in both domestic cups.
Everton – The real dark horses of this season. Martinez appears to be getting more out of the side than Moyes could, so don’t be surprised if they sneak the fourth Champion’s League place. Wouldn’t put the F.A Cup past them, either.
Southampton and Hull City – Absolutely amazing what they have achieved. Many people’s tip for relegation this term, but the Premier League is a much better place for having them part of it.
As for the relegation battle, at the moment it’s too close to call – anybody in the bottom seven could go down. And to be frank, on the form they’ve shown in previous seasons, even Villa could get sucked into the mire. Personally, I prefer to see the newly promoted clubs remain in the big time, not get relegated at the first attempt (the Coventry supporter in me coming out), but the table doesn’t lie. Cardiff City may experience a fillip under their new manager Solskjaer, but it all depends how he can motivate his team, just Poyet at Sunderland and Alladyce at West Ham are struggling to find the same. If you’ve played dire all term, you more than deserve to go.
I have to go myself now – my fiancée needs some sun cream applying to her back.