So, another week of Barclays Premier League gone and not surprisingly Manchester United are sitting pretty at the top of the league and one thing can be said that its theirs title to lose now after they beat Reading 1-0 and second placed Manchester City lost 2-0 to Everton at Goodison Park.
United are 15 points clear and with nine games to go, they can wrap this title before the final few games. With things at the top pretty much settled, all the major action is taking place for that elusive fourth and final champions league spot. Relegation battle is also hotting up as Aston Villa, Wigan and Southampton all registered victories and with QPR and Reading losing, there is a significant gap building at the bottom. Arsenal won 2-0 at Swansea and is still very much in the fight for the Champions League spots. Tottenham Hotspurs had a week to forget. Comprehensively beaten in the Europa League by Inter Milan, they were lucky to progress to the quarter finals but their luck ran out as spurs old-boy Dimitar Berbatov came back to haunt them as Fulham beat them by a single goal. Their woes were more compounded by the fact that Chelsea won 2-0 against London rivals West Ham and the blues moved back into the third spot. Here are the major talking points from the weekend:
1. Rejuvenated Arsenal showing fighting spirit
Arsene Wenger knows that the Gunners' good form is coming at right time for him. Few people in football will have the same delight as Arsenal manager after a week in which his team finally came good. The Champions League win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday might not have been enough to ensure qualification to the quarterfinals, but the manner in which was achieved deserves credit. The Gunners followed that up with a fine 2-0 win at Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday to maintain their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League this season. Second half goals from unlikely heroes Nacho Monreal and Gervinho showed Wenger’s trust in his players and his ability to back his players even in turbulent times. Harshest Critics may argue about the quality of Arsenal and this form, but one thing can be said that Wenger will keep on fighting till the end. Team Spirit is the best tonic in case of major blips through the course of the season which Arsenal have had, but the fighting spirit they showed in the week raises some optimism in the hearts of the supporters worldwide.
2. Super-Frankie joins 200-goal club
Two-ton Frank Lampard helped Chelsea back to the third place in the league table with his 200th goal in the club’s colors with a win over West Ham. As a result he moved ever closer to the all-time Chelsea scoring record. On another day, and with better finishing, Lampard could have surpassed that record. Many are calling for Frank Jr. to be given a new contract after continuing to score goals for his team this season. His overall performances, however, have not been so impressive. He has never had much physical speed, relying on his quick mind to control games. Unfortunately, age has caught up with him. He seems much more sluggish on the ball and has even been found guilty of slowing Chelsea’s play down, but he stills remains an asset for his side. At a time when title rivals Manchester United are happy to give away new rolling contracts to their veteran players, it seems baffling on the part of Roman and Co. to shy away from showing respect to its most prized assets. Frank Lampard may break Bobby Tambling’s record of 202 goals before the end of the season but it still may not be good enough to earn him a contract extension. If Roman Abramovich has made his mind about the whole contract saga, then Chelsea fans should serenade their hero while they still can.
While it was an eventful but low scoring weekend, some players did stand out by the nature of their performances and here is the English Premier League Team of the Week:GK: Jan Mucha/Everton
RB: Seamus Coleman/Everton
CB: Rio Ferdinand/Manchester United; Brede Hangeland/Fulham
LB: Davide Santon/Newcastle United
DM: Morgan Schneiderlin/Southampton
CM: Frank Lampard/Chelsea; Darren Gibson/Everton
AM: Santi Cazorla/Arsenal
LF: Eden Hazard/Chelsea
RF: Andi Wiemann/Aston Villa
Man of Moment:
Everton who beat Manchester City had to thank stand-in goalkeeper Jan Mucha. The Slovakian started in the absence of Tim Howard and took the chance well, making a string of impressive stops.