It's Up For Grabs Now - Chelsea, City and Co battling it out for League glory
To shamelessly steal the above phrase from ITV football commentator Brian Moore, first emanating from his lips at the climax of the 1988-89 season when Arsenal’s Michael Thomas scored in injury time at Anfield, thus giving his side the League title over Liverpool by one solitary goal, we have a game on. This current campaign appears it will conclude in an equally exciting manner.
As it stands, any of the top four could win this year’s Premier League crown. It all depends who can hit a glut of form at the right time, overcome the ol’ nerves, and step up to the plate and become remembered forever as a champion, not forgotten as an also-ran. History is yours – who will take it?
Arsenal – Wenger has spent their entire campaign telling all who will listen to his Gaullic tones this year is too soon for his side, next year is more realistic for a title charge. Piffle. The way the Gooners have led the way for the vast majority of the season would suggest they are there, or thereabouts. A bit of good fortune, finding some form just when they need it, the return to action of injured players, should see them lift the trophy come early May, but they won’t. After their recent drubbings by Liverpool and Bayern Munich, and only barely managing a draw against a very ordinary and ineffective United side, the F.A Cup might prove to be the North London club’s best chance at silverware. I’m sure they will keep the pressure on the other three contenders for the title, but they have a habit of losing games they should easily win on paper. The recent F.A Cup tie with Coventry City did end in a healthy 4-0 victory, but even the most ardent Gunners fans after the match declared the Sky Blues extremely unlucky, and their team had been pushed harder than in any other match – they just had the luck to score four times and make it count. As any football supporter throughout the world will tell you, not all encounters are like this. Wenger’s team will keep its record of continually qualifying for the Champion’s League, but not get their hands on the trophy – this time.
Manchester City – A few weeks ago, City had hit such a vein of form, a ‘purple patch’ of such intensity, we were all calling them ‘champion’s elect’. No-one was going to stop them, no-one could stop them! Then the wheels fell off. A home defeat to Chelsea, a goal-less draw at Norwich, then having their noses rubbed in it well and truly by Barcelona. Their confidence must have taken a huge dent. Fair enough, they settled things to a degree by beating Chelsea in the F.A Cup, but if they can’t find a return to their beautiful football that was a joy to watch and behold, they too may have to look at the domestic cups for this campaign’s success.
Chelsea – Mouriniho has been up to his usual behaviour, spouting much rhetoric in the mind games department aimed at his nearest rivals (Wenger a failure? Please…..) Perhaps the Portuguese should concentrate on why his own team have stumbled recently. An expected draw with West Bromwich Albion, then losing to Manchester City in the cup show his side are not the perfect article as yet. With their tie against Turkish side Galatasaray in the Champion’s League next week, they’ll understandably have their attention diverted from Premier League matters. Mouriniho will want to win this above all else, as he has at other clubs just to improve his own C.V, if nothing else – Champion’s League winner with three different clubs from three different countries – who else has achieved that? This is why I feel Chelsea will not win the League, they’ll have their attention and efforts diverted / channelled elsewhere. Any lack of effeort on the Premier League front will be punished by the other teams around them.
Liverpool – It’s been a slightly odd season for the Red club of Merseyside. No European football to compete within. But this is the blessing in disguise. Brendan Rodgers team can concentrate solely on the Premier League, and close in on that elusive title that has so far avoided them for the last twenty-four years. In much the same way United went a similar period of time between their championship victories, this I feel is Liverpool’s season. So far this campaign, they haven’t launched into any phenomenal form or consistency, winning games while playing poorly to be honest. If they can find their own ‘purple patch’ just at the right time (and looking at the fixture list for all four title contenders, Liverpool have the most pleasing run in – playing Chelsea and Manchester City at Anfield too), Stevie G will gain that final winner’s medal that missing from his collection.
I said at the start of the season, it would be Liverpool’s year – there’s a strong possibility I might be right.
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