Best. Premier League. Ever… ?
Sunderland’s absurd winning goal at the Stadium of Light was symbolic not just of Liverpool’s woes but of a season that just keeps rattling along in ever more gloriously unpredictable style.
Here are a few reasons why this might just be the best Premier League season ever, or at least for quite a while.
1. Big Four? What Big Four? The worst thing about the Premier League, everyone said before the start of the season, was that you could always predict the top four. I wouldn’t put much money on it being the same old same old this time. Liverpool look especially vulnerable after losing four games already this season but the others have had their unconvincing moments as well.
2. Vaulting ambitions. Manchester City have serious aspirations to make the Champions League and there are a few others hoping to join them. Tottenham look to have a new confidence about them after spending a lot of money, and most of it wisely, and Aston Villa have beaten Liverpool and Chelsea.
3. Goals galore. Arsenal have scored 27 goals, conceding 11, in eight games and they are only fourth. Liverpool, for all the problems that have seen them slip to eighth place, have bagged 22, while conceding 13. At the same stage last season, Arsenal had scored 16 and conceded six, while Liverpool, top at the time, had scored 14 and conceded six.
4. Greatest. Upset. Ever. Burnley beating Manchester United 1-0 at Turf Moor in their first home game back in the top flight in 33 years. Who would have predicted that?
5. Hardly any draws. When England’s league introduced three points for a win back in 1981 the idea was it would inspire a lot more risk-taking by teams. It was slow to catch on elsewhere but eventually the rest of the world came round and 28 years on we are seeing the benefit. This year, we’ve had 10 draws. At the same stage last year (more or less) we’d had 19 of them.
6. Wigan Athletic. And Sunderland. And Stoke City. And Burnley (again). Roberto Martinez is back at Wigan, now as coach, and he’s stuck with the ball-playing philosophy. It hasn’t been totally successful — just look at the Hull defeat — but they have beaten Chelsea and are winning a lot of admirers. Sunderland can point to even better results, reward for playing two up front even against the best, while Stoke continue to be utterly fearless at home and Burnley like to pass it as well.
So what do you think? Best. Premier League. Ever? Let us know in the comments.
Oh, almost forgot. Reason number 7. We now know what happened to Nena’s 100th red balloon. (Or beachball, if you prefer). Altogether now… “Hast Du etwas Zeit fuer mich/Dann singe Ich ein Lied fuer Dich/Von 99 Luftballons…”
PHOTO: Sunderland’s Darren Bent (R) shoots to score against Liverpool, October 17, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis