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We’ve had some knockabout fun in the Premier League this season, no question, but for all those eager for a change to the established order the table is taking on an all too familiar look.
Best Premier league season ever? It looked like we were heading that way, thanks to Liverpool’s flabbergastingly bad form, United’s post-Portuguese predicament, Chelsea’s baffling inconsistency and Arsenal’s eerie ability to conjure defeats and draws from matches they should have walked. William Hill even announced that the series of upsets involving the Big Four had helped them restore their profit margins at the expense of punters.
But with 16 or 17 matches left to go, look at the table now. For all their ragged performances, Arsenal, Chelsea and United have pulled away at the top, and even Liverpool, desperate, woeful Liverpool, are a point off fourth place having won three and drawn one of their last four. Arsene Wenger says it’s ludicrous that his team are back at the top, but really it’s anything but.
The problem, I think, is that in their eagerness to sell the story of financial woe at Manchester United and Liverpool, the media have exaggerated the decline of the two teams on the field.
“For 25 years Liverpool were Britain’s most successful and consistent football club. For four of those years we were also the most successful club in Europe. No one has an automatic right to success but you can be sure we will all be doing everything in our power to achieve those levels again. We owe that both to our own supporters and our own history.”
The above quotation* is from the statement released by then Liverpool chairman David Moores following the resignation of Graeme Souness in January, 1994 after an embarrassing defeat to a second division club in a third round FA Cup replay.
Last week’s snow-show in all but three of the games means there’s been very little movement on the scores front, at least here at Reuters Soccer Blog Towers.
Premier League grounds may be as sludgy as Dutch pea soup but at least they’re fit for purpose once more and as long as the thaw continues we should get a full programme again this weekend. About time too. Here are the weekend’s games:
The good news is, if you missed the midweek fixtures you’ve hardly been scathed, with one of the two games called off and the other a 3-2 thriller that no one predicted.
So let’s start 2010 as we mean to go on with your predictions for the Premier League matches this weekend. Read on after the break for the rules if you’re a newbie, and if not … well, you know what to do.
Here’s a total random idea: go and choose the best five matches of the last 10 years – a lot easier said than done.
Where do you begin? Do you only pick matches you have seen yourself ? As I am based in England, do I pick only matches played in England, or as I am lucky enough to travel round the world and watch football, do I go for international matches too?
I have my shopping list for the January sales but my need for a new desk-lamp is not as important as the requirements of the Premier League’s big four.
I’d say I could get my lamp quite cheap if I employ the Arsene Wenger technique of shopping around, making sure I get good value for money.
MONDAY UPDATE: The games really are coming thick and fast. We have only just worked out the weekend scores and now they all play again just two days later.
Who’d be a Premier League footballer at Christmas? Well, I wouldn’t mind money for a Ferrari.
Thursday Update: I have very little to shout about personally after my confident predictions of Liverpool scoring nine and Chelsea 10 proved to be a little wide of the mark.
Still, looking on the bright side, I still got a couple of points for those 2-1 wins and the way I’ve been plummeting lately I’ll take what I can get.
Liverpool ’s dismal start to the season is an open wound on Merseyside and events over the last seven days have thrown a handful of salt into the gaping gash.
Michael Owen reminded Reds fans what an able deputy he could have been for Fernando Torres by firing a clinical Champions League hat-trick against Wolfsburg, while their own campaign came to a whimpering end at home to Fiorentina.
MONDAY UPDATE: A truly appalling week for the panel. Admittedly, it was hard to predict Manchester United losing 1-0 at home to Aston Villa and Chelsea’s 3-3 home draw with Everton but nevertheless it was dreadful.
Some serious soul searching must go on in the coming weeks whilst eating our mincepies and finding yet another pair of socks when opening our Christmas presents.