Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mother Of All Round-Ups

This Easter weekend has been a really busy one with some teams playing two games in three days and Spurs played two games with only 39 hours apart so don't mind me IF I miss out on anything important. But it's just a summary of everything big that happened.

Title Race Blown Open?

Seriously, this season's title race is really going right down the wire and it's the closest we've seen since Roman Abramovich decided to build his dream team over in England.

Both teams have European ambitions as well and it isn't going what both Sir Alex and Mourinho wants as ManYoo lost 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico while Chelsea were held by Valencia at Stamford Bridge.

Back in the domestic front, there was mixed fortunes. United surprisingly lost to 'Arry's Portsmouth, who's chasing after the UEFA Cup spot.

Fergie gambled by putting Fletcher and Richardson in the same team and it backfired spectacularly. But nothing comes close to challenging Rio's spot for being ridiculous as he rolled the ball into the back of his own net.

Lapse of concentration has been a major issue for him and the only thing that differentiates world class and capable. Van der Sar too, needs to take some blame as he came out aimlessly. His form in recent games has became pretty erratic with two similar mistakes in two games.

Chelsea, meanwhile, put on their usual effective self and finished a lethargic Spurs side 1-0. Ricardo Carvalho with the winning goal and once again, it was down to Paul Robinson's inability to get down quick enough to save the shot.

Take nothing away from Ricardo as he hit it with some power and precision but once again, Robbo got down at the speed of 1km/h and just look back at the season, you'll be able to tell it's not a one-off situation. Ask Tugay, Nick Shorey and even Claude Makalele!

In the coming month, it's only going to be more fired up and more mind games being played between the two scheming and cunning men. They'll take every opportunity to mount pressure on each other and testing out each other's wits.

To me, the title is still very much in United's grasp and only theirs to lose. They'll have a better run in and perhaps, by the time the two sides meet, it might only be a regular match with nothing to play for as ManYoo wraps up the title race by then.

What Jose said was true, that ManYoo wouldn't want to play his Chelsea side the next week. And it'll certainly be a very interesting one if ManYoo really do slip up the next game. Newcastle 96/97 comes to mind, eh?

Relegation Battles Seems Confusing...Gunners Lost Aim...Etc,

It's funny how once Charlton and West Ham were both deemed hopeless and should be ready to face Championship football next season just about a month ago.

Watford is an outside question because even being a well liked club can't save you. Without Marlon King, we knew they'll struggle.

Sheffield United, looked a little stable earlier this season, starts on a free-fall and they've now encountered an enormous problem that is similar to Watford.

They lost their key striker, Rob Hulse.

What's football without scoring goals, you ask. Well, ask Arsenal. Despite mustering a grand total of 30 shots on goal in a single match (the only time I see that number is in Football Manager), they got a major sucker punch when Bobby Zamora sneaked in and score. Offside or not, at least he took his chance.

The Gunners were presented chance after chance and there's a lack of excuses for Arsene Wenger to find as West Ham did indeed, came with a plan to hit L'Arse on a counter attack while defend deep. You can't fault West Ham for 'parking the bus' as there were 30 shots on goal! If West Ham indeed parked a bus, then they really have to get a bigger one next season.

It's probably down to Robert Green's inspired form and poor finishing from the Gunners. If Green wasn't able to save, the post and the bar were the Hammer's savior. Then you have some absolutely astonishing misses from Rosicky and Adebayor. Jaded, disinterested and disheartened. That's how they fared and they brought that same mentality over to St. James' Park.

The free flowing football of Arsenal was not seen and it was just sluggish and sloppy at times. Players like Fabregas, who were so brilliant earlier, looked like his legs were tied with sandbags while Baptista, Hleb and Aliadiere just doesn't seemed to make the cut.

If Arsenal were to challenge anything major next season, they should look to having replacements for certain players instead of bemoaning injuries and luck. They are excuses to get you through a short period, not in extended.

Next week's clash with Bolton at the Emirates will be a very interesting one as the Trotters now edge dangerously close to Arsenal's 4th spot, which they're clinging on to, says Arsene. They'll have to be in their best to defeat their bogey team and the result will have a major effect of the final standings.

Meanwhile, Curbs must be delighted with that shock result but that also made the relegation extra exciting this season. West Ham seemed on the trot while Charlton, although drawn their last 2 games, seemed up for it.

Teams like Sheffield United and Wigan ought to be careful now and start picking up points and the plight of Fulham is serious as Chris Coleman's side, whose home form is the only reason why they've stayed up for the past few seasons, are getting trounced at Craven Cottage. Surely, not a good sign.

Whatever it is, the final month of the Premiership might provide even more spectacle with clubs fighting for survival as well as the title race heats up. It'll proof to be one heck of a ride and do stay tune for more.

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