Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Premier League review at the quarter mark

Well, it was a short stay for Tottenham in the "safe" zone in the Premier League over the weekend. They had moved up, but subsequent wins by Bolton, Wigan and most recently Newcastle really screwed up Spurs. I have no doubt that Harry Redknapp will keep things going in Tottenham, but it's going to be a tougher ride than they may have thought. The biggest key for Spurs will be beating the teams that they are chasing and also shocking the big clubs like they did Liverpool on the weekend.

With a quarter of the season done, thirteen teams are just a win or loss away from being in or out of the relegation zone and that should make things interesting for the entire season. Meanwhile, at the top, the big 4 are starting to separate themselves from the pack yet again. It makes it a bit of a spending contest, but in the end, if Liverpool can start another unbeaten streak and make it to the top 4, it might make for an interesting mix with Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United rounding out the top. However, Liverpool’s past performance doesn’t bode well for their chances. Liverpool started great last season but squandered chances to remain in at the top and, so far, the same can be said for this season – losing to Tottenham in extra time being the perfect example. This season they are constantly coming back from behind, and they don’t look like they will dominate as the season continues. Manchester United got off to a slow start but have finally hit their stride – Berbatov, Rooney and Ronaldo have all been scoring and with a game in hand, a slip up by either Chelsea or Liverpool could spell the title for Man U. Chelsea is the favourite for top place and have been rolling of late. In fact they have only allowed 1 goal in their last 6 games, and that was a 1 - 0 loss to Liverpool. Chelsea has dominated and will likely continue to do so.

Just below the big 4, Hull and Aston Villa were both contending to start the season with big wins and dreams of title glory, but at the quarter mark, Hull are still playing a no fear style, but recently haven’t had what it takes to stay with the big boys losing to both Chelsea and Man U. Aston Villa should be in the top 4 (they currently sit fifth, tied with Arsenal and Hull) but have been so up and down this season that they haven’t been able to put a string of wins together to contend and will likely fade from the pack as the season progresses.

At the bottom, as mentioned, Tottenham have struggled and look to have finally gotten things right with Harry, rallying for 7 points in their last 3 matches. West Brom have played tough, but week in, week out, the Baggies haven't done enough to be a serious threat to march up the table – and giving up 18 goals in 11 games isn't going to help either. Bolton, meanwhile, have shown they have the ability to win, including a great 2 - 0 win against Manchester City, but the Trotters have barely shown any improvement from last season and are on pace to match last years total points. Relegation could be a good bet for the northern club, but with Sunderland, Fulham and Wigan all appearing like they don't want to play in top flight anymore, it could be an interesting battle when it comes down to the final month of the season. Perhaps a more interesting battle at the bottom than the usual top 4 title battle!

-TG

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