EPL Top 10 teams mid-way review and prediction
December 25th 2010 05:57
With Manchester United leading the table now, it seems like ManU are going to be crowned the EPL champs for a record 20th time. But wait, we cannot assume anything because this is EPL and anything can happen. It won't even take a week for ManU to slip down or Chelsea to go up in this title race.
The EPL is the most watched and competitive league in the World right now. One journalist (Andy Gray) even claimed that Lionel Messi (yes, you heard it right) will struggle to play well for Stoke. Non-sense as you may all call it, but one thing is for sure, even Stoke City can go on to defeat Fergie's ManU.
The EPL has 6-7 big-name teams. Every 2-3 weeks, there is a big fixture. From the big North London derby between Arsenal and Spurs or the mouth-watering clash of the 2 EPL giants (at least history claims that), Liverpool and ManU, it still attracts a lot of neutral viewers, like me, and presents them with 90 minutes of glorious (sometimes boring) football.
Since some years now, it has been Arsenal, Chelsea and ManU fighting for the holy grail. I have not kept Liverpool's name on that list due to the fact that they have just finished twice within the top 2 spot in the last 10 years. This year, though, there are other teams who are roaring up to the spot. With Spurs constantly poking their noses in, the multimillionaire City are also trying their best to finish at the top 4 (if only Mancini was not their manager, they could have targeted the title).
Here are my thoughts on the top half of the table.
Manchester United - Are, currently, at top spot with one game in hand and are looking good to stay there till the season ends. The thing which separates ManU with the other teams is their mentality, the never say die mentality. They can snap up points from the worst of situations and have constantly proven that this season. Although, sometimes, they let go matches from winning situations, conceding needless equalizers. But now, ManU have settled down very nicely, with Vidic standing like a wall and protecting Van der Sar.
Arsenal - They have threatened the others teams for the title for some years now but could not lay their hands on to it. Arsenal has riches of young and emerging talent. But what has been missing, and is still missing, is the winning mentality. It seems they have a very weak heart and give up easily. With the likes of Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri, Chamakh, ,Squillaci and so on, they are looking better than last year and can latch onto the title. All they need is some determination and that's it, we will see Arsenal getting crowned as the EPL Champs.
Manchester City - Money can buy you players, not titles - A very common quote which used to be constantly used on Real Madrid. But now, this quote has some competition too. Thanks to the Arab billionaires, ManC are one of the very few clubs who have pockets without any measured depth. But alas, the size of their trophy cabinet hasn't increased since the takeover. City are on 3rd spot now and I don't see them going anywhere above this spot. Just one reason - Mancini. City have a very bad habit of losing points against the smaller teams, at home or away. If they are to stay at top 4, they should remove that habit.
Chelsea - Defending champions and favorites, Chelsea started this season like a dream. But now they find themselves in middle of a nightmare and see themselves at the 4th position. They haven't won their last 6 EPL games and that can get worse too. Chelsea have sold players like Carvalho, Deco, Ballack and so on, but failed to channel in any sort of back up for these players. Since Alex and Terry got sidelined, Chelsea have gone past a very forgettable phase. There are no players to cover up the defensive woes of Chelsea. At some point, if Terry and/or Alex get injured again this season, Chelsea are sure to drown. And who knows, they might even fail to qualify for Europe.
Tottenham Hotspur - A dream run at the Champions league and mediocre performance in the EPL, Spurs have to really buck up and give all their might for the ultimate glory. Rafael Van der Vaart's return would certainly be helpful. But they have to play as a team and prove that Harry Redknapp is right claiming his side can go on to win the EPL. They have showed against Arsenal that they can win against big teams away from home and they have to continue doing that against all teams from now on. Spurs have also caught up the habit to lose points against the smaller teams and it would be better if they get rid of this habit as soon as possible.
Sunderland - Steve Bruce has done an excellent job with Sunderland. Bringing in players like Onuoha and Welbeck on loan, he has shown that he has an eye for talent and also can bring the best out of his players. Who knows, his team might even crawl in to the top 4 spot when the season ends. But one thing is assured, it's just a magnificent achievement for him and Sunderland which can never be overlooked.
Bolton Wanderers - Started well this season. They have been one of the most inconsistent team in EPL but still find themselves at the 7th spot. They have beaten the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham and have made some commanding performances. However, consistently winning and achieving all 3 points has been their problem, 7 draws in 18 EPL appearances just adds steel to that statement. If they are hoping for any Champions League action next year, they have to work their socks off to achieve it.
Newcastle United - With manager Chris Hughton sacked, Alan Pardew has to fill in the big boots and looking at his managerial history, it looks like the boots of Hughton are way to big for him. His first match in charge of the Toons was an excellent one, where Newcastle defeated Liverpool 3-1 at home. Coming in from the 2nd division and sitting at the 8th spot is just a mind-blowing achievement, especially when you have such a crooked owner in Mike Ashley. But the million dollar question is, will Pardew be able to pick up (if not better) where Hughton left off?
Liverpool - One of the biggest failures of this season, Liverpool are struggling to make any sort of positive impact in the EPL. After Hodgson has taken on the Liverpool throne, Liverpool has played some 'ugly' football and now lies at the 9th place. With Benitez being sacked by Inter, rumors have claimed that he may head back to Anfield. The rumor may be far from truth, but the sword still waves above Hodgson's head and he has to show signs of improvement if he wants to stay in charge of Liverpool.
Blackpool - One of the success stories of this season (looking at their history) so far, Blackpool are a perfect example for the other smaller teams of how to win playing football, and not anti-football, at home or away. Manager Ian Holloway has been already regarded as a legend, of this club, by many. Redknapp, being one of them, has claimed that even Jose Mourinho couldn't have done a better job than Ian Holloway at Blackpool. The only problem with Blackpool is that they fail to achieve full points when playing at home on a number of occasions now. But whatever it be, Blackpool, and mainly Holloway, has shown that they can beat any big teams in EPL.
My prediction Ė With ManU showing signs of invincibility, they are looking good to win the EPL. But I will put my money on Arsenal to win this. Two reasons Ė They are looking stronger than they were 2-3 years back and they are my favorite EPL team. All Arsenal need is some determination, as I have stated above. I am expecting Chelsea to stay at 3, ManU at 2 and my other favorite EPL team, Spurs at 4. If Mancini stays at City, which he will, I donít see them at the top 4. Sorry to all the Liverpool fans but I really donít think they can qualify for Europe. Black/Liverpool, Sunderland and Bolton are all looking good to qualify for the Europa league, with ManC front runners in that list.
Hope you liked it. Opinions will be appreciated.
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