Sunday, 31 October 2010

Has the Premier League Already been Decided?

Is this already inevitable for another year?  Image Credit Flickr User sonyds
By Matt Scott 
Chelsea are holding strong at the top of the table, 5 points clear of Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City, who at this stage of the season seem to be the only realistic title contenders.

However 5 points could prove to be too much, even at this early stage of the season. This is because many Premier League sides, especially those who are struggling at the bottom end of the table, go into games against title challengers expecting to lose. Their attitude is that taking a point away from one of the current top four sides is a bonus, especially if they are playing them at home.

But credit where credit is due. This is down to Chelsea’s performances this season. A 6-0 thrashing of West Brom on the opening day at Stamford Bridge, followed by another 6-0 hammering, this time away at Wigan. Chelsea have been scoring goals for fun, two against Stoke at home, three away to West Ham, four at home to Blackpool. Their only set back has been a 0-0 against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Chelsea v Arsenal, Feb 7th 2010.In the wake of the media bitzkrieg over Terry's alleged affair with Vanessa Perroncel, fans at Stamford ridge show their support for their captain.
Their style of play and goal scoring finesse has rattled the other teams in the League. Giving them the mental edge, convincing the opposition the game is lost before they step on the pitch, it’s just a matter of damage limitation. Because of this you see teams changing formation when they play Chelsea, often to a 4-5-1, with a defensive focus. They invite Chelsea onto them, defend for their lives and hope to spring on the counter. This is not, what many deem, exciting football for the neutral to watch.

Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United centre back gives a thumbs up at their match against West Brom, Oct 16
Manchester United, who some bookmakers listed as favourites for the League before the season kicked off, have had an all together different start to the season. They have been uncharacteristically shaky and seem nervous. After a bright start to the season, a comfortable 3-0 win over, newly promoted, Newcastle United at Old Trafford, things started to go wrong. United let a 2-1 lead slip in the 89th minute against Fulham, giving Chelsea a vital two point advantage at an early stage of the season.

Then, two weeks later, two injury time goals, one from Cahill and the other from Arteta erased a 3-1 lead at Goodison Park against Everton. Chelsea were now four points ahead and the United team looked even more uncertain on the ball.

After a vital 3-2 win over Liverpool, the team travelled to the Reebok Stadium to play Bolton. Sir Alex’s side were 2-1 down with less than 25 minutes left to play, so they began throwing everything forward and luckily, Michael Owen managed to find the back of the net, with only 10 minutes remaining. The majority of fans argue that Manchester United should have gone on to win the game.

Finally and most recently, a 2-0 home advantage at half time against West Brom was over turned by two goals in 5 minutes from the visiting side. United unable to score a third in the last 35 minutes of the game, in fact, they were extremely lucky not to lose the game in the end,  with West Brom going close on several occasion.

As these teams came from behind, wiping out leads to take unexpected points, other squads were watching, thinking that if a that team could do it, why couldn’t they.

The combination of this, increasingly inconsistent defending and unexpected errors have snowballed and increased the pressure on Manchester United in a vicious and ongoing circle. This is seriously damaging the clubs title challenge and if they are to stand any chance of gaining on Chelsea it needs to be resolved, fast.

Yet, one good thing to come out of this is that, for the neutrals, Manchester United games are now the more likely games to impress and entertain. It’s doubtful that Sir Alex will see it that way though.

Image Credits
Chelsea Badge - Flickr User TheTruthAbout
Terry V Arsenal - Wikimedia
Rio Ferdinand West Brom
Javier Hernandez -
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