Sunday, 23 March 2014

Premier League Round Up: 23rd March

Welcome to the millionth Premier League Round-up blog!
All opinions are just that, so... yeah...

1. Chelsix v Arsenil

In the crudest manner, Chelsea arrived drunk at Arsene's party, seduced his wife and vomited on his shirt.
Whereas they had the courtesy to wait an hour before dismantling Tottenham, the demolition was effectively complete inside 15 minutes here.  To throw back to last week's Tottenham v Arsenal game, Wenger's team appeared to have concrete tactics: if we score we defend. Maybe they only crystallised this once they had scored for here they appeared to turn up with the intention of matching Chelsea; a plan that died almost immediately. 
That both North London sides have been so regularly and similarly deconstructed by variously Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool has been widely noted, as has the length of their respective injury lists & both teams can gain no comfort from their residence in the lower tier of the Superior 7; that Arsenal top that group and will likely secure Champions League football is a major silver lining.

Wenger's only other solace will have been the comical sending off of Keiran Gibbs, which at least offered the game's greatest talking point and distracted from other more worrying footballing issues; the elephant in the room here being the implication that the referee could not distinguish between two young black men... dear, oh dear.

Still, Jose's ruthless killers march onwards and possibly upwards and are back on track with a marginally favourable schedule to come.

Write them off? I'd rather not.

FUN FACT: There were 4 indiviual errors for goals registered in this game plus a penalty & a red card. This 'improved' upon Tottenham's total of 3, a penalty and a red card from their fixture here. 

So bad.

2. Shit teams are shit

It must be hard following a lesser Premier League team.
A cursory glance at the form tables reveals thus:

1. West Ham LOST last 3
2. Swansea NO WIN in 5
3. WBA 1 WIN in 6
4. Palace NO WIN in 5
5. Sunderland NO WIN in 4
6. Cardiff 1 WIN in 6
7. Fulham 1 WIN in 6

Rubbish all round.

Sunderland's two games in hand gives rise to the idea that they could bridge the gap to the other bad teams ahead of them; that may well be misleading. BUT all of these teams are falling away just when they need points and wins, much like Norwich and Hull did until they all but secured their spots for next year by winning ONE game.

As I said last week, it is fortunate for others that Cardiff and Fulham are so bad; routine demolitions at the hands of title contenders reinforced that view, and it could be bloody fortunate that Sunderland have such a horrible run in. It's certain that they will be ruined by Liverpool in midweek, but straight after they have a genuine... wait for it... 6 pointer (!) at home to West Ham.

If they don't win that, then realistically they are toast.

3. Crystal Pulis are in the Premier League.

Pulisball, so beloved of the stats community, may well succeed this season but most will have not noticed the minor tweak that he's gambled on.
By regularly involving themselves in unthrilling, non-goal laden matches, they are worrying close to achieving actual stasis.  And by achieving this, the media, fans and maybe even the Premier League itself are dangerously close to forgetting Palace even exist.

If you don't exist, you can't get relegated.  You merely remind the league makers of your existence prior to next year's fixtures and presto:

'The greatest trick Pulis ever pulled was convincing the world Palace didn't exist'

4. Swansea are cursed

Swansea did well at Everton:
21 shots to 9, 60/40 possession.

Everton are a good team at home, they are a SUPERIOR team in the league, after all, they've only lost 5 games anywhere all year and yet they were functionally outplayed by a resurgent Swansea who keep outdoing the opposition AND GET BEAT.
Swansea keep playing pretty well.  Their matches against Napoli were thrilling & they could have got something out of the WBA match.  They even scored 3 v. Liverpool, although that's become more common recently. But still they struggle.

Their run-in is OK and they should pick up points somewhere & do better for being out of Europe. Last match is Sunderland away though so they really need to get on with it. However, they play a good few holidaying sides before then, and mostly at home (Villa, Norwich, Southampton). There must be points for them somewhere.

5. Big players do big things

Stating the bleeding obvious: Rooney, Suarez, Toure, Snodgrass: 9 goals between them in one weekend.
There's a reason these guys are feted & they show why every week.


Ha! No they can't.
Any team that concedes 3 to Cardiff ain't winning no title!

It's fun to see them try though. Seemingly rejecting any concept of careful play, Brendan Rodgers has given his team it's head, so to speak and boy have they responded.  After routinely crushing Man Utd last week, it's turning into parks football for Liverpool now. Turn up, have some fun, try some tricks, score a few goals, get the three points, Alan.

Maybe they can do it? If it wasn't for the fact that Chelsea and particularly City are so equally superior to the rest, I might believe it...

Sunderland, Tottenham and West Ham lie in wait & I, for one, expect goals.

7. Obligatory Tottenham bit

Continuing their LEAGUE LEADING total for 'errors leading to a goal' were two more Kyle Naughton howlers, which brings their total to 16. Naughton, so often a boo-boy, has to his credit been performing well in recent weeks deputising for Kyle Walker, but this game was intriguing, for again, Tottenham galvanised themselves and ultimately had the better of a game, only this time completing a comeback and securing a result. Where Arsenal held out last week, Southampton obligingly added a couple to their own ERROR total.

There are strange signs of coherence in some of Spurs' recent performances. That this coherence only seems to occur after routinely going behind is concerning but there are players out there improving and playing at a good level. Southampton didn't get a kick in the second half here.

Bentaleb, still a mere child of 19, has nous and a gift to make the right percentage calls.  His efforts have been underappreciated as he has been unfortunately bestowed the title of 'Sherwood's Love Child'; not his fault, he's very good.  Chadli, a lab designed ideal footballer: strong, massive, good touch & with a good shot has started to look like the player he has threatened to be.

And Eriksen! He's just nifty.  Even Soldado was good today. Lennon, as ever, was not. The MLS calls for him, surely.

Liverpool next, so, yeah.

That is all, for now...

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