It’s been quite a stiff competition among the elite English Premier League clubs in the first half of the season but as I opined before the top three on the table are predictable.
The reigning European Champions and FA Cup holders Chelsea had stolen the show with more than six consistent Premier wins, including against arch-rivals Arsenal and Tottenham but they were sooner humbled by Manchester United and it has since appeared like the beginning of the doomsday.
I will not go into the details but the most annoying scenario was the elimination of the reigning European champions from the competition and the subsequent axing of their heroic manager Roberto Di Mateo.
The Italian sacking was obviously premised on his alleged ‘belittling’ and benching the super striker Fernando Torres who had cost the megabuck a record 50 million pounds from Liverpool.
And this necessitated replacing Di Mateo with Rafael Benitez, the striker’s former manager at Merseyside who had scooped him from Atletico Madrid in 2007.
Well, besides resultant negative reactions from the fan base, the millionaire’s bold decision is delivering good results and the world class hit man has gained confidence and is regularly hitting the net.
So at the mid-season, the competition it taking shape; the premier title holder Man. City took over the lead but theirs was short-lived. Arch-rival neighbours Man. Utd are now 7 points above and are more organised and strong title contenders.
But will the Red Devils maintain the lead to take the title at the season end? Well, to the diehard fans, it’s obvious. But in England, that’s easily said than done. Unlike in Spain where Barcelona or Real Madrid have worn all titles, in England it’s always a do-or-die up to the eleventh hour!
It’s a football competition where clubs promoted from championship are usually hard to defeat. It’s a competition in which when it comes to the end of the season; the last six at the bottom of the table will practically do all it takes to survive relegation.
In most cases, they are the ones that spoil chances for title contenders. As it happen to Chelsea against Queen’s Park Rangers and Gunners against Southampton mid-week so will be till the season end.
As such, despite Man. City being seven points adrift their bitter rivals, it’s still early for any of the best three title contenders to reorganise, work out strategies and withstand the challenges in the competition.
After all, what I’m saying happened last season; the reigning champions were 8 points adrift of Man. Utd, won three consecutive games and took the title. The Red Devils also won the final game but missed on mere goal difference.
In essence, the fateful games Sir Alex Ferguson can never forget are a 3-0 loss against Blackburn at Old Trafford and the 3-0 loss against Newcastle at St. James Park.
With the league off this weekend because of the FA Cup, the most attractive clash when the league returns next weekend will be Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford with a very serious grudge to settle.
They were beaten 2-1 at Anfield against an evident partial refereeing that resulted into a flimsy red card in first half. Yet the alleged victim, Evans committed the worst fouls in the box against Luiz Suarez and was exonerated!
And as of now, the struggling Reds under Brendan Rogers have regained confidence on the pitch. They have reorganised and got used to the new tiki-taka passing style and are regularly winning with clean sheets.
On top of that, with the transfer window open, Daniel Sturridge, a potential world class striker moved from Stanford Bridge to Anfield and is available for Sunday’s clash.