Premier League Reflections: Liverpool are not unlucky, Arsenal are not mentally weak, and who’s worst off at Chelsea?
Liverpool have no case to say they were unlucky, Villas-Boas isn’t in such a bad position, Aston Villa are terrible, and the Amazing Mr Roy.
Photo courtesy of WellOffside.com
* After today, Villas Boas looks doomed. The best managers would have convinced Chelsea’s old guard to come with him, or have demonstrably proved that his way, and his players, were more effective. While the manager hasn’t proved that his choices are the best term, the overall sense is that neither player nor manager have come off well.
However, Villas Boas has his time at Porto to secure a new contract elsewhere, possibly Inter Milan. Terry and Lampard have to contend with the damage done to their reputations as petulant squad members. If they stay at Chelsea, they have their card marked as troublemakers. If they choose to leave, they have to contend with their reputations and their thirties. Who wants a childish has-been? AN
* After another match-winning performance today, Robin Van Persie acquired some critics who questioned the impact he has on games – “Is he capable of dominating a game as the best do?” they asked. We’ll call these people ‘D Harris’…no: ‘Daniel H’. But it isn’t fair to judge Van Persie for his lack of non-goalscoring activity whilst he is forced to forage alone amongst Theo Walcott and Gervinho. Trying to dominate games would be the irresponsible thing for him to do in this Arsenal team, because they need him in the area: if he’s anywhere else for this team, they’re up the creek without a canoe. Is it immature to use a roundup to have the last word on a debate? EDR
* Liverpool fans are launching a campaign to have themselves named the most unlucky team in the Premier League. Today their ideas about being unlucky were reinforced by their side hitting the post twice. But it isn’t unlucky to miss chances; it isn’t unlucky to hit the post, because it doesn’t move. So few things in football are about being actually unlucky: being appalling at finishing isn’t one of them. EDR
* Arsenal have just closed up six points on Tottenham in two weeks, and that will remain the case if Manchester United can do the job they were born for and beat Tottenham tomorrow. This, as a whole, is an example of coming from behind, and in both beating Tottenham last week and Liverpool this, they came from behind. What does this tell us? That this Arsenal team isn’t weak in the head, it’s just not very talented: a 4-0 defeat in the San Siro didn’t prove that they didn’t have the right mindset, it proved that they weren’t as good as AC Milan. Them’s the facts; Gervinho’s return don’t change nuffing. They had deals in place for Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla this summer, but pulled the plug to get more money for Fabregas and Nasri. Oops. EDR
* Wigan are going to stay up. The players know it, the manager knows it, the fans know it, and everybody else knows it. It’s what they do. They’re straight-up not very good, the same as they have been every other year when they’ve scraped survival, and even miserable home defeats to mid-table sides only seem to reinforce the absolute certainty that, whether through fate or the incompetency of their fellow relegation battlers, they’ll somehow avoid the drop. If you believed in God, you’d have to think they were being kept in the Premier League for a reason. We’re not saying anything, but don’t be too surprised if Ben Watson has a significant role the play in the Rapture. CH
I might as well reserve a space at the bottom of every Premier League reflections column to say ‘…and Aston Villa are terrible.’ Despite throwing away a win against Blackburn, a team they completely outplayed in the first half, a glance at the Premier League table reveals that they still look disappointingly comfortable, sitting reasonably clear of the true relegation candidates. Then again, Newcastle had their brief “Phew! That could’ve been nasty for a minute…” moment before ultimately biting the dust, and it will only take a couple of teams to put together semi-decent runs for Villa to be endangered. Worse still, it seems that Coyle, Martinez, presumably Connor, and even Kean have their players united for the cause. Will McLeish be able to inspire and rally his team-mates if it comes to a scrap? Will he eff. CH
* Mr. Roy’s West Bromwich Albion – just four points behind Liverpool. If he can pull it off, he’ll surely be the leading candidate for the England job. Harry Redknapp would need to win the league with Spurs to top that, and it still wouldn’t be anywhere near as funny. There’s not a ‘GSOH’ in the FA’s lonely hearts ad for nothing. CH