It’s week 26 of the Premiership this weekend, with Chelsea 7 points clear at the top of the League and facing Burnley it looks like their tenure is safe for one more week. After P.S.G. running them ragged and a fiasco with their fans, it will be interesting to see what Jose has to say about the vendetta everyone has on Chelsea. Clearly a fantastic manager that everyone loves to hate – Jose needs to set things right here and tone his bully boy tactics down, to set an example for his team and their fans. Soon, they will be bringing the game into disrepute, for the club points should be docked. One by one the players flirt with tribunals or scandals.
Another team that are a scandal right now are Manchester United, a Multi-Million pound team waited 70 minutes to come from behind to beat Preston North End (if you haven’t heard of them don’t be embarrassed). Many big names joined over the summer to make them a team to envy, although only on paper. Dismal display after display United have just got across the finish line enough to keep them at dizzying heights of third place. They have been graced by a bunch of underperforming teams surrounding the top four and have the fortuity to have played a lot of lower clubs already, still to face Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea and only City look like a team out of form that could lose to United.
Travelling to Wales to visit Swansea will see Van Gaal’s men play a team that could rest on their laurels in January. Selling Bony and getting no one else in was almost a resignation to their position of mid table. Gary Monk still gets fight out of the team but is he getting money from the owners? A merry band of misfits Swansea can often rise to the occasion and scare some teams, although with a mixed bag of results recently this game will be all about giving the home fans some future memories. A dull draw looks the outcome here as statisticians count up the long balls.
One of Swansea’s last victories in the league was against Southampton who have seemed to have lost the rudder in their ship. They welcome Liverpool to St. Mary’s on Sunday, who they faced on the opening day, leaving Anfield, unluckily without a point. Lallana will probably be benched for his first trip home after playing in Europa league Thursday and Rodgers could be tempted to start Ballotelli alongside Sturridge to see if his recent arrogance in Europe can turn to confidence, so another line-up change up for the Northern Irishman. Southampton, playing very fast football may have run out of steam with a lot of players sidelined for a while now. If Liverpool keep up their counter-attacking form coupled with a fairly solid defense they could take another 3 points off the saints and bring them within a point of their tails. This game could be played very loose this weekend.
Another loose game in our future will be Sunderland v West Brom, Gus Poyet trying to reassure the fans everything is moving in the right direction and both teams looking for a vital three points to move adrift of the bottom three where Aston Villa have plunged to. The newcomers of the relegation zone have a new manager in Tim Sherwood who hopes to save them from Championship football after winning their first game against Premiership opposition in over 7 games.
Another team hoping for any point they can get is Newcastle who go away to Manchester City this week. City struggling with form in recent weeks will surely have all eyes on Barcelona who they face in the Champions league, which could give Newcastle an opportune moment to surprise them. City are the team most likely to catch Chelsea but are not too far away from being caught and dumped out of the top four themselves, albeit a tad unlikely. City will have Bony to call up and not a minute too soon as Aguero keeps struggling with fitness. Toure returns from the African cup of nations also – will he return with some form? The result should be cut and dry but this year we have learned to hedge our bets.
Newcastle old boy Alan Pardew aims to be the tricky opposition as he hosts Arsenal in Selhurst Park. The Eagles have had some inspired form of late, winning a couple under their new boss as the excitement grew –since then results have been slipping but the enthusiasm hasn’t. Palace have lost and drew some close games that could have been down to the bounce of the ball. Last weekend in the cup Liverpool left it late to overcome the goal that the reds gifted to Campbell, a goal that palace clung to for a long time.
Arsenal are capable of the style of play that would just over-awe most teams on a good day, that form has been missing and is starting to slowly creep back in as we saw against MIddlesborough. Wenger’s team has had one knock after another, always missing one element of the team each game, making it hard to judge this side. Reliant on Sanchez for so much all season and for a lot of the goals scored this year – just over a quarter of them, they will happily see this man bring back the pace to their game that leaves so many sides dizzy. Giroud finding his feet(and head) again will give Arsenal another option, with Ozil, Welbeck, Walcott and Rosicky all adding to the threat and the goal tally recently Palace have so much more to worry about. This trip across London could be a nervous encounter for the Red and White army at first until they get the first goal in – then the flood gates should open. A win could pop Arsenal into third.
A return to form is on the cards for Arsenal and Liverpool if the past few weeks are anything to go by, within the next few weeks, United should ease away and show up Van Gaal for what he is and the rest of the top six should be more familiar.
Enjoy the games
|21 Feb 10:00||Aston Villa||v||Stoke|
|21 Feb 10:00||Chelsea||v||Burnley|
|21 Feb 10:00||Crystal Palace||v||Arsenal|
|21 Feb 10:00||Hull||v||QPR|
|21 Feb 10:00||Sunderland||v||West Brom|
|21 Feb 10:00||Swansea||v||Man Utd|
|21 Feb 12:30||Man City||v||Newcastle|
|22 Feb 7:00||Spurs||v||West Ham|
|22 Feb 9:05||Everton||v||Leicester|
|22 Feb 11:15||Southampton||v||Liverpool|