April 1, 2014

No joke, Liverpool’s on top

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It may be April Fool’s Day, but you’re not reading the Premier League table wrong. That is Liverpool on top.

Yes, after the Reds big win over Tottenham and Chelsea’s stumble at Crystal Palace – more on that later – Liverpool is now two points up on the Blues for first place.

After last season’s poor performance with a few calls for Brendan Rodgers to be canned, a summer of speculation over whether or not Luis Suarez would be sold and even a few speed bumps earlier this campaign, you never really thought that Liverpool would be here at this point in the season.

This is a team that is largely the same as it was during last year’s seventh-place finish, but now have that extra year of bonding and growing together, which has clearly worked wonders.

With a goal on Saturday, Suarez is now on 29 for the season, which is two behind the record. Just imagine if he hadn’t been suspended for the first five games of the season. There have been just five games this season in which he hasn’t recorded a goal or assists.

His strike partner Daniel Sturridge is at 20 goals and he also missed eight games.

And Raheem Sterling, another year older at 19 now, is looking like a lock for the English national team in Brazil.

The trick now for the Reds is to avoid the wobbles that come when you’re on top. Just look at what has happened to Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea when they were basking in the glory.

And to think that Reds could win out is just silly. That would put them on a 14-game winning streak to close the season, a run that has never been accomplished in EPL play before.

And there are two big fixtures on the horizon: vs. Manchester City and vs. Chelsea.

Each will be called a title eliminator and each will go a long way towards settling this race.

But for now, in summation: Liverpool. Leading the EPL. In April. It’s Happening.


There were a couple of really great things to come out of Chelsea’s stunning upset loss at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

First, the fact that it was a John Terry own goal that caused this chaos – couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Second, Jose Mourinho was going over the top talking about it all and the consequences.

We all love to hate on Terry, the cheating, wife-stealing, rebellion-leading, alleged racist. So much so it’s hard to think that he deserves some of this accidental bad fortune from a karma standpoint. Really, though he could have done better to deflect the cross that went in, it wasn’t exactly an easy play to make.

As for the Special One, he upped his game on the mic this week.

After the loss he declared Chelsea’s title hopes over while just two points back of Liverpool. We haven’t seen this type of downplaying since Roberto Mancini claimed week in, week out, that his Man City side couldn’t top United, which it did.

Mourinho also claimed that his team just didn’t get up for games against lesser teams, like Palace this weekend and Aston Villa two weeks ago. If anything that’s just another example of tactically deflecting the heat off his players onto himself.

But the fact is that Chelsea is running out of time. Another performance like that feeble one at Selhurst Park and these little horses will be too far off the pace.


For as big of a matchup that Manchester City-Arsenal was, a 1-1 draw seems like a bit of a disappointment.

City took it the host Gunners, but it didn’t really feel like it was ever going to get out of hand.

And when last week’s goat Mathieu Flamini scored the equalizer, it seemed rather fitting.

The Sky Blues still have their two games in hand, which gain even more importance every time the team can’t claim all three points.


If we did a best XI of the week, Julian Speroni would definitely be the keeper this week. He was outstanding in stopping the chances that Chelsea was able to get against the stout Palace defence … The big reason why Tottenham isn’t contending this season: It’s poor record against the top four clubs. Aggregate scores against the top are as follows: Liverpool 9-0, Manchester City, 11-1, Chelsea 5-1 (with a 1-1 draw) and Arsenal 2-0. That’s right; Spurs goal differential against the top four clubs is an incredibly woeful 27-2 … In case you haven’t noticed, Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez has an outstanding 15 goals this season, good for a tie for fourth in the league. Is an England World Cup callup in the offing? … The scene of the week came at the end of the back-and-forth Cardiff-West Brom match. Just when you thought it was all over and the Baggies had taken three points with Thievy Bifouma’s goal in the fourth minute of injury time, Cardiff somehow came back and scored the equalizer in the fifth minute of added time, just before the final whistle. Who says the relegation battle can’t be fun, right?

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