May 6, 2014

When there’s no bus to park

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

All that Liverpool had to do late in its game against Crystal Palace on Monday was the same thing that Chelsea does whenever it feels threatened: Park the proverbial bus.

Instead, the Reds kept on trying to hit back and add to their goal differential – the end result was utter disaster.

I’m not the only one who has said this, but all season the theme with Liverpool has been “can it defend well enough to win a title?”

This was the game when its lax attitude toward defending did it in and it really could cost the Reds the Premier League.

Crystal Palace has been a decent team since Tony Pulis took over midseason, but it is not an offensive juggernaut by any means. The Eagles output of three goals in the final 11 minutes of the game is the best they have done all season. The hero on Monday was Dwight Gayle, who was a Conference player last year, a semi-pro really.

Of course, this result only matter when you take into Manchester City’s weekend result: beating Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton in an all-out battle.

While it may have been the back of many Evertonians’ heads to take it a bit easy and cause some grief for the Reds, that was hardly the case.

In fact, the Toffees struck first and were looking as if they could even the game late, but no final equalizer came.

It was the biggest hurdle that the Sky Blues had left in their path and they dealt with it with the poise that a champion would. Even dealing with injuries and losing Sergio Aguero less than half an hour in, they looked solid as a unit.

Of course, there’s still three more games to go that will decent the title, but right now it’s looking like the tears that Luis Suarez was crying is all you need to know about who will win this race.

ABOUT CHELSEA…

For a team that brought in so many creative midfielders in the past few years, there sure was a lack of creativity in the attack against Norwich City.

Yet again, Jose Mourinho’s side failed to play up to its expected level of play, drawing the relegation-battlers and ultimately ending its slim title chances.

For a team that needed to win, it sure didn’t look like it was trying its hardest too.

But then again, when you’re the EPL’s Robin Hood – taking from the rich, giving to the poor – maybe that was the plan all along.

SORRY TO SEE YOU LEAVE

Goodbye, Fulham. We’ll miss you, old friend.

Goodbye, Cardiff City. We hardly knew you.

Both sides will be headed down a level next season, trying to fight their way back up to the top flight in the battle royale known as League Championship.

Both sides went through all kinds of instability all season, which you can’t argue contributed to where they finished.

If you have been following the exploits of Cardiff owner Vincent Tam – who comes off crazy at whatever he does – you would know this team was doomed. It’s a shame after this side ran away with the Championship last year to earn promotion. Now it will have to do it again to come back.

Fulham had been in the EPL for 13 seasons, then it was bought by Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shahid Khan. Perhaps we was aiming for a first overall draft pick that will never come.

Of course, Khan also got rid of the Michael Jackson statue outside of Craven Cottage after buying the team. So maybe this was the curse of MJ.

Also, it should be said that if you lose to Newcastle 3-0 or allow four goals against Stoke, as Fulham and Cardiff did respectively, you probably should be going down.

AROUND THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Thanks to Everton’s loss, Arsenal clinched its own personal “silverware.” The Gunners clinched fourth place, something that Arsene Wenger thinks the equivalent of a trophy. Of course, Arsenal can win some actual silverware in the FA Cup in two weeks, but that remains to be seen … Thanks to the Gunners finishing in a Champions League spot, that means fellow FA Cup combatant Hull City is automatically in Europa League. Sure, it will have to qualify in August playoffs, but that’s a huge step for a promoted side … Of course, it may be a curse considering how thin that side is … It looks like Ryan Giggs may not be a saviour after all. Manchester United lost to relegation-battling Sunderland this week and looked kind of bad doing so. When down 1-0, it never looked like the Red Devils would be the team to score next, the Black Cats had the better chances. Maybe it’s an effect of all the Louis van Gaal reports this week … Sunderland now have the upper hand over Norwich in the relegation battle. The Black Cats have a game in hand, are up two points and have a far superior goal differential. The Canaries would have to beat Arsenal on Sunday and have Sunderland lose both games to stay up … Even with United’s loss, it can still finish sixth if it wins both games and Tottenham loses to Aston Villa. So, umm, good luck with that last part … If you wanted a good metaphor for West Brom’s season, you should look no further than two of its players slipping on invisible banana peels this week.

THE LAST WORD

If you wanted a preview of how exciting next Sunday could be, you should’ve watched Saturday’s season finale of the League Championship season.

We know that Leiscester City and Burnley are up, but we still have to richest playoff in football to play for.

The combatants: Derby, QPR, Wigan and Brighton & Hove Albion.

The last one is the real shocker. Reading was holding the final playoff spot on the last day, only to draw against Burnley and get leap-frogged by BHA – which defeated Nottingham on a stunning injury-time goal from Jose Ulloa.

If we get any finishes like that next week, we’ll be in for a gem of a final day.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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