December 9, 2014

And, we have a race in the EPL!

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It was a day like Saturday that we really needed to jumpstart any sort of interest in the Premier League title race.

As little as two weeks ago, we were writing off this season as Chelsea’s to lose. But now, after the Blues’ dream of an undefeated season came to an end against Newcastle and Manchester City was able to sneak by Everton, the defending champs are just three points back.

In fact, Chelsea’s run of form hasn’t been anything special, with a draw, win and loss in the past three league games.

Even worse, they had another superstar suspended due to yellow card accumulation with Cesc Fabregas being forced out of the next game. This comes on the heels of getting Diego Costa back from his ban.

So, did Newcastle lay out a strategy of how to take down Chelsea? I’m not so sure.

When you consider that Papiss Cisse had to take advantage of two rare mistakes by the Chelsea back line, I’m not so sure that success is replicable that way.

But, you must give credit to the upstart Magpies for holding off the stellar attack of the league leaders while down to ten men for the final 10 minutes of the game.


It turns out my gushing words about Sergio Aguero last week may have jinxed the City striker.

Just minutes into the game, the league-leading scorer slipped, injuring his knee and forcing him out of the game.

The early reports are that there is some ligament damage and that the Argentine will be out for a month – so make your fantasy team moves now.

Even more concerning is that City is a little thin up front right now.

Edin Dzeko is less than 100% and Stevan Jovetic is also chasing full fitness. This could leave Jose Pozo as the only striker they have right now, although it’s not like the Citizens lack attacking punch from other spots on the pitch.

It will be interesting to see how Manuel Pellegrini deals with this situation in the coming week, especially with a Champions League fixture on the books too.


QPR gets off the bottom and out of the relegation zone! I’m not sure where the R’s would be without Charlie Austin, but we’re about to find out with him suspended after seeing red … There were three 0-0 draws on Saturday. Needless to say, there was a lot more time in the highlight shows to talk about the big Chelsea loss … We really might be watching the fall of Arsene Wenger. Stoke scored less than a minute in and three times in the first half. That’s a tough hole for anybody to dig out of and the Gunners fell short … Even worse for Arsenal: More defensive personnel issues. Nacho Monreal is now ailing and Callum Chambers will miss a game after getting a red card … Some nifty bits of skill by Christian Eriksen and Yannick Bolasie in the Crystal Palace-Tottenham game … West Ham might have a problem that you never would’ve thought possible: They have too many good strikers. With Andy Carroll back and scoring two goals, Enner Valencia looking good and Diafra Sakho wowing everyone, how will Big Sam handle this abundance of players up front?


I think the dream is dead for Southampton.

Three games against top-flight opponents, three losses in a row.

Even worse, the defensive resolve that propelled the Saints to the top of the table has seemingly disappeared. Robin van Persie’s two goals we off of mistakes by Southampton defenders.

First, RvP was sent in on the keeper alone after an amateur-hour back pass by Jose Fonte. Next, he was left unmarked as Wayne Rooney swung a free kick into the box.

While we don’t doubt that the Saints can make a run at a Europa League spot, any hopes of title contention are now over.

This was a game that was there for the taking too, with Manchester United doing some very questionable things.

Making a tactical sub of taking off Patrick McNair to move to a back three was puzzling so early on. And further, playing Maraoune Fellaini in a deep-lying role made the Belgian seem quite disinterested.

Maybe one day, when Louis van Gaal can finally assemble his Van Gaalacticos to rival the best in Europe, he won’t have to make such puzzling decisions. But you can’t rip him too much now, considering his side did pick up the three points.

That’s actually five wins running and a jump up into third place. Perhaps LVG isn’t as bad as we thought he was – or perhaps there’s just more parity than ever in the Premier League.

Leave a Reply