Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Tight at midway

The English Premier League moves into 2014 at the halfway point with Arsenal at the top of the table. The Gunners have found it difficult to beat their closest rivals, losing by a single goal at Manchester Untied and drawing 1-1 and 0-0 at home to Everton and Chelsea respectively, but most notably suffering a 6-3 thrashing at second placed Manchester City who have been invincible at home putting 6 past Tottenham without reply but not so convincing on their travels, losing 1-0 at Sunderland.
Chelsea are still unbeaten at home after making it 2-2 from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time against West Brom. A 3-2 defeat at Stoke showed further vulnerabilities but after a goalless draw at Arsenal, they finished the year with 2 home wins, beating Swansea 1-0 and getting the better of Liverpool 2-1 to move into 3rd place.
Everton were denied victory by a late goal in a 3-3 thriller at home to Liverpool but struck late to win at Manchester United and earned a draw at Arsenal. The Toffees enjoyed a 2-1 win at Swansea but were stunned 1-0 at home to Sunderland before ending on a high with a 2-1 victory at hoe to Southampton.
Liverpool suffered a shock 3-1 loss at Hull, but the prolific Luis Suarez helped them move briefly to the top of the table thumping hosts Tottenham 5-0 on the way before losing 2-1 at Manchester City and Chelsea.
Manchester United who drew 2-2 at Cardiff and Tottenham before losing 1-0 at home to Everton and Newcastle were getting dragged towards the middle of the table until 4 straight wins won them some respectability and put them in touching distance with the top teams.
Tottenham who were hit for 6 at Manchester City parted with their manager Andre Villas Boas after being humiliated 5-0 at home to Liverpool, but bounced back with a 3-2 victory at Southampton.
Newcastle have had a good run of results marred only by a 3-0 setback at Swansea and their latest 1-0 loss at home to league leaders Arsenal and lie in 8th spot with a 6 point gap separating them from Southampton who despite playing some refreshing football had failed to win since sending Hull back 4-1 losers until their recent 3-0 cruising at Cardiff. Among their losses were 3-2 defeats to Aston Villa and Tottenham.
Hull City lost 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace but put Liverpool to the sword 3-1 at the KC Stadium a week later and have been difficult to beat, losing only 3-2 at home to Manchester United. A week later they filled their boots firing 6 past Fulham in their last match of the year.
Swansea City shared 6 goals with their visitors from Stoke after conceding a stoppage-time penalty and drew 1-1 at home to Hull and away to Norwich and Aston Villa, but will remember with fondness their 3-0 home win over Newcastle.
Stoke City fell 4-0 at Everton but overcame Chelsea 3-2 and Aston Villa 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium. The Potters ended the year with heavy defeats, losing 5-1 at Newcastle and 3-0 at Tottenham.
Aston Villa enjoyed a 3-2 win at Southampton, but then suffered 4 consecutive defeats including 2-0 at Fulham and 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace before ending the year with a 1-1 draw at home to Swansea.
Norwich City were swept away 5-1 at Liverpool but bounced back to win 2-0 at West Brom, but after drawing at home to Swansea and away to Sunderland they suffered a 2-1 disappointment at home to Fulham and ended the year with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.
West Bromwich Albion who were seconds away from ending Chelsea's unbeaten home record and let a 2 goal lead slip a week later at home to Aston Villa suffered 4 consecutive defeats followed by 3 draws ending in a 3-3 draw at West Ham.
Cardiff City earned a 2-2 home draw against Manchester United and were 1-0 winners at home to West Brom, but the dismissal of manager Malky Mackay has plunged their future into uncertainty.
Crystal Palace have not drawn since their goalless match at home to Everton in early November. Their 1-0 wins at Hull and Aston Villa plus a 1-0 home wins over West Ham and a 2-0 victory at home to Cardiff have kept them outside the relegation zone, albeit on goal difference.
Fulham have had a string on poor results leading to the sacking of manager Martin Jol.  A 2-1 win at Norwich gave them temporary solace, but their 6-0 humiliation at Hull has sent them into the relegation zone.
West Ham United ended the year with a 3-3 draw at home to West Brom, but with their only other points in the last 11 matches coming from a 3-0 home win against Fulham and a goalless draw against Sunderland, they find themselves in a battle for survival.
Sunderland are at the bottom of the table despite creditable 1-0 victories at home to Manchester City and away to Everton. The Black Cats have been difficult to beat, losing 4-3 at home to Chelsea and picking up several draws and are only 2 points from safety.