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 home 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.        

Friday 8 November 2013

Top guns

Ten weeks into the 2013-14 Premier League season Arsenal are 5 points ahead of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham. Since their 3-1 home defeat on day one, right up to their 2-0 home victory over Liverpool, the only points dropped by the Gunners was in a 1-1 draw at W.B.A.
Chelsea had been unable to defeat their closest rivals drawing 0-0 at Manchester United and 1-1 at Tottenham and suffering a 1-0 defeat at Everton until a last minute blunder handed them a 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Bridge, but that was followed by a disappointing 2-0 loss at Newcastle.
Liverpool began with three 1-0 wins including at home to Manchester United before drawing 2-2 at Swansea and suffering a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Southampton. The partnership of Sturridge and Suarez helped the Reds to several healthy wins marred by a 2-2 draw at Newcastle and their setback at Arsenal.
Tottenham began with a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace thanks to a controversial penalty but that has been their only win in London, losing 1-0 at neighbours Arsenal and drawing 1-1 at home to Chelsea before being hammered 3-0 at home to West Ham.
Manchester City have been formidable at home, thumping Newcastle 4-0, crushing Manchester United 4-1 and beating Everton 3-1 before humiliating Norwich 7-0, but away from home they have lost 3-2 to Cardiff and Aston Villa and drawn 0-0 at Stoke City.
Southampton have won at Liverpool and drawn 1-1 at Manchester United. Their only defeat has been by a single goal at Norwich, though they will be disappointed with their home draws against Sunderland 1-1 and West Ham 0-0 earlier in the season.
Everton began with three draws against Norwich, Cardiff and West Brom before picking up their first win 1-0 at home to Chelsea. Since then their only loss of points have been a 3-1 defeat away to Manchester City and a goalless match at home to Tottenham.
Manchester United are in 8th place after ten matches having dropped home points in a goalless draw against Chelsea, a 2-1 defeat to West Brom and a 1-1 draw against Southampton.
Newcastle have had a mixed season so far, starting slowly before winning 2-1 at Aston Villa, but then going down 3-2 at home to Hull. Their 2-1 setback at lowly neighbours Sunderland was followed by a handsome 2-0 home win over Chelsea.
Hull City have had mostly close matches with predictable results and lie in the middle of the Premier League table. They lost home points in draws against Cardiff 1-1 and Aston Villa 0-0 but earned a 3-2 win at Newcastle.
West Bromwich Albion drew 0-0 at Everton and famously conquered Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford but crashed 4-1 at Liverpool.
Cardiff City celebrated their home debut with a 3-2 victory over Manchester City and sent Everton home with a goalless draw a week later but in recent matches they have lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle and were taken apart 4-1 at Chelsea, though a 1-0 win at home to Swansea would have put the smile back on their faces.
Swansea City drew 2-2 at home to Liverpool but have otherwise found it difficult to match the big boys. They have had 2-0 wins at West Brom and Crystal Palace and have put 4 past Sunderland without reply at the Liberty Stadium.
Aston Villa began by punishing Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates but then suffered 3 straight defeats and since their 3-2 triumph at home to Manchester City 5 matches ago have failed to score.
West Ham United opened with a 2-0 win at home to Cardiff, but since then have only enjoyed one win, hammering Tottenham 3-0 at White Hart Lane.
Fulham have avoided the relegation zone thanks to 1-0 wins away to Sunderland and at home to Stoke and a spectacular 4-1 victory at Crystal Palace but have otherwise been mostly on the receiving end.
Stoke City earned narrow wins at home to Crystal Palace and away to West Ham but since then drawn or suffered narrow defeats including 3-2 at Manchester United.
Norwich City have enjoyed 1-0 wins at home to Southampton and away to Stoke but been finding it difficult to defend against the bigger teams recently losing 3-1 at home to Chelsea, 4-1 at Arsenal and finally 7-0 at Manchester City.
Sunderland earned a 1-1 draw at Southampton, but several defeats later parted company with manager Paolo di Canio and picked up their first win of the season 2-1 at home to Newcastle.
Crystal Palace who are currently managerless after the departure of Ian Holloway have lost most of their matches by 2 goals and are rooted to the bottom of the table with 3 points from their 3-1 win at home to Sunderland.

Friday 31 May 2013

Fergie retires with title

Manchester United secured their 20th league title with 4 matches to spare as Robin van Persie netted a first-half hat-trick in a 3-0 home win over Aston Villa. Two matches later, Sir Alex Ferguson announced he would retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge of the Red Devils.
Manchester City suffered a setback when they lost 2-0 at Everton and despite winning 2-1 at Manchester United went on to lose 3-1 at Tottenham giving United the chance to win the league the following day. Having lost their title they also lost the FA Cup final and parted with their manager Roberto Mancini.
Chelsea ended the season on a high since losing 2-1 at Southampton in March, dropping points only in their 2-2 draws at home to Tottenham and away to Liverpool. Among their conquests were Manchester United whom they defeated 1-0 at Old Trafford. The Europa Cup trophy was not enough to keep interim manager Raffa Benitez at the club.
Arsenal earned a Champions League place after winning all but 2 of their last 10 matches, drawing 0-0 and 1-1 at home to Everton and Manchester United respectively.
Tottenham narrowly missed out on a Champions League place. After losing 3-2 at Liverpool and 1-0 at home to Fulham and drawing 2-2 at home to Everton, their 3-1 triumph over Manchester City was followed by a 2-2 draw at Wigan and despite a 2-2 draw at Chelsea and winning their last 2 matches, they could not catch up with Arsenal whom they had been leading earlier in the season.
Everton had a decent run towards the end of the season drawing only at Tottenham 2-2 and Arsenal 0-0 before their goalless draw at Liverpool whom they finished above and ended the season with a 2-1 loss at Chelsea that did not affect their final position.
Liverpool lost the chance to overtake their local rivals Everton when they were held to a goalless draw by them at Anfield. They had earlier lost 3-1 at Southampton and played out goalless matches at home to West Ham and away to Reading.
West Bromwich Albion finished a very respectable 8th despite only winning 2 of their last 10 matches, 2-1 at home to Swansea and 3-0 at Southampton. They ended the season with 3 late goals in an amazing 5-5 draw against champions Manchester United.
Swansea who lost 2-1 at West Brom could have finished above them but were thumped 3-0 at home to Fulham on the last day of the season.
West Ham finished in the top 10 picking up points in a 0-0 draw at Liverpool and a 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United, finishing below Swansea on goal difference.
Norwich had been flirting with relegation, but a vital 2-1 victory over troubled Reading steered them towards safety and 2 impressive wins, 4-0 at home to West Brom and 3-2 at Manchester City, in their last matches of the season gave them a healthy position in the table.
Fulham enjoyed a 1-0 win at Tottenham but went on to lose most of their matches including a 4-2 home defeat to already relegated Reading, but ended the season with 3 goals at Swansea.
Stoke stayed safe with a 2-0 victory at QPR and win by a single gaol at home to Norwich City before adding points in 1-1 draws at Sunderland and Southampton
Southampton showed strength at home with a 3-1 triumph over Liverpool and a 2-1 victory against Chelsea, but were taken apart 3-0 by West Brom.
Aston Villa who found themselves hovering about the relegation zone overcame QPR 3-2 and won 3-1 at Stoke before thumping Sunderland 6-1 and winning 2-1 at Norwich.
Newcastle will be glad the season is over, after suffering humiliating home defeats 3-0 to rivals Sunderland and 6-0 to Liverpool. Their only consolation is finishing above Sunderland.
Sunderland survived by the skin of their teeth with a memorable 3-0 victory at Newcastle and a 1-0 win at home to Everton instrumental in their feat, though their 6-1 hammering at Aston Villa will leave them with plenty to ponder for next season.
Wigan were gunned down 4-1 at Arsenal days after lifting the FA Cup. The Latics had earned home wins against Newcastle 2-1 and Norwich 1-0 and tied 2-2 with Tottenham and even enjoying a 3-2 win at West Brom before having their fate sealed at the Emirates.
Reading were relegated with 3 matches to go, together with QPR as the 2 played out a goalless match at the Madjeski Stadium. A 4-2 win at Fulham the following week was scant consolation for the Royals who had only picked up one point in their previous 10 matches leading up to their relegation.
Queens Park Rangers were finally relegated as expected, dragging their hosts down with them, when they drew 0-0 at Reading. The Hoops who spent most of the season at the bottom of the table were living more in hope than expectation. 

Cardiff, Hull and Crystal Palace were promoted from the Championship to the Premier League.

Friday 8 March 2013

Red Devils widen the gap

With only ten matches to go, Manchester United have a seemingly unassailable 12-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the English Premier League. Since Christmas United have been on a winning streak interrupted only by their 1-1 draw at Tottenham who sit in 3rd place after their 2-1 home win over their north London rivals Arsenal. Manchester City's goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers followed by a 2-2 home draw against Liverpool and a shock 3-1 defeat at struggling Southampton widened the gap at the top, but a 2-0 victory over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium steadied the ship. The brilliance of Gareth Bale has helped Tottenham pick up points with narrow wins. The Welshman completed his brace with a last-minute strike in typical fashion as Tottenham came from behind at West Ham to triumph 3-2 to the detriment of Chelsea and Arsenal. The instability of Chelsea under interim manager Rafa Benitez has seen the Blues descend to 4th spot after losing 1-0 at home to bottom club Queens Park Rangers, sharing 4 goals with visiting Southampton and falling 3-2 at Newcastle, while despite smashing Newcastle 7-3 and hammering West Ham 5-1 at the Emirates, Arsenal's failure to overcome their closest rivals leaves them in 5th place having lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City and 2-1 at Chelsea before drawing 2-2 at home to Liverpool. The 2 Merseyside teams are next in the table with Everton enjoying a 3-point advantage over Liverpool but the Reds, who after earning 2-2 draws at Man City and Arsenal were stunned by 2 West Brom goals at Anfield, seem to have found their scoring touch putting 5 past Swansea at Anfield and 4 past hosts Wigan without reply. Recent Capital One Cup winners Swansea occupy 8th spot ahead of West Bromwich Albion on goal difference. Fulham, Stoke City and West Ham United are 7 points adrift and in danger of getting sucked into the relegation battle together with Norwich, Sunderland, Newcastle and Southampton. Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa lie on the boarder line of relegation separated only by goal difference. After some heroic comebacks with late goals from Adam Le Fondre giving Reading wins over West Brom, Newcastle and Sunderland and a 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea, the Royals have faltered in recent matches and a disastrous 3-0 loss at home to Wigan has kept them in the relegation zone. Despite their 1-0 victory at Chelsea and draws against Tottenham, West Ham, Man City, and Norwich, followed by a recent 2-1 win at Southampton, Queen Park Rangers remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League but only 4 points below the drop zone.