Friday 28 March 2014

A three-horse race

Chelsea are sitting at the top of the Premier League with 7 matches remaining despite losing 1-0 at Aston Villa and drawing 1-1 at West Brom. The Blues who defeated Manchester United 3-1 at the Bridge enjoyed a vital 1-0 win at Manchester City before demolishing their North London visitors 4-0 and 6-0 in the shape of Tottenham and Arsenal respectively.
Liverpool who have scored 3 or more goals in 8 of their last 12 matches are one point behind the leaders. Among their bigger scalps at Anfield have been Everton 4-0 and Arsenal 5-1, while on their travels they have swept Manchester United aside 3-0 and in a 9 goal thriller put 6 past Cardiff.
Manchester City have only dropped points once this calendar year in a goalless draw at Norwich and are only 3 points behind the leaders with 2 games in hand. Their most impressive recent results have been 5-1 at Tottenham and 3-0 at neighbours United.
Arsenal have moved down into fourth spot after a string of poor results with only a 1-0 win at Tottenham to show for in recent matches. The Gunners lost 1-0 at Stoke, were torn apart 6-0 at Chelsea and could only draw 2-2 at home to Swansea.
Everton have struggled away from home, winning only in their most recent match 3-0 at Newcastle, but it is their home wins that give them a chance of moving into fourth place with the visit of Arsenal still to come.
Tottenham started the year with a 2-1 victory at Manchester United, but have been soundly beaten at home to Manchester City 5-1 and 4-0 at Chelsea followed by a 1-0 home loss to Arsenal.
Manchester United may have earned a respectable 0-0 draw at Arsenal, but they were beaten 2-1 at Stoke and with 3-0 defeats at home to Liverpool and Manchester City they are clearly not ready to challenge for the title.
Newcastle United have suffered some poor results including 3-0 and 4-0 embarrassments at home to Sunderland and Tottenham respectively, but have had the occasional win, earning pull points with a goal at home to Aston Villa and a 4-1 triumph at Hull.
Southampton will have mixed feelings about their 2-2 draws at Sunderland and at home to Stoke and Arsenal, but will no doubt be disappointed to have lost 3-1 at West Ham, though with a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace and a 4-2 victory at home to Norwich they remain in the top half of the table. 
Stoke City who lost 5-3 at home to Liverpool but sent Manchester United back 2-1 losers have not lost since losing by a single goal at Manchester City. The Potters have beaten Arsenal 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium and thumped Aston Villa 4-1 at Villa Park.
West Ham United enjoyed 4 wins in a row after their 0-0 draw at Chelsea and escaped from the jaws of relegation, but are still not mathematically safe. 
Aston Villa have been inconsistent, gaining a 2-2 draw at Liverpool, but losing 2-0 at home to West Ham. In their most recent matches which all took place at home, their 1-0 success against Chelsea was sandwiched between a 4-1 win over Norwich and a defeat by the same scoreline at the hands of Stoke.
Hull City have been losing most of their matches, but cruised to a 4-0 win in Cardiff and struck twice at home to West Brom.
Norwich City who held Manchester City to a goalless draw at Carrow Road have not bagged any points away from home since their 1-1 draw on the first day of the year at Crystal Palace, but have not lost at home this year.
Swansea City who have been making it difficult for some of the big names, losing narrowly 4-3 at Liverpool, 3-2 at Everton and drawing 2-2 at Arsenal have not won since their 3-0 victory over Cardiff at the beginning of February.
West Bromwich Albion have managed 1-1 home draws against Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea, but have also ended up with the same result against the bottom club Fulham and are in danger of relegation.
Crystal Palace have picked up wins at home, beating Stoke and Hull 1-0 and West Brom 3-1 to lift themselves out of the relegation zone, but are still in real danger having not scored in their last 3 matches.
Sunderland have slipped into the relegation zone, having played fewer games, but have only picked up one point in a goalless draw at home to relegation candidates Crystal Palace since their 3-0 win away to Newcastle on the first day of February.
Cardiff City completed the double over Fulham with a 3-1 home win, but lead them by a single point and seem to be heading out of the Premier League.
Fulham are at the bottom of the Premier League, but the appointment of Felix Magath as manager has given them a glimmer of hope. A 2-2 draw at Manchester United and a narrow 3-2 defeat at home to Liverpool plus a recent 1-0 home win over Newcastle has shown their fighting spirit and with a relatively kind remaining fixture list, they may feel able to pick up some vital points.