EPL Top 6 positions up for grabs – who’ll finish where?

March 17, 2019

The placement of the top six clubs in the Premier League looks like it will go right down to the last game of the season.

Top six standings as of March 11th

Lets take a look at where the teams stand with only eight games left to play (Chelsea still have nine but play today).

The top two positions look to be contested between Manchester City and Liverpool – will Liverpool finally win their nineteenth league title and their first Premier League Championship or will holders Manchester City win their sixth league title (4th since the oil money came in) ?

In the reverse fixtures this season Manchester City beat Manchester United and Tottenham but lost to Crystal Palace and Leicester City gaining 18 out of 24 points. Liverpool won 7 out of the 8 games and drew with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge gaining 21 out of 24 points.

Liverpool has the advantage of playing Tottenham and Chelsea in front of their home supporters at Anfield while Manchester City has the distinct disadvantage of playing Manchester United at Old Trafford.

My best guess is that Liverpool will hold their nerve and win their first Premier League Championship, though with both teams in the Champions League q/fs, European distractions may play a part.

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The third through sixth positions are between Spurs, Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea and the four teams are separated by only four points with their final placement in complete doubt.

Let’s look at the teams individually.

Tottenham:

In their reverse fixtures this season they won 6 of the 8 games but lost at home to both Liverpool and Manchester City gaining 18 out of 24 points.

In their last 4 games Tottenham have picked up only 1 point, drawing with Arsenal and losing to Burnley, Chelsea and Southampton. In their last 8 games they will have to face both Liverpool and Manchester City in away fixtures.

(Update : the Champions League may not distract them for too much longer unfortunately)

Arsenal:

Arsenal won 5 of their reverse fixtures while drawing with Wolves, Crystal Palace and Brighton gaining 18 out of the 24 points.

They have finished all of their games against the top 6 teams which should give them a big advantage in the race for the top 4 positions.

Emery and Podgytino in their Spanish days

Manchester United:

Manchester United won 4 of their reverse games but drew with Wolves and Chelsea while losing to Manchester City and West Ham gaining only 14 of the 24 points.

They have been revitalised by new management and in their last 13 league games they have won 10 drawn 2 and lost just 1 to Arsenal at the Emirates. Their final place in the PL will most likely be determined by the results in their homes games against Manchester City and Chelsea.

(Update : they’ll be pleased they can concentrate on the League – now that the FA Cup is out of the way! But still have Barca to negotiate in the CL.)

Chelsea:

In their reverse fixtures Chelsea won 4 and but drew with Everton, West Ham, Liverpool and Manchester United while losing to Leicester and only picking up a low 12 out of 27 points.

In their final 9 league games they have 5 very tough away games at Everton, Cardiff City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Leicester.

Getty Images

As I look at the potential final 3rd through 6th positions it’s conceivable that all four teams can finish with the same amount of points. I know that everything can change with one result but based on the above thoughts and statistics I will go out on a limb and say that they will finish in these positions.

3rd Arsenal, 4th Manchester United, 5th Tottenham and 6th Chelsea.

What are your thoughts?

GunnerN5

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Predictable at the Emptihad – Player Ratings

February 4, 2019

No Mesut, no Rambo – what’s the point of two top class strikers with no-one to feed them then?

First Half

Wobbly dithered and we were one down in the opening seconds of the match.

However, there followed a period of commendable effort from the whole team and the equaliser gave everyone a boost. We even looked as though we might sneak something.

The offside second put the kibosh on a positive half time talk.

Second Half

Zero efforts on goal. Hmmm.

Hand of Sergio third goal.

Arsenal flat-lined.

Conclusion

Not as bad a scoreline as it might have been and at least City cut the dippers’ lead, albeit temporarly (maybe).

Nobody’s expectations were very high for the game and at least we had over half an hour on level terms.

Ratings

Leno – good second half … 7

Lichtsteiner – just not up to it … 4

Mustafi – injured – good or bad? … 4

Koscielny – a goal stooping when Lukaku’s size 12s  must have been fresh in his mind … 6

Monreal – part of the mediocre nature of the team performance … 5

Kolasinac – not much to say … 5

Torreira – will be hoping his second season is in a better team … 6

Guendouzi – such a willing lad – shame he had little support … 7

Iwobi – such a bad start, never really recovered … 4

Lacazette – tried hard again … 6

Aubameyang – no service … 5

Subs

Suarez – a debut of microscopic proportions – best forgotten all round … 5

Ramsey – no effect on a poor second half whatsoever … 5

Mavropanos – A fit centre back – Hooray … 6

Managers

Emery – a hiding to nothing game in most senses – if we’d played a more attacking line up and got more severely thrashed, there would have been just as many complaining … 5

Pep Wagner – could he do it without the half a billion pounds budget? – not in the same way, that’s for certain … 6


Arsenal FC – Our away record against Man City

February 2, 2019

The club City was founded in 1880; 139 years ago as St. Mark’s (West Gorton).

And on 16 April 1894; 124 years it became Manchester City (It was re-branded in 2008 as the Manchester Oilers)

They won their first major honour with the FA Cup in 1904. The club won the First Division title for the first time in 1937, but were relegated the following season, despite scoring more goals than any other team in the division.

Maine Road in 1934, the year City had a record home attendance of 84,569

Inspired by a tactical system known as the Revie Plan they reached consecutive FA Cup finals in 1955 and 1956, they lost in 1955 to Newcastle United but they won the second the 1956 final, in which they beat Birmingham City 3–1. It is one of the most famous finals of all-time, and is remembered for City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann continuing to play on after unknowingly breaking his neck.

They had a period of success in the late 1960s, winning the League, FA Cup and League Cup under the management of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison. After losing the 1981 FA Cup Final, the club went through a period of decline, culminating in relegation to the third tier of English football. In reviewing the history of their excursions through the various divisions of English football it became apparent that in order to detail them I would need to write a book – instead I created a spreadsheet (surprise, surprise).

Manchester City’s revenue was the fifth highest of any football club in the world in the 2017–18 season at €527.7 million. In 2018, Forbes estimated the club was the fifth most valuable in the world at $2.47 billion.

It’s interesting to note that our EPL away record prior to City being purchased by the Abu Dhabi United group was W 8, D 1, L 1, GF 19, GA 5, – since the takeover it has been W 3, D 2, L 6, GF 18, GA 23

I guess greasy money does talk.

Our last away win at The City of Manchester Stadium (Eitihad) was on January 18, 2015, and we have only 2 victories in our last 10 visits; but in their last 8 games they have lost against Crystal Palace at home and to Leicester City and Newcastle away.

Memorable wins in Manchester

Wednesday, 11th April 2001 Man City 0 Arsenal 4

Four goals in the first 35 minutes blasted City away. Arsenal rested Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira and Silvinho and handed a first start to the Brazilian midfielder Edu but were much too strong for a pre-money days City side. A brace from Freddie and goals from Wiltord and Kanu made the last hour of the game academic.

Photo by Mike Egerton/EMPICS via Getty Images

Saturday, 22nd February 2003 Man City 1 Arsenal 5

Even better than two seasons earlier, Arsenal were 4 up in the first 18 minutes. Bergkamp, Pires and Henry in their pomp meant that Arsenal cruised to victory. Keegan, the City manager and Anelka, the Arsenal reject, were not happy bunnies.

Sunday 24th October 2010 – Man City 0 Arsenal 3

The early dismissal of City’s Boyata after a last man foul on Chamakh gave Arsenal a massive advantage. A goal a-piece for Lord Bendtner, Alex Song and the FFBW disposed of City and we could even afford for Cesc to miss a penalty, too.

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The light blue oilers must be stinging from the Newcastle loss which may well work against us but if our wounded defensive warriors can band together, all is possible.

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s Antithesis – The Problem With Manchester City

January 3, 2011

On Wednesday we entertain the Mancunian lottery winners in a second-v-third clash which could play a major part in deciding the destiny of the title.

It should also have everyone who loves football praying for an Arsenal win.

Simply put, Manchester City represent everything that’s wrong with the game in England.

They were acquired like a shiny bauble by a rich Sheikh from the United Arab Emirates who had no connection with English football, with Manchester or with the club itself.

Since then they have, in Arsène Wenger’s memorable phrase, indulged in ‘financial doping’ on an obscene scale and in a manner which few sports would allow.

Sheikh Mansour has already sunk more than £500m into the club and that’s before taking into account this year’s operating loss of £121m.

This kind of spending, dished out almost at random (Mansour could as easily have bought Leeds or Sheffield Wednesday or Everton) is a perversion of natural justice in football.

Sure, some clubs have always been richer than others (Manchester United and Arsenal being two obvious examples) but that’s because of the support they have managed to generate. Their wealth has grown organically over decades, not been imposed from above in a moment.

Instant money demands instant results, so the once charmingly unfashionable Citizens have gone all out to buy whatever talent they can for whatever money was demanded, skewing the transfer market in the process.

Now they have the most expensive squad in the EPL with the highest wage bill. If they were a normal business they would be bust a hundred times over.

What’s worse, their once-lovable supporters, whose sang-froid in the face of all manner of adversity made them among the most loyal and entertaining in the English top flight, have also been corrupted by the Sheikh’s billions.

They have taken to booing their own team despite having on-field success the like of which they haven’t seen for decades; whenever they play Arsenal they come on our blog sites and spout the sort of vile, jealous, acrimonious garbage you normally only hear from Spud saddoes; in short, they have gone from reaching for the moon to demanding the earth. From enfeeblement to entitlement in the space of a few, short, oil-rich months.

The club is being wrenched away from its own proud roots and history, but the supporters are jumping on for the ride. Don’t they realise that when the the train hits the buffers – when the Sheikh gets bored and decides to move into Formula 1 or the NFL – they’ll be in a far worse position than they were before the Arabs arrived?

Then there’s the squad. A rag-tag band of mercenaries whose attitude is best epitomised by a certain Emmanuel Adebayor – a man who spent most of his Arsenal career in the offside position and who, since his departure, has displayed as much class as a drug-addled hooker trying to score the next fix.

The gracelessness of the recent comments by Mario Balotelli on receiving the Golden Boy award sums up the arrogance of the entire club. On being asked about the runner-up in the awards (for Europe’s best young player) he said he had never heard of Jack Wilshere but next time he played against Arsenal he would show Jack his award to remind him who was the better player.

I would bet £1,000 right now that Balotelli’s career will be one of stop-starts, bust-ups with managers, irregular international appearances for Italy and multiple club changes, while Wilshere will go on to captain England and Arsenal and will remain a one club man for his entire career.

In summary, Citeh have followed the disgusting, money-is-the-answer-to-everything approach pioneered by Abramovich at Chelsea and taken it to a new level.

Much as I loathe ManUre and the Spuds, at least they have real history and they have developed (more or less) organically with rich owners who have also been fans (the Glazers aside).

Citeh’s template is no way to run our national sport. The new financial fair play rules being brought in by UEFA will attempt to address this but, to me at least, they seem so full of loopholes that nothing will really change.

On Wednesday we have the chance to give Manchester City a second helping of what money can’t buy: teamwork, integrity and strength, leading to a convincing Arsenal win.

When we put them to the sword, as I believe we will, it will be a victory for the best values of English football against the worst evils of the modern game.

RockyLives


Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City: Boo Boys Compared

November 18, 2010

Booing, when you think about it, is a very funny sound.

It’s the sort of sound a cow might make if it had a bad head cold.

And right now, around the more charmless corners of the Premier League, there has been quite an outbreak of snuffly Fresian behaviour.

The pale blue herd up at Middle Eastlands have been booing their little hearts out because their £350 million squad can’t rustle up a goal for love nor money. Well, actually, just for money – there’s not a single player at Man City who loves the club, although they all love their pay cheques.

Then, down the road in the pastoral idyll that is London N17, the all-white herd are just as noisily petulant because, in their case, they are feeling let down and betrayed: this was going to be THEIR YEAR. It really was – that top four finish was going to be a stepping stone to the League title, while the Champions League trophy would be scooped up along the way. The white herd, as is well known, is strongly infected with mad cow disease.

In both cases the booing is truly absurd.

Look at Citeh: Booed off at the weekend against Birmingham; booed off after drawing with Manchester United and at half time and full time when drawing with Blackburn; jeered off the pitch at half time when nil-nil at home to Wigan. I could go on but there are just too many examples to mention.

Sky Blues fans – what are you doing? Are you mad? You have spent years of your life loyally supporting a rubbish team that hasn’t looked remotely like winning anything for a generation and now, just because someone has come in and flashed his wad at you, you expect the earth?

Did you really think that all it takes to become a team of champions is to pay over-the-odds prices for greedy players looking for a mega payday, throw them all together and see what happens?

Chelsea managed it with Abramovich’s cash because (a) the league was not as competitive then and (b) Chelsea had the nucleus of a good team (which had already won silverware and competed in the Champions League before the Russian arrived).

City would probably be doing better now if they had kept the likes of Given, Ireland, Dunne, Elano and Bellamy and added some quality imports to that strong core. And yes I know Given is still there, but he’s not exactly first choice, is he?

I used to always like meeting Man City supporters because they had a great sense of cynicism and dark humour about the fortunes of their beloved club. Even their iconic anthem, Blue Moon, with it’s wistful, yearning air, reflected their understanding that they followed a club destined never to be fashionable or successful. And you know what? They hardly ever booed their boys back in the pre-lottery win days. Now look at them. Frankly it’s sad.

And then we move to our noisy neighbours, from whom we hear the sound of booing echoing over the rooftops of North London on an almost weekly basis – most recently after drawing with Sunderland last week.

Unlike poor Citeh, whose fans have had their heads turned by all that dough, the Spuds supporters have a long tradition of booing their team. They booed them under Ramos and under Jol and Santini and Pleat; they booed them under Hoddle and under Graham and Gross and Francis; they were probably booing them all the way back in 1898 under Frank Brettell, first in a long tradition of managerial failures at the mighty Cocks.

But they, too, need to ask themselves why they are booing their team this season of all seasons. They are in the champions league – a feat they will never achieve again in the lifetime of many of their fans – they are in the top seven in the table and are getting to see some decent players on a weekly basis (Bale, van der Vaart, Defoe, Modric, Kranjcar).

Don’t you Spuds realise that this is as good as it gets for you? And you’re STILL booing? Really, you deserve the club you’ve got and it deserves you.

Finally there’s Arsenal. One of the things I love about our club is that we don’t collectively boo the players off the pitch. When some sections of the crowd booed Emmanuel Eboue as he experienced a mid-game mental breakdown it caused an explosion of self-examination that continues in the blogosphere to this day.

Yes, there’ll be occasions when the team don’t exactly leave the pitch to a standing ovation, but collective booing by a large section of the Arsenal crowd is almost unheard of. (I have read reports of Arsenal being booed off at the end of games where I have been present and there was no booing – just muted applause. I can only imagine that some particularly dopey individual who likes to boo happens to sit near the press box).

Liverpool supporters hardly ever boo their team (and God knows, they have had reason to in the last few seasons). Nor do the supporters of Manchester United. Along with Arsenal, what those two clubs and their supporters have is history, and a touch of class. They know what success is, they have had high highs and low lows, but they also know their jobs as supporters.

Manchester City used to have class in a peculiar, downtrodden way, but the glint of money has stolen it from them.

The Spuds have never had it and they never will, so the mournful sound of booing from N17 will long continue to rival the chimes of Big Ben as one of the traditional sounds of Old London Town.

RockyLives

The England team were booed off the pitch at Wembley  last night. The France team which had a poorer World Cup than ours managed to look more like a football team than we did. What is more frustrating, the coach, the players or the media feeding the expectation of the supporters?


In Cesc We Trust

October 24, 2010

We could banter all day about the merits of Man City and the financial imbalance between MC and the rest of the PL (ex. Chelsea), but three points are still to be settled today and they are to be fought over by two fine squads of players. However one player stands head and shoulders above the others and that is Cesc Fabregas.

Admittedly Tevez is a fine player and City’s recent results have relied heavily upon his non-stop energy and fine finishing, but Cesc is THE man, not only on this field but on any PL pitch.

We have had some sterling performances in his absence, we have seen Nasri realise the promise AW saw in him, Jack Wilshire excite the whole of the British media, Chamakh start his Arsenal career with a flurry of goals, but since Cesc’s injury we have struggled to maintain our fine start to the season. We have lost unecessary points  thanks to sloppy play, points that I believe we would have won with a fit Cesc.

Last season we slumped to an ugly defeat 4-2 at City, quite frankly we were humiliated by a side who were in the process of rebuilding and then there was that Adebayor goal. Today I hope for better from us, I do not expect us to win easily but based upon the Chelsea performance and adding in the Cesc factor, we can get a result. Losing Wilshere is a blow though Rosicky has been improving and deserves a start.

Will Wenger try to fight fire with fire and pack the midfield as Mancini does, thereby leaving Chamakh as a sole striker, or will he start with Theo on the right and try to out attack them? My preference would be to throw caution to the wind and go at City, starting Walcott because MC have problems at Left Back (they have only Bridge,  Lescott and Bridge to choose from., over €45m of LB !!!). No Kolo is to our advantage, and I hope Mancini chooses to play Ade over Silva who looks a fine player.

My team would be:

Fabianski

Eboue Squillacci  Djourou  Clichy

Cesc Nasri  Song  Rosicky

Walcott Chamakh

Attacking I know, but why not, we are never going to outmuscle a City team that is based upon power, so let’s play to our strengths.

Manchester has been a centre of industry for hundreds of years and was the focus of the German air attacks outside London. Over Xmas in 1940 475 tonnes of explosives and 37,000 incendiary devices were dropped on Manchester by German bombers causing enormous damage and loss of life. In contrast, the first Gay Supermarket in England was opened in Manchester’s Canal St.

Can we win? Yes. Will we win? Why not.

COYRRG


Jagielka, Cahill and Hart ….. a glimpse of what might have been? – written by Rasp

September 7, 2010

Written by Rasp

After Dawson’s unfortunate injury (ahheerrmm) playing against Bulgaria last Friday, we saw the defensive triangle of English players that many had wished we could have signed this summer – and I thought they looked pretty good, but then again, they weren’t up against the most testing of opposition.

Of course the idea of us signing any of those players was just unsubstantiated speculation fuelled by a national press expert at feeding the paranoia of football fans. There is no concrete evidence that these players were available, willing to move or even the subject of interest from Arsenal.

The likelihood is that all three will all play against Switzerland tonight, so we will get a second chance to assess them. Are they any better than our trio of Vermaelen, Koscielny and Allmunia?

Vermaelen and Jagielka are very similar in height and stature. Jagielka has had two very good seasons at Everton and looks comfortable in international football. He’s strong and brave, good in the air, reads the game well, experienced (he’s 28) reasonably quick and dependable – all of which applies equally to Vermaelen, who at 24 is just coming into his peak. TV has captained club and country and scores more goals than the Evertonian, so although Jagielka is a good player, all in all,  I’m very happy to have our future captain (?) at the Arsenal.

Cahill and Koscielny are physically quite different. Cahill is 6ft 2in and powerfully built. He too is very good in the air and also looked the part when he came on for England. Both are developing their game at the age of 24 and can only improve. Cahill looks a reasonable footballer, but I’d say Kozzer has the edge in that department. It will take time for Koscielny to settle into the English game but he has huge potential. I thought he was better than TV against Liverpool but was outmuscled too easily by Diouf against Blackburn. If LK can develop into a ‘TV clone’, we will have an excellent CB pairing. He is more capable of playing wengerball than Cahill and is said to be working on his strength for the physical challenges that lie ahead.

Joe Hart can do no wrong at the moment and on current form, is probably the best keeper in the Premier League. It’s too easy jump on the bandwagon and draw unflattering comparisons between Hart and Almunia, – so I’m just going to list a couple of elements of Hart’s game that make him such a good keeper. He is confident. He has very strong wrists so when he makes contact with the ball it generally flies out of the danger area. His distribution is good and he communicates well with his defence. I expect him to be England’s number one for many years.

Almunia has my full support and has made an excellent start to the season. It is obvious that his confidence is fragile, but the more decent performances he can deliver, the more assured he will become. He should take strength from his team-mates, Eboue and Bendtner, who defied their critics and won their way back into the hearts of the fans.  The resolve of the defence and willingness of all the outfield players to ‘defend as a unit’ will also play a part in Almunia’s fate. Of course he will make mistakes – all keepers do, what is more important is how he reacts to setbacks. Arsène’s policy will be to give his keeper total support and that’s the way it should be.

We will know by Christmas whether the affable Spaniard has risen to the challenge. I would suggest that he is in the last chance saloon and if his form slips, we may yet sign another keeper in the January window.