A lot has happened since we last checked in, so let’s dive right into the storylines of the EPL season so far.
Chelsea March On
Despite losing to Manchester City just days after Roberto Mancini claimed Chelsea would win the title, the Blues have rolled on since we last checked in. In fact, this loss was the first time this season the Blues had failed to take all 3 points from a fixture and they predictably still sit in first. They will be without Frank Lampard for the next few weeks, and while that does not bode well for their fixture with Arsenal, the Gunners have enough in the way of injury concerns to make it a moot point. Malouda has been outstanding as a forward/attacking mid and Chelsea should have enough firepower to win the encounter and march on with their impressive start.
Manchester United’s Late Concessions
When I think of the Red Devils, I immediately think of a team that is solid and just wins games consistently. They are still winning, but their solidity has been called into question after conceding late goals against Fulham and Everton, and conceding too many goals just in general. Nemanja Vidic hit it spot on when he recently told the media that these late goals could be United’s undoing in their quest for a 20th League title. Perhaps as a reaction, and perhaps just reflecting their failed attempts to bring a keeper to Old Trafford in the first transfer window, United have been linked to Atletico Madrid’s David De Gea, a fantastic 19 year old keeper who would give them a future in goal after Edwin Van Der Sar’s impending retirement. If they can pull it off, I think it is a great move, but if they keeep conceding goals at this rate, it may be too late for it to matter.
The Rooney injury/underachieving has certainly not helped either, though players like Nani and Berbatov have helped to score what would normally be a large scoring void left by Mr. Rooney. They should be fine, but really need to stop conceding so many goals if they hope to compete.
There are a few kinds of surprises generally speaking. It could be along the lines of “Happy 16th birthday Jane, oh and SURPRISE, you are going to be a mom”, or it could be “SURPRISE, we threw you a surprise party” or even “SURPRISE, I showed up unwanted in your apartment because you forgot to take my extra key and I’m completely bonkers”, Doubtless, there are other kinds of surprises, but as far as we are concerned, these will suffice.
Bolton Wanderers have been getting the surprise party lately as they continue their excellent form and continue to play good team football that is finally netting them some goals. They currently sit 12th in the table, but that is after games against Arsenal and Manchester United, and in both of those matches, they played well enough to get a point or more. They have certainly been the victim of some bad calls, but they have also been the beneficiaries of Johan Elmander’s shocking rise to respectability and have been doing it without Matty Taylor who has stunningly been getting very little playing time. I would much prefer to see Owen Coyle go with Taylor and Petrov on the wings with Chung Yong Lee playing as a creative central attacking mid, but I can hardly argue with Coyle’s results. This team is not a top 7 team by any stretch of the imagination, but they should be able to stick around the middle of the table as supposed to 17th like we projected them.
Newcastle, West Bromwich Albion, and Aston Villa also make this category, but in the interest of keeping this column a manageable length, I will just speak briefly about each. Newcastle may have some issues upcoming with Steve Harper’s injury, but have otherwise looked impressive in their first campaign back in the Premier League. West Brom have also been fairly solid, though they have been demolished a few times. They did claim a big scalp in Arsenal, but I do not expect too much from this team moving forward. Similar things can be said for Aston Villa who have not really played anyone too difficult but have taken advantage of that which they needed to. In this league, beating the little teams is important and as long as they continue to do that, they should be able to stick in the top 10, and possibly claim Everton’s forfeited spot in Europa.
I am going to put Everton under the unexpected motherhood label, though it was more used for comedy’s sake than accuracy. Jane, our girl in the example, is probably more surprised than she should be (I am in no way trying to make a social commentary here, just bear with me) about the pregnancy, and Everton should not be as surprised as it is that they are struggling in front of goal. Louis Saha was never that good, Jermaine Beckford has not adjusted to Premier League defenders yet, and Yakubu is not especially steady either. Now there are some genuine financial issues at Everton so they cannot just go buy a striker, but this start has got to be making them think about just biting the bullet and spending. I mean this team was supposed to be a Europa team and it is in dead last in the Premier League having taken only 3 points from 6 games. The defense has been alright, but a single goal given up seems completely unmanageable given the status of the attack. Oddly enough, Everton scored three goals against Manchester United and have scored one total goal in the rest of their games. It very much reminds me of the disastrous start Tottenham Hotspur had a few years ago when they fired Juande Ramos and hired Harry Redknapp. I do not see David Moyes getting his walking papers, but he had better rally the troops soon if he wants to get into the top half of the league.
I really did not have any team to file under “psycho who showed up inside your apartment uninvited”. I went with it because it was funny, but the more i think about it, I am putting Liverpool in this category. The crazy person who showed up uninvited is played by Fernando Torres who has evidently kidnapped the real Torres and has been impersonating him since the World Cup. We have an imposter Mad-Eye Moody situation, if you will (yes, that was a Harry Potter/Polyjuice Potion reference. Back off.). Steven Gerrard came back to his apartment and found his one-time running mate absolutely loony and incapable of breaking down the likes of Titus Bramble and Mikael Silvestre. The team is just not very good right now, and it does not look likely to get too much better until Fernando Torres escapes from that trunk. The only problem is that Liverpool can’t afford to wait until the end of the 4th book to recover. They need it now.
I toyed with the idea of typing it all out, but instead I am just going to give you a link to see the current table. If you are too lazy to do that, then I can’t do anything to help you anyway. I will even put it in big letters.
Somewhat Bold Predictions
These predictions will be made largely without facts. Why? Because they get in the way. Hey, that could probably get me a job with Halliburton… These are not the boldest of predictions, but should at least be accurate, which has to count for something, right?
Blackpool will finish clear of the bottom 3. They already have 2 away wins that are going to be key to their survival and I just think this team has the moxy. I loved the DJ Campbell signing (on loan), and think that they will spend wisely to stay up. I even have a bet with a friend that if they stay up, I will become a rooting member of the Tangerine Dream, so you know I am not just blowing hot air.
Bolton Wanderers will get 7 points in their next 4 fixtures (@ WBA, vs Stoke, vs Wigan, vs Liverpool) and it will push them into the top half. I am not sure how I like their chances down the road, but I think they can stay around where they are. They are one of the middlemen, after all.
Sunderland will waste their good current form on a somewhat challenging upcoming set of fixtures. Manchester United was always going to be difficult, but a road game against Blackburn does not look like fun right now, nor does a game against Aston Villa right now. Good play out of the Black Cats lately, but it has not been quite enough.
Manchester City will find itself in second after its October 24th showdown with Arsenal.
Well, that is all for now, we will check in in another 3 to 4 weeks as things are getting very busy in the sports world.