What have we learned this weekend?
So another weekend has passed and we are one game closer to finding out who will be premier league champions this season. With Arsenal and Manchester United both recording home victories and Chelsea only managing an away draw, what have we learned? Where do we now stand in the title race?
Arsene Wenger’s men managed to overcome the harsh sending off of Thomas Verlmaelen and secure a vital three points over West Ham. Much of the credit must go to Manuel Almunia who pulled off a superb penalty save to keep the score at 1-0. If West Ham had got back to 1-1 who knows how the second half may have panned out. But with a lead to protect and hitting the Hammers on the counter attack, Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners and hit top-spot for 24hrs and keep themselves right in the title race.
Anything but a victory would have been a severe blow to Arsenal’s title aspirations. Three home wins against Wolves, Man City and Fulham are a must, and realistically victories away to Birmingham, Wigan and Blackbun will be needed if the Gunners are to triumph in May.
The away game against Tottenham is going to one of the most important North London derby’s in recent memory for both sides with Arsenal chasing the title and Spurs fighting for fourth, it promises to be some match. A win would see Arsenal go a huge step towards winning their first trophy in five years, a draw may prove to be enough, a defeat would not only hurt our title bid but could result in the Spuds clinching a champions league spot….doesn’t bare thinking about does it!
Manchester United’s victory over Liverpool was a disappointment, this was one of the fixtures Gooner’s would have hoped for them to drop points in. But United deserved their win and went back to the top of the table without playing amazinly, not that you need to play especially well to beat Liverpool these days.
But there are plenty of difficuly games to come for Man Utd starting with an away game to Bolton next week, followed by Chelsea at home. Further tough fixtures include Blackburn and Man City away, Tottenham at home and Sunderland away so there are several opportunities for Man Utd to drop points in the run-in. But at this point they have to be considered favourites. Arsenal are relying on them dropping points somewhere.
Chelsea seem to be in trouble. They are not playing well, have been dumped out of the champions league which will has severaly dented their confidence and with only a point to show from their game yesterday against Blackburn they have now thrown away their game in hand.
A draw at Ewood Park is not an especially bad result, but when your at the business end of the season and fighting for the title these are the places champions would be able to grid out a win. Chelsea don’t look like champions right now. 7 points from the last 15 is not the form of champions.
Obviously they haven’t become a bad team overnight and they have lots of experience to call upon, but with games against Man Utd, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Liverpool to come, Chelsea have a lot to do if they are to be crowned champions this year. Regaining their confidence may be step number one though.
There is no doubt that this is one hell of a chance for Arsenal to win the league, that much is obvious. The Gunner’s have the best fixtures on paper, but of course that means little in the premier league, but as Man Utd and Chelsea have to play each other…points will be dropped by at least one of our rivals. United are favourites still and the win over Liverpool was a massive hurdle cleared by Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.
But if this weekend has shown us anything, it is that at this moment it’s Arsenal and Manchester United that are showing the kind of fighting spirit needed to win titles by grinding out results.
Will Chelsea be able to come back from this set-back? Or are Arsenal and Manchester United now n the driving seat?
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