Monday, January 10, 2011
Ballharambe: EPL Standings at Half-Time
We have reached the half way mark in the English Premier League. There are five teams in contention for the title, the leaders, Manchester United with 44 points with a game in hand, Manchester City with 42 points, Arsenal with 40 points with having played one game less than Manchester City, Tottenham in 4th place with 36 points and the slumvering Chelsea with 35 points.
Manchester United has not hit top form but are in the lead and find ways of winning close games even when they are far from their best.
Manchester City showed against Arsenal that under Mancini their defense is almost as impregnable as Manchester United. Arsenal has the most potent offense and with the ingestion of Djouru now has a less porous defense. The cluster of magicians – Nasri, Fabregas, Van Persie, Wilshire, Song and Walcott make them a forever an unstoppable creative force in the last third.
Chelsea has become like the PIGS in the European Union. They have shown in recent weeks an inability to score. Hopefully, the goals against Ipswich have gotten the Blues out of their blues.
There are about 8 clubs bunched in the middle who are competing to play in Europe. Sunderland and Bolton with 33 and 30 points respectively, have shown remarkable resilience this season. The newly promoted Newcastle has demonstrated their Premier League prowess by amassing 28 points at the half- way mark. Stoke City seems to have found a formula to stay in the hunt among the middle tier teams. The teams which have disappointed, hitherto, are Everton, Liverpool and Aston Villa. Everton which seems to have climbed out of their slump has 25 points. The once glorious Liverpool are in 12th place with 25 points. The club owners found it imperative to release Roy Hodgson from his lackluster stint as Coach and have replaced him with Denny Dalglish, a former icon at Liverpool. The team with the exception of Torres gave a good account of themselves against Manchester United in the F.A. and in the 35th minute, Liverpool could have still been in the F.A, cup. Aston Villa is surprisingly in 18th place and if their fortunes in the second half of the season do not change, they could be facing demotion. Wigan is in 19th place with 20 points and Avram Grant’s West Ham at the bottom of the tables with 20 points. Also hovering around the pit of relegation is 15th place Birmingham with 22 points, Blackaham and Fulham are in 13th and 14th place, respectively with 22 points. West Bromwich in 16th place with 22 points and Wolverhampton at one above the relegation in 17th place with 21 points.
The relegation battle will be as exciting in the closing weeks as the fight for the title. The Premier League is the most competitive in the world of soccer and there is little difference that separates the 15 teams which are bunched together and are not really contenders for the title. But among them especially when they are playing on their home grounds will impact the race as spoilers Liverpool, Everton and Aston Villa have a big task ahead of them to finish at the helm of the middle tier teams and play in the UEFA League. There is a certain Darwinism quality to the E.P.L. It is not for the swift as Chelsea has discovered but for those with the endurance the last couple of weeks of the season – the survival of the fittest.