Back in early October I penned a piece about how the influence of big money in the EPL has disrupted the league balance and thrown the title race into turmoil. On further inspection, I was only partially right about the causes but 100% right about the illness.
Whereas in most seasons one or two teams emerge as the early favorites for the league title, this season there hasn’t been one. Oh I know, Chelsea, blah blah, but Chelsea can’t be considered contenders when their home record is a dismal 3-4-2. Neither can Man U, with their dismal away record at 3-4-2. And, of course, Arsenal aren’t clear contenders with our dismal overall record and 5 losses and current form that sees us falling to 5th place to a surging Young Villa squad.
At the onset of the season I picked Liverpool to win the league because I thought that they had the best defense in the league and liked that they picked up an extra scoring threat in Keane. Neither of those items have proven true what with Keane struggling and Chelsea having arguably the best defense in the league. Add in that they would be clear favorites if they had just picked up a few more points at home.
So, I’m back to just saying “very strange.”
But I’m not sure it’s money that’s destabilizing the league, at least not until January when Citeh spend irrational sums of money trying to buy 4th place. Though even that’s not certain with early reports indicating that even offers of half a million dollars a week in salary and $40m transfer fees won’t prise players like Buffon from teams like Juventus.
If it’s not money that’s causing the strangeness, I don’t know what is ; technology, diet, a better understanding of the game, better coaching, better scouting? I do know that all 4 of the “top four” clubs got draws yesterday which is just such a strange thing to have happen, and it’s happened twice this season (Arsenal lost that day, remember?)
I also know that, three of the top four teams are scoring fewer goals than last season and Arsenal is the most profligate with a whopping 33 more shots than last year and yet bagging 5 fewer goals. Maybe defenses are getting better?
OR, our offense has gotten that much worse. Bendtner has netted only 1 goal in 18 shots in the EPL, Adebayor has doubled his ratio up from 1 in 4 last year to 1 in 8, van Persie is clipping along at 1 in 9 this year (he’s never been better than 1 in 7), Fabregas is horrible at 1 in 38, and a handful of players are laying eggs.
Nasri is the lone bright spot, converting 1 in 5 chances.
Maybe there’s something to this constant Wenger babble about “taking our chances.” Clearly they are getting the shots. Again, I don’t know.
If there’s any joy in all of this it’s watching the almost apoplectic reaction of Chelsea supporters to their squad this season. I mean, the way this guy rips into a player of Deco’s quality is pretty funny. He calls him “utter shite,” and a “clueless prick.” This is a player who has won at every level he’s ever played at, all the way up to the Champions League. Something that no Chelsea player can claim, none. It makes booing Eboue look like a book signing.
But there’s no real joy in watching Chelsea supporters basically act like Arsenal supporters; demanding wins and unreasonable performances from their stars. At least not while we’re currently sitting in fifth place and basement dwelling managers are writing us off.
Well, a week off and home to face Liverpool on Sunday in a game that will certainly decide whether Arsenal are title contenders or not. Let’s hope the boys are up for it, and score, like, I dunno, 6 goals to their 3.
Return of the Dudu
Eduardo is set to make his long awaited return to play in a probable reserves appearance tomorrow. He will score 6 goals on 5 shots and then will be drafted straight in to the first team.
An Arsenal Supporter’s Dream Come True
Arsenal FC have teamed up with Football Manager for the PC and now you all don’t have to second guess Arsene Wenger in blog posts you can do it in the privacy of your home!
In your first act as manager, I suggest you pick up Stephen Appiah, he’s currently on a free. Then buy Ashley Young from Villa and who ever is your favorite Serie A player.
Arsenal will win the quint!