The Race to the Bottom, The Race to the Top

April 25, 2014

Sunderland is not going gently into that good night. They have 29 points and have played one game less than those vulnerable clubs fighting to avoid relegation. In the past week, Sunderland was on the verge of taking three points from Manchester City when a goal at the 90 minute by Samir Nasri earned Manchester City a draw.

Nasri’s strike robbed Sunderland of three vital points. Playing against the mighty Chelsea, the lowly Sunderland eked out a victory with a controversial penalty to defeat Chelsea and keep Sunderland’s hopes alive and to smash Chelsea’s hopes of winning the EPL title for 2014.

Fulham and Cardiff City are also fighting to escape relegation with 30 points respectively. Norwich and West Brom are also in danger. The three teams to be demoted will have their fates decided perhaps not until the last minute of the last game. The English poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month” but for teams in the EPL battling for survival May is the cruelest month.

The Race to the Top

There is a turning of the tide in the Barclay’s Premier League. Manchester United was clobbered by Everton 2-0 on the weekend. That game could decide the future of David Moyes at Manchester United. Manchester United has amassed 57 only points and has no chance of making it into the Champion’s League in Europe. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of battle?

Everton demonstrated to Manchester United the new methodology vis-à-vis futbolr. Roberto Martinez has assembled players who counter-attack with pace and who can dribble with purpose. Players like Lukaku, Barkley, Mirallas, Naismith, Coleman and Baines have the attributes necessary to penetrate defenses and put the ball in the back of the net.

The David Moyes build-up tends to be too slow and thus few clear chances are created and a dearth of shots on goal. Teams like Arsenal and Manchester United play great at possession football but are weak in scoring goals. Arsenal won against Hull City this week and the goals were scored on breakaways with Aaron Ramsey leading the charge. Ozil is back but on Arsenal’s team, Ramsey is the straw man who stirs the drinks.

This Sunday Liverpool will play Chelsea and Liverpool with 80 points, 5 points ahead of Chelsea, should definitely be crowned as champions of the Barclay’s League if they can mesmerize Chelsea’s central defenders, Terry and Cahill.

Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, recently stated that Raheem Sterling is the best under 21 player in the world. Against Norwich, Sterling scored twice and had one assist, helping to defeat Norwich 3-2.

The Liverpool attack even without Sturridge runs rampant over opponents. Like Everton, they are masters of the counter-attacking game. Liverpool has an attacking quartet, Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho who exhibit great chemistry. As the season progressed, the quartet played like a symphony and despite weaknesses in the backline, Liverpool is on the verge of breaking its 24 year drought of not winning the EPL title.

Mourinho and Rodgers are at the top of the heap in the coaching fraternity but Mourinho is lagging behind. His players display a terrific work rate but they do not get clear attempts at goal. Liverpool and Chelsea play contrasting styles and the game on Sunday, April 27, 2014 should be a stylistic classic.

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

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