Only two clubs inhabit the ‘Not’ column, whilst Liverpool are the most entertaining side in the division, Chelsea aren’t but are probably the best and West Ham’s recent form deserves some grudging respect …
It goes without saying that right now, Liverpool are the most exciting team to watch in the Premier League. Their disorganisation in defence and their devastation in attack are utterly fascinating for the neutral, and their gung-ho approach is one that should be applauded.
Their 4-3 win at home to Swansea means that they have scored 12 goals in their last three games, and Daniel Sturridge’s latest scoring exploits have elevated him to one of the most important forwards in the English game. His understanding with the other attacking players at Anfield is clearly first rate and in this respect, no team will enjoy playing the Reds this season.
However, the defensive warning signs were again apparent on Sunday, as Liverpool contrived to concede three goals to a much weaker team. Their display at the back was an utter shambles and Martin Skrtel in particular will be highly grateful to his forwards for bailing him out.
Liverpool are the neutral’s team of choice right now, but it has to be said that these sorts of teams rarely win trophies.
Jose Mourinho’s side continued their dogged pursuit of the Premier League title with a 1-0 win over Everton. Whilst Chelsea aren’t playing the most beautiful football in the division, they’re still top of the league and will start March in pole position to win their fourth Premier League crown.
People are often swift to dismiss what Mourinho has achieved with this Chelsea side this season on the grounds that they are a club with a lot of money, but it must be appreciated that he has taken them a long way from the doldrums of the last few years. Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure was one of the few lights in what has been a dismal few seasons since Mourinho first departed the Bridge in 2007, and there’s no doubt that having Mourinho back in the Premier League is a fantastic thing for English football.
The Hammers’ resurgence continued with a 3-1 at Upton Park against an under-par Southampton side and this latest result elevated Sam Allardyce’s side to tenth in the table.
This latest win goes to show just how quickly things can change in football. At the end of January, West Ham were a lot of people’s favourites to go down after a woeful run of results that saw them languishing in the relegation zone. Fast forward to the end of February and they are almost out of the woods.
After the disappointment of Arsenal’s 0-2 loss at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, the Gunners needed a reaction and they got it in spectacular fashion with a great win at home to Sunderland.
After being rested or dropped (delete as you deem appropriate) against Bayern, Olivier Giroud was brought back into the starting line-up and promptly rewarded Arsene Wenger for this decision with a very lively display, highlighting how far the Frenchman has come in his time at the Emirates.
With their Champions League exit looking ever more likely, all of Arsenal’s eggs should be firmly in the title race basket, and this emphatic win was a reminder to Chelsea that they shouldn’t be counting their chickens just yet. With Arsenal just one point behind the league leaders and City two points behind them, we’ve still got potentially the most competitive and unpredictable title race in years ahead of us.
The merits of the Europa League have been debated long and hard over the last few years, but the fact still remains that generally speaking, sides that have to play on Thursday night and Sunday afternoon generally struggle in their Sunday fixture. Tottenham’s inability to perform in the league fixture after a Europa League game is a problem that has existed since the days of Harry Redknapp, and really is an issue that contributed significantly to Andre Villas-Boas’ demise as Tottenham boss.
We should make no bones about this result, though; Tottenham’s loss at Carrow Road is an absolute devastating one, and Europa League or no Europa League, it is this sort of result which is likely to result in Tim Sherwood failing to land the job on a long-term basis. This result leaves Tottenham in fifth, a full six points behind fourth-placed Liverpool. With United seemingly finding a bit of form, Spurs now find themselves closer to David Moyes’ side than Brendan Rodgers’, and it would not be surprising to see the Red Devils leapfrog Tottenham before the end of the season.
Given that Villas-Boas was sacked after the Tottenham hierarchy felt that he wasn’t the man to achieve the fourth place finish that is the minimum requirement at White Hart Lane, it would be just for Sherwood to be judged on the same criteria. Sadly for the ex-Spurs midfielder, that most likely means that he will no longer be at the helm next season.
(As an aside, I feel that we really need to question the Europa League. Forcing the fifth and sixth placed teams to participate in a competition that no one cares about and that also has a clearly documented negative effect on a team’s league form is somewhat unfair, and only serves to toughen the glass ceiling that has been created by the big four dominance.)
A thrashing at home to Hull City condemned Cardiff to their 15th defeat in the season. Unless something changes – and fast – the former Bluebirds are going down.
No one likes a broken record, so I won’t say too much on this subject, but with every passing fixture it seems clearer and clearer that the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer was a simply ludicrous piece of recruitment. A man with no Premier League (or even English league) managerial experience has been tasked with managing a team who are one of the favourites to go down, and his inexperience is being woefully exposed.