Probably one of the tightest finish to the Premier League season with Manchester United on pole position followed very closely by Arsenal and a-game-in-hand Chelsea who seem to be losing the plot come every weekend. All this hype about the league going all the way to the wire might be washed off if Arsenal and Chelsea lose one or more matches and United don’t. Also if United go on to win all their matches from here, they are definitely going to take their 19th Premier League crown and overtake Liverpool.
Manchester United is riding on the pluck and skill of Wayne Rooney, a talismanic player for the club,looks set for overtaking Ronaldo’s goals tally of last year. He has already scored 26 in the league and along with Messi will be a strong contender for the European player of the year. Players like Fletcher, Park(in the big matches), Nani and Evra have come good this season and are playing in and around Rooney creating and scoring goals. They are next to Arsenal (who have scored 73 goals so far) with 72 goals in the league after 31 matches.
Leading goal scorers – Rooney (26), Berbatov (10) and Valencia (5)
Chelsea which looked like the most solid side,especially after they lived throught the absence of Drogba, Essien(who is still absent because of injury) and Kalou in January with thumping wins, came a cropper against some of the much smaller teams whom they would have otherwise beaten. Their Champions League hopes were again dashed this time by their previous manager, Mourinho with his Inter team. Ancelloti’s men seem to be losing their mojo at a critical part of the title chase and it looks like they may falter at the final lap. Drogba and Anelka upfront has been very good upfront with both Lampard and Malouda contributing handsomely. Their defence has been the problem this season and they have conceded a lot of goals, especially at home. And to give them credit they have pumped in 70 goals from 30 matches which is definitely one of Ancelloti’s achievements this season.
Leading Goal Scorers – Drogba (22), Lampard (12) and Anelka (8)
Arsenal who have been written off everytime they lost to one of the top 4 teams this season has bounced back replying their critics with goals and victories at critical junctures. Outside the top 4, Arsenal has had the best points tally against the other 16 teams. With goals coming from the most number of players from any team in the league (this needs to be confirmed) Arsenal has played within themselves, despite a lot of injuries with key players missing in action this season. Wenger has a very tough assignment against Barcelona in the Champions League and also has a defensive problem for the rest of the season.
Leading Goal Scorers – Fabregas (15), Arshavin (9) and Vermaelen/Van Persie (7)
The League Run-in
Manchester United can win all their games from now onwards and be assured of their 19th Premier League title. But then it is not going to be that easy, isn’t it. My guess is that Chelsea who seem to have the toughest fixtures from now onwards compared to Utd and Arsenal, will miss the bus and finish third.
Arsenal have to win all their matches from now onwards so that they can give Utd a tough fight till the end. According to me if United draw against Chelsea, it would help Arsenal a lot in topping. But Utd’s far more superior goal difference is a huge advantage. All said and done I hope the Gunners come good at the end of the season as Champions League is much tougher than what Wenger would have imagined.
Manchester Utd – 69 pts
Bolton A – 3, Chelsea H – 3, Blackburn A – 3, Man City A – 1, Tottenham H – 1, Sunderland A – 3, Stoke H – 3
Total – 69+17= 86
Total – 67+ 19 = 86
Portsmouth A – 3,Aston Villa H – 1,Man Utd A – 0,Bolton H – 3,Tottenham A – 3,Stoke H – 3,Liverpool A -1,Wigan H – 3
Total – 65+17=82