Monday, December 7, 2009

2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 14 Review: Chelsea Outmuscled!

Three penalty misses in Week 14 were events which were not to be missed. The penalty misses by Frank Lampard, Cesc Fabregas and Jermain Defoe in one week surely were unthinkable but it happened last weekend. Giving more proof that there is no end to the excitement that the English Premier League brings to the table week after week!

Chelsea were simply outmuscled, outworked and outpaced by a muscular and committed Manchester City. The injury to John Terry did help Man City's pursuit of three points. In the end, Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong's tigerish efforts in midfield did a number on Chelsea. Still, Mark Hughes' side still looked more like a work in progress than a championship-chasing team. Shades of Liverpool of last season perhaps...great against the Big 4 but erratic against the rest. Motivation is a factor and the lack of it may suggest that Manchester City will underachieve this season.

Arsenal started against Stoke with little Arshavin upfront and there was genuine worry that Stoke City's physical game will hurt the Gunners. All fears were put to rest as Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners. Wenger do have a strikers' injury crisis, though with their fluent playing style, I believe they should be able to adapt until transfer window reopens. Besides, Arsenal's goals come from everywhere so there is no need for concern.

At Ewood Park, Liverpool's David Ngog was unlucky not to have scored, the Reds slipped further down the Premier League table after wins by closest rivals, Aston Villa and Manchester City. The fight for fourth spot is hotting up as the season goes on, and Liverpool is consigned to competing for that last lucrative Champions League spot.

West Ham went down tamely to Manchester United as the Red Devils made it 13 Premiership away wins in 2009. Excellent goals from Paul Scholes and Daron Gibson set them on their way but more worryingly is that after some rousing performances, this was a terrible West Ham team showing. Zola's ineptness as manager is starting to show and not even Steve Clarke can put right what is wrong. Alessandro Diamanti should start every game, as he is the one player with the unpredictability and vision to create. Zola chose to leave the Italian on the bench.

Manchester United now have a defensive injury crisis. Gary Neville and Fabio Da Silva are suffering from groin problems, Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand have calf injuries, John O'Shea is out with thigh trouble, while Edwin van der Sar have a knee injury. Aston Villa players must be rubbing their hands in delight as they prepare to face the Champions at Old Trafford.

Birmingham continues their consistent run under manager Alex McLeish. They are now unbeaten in six matches, garnering 14 points in the process. Cristian "Chuco" Benitez is finally getting first team starts and he is repaying the manager's faith by scoring two goals in his last four games. Hull City's good run will come to a halt now that Jimmy Bullard is injured so that would augur well for West Ham's intent to steer clear of relegation fears.

Here are the Week 14 Premiership results at a glance,
Saturday, December 5, 2009
FT Portsmouth 2 - 0 Burnley
FT Arsenal 2 - 0 Stoke City
FT Aston Villa 3 - 0 Hull City
FT Blackburn Rovers 0 - 0 Liverpool
FT West Ham United 0 - 4 Manchester United
FT Wigan Athletic 2 - 3 Birmingham
FT Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 - 1 Bolton Wanderers
FT Manchester City 2 - 1 Chelsea
Sunday, December 6, 2009
FT Fulham 1 - 0 Sunderland
FT Everton 2 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur

So what's next? Another Big 4 clash is coming up on Sunday this weekend. Arsenal travel to Liverpool on 13th December. Who could forget last season's 4-4 thriller....a result which effectively ended Liverpool's title challenge. Revenge is nigh...assuming Torres and Gerrard plays.

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