Friday, May 21, 2010

2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Season Review

This season turned out to be a really interesting one. Being World Cup season, I was worried that some players would burn out before South Africa. What was worse were players not trying hard enough, hoping to conserve energy for the World Cup. Steven Gerrard could be accused of that this season while Fernando Torres' numerous persistent injuries meant that El Nino again had upset Liverpool's title plans this season. On the other hand, Wayne Rooney is already looking tired and stricken by injuries in a season where he singlehandedly took an ordinary Manchester United to second spot in the Premier League.

With Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur building deep and quality squads, the Big 4 clubs status were seriously threatened. In the end, Liverpool lost their place among the elites of the league. Arsenal continued to impress this season, especially as most pundits opined that Arsenal were the club most in danger of losing their Big 4 status.

Here are my seven memories of the season gone by,

1. Chelsea's record breaking season
What more can you say about Chelsea? 103 goals, seven goals or more in four matches, Didier Drogba,  is back to his menacing self. Lampard has had his most prolific season thus far, scoring 22 goals. The Premiership double also added more gloss to a fantastic season. Carlo Ancelotti's special skill of extending the playing styles of veterans are now paying dividends. Next season will be challenging for Chelsea when the Premier League imposes squad limits and player regulations.

2. Arsene Wenger's kick in frustration
Arsenal was supposed to have the easiest title run in compared to Chelsea or Manchester United. In the end, the Arsenal players did not have enough in the tank as they faltered towards the end. The loss of Fabregas, Arshavin, Ramsey and Vermaelen proved too much for Wenger's Arsenal. I think the line between Arsenal being champions and Arsenal in third lie solely with the poor goalkeeping standards at the club. Fabianski and Almunia were guilty of goalkeeping errors which derailed Arsenal's most determined title challenge in years. That water bottle kick during the 3-2 defeat at Wigan was a signal that Arsene Wenger knew he has to strengthen for next year - Marouane Chamakh, Rob Green and Scott Parker remain potential targets.

3. Spurs clinches final Champions League spot
Tottenham are no longer chokers! For so long, Spurs flatter to deceive, only to falter at the end of a season. This season however, they have been surprisingly resilient and the reason for that has been Harry Redknapp. He has bought well, built a team which has strength and depth. Unlike previous "soft" Spurs team, this team has a hard side (in the shape of Wilson Palacios) which allow the Modrics and Kranjcars to flourish. With two quality players in every position, Harry Redknapp and his Spurs are out to ruffle some European feathers next season.

4. Fulham's Europa League adventure
If one thinks about Fulham's first qualifying match for this competition started in July, then this Europa League adventure would seem absolutely amazing. Roy Hodgson's motley crew of recruits brushed aside Shaktar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg to get to the fairytale final against Atletico Madrid, which proved a step too far. Fulham beat Juventus in what should now be termed as a classic through a goal worthy of such a monumental game. Clint Dempsey's goal was a fitting decider in an entertaining two-legged tie.

5. Neville gives Scholesy a smacker
Gary Neville just could not resist himself and let himself go emotionally after Paul Scholes scored with a rare header to win at the City of Manchester. This is what the pressure of playing at the highest level do to you.

6. Liverpool beating Manchester United 2-0
Even in a difficult season, Liverpool fans take solace in beating Manchester United 2-0 on October 25, 2009 at Anfield. Serial offender, Vidic again got himself sent off, his third in as many games. Fernando Torres showed why his absence this season has been such a disappointment for Liverpool fans. El Nino is becoming as indispensable to Liverpool as he was for Atletico Madrid.

7. Avram Grant as bridesmaid again
Everyone says that Avram Grant performed a mini miracle at Portsmouth. I am no different, and I am particularly pleased with the "in principle" deal he has to manage West Ham. Though not quite the "glamour" coach that West Ham fans would expect, he has proven himself to be a very adaptable manager capable of getting results which any long-suffering Hammers fan will agree as important at this time. Avram Grant joins the unwanted list of bridesmaid manager, being runnersup in FA Cup, Champions League, Premier League and Carling Cup.

So there we have it, my seven memories of the recently concluded 2009-10 Premier League season. The footballing powers have been expanded based on the results this season. There are now SIX clubs in the Premiership vying to be Premier League champions next season.

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