Sunday, April 17, 2011

Five Things We Learned From This Week's EPL Action

1. Chelsea are back in the groove- After a disappointing loss over two legs to Manchester United, most pundits were predicting a Chelsea capitulation at the Hawthorns. After fifteen minutes, that capitulation looked more than likely as Peter Odemwingie stole in to give West Brom the lead. Instead of fold, the Blues fought back, and fine attacking play from Kalou, Drogba and Lampard inspired a Chelsea come back and, come half time, a three-one advantage. The only thing missing from a wonderful away win was a goal for Fernando Torres, the Spaniard once again drew a blank following a late introduction.

2. Aston Villa aren't going down- Under relegation pressure for so much of this season, Gerard Houllier's Aston Villa team seem to finally be clicking into gear. Last week, a James Collins header gave the Villains a 1-0 win over Newcastle, and that result was followed up by a fine win on Saturday. That win in London looked unlikely after Robbie Keane had given the Hammers an early lead. Low on confidence for most of this season, Aston Villa showed superb fight to battle back with Bent leveling matters before Gabby Agbonlahor sealed a dramatic win with a stoppage time winner. On paper, Aston Villa are one of the better teams in the English Premier League, and perhaps this win, coupled with an overall improvement in fortunes, will inspire them to a solid finish.

3. Arsenal are simply incapable of winning the league- Arsenal looked set to move just four points off Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League, only for a combination of bad refereeing and complacency to all but finish off their title hopes. Van Persie had given the Gunners a stoppage time lead only for Dirk Kuyt to level from the penalty spot just minutes later. A 1-1 draw meant another two points dropped at home, and the continuation of a theme which has seen Arsenal fall further and further off the title pace. While home form has propelled Manchester United to the verge of a record nineteenth title, it has been home form that has dented Arsenal's chances of claiming their fourth Premier League crown. Early season defeats at home to Newcastle and West Brom have been further compounded by poor home draws against Blackburn, Sunderland and now Liverpool. Had Arsenal claimed the maximum in only a few of those games then the gap between them and United would look a lot more manageable.

4. Ian Hollaway's Blackpool are in big trouble- Loved for most of this season, it looks as though Blackpool's Tangerine dream could be coming to an end. Despite claiming superb away scalps against the likes of Sunderland, Blackpool have struggled to win at home, a fact which as seen them slip into the bottom three. Players like Charlie Adam, David Vaughn and DJ Campbell have been simply inspirational this season, but backed up by a leaky defense, their efforts are likely to be in vain. On Saturday, Blackpool were presented with the chance to distance themselves from the relegation zone, bitt Olly's men failed to perform, and Blackpool crashed to a 3-1 defeat against fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic. That loss, coupled with poor home form all year, may well end up being a fatal combination, one that will consign Blackpool to the drop.

5. Something is wrong with Sunderland- Fantastic during the first half of the season, Sunderland's drop in form has been as alarming as a Alexandre Song's new haircut. Superb play from the likes of Gyan, Bent and Henderson helped Sunderland to the heady heights of eighth, but since February the Black Cats have suffered a dramatic drop in form. The departing Bent was replaced by Sessegnon, but the Frenchman is still yet to score for Sunderland, a contributing factor to the Black Cats' poor run of results. On Saturday, Steve Bruce's team fell to yet another defeat, losing 2-0 to cup winners Birmingham. Totally devoid of confidence, Sunderland must bounce back from that defeat, or risk being dragged deeper into the relegation tussle.

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