Monday, May 16, 2011

Five Things We Learned From This Week's EPL Action

1. Wolves are staying up- Two weeks ago, and I wouldn't have been caught dead saying this. Wolverhampton Wanderers looked set for the drop, as a series of poor results were compounded by an injury to key man Kevin Doyle. But, credit to all involved at the club, they have bounced back, Steven Fletcher has taken up the goalscoring mantle, and two consecutive three goal performances have led Wolves to the brink of survival. Next up, Wolves face Blackburn at home, and they are huge favorites to win that one. Meanwhile, the Midlands club have seen their relegation rivals slip up, with West Ham going down, and Birmingham losing 2-0 at home to Fulham. McCarthy's men may not be the prettiest in the land, but they are staying up.

2. Arsenal are crashing down to fourth- It's been a season of extremes for the Gunners, from the potential winners of four trophies, to struggling for fourth spot, Arsenal's season is about to end in gloom. This weekend, it was Aston Villa who took up the responsibility of beating Arsenal, a role  previously fulfilled by Bolton and Stoke. Darren Bent scored twice to lead the Villains to a 2-1 win which had us wondering why Aston Villa were ever relegation candidates. So, Arsenal's third place finish is now out of their own hands, with City set to take the opportunity of guaranteeing Champions League group stage football for next year. Arsenal meanwhile, are likely to have to weave their way through the dicey Champions League qualification rounds, and they can only hope they avoid Villareal and Udinese.

3. United are champions- Okay, it's not the most stunning observation I've ever made, though don't assume everyone cruised through first grade math... A Wayne Rooney penalty was enough to secure the title for United, and avoid what would have been a nervous final day meeting with Blackpool at Old Trafford. The early clinch also ensures that Ferguson will have the opportunity to rest his first teamers pre-Barcelona, and stir up a few manager, desperately hoping for a Blackpool loss. It will be interesting to see what kind of side is fielded next Sunday, obviously player like Gibson, Obertan and Bebe have been ever presents in the reserves, but I'd love to have a look at youngsters like Magnus Eikrem, Josh King and Ravel Morrison.However, Fergie will come to a line-up decision later, for now he'll be basking in the glow of a nineteenth league title.

4. Avram Grant is a Millwall legend- Whoever shelled out to have a plane fly over the DW bearing the banner "Avram Grant-Millwall legend," thanks for the motto. Avram Grant, who was promptly sacked after West Ham's relegation, is fast becoming the least desirable manager in English football, now relegated for the second consecutive year. Even before that, Grant was winning no fans, except the United supporters, grateful to him for letting John Terry take a decisive penalty. It will be fascinating to see where Grant goes next, rumor has it that Abramovich wants him back in the front office at Stamford Bridge, and the Israeli might see that as an ideal opportunity to relieve himself of the pressures of top level management.

5. No Europe for Liverpool- Pre-match it was an exciting, winnable competition, post it's a poisoned chalice, one wonders what changed Reds fans minds as they watched Tottenham cruise past Dalglish's Liverpool. Anchored by England's favorite crock, the Spurs defense kept Liverpool at bay,  with Suarez busy, but unproductive, and Carroll short of inspiration. Heck, even the world's second best Argentine goalscorer couldn't get through. As much of a boost this win will have been for Spurs, it will also be a source of frustration, as Harry Redknapp looks back at what could have been had Ledley King been fit all season. The English international added a stability to the defense which has been absent for most of the campaigne, and would have been useful at say, the Bernabeau...

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