A look at the winners and losers after week nine of the Premier League.
If the mark of a champion is winning when not playing well then Manchester United are in line to win another Premier title. That United are top of the Premier League while struggling in all but two of their nine league fixtures since August shows that they have the heart of a champion. The question of whether they can be a good without Ronaldo has still not been answered.
After three games, and two losses, some were ready to write off Arsenal’s title ambitions. But Arsene Wenger’s new 4-3-3 formation is paying off as the Gunners leads the league in goals scored. If they win their game in hand they will be one point of the league lead.
Yes his goal against Liverpool should not have been allowed, but Darren Bent is now tied with Torres for the most Premier League goals this season. He has to be wondering what more he has to do to get a call up to the England team.
It would have been easy for Rafa Benitez to moan and groan about Darren Bent’s goal and how it had robbed Liverpool of at least a point at Sunderland. But Benitez took the high road and didn’t blame the referee for making the wrong call. In a month where referees have taken a lot of stick from managers, it is nice to see one manager respect that referees sometimes get it wrong.
Pundits and Liverpool Hysteria
According to the majority of the British newspapers and pundits, Liverpool’s season stands on the brink of ruin before Guy Fawkes day. If they pick up two wins this week against Lyon and Manchester United then suddenly Rafa will be the greatest thing since Shankley and all will be fine on Merseyside.
The truth about Liverpool’s season lies somewhere in-between these two extremes. Four loses in nine games is not the form that will win Liverpool the title. But in a season where everyone is dropping points, four loses does not mean that the season is over. If they beat United next week they will be only four points back of the champions, an insignificant gap at this stage of the season.
Chelsea have conceded eight goals this season and six of them have come from set pieces. Petr Cech is not the same goalkeeper he was before he got hurt and Chelsea’s inability to defend free-kicks (and score from them) has to worry Carlo Ancelotti especially as Chelsea’s next two opponents, Bolton and Blackburn, are known for their strength at set pieces.
While Chelsea cannot defend set-pieces, Villa cannot score unless it is a set piece. Only three of Aston Villa’s 12 goals this season, the lowest such figure for any side in the top eight of the table, have been scored from open play.
After a great start to the season in which they won their first four games, Manchester City have managed to take just five points from their last four games.