By Kevin Koczwara
Arsenal has been in contention for the English Premier League title, then out of contention, back in contention, out again, and now back in contention after beating Liverpool yesterday.
The Gunners have been climbing the mountain road to the title the long way, but they can finally lock down a large number of points for the rest of the season with the bulk of their toughest matches out of the way.
So, with Chelsea’s loss yesterday, Manchester United’s slip-up and Arsenal’s fairly easy schedule for the rest of the season, has Arsenal finally hopped in the driver’s seat for the EPL title, or are they still the fluke pundits believe they are? A team that plays beautiful attacking soccer, but a struggles against bigger and stronger opponents.
The Gunners are six points behind leaders Chelsea, but a look at the two teams schedules and a conclusion that Chelsea’s poor form against Everton yesterday (or poor form against the Loius Saha show) was a big blow to their lead atop the table.
The Blues have at least 5 games that they could lose points, they play: Liverpool (at Anfield), Manchester United (at Old Trafford), Manchester City, Aston Villa, and Tottenham (at White Hart Lane). And the club will have to deal with their Champions League schedule, they have at least 2 tough matches to work around with Inter Milan. If they lose those matches then the league becomes a priority, but their owner sees the Champions League as the most important trophy out there, so the club could slip and lose a few easier points later in the year.
Does this mean Arsenal are primed to swoop in and take over? No, but they have already played against the rest of the big four in the second half of the year. And, to top it off, they won dirty yesterday in the game against a tight Liverpool squad that hadn’t conceded a goal in four matches. This huge win could be the catalyst for Arsenal’s run through the end of the season, and if Arsene Wenger is right, the club is not out of the title hunt and they could surprise a lot of people and be holding the trophy come May.
Liverpool Must Keep Pace With City
Liverpool and Manchester City are tied for fourth place in the EPL table with 46 points, but City has two games in hand and they are firing on all cylanders right now. Liverpool have tighted up their defense, but they are missing their killer striker Fernando Torres. City has tighted up all aspects of their play under Mancini, and they have their top-striker in world class form.
Carlos Tevez decided to join Manchester City this summer from cross town rivals Manchester United. It was believed Liverpool were interested in the Argentinian’s services but failed to get him in a jersey. And it is looking like his signature could be the difference in who finishes in fourth place.
Tevez is a main reason why City are in the hunt for European soccer next year, and Liverpool’s lack of a back-up striker for Fernando Torres is a reason why they are fighting for the fourth position. This season has been a season of major injuries for top teams, and City haven’t really endured a major one like the Torres and Gerrard injuries Liverpool has suffered.
But, if Liverpool had signed the Argentine striker, then this would be a different story because they wouldn’t have David Ngog starting atop their formation. They would have a quality, competent striker who can dribble, pass, shoot and works hard doing the bulk of their scoring. Instead, Liverpool have an overwhelmed youngster with little skill trying to hold up the attack.And their lack of a skilled striker showed yesterday in their loss to Arsenal.
And now Liverpool has to win the majority of their games to hold on to their fourth spot because City still has two extra games to play, and that means they could potentially be 6 points up on last years runner ups. Liverpool should be scared because again in the transfer window they failed to do what was needed to secure the coveted title they desire.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the Arsenal v Liverpool Match
Here are the highlights from the Everton v Chelsea game