Posts Tagged van Persie
Going into a match, having just come out of a gruelling Christmas schedule with a six match unbeaten run to lie third on the league table, two points off the top, my team fall behind midway through the first half against a team two places off the relegation zone.
Rubbish! And perfect time to pause football manager and feel most inclined to put down this preview of the 2013/14 Premier League season, a season which comes with a sense of the new mixed with the usual, high octane drama we’ve become accustomed to season after season.
Last season, Manchester United reclaimed the league title from the noisy neighbours and as a result went past Liverpool as the team with the most league titles, thanks largely to the goals of Robin van Persie; the last genius gamble of long serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson who finally let go of the thinking cap and chewing gum at the Theatre of Dreams.
Inevitably, the new man at the helm will be banking on the flying Dutchman in his quest to begin a reign as Fergie’s successor on a high, off what has been a turbulent run up to the season, no thanks to speculation on Whine Rooney’s future at the club as well as failed bids for Barcelona duo Thiago Alcantara (who opted to join his former boss Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich) and Cesc Fabregas who ‘decided to stay put’ as well as for his former boy Leighton Baines.
That leaves David Moyes with pretty much the same squad that came from behind on numerous occasions to win the league. Only difference now from then is, can Moyes’s charisma evoke that similar spirit Fergie was always conjuring from his players on their way to a 20th crown last season?
Having gone fruitless years being a pain in the a.k.a.-donkey of the bigger clubs while at Everton, the expectation is that having a better squad and much better budget at his disposal now would make a ‘better’ manager of him. His ability to make the best out of what he has and potential to be at the helm for long – stability – is what got him the job and what is hoped would ensure sustained success at Old Trafford.
But his failure to land transfer targets however, point to an inferior character incapable of commanding a presence, a respect where it matters. It certainly cannot be at the level of Fergie’s but it right now is quite far from convincing even most fans of the club that Moyes is the ideal man for the job.
As a result, rivals for the league title, swirling around as sharks would at the presence of blood, have made their moves and all that’s left now is for them to go for the kill and take the league title from the Red Devils.
First shark in the tank is Manchester City that finished second last season, having failed to replicate the drive which led the club to a most dramatic title win minutes after Man. United thought the title was theirs in 2012. Hence, the hierarchy at the Etihad relieved Roberto Mancini of his job and replaced him with seasoned Chilean tactician Manuel Pellegrini.
A number of players have also been added to the squad there, with Fernandinho joining from Shakhtar Donetsk, quickfeet Jesus Navas from Sevilla, followed later from same club by striker Alvaro Negredo, with Montenegrin forward Stefan Jovetic arriving from Fiorentina some time between the two Spaniards.
Fernandinho’s arrival gives the spine of City’s midfield a bit more dynamism to the one already provided by Yaya Toure. Javi Garcia never got going last season and with Jack Rodwell still in the mix of the hustle to be Toure’s starting partner in midfield, it’s looking like it’ll be a long season for Garcia.
Upfront, Pellegrini has an enviously potent forward line consisting of Negredo and Jovetic joining Sergio Agüero and Edin Dzeko, with support over the season from Fernandinho and Navas joining a midfield already rich with Yaya Toure, Silva, Samir Nasri, James Milner and Javi Garcia… not to forget Rodwell and Scott Sinclair who may leave the club on loan for this season.
However, Man. City’s main failing last season was the defensive lapses that brought about a number of unexpected losses, an issue that should not be a bother this season after all if the goals are regular from the wealthy choice of forwards he’s assembled. Otherwise, Pellegrini’s got a coming headache.
Having captain Vincent Kompany and the rest of the back line fit and in form (Joe Hart’s bipolar form comes to mind here) all season would be crucial to Pellegrini’s main test as new manager, which will not necessarily be how well he performs in the league, as he could lead City to a third place finish and still be regarded a success based on how well he does in the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup, especially in the former where the real test is.
Man. City’s embarrassing displays in the last two European seasons pose a threat to their domestic ambition. Doing well in Europe could hamper their league performance and vice versa. Pellegrini’s job will therefore be to strike a right balance in the Premier League and Champions League or end up only delivering what Mancini could to the oil money, unsatisfactory success.
From the blue side of Manchester to London’s, a shark swirling about Moyes, also with a new man at the helm but, unlike the previous two clubs, a man who is returning to familiar terrains.
Chelsea have satisfied the yearn for European success unlike City, and in fact won the Champions League and Europa League in successive years. The Premier League, last won 2009/10, will be the main goal at Stamford Bridge and Jose Mourinho knows all to well how to go about winning it.
He was the one who won the Blues a first league title in half a century, going right ahead to retain that title the following season. Now armed with more experience from Inter Milan and Real Madrid along with a diabetic wealth of choice in players, without forgetting his undying love of life in the Queen’s most pretigeous league, Mourinho and Chelsea are the genuine favourites to win the league and break the recent hold of Manchester on the title.
Fernando Torres may not have the chance to be the undoing of Chelsea’s title quest, even though I feel he’s been improving in front of goal lately. Not to say he’s close to his old lethal self but… he’s been improving. And if indeed he falls short again, there’s Demba Ba. The Senegalese however has a prone to going on a drought in the second half of the season following a flourishing first half. What then? Hello Romelo Lukaku.
If there is a set of players highly motivated to prove a point this season, the Belgian striker’s name would be at the top of that list. The imposing young striker left good memories from his loan spell last season at West Bromwich-Albion and has looked good in front of goal this preseason for the Blues.
And with a creative force led by Juan Mata that also comprises Eden Hazard and Oscar, along with Victor Moses and new boys Kevin de Bruyne and Andre Schurlle, the problem for Chelsea won’t be the number of chances created but the number of those taken. Who Mourinho picks as the man with the task to convert those chances will be key to Chelsea’s success this season.
Among the three teams written of in this piece, Chelsea (much to my biased side’s dismay) are favourites for the league title based on the facts that Mourinho knows the league well enough and he is the sort of manager who can get his team to grind out the needed results at crucial stages of the season.
Besides, the Chelsea squad doesn’t seem as one on the brink of tearing apart, unlike City where four internationals are vying for two striking spots, if not one (depending on Pellegrini’s choice of tactics) and the duo of Yaya Toure and David Silva seem untouchable in midfield. As for United, they are title contenders simply because of van Persie. One bad injury… it’s either Rooney or the little pea step up in the Dutchman’s absence or it’s over.
The rest of the league? There’s Arsenal to lead them, followed in no particular order by Swansea City, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. I’ll rather write about them in another post, a sequel if you may. But right now, I’ll finish my match on football manager… whose makers by the way have announced and released screenshots of FM14. Exciting times.
After all said and bit, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was slapped with a 10-match ban by the English FA for his Hannibal moment on Branislav Ivanovic last weekend and according to the FA’s statement, Suarez, who has decided not to appeal the ban (to avoid further fuss me thinks), pretty much made the much debated ban to be that lengthy by his own doing.
In their statement, the FA, among various other points, made it clear that previous incidents involving the player hadn’t been considered when deciding the severity of this punishment and that since biting was alien to football, along with the fact that by disputing their first statement saying a standard three-match violent conduct ban would “clearly be insufficient” for his bite, he (Suarez) had failed to fully grasp the seriousness of the matter at hand hence, the length of his latest football sabbatical being 10 matches.
Meanwhile seeing as biting, contrary to the FA’s statement, is more ‘human’ than alien to football thanks to previous incidents by Suarez as well as Jermain Defoe on Javier Mascherano, not to mention a few other bizarre happenings on the field such as Cantona’s kung-fu kick of a Crystal Palace fan and Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt to the chest of Marco Materazzi at the 2006 World Cup, there indeed – as shown above – were many instances the FA could have drawn some inspiration from before butchering Suarez with that ban.
It thus leaves a question mark on the justifications the FA felt it had in handing Suarez the ban for biting, while same player got two games less for racially abusing Patrice Evra in 2011, or John Terry who got a further four games less as ban along with a fine of £220,000 for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand… or the instance of Joey Barton who got a 12-match ban for his violent conduct (no biting) in a match against Manchester City.
The FA on one hand is right in wanting to make crystal clear the “seriousness” of Suarez’s Sunday bite, the 10-match ban on the other hand mostly equally, if not more so, sends out a crystal clear message about the FA being a committee of clowns who hand down punishments as it suits the mood or as the tea/coffee tastes on the day.
As it is now, tackling a player and having to be separated from another (Barton on Agüero and Tevez) is more serious than (a certain extreme of) biting ala Suarez which in turn is a more serious offence than (a certain extreme of) racism ala Suarez as well as (another, apparently less-extreme degree of) racism ala Terry and so on.
Terry on his part was back in the ever tinkered Chelsea starting line-up and missed a late, how-did-that-not-go-in chance in Switzerland though a 94th minute David Luiz freekick – the last kick of the match in fact – gave the Blues a 2-1 win at FC Basel in the first leg of a Europa League semi-final, with Fernabahce beating Benfica by a lone goal in the other semi-final first leg match.
It was Basel’s first home loss after nine European matches just as it was Chelsea’s first away win after suffering four losses in their last five away matches in Europe, setting up the return leg nicely for them as they look to inversely follow in FC Porto’s steps by winning both major European club competitions in successive years.
So much for the time of ridicule endured when they crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage eh? Now it is the hierarchy of Spanish football suffering the embarrassment in the Champions League following the first leg semi-final matches played on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Definitely Bayern Munich were going to be tough opposition for Barcelona on Tuesday night, but quantum physics tough? It was shocking to watch as the Bavarians ripped the Catalans apart with a 4-0 humbling. It was heartwarming and fun to watch as well.
Indeed Bayern got away with favourable decisions in the goals scored by Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben, who by the way played by far his best match this season on the night, it was clear Bayern deserved the win and dare I say the margin of it.
What with the manner Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez neutralised the ‘threat’ of Lionel Messi’s presence and rendered Andres Iniesta anonymous, allowing Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery and Robben to wreck the havoc they brought upon the feeble Barça backline.
But not to be outdone, following a similarly high tempo first half display, Borussia Dortmund raised their game several levels higher and scored three second half goals as well on their to scoring four goals against Real Madrid to complete an 8-1 aggregate win for the Bundesliga over La Liga… perhaps initiating a power shift as well.
Apart from the mistake that led to Real’s away goal, Dortmund never looked inferior to a vastly more experienced and expensive Real side. Gundogan was imperious in midfield while Robert Lewandowski showed great technique and composure in the open-play goals he scored; with the third being my favourite.
It was fitting that someone else took the headlines, a day after Dortmund confirmed that Mario Götze; the nucleus of Dortmund’s trinity, will join Bayern next season. Even Marco Reus’ game was exceptional on Wednesday night and there was little to show Götze’s exit would be a deep blow.
Dortmund have always produced the good players, Shinji Kagawa hasn’t been missed, neither was Tomas Rosicky and I reckon Götze’s imminent exit would either bring a new name to the spotlight or see a slight change in formation that will get Nuri Sahin fully back in the Dortmund fold… or Christian Eriksen – who has been linked to Dortmund – could come in from Ajax as a replacement, and that would be an exciting transfer if it happens.
Away from the European drama, action resumed in the Nigeria Professional Football League with defending champions Kano Pillars maintaining its hold of top spot despite a second successive goalless draw, this time at home to Heartland.
With 16 points, Pillars now lead Rangers and Nasarawa United by two points after both lost their respective matches and the opportunity to go top of the league. Rangers fell 2-1 at Lobi Stars that is now in seventh place while Nasarawa fell to a 3-0 loss at Dolphins.
In other matches, Bayelsa United is now fourth on 13 points after a lone goal win over Sunshine Stars while Kwara United followed up its draw at Enyimba with a 2-0 win at home to Nembe City, rising to sixth with 12 points, behind Shooting Stars on goal difference.
Shooting Stars lost 2-0 at El-Kanemi Warriors, Enyimba lost by a lone goal at Gombe United, Kaduna United and Warri Wolves played a 1-1 draw in Kaduna as did Wikki Tourists against Sharks of Port-Harcourt in Bauchi.
Further up north on the continent, Nigeria’s U17 national team have reached the final of the African U17 Championship in Morocco following a 4-2 win over Tunisia on Wednesday with Isaac Success scoring a brace.
Those goals put him on seven goals in the lead for the golden boot award, with teammate Kelechi Iheanacho right behind him with five goals scored so far. The free scoring Golden Eaglets will face their Ivorian counterparts in Saturday’s final in a repeat of their group stage match which the Ivorians somewhat surprisingly won by a lone goal.
That match is one of many exciting ones to look forward to this weekend, with PSG on the verge of winning the Ligue Un title and needing a win at Evian on Sunday to do so. Problem is, it was Evian that recently knocked PSG out of the Coupe de France at the semi-final stage on penalties.
Elsewhere, Juventus visit Torino in a Turin derby while Real visit Atletico Madrid on Saturday in another derby. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out of that encounter with a leg injury with Jose Mourinho’s assistant hoping the Portuguese ace recovers in time for next Tuesday’s return leg against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
In the Premier League, Arsenal players will form a guard of honour for former striker Robin van Persie and his Manchester United teammates who visit the Emirates on Sunday after winning the league title on Monday.
In tennis, Rafael Nadal came through two matches in one day to make it 37 consecutive wins at the Barcelona Open and set up a semi-final with Milos Raionic who also won two matches on Friday to reach the last four.
Nadal, whose run of 46 consecutive matches and eight titles won was ended by Novak Djokovic in the final of the Monte Carlo masters last week, is looking to win his eighth Barcelona Open title having won every edition since 2005, missing the 2010 competition due to fatigue.
No such thing for former FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner who keeps opening old sores in the FIFA’s hierarchy, this time revealing how he’d been given $6m in exchange of winning Sepp Blatter the presidency back in 1998.
Running against then UEFA President Lennart Johansson, Warner claims he was personally handed a $6m grant to build the centre of excellence on land owned by him in exchange for votes that would win Blatter the election.
Money exchanged, Warner says he delivered 30 votes for Blatter, who according to him was João Havelange’s chosen successor. The poll finished with Johansson getting 80 votes while Blatter got 111; 31 votes more.
Having resigned from FIFA after some allegations of corruption were brought against him, Warner has since tried opening a few worm cans that would bring a few names down, especially Blatter. Where this latest episode leads, we await.
For now, do have a blessed weekend. Mine already is, today especially.
Following a crash course in Law coupled with a not so brief recap of the episodes of Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing and other bits of ‘suspense’, the Magistrate eventually, ultimately, after all said, analysed and recapped… finally ruled in favour of the blade runner and granted him bail.
While the R1m (one million rand) he’ll post as bail; along with a number of conditions which include no alcohol, eats a bit into Pistorius’ R5m annual earning, it puts the blade runner ahead at half time of this murder case which has its trial now scheduled to commence in June.
Beyond all that the family of Reeva Steenkamp labelled as meaning ‘nothing’ the bouquet of flowers received from Pistorius’ family, while her bereaved father commented that if Pistorius was lying, he would have to live with his conscience but if indeed he mistook her for a burglar, he may one day come round to forgiving him.
Not all concerned were as diplomatic however, many observers across the continent believe the paralympian is a murderer while a father figure to Reeva flat out said Pistorius should go to hell.
It is easy to believe Pistorius is guilty when his wealth and ability in disability are pointed at as swinging justice’s bias towards him, but if any person(s) is/are to blame it would be the prosecution that seemingly didn’t consider every scenario possible from the incident along with flawed witness account and tainted image of the previous chief investigator.
By the end of the trial, unless the prosecution have new and concrete evidence to add spine to their case; such as her head being bashed in with a cricket bat, Pistorius can expect to get manslaughter as final judgement… and you just know that would outrightly piss many people off.
Once again, may Reeva Steenkamp rest in peace.
Not to be outdone per se, Ghanaian international John Pantsil reportedly stabbed his wife in the eye but thankfully, it wasn’t fatal but bizarrely… they are back together.
Apparently, it was all a misunderstanding and all grievances between both have been settled. Right! We’ll just ignore the need for anger management with the Pantsils and ‘respect their privacy’.
Speaking of respect, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini took a swipe at Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger after stating ahead of his side’s crucial league match against Chelsea that unlike the Frenchman at Arsenal, he wants to win (trophies).
A bit disrespectful from Mancini who was at the dusk of his active football days when Wenger was appointed manager at Arsenal. But do I blame him? No. It is Wenger that has put himself in a position to be ridiculed by younger managers.
Jose Mourinho has done so before and I expect Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas to give it a go ahead of this weekend’s north London derby; Arsenal’s ‘Race to Fourth’ title match.
That said, Mancini’s side ended up doing Wenger and Arsenal a favour by claiming a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday in a match Sergio Agüero should’ve done much better and more importantly, a match in which Joe Hart saved Frank Lampard’s first half penalty.
That win leaves fifth placed Arsenal, on 47 points, just two points behind third placed Chelsea. And with Tottenham that is nicely tucked between the Blues and Gunners on 48 points set for a little London affair at West Ham United tonight, one need not say what side will have the most supporters in tonight’s match.
For all of Mancini’s talk, all gooners nonetheless were behind City to do exactly what was done, to the slight disappointment of fans of the Red Devils who were behind Chelsea though will remain happy to hold a dozen point advantage over their City rivals in the title race anyway.
Manchester United had earlier opened a 15-point gap on Saturday with a 2-0 win at destined for relegation Queens Park Rangers, but a fall-out from that win brought concern to the league leaders… Robin van Persie went off injured.
In unlikely manner, the Dutchman’s effort to keep the ball in meant he fell onto a camera at the near post of QPR and though he got Julio Cesar to make a good save minutes later, he was taken off for Danny Welbeck five minutes to half time as it became obvious he couldn’t manage the injury.
This brought much delight to many gooners who understandably haven’t moved on from the deal with the devil at the start of the season and hoped it was an injury that would keep him out for long.
Indeed some went about it in lighthearted manner, having no real intentions of seeing him put out for long, there were some who actually meant it and that is concerning. In the end, the van Persie situation can be likened to that of Barcelona whose scarce defeats get celebrated, it’s the cross of consistent performers. Besides, he’s only suffered a sore hip.
Anyway, Van Persie’s effort was not in vain however, as Rafael struck a bullet past Julio Cesar to put United in front moments after. A goal which a teammate nominated for goal of the season.
While former teammate Dimitar Berbatov’s well taken volley for Fulham at home to Stoke City; the only goal of that match, falls a tad short of Rafael’s, I think I enjoyed a few other goals more including Arouna Kone’s second in Wigan Athletic’s 3-0 win at Reading, gently lifting the ball over the Reading keeper and into the net off a glorious cross-field pass.
Another goal worth mentioning for goal of the weekend is Yaya Toure’s opener for Man. City, a low curling effort wickedly from Petr Cech’s blindside. Cech’s stretch to try keeping Yaya’s effort out made the goal all the more special for me… why punish yourself by trying to prevent that?
But the goal I enjoyed most has to be Papiss Demba Cisse’s bolt from range to put Newcastle United 2-1 up against Southampton. Much unlike last season’s second against Chelsea, this was a far less speculative effort yet almost as graceful and delightful.
In the end, Newcastle United won that match 4-2 to continue its recent renaissance inspired by its Francophone fellas that now sees the Magpies six points off the relegation zone. In this form, with a place in the Europa League some 10 points off, Newcastle truly can aspire.
Swansea meanwhile can play as freely as they want for the rest of the season in the league, after cruising to a 5-0 demolition of Bradford City to claim the Capital One Cup and qualify for next season’s Europa League.
And that feeling of no pressure on the back of the highs from Cup success can propel Michael Laudrup’s men to play some of its best football in the remaining 11 league matches. And when the Swans at their best, their tiki-taka acutely frustrates any opposition to the point of defeat.
One can say the last bit is a Nou Camp trademark but Barcelona in its last two matches have struggled, more so with Lionel Messi’s human side coming to fore though he got a goal, his 38th league goal this season, in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday.
There will be no rest for the Ballon d’Or holder and the rest of the Barcelona team who face Real Madrid at home on Tuesday in the decisive second leg of their Copa Del Rey semifinal clash before facing them again on Saturday in La Liga at the Bernabeu… cruelly followed by the return leg of their round of 16 Champions League tie with AC Milan days after.
Milan on its part played out a 1-1 draw in its Madonnina derby ‘away’ to Inter, a result that suited the latter more than the former but which suits fifth placed Lazio the most, with the Rome side set to rise to third place if it defeats Pescara tonight.
Juventus continued its charge towards defending its Scudetto with a 3-0 win over Siena, the highlight moment being Andrea Pirlo’s lobbed effort at goal… it was audacious and unfortunately, went wide.
And in France, Paris Saint Germain took a major step towards the Ligue Un title with a perhaps undeserved but more importantly crucial 2-0 win over archrivals Olympique Marseille in Le Clasique.
Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was my man of the match, making a number of saves to keep l’OM at bay, but it was David Beckham that got most of the headlines as he made his PSG debut and somehow, some way, was involved in PSG’s second scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in stoppage time.
PSG’s win was the highlight of my football weekend which saw five of my six favourite European clubs play. Arsenal lifted the mood at the Emirates a bit with a nervous 2-1 win over Aston Villa. That was about it.
Deportivo La Coruña took the lead against Real Madrid but fell 2-1 at home, Hearts decided to lose 3-2 at home to Inverness after twice equalising while Werder Bremen was simply annihilated by Bayern Munich, going down to a 6-1 scoreline against a ‘second string’ Bayern side. Scary.
Lowest point of the weekend was the low profile the African Super Cup had, a match Champions League holders Al Ahly of Egypt won 2-1 against Confederations Cup holders AC Leopards of Republic of Congo.
A match to decide Africa’s representative at the Club World Championship later in the year should have had much more publicity than this one had, which was virtually non-existent.
On that note, it’s a wrap here. Napoli visit Udinese tonight in the Serie A, Lazio play Pescara tonight as well, just as Tottenham visit West Ham in the Premier League. That’s followed by an El Clasico in the Copa del Rey to make for a good start to the week for football.
Wishing you a great week ahead then.
With 5 games to play in d Premier League,I’m more than elated to c this season’s title race involves 3 of d traditional ‘Big 4’.Surprisingly though,Arsenal’s continued to defy critics by clawing back in2 d title race after seemingly losing grip on d chase of a first league shout since ’04.
Chelsea lead & hold quite a healthy advantage on goal difference but my gut feeling says d Blues won’t laugh last regards d title.I say this not becos I’m a Gunner but simply due to d Blues ‘eraticness’ over d course of d season coupled with d fact they went out of d Champions League earlier than usual.
Yes,I feel playing in2 d later stages of d Champions League helps Chelsea be more of a threat/closest to their potential (depends on ur view) in d league but as it is now,d fight really isn’t in them.Rather,it’s more of a gotta-win-on-d-day attitude…an attitude that tends to fail against unlikely opponents ala Hull, Everton, Fulham & Wigan.Looking through Chelsea’s fixture list,I wouldn’t be celebrating d crucial win over Manchester United…Tottenham’s very after 4th place & Liverpool’s on a sort of ascendency coupled with d games coming away from d Bridge.
Come in United.It’s wise to stick to a winning team for obvious reasons,but when d nucleus of that is one factor…d obvious danger is coping in d absence of d ‘joker’.Now that Wayne Rooney’s out,United’ll find it pretty difficult on d home stretch of both fronts.Bayern is capable of dissipating United’s resolve come Wednesday with Robben back in their fold & d Red Devils haven’t exactly been immune to uncharacteristic losses in d league this season.
Not to say Berbatov’s below standard,he’s world class!Only that,he’s a world class ball controller with few goals in him.If he were used as a support striker that he truly is,United probably won’t be in this fix of having to play a Macheda on point…it’s Arsenal that specialises in handing teenagers d big roles in d title run-in,Sir Alex’s got it gravely wrong here.
And speaking of teenagers,Arsenal’s have sort of passed d age of teen & now in d early 20s,r more mentally capable of handling their potentials to physical effect on d pitch ala Bendtner & Walcott.
Bendtner has turned cornerstone & talismatic van Persie’s injury lay-off has been a blessing d disguise for d Dane.Walcott on his part has done his World Cup chances with England a world of good with his play of late.
Reality check though: captain Cesc’s out for d season,van Persie may not be d smoking gun just right after returning from his ‘break’,Arshavin’s out till month’s end.It leaves d bunch of Nasri,Diaby,Eduardo,Clichy & Vermaelen along with d two previously mentioned with d responsibility of raising their games to help Arsenal quell d demons & win a title (that isn’t sponsored by ‘Fly Emirates’) as well as ‘justify’ a ‘visionnaire’ Arsène Wenger.
In conclusion,d pressure will most be on Chelsea to maintain d lead,win d title & deny United d brag of a 4th consecutive triumph,a triumph that is source of pressure on United.For Arsenal,it’s all about ending that title drought & this is d best opportunity for d Gunners to silence their critics.Manchester United is my 1st pick for d title though I’m more for a surprise surge @ d league title from Arsenal.Chelsea can make do with d FA Cup this season.