Crazy title race stays crazy


Back in early October I penned a piece about how the influence of big money in the EPL has disrupted the league balance and thrown the title race into turmoil. On further inspection, I was only partially right about the causes but 100% right about the illness.

Whereas in most seasons one or two teams emerge as the early favorites for the league title, this season there hasn’t been one. Oh I know, Chelsea, blah blah, but Chelsea can’t be considered contenders when their home record is a dismal 3-4-2. Neither can Man U, with their dismal away record at 3-4-2. And, of course, Arsenal aren’t clear contenders with our dismal overall record and 5 losses and current form that sees us falling to 5th place to a surging Young Villa squad.

At the onset of the season I picked Liverpool to win the league because I thought that they had the best defense in the league and liked that they picked up an extra scoring threat in Keane.  Neither of those items have proven true what with Keane struggling and Chelsea having arguably the best defense in the league. Add in that they would be clear favorites if they had just picked up a few more points at home.

So, I’m back to just saying “very strange.”

But I’m not sure it’s money that’s destabilizing the league, at least not until January when Citeh spend irrational sums of money trying to buy 4th place. Though even that’s not certain with early reports indicating that even offers of half a million dollars a week in salary and $40m transfer fees won’t prise players like Buffon from teams like Juventus.

If it’s not money that’s causing the strangeness, I don’t know what is ; technology, diet, a better understanding of the game, better coaching, better scouting?  I do know that all 4 of the “top four” clubs got draws yesterday which is just such a strange thing to have happen, and it’s happened twice this season (Arsenal lost that day, remember?)

I also know that, three of the top four teams are scoring fewer goals than last season and Arsenal is the most profligate with a whopping 33 more shots than last year and yet bagging 5 fewer goals. Maybe defenses are getting better?

OR, our offense has gotten that much worse. Bendtner has netted only 1 goal in 18 shots in the EPL, Adebayor has doubled his ratio up from 1 in 4 last year to 1 in 8, van Persie is clipping along at 1 in 9 this year (he’s never been better than 1 in 7), Fabregas is horrible at 1 in 38, and a handful of players are laying eggs.

Nasri is the lone bright spot, converting 1 in 5 chances.

Maybe there’s something to this constant Wenger babble about “taking our chances.” Clearly they are getting the shots. Again, I don’t know.

If there’s any joy in all of this it’s watching the almost apoplectic reaction of Chelsea supporters to their squad this season. I mean, the way this guy rips into a player of Deco’s quality is pretty funny. He calls him “utter shite,” and a “clueless prick.” This is a player who has won at every level he’s ever played at, all the way up to the Champions League. Something that no Chelsea player can claim, none. It makes booing Eboue look like a book signing.

But there’s no real joy in watching Chelsea supporters basically act like Arsenal supporters; demanding wins and unreasonable performances from their stars. At least not while we’re currently sitting in fifth place and basement dwelling managers are writing us off.

Well, a week off and home to face Liverpool on Sunday in a game that will certainly decide whether Arsenal are title contenders or not. Let’s hope the boys are up for it, and score, like, I dunno, 6 goals to their 3.

Return of the Dudu

Eduardo is set to make his long awaited return to play in a probable reserves appearance tomorrow. He will score 6 goals on 5 shots and then will be drafted straight in to the first team.

An Arsenal Supporter’s Dream Come True

Arsenal FC have teamed up with Football Manager for the PC and now you all don’t have to second guess Arsene Wenger in blog posts you can do it in the privacy of your home!

In your first act as manager, I suggest you pick up Stephen Appiah, he’s currently on a free. Then buy Ashley Young from Villa and who ever is your favorite Serie A player.

Arsenal will win the quint!


2 Responses to “Crazy title race stays crazy”

  1. 1 WC
    December 15, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Money does play a twisted and strange role in making a good team. Man Shitty has the most money but it does not guarantee success because it’s what you do with the money. Chelsea, for all intents and purposes bought their titles. By that I mean Jose was a very keen and astute manager and spent alot of money on players he needed for certain roles. This is where I mean that money is essential. Man City cannot go out and buy their fantasy team because there’s no guarantee they will gel well or even play how you want them to. Take for example Arsenal’s current central midfield role. We wanted to consider Xabi or Barry in the summer but were only willing to pony up about 12M-15M when their clubs were asking for 18M. If money was hardly a consideration it could be said that at least one of them would be in the team and maybe we wouldn’t be fighting for 4th place. Do you think Man Utd could be doing so well in midfield had they not had to spend 20M on Carrick? As you can see Chelsea are sorely missing their 24M men Essien and Drogba and Liverpool look mediocre without 20M Torres. Aston Villa have only recently been resurgent as a team and it’s no coincidence that it started when Lerner put his billions to work for the club because their previous owner stiffed O’ Leary alot on funds to persuade players to join him at Villa Park.

    They say money can’t buy happiness but it can surely go a long way to put you on the track towards it. If you have the right management i.e. not sheiks who want to play FIFA ’09 with their club team you can put together a very competitive squad because at the end of the day a footballer’s lifespan is short and given the right opportunity they can consider enhancing their financial situation. The reason many big names like Buffon don’t need 250,000 a week is because their being paid very satisfactorily at their club. Mind you it might not be the stark figure City is offering but at the chance to consistently play in the Champions League and also guarantee his spot on the Italian team, big names usually are willing to sacrifice some monetary compensation.

  2. 2 CaribKid
    December 15, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    A lot of European players will also take less money in Italy and Spain because they can work out great tax deals if they are not residents, versus the high tax rates in England. Thus, their net can be much larger although their salaries are much lower.

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