Saturday, 25 May 2013

Drama mama EPL 12/13 (Part 1)

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As the curtain closes on 19 May 2013, many hearts were broken. Sorry if you are a fan of QPR, Reading or Wigan. It was another disappointing finish for traditional "Big 4" Liverpool, the same goes to Spurs, who missed out on the final Champions league spot.

In my 1st post on the EPL, i will be talking more on the teams in the top 7 today.

Man Utd3828554389
Man City3823963278
West Brom3814717-449
West Ham38121016-846
Aston Villa38101117-2241

1) Man Utd - Champions for the 20th time in their history, much overtaken their arch rival, Liverpool. So what is their winning tactics? There is a few possibilities why each year, they finish in the top 3 position.

1stly, Sir Alex Ferguson. He is the Man Utd Legendary Manager, no one had ever done what he had done for Man Utd, though he did not win the most number of trophies that a manager had ever done, he still deserves respect. Under his leadership, he had transformed Man Utd from a Mid-table team to a title winning team. Credit goes out to him for that, moreover, he had strengthened his squad by recruiting Robin Van Persie. Robin Van Persie or RVP had also said in a report that he chose to wear the number 20 for Man Utd as he believes he will win the number 20th title for them. Coincident? Maybe. But the number of goals he had score had justified his pricetag. Thirdly, Man Utd had shown great consistency this season, winning 28 out of the 38 matches. Like it or not, whichever way they had won the matches, are much to debate at times. Some referees had also stood out for trying to help Man Utd out during some of their matches but as i said, this is up to you to judge. Lastly, Man Utd legend Scholes will retire once more, joining his great Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. It will be an exciting time to see how his successor, David Moyes (formerly from Everton) will lead the Red Devils in the following season.

Is the current team happy with the selection? the last we heard, Rooney had handed in his transfer request straight after he knew about Moyes' appointment. Guess his days are numbered. Will Giggs finally retire? SAF, Beckham, Owen, Scholes, Neville and Carragher had all hung up their boots, maybe it should be the time to hand over the baton to the next generation. All eyes will be on how Man Utd begins their season defending their title, against the rest of the chasing packs.

2) Man City - The defending champion for the 2011/2012 season came into this season no making any major purchase. Not many 1st team player left too, except Mario Ballotelli. So is this the reason why Man City didnt retain their title? Maybe not. The vast majority of the pillar is still there, the style of play is still there, the manager was still there (until the last 2 games of the season). However, since Roberto Mancini did not make any significant signings in the summer, this could be the downfall of the City dominance. Yes, they are called the noisy neighbours of Manchester, but this time, they were silent on how their neighbour overtaken them. Not even when they managed to beat Man Utd could save their title. It had only delayed Man Utd from lifting the title. One player stood out for me, Pablo Zabaleta. He is the best right back in the EPL in my opinion. Man City would have lost more games if not for him.

The final straw for Mancini came when they suffer a shock loss against relegated Wigan in the FA Cup final. That loss ensured a change is much needed. Now that Mancini is gone, Man City fans can look forward to the new season, where the club will definitely make vast investment to match up with the big spenders. If they can keep talents such as Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany happy, they should do well. But will that be enough for the title? Hmmm...

3) Chelsea - Just like Man City, Chelsea is backed by a Billionaire - Roman Abramovic. This season, just like any other Chelsea season, Abramovic splashed out millions on players such as Oscar, Hazard, Moses, Marin and Ba. Having changed many managers since terminating Jose Mourinhno, this season started off with former player, Roberto Di Matteo leading the team on. Di Matteo ended last season on a high, guiding the team to the Champions league winner. However, he was terminated immediately after Chelsea was thrown out of the Champions league group stage. This had left the fans crying out for their well loved Di Matteo. Banners were seen on the home ground of Stamford Bridge : "there is only 1 Di Matteo"

An interim manager was appointed, in come former Reds manager, Rafa Benitez. Rafa was out of job for quite sometime since he was axed by Inter Milan back in Dec 2010. The blue fans did not accept Rafa's appointment and constantly chant against him during home games. Banners which wrote : "the blue fans will remember" can be seen all throughout Stamford Bridge. Rafa was furious with the fans initially but learnt to accept them as he realised he was only the interim manager.

So what went wrong for Chelsea? Consistency was missing throughout in every department. Fernando Torres endured another horrible season, netting only 8 goals in 36 EPL games. That is even lesser than the out of favoured Daniel Sturridge, who went on to join Liverpool in Jan 2013. Moreover, their best player, the legendary midfielder Frank Lampard feature sparingly in the team. However in my opinion, he is still the best player this season. Chelsea is lucky to have and keep him for another season.

As Rafa bows out with an Europa league title in his CV, he had done enough to secure another top nod job in Europe. It shows that he still got what it takes to manage. Jose Morinhno is hotly tipped to make his return to Chelsea, after his contract termination with Real Madrid. Next season will definitely show some of the biggest stars coming to Chelsea. With lots of $$$ spent in the process. Look out for the Chelski Chelsea revolution in the next season. Oh ya, if Hazard dont kick another ball boy and Ivanovic dont get bitten again :P

4) Arsenal - Arsene Wenger can consider his season to be above average, with his expectations lowered. Top 4 finished ensured he keeps his job for another season. Once again, Arsenal fans were thinking what happened to the money which was received from another round of sales. Gone were Sami Nasri (now at Man C), Cesc Fabregas (now at Barca) and now Robin Van Persie (now at Man U). The sales amount would have been able to finance the next Thierry Henry. The only 2 big stars left in the team are Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott (who almost joined Liverpool too).

I have to say, despite the lack of money, they still delievered some very nice football. Lots of counter attacks and threatening the opposition defence. The problem seemed to lie at the final finishing, which is missing. Gone were RVP, but the reinforcement were Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. Are they weak strikers? No. They are great, but it seemed to me that they dont quite have what it takes to be a Arsenal Legend. It was Walcott's season. He was emulating the Legend, Thierry Henry. He got the pace to drive pass defenders, he knows where the goal is. Arsenal will do well if they play him more often and get his into a deeper position.

Arsenal fans had been watching exciting attacking free flow football from Arsenal, however they do not have any chance of seeing their favourite team lift up any trophy in years. If i am Arsene Wenger, i will dedicate my strongest team in every game. Fight for each of the cup and probably win something to shut the gap from my rival team fans.

5) Tottenham Hotspurs - The 1st thing came into my mind when people tells me about Spurs, Gareth Bale. This guy is amazing, he ran so fast that he can fall down on his own and accuses defenders of tripping him over. He is the only person who jumps into the crowd to retrieve the ball in the stands. Many people calls him a diver (same goes for RVP or Suarez). When he starts his run, you better stop him, else nothing can stop him (maybe except when he falls). His free kicks are straight and powerful, he drives the team forward in every game. A team without his name in the starting 11 will almost not be exciting to watch. Voted both the PFA player of the year and youth player of the year. No wonder Man Utd, Real Madrid and other great teams are watching him closely. He is an asset to have in any team. Still only 23, his future is certainly bright. Oh yes, i am not only gonna mention about him, there are still others in Spurs. The under-rated Defoe, who had been inconsistent but when he hits form, bang he is good.

But why is Spurs still out of the Champions league qualification then? Over reliant on Bale. When he is out, the team goes out too. He scored 21 goals in the EPL this season, as a winger. Thats some achievement. Defoe and Adebayor combined only scored 16. So what do you expects? Another reason why they failed to qualify for Champions league was their inability to win big matches (less vs Man C). Tough luck Spurs, do everything you can to retain the service of Bale and build on that. You will probably do better next season.

*Disclaimer: Only if Bale is fit.

6) Everton - What? Everton is in the top 6? Sorry Everton fans. Your team truly deserves this spot. If inconsistency were the reason for Chelsea's position this season, you guys deserves 6th because of your consistency. No significant big names spotted in Goodison Park. the only stand out players were Baines and Fellaini. Maybe the silent contributor, Tim Howard too. Without him at goal, Everton would most possibly not have won matches 1-0. That should be why David Moyes were recruited by Man Utd for their vacant managerial post.

Moyes had said before he cannot match up with the rest of the big spenders in the league. They can only afford to be consistent in their games, which is very encouraging. With Moyes gone, this should be the start of their downfall. They will need to keep Baines and Fellaini if they wishes to go higher up the league. As the final spot of Europe had been given to Wigan (the relegated team), Everton can now focus on their EPL season.

7) Liverpool - There used to be a time where Liverpool fans would agree that it was Steven Gerrard who is carrying the team forward. Then there was Fernando Torres, and there is the controversy of Luis Suarez. Banned for 8 matches for conviction of racially abused Man Utd Patrice Evra in the previous season, "Bad-boy" Suarez had made headlines once again. This time, he bit Chelsea's Ivanovic on his arm while hassling for the ball. Suarez was probably upset that he raised his arm in the penalty box early while guarding former Liverpool star, Fernando Torres. Eden Hazard went on to score on the spot. Suarez was banned for 10 games, some double standard in practise where Defoe who committed the same crime, only got off with an yellow card. In the earlier part of the season, his reputation of going down easily didnt help the team when the referees pretended not to see in agreement denied giving Liverpool penalties even when replay shows that there were contact made. Suarez also admitted that he "invented" a foul when they played Stoke City. His manager, Brenden Rodgers were shocked that his striker admitted to that while playing for the team. He thought such statement should only be revealed when the player hung up his boots. Despite the controversy that surrounds Suarez, he was voted 1st runner-up in the PFA player of the year award.

So another season without Champions league for the 5-time winner of the same competition. This season, they had improved on their league standing, from 8th to 7th. But they did not win any trophy and hence missed out on the Europa league invitation. Despite trailing eventual winners of the league by amazing 38 points, there seemed to be some light at the end of the tunnel for BR and his team. Rising star Coutinho and Raheem Sterling showed the fans their worth to the team, with lots of creativity and pace. Having loaned out 35m signing Andy Caroll out to West Ham, Liverpool needs a backup striker. They found 1 in Daniel Sturridge, who was out of favour at Chelsea. He net a total of 10 goals in 14 games, compared to only 11 in 30 games for Chelsea last season.

With the team not qualified for europe, it will remain a doubt on whether top nodge players will sign for them. However, BR will need to sell before he can buy. Moreover, Liverpool will miss their vice-captain, Jamie Carragher who had hung up his boots.

Thats all for now. Stay tune for the next review of the mid-table teams!

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