EPL: Manchester’s Day

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
May 3rd, 2003 • 8:37 pm

With Ruud van Nistelrooy — I mean, Manchester United — thumping Charlton at Old Trafford as expected (what a poacher!) and Manchester City upsetting Liverpool on their home turf with two Anelka goals, it was Manchester’s day in the English Premier League.

The Manchester City victory was fully deserved, and the last goal in injury time was superb, with a series of one-touch passes and a great finish by Anelka. At some point I was afraid this was going to be another drab 1-0 victory by Liverpool — but full credit to Manchester City for never giving up and trying to play nice football until the last minute. The technical advantage was with them, with several nice little flicks and touches by all kinds of players. Anelka is not quite as tight a finisher as he should be, but he’s certainly done good work this season, and deserves to have an even better one next year.

Peter Schmeichel was superb in goal for Man City as well — and Liverpool was just their typical, underwhelming selves. They don’t really deserve a Champion’s League spot this season, and I do hope that they don’t get it.

Surprisingly West Ham managed to beat Chelsea 1-0 at home, and who else should score that goal but Di Canio himself after HAVING been introduced on the 57th minute for his last home game for the club. What an amazing second half this must have been for him and for the fans. (We didn’t get to see it here in Canada.) I almost wish that West Ham would not be relegated this season — although I certainly do feel that Repka himself should be relegated INTO retirement as soon as possible. What a dreadful player and character!

In ORDER for this to happen, however, West Ham would need to win their final game at Birmingham City on May 11th and hope that one of their relegation “rivals” slips. This would mean, of course, that either Leeds or Bolton would be relegated instead — and I do have a bit of a soft spot for Bolton, because of players such as Djorkaeff, Okocha and André. Leeds might lose against Arsenal tomorrow, but will they lose at home to Aston Villa on the final day of the season?

Lots of drama then to be expected still in the last stages of the season, thanks to West Ham’s tardy (and still very shaky) revival. At the top end of the table, things are almost certain to go Manchester United’s way — unless some kind of miracle happens, Arsenal win all three remaining games, and Man U lose their final game at Everton, which is, of course, mathematically possible, but rather unlikely.

As Freddie Ljungberg says, we only have ourselves to blame for this, and more specifically our defense, which has let far too many away games turn from probable wins INTO unfortunate draws. We should have won at Liverpool in January, at Newcastle in February, and at Bolton last week. That would have given us 6 more points, and we would have finished ahead. Instead, we have to battle until the end and hope for some kind of miracle.

It certainly has been an entertaining season! But it has failed to confirm the “change in power” that was announced last year after Arsenal’s double, and Wenger has a bit of shopping to do this summer on the defensive side.

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