EPL: Day 18

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
December 27th, 2003 • 2:05 am

The big Boxing Day upset was obviously the 4-2 defeat of Chelsea against Charlton. Based on prior evidence, we knew that an upset was possible — but Chelsea had been getting with many subpar performances since the beginning of the season, still bagging three points almost every time. Well, they certainly didn’t get away with it this time. Their defensive performance was their undoing, and they simply didn’t have the necessary bite in attack (because of Crespo’s absence?).

Charlton took full advantage of Chelsea’s defensive lapses, and confirmed that they have many different players with great talent. That’s now three defeats in four games for Chelsea (including the League Cup defeat against Aston Villa), but there’s little doubt that they will try to put things back on the right track as soon as Sunday. They are definitely not out of the title race by any stretch of the imagination and, even if Arsenal and Manchester don’t suffer similar defeats in the near future, there will still be single-point draws that will slow their progress and give Chelsea a chance to catch up.

Elsewhere it was business as usual, with an under-strength Manchester United team able to collect all three points against Everton in spite of that team’s belated comeback, and Arsenal winning against Wolves without much difficulty. Bolton were unable to maintain their recent run of good form at Liverpool, and Fulham continue to impress by maintaining their 4th ranking in spite of Charlton’s own victory, with yet another brace by their French striker Louis Saha. (Sometimes I think there are more quality French players in the EPL than in the French League.)

Action resumes as soon as tomorrow (December 28) for most teams, while Arsenal get an extra day of rest and only play at Southampton on Monday. It will be a difficult game, even though Southampton have been rather inconsistent this season.

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