EPL: Day 21

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
January 11th, 2004 • 4:02 am

The big surprise of the day is of course Manchester United drawing at home against Newcastle 0-0. This enables both Arsenal and Chelsea to close the gap on the current leaders.

But it was a fully deserved draw from Newcastle’s point of view, even though the Silvestre goal probably shouldn’t have been disallowed. On the other hand, Newcastle should have won a penalty in the first half, and hit the crossbar earlier in the second half. These things tend to even themselves out, although not always over the course of a single game, as they did today.

Like Arsenal earlier in the season (although less controversially), Newcastle were for the most part able to contain Manchester’s usually deadly attackers and really created some good opportunities of their own.

Now if only more Premier League teams were able to emulate those two… So much depends, however, on the referee and how much he’s willing to tolerate Manchester’s typical physical bullying, which was on display again today. Both of the Neville brothers deservedly earned a booking, and there should have been a few more.

Elsewhere in the league, Liverpool were their usual boring selves but managed to snatch all three points against Aston Villa, thereby maintaining the illusion of acceptability. Chelsea were inevitably dominant against Leicester and deserved the win, even though the score line was a bit flattering.

It was pretty much the same story for Arsenal against Middlesborough, whom they’ll incredibly have to play three more times in the next 20 days or so. The difference here was that players like Danny Mills were a disgrace on and off the ball. If he’s not kept in check either by his manager or by the referees, this could very well turn ugly between now and the end of this 20-day period. He had absolutely no business trying to disrupt Thierry Henry while the striker was preparing for his penalty. I don’t understand how he wasn’t at least booked for this. Anyway, apart from this, Middlesborough didn’t offer much resistance and this bodes well for the League and FA Cup competitions. (I don’t know if we’ll get to see much of those here in Canada.)

So there we are in the middle of January. Arsenal still unbeaten, but with a few too many draws in their bags. Manchester with very few draws (before today), which enables them to keep a slender lead in spite of their three lost games. Chelsea a bit behind, but definitely not out of the race. It has been tight so far, it remains tight. At least that keeps things a bit more interesting from a neutral point of view.

One Response to “EPL: Day 21”

  1. Matthew G says:

    I think it’s interesting to see that the only reason there are 3 teams at the very top of the premiership is because

    a) Chelski spent 50% of the EPL’s summer transfer cash on trying to create a harlem globetrotters of football – and English Real if you will.

    b) The other teams who could have threatened the top two had such awful starts to the seaon. Liverpool, Newcastle and the like ar still paying for the horrific form they had early on.

    Next year let’s just hope more teams can attack the big guns with the same passion and self-assuredness Everton showed when they fought Arsenal mid week.

    Hopefully Man U will have a couple of shaky games and the final race will come down to the wire – a repeat of the 2-0 game between Man U & Arsenl two years ago would be great!!!

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